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Behind the Aegis

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Professor unearths inmates' music from Auschwitz

Patricia Hall went to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum in 2016 hoping to learn more about the music performed by prisoners in World War II death camps.

The University of Michigan music theory professor heard there were manuscripts, but she was "completely thrown" by what she found in the card catalogs: Unexpectedly upbeat and popular songs titles that translated to "The Most Beautiful Time of Life" and "Sing a Song When You're Sad," among others. More detective work during subsequent trips to the Polish museum over the next two years led her to several handwritten manuscripts arranged and performed by the prisoners, and ultimately, the first performance of one of those manuscripts since the war.

"I've used the expression, 'giving life,' to this manuscript that's been sitting somewhere for 75 years," Hall told The Associated Press on Monday. "Researching one of these manuscripts is just the beginning — you want people to be able to hear what these pieces sound like. ... I think one of the messages I've taken from this is the fact that even in a horrendous situation like a concentration camp, that these men were able to produce this beautiful music."

Sensing the historical importance of resurrecting music for modern audiences, Hall enlisted the aid of university professor Oriol Sans, director of the Contemporary Directions Ensemble, and graduate student Josh Devries, who transcribed the parts into music notation software to make it easier to read and play.

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Posted by Behind the Aegis | Thu Nov 29, 2018, 09:40 PM (8 replies)

'They got me. I'm afraid': Swastikas spray-painted on a Jewish professor's office at Columbia

The psychology professor pulled open the heavy oak doors of Horace Mann Hall, which boasts 16-foot ceilings and varnished wood floors, and headed to her fourth-floor office. Filing in behind her were students preparing for a 1:30 p.m. lab meeting on Wednesday. As they entered her workspace, they passed a mezuzah, a small box containing Hebrew religious texts, affixed to her doorpost.

But the sight that met them next made the professor and her students stop in their tracks.

Anti-Semitic graffiti had been spray-painted on the office walls of Elizabeth Midlarsky, a clinical psychologist and Holocaust scholar at Columbia’s Teachers College on the Upper West Side of New York. The vandalism included swastikas and an anti-Semitic slur, “Yid,” painted in bright red on the white walls of her office foyer. The outer door had been closed but not locked, one student said.

“I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it,” she said in an interview with The Washington Post. “I’m usually not a fearful person, but they got me. I’m afraid.”



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Posted by Behind the Aegis | Thu Nov 29, 2018, 06:44 AM (23 replies)

Anti-LGBTQ forces warn that Colorado's first openly gay governor is a threat to Christians

Anti-LGBTQ groups and right-wing media outlet The Daily Wire have used the successful campaign of Colorado Gov.-elect Jared Polis, the first openly gay man to be elected governor, to push a false narrative pitting religion against the LGBTQ community. Specifically, they have leveraged the story of anti-gay Colorado baker Jack Phillips -- who went all the way to the Supreme Court in a case involving his refusal to bake a cake for a gay couple -- to say that the state is persecuting Christians and that Polis’ election would result in religious people losing their rights.

Extreme and influential anti-LGBTQ group Alliance Defending Freedom represented Phillips in the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case. The Supreme Court narrowly ruled in Phillips’ favor based on the particulars of the case, citing “inappropriate and dismissive comments” from one of the Colorado civil rights commissioners as “hostility” toward Phillips’ religion. Polis called the Supreme Court’s decision “disappointing, but thankfully narrow in scope,” adding that Congress should pass the Equality Act, a bipartisan federal bill that would amend civil rights protections in employment, housing, education, public accommodations, and other areas of life to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

After Polis’ historic win, The Daily Wire’s Paul Bois published an article headlined “Colorado Elects First Openly Gay Governor In U.S. History As The State Persecutes Christians.” Bois highlighted Polis’ “commitment to LGBTQ principles” and wrote, “The ascension of Polis in Colorado comes at a time when the state has increasingly positioned itself as an enemy of religious liberty, most notably in its persecution of baker Jack Phillips.”

Before Election Day, anti-LGBTQ group Family Policy Alliance also featured Phillips in a campaign ad against Polis. According to LGBTQ news outlet INTO, the ad said, “Assaults on Jack’s faith – and yours – could get even worse if Boulder’s own Jared Polis becomes governor,” and a statement released alongside the ad asserted that “the decision Colorado voters make will impact Jack Phillips and other people of faith in Colorado—and beyond—for years to come.” Family Policy Alliance sent an email promoting the ad on October 24, which claimed that Polis’ election “means that things could get even worse for Jack and other people of faith in Colorado.”

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Posted by Behind the Aegis | Thu Nov 15, 2018, 06:33 AM (4 replies)

Lessons from Albert Einstein on Nazis

Letter reveals Einstein's fears of growing nationalism, anti-Semitism

The 1922 letter shows he was concerned about Germany's future a full year before the Nazis attempted their first coup — the failed Munich Beer Hall Putsch.

More than a decade before the Nazis seized power in Germany, Albert Einstein was on the run and already fearful for his country's future, according to a newly revealed handwritten letter.

His longtime friend and fellow Jew, German Foreign Minister Walther Rathenau, had just been assassinated by right-wing extremists and police had warned the noted physicist that his life could be in danger too.

So Einstein fled Berlin and went into hiding in northern Germany. It was during this hiatus that he penned a handwritten letter to his beloved younger sister, Maja, warning of the dangers of growing nationalism and anti-Semitism years before the Nazis ultimately rose to power, forcing Einstein to flee his native Germany for good.

"Out here, nobody knows where I am, and I'm believed to be missing," he wrote in August 1922. "Here are brewing economically and politically dark times, so I'm happy to be able to get away from everything."

The previously unknown letter, brought forward by an anonymous collector, is set to go on auction next week in Jerusalem with an opening asking price of $12,000.

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Posted by Behind the Aegis | Fri Nov 9, 2018, 04:46 PM (2 replies)

"They're smashing windows. Don't go outside. The Nazis are here."

Andy Factor can still hear the shattering sound that pierced the silence of the back room where his family was huddled on what would later become known as "kristallnacht" — the night of broken glass.

It was a turning point in the Nazi's persecution of Jews as Germans openly rioted across the country on November 9, 1938, targeting Jewish homes and businesses while police watched on.

Now, exactly 80 years since that night, there is another sound that fills Andy with fear: the rising and reinvigorated chorus of white nationalism and antisemitism that is spreading across parts of Europe and America.

"I am convinced that it can happen again," he said.

Kristallnacht survivor Andy Factor warns of rising antisemitism on 80th anniversary
Posted by Behind the Aegis | Fri Nov 9, 2018, 04:42 PM (7 replies)

(Jewish Group) Anti-Semitism Isn't Just A Right-Wing Problem

(THIS IS THE JEWISH GROUP! RESPECT!!)

---snip---

Jews represent less than 2% of the U.S. population and less than 0.2% of the world’s population. Yet, despite our small numbers, Jews are victims of more reported hate crimes than any other religious minority, second only to African Americans in overall reported hate crimes.

---snip---

Yet even though anti-Semitism is unmistakably at the core of the far right, Jewish concerns are often dismissed as being insignificant compared to the threat white nationalists pose to other minority groups.

Social justice movements are deeply rooted in combatting racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, sexism and misogyny. But when it comes to anti-Semitism — the very hate that fuels white supremacy — it doesn’t receive the same attention.

In progressive movements, Jews are often considered less of a priority to intersectional activism than other minorities are.

The reality is that anti-Semitism only garners serious attention when it’s of the most extreme magnitude. But the shooting in Pittsburgh didn’t occur in a vacuum.

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Enjoy the additional links.
Posted by Behind the Aegis | Sun Nov 4, 2018, 06:30 AM (0 replies)

The Psychology of Anti-Semitism

After the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, in which a white supremacist shot to death 11 people while screaming, “All Jews must die,” a Jewish girl in New York sent an anguished note to her mother. “I know I shouldn’t feel like I don’t have an answer to this question,” she wrote in a text message that was later shared on social media. “But why do people hate us?”

Her bafflement was understandable. Many people, of course, favor the groups they belong to and dislike groups they don’t belong to; that is the regrettable foundation of prejudice. But not all groups are disliked the same way: Why are some groups (such as homeless people) dismissed or neglected in a relatively steady stream of scorn, while other groups (such as Jewish people) are subjected to sudden waves of virulent, even exterminatory attacks?

For many decades psychologists conceived of prejudice as a one-dimensional antipathy: People love their “in-groups” and hate “out-groups.” But this us-versus-them approach failed to account for prejudice’s real-world complexities.

To better understand the various ways in which bigotry manifests, the psychologists Susan Fiske, Peter Glick and I developed a new theory of prejudice, one that focuses on the content of stereotypes of out-groups. We have found that how an out-group is stereotyped predicts how the prejudice against it gets expressed. This theory — tested over more than 20 years by us and others in hundreds of studies, with tens of thousands of participants, across many cultures — helps explain why anti-Semitism often erupts in such violent bursts.

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Posted by Behind the Aegis | Sun Nov 4, 2018, 06:18 AM (1 replies)

Samantha Bee: We Need To Talk About Anti-Semitism

Posted by Behind the Aegis | Sat Nov 3, 2018, 05:55 AM (0 replies)

Samantha Bee: "The Republican Party tolerates anti-Semitism, and benefits from it"

In light of the massacre in a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday, Samantha Bee called out President Donald Trump and his Republican Party for using racist dog whistles and promoting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

"Trump and many other Republicans reacted to the shooting by condemning anti-Semitism — always nice when we can agree that some hate crimes are bad," Bee said on Wednesday's episode of "Full Frontal" on TBS. "But the truth is: The Republican Party tolerates anti-Semitism, and benefits from it."

"Mainstream conservatives would never say anything negative about Jewish people outright," the late night host continued. "But there are other words they use like: 'coastal elites,' 'globalists,' 'Hollywood liberals' or 'Jon Leibowitz.'"

Currently, Bee added, "the biggest, loudest dog whistle is George Soros," the billionaire philanthropist and Holocaust survivor, and "Full Frontal" played clip after clip after clip of Soros' name being dropped on Fox News in connection to liberal conspiracy theories.

Soros is best known for starting a foundation called Open Society. However, in right-wing circles, Bee pointed out, he is regarded as a "demonic, Nazi, commie super-villain" who controls well, everything.

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Posted by Behind the Aegis | Sat Nov 3, 2018, 05:54 AM (0 replies)

Being Jewish, Watching the Rise Of Antisemitism

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We are seeing a frightening rise in antisemitism in this country. The latest incident I read about happened Thursday night. Standing alone, it would only be a shudder in the steady undercurrent of antisemitic hatred lurking beneath the surface in this country. But combined with the resurgence of antisemitic rhetoric and events which have been building since 2016 and have accelerated rapidly in the past weeks and months, it is a terrifying example of what could become regular occurrences.

Comedian Ilana Glazer scheduled a get-out-the-vote event at a Brooklyn synagogue Thursday night where she was going to interview a journalist and two Democratic state senate candidates. It was canceled because antisemitic graffiti was found on inside walls of the synagogue, including “Die Jew Rats,” “We are here,” “Hitler,” “Jew Better Be Ready” and “End it now."

The usual response would be to increase security at the event and carry on as planned. Don't let the haters win. But not this time. Not in today's climate. After the killings at a Pittsburg synagogue, you don't take chances with people's lives.

The vile, threatening slogans scrawled on the synagogue walls are the kind of thing my parents told me about, or I read in books and saw in movies. They weren't supposed to be happening anymore. But then again, until two years ago, I cannot remember seeing television coverage of people marching down the street carrying tiki torches and chanting "Jews will not replace us!" The murdering of Jews at the Tree of Life synagogue is said to be the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in this country's history.

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And yet, some still make excuses to not discuss anti-Semitism, make excuses for anti-Semitism, or, even worse, participate in the anti-Semitism.
Posted by Behind the Aegis | Sat Nov 3, 2018, 05:42 AM (9 replies)
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