Saturday, August 10, 2019

Things People Blame the Jews For, Volume LIII: The Suicide of Jeffrey Epstein

Accused pedophile and sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein has died in prison of an apparent suicide.

Given how connected Epstein was to a huge array of powerful political, economic, and cultural figures, this obviously was going to raise eyebrows. And since Epstein was Jewish, well ... let's let the Nation of Islam kick us off:

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Meanwhile, a "satire" account that supposedly is imitating "SJW" leftists posted and then eventually deleted a tweet about how the Epstein's suicide was orchestrated by "other '-steins' and '-bergs' dispensing justice." Ironic antisemitism is still antisemitism. And of course, the neo-Nazi right is having a field day (this thread is sickening).

Indeed, almost immediately on Epstein's arrest one already was seeing folks salivating at the chance to tie him to the Jews. Steven Salaita, for example, rushed to get on the train:
Image may contain: text that says 'Steven Salaita @stevesalaita Jul 10 This seems like a good time to mention that Jeffrey Epstein (along with Leslie Wexner) funded Rosovsky Hall, the building that houses Harvard Hillel. It's named for a former FAS dean with deep ties to Epstein. 4 42 127'

I bet it does seem like a good time, Steven.

He was joined by journalist Sarah Abdallah ...



 ... and of course the cranks at MintPressNews:
Fortunately, President Trump -- ever the friend of the Jews -- has not endorsed this conspiracy theory, favoring instead the other conspiracy theory that the Clintons took him out.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

A Galaxy FAR, FAR Away Roundup

In my last roundup, I noted that I was going on the law school job market this year -- a process that commences with the charmingly named "meat market" in Washington this fall. The first thing that law schools receive from potential candidates, however, is the "FAR form" -- a one page document that's basically the back of your law professor baseball card: all your key stats, from degrees to teaching interests to publications. The FAR form gets distributed to law schools tomorrow, and once it's out the hiring season has officially kicked off.

Though if you like, this roundup also can be sponsored by this video about Star Wars.

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Lyft is going to buy carbon-offsets for its rides. Nice.

Famed Holocaust and antisemitism expert Deborah Lipstadt: Trump didn't go far enough in condemning White nationalism.

What happened when a Labour MP tried to intervene with the Israeli government on behalf of sick Palestinian children? She faced a torrent of antisemitic abuse, that's what. Shocking story, but it's the wages of anti-normalization.

I thought this was a really thoughtful discussion between Ken White and Elie Mystal on whether things like the North Carolina gun store billboard targeting "the squad" should be protected as free speech (both -- accurately -- observe at the outset that it is protected; the discussion is about whether that doctrine is correct).

The "Word Crimes" special issue of Israel Studies continues to generate controversy: the editors of the journal issued an apology acknowledging that "the special issue and our decision-making process regarding the publication were flawed", but also defending themselves against some of the more histrionic critiquesThe editors of the special issue in turn replied to the journal editor's apology, as well as addressing the wider controversy, here.

In California, locally-assessed fees sometimes make new housing construction cost-prohibitive. Locally-assessed fees are assessed, however, because Prop. 13 took a chainsaw to localities ability to raise revenue via property taxes, and so they have to get creative if they're to bring money in.

RIP Toni Morrison.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Islamophobe Walks Out of Anti-Omar Protest Because Muslim Speaker Joined Protesters

The opening to this story, about a protest against Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) organized by the newly-formed Minnesota Jewish Coalition, is absolutely wild:
An estimated 100 people showed up Thursday afternoon for a Minnesota Jewish Coalition-organized rally on the steps of the State Capitol in St. Paul, but a vocal few were very disappointed with the direction the event took.
Marni Hockenberg, a Republican activist who live-streamed to her Facebook account that she was outraged that Somali activist Omar Jamal was one of the speakers of the event, “Stand Against Ilhan Omar’s Antisemitic Ideas & Support For BDS!”
“What the hell are they having a Somali speaker for?” Hockenberg said on her Facebook video posted to her account under the pseudonym Marnie Mockenberg. “This is wrong. I knew there was something wrong with this rally. I’m out of here.”
Again, just so we're clear: the Somali speaker (Omar Jamal, Director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center) was part of the protest against Omar's' "Antisemitic Ideas & Support for BDS". Hockenberg is so intolerant of Muslims she can't even tolerate them agreeing with her on other Muslims. That's the friction point in the anti-Omar movement these days, apparently.

Anyway. Now that this rally is concluded, I'm sure the MJC will be organizing a similar rally targeting Rep. Tom Emmer and then another aimed at a Rep. Jim Hagedorn.

Any day now. Any day.

Monday, August 05, 2019

On the California Ethnic Studies Controversy

Soon, if you haven't already, you will likely hear of controversies relating to the draft model ethnic curriculum guidelines recently promulgated by the California Department of Education. The LA Times recently editorialized against them as a jargon-laden PC smorgasbord, and much of the Jewish community has also rallied against the curriculum's almost complete exclusion and erasure of Jews, Jewishness, and antisemitism (alongside its promotion of BDS). The California Legislative Jewish Caucus released a letter expressing its deep concerns with the curriculum, including the somewhat explosive allegation that the omission of Jews was not a mere oversight but rather was "intentional" on the part of the curriculum drafters and reflective of their particular "political bias".

There's also a related movement by the California Middle Eastern Jewish community, led by JIMENA, that is protesting against the specific omission of Middle Eastern/Mizrahi Jews from the "Arab American Studies" curriculum (see their "call to action").

The public comment period remains open; I actually submitted comments several days ago. Mine focused on the Mizrahi Jewish issue; while I was in conversation with JIMENA on this question, my comments were my own and submitted in my personal capacity.

Anyway. In an undoubtedly futile effort to contextualize this controversy, which I am sure will soon explode into the press as "the Jews vs. Ethnic Studies!", I offer the following quick thoughts:

  • None of the major interventions I've seen from the Jewish community have opposed the Ethnic Studies mandate passed by the California legislature. This is not a case of Jews opposing Ethnic Studies; "the Jews vs. Ethnic Studies" frame, tempting as it is, is incorrect. 
  • If anything, this is a case of Jews seeking inclusion within Ethnic Studies. Their objection is rather that the draft curriculum erases Jews from the Ethnic Studies pantheon -- an erasure that, if the CLJC letter is correct, was not an oversight but rather malicious in character. 
  • The most unifying "ask" by the Jewish intervenors has been to ensure that antisemitism and Jewish ethnic identity gets its fair share of attention within the Ethnic Studies curriculum, whether it is in a model course of its own or at the very least due attention in the draft "survey" course.
  • That this is a call for inclusion, not exclusion, is even more important to stress in the Mizrahi Jewish case. Jews from places like Iraq, Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt have every right to be included in an "Arab American Studies" curriculum; that curriculum is as much theirs as it is anyone else's. The assumption that their objections come "from the outside" is a form of antisemitic otherization, nothing more.
  • In the wake of the debate over H. Res. 246, I have a sneaking suspicion that we're going to see some quick pivots from "if government is allowed to express its negative opinion of BDS in a non-binding resolution, free speech in America is dead!" to "if government doesn't explicitly endorse BDS in its K-12 model curriculum, free speech in America is dead!" Maybe I'm too cynical. But we'll see.
If you want to offer your own comments, you can download the form here. I suggest reading JIMENA's call to action for some suggested do/don'ts so you can understand what the community does and does not want from its allies on this issue (DO: "Be respectful – no bashing Ethnic Studies"; "Share how the Model Curriculum personally impacts you as a student, parent, educator, or concerned Jewish resident of California." DON'T: "Attack the State of California or the Board of Education for passing legislation requiring the State to implement Ethnic Studies Curriculum";
"Attack state officials or communities referenced in the curriculum – such as Palestinians, Arabs or Muslims.").

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Institutional Jewish Responses To GOP Anti-Semitism: A Minnesota Play

Allow me to present to you a one act play on how the institutional Jewish community responds to antisemitic discourse emanating from the mainstream Republican party. The players are:

  • Rep. Tom Emmer, Minnesota Republican and Chair of the NRCC.
  • Steve Hunegs, Executive Director of the JCRC for Minnesota and the Dakotas.
  • NRCC Spokesperson

Ready?
Emmer: "Republican donors! Here is the trio of evil Jewish communist billionaires who BOUGHT control of Congress!"
Hunegs: "Hey, Tom, that rhetoric has some incendiary antisemitic connotations. Maybe don't use it?"
NRCC spokesperson: "LOL, get bent."
Hunegs: "Yes sir. And let me just reiterate that Tom Emmer is a true friend of the Jewish people."
And scene.

Ideally, this little play might get placed in conversation with the current box office smash "Everything Ilhan Omar Says is Sharia -- A Ninety-Six Part Epic". Yet, despite the fact that Emmer's dalliances in this sort of antisemitism are actually a bit of a trend when it comes to Minnesota Republicans (paging Jim Hagedorn!), I somehow doubt that will be so.