Saturday, June 13, 2015

Things People Blame the Jews For, Volume XXI: Missing Shoes

We've all been there. You're going through the laundry and a sock just seems to have vanished. Or your jacket -- which you know you brought home! -- isn't on its hanger. Or your favorite shirt is nowhere to be found. It's a part of life. It's also part of a grand Zionist conspiracy. From the Facebook page of Asghar Bukhari, founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK:
ARE ZIONISTS TRYING TO INTIMIDATE ME: Someone came into my home yesterday, while I was asleep. I don't know how they got in, but they didn't break in - the only thing they took was a single shoe - they left one shoe behind to let me know someone had been there.

Of course I can't prove anythng and that's part of the intimidation. The game is simple - to make me feel vulnerable in ym own home. It's Psychological. Neither can I do much about it.

It is not the first time I have heard this happening. I have had another Muslim leader call me a year or so ago, in tears - she told me they had been coming into her house and re-arranging things - just to let her know they had been there.

There is one good thing that comes out of all oppression however - for those who are smart from my misfortune, others can learn how they operate. Share this widely, for if it is happening to me, I am sure it is happening to many, many others who have not exposed it.
I am delighted to do my part to share this widely. The royalty-shoe I am entitled to as a Member of the Tribe has not been forthcoming, so what good does it do me to keep the secret any longer?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Methodist Official Calls For Boycott of Holocaust Memorials (Among Other Things)

Methodists, it seems, have a problem with the Holocaust. Not so much with the event itself, but rather with all the trouble it gives to the Palestinian cause. For example, in 2011 I wrote about a Methodist Church report which complained that "Peace groups in Israel have to work against this backdrop", the "backdrop" being Yad Vashem. The old saying is that "the Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz", apparently the Methodists also would like an apology from the masses of dead Jews for inconveniences caused.

Yet I think that account pales in comparison to this piece by Janet Lahr Lewis, the Methodist Church's Advocacy Coordinator for the Middle East. You see, Lewis thinks that everybody needs to stop memorializing the Holocaust (via):
Don't participate in Holocaust Remembrance Day without participating in Al Nakba Remembrance Day. Don't visit a Holocaust museum until there is one built to remember the other holocausts in the world: the on-going Palestinian holocaust, the Rwandan, the Native American, the Cambodian, the Armenian ... You could be waiting a long time!
How lovely. In fairness to her, I'm not exactly keen on Lewis visiting a Holocaust memorial either -- primarily because I'd worry she'd use it as a how-to guide.

I'm sure that it comes to the surprise of no one that Holocaust memorials aren't the only Jewish things Lewis thinks we should boycott. Even better is her citation to Alison Weir's If American's Knew organization in support. It's like the last few days are all just coming together.

As is always the case in circumstances like these, I am left to marvel at why the Christian community thinks it has any thing useful to say on this subject. What makes it think it has reliable instincts? What, as I asked before, "makes Christian organizations think we will read such a message and think 'by golly, they must be right, because if there's one group I trust to issue accurate assessments about moral questions in general and Jewish experience in particular, it's institutional Christianity!'" And forget about me: what makes Christians think that about themselves? What bizarre voice in their head is telling them "this is something you'd be good at. Your thoughts on this subject are good thoughts, and most certainly are not infected by an unbroken multi-millenia streak of anti-Semitism that literally laid the foundation for the entire worldview you're drawing from"?

It boggles the mind. It really, really does.

Things People Blame the Jews For, Volume XX: Hitting for the Cycle

Unfortunately, this post is not about Jews being literally "blamed" for hitting for the cycle (though Ian Kinsler did do it in 2009 while playing for the Rangers). Rather, this post is about a particular entry in the "blame the Jews" corpus by one Mark Dankof. Dankof weighed in in defense of Alison Weir after the latter was condemned by by none other than Jewish Voice for Peace. His argument was, shall we say, sprawling, but it included this gem:
The Zionist Alliance with the Frankfurt School and the LGBT Agenda: Destroying the Christian West, Russia, and the Islamic World With Cancer.
I ... wow. That just hits every note. Left-wing academic movements? Check. Sex? Check. Cancer? Check. And elsewhere in the article we get one of my favorite chestnuts -- Pearl Harbor! It's all of your favorites packed into a convenient one-stop-shop of Jew-blaming.

Reading this really makes me want to update this blog's caption to read "Destroying the World with Cancer since 2004." And for the record, that block quote wasn't even from the main text of the article. It was a photo caption (the photo was a rainbow flag with a Star of David in the middle).

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Must We Do This Every Time?`

I had really hoped that "frivolous conspiracy theories over citizenship" segment of American presidential races would be a Barack Obama one-off. I should have known that was too optimistic, especially with a Jew making waves. Apparently, an NPR host was convinced that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has dual American and Israeli citizenship:
Diane Rehm: Senator, you have dual citizenship with Israel.

Bernie Sanders: Well, no I do not have dual citizenship with Israel. I'm an American. I don't know where that question came from. I am an American citizen, and I have visited Israel on a couple of occasions. No, I'm an American citizen, period.

[Diane] Rehm: I understand from a list we have gotten that you were on that list.

Sanders: No.

Rehm: Forgive me if that is—

Sanders: That's some of the nonsense that goes on in the internet. But that is absolutely not true.

Rehm: Interesting. Are there members of Congress who do have dual citizenship or is that part of the fable?

Sanders: I honestly don't know but I have read that on the internet. You know, my dad came to this country from Poland at the age of 17 without a nickel in his pocket. He loved this country. I am, you know, I got offended a little bit by that comment, and I know it's been on the internet. I am obviously an American citizen and I do not have any dual citizenship.
Note how she just asserts it as an established fact (not "there are rumors on the internet" but "you have dual citizenship"). There are indeed "lists" on the internet that claim Sanders has dual-citizenship, but they are the usual anti-Semitic crackpottery. Rehm, though, seems genuinely surprised that Sanders is solely an American citizen -- and her follow-ups (asking whether claims that other American legislators are dual citizens is "part of the fable") evince skepticism. I can't wait to hear NPR comment on where this garbage came from.

A Tribe's Sovereign Authority To Exploit Workers

One of my favorite cases to teach is Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez, 436 U.S. 49 (1978). Martinez involved an ordinance by the Santa Clara Pueblo tribe which granted tribal membership to the children of men -- but not women -- who married out of the tribe. A suit challenging the ordinance was brought by a a Santa Clara Pueblo woman married to a Navajo man and their daughter, who would not be deemed a citizen of the Santa Clara Pueblo nation under the ordinance. It's fun to teach because it pits two deeply-held liberal commitments -- gender equality and political autonomy for indigenous communities -- against one another. Even Catherine MacKinnon wrote that she found the case "difficult" (adding "and I don't usually find cases difficult."). The law seems manifestly misogynist, but it is difficult to think of a more fundamental element of tribal sovereignty than the authority to determine who qualifies as a member of the tribe -- and in any event, respecting tribal autonomy means nothing if it doesn't include allowing them to do things you don't like. The case never fails to make my students squirm (the Court, for its part, held that the suit could not be maintained).

But Santa Clara Pueblo is nearing 40 years old. Maybe it's time for some fresh blood. And in today comes the Sixth Circuit in NLRB v. Little River Band of Ottawa Indians. The case involves a challenge to a tribal ordinance governing labor and employment rules, which primarily impact the tribe's multi-million dollar casino (most of whose employees and customers are non-tribal members, but whose revenue makes up the lion's share of the tribe's budget). From how it is described in the court opinion, the ordinance at issue would make Scott Walker blush:
[The ordinance] grants to the Band the authority to determine the terms and conditions under which collective bargaining may or may not occur; prohibits strikes, work stoppage, or slowdown by the Band’s employees and, specifically, by casino employees; prohibits the encouragement and support by labor organizations of employee strikes; prohibits any strike, picketing, boycott, or any other action by a labor organization to induce the Band to enter into an agreement; subjects labor organizations and employees to civil penalties for strike activity; subjects employees to suspension or termination for strike activity; subjects labor organizations to decertification for strike activity; subjects labor organizations to a ban on entry to tribal lands for strike activity; and requires labor organizations doing business within the jurisdiction of the Band to apply for and obtain a license. [It] also precludes collective bargaining over the Band’s decisions to hire, lay off, recall, or reorganize the duties of its employees; precludes collective bargaining over any subjects that conflict with the Band’s tribal laws; exempts the Band from the duty to bargain in good faith over the terms and conditions under which the Band’s employees may be tested for alcohol and drug use; limits the duration of collective bargaining agreements to three years or less; provides that decisions by the Band, through its Tribal Court, over disputes involving the duty to bargain in good faith or alleged conflicts between a collective-bargaining agreement and tribal laws shall be final and not subject to appeal; and limits the period of time during which employees may file a deauthorization petition. Further, [it] prohibits the requirement of membership in a labor organization as a condition of employment. It also prohibits the deduction of union dues, fees, or assessments from the wages of employees unless the employee has presented, and the Band has received, a signed authorization of such deduction. [It] prohibits Band employers, such as the casino, from giving testimony or producing documents in response to requests or subpoenas issued by non-tribal authorities engaged in investigations or proceedings on behalf of current or former employees, when such employees have failed to exhaust their remedies under the [tribal ordinance].
Yowzers. Labor groups complained, alleging the ordinance was unlawful under the federal National Labor Relations Act. And they're almost certainly right ... if the NLRA applies to the tribe -- a question that the statute is silent on. That was the question before the Sixth Circuit, and in a 2-1 decision the court agreed with the National Labor Relations Board that the statute did apply as against the tribe.

Having read the opinions though, I'm inclined to think that the dissent got the better of it. This law seems repulsive to me, and its enactment is enough to convince me that the NLRA should apply to tribes. But the statute is silent on that question, and the real question is what we should infer from that silence. The majority opinion draws the sweeping conclusion that, subject to a few exceptions, when Congress crafts a generally-applicable law we should assume that they intended to divest tribes of their sovereignty over that area. This is a 180 to how I understand tribal sovereignty, which is that we assume that tribes maintain most if not all of their sovereign powers unless Congress takes some specific step to demonstrate it intends to strip that sovereignty away. Here, there is no indication that Congress thought it was applying the NLRA to Indian tribes, and the extraordinarily belated attempt by the NLRB to assert such authority makes that inference even more dubious as a matter of congressional intent.

Incidentally, for all you folks who think all contested legal questions boil down to politics, the panel consisted of -- you guessed it -- two Republicans and one Democrat. What you might not have guessed is that it was the Republicans who split: George W. Bush appointee Julia Smith Gibbons wrote the opinion, joined by Carter appointee Gilbert Stroud Merritt. The dissent was authored by fellow GWB appointee David McKeague.

The case may feel like a good outcome, but I think it creates a bad rule. Respect for tribal sovereignty and autonomy means our default should be to preserve their sovereign authority unless Congress makes evident its intent to do the contrary. Ordinances like this certainly heighten the appeal of "the contrary" in the labor law context. But ultimately, that's a decision for Congress to make. Allowing Courts to make it for them, and in the process make tribal sovereignty the exception rather than the rule, would have devastating consequences for the autonomy and independence of Indian tribes and runs counter to the basic principle of Indian sovereignty.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Polarized Black Attitudes Towards Jews

Today I came across a short but very interesting study (unfortunately pay-walled) exploring the difference between White and black attitudes towards Jews. The thrust of it was that American Blacks are not more anti-Semitic than White people, they're just more polarized. Specifically, there are unique social threads pulling Black persons in both philo-Semitic directions (e.g., views of Jews as fellow victims or as liberal allies) and anti-Semitic directions (e.g., economic tensions or nationalistic scapegoating). The result is that while in the aggregate Black and White attitudes towards Jews are similar, Black views are more likely to be either strongly favorable or strongly unfavorable (whereas Whites tend to cluster in the middle).

The authors tested this along two dimensions: residential social distance (non-Jewish respondents asked if they would like to live in a neighborhood where the majority of residents were Jewish), and marital social distance (non-Jewish respondents asked if they would approve or disapprove of a close relative marrying a Jew). For both questions, Whites and Blacks in the aggregate had basically similar attitudes. But Black respondents were more likely to cluster at the poles (either strongly approving or strongly disapproving).

I've written several times on this blog against the notion that the Black community is particularly prone to anti-Semitism (which is not to say that there are no anti-Semitic Black people). This study, in addition to reinforcing that sentiment, also perhaps helps explain why some people seem to think that the Black community is particularly problematic in the respect. Sharp expressions of negativity probably stand out and stick in the mind more than strong positive feelings; hence, it is likely that in terms of recollection the two poles don't "wash out" and is more available than the other.

The study citation is David Raden, American Blacks' and Whites' Preferred Social Distance from Jews, 138 J. Soc. Psych. 265 (1998).