1. “Alternate Facts”
2. A satirical view from Holland
3. Art lover Angela Merkel
4. Palestinian T-shirts of Obama and Trump
5. In his last act, Obama quietly gave Palestinians another $221 million
6. Misusing Anne Frank
7. “Isolating progressives from the wider country”
8. “What good does labelling and ‘otherising’ do?”
9. “Both the political right and political left in America have very real problems”
10. “After the Women’s March” (By David Brooks, NY Times, Jan. 24, 2017)
11. “The women’s movement has turned into an attack on anyone who won’t subscribe to feminist orthodoxy” (By Melissa Mackenzie, The Guardian, Jan. 22, 2017)
12. “We need to call out anti-Semitism even when it is politically inconvenient” (By Benjamin Gladstone, Tablet, Jan. 23, 2017)
[Notes by Tom Gross]
Picture above: a mock book cover.
The concept of “alternate facts” has been much in the news recently, especially after some seemingly less than truthful remarks by the new American president, Donald Trump.
Of course, many politicians of all parties in the U.S. and elsewhere regularly say things which are not quite true, and this website has for many years tried to point out untruths printed and broadcast in respected media of both left and right.
A SATIRICAL VIEW FROM HOLLAND
This skit about Donald Trump on a Dutch comedy show is going viral, and worth watching. While it is quite funny it is perhaps a tad unfair considering the Netherlands has itself been imposing stricter immigration criteria recently, and has plenty of populist politicians, some of whom are openly racist.
“I WAS DISAPPOINTED THAT THEY DIDN’T FIND THE CONTINENT OF ATLANTIS YET”
Also amusing is this skit, which was published a couple of hours ago: A Bad Lip Reading of Donald Trump's Inauguration
ART LOVER ANGELA MERKEL
While President Donald Trump was being sworn in as leader of the free world on Friday morning, German Chancellor Angela Merkel (pictured above) was viewing Claude Monet’s paintings at the opening of the Barberini Museum in Potsdam, Germany. Merkel's spokesman later said that her government would “study with interest” Trump's speech.
Above: T-Shirts on sale in a Palestinian shop in the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem’s old city. Just as Barack Obama is generally regarded as the most pro-Palestinian U.S. president of modern times, some believe Donald Trump will be the most pro-Israeli.
IN HIS LAST ACT, OBAMA QUIETLY GAVE PALESTINIANS ANOTHER $221 MILLION
There was further bewilderment among many Americans and Israelis when the Associated Press revealed on Monday that in virtually the final act of his presidency, on the morning of Trump’s inauguration, Barack Obama quietly sent $221 million in U.S. funding to the Palestinian Authority.
The Associated Press reports that the outgoing administration sent a formal notification to Congress that it was sending the money to the Palestinian Authority on Friday morning, just moments before Trump became president and before anyone had time to object. (At the same time Obama also sent $4 million to climate change programs and $1.25 million to U.N. organizations.)
This was not the first time Obama had granted funding to the Palestinian Authority against Congress’s wishes. Obama sent $200 million in 2012.
Much of the American and European money given to Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority ends up helping to pay the “salaries” of convicted Palestinian terrorists, or as financial rewards to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers or truck rammers, of the kind that murdered four young Israelis earlier this month.
The total amount allocated by the Palestinian Authority budget for the so-called “Care for the Families of the Martyrs” was reportedly about $175 million in 2016, and an a further $140 million was allocated for payments to prisoners and former prisoners.
The image of murdered Holocaust victim Anne Frank exploited by anti-Israel protesters at one of the hundreds of rallies held across the western world last weekend.
* Sharon and Hitler share space at Anne Frank house in Amsterdam (Jan. 29, 2004)
* Repulsive cartoon published in Belgium and Holland of Anne Frank in bed with Hitler
“ISOLATING PROGRESSIVES FROM THE WIDER COUNTRY”
I attach three articles below. First, here are a few summarized notes from the pieces.
Writing about last Saturday’s “Women’s marches”, New York Times columnist David Brooks says:
“They were a phenomenal success … But these marches can never be an effective opposition to Donald Trump. In the first place, this movement focuses on the wrong issues … voting issues for many upper-middle-class voters in university towns and coastal cities…”
“The marches couldn’t escape the language and tropes of identity politics. Soon after the Trump victory, Prof. Mark Lilla of Columbia wrote a piece [for the New York Times] on how identity politics was dooming progressive chances. Times readers loved that piece and it vaulted to the top of the most-read charts.
“But now progressives seem intent on doubling down on exactly what has doomed them so often. Lilla pointed out that identity politics isolates progressives from the wider country: ‘The fixation on diversity in our schools and in the press has produced a generation of liberals and progressives narcissistically unaware of conditions outside their self-defined groups, and indifferent to the task of reaching out to Americans in every walk of life.’
“Sure enough, if you live in blue America, the marches carpeted your Facebook feed. But The Times’s Julie Bosman was in Niles, Mich., where many women had never heard of the marches, and if they had, I suspect, they would not have felt at home at one.”
Brooks adds: “The biggest problem with identity politics is that its categories don’t explain what is going on now. Trump carried a majority of white women. He won the votes of a shocking number of Hispanics.”
“WHAT GOOD DOES LABELLING AND “OTHERISING” DO?”
Writing for British left-leaning paper The Guardian, Melissa Mackenzie, says:
“Women from all over America descended on Washington yesterday and uttered a collective primal scream of dissent against their latest rage object: Donald Trump… I didn’t go on the march.
“President Obama, and the social justice warriors who fuelled his presidency, divided the country by grievance groups. Men and women. Black and white. LGBQ and straight… When there’s a hierarchy of grievance, he (she) who has suffered most gets top billing. It’s a race to become the ain’t-it-awful worst. This negativity forces people not to find solutions but to build bigger problems so they’ll get attention.
“What good does labelling and “otherising” do? Well, there’s been tremendous power in claiming the mantle of the perpetually oppressed. There’s government money and corporate bullying and media attention. It also silences people with different views.
“The argument isn’t working with women any more. American women are 47% of the workforce… Women are divided almost evenly anti-abortion versus pro-abortion. Many women are married and like their husbands and sons. They don’t hate men. They don’t want division…”
“BOTH THE POLITICAL RIGHT AND THE POLITICAL LEFT IN AMERICA HAVE VERY REAL PROBLEMS”
Writing in Tablet magazine, Benjamin Gladstone says:
“When I write about left-wing anti-Semitism or anti-Zionism that conceals it, the vitriol of my fellow left-wing Jews shocks me just as much, and stings all the more. After experiencing such backlash repeatedly, it has become clear to me that many of my fellow Jews are inclined to ignore anti-Semitism when it is expressed by people who share their politics. This is a deeply dangerous dynamic. Both the political right and the political left in America have very real problems with anti-Jewish prejudice.”
-- Tom Gross
“AFTER THE WOMEN’S MARCH”
After the Women’s March
By David Brooks
New York Times
January 24, 2017
The women’s marches were a phenomenal success and an important cultural moment. Most everybody came back uplifted and empowered. Many said they felt hopeful for the first time since Election Day. But these marches can never be an effective opposition to Donald Trump.
In the first place, this movement focuses on the wrong issues. Of course, many marchers came with broad anti-Trump agendas, but they were marching under the conventional structure in which the central issues were clear. As The Washington Post reported, they were “reproductive rights, equal pay, affordable health care, action on climate change.”
These are all important matters, and they tend to be voting issues for many upper-middle-class voters in university towns and coastal cities. But this is 2017. Ethnic populism is rising around the world. The crucial problems today concern the way technology and globalization are decimating jobs and tearing the social fabric; the way migration is redefining nation-states; the way the post-World War II order is increasingly being rejected as a means to keep the peace.
All the big things that were once taken for granted are now under assault: globalization, capitalism, adherence to the Constitution, the American-led global order. If you’re not engaging these issues first, you’re not going to be in the main arena of national life.
Second, there was too big a gap between Saturday’s marches and the Democratic and Republican Parties.
Sometimes social change happens through grass-roots movements – the civil rights movement. But most of the time change happens through political parties: The New Deal, the Great Society, the Reagan Revolution. Change happens when people run for office, amass coalitions of interest groups, engage in the messy practice of politics.
Without the discipline of party politics, social movements devolve into mere feeling, especially in our age of expressive individualism. People march and feel good and think they have accomplished something. They have a social experience with a lot of people and fool themselves into thinking they are members of a coherent and demanding community. Such movements descend to the language of mass therapy.
It’s significant that as marching and movements have risen, the actual power of the parties has collapsed. Marching is a seductive substitute for action in an antipolitical era, and leaves the field open for a rogue like Trump.
Finally, identity politics is too small for this moment. On Friday, Trump offered a version of unabashed populist nationalism. On Saturday, the anti-Trump forces could have offered a red, white and blue alternative patriotism, a modern, forward-looking patriotism based on pluralism, dynamism, growth, racial and gender equality and global engagement.
Instead, the marches offered the pink hats, an anti-Trump movement built, oddly, around Planned Parenthood, and lots of signs with the word “pussy” in them. The definition of America is up for grabs. Our fundamental institutions have been exposed as shockingly hollow. But the marches couldn’t escape the language and tropes of identity politics.
Soon after the Trump victory, Prof. Mark Lilla of Columbia wrote a piece on how identity politics was dooming progressive chances. Times readers loved that piece and it vaulted to the top of the most-read charts.
But now progressives seem intent on doubling down on exactly what has doomed them so often. Lilla pointed out that identity politics isolates progressives from the wider country: “The fixation on diversity in our schools and in the press has produced a generation of liberals and progressives narcissistically unaware of conditions outside their self-defined groups, and indifferent to the task of reaching out to Americans in every walk of life.”
Sure enough, if you live in blue America, the marches carpeted your Facebook feed. But The Times’s Julie Bosman was in Niles, Mich., where many women had never heard of the marches, and if they had, I suspect, they would not have felt at home at one.
Identity-based political movements always seem to descend into internal rivalries about who is most oppressed and who should get pride of place. Sure enough, the controversy before and after the march was over the various roles of white feminists, women of color, anti-abortion feminists and various other out-groups.
The biggest problem with identity politics is that its categories don’t explain what is going on now. Trump carried a majority of white women. He won the votes of a shocking number of Hispanics.
The central challenge today is not how to celebrate difference. The central threat is not the patriarchy. The central challenge is to rebind a functioning polity and to modernize a binding American idea.
I loathed Trump’s inaugural: It offered a zero-sum, ethnically pure, backward-looking brutalistic nationalism. But it was a coherent vision, and he is rallying a true and fervent love of our home.
If the anti-Trump forces are to have a chance, they have to offer a better nationalism, with diversity cohering around a central mission, building a nation that balances the dynamism of capitalism with biblical morality.
The march didn’t come close. Hint: The musical “Hamilton” is a lot closer.
“I DIDN’T JOIN THE MARCH”
I didn’t join the march. I’ve had enough of Obama’s hierarchy of grievance
The women’s movement has turned into an attack on anyone who won’t subscribe to feminist orthodoxy
By Melissa Mackenzie
January 22, 2017
Women from all over America descended on Washington yesterday and uttered a collective primal scream of dissent against their latest rage object: Donald Trump. Women are afraid. They fear for their rights. They believe President Trump will strip them of their birth control, let them get pregnant with no hope to abort the pregnancy or have healthcare and throw them back in the kitchen. Or something.
I didn’t go on the march.
President Obama, and the social justice warriors who fuelled his presidency, divided the country by grievance groups. Men and women. Black and white. LGBQ and straight. And most comically, divided divisions. White, Asian, black and Native American women, some cis-gendered, some transgender, some even vegan – all very, very special.
The Women’s March has had a fair share of internal strife. Who should speak? White women need to sit down and shut up. Black lesbian women should have priority. They get a voice. Privileged people (ie, everyone who is not me) don’t.
This nastiness is inevitable. When there’s a hierarchy of grievance, he (she) who has suffered most gets top billing. It’s a race to become the ain’t-it-awful worst. This negativity forces people not to find solutions but to build bigger problems so they’ll get attention. Solutions diminish emotional fever and media focus. Therefore, issues can never resolve and, if they do, new problems must be created.
Enough, already. In the quest for, and conquering of, equal rights, women have run out of real outrages. They’ve won the battles. What to do now? Consolidate power. The way to do that is shame those who are mostly happy with the advances and want to enjoy their lives. It’s tough to maintain a warlike state. In the absence of an enemy, the elders must keep the acolytes busy being true believers. Those “other” than the most righteous better watch out.
The women who don’t believe liberal orthodoxy include the chief sacrament abortion – “other”. Men (obviously) are the “other.” The worst “other” group: white men who are patriarchal oppressors. Then the biggest, vaguest group of “others”: people of any stripe who do not abide closely enough to the true leftist dogma.
What good does labelling and “otherising” do? Well, there’s been tremendous power in claiming the mantle of the perpetually oppressed. There’s government money and corporate bullying and media attention. It also silences people with different views.
The argument isn’t working with women any more. American women are 47% of the workforce. They enjoy unprecedented choices. Twenty-six per cent of women choose not to work outside the home. They choose to care for their families. That’s a choice.
Women are divided almost evenly anti-abortion versus pro-abortion. Many women are married and like their husbands and sons. They don’t hate men. They don’t want division.
That’s where I find myself. I’m grateful for the advances women have made. Western American women are fortunate, indeed.
The bigger issue American women face now isn’t equality but community. The ceaseless divisiveness and nasty aggression towards men is a problem. The segmenting of people by superficialities, rather than finding common ground, is causing society to stretch at the seams. The constant emphasis on victimhood separates people rather than brings them together.
The point of the women’s movement was supposed to be to elevate women. It’s turned into a systemic attack on all people who don’t follow leftist, feminist orthodoxy.
So I opted out of the Women’s March, thank you. After eight years of separating people, I’d like the country to come together.
We didn’t need a march for women. We need to start seeing human individuals. We need to see Americans. We need to re-embrace the melting pot of cultures, peoples, creeds, colours and religions and see our common ideals and dreams. We need to remember our shared identity. We need to cherish and protect our freedom to become anything – even president of the United States.
Enough division. More e pluribus unum.
“WE NEED TO CALL OUT ANTI-SEMITISM EVEN WHEN IT IS POLITICALLY INCONVENIENT”
We need to call out anti-Semitism even when it is politically inconvenient or the prejudice will continue to metastasize
By Benjamin Gladstone
January 23, 2017
It is generally assumed that the Jewish community, whatever its internal differences, takes anti-Semitism seriously. But as someone who has been reporting on the subject for some time, I’m beginning to suspect that’s not the case. Allow me to explain.
Whenever I write about right-wing anti-Semitism or my support for pro-peace activism in Israel, the harsh reaction of many conservative Jews often astonishes me. I’ve been accused, quite prematurely, of failing to raise Jewish children, and have been called everything from an “imbecile” to a Nazi sympathizer. At the same time, when I write about left-wing anti-Semitism or anti-Zionism that conceals it, the vitriol of my fellow left-wing Jews shocks me just as much, and stings all the more. After experiencing such backlash repeatedly, it has become clear to me that many of my fellow Jews are inclined to ignore anti-Semitism when it is expressed by people who share their politics.
This is a deeply dangerous dynamic. Both the political right and the political left in America have very real problems with anti-Jewish prejudice, and if we are serious about confronting anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, we all need to be willing to stand up to our friends as well as our rivals. This will mean standing apart from both political poles at times, but that is not a new experience for Jews.
As a product of millennia of Diaspora dispersion, Jews have long been a people of in-betweens. Often straddling the line between two conflicting ethnic or ideological categories, we have historically been spurned by both. The czar forcibly displaced hundreds of thousands of Yiddish-speaking Jews during World War I in part because the Germanic roots of the Yiddish language raised suspicions that Jews might betray Russia for Germany. In the years following that war, however, German nationalists accused Jews of being in league with Soviet Russia, one of many allegations that laid the groundwork for the Holocaust.
Likewise, in the Russian Civil War, Jews suffered pogroms at the hands of both armies – the Red Army regarded Jews as bourgeois capitalists, while the White Army regarded Jews as communist provocateurs. Among colonialists in Algeria, the Ligue antijuive (Anti-Jewish League) became one of the most crucial organs of French identity formation, while Algerian Arab nationalist factions like the Front de Libération Nationale (National Liberation Front) identified indigenous Algerian Jews with French colonialism. Today, even the Jewish state suffers from in-between status: Israel is just Ashkenazi enough for Iran and BDS to accuse it of European imperialism, but also Southwest Asian and Arab enough for American and European leaders to condescend to it, interfere in its politics, and devalue its citizens’ lives like they do in other Southwest Asian and Arab countries.
In the United States, Jews are rapidly becoming an in-between people again. On the left, anti-Semitism thrives under the guise of anti-Zionism. At large rallies on my majority-leftist campus, I join my fellow students in declaring solidarity for movements that range from Black Lives Matter to Asian American rights, but not once have I heard Jewish issues make the list of demands at campus demonstrations. Many of the same people who march against other forms of oppression and discrimination openly support BDS, a movement that explicitly promotes discrimination against a single nationality and implicitly against an ethno-religious group. Some of my leftist peers express discomfort with the existence of a majority-Jewish fraternity on campus and vigorously defend campus anti-Zionists even when they cross the line into blatant anti-Semitism by protesting Hillel’s participation in social justice conversations.
At the same time, anti-Semitism is rising sharply on the right. Jewish journalists have been increasingly targeted with Holocaust imagery, and I have seen a dramatic uptick in right-wing anti-Semitic responses to my own writing. There has been an increase in Holocaust-evoking graffiti incidents at my former high school. Neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan grow more emboldened by the day. The new Republican president has retweeted anti-Semites and their memes, echoed classical anti-Semitic tropes in his conspiratorial closing campaign ad, and expressed a conviction that the Republican Jewish Coalition wouldn’t back him because he wouldn’t allow the Jews to influence his government. His Jewish family members do not make him any less anti-Semitic, just as his female family members do not make him any less misogynistic.
American Jewry thus finds itself, once again, in-between. My experiences on campus make clear to me that the left, which tends to regard Jews as wealthy, privileged, and white and to project that image (falsely) onto Israel, does not regard Jewish rights as a priority. My experiences off-campus make clear to me that the right, which is increasingly host to white supremacists who also regard Jews as wealthy and powerful but see us as an enemy of whiteness, is no better off.
How do we push back against this encroachment on both ends? It starts with uniting against the threat, not excusing it where it is inconvenient.
One of the many dangers of being an in-between people is that our liminal status can divide us. During World War I, even while the Russian army evacuated Jews from their homes and the German army used falsified data about Jewish soldiers to blame them for military defeats, Jews fought on both sides, dying by the thousands to defend the flags of their rival anti-Semitic monarchies. I fear that Jews in America are beginning to fall into the same pattern, defending political movements that have troubling relations with the Jews without addressing Jewish issues among their fellow activists.
None of this is to say that Jews should not be involved in political and social movements. Personally, I align myself firmly with the left and am politically active. But I also try to hold my friends and fellow activists accountable for the ways in which they handle Jewish concerns. My fear is that Jews on both sides of the aisle are prioritizing Jewish issues only when doing so benefits their respective political causes. There are exceptions, but they are not the rule.
My fellow leftist Jews often take the easy path. They ignore or deny the existence of anti-Semitism on the left and join their non-Jewish friends in gaslighting (dismissing lived personal experiences as illegitimate or imagined) those of us who try to speak out about it. Occasionally, they even try to prove their loyalty to the hard left by joining the anti-Zionist movement and offering themselves as tokens.
At the same time, right-wing Jews, and even Jews in the political center, are often hesitant to call out anti-Semitism on the political right. Many leftist Jews have been disappointed to see so little reaction from centrist and non-partisan Jewish groups to the rise of Trump and the anti-Semitic far-right. The decision of the fringe right-wing Zionist Organization of America to unreservedly embrace the Trump administration made my stomach turn. Meanwhile, many centrist Jewish organizations, while not actively endorsing the ZOA’s activities or odious Trump advisers like Stephen Bannon, have remained conspicuously silent about them.
But as long as Jews only call out anti-Semitism when it is convenient for their political allies, the bigotry will continue to metastasize. We need to prioritize anti-Semitism, not instrumentalize it.
This is a time of political divisiveness in America, and the in-between status of the Jews is increasingly being laid bare. As leftist and centrist/rightist Jews rally behind our respective sides and toe the party lines of political movements that don’t value Jewish issues, we risk ignoring the problems that threaten all of us. Jews can exist on opposite sides of the political divide, but we ought to be united against anti-Semitism across the political spectrum. As a young, progressive Jew, it is a priority for me to defeat anti-Semitism and the anti-Zionism that masks it on the left just as it is a priority for me to take on right-wing anti-Semitism. It should be just as high a priority for those who disagree with me politically to confront anti-Semitism within their own ranks.
If Jews on both sides of the political divide only raise Jewish concerns like anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism when it is convenient to do so or when it supports our political aims, our activism is doomed to fail. Our Jewish rights advocacy ceases to be an end in and of itself and becomes a political tool to bolster movements that are increasingly hostile to us and to our needs. In order to be effective, we must be willing to call out our allies as well as our opponents. As long as Jews are an in-between people – as long as neither the left nor the right is willing to genuinely champion all Jewish issues – we, as Jews, need to shoulder that responsibility ourselves, and together.
(Benjamin Gladstone has written for the New York Times and The Forward.)
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