Protests as Obama tries to politicize Holocaust Museum (&“Muslim Barbie” recites the Koran)

September 11, 2017

Pictured above: A German art installation in 2012 showed 100 Barbie dolls with burkas. Now “Muslim Barbie” dolls that are able to recite the Koran aloud to children, are going on sale


* Mahmoud Abbas sends flowers to North Korean dictator – on five occasions
* Palestinian Authority arrests man for inviting a Jew to dinner

* Liberal literary critic Leon Wieseltier: “Shame on the Holocaust Museum for releasing an allegedly scientific study that justifies Obama’s bystanderism [in allowing Syrians to be gassed and bombed]. If I had the time I would gin up a parody version of this that will give us the computational-modeling algorithmic counterfactual analysis of John J McCloy’s decision not to bomb the Auschwitz ovens in 1944. I’m sure we could concoct the fucking algorithms for that, too.”

* The Holocaust Museum in Washington abruptly pulls the new study, which was due to be released with much fanfare today (9/11), following a wave of criticism from both liberal and conservative Jewish leaders that it was trying to “absolve the Obama Administration for inaction in face of Syrian genocide”.

* On leaving office, Obama appointed several key aides to be directors of the Holocaust Museum -- including Ben Rhodes, the architect of Obama’s appeasement policy to the Iranian and Syrian regimes.

* In the 1990s, the Clinton administration pressured the Holocaust Museum to invite Croatian leader and notorious anti-Semite Franjo Tudjman, as well as Yasser Arafat, to the museum (“not to educate them, but to burnish their image) leading the museum’s director to resign in protest. A subsequent enquiry slammed the Clinton administration for its “inappropriate” politicization of the taxpayer-funded museum and said this should never happen again. Now Obama is being criticized for doing something similar.



1. “Muslim Barbie” recites the Koran
2. Mahmoud Abbas sends flowers to North Korean dictator (on five occasions)
3. Palestinian Authority arrests man for inviting a Jew to dinner
4. Governor of Ramallah glorifies Martyrs’ “perfumed blood”
5. “Holocaust Museum Pulls Study Absolving Obama Administration for Inaction in Face of Syrian Genocide” (By Armin Rosen, Tablet, Sept. 5, 2017)
6. “Playing politics with the Holocaust Museum” (New York Post Editorial, Sept. 9, 2017)
7. “The Hard Right and Hard Left Pose Different Dangers” (By Alan Dershowitz, Wall St Journal, Sept. 11, 2017)
8. “British conductor sacked by US music festival after ‘innocent’ joke with his African-American friend was labelled racist” (UK Sunday Telegraph, Sept. 10, 2017)


[Notes by Tom Gross]


A new Barbie-style doll, complete with a Muslim “hijab” head covering, has gone on sale in the Middle East. It was designed by a French Muslim mother, but manufactured in China.

Whereas Barbies on sale in the West asks questions aloud such as, “Which clothes shall I wear?” and “Do you want to go to a pizza party?”, the “Muslim Barbie” recites four different verses from the Koran. Promotional videos advertising the new doll say the doll’s ability to teach young girls to repeat Koranic verses is a prime selling point for the doll.

Currently, the “Muslim Barbie” is on sale in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman and Kuwait, but there are plans to export it to Europe.



The Associated Press reported last month that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had wished North Korean leader Kim Jong-un “health and happiness” in a message in honor of North Korea’s “Liberation Day.” The message also lauded North Korea’s “stability and prosperity.”

Now the Palestinian Authority’s official western-funded Wafa news agency reports that on Thursday Abbas received a cable back, thanking him from (to give him his full title) “the Secretary-General of the Korean Workers’ Party, First Commander of the National Defense Committee of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Commander-in-Chief Kim Jong-un,” warmly praising Abbas’s leadership.

North Korean media report that Abbas has also sent Kim Jong-un big bouquets of flowers for his birthday, for the new year and on at least three other occasions in the last 12 months.

The Palestinian Authority continues to be one of the most generously funded regimes in history by Western taxpayers.

(H/T Algemeiner)



The Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported yesterday that Palestinian security forces have arrested a Hebron man, Muhammad Jabir, for hosting Yehudah Glick, an Israeli Likud MK who enjoys good relations with many Palestinians, for dinner at his home for the Eid al-Adha holiday.

The PA’s General Intelligence agency acted after photos of the two men eating and laughing together appeared on twitter alongside greetings for a “Happy Eid.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas retains a dictatorial grip on his security forces and has done everything possible to thwart peace efforts with Israel since assuming the Palestinian leadership in 2004.



The governor of the de facto capital of the Palestinian Authority, Ramallah, who is a senior loyalist to President Abbas has praised Palestinian terrorists who murdered Israeli civilians including young children, as having “perfumed the ground with the beautiful scent and fragrance of their blood”.

District Governor of Ramallah Laila Ghannam made the remarks in a speech to mark the Muslim holiday Eid Al-Adha, reports the official PA news agency, WAFA, on Sept. 1, 2017. (Translation courtesy of PMW.)

On numerous occasions after knife and vehicle attacks over recent years, Ghannam posted glorifications of the attackers on her Facebook page, calling for others to also slit the throats of Israelis and ram their cars into them.


I attach four pieces below. The one by Alan Dershowitz is particularly interesting.

-- Tom Gross



Holocaust Museum Pulls Study Absolving Obama Administration for Inaction in Face of Syrian Genocide
Abrupt decision comes in wake of sharp rebukes, bafflement, and concern about politicization of Shoah memory
By Armin Rosen
September 5, 2017

A major United States Holocaust Memorial Museum study of the Obama Administration’s Syria policy was put on hold last night after portions of the study given to Tablet were greeted with shock and harsh criticism by prominent Jewish communal leaders and thinkers.

According to a publicity email sent by the Museum, the study was set to be launched at an event at the US Institute for Peace in Washington, D.C., on September 11 and was overseen by a former US intelligence and national security official under Obama, Cameron Hudson, now director of the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide. The paper argued that “a variety of factors, which were more or less fixed, made it very difficult from the beginning for the US government to take effective action to prevent atrocities in Syria, even compared with other challenging policy contexts.” Using computational modeling and game theory methods, as well as interviews with experts and policymakers, the report asserted that greater support for the anti-Assad rebels and US strikes on the Assad regime after the August 2013 Ghouta chemical weapons attack would not have reduced atrocities in the country, and might conceivably have contributed to them.

The intervention of the Holocaust Museum in a hot-button political dispute – and the apparent excuse of official US government inaction in the face of large-scale mass murder, complete with the gassing of civilians and government-run crematoria – alarmed many Jewish communal figures. “The first thing I have to say is: Shame on the Holocaust Museum,” said Leon Wieseltier, the literary critic and fellow at the Brookings Institution, who slammed the Museum for “releasing an allegedly scientific study that justifies bystanderism.”

The Museum’s exercise in counter-factual history, he suggested, was inherently absurd. “If I had the time I would gin up a parody version of this that will give us the computational-modeling algorithmic counterfactual analysis of John J McCloy’s decision not to bomb the Auschwitz ovens in 1944. I’m sure we could concoct the fucking algorithms for that, too.”

While examining the US’s response to the conflict arguably falls within the Museum’s stated purpose of “inspiring citizens and leaders to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity,” it is unclear how producing work that could be used to justify or excuse official inaction in the face of war crimes committed by Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria squares with that mission. Since the outbreak of civil war early 2011, the Syrian dictator has repeatedly attacked civilians with poison gas, maintaining a network of prison camps where as many as 60,000 people have been tortured, murdered, and disappeared, with their bodies dumped into crematoria and mass graves.

“I assume the leadership understands that it made a misstep,” said Abraham Foxman, the director of the Center of the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Museum of Jewish Heritage-A Living Memorial to the History. “I served three times on the Holocaust Commission. The institution is very dear to my heart. And I believe that it’s appropriate – indeed, it’s imperative – for the Museum deal with questions of genocide in contemporary current events. But in this case, several things are happening that are problematic. First, the genocide isn’t over. In the case of Rwanda and Bosnia, for example, the genocides were over and the Museum was able to offer its assessment in hindsight. Two, more broadly I just don’t think it’s appropriate for the Museum to issue this kind of judgement – that’s beyond its mandate. This should be a place where one meets to discuss, to debate, to question, to challenge: Could more have been done? Where? How? Not to issue judgment, especially not in this politicized atmosphere.”

Some Jewish communal leaders suggested both privately to Tablet, and in conversations with board members and staff at the Holocaust Museum, that the Museum’s moral authority had been hijacked for a partisan re-writing of recent history, and alleged that the museum had absolved the Obama administration of any moral or political error in its response to mass atrocities in Syria. At least one of the architects of the Obama administration policy in Syria, former deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes, was appointed to the museum’s Memorial Council during the closing days of the Obama administration. The Council also includes Obama NSC alumni Grant Harris and Daniel Benjamin. Other Obama NSC alumni, including Hudson and Anna Cave, have joined the Museum’s staff.

The Museum apparently undertook its Syria project without the usual degree of input from Washington’s community of Syrian activists who had worked with the Holocaust Museum to bring the Ceasar files and video from the besieged city of Aleppo to light. Given that the Museum had previously worked hard to expose Syrian government atrocities, members of the anti-Assad community found the counterfactuals report to be curiously out of character for the museum, and objected to the report’s seeming vindication of US policy.

“If the reports are saying that nothing could have been done for Syria, this is something that every Syrian American I know considers grossly incorrect,” Shlomo Bolts, a policy and advocacy officer with the Syrian American Council noted to me. “There was a lot that could have been done and that can still be done to stop the mass atrocities in Syria. There are still thousands of civilians in Syria who are being tortured in Assad’s jails or fear imminent attacks by Assad forces and there is much that can be done to help them.”

On Monday and Tuesday, Tablet reached out to over 20 members of the Museum’s Memorial Council. Daniel Benjamin said that the Syria project predated his appointment to the board in January of 2017, and added he had not been briefed on the report’s background. No one else on the board, including multiple other Obama-era administration foreign policy officials, was willing to discuss the report, with several members saying that they had little specific familiarity with the study or the issues it discussed.

Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, co-founder of Jews for Human Rights in Syria, who has worked with the Holocaust Museum and the Syrian community, said he was baffled by the report. “When the presidential commission on the Holocaust decided the Museum should also include a committee on conscience, the idea was that they should not merely preserve Holocaust memory but be a force to helping prevent future genocides and mass atrocities,” he explained. “To merely say no intervention could have made a difference strikes me as a strange conclusion if I understand it correctly…. I don’t think we have the right to choose inaction when we know the reality on the ground.”

As of around 6 p.m. on Tuesday, anyone who wants to read the study is now greeted with this message: “Last week the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide released a research study that examined several decision points during the Syrian conflict. Since its release, a number of people with whom we have worked closely on Syria since the conflict’s outbreak have expressed concerns with the study. The Museum has decided to remove the study from its website as we evaluate this feedback.”



Playing politics with the Holocaust Museum
By Post Editorial Board
New York Post
September 9, 2017

What will it take to keep the United States Holocaust Museum free of political interference and manipulation?

The problem first popped up soon after its founding a quarter-century ago, then faded – until now, it appears.

The museum, in conjunction with the US Institute for Peace, was set to unveil a study on Syrian war crimes on Monday. The report claims it was near-impossible for then-President Barack Obama to “take effective action to prevent atrocities.”

In other words, the study – which relies on “computational modeling and game theory methods” – is basically a whitewash of Obama’s abandoning of his self-proclaimed “red line” against Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad.

Oh, and the study was overseen by a former Obama intelligence and national-security official.

Happily, Tablet magazine published advance excerpts of the report, and the reactions were so strongly negative that the museum quickly pulled it from its Web site.

It’s not hard to see why: The museum’s mission extends beyond just the Nazi genocide of Jews. But, as literary critic Leon Wieseltier notes, that mission hardly includes rewriting history to “justify or excuse official inaction” in an ongoing genocide.

Making this report even more blatantly partisan is the fact that several Obama administration officials – including Ben Rhodes, an architect of his Syria policy – are members of the museum’s board.

In 1993, shortly after the Holocaust Museum opened, President Bill Clinton’s State Department pressured the museum to invite Croatian leader Franjo Tudjman, despite his anti-Jewish writings.
Five years later, State similarly pushed the museum to invite PLO leader Yasser Arafat – not to educate him, but to burnish his image. When the museum’s director objected (and was overruled by White House pressure), he quit.

The National Academy of Public Administration, at Congress’ request, later issued a report decrying the “inappropriate” politicization of the taxpayer-funded museum and calling for reforms.

That report said the Holocaust Museum in particular “should not be used as a tool to achieve particular political purposes.” Too bad that sage advice has been forgotten.

A museum of conscience, as this one purports to be, should never abandon it – or allow it to be hijacked.



The Hard Right and Hard Left Pose Different Dangers
By affirming benign goals, Antifa and its comrades make intolerance and even violence seductive.

By Alan Dershowitz
Wall Street Journal
Sept. 11, 2017

The extreme right – neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan and other assorted racists and anti-Semites – and the extreme left – anti-American and anti-Israel zealots, intolerant censors, violent anarchists such as Antifa, and other assorted radicals – both pose a danger in the U.S. and abroad.

Which group poses a greater threat? The question resists a quantitative answer, because much may depend on time and place. It may also be in the eye of the beholder: For many on the center left, the greater danger is posed by the hard right, and vice versa. Yet the most important reason for this lack of a definitive quantitative answer is that they pose qualitatively different dangers.

History has set limits on how far to the extremes of the hard right reasonable right-wingers are prepared to go. Following the horrors of the Holocaust and Southern lynchings, no one claiming the mantle of conservative is willing to be associated with Nazi anti-Semitism or the KKK. Neo-Nazi and Klan speakers are not invited to university campuses.

The hard left lacks comparable limits. Despite what Stalin, Mao, the Castros, Pol Pot, Hugo Chavez and North Korea’s Kims have done in the name of communism, there are still those on the left – including some university professors and students – who do not shrink from declaring themselves communists, or even Stalinists or Maoists. Their numbers are not high, but the mere fact that it is acceptable on campuses, even if not praiseworthy, to be identified with hard-left mass murderers, but not hard-right mass murderers, is telling.

The ultimate goals of the hard right are different, and far less commendable, than those of the hard left. The hard-right utopia might be a fascist society modeled on the Italy or Germany of the 1930s, or the segregationist post-Reconstruction American South.

The hard-left utopia would be a socialist or communist state-regulated economy aiming for economic and racial equality. The means for achieving these important goals might be similar to those of the hard right. Hitler, Stalin and Mao all killed millions of innocent people in an effort to achieve their goals.

For the vast majority of reasonable people, including centrist conservatives, the hard-right utopia would be a dystopia to be avoided at all costs. The hard-left utopia would be somewhat more acceptable to many on the center left, so long as it was achieved nonviolently.

The danger posed by the extreme left is directly related to its more benign goals, which seduce some people, including university students and faculty. Believing that noble ends justify ignoble means, they are willing to accept the antidemocratic, intolerant and sometimes violent censorship policies and actions of Antifa and its radical cohorts.

For that reason, the most extreme left zealots are welcomed today on many campuses to express their radical views. That is not true of the most extreme neo-Nazi or KKK zealots, such as David Duke and Richard Spencer. Former White House aide Steve Bannon recently told “60 Minutes” that “the neo-Nazis and neo-Confederates and the Klan, who by the way are absolutely awful – there’s no room in American politics for that.” In contrast, prominent American leftists, such as Noam Chomsky and even Bernie Sanders, supported the candidacy of British hard-left extremist Jeremy Corbyn, despite his flirtation with anti-Semitism.

The hard right is dangerous largely for what it has done in the past. For those who believe that past is prologue, the danger persists. It also persists for those who look to Europe for hints of what may be in store for us: Neofascism is on the rise in Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Greece, Lithuania and even France. Some of this rise may be attributable to regional issues, such as the mass migration of Muslims from Syria and other parts of the Middle East. But some may also be a function of growing nationalism and nostalgia for the “glory” days of Europe – or, as evidenced in our last election, of America.

The danger posed by the extreme hard left is more about the future. Leaders of tomorrow are being educated today on campus. The tolerance for censorship and even violence to suppress dissenting voices may be a foretaste of things to come. The growing influence of “intersectionality” – which creates alliances among “oppressed” groups – has led to a strange acceptance by much of the extreme left of the far-from-progressive goals and violent means of radical Islamic terrorist groups that are sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic and anti-Western. This combination of hard-left secular views and extreme Islamic theological views is toxic.

We must recognize the different dangers posed by different extremist groups that preach and practice violence, if we are to combat them effectively in the marketplace of ideas, and perhaps more importantly, on the campuses and streets.



British conductor sacked by US music festival after ‘innocent’ joke with his African-American friend was labelled racist
By Patrick Sawer
Sunday Telegraph
September 10, 2017

An acclaimed British conductor has been fired from a prestigious American music festival after a seemingly innocent joke he made to a black friend was labelled racist.

Matthew Halls was removed as artistic director of the Oregon Bach Festival following an incident in which he imitated a southern American accent while talking to his longstanding friend, the African-American classical singer Reginald Mobley.

It is understood a white woman who overheard the joke reported it to officials at the University of Oregon, which runs the festival, claiming it amounted to a racial slur.

Shortly after Halls, who has worked with orchestras and opera houses across Europe and the US, was told by a university official his four year contract, which was to have run until 2020, was being terminated.

Mobley, a countertenor who regularly performs in the UK, has now spoken out to defend his friend, saying there was nothing racist about the joke and describing the university’s apparent treatment of Halls as deeply unjust.

“He has been victimised and I’m very upset about it,” he told The Sunday Telegraph. “It was an innocent joke that has been entirely taken out of context.”

The incident comes amid heightened sensitivity over race in the US, with renewed protest over police brutality, institutional racism and the re-emergence of white supremacists.

It also coincides with the rise of what some have dubbed ‘the snowflake generation’ and the debate over whether the demand for ‘safe spaces’ on campus stifles debate and free speech or simply protects minorities from abuse and discrimination.

But Mobley maintains that while racism should be challenged and ethnic groups made aware of each other’s sensitivities, his friend has been the victim of misunderstanding and overreaction.

Halls and Mobley had been chatting at a reception held last month during this year’s Oregon Bach Festival, when the subject turned to a concert in London in which Mobley had performed.

The singer, who was born and raised in the southern state of Florida, said the concert had an “antebellum” feel to it, of the sort associated with Gone With the Wind and other rose-tinted representations of the pre-Civil War south.

In response Mobley says that Halls “apologised on behalf of England”, before putting on an exaggerated southern accent and joking: “Do you want some grits?”, in a reference to the ground corn dish popular in the south.

“I’m from the deep south and Matthew often makes fun of the southern accent just as I often make fun of his British accent,” said Mobley. “Race was not an issue. He was imitating a southern accent, not putting on a black accent, and there was nothing racist or malicious about it.”

But the singer suspects that a white woman who overheard their conversation and spoke to him moments later went on to report it to the university, alleging Halls had made a racist joke.

An internal inquiry into the incident is understood to have been held as a result of the complaint.

However, Mobley was not invited to give evidence and he says there is a deep irony in the fact the authorities appear to have assumed on his behalf that he would have objected to the joke.

“I’m the subject of a falsified story, without having the chance to have my say,” he said. “My voice has been taken away in a conversation about race that involved me, and technically that’s racist.”

Pressure on the festival organisers to reinstate Halls is growing, with from others musicians coming to his support.

Meanwhile Mobley fears his friend’s career will suffer after being tarnished with the incendiary label of racism.

“Matthew is obviously upset, and part of his anger would have to come from the fact he’s been accused of saying something so insensitive to a close friend,” said Mobley.

The singer, who will perform in Purcell’s King Arthur with the Academy of Ancient Music at London’s Barbican next month, says that while he appreciates the efforts of some white people to confront racism, he warns it can lead to wrong headed assumptions.

“A lot of our allies have become so eager to help the race and fix the scars they almost go too far,” said Mobley. “They think they are at the point where they understand racism more than those who have really encountered it in their lives and they make assumptions on our behalf about how we might feel, as if we don’t understand when something said to us or done to use is racist.

“It’s well meaning, but the path to hell is paved with good intentions.

“It also demeans and cheapens the very serious work done by civil rights activists and abolitionists to have the difficult nuances of racism and microaggressions taken seriously.”

Responding to the claims a spokesman for Oregon Bach Festival, said: “The University considers many factors when deciding whether to continue a contract. Regarding Reggie Mobley, it doesn’t appear he was involved in the University’s decision. Having said that, it would be inappropriate for the University to disclose details about a personnel matter.

“While I anticipate that more information will be available soon, I’m afraid that’s all I can say on the matter right now.”


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All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.