Tom Gross Mideast Media Analysis

“Fear of speech is replacing freedom of speech”; WSJ: We are not the NYT; & a discussion with Amanda Foreman

July 27, 2020

 

“IF LIBERTY MEANS ANYTHING AT ALL IT MEANS THE RIGHT TO TELL PEOPLE WHAT THEY DO NOT WANT TO HEAR”

[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach six articles from recent days about the current state of free speech.

“If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear,” as George Orwell put it, a sentiment that is increasingly being suppressed.

Before a summary of those articles, there is another in my series of informal “conversations with friends”.

 

HISTORIAN AND WRITER AMANDA FOREMAN (NEW YORK)

https://youtu.be/lFHkJcf0qO0

http://www.tomgrossmedia.com/mideastdispatches/archives/001938.html

Amanda Foreman talks about her life and career; her father Carl Foreman (who wrote the films Bridge on the River Kwai, High Noon, and Guns of Navarone, but who was then driven out of town by Senator McCarthy’s witchhunts); Amanda’s own encounter with John Wayne; her books; her TV series on the ascent of women; her nonprofit that helps deprived American kids to read; and about curating an exhibition last year on Queen Victoria for the current English queen in Buckingham Palace. Amanda also discusses why statues and icons are such popular targets in the History wars.

 

A MENTION IN THE JERUSALEM POST

Yesterday, the Jerusalem Post grapevine column mentioned my ongoing series of informal zoom conversations with friends. Last item here:

https://www.jpost.com/opinion/grapevine-july-26-2020-zooming-in-on-tisha-beav-636325

The Jerusalem Post writes:

MOST ENGLISH-language journalists living in Israel, and several living in the US and England have at some stage or another worked as reporters, feature writers, copy editors and section editors at The Jerusalem Post, which for many has been a stepping stone to a broader journalistic career.

Former staff members of the Post either worked, for or are currently working, for Israel Hayom, Haaretz, KAN, i24, Bloomberg, the New York Times [for example, Bret Stephens], the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, CNN [for example, Wolf Blitzer], the London Jewish Chronicle, The Economist, the Independent, the Australian, the Bulletin, Associated Press, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Reuters and numerous other media outlets.

Among the many journalists who once worked in the old Romema offices of The Jerusalem Post is Tom Gross, a British-born journalist and international affairs commentator who is also a campaigner for human rights, specializing in the Middle East. Gross is now more in the nature of an opinion writer than a news reporter and writes for Israeli, Arab, British and American publications, and is a frequent commentator on the BBC and various Middle East networks.

In addition, he monitors Middle East news and sends out a Middle East dispatch list to journalists, politicians and members of think tanks.

Unable to move around as much as he used to before COVID-19 put a blight on travel, Gross decided to do a series of YouTube informal conversations with people such as Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff; Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland; former aide to Margaret Thatcher John O’Sullivan, author, commentator and a senior editor of the National Review David Pryce-Jones; Iranian-born screen writer and film director Hossein Amini and several other interesting citizens of the world. The conversations cover an extraordinary broad range of subjects. In Jewish religion it is believed that he who saves a single life saves a whole world. But all of us are part of many worlds, a factor which repeated itself in the various conversations and caused Gross to realize that he too was part of many worlds.

So he put himself into the series as well and in conversation with Paul Lewis, who asks Gross about his own life experiences and views Gross talks about: growing up surrounded by cultural and literary luminaries in London and New York who were the friends and acquaintances of his parents, distinguished author and critic John Gross, and his mother Miriam, a literary editor; Sunday brunches with Elvis Presley’s songwriter; crossing Checkpoint Charlie into East Berlin with his grandmother during communism; helping the Roma when almost no one else would; his close relationship with his godmother Sonia Orwell (the model for the heroine Julia of her husband George Orwell’s masterpiece 1984); being in Manhattan on 9/11; the Mideast; the importance and legacy of the Holocaust; and other matters.

 

SUMMARIES OF ARTICLES BELOW

Tom Gross writes:

I attach six articles from recent days about the current state of free speech.

In the first piece, Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby writes: “For generations, Americans were raised to see robust debate as essential to democratic health. Is that still true?”

“Culturally, the freedom to express unpopular views has never been more endangered,” he says. “On college campuses, in workplaces, in the media, there are ever-widening no-go zones of viewpoints and arguments that cannot be safely expressed. Voice an opinion that self-anointed social-justice warriors regard as heretical, and the consequences can be career-destroying.”

 

In an editorial titled “A Note to Readers” the Wall Street Journal says “We are not the New York Times.”

“These pages won’t wilt under cancel-culture pressure,” says the Journal Editorial Board in response to a letter signed by 280 of the more left-wing news and other staff at the Wall Street Journal, calling for the Journal opinion pages to become more “politically correct”.

 

Then there is an article by Princeton Classic professor Joshua Katz who has (for the time being) survived a campaign of harassment by other academics to censor him by the university for daring to think outside the box.

 

In the fourth piece, Sunday Telegraph columnist Zoe Strimpel asks “Why does cancel culture never apply to anti-Semitism?”

“The right may hold power, but it’s the hard left that’s making the culture laws we must live by – and they’re riddled with double standards,” she says.

 

In the fifth piece, in “A Farewell Letter” for “New York” magazine, Andrew Sullivan writes: “I’ve just been “canceled,” sent into oblivion and exile for some alleged sin. I haven’t. I’m just no longer going to be writing for a magazine that has every right to hire and fire anyone it wants when it comes to the content of what it wants to publish.

“The quality of my work does not appear to be the problem. I have a long essay in the coming print magazine on how plagues change societies, after all. I have written some of the most widely read essays in the history of the magazine, and my column has been popular with readers. And I have no complaints about my interaction with the wonderful editors and fact-checkers here – and, in fact, am deeply grateful for their extraordinary talent, skill, and compassion. I’ve been in the office maybe a handful of times over four years, and so there’s no question of anyone mistreating me or vice versa. In fact, I’ve been proud and happy to be a part of this venture.

“Two years ago, I wrote that we all live on campus now. That is an understatement. In academia, a tiny fraction of professors and administrators have not yet bent the knee to the woke program – and those few left are being purged. The latest study of Harvard University faculty, for example, finds that only 1.46 percent call themselves conservative. But that’s probably higher than the proportion of journalists who call themselves conservative at the New York Times or CNN or New York Magazine. And maybe it’s worth pointing out that “conservative” in my case means that I have passionately opposed Donald J. Trump and pioneered marriage equality, that I support legalized drugs, criminal-justice reform, more redistribution of wealth, aggressive action against climate change, police reform, a realist foreign policy, and laws to protect transgender people from discrimination. I was one of the first journalists in established media to come out. I was a major and early supporter of Barack Obama. I intend to vote for Biden in November.”

 

Finally, there is a news article: “Companies Start to Think Remote Work Isn’t So Great After All: Projects take longer. Collaboration is harder. And training new workers is a struggle. This is not going to be sustainable.”

(Three of these writers – Jeff Jacoby, Zoe Strimpel and Andrew Sullivan – are subscribers to this list.)


CONTENTS

1. “Fear of speech is replacing freedom of speech” (By Jeff Jacoby, The Boston Globe, July 26, 2020)
2. “A Note to Readers” (Wall St Journal Editorial Board, July 24, 2020)
3. “I survived cancellation at Princeton” (By Joshua Katz, Wall St Journal, July 27, 2020)
4. “Why does cancel culture never apply to anti-Semitism?” (By Zoe Strimpel, UK Sunday Telegraph, July 19, 2020)
5. “See you next Friday: a farewell letter” (By Andrew Sullivan, New York magazine, July 17, 2020)
6. “Companies start to think remote work isn’t so great after all” (By Chip Cutter, Wall St Journal, July 25, 2020)

 

ARTICLES

FEAR OF SPEECH IS REPLACING FREEDOM OF SPEECH

Fear of speech is replacing freedom of speech
By Jeff Jacoby
The Boston Globe
July 26, 2020

For generations, Americans were raised to see robust debate as essential to democratic health. Is that still true?

“FREEDOM OF SPEECH,” the famous Norman Rockwell painting that depicts a young man addressing a local gathering, was inspired by a real event. One evening in 1942, Rockwell attended the town meeting in Arlington, Vt., where he lived for many years. On the agenda was the construction of a new school. It was a popular proposal, supported by everyone in attendance – except for one resident, who got up to express his dissenting view. He was evidently a blue-collar worker, whose battered jacket and stained fingernails set him apart from the other men in the audience, all dressed in white shirts and ties. In Rockwell’s scene, the man speaks his mind, unafraid to express a minority opinion and not intimidated by the status of those he’s challenging. He has no reason not to speak plainly: His words are being attended to with respectful attention. His neighbors may disagree with him, but they’re willing to hear what he has to say.

What brings Rockwell’s painting to mind is a new national poll by the Cato Institute. The survey found that self-censorship has become extremely widespread in American society, with 62 percent of adults saying that, given the current political climate, they are afraid to honestly express their views.

“These fears cross partisan lines,” writes Emily Ekins, Cato’s director of polling. “Majorities of Democrats (52 percent), independents (59 percent), and Republicans (77 percent) all agree they have political opinions they are afraid to share.” The survey’s 2,000 respondents sorted themselves ideologically as “very liberal,” “liberal,” “moderate,” “conservative,” or “very conservative.” In every category except “very liberal,” a majority of respondents feel pressured to keep their views to themselves. Roughly one-third of American adults – 32 percent – fear they could be fired or otherwise penalized at work if their political beliefs became known.

Freedom of speech has often been threatened in America, but the suppression of “wrong” opinions in the past has tended to come from the top down. It was the government that arrested editors for criticizing Woodrow Wilson’s foreign policy, made it a crime to burn the flag, turned the dogs on civil rights marchers, and jailed communists under the Smith Act. Today, by contrast, dissent is rarely prosecuted. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s First Amendment jurisprudence, freedom of expression has never been more strongly protected – legally.

But culturally, the freedom to express unpopular views has never been more endangered.

On college campuses, in workplaces, in the media, there are ever-widening no-go zones of viewpoints and arguments that cannot be safely expressed. Voice an opinion that self-anointed social-justice warriors regard as heretical, and the consequences can be career-destroying. The dean of the nursing school at UMass-Lowell lost her job after writing in an email that “everyone’s life matters.” An art curator was accused of being a racist and forced to quit for saying that his museum would “continue to collect white artists.” The director of communications for Boeing apologized and resigned after an employee complained that 33 years ago he was opposed to women serving in combat.

Virtually everyone would agree that some views are indisputably beyond the pale. If there are supporters of slavery or advocates of genocide who feel inhibited from sharing their beliefs, no one much cares. But the range of opinions deemed unsayable by today’s progressive thought police extends well into the mainstream. And in many cases, the most enthusiastic suppressors of debate are students, journalists, artists, intellectuals – those who in former times were the greatest champions of uninhibited speech and the greatest foes of ideological conformity.

It isn’t only on the left that this totalitarian impulse to silence dissent exists. President Trump, always infuriated by criticism, has called for columnists who disparage him to be fired, hecklers at his rallies to be beaten up, and TV stations to lose their licenses if they run ads vilifying his handling of the pandemic – calls routinely amplified on social media by tens of thousands of his followers. When a Babson College professor joked that Iran ought to bomb “sites of beloved American cultural heritage” like the Mall of America and the Kardashian residence, a right-wing website launched a campaign that got him fired.

The new Cato survey found that more than one in five Americans (22 percent) would support firing a business executive who donated money to Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, while 31 percent would be OK with firing someone who gave money to Trump’s re‐election campaign. The urge to ostracize or penalize unwelcome views isn’t restricted to just one end of the spectrum.

Americans’ right to free speech is shielded by the Constitution to a degree unmatched anywhere else. But our First Amendment guarantees will prove impotent if the habit of free speech is lost. For generations, Americans were raised to see debate as legitimate, desirable, and essential to democratic health. They quoted Voltaire’s (apocryphal) aphorism: “I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.” Editors, publishers, satirists, and civil libertarians took to heart the dictum of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., who wrote that “the principle of free thought” is meant to enshrine “not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.”

But that principle has been turned on its head. The “thought that we hate” is not tolerated but stifled. It is reviled as taboo, forbidden to be uttered. Anyone expressing it may be accused not just of giving offense, but of literally endangering those who disagree. And even if only some people lose their careers or reputations for saying something “wrong,” countless others get the chilling message.

“And so dread settles in,” writes journalist Emily Yoffe. “Challenging books go untaught. Deep conversations are not had. Friendships are not formed. Classmates and colleagues eye each other with suspicion.”

And 62 percent of Americans fear to express what they think.

The speaker in Norman Rockwell’s painting may have had something unpopular to say, but neither he nor his neighbors had any doubt that it was appropriate for him to say it. Now, such doubt is everywhere, and freedom of speech has never been more threatened.

 

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: “WE ARE NOT THE NEW YORK TIMES”

A Note to Readers
These pages won’t wilt under cancel-culture pressure.
By The Editorial Board
Wall Street Journal
July 24, 2020

https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-note-to-readers-11595547898

We’ve been gratified this week by the outpouring of support from readers after some 280 of our Wall Street Journal colleagues signed (and someone leaked) a letter to our publisher criticizing the opinion pages. But the support has often been mixed with concern that perhaps the letter will cause us to change our principles and content. On that point, reassurance is in order.

In the spirit of collegiality, we won’t respond in kind to the letter signers. Their anxieties aren’t our responsibility in any case. The signers report to the News editors or other parts of the business, and the News and Opinion departments operate with separate staffs and editors. Both report to Publisher Almar Latour. This separation allows us to pursue stories and inform readers with independent judgment.

It was probably inevitable that the wave of progressive cancel culture would arrive at the Journal, as it has at nearly every other cultural, business, academic and journalistic institution. But we are not the New York Times. Most Journal reporters attempt to cover the news fairly and down the middle, and our opinion pages offer an alternative to the uniform progressive views that dominate nearly all of today’s media.

As long as our proprietors allow us the privilege to do so, the opinion pages will continue to publish contributors who speak their minds within the tradition of vigorous, reasoned discourse. And these columns will continue to promote the principles of free people and free markets, which are more important than ever in what is a culture of growing progressive conformity and intolerance.

 

I SURVIVED CANCELLATION AT PRINCETON

I Survived Cancellation at Princeton
It was a close call, but I won’t be investigated for criticizing a faculty ‘open letter’ signed by hundreds.
By Joshua T. Katz
Wall Street Journal
July 27, 2020

(Joshua T. Katz is a professor of classics at Princeton.)

https://www.wsj.com/articles/i-survived-cancellation-at-princeton-11595787211

Now is the time to debate with renewed vigor existential questions of what counts as justice and how to fashion an equitable society. But the stifling of dissent is impeding the search for answers and driving people who disagree still further apart. Because students like to push boundaries and professors like to argue, colleges and universities are a crucible.

Take the university where I teach, Princeton. The campus – or at least the online campus, in the age of the coronavirus – has been in uproar since early July over a letter of demands to the administration signed by hundreds of my faculty colleagues, and especially over my response to that letter. I was immediately denounced on social media and condemned publicly by my department and the university president. At the same time, the university spokesman announced ominously that the administration would be “looking into the matter further.” On July 14, the Journal’s editorial board commented: “Princeton is demonstrating how a lack of leadership enables the cancel culture.”

It is therefore gratifying to report that Princeton’s leadership has done the right thing. I learned recently that I am not under investigation. The story of how I survived cancellation should be of interest to others, since I have no doubt that many more people, from once-obscure professors to public figures, will be vilified and in some cases materially punished for thought crimes.

In my response to the open letter, I agreed with some of my colleagues’ demands but objected to others, including some that are illegal (giving financial rewards specifically to faculty based on race) or, in my view, immoral (creating a new faculty committee to investigate research for traces of racism and discipline those responsible).

These demands deserve attention, not least because I believe that my colleagues are, for the most part, sensible people who are striving to make the world a better place. Unfortunately, heat over my use of the phrase “terrorist organization” to describe a defunct student group called the Black Justice League – whose members targeted and smeared fellow undergraduates for disagreeing with them – has triumphed over light: Neither my colleagues’ substantive demands nor my objections have received the attention they deserve.

The president of Princeton, Christopher Eisgruber, told a student newspaper that I had violated my obligation to exercise free speech “responsibly,” stating that he “personally and strongly” objected to my “false description” of the defunct student group. Four colleagues in my department, none of whom have been in touch with me directly, used the Princeton Classics website to denounce my language as “abhorrent” and made the astonishing claim that I had placed “Black colleagues, students, and alums at serious risk.” Some students and alumni went after me as well. And that’s to say nothing of the general vitriol online.

I emphatically do not want anyone to come away with the impression that I feel victimized. Yes, I’m bruised and angry, and sad because so many people who privately say they agree with me are too frightened to state their opinions publicly. But everyone has the right to free speech – my critics and I equally. I am certain that the university president was motivated by a concern for the Princeton community, as I was. We were both defending people we believe have been wronged. Each of us has every right to do this, and while we disagree about what constitutes offensive rhetoric, this is not a scandal. It should be normal for people with differing views to criticize each other in a civil fashion.

I believe my blunt words were justified. I also understand why some were offended by them. I wrote in good faith, expecting that my response would contribute to a necessary discussion on campus – even more necessary than I had realized, I now see. I also wrote in the expectation that my right to express my opinion would be protected under the legally enforceable guarantees of free speech known as the University of Chicago principles, adopted by vote of the Princeton faculty in 2015 and set forth in the university’s regulations.

It was therefore shocking to read that the university would be “looking into” what I had said. As Alex Morey of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education wrote a few days ago, “Princeton’s suggestion alone that such action might be forthcoming has serious – and chilling – implications.”

But here we are. The administration is not investigating me, and my departmental colleagues have taken down their unwise statement of condemnation. Meanwhile, support keeps pouring in: from undergraduates, graduate students and faculty in my department and across the university; from alumni; from teachers all over the country and beyond; and from people unconnected to academia who are concerned that suppressing speech only makes worse the many problems the U.S. faces.

All this explains why free speech matters – for everyone. The president of Princeton is entitled to express his personal beliefs. So are my colleagues, at least on private websites. And I am particularly impressed with those very few students and alumni who demonstrated courage by writing to me in harsh but thoughtful terms about their objections to my words rather than bullying me quasi-anonymously online. I wish we were not at odds, but how much better it is for people to be permitted to argue than to follow, unthinkingly, the orthodoxy du jour. Free speech and robust debate have prevailed at Princeton.

 

WHY DOES CANCEL CULTURE NEVER APPLY TO ANTI-SEMITISM?

Why does cancel culture never apply to anti-Semitism?

The right may hold power, but it’s the hard left that’s making the culture laws we must live by – and they’re riddled with double standards

By Zoe Strimpel
Sunday Telegraph (London)
July 19, 2020

For years now, those made uneasy by the bullying, intellectually dishonest and manipulative tendencies of the illiberal and identity-obsessed left have been sneered at for raising their concerns.

Stop snivelling about free speech, they are told. You’re just part of a right-wing conspiracy, manipulating reality to wreak evil on oppressed minorities, they are told. And what are you complaining about anyway? Conservatives hold high political office. As the headline on the most recent offering from slippery social justice warrior-in-chief Owen Jones whined: ‘The right are in power everywhere, but they can’t stop playing the victim.’

That’s certainly not how I, or a growing number of shocked bystanders of diverse political stripes, see things. Yes, the right holds formal power in a handful of civilised nations: the UK, the US, Australia, Israel. It does have political power.

But it’s not ‘playing the victim’. It’s rather that when it comes to influence over culture and our everyday lives, it’s the unelected hard left that increasingly wields the weaponry, and it’s chilling. The elected parties make actual laws, but it is the illiberal left now making all the other laws; those we increasingly must live by if we want to work, express ourselves in public and private, and keep our friends.

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the ascendancy of the mass anti-racism movement, the grip on what we are allowed to say and think has tightened still further. It all finally became too much for a wide range of intellectuals and personages – many of whom were once standard-bearers of the left – resulting in an open letter to Harper’s Magazine last week denouncing the ‘vogue for public shaming and ostracism’ engulfing the public sphere and institutional culture. Signatories included JK Rowling, Margaret Atwood, Martin Amis and Steven Pinker.

The backlash was immediate, and predictable, with signatories mocked for being privileged cry-babies, and worse, for leveraging it all for personal gain.

But I was particularly interested by another high-profile analysis of the tyrannical groupthink at the pinnacle of supposedly liberal society. For this one showed with clarity the black heart of anti-Semitism that beats in plain sight amid all the virtue signalling.

Bari Weiss, the 36-year old author of How To Fight Anti-Semitism, announced her resignation from the New York Times where, to the paper’s credit, she had been hired in 2017 to bring in diversity of opinion as an op-ed editor and writer.

The open letter in which she described her reasons for leaving was forceful, clear and plain-speaking. “My own forays into Wrongthink have made me the subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views,” she wrote.

Notably, that bullying often took the form of brazen anti-Semitism: “They have called me a Nazi and a racist,” Weiss wrote. “I have learned to brush off comments about how I’m ‘writing about the Jews again”.

Weiss’s letter highlighted a now-familiar irony: not only does anti-Semitism not count in the new reckoning of racial harms, but Jews are seen as the enemy. She noted that colleagues could “publicly smear me as a liar and a bigot on Twitter with no fear that harassing me will be met with appropriate action. [It never is].” Indeed: cancel culture never applies to anti-Semitism.

The responses to Weiss’s letter made me feel even queasier. Writing in Forbes, Dani Di Placido was just one writer who managed to distort the real outrages Weiss had elucidated, and mock her reasons for resigning: “Bari Weiss, famous for trying to silence professors during her college years… recently quit her position at the New York Times because of perceived harassment and the supposed self-censorship of the newspaper, apparently the fault of Twitter.” The jibe about silencing professors is a reference to Weiss’s involvement in calling out the social and intellectual bullying she experienced and observed, as a pro-Israel undergraduate, by pro-Palestinian professors at Columbia University, where she studied. Di Placido’s sneer about silencing professors just offers another example of how the left now operates: when a Jew calls out flagrant anti-Semitism, that Jew is accused of ‘silencing’ criticism about Israel. This is a mendacious trick.

Di Placido continued, implying that Weiss was duplicitous, with greedy ulterior motives for resigning: “Whatever your opinion of Weiss, she’s likely to land on her feet; there’s a very lucrative market out there for opinionated people who loudly claim to have been ‘cancelled.’” This is gaslighting plain and simple, and it is vile.

In the UK, of course, the idea that those who call out anti-Semitism are conspiring for personal gain against the true warriors of truth and justice (the PC mob) gained significant ground under Jeremy Corbyn. And even though he’s gone, the idea persists. Last week saw his allies throwing tantrums as Labour seemed set to apologise to anti-Semitism whistleblowers for the harassment and bullying they faced under the former leader. Corbyn’s hangers-on still think the whistleblowers’ evidence of anti-Jewish culture under the dear leader, revealed in a Panorama programme last year, was just a cynical attempt to smear the party, rather than the sign of a party gone rotten to the core.

The illiberal left, obsessed with policing thought, speech, art and expression, insists it wants justice for the oppressed. It is a grotesque irony that this campaign requires treating Jews just like our persecutors always have: liars who – no matter what we say or what happens to us – are always on the side of manipulation and greed. A culture that allows this kind of thinking about Jews to flourish, or that tolerates the kind of double standards experienced by Bari Weiss, is a culture that needs a reboot – fast.

 

SEE YOU NEXT FRIDAY: A FAREWELL LETTER

See You Next Friday: A Farewell Letter
By Andrew Sullivan
New York magazine
July 17, 2020

https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/07/andrew-sullivan-see-you-next-friday.html

The good news is that my last column in this space is not about “cancel culture.” Well, almost. I agree with some of the critics that it’s a little nuts to say I’ve just been “canceled,” sent into oblivion and exile for some alleged sin. I haven’t. I’m just no longer going to be writing for a magazine that has every right to hire and fire anyone it wants when it comes to the content of what it wants to publish.

The quality of my work does not appear to be the problem. I have a long essay in the coming print magazine on how plagues change societies, after all. I have written some of the most widely read essays in the history of the magazine, and my column has been popular with readers. And I have no complaints about my interaction with the wonderful editors and fact-checkers here – and, in fact, am deeply grateful for their extraordinary talent, skill, and compassion. I’ve been in the office maybe a handful of times over four years, and so there’s no question of anyone mistreating me or vice versa. In fact, I’ve been proud and happy to be a part of this venture.

What has happened, I think, is relatively simple: A critical mass of the staff and management at New York Magazine and Vox Media no longer want to associate with me, and, in a time of ever tightening budgets, I’m a luxury item they don’t want to afford. And that’s entirely their prerogative. They seem to believe, and this is increasingly the orthodoxy in mainstream media, that any writer not actively committed to critical theory in questions of race, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity is actively, physically harming co-workers merely by existing in the same virtual space. Actually attacking, and even mocking, critical theory’s ideas and methods, as I have done continually in this space, is therefore out of sync with the values of Vox Media. That, to the best of my understanding, is why I’m out of here.

Two years ago, I wrote that we all live on campus now. That is an understatement. In academia, a tiny fraction of professors and administrators have not yet bent the knee to the woke program – and those few left are being purged. The latest study of Harvard University faculty, for example, finds that only 1.46 percent call themselves conservative. But that’s probably higher than the proportion of journalists who call themselves conservative at the New York Times or CNN or New York Magazine. And maybe it’s worth pointing out that “conservative” in my case means that I have passionately opposed Donald J. Trump and pioneered marriage equality, that I support legalized drugs, criminal-justice reform, more redistribution of wealth, aggressive action against climate change, police reform, a realist foreign policy, and laws to protect transgender people from discrimination. I was one of the first journalists in established media to come out. I was a major and early supporter of Barack Obama. I intend to vote for Biden in November.

It seems to me that if this conservatism is so foul that many of my peers are embarrassed to be working at the same magazine, then I have no idea what version of conservatism could ever be tolerated. And that’s fine. We have freedom of association in this country, and if the mainstream media want to cut ties with even moderate anti-Trump conservatives, because they won’t bend the knee to critical theory’s version of reality, that’s their prerogative. It may even win them more readers, at least temporarily. But this is less of a systemic problem than in the past, because the web has massively eroded the power of gatekeepers to suppress and control speech. I was among the first to recognize this potential for individual freedom of speech, and helped pioneer individual online media, specifically blogging, 20 years ago.

And this is where I’m now headed.

Since I closed down the Dish, my bloggy website, five years ago, after 15 years of daily blogging, I have not missed the insane work hours that all but broke my health. But here’s what I do truly and deeply miss: writing freely without being in a defensive crouch; airing tough, smart dissent and engaging with readers in a substantive way that avoids Twitter madness; a truly free intellectual space where anything, yes anything, can be debated without personal abuse or questioning of motives; and where readers can force me to change my mind (or not) by sheer logic or personal testimony.

I miss a readership that truly was eclectic – left, liberal, centrist, right, reactionary – and that loved to be challenged by me and by each other. I miss just the sheer fun that used to be a part of being a hack before all these dreadfully earnest, humor-free puritans took over the press: jokes, window views, silly videos, contests, puns, rickrolls, and so on. The most popular feature we ever ran was completely apolitical – The View From Your Window contest. It was as simple and humanizing as the current web is so fraught and dehumanizing. And in this era of COVID-19 isolation and despair, the need for a humane, tolerant, yet provocative and interesting, community is more urgent than ever.

So, yeah, after being prodded for years by Dishheads, I’m going to bring back the Dish.

I’ve long tried to figure out a way to have this kind of lively community without endangering my health and sanity. Which is why the Weekly Dish, which launches now, is where I’ve landed. The Weekly Dish will be hosted by Substack, a fantastic company that hosts an increasingly impressive number of individual free thinkers, like Jesse Singal and Matt Taibbi. There is a growing federation of independent thinkers and writers not subject to mainstream media’s increasingly narrow range of acceptable thought.

The initial basic formula – which, as with all things Dish, will no doubt evolve – is the following: this three-part column, with perhaps a couple of added short posts or features (I probably won’t be able to resist); a serious dissent section, where I can air real disagreement with my column, and engage with it constructively and civilly; a podcast, which I’ve long wanted to do, but never found a way to fit in; and yes, reader window views again, and the return of The View From Your Window contest. I’m able to do all this because Chris Bodenner, the guru of the Dish in-box and master of the Window View contest, is coming back to join me. He’ll select the dissents, as he long did, in ways that will put me on the spot.

Some have said that this good-faith engagement with lefty and liberal readers made me a better writer and thinker. And I think they’re right. Twitter has been bad for me; it’s just impossible to respond with the same care and nuance that I was able to at the Dish. And if we want to defend what’s left of liberal democracy, it’s not enough to expose and criticize the current model. We just need to model and practice liberal democracy better.

And that’s my larger hope and ambition. If the mainstream media will not host a diversity of opinion, or puts the “moral clarity” of some self-appointed saints before the goal of objectivity in reporting, if it treats writers as mere avatars for their race and gender or gender identity, rather than as unique individuals whose identity is largely irrelevant, then the nonmainstream needs to pick up the slack. What I hope to do at the Weekly Dish is to champion those younger writers who are increasingly shut out of the Establishment, to promote their blogs, articles, and podcasts, to link to them, and encourage them. I want to show them that they have a future in the American discourse. Instead of merely diagnosing the problem of illiberalism, I want to try to be part of the solution.

I’ll still probably piss you off, on a regular basis. “If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear,” as my journalistic mentor George Orwell put it. But I’ll also be directly accountable, and open to arguments that I, too, don’t want to hear but need to engage. And I hope to find readers who are fine with being pissed off – if it prompts them to reevaluate ideas.

If you believe in that vision or are simply interested in engaging a variety of ideas in a free-wheeling debate, then please join us. Those of you who were loyal Dishheads receive this column every Friday in an email, and you will get the same email next week directing you to the new Weekly Dish. If you are not on that list, or have not received an email lately, or have gotten to know me from my work at New York alone, you can add your name by clicking here.

The Weekly Dish will be free for a bit, while we iron out kinks and prep a podcast for the fall. But if you want to subscribe right away, or be a founding Weekly Dishhead, we’d love it, and it would help us enormously in getting this off the ground.

Dishness lives. All we’re waiting for is you.

See you next Friday.

 

COMPANIES START TO THINK REMOTE WORK ISN’T SO GREAT AFTER ALL

Companies Start to Think Remote Work Isn’t So Great After All

Projects take longer. Collaboration is harder. And training new workers is a struggle. ‘This is not going to be sustainable.’

By Chip Cutter
The Wall Street Journal
July 25, 2020

https://www.wsj.com/articles/companies-start-to-think-remote-work-isnt-so-great-after-all-11595603397

Four months ago, employees at many U.S. companies went home and did something incredible: They got their work done, seemingly without missing a beat. Executives were amazed at how well their workers performed remotely, even while juggling child care and the distractions of home. Twitter Inc. TWTR -2.34% and Facebook Inc., among others, quickly said they would embrace remote work long term. Some companies even vowed to give up their physical office spaces entirely.

Now, as the work-from-home experiment stretches on, some cracks are starting to emerge. Projects take longer. Training is tougher. Hiring and integrating new employees, more complicated. Some employers say their workers appear less connected and bosses fear that younger professionals aren’t developing at the same rate as they would in offices, sitting next to colleagues and absorbing how they do their jobs.

Months into a pandemic that rapidly reshaped how companies operate, an increasing number of executives now say that remote work, while necessary for safety much of this year, is not their preferred long-term solution once the coronavirus crisis passes.

“There’s sort of an emerging sense behind the scenes of executives saying, ‘This is not going to be sustainable,’” said Laszlo Bock, chief executive of human-resources startup Humu and the former HR chief at Google. No CEO should be surprised that the early productivity gains companies witnessed as remote work took hold have peaked and leveled off, he adds, because workers left offices in March armed with laptops and a sense of doom.

“It was people being terrified of losing their jobs, and that fear-driven productivity is not sustainable,” Mr. Bock said.

Few companies expect remote work to go away in the near term, though the evolving thinking among many CEOs reflects a significant shift from the early days of the pandemic.

“You can tell people are getting fatigued,” said Peter P. Kowalczuk, president of Canon Solutions America, a division of copier and camera giant Canon Inc., which employs about 15,000 people across the country.

Mr. Kowalczuk, who worked for months out of a bedroom in his home, went back to Canon’s U.S. headquarters in Melville, N.Y., in early July. Now, no more than 50% of the company’s employees are coming into work at the 52-acre office campus, which features two ponds and a walking trail, and typically includes more than 11,000 staffers in a single building.

Returning is voluntary, Mr. Kowalczuk said, and requires answering a series of health questions on an app the company created, called Check-In Online, before getting approval to drive in. The company has also blocked off desks to allow for greater distancing, stepped up cleaning and created a rotating schedule so that staffers come in on alternating weeks.

“We’re really a face-to-face business,” he said. “I don’t think offices are dead.”

The nature of what some companies do makes it tough, if not impossible, to function remotely. In San Francisco, startup Chef Robotics recently missed a key product deadline by a month, hampered by the challenges of integrating and testing software and hardware with its engineers scattered across the Bay Area. Pre-pandemic, they all collaborated in one space.

Problems that took an hour to solve in the office stretched out for a day when workers were remote, said Chief Executive Rajat Bhageria. “That’s just a logistical nightmare,” he said.

Chef Robotics had little choice but to make do. Its office space could not accommodate all eight full-time employees and allow for distancing. For a while, Mr. Bhageria invited four people in at a time, on a voluntary basis, to work together.

“We tried it,” he says. “It’s just not the same. You just cannot get the same quality of work.”

Chef Robotics moved in mid-July to a new office in the South of Market neighborhood with double the square footage, better ventilation and non-communal restrooms.

Teams physically building a product need to be together, Mr. Bhageria said. “There’s this thrill of being a little hacky group of people, on a shared mission, in a startup, with little money, eating pizza and ramen.”

The Boston-based video technology firm OpenExchange, which helps run large, online conferencing events, is going a step further to bring employees together. Workers on the company’s European team said they could benefit from some in-person interaction during this time of huge growth at the company. So in late July, OpenExchange is renting a house in the English countryside, with about 15 bedrooms, so many of its employees can live and work together, while still distancing. In some cases, family members are coming along.

It’s important to have people in a room and see body language and read signals that don’t come through a screen, says Mark Loehr, the CEO, noting the event is optional. “They’re going to do their work there – modestly, individually, sometimes in group rooms – but try to meet together for breakfast, lunch and meals,” he says. “And maybe out on the lawn, just to know each other.”

One benefit of working together in person, many executives said, is the potential for spontaneous interactions. Mary Bilbrey, global chief human resources officer at real-estate giant Jones Lang LaSalle Inc., returned to her Chicago office in early June, as the company reopened its spaces. She noticed that she was soon having conversations with peers that wouldn’t have happened in a remote set up – a discussion sparked by a passing question in the hall, for instance. “They weren’t going to think about scheduling a 30 minute call to do it,” she said.

Commercial real-estate firms like JLL stand to benefit from a widespread return to office work. For now, the length of most office leases means that most companies are unlikely to move away from physical offices immediately. The majority of U.S. office leases are eight years or longer, according to an analysis by credit-rating agency Moody’s Investors Service. In an early July report, analysts noted that they didn’t expect an exodus from offices, despite popular claims that offices were now dead.

More companies now envision a hybrid future, with more time spent working remote, yet with opportunities to regularly convene teams. CompuCom Systems Inc., the IT service provider owned by Office Depot, may institute “core hours” for its employees, similar to office hours that professors hold on college campuses. The idea under consideration is that teams would agree to come together for a limited time on certain days of the week to bounce ideas off each other, collaborate and strategize, says CompuCom president Mick Slattery. Online education provider Coursera expects half of its 650 employees to work “blended” hours once the pandemic passes, with staffers spending three days a week in the office and the rest remote, says Chief Executive Jeff Maggioncalda.

The toll of extended work-from-home arrangements is likely to affect career development, particularly for younger workers, several executives said. At Stifel Financial Corp., which employs more than 8,000 people around the world, junior employees learn how to underwrite deals or develop pitch books by sitting beside more experienced colleagues and watching them work, said Chief Executive Ronald J. Kruszewski. That’s hard to do remotely.

“I am concerned that we would somehow believe that we can basically take kids from college, put them in front of Zoom, and think that three years from now, they’ll be every bit as productive as they would have had they had the personal interaction,” said Mr. Kruszewski.

In March, Stifel transformed from eight group trading desks to more than 180 separate trading locations. Dozens of staffers fanned out to smaller office locations in Connecticut and New Jersey, and some people set up work-from-home stations using secure cloud technologies.

Mr. Kruszewski said the company didn’t miss a beat, but when the pandemic has passed, or there are viable treatment options, employees will be recalled from their alternative locations.

“Our traders need to be together,” he said, adding that, at a broader company level, employees benefit from interaction. “We’re missing things, and that will become more evident over time.”

And then there’s the challenge of training employees who began work after the pandemic began and have had to work remotely from the start. At Discover Financial Services, thousands of new call-center workers and other employees have come on board since March, said Andy Eichfeld, chief human resources and administrative officer.

Most of those new employees have never worked in a Discover office. Customer-service agents who once got six weeks of in-classroom training now must learn the information remotely. They don’t have the same casual day-to-day opportunities to ask more experienced workers for help or advice that they would if they were working in the same office, even as the company has tried to connect people virtually. New employees in marketing and analytics roles haven’t been able to quickly pick up company jargon and shorthand in meetings, leaving some of them lost.

“If you were physically on site, you might have someone physically whispering, ‘Hey, that means this.’ We don’t have that here. So, it’s taking longer for the new employee to understand what’s happening,” he said.

In a recent company survey, less than a third of Discover employees said they want to work from home permanently, though many said they would like the flexibility to do it sometimes, which the company plans to offer. Without the interactions that define office life, Mr. Eichfeld worries that Discover’s culture will gradually fray, which is why he’s eager to get workers back together once it is safe.

“It was easier to go remote fast than most people would have ever imagined,” he said. “That doesn’t mean it’s great.”

 

* You can also find other items that are not in these dispatches if you “like” this page on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia

Conversations with friends: Historian Amanda Foreman

July 15, 2020

Amanda Foreman

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFHkJcf0qO0


Historian and writer Amanda Foreman talks with Tom Gross about her life and career; her father Carl Foreman (who wrote the films Bridge on the River Kwai, High Noon, and Guns of Navarone, but who was then driven out of town by Senator McCarthy’s witchhunts); Amanda’s own encounter with John Wayne; her books; her TV series on the ascent of women; her nonprofit that helps deprived American kids to read; and about curating an exhibition last year on Queen Victoria for the current English queen in Buckingham Palace. Amanda also discusses why statues and icons are such popular targets in History wars.

(Discussion by zoom on July 14, 2020.)

 

Other conversations in this series:

Tom Gross

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4Pg-IDYJYE


As part of a series of informal conservations with friends, Paul Lewis asks Tom Gross about his own life experiences and views: growing up surrounded by cultural and literary luminaries in London and New York; Sunday brunches with Elvis Presley’s songwriter; crossing Checkpoint Charlie into East Berlin with his grandmother during communism; helping the Roma when almost no one else would; Tom’s close relationship with his godmother Sonia Orwell (the model for the heroine Julia of her husband’s masterpiece ‘1984’); being in Manhattan on 9/11; the Mideast; the importance and legacy of the Holocaust; and other matters.

(Discussion by zoom on June 28, 2020.)

 

Jonathan Freedland

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_3phYh8WMU


Award-winning Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland in conversation with Tom Gross about the state of the world; the Trump presidency (and whether some of his policies might be good); Britain’s coronavirus failures; early Zionism; whether Britain can still learn from the American constitution and system of government; and as a teenager how Jonathan was a mentor to Sasha Baron Cohen before he became Ali G and Borat.


 


* There is also a separate shorter conversation: Should statues of antisemites come down?

Jonathan Freedland & Tom Gross discuss left-wing antisemitism, and English antisemitism


https://youtu.be/D8Zcppjh6Tw


Jonathan Freedland: Most British people aren’t aware that “one of Britain’s gifts to the world, which originated in England, is the blood libel” -- which led to countless Jewish deaths over many centuries of European history.

Tom Gross: Should the large statue outside the British Parliament of Richard the Lionheart (who was responsible for murder of tens of thousands of Jews) and the bust of Karl Marx (who wrote about Jewish vermin) come down?

(Answer: no they should remain. But schoolchildren should be taught at least a bit about historic English antisemitism, in addition to the wrongs, as well as rights, of the British Empire.)

(Conversation by zoom while under coronavirus lockdown on June 18, 2020)


 

The last Nazi-hunter Efraim Zuroff (Jerusalem)


https://youtu.be/KEaUhSYX3hI


Efraim Zuroff speaks about why he became a Nazi hunter, his pursuit of war criminals all over the world over many decades, and his efforts to make countries such as Lithuania, Latvia and Croatia admit to their own nation’s very substantial collaboration with the Nazi genocide. As the last survivors die out where does Holocaust education and memory go from here?

Why did it take Steven Spielberg’s 1993 film Schindler’s List to make Holocaust education finally become incorporated into the British education system some years later? Why did western countries and the Vatican and Red Cross help Nazi criminals escape at the end of the war? Why were so many doctors Nazis?

We also discuss the trial of Bruno Dey (charged for his part in the murder of 5,230 people at Stutthof death camp) which is continuing now in Hamburg – it is 75 years late but the German judge insisted it continue despite the coronavirus restrictions.

(Discussion by zoom, while under coronavirus lockdown in Jerusalem, on June 8, 2020.)


 

Oscar-nominated filmmaker Hossein Amini (London)


https://youtu.be/_llnKPTT0FE


Born in Tehran to a distinguished Iranian family (his grandfather was prime minister under the shah) Oscar-nominated screenwriter and film director Hossein Amini speaks with his friend Tom Gross about Iran before and after the Islamic revolution, his career as a filmmaker, his work with Martin Scorsese and Harvey Weinstein, his favorite films, and says that ‘it’s no accident that the MeToo movement started in tolerant Hollywood’. We also discuss racism in Britain.

(Discussion by zoom, while under coronavirus lockdown in London, on May 30, 2020.)


 

David Pryce-Jones (London, Wales, Florence)


https://youtu.be/hK8kppwX7UI


Writer David Pryce-Jones discusses his childhood escape from the Nazis, his friendships with Isaac Bashevis Singer, Arthur Koestler, Stalin’s daughter Svetlana, John Gross and others; and Israel, Italy, and the New York Times.

(Discussion by zoom, while under coronavirus lockdown in Wales, on May 21, 2020.)

 

John O’Sullivan (Budapest)


https://youtu.be/TKspJwfsibg


Born to modest parents near Liverpool (his father was a ship steward, his mother a shop girl) John O’Sullivan rose to become one of Margaret Thatcher’s most trusted aides and advisors in 10 Downing Street. In this zoom conversation, he discusses Thatcher’s personality and how she developed her views, and other leading figures he met. (On one occasion John had breakfast with Thatcher in London, then flew to Washington and had dinner with President Reagan that same evening.) He and Tom Gross also discuss Donald Trump’s presidency; the future of journalism; and his lifelong love for musical theatre.

(Discussion by zoom, while under coronavirus lockdown in Budapest, on May 29, 2020.)


 

World aclaimed pianist Evgeny Kissin (Prague)


https://youtu.be/6zKvyjlvleg


Described by The Economist magazine as “the world’s most acclaimed classical pianist” Evgeny Kissin talks about being a child prodigy; his favorite concert halls and musicians; learning new repertoires and visiting Kafka’s grave during coronavirus lockdown; about Stalin’s murder of Yiddish writers, his own love for Yiddish, his support for Israel, and his political views about Russia and the West.

(Discussion by zoom, while under coronavirus lockdown in Prague, on May 24, 2020.)


* You can see shorter extracts from the conversation with Evgeny Kissin here: Conversations with friends: Evgeny Kissin on music, the Yiddish language, Israel and the Soviet Union


 

Rt Hon Lord (David) Young of Graffham


https://youtu.be/AzmrBuZ0OoM


Lord David Young talks about his life, his ten years in Downing Street working closely with Margaret Thatcher, his five years in Downing Street with David Cameron, and about Boris Johnson, Donald Trump, and modern multicultural Britain.

(Discussion by zoom in Graffham, Sussex, in England, while under coronavirus lockdown, on May 20, 2020.)

 

Bahra Saleh (Kirkuk, Iraq)


https://youtu.be/tQM0a9qJ1Jk


Tom Gross talks with Bahra Saleh about her life and about Kurdistan.

(Discussion by zoom in Kirkuk, Iraq, while under coronavirus lockdown, on May 20, 2020.)

 

Shmuel Bar (Herzliya)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_ekSPVLMAg

Shmuel Bar, who worked for Israel’s government for 30 years in various analytical and operational capacities, and who is a world-class expert in a variety of fields, discusses the state of America, Europe, the Mideast and the world, and what dangers may lay ahead.

(Discussion by zoom, on July 2, 2020.)


 

Orit Yasu (Shoham, near Tel Aviv)


https://youtu.be/xKihFpFrOUg


Born to recently arrived Ethiopian-Israeli parents, Orit Yasu talks with Tom Gross about growing up in Kiryat Malachi, the rescue of Ethiopian Jews by the Mossad, her participation in the 1999 Columbine High School shooting memorial while on a school trip to Colorado, on how NYC is too crowded, her trip to see her parents village Ethiopia, and why many Ethiopian-Israelis vote Likud.

(Discussion by zoom, while under coronavirus lockdown, on May 31, 2020.)

 

Charlotte Cunningham (Yorkshire / London / Luxembourg)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kva8JQ1Jgsw


Charlotte, who has established a successful arts organization in England that helps people with mental and physical disabilities, has managed to forge her own path distinct from her illustrious family background -- her grandmother was the ruling monarch of Luxembourg after whom Charlotte is named; and on the other side of her family, her grandfather was US secretary of state under a Republican, Eisenhower, and then US treasury secretary under two Democrats, Kennedy and Johnson.

(Discussion by zoom, while under coronavirus lockdown in London, on June 19, 2020.)


 

Nidra Poller (Paris)


https://youtu.be/wHky3gPi0oA


Writer Nidra Poller discusses hanging out with James Baldwin and other African-American writers and musicians in 1970s Paris, the origins of the name Nidra, how her Japanese partner introduced her to Israel, and the position of women in the modern world.

(Discussion by zoom, while under coronavirus lockdown in Paris, on May 19, 2020.)

 

Susan Loewenthal Lourenco (Berlin)


https://youtu.be/wjS4DSh4DBw

Educator Susan Lourenco talks about being the child of refugees from Berlin, her life in four different countries and how she reconciled herself with modern Germany.

(Discussion by zoom, while under coronavirus lockdown in Berlin, on May 12, 2020.)

 

* You can also find other items that are not in these dispatches if you “like” this page on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia

African-American Hall of Famer: “Where is the outrage over antisemitism in sports?”; Pushback against JewishPrivilege lie; a resignation from the NY Times

* AFRICAN-AMERICAN HALL OF FAMER: “WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE OVER ANTISEMITISM IN SPORTS?”
* PUSHBACK AGAINST JEWISHPRIVILEGE LIE
* A RESIGNATION FROM THE NY TIMES

[Notes by Tom Gross]

I attack five pieces concerning the ongoing culture wars.

In the first, legendary African-American basketball player Kareem Abdul Jabbar, now aged 73, and an NBA Hall of Famer, asks yesterday in his column in The Hollywood Reporter: “Where Is the Outrage Over Anti-Semitism in Sports and Hollywood?”

He calls out the recent hateful outbursts against Jews by (Black Lives Matter supporters) Ice Cube, Chelsea Handler, DeSean Jackson and others and explains how the muted response “perpetuates racism”.

He concludes: “The lesson never changes, so why is it so hard for some people to learn: No one is free until everyone is free. As Martin Luther King Jr. explained: ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.’ So, let’s act like it. If we’re going to be outraged by injustice, let’s be outraged by injustice against anyone.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kareem_Abdul-Jabbar

(Tom Gross adds: Jackson’s post he shared with his 1.4 million twitter followers was not just some vague comment. It promoted centuries-old antisemitic conspiracy theories and encouraged his followers to study Nazi ideology to confirm that Hitler was right about his policies towards the Jews.)

 

The second item below is Bari Weiss’ resignation letter from the editorial page of the New York Times yesterday. The letter speaks for itself, and is worth spending the time to read. (Bari Weiss is a longtime subscriber to this Mideast email list.)

 

PRINCETON CAVES?

In an editorial today, the Wall Street Journal writes:

“When Princeton classics professor Joshua Katz wrote an article taking issue with recent faculty demands over race, a storm of criticism descended. This was an opening for President Christopher Eisgruber and other university leaders to remind people that Princeton is a place where speech and debate are cherished. Instead, Princeton is demonstrating how a lack of leadership enables the cancel culture.”

Professor Katz had dared to question a petition sent to President Eisgruber signed by more than 350 faculty members which started “Anti-Blackness is foundational to America” and included demands ranging from an extra semester of sabbatical for faculty of color to removing the statue of John Witherspoon, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

The Journal says, in response to the vicious campaign being waged against Katz: “It’s a shame to see Eisgruber wilt under pressure now, when liberal values of speech and tolerance most need defending.”

 

PUSH BACK AGAINST #JEWISHPRIVILEGE LIE

The fourth piece below, from Haaretz, talks about White Supremacists (and also some far leftists) sending the antisemitic #JewishPrivilege hashtag to the top of twitter’s U.S. trending topics.

The tweets contained utter lies, some by people falsely claiming to be Jews. One wrote that he felt “guilty that our people’s role in slavery dwarfed Whites, but it’s important we pay for that dominant role that hurt so many millions of blacks. We jews are 1/3 of billionaires and MUST give much more to blacks.”

Various Jewish celebrities, including Sarah Silverman, Josh Gad and David Simon, are among those pushing back on twitter by sharing their own experiences of antisemitism.

Simon, best known as the creator of “The Wire,” wrote: “My #JewishPrivilege? Eleven dead relatives at Auschwitz and in the Russian woods and a father who was a hostage and suffered PTSD years after the Jewish non-profit where he worked was stormed by angry dudes with guns & scimitars who threatened to behead him.”

Silverman tweeted: “My dad getting the shit kicked out of him everyday at school 4 being a kike to kids in NH throwing pennies at me on the bus to pastors in Florida calling for my death and telling their congregation that knocking my teeth out and killing me would be God’s work. #JewishPrivilege.”

Rabbi Elchanan Poupko wrote: “#JewishPrivilege is my cousin Reb Nochum Moshe Twersky of the Chernobyl Hassidic dynasty being asked to come and bless Ukrainian soldiers just for them to shoot him dead later.”

 

In the fifth piece below, William McGurn in the Wall Street Journal, writes “It’s come to this: They want to cancel black beans.” He criticizes Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) for leading the a campaign to target and smear Goya Foods, America’s largest Hispanic-owned food company.


CONTENTS

1. “Where is the outrage over antisemitism in sports and Hollywood?” (By Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hollywood Reporter, July 14, 2020)
2. Bari Weiss resignation letter from the editorial page of the NY Times (July 14, 2020)
3. “The Speech Police at Princeton: The cancel culture targets a respected classics professor” (Wall St. Journal editorial, July 15, 2020)
4. “White supremacists trigger twitterstorm by using #JewishPrivilege hashtag to bait Jews” (By Allison Kaplan Sommer, Haaretz, July 13, 2020)
5. “AOC’s Hill of Beans” (By William McGurn, Wall St. Journal, July 14, 2020)

 

ARTICLES

WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE OVER ANTI-SEMITISM IN SPORTS AND HOLLYWOOD?

Where Is the Outrage Over Anti-Semitism in Sports and Hollywood?
By Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
The Hollywood Reporter
July 14, 2020

(THR columnist Kareem Abdul Jabbar is an NBA Hall of Famer)

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/kareem-abdul-jabbar-is-outrage-anti-semitism-sports-hollywood-1303210

The Hollywood Reporter columnist calls out the hateful outbursts against Jews by Ice Cube, DeSean Jackson and others and explains how the muted response “perpetuates racism” and contributes to an overall “Apatholypse.”

Recent incidents of anti-Semitic tweets and posts from sports and entertainment celebrities are a very troubling omen for the future of the Black Lives Matter movement, but so too is the shocking lack of massive indignation. Given the New Woke-fulness in Hollywood and the sports world, we expected more passionate public outrage. What we got was a shrug of meh-rage.

When reading the dark squishy entrails of popular culture, meh-rage in the face of sustained prejudice is an indisputable sign of the coming Apatholypse: apathy to all forms of social justice. After all, if it’s OK to discriminate against one group of people by hauling out cultural stereotypes without much pushback, it must be OK to do the same to others. Illogic begets illogic.

Ice Cube’s June 10 daylong series of tweets, which involved some creepy symbols and images, in general implied that Jews were responsible for the oppression of blacks. NFL player DeSean Jackson tweeted out several anti-Semitic messages, including a quote he incorrectly thought was from Hitler (not your go-to guy for why-can’t-we-all-get-along quotes) stating that Jews had a plan to “extort America” and achieve “world domination.” Isn’t that SPECTRE’s job in James Bond movies?

These statements would be laughed at by anyone with a middle-school grasp of reason, but then former NBA player Stephen Jackson, a self-proclaimed activist, undid whatever progress his previous advocacy may have achieved by agreeing with DeSean Jackson on social media. Then he went on to talk about the Rothschilds owning all the banks and his support for the notorious homophobe and anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan. That is the kind of dehumanizing characterization of a people that causes the police abuses that killed his friend, George Floyd.

June continued to bust out all over with anti-Semitism when performer Chelsea Handler, herself Jewish, posted videos of Farrakhan to her 3.9 million followers. That means almost 4 million people received a subliminal message that even some Jews think being anti-Jewish is justified.

That same month, President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign also has been criticized for exploiting anti-Jewish biases, even though Trump’s son-in-law and campaign honcho Jared Kushner is Jewish and his daughter Ivanka converted to Judaism before they married. Playing on the same Rothschild’s trope, they issued a letter accusing three billionaires of Jewish descent of using their fortunes to “rig the November election.” This is the kind of “very fine people on both sides” Trump has employed throughout his political career — pandering to hate groups that has emboldened racists who feel like they’ve gotten the presidential OK to attack people they don’t like.

These famous, outspoken people share the same scapegoat logic as all oppressive groups from Nazis to the KKK: all our troubles are because of bad-apple groups that worship wrong, have the wrong complexion, come from the wrong country, are the wrong gender or love the wrong gender. It’s so disheartening to see people from groups that have been violently marginalized do the same thing to others without realizing that perpetuating this kind of bad logic is what perpetuates racism.

Yes, some of the above have apologized — DeSean Jackson, Stephen Jackson, Chelsea Handler — while others continue to defiantly marinate in their own prejudice. Their arrogant and irrational response to accusations of anti-Semitism, rather than dissuade us, actually confirmed people’s worst opinions. Ice Cube’s response was remorseless: “What if I was just pro-Black? This is the truth brother. I didn’t lie on anyone. I didn’t say I was anti anybody. DONT BELIEVE THE HYPE. I’ve been telling my truth.” His “truth” was clearly anti-Semitic but, like Trump, he believes his truth exists outside facts. As writer Roxane Gay summed it up: “It is impossible to take you seriously with regards to social justice or anything when you post anti-Semitic imagery. What the fuck are you doing?”

Even the apologies floundered, more attempts at spin than true contrition. In a CNN interview, Stephen Jackson was angry and belligerent at being called out: “I stated I could have changed my words. There’s nothing that I said that I support any of that. There’s nothing I said that I hate anybody. I apologize for my words and I could have switched up. That’s the end of it. I love everybody.” While it’s possible the words were wrong, celebrities have a responsibility to get the words right. It’s not enough to have good intentions, because it’s the actual deeds — and words — which have the real impact. In this case destructive impact. In 2013, there were 751 reported hate crimes against Jews, but by 2019 the number had nearly tripled to 2,107. That same year, a gunman in San Diego entered a synagogue and murdered one person while wounding three.

One of the most powerful songs in the struggle against racism is Billie Holiday’s melancholic “Strange Fruit,” which was first recorded in 1939. The song met strong resistance from radio stations afraid of its graphic lyrics about lynching:

Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swinging in the Southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees

Despite those who wanted to suppress the song, it went on to sell a million copies that year and became Holiday’s best-selling record ever. The song was written by a white, Jewish high school teacher, Abel Meeropol, who performed it with his wife around New York before it was given to Holiday.

The lesson never changes, so why is it so hard for some people to learn: No one is free until everyone is free. As Martin Luther King Jr. explained: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.” So, let’s act like it. If we’re going to be outraged by injustice, let’s be outraged by injustice against anyone.

 

BARI WEISS RESIGNATION LETTER FROM THE EDITORIAL PAGE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES

Dear A.G.,

It is with sadness that I write to tell you that I am resigning from The New York Times.

I joined the paper with gratitude and optimism three years ago. I was hired with the goal of bringing in voices that would not otherwise appear in your pages: first-time writers, centrists, conservatives and others who would not naturally think of The Times as their home. The reason for this effort was clear: The paper’s failure to anticipate the outcome of the 2016 election meant that it didn’t have a firm grasp of the country it covers. Dean Baquet and others have admitted as much on various occasions. The priority in Opinion was to help redress that critical shortcoming.

I was honored to be part of that effort, led by James Bennet. I am proud of my work as a writer and as an editor. Among those I helped bring to our pages: the Venezuelan dissident Wuilly Arteaga; the Iranian chess champion Dorsa Derakhshani; and the Hong Kong Christian democrat Derek Lam. Also: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Masih Alinejad, Zaina Arafat, Elna Baker, Rachael Denhollander, Matti Friedman, Nick Gillespie, Heather Heying, Randall Kennedy, Julius Krein, Monica Lewinsky, Glenn Loury, Jesse Singal, Ali Soufan, Chloe Valdary, Thomas Chatterton Williams, Wesley Yang, and many others.

But the lessons that ought to have followed the election—lessons about the importance of understanding other Americans, the necessity of resisting tribalism, and the centrality of the free exchange of ideas to a democratic society—have not been learned. Instead, a new consensus has emerged in the press, but perhaps especially at this paper: that truth isn’t a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else.

Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times. But Twitter has become its ultimate editor. As the ethics and mores of that platform have become those of the paper, the paper itself has increasingly become a kind of performance space. Stories are chosen and told in a way to satisfy the narrowest of audiences, rather than to allow a curious public to read about the world and then draw their own conclusions. I was always taught that journalists were charged with writing the first rough draft of history. Now, history itself is one more ephemeral thing molded to fit the needs of a predetermined narrative.

My own forays into Wrongthink have made me the subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views. They have called me a Nazi and a racist; I have learned to brush off comments about how I’m “writing about the Jews again.” Several colleagues perceived to be friendly with me were badgered by coworkers. My work and my character are openly demeaned on company-wide Slack channels where masthead editors regularly weigh in. There, some coworkers insist I need to be rooted out if this company is to be a truly “inclusive” one, while others post ax emojis next to my name. Still other New York Times employees publicly smear me as a liar and a bigot on Twitter with no fear that harassing me will be met with appropriate action. They never are.

There are terms for all of this: unlawful discrimination, hostile work environment, and constructive discharge. I’m no legal expert. But I know that this is wrong.

I do not understand how you have allowed this kind of behavior to go on inside your company in full view of the paper’s entire staff and the public. And I certainly can’t square how you and other Times leaders have stood by while simultaneously praising me in private for my courage. Showing up for work as a centrist at an American newspaper should not require bravery.

Part of me wishes I could say that my experience was unique. But the truth is that intellectual curiosity—let alone risk-taking—is now a liability at The Times. Why edit something challenging to our readers, or write something bold only to go through the numbing process of making it ideologically kosher, when we can assure ourselves of job security (and clicks) by publishing our 4000th op-ed arguing that Donald Trump is a unique danger to the country and the world? And so self-censorship has become the norm.

What rules that remain at The Times are applied with extreme selectivity. If a person’s ideology is in keeping with the new orthodoxy, they and their work remain unscrutinized. Everyone else lives in fear of the digital thunderdome. Online venom is excused so long as it is directed at the proper targets.

Op-eds that would have easily been published just two years ago would now get an editor or a writer in serious trouble, if not fired. If a piece is perceived as likely to inspire backlash internally or on social media, the editor or writer avoids pitching it. If she feels strongly enough to suggest it, she is quickly steered to safer ground. And if, every now and then, she succeeds in getting a piece published that does not explicitly promote progressive causes, it happens only after every line is carefully massaged, negotiated and caveated.

It took the paper two days and two jobs to say that the Tom Cotton op-ed “fell short of our standards.” We attached an editor’s note on a travel story about Jaffa shortly after it was published because it “failed to touch on important aspects of Jaffa’s makeup and its history.” But there is still none appended to Cheryl Strayed’s fawning interview with the writer Alice Walker, a proud anti-Semite who believes in lizard Illuminati.

The paper of record is, more and more, the record of those living in a distant galaxy, one whose concerns are profoundly removed from the lives of most people. This is a galaxy in which, to choose just a few recent examples, the Soviet space program is lauded for its “diversity”; the doxxing of teenagers in the name of justice is condoned; and the worst caste systems in human history includes the United States alongside Nazi Germany.

Even now, I am confident that most people at The Times do not hold these views. Yet they are cowed by those who do. Why? Perhaps because they believe the ultimate goal is righteous. Perhaps because they believe that they will be granted protection if they nod along as the coin of our realm—language—is degraded in service to an ever-shifting laundry list of right causes. Perhaps because there are millions of unemployed people in this country and they feel lucky to have a job in a contracting industry.

Or perhaps it is because they know that, nowadays, standing up for principle at the paper does not win plaudits. It puts a target on your back. Too wise to post on Slack, they write to me privately about the “new McCarthyism” that has taken root at the paper of record.

All this bodes ill, especially for independent-minded young writers and editors paying close attention to what they’ll have to do to advance in their careers. Rule One: Speak your mind at your own peril. Rule Two: Never risk commissioning a story that goes against the narrative. Rule Three: Never believe an editor or publisher who urges you to go against the grain. Eventually, the publisher will cave to the mob, the editor will get fired or reassigned, and you’ll be hung out to dry.

For these young writers and editors, there is one consolation. As places like The Times and other once-great journalistic institutions betray their standards and lose sight of their principles, Americans still hunger for news that is accurate, opinions that are vital, and debate that is sincere. I hear from these people every day. “An independent press is not a liberal ideal or a progressive ideal or a democratic ideal. It’s an American ideal,” you said a few years ago. I couldn’t agree more. America is a great country that deserves a great newspaper.

None of this means that some of the most talented journalists in the world don’t still labor for this newspaper. They do, which is what makes the illiberal environment especially heartbreaking. I will be, as ever, a dedicated reader of their work. But I can no longer do the work that you brought me here to do—the work that Adolph Ochs described in that famous 1896 statement: “to make of the columns of The New York Times a forum for the consideration of all questions of public importance, and to that end to invite intelligent discussion from all shades of opinion.”

Ochs’s idea is one of the best I’ve encountered. And I’ve always comforted myself with the notion that the best ideas win out. But ideas cannot win on their own. They need a voice. They need a hearing. Above all, they must be backed by people willing to live by them.

Sincerely,
Bari

 

THE SPEECH POLICE AT PRINCETON

The Speech Police at Princeton
The cancel culture targets a respected classics professor.
Wall Street Journal editorial
July 15, 2020

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-speech-police-at-princeton-11594769170

When a Princeton classics professor wrote an article for the Quillette website taking issue with recent faculty demands over race, a storm of criticism descended. This was an opening for President Christopher Eisgruber and other university leaders to remind people that Princeton is a place where speech and debate are cherished. Instead, Princeton is demonstrating how a lack of leadership enables the cancel culture.

The professor is Joshua Katz, and his offending piece was headlined “A Declaration of Independence by a Princeton Professor.” Mr. Katz took issue with a petition sent to President Eisgruber signed by more than 350 faculty members. The faculty letter began with the statement “Anti-Blackness is foundational to America” and included demands ranging from an extra semester of sabbatical for faculty of color to removing the statue of John Witherspoon, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and former Princeton president who owned slaves.

Mr. Katz’s capital offense was his description of the university’s Black Justice League as a “local terrorist organization.” This hyperbole has given critics an excuse to denounce Mr. Katz without addressing his argument. His own department accuses him of using language that has long been used to “incite racial and specifically anti-Black violence.”

In a statement to the Daily Princetonian, President Eisgruber piled on: “While free speech permits students and faculty to make arguments that are bold, provocative, or even offensive, we all have an obligation to exercise that right responsibly. Joshua Katz has failed to do so, and I object personally and strongly to his false description of a Princeton student group as a ‘local terrorist organization.’”

But Mr. Katz was not saying the Black Justice League is al Qaeda or the IRA. The rest of that sentence defined what he meant, calling it a group “that made life miserable for the many (including the many black students) who did not agree with its members’ demands.”

As for Mr. Eisgruber, in 2016 Princeton rejected demands to remove Woodrow Wilson’s name from a Princeton residential college and its School of Public and International Affairs. Wilson’s racism was not in doubt then or now. Mr. Eisgruber said Princeton had “rightly” concluded the best path to diversity “is not by tearing down names from the past but rather being more honest about our history.” But this June students again demanded that Wilson’s name be purged. A week later the board decided—on Mr. Eisgruber’s recommendation—to excise the former U.S. President.

Mr. Katz has tenure, but the cancel culture doesn’t need to get him fired to succeed. It succeeds by making him an outcast in his own university, and intimidating into silence others on campus who might agree.

This is happening across America and is especially disappointing at Princeton. The university has welcomed more conservative and independent voices than some of its peers, and under President Eisgruber it was one of only two Ivy League schools to sign the University of Chicago principles upholding free and open inquiry. It’s a shame to see Mr. Eisgruber wilt under pressure now, when liberal values of speech and tolerance most need defending.

 

WHITE SUPREMACISTS TRIGGER TWITTERSTORM BY USING #JEWISHPRIVILEGE HASHTAG TO BAIT JEWS

White Supremacists Trigger Twitterstorm by Using #JewishPrivilege Hashtag to Bait Jews
Sarah Silverman, Josh Gad and David Simon among those pushing back by sharing their experiences of antisemitism
By Allison Kaplan Sommer
Haaretz
July 13, 2020

https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-white-supremacists-trigger-twitterstorm-by-using-jewishprivilege-hashtag-1.8990556

A Twitterstorm erupted on the social media site Sunday night after antisemitic accounts began posting tweets bearing the hashtag #JewishPrivilege – causing the term to shoot to the top of the site’s U.S. trending topics.

The source of the tweets was far-right, white supremacist Twitter profiles and bots, which used the hashtag to post a mixture of classic conspiratorial theories involving Jewish domination and control of the media, Holocaust denial and accusations of underwriting social unrest movements so that Jews could displace whites with minority groups.

Some of the tweets revived the attempt to pass themselves off as being Jewish and “confessing” their sins of privilege.

One wrote that he felt “guilty that our people’s role in slavery dwarfed Whites, but it’s important we pay for that dominant role that hurt so many millions of blacks. We jews are 1/3 of billionaires and MUST give much more to blacks.”

Almost immediately, Jews across Twitter pushed back, using the same hashtag to share their experiences with antisemitism. By early Monday, the hashtag had been largely “flipped”: #JewishPrivilege was dominated by reminders of antisemitism over the years and stories of struggles with modern antisemitism.

The responses that drew the most attention came from celebrities, including actor Josh Gad, television producer David Simon, comedian-actress Sarah Silverman and former presidential contender Marianne Williamson.

“Guess we’re at the #JewishPrivilege part of 2020 because Neo-Nazis have a social platform. Where to start? Is it the privilege of my mom never getting to meet her grandparents because they were murdered or is it her parents being robbed of their childhoods by being put in camps?” Gad tweeted.

Simon, best known as the creator of “The Wire,” wrote: “My #JewishPrivilege? Garden-variety stuff. Eleven dead relatives at Auschwitz and in the Russian woods and a father who was a hostage and suffered PTSD years after the Jewish non-profit where he worked was stormed by angry dudes with guns & scimitars who threatened to behead him.”

After Silverman tweeted: “My dad getting the shit kicked out of him everyday at school 4 being a kike to kids in NH throwing pennies at me on the bus to pastors in Florida calling for my death and telling their congregation that knocking my teeth out and killing me would be God’s work. #JewishPrivilege,” Williamson responded with her own experiences: “It’s people emailing & tweeting to me that Jews need to be quiet now & that ‘that’s not just a suggestion’ or friends who don’t realize I’m Jewish making it clear how anti-Semitic they are or family members afraid to wear a Star of David in their own neighborhood.#JewishPrivilege.”

Many of the high-profile Jews tweeting experienced hostile backlash. Silverman in particular was called out for discussing racism against Jews, with many people tweeting out photographs from when she did an episode of her television show in blackface. She had apologized for that in 2018, saying she was “horrified” by the fact she had done it: “I don’t stand by the blackface sketch. I’m horrified by it, and I can’t erase it. I can only be changed by it and move on.”

Other tweets came from Jewish activists and representatives of Jewish advocacy organizations, as well as individual Jews sharing their experiences with antisemitism.

Rabbi Elchanan Poupko, for example, wrote: “#JewishPrivilege is my cousin Reb Nochum Moshe Twersky of the Chernobyl Hassidic dynasty being asked to come and bless Ukrainian soldiers just for them to shoot him dead later.”

The Jewish tweets triggered their own wave of reaction, both on Twitter itself and on Gab – the alternative platform infamous for its far-right users and tolerance for hate speech, with posters complaining that the Jews on the hashtag were engaging in “arrogant kvetching,” “whining” about discrimination, and “complaining about how persecuted they are for no reason.”

 

AOC’S HILL OF BEANS

AOC’s Hill of Beans
The #BoycottGoya radicals lack even the good sense to follow Saul Alinsky’s advice.
By William McGurn
Wall Street Journal
July 14, 2020

https://www.wsj.com/articles/aoc-is-full-of-beans-11594680470

It’s come to this: They want to cancel black beans.

The target is Goya Foods, America’s largest Hispanic-owned food company. Within hours after its CEO, Bob Unanue, said at a Rose Garden event that America was “blessed” to have “a leader like President Trump who is a builder,” #BoycottGoya started trending on Twitter. Naturally Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) jumped out in front.

“Oh look, it’s the sound of me Googling ‘how to make your own adobo,’ “ the Queens congresswoman tweeted. That’s a popular Goya seasoning she wants people to go without. But Goya’s CEO isn’t backing down. When asked the next day on Fox News if he’d apologize, Mr. Unanue was succinct: “Hell no.”

It’s easy to point out how senseless and counterproductive this boycott is. Founded in 1936 by Mr. Unanue’s Spanish immigrant grandparents, the company is a living example of the American Dream. Mr. Unanue was at the Trump White House in the hope his company’s story will inspire other Latino entrepreneurs. He points out that he visited the White House for a similar celebration in 2011, when Barack Obama saluted him. He was also praised by Michelle Obama for Goya’s big role in her healthy-food initiative.

None of it matters to AOC and her comrades. In the same way it is futile to try to persuade mobs tearing down statues to distinguish between Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant, the progressives targeting Goya aren’t interested in facts or debate. They aren’t interested because they don’t build, they only tear down. Goya now has their attention not because a boycott will improve life for anyone but because it feeds their celebrity and self-righteousness.

Consider Ms. Ocasio-Cortez. Her defeat in 2018 of a longtime Democratic Rep. Joseph Crowley was a political upset. But her chief contribution to her constituents since then is that she was instrumental in killing a deal in which Amazon would have opened a second headquarters in her district. Her efforts cost her constituents 25,000 jobs, billions in lost tax revenue and the knock-on effects to the rest of the local economy. A successful Goya boycott would have similar destructive consequences.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s example speaks to the priorities of the modern progressive. She has 7.6 million followers on Twitter and has inspired an action figure, a comic-book anthology and a recurring role in Showtime’s animated comedy “Our Cartoon President.” When she deigns to talk policy, she favors multibillion-dollar pie-in-the-sky ideas, from the Green New Deal to Medicare for All and tuition-free college.

In this she has plenty of progressive company. In Seattle, a group of self-styled liberators, complete with their own armed security forces, occupied several blocks near the Capitol Hill district. Mayor Jenny Durkan said “we could have the summer of love.”

The reality was two murders in the so-called CHOP over 10 days, and several more people shot. A 19-year-old African-American man died when paramedics couldn’t get through because they were turned away by protesters. Ms. Durkan’s police chief complained that the cops were unable to respond to emergency calls reporting “rapes, robberies and all sorts of violent acts.” How did Mayor Durkan think this would turn out?

Or look at New York. Legend holds that Nero fiddled while Rome burned. He has nothing on Bill de Blasio. With shootings and murders rising to levels not seen in years, the mayor opted for performance art: Last Thursday, Mr. de Blasio’s answer to the city’s problems was to help paint BLACK LIVES MATTER in huge letters in front of Trump Tower’s Fifth Avenue entrance.

Never mind keeping citizens safe, ensuring the public schools provide a good education, making your city more attractive for jobs and investment. These kind of concrete concerns are deemed too pedestrian (or perhaps too hard) by today’s progressives.

They’re not even that good at radicalism. Remember, the subtitle for Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” was “A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals.” He warned about overreaching, noting that unless targets are narrowly selected, boycotts will probably fail as people tire of them and drift back to their old ways of shopping. In particular, he warned boycott organizers to “carefully avoid essentials such as meat, milk, bread, or basic vegetables, since even selective buying weakens after a period of time as the opponent cuts his prices below his competitors.”

So what do AOC and her fellow progressives choose? To boycott all 2,500 products of a beloved food brand that reminds people of their grandmothers’ kitchens. As a result, for every #Goyaway or #BoycottGoya tweet there now appears to be a rival #BuyGoya tweet from those purchasing more Goya’s products.

Goya is lucky. Lucky that in Bob Unanue it has a CEO who understands what a paper tiger the cancel culture really is when leaders stand up to it. And lucky too that the woke politicians pushing this boycott are more obsessed with theater than a practical progressive agenda that might leave something good behind.

 

* You can also find other items that are not in these dispatches if you “like” this page on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia

Dangers ahead: The Mideast as it really is (Tom Gross in conversation with Shmuel Bar)

July 06, 2020

 

[Note by Tom Gross]

Below, as part of my “informal conversations with friends” series, is a discussion with Shmuel Bar.

Shmuel worked for Israel’s government for 30 years in various analytical and operational capacities in a number of countries. He is a leading expert in a variety of fields. (Of course, it may be easier listen to these talks while out for walk or in the car, rather than watch them.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_ekSPVLMAg


 

“DEATH TO AMERICA!”

At the start, Shmuel speaks for a few minutes about current developments in America before we discuss the Mideast and Europe.

(As I mention, a senior Iranian Ayatollah gleefully said last week: “We’ve calling for ‘Death to America!’ every week at Friday prayers for 40 years, and now the Americans are shouting ‘Death to America!’ themselves.”)

Among topics discussed with Shmuel is the failure among too many Western decision makers, particularly in Europe, to understand the threat level from religious extremism. Just because “the west no longer does religion” it doesn’t follow that others are not very much living in a religious reality similar to that of past centuries, including in its militant Jihadi form. “Quintessentially rational societies like the Dutch have been slow to understand this,” explains Shmuel.

ABBAS HAS PREVENTED A SUCCESSOR

We also discuss the seeming lack of awareness among many in Europe that the likely further destabilization in Algeria may mean greatly increased migrant / refugee flows into Europe; and the fact that there is no clear successor to Palestinian President Abbas (who is very ill) and in Shmuel’s view, no one is likely to assert control and there will be competing war lords and clans in the West Bank for some time after Abbas dies. (Another reason why Israel cannot afford to give up the Jordan Valley until security is guaranteed.)

A DIRECT HIT ON IRAN’S NUCLEAR PROGRAM

We also talk about Iran. Our discussion took place on Thursday at about the same time that there was an explosion at Iran’s secret underground nuclear facility in Natanz, so those events are not discussed.

The accident (or more likely attack) at Natanz, as well as the massive explosion last week at a military base in Parchin and/or the nearby Khojir missile and fuel production complex, has damaged Iran’s nuclear and military programs.

The Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security describes the enrichment facility at Natanz as “a critical part of Iran’s plan to deploy thousands of advanced centrifuges.” (It’s where the newer, faster centrifuges that accelerate the rate of uranium enrichment are assembled.)

As is well known across the Mideast, the Iranian regime was greatly emboldened by the (from a western point of view) ill-judged 2015 nuclear deal and other elements of appeasement towards the Islamic regime by US President Barack Obama and his west European allies.

The provision by Obama of enormous amounts of cash to the regime, as well as his virtual green light for it to act with impunity in Syria and Iraq, allowed the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps to greatly increase its control over (and killing in) Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and to some extent Gaza, not to mention more recent attacks on Saudi Arabian oil infrastructure.

APPEASEMENT NO MORE

That appeasement is now being rolled back by the Trump administration together with its Arab, Israeli and other allies, with renewed sanctions and the assassination of IRGC head General Soleimani earlier this year. The explosion at Natanz, and the killing of Soleimani, has been welcomed across the Arab world as well by Israel and by Iranian pro-democracy activists.

No one has claimed responsibility for the fires at Natanz and Parchin but they are believed to have been carried out using cyber methods, and not by an airstrike as some Kuwaiti and other Arab media have claimed, nor by a bomb as the New York Times claimed.

Iran initially downplayed the damage, but Iran’s atomic agency spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi last night admitted that “there were no casualties as a result of the incident, but significant damages were incurred … there were advanced equipment and precision measurement devices at this site that were either destroyed or damaged.”

MANY WESTERN MEDIA FAIL TO UNDERSTAND SIGNIFICANCE

It’s a sign of the extent to which many western journalists don’t want to understand just how grave Iran gaining nuclear weapons would be, not just for the Mideast but for the west, that the events at Natanz have not been more widely covered in the western media over the last three days. This is a regime that has repeatedly cajoled its Syrian puppet Assad into using chemical weapons against Sunni civilians in recent years and, given its enormous level of worldwide aggression, were it to go nuclear would leave little choice for the Saudis, Egyptians, Turks and others to get nuclear weapons of their own to defend themselves from Iran. (Many Israelis too, regard the Iranian nuclear program as an existential threat.)

ISRAEL DISTANCES ITSELF FROM ACCUSATIONS

Natanz was also targeted by the Stuxnet computer virus from 2005 until it was discovered by the Iranians in 2010. Stuxnet was jointly developed by IDF Intelligence and the US National Security Agency. It damaged the control over the centrifuges and caused them to break down without leaving any trace. The explosion at Natanz on Thursday occurred in a building that housed centrifuges which are far more advanced than the centrifuges that were damaged a decade ago.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz yesterday denied Israel was behind the explosions that have rocked Iran’s missile and nuclear sites in recent days. “Not every incident that transpires in Iran necessarily has something to do with us,” he said.

-- Tom Gross

 

IRANIAN MOTIVATIONS IN MAKING PUBLIC THAT THEY WERE ATTACKED

Shmuel Bar adds today, in a note that he is happy for me to share with my readers:

The Iranian calculus in accusing Israel of executing a cyber-attack on its strategic installations is complex. On one hand, the regime has been embarrassed time and again for the last half year by events that exposed its incompetence (the killing of Solemeini, the Ukrainian Airline incident, the approach to the Corona epidemic etc.) and ostensibly it should not have an interest in exposing its vulnerability to attacks by its arch-enemies.

On the other hand, it may believe that it can rouse patriotic support by creating a public perception that Iran is under attack. In any case, the moment it has declared that Israel is responsible and that it will retaliate, the regime has painted itself into a strategic corner and take some retaliatory action. This is most likely to take the form of a cyber-attack on Israeli targets. Iran’s ability to breach Israel’s cyber-defenses and cause significant damage to its public infrastructure is negligible, but the very publication of such attacks could serve the regime’s need for domestic public diplomacy.

Another option could be to activate Hezbollah or the Palestinian Islamic Jihad for what may be seen as strategic terrorist attacks. This would serve Hezbollah’s need to stem the trend in Lebanon of seeing the organization as an international liability and to strengthen its status as the “defender” of Lebanon against Israel. An attack from Gaza would also serve the interests of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad against the Hamas regime there.

 

Just a reminder that you may also want to watch, or listen to, an interview about my own life experiences here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4Pg-IDYJYE

 

* You can also find other items that are not in these dispatches if you “like” this page on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia

Should Richard the Lionheart and Karl Marx also come down? (& the English origins of the global blood libel)

July 04, 2020

Jonathan Freedland

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_3phYh8WMU


Award-winning Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland in conversation with Tom Gross about the state of the world; the Trump presidency (and whether some of his policies might be good); Britain’s coronavirus failures; early Zionism; whether Britain can still learn from the American constitution and system of government; and as a teenager how Jonathan was a mentor to Sasha Baron Cohen before he became Ali G and Borat.


 


* There is also a separate shorter conversation: Should statues of antisemites come down?

Jonathan Freedland & Tom Gross discuss left-wing antisemitism, and English antisemitism


https://youtu.be/D8Zcppjh6Tw


Jonathan Freedland: Most British people aren’t aware that “one of Britain’s gifts to the world, which originated in England, is the blood libel” -- which led to countless Jewish deaths over many centuries of European history.

Tom Gross: Should the large statue outside the British Parliament of Richard the Lionheart (who was responsible for murder of tens of thousands of Jews) and the bust of Karl Marx (who wrote about Jewish vermin) come down?

(Answer: no they should remain. But schoolchildren should be taught at least a bit about historic English antisemitism, in addition to the wrongs, as well as rights, of the British Empire.)

(Conversation by zoom while under coronavirus lockdown on June 18, 2020)

 

Other conversations in this series:

Tom Gross

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4Pg-IDYJYE


As part of a series of informal conservations with friends, Paul Lewis asks Tom Gross about his own life experiences and views: growing up surrounded by cultural and literary luminaries in London and New York; Sunday brunches with Elvis Presley’s songwriter; crossing Checkpoint Charlie into East Berlin with his grandmother during communism; helping the Roma when almost no one else would; Tom’s close relationship with his godmother Sonia Orwell (the model for the heroine Julia of her husband’s masterpiece ‘1984’); being in Manhattan on 9/11; the Mideast; the importance and legacy of the Holocaust; and other matters.

(Discussion by zoom on June 28, 2020.)


 

The last Nazi-hunter Efraim Zuroff (Jerusalem)


https://youtu.be/KEaUhSYX3hI


Efraim Zuroff speaks about why he became a Nazi hunter, his pursuit of war criminals all over the world over many decades, and his efforts to make countries such as Lithuania, Latvia and Croatia admit to their own nation’s very substantial collaboration with the Nazi genocide. As the last survivors die out where does Holocaust education and memory go from here?

Why did it take Steven Spielberg’s 1993 film Schindler’s List to make Holocaust education finally become incorporated into the British education system some years later? Why did western countries and the Vatican and Red Cross help Nazi criminals escape at the end of the war? Why were so many doctors Nazis?

We also discuss the trial of Bruno Dey (charged for his part in the murder of 5,230 people at Stutthof death camp) which is continuing now in Hamburg – it is 75 years late but the German judge insisted it continue despite the coronavirus restrictions.

(Discussion by zoom, while under coronavirus lockdown in Jerusalem, on June 8, 2020.)


 

Oscar-nominated filmmaker Hossein Amini (London)


https://youtu.be/_llnKPTT0FE


Born in Tehran to a distinguished Iranian family (his grandfather was prime minister under the shah) Oscar-nominated screenwriter and film director Hossein Amini speaks with his friend Tom Gross about Iran before and after the Islamic revolution, his career as a filmmaker, his work with Martin Scorsese and Harvey Weinstein, his favorite films, and says that ‘it’s no accident that the MeToo movement started in tolerant Hollywood’. We also discuss racism in Britain.

(Discussion by zoom, while under coronavirus lockdown in London, on May 30, 2020.)


 

David Pryce-Jones (London, Wales, Florence)


https://youtu.be/hK8kppwX7UI


Writer David Pryce-Jones discusses his childhood escape from the Nazis, his friendships with Isaac Bashevis Singer, Arthur Koestler, Stalin’s daughter Svetlana, John Gross and others; and Israel, Italy, and the New York Times.

(Discussion by zoom, while under coronavirus lockdown in Wales, on May 21, 2020.)

 

John O’Sullivan (Budapest)


https://youtu.be/TKspJwfsibg


Born to modest parents near Liverpool (his father was a ship steward, his mother a shop girl) John O’Sullivan rose to become one of Margaret Thatcher’s most trusted aides and advisors in 10 Downing Street. In this zoom conversation, he discusses Thatcher’s personality and how she developed her views, and other leading figures he met. (On one occasion John had breakfast with Thatcher in London, then flew to Washington and had dinner with President Reagan that same evening.) He and Tom Gross also discuss Donald Trump’s presidency; the future of journalism; and his lifelong love for musical theatre.

(Discussion by zoom, while under coronavirus lockdown in Budapest, on May 29, 2020.)


 

World aclaimed pianist Evgeny Kissin (Prague)


https://youtu.be/6zKvyjlvleg


Described by The Economist magazine as “the world’s most acclaimed classical pianist” Evgeny Kissin talks about being a child prodigy; his favorite concert halls and musicians; learning new repertoires and visiting Kafka’s grave during coronavirus lockdown; about Stalin’s murder of Yiddish writers, his own love for Yiddish, his support for Israel, and his political views about Russia and the West.

(Discussion by zoom, while under coronavirus lockdown in Prague, on May 24, 2020.)


* You can see shorter extracts from the conversation with Evgeny Kissin here: Conversations with friends: Evgeny Kissin on music, the Yiddish language, Israel and the Soviet Union


 

Rt Hon Lord (David) Young of Graffham


https://youtu.be/AzmrBuZ0OoM


Lord David Young talks about his life, his ten years in Downing Street working closely with Margaret Thatcher, his five years in Downing Street with David Cameron, and about Boris Johnson, Donald Trump, and modern multicultural Britain.

(Discussion by zoom in Graffham, Sussex, in England, while under coronavirus lockdown, on May 20, 2020.)

 

Bahra Saleh (Kirkuk, Iraq)


https://youtu.be/tQM0a9qJ1Jk


Tom Gross talks with Bahra Saleh about her life and about Kurdistan.

(Discussion by zoom in Kirkuk, Iraq, while under coronavirus lockdown, on May 20, 2020.)

 

Shmuel Bar (Herzliya)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_ekSPVLMAg

Shmuel Bar, who worked for Israel’s government for 30 years in various analytical and operational capacities, and who is a world-class expert in a variety of fields, discusses the state of America, Europe, the Mideast and the world, and what dangers may lay ahead.

(Discussion by zoom, on July 2, 2020.)


 

Orit Yasu (Shoham, near Tel Aviv)


https://youtu.be/xKihFpFrOUg


Born to recently arrived Ethiopian-Israeli parents, Orit Yasu talks with Tom Gross about growing up in Kiryat Malachi, the rescue of Ethiopian Jews by the Mossad, her participation in the 1999 Columbine High School shooting memorial while on a school trip to Colorado, on how NYC is too crowded, her trip to see her parents village Ethiopia, and why many Ethiopian-Israelis vote Likud.

(Discussion by zoom, while under coronavirus lockdown, on May 31, 2020.)

 

Charlotte Cunningham (Yorkshire / London / Luxembourg)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kva8JQ1Jgsw


Charlotte, who has established a successful arts organization in England that helps people with mental and physical disabilities, has managed to forge her own path distinct from her illustrious family background -- her grandmother was the ruling monarch of Luxembourg after whom Charlotte is named; and on the other side of her family, her grandfather was US secretary of state under a Republican, Eisenhower, and then US treasury secretary under two Democrats, Kennedy and Johnson.

(Discussion by zoom, while under coronavirus lockdown in London, on June 19, 2020.)


 

Nidra Poller (Paris)


https://youtu.be/wHky3gPi0oA


Writer Nidra Poller discusses hanging out with James Baldwin and other African-American writers and musicians in 1970s Paris, the origins of the name Nidra, how her Japanese partner introduced her to Israel, and the position of women in the modern world.

(Discussion by zoom, while under coronavirus lockdown in Paris, on May 19, 2020.)

 

Susan Loewenthal Lourenco (Berlin)


https://youtu.be/wjS4DSh4DBw

Educator Susan Lourenco talks about being the child of refugees from Berlin, her life in four different countries and how she reconciled herself with modern Germany.

(Discussion by zoom, while under coronavirus lockdown in Berlin, on May 12, 2020.)

 

* You can also find other items that are not in these dispatches if you “like” this page on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia

An interview with Tom Gross about his life and work

July 01, 2020

Tom Gross

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4Pg-IDYJYE


As part of a series of informal conservations with friends, Paul Lewis asks Tom Gross about his own life experiences and views: growing up surrounded by cultural and literary luminaries in London and New York; Sunday brunches with Elvis Presley’s songwriter; crossing Checkpoint Charlie into East Berlin with his grandmother during communism; helping the Roma when almost no one else would; Tom’s close relationship with his godmother Sonia Orwell (the model for the heroine Julia of her husband’s masterpiece ‘1984’); being in Manhattan on 9/11; the Mideast; the importance and legacy of the Holocaust; and other matters.

(Discussion by zoom on June 28, 2020.)

 

Other conversations in this series:


Jonathan Freedland

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_3phYh8WMU


Award-winning Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland in conversation with Tom Gross about the state of the world; the Trump presidency (and whether some of his policies might be good); Britain’s coronavirus failures; early Zionism; whether Britain can still learn from the American constitution and system of government; and as a teenager how Jonathan was a mentor to Sasha Baron Cohen before he became Ali G and Borat.


 


* There is also a separate shorter conversation: Should statues of antisemites come down?

Jonathan Freedland & Tom Gross discuss left-wing antisemitism, and English antisemitism


https://youtu.be/D8Zcppjh6Tw


Jonathan Freedland: Most British people aren’t aware that “one of Britain’s gifts to the world, which originated in England, is the blood libel” -- which led to countless Jewish deaths over many centuries of European history.

Tom Gross: Should the large statue outside the British Parliament of Richard the Lionheart (who was responsible for murder of tens of thousands of Jews) and the bust of Karl Marx (who wrote about Jewish vermin) come down?

(Answer: no they should remain. But schoolchildren should be taught at least a bit about historic English antisemitism, in addition to the wrongs, as well as rights, of the British Empire.)

(Conversation by zoom while under coronavirus lockdown on June 18, 2020)


 

The last Nazi-hunter Efraim Zuroff (Jerusalem)


https://youtu.be/KEaUhSYX3hI


Efraim Zuroff speaks about why he became a Nazi hunter, his pursuit of war criminals all over the world over many decades, and his efforts to make countries such as Lithuania, Latvia and Croatia admit to their own nation’s very substantial collaboration with the Nazi genocide. As the last survivors die out where does Holocaust education and memory go from here?

Why did it take Steven Spielberg’s 1993 film Schindler’s List to make Holocaust education finally become incorporated into the British education system some years later? Why did western countries and the Vatican and Red Cross help Nazi criminals escape at the end of the war? Why were so many doctors Nazis?

We also discuss the trial of Bruno Dey (charged for his part in the murder of 5,230 people at Stutthof death camp) which is continuing now in Hamburg – it is 75 years late but the German judge insisted it continue despite the coronavirus restrictions.

(Discussion by zoom, while under coronavirus lockdown in Jerusalem, on June 8, 2020.)


 

Oscar-nominated filmmaker Hossein Amini (London)


https://youtu.be/_llnKPTT0FE


Born in Tehran to a distinguished Iranian family (his grandfather was prime minister under the shah) Oscar-nominated screenwriter and film director Hossein Amini speaks with his friend Tom Gross about Iran before and after the Islamic revolution, his career as a filmmaker, his work with Martin Scorsese and Harvey Weinstein, his favorite films, and says that ‘it’s no accident that the MeToo movement started in tolerant Hollywood’. We also discuss racism in Britain.

(Discussion by zoom, while under coronavirus lockdown in London, on May 30, 2020.)


 

David Pryce-Jones (London, Wales, Florence)


https://youtu.be/hK8kppwX7UI


Writer David Pryce-Jones discusses his childhood escape from the Nazis, his friendships with Isaac Bashevis Singer, Arthur Koestler, Stalin’s daughter Svetlana, John Gross and others; and Israel, Italy, and the New York Times.

(Discussion by zoom, while under coronavirus lockdown in Wales, on May 21, 2020.)

 

John O’Sullivan (Budapest)


https://youtu.be/TKspJwfsibg


Born to modest parents near Liverpool (his father was a ship steward, his mother a shop girl) John O’Sullivan rose to become one of Margaret Thatcher’s most trusted aides and advisors in 10 Downing Street. In this zoom conversation, he discusses Thatcher’s personality and how she developed her views, and other leading figures he met. (On one occasion John had breakfast with Thatcher in London, then flew to Washington and had dinner with President Reagan that same evening.) He and Tom Gross also discuss Donald Trump’s presidency; the future of journalism; and his lifelong love for musical theatre.

(Discussion by zoom, while under coronavirus lockdown in Budapest, on May 29, 2020.)


 

World aclaimed pianist Evgeny Kissin (Prague)


https://youtu.be/6zKvyjlvleg


Described by The Economist magazine as “the world’s most acclaimed classical pianist” Evgeny Kissin talks about being a child prodigy; his favorite concert halls and musicians; learning new repertoires and visiting Kafka’s grave during coronavirus lockdown; about Stalin’s murder of Yiddish writers, his own love for Yiddish, his support for Israel, and his political views about Russia and the West.

(Discussion by zoom, while under coronavirus lockdown in Prague, on May 24, 2020.)


* You can see shorter extracts from the conversation with Evgeny Kissin here: Conversations with friends: Evgeny Kissin on music, the Yiddish language, Israel and the Soviet Union


 

Rt Hon Lord (David) Young of Graffham


https://youtu.be/AzmrBuZ0OoM


Lord David Young talks about his life, his ten years in Downing Street working closely with Margaret Thatcher, his five years in Downing Street with David Cameron, and about Boris Johnson, Donald Trump, and modern multicultural Britain.

(Discussion by zoom in Graffham, Sussex, in England, while under coronavirus lockdown, on May 20, 2020.)

 

Bahra Saleh (Kirkuk, Iraq)


https://youtu.be/tQM0a9qJ1Jk


Tom Gross talks with Bahra Saleh about her life and about Kurdistan.

(Discussion by zoom in Kirkuk, Iraq, while under coronavirus lockdown, on May 20, 2020.)

 

Shmuel Bar (Herzliya)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_ekSPVLMAg

Shmuel Bar, who worked for Israel’s government for 30 years in various analytical and operational capacities, and who is a world-class expert in a variety of fields, discusses the state of America, Europe, the Mideast and the world, and what dangers may lay ahead.

(Discussion by zoom, on July 2, 2020.)


 

Orit Yasu (Shoham, near Tel Aviv)


https://youtu.be/xKihFpFrOUg


Born to recently arrived Ethiopian-Israeli parents, Orit Yasu talks with Tom Gross about growing up in Kiryat Malachi, the rescue of Ethiopian Jews by the Mossad, her participation in the 1999 Columbine High School shooting memorial while on a school trip to Colorado, on how NYC is too crowded, her trip to see her parents village Ethiopia, and why many Ethiopian-Israelis vote Likud.

(Discussion by zoom, while under coronavirus lockdown, on May 31, 2020.)

 

Charlotte Cunningham (Yorkshire / London / Luxembourg)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kva8JQ1Jgsw


Charlotte, who has established a successful arts organization in England that helps people with mental and physical disabilities, has managed to forge her own path distinct from her illustrious family background -- her grandmother was the ruling monarch of Luxembourg after whom Charlotte is named; and on the other side of her family, her grandfather was US secretary of state under a Republican, Eisenhower, and then US treasury secretary under two Democrats, Kennedy and Johnson.

(Discussion by zoom, while under coronavirus lockdown in London, on June 19, 2020.)


 

Nidra Poller (Paris)


https://youtu.be/wHky3gPi0oA


Writer Nidra Poller discusses hanging out with James Baldwin and other African-American writers and musicians in 1970s Paris, the origins of the name Nidra, how her Japanese partner introduced her to Israel, and the position of women in the modern world.

(Discussion by zoom, while under coronavirus lockdown in Paris, on May 19, 2020.)

 

Susan Loewenthal Lourenco (Berlin)


https://youtu.be/wjS4DSh4DBw

Educator Susan Lourenco talks about being the child of refugees from Berlin, her life in four different countries and how she reconciled herself with modern Germany.

(Discussion by zoom, while under coronavirus lockdown in Berlin, on May 12, 2020.)

 

* You can also find other items that are not in these dispatches if you “like” this page on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia