Alt-right leader Richard Spencer, who garnered national attention with his controversial appearance at Texas A&M University last December, plans to sow his white nationalism on college campuses across the country in 2017.
Known for using phrases like “Hail victory” (the literal translation of the Nazi phrase “Sieg Heil”) and mimicking the Nazi salute, Spencer traffics in far-right ideas that center around the preservation of the white race and Western civilization. He peddles his message through a think tank known as the National Policy Institute, an online publication called Radix and, now, a planned college speaking tour.
Spencer, who initially built momentum through his websites and online comments, is increasingly shifting his attention to live audiences. Prior to his Texas A&M appearance, Spencer and other white nationalists set up a “safe space” on the University of California-Berkeley campus to discuss “how race affects people of European heritage.”
Spencer sees college audiences as fertile ground for his message of discontent. “I think you need to get them while they are young,” Spencer told a reporter in December. “People in college are at this point in their lives where they are actually open to alternative perspectives.”
This year’s White House statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day has given Spencer even more fodder for horrendous statements.
President Trump’s Holocaust message neglected to mention Jews, antisemitism or the Nazi campaign of genocide that claimed six million Jewish victims. Most Jewish organizations were highly critical of this omission.
Yet Spencer found no fault with these omissions; rather, on the website altright.com, he criticized the “activist Jewish community” for commandeering the Holocaust narrative.
“It is all about their meta-narrative of suffering, and it shall undergird their peculiar position in American society, and theirs alone,” Spencer wrote. “When viewed from the perspective of Jewish activists, Trump’s statement becomes outrageous, as it dethrones Jews from a special position in the universe.”
In his statement, Spencer employs a favorite trope of Holocaust-distorters and antisemites: the claim that the enormity of the Holocaust is exaggerated by Jews, who manipulate World War II-era history for their own political purposes. The antisemitic stereotypes that frame Spencer’s brand of Holocaust denial are the same themes that were invoked by the Nazis.
Holocaust denial not only clouds our understanding of history, but it also minimizes the grave threat posed to the contemporary Jewish community by rising antisemitism. Moreover, it harms Israel’s security by diminishing what was once a bedrock understanding of the crucial need for the existence of a Jewish state: the Jewish people have already been targeted for total annihilation, and without a firm safe haven in the ancestral Jewish homeland, Jews will always remain vulnerable.
Spencer has already announced his intention to spread his bigotry and false version of history to American college students. For the young men and women born at the end of the 20th century, the Holocaust is merely a distant historical episode; for them, its lessons are faded, if not altogether bygone. Unfortunately, their minds are ripe for exploitation by a hate monger and Holocaust denier like Richard Spencer.
One of the core missions of B’nai B’rith International is providing humanitarian aid to communities rocked by natural disasters around the world. This part of our work dates to 1865.
B’nai B’rith opened its Disaster Relief Fund to provide aid to the victims of the catastrophic earthquake that occurred April 16, 2016, in Ecuador.
The 7.8-magnitude earthquake killed more than 400 people and injured more than 4,000. Aftershocks caused additional damage.
Working with B’nai B’rith members in Ecuador and with local communities, we identified a long-term project to benefit the area. B’nai B’rith’s disaster funds were used to help with a school rebuilding effort in San Plácido.
The B’nai B’rith Disaster Relief Fund is always available to accept your generous donations:
B’nai B’rith Ecuador President Pedro Steiner writes this account of the impact of the donations:
I am glad to report that on Jan. 30, we inaugurated classrooms in the school of the town of San Plácido in the province of Manabí. This was the result of a project organized and financed by the Jewish Community of Quito, made possible by the help of organizations, especially Bnai B'rith International, which allowed us to bring some much needed help to the reconstruction of the school of San Plácido which had been severely damaged in the earthquake of April 2016.
The president of our Jewish community, Alberto Dorfzaun, his wife and I attended the inauguration ceremony in San Plácido. We were the guests of honor in this ceremony, which was also attended by leaders of the community and of the province of Manabí, and by the executive president of Fundación Esquel, which was responsible for the technical direction of the project. Both Alberto and I had the opportunity to say a few words in the ceremony, telling the people something about the history of the Jewish community in Ecuador and of the help that made this project possible through the generosity of several international Jewish institutions, especially B'nai B'rith.
One of the photos is of the plaque that was placed above the door of the main classroom which includes the logos of the Jewish community and of B'nai B'rith.
I want to express again, on behalf of our Jewish community and of course at the request of the San Plácido school board, our special thanks to B'nai B'rith for creating this relief fund, and to the people who generously contributed to the fund. I think we can all be satisfied and proud of the results of the project and of the help that we have been able to give to this small community which suffered so much due to the earthquake.
Facing economic collapse and a great shortage in public support, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has chosen as his vice president one of Venezuela's most controversial and feared politicians, government critics say—Tareck El Aissami.
El Aissami has climbed from student leader in rural Venezuela to the country's number two in power in just over a decade.
El Aissami, 42 years old, is one of a number of Venezuelans under investigation by U.S. authorities for alleged participation in drug trafficking and money laundering. He played a key role in helping Iran and Hezbollah, the Lebanese Islamist group, gain ground in Latin America. A young star in the so called socialist party, El Aissami is viewed by both supporters and critics as extremely dangerous, far from any political ethics and skills.
Maduro, whom former President Hugo Chavez chose as his own successor, has been under pressure to step aside because of the country's potential default, widespread social unrest and a demanding opposition. He has so far avoided—through his control of the so called legal system—the opposition's attempt to hold a referendum on his removal before his term ends in about two years. Many analysts say if things continue to decline, the main risk to him is from within the military.
El Aissami's selection addresses Maduro’s concerns. Those seeking to oust Maduro probably will be more careful facing El Aissami and might hesitate to pursue their efforts. And the new vice president is a strong man with tight control over internal security forces and little loyalty to the military. He would be less tempted to take part in a military-led coup than to resist it.
In the weeks since El Aissaimi became vice president, Maduro has granted him wide-reaching decree powers and helped him to lead a newly formed “commando unit” against alleged coups and officials suspected of treason. The “Unity” has already arrested “opposition” members without hesitation or embarrassment.
El Aissami first met Chavez when he was a student. According to three witnesses, El Aissami openly celebrated the 9/11 terrorist attack on the United States, and has served as one of Chavez's closest allies ever since. In his last post as governor of Aragua, he regularly denounced government opponents as traitors. A court in Aragua annulled the recall referendum there, charging the opposition with collecting fraudulent signatures.
El Aissami has publicly denied any alleged drug ties, saying they are little more than media lies, but traces of all sort of media investigations end in his family circle and his people in Aragua.
El Aissami won a seat in congress as a representative of Merida in 2005. Chavez named the young congressman as vice minister and later minister of interior. Much of what El Aissami tried as interior minister was resisted by the military. In 2012, El Aissami won the governorship of Aragua and the opposition has since labeled El Aissami "the narco (nark) of Aragua,” alleging that he has used his vast political network to help turn the country into an international hub for drugs and Middle Eastern extremists.
Since at least 2011, Homeland Security Investigations and the Drug Enforcement Administration have been investigating El Aissami for money laundering to the Middle East, specifically Lebanon.
In this context, CNN has made this week the following announcement:
“Passports In The Shadows,” a two-part joint investigation by CNN and CNN en Espanol airing on February 6 and February 8 within AC360°(8-9pm ET, CNN), uncovers an alleged sale of passports and visas from the Venezuelan embassy in Iraq, as well as how U.S. officials have known about other passport irregularities in Venezuela for more than a decade. The yearlong investigation showcases an account by a whistleblower, the former legal adviser to the Venezuelan embassy in Baghdad, who provided CNN with comprehensive reports of the alleged activity inside the embassy and the government officials’ dismissal of the allegations.CNN tracks down the former general in charge of the country’s immigration office, now living in Miami under political asylum, who details the corruption he says he witnessed for years, including the issuing of fraudulent passports. CNN and CNN en Espanol conducted interviews in the U.S., Venezuela, Spain and the UK over the past year. Additionally, CNN has obtained a confidential intelligence report from Latin American countries that links the new vice president of Venezuela, Tareck El Aissami, to the issuance of passports to individuals from the Middle East as well as people linked to the terrorist group Hezbollah.
Countries and governments all over the world know what has been going on in Venezuela for the last ten years, and the absolute lack of any freedom in the last five years. Everybody knows the violation of human rights, the absolute absence of judiciary, political prisoners under inhuman conditions and the total disrespect for the law.
Why the silence then? Why isn’t there a vote in the Organization of American States (OAS) or any of the U.N. agencies to try to change the situation? The OAS secretary-general speaks out, but is never endorsed, why?
There are no positive answers to these questions. As there are no answers, Tareck Al Aissami can rule “de facto” as it happens today, and Iran and Hezbollah can celebrate.
There is a certain day in February that gets a good deal of attention. Advertisements suggest a variety of gifts to help express the way we feel about someone special in our lives. These are all wonderful things to do, but I would like to add a special group of people that we should add to our list. Let’s appreciate and acknowledge all that volunteers do on behalf of B’nai B’rith.
Volunteers enable organizations to do the work they do every day. Often working hand in hand with staff, they help move our agenda forward. They contribute their time and money towards projects that make a difference in their community and around the world. Their love of volunteer work breathes life into the projects and our organization. You may not see them, as they are often behind the scenes raising money, working on publicity or outreach to involve others and usually shying away from attention when they work the day of the event.
While we can never mention all of these dedicated men and women, we want offer our thanks. Whether their project is held every day or once a year, you can be sure a volunteer is involved. In Los Angeles, there are volunteers working every day, before the sun comes up, to bring donated bagels and baked goods to school children in need in their community. When school is not in session, they bring the food to them at shelters.
I was recently involved in an e-mail exchange that demonstrates how volunteers work. A gentleman and his wife in Atlanta wanted to donate gently-used stuffed animals to a program they knew B’nai B’rith did in their community. This is the B’nai B’rith Cares for Kids project, which puts a loveable huggable in to the arms of a child facing a difficult time. I passed the request on to the B’nai B’rith volunteer coordinator who answered the e-mail immediately. He arranged the pick up for the next day at a convenient location for both of them. His e-mail closed with “yours in service” and that said it all.
Studies show that people who volunteer are happier and healthier. Most likely, this is because volunteers enjoy being with others who think similarly about life and the community they live in. It is a great way to make new friends who care about the same thing—helping others. So, if you are not already a volunteer, please think about getting involved.
We can never thank volunteers enough. So, I hope that you will think about someone you know who volunteers for B’nai B’rith and take the time to thank them. We can offer a wonderful way, sort of like the gifts in the ads this month. You can make a donation in their honor and we will send a tribute card that will tell them that this has been done to support the organization and programs they love so much. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your request.
If you put the words “quotes about volunteers” into a search engine, you will find thousands of quotes attributed to famous and unknown authors.
I liked a simple one from an unknown author. “Volunteers are love in motion.” A perfect message for February and all through the year!
Several went on to become the first female Ph.Ds in their field; one was named Harvard’s first woman professor. Personal details, garnered from Sobel’s examination of diaries and letters, bring these heroines to life, revealing a picture of their brilliant accomplishments and perseverance, despite menial pay, long hours and grueling tasks—endured in the heat, snow and rain. “The Glass Universe” has been widely praised by both critics and writers including Geraldine Brooks, impressed by the book as “intellectual history at its finest” and by its author for “conveying complex information with ease and grace."
For her extensively researched “A More Perfect Heaven,” Sobel focused on the life of 16th century Polish astronomer and physician Nicolaus Copernicus, who also provided the inspiration for her first play, “The Sun Stood Still.” Commissioned by the Manhattan Theatre Club and staged in Denver, New York and Los Angeles, its script imaginatively treated the events that led to Copernicus’ decision to publish his groundbreaking theory of the cosmos, in which he asserted that the planets rotated, not around the earth as was believed, but the sun. Now published in more than 28 languages, “Longitude” is another of Sobel’s books to be dramatized, in theaters and on English television. The story of 18th century clockmaker John Harrison’s life and arduous quest to perfect the marine chronometer, a device to pinpoint a ship’s location at sea, starred Jeremy Irons and Michael Gambon.
Among numerous others, the award that Sobel received from Germany’s Rhein Foundation in 2014 was given to honor her “scientific knowledge and literary talent” and “for giving the history of science a human face”. A sense of wonder continues to characterize both her books and her own sensibility. Frequently travelling long distances to experience solar eclipses, she has noted:
... at the moment of totality the sky darkens because the moon is in front of the sun, so it blocks [its} brightest light. And the corona flares out around the moon, and it's like platinum streamers, iridescent. And ropes of burning hydrogen can come up into that silver part from the black moon in bright red, and the colour of the sky goes twilight, and you can see the planets come out. Whichever planets are near the sun will suddenly appear in the daytime. And the temperature drops. it's the closest thing to witnessing a miracle.
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