False Claims Made by Massachusetts Bishop Demonstrate Deeper Pattern of Anti-Israel Prejudice Among Mainline Protestants, US Jewish Leader Says
The Algemeiner interviewed B'nai B'rith CEO and Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin for its story on Suffragan Bishop Gayle Harris, who publicly asserted having seen Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers commit atrocities against Palestinians. Harris claimed that IDF soldiers killed a teenager by shooting him ten times, and handcuffed a 3-year-old boy whose ball fell over the Western Wall in Jerusalem. The allegations were made during debate over a litany of anti-Israel resolutions considered at the Episcopal convention.
A long-established tendency among US mainline Protestant denominations to “blindly accept and repeat the Palestinian narrative” is ultimately responsible for the fabricated claims of Israeli human rights abuse made by a Massachusetts Episcopalian bishop that resulted in her apologizing over the weekend, a veteran US Jewish leader said on Tuesday.
“Over more than a decade, we’ve seen attempts by mainline groups to adopt BDS resolutions and other one-sided resolutions,” Daniel Mariaschin — the Washington, DC-based CEO of B’nai B’rith International — told The Algemeiner in an interview.
These efforts, said Mariaschin, “have wound up, frankly, at the point where Bishop Harris said what she said.”
Bishop Gayle Harris, who serves as a suffragan (assisting) bishop in the Massachusetts diocese, falsely told the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops in a July 3 speech that Israeli troops had carried out a gruesome execution of a Palestinian teenage boy.
Without citing a location or a date, Harris claimed that after an argument with Israeli troops, the boy had fled in panic.
“They shot him in the back four times,” Harris asserted. “He fell on the ground and they shot him again another six.”
In the same speech, she also claimed — again without any citation — that a three-year old Palestinian child in eastern Jerusalem was handcuffed by the IDF after his rubber ball accidentally bounced onto the Western Wall Plaza, where thousands of Jews worship daily.
Both these stories were fabrications. Over the weekend, Harris said that she had been “speaking from my passion for justice for all people, but I was repeating what I received secondhand.”
She continued: “I was ill-advised to repeat the stories without verification, and I apologize for doing so.”
Harris’ immediate senior, the Rt. Rev. Alan Gates, added that the church “grieve(s) damage done to our relationships with Jewish friends and colleagues in Massachusetts, and (would) rededicate ourselves to those partnerships, in which we are grateful to face complexities together.”
Mariaschin commented that Harris’ original allegations demonstrated “how little she knows about the subject and her judgment.” He continued: “We’re talking here about clergy who exercise a great deal of influence over parishioners and congregants in their communities.” Mariaschin emphasized while the controversy over Harris’ claims “happened to become public, this kind of thing has been going on for years.”
Describing Harris’ comments as a “real time example of repeating lies and taking false information at face value by an otherwise responsible member of the clergy,” Mariaschin said that she “should have known better.”
“If it took her diocese to explain this and she still doesn’t get it, then there is a problem there as well,” he added.
The B’nai B’rith chief warned of a repeat of such controversies as long as “you engage in blood libels like this.”
“This kind of thinking then goes to the annual meetings, where hours and hours on end are spent trading these kinds of stories and exchanging these kinds of opinions, which then wind up in BDS resolutions,” Mariaschin explained. “This has inflicted terrible harm on us over the years.”
A total of eight resolutions attacking Israel were tabled at the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in early July, where Harris made her comments.
In one resolution on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations adopted by the convention, the prospect of a so-called “one-state solution” — whereby Israel would cease to exist as a Jewish and democratic state — was raised as a serious option.
Efforts to resolve the conflict “may encompass other solutions such as one binational state or confederation, recognizing that these possibilities are being raised as the material conditions for a two-state solution have deteriorated due to accelerated [Israeli] settlement expansion in East Jerusalem and the West Bank since the Oslo Accords [the Israeli-Palestinian agreement of 1993] were signed,” the resolution argued.
JNS included our statement in its coverage of the latest rocket fire from Gaza. Last week Hamas fired more than 150 rockets and mortar shells at Israeli neighborhoods.
Members of Congress and the American Jewish community are reacting to the most recent escalation between Hamas and Israel, with the former firing rockets from Gaza into the latter.
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) posted on Twitter, “150 rockets fired at Israel from Hamas and other terrorists last night. 11 wounded. Israel has the right to defend itself from any attacks on its people. These attacks must stop. Hamas’ brutality continues to threaten the lives of Israelis and Palestinians.”
Similarly, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), ranking member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, “strongly condemned” the rocket fire.
“I support Israel’s right to self-defense. No one should have to live under this threat, and no country should be asked to sit on its hands while citizens face a barrage of rockets,” Engel said in a statement.
Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) said that he stands with Israel.
“As a key national security partner, we must strongly support Israel’s right to defend itself,” Rep. Fitzpatrick said on Twitter. “With the latest rocket attacks, Hamas continues to escalate conflict rather than seek peace.”
“[Tuesday] night in the largest escalation of violence by Hamas since 2014, terrorists fired over 180 rockets into Israel’s southern region injuring innocent civilians,” Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) posted on Facebook. “These violent attacks by Hamas must come to an end. I stand with Israel in its right to defend itself and protect its people.”
Meanwhile, the Jewish organizations expressed their outrage over the Hamas rocket barrage as well as their support.
“B’nai B’rith International is outraged by the Hamas rocket barrage against Israel, and we stand in solidarity with the Jewish state,” said B’nai B’rith International President Gary P. Saltzman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin.
The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations also expressed solidarity with Israel.
“We express solidarity with the people of the State of Israel who have been consistently terrorized by the rocket and mortar attacks, incendiary balloons and border infiltrations carried out by members of Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza,” said chairman Arthur Stark and executive vice chairman/CEO Malcolm Hoenlein. “Since May 2018, nearly 650 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip targeting Israeli population centers, and, in the last 24 hours alone, over 150 rockets have been launched, representing only the latest examples of violence in Hamas’s violations of international law, civic and human rights.”
“We support the measures taken by the government of Israel to protect and defend civilian lives, and hope that its actions will bring about a swift end to these indiscriminate attacks,” continued Stark and Hoenlein. “No country would or should put up with these violations of its territorial integrity or security of its citizens.”
A ceasefire mediated by Egypt was reached between Israel late Thursday evening.
“We look forward to the day when the residents of Israel’s south can live in peace and without constant threat,” said Stark and Hoenlein.
A year after Charlottesville: the far right in the United States is making a show of power in Washington
Israel’s Channel 11 included an interview B’nai B’rith CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin did with Reuters on the one year anniversary of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The Algemeiner included a statement from B’nai B’rith CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin on the Administration's call to reform the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser Jared Kushner’s push to reform the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) is a welcome development, a number of officials with leading American Jewish groups told The Algemeiner this week.
Kushner’s efforts were first reported in Foreign Policy magazine, which said that in a series of internal emails, the adviser stated, “It is important to have an honest and sincere effort to disrupt UNRWA. … This [agency] perpetuates a status quo, is corrupt, inefficient and doesn’t help peace.”
Furthermore, Kushner reportedly asked Jordan during a June visit to the Hashemite kingdom to remove two million of its Palestinian citizens from the refugee rolls, effectively making UNRWA’s activities in the country irrelevant.
UNRWA was originally set up to serve refugees displaced in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence. At first designed to be temporary body, it is now seven decades old and is embedded deeply in Palestinian society, serving, for example, as the single largest employer in the Gaza Strip. Critics accuse it of perpetuating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by counting descendants of the 1948 refugees as refugees themselves, as well as engaging in anti-Israel activities and cooperating with terrorist organizations.
Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman and CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations commented on the reports of Kushner’s efforts, telling The Algemeiner on Wednesday, “It is long overdue that the UNRWA mandate and activities be reviewed. For too long, UNRWA has been given a pass despite their support for and tolerance of anti-Israel activities and incitement, allowing their institutions to be utilized by terrorist organizations, let alone the designation of third-generation descendants as refugees on the UN dole.”
“We all want to see humanitarian needs met, but UNRWA’s antiquated and corrupt structure, as it exists today, is not the answer,” he added.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper — the associate dean and director of global social action at the Simon Wiesenthal Center — noted, “It’s basically saying that the US approach to regional peace is to take a very aggressive look and action against the current status quo. … As long as you have the so-called Right of Return hanging over discussion where the numbers of ‘refugees’ continue to burgeon, there’s no chance of ever closing a deal.”
In regard to the possible Jordanian response to Kushner’s request, Cooper said, “The Jordanian monarch, he’s married to a Palestinian, making a move like that comes with its own set of problems and dangers.” Jordan, he added, might seek financial compensation from the US if it adopted such a policy.
“It’s a very interesting and out of the box move by Jared Kushner and the peace team,” Cooper pointed out. “There’s a lot riding on it, if this is an accurate depiction and I think it probably is. And if Jordan at the end of the day agrees, it gives further impetus” to UNRWA reforms.
Hillel Neuer of UN Watch also commented on the reports, saying, “There is political pressure on Jordan to discriminate against its citizens of Palestinian descent, but that is wrong. Jordan should listen to Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis, who recently called for their full integration. Instead of UNRWA schools and hospitals, he said Switzerland could support Jordanian facilities to promote the integration of Palestinian refugees.”
“By feeding the false hope of a return to family homes in Israel abandoned in a war years before most of them were even born, UNRWA is only harming this population,” Neuer continued. “It’s time for Jordan to take responsibility for all its citizens equally.”
B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President and CEO Daniel Mariaschin criticized UNRWA, calling it “a corrupt and politicized organization, and the attention given to its extensive list of misdeeds is long overdue.”
“It has willingly played a role in perpetuating the conflict rather than resolving it,” he charged. “It follows its own rules, despite UN guidelines on what constitutes a refugee.”
“Immediate steps should be taken to eliminate those programs which incite against Israel and Jews,” Mariaschin went on to say, “and it needs to sever its ties with Palestinian extremist groups that have used UNRWA to advance their own destructive aims. Comprehensive reforms must be immediate; ultimately, UNRWA’s work should be merged into the Office of the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, which oversees aid programs for all other refugees, globally.”
American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris told The Algemeiner, “In principle, the current situation is untenable and indefensible. Unlike any other people on earth, Palestinians are classified as ‘refugees’ from generation to generation — in other words, in perpetuity. Plus, again uniquely, the UN’s mandate is not their resettlement, but rather the perpetuation of their current status.”
Harris sounded a note of caution, however, emphasizing that “absurd as the status quo is, it can’t be scuttled in its entirety overnight unless another means of dealing with large-scale educational and welfare issues is found both for the West Bank and especially Gaza, or else a bad situation could become even worse. Alas, under present circumstances, that’s easier said than done.”
Azvision.az interviewed Eric Fusfield, B’nai B’rith deputy director at the Center for Human Rights and Public Policy, on the rise of global anti-Semitism and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Exclusive interview with Eric Fusfield, Deputy Director at B’nai B’rith International Center for Human Rights and Public Policy.
-The new law on the national character of the Jewish state is still very topic. Not only Israel, but Europe and the USA are also discussing it. How necessary was to adopt the law?
The law is an affirmation of Israel’s status as a Jewish state and a democracy with equal rights for its minority citizens. Israel’s role as the eternal homeland of the Jewish people has always been a core aspect of the country’s identity; the law does not change that.
- Do you agree that, as some say, the law on the national character of Israel might complicate the resolution of the Palestinian-Jewish conflict?
On the contrary, it is crucial to underscore the right of Jews to self-determination in their homeland; there can be no two-state solution without international acceptance of this key principle. The United Nations has affirmed the Palestinian right to self-determination many times, but pays little regard to the equivalent Jewish right. This law should facilitate, rather than hinder, a resolution of the conflict.
- How do you see the settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict?
The key to a lasting settlement of the conflict is direct negotiation between the two parties over core issues, such as borders, refugees, security issues, water rights, and the status of Jerusalem. There can be no solution imposed by the UN or other outside parties. Similarly, sanctions or boycotts of Israel are an impediment to peace, because they disincentivize the Palestinians to negotiate.
- How do you assess the situation with antisemitism in the world?
Anti-Semitism is a growing problem around the globe. The problem has been most acute in Europe, where antisemitism has reasserted itself as a cultural virus and even gained potency in many respects. Today antisemitism often manifests itself in the form of virulent anti-Israel hatred that exceeds legitimate political discourse by incorporating traditional antisemitic motifs and by attempting to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish state, or apply double standards to it.
- What kind of work does B'nai B'rith do to curb cases of antisemitism?
Through its global advocacy before national governments and international organizations, B’nai B’rith works to increase awareness of the contemporary dimensions of antisemitism. We call on governments, organizations, and civil society to adopt constructive measures in the areas of law enforcement, hate crime monitoring, data collection, and education and training. We also call on public officials and civil society leaders to condemn and publicly stigmatize antisemitism.
The Balkan Insight interviewed B’nai B’rith Bulgaria Vice President Solomon Bali on the trend of selling memorabilia disguised as Nazi propaganda.
The images of Bulgarian national heroes and political leaders appear on mugs and fridge magnets next to those of Stalin, Hitler and Communist leader Todor Zhivkov on vendors’ stalls around the country.
Mugs and fridge magnets with the images of totalitarian dictators like Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler are being widely sold alongside those of Bulgarian historical figures and political leaders from the present day on stalls and by a range of vendors around the country.
Traditionally, such memorabilia has been sold at touristic locations, such as the Bulgarian seaside resorts of Sozopol and Nesebar, but some folklore festivals have also seen stalls selling Nazi and Communist trinkets.
The Bulgarian branch of B’nai B’rith, an international Jewish organisation, warned against the distribution of Nazi propaganda in the form of memorabilia.
“We insist that [state] institutions do what it takes to put a halt to this tendency so that it does not turn out that Bulgaria is the only EU country that promotes [this ideology] through the lack of institutional action,” said Solomon Bali, the vice-president of the European branch of B’nai B’rith.
Vendors at the annual winter Surva festival in Pernik, which brings together masquerade groups from across Bulgaria and beyond, also sold similar mugs with the faces of controversial figures from the past next to others bearing the images of the last king of the country, Boris III, and the national hero of Bulgarian independence, Vasil Levski.
Similar memorabilia has also been on sale at some political events.
Most recently, mugs featuring the faces of Stalin, Russian president Vladimir Putin, the ex-communist leader of Bulgaria, Todor Zhivkov, and the leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, Kornelia Ninova, were sold at the annual socialist convention near Buzludzha peak in the Central Balkan mountains.
This sparked outrage among political opponents of the Socialists, with the European People’s Party MEP Andrey Kovachev writing on Facebook that “the communist plague is trying to break Bulgaria once again!”
Under the Bulgarian criminal code, people who preach fascist or any other anti-democratic ideology can be punished with a prison sentence of up to three years or fined up to 5,000 leva (2,500 euros).
But the Bulgarian authorities have consistently failed to instigated criminal proceedings.
Since 2016, Bulgaria has also had a law that bans the public display of communist symbols - a law that is also rarely observed.
The Art Newspaper mentioned us in an article on the current legal battle the Metropolitan Museum of Art is facing over Pablo Picasso’s “The Actor.” It is believed that German Jewish collector Paul Leffmann sold the painting in order to escape from Italy after fleeing from Nazi Germany. B’nai B’rith signed onto the brief in support of the Leffmann estate in its efforts to have the property returned.
The legal battle over Picasso’s painting The Actor (around 1904-05), which now hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is not quite over. An appeal has been brought in federal court in New York by the estate of Alice Leffmann, challenging a lower court’s dismissal of its claim on the work, which it says was sold under duress during the Nazi era. The Met is opposing the appeal and stands by its ownership of the painting.
Now one of the most recognised works from Picasso’s “Rose period”, The Actor was once owned by the German Jewish collector Paul Leffmann, who sold it in Italy in 1938 for $13,200, allegedly far below market value, as he and his wife Alice sought to flee a fast-Nazifying Italy, having already escaped Germany. The painting later made its way to New York’s Knoedler Gallery, where it was bought in 1941 for $22,500 by the American collector Thelma Chrysler Foy, who gave it to the Met in 1952. The case is significant because of the potential impact on claimants who seek the restitution of works sold by Jewish families to raise cash to fund their escape from the Nazis.
In dismissing the lawsuit in February, US District Court Judge Loretta Preska said the estate had not met the legal test for duress under the law of either Italy or New York. While acknowledging a general “economic pressure during the undeniably horrific circumstances of the Nazi and Fascist regimes,” the judge said, the Leffmanns had time to review and negotiate other offers before agreeing to the $13,200, and had other—albeit vastly reduced—assets.
On appeal, the estate says the situation faced in 1938 by the fleeing Leffmanns in Florence, where Adolf Hitler was parading through the neighbourhood, was duress. “You either sell or face an unspeakable fate,” the estate says in its filing, calling the sale a “desperate act of survival during the most horrific of circumstances.” The estate adds that the lower court’s decision is inconsistent with US policy as shown by the recently passed Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery (HEAR) Act, which extends the time limit for claims on Nazi-era art cases, and which the court did not address. "As the appellate brief makes clear, the HEAR Act is a clear statement of US policy favouring the restitution of art lost as a result of persecution by the Nazis and its allies," says the estate's lawyer Ross Hirsch of Herrick, Feinstein. "As a technical legal matter, the HEAR Act is also relevant to, and dismissive of, the Museum’s statute of limitation and laches defenses. However, the district court did not reach those defenses in its decision."
The Met argues that the estate is asking the court to expand the law of duress, which would upset the rights of those who have bought art in good faith. The Leffmanns sold the painting on the open market in 1938 and brought no claim for it when they sought to recover other lost assets after the war, the museum says, adding that it has handled the claim with “appropriate sensitivity to the historical circumstances” and denied it only after voluminous research. “The Museum respectfully stands by its conclusion that it is the rightful owner of this painting, which was never in the hands of the Nazis and never sold or transferred in any unlawful way,” David Bowker, an attorney for the Met, says.
The case has attracted the attention of groups and individuals who have filed amicus briefs in support of the Leffmann estate, including the Holocaust Era Restitution Project, B’nai B’rith International, the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Human Rights and others. The court should take into account that the Nazis wove an “all-encompassing web” to extract all Jewish assets for the Reich, the Wiesenthal Center says, adding that sales under those circumstances should not be viewed as ordinary commercial transactions.
The Algemeiner ran B'nai B'rith CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin's op-ed on the media bias against Israel. Mariaschin discusses the lengths to which Palestinians will go to paint Israel in a negative light.
The media’s treatment of Israel has been among the Jewish state’s most vexing challenges. Most major media organizations have reporters based in Israel, an open society that affords journalists — domestic and foreign — access to policymakers, the military, and the general citizenry. Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza are, globally speaking, a very confined area. When conflicts arise, hundreds of additional journalists flock to Israel and rush to the border, sending back reports on the fighting in real time.
It should be no mystery to reporters based in Israel that the Jewish state faces implacable enemies: Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah and now Iran in the north, and a Palestinian Authority that continues to glorify terrorism, pays cash to imprisoned terrorists and the families of “martyrs,” and incites the population to hate and murder Israelis and Jews.
And yet that message rarely gets through. If it does, it’s done grudgingly. Simplistic explanations abound, including the “Palestinians as David, the Israelis as Goliath” underdog argument, which translates into “understanding” of violent “resistance to the occupation.” Or maybe the media organizations that the reporters represent hew to an ideological viewpoint — which just happens to be identical to those writing or broadcasting the stories themselves. The editors and the headline writers back home, far removed from the action, seal the deal by summarizing already biased stories.
Here’s an example.
It’s generally known that journalists reporting from Gaza are restricted by Hamas when it comes to what they are shown and what they are told. If you say something in your report from Gaza that just scratches the surface of what you’re actually seeing, you’ll do so at your peril — at the very least, you could be expelled from Gaza.
Just recall the two reporters, one Indian and one French, who during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge independently reported that Hamas had fired rockets into Israel from a residential area, a favorite Hamas tactic. Even more incredibly, the reporters who took the story public noted the launch site was just yards away from a hotel where international journalists covering Gaza were staying.
When a CNN reporter who had been in Gaza for days was asked by his own anchor in Washington if he had seen the same kind of fire emanating from such civilian locations he went into “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” mode, lamely saying that he was not aware of it. Highly doubtful, but indicative of the intimidation employed by his Hamas hosts.
The early summer demonstrations in Gaza this year produced a Washington Post story headlined “A day of gas inside a Gaza ambulance,” which focused on Palestinian medics who treated the wounded near the border fence separating Gaza from Israel. The opening lines in this seven-paragraph story tell you immediately, without reading further, where this story was going:
The first patients don’t come until 5:39 PM. They crowd around the ambulance, choking on tear gas. Israeli soldiers, just a few hundred yards away on the other side of the boundary fence, had fired a volley of hissing canisters at the protesters.
The article includes an interview with a Palestinian paramedic, which included the following — not a quote, but the reporter’s own paraphrase of the interviewee: “It doesn’t compare to the stress of the 2014 war, though, when he spent his days in the ambulance worrying about his family’s safety as Gaza came under heavy bombardment from Israel and Hamas fired rockets back” (italics mine).
Wait a minute: wasn’t it Hamas that fired the rockets into Israel first, and then Israel that defended itself with airstrikes against Hamas targets?
One has to believe that the reporter knew this and her editors did as well.
Playing fast and loose with hearsay and unsubstantiated charges was rife during the Friday protests in Gaza in May and June. Casualty numbers were attributed to “Gaza health officials.”
Let’s consider an egregious example of bias, carried by multiple media organizations: the case of Layla Ghandour, the Palestinian baby said by the press to have died from tear gas inhalation during the demonstrations. It was later reported that, in fact, the baby had actually died due to a heart condition and Hamas had paid the family to lie about the circumstances. Try to find more than a few “clarifications” of this story, in print or on the air. You won’t.
For days, the press reported on the carnival-like atmosphere of the demonstrations, mentioning picnicking families and ice cream vendors. Even after a Hamas official boasted that more than 50 of those declared dead in the demonstrations were Hamas operatives, most media organizations went with their “mostly peaceful protest” stories, rarely mentioning the revelation about the 50, and playing down Hamas’ central role in the whole affair, including the torching of Israeli farmland and nature preserves by fiery kites and balloons.
As at the United Nations, press bias is a stacked deck against Israel. The IDF works relentlessly to correct media bias with its solid spokespeople. The encouraging news is that a few courageous news organizations, friends of Israel inside and outside the Jewish community, and organizations including B’nai B’rith, CAMERA, MEMRI, ADC (the Anti Defamation Commission in Australia), Palestinian Media Watch, and HonestReporting work overtime to hold the press to account.
Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran publicly call for and seek Israel’s destruction. Terrorists can strike anytime at Israelis, ramming pedestrians with cars and bulldozers, stabbing people on the street, or attempting to kidnap civilians and soldiers. Israel’s right to defend itself and be at peace with its neighbors should not be in question. But many journalists don’t report it that way, choosing many times to give those who seek to destroy Israel a free pass.
It is our right to call out those who engage in advancing a tainted narrative and set the record straight — sometimes multiple times a day — when the media does not present the full picture.
The Boston Jewish Advocate interviewed Eric Fusfield, B’nai B’rith director of legislative affairs, on several Jewish groups that endorsed a Jewish Voice for Peace statement supporting BDS. B’nai B’rith condemns the statement, and does not support the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment movement.
Boston Workmen’s Circle was one of three dozen “largely fringe” groups to sign a Jewish Voice for Peace statement defending the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment movement against Israel, putting it at odds with the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, of which it is a member.
The Brookline-based Yiddish culture and labor rights organization was the only local, U.S.-based organization to sign the July 30 statement, headlined, “Over 30 Jewish groups worldwide opp...
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The New York Times quoted us in an article about Netflix originally planning to stream a documentary by notorious anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan. On Monday Netflix announced that the film will not be released through its platform, and blamed “internal miscommunication.”
Netflix will not release a documentary celebrating the musical career of Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam who is notorious for his history of anti-Semitic comments.
It appeared that “The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan: My Life’s Journey Through Music,” would be available for streaming on Netflix on Aug. 1, according to a now-deleted Monday Twitter announcement from Mr. Farrakhan’s account. It read: “On August 1st, watch the premiere of my music documentary ‘My Life’s Journey Through Music’ on @netflix.” The documentary also appeared on lists of coming programming for Netflix Britain. It did not appear on Netflix lists distributed in the United States, Australia or Canada.
The film was not actually supposed to be scheduled, but, because of an “internal miscommunication,” appeared to be on various platforms, a spokesperson for Netflix said in an email. The Netflix spokesperson would not provide further details on Netflix’s relationship with the film.
Mr. Farrakhan and representatives for the Nation of Islam did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In light of Mr. Farrakhan’s announcement, a number of Jewish organizations and people spoke out in media outlets and on Twitter, or said they reached out to Netflix directly. Rabbi Marvin Hier, the founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an organization dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism, said he immediately called up the Netflix chief executive, Ted Sarandos, who told him that a “glitch” had occurred, and the movie would not be released.
Rabbi Hier said it would be terrible to give Mr. Farrakhan “legitimacy” on such a national level by streaming this documentary.
“Documentaries should always be screened,” Rabbi Hier said. “But not by bigots and haters.”
The biographical documentary, made in 2014 and originally titled “Let’s Change the World,” according to The Final Call, the Nation of Islam’s newspaper, tells the story of Mr. Farrakhan’s foray into playing violin. A trailer for the documentary posted on Facebook shows scenes from the movie that try to reframe criticism of Mr. Farrakhan, labeling him as “misunderstood.”
Mr. Farrakhan has been watched by many since his ascent to his post as the leader of the Nation of Islam — a black nationalist political and religious movement — in the 1970s. He has been branded by the Anti-Defamation League as “virtually synonymous with anti-Semitism.” In February, he gave a speech at a Nation of Islam convention, where, among other subversive statements, he said Jews were “responsible for all of this filth and degenerate behavior that Hollywood is putting out turning men into women and women into men.”
In June, he lost his Twitter verification for posting a video in which he called Jews “satanic.”
Supporters of Mr. Farrakhan expressed dismay in multiple Facebook posts at Netflix’s decision to cut his documentary, but to stream another one, “KKK: The Fight for White Supremacy,” which features members of the Ku Klux Klan speaking about their white supremacist ideology.
Organizations including B’nai B’rith International (the oldest Jewish service organization in the world) and the World Jewish Congress (which represents various Jewish organizations in 100 countries around the world) expressed concern with the announcement of “The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan: My Life’s Journey Through Music,” and praised Netflix’s decision to cut it.
Gary P. Saltzman, president of B’nai B’rith International, and Daniel S. Mariaschin, the organization’s chief executive, said in an email statement that they were “incredulous” when it appeared that a positive film about Mr. Farrakhan would stream on “such a tremendous platform.”
“Broadcast and streaming platforms such as Netflix are under no obligation to carry a particular program,” their statement said. “They make choices every day on what to run and not run. Not running this promotion is the right decision.”
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