The Hebrew Watchman (Jewish Scene Magazine) included letters from both B'nai B'rith International President Charles O. Kaufman and Memphis-area B’nai B’rith leader Harold I. Steinberg to Germantown Municipal School District superintendent Dr. Jason Manuel in response to a district administrator comparing vaccine papers to yellow stars.
Several prominent Jewish community leaders, rabbis, organizations and Congressman Steve Cohen have responded to a Facebook post by an administrator in the Germantown Municipal School District comparing vaccine papers to yellow stars.
Within days, Memphis-area news outlets aired and published information concerning the comments by the administrator, Janna Matykiewicz, at Houston High School. The post, which has since been taken off Facebook, read “What’s the difference between vaccine papers and a yellow star? 82 years.”
Rabbi Jeremy Simons of Temple Is- rael commented to NBC Action News 5 that “to know this came from an ed- ucator... it was shocking and deeply distressing.”
Rabbi Sarit Horwitz of Beth Sholom spoke with ABC Local 24 saying “vac- cines are about giving life and uphold- ing life for everyone, for ourselves, for our families, for our larger community whereas the mass genocide of the Jew- ish people was about killing people.”
Letters were also sent to Dr. Jason Manuel, superintendent Germantown Municipal School District concerning her remarks. A student started a petition to fire the administrator at change.org, which at the time of this article had re- ceived 2,417 signatures.
Read more in the Hebrew Watchman.
Charles O. Kaufman, president B’nai B’rith International and local B’nai B’rith member Harold I. Steinberg sent the following letters to Dr. Manuel.
Letter from B'nai B'rith International President Charles O. Kaufman to Dr. Jason Manuel, superintendent Germantown Municipal School District:
Dear Dr. Manuel,
There is no confusion surrounding the message behind Janna Matykiewicz’s Facebook post: “What’s the difference between vaccine papers and a yellow star? 82 years.”
By invoking the yellow star used by Nazis to segregate and identify Jews as a population to be demonized, your colleague has entered something more than simply a poor use of a metaphor from history. Imagine the message that already is filtering through the Germantown school community, not just Houston High School.
This is an administrator who has a problem relating events in history to the management of today’s Covid-19 pan- demic, which has exploded into a most serious health concern with the current wave of variants. It is a matter of ignorance, pure and simple, a lack of sen- sitivity and perhaps latent hatred. This was no slip of the tongue or an example taken out of context.
A severe reprimand, a suspension or dismissal is certainly in order. In the meantime, it is important for Ms. Matykiewicz, faculty and students to understand why such parallels are so abhor- rent, and I trust you will wisely guide your colleagues to make this circumstance a teaching opportunity.
Frankly, Jews around the world have enough problems with anti-Semites casually accusing Jews and Israel of acting like “Nazis” or practicing “Apartheid.” And now the unmistakable 82-year time frame of wearing yellow stars. These are false narratives, if not blood libels, of modern times.
Today’s education system has many successes, to be sure, but this incident is proof that education is sliding into a very deep hole of learning deficits.
B’nai B’rith has worked in the Memphis area and around the world to serve the good of the community and stamp out anti-Semitism and we stand ready to assist you in solving this problem.
President, B’nai B’rith International
Letter from Memphis-area B’nai B’rith leader Harold I. Steinberg to Dr. Jason Manuel, superintendent Germantown Municipal School District:
Dear Dr. Manuel,
As a member of the Sam Schloss Lodge of B’nai B’rith, founded in Memphis in 1854 (yes, in 1854), I am proud of its long record of service. As an example, following the assassination of President Lincoln, the entire lodge marched in a local memorial procession. In addition, B’nai B’rith has an unmatched record of support to the United States and members of the military service. President Truman sent a letter to B’nai B’rith thanking the organization for its “amazing amount of national service.” There are many other examples I could cite.
I am also a member of the Germantown Financial Advisory Commission. I have long been proud of the commission’s steadfast support for quality education in our city and the Germantown Municipal School District. But the recent news report about Janna Matykiewicz’s post on Facebook tells me that there is more work to do.
Simply stated, Ms. Matykiewicz must be disciplined, suspended or terminated. GMSD cannot allow such remarks to go unanswered.
Students at Houston High School should benefit from administrators who clearly understand that America is stronger for its diversity. I ask that you ensure this message is received by students, faculty and staff, not only at Houston High School, but throughout the entire GMSD.
I stand ready to assist you in any way.
Harold I. Steinberg
The Jewish Journal noted B'nai B'rith International's appreciation for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis calling for sanctions against Ben & Jerry's anti-Semitic boycott of Israel.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, sent a letter to the State Board of Administration (SBA) on July 22 requesting that they take action against Ben & Jerry’s and their parent company Unilever.
“It has come to my attention that Ben & Jerry’s has announced plans to remove its products and prohibit the sale of ice cream in Judea and Samaria,” DeSantis wrote, arguing that doing so puts Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever “within the prohibited activities” under Florida state law. DeSantis asked that the SBA put Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever on “the Continued Examination Companies that Boycott Israel List” and the “Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel List.”
If Ben & Jerry’s continues to not sell their products in the West Bank after being put on these lists, then “the Board must refrain from acquiring any and all Unilever assets consistent with the law,” DeSantis wrote. “These actions affirm the State of Florida’s relationship with the State of Israel and our commitment to a swift response to those who discriminate against the Israeli people.”
A spokesperson from the DeSantis administration told Fox Business that if the SBA follows through on DeSantis’ request, they “would prevent the board from buying stock in Unilever … and its corporate entities. The state would also be unable to contract with these companies unless they ended their boycott.”
B’nai Brith International tweeted “kudos” to DeSantis. “The ice cream maker must be held accountable for its #antisemitic boycott of #Israel.”
Other states appear to be taking similar actions. The New York State Comptroller’s Office sent a letter to Unilever CEO Alan Jope on July 23 stating that they are “troubled and concerned” that Ben & Jerry’s “is involved in BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] activities.” Unilever has 90 days to prove that Ben & Jerry’s is not partaking in BDS activities; otherwise, the state may withdraw their pension funds from Unilever under New York’s anti-BDS law.
Pennsylvania State Representative Aaron Kaufer, a Republican, requested that state government officials enforce Pennsylvania’s anti-BDS law against Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever. He received replies stating that officials would ensure that their anti-BDS laws are being upheld.
“Unilever is feeling the heat,” journalist and author Gary Weiss tweeted. “The question is whether it believes it benefits more from standing with Jews or antisemites. Its long tradition, going back to the 1930s, is not encouraging.”
The Algemeiner noted B'nai B'rith International, along with other leading Jewish organizations, supporting the Netherlands' decision to join other democracies in boycotting the upcoming Durban IV conference.
Leading Jewish groups applauded the Netherlands’ decision’ to join a growing number of countries — including the UK, the US and Australia -- in boycotting the upcoming Durban IV conference, citing an “unacceptable … risk of repetition of abuse of this platform for antisemitic expressions.”
The UN is scheduled to hold a Sept. 22 event marking the 20th anniversary of the World Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa, from which the US and Israel previously withdrew over objections of anti-Zionism. Israel was singled out from the original Durban conference declaration and was depicted as committing “crimes against humanity,” “ethnic cleansing,” “apartheid” and “genocide” against the Palestinians.
“The Netherlands does not intend to participate in the Durban IV conference, given the historical burden of the Durban process, the risk of repeated abuse of this platform for antisemitic expressions and the disproportionate and one-sided attention to Israel as reflected in the original Durban declaration,” Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag said on Wednesday. “This is unacceptable. The Netherlands remains committed to the fight against antisemitism.”
Leading Jewish groups welcomed Netherland’s decision to join the UK, US, Australia, Canada, Hungary and Israel in not attending the anniversary event. The European Jewish Congress praised the Dutch government for deciding to boycott the upcoming “antisemitic” Durban conference.
“We thank the Netherlands for announcing that it, like other key democracies, won’t participate in the UN’s commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Durban conference tarnished by antisemitism,” B’nai B’rith International commented. “The UN and the fight against racism must never be used as cover for hate.”
Commenting on the Dutch pullout from the conference, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) said that “no country should attend an event tainted by a legacy of Jew-hatred.”
Kaag also pledged that the Netherlands would remain committed to combating bigotry, in the UN and beyond.
“This month, for example, the Netherlands will make a national declaration against all forms of racism and discrimination at the Human Rights Council meeting. Also at the forthcoming United Nations General Assembly, the Netherlands will focus in particular on combating racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and Islamophobia,” Kaag said.
JNS included our statement of condemnation in its coverage of anti-Israel activists falsely accusing the IDF of exploiting the disaster in Surfside, Florida.
(July 7, 2021 / JNS) Anti-Israel activists took to social media to accuse the Israel Defense Forces of exploiting the collapse of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Fla.
Rafael Shimunov, a political activist from Queens, N.Y., questioned the motives of involvement by the Israeli military.
He tweeted: “I really don’t understand the IDF’s involvement in rescue attempts of people tragically crushed under buildings in Miami. Their expertise is crushing buildings with people in them, not rescuing them.”
He added: “As if we don’t have any expertise or technology here in the U.S. Using these tragic deaths for pro-Israel propaganda is just quite something. These forces are literally stepping over buildings they crushed with children in them to go to Miami and do a PR stunt.”
Pro-Palestinian activist Linda Sarsour replied to Shiminov’s tweet with fingers pointing downwards in agreement.
A rescue delegation from the IDF’s Home Front Command was sent to Surfside to assist in the search and recovery mission. The delegation arrived within 72 hours of the building’s collapse, helping first responders using 3D mapping and conducting a humanitarian effort to support the families of the missing.
B’nai B’rith International was “outraged and disgusted” by the tweet and retweet from Shimunov and Sarsour.
“This horrific statement comes as families are mourning the loss of loved ones and hoping for miracles in the tragic building collapse that still has 113 missing in the rubble. The IDF has worked tirelessly, as Lt. Col. Oz Gino told Hamodia, ‘on the pile as if everybody is alive,’” wrote B’nai B’rith International president Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin.
“The tweet is not only deeply insensitive but anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic,” they continued. “A people that, sadly, has had to deal with bombs from Palestinian terrorists is now told it has the temerity to help people in Florida based on their own tragic experience.”
Jewish Groups, Local Communities Mark Two-Year Anniversary of Deadly Passover Shooting at Poway Chabad
The Algemeiner noted our commemoration, along with other Jewish groups, of the Poway Chabad shooting two years ago.
Leading Jewish groups marked the two-year anniversary of the deadly attacks at a Jewish congregation in California, when a white supremacist gunman stormed Passover services with an assault rifle, killing 60-year-old Lori Gilbert Kaye and wounding three others, including the synagogue’s rabbi.
“Today we remember two years since the deadly attack on the Chabad of Poway when a gunman entered the Chabad and started shooting. One person, Lori Gilbert Kaye was killed and three others injured,” said the The Anti-Defamation League in a Twitter post. “Lori’s memory will forever be in our hearts in our mission to #FightHateForGood.”
The World Jewish Congress tweeted, “In memory of Lori Gilbert-Kaye, z”l, who was killed two years ago today in the shooting at the Poway Synagogue in San Diego, on April 27, 2019. It was a Shabbat. Her friends described her as ‘a jewel of our community.'”
The three others wounded in the attack were Noya Dahan, then 8; her uncle Almog Peretz, then 34; and the Chabad’s then-rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, 57 at the time.
Gilbert-Kaye, a mother of one, was hailed as a hero after the attack for throwing her own body in front of the synagogue’s rabbi as shots rang out.
“Two years ago, a far-right domestic terrorist attacked the Chabad of Poway with the intention of killing Jews,” wrote B’nai B’rith International on Twitter. “May her memory be a blessing & inspire us to root out anti-Semitism, extremism & all forms of hate.”
The American Jewish Committee said, “May Lori’s memory be a blessing and inspire us to fight antisemitism wherever it exists.”
Poway Mayor Steve Vaus — who recently jointed the 525-member strong Mayors United Against Antisemitism — posted a photograph from the day of the attack, pledging to “never forget.”
The San Diego Sheriff’s department tweeted, “Two years ago today, a gunman stormed the Chabad of Poway during a crowded service. One person was killed and three others were hurt. @SDSheriff honors the memory of Lori Gilbert-Kaye. Her husband encourages us to do acts of kindness in her memory.”
The gunman, John Timothy Earnest, was apprehended in his car about two miles from the synagogue by a San Diego police officer. He faces the death penalty for charges brought by the state, and separate hate crime charges in a federal trial that was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jewish Groups Horrified Over ‘Antisemitic Bigot’ Louis Farrakhan’s Appearance at Funeral of Rapper DMX
The Algemeiner included B'nai B'rith International's condemnation of the prominent attendance of Nation of Islam leader and notorious anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan at rapper DMX’s funeral service.
Jewish organizations expressed outrage on Monday over the prominent attendance of Nation of Islam leader and notorious antisemite Louis Farrakhan at rapper DMX’s funeral service on Sunday.
Farrakhan delivered an 18-minute eulogy via webcam at DMX’s “Homegoing Celebration,” a close-knit service held at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, NY, following a more public memorial service on Saturday at Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn. In his speech, Farrakhan called DMX — whose real name is Earl Simmons — a prophet from God, spoke about his global influence and addressed the rapper’s 15 children, saying, “Your father is not gone. He’s absent, but you can bring him back.”
The service was live streamed on YouTube by BET Networks, which has over 3 million subscribers.
“While we would not normally comment on those chosen to deliver such remarks, it must be acknowledged that Farrakhan is an unrepentant demagogue, responsible for some of the most vile and open expressions of antisemitism, homophobia and bigotry,” B’nai B’rith International told The Algemeiner. “Particularly at a time such as this, we must all remember that tolerating any form of hate is a danger to all communities. Farrakhan must never be legitimized by those in positions of influence in our society.”
Liora Rez, the executive director of StopAntisemitism.org, told The Algemeiner, “We continue to be horrified that an antisemitic and homophobic bigot like Farrakhan continues to be given a platform in the black community. In a time of horrid racial division in this country, problematic and hate filled individuals like Farrakhan do nothing but promote even MORE conflict and discord.”
Entrepreneur and “Shark Tank” investor Daymond John initially praised Farrakhan’s speech on Twitter, and said about the Nation of Islam leader: “his deep understanding of the Bible and respect for other people’s religions was truly inspiring.” However, by Sunday night, John deleted the comments and issued a follow-up statement, after facing criticism over Farrakhan’s history of antisemitic statements.
“In regards to my tweet regarding DMX’s funeral, my comments on Minister Farrakhan were only related to what I just witnessed tonight, unbeknownst to his prior stances,” John tweeted on Sunday night. “As someone who was fortunate enough to have a step dad of the Jewish faith, I do not condone and never would condone any antisemitic prejudice or any remarks of hatred.”
“The prior tweet will be removed to avoid further pain and confusion to anyone who has felt hurt in the past by any negative comments of his,” he added.
Farrakhan has previously called Jewish people “satanic” and compared them to termites, publicly questioned the Holocaust and condemned Judaism as a “dirty religion.” According to an archive shared on the Anti-Defamation League’s website, Farrakhan has been making antisemitic comments for more than 30 years.
The Jewish Link quoted B'nai B'rith CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin in its coverage of Jewish organizations that called out NBC for airing anti-Semitic programming on two recent occasions.
B’nai B’rith International CEO Daniel Mariaschin called it “a cheap shot at Jewish customs” that plays into “blood libel” stereotypes, while the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s (SWC) associate dean and director of global social action Rabbi Abraham Cooper expressed outrage and frustration that in the media “no one else is fair game except our community.”
Their anger was directed at NBC, which has received significant backlash in the Jewish community for airing programming on two recent occasions that has been labeled by many as promoting “classic anti-Semitic tropes.”
One of the two offending incidents occurred on Feb. 9 airing of the drama, “Nurses,” which featured a young hasidic or Orthodox boy named Israel who injured his leg and is warned by his father not to accept a bone graft because it might come from a woman or Arab donor; and the Feb. 20 airing of the Weekend Update segment of Saturday Night Live (SNL) where host and chief writer Michael Che quipped, “Israel is reporting that they vaccinated half of their population. I’m going to guess it’s the Jewish half.”
In the “Nurses” episode Israel asks, “You want to put a dead leg inside me?” and the father responds, “A dead goyim leg from anyone—an Arab, a woman” and tells his son that the “Creator” will heal him. The son ultimately refuses the graft. There are no prohibitions in Judaism against receiving a bone graft from a cadaver.
In response to the controversy, NBC has pulled the “Nurses” episode from all its digital platforms but has not commented on either show.
“Nurses” is a Canadian series that was picked up by NBC in late 2020 to fill holes in its original programming schedule caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The two incidents engendered swift and strong response from both national and local Jewish organizations that accused the network of spreading lies about Jews and Judaism, particularly Orthodoxy and Israel.
“There needs to be recognition and sensitivity in media outlets to the Jewish community and community practices,” Mariaschin told The Jewish Link in a phone interview from his Washington office. “It’s not humor and it’s not even good drama.”
He said NBC pulling the “Nurses” episode was insufficient and the network needed to apologize for its portrayal of the Orthodox community and its failure to research Jewish practices, although he said there is an industry-wide problem of insensitivity to the concerns and practices of the Jewish community.
“This is a blood libel and what Michael Che was able to do was what has been done since the Middle Ages about blood libels, that what we want to do is harm others,” said Mariaschin of the SNL piece. “There are millions of people in those audiences. What they heard was not only wrong, but outrageously wrong and we don’t want them learning about our community through off-handed comments.”
However, he expressed optimism the negative publicity resulting from these incidents might serve as a wake-up call to the industry.
Read the full article here.
B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin penned an op-ed for Algemeiner analyzing the dangers of mainstreaming anti-Semitism in the media.
Hardly a day passes without reading of someone, somewhere uttering an antisemitic trope. That part is not new; for millennia, this has been the norm. In the pre-Internet era, one could read, primarily in the Jewish media, about an antisemitic public official, a neo-Nazi, or a desk clerk at a restricted hotel uttering hateful comments or spinning conspiracies about Jews.
What is new, or relatively so, is that today we’re learning of Jew-hatred in real time, within hours of it being spouted. It comes from expected, and from unexpected, quarters. And sometimes it’s simply the portrayal of Jews that sends an antisemitic message.
Take the recent Canadian-produced NBC series “Nurses,” whose premise centers around five nurses and the lives and people they interact with. The most recent episode involved a young Hasidic accident victim named Israel and his father, whom we meet in a hospital room, where they’re engaged in conversation with one of the nurses.
The young Hasid needs a bone graft, he is told, and that will require using the bone of a cadaver. Israel expresses shock at the idea of having a “dead leg” inserted into his body, to which his father — dressed in a Hasidic black hat and coat, and wearing payot — says disgustedly: “A dead goyim leg — from anyone. An Arab, a woman.” The nurse, belittling both the father and son, responds: “Or, God forbid, an Arab woman.”
Never mind that Orthodox practice would allow for this graft, much more important, is that the picture presented to the viewer is classic antisemitism. Dressed in black and closed-minded (with one of them literally named Israel), the message is that these Jews are both peculiar and bigoted.
Any stereotyping is dangerous. But the Orthodox community often gets the brunt of this kind of instant presumptuousness. They are portrayed as an oddity or as an easy foil. The show made no attempt to give any kind of context to Orthodox Jewry or its medical worldview. The writers of this episode needed highly identifiable Jews to make the story work — and who cares about who might be hurt as long as it fits neatly into the one-hour timeframe.
But murderous attacks on Jews in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Poway, California, or Monsey, New York, are just a few examples of how antisemitic rhetoric can turn violent.
My guess is that most viewers of this program are not Jewish. Those who know us only at a distance would understandably not know about how diverse we are. We have a communal spectrum that runs from left to right, and everything in between, and includes the religious and the secular. Is the viewer’s education about the Jewish people to be gleaned from the likes of “Nurses” and other highly watched programs that traffic in biased presentations about sectors of our community?
I’m old enough to remember episodes of “Dr. Kildare,” “Gunsmoke,” and other TV dramas, that treated Jewish subjects with compassion and a seriousness of intent. That those programs aired at a time when Jews were subjected to admissions quotas, restricted neighborhoods, corporate glass ceilings, and other forms of discrimination made this treatment of Jews all-the-more important in fostering mutual respect.
Today though, in the broader world around us, there seems to be a growing tolerance toward anyone saying anything about whomever they wish, without any filter or fear of opprobrium. And increasingly, Jews have become the target.
“Saturday Night Live’s” Michael Che delivering a blood libel about Israel and the COVID vaccine masked as a “joke”; Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA)’s assertion that a Jewish space laser and the Rothschild family were responsible for California’s wildfires; and Lowell, Massachusetts, School Committee board member Robert Hoey’s referring to a former city employee as a “kike” on live public access TV are just a few very recent examples of what is becoming a frightening trend.
The Canadian producer of “Nurses” has apologized for the offensive episode, and NBC has pulled this episode and others from the air.
“Contrition tours,” where networks, politicians, comedians, and others offer a quick, “If I offended anyone, I’m sorry,” or give apology interviews with friendly journalists, is one way of getting these kinds of controversies quickly out of the way. But that is not enough.
The media can play a large role in sensitivity training for the public at large, but first it needs to take a course or two itself. Playing off Jewish stereotypes for shock value, or for a few laughs, is both irresponsible and reckless.
We need to see more positive programming about the Jewish community and its many contributions — in so many fields — to this country. School systems need to utilize textbooks that teach about our story as an immigrant people who came to America from dozens of countries to find a land of opportunity denied to them in the darker corners of Europe and elsewhere. And while people may know a bit about the Jewish religion, more attention needs to be paid to its history, customs, and traditions. Doing that might prevent a repeat of the “Nurses” debacle.
In May, we will observe the 15th anniversary of Jewish American Heritage Month. While positive programming about our community should be a 12-month-a-year endeavor, this special designation on the national calendar offers many opportunities for educators, government officials, media operatives, and others to spotlight our community in a positive way.
The danger we face is the mainstreaming of antisemitism. Where once these expressions of hatred were confined to the margins or were never discovered because there simply was no Internet megaphone, today they are seemingly everywhere, including network television.
As is often said, it may start with the Jews, but it never ends there. It’s not just about us: just follow what is written or said on social media, TV and talk radio, statements from political figures, and off-handed comments by celebrities; they are everywhere. It is one long parade of insults, put-downs, threats, loose talk, and worse.
Is the “Nurses” episode a wake-up call, or just another statistic in a week or month of egregious incidents? Our task is to speak up each time this happens, and as important, to ensure that our friends, neighbors, colleagues, and others beyond our community do not become inured to the threats before us.
The Algemeiner noted our criticism – along with other American Jewish organizations – of anti-Semitic comments made by SNL's Michael Che regarding Israel's vaccine rollout.
Jewish leaders, groups, and educators on Sunday condemned as “antisemitic” a “Saturday Night Live” skit in which a cast member joked about Israel’s vaccine campaign.
In the regular news parody segment “Weekend Update,” broadcast on Feb. 20, cast member Michael Che said, “Israel is reporting that they vaccinated half their population, and I’m gonna guess it’s the Jewish half.”
Israel has not discriminated against religious groups as part of its vaccination drive, and large segments of the country’s non-Jewish population has already been vaccinated.
David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Committee, tweeted, “This 8-second segment by Michael Che on ‘Saturday Night Live’ is totally outrageous.”
“He accuses Israel of vaccinating only Jews. Not true. Every Israeli — Jew, Muslim, Christian, etc. — is eligible for the COVID jab,” Harris observed.
“He should apologize ASAP for spreading an antisemitic lie,” Harris asserted.
Leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said that the “ill conceived ‘joke’ adds to the heap of lies and conspiratorial allegations surrounding the Jewish people and COVID-19 that recalls medieval accusations of Jews being responsible for disease and plagues.”
“NBC should know better, and must not only stop spreading harmful misinformation, but take action to undo this damage caused by propagating Jew-hatred under the guise of comedy,” continued Chairman Arthur Stark, CEO William Daroff, and Vice Chair Malcolm Hoenlein in a statement.
Avi Mayer, the AJC’s managing director of global communications and a former IDF spokesman, also commented, saying, “It’s all fun and games until you start promoting antisemitic myths, @NBCSNL.”
“Every Israeli citizen — Jewish and Arab, Muslim, Christian, of any or no faith — is eligible to be vaccinated; 2/3 of Israel’s Arab citizens over 60 already have been,” he pointed out.
“Apologize,” Mayer urged.
“#antisemitic blood libels against Israel and Jews are not funny,” said B’nai B’rith International. “Che should issue an immediate apology. This gratuitous swipe at Israel is unacceptable.”
Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs, said in a statement that “this lie has been perpetuated by antisemitic groups, eager to poison public discourse with misinformation about Israel’s rapid vaccinations drive.”
Zionist Organization of America President Morton A. Klein and ZOA Chair Mark Levenson called for “SNL” producer Lorne Michaels to “apologize for and terminate the writer of a ‘joke’ which was not funny and in reality was a dangerous Jew-hating, Israel-bashing blood libel. In addition, this blood libel should be removed from NBC’s website and other fora where it may appear.”
The media watchdog group HonestReporting said, “Promoting antisemitic myths isn’t remotely funny … Shameful.”
Joel M. Petlin, the superintendent of the heavily Orthodox Kiryas Joel School District in New York State, commented, “I’m old enough to remember when Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live @nbcsnl was actually funny & didn’t resort to Antisemitic stereotypes about Jews not caring for anyone but themselves.”
“The fact that Israel is actually vaccinating ALL of its citizens makes the joke even worse,” he said.
JNS quoted B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin in its coverage of the QAnon conspiracy theory, its deep anti-Semitic roots and its growing popularity in far-right circles.
(August 26, 2020 / JNS) The word QAnon—and the conspiracy theories behind it—keep making headlines of late.
Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican congressional candidate who touts the ideology, won her run-off in Georgia on Aug. 11 and recently got a shout-out by none other than U.S. President Donald Trump, who congratulated her, even calling her a “future Republican star.”
QAnon began in October 2017 with an anonymous user named “Q” on the imageboard website 4chan who claimed to have classified information surrounding the Trump administration and its critics. It is described as a conspiratorial movement that purports that the so-called liberal elite, including Democratic politicians and Jewish billionaire George Soros, are part of a secret political faction to overthrow Trump.
“QAnon conspiracies are centered around the idea of a powerful elite secretly manipulating current events,” Counter Extremism Project senior research analyst Josh Lipowsky told JNS. “QAnon subscribers have politicized the conspiracies around an imagined Democrat-led ‘deep state’ conspiring against Donald Trump, who is heralded as the only one who can defeat this menace.”
Lipowsky labeled QAnon “a modern-day version” of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which QAnon echoes in its conspiracy theories, in that “the primary goal is to shift blame.”
“At the center of these conspiracies is a secretive cabal with vast political and financial power,” he explained. “Certain people want to believe that there is really an all-powerful group controlling things because it removes the onus of personal responsibility for one’s own circumstances and creates a scapegoat for larger catastrophes. The economy is crashing? A virus is spreading throughout the world? It must be because of X. And historically, X has usually meant the Jews.”
Protocols, an infamous and classic anti-Semitic text that was shown to be plagiarized from several earlier sources, was first published in Russia in 1903, translated into multiple languages and disseminated internationally in the early part of the 20th century.
Although QAnon conspiracy theories “don’t all target Jews,” said Lipowsky, “they use the same strategy that anti-Semites have used for centuries.”
Lipowsky cited “the conspiracies QAnon is peddling with the coronavirus, blaming Bill Gates for creating the virus or seeking to implant microchips into vaccines,” in that “it’s all reminiscent of the baseless accusations the Jewish community has faced—from responsibility for the black plague by poisoning the wells of Europe to the Rothschilds’ manipulation of World War I and the Great Depression for financial gain. Like those historic anti-Semitic conspiracies, some of the QAnon conspiracies target the Rothschilds or other wealthy and powerful Jewish individuals.”
QAnon followers have also been connected to acts of violence, kidnapping, murder and public misconduct, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The suspect behind the April 2019 shooting on the last day of Passover at Chabad of Poway near San Diego, where one person was killed and three others injured, posted his intentions on the imageboard website 8kun, which is used by QAnon adherents.
‘Given us good reason to be alarmed’
As with most, if not all, conspiracy theories, the Jewish community is not immune from QAnon and must be vigilant and combat it, according to Jewish groups.
“Any group that traffics in conspiracy theories about world domination, or control of banks and the media, is a group we need to be deeply concerned about,” B’nai B’rith International CEO Daniel Mariaschin told JNS. “Our community’s experience in combating these tropes has given us good reason to be alarmed.”
“QAnon is a Jew-hating conspiracy theorists group claiming the Rothschilds, a Jewish banking family, plans to kill non-Jews, start a world war and undermine the Trump administration,” Zionist Organization of America president Mort Klein told JNS. “In an era of rising unbridled hatred of Jews and the Jewish state, such insane theories are gaining adherents and must be exposed and fought.”
That said, some find it troubling that the president has declined to condemn the movement.
“Conspiracy theories with tenuous ties to reality very often include Jews in some sinister capacity,” Yaakov Menken of the Coalition of Jewish Values told JNS. “When you know what to look for; you see supporters of both QAnon and [Black Lives Matter] saying the same things, and that should require our attention.”
Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center told JNS that “QAnon is all conspiracies, all the time. Since its inception, the Internet has provided life support for debunked conspiracies, breathing life back into some nefarious stereotypes.”
He added that it echoes The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and its scapegoating of the iconic Jewish philanthropic Rothschild family in what Cooper summarized as the “powerful, manipulative banker.”
Jonathan Sarna, the Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University, said of QAnon that “it is clear that many of its members harbor dangerous conspiratorial fantasies drawn from the pages of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The notion that a small number of wealthy Jews manipulate governments and control the course of world events has in the past served as a warrant for genocide.”
‘All rooted in the same anti-Semitic archetype’
Mary Ann Mendoza, a speaker who was scheduled to give an address on Aug. 25 at the Republican National Convention, was taken off the program on Tuesday night after sharing to her more than 40,000 Twitter followers earlier in the day a QAnon thread from an unverified account that included a post that read: “‘The Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion’ Is Not A Fabrication. And, It Certainly Is Not Anti-Semetic [sic] To Point Out This Fact.”
Rabbi Yechezkel Moskowitz, a prominent Trump supporter in the Jewish community, told JNS that QAnon echoing anti-Semitic tropes is no coincidence.
“From my experience, I’ve observed that when it comes to anti-Semitism, you won’t be hard-pressed to find it and, in our case, you will definitely find anti-Semitism within the QAnon movement,” he told JNS.
“Anti-Semitism is an ancient as the Jews themselves, and there will always be those who utilize it for political gain,” he continued. “As far as the QAnon movement, it was most likely started as a joke. People will always cling to something that explains the logic behind the strange reality which we live in.”
However, Moskowitz cautioned that QAnon is “probably not” inherently anti-Semitic, though he said he wasn’t “one of those guys who looks for anti-Semitism under every pebble.”
“With that said,” he emphasized, “we must remain vigilant and defer to organizations that have the capacity to track these things and hope that they continue to do so.”
Regarding Greene, who called Soros a Nazi, the Republican Jewish Coalition instead endorsed her opponent in the run-off, neurosurgeon John Cowan, and fundraised for him.
At least two organizations that combat anti-Semitism told JNS they are currently assessing the movement.
Jewish Council for Public Affairs president and CEO David Bernstein said that his organization “been asking ourselves the same questions, but really haven’t done the research yet,” while StopAntiSemitism.org executive director Liora Rez said, “We honestly do not know enough the movement, who’s behind it, etc. .. to comment on it.”
Nonetheless, “the fight against anti-Semitism must include fighting against misinformation and these types of conspiracies,” said Lipowsky. “While not all of these conspiracies paint Jews as the shadowy villain, they are all rooted in the same anti-Semitic archetype and history has shown that eventually these sorts of things usually refocus on the Jewish community.”
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B'nai B'rith International is the Global Voice of the Jewish Community.
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