Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Attacks on Jews in NY and Media Double Standards. We Need to Talk about Black Anti-Semitism

Photo credit: Mark Lennihan source

Attacks on Jews in NYC and Media Double Standards
We Need to Change the Way We Talk about Black Anti-Semitism

December 26, 2019, the day after Christmas, those Americans who emerged from their holiday celebrations to check world headlines were in for a shock. Police reported several attacks on Jews in New York. Americans don't think of their largest city, a world center of finance and the arts, a cosmopolitan capital where one can enjoy cuisine from any continent at any hour of the day or night, as a place where Jews are unsafe on the streets. New York is the city of Seinfeld, of Woody Allen and three-time mayor Michael Bloomberg. Former Mayor David Dinkins famously called New York a "gorgeous mosaic" of diverse peoples.

But in fact, these Christmas-and-Hanukkah-week attacks were part of a trend. As bad as they were, worse was yet to come. On Saturday, December 28, Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg and his guests celebrated the closing nights of Hanukkah in Monsey, a suburb north of Manhattan. An intruder burst into the home and stabbed five people.

Recent attacks on Jews in New York City typically involve unprovoked punching, cursing, and hurling of objects ranging from soft drinks to large and potentially deadly stones. Victims range from children to the elderly, and include mothers accompanied by their babies. Attackers sometimes yell anti-Semitic comments.

Videos reveal that attackers are frequently black. In one startling video from November 4, 2018, a group of young African Americans congregate outside a Brooklyn synagogue, talk among themselves, hurl a pole through the synagogue window, and then run away. In another attack, a Jewish man is walking down the sidewalk when what appears to be a black youth runs up behind him and punches him hard in the head, nearly knocking him over. In a March, 2019 assault, an apparently healthy, young man kicks a toddler's stroller being pushed by the child's mother. Attacks are not always violent. In one videotaped confrontation, a black woman screamed verbal abuse at a Jewish man on the New York City subway.

On December 10, 2019, David Anderson and Francine Graham killed four people in Jersey City, just across the Hudson River from Manhattan. Deceased victims include Police Detective Joseph Seals, Leah Ferencz, owner of a kosher grocery store, Moshe Deutsch, a rabbinical student and a shopper at that store, and Douglas Rodriguez, a store employee and immigrant from Ecuador. Shooter David Anderson was an anti-Semite who had been influenced by the Black Hebrew Israelites, who claim that Jews are not really Jewish, and that the characters in the Bible were all really black. In this ideology, contemporary Jews are labeled "imposter Jews" and "so-called Jews." This idea is not limited to violent extremists. On December 14, Saturday Night Live comic Kenan Thompson referred to "historically correct black Jesus." Jersey City killer David Anderson used the word "imposter" to refer to modern-day Jews. Anderson and Graham's killings were classified as a terrorist incident and a hate crime. The New Jersey attorney general said that the killers "had a tremendous amount of firepower. They had a pipe bomb in their van."

In the wake of this attack, Jersey City school board member Joan Terrell-Paige appeared to attempt to justify it. Terrell-Paige called "jews," as she spelled the word, in lower-case, "brutes," and said that people should seek a "message" in the killers' actions.

Clearly, black anti-Semitism is a problem. It is found among juvenile delinquents, TV stars, terrorists, and those entrusted with educating the young. Black anti-Semitism has an articulated ideology. Not all black people who don't like Jews adhere to this ideology, but it's available to them. Today's Jews are merely "so-called" Jews, "imposter Jews," "usurper Jews," "interloper Jews," and "Johnny-come-lately Jews." In this ideology, the real descendants of the Jews of the Bible are African Americans.

Mainstream media often declines to identify the race of those who attack Jews. On December 27, 2019, media reported that an attacker hit a Jewish mother in the head as she walked with her son in Brooklyn. The attacker, an account reported, was 42 years old and female. But the account did not identify her race, and no mugshot was provided.   

Mainstream media's hand-wringing around the racial identities of attackers is evident in an October 31, 2018 New York Times article with the disconcerting title, "Is It Safe to Be Jewish in New York?" The "first inkling" of danger for Jews appeared in 2016, the Times reported, when the words "Go Trump" appeared in a playground alongside swastikas. Really? Trump's election was really the "first inkling" of trouble for Jews in New York City?

In fact, New York City hosted a deadly anti-Semitic pogrom in Crown Heights in 1991. According to one account,

"It was the most terrifying four days and nights in American Jewish history … with shouts of 'Kill the Jews' and 'Heil Hitler'; roving mobs in Crown Heights throwing stones at Jews; police standing passively; gangs breaking into homes with mezuzahs while Jews hid in closets. One Jew was murdered; others beaten to a pulp; an Israeli flag was burned."

In 1995, Al Sharpton fomented deadly hatred during his Freddy's Fashion Mart protests. One of the protesters killed eight people, including himself.

In 2002, Amiri Baraka, aka Everett LeRoi Jones, New Jersey's Poet Laureate, published a poem blaming Jews for the 2001 terror attacks.

No, the election of Donald Trump was not the "first inkling" of trouble for Jews in New York City.

The Times must confess that "During the past 22 months, not one person caught or identified as the aggressor in an anti-Semitic hate crime has been associated with a far right-wing group." The Times gingerly acknowledges "it is the varied backgrounds of people who commit hate crimes in the city that make combating and talking about anti-Semitism in New York much harder."

The reader comments section is not so careful to use the phrase "varied backgrounds." The most popular reader comment next to the above-linked Times article blames the "Many members of minority communities" who have participated in attacks. The second most popular comment is even more direct. "for left-leaning New Yorkers, anti-Semitism is an issue worth addressing only when the perpetrators of anti-Semitism fit their narrative. If a Nazi or white supremacist does it -- take note and take action.  If the perpetrator is less convenient to the Narrative (evil can only emanate from straight white males), like if the perpetrator is black or Muslim, then they play it down and ignore it."

National Public Radio surprisingly allowed Bari Weiss to speak bluntly in a September 21, 2019 broadcast. "To judge from the footage of many of these attacks, at least some of the perpetrators seem to be young black men or teenagers. And perhaps that's one of the reasons that so many people want to avert their eyes from what's happening in places like Crown Heights," she said.

What we are seeing here is the economy of truth. If it benefits the speaker to condemn white anti-Semites, the speaker will do so. If it damages the speaker to condemn black anti-Semites, the speaker will avoid doing so. This rhetorical game has nothing to do with respecting or helping black people. It has everything to do with covering one's own posterior, and hoarding one's own political correctness points.


My book Bieganski devotes a chapter to black anti-Semitism. The purpose of the chapter is to demonstrate a media double standard. I compare press coverage of two clusters of events that involved accusations of anti-Semitism. One cluster of events involved Polish Catholics; the other involved African Americans.

In November, 1993, Khalid Abdul Muhammad, of the Nation of Islam, made a speech at Kean College in New Jersey. Muhammad said, inter alia, that Jews were not related to the main characters in the Bible, who were black (although, somehow, black Jesus' killers were Jews), that Jews hold economic, cultural, and political control of American and African blacks, which they use to torment and oppress blacks, that Jews were responsible for the Holocaust because of their obnoxious behavior in Germany, that Jews control the press worldwide, and that Jewish involvement in the Civil Rights Movement was a ploy to get blacks killed.

These charges were leveled in non-standard, frequently obscene and contemptuous language. For example, when Muhammad accused Jews of controlling the world gem trade, he said, "That's why you call yourself Mr. Rubenstein, Mr. Goldstein, Mr. Silverstein. Because you been stealing rubies and gold and silver ... we say it real quick and call it jewelry, but it's not jewelry, it's Jew-elry, 'cause you're the rogue that's stealing all over the face of the planet earth." When ridiculing Jewish involvement in the Civil Rights movement, Muhammad imitated a Yiddish accent. Muhammad, in future speeches, called for death to all Jews: "Never will I say I am not an anti-Semite. I pray that God will kill my enemy and take him off the face of the planet Earth."

In response to such research-grade anti-Semitism, mainstream press accounts did not begin with full-throated condemnation. In fact, mainstream press articles about Muhammad's speech and attendant controversies are so formulaic that they appear more like the scripture of some obsessive religious doctrine than the result of a free and vigorous press.

One of the refrains of this formula was reference to black suffering. The following quotes, though all similar, are taken from different articles, authors, and sources. Some listed: "drugs, violence, high rates of teen-age pregnancy, poor schooling and poor discipline," "unemployment, alienation, drugs, violence, health care, education, and lack of economic opportunity," "poverty, hopelessness, and despair," "drugs, poverty, hopelessness and crime," "crime, poverty, and inequality," "drugs, poverty, and bitterness," "misery, drugs, crime, poverty, and dying hope," "bitterness, alienation, and mistrust," "the bank that refuses to lend a dime to the inner city to the boy who lives next door and carries a pistol, a crack vial and a heart turned to stone by disappointment and hopelessness" as being responsible for misbehavior.

Other articles recounted black suffering in more intimate detail, often using vivid anecdotes: "The teen-ager pulled up his shirt to show the bandage on his lean belly and the round hole on his back that had been sealed shut. He had been shot the other week, walking down the street to buy a hamburger." "The year was 1948 and the laws of segregation were in full force. For Muqaddin, who is black, it was a shattering experience that left him seething with rage against white America." A Black Muslim woman was asked to remove her veil while shopping in a mall. The woman reported: "she was 'humiliated' by the encounter with the St. Paul police, who forced her to uncover her face. 'I don't want men lusting after the way I look or sound. It's like someone else being made to pull down their undershorts in public.'"

Many references to black suffering went without amplifying commentary. The reader was invited to use his own devices to weigh black suffering in some ethical scale against anti-Semitism. Other writers offered more guidance, and advanced complex rationalizations as to why black suffering ought either to dilute or erase focus on anti-Semitism.

Notre Dame American Studies chairman Robert Schmuhl spun references to black suffering into support for Ishmael Reed's argument that the real story was the threat to blacks and Jews posed by white Christians. The Times argued that since blacks were suffering so much, they needed to embrace and support each other, regardless of ideology. The Times pointed out that blacks, consumed by their suffering, might be "too politically unsophisticated" to differentiate between ideologies. Writer Thulani Davis repeated this view in Time. One African American woman was quoted as saying that since African Americans faced so many threats from white society, it was necessary to choose a force that could protect them, and that that force was the Nation of Islam, regardless of its anti-Semitism. This need for protection was also stated in The Christian Century.

USA Today argued that black suffering made blacks hate all whites, not just Jews. The Humanist argued that the traumas of slavery created a mythic vacuum that NOI was filling. Benjamin Chavis, in the Times, argued that the suffering of blacks "has created an ... alarming chasm of attitudes and perceptions"; thus, whites could not judge people so different from themselves. He also explicitly stated that black suffering, not the racism of NOI, was the real story, the story the press should be covering. This was repeated in several articles, by several authors, including in Time and Maclean's, and by Rabbi Michael Lerner.

Great care was taken to avoid condemnatory headlines and to provide headlines that strove to represent "both sides," without, somehow, stressing that one side was eliminationist anti-Semitism. With the use of such headlines and such "balance," America's mainstream press changed the story. Muhammad's anti-Semitism was not the issue on which focus needed to be trained; focus needed to be trained, rather, on an effort to hear the "other side." An article in which Farrakhan alluded to blood libel and a Jewish conspiracy to destroy him was headlined, "Farrakhan Softens Tone."

Readers were invited to focus on white haters, not black ones. The Progressive compared Muhammad to David Duke. Shelby Steele, in the Times, compared him to Meir Kahane and the KKK. Bob Herbert in the Times compared him to "[Theodore G.] Bilbo and [George] Wallace in blackface." Henry Louis Gates, also in the Times, summoned memories of those who watched Kitty Genovese die and repeated a vivid quote by a rabbi at Baruch Goldstein's funeral: "One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail." New York magazine ran one issue with two covers; one featured an anti-Semitic NOI preacher; the other, conservative radio personality Bob Grant. The magazine's editor-in-chief, Kurt Anderson, said, "This idea of parallel covers began to make sense and seemed like a way to demonstrate that they go full circle to illustrate the different strident ends of the spectrum."

These comparisons were not buried towards the end of articles, but appeared up front, to confront the reader head-on. The important event to focus on was not the anti-Semitism of a black man, but racism in general. The New York Times entitled one Muhammad-inspired editorial with a generalized headline: "The Stew of Hate." The lead sentence never mentioned Muhammad: "Religious and racial bigotry never recede entirely, witness the ebb and flow of Klan membership." Yes, condemnation of the Klan is laudable, but the Times was changing the subject to one easier to discuss.

Publications simultaneously engaged in a contrary tactic: anti-Semitism among African Americans was dismissed as unworthy of note. "Less news than soap opera" comparable to the competition between figure skaters Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding, reported a political science professor. "Just a pimple" said Franklyn Jenifer, president of Howard College, in US News and World Report. "I don't get so upset by Farrakhan," yawned Michael Lerner in Time. Jews are never mentioned in the annual Ebony poll of urgent issues, sociology professor Raymond Mack reminded his readers. "Forget Farrakhan" ran a headline in the Times, under which Bob Herbert advised: "It's time to turn to other matters."

The mainstream press used cautious and trivializing vocabulary to report anti-Semitism among African Americans. Maclean's trivialized: "the Jews took a special shellacking, not much of a surprise." Professor Doris Wilkinson asked whether or not it was even possible that there be such a thing as "black anti-Semitism." In the lead sentence of one article, the Times reported that "Black racism" is, for some blacks, "a laughable oxymoron." Some articles began with "balanced" rhetorical questions, as in this profile of the leader who invited Farrakhan to an NAACP summit: "Who is Benjamin Chavis Jr., and what in the world is he trying to do to the venerable NAACP? Is he a brash and brilliant innovator, pumping life into a sclerotic organization whose glory days are past and whose current relevance is questioned? Or is he an unrepentant radical and a peripatetic neophyte?" When Farrakhan made classically anti-Semitic statements, echoing blood libel: "The same people opposed to [Jesus] are opposed to me. It's the Passover season. It's the right time;" the Times said merely that these statements "may register on many ears as patently anti-Semitic." Time said that Farrakhan "appeared" to be putting down other people; that he was "misunderstood."

Statistics and anecdotes were cited to indicate that black anti-Semites were not representational of the black population. This in spite of other statistics that showed that African Americans are more anti-Semitic than the general population, and unlike the general population, become more anti-Semitic as they become more educated

Reports of anti-Semitism among African Americans were, it was posited, part of a hidden, nefarious, anti-black agenda. Charles Rangel suggested that the ADL might have been milking Muhammad's speech for money and publicity. The Amsterdam News accused the ADL of "willful and cynical exploitation of a people for the purpose of raising money from Jews by frightening them." Michael Lerner also suggested that Jews were using accusations of anti-Semitism among African Americans, in this case as "an excuse to deny our own racism toward blacks" and as "justification for some Americans to declare themselves 'disillusioned with the oppressed'" and to cut social programs for the poor. The Times repeated this; charges of African American anti-Semitism were allegedly "an excuse for doing little to reduce inequalities."

Writer Thulani Davis, in Time, wrote that accusations of anti-Semitism among African Americans were "attempts to set the terms of the discussion of racial conflict solely on African American xenophobia. Like all litmus tests, this one is reductive and promotes self-defense rather than thought and disclosure."

Davis also pointed out that in the litmus test atmosphere, "African Americans do not even feel comfortable to debate in public ... in such a delicate public discussion it is dangerous to risk having words taken out of context, ideas abbreviated into unrecognizable and harmful sound bites ... If the issue is used simply to identify enemies, few will step forward." Davis further stated that media reports of anti-Semitism among African-Americans were part of a wider effort to create negative images of black people that fed off of whites' fears of "black hate." "Black hate, though, is only a new wrinkle in the increasingly negative portrayal of blacks as a whole," she wrote. This fear of black hate is taught to "each group of new immigrants settling in the big cities of America."

A letter to the Times denounced as "racist" and "paternalistic" A.M. Rosenthal's request that blacks denounce Muhammad. Rosenthal, implied the writer, was not just to blame for his whiteness, he was also a parvenu who told African-Americans, "in their own country" "what to do and say ... even by those that just arrive on these shores."

Accounts veered into victim blaming. Blaming Jews for the anti-Semitism of blacks goes back at least to Michael Lerner's 1969 manifesto in Judaism, where he wrote: "black anti-Semitism ... is ... a tremendous disgrace to Jews, for this is ... rooted in the concrete fact of oppression by Jews of blacks in the ghetto. In short, this anti-Semitism is in part an earned anti-Semitism." Lerner was ready with similar accusations to explain anti-Semitism among African Americans in 1994: "Jewish neoconservatives at Commentary and neoliberals at the New Republic have led the assault on affirmative action" and Jews have "delighted in the prospect of throwing black women and children off welfare as soon as possible." Others also blamed Jewish opposition to affirmative action for alienating blacks.


This is but a brief summary of my comparisons of press accounts of accusations of anti-Semitism among African Americans, versus press accounts of accusations of anti-Semitism leveled against members of other demographics, especially persons or groups most associated with Catholicism. In this brief summary, one can discern a pattern.

For months now, the media has presented alarming reports of random, innocent Jews aggressively attacked on New York City streets. The attackers, video suggests, are often African American. This is a problem, a problem that needs to be addressed with courage, frankness, and dedication. If members of less-protected demographics, Catholic high school boys from the American South, for example, were attacking Jews on the streets, there would be an international outcry, a flood of tweets from average citizens as well as celebrities, television broadcasts, academic conferences and articles, and demands for an immediately available curriculum to educate bigoted persons. A review of the above paragraphs outlining my research on how media reacted to an overtly genocidal African American anti-Semitic speaker suggests a reason why so few have been willing to state the obvious. No, not all African Americans are anti-Semites, but some are, and those that are include some who commit violent crimes, including murder, in the name of anti-Semitism. This hatred, and these assaults, are not random, but are supported by a detailed and deeply rooted ideology that declares that Jews are "imposters," "interlopers," "Johnny-come-lately Jews" and "usurpers" who have co-opted black people's real identity.

Further, apologias for these assaults rely on a competition for victim status created by leftist ideology. The left awards its certified victims with virtue, innocence, authority, and tangible benefits through programs like Affirmative Action. As long as being the biggest victim is valuable, some African Americans will resent Jews, perversely, for the Jews' own victimization.

"The black holocaust is one hundred times worse than the so-called Jew holocaust," said Khalid Abdul Muhammad on the campus of Howard University. This articulated hatred must be described, denounced, and deconstructed. There should be forthright academic articles, conferences, and curricula, now, condemning this murderous anti-Semitism. Those who take on this task face daunting odds. Those odds make this work no less vital and urgent.

Yes, African Americans have suffered grievous harm. Yes, statistics indicate that African Americans today are, as a group, poorer, less educated, less healthy, and more likely to be incarcerated than white Americans as a group. Yes, all Americans must do everything they can to close the gaps between whites and blacks.

But separate systems of ethics for blacks and whites are no more moral than separate water fountains for blacks and whites. Human decency should not be emblazoned with a "whites only" sign. It is not imperialist or racist for people who aren't African American to speak out against black anti-Semitism. It is paternalistic for mainstream media to resort to transparent weasel words when reporting on vile street attacks on Jewish elderly persons, women, children, and toddlers in strollers. If hitting an old man in the head with a ten-pound paving stone is behavior that is beneath contempt for a white person, it is also beneath contempt for a black person. Those who refuse to say so clearly are guilty themselves. Let us not rewrite Martin Niemoller's famous warning to read, "Then they came for the Jews / And I did not speak out / Because I did not want to risk being accused of being politically incorrect."

This piece first appeared in Front Page Magazine here

Monsey Stabber is a "Gentle Giant:" NPR

NPR broadcast this morning that the Monsey Stabber is a "gentle giant." See here

Monday, December 30, 2019

You Knew There Would Be an Article Blaming the Poles -- and the Slovaks, Too!

After the hideous spate of anti-Semitic attacks, including deadly attacks, in the NYC area recently, you knew two things. 

Many would refuse to name the assailants 

Someone would find a way to blame it all on Poles -- and maybe even another Bohunk group, like Slovaks. 

Esteemed scholar Deborah Lipstadt does just that. In a piece in The Atlantic Monthly, Lipstadt cannot summon the courage to name and analyze the real perpetrators of these horrific attacks. 

Rather, Lipstadt blames Poles. Why? Because Szczecin refused to put in place a memorial plaques to commemorate a Holocaust victim. Szczecin wanted the memorial stone to state that the Jewish person being commemorated had been murdered by German Nazis. Poles make this request exactly because of the Bieganski stereotype, that transfers guilt for the Holocaust from Nazi Germany to Poles. 

Slovaks are responsible for the Monsey stabbing because Jewish gravestones were desecrated in Slovakia. This desecration is vile and inexcusable. 

Blaming the Monsey stabbing on anyone but the perpetrator, never mind Poles and Slovaks living thousands of miles away, is also vile and inexcusable. 

Deboarah Lipstadt, identify the perpetrators of this and other recent attacks on Jews in the NYC area. 

Blaming Poles and Slovaks is all too easy. And wrong. 

Haaretz: No, NY Attacks Don't Show That Black People Have an anti-Semitism Problem

On December 30, 2019, Haaretz published "No, NY Attacks Don't Show That Black People Have an anti-Semitism Problem" by Elad Nehorai


By far the most prevalent talking point that has simmered under the surface of mainstream discourse seems to finally have burst forth: the vast majority of the perpetrators over the last two weeks have been black. 

Even the most liberal Jews seem to have latched onto this fact with a fervency that is quite astonishing. People who once recoiled at the idea of broadly linking a group to anti-Semitism seem to be acknowledging what others have been repeating ad nauseam: the black community has an anti-Semitism problem. They may have different answers to this issue, but the point these critics make is pretty standardized: so many of these perpetrators were black, and yet it seems that the only anti-Semitism we have cared to discuss in the mainstream (and certainly in the mainstream left) is white nationalism. Something needs to change...

Whether people answer yes or no, the fact that this question is being posed reveals a latent racism that must be addressed, if only to properly address these horrific attacks, if not to also avoid the very easy and dangerous slippery slope into overt racism that endangers both Jewish black people and black non-Jews...

The question is not whether black people have an anti-Semitism problem, because an entire group cannot be painted in such generalizing terms. 

This point alone means that discussing anti-Semitism purely in terms of race is not just wrong and dangerous: it does not help us properly address the heart of the problem.

Seth Frantzman: When Blacks Mistreat Jews, We Close Our Eyes and Ears.

Photo by Amr Alfiky Reuters source

Seth Frantzman's December 30, 2019 column in the Jerusalem Post rails against the refusal to address anti-Semitism among protected groups. You can read "Inconvenient antisemitism: daily attacks on Jews in New York. After Jersey City and Monsey the US needs a united front against antisemitism in all communities" here.


"Almost every day in Brooklyn Jews are attacked. When this happened in the Pale of Settlement in the Russian Empire it was called a pogrom. If someone said that every day in Kiev Jews were being beaten and attacked on subways and in the streets, we would correctly identify it as a pogrom-like series of attacks. But not in New York."

Frantzman's column is excellent and I wish I could post every word, but I don't want to violate his copyright. 

More excerpts are below:

There have been near daily attacks in New York City this year, a kind of slow-moving pogrom against Jews, particularly targeting ultra-Orthodox Jews.The murder of three people at a kosher supermarket in Jersey City was mostly ignored in the United States. No rallies or marches against the antisemitism that led to it. No major political upheavals or even much recognition. The usual anger over gun violence after mass shootings was nowhere to be found. The victims and the perpetrators are inconvenient. America as a whole can’t mourn Orthodox Jews and it can’t confront perpetrators when the perpetrators come from a minority community. This is inconvenient antisemitism and it is a kind of antisemitism privilege. Despite widespread anti-racism programs in the US, there are still those in America for whom being antisemitic is a birthright and not something to be ashamed of.

The New York Times described the Black Hebrew Israelites as being “known for their inflammatory sidewalk ministers who employ provocation as a form of gospel.” It’s a bit more than that. In fact, the group and the milieu around it tend to view religion through a racial lens, such that Jews are described as “white” and “fake” and the “real Jews” are portrayed as black, along with all the prophets and religious figures. The ADL pointed out that this group views itself as the real “chosen people” and that it sees people of color as the real descendants of the 12 tribes. The group was in the media earlier in the year in Washington DC when they shouted insults at Catholic high school students.

Mainstream society wants to view this as “provocation,” because if they viewed it as a burgeoning racist violent movement targeting Jews then they would have to confront it and ask tough questions of why it is tolerated in a community. Expert J.J. McNab told the Associated Press that in fact this group takes pride in “confronting Jewish people everywhere and explaining that they are evil.”

In American society there is generally only place for one kind of racism. There are far-right white supremacists and everyone else. This Manichean worldview of antisemitism and racism means we are only comfortable with one type of perpetrator. An angry white man. Those are the racists.The comfort society has with expecting perpetrators to be “far-right” and “white” even led Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib to blame “white supremacy” for the Jersey City attack. 

The difference is that society condemns and confronts comments by the white supremacists.the elephant in the room of black antisemitism is not mentioned. Too often, African American officials make openly antisemitic statements without fear of reaction. A school board member attacked “brutes of the Jewish community” after the Jersey City attack.In Washington DC an African American member of the city council claimed the Rothschilds control the weather. Instead of fully condemning him, he was invited to the Holocaust Museum and to experience Jewish holidays with the community. 

Why is the answer to antisemitism often the invitation to a nice embrace at a Jewish holiday? Does the KKK get invited to a black church as a reward for their racism?Unlike with white supremacy, other forms of antisemitism, such as black supremacist antisemitism, is seen as not the fault of the individual, but rather some ignorant ideas that a nice Passover dinner can correct. We need to do “outreach,” is the message

The attack on Jews as “fake” and “white” is rising. In November in London a black man took out a Bible and began harassing a Jewish Orthodox family until a Muslim woman intervened. The perpetrator was detained for a hate crime. In Miami a man also threatened Jews with a knife, calling them “fake.” In 2018 an Orthodox Jewish man was attacked in Crown Heights, called a “fake Jew.”

 The Forward ran an article claiming that black anti-Semites are motivated by anger over gentrification, police brutality and slavery.” The article claimed that Jews “like all white people, part of the racist system that keeps black people under the foot of society.” This is the way a Jewish newspaper explained hatred of Jews. It defined Jews as “white” and gave credence to the idea that antisemitism is motivated by “police brutality and slavery.” This is a window into a very real worldview that openly says Jews are behind police brutality and slavery and gentrification.

In New York the police have stepped up their presence after attacks, but even that has been condemned as sending too many police to a neighborhood of “people of color.” Now Jews will be blamed for the police presence too instead of someone struggling against the violent antisemitism and inter-racial marches of solidarity against it.

The New Yorker asked whether an “influx of Hasidic residents in the Greenville [Jersey City] neighborhood spur two assailants to embark on a shooting spree that left six people dead.” Jews, simply for moving somewhere, may cause a shooting spree, in this explanation.Jews are the only US minority group who, when they move somewhere, are accused of being an “influx.” A review of the discussion about the New York City attacks reveals an America that has trouble adjusting to and describing antisemitism when it comes from unexpected perpetrators. 

Also, those most prone to be shocked, other members of the Jewish community, sometimes see haredi Jews through a vaguely discriminatory lens, which others them. In the US there tends to be pass for minority groups who are homophobic or racist. When the perpetrators and victims do not fit a convenient model, it is easier to just excuse the attacks or see them as random. 

Again, the entire piece is excellent, and you can read it here

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Five Jews Stabbed in Rabbi's Home in Monsey, Suburb Near NYC. Suspect in Custody; Demographic Data Withheld

There have been numerous, including murderous, attacks on Jews in the NYC area in the past month. In Jersey City, NJ, Jews were killed merely for being Jewish. 

After  these disturbing attacks, authorities typically withhold demographic data on the suspects, even if they are in custody. 

We are told if the suspects are male or female, and their age. But not their ethnicity. 

When this data is discovered, it often transpires that attackers are African American. 

Clearly, there is a problem of anti-Semitism among African Americans, and clearly the powers that be are avoiding discussing that problem. 

It is so much easier to lay all blame for anti-Semitism on Poles, on Christians, on "white trash." 

This obscuring of important realities, realities that involve life and death, is criminal. 

See New York Times coverage here

Under this Yahoo account, readers comment on the withholding of a description of the suspect. 

Saturday, December 28, 2019

American Jew Visits Poland and Feels Afraid

The Golden Rose Restaurant in Lviv Ukraine photo by Tripadvisor

Alex Schmidt, an American of Polish-Jewish ancestry, visited the Golden Rose restaurant in Lviv, Ukraine, and published a piece about that visit on an NPR site

The Golden Rose restaurant is one of many attempts by Eastern Europeans to address the near extermination of the Jewish presence in what was once the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth. (Lviv, Ukraine used to be Lwow, a Polish city.) 

There are many such attempts. These include folk carvings of Jewish figures, Polish people maintaining Jewish cemeteries, and the Jewish festival in Krakow. 

Alas, these attempts are often excoriated by those invested in the Bieganski, Brute Polak stereotype. In this stereotype, we imbibe antisemitism with our mother's milk, we are essential anti-Semites, and therefore everything we do is antisemitic. 

There's another possible explanation. Maybe the folks who set up the Golden Rose restaurant want to share and honor Jewish heritage and educate their customers about it. 

Alex Schmidt, in her piece, goes back and forth. She and her mother try to figure out if the restaurant, or a "Shabbat shalom" greeting, are menacing or friendly. 

Schmidt writes, 

Earlier on the trip, I'd experienced a detail that felt far less positive: On a Friday evening in Warsaw, a hotel doorman wished my sister "Shabbat Shalom" without having shared another word with her. It was said with no discernible animus — in fact, some might have found it a polite greeting. But the fact that Jews were persecuted here, and that we could be identified by a stranger, felt ominous. In the U.S., I go through life pretty blissfully, benefiting from white privilege and generally not thinking much about my race or religion. 
Now, in an area that had a history of hating people like me, and feeling unable to hide, I sensed a visceral, immediate danger that "playing Jewish" at the Golden Rose hadn't come close to. At the restaurant, it was easy to guess what people thought of Jews — that we're stingy and eat matzo and wash our hands a lot. But in the hotel, I had no idea what it meant to be assumed Jewish. Was the doorman's greeting an attempt at politeness? Connection? Or was it something more coded? What did he really think of Jews — of me and my family? There was no way to tell. 
I couldn't imagine what it would feel like to live full-time in a country with documented hostility toward me and never be able to hide. Would I be on edge all the time? Would I get accustomed to it somehow? In what subtle ways would the fear I felt only momentarily in Poland creep into my subconscious in a place where it was ever-present? Would it affect my mindset, my trust of strangers, my overall sense of joy and peace? I know this is something that visible minorities deal with every day. And I couldn't fathom it.
Here's the thing. Yes, there is a "documented hostility toward" Jews in Poland. There is also, as no less a personage than Columbia University Slavic Literature professor Harold Bernard Segel pointed out, a significant "documented" philo-Semitism in Poland, a philo-Semitism unique in Europe. 

Philo-Semitism is often mocked. "A philo-Semite is an anti-Semite who likes Jews," a Jewish person once said. 

Well, no. People like Jan Karski, the Ulma family, Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, Irene Sendler, and too many others to list here put their lives on the line. They should not be mocked and stereotyped. 

There is also a "documented" history of Jewish autonomy, power, and success in Poland. 

It's funny. Schmidt's piece is about being stereotyped as a Jew, but in her piece she manages to disseminate and perpetuate stereotypes of people like me as exclusively menacing, dangerous, ignorant, and hateful. 

Friday, December 27, 2019

Thursday, December 26, 2019

More Anti-Semitic Attacks in NYC

I write about black anti-Semitism in Bieganski the Brute Polak

Anti-Semitism among blacks and Hispanics is real. It's something PC people don't want to talk about. 

We need to start talking about it.

There have been at least four violent anti-Semitic attacks in NYC in recent days. In one incident, the attacker yelled "You f--king guy, you f--king Jew, I punched you, you f--king k--e."

That attacker is alleged to be 28 year old Steven Jorge of Miami. Someone on Facebook is claiming that the attacker is black and that he saw that in news coverage that has since been scrubbed. I don't know if this is true. I will update if I find out more. 

Read more about this incident here

Another incident: 

"The most recent confirmed attack happened in the early morning hours on Tuesday on Kingston Avenue in Crown Heights, when a 25-year-old Jewish man was walking on the sidewalk when he saw a large group of people walking toward him, police said.

That man told police that members of the group yelled “f—k you Jew” before hurling a Slurpie at him. The group can be heard laughing and one appears to be filming the incident as they quickly flee shortly after."

Read more here

General Grant and the Jews

"In 1862, in the heat of the Civil War, General Ulysses S. Grant initiated the most blatant official episode of anti-Semitism in 19th-century American history. In December of that year, Grant issued his infamous General Order No. 11, which expelled all Jews from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi."
Full story here

Six Days Before Christmas, Lost My Job of Fifteen Years

Polonia needs to support her own scholars, storytellers, filmmakers, and artists. I've said this many times before, for example here, and will say so many times again. 

Six days before Christmas, I lost my job of fifteen years. I write about that here. At so many points in my journey in academia (see samples here), I wished there were support, of any kind, in the form of funding, publicity, book sales, publication opportunities, networking, and employment, from fellow Polonian individuals, institutions, chairs. 

I did not encounter that support.

Like it or not, academia is the factory that churns out what many accept as truth. Like it or not, academia rewards and punishes people based on religion, ethnicity, politics, skin color, and social class. Like it or not, Polish, Catholic, working class, and to the right of most academics politically is the kiss of death in academia. 

There are cliques and rewards for members of numerous groups: African Americans in academia, Hispanics in academia, transgenders in academia, Marxists, etc. One earns points in any number of academic environments for being a member of those groups.  

The Poland First to Fight conference was a step in the right direction. I hope we keep moving that way, towards supporting and highlighting each other. 

Anti-Semitic Pig, Scum: Putin to Poland; Soviet Anti-Polish Propaganda Redux

Vladimir Putin, who played, and continues to play, a dire role in American politics, via his propagandizing for Donald Trump, is reviving Soviet-era anti-Polish propaganda, specifically, that Poles are anti-Semitic pigs who collaborated with the Nazis. 

Of course it was the Poles who were the first to fight the Nazis, and it was the Soviets who collaborated with the Nazis. Nazi Germany and Communist Russia invaded Poland in September, 1939, as agreed to in the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.

Soviet Russia mass murdered Poles, see, for example, Katyn. Soviet Russia rounded Poles up and  put them on boxcars and sent them to concentration camps in Siberia. Soviet Russia ethnically cleansed historically Polish lands and  to this day the territory Soviet Russia ethnically cleansed is no longer Polish. 

After the war, Soviet Russia called Polish heroes who fought against the Nazis "spit-flecked dwarves" put these heroes, men like Witold Pilecki and General Nil on trial, tortured them, killed them, buried them in unmarked graves, and erased their history. 

You can read more about Putin's statements here and here

For more on this see Bieganski the Brute Polak Stereotype

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Jewish Identity as a Protest against Christian Identity. The Annual Christmas Op Ed

Quite often around Christmas time the NYT or other major publication will run an op ed protesting against Christmas and remarking that Christmas is a big imposition on Jewish people. 

The author of this year's NYT contribution to this genre states very clearly that she sees her Jewish identity as a statement of difference from Christianity. For example, she writes, "I have always associated my identity with not having Yule decorations ... Growing up, I considered not having a Christmas tree ... not wearing red and green in December, and not decorating our front lawn in lights as much a part of my Jewish identity as celebrating Passover and going to Hebrew school on Thursdays." 

In other words, she defines herself as not something else. Not Christian, not a celebrator of Christmas, rather than as something. 

That's not the only way to look at being Jewish. Rather than protesting Christmas, she could be celebrating Jewish identity. 

Her stance, that her Jewish identity is defined against Christianity, is described in Bieganski. The Brute Polak is important to some not all Jews as a way to define oneself as Jewish, in an era when many Jews eat pork, intermarry, and do not believe in God. Yes, I'm Jewish. See? I am different from those Bieganskis. You can find examples in the book of this position. 

I attempted to post a comment. I wrote, 

I taught English in a remote village in Nepal. I was encouraged to participate in Hindu, Buddhist, and local Pagan customs. I did so enthusiastically and joyfully. I love dress-up, I love bright colors, I love folklore and traditions. 

People threw red powder on me on Holi. I chewed sugar cane on Shiva Ratri. I worshiped my Nepali "brothers" on Bhai Tika. I was spellbound at a Tibetan Buddhist Mani Rimdu ceremony that lasted several days. 

I could go on and on. 

 I was the only Christian around. Everyone around me spoke a different language and followed different customs and religions. 

It never bothered me. 

Just saying. 

Update: New York Times commenters agree with me. Here's the currently most popular comment: 

I have to admit being very confused with defining yourself by what you don’t do.  You shouldn’t have to apologize for not getting into the Christmas spirit but the disdain for the pleasure others take in it seems misplaced.

Friday, December 20, 2019

DOJ Attorney v Auschwitz Museum. New York Post: Poland "Operated" Auschwitz, No Poles Imprisoned or Died There.

McKay Smith, a US DOJ attorney, is sending threats to the Auschwitz Museum. The  Museum was hit with false info on twitter and it blocked the  senders. Smith felt he would stand up for victimized Jews against bad, bad Poles. He was not aware that the specific blocked accounts were disseminating false info and that the bad, bad Poles are the curators of the Auschwitz legacy, a legacy that their nation shares. Auschwitz was first built and operated by the Nazis as a camp to imprison and kill Poles, and

In its coverage, the New York Post says that Poland "operated" Auschwitz and the Post refuses to mention the Poles who were imprisoned and died there. See here

This is Bieganski, the Brute Polak Stereotype writ large. 

"A US Department of Justice attorney got into a bizarre dispute with the Auschwitz Museum this week, going so far as to publicly and privately threaten them on Twitter.

DOJ attorney McKay Smith accused the museum of blocking accounts belonging to Jewish women and harassing several of his followers.

“@AuschwitzMuseum if you ever intimidate my followers via DM again, or you try to intimidate strong Jewish women who lost family members at Auschwitz, I will confront you. Personally. That’s a promise,” Smith said in a tweet Wednesday.

“Don’t ever test me again, @pawel_sawicki Ever again,” he added, tagging the museum’s press officer who runs the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum’s Twitter account. Smith also sent Sawicki a number of private messages where he additionally threatened to “come after” him.

“He deleted one of his tweets where he accused me of siding with Holocaust deniers,” Sawicki told The Post. “I have been working at the memorial for over 12 years and I think I was never disrespected with such a personal false accusation.”

The spat began after the museum moved to block the account of @WoMenFightAS, which posted a sarcastic tweet accusing the museum of being a front for Polish revisionism, which downplays the country’s role in operating the infamous death camp."

New York Post story here

NYP says "The overwhelming majority of victims were Jews." NYP chooses not to mention Polish victims. The New York Post staff are the Holocaust deniers. 

Thanks to Jerzy for sending  this in. 

Sunday, December 15, 2019

The Speedy Malinowski Radio Show by Michal Karski

Michal Karski has been kind enough to contribute many interesting blog posts and comments to this blog. I hope you will consider supporting his new venture, the new book, The Speedy Malinowski Radio Show and Other Stories. 

Please consider buying a copy and leaving a review on Amazon. Writers need reviews! And thank you for considering this. 

Perhaps Michal would like to contribute an excerpt as a blog entry here. 

You can purchase Michal's new book on Amazon here

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Bieganski, again, on Saturday Night Live

Saturday Night Live on December 7 featured a sketch depicting the cool NATO countries, Canada, France, and the UK, and eventually Germany, dissing the uncool NATO countries, Romania and Latvia, both Eastern European, Bieganski countries. 

Romania, scram! Brexit out of here, dweeb! they say. 

I love your economies, Romania whimpers. 

Donald Trump approaches. The cool countries don't want to hang out with him. 

Why don't you sit over there, Donald, with Latvia? they say. 

Latvia is plainly uncool. Latvia is playing with a child's toy. 

Latvia introduces himself as "Egg." His real name is Egils, pronounced "Ailes" He's eating something disgusting, pickled squid. He tells a joke about feeding a bull schnapps. 

Oh my God I'm at the losers' table, Trump says 

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Funny Bieganskis in "Last Christmas" 2019

As you can see from the review, below, I very much liked "Last Christmas." But I was totally aware of the stereotyping going on.

"Last Christmas" is a funny, heartwarming, ultimately profound movie. It's being marketed as a romantic comedy but it's more of a dramedy. There are funny lines throughout, but "Last Christmas" deals with some tough issues, and towards the end it sends a beautiful message.

Emma Thompson co-wrote the script. Thompson previously won an Academy Award for best adapted screenplay for "Sense and Sensibility." "Last Christmas" traffics in unflattering stereotypes of Eastern Europeans and it tries to hard to be politically correct, but its wit, warmth, and the chemistry of its stars, Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding, won me over.

The movie opens in the former Yugoslavia, in an Orthodox church, of all places. Petra (Emma Thompson) is watching her daughter Katrina sing a George Michael song.

Fast forward decades later, and move to London. Kate (Emilia Clarke) is an unlikeable mess. She works as an elf / clerk in a year-round Christmas store run by Santa (Michelle Yeoh). Kate is homeless and couch surfs, sleeping with friends and one-night stands. She dresses in clothes that are a little bit slob and a little bit tramp. She's hard to like.

One day she looks out the window of her Christmas store and sees Tom (Henry Golding.) He's a very nice guy. Charming, handsome, and kind. Kate is suspicious.

Eventually Kate and Tom get close enough that Kate confesses her dark secret to him. She had been ill for a long time. Her mother seemed to enjoy too much having a chronically ill daughter, so Kate had to move out of the house. A year earlier, Kate had had a heart transplant, and she hasn't felt like herself since. Tom encourages Kate to get her life together.

Kate returns to her natal family, now living in London. Petra, Kate's mother, is a stereotypical Eastern European. She is always sad, she sings mournful songs, she uses outlandish curses – "I will nail you to my p----" – and she refers to a dessert brought by a gay guest as "lesbian pudding."

The TV broadcasts coverage of Brexit protests and Petra bemoans that people dislike her because she is an immigrant. But she is a bigot herself, albeit a comical one. "I blame the Poles," she says, about current anti-immigrant sentiment in the UK. All this is played for laughs. Otherwise, the movie bends over backward to be politically correct. Four relationships are highlighted in the film, and all four are biracial, and one is a lesbian couple. The one group this politically correct film recognizes it is okay to make fun of is Eastern Europeans. Even so, I loved the movie.

There are no spoilers in this review, so I can't tell you how the movie handles Kate's transformation, from a total mess at the beginning of the film, to someone we can take to heart at the end, but I found the plot device to be quite poignant, and I left the theater with tears rolling down my face. The critics who have given this film a low score need to have their credentials revoked and their minds and hearts opened. Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding have terrific chemistry, and I'd love to see them reunite in a more traditional romantic comedy.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Poland, Land of Xenophobia and Conspiracy Theories: WNYC's Brooke Gladstone

Brooke Gladstone Source
Leah Feder Source
Picture illustrating WNYC's story Source

WNYC is the NPR affiliate in New York City. "On the Media" is a show on WNYC. 

WNYC is hyper liberal. White skin is bad. All black people in America are suffering horribly under the boot of racism. 

A few years back, WNYC broadcast "Q Is a Boy," that argued that a little girl from a broken home was actually a boy and anyone who said otherwise was an evil transphobe. 

On Flag Day, Arun Venugopal broadcast an attack on the American flag

It's not at all surprising that WNYC would broadcast an episode of "On the Media" that depicts Poles as uniquely hateful and irrational. 

Brooke Gladstone and Leah Feder entitle their episode "We Need to Talk about Poland." They take their title from a book about a child mass killer, "We Need to Talk about Kevin." Poland = Kevin. Childish and irrationally murderous. 

The music sets the mood. The broadcast begins with bizarre, Bohunkiana, accordion music. Then there is klezmer in the background. 

I've lived in Poland and spent plenty of time with Poles. I've never heard that kind of accordion music in Poland. You can hear the piece, "Taniec Kikimory," by OldNova, here

Poland is so exotic, so in the past. 

Fourteen minutes into the broadcast. Jan Tomasz Gross' book Neighbors and the Jedwabne massacre are invoked. Poles are too weak and venal to acknowledge that Poles have done bad things. You know the drill. 

Poles choose to imagine that Poles fought against the Nazis. This is a romantic Polish fantasy. 

Poles choose to imagine that Poles rescued Jews during the Holocaust. 

Anyone working on the Bieganski, Brute Polak stereotype needs to remember a few things. 

Thing one: stereotyping is often not about lies. It's often about twisting of truths. 

Thing two: you don't attack your enemy's weakness. You attack your enemy's strengths. 

"On the Media" is sure to highlight and emphasize the Jedwabne massacre. 

It's a fact. That massacre happened. Poles did do horrible things. 

It's also a fact that Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein, and Bernard Madoff are all Jews. Want to stereotype Jews? Just emphasize these bad men's Jewish identity. And twist any facts that might cause your audience *not* to conclude that all Jews are bad men. 

"On the Media" attacks WW II era Poland's strengths. Poland was the only country under Nazi occupation that began a resistance group, Zegota, whose only purpose was to help Jews. "On the Media" does not mention Zegota, unless I missed it. 

Poland was the only occupied country where Poles, their families, neighbors, and friends were all murdered for any help offered to any Jew, including something so simple as a glass of water. And yet Poles make up the largest number of Righteous Non-Jews at Yad Vashem. 

"On the Media" does not mention that. 

But "On the Media" does not lie just by exclusion. It lies even more cleverly. It quotes a bizarre quote, one I've never heard, that Poles rescued a statistically impossible number of Jews. Clearly this number is made up by extremists. 

So. If you mention that Poles rescued Jews, "On the Media" implies, you are a crazy extremist. "On the Media" renders any talk of Poles rescuing Jews suspect. 

Clever, no? 

There is much discussion about the controversy over the Museum of the Second World War. Pawel Machcewicz, whose name Lean Feder repeatedly mispronounces, is quoted at length. 

Feder compares Polish efforts to educate the public about Polish resistance to the Nazis to Japanese refusal to confront war crimes against the Chinese. 

Poles = Jedwabne

Poles = a child mass killer, the incarnation of evil 

Poles = Japanese who committed mass war crimes against the Chinese and  others. 

Anne Applebaum alleges that Law and Justice "creates threats" like "Syrian refugees" and Law and justice "invented" stories of Muslims killing Christians. Well, I'm happy to learn that Muslims never kill Christians. The fatal stabbings and fake suicide vest on London Bridge yesterday were no doubt all part of a dispute over parking. 

Thank you, WNYC! 

Feder preaches on. "Poland is not unique" and Poland faces no threats. 

WNYC, the station that insists that gay and black and Muslim Americans writhe perpetually under the boot of oppressive American fascists, tells us that Poland is not unique and Poland faces no threats. 

WNYC calls on Fareed Zakaria, a Muslim from India, who lectures us about how Poland typifies the new threat to democracy. 

Leah says that is "value in reclaiming the Communist past." 

I don't have a problem with any of the facts presented here. I'm not a supporter of Law and Justice. I do support gay rights. I do think abortion has to be legal. I do not support the interweaving of Church and state. I reject conspiracy theories. I acknowledge that Poles have done bad things, including at Jedwabne.

What I'm objecting to here is this.

WNYC doesn't broadcast representational material about Poles or Poland. I listen to WNYC and NPR all day every day. I know.

This show is all about the Bieganski, Brute Polak stereotype. Poles are scary. Fareed Zakaria will explain to you why. And if you ask why the son of a Muslim scholar from India has a right to judge Poland, while not critiquing the Hindu caste system or gender apartheid in Islam, you are an Islamophobe.

If you'd like to hear that narrative, click here