Why Anti-Semites Oppose the Marcus Nomination

–Naomi Friedman

Kenneth Marcus.

Note: In January, 2018, the Senate committee that oversees education approved the nomination of Kenneth Marcus. The full Senate needs to confirm his nomination.

Kenneth Marcus, founder, president and general counsel for the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, has dedicated most of his career to fighting for civil rights. Marcus was nominated by President Trump for the position of assistant secretary of education for civil rights in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR). Meanwhile, anti-Israel groups have been aggressively working to block his confirmation. [Read more…]

EgoPo’s Classic Theatre: The Golem at The Prince Theatre

EgoPo Classic Theatre‘s world premier of The Golem, playing at the Prince Theatre through April 15 is part of its 2011-12 season, a Festival of Jewish Theatre.  “The Festival brings the pinnacle stories of the Jewish faith and history to life.”  The seasoned opened with The Diary of Anne Frank and will produce A Dybbuk, adapted by Tony Kushner May 30-June 17.

The play, directed by EgoPo’s literary director, Brenna Geffers, and created by the talented ensemble of artists involved with the piece, retells the ancient myth of the golem for a modern audience.  From its first mention in the Sanhedrin, a 2nd century companion piece to the Torah, to modern references in contemporary literature, like Cavalier and Clay, the golem story has been re-told and re-imagined in many mediums.   EgoPo wanted to perform “a piece exploring the Golem” which is all about needing a protector in a dangerous world.

More after the jump.
In their modern re-casting of the traditional Golem stories, we are in 1940, where a small group of Jews from Prague, wearing yellow Jewish stars are on a train whose destination is unknown.   The first story is told using Czech-style marionettes, bringing the violence of the blood libel to life.  The golem tried to protect the Jews from the blood libel, a violence-provoking rumor that the blood of Christian children was needed for the Passover matzo.

EgoPo (whose name is derived from the French concept “The Physical Self”) is theatre at its best, using puppets (created by Martina Plag)  live music,(composed by Andrew Nelson)  dance, song, lighting and projections to establish mood and create a transformative space.  The sparse set is highly effective (Matthew Miller) as is the second floor space at the Prince Theatre.  

“All a story needs is one listener to keep it” one character remarks early in this captivating production.  The golem, or mudboy, as the wife (played beautifully by Genevieve Perrier) calls him, cannot speak – he is mute.  The golem stories are not simply about the desire for protection during times of danger and persecution, but about language and meaning as well.   In the second story, which explores how love of learning competes with sensual love, we learn about the golem’s demise.  The final story tells us how the golem was born and how he turns upon his own creator, his own Father.  

EgoPo’s production, which runs 80 minutes without an intermission, is a haunting, entertaining, superbly acted piece of original theatre.  It uses all the elements good theatre has to offer – the human body, voice, music, lights and dance in highly creative re-imaginings of an ancient myth.   As we prepare for our Seders this weekend, this is a timely and relevant play to see.  

The Golem, playing through April 15th at the Prince Music Theatre, 1412 Chestnut Street, 8 p,m. Visit their website or call 800 595 – 4TIX.  

Why Sarah Palin was right to call it a ‘Blood Libel’

— Benyamin Korn

Why did Sarah Palin choose to use the term “blood libel” in her remarks several days after the Tucson shootings?  

I have an account of how it happened.  

Now I am in no way a spokesman for, or employee of, Gov. Palin, nor is my organization, Jewish Americans for Sarah Palin, connected to her organization in any way.  But as the leader of a grassroots organization of American Jews who support Gov. Palin and her policies, I am acquainted with enough individuals close to her advisers, to have learned this story through what I regard as reliable sources.

First, we can discard the myths that have come to surround her choice of the phrase.

It certainly was not because she “does not know what a blood libel is, or does not know of their horrific history,” as David Harris of the National Jewish Democratic Council has claimed.  Gov. Palin is, in fact, surprisingly well-informed about Jewish history.  Consider, for example, the thoughtful Facebook message she distributed last month, on the occasion of Hannukah:

“More than two thousand years after the Maccabees rebelled against their oppressors and reconsecrated their Holy Temple, the Jewish people continue to face threats to their existence, and they continue to persevere and overcome great odds. Today we should all recommit ourselves to ensuring that the miracle of a Jewish state endures forever. The dreidel is one of the most familiar symbols of Hanukkah, with Hebrew letters on it representing the phrase Nes Gadol Haya Sham — “a great miracle happened there.” Indeed a great miracle is still happening there. Todd and I wish the Jewish community a very Happy Hanukkah.

More after the jump.
Nor was it because she is insensitive to Jewish feelings, as some snarky bloggers have intimated.  On the contrary, from her statements and actions, Gov. Palin has demonstrated time and again that she feels closer to Israel and the Jewish people than any American political figure in recent memory.

Anyone who saw the little Israeli flag perched behind her desk well before the 2008 election, or has noticed the pin of American and Israeli flags that almost constantly adorns her left lapel, despite the negligible number of Jewish voters in Alaska, knows of her special affection for the Jewish State and people. No one who has heard her speak with conviction of America as a Judeo-Christian nation, and of our Constitution as founded in Judeo-Christian principles, can doubt that.

So here is what happened.

Within hours of the Tucson killings, partisan pundits began circulating utterly unfounded accusations that Gov. Palin had somehow incited the violence.  They pointed to a map on her web site that showed a target symbol on numerous congressional districts, including that of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.  Democrats and Republicans have routinely used similar election-strategy maps for years.  But Palin-bashers sensed an opportunity to score points, so they went for the jugular and falsely accused her of responsibility for the bloodshed.

For four days, Gov. Palin refrained from responding.  Appropriately, she did not want to divert attention from the Tucson tragedy.  But her very restraint became the new grounds for indecent political assault.  Her detractors began claiming that her failure to respond indicated a guilty conscience.  She was damned if she did, and damned if she did not.

Over the course of that tumultuous weekend following the shootings, Gov. Palin and her staff carefully reviewed the press commentary. They read the column by Glenn Reynolds in the Wall Street Journal, using the phrase “blood libel” to describe the attacks on her. Another prominent commentator had called the anti-Palin smears a “libel” against Palin and the conservative movement. So Gov. Palin and her advisors decided to incorporate the phrase into her well-modulated rejoinder.

Gov. Palin and her advisers were well aware that “blood libel” originated in medieval accusations against Jews.  They were also well aware that the term has for years been used by commentators all across the spectrum, in America and abroad, in response to false accusations of committing or inciting murder. So Mrs. Palin and her staff had a reasonable expectation that this was a perfectly legitimate — if pungent — way to describe the false charges being leveled against her and her colleagues.

David Harris and several other Jewish opponents of Gov. Palin strenuously objected to her use of the term “blood libel.”  That was their right.  But what was not right was for they, or the news media, to rush to judgment that Jews were universally offended by Palin’s remark.

During the past ten days, I have spoke to numerous Jewish communal activists, rabbis, and just plain Jews.  I have not found anyone who was sincerely offended by the term.

On the contrary, in recent days, numerous prominent Jews have publicly defended Gov. Palin’s choice of words, including former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz, and Rabbi Shmuely Boteach — indisputably three important and influential voices in the American Jewish community.  They recognize that the term enjoys a currency in modern usage which is non-specific to Jews, much as a “crusade against littering” or calling Las Vegas “the entertainment mecca of America” are presumed to be metaphorical. Only when Sarah Palin used the term did everyone go (nonviolently) ballistic.

One of our JewsForSarah readers put it this way: “A blood libel is an imputation of murder based not on what one has actually done, but based on who one is.” I can think of no better way to describe this whole sorry affair.

Benyamin Korn, former executive editor of the Jewish Exponent, is director of Jewish Americans for Sarah Palin.

Sarah Palin Confuses “Blood Libel” with “Libel”

Sarah Palin was recently interviewed by Sean Hannity, another host on Fox News. Hannity asked her if she knew the meaning of the term “Blood Libel” which she used to describe efforts to link conservative rhetoric with the shooting of Jewish Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson:

Blood libel obviously means being falsely accused.

According to Google:

Blood libels are false and sensationalized allegations that a person or group engages in human sacrifice, often accompanied by the claim that the blood of the victims is used in various rituals and/or acts of cannibalism. The alleged victims are often children.

whereas Google defines “libel” as

a false and malicious publication printed for the purpose of defaming a living person.