Netroots and Anti-Semitism

T-Shirt sold at Netroots Nation calling for people to “Resist Racism, Sexism, Zionism, …”

The Netroots conference has met annually since 2006, and serves as a think-tank for progressive political activists and bloggers especially from the Daily Kos for which the conference was originally known as Yearly Kos. Last week was the first time it was held in Philadelphia, so I decide to give it a try and connect with fellow progressives, strategize on issues of common interest, and learn about various Presidential candidates. Instead, I was frustrated by the idealogical purity required by many participants.

Judaism has informed my progressive values such as standing up to hate, welcoming the oppressed, feeding the hungry, healing the sick and protecting the environment. Moreover, in foreign policy I see Israel as an example (albeit imperfect) of these values and the only true democracy in the Middle East.

I know that there are many on Daily Kos and elsewhere on left who do not share my views of Israel, and I was a bit worried when I browsed the biographies of the Netroots speakers and the attendees and found that all of the references to “Israel” were parts of references to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) and related groups.

Nevertheless, I was heartened to see a panel scheduled entitled How We Fight Anti-Semitism. Unfortunately, it would have been more accurately entitled “How we fight accusations of Anti-Semitism.”

The moderator and panelists spoke well about the threat of anti-Semtism on the right. Trump may not have invented racism or anti-Semitism, but he has certainly given cover to racists and anti-Semites. Anti-Semtism is now more socially acceptable, and what was once said in whispers or dog-whistles is now overt. GOP leaders spread anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. If even a small number of people are influenced by these memes and come to believe that George Soros and the Jews hate America and are organizing an invasion of illegal immigrants from the South to take our jobs, spread disease, commit crimes and engage in terrorism, then attacks like those at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue are not surprising.

However, the panelists went too far when they claimed that anti-Semitism on the left is entirely a fiction devised by the right in order to divide and conquer the Democrats.

There is some truth to what the panelists said about the Republicans. For example, the GOP accused Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of Holocaust denial when she used the term “concentration camp” to describe the detention facilities which the Trump administration uses to hold refugee children. This is an accurate use of the term “concentration camp,” that is, a place where undesired people are collected in overcrowded conditions. Often life in these places are unhealthy, difficult and dangerous. Perhaps some of those who object to AOC’s terminology do not understand the distinction between concentration camps and death camps. However, the true purpose of these accusations was to divide the Democrats and distract from criticism of the President and his immigration policies.

In contrast, when Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar says support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins,” it is unknown whether her comments stemmed more from ignorance or from anti-Semitism. Either way she deserved to be corrected. Indeed, the Democratic leadership were right when they condemned her.

But we must not bury our heads in the sand and deny every accusation of anti-Semitism. The Republicans do not have a monopoly on anti-Semitism. Nor must we defend ourselves with “what-about-ism.” Even if White Nationalism is a greater threat, we are hypocrites if we white-wash any anti-Semitism on the left. In fact, we probably have more influence over our allies than over our opponents, so attention to lesser transgressions of our allies is worthwhile.

In Judaism, we have the notion of Tocheichah (constructive criticism). I hope that this article is read in this spirit. I do not point out fault in order debase my friends but rather to help them understand how we can all do better.

Doc Jess attended the panel with me and she had a similar reaction to mine, and walked out. (See the Democratic Convention Watch website for more about her experience at Netroots Nation.)

I stayed behind and waited until the end in order to ask a question about the reality of a certain amount of anti-Semitism on the left. I hoped to describe my frustration when I would happen to join a political rally for a progressive cause only to find that it had been co-opted by an anti-Zionist group.

The panel ended without an opportunity to ask this question, so I continued on to the next event on my agenda — a rally on Arch Street against the mass incarceration of children on the border. There was a large crowd and I was glad to hold a sign high and help protect the rights of these children.

However, soon the crowd was led in a chant repeating the refrain “No Walls Anywhere: Not America, Not Israel.”

All of a sudden, as a supporter of Israel, I no longer felt welcome.

I believe in freedom of speech. If the person with the megaphone wanted to hold a rally in favor of the BDS movement, then he is certainly welcome to do so. But please do it one block away, or an hour earlier or later. If you think your cause is right, then advertise it and like-minded people will come and support you. But you should not take a rally intended to support immigrants and refugees at the US boarder and turn it into a rally about Israel. Either you are co-opting the crowd which someone else organized, or you are engaging in bait-and-switch and tricking people like me into seeming to rally in favor of a cause they would not otherwise support.

I tried to be heard, but to no avail. I saw other people in the crowd who seemed similarly distressed by the turn which the rally had just taken. I then separated myself from the group and returned alone through the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

One of the panelists from that morning recognized me and expressed her regret that insufficient time had been allotted for questions and I had been unable to ask mine. I took the opportunity to tell her what concerned me about the panel and how the rally I had just left was a perfect case in point. She was surprised that I do not support BDS and told me that if I do not support BDS then they have no need for me at a rally of any kind.

I do not necessarily see eye-to-eye with the candidates I support on every issue, but there is a saying in politics, “If you agree with me on 9 out of 12 issues, vote for me. If you agree with me on 12 out of 12 issues, see a psychiatrist!”

Similarly, if we adopt a narrow view of politics and shun the support on a given issue of anyone who does not support us on another issue, then we are doing ourselves harm. We should embrace a wide tent and welcome the support of anyone who is generally supportive of many of our goals. That is the way to build a majority and win elections. Similarly, in Congress, we should seek common ground and create alliances and co-sponsor bills even with legislators that diametrically oppose us on other issues. [Editor’s Note: Former President Obama recently made a speech against rigidity among Progressives: “you start shooting at your allies because one of them is straying from purity on the issues, and when that happens, typically the overall effort and movement weakens.” Also, an article about Black Lives Matter adding criticism of Israel to their agenda.]

There is much to do, but we can make progress one issue at a time. If instead we shun those who lack ideological purity, then we will accomplish nothing.

Shocking Video Shows Trump’s Support for Eugenics, Claims of Genetic Superiority

— by Jen Hayden

PBS and The Huffington Post have uncovered video evidence of Donald Trump’s long-held beliefs that he (and people like him) are genetically superior:

The Frontline documentary The Choice, which premiered this week on PBS, reveals that Trump agrees with the dangerous and abusive theory of eugenics.

Trump’s father instilled in him the idea that their family’s success was genetic, according to Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio.

“The family subscribes to a racehorse theory of human development,” D’Antonio says in the documentary. “They believe that there are superior people and that if you put together the genes of a superior woman and a superior man, you get a superior offspring.”

The Huffington Post pulled together video clips of Donald Trump referencing his superior eugenics theory and it is nothing short of horrifying. Watch and then jump below for further information on the origins of the racist eugenics theory:

[Read more…]

Racist Supporters of Trump: “Deplorable” or “Hard-working”?

On Friday, Hillary Clinton said that half of Donald Trump’s supporters belong to a “basket of deplorables,” by which she meant “racist,” “sexist,” “homophobic,” “xenophobic,” and “Islamophobic,” among other categories. (See below for transcript.)

Trump strongly objected, and she apologized for saying it was half.

Now, the question arises: “How many of Trump’s supporters belong in this ‘basket’?”
[Read more…]

Melania Trump Says Jewish Journalist “Provoked” NeoNazi Trump Fans

After profiling Melania Trump in GQ, journalist Julia Ioffe received a deluge of anti-Semitic threats and comments. The article below, which was reprinted from The Daily Kos, describes Melania Trump’s response to the verbal attacks on Ioffe.

Donald and Melania Trump

Donald and Melania Trump

After dispensing with the obligatory statement that she disagrees with the vile antisemitic letters sent by her (and presumably her husband’s) NeoNazi fans to a journalist, Melania Trump then went on to side with the same NeoNazis by saying that Julia Ioffe “provoked” the hateful antisemitic death threats in her profile of Melania Trump for GQ.

“I don’t control my fans,” Melania says, “but I don’t agree with what they’re doing. I understand what you mean, but there are people out there who maybe went too far. She provoked them.

You can see some of the disgusting hate mail and read about the death threats and phone calls Julia Ioffe has received. Ioffe’s family came to the United States 26 years ago fleeing antisemitism.

By chance I read the profile of Melania Trump in GQ this weekend. It in no way provokes NeoNazi antisemitism, if that’s even possible, which if so I personally can’t understand. I challenge anyone to read the GQ article and defend Melania’s disgusting views on this. Jewish people certainly don’t provoke NeoNazi death threats by writing factual articles. If we applied Melania Trump’s beliefs to all American journalists. . . I can’t even process how vile this is. It also makes me very much doubt whether the first part of her statement is anything more than her saying what she feels she has to in a public forum.

Since this is evidently how Melania Trump really sees the world, I believe I now know exactly how she and Trump discovered they were soul mates.

Binders and Blinders: You Didn’t Build That Binder

A Poll of a lie used to perpetuate and justify a lie, is still a lie.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

— by Steven Bradley

How to make a lie look like a reality – take a poll

  • Say a lie that engenders people to you.
  • Get a “focus group” to hear your lie during a Debate.
  • Poll the effect of your lie on their opinion after the Debate.
  • Declare the lie as insignificant and the Poll representing a shift in women’s opinions.
  • Use the Poll later to sway opinions and discount further examination of the truth.

Has anyone been following this “binders of women” issue on the news? It has begun to have a life of its own hasn’t it?

But does pointing a lie out after the fact have the same effect as pointing it out at the time it occurs? Will conservative pundits point out lies by their own kind or just cover them up?

About 65 million people watched the second Debate where Mitt Romney lied about the “binders of women” as being one of his own initiatives to hire and place women in his Cabinet.

Most people who listened to the Debate will never know the truth. The truth that, both candidates during the race for Governor in Massachusetts were given binders and signed an agreement with a woman’s action organization to hire women in their administration. They were both given binders of women to draw from in filling positions at a time long before the election occurred. It wasn’t Mitt Romney’s initiative at all that put women in his administration…

More after the jump.

Another reason to be disgusted with the direction NBC is taking with their morning shows. They are now pandering to the largest conservatives, their owners.

MSNBC might be progressive at night but it isn’t in the morning.

The exchange between Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on “Morning Joe” (MSNBC) October 18, 2012 is a prime example of what these “Conservatives” really think of women.

Mika was an “island of reason” surrounded by an “old boy network”. She was attacked for speaking out about Mitt Romney’s lies. I could just picture these guys saying dumb blond jokes in the locker room later after the show.

Joe Scarborough the host of Morning Joe belittled Mika Brzezinski and her opinion as not being representative of women in general regarding this binder issue and its importance to the election. Joe based his argument on an MSNBC poll taken right after the second Debate on Romney’s popularity among women by NBC.

“A Poll of a lie used to perpetuate and justify a lie, is still a lie.”

The MSNBC focus group Poll was based on women hearing Mitt Romney’s presentation at the Debate and not knowing about his blatant binder lies.

In sales terms this is called; “Closing the deal before they figure out the truth.”

This is how Conservatives do it. They lie and then back their lie up with another lie and discount the value of you, your opinion, or even the truth. Pretty soon you don’t know what to believe anymore.

How can you ignore the impact that the truth would have had on a women’s opinion had they known?

Conservatives use lies and double down on them and then challenge anyone who would dare speak out against them. It’s called “being a bully” and it was clearly demonstrated on the Morning Joe Show.

Also, have you noticed Mitt Romney’s pattern when it comes to public appearances lately?

After the Republican Convention and each of the Debates Mitt Romney has held off his appearances until his “morning conservative allies in media” have had a chance to spin the story his way and build up momentum. They don’t want anyone questioning Mitt Romney too soon and spoiling their marketing plan.

It looks like people within NBC are exploiting their own polling to shape opinion rather than report it.

Joe Scarborough has no shame.

That should be a clue to you women out there about listening to him and any of these “conservatives.”

I find the Conservative disdain for women absolutely disgusting.

More power to you Mika Brzezinski for speaking out and trying.

It looks like Joe Scarborough is Rush Limbaugh’s surrogate now.