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The Freedom of Speech

(Photo: US Government)

(Photo: US Government)

Not long ago, in Garland, Texas, two radical Islamists tried to blaze their way into an event hosting a Muhammad cartoon contest. Thanks to an alert security guard, the only fatalities were the terrorists who came looking for blood.

Of course, this is not the first time that radical Islamists have responded to expressions of free speech with violence. The French magazine Charlie Hebdo, which wastes as much ink slandering Jews and Christians as it does Muslims, had twelve employees killed in cold blood by Islamic terrorists in January. And in February, a free speech event in Copenhagen was the scene of yet another massacre at the hands of Islamist terrorist gunmen. In each case, the perpetrators were radicalized Muslims who oppose free speech and believe that all of us should be subject to the same repressive laws under which the entire Middle East – except Israel – lives.

When we look at the Bible we are taught that speech – in the form of slander, gossip, incitement, or anything emotionally, mentally, financially, or physically damaging – is strictly forbidden. “Do not go about spreading slander among your people,” says Leviticus 19:16.

Jews have been not just slandered, but violently oppressed, throughout history. The Holocaust, the Spanish Inquisition, and countless massacres of Jews were all the result of propaganda that began with the slandering of Jews that incited anti-Semitic hatred.

However, the Jewish people have not responded – nor has any self-respecting people ever responded – to hate speech with a gun or a suicide belt.

A person’s right to choose what kind of life they want to live, what religion they practice, what food they place in their mouth, and what speech comes out of it, is the basis of the Jewish tradition.

The Bible has laws on how to live, how to think, how to talk and interact with others. It covers every area of life. But the Bible also makes it clear that we have free will to follow God’s laws or not. What value is…

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Monday, May 18th, 2015 at 10:36 AM  | Stand for Israel

At Dachau, Angela Merkel Warns of Resurgent Anti-Semitism

This weekend, German chancellor Angela Merkel attended a ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Dachau concentration camp. The Times of Israel’s Yannick Pasquet reports that Merkel warned that anti-Semitism must not be forgotten, lest it rise once again:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Sunday that society must “never close its eyes” to anti-Semitism as she joined Holocaust survivors to mark 70 years since the liberation of the former Nazi concentration camp at Dachau…

“We are all forever called upon, to never close our eyes and ears to those who today accost, threaten and attack people when they identify themselves somehow as Jews or also when they side with the state of Israel,” Merkel told a solemn ceremony…

“We all are forever called upon to make unmistakably clear that Jewish life is part of our identity,” Merkel added.

American forces liberated the Dachau camp on April 29, 1945, and discovered on arrival the unspeakable horror that had led to the death of around 43,000 people from starvation or disease.

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Monday, May 4th, 2015 at 11:12 AM  | Stand for Israel

Dark Days Ahead for the Jews of Russia?

(Photo: wikicommons/Андрей Романенко)

(Photo: wikicommons/Андрей Романенко)

As we noted yesterday, The Fellowship continues its Freedom Flights, allowing Ukrainian Jews to make aliyah (immigrate to Israel) to escape the war and anti-Semitism they face in Ukraine. Today, Commentary’s Seth Mandel notes that an all-too-familiar anti-Jewish sentiment is growing in nearby Russia:

The ultimate goal of state censorship is self-censorship among the citizenry. If you can get the people to police themselves, and each other, it takes part of the burden off the state and also makes people complicit in their own oppression. And so it’s disturbing to see things take this turn in Putin’s Russia. As the New York Times reports, Moscow bookstores removed from their shelves–voluntarily (sort of)–their copies of Maus, the pathbreaking graphic novel of Nazi crimes against the Jews. It’s the “voluntarily” part of this that stands out, and makes it clear that Putinism has not been, and will not be, good for the Jews of Russia…

Putin’s war on Ukraine scattered the remaining Jewish community in the war zone. His explicitly militaristic nationalism feeds a state-sponsored xenophobia that always has and always will mark Jews as outsiders and a “nation apart.” And of course, “fascist” is in the eye of the beholder; as Paul Goble reported in late March:

Even as Moscow denounces anything it views as a manifestation of fascism abroad and prepares to mark the anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany, the Russian authorities are hosting tomorrow a meeting of Europe’s neo-Nazis, extreme nationalists, and anti-Semites who share one thing in common – their unqualified support for Vladimir Putin.

Such cultivation and tolerance of hateful anti-Semitic ideologues is par for the course in Putin’s Russia. He isn’t an anti-fascist; he’s merely against the wrong kind of “fascists”–who are often not fascists at all. It’s a catchall term for Putin’s enemies.

And it fools too many people, especially those who want to be fooled. But the Jews of Russia and its near-abroad cannot afford to let themselves be fooled. They probably don’t need…

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Wednesday, April 29th, 2015 at 8:32 AM  | Stand For Israel

France Launches Plan to Combat Anti-Semitism

(Photo: wikicommons/Jackolan1)

(Photo: wikicommons/Jackolan1)

The terrorist attacks earlier this year against a Kosher market in Paris highlighted the growing anti-Semitism facing French – and European – Jews. The Times of Israel reports that France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls has launched a plan to combat the anti-Semitism and racism causing violence in his country:

France’s prime minister announced Friday the government would pour 100 million euros into a major anti-racism and anti-Semitism action plan devised in the aftermath of the deadly Paris jihadist attacks…

In schools, teacher training will be overhauled, and principals will be encouraged to report racist or anti-Semitic incidents. Organized visits to memorials and other sites will also be held throughout the school year, according to the plan.

“It is through education, teaching skills and understanding of the other that we can counter the stereotypes and negative images,” said Valls…

And the Jewish community is also increasingly worried, with anti-Semitic acts doubling last year compared with 2013, prompting a rising number of Jews to leave for Israel.

“French Jews must no longer be scared to be Jewish…”

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Friday, April 17th, 2015 at 11:36 AM  | Stand for Israel

A Coalition Against Anti-Semitism

(Photo: wikicommons/ א.ינאי)

(Photo: wikicommons/ א.ינאי)

This Thursday, April 16, is Yom HaShoah, Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day. Despite the Jewish people – and those who stand with them – vowing never to forget the Holocaust and the anti-Semitism that brought it about, anti-Jewish hatred and violence is again on the rise worldwide. Writing at Israel Hayom, Yitzhak Eldan calls for Israel and her allies to form a coalition in the critical fight against anti-Semitism:

This year marks 70 years since the Second World War, and, as if symbolically, anti-Semitism has returned and soared to new heights, especially in Europe. Jews have been murdered in the streets in Brussels, Paris and Copenhagen. Hundreds of cases of anti-Jewish violence occur each week, including the shooting, beating of rabbis and Jews, attacks on synagogues and the destruction and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries and memorials. Many European Jews live in fear, with no sense of personal security.

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights’ 2013 report found that nearly a quarter of European Jews hide their identity because of anti-Semitism. The Anti-Defamation League’s 2014 report found that 26% of the world’s population — an estimated 1.09 billion people — hold anti-Semitic views. The same was found to be true for 24% of people in Western Europe and 34% in Eastern Europe. During July and August of 2014, there was a 400% rise in the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Europe from the same period a year earlier. In France and Germany, the number of anti-Semitic incidents has risen by 100% this year.

Anti-Zionist and anti-Israel demonstrations calling to isolate the Jewish state (through boycotts, divestment and sanctions) are growing in number and spreading throughout the world — particularly in Europe, but also in the United States and many other countries. The campaign to delegitimize Israel — which is actually a cover for the new anti-Semitism, led by the unholy coalition of Palestinian officials, Muslims and the extreme Left — is growing stronger as it threatens…

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Monday, April 13th, 2015 at 8:21 AM  | Stand for Israel

A New Exodus? The Reality of Being Jewish in Europe Today

(Photo: Olivier Fitoussi)

(Photo: Olivier Fitoussi)

Already this year, anti-Semitic attacks have occurred all over Europe – in France, in Belgium, and elsewhere. The Guardian reports that the Jewish hatred rampant across the continent has caused many European Jews to question what the future holds, with seven of them providing firsthand accounts from France to Turkey:

Jean-Francois Bensahel, 51, Paris, president of the Israeli Reform Union at the synagogue in Paris where in October 1980 a bomb exploded, killing four people

The rise in antisemitism is a European phenomenon, but it was in France that the assassins’ bullets started. The strong republican state that imposes shared values cements our society, but over the past 40 years secularism and assimilation have given way to multiculturalism and ghettoisation, and we are suffering the consequences.

The Charlie Hebdo attacks in January showed that the “Jewish question” is also the “French question”. Now lots of people are saying they have to leave because it’s too dangerous in France, and they’re afraid of being attacked in the street for wearing a kippah or a Star of David. More and more people believe their identity can be summed up by their religion.

The French didn’t react to antisemitic killings in the past, and for the past 30 to 40 years they have made excuses about the radicalisation of Muslims, blaming their social and economic situation and seeing it as an extension of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…

Dalia Golda, 33, Bucharest, founder of Gan Eden Kindergarten, a Jewish kindergarten and after-school center in the Romanian capital, where Jews are a tiny majority of the population

There are very few Jews in the whole of Romania – officially 7,000. We were wiped out [during the Second World War]. It is important to have places like the Holocaust Memorial, which opened in 2009, in order to remember, but we also need to educate. When I used to work for the Jewish Cultural Centre I received hundreds of phone calls in the middle of…

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Monday, April 6th, 2015 at 9:00 AM  | Stand For Israel

The Iran Deal and Anti-Semitism

(Photo: wikicommons/ Farzaaaad2000)

(Photo: wikicommons/ Farzaaaad2000)

Stand for Israel has kept you updated regarding the impending nuclear deal with Iran – the dangers it creates, the questions that have arisen, and the need to ward off a “bad deal” that will leave Israel, the U.S., and the free world at risk. Writing at The Times of Israel’s blog, Dr. Jeffrey Herf says that these discussions are very important, but the Iranian regime’s anti-Semitism must also be dealt with:

In the coming weeks, debate about the P5+1 deal with Iran will focus, as it must, on the details of the deal itself and whether, as President Obama claims, it will prevent Iran from getting the bomb or rather, as Prime Minister Netanyahu has warned, it paves Iran’s way to the bomb and poses a threat to Israel’s security and survival. But behind that debate, I suggest that there should be another one, a conversation about anti-Semitism and the way the United States has responded to the anti-Semitic regime in Tehran.

The case against the agreement has been made well by David Horovitz. He and others have pointed out that the agreement leaves the infrastructure of Iran’s nuclear weapons program intact. Mark Dubowitz and Reuel Marc Gerecht, two well-informed experts on Iran’s nuclear program and the sanctions regime affiliated with the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, described the deal in an April 3, 2015, the Wall Street Journal essay as “Iran’s Negotiating Triumph Over Obama and America.” They point out that the Obama administration “has never adequately explained” why Ayatollah Khamenei “would sell out a three-decade effort to develop nuclear weapons…”

In an interview this weekend with The New York Times, Obama tried to reassure Israelis. After six years of speaking rarely about Iranian anti-Semitism he acknowledged that ”the activities that they [the Iranian leaders] engage in, the rhetoric, both anti-American, anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, is deeply disturbing.” He then said “what we’ve also seen is that there is a practical streak to the Iranian regime. I think…

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Monday, April 6th, 2015 at 8:34 AM  | Stand For Israel

Jewish Graves Vandalized, Human Remains Scattered in Hungary

(Photo: flickr/nikodem_nijaki)

(Photo: flickr/nikodem_nijaki)

In today’s Daily Dispatch, we reported on the growing frequency of anti-Semitic violence in the U.K., including one at a London synagogue this weekend. Anti-Jewish attacks are still occurring all over Europe, as well, including a Hungarian Jewish cemetery that was vandalized:

The leader of a small Hungarian Jewish community says about 20 graves have been vandalized in a Jewish cemetery.

Peter Weisz says the damage to the graves in the northeastern city of Gyongyos, including the scattering of human remains, was “unprecedented.”

The office of Prime Minister Viktor Orban condemned the “barbaric deed” on Sunday and vowed to launch a program this year to renovate neglected cemeteries.

Weisz said a number of graves dating as far back as the late 1800s were of ancestors of some of the 80 current members of the recently re-established Jewish community in Gyongyos.

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Monday, March 23rd, 2015 at 10:24 AM  | Stand For Israel

Anti-Semitic Attack on London Synagogue and Worshipers

(Photo: youtube screenshot)

(Photo: youtube screenshot)

Anti-Semitic violence has been erupting all across Europe in recent months – in France, in Belgium, and in the United Kingdom, where violence at Jews is at all-time highs. The Jewish Press reports on the latest incidents – this weekend, anti-Semitic thugs attacked a London synagogue and its worshipers:

A gang of around 20 young men in the Stamford Hill section of London stormed a synagogue in the neighborhood late Saturday night. The gang yelled obscenities and threats, beat worshipers and vandalized property according to IsraelHatzolah’s official Twitter account …

One member of the Ahavat Torah congregation who witnessed the attack said the mob shouted “We will kill you!” He also said they physically assaulted the worshipers inside the synagogue and tore apart prayer books.

One Jewish man was beaten about the face and had a tooth knocked out after he tried to apprehend one of the attackers on his own and haul him off to police, having spotted the scene while passing by.

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Monday, March 23rd, 2015 at 8:38 AM  | Stand For Israel

Jewish Schools and Synagogues in UK to Be Protected Against Anti-Semitic Attacks

(Photo: flickr/alandenney)

(Photo: flickr/alandenney)

Stand for Israel has kept abreast of the troubling anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish violence that has been on the rise across Europe. The Algemeiner reports that one of the nations where anti-Semitic hatred is especially troubling is the United Kingdom:

Figures released in February showed antisemitic incidents in the UK reaching the highest level ever recorded, the BBC reported. The Community Security Trust, a Jewish security charity that runs an incident hotline, recorded 1,168 antisemitic incidents against Britain’s 291,000 strong Jewish population in 2014, compared to 535 attacks in 2013.

Britain’s Telegraph supported those findings by talking to members of the Jewish community on how such discrimination and violence have affected their lives:

“I know there are plenty of people who simply want to live a peaceful coexistence. But there is so much anti‑Semitism in Britain, and it’s coming from all sides. Our local Jewish schools look like prison camps. They’re surrounded by wire fences. There are guards on patrol, some with dogs. On Saturdays, you see police walking the street with members of the CST. I don’t want to sit at home panicking when my husband goes to the synagogue. I just want to live in peace.”

(more…)

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Thursday, March 19th, 2015 at 2:20 PM  | Stand For Israel