The real photos of Martin Luther King, Jr. during the march on Selma show rabbis at either elbow, but for some reason, these have been replaced by Catholics — a nun and a priest — in the recent film.
Why is that?
Rarely does it come up at Black History Month events or even in conversation that Jews figured prominently in the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. For some reason, the media is airbrushing the Jews out of the history of the U.S. Civil Rights movement and I’d be surprised if this isn’t also true of the fight for farm worker’s rights lead by Cesar Chavez, which was also heavily populated with Jews.
Does it matter?
Yes, I think it does; especially now.
With the Middle East on fire and contending with an ever-expanding band of mass-murdering Islamo-Fascist thugs and Europe awash with Islamo-Fascist-inspired anti-Semitism and U.S. college campuses buzzing with anti-Semitism masquerading as anti-Zionism, the intentional manipulation of historical fact is making matters worse.
Though the makers of films like Selma caution that they are not documentaries, they are likely the only encounter many viewers have ever had with the issues depicted, and who will absorb what they see as fact.
It requires only a rudimentary glance back at human history and a comparison with what’s on the nightly news today, to come to the inescapable conclusion that mankind is either on the precipice or already over the edge of another worldwide anti-Semitic episode that is potentially so profound it could make the last one look like the Salem Witch Trials by comparison.
Of course, there are two major differences in play today that were absent the last time mankind lost its way and began murdering Jews.
One – It is not the governments of most of these countries trying to kill the Jews, and two – there is Israel, and therefore someplace for the Jews to go.
The importance of Israel’s continued existence in this light, cannot be overstated, but that’s another discussion.
By way of illustration, in case you haven’t been paying attention to what’s been going on, the other day the Associated Press published a story about a bunch of European rabbis gathering in Prague “for training in self-defense and first aid in response to a wave of attacks against Jews and a rise of anti-Semitism on the continent.”
This is being done in response to “the deadly terror attack against a kosher grocery in Paris in January and the murder of a Jewish security guard outside a synagogue in Copenhagen earlier this month,” AP reports. But these are only the latest in an increasing number of deadly attacks against Jews in Europe, including the 2006 torture and murder of 23-year-old Ilan Halimi in France, the shooting deaths of a 30-year-old rabbi, his two young sons and a little girl, also in France, in 2012.
“When we see the level of anti-Semitism in Europe, when we see the level of hate in Europe, when we see the lack of leadership of European governments to fight against anti-Semitism and terror, we’re not surprised, unfortunately (by the attacks),” Rabbi Menachem Margolin was quoted saying.
It is at the point in Europe that Jews and Jewish institutions need 24-hour protection, he said. What happens if these guards keep getting attacked by those trying to get to the Jews (which has already happened at least once)? Will the majority of the populace eventually decide it’s just too dangerous to have the Jews around? Will the idea spread that the Jews’ very existence is the reason for the violence?
On U.S. college campuses, it is no longer comfortable and often, not even safe, to be Jewish or to support the right of the world’s only Jewish country to exist. A recent study ranks San Francisco State University the seventh most anti-Semitic college in the country, with Columbia ranked first.
Many of the students in these colleges and universities are buying a skewed bill of goods about the history of the Middle East and the facts on the ground there now, mostly from Pro-Palestinian students and teachers, which is causing too many of them to misunderstand the situation and misidentify who the good guys and bad buys are over there. They have somehow concluded that a billion Arab Muslims are being bullied by about 6 million Jews (including women, children and old people). They are convinced that “the Jews” are “committing a genocide” against Palestinian Arabs. But, since the population of Palestinian Arabs (1.3 million in 1960 and more than 5 million in 2014) has only grown in the past 50 years, either the Jews are really, really bad at genocide, or THAT’S NOT WHAT’S HAPPENING.
With this Goebbels-like, through-the-looking glass world view as the backdrop, keeping from these students the truth about the part Jews played in the American Civil Rights movement can only make matters worse.
And, one day in the not too distant future, these students will be let loose on the worlds of business, economics, politics, parenthood and everything else, poisoned with this loathsome anti-Semiticly slanted world view.
To make matters even worse, the weird, childish, pissing match between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu is likely to result in the Obama Administration announcing to the country and the world that the U.S. has decided to sever ties with its best and most consistent ally in the Middle East — the only democracy in that insane and dangerous neck of the woods.
Such a development could easily result in the atmosphere in the U.S. and worldwide vis-à-vis the Jews, deteriorating to the point that Jews’ patriotism could be called into question.
If American Jews are forced to somehow choose sides, between the U.S. and Israel, what would you do?
Last September, President Obama told us that his strategy for taking down the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria would be similar to the one his administration had “successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.”
The dogs in show (and also in field) took front stage in New York City this past week. Miss P, the Beagle who won Best in Show at Westminster Kennel Club and Patti Hearst’s Shitzuh, “Rocket,” who won Top Toy, weren’t the only winners. Bonhams Barkfest Brunch last Sunday, benefitting the American Kennel Club Humane Fund, offered dog and art lovers alike a preview of their annual auction of dog art.
Do you remember back in the day when you could not go to the airport or a city park without seeing and hearing a gaggle of Hare Krishnas, singing chanting, jumping around and generally scaring the townsfolk?
It’s August of 2015 and for six months since Brian Williams was suspended, the ratings of the NBC Nightly News have been plummeting. Figuring he is their best hope, NBC execs ask Williams to return as anchorman. Excited at the prospect of regaining his position, Williams sits down in his study to craft a first draft of what he will say on his first broadcast back.
Sandra Bargman is not a name trending on Facebook, but her cabaret performance at The Duplex in New York City’s West Village is not only dynamic but powerfully spiritual. An ordained Interfaith minister she explores her edges through music and theater in “The Edge of Everyday.”
When a film director makes a movie, how much are they permitted to alter history? This recurring question came up recently in the movie Selma, about the early 1960’s Civil Rights movement and specifically the famous 1965 march led by Dr. Martin Luther King from Selma to Montgomery. The film, recently shown in a private White House screening by President Obama, has been criticized for portraying President Johnson as an obstructionist to voting rights, an account challenged by some historians and one of President’s Johnson’s close advisors.
Even in its nearly universally shared grief and outrage over the IS terror gang’s unspeakably barbaric murder of the downed Jordanian pilot, attempts by Arab leaders to frame the problem in other than Islamic robes has served mostly to highlight that faith’s seeming schizophrenia.
Associated Press reports that in the wake of the 26-year-old pilot’s intentional torching, before a cheering crowd of all ages, “a wave of grief and rage” was unleashed across the Middle East.
“Political and religious leaders united in outrage and condemnation, saying the slaying of the airman goes against Islam’s teachings,” the A.P. story said. “The gruesome militant video of the last moments in the (pilot’s) life, ‘crossed a line’ beyond the beheadings of Western hostages at the hands of Islamic State extremists.””
Okay, so, what I get from that statement is that beheading Western hostages is kind of acceptable in Islam, while burning Muslims alive goes a little too far. This is clearly the case, since the beheadings of a whole slew of innocent Westerners — drew no condemnation whatsoever from the Muslim world. It is not made clear if it’s the burning, per se, that’s the problem, or if it’s the fact that the victim was an Arab Muslim.
The story goes on to say that Imams from the highest levels of Sunni Islam say that burning that pilot to death “violated Islam’s prohibition on immolation or mutilation of bodies, even during wartime.”
Call me crazy, but lopping off a living person’s head strikes me as a fairly serious form of mutilation. Not to mention that nauseating Muslim practice affectionately known as female circumcision.
This Imam goes on to say that in punishment for their crossing that line, IS barbarians “deserve the Quranic punishment of death, Crucifixion or the chopping off of their arms,” because “Islam prohibits the taking of an innocent life.”
That line, my friends, the ‘innocent life’ line, is clearly where the barbarians find their loophole, since “innocent” is obviously in the eye of the beholder.
But, what a schizophrenic belief system it is that can say a criminal must be mutilated because he broke Islam’s ban on mutilation.
It is in keeping, however, with the oft-repeated Islamic threat, issued whenever anyone anywhere says, writes or draws something they find offensive, along the lines of, “how dare you call me violent — I’ll kill you!”
The A.P. reporter goes on to describe the various forms capital punishment tends to take in the Arab/Muslim world, underplaying the instances and reasons for mostly hangings, but also stonings (the reporter says for adultery, proved or suspected, but, I happen to know, also for homosexuality and other random offenses) in Iran and Pakistan, beheadings in Saudi Arabia “and Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers have on occasion publicly shot to death Palestinians suspected of spying for Israel.” They have also hanged and burned them publicly, dragged them through the streets behind cars, literally torn men limb from limb, murdered sleeping babies and a whole bunch of other stuff the reporter chose not to mention for whatever reason.
But in the “contemporary Middle East,” burning people to death as a punishment is frowned upon, the story says.
There was evidently some battling of the Imams around the Muslim world about whether some story or other may exist in the Quran to sanction burning people alive, but the consensus of opinion, the story says, is that “the killing showed total disregard for the rights of prisoners under Islam, as well as what (one Imam) called the moral standards for war.”
These condemnations came from all over the Muslim world, including counties like Turkey, which has been known to send heavily armed “peace demonstrators” to try to kill Israelis, and Iran, which continues to chant its determination to murder all the world’s Jews, starting with Israel’s.
The one possible bright spot in the IS savages’ increasingly horrific behavior, is that in their arrogance and blind barbarity, they have now managed to piss off some countries not usually involved in opposing Radical Islam — like Japan and most of the Arab world. With any luck, more of the world will be convinced of the urgent necessity to devise and carry out a plan to eradicate this menace — and by that I mean the IS monsters in particular and Radical Islam generally — entirely from the planet.
The Arab world especially, is crucial to this effort, since they spawned this menace, and have a better chance of discerning between the barbarian and the non-barbarian or at least, less barbaric.
Jordan reacted to this latest atrocity by executing a failed female Iraqi suicide bomber and another nameless terrorist thug it had in custody, and the king there says the barbarians haven’t seen the end of this episode.
One Jordanian politician, moved to tears by the sight of the captured pilot burned to death inside a cage, started yelling during a TV interview, the story says.
“Let’s use the same methods as them!” he shouted. “Let’s kill their children! Let’s kill their women!”
Boko Haram has announced its establishment of a caliphate and continues in its slaughter of thousands of Nigerians and its kidnapping of young women for use as sex slaves. Not a word of protest from American campuses.
In an editorial titled “Reckless Rejection of the Measles Vaccine,” the Times argues that it is “shockingly irresponsible” for “misguided parents to put other children and adults at risk of catching measles from their unvaccinated children. Public officials and pediatricians need to restrict where unvaccinated children are allowed to go if the parents refuse to do so.” (NYT 2/3/15) The total number of people infected this year is 102 in the 14 states that have reported outbreaks.
Many people have already written about the semblance of blaming the victim when we extol the bravery and determination of cancer survivors, thereby implying that those who don’t survive somehow haven’t fought as hard or had the right positive attitude. A recent article about the medical understanding of the quality of random-ness in the formation of most cancers - with the exception of those forms caused or exacerbated by external toxic agents (cigarettes) - is another indicator that individual efforts to stay healthy or recover from an illness may have less to do with sterling character traits than we give ourselves credit for. This thought came to mind while watching Wolf Blitzer’s one hour program focusing on four “Heroes of Auschwitz,” survivors who managed to get to America and create new lives after the war. Though there have been studies showing a correlation between survival and religious belief as well as a purpose in life , it surely is the ultimate chutzpah and dishonor to the millions of victims who were felled to pretend that survival was largely a factor of strong will and therefore within their control.
In watching “Night Will Fall,” the documentary made frm the British and American footage of the liberation of the concentration camps at the close of WWII, what struck me first was the irrationality of Nazis starving a slave population that was intended to work. How inefficient that was as people diminished to skeletal weight and racked by dysentery and typhus could not have performed tasks with even the semblance of purposeful activity. This only adds to the mystery of why the Germans went to the expense and bother of constructing and staffing camps and transporting victims to them, often from great distances, instead of killing people in situ as they frequently did in mass ditches dug by the victims at the outskirts of towns and villages. According to Daniel Goldhagen (How Auschwitz is Misunderstood NYT 1/25), it was to distance the killers from their victims. Though this was true for prisoners brought from all over Europe, it certainly wasn’t true for German Jews who were brought to camps in Germany which were in close proximity to their former neighbors. A look at the map that Alfred Hitchcock created for the original documentary shows camps dotting Germany, often within a mile of cities and villages.
For answers to why so many young Jews are disaffected about Judaism and uninformed and hostile towards Israel, consult The Jewish Week of Jan 23rd. The cover story addresses the meeting organized by Repair the World at a Martin Luther King Shabbat in Crown Heights where three community activists spoke about race, privilege and partnership. The panel included a black woman, Tynesha McHarris (director of community leadership at the Brooklyn Community Foundation; a black man, Mark Winston Griffith (exec. director of the Brooklyn Movement Center) and a white Jewish woman, Amy Ellenbogen (director of Crown Heights Community Mediation Center). A questioner asked how the largely white audience could become effective allies in pursuing racial justice. McHarris responded that people of color needed to be the leaders while white people could follow and support. Griffith disagreed and said that his aency offered leadership roles to everybody. Ellenbogen stated that whites needed to “shut up and listen, and when you’re done with that, shut up and listen some more.” When a question arose concerning the selective filtering of history in the movie “Selma,” Professor James Goodman (History, Rutgers) felt that it was perfectly legitimate to airbrush Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel from the film despite his enormous contribution to the Civil Rights Movement, his prominent position at the march (the iconic photo shows him in the front line) and his close personal friendship with Dr. King.
It’s nice that the United Nations General Assembly held its first meeting recently on anti-Semitism, but while there were some important issues raised, the thing was rife with irony.
The meeting “sparked calls for global action to combat the rising hatred of Jews and a surprising denunciation from the world’s 57 Islamic nations of all words and acts that lead to hatred, anti-Semitism, Islamaphobia,” according to the Associated Press.
The denunciation by the Arab World — Saudi Arabia in particular — is indeed surprising, shocking, really, until you note that it threw “Islamophobia” in there, in a cynical effort to equate Israeli self defense and attempts to stop the Islamization of Europe, with murderous attacks against innocent, unarmed Jews in Israel and elsewhere.
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power, said the statement delivered by the Saudi Arabian U.N. Ambassador on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation was “extremely significant,” especially since the United Nations has often been a venue to try to de-legitimize Israel, A.P. reported.
Clearly, Powers didn’t immediately catch on to the Saudi game, because she’s right — the U.N. has become a body focused almost entirely on bashing Israel, and I can’t believe the Arab world has suddenly seen the error of its ways.
Despite the incessant (and patently false) drum beat out of the Arab world that Israel is an Apartheid state, the real Apartheid is found in Saudi Arabia where Jews aren’t really allowed to be at all. By contrast, a large minority of Israel’s population is Arab — Muslims and Christians — and they have completely equal rights, serving in the Knesset and the military and as doctors and patients in Israeli hospitals and teachers and students in Israeli schools and universities.
Most sites on the issue of Jews in Saudi Arabia, however, suggest that if Jews deny being Jews, they might be allowed to visit the kingdom, but not if they have ever visited Israel. Israelis are verboten altogether, and no Jews have lived in Saudi Arabia since the creation of the kingdom.
This was not always so.
The so-called holy city of Medina was, in ancient times, first settled by Jewish tribes, according to historical references. Some scholars even suggest the roots of the virulent anti-Semitism in the Muslim world today, may be traced to the ancient Jews’ refusal to accept Muhammad as a prophet.
“One of the reasons for ‘this discrimination’ against the Jews is… because the Jews’ development of land and culture was a prime source of booty in the Arabian desert peninsula,” one source says. “Beginning at the time of the Prophet Muhammad and Islam — from the expulsions, depredations, extortion, forced conversions or murder of Jewish Arabians settled in Medina to the mass slaughter of Jews at Khaibar — the precedent was established among Arab-Muslims to expropriate that which belonged to the Jews.”
So, unless the Saudis have suddenly seen the light, they are merely trying to do it again — to expropriate the fight against anti-Semitism, and turn it around to suit their purposes.
But, let’s examine the meaning of the two words — anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
The one means the irrational hatred of Jews and the other means the irrational fear of Muslims. To my mind — and when held up to historic review and against today’s headlines — the one has no realistic basis and the other, kinda doesn’t seem necessarily irrational. The Jews have never deserved the periodic waves of attacks against them through the ages — the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Holocaust. But, one need not be Einstein to notice that Islamo-Fascists are wreaking havoc, slaughtering innocents, worldwide.
It is not irrational to fight to keep the irrational mindset that drives the Islamists from taking root in the West, because a world under the jackboot of Sharia Law would not be worth living in.
So, that Saudi/Arab announcement, seeking to equate Jew hatred with fear of Islamists, is going to be used against the Jews and the West in years, or maybe days, to come. I’m sure of it.
Part of the reason that Islamic terrorism continues to proliferate in the western world is that too many of our opinion-molders and interpreters have been hamstrung by not understanding that we are fighting a war which always means that certain freedoms need emergency adjustment. We all accepted the need for us to remove our shoes and submit to personal searches when airplane hijacking became part of our new normality. But we also submitted to the notion that blaming Islam for the murderous deeds of a minority was somehow a “phobic” over-reaction and unacceptable in our politically correct society. So we went out of the way to mislabel a terrorist attack at Fort Hood as “workplace violence” and to insist that not erecting a mosque less than two blocks away from the killing fields of Ground Zero was an assault on our freedom of religion. Some among us became enraged at the revelation of how much data the NSA had collected in its extraordinary surveillance, forgetting that the loss of some privacy may have been essential for increased security from terrorist acts. The tagline for Nicholas Kristof’s article in today’s Times is “Let’s not respond to extremists with our own brand of intolerance.” (1/8/15)
Remember your personal physician? He or she may not be yours much longer. And even if they are still your doctor, the odds are they are not really working for you. Soon, most doctors will have abandoned their private practices and become employees of hospitals, multihospital affiliations, or the Government. Only 35% of doctors currently describe themselves as independent, compared with 62% in 2008. This trend will undoubtedly continue; a doctor graduating from medical school today has little or no chance of starting their own solo practice. How did this happen, and why does it threaten patients?
It seems to me the Palestinians must be feeling pretty confident that the world has completely ingested the revisionist Arab narrative to take what even the A.P. called the “risky” step of trying to bring war crimes charges against Israel at the International Criminal Court.
Before seeing “Mr. Turner,” written and directed by Mike Leigh, it would be wise to get some background information on JMW Turner, the great British painter who transformed seascapes into ephemeral swirls of impressionistic light and color decades before impressionism became a movement. In the movie, Turner is played by Timothy Spall who creates a persona not unlike the hunchback of Notre Dame - a man whose default facial expression is a tight-lipped scowl, underscored by frequent grunts and inappropriate gropes. Though he wears a top hat and is clearly an acclaimed member of the Royal Academy, it’s hard for his peers and the audience to know what to make of his behavior. Does he suffer from Tourettes syndrome or some personality disorder? What accounts for his attractiveness to the kind and caring Mrs. Booth who doesn’t know that he is the famous painter until well into their relationship? Leigh does little to try to explain Turner’s peculiarities, wanting us to accept him at face value - an eccentric genius and a riddle for which there is no answer.
A decade ago, a Danish publication posted cartoons of the prophet Mohammed that roiled the Muslim world, resulting in death threats for the editor whose life was subsequently lived under constant security watch. Although this was international headline news, The New York Times refused to publish any of the cartoons, buckling in fear for the security of its own establishment. So of course it’s ironic and amusing that their editorials have been so self-righteous about the need to uphold our absolute freedom of speech in the wake of No Korea’s hacking of SONY and threats to theater owners of a 9/11 type of retribution for screening The Interview. The most sensible suggestion I have read is that the government pay SONY for the rights to the film and then air it free on television and over the internet. It seems patently unfair to call for greater courage from commercial theater owners than the Times was able to summon in its role as dispatcher of all the news that’s fit to print.
In considering the sequence of events, I’m troubled by the notion that private businesses, in this case theater owners, should be expected to pay the penalty for the foolishness of other for profit private ventures. Even if no act of terrorism resulted from the hackers’ threat, wouldn’t audiences stay away from that possibility and wouldn’t theater owners suffer a financial loss? And what would their liability have been if any act of violence had occurred? Would Seth Rogen’s movie have been any different with a fictitious name for an Asian dictator? Is any work of fiction justified in using the real name of a living head of state or public personality? At what point does freedom of speech clash with the right to live without being threatened? What would the reaction of American pundits have been to a satiric movie about President Obama being lynched? We live in a society where you cannot say or print the word nigger without euphemizing it with just its initial - does that represent freedom of speech? Is one word more inflammatory than a movie whose plot concerns a political assassination?
If the Times wishes to restore its bona fides in this area, let it now publish the Mohammed cartoons along with an apology to the American public for its dereliction of duty the first time around. And perhaps a mea culpa to SONY and the theater owners for the Times having made the same decision themselves ten years ago, before deciding to lambaste them for their behavior would be sheepishly appropriate.
All my life I’ve been hearing people talk about their diets and frankly, it bored me to tears. I had never dieted, as I am a cardio junky, and had always burned more calories than necessary to remain reasonably thin. And then, about a year and a half ago, I got a job as a staff writer for The Arsenio Hall Show.
I last saw Brenner about a year ago in New York City. Although graying a bit, he was as sharp and edgy as ever both on stage and off. His observational humor included stories about how New York City has changed through the years. Bike lanes and taxis were among his targets. Many of his longtime social and political subjects are equally relevant today–overcrowded prisons, America’s school system, Congress and lobbyists. He described his humor as talking about the simple things in everyday life. He stayed up-to-date on current events and discovers the ridiculous side of them in his stand-up act.
“If Satchmo played the trumpet, I wouldn’t have to do anything,” a recently svelte Paula West said. “I’d just sit back and let him make a load of money.” She was referring to her five-year-old French Bull dog sitting at her feet. The dog is named after the late legendary jazz musician Louis Armstrong. Satch, who accompanies the vocalist everywhere, relaxes in the green room during her performances. “Satch is a big attention whore; he’s changed my life.” She continued, “I don’t trust people who don’t like dogs. It’s as offensive as saying, ‘I don’t like Mexicans or I don’t like Blacks.’” She feels those folks are missing something in life. She clarifies, “he’s not my kid; but he’s my baby. The plus side is the ramifications of ‘F’ ing up a kid are worse.”