Yes, we can: Celebrate the End of Trump

Finally, twitter poisoned hatred, racism, sexism, isolationism, turbo-capitalist agitation, anti-Obamacare ideology, hatred of the Antifa and antisemitic conspiracy-myths have to leave the White House – However: Will reason come back or irrational Coronamaniac among Democrats prevail?

The Times of Israel (Blogs) | Nov. 8, 2020 | Clemens Heni

That is truly good news: Donald Trump is history. Finally, after more than four years, including his run for Presidency in 2016! His violent, sexist agenda (“grab her by the pussy”), his antisemitic anti-Soros, anti-“Globalist”-ideology, his pro-climate change maniac, his fracking-is-cool, super-turbo-capitalist, anti-ecologist activism, his embracement of the neo-Nazi like “Proud Boys” live on TV during the first Presidential Debate with Joe Biden, his even funny “Voting for Biden is Socialism” fantasy – since when is the contradictio in adjecto of a “Democratic Party Socialism” (read: capitalism with a smile on its face) translating into Socialism? –, his post-truth Qanon-like extremist agenda, his lies and conspiracy myths will no longer harm the United States of America and the entire world.

As early as September 2016, I wrote about the Far Right and Trump:

It is well-known neo-Nazi tactics these days to make an outrageous statement, and then to step back a little bit. Blinking with the eyes to their followers is part of the game. Look at Trump and you know what I mean … The core message of the racist movement in Germany these days goes like this: The AfD wants to ‘get rid of Merkel’. That was the slogan of their big rally in the heart of Berlin, Nov. 7, 2015, with neo-Nazis joining them, including agitators against America who say that ‘Germany is run by NSA’ and the US, as right-wing extremist and antisemitic agitator Jürgen Elsässer’s Compact Magazine did on that day. Elsässer is also known for public speeches like at Potsdamer Place in the middle of Berlin, like in April 2014, where he agitated against ‘Rockefeller, Rothschild, Soros’, Jews and money.

The Pro-Israel camp in Germany and in vast parts of the US aligned with Trump. That shameful development, associated with the support of the German right-wing extremism of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) led me to break with my American donors and most parts of the German pro-Israel camp. Bibi did the same mistake as right-wing American Trumpists, and collaborated with the nastiest and most disgusting of all American Presidents in history, while sidelining the Democrats.

For Zionism, both Bibi and Trump are devastating, regardless of the great achievements of Netanyahu when it comes to the Arab world and the diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and probably vast parts of the Arab world – that is historic and tremendously important.

At least, Trump will be history by January 2021. Trumpism, though, will be an essential part of America and the Western world today, and that is and remains a shame, thanks to folks like Hannity from Fox News or in Germany sites such as Achgut.com, Axis of the Good, and uncounted others, including rural weaponry maniacs in the US or pro-Tump, pro-Putin German “Corona-sceptics” and followers of the old “German Reich”.

But now we are in 2020 and in the times of the pandemic turn. What is the pandemic turn? The pandemic turns means that the state can stop the entire society of living as a society, regardless of the rational or irrational predictions of a pandemic or epidemic.

When I saw the No. 3 of the Democratic Party Jim Clyborn, one of their two House of Majority Whips, speaking after Biden’s victory, something struck me. It was not only his age (born 1940), making him just another too old for politics person like Trump, Pelosi or Biden, it was something different. It was his remarks on Fox News, that he knows about the “Spanish Flu from 1918” and that Trump failed to deal with Corona. That is irrational, to say the least.

The Spanish Flu killed some 50 million people, out of 1,8 billion people on earth at the time. These were 2,7 percent of the world population. Corona just killed 0,015 percent of today’s world population (1,2 million people out of 7,8 billion). But even more striking was the average age of death of the Spanish Flu: 28 years! Most old people over 70 were even spared, they might have had immunity from another serious flu epidemic, the Russian Flu of 1889/90.

Clyborn seems to be completely out of touch with reality, when it comes to Corona. He might have ignored most of the research done in that field ever since march 2020, when American star epidemiologist John P.A. Ioannidis warned about a fiasco in the making. Most recently, the WHO published the latest study by Ioannidis, counting like an official WHO working paper. In it, Ioannidis shows that the infection fatality rate of Corona worldwide is at maximum 0.23 percent. Most studies he dealt with, are from Corona hotspots or countries hard struck by the virus like the US or Brazil.

If we take all countries on earth into account, that number will even be lower. Most countries have not many Corona deaths (like in Africa or Asia), they might have had some infections, but taken the fact that way over 80 percent of people infected by Corona have no to mild symptoms, you understand that Corona is much more specific than the flu. People under 70 are not at all in danger from Corona. And young people should stay away from older people or visit them in accordance with the needs of old people like in nursing homes or residential areas – to isolate the old and elderly was a huge crime and killed thousand of people with dementia in Wales and England in spring 2020 alone.

Israel has a huge debate about young professionals, how they can live without restrictions, while protecting the elderly! The governments around the world ignore these scholarly facts and still pretend that the entire society is in danger. That is nothing but a lie! Period.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the official public health agency in the US, declared that for people under 50 Corona is less dangerous than the seasonal flu, for people age 50–69 it is like a severe flu, and for people over 70 it is more dangerous than the flu. That is why the average age of death of Corona in most countries is over 80 years (in Germany 82 years). Republican Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis emphasized these CDC numbers on his legendary press conference on September 25, 2020, when he lifted most of the lockdown restrictions of his state.

 

He also mentioned, that 25 % of young people age 18-24 in the US alone in summer 2020 had suicidal ideas and were depressive. Mental health is a huge issue when it comes to “social distancing” and irrational politics, based on fear, and not on data.

I fear, that the Clyborns in the Democratic Party will remain unreachable for scholarly research when it comes to Corona. Corona is a serious threat, no doubt about this. But it is a very accurate understandable threat for a very specific group of people – completely different from the Spanish Flu of 1918! The Spanish Flu was 180 times more lethal than Corona, to be sure! People could become sick of that flu in the morning and by late afternoon they were dead. Corona is completely different, even the majority of people on Intensive Care Units in hospitals survive Corona. In Germany, we have zero percent excess mortality in 2020 so far. We might have excess mortalitiy in 2021 and the following years due to postponed cancer operations and screenigns or due the huge and unprecedented economic crisis.

The worst mistakes of all governments was the closure of theaters and cultural institutions. The only way to deal with a crisis is art, culture, cinema, lectures – and a vibrant debate, rallies, social contact, regardless if with or without distance. We would have needed our intellectuals to guide us a path to a realistic analysis of the situation. But the first thing the maniac governments closed were universities, theaters, cinemas and cultural institutions. They wee not “systemically relevant”, while hardware stores were (particularly in a country such as Germany).

What America and Israel and all of us deserve, is a rational analysis of the Corona threat. Panic and antidemocratic action like in Germany, are damaging democracy while not saving a single life of a 85 year old nursing home resident. Nursing homes have been hugely underfunded by the government, as up until 2020 old people did not count at all – let alone workers in these facilities, often immigrants from Eastern Europe.

Currently, Germany has its second lockdown, all cultural sites and restaurants are closed – despite the scientific evidence, that less than 3 percent of all infections happened in restaurants. Even visiting a museum with a few people is illegal. These irrational politics indicate the very low level of democracy, Merkel and all her fellows stand for, including Macron or Johnson.

That was among the reasons one of the best-known restaurants in the heart of (East-) Berlin, the Ständige Vertretung, close to the German Parliament, the Bundestag, made a video, attacking the German government. The two restaurant representatives ordered chancellor Angela Merkel, finance minister and vice-chancellor Olaf Scholz, head of the state of Bavaria Markus Söder, head of the State of Berlin Michael Müller and his Senator for health Dilek Kalayci to stay away from their house.

Hundreds of thousands of car construction workers and millions of others are still working, and they have their lunchrooms, but much smaller restaurants with hygiene concepts suddenly may not work anymore. That is irrational and just panic driven politics. I fear, the Democratic Party will run on this panic driven politics as well and might turn the US to not just another lockdown, but also to (useless) mandatory face mask wearing and ignoring to do the most important: protect the vulnerable.

That is the starting point for the Great Barrington Declaration from October 4, 2020, by Professors Jay Bhattacharya from Stanford, Martin Kulldorff from Harvard, and Sunetra Gupta from Oxford:

The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection.

Adopting measures to protect the vulnerable should be the central aim of public health responses to COVID-19. By way of example, nursing homes should use staff with acquired immunity and perform frequent PCR testing of other staff and all visitors. Staff rotation should be minimized. Retired people living at home should have groceries and other essentials delivered to their home. When possible, they should meet family members outside rather than inside. A comprehensive and detailed list of measures, including approaches to multi-generational households, can be implemented, and is well within the scope and capability of public health professionals.

Among the co-signers are:

Dr. Ariel Munitz, professor of clinical microbiology and immunology, Tel Aviv University, Israel, Dr. Eitan Friedman, professor of medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Israel, Dr. Motti Gerlic, professor of clinical microbiology and immunology, Tel Aviv University, Israel, Dr. Uri Gavish, biomedical consultant, Israel, Dr. Udi Qimron, professor of clinical microbiology and immunology, Tel Aviv University, Israel

 

plus 11,832 Medical & Public Health Scientists, 34,087 Medical practitioners and 620,456 Concerned Citizens (as of November 8, 2011). This indicates the remarkable support of the Great Barrington Declaration by Israeli scholars in the field of microbiology, immunology and epidemiology, virology and public health.

In an interview, Gupta said the following:

We should have dealt from the outset with this pandemic as an international problem. Instead it was ‚let’s lockdown my country, let me protect my citizens‘, which is incredibly individualistic.

She also emphasized:

„I think the lockdown is really individualistic in its general construction. Things that we normally disperse within the community, such as individual risk, and individual blame. Now I see young people being terrified, even though they realise the risk to themselves is low, that they might infect a friend who will then give it to their grandparents. This chain of guilt is somehow located to the individual rather than being distributed and shared.

We have to share the guilt. We have to share the responsibility. And we have to take on board certain risks ourselves in order to fulfil our obligations and to uphold the social contract. So I’d like the politicians to remind people of that, because that’s what they’ve been elected to do – to see the social contract is being properly transacted.“

In a similar vein, Kulldorff said:

I am aligned with the Left when I defend the COVID-19 strategy in my native Sweden. But here in the United States, when I defend very similar strategies implemented by the Republican governors of South Dakota and Florida, I am perceived as being aligned with the Right. It is a little weird. Among my infectious disease colleagues that favor an age-targeted strategy rather than lockdowns, most are left-wing progressives, while most of my Twitter followers are on the Right.

In the same interview with the socialist magazine Jacobin in the US, Kulldorff and his colleague from Harvard, epidemiologist Katherine Yih, spoke with sociologist Nicole Aschoff. Yih pointed out:

Progressives should be advocating for a sustainable, communitarian approach that is informed by the knowledge that the virus will spread until herd immunity is achieved, acknowledges the need for stringent protections of the vulnerable in order to minimize deaths, and recognizes the harm caused by crude across-the-board lockdowns and their disproportionate impact on workers and people of color.

The pandemic has laid bare the glaring and growing inequalities in our society, if they weren’t evident before. We must continue to fight for a radically fairer society, including, of course, Medicare for All. The need is greater than ever.

The current Corona politics worldwide, though, are lethal – for the developing countries in Africa and Asia. They suffer from hunger, as the Peace Nobel Prize Laureate 2020 clearly says: The World Food Programme (WFP) of the United Nations. The virus itself is far from being a pandemic on the same scale worldwide – it is mainly a European and American (South and North America) pandemic, if we look at the numbers. But the collateral damage is unbelievable huge – canceled tourist trips to almost the entire world, cut off economic relations, delayed vaccination programs in Africa or Asia (like against measles), increase death and hunger:

As COVID-19 pushed countries everywhere to lock down, the equivalent of 400 million full-time jobs have been destroyed, and remittances have collapsed. The impact has been felt hardest by the 2 billion people who work in the informal economy around the world – mainly in middle and low-income countries. Already only one day’s work away from going hungry, in other words living hand to mouth. You and I have food in the pantry in a lockdown. We have enough food for two or three weeks. These people don’t have that luxury. If they miss a day’s wages, they miss a day’s worth of food and their children suffer.  They don’t have the money to buy their daily bread in those circumstances. This inevitably creates a risk of rising social tensions and instability.

The report concludes:

We need $4.9 billion to feed, for one year, all 30 million people who will die without WFP’s assistance. Worldwide, there are over 2,000 billionaires with a net worth of $8 trillion. In my home country, the USA, there are 12 individuals alone worth $1 trillion. In fact, reports state that three of them made billions upon billions during COVID! I am not opposed to people making money, but humanity is facing the greatest crisis any of us have seen in our lifetimes. It’s time for those who have the most to step up, to help those who have the least in this extraordinary time in world history. To show you truly love your neighbour. The world needs you right now and it’s time to do the right thing.

 

Surveillance technics like Corona Apps, panic driven government policies of defamation of any kind of critics of  Corona politics are damaging our democracies like nothing damaged them ever since 1945. Sociologist Michel Foucault (1926-1984) or Public Health scholar and philosopher Ivan Illich (1926-2002) would habe been the best people to analyze the biggest crisis of our world since 1945. We are missing them. I co-published and edited books on Corona so far this year (in German), following, among others, both Foucault and Illich. You can also find a fascinating essay “On Corona Days” by Sajay Samuels, transposing some of the critic by Illich in our crazy Corona times.

Having said this, we still should very much celebrate the defeat of Trump by Biden – that is a historic and long overdue achievement of the democratic voices in the United States, with consequences worldwide!! Equality, anti-racism, anti-sexism, and the fight of antisemitic conspiracy myths must become the bottom line of American politics, again – or for the first time, finally.

Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris, by the way a true find of the Jewish state of Israel, who herself is childfree, which might be a good indication for more feminist policies in the White House, might be a great help in that respect as well. She will be the first woman to become Vice-President in the history of the United States of America – and the first black woman, the first daughter of immigrants (from India, and Jamaica, respectively). That is a fantastic symbol of the American dream, of “Possibilities”, as Joe Biden framed it in his victory speech on November 7, 2020.

Finally, to become a reliable political power again, America should rather listen to scholars or to the Great Barrington Declaration and distance itself from unscholarly politicians, who nothing but fuel panic and confuse 1918 with 2020, like No. 3 of the Democratic Party, Jim Clyburn.

About the Author
Dr Clemens Heni is director of The Berlin International Center for the Study of Antisemitism (BICSA)



Kenneth L. Marcus’ Oxymoron: Trump and Civil Rights

Von Dr. Clemens Heni, 12. März 2018

The Times of Israel (Blogs)

Fighting for civil rights and working for Donald Trump is an oxymoron. Activist Kenneth L. Marcus was nominated as assistant secretary for civil rights in the U.S. Department of Education. A first committee hearing took place on December 5, 2017 with a result of 12 to 11 in his favor, and finally the full Senate will vote. Given the GOP majority he will be confirmed.

I know Ken Marcus personally, ever since he gave a talk when I was at Yale in 2008/09. He regularly appears at international conferences on antisemitism, be it in London, Jerusalem or New York City. He is a smart person and I always thought of him as a mainstream guy, who analyzes various forms of today’s antisemitism in order to fight them. His main field is defending Israel, which is important and makes good sense. However, I failed to realize some important things.

It was instructive for me to follow his nomination becoming a major topic in public discourse in the US, including articles in the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA). The JTA reported on January 19, 2018:

“Patty Murray, D-Wash., the top Democrat on the committee, focused almost entirely on Marcus’ support of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ rollback of Obama administration guidelines that emphasize the rights of alleged victims in campus sexual assault cases.

Marcus, who served in similar civil rights positions in the George W. Bush administration, also has opposed affirmative action and resisted pursuing bias cases without evidence that there is intent behind the bias. He has also opposed equities for LGBTQ Americans, but told the committee that his views in that area had ‘evolved’.”

The crucial failure of Kenneth Marcus, who mentioned his wife and family being with him at the hearing, is the following:

“Murray asked Marcus to ‘name a single example of something President Trump has said or done when it comes to discrimination or women’s rights or civil rights you disagree with.’ Marcus could not, which in the current political environment would doom any candidate from accruing substantive Democratic support.”

Donald Trump abused women and proudly told other men that a celebrity such as he is, can “grab her by the pussy.” What would Marcus say if one of these abused women was his wife or his neighbor?

Trump ridiculed journalist Serge Kovalevsky from the New York Times, he ridiculed a handicapped person. That was the moment that broke the heart of actress Meryl Streep, as she said at the Golden Globe in January 2017.

Then, after a neo-Nazi had killed an antifascist counter-protester in Charlottesville and hundreds of neo-Nazis screamed “Jews will not replace us,” the US President said that there were “very fine people” among those neo-Nazis.

Trump called Mexican immigrants “criminals and rapists,” aiming at an undefined group of people from Latin and South America and he wanted to ban all Muslims from entering the US.

These are all topics of women’s and civil rights abuse in the US by Trump before and after his election.

Again, listen to Senator Murray’s question and read the answer by Kenneth Marcus:

“Murray asked Marcus to ‘name a single example of something President Trump has said or done when it comes to discrimination or women’s rights or civil rights you disagree with.’ Marcus could not, which in the current political environment would doom any candidate from accruing substantive Democratic support.”

This disqualifies Marcus from every single post dealing with civil rights and women’s rights. He takes side with a sexist criminal, plain and simple.

That is of course nothing unusual in our world. Many men have no problem with sexism, the abuse of women in particular; take the #metoo campaign as an example. But a high-profile politician in a department dealing with civil rights should or; must know much better.

Many nation-wide civil rights groups and umbrella organizations have objected to the nomination of Marcus. This holds for the biggest Hispanic civil rights organization, the UnidosUS:

“UnidosUS (formerly NCLR) and the National Urban League joined today in opposing the nomination of Kenneth L. Marcus as the next Assistant Secretary for the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Education. The groups noted his troubling record with regard to enforcing the rights of immigrant students and English learners, and past attempts to undermine critical policies aimed at remedying racial discrimination, including affirmative action.

Marcus’ nomination had been met with opposition from a broad range of civil rights groups who have raised concerns about the nominee’s hostility to affirmative action and other equal opportunity initiatives. Marcus did nothing to assuage those concerns during a recent nomination hearing where he failed to commit his office to enforcing the law on a number of civil rights issues in which the OCR has played a pivotal enforcement role in the past.”

The defense of Marcus by groups such as Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), StandWithUs, the Algemeiner or the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and many other Christian and Jewish groups is frankly ridiculous as they insinuate that opposition to his nomination is based on anti-Israel bias. There might be a very few groups that oppose Marcus because of his take on anti-Zionist antisemitism, like the Arab American Institute (although they do not reject Zionism and the Jewish state as such in their long statement, only “policies of Israel”). The main opponents of Marcus, though, have an issue with his analysis and policies regarding racism and sexism.

The biggest and best-known Jewish civil rights organization, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) does not come out in support of Marcus. That speaks volumes.

Then, take a leading pro-Israel Senator such as Elizabeth Warren – she did not even address the topic of Israel or BDS, as Marcus’ positions in that respect are not controversial at all to her. However, she rejects him for this job, because he fails to send a clear civil rights message when it comes to racism, for example, according to the Washington Post:

„Here’s another exchange between Warren and Marcus:

WARREN: Mr. Marcus, if confirmed, you would be responsible for protecting the civil rights of American students at a time when Nazis and white supremacists are marching across college campuses with tiki torches, and many young people are literally afraid to go to school because of the hateful climate that has been fostered by Donald Trump. If confirmed, will you commit to fully enforcing civil rights laws and protecting all students from discrimination and harassment?

MARCUS: Yes.

WARREN: Good. So, I just want to find out a little more detail about what that commitment means to you, and I thought we might go through a few fact situations. So, let’s start with an easy one. Say there’s a school district that has some mostly white schools and some mostly black schools, and let’s say that the mostly black schools have less experienced teachers, teachers with fewer qualifications, those schools have fewer books, they have fewer computers in the library, fewer AP courses available. By any objective measure, those schools have clearly been shortchanged. If confirmed, would your office step in to protect the civil rights of that district’s black students?

MARCUS: If I were confirmed, I would ensure that any complaints alleging violation of Title VI would be — would be reviewed.

WARREN: Mr. Marcus, I don’t want to start a dance here. This is a set of facts that come to you in your position, if you are confirmed, and my question is are those facts adequate? Will you step in to protect the civil rights of the district’s black students?

MARCUS: Senator, I would certainly hope to be able to provide protection for the civil rights of those black students to the extent possible under law, but what . . .

WARREN: But, that’s the question I’m asking how you see this. You’re allowed to answer hypotheticals, here, so this one should be easy. A yes or a no, would you step in on those facts, or not?

MARCUS: I appreciate that, senator, but unfortunately in my experience the cases that OCR deals with are much more complicated than hypotheticals.

WARREN: So, you don’t think that’s enough evidence, what I’ve just said?

MARCUS: I think I would need to look at it very carefully.

After questioning him, Warren said: “I don’t think we need someone in this position whose view of civil rights enforcement is to do as little as possible to protect as few students as possible. I think that would be bad for students overall, and with Betsy DeVos as secretary of education, I think it would be even worse.”

A leading pro-Israel group, the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), which is part of the Leadership Conference, a major umbrella organization of civil rights groups in the US, also rejects the nomination of Marcus. Why?

“Hillel would not address Marcus’ views on federal policy and sexual harassment. Marcus endorses the decision by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to remove the Obama-era guidelines that advocates said made it easier for victims to level sexual assault charges on campus. The guidelines discouraged universities from allowing an alleged assaulter to directly cross-examine his accuser, and discouraged what until then was the common practice of requiring that the accused and the accuser first attempt to resolve the issue face to face or through mediation.

As leverage, the Obama administration made the rules under Title IX, a law that prohibits federal funding for schools that allow discrimination against women.

Feminists said that before the Obama guidelines, the process revictimized assault victims. DeVos has said that Obama’s rules instead made victims of the accused.

That was the nomination killer for the NCJW, said Faith Williams, the group’s senior legislative associate.

“In light of growing number of #MeToo moments and the scandal at Michigan State University, we need these Title IX protections,” she said, referring to the explosion of sexual assault allegations by women and the recent conviction of a sports therapist at the university who was accused of assaulting nearly 200 women in his care.

Also opposing the Marcus nomination is Jewish Women International, which has developed programs in partnership with Jewish fraternities and sororities to counter sexual assault on campus.

“We are deeply concerned by the answers given during his confirmation hearing last week supporting Secretary DeVos’ rescission of important guidance clarifying the responsibilities of colleges and universities in cases of sexual assault,” Jewish Women International said in a statement last month.

In my view, and I think I am not alone, Kenneth L. Marcus’ stance helps to delegitimize the entire pro-Israel camp, a camp he stands pars pro toto, as he has a blind eye concerning the civil rights abuses by Donald Trump. In addition he seems to be supporting very dangerous policies by DeVos, downplaying if not affirming sexist and racist policies by the current Trump administration.

Most people who will gather, again, at the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism, organized by the Israeli Foreign Ministry (including Netanyahu himself), March 19–21, 2018, will enjoy handshakes and have drinks, celebrating themselves as the elite of true fighters against antisemitism. Real heroes.

I myself participated in that conference in 2008, 2009, 2013 and 2015. No longer. In a time when major participant organizations of the conference including the AJC, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Zionist Organization of America (see Bret Stephens’ attack in the New York Times on the ZOA’s invitation to fascist antisemite Steve Bannon) embrace a sexist, racist and Holocaust distorting president, that kind of conference is a joke, a self-congratulatory farce. As long as women, Hispanics, the handicapped, Muslims and the Dreamers behold the reluctance of a leading pro-Israel activist to genuinely support their civil rights, even while he is being considered for a high civil rights position, in the midst of his loving embrace of Trumpism, the pro-Israel camp is in deep trouble.

Zionism and Israel deserve better!

©ClemensHeni




Trump, Anti-Western Ideology, Sexism, Fascism and the End of Pro-Israel Tents in Germany and Austria

Von Dr. phil. Clemens Heni, 18. November 2016

Times of Israel (Blogs)

November 8, 2016 was probably the most shocking day in the history of elections in the United States of America. It was a huge victory for the anti-Western camp all over Europe, North America and elsewhere. If you can behave and speak like Trump, every single leading neo-Nazi, right-wing extremist, New Right, Alt Right, right-wing populist or fascist politician at least in Europe can become President or Prime Minister, take Norbert Hofer in Austria as next example.

Trump lives in the post-fact world. He lied and lied and lied – and nothing happened. Like Boris Johnson lied, the people voted for Brexit and the next day he had to admit that he just – lied and agitated with purpose.

A person who behaved like a misogynist, racist fascist was elected by the majority of Americans, according to the not-so-democratic American electoral system (Clinton won the popular vote with some one million more votes, and even several million more votes for her in California, New England or New York wouldn’t have changed anything, think about that. So why should more people go voting in these areas, states or cities, if it doesn’t change anything?).

The core problem we are facing is racism, white supremacism, authoritarian personalities all over America and Europe, nationalism and hatred of “the other,” be it Muslims, immigrants, women, LGBT people, physically disabled, left-wingers, liberals. Those who share Trump’s personality and agenda are for example Islamists.

Shadi Hamid, Senior Fellow – Foreign Policy, Center for Middle East Policy, U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, writes about similarities between Trump and the Islamists:

As a minority and a Muslim, the result of this election is distressing—and perhaps the most frightening event I’ve experienced in my own country. (…) It’s almost unfair to compare Trump to the democratically elected Islamists that I normally study, since Trump’s open disrespect not just for liberal norms, but democratic ones as well, has been so unabashed. In his infamous statement during the final presidential debate, Trump refused to commit himself to democratic outcomes if his opponent won. Mainstream Islamist groups that participate in elections—whatever we think their true intentions are—have rarely gone this far. The differences between ethno-nationalist parties, such as Trump’s new Republicans, and religious parties are of course numerous, which makes the similarities all the more glaring. There is the same sense of victimization, real and imagined, at the hands of an entrenched elite, coupled with an acute sense of loss. In both cases, the leader of the movement is seen as the embodiment of the national will, representing “the people.”

However, the German pro-Israel camp is rather happy about a sexist and racist in the White House.

A leading organization, I Like Israel, run by Sacha Stawski, and organizer, for example, of the German Israel Congress and an active part of the German pro-Israel camp with their group Honestly Concerned, are not concerned at all. They are rather happy about the outcome of the American election.

ILI’s newsletter from Nov 13, 2016, links to a pro-Trump article by far right publicist Henryk M. Broder. Broder was a left-wing antifascist in the 1970s and published books about German neo-Nazi in the FRG. Later he also dealt with left wing and mainstream antisemitism in the 1980s. After 9/11, he documented German anti-Americanism and their rejection to fight jihad.

In recent years, though, he has become a mouthpiece of right-wing extremists and those who hate Islam – which must not be confused with fighting jihad and Islamism, like the author of this article who is the author of the 2011, 2013, and 2017 editions of the entry about Germany in the World Almanac of Islamism by the American Foreign Policy Council, based in Washington, D.C.

Broder was supportive of a crowd of far right and neo-Nazi people in Dresden, October, 3, 2016, the German day of “reunification.” They shouted in vulgar language against the elites of state and society, someone even hold a poster with a quote by the Nazi Party NSDAP and Goebbels. On TV, Broder supported the crowd of the “Patriots against the Islamization of the Occident” (Pegida).

Even a former ally of Broder, publicist Michael Miersch, in January 2015 left Broder’s page on the internet, Axis of the Good (Achgut or Achse des Guten), due to the nasty right-wing extremist climate on that page. Ever since, it became even worse. Broder’s page is even part of a campaign against pro-Israel, anti-antisemitism and anti-racist Amadeu Antonio Foundation, run by Anetta Kahane.

Now, two independent (former?) Marxists join the ranks of the pro-Trumpists in Germany, Alex Feuerherdt, a blogger, and Gerhard Scheit, a Vienna based scholar in literature, author of the publishing house ça ira and the journal sans phrase. Scheit wrote an article on Feuerherdt’s blog LizasWelt, where he insinuates that German philosopher Hegel might have had a play in the outcome of the election. Hegel’s “ruse of reason” was behind the election, Scheit and Feuerherdt believe.

They derealize every single sexist or racist rant, including those against Latinos as well as physically disabled. They believe, even against the intention of Trump reason did win! Reason! Never was the left so dumb or ignorant and unreasonable as in this article by Viennese Marxist Gerhard Scheit. He and his publisher Feuerherdt takes side with both fascism and antisemitism in the White House, take Bannon and breitbart.com as worst examples, but they are not the only ones. Ha’aretz left wing Zionist columnist Bradley Burston concludes:

We should have been more active in countering the preposterous but widely spread lies about Hillary Clinton being anti-Semitic and anti-Israel. Trump’s kid-gloves coddling of anti-Semites and their vicious works have served him in good stead. Now the haters will be only too happy to return the favor by stepping up their attacks. On Wednesday, the anniversary of Nazi Germany’s murderous Kristallnacht pogroms which pre-figured the Holocaust, Trump’s victory gave anti-Semites across America an additional reason to raise a glass in celebration. Within minutes of the announcement of Trump’s victory, former Klan leader David Duke – whom the ADL has called “perhaps America’s most well-known racist and anti-Semite” – tweeted, “This is one of the most exciting nights of my life – make no mistake about it, our people have played a HUGE role in electing Trump!”

It is shocking and a disgrace to scholarship and Shoah remembrance to see someone like Gerhard Scheit supporting a fascist like Donald Trump who is about to employ the Alt Right in the White House. Formerly, Scheit edited books by Holocaust survivor Jean Améry.

While the ADL’ Jonathan Greenblatt at its Nov. 17 conference “Never is Now” is shocked by Trump, Jewish historians in the US urge America to stand clear from Trump, antisemitism, racism and hatred of Muslims, the German pro-Israel camp takes side with the Far Right.

The group of Jewish historians declares:

We condemn unequivocally those agitators who have ridden Trump’s coattails to propagate their toxic ideas about Jews. More broadly, we call on all fair-minded Americans to condemn unequivocally the hateful and discriminatory language and threats that have been directed by him and his supporters against Muslims, women, Latinos, African-Americans, disabled people, LGBT people and others. Hatred of one minority leads to hatred of all. Passivity and demoralization are luxuries we cannot afford. We stand ready to wage a struggle to defend the constitutional rights and liberties of all Americans. It is not too soon to begin mobilizing in solidarity. (…) However, it is not only in defense of others that we feel called to speak out.  We witnessed repeated anti-Semitic expressions and insinuations during the Trump campaign.  Much of this anti-Semitism was directed against journalists, either Jewish or with Jewish-sounding names.  The candidate himself refused to denounce—and even retweeted–language and images that struck us as manifestly anti-Semitic.  By not doing so, his campaign gave license to haters of Jews, who truck in conspiracy theories about world Jewish domination.“

One of these anti-Semitic tropes was Trump’s and his camp’s agitation against George Soros. They insinuate, as does Hungarian President Victor Orbán, that Soros is funding NGOs in order to bring refugees into Europe and to destabilize European nation-states. Soros is Jewish and that kind of conspiracy myths are a classic in modern anti-Semitism.

Anti-Semitism is an essential component of Trump and his camp around the world. Other outrageous quotes by Trump can be found here, including this one: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”

Again: Not even the most notorious argument by Trump, the influx of immigrants in Europe and the end of European nation-states, has a point. As if 1, 2 or even 5 million immigrants or refugees could topple a continent or the European Union (EU, which is just the Western part of Europe, not including Western Russia, Ukraine, Belarus) with over 450 million inhabitants, not including the UK.

Take the 20% Muslims Israel has, by the way, but the German pro-Israel camp is not really interested in what Israel really is. They are also obsessed in fighting the circumcision or “archaic rituals.” The (post?)Marxists of the journal “Bahamas” went so far and urged their few followers not to join the first ever pro-circumcision rally in Germany in August 2012. “Bahamas” pretends to be pro-Israel, but their agenda is mainly anti-Islam (and not just anti-Islamist). In addition, they have an anti-feminist, sexist agenda, like their prayer leader Justus Wertmüller, a feminist student group in Frankfurt argues against him.

The leading left wing monthly, though, Konkret and its publisher Hermann L. Gremliza, is to some degree different (not the journal as such, but at least the publisher, I assume). While Gremliza in 1976 took sides with the anti-Zionist and antisemitic hijacking of Entebbe, and had some kind of Schadenfreude on 9/11 and even published conspiracy myths after 9/11 in his paper, he changed sides and is now a leading pro-Israel voice in the small left-wing camp in the FRG. For example, Gremliza published a book by American sociologist and political scientist Professor Andrei S. Markovits from the University of Michigan (who in 2006 was the second reader of my doctoral dissertation at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, about the threat deriving from mainstreaming the “New Right” in the FRG from 1970-2005) against anti-Americanism and antisemitism in Germany. I very well recall an event with Gremliza and Markovits, promoting Markovits’ book, Nov. 19, 2004, in Café Sybille in Berlin-Friedrichshain.

Gremliza is also an outspoken antifascist, anti-racist and against the New Right like the Alternative for Germany (AfD). In 1964, he started as a student at the University city of Tübingen in the south-west of the FRG and decovered the Nazi past of “anthopologists” (Volkskunde in German) such as Gustav Bebermeyer.

Taken Feuerherdt and Scheit as examples, this stance by Gremliza against the Far Right has to be emphasized. Gremliza also rejects Germans to give Jews advice in regard to the circumcision. “After Auschwitz,” he says, “Germans should stay away from that kind of advice – at least for the next 1000 years,” he says in a book he published with Suhrkamp publishing house in 2016.

Suhrkamp was the place where Gershom Scholem and Critical Theory were published.

We need a pro-Zionist approach in Germany and Europe that is antiracist, antisexist, anti-Alt Right, anti-New Right, anti-nationalist, antifascist, anti-antisemitic and anti-Islamist, of course.

For many in Europe, it is too difficult a task to be both Zionist and anti-European nationalism. That is the history of both the 19th and 20th centuries. To promote European nationalism will lead to more antisemitism and more Trumps all over Europe. Trump supports Assad, and therefore the Iranian regime, and his admiration for Turkish Islamofascist leader Erdogan as well as Russian authoritarian regime under Putin are shocking, too. The worst case is of course the red button and nukes in the hand of a narcissist lunatic in the White House.

To embrace someone who fought the most vulgar and ugly election campaign ever in a western democracy in recent decades as substantial parts of the German pro-Israel camp does is not just suicidal for Zionism and the Jewish state. It is in itself sexist and racist. Every single sexist and racist rant during the campaign was a reminder to victims of sexism and racism. This retraumatization lies at the bottom of this campaign by the Alt Right’s superhero Donald J. Trump.

Many in Germany saw the end of public life when hundreds of criminal male Arabs or Muslims mainly from the Maghreb abused women on New Year’s Eve in Cologne, Hamburg and other cities. A man who “grabbed women by the pussy” and elsewhere, who just “kisses them” if he likes to was elected President of the United States – and this is now portrayed as a savior of the West. Read: if Muslims abuse women it is a scandal and crime, if a white American man does so, he is elected President.

Broder was the keynote speaker of the German Israel Congress 2016, Feuerherdt is a close ally of him and an author at Broder’s Blog. They represent substantial parts of the German pro-Israel tent, which no longer is a tent, as a collaboration with people who endorse Donald Trump is impossible for any antifascist, anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-antisemitic, Zionist position.

Israel needs serious allies. The German and Austrian pro-Israel camps are done as long as they are represented by people like those criticized above.

It is a perfidious tactics to abuse Israel and the Jews and embrace Trump, as he is supposedly pro-Israel. Someone who abuses women, who promotes antisemitic conspiracy myths, who mocks Jewish journalists, who defames Muslims and Latinos, who likes Erdogan, Putin and Assad (=Iran) – a friend of Israel?

He is a vulgar sexist, racist, a fascist and an enemy of the Western world. “Make America great again” translates into “destroy the Western world.” To weaken the West and to embolden the jihadists or secular enemies of the free world like Russia. That is Donald J. Trump.

German mainstream journalists of the center-right daily Welt, Richard Herzinger and Hannes Stein, are clear about the threat deriving of Trump and the Alt Right in the White House. Trump is a hero for the anti-liberal, anti-Western international camp. Herzinger writes: “to underestimate Trump is suicidal.”

Finally, look at Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, an Irish Labor Party Senator. He spoke in the Irish Senate and said the following:

How [are we] supposed to deal with this monster who has just been elected President of America? (…) America has just elected a fascist (…) I am embarrassed by the reaction of the Irish government to what’s happened in America. Can the government not understand what is happening? We are at an ugly international crossroads. What is happening in Britain is appalling. What is happening across Europe is appalling. It has echoes from the 1930s, and America, the most powerful country in the world, has just elected a fascist. And the best you can come out with from a government spokesperson is: ‘Well, we have to talk about foreign direct investment. We have to be conscious of American investment in Ireland.’ There are 50,000 Irish people illegal in America who I am quite sure are fearful of their futures. When are we going to have the moral courage to speak in terms other than economy all the time and to realize what is happening? I am frightened. I am absolutely frightened for what’s happening to this world and what’s happening to our inability to stand up for it.”

Jamie Kirchick, fellow with the Foreign Policy Initiative, correspondent for the Daily Beast, and columnist for Tablet Magazine, puts it like this:

To put it in terms our insult-strewing president-elect can relate to: Don’t put lipstick on this pig.”

©ClemensHeni




Is Quentin Tarantino an Antisemite?

By Dr. Clemens Heni, author of Antisemitism: A Specific Phenomenon. Holocaust Trivialization – Islamism – Post-colonial and cosmopolitan anti-Zionism

 

Antisemitism is a very flexible ideology. We know of Islamist antisemitism, the Iranian threat, Arab antisemitism, left-wing, right-wing and mainstream anti-Zionist European antisemitism. We also know of anti-Judaism and hatred of the circumcision and of ritual slaughter, for example.

A couple of days ago, American film director Spike Lee accused his colleague, film director, screen writer and actor Quentin Tarantino of distorting American history and slavery in his new film “Django Unchained.” For Lee the film is rather racist, or portrays slavery in a mild light. Lee will not watch the film, he says. Tarantino thinks of himself as the leading American film producer of our time.

Promoting his film in Berlin, Tarantino responded indirectly to Spike Lee and said: “America is responsible for two Holocausts: for the destruction of native Americans and for the slavery of African Americans.”

Leading German daily, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, known for promoting the anti-Zionist antisemitism of Nobel Prize Laureate Günter Grass earlier this year, happily quoted Tarantino accusing America of “two Holocausts.” Tarantino’s Austrian actor Christoph Waltz just was awarded a Golden Globe for his role in Django Unchained and Waltz is not known as a critic of Holocaust distortion Tarantinostyle.

Accusing America of genocide is among the best known anti-American tropes worldwide. In Germany (FRG), there was a remarkable increase in promoting this trope right after the screening of TV series Holocaust in January 1979. Blaming the West and America for just another genocide or Holocaust was most welcome by many Germans. Psychoanalytic theory calls this a projection of guilt.

As we know, the Holocaust was an unprecedented crime. Many historians of the Holocaust emphasize the unprecedented character of it, including historian and Jewish studies scholar Steven T.  Katz from Boston University.

The Holocaust is unique. Never before were there the intent and the policies to kill an entire people. Germans wanted to kill the Jews – and they destroyed European Jewry by killing six million Jews. For the first time in history gas chambers were part of an industry of destruction. The German railway system was used for deportations of Jews from far away countries like Greece. Since the late 19th century in particular (in fact, even before), Germans developed a specific form of German  antisemitism aimed at the destruction of Jews. Jews were seen as the “eternal Jew,” Ahasver, as working on a world conspiracy, as being behind capitalism (“Mammon,” the supposedly Jewish god of money!) and communism, liberalism, modernity, urban cities, free forms of sexuality and the like. The Russian forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, first distributed around 1905, became crucial for Hitler’s antisemitic ideology, too. Since the Middle Ages blood Libels have been a typical Christian tool and, since 1840 and the Damascus Affair, an increasingly Christian Arab, as well as Muslim and Islamist tool to spread Jew-hatred. Today Jews are accused of killing innocent Christian or Muslim children for religious purposes.

All these genocidal features are missing when we look at colonialism, slavery, and racism. Jews are seen as superior, not as inferior like native Americans, Blacks, or slaves. Jews were seen as a dangerous force behind all kinds of evil. Africans were subject to horrible crimes in modern times, but those crimes were far from genocide. The Arab-Islamic slave trade and the European-American slave trade used Africans as a cheap labor. Exploitation was the reason behind slavery and racism, and the allegedly superior Arabs or Whites were behind it.

On the other side, exploitation was neither the reason nor the result of the Holocaust. The (German) will to destroy Jewry was behind the Shoah. Destruction ruled, not exploitation or racist rule over a group of people. German did not just want to rule over Jews, they wanted to kill them and they did kill them. Not so in slavery, colonialism, or racism. The history of native Americans was also horrible, but far from genocide. There was never the intention of European settlers to kill the entire native population. Rather diseases caused much of the destruction of native peoples. Historian, theorist and critic of capitalism, Karl Marx, called this “primitive accumulation.” Primitive accumulation is based on violence, direct violence and murder. The Holocaust, though, is completely distinct from that. There was no cui bono in the Shoah.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung mentions historian David Stannard as a “serious” source to back Tarantino’s claim about America having committed Holocausts. However, Stannard, is not a serious historian. I deal with him my new book, Antisemitism: A Specific Phenomenon. Holocaust Trivialization – Islamism – Post-colonial and Cosmopolitian anti-Zionism. Stannard promotes the anti-American and antisemitic Holocaust-distorting trope of the Holocaust of native Americans in the US. Stannard is also a friend of author and agitator Ward Churchill, infamous for framing the entire history of the US as an ongoing genocide or “Holocaust” (since 1492) and for calling of the 9/11 victims “little Eichmanns.” (The two notorious studies from these two ‘historians’ are David E. Stannard (1992): American holocaust: Columbus and the conquest of the New World, New York: Oxford University Press and Ward Churchill (1997): A Little Matter of Genocide. Holocaust and Denial in the Americas 1492 to the Present, San Francisco: City Lights Books.)

American journalist and columnist for the German weekly Die Zeit, Tuvia Tenenbom, reported in his book I Sleep in Hitler’s Room (which became a German bestseller, Allein unter Deutschen) about a brother-in-mind of Tarantino, the gardener of a lovely and very trendy restaurant vis-à-vis the house of the Wannsee-Conference in Berlin. When Tenenbom asked about the strange people who love to marry and to have lunches at the House Sanssouci Restaurant, the gardener responded: “And you killed the Indians!”

Tarantino promotes the very same antisemitic ideology. He distorts the Holocaust by framing American history as even worse than German history. Two holocausts for the US, and just one for Germany in this antisemitic, though very fashionable view.

Hurting Jewish Holocaust survivors and their relatives and all other people who remember the worst crime of mankind ever, the Shoah, is the result if not the intent of Quentin Tarantino. He praises the Germans for their kind of Holocaust remembrance while accusing America of being unable and unwilling to confront their own history.

There was and there is racism in the US, yes, even after the end of slavery and segregation. This has to be confronted on a daily basis. But there were not two holocausts in American history. Neither native Americans nor African Americans were killed intentionally on a genocidal level. Rather, exploitation, the spread of diseases, and European-American chauvinism and racism were prevalent.

The obsession to downplay, obfuscate, distort and even universalize the Holocaust has to stop. Quentin Tarantino is just another candidate, one of the first one in 2013, for the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Top Ten Antisemitic/anti-Israel Slurs. Holocaust distortion and Holocaust universalization are very widespread and serious forms of antisemitism. Those who forget or distort the past won’t support the Jewish state of Israel in the future. Quentin Tarantino is not a ground-breaker in this regard; he merely echoes the German and European (as well as American) anti-Americanism and antisemitism of the cultural elite.