Thursday, January 31, 2019


A man was indicted on a federal hate crime charge for planning a mass shooting at a synagogue in Ohio, the Associated Press reported on January 30.

Damon Joseph, 21 from a suburb of Toledo, was partly inspired by the deadly attack at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
Joseph is additionally charged with trying to provide material support to ISIS.

Joseph did not pose an immediate threat to the public, according to the investigators. However, he spent months talking about and planning for an attack. He was under investigation for several months by the FBI, and was arrested after receiving two AR-15 rifles from an undercover agent.

Court documents revealed that Joseph tried to choose which synagogue to attack based on "which one will have the most people, what time and what day. Go big or go home."

“I admire what the guy did with the shooting,” he said of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter. 

Robert Bowers was accused of storming into the Tree of Life temple in Squirrel Hill, the heart of Pittsburgh's close-knit Jewish community, yelling "all Jews must die" as he opened fire on members of three congregations holding Shabbat services there on Saturday morning.

In addition to the 11 elderly worshipers who were killed, six people, including four police officers who confronted the gunman, were wounded before the suspect surrendered. Two of the surviving victims remained hospitalized in critical condition.

The report comes amid an uptick in antisemitic crime over the past few years.

Meanwhile, there have been several assaults on Jewish victims in New York's Crown Heights over the last year.

In December, there was an attack on a Jewish teen in Queens, New York which was later classified as a gang incident and not a hate crime, angering the local Jewish community.

The Jewish boy, David Paltielov, 16, remained hospitalized one week after the November 29 attack in the Forest Hills neighborhood, the Gothamist reported. He was wearing a kippah and tzitzit at the time of the attack.

Two other Orthodox Jewish teens were attacked in separate incidents in Brooklyn on the same day.

In a related development, in October last year, an Orthodox Jewish man was beaten at a traffic intersection in Brooklyn in an assault that was determined to be a hate crime by the New York City Police Department.

How The White idiot Donald Trump brought about the end of my marriage

As I made plans to participate in my third Women’s March in January, there had been one big change in my life this time around: I was no longer living with my husband.
Last fall, after 24 years of marriage and almost two years of dealing with the aftermath of the devastating 2016 election, I decided I could not live with this person anymore. Why? Because, while the results of the election were devastating for me, they were not for my husband. He voted for Donald Trump, and he has continued to support him. So as a staunch liberal and a frequent Trump protester, I had to do something.
Over a couple of months, I began to look for a full-time job to support myself. I toured apartment complexes in our area, I ordered new furniture on my credit card, and I began the process of moving my life to a new place—without him. I moved out of our house of 20 years during the last weekend in October and into an apartment. And I have not regretted it.
* * *
Eric (a pseudonym) and I met in the early 1990s, when we were both in our late 20s. We didn’t talk much about politics, but I volunteered for Greenpeace and Amnesty International and was just beginning to identify as a liberal. From what I gathered, he was pretty apolitical and middle-of-the-road in his views. We seemed to get along great. We enjoyed going to parties with mutual friends, listening to live music at local clubs, going on hikes in the area, traveling, and laughing together. Looking back at it, that’s probably all we had in common. At the time, it seemed like a lot.
We got married in May 1994, adopted a dog, and had our first child in October 1996. He was followed by another son, and then a daughter. I guess our compatibility started to fray a little after we started a family. We had differences of opinion about raising our kids, but who doesn’t? He came from a more traditional, Catholic family who expected me to quit my full-time newspaper job when I had my first baby. That bugged me. I did resign, but that was because I had a tiny premature baby at home and couldn’t bear to leave him in day care and be gone all day working. So I started a freelance editing business and worked from home, which I continued to do over the years while I raised three kids.
Along the way, I realized that Eric and I were canceling each other out at the voting booth. He voted Republican or, later, Libertarian, and I never voted for anyone but Democrats. We joked about it, but it wasn’t a major deal.
Until it was.
Our differences—and the strain they caused—began to pile up over the years. I am the daughter of a women’s libber who was an activist in the 1960s and ’70s, and I was influenced by her. Eric seemed to disparage feminism. He made several sexist comments to me during our marriage, such as the fact that he thought he should be the head of our household. He once told me that he didn’t need me as a friend, because he had enough friends. It felt like he was relegating me to a more sexual, subservient role.
Our problems as a couple gradually increased. I became a gun safety activist, and toted my oldest son with me when I went to the Million Mom March on Mother’s Day 2000. Other marches followed, and eventually I joined Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, after the massacre at Sandy Hook. Being a parent definitely brought that whole issue to the forefront for me. But as a father, Eric never felt strongly about the kids being killed in schools in our country. I had passionate views about this topic, and he just laughed at me and my emotions. He didn’t argue about gun safety with me, but my activism seemed to be a joke to him.
Exactly when Eric started to move more to the right of center, I’m not certain. But as I suffered through the George Bush years, it definitely bugged me that Eric voted for him in both elections. Around this time, he also started to get more religious and explore new churches. I was not a churchgoer, and we didn’t get married in a church. But I started to suspect that he was sliding over to the religious right. I had participated in an abortion rights march before we got married, and now here Eric was reciting pro-life (and anti-choice) propaganda.
Then Barack Obama came along. I volunteered for his campaign, and was overjoyed when he won. My middle child was geared up to volunteer too, at just age 9. He went with me to the first Obama inauguration, and I was so happy that he wanted to be there. We bundled up in layers of winter gear that cold January morning and took a VRE train in from Virginia to Union Station. Walking out of the station onto the streets spilling over with such energy and excitement, I was thrilled to be part of this historic moment, and to be sharing it with my son. We both donned Obama knit hats that I bought from a street vendor.
But later, I went home to the person I had taken my marriage vows with. Of course Eric didn’t like Obama. He grumbled about him and his policies, and he continued to complain about him for the next eight years. It was another reminder to me that we just were not simpatico. I brought up the idea of marriage counseling, but we never went forward with it. I found it was easier just not to talk politics with him.
But all of that pales in comparison to what was to come next: Donald Trump. I truly think the 2016 presidential campaign and election heralded the beginning of the end of our marriage.
When I heard that Trump was running, I really didn’t think anybody would actually support him, especially in my circles. I said jokingly to Eric, “You better not vote for Trump in the primary,” never considering that he actually might. His synopsis of Donald Trump was simple: “He cracks me up.” I tried talking to him about all my objections: the racism, the misogyny, the blatant egoism, the corruption, the idiocy, the mocking of the disabled! But he didn’t care. He thought that Trump’s actions and words were funny and didn’t believe what the media were reporting. He hated Hillary Clinton and what she stood for. And to add insult to injury, he told my daughter he didn’t like Hillary because “she doesn’t wear dresses or skirts.” When I heard that, I was fuming.
And soon I was canvassing for Hillary. I joined Pantsuit Nation, and I got involved however I could. I was horrified when Trump picked off all his Republican rivals and eventually became the GOP choice for president. But like so many of us, I really didn’t think he would win against Hillary.
And then he did, and my worst nightmare came true. Waking up the morning after the election to confirmation that Trump was going to be president was surreal. I was too upset to talk about it with Eric—I was sure he would gloat about the Trump victory. I felt really distanced from him the week after the election. He knew I was distraught, but we had nothing to say to each other.
I had to find comfort with like-minded people; I wasn’t going to find it in my marriage. So I texted my Democrat friends and invited them out for drinks at a local restaurant, to commiserate. After hugs and symbolic safety pins were passed out among us, we made plans to go to the resistance march in January 2017 that we were just starting to hear about. A friend offered to charter a van to get us into Washington for the march. And with our plans taking off that night, my heavy heart was lightened a bit.
But there was one thing I couldn’t say to my friends as we discussed going to the Women’s March and protesting the new administration: “My husband supports Trump.” I could not admit that. I was too embarrassed and ashamed, so I hid it.
But my mood got better as word spread to family and friends about our transportation for the march, and that one van ended up becoming four chartered buses from Vienna, Virginia, to the National Mall. My mom flew out from Chicago to join us, along with my aunt from Maine, and my 14-year-old daughter planned to go as well.
The night before the march, the four of us carefully took colorful markers to poster board, creating our heartfelt protest posters—even while Eric was spouting off ridiculous pro-Trumpisms to my mom and aunt. I tried to shush him, and I’m sure my annoyance was palpable. But he just didn’t seem to get it, and I felt myself disconnecting a little more from him with each moment.
Before the election, I had asked Eric not to show his support for Trump in front of my family or friends. At one point, I almost stormed away from the table when we were out to dinner with a couple in Annapolis who also were staunch Democrats, because he was defending Trump. I asked him to stop or I would have to walk away. He just didn’t seem to get the scope of my deep disdain for Trump, and my utter annoyance with him for supporting the man.
The day of the first Women’s March was amazing, such a momentous time to be out there with thousands of other protesters in pink hats. I was proud to be part of this moment with my mom and my daughter, and gratified about the numbers of people from all over the country and world taking part in this and the sister marches. But the fact that my husband was home disagreeing with what we were so passionately doing on the streets of the nation’s capital just gnawed away at me.
I had no idea that day that the Women’s March would be the first of many such protests of the Trump administration that I would come to take part in. There was so much to object to, I just couldn’t stay home, especially living as close to Washington as I do. I was an occasional activist before Trump became president. After that day, resistance became my life’s norm. I continued to march, to go to rallies and protests, as every week there was something else to be alarmed about. All the while, Eric made light of my activism, embarrassed me in front of people with his comments, and usually managed to express the opposite of what I believed in.
So I started to seriously think about getting out. I realized the truth: Eric was not my soulmate, and he probably never was.
After a too-long beach vacation with my relatives in August 2018, I was feeling more resigned about ending our marriage. We didn’t get along well during that trip, and I was always worried that Eric would open up his mouth and spout out words supporting Trump, or that sounded vaguely homophobic, or that expressed his inane belief that climate change was a myth. And I noticed he had become so rigid about everything, like an old man I didn’t know. How did I end up here with this person? I couldn’t even look at him anymore, and the long car ride home seemed endless.
I came back home determined to find my way out. I knew he would never leave our house, and if I wanted to separate, I would have to be the one to move out. I wasn’t working full-time then, but I started to apply for jobs and also went to secretly tour apartment complexes in our area. It wasn’t the first time I had explored the idea of moving out, but this time I felt more sure and actually went to see possible new homes. I told no one of my plans.
Eric could tell that I was troubled about our relationship and that I was distant with him. He tried, however halfheartedly, to make it better. I went back and forth on what to do. I felt if I was going to do this, I had to leave soon. But how was I going to explain to anybody that after 24 years of marriage, it would be our difference in politics that would end up tearing us apart?
I delayed my decision for a little while and tried to see the positive side of staying with him and the life we had built together. But then came the last straw.
Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court. I couldn’t bear this and knew I had to go resist, again. I found out about a big protest being planned. The night before, I brought it up to Eric, hoping that he would finally agree that this all was a travesty, but no—he angrily stated that Kavanaugh was innocent and the “Democrats have waged a smear campaign on a great federal judge.” I lost it. I couldn’t believe that he was defending a sexual predator like Kavanaugh, especially when we have a teenage daughter.
The next day, I called the apartment complex next to my daughter’s school and told them I wanted to sign a lease. I was prepared to call it quits. I knew I couldn’t live with a Trump supporter anymore. I told Eric I was getting a full-time job and moving to an apartment. I felt terrible, but it was hard for me to talk about it with him without getting very emotional, so I kept it brief. However, I knew it was the right thing to do.
Soon I moved out of the house we shared for 20 years, and it was a relief. Eric and I later talked about the reasons why I left. He replied that he didn’t think politics was something to split up over, that it didn’t matter that much to him. I said that it does to me. And that was the heart of the issue, right there: It matters a lot to me.
* * *
Now that I’m in the new apartment, although it is much smaller than the house we shared and I don’t see my kids quite as much, I have felt my anger, annoyance, and shame dissipate. And that’s better for everybody. I am happier now that I no longer share a bed and a life with someone whose beliefs are so contrary to mine.
So as I recently prepared to march again in Washington, I reflected on how this was my first political protest since moving out of the house and marriage. This time I was in a much different place, both figuratively and literally, as I headed out to the third Women’s March. When I stepped into the streets with my sign and started chanting, I knew that I could live with myself a little bit better. Because now when I continue the resistance, I’m no longer going home to the opposition.

UK Jews face ‘perfect storm’ with new wave of far-right extremists, radical left

LONDON — Britain’s far right has never been so politically weak, fractured or disorganized. The British National Party – whose leader, Nick Griffin, once warned against the “unholy alliance of leftists, capitalists and Zionist supremacists” which had conspired “with the deliberate aim of breeding us out of existence in our own homelands” – is now a spent force.
A decade after winning nearly a million votes and seats in the European Parliament and London Assembly, the far right is now “almost extinct,” in the words of the anti-extremist organization Hope Not Hate.
“Organizationally,” Hope Not Hate suggested in its annual report last year, “the movement is weaker than it has been for 25 years. Membership of far-right groups is down to an estimated 600-700 people.”
That threat has seen growing warnings by the police of the danger of far-right terrorism. Last year, Mark Rowley, then the UK’s most senior counter-terrorism officer, warned that the “right-wing terrorist threat is more significant and more challenging than perhaps public debate gives it credit for.”But counting votes or membership rolls, its opponents fear, fails to capture the nature of the threat it poses.
Over the previous two years, he suggested, far-right activity had evolved from unpleasant protests and hate crimes committed by isolated individuals. “Right-wing terrorism wasn’t previously organized here,” he claimed.
Thus while much media and political discussion on anti-Semitism over the past three years has focused on the opposition Labour party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, that attention has somewhat disguised the danger posed by the far right — a danger which the country’s current political instability and divisive debate over its planned departure from the European Union appears to be fueling.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks after Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May lost a vote on her Brexit deal in the House of Commons, London, Tuesday January 15, 2019. (House of Commons/PA via AP)
As one of Britain’s leading lawyers, Anthony Julius, cautioned last week,  the country’s Jews faced a “a kind of perfect storm of pressure from left and right.”
“I am concerned by the threat from a disaffected, street smart, social media-adept right in this country that is learning from the populist right in Hungary, Poland and also the United States,” argued Julius, who has written a history of anti-Semitism in England and represented the historian Deborah Lipstadt in her libel battle against Holocaust denier David Irving.
His fears were endorsed by the Jewish Chronicle, which suggested in an editorial that, however justified the focus on left-wing anti-Semitism, “our community must also be focused on the growth of the far-right.”
They are also backed by Britain’s first counter-extremism commissioner, Sara Khan, who warned in October of “a new wave of the far right — modernized, professionalized and growing; supported by a frightening amount of legal online extremist material.”
This “new wave” poses a direct threat to Jews, experts believe.
“Anti-Semitism is part of the core ideological glue which binds together many in the extreme right,” says Nick Ryan of Hope Not Hate. “From extreme Holocaust denial to more recent anti-Semitic memes around George Soros, there’s always been a deeply disturbing undertone propelling hatred of the Jewish people from those in this milieu.”
BNP leader Nick Griffin speaking after the party’s gains in the 2009 European elections. (CC-2.0/ Flickr/ BritishNationalism)
British police make a distinction between those elements of the far right whose rhetoric and activity is lawful — although offensive — and an extreme right wing, which includes proscribed terror groups such as the neo-Nazi National Action.
Some elements of the former have managed to capture considerable media attention. Tommy Robinson, the onetime head of the now virtually defunct anti-Muslim English Defence League, became a cause celebre among the British, European and American far right after he was briefly jailed last year for allegedly endangering the trial of a group of Asian men convicted of sexual offenses against girls. A petition supporting Robinson, who was later released on appeal, was signed by 500,000 people and the Trump administration lobbied the British government about the case.
But Robinson, who was also once a member of the BNP, remains toxic even on the fringes of mainstream politics. The decision of the right-wing United Kingdom Independence Party (Ukip) to embrace Robinson – he has become an adviser to its leader and figured prominently in its “Brexit betrayal” march in December – has caused ructions.
Nigel Farage, Ukip’s former leader, and a string of its leading lights have resigned in protest. Robinson is also being deprived of the oxygen of social media publicity, having been banned by Twitter for contravening its “hateful conduct policy.”
Britain’s police have served notice that – particularly in the heated atmosphere generated by Brexit – they are watching the language and activities of far-right activists closely.
Supporters of far-right spokesman Tommy Robinson demonstrate in Trafalgar Square in central London on June 9, 2018. (AFP/ Niklas Hallen)
This week, Rowley’s successor as Britain’s head of counter-terrorism, Metropolitan police assistant commissioner Neil Basu, said he was concerned about the country’s “polarization.”
“I fear the far-right politicking and rhetoric leads to a rise in hate crime and a rise in disorder,” he told an interviewer. “I am concerned about a small number of individuals trying to make a name for themselves such as Tommy Robinson.”
Basu suggested that while radical rhetoric is not illegal, it posed potential dangers: “It generates a permissive atmosphere to people who want to take their argument to more extreme levels,” he said. “There is a difference between being offensive and criminally offensive behavior, and that is the line we have to monitor.”
Dave Rich, head of policy at the Community Security Trust, which monitors anti-Semitism and protects Jewish venues and events, shares these concerns.
“There is no doubt that far right groups and leaders have tried to use Britain’s current political instability and sense of division as a platform for their own growth, with varying degrees of success,” he argues.
“Online agitators like Tommy Robinson and the thuggish street movements that follow them tend to concentrate their attention on immigrants and Muslims, while smaller, more violent groups like National Action and its successor organizations are more openly anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi,” he adds.
In this file photo taken on June 9, 2018, protesters hold up placards at a gathering by supporters of far-right spokesman Tommy Robinson in central London (AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS)

Growing threat of physical violence

Hope Not Hate has argued that, while it might seem paradoxical, the growing danger posed by far-right terrorists is in some regards linked to its electoral weakness. The collapse of the BNP, it suggested last year, “helped close off the option of a parliamentary route for hard-line fascist activists.”
However, Matthew Collins, head of research for Hope Not Hate, has warnedthat the demise of the BNP has given way “to something far more sinister.”
The government and law enforcement agencies appear to agree. In October, it was announced that MI5, the domestic security service, will take over from the police the lead in combating far-right terrorism. This officially designates the danger as a major threat to national security, and places it alongside Islamist terrorism and that related to the conflict in Northern Ireland.
Four far-right terror plots have reportedly been stopped in the UK over the past two years. While that is smaller than the 14 Islamist plots which have been foiled by the security services during the same period, there are believed to be around 100 ongoing investigations into extreme right-wing activity.
In December, the government released figures showing that the number of referrals to the UK’s counter-extremism Prevent program related to far-right activity had risen by more than one-third in 2017-18. Moreover, its anti-radicalization program, Channel, had seen similar numbers of people referred to it for concerns relating to Islamist and far-right extremism. Basu told MPs in October that “extreme right-wing terrorism” and Islamists were, in fact, “feeding each other.”
A rally of banned British neo-Nazi group National Action. (Screen capture: YouTube)
The police warnings have been borne out by a series of high-profile cases over the past three years, including the assassination of the Labour MP Jo Cox a week before the 2016 Brexit referendum. Far-right terrorist Thomas Mair shouted “this is for Britain,” “keep Britain independent” and “Britain first” as he repeatedly shot and stabbed the MP. During his trial, it was revealed that Mair was obsessed with the Nazis, and his browsing history revealed searches about Israel, prominent Jews, and white supremacism.
Shortly after Mair received his life sentence, the government bannedNational Action, which had vocally supported the assassin, describing it as “virulently racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic” and saying that it was engaged in “the unlawful glorification of terrorism.” It was the first far-right group to be banned in Britain since Oswald Mosley’s pro-Nazi British Union of Fascists was proscribed in 1940. The group had reportedly incitedthe murder of Jews and talked of the “importance of lone wolf activism.”
Last month, six people were jailed for membership in National Action, one of a number of similar trials which took place during the course of 2018. Among those who received prison sentences were Adam Thomas and his partner Claudia Patatas, who named their baby after Adolf Hitler and whose home was littered with Nazi paraphernalia, knives and crossbows. During the trial it was revealed that Thomas had spent time at a yeshiva in Israel and attempted to convert to Judaism. Patatas’s virulent anti-Semitism was evident in private messages she sent to a fellow defendant: “All Jews must be put to death,” she wrote.
That case followed the jailing in July of other members of National Action, including its leader, Christopher Lythgoe, who the judge called a “fully fledged neo-Nazi complete with deep-seated racism and anti-Semitism.”
Jailed head of the banned British National Action neo-Nazi group Christopher Lythgoe. (Hope Not Hate)
A third trial saw the conviction of another National Action leading light, Mikko Vehvilainen. Describedby the BBC as “perhaps the most dangerous member of the group,” he was a serving lance corporal in the British Army. Vehvilainen stockpiled weapons for an imminent race war, attempted to recruit fellow soldiers, and harbored an intense hatred of Jews. He wrote in one online forum: “I have vowed to fight the Jew forever in any way possible.” (Vehvilainen was cleared of stirring up racial hatred).
National Action’s origins show the slippery slope from far-right electoral politics into the kind extremism which now occupies the police and security services. One of National Action’s founders, Alex Davies, was a former member of the BNP. But both he and co-founder Ben Raymond believed the far right had lost its way in the search for votes. National Action – avowedly neo-Nazi, Jew-hating and Holocaust-denying – was to be the antidote.
Never big numerically, National Action was nonetheless considered highly dangerous by the police.
Like its Islamist counterparts, National Action targeted disaffected teenagers and young people; glorified violence and terror (“We must be ruthless – and if innocent people are cut down in the process, then so be it,” one leading member declared); and sought the mass murder of Jews. “It is with glee that we will enact the final solution across Europe,” National Action documents stated.
With their talk of “white jihad” and online videos featuring masked, knife-wielding members and black flags, National Action appeared quite consciously to ape the Islamists they supposedly hated.
Jews were by no means the only group National Action had in its sights. Muslims, Asians and black Britons, as well as white “race traitors” like Cox, were similarly on its target list.
Adam Thomas and Claudia Patatas, accused neo-Nazis who named their baby after Hitler. (West Midlands Police via BBC)
Nor was all this idle talk. One member was convicted of carrying out a hammer and machete attack on a Sikh dentist, another was arrested for posting images of a homemade pipe bomb and making threats against Muslims.
After the sentencing of Thomas, Patatas and their fellow members last month, a senior police officer in the West Midlands suggested that the convicted Nazis were “not simply racist fantasists; we now know they were a dangerous, well-structured organization.”
“Their aim,” said Detective Chief Superintendent Matt Ward, “was to spread neo-Nazi ideology by provoking a race war in the UK and they had spent years acquiring the skills to carry this out. They had researched how to make explosives, they had gathered weapons and they had a clear structure to radicalize others.”

The far-right ‘friends’ of Israel

Some elements of the British far right have explicitly disavowed anti-Semitism and presented themselves as friends of Israel.
Interviewed by the Jewish Chronicle in 2015, Robinson sought to dispel the notion that, after attacking Muslims he’ll inevitably move on to Jews.
“That argument — Muslims now, then Jews — is pathetic,” he told the paper. “The only Jews I’ve ever met have been great. My barrister was a Jew, my accountant, too. The point I always make is that there’s no Jews that are involved in any radicalization, there’s no Jews that are involved in any gangs, or selling heroin, there’s no Jews jumping out of cars beating people up — all the things that affect us here.”
In this file photo taken on April 01, 2017 Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon, AKA Tommy Robinson, former leader of the right-wing EDL (English Defence League) is escorted away by police from a Britain First march and an English Defence League march in central London (AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS)
He similarly cast himself as a convinced Zionist. “If Israel falls, we all fall in this battle for freedom, liberty and democracy,” he said. “English people see it as their fight as well.”
Prof. Matthew Feldman, director of the UK-based Center for Analysis of the Radical Right, believes that some elements of the far right in Britain are, in common with their counterparts across Europe, attempting to shake-off their association with anti-Semitism.
Some groups, he argues, are professing “a philosemitic attitude, most often with respect to Israel.”
“The most likely explanation for this is a widespread turn toward anti-Muslim hostility in Britain, and Europe more generally, this century,” says Feldman.
“Many radical right activists in Britain today — especially those who do not subscribe to neo-Nazism or other forms of eugenic racism or overt, revolutionary fascism associated with the radical right prior to the end of the Second World War — are likely to embrace Jews and/or Israel as an expression of anti-Muslim prejudice,” he says.
He is, though, unconvinced by this apparent shift. “It is difficult to see this ‘marriage of convenience’ as anything other than skin deep. Put simply, these groups are likely appropriating support for Israel and or the Jewish Diaspora as a perceived way to express hostility to Muslims in Europe, and more specifically, Britain,” Feldman says.
Illustrative: A caricature of George Soros as a tentacled monster has appeared on various right-wing and pro-Russian web sites since at least 2015. (Google Images via JTA)
Certainly, websites frequented by many of Robinson’s far-right supporters contain much anti-Semitic chatter with attacks on “George Soros-financed Communist thugs,” “globalists” and “Zionist-created leftist movements that despise traditional Christian family values and morals.”
Moreover, Feldman suggests, even absent the threat of terrorism, far-right activity comes with a heavy price for Jews, quite literally.
“The risks posed by the radical right in Britain extend beyond this,” Feldman says, and include harm to community cohesion and the costs of policing the often violent demonstrations, which can run into the hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Other costs, he says, include “increased hate crimes, and increased feelings of threat by ethnic, religious or other minorities in the UK. The publication of online extremist material is also substantial, and like the above risks directly targets Jews in Britain,” he argues.
The latest available hate crime statistics from the CST bears this out. They indicate that, of the 727 anti-Semitic incidents recorded in the first six months of 2018, there was some form of political discourse in 341 of them. Of these, 209 featured far-right discourse.
“Of course, anti-Semitism in the UK is not only limited to the radical right,” concludes Feldman. “But the longstanding hatred of Jews by fascist and radical right movements in Britain, past and present, suggests that unprecedented levels of hate crimes against British Jews in the last 18 months … is doubtless not unrelated to the vexing growth of the radical right in contemporary Britain.”

Despite star power, boycotting Israel has little appeal in the UK

(JTA) — The British branch of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel possesses a weapon matched by few other affiliates: star power.
More than any of its international counterparts, BDS UK enjoys the support of renowned musicians like Roger Waters, Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, Richard Ashcroft and Jarvis Cocker, whom boycott activists like to parade in various petitions. Also on board are eminent filmmakers like Ken Loach and Mike Leigh, and even the celebrated actress Julie Christie has signed on.

(On Tuesday, several of those stars signed yet another petition, urging the BBC to push for the 2019 Eurovision song contest to be moved out of Israel, which they accuse of employing “apartheid” policies.)
The pro-Israel camp has its own British celebrity advocates, including singers Morrissey, the Australia-born (but U.K.-based) singer Nick Cave and the band Radiohead.
What effect are these celebrities having in the fight for British hearts and minds?
Some insight can be found in the largest-ever poll on the popularity of the BDS campaign in Britain, the results of which were published Wednesday.
It doesn’t look too good for BDS.
In the poll of 4,005 British respondents, only 10 percent agreed that Israel should be boycotted, compared to 46 percent who disagreed, according to the Ipsos MORI polling company. It conducted the survey in 2016 and 2017 for the Institute for Jewish Policy Research and the Community Security Trust.
Significantly, another 42 percent said they either had no opinion or did not know, with the remaining 2 percent saying they would rather not express an opinion.

The study found a distinct correlation between support for BDS and the view of Israel as an apartheid state.
Asked whether they agree that Israel in an apartheid state, 21 percent of respondents agreed, compared to 19 who disagreed. Here, too, the largest group by far was the “don’t knows,” with 42 percent.
Muslim respondents were almost four times likelier to agree with the need to boycott Israel than the average, the report said. But also among Muslims, the boycott contingent was in the minority and no fewer than 16 percent of respondents from that group disagreed with boycotting Israel.
Another key finding came from the report’s attempt (the most comprehensive so far) to tackle the contentious claims that BDS is motivated by anti-Semitism. Boycott advocates say their response is merely to Israel’s human rights violations and control of Palestinian land.
In addition to being asked about BDS and apartheid, respondents to the poll were asked also to agree or disagree with a set of assertions regarded as anti-Semitic, including “Jews think they are better than others,” “Jews get rich at the expense of others” and “Jews exploit Holocaust victimhood for their own purposes.”

The respondents who supported BDS and the apartheid analogy were significantly likelier than others to agree with these “more traditional anti-Jewish tropes,” the report said.
Among those who support none of the anti-Semitic tropes, 5 percent endorse a boycott. By contrast, among those who back five tropes, 58 percent endorsed a boycott. Among those who indicated that they think Israel is an apartheid state, 16 percent endorsed no anti-Semitic trope, while 47 percent endorsed six anti-Semitic tropes or more.
It “would be wrong to regard agreement with either the apartheid or boycott statements as being anti-Jewish under all circumstances,” the report’s authors wrote, noting that 16 percent of the respondents who agreed with the apartheid statement displayed no anti-Jewish feelings. But, they added, “the fact remains that agreement with either statement positively correlates with anti-Jewish sentiment.”
Yet perhaps the poll’s most significant finding is how many respondents, about 42 percent, had no opinion on the BDS and apartheid issues either way.
“It is all too easy in heated debates about complex political matters to forget, or even dismiss, the fact that not everyone has an opinion,” the report’s authors, David Graham and Jonathan Boyd, wrote. Boyd is the executive director and Graham is a senior research fellow of the London-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research.
But the data they compiled shows that both sides have largely failed at engaging large swaths of the British public – with an emphasis on young people.

Women and young people are far likelier than other groups to be undecided or neutral, the study said. In the apartheid question, the undecideds accounted for the majority of respondents under 30, compared to only 26 percent undecideds among those in their 70s. And on the boycott question, undecideds accounted for 28 percent of respondents aged 16 to 29 – the largest proportion of undecideds of all other age groups.
To Mark Gardner, the communications director of the Community Security Trust – British Jewry’s watchdog and security group – these and other nuances show that the British celebrities promoting BDS “are largely irrelevant, despite the impression some of us may have about what they represent.”
By contrast, the ongoing debate about the British Labour Party’s spiraling anti-Semitism crisis, where Israel plays a central role, “is causing a lot of people to come out against anti-Semitism and come down on our side of the fence,” he said.
Mostly, though, Gardner said the analysis shows that there is “untapped potential for both sides.” He hopes the data from the survey “will be used as an effective tool to better understand where the fight against antisemitism is impacted upon by BDS and attempts to delegitimize Israel.”

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