Friday, October 31, 2008

David Irving Invited to be on Celebrity Big Brother: Has someone lost their mind?

The London based reality show, Celebrity Big Brother, apparently seriously considered having David Irving on the show.

This is beyond belief.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Response to Deniers

There is a moving and straightforward response to deniers on this site.

The essence is contained in the following paragraph.
We saw the Germans take our family and friends. We saw them being put on to the trains marked Auschwitz and Sobibor. After the war we returned to our places of origin hoping that other members of our families and friends would do the same. The vast majority never returned. So if the Shoah is a myth then where are those people?

Don Krausz, Dutch Holocaust Survivor

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

Is Blaming the Bankers for the Crisis Like Blaming the Jews?

Ha'aretz carries an important story, one that confirms some of what I feel has been in the air for the last month or so....

A leading German economist said the criticism of bankers about the world financial crisis is similar to Germany's anti-Semitism in the 1930s. Hans-Werner Sinn, president of the Munich-based Ifo economic research institute, told the newspaper Tagesspiegel:
In every crisis, people look for someone to blame, for scapegoats" .... Even in the global economic crisis of 1929, no one wanted to believe in an anonymous system failure. Then it hit Jews in Germany, today it is managers."
Sinn was trying to defend the bankers -- whom I believe actually deserve a big chunk of the responsibility -- by using the Holocaust as a defense. [See my previous post for a different example of trying to get a "free ride" on the back of the Holocaust. This is just as distasteful.]

As the central organization of German Jews pointed out, last time it checked the bankers were not being beaten in the street, placed in camps, or anything else like that. In fact, some of them were getting nice parachutes as they left their firms in shambles.

Ironically, his comments evoked something else in me. Seems to me that for some people "the bankers" is a shorthand for "the Jews" as is use of the term "Wall Street."

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Unfair Criticism of Sarah Palin: Sexism that should not be ignored

edited 2:40 p.m.

I think Sarah Palin has injected into this campaign a really ugly strain [Joe Six-Pack, real America, socialism, countries that are free, palling around with terrorists etc.].

However I also think she is being given an unfair shake when it comes to her clothing expenditures. She did not buy these clothes, the RNC did. [Those staffers have deaf ears... in short they should be fired.]

And let's face it, no one comments on Obama's clearly expensive suits [I would bet a whole lot higher than $1500] or McCain's Ferragamo shoes. Though they do comment on Cindy McCain's very expensive outfits.

[In case you had any doubts, I think spending this kind of money is obscene and politically brain dead. ]

Today McCain folks called Palin a "diva." If she were a man they would have said: "He has his own ideas on how things should be done. He shows read leadership. etc. etc."

When men are assertive, women are aggressive. And it does not matter if their politics are red or blue....

Brava to CNN's Campbell Brown and ABC/NPR's Cokie Roberts [this morning on ABC's This Week] for calling attention to this sexism. This morning Brown addressed the clothing issue.

There is lots to criticize her about. But not on these issues.

However women -- blue and red -- who remain silent about the sexism directed at her will lose their right to complain about sexism directed at candidates they support.

Fair is fair.

Using the Holocaust to scare Jews and get votes

You may have already heard about the email sent to 75,000 Jewish voters that if they vote for Obama they risk a second Holocaust. According to the RNC, this was an unauthorized email sent out by a low level staffer. Read the news release here

The staffer claims that he was authorized to send it out.

I doubt that it went very high up the chain of authority in the RNC because someone would have stopped it and said this is beneath contempt. But what it does show is that some people think that all you have to do is mention the Holocaust and Jews lose their brains.

We saw the same thing when McCain and Palin both referred to a "second Holocaust" in reference to Iran having nuclear weapons. Believe me, the last thing I want is Iran to have such weapons. And as readers of this blog know, I am no fan of Ahmadinejad.

However all these references to the Holocaust are distasteful and are something that should be opposed. You can express absolute opposition to Ahmadinejad having a bomb without linking it to the Holocaust.

It simplifies what the Holocaust truly was and it makes it sound like all you are doing is fishing for Jewish votes.

I acknowledge that it was Jewish leaders who first began to speak of a second Holocaust and to compare these times to 1939. So, on some level, it is hard to just skewer the McPalin team.

The situation may be bad but cheap comparisons to the Holocaust are out of place

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

McCain on "the health of the mother": Mocking Women in Crisis

How come almost no one seems to have noticed that during the last debate McCain mocked pregnant women as he put the term "health of the mother" in air quotes? Watch it here

My tradition makes the life of the mother paramount. It believes that her life takes precedence over the fetus. The definition of that depends on the situation. There are black hatted Orthodox rabbis who allow abortion in the case of a Tay Saks or other genetic diseases because they know this will be devastating to the life of the mother. [A Tay Saks baby spends much of its short life crying in pain.]

McCain obviously believes this is a loophole that heartless mothers have been using this to allow late term abortion on demand. [It is as suddenly in their seventh month these women decide: "Oops, I just realized that I don't really want this baby... I am going to go find me an abortion... and "Oh yes, my health is in danger." Oh those conniving pregnant liberal women!]

This is what he said:
Again…just again, an example of the eloquence of Senator Obama, health (indicates air quotes) of the mother. You know that’s been stretched by the pro-abortion movement to mean almost anything.
I shuddered as I thought McCain might be making the decision as to what constitutes the life of the mother.... this from a man who threw aside his first wife, when he discovered, upon returning from Vietnam, that she had gained weight, shrunk a few inches, looked old, and was handicapped [from a terrible car accident].

One last point on Obama's supposed eloquence: McCain had obviously been coached to make fun of Obama's eloquence. Now, I may have a somewhat higher standard for eloquence than many Americans -- it comes with my profession and is not always a good thing -- but talking about "the life of the mother" does not strike me as an example of "eloquence."... Senator McCain where are your standards???

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Comment from an Obama oponent

Check out Howard's comment on the preceding post. Here it is:
Obama has been relentless in seducing America's youth, and controlling the media. What's next? ... teaching our children to turn their parents in to the Gestapo? These tactics have been used before ... and, they're right out of the Nazi and Islamic/madrassa play books. Wake up America ... the price of freedom is eternal vigilance

Nazi and Islamic playbook?

It's a perfect example of the type of responses I have been getting.

Alan Dershowitz tells me he has also been getting these off the wall responses to his Obama piece in the Forward and in the Jerusalem Post

Do these people have any idea how insane they sound???

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Reactions to my Obama oped: Some Jews for McCain are Losing It

[edited Monday, October 20, 3:11 a.m.]

I published the oped in the preceding post and it has obviously set some of the pro-McCain Jews' teeth on edge.

I have been inundated with emails that are replete with all sorts of idiocy. They are, by and large, too stupid to recount.

There is a sense of real hysteria in them.

There may be good reasons to support McCain but these people are off the wall.

I have been told that Obama is:
pro-Farrakhan [that Farrakhan is a close associate of Obama]
a Manchurian candidate [this from a nameless person who was described as a top U.S. analyst in DC... ]
I have been told that I
have spun and skewed
engaged in major distortions.
shown a lack of critical scholarship
offered arguments with no intellectual credibility [all of the above came with no examples of how I did so... just the charges]
am a self-hating liberal Jew
don't know Jewish law
Then today these folks really hit bottom: they sent an email out contending that the O people form with their two hands [it is akin to the three fingers people used to hold aloft as a sign of support for George W.] is the same as a Hitler salute.....

This is hardly worth comment... are they suggesting that Obama and Hitler were in cahoots? Maybe they don't know that Hitler had been dead 15 years when Obama was born.... that neo-Nazis are behind his campaign???

Finally, many of these emails repeat [in exactly the same language... as if it came out of a mimeograph machine... if you remember what that is] that I told people to vote for Obama because he is Black.

Give me a break. Anyone who can read that into my last paragraph smells to me like a latent racist or maybe like someone who can't read.
Jews have prospered in this country in countless and unimaginable ways. America has given us tremendous opportunities. While no one should vote for Barack Obama because he is black, the fact that a black man is a nominee for the highest office in the land constitutes an affirmation of the fact that at long last, some of the final barriers of discrimination are crumbling. For Jews it is yet another reminder of the blessings this country has offered them and other minorities.
I wonder if these folks will say the same thing about Gen. Powell's statement this morning on Meet the Press
And I can't deny that it will be a historic event for an African-American to become president. And should that happen, all Americans should be proud--not just African-Americans, but all Americans--that we have reached this point in our national history where such a thing could happen. It will also not only electrify our country, I think it'll electrify the world.
What has happened to John McCain in this campaign is sad. He is a dim reflection of what he used to be. And these supporters of his do not do him proud. [Note: I say "these" supporters of his. I am not saying this about all his supporters.]

Now back to writing my book

Supporting Obama: As an American, a Jew, and a Woman

From the JTA:

Op-Ed: Learning to love Obama after Clinton's defeat

Deborah E. Lipstadt

Deborah Lipstadt, a leading Holocaust scholar and Hillary Clinton supporter, explains why she now is unabashedly backing Barack Obama.

ATLANTA (JTA) -- I am one of those 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling. I was a Hillary supporter. I did not support Senator Clinton because she was a woman but because I liked her policies and record. But as is often the case in life, my hopes were not to be. Once that became clear I sat on the sidelines, watching and wondering. Now I am firmly in the Obama/Biden camp. I have been both pushed and pulled in that direction. I am there as an American, a woman and a Jew.

John McCain is a firm pro-lifer, having voted against choice more than 120 times in his career. His running mate opposes abortion even in the case of rape and incest. While there is nothing fundamentally wrong with these beliefs, I object to having someone's personal views forced upon everyone else when it entails such a private family matter.

Furthermore, this view potentially conflicts with Jewish law, which holds that when there is a threat to the life of the mother, her life takes precedence over that of her fetus -- and leaves abortion decisions up to a woman and the rabbi with whom she consults. Many traditional rabbis take into consideration the issue of mental stress on the mother, permitting abortions in the case of Tay-Sachs and other genetic diseases.

Were McCain and Sarah Palin to write their pro-life beliefs into law, their policy could create both a direct obstacle to Jewish law and severe invasions into our private lives.

McCain's views on abortion are not, however, my primary reason for not supporting him. I find myself diverging with him on a far broader array of issues.

The Torah repeatedly instructs us to care for the "widow, orphan, poor, and the stranger." It is fundamental to Judaism that those who are blessed with "more" have an obligation -- not a choice -- to help those who have less. Taking care of the needy in Jewish tradition constitutes doing tzedaka, not charity. There is a world of difference between the two.

The root of charity is "caras," as in dear -- caress, care. The root of tzedaka is justice. Jewish law prefers that people give charity lovingly and kindly. But Jewish law teaches, even if you don't care to give, that you are obligated to do so. How then could I support McCain, who has voted against the minimum wage at least 10 times? How could I support someone who believes in the privatization of Social Security? Can you imagine what would be happening today as the economy lurches toward implosion to people who depended on private Social Security accounts? Social Security is a contract a society makes with its citizens: We will help you when you are old and needy.

How could I support a candidate, McCain, whose health-care program would leave millions uninsured and tax the health insurance benefits we now receive from our employers? How could I support someone who supports more tax cuts for the very wealthy and almost nothing for the middle class or the poor?

And then, of course, there is Israel, to which so many of us are deeply and viscerally connected. Groups of Jews who oppose Barack Obama want to strike fear into people's hearts on this issue. Why else would I regularly receive e-mails from them -- I like to know what the other side is saying -- referring to BHO, as in Barrack Hussein Obama?

Obama's record has earned him praise from AIPAC and Israeli leaders, as well as condemnation from Palestinian leaders. The recently defunct, solidly pro-Israel New York Sun declared in an editorial earlier this year: "Mr. Obama's commitment to Israel, as he has articulated it so far in his campaign, is quite moving and a tribute to the broad, bipartisan support that the Jewish state has in America."

Moreover, the paper noted, "he has chosen to put himself on the record in terms that Israel's friends in America, at least those not motivated by pure political partisanship, can warmly welcome."

Leaders in Israel -- on both sides of the political spectrum -- do not fear Obama's commitment to Israel. Israeli leaders from Ehud Barak to Benjamin Netanyahu were impressed by Obama. Netanyahu, the Likud Party leader, told the Jerusalem Post that he was "impressed with Obama's understanding of the Iranian threat and that they both agreed that a nuclear Iran was unacceptable." Netanyahu also said that he and Obama agreed on the importance of "preventing a nuclear Tehran" and that "when it came to stopping Iran there were no politics."

What about the famous "experience" conundrum? Obama's familiarity with the issues has impressed many people, including the veteran journalist David Horowitz, editor of the Jerusalem Post. Horowitz compared his recent interviews with President Bush and Senators McCain and Obama.

When he met a few months ago with Bush in the Oval Office, the president -- who at this point is "presumably as expert on Israeli-Palestinian policy as he is ever going to be" -- brought with him "no fewer than five advisers and spokespeople during a 40-minute interview," Horowitz wrote.

On his whirlwind visit to Israel, "McCain, one of whose primary strengths is said to be his intimate grasp of foreign affairs, chose to bring along Sen. Joe Lieberman to the interview" and "looked to Lieberman several times for reassurance on his answers and seemed a little flummoxed by a question relating to the nuances of settlement construction."

Horowitz's meeting with Obama was markedly different. Obama "spoke with only a single aide in his hotel room." (The aide's only contribution was to suggest that Obama and Horowitz switch seats, so the Post photographer would have better lighting.)

Obama did not lack for Middle East advisers. Dennis Ross, President Bill Clinton's special envoy to the Middle East and one who is widely respected for his knowledge and commitment to a secure peace settlement, and Daniel Kurtzer, the former ambassador to Israel and Yeshiva University graduate and its former dean, were "hovering in the vicinity," Horowitz wrote, but they were not in the room. Horowitz observed that Obama "knew precisely what he wanted to say about the most intricate issues confronting and concerning Israel, and expressed himself clearly, even stridently on key subjects."

Contrast that with Sarah Palin's rote repetition three times during the Charlie Gibson interview of precisely the same phrase about Israel that "We can't second-guess Israel." Is that all she has to say? Can she only speak in sound bites? Does she have any knowledge of the nuances of the situation?

The same thing happened in the vice-presidential debate. Palin spewed a lot of talking points -- two-state solution, no second Holocaust, embassy in Jerusalem -- but demonstrated no real familiarity with the situation.

I firmly believe that those who know the history and nuances of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the track record of the different players cannot help but come down on the side of a safe and secure Israel. But in order to help broker a real peace, they must know much more than rote talking points.

Many Jews, myself included, were deeply disturbed by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's most controversial comments, but there is nothing in Obama's record to indicate that he adheres to Wright's views. I was glad to hear Obama forcefully and publicly denounce them.

Contrast that with Palin, who sat in her church while a Jews for Jesus leader, David Brickner, preached that terrorism in Israel is God's "judgment" against Jews for failing to accept Jesus? Maybe she said nothing because she did not understand the implication's of Brickner's words, but that would be even more disturbing.

When Palin first ran for mayor of Wasilla, she did so as the town's "first Christian mayor." What does that have to do with being mayor? Is this someone you want a heartbeat away from America's oldest president, a man who has had multiple bouts with cancer?

Lest someone assume that I am contemptuous of her deep religious commitment, let me stress that it is the contrary. In my work and life I find myself more comfortable with those who are deeply committed to their faith -- whatever that faith may be -- than those who are totally unconnected and, even worse, contemptuous of those who are. I just don't want them imposing their faith on me.

Finally, let's talk about the 800-pound gorilla sitting in the middle of many people's election ballots. Jews have prospered in this country in countless and unimaginable ways. America has given us tremendous opportunities. While no one should vote for Barack Obama because he is black, the fact that a black man is a nominee for the highest office in the land constitutes an affirmation of the fact that at long last, some of the final barriers of discrimination are crumbling. For Jews it is yet another reminder of the blessings this country has offered them and other minorities.

For me, the choice is clear.

I am back

Well I have been quiet for quite a while. Deniers were hoping that I was ill. Actually I have been busy working on a new book and have been directing all my energies towards that. But a number of things have happened which I cannot ignore.

Those posts will follow shortly.