Jewish American communities need the right to defend themselves
I was never a gun person. I didn’t want them in my house because I have curious kids, but I was fine with others having firearms. Until recently, I was content with my Louisville Slugger next to my nightstand.
Crime in Seattle has gotten so bad that we brought armed guards to Jewish cemeteries to protect children and veterans placing flags for the fallen on Memorial Day. Drug dealers, prostitutes, pimps, substance abusers and others, have been desecrating the grounds on a nightly basis.
Armed guards are nothing new to Jews. They are present at synagogues, schools and community events. Unfortunately, because of our religious beliefs, we are always a target. The observant Jewish community enjoys a close connection with law enforcement. At the beginning of the year, 90,000 Jews attended an event called Siyum Hashas at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey celebrating the completion of the 7.5 year cycle of learning the Talmud. The police captain in charge of security called Rabbi Yosef Chaim Golding, CEO of the event, confirming that there were zero incidents at the event, but also that “…his ‘troopers have worked millions of events, but they NEVER felt so appreciated as they felt yesterday”.
This event coincided with a string of anti Semitic attacks in New York and New Jersey. The suspects, who had priors on their records, were arrested, some quickly released and subsequently re-arrested for committing new crimes, thanks to New York’s new bail reform.
According to the New York Post: “The legislation requires arraignment judges to set free suspects in any non-sexual assault that doesn’t actually cause a physical injury, even in cases of hate crime attacks. The no-injury loophole will mean a quick get-out-of-jail-free card for all but one of the accused attackers in the eight Hanukkah-timed, anti-Semitic bias crimes that have terrified the city’s Orthodox communities.”
These kind of “reforms” have been in action in Seattle for several years under a program called Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD): While I would love to use their own words to tell you what they do, their King County Website says: “The Seattle-King County LEAD website is currently being revamped and will be shortly updated and relaunched.”
What LEAD claims it does is divert people who don’t belong in jail, to other programs to transition them back into society. This program has won awards and been cited as something to expand and replicate across the country.
When LEAD asked to meet with me last year to explain their operations, the director could not answer my basic questions about the program. How many people are in the program? How many people were back as contributing members of society? How many people returned to crime? No answers were given or available for these very simple questions. I have run several non profits and I knew every stat about each organization backwards and forwards.
The visuals on the streets of Seattle do not match LEAD’s claims of success. Almost every day there is another story of an attack, including on tourists and businesses. Business groups were so fed up that they commissioned System Failure: Report on Prolific Offenders in Seattle’s Criminal Justice System. The report showcases 100 Prolific offenders with multiple arrests, one as many as 74, who are continuously released. These offenders account for a large portion of the crime in downtown Seattle. Since the report was published, the majority of the “Prolific Offenders” have continued to cycle through Seattle’s “revolving door” justice system. LEAD funding has been put on hold by the Mayor pending a review by an outside consultant on the effectiveness of the program.
The report reminded me of the “Squeegee Men” who terrorized New York during the 1980s. These people were your first impression of New York when coming off the highway, as they started cleaning your windshield and would get violent if you told them “no”. It seemed as if there were thousands of them, but when NYPD started cracking down, it was discovered that there were only a few hundred Squeegee Men, who usually had criminal records. Under the Giuliani and Bloomberg mayoral administrations, the Squeegee Men were taken off the streets. Now under the DeBlasio Administration, they have made a comeback. Just like Seattle has seen a major spike in crime and boasts a property crime rate two-and-a-half times Los Angeles and four Times New York. “Progressive” politicians are making the problem worse and our cities more dangerous.
Peter Weyand, broke into a girls dorm at Yeshiva University in Manhattan and began setting fires in the building. According to the New York Post “he was released without bail following his arrest—only to be sprung again when he was allegedly caught trespassing on Staten Island hours later. He was also busted and let go after allegedly menacing a Brooklyn housemate on Dec. 5—sharpening a knife outside their door while calling out, ‘Here, piggy, piggy, piggy!’ according to police.”
When there is a failure of government to protect its own citizens, citizens will take their safety into their own hands. According to the Washington Examiner, Gun permit applications surged nearly 1,000 percent in New York’s Jewish community since the 13 anti-Semitic attacks in December.
When I ran for Seattle City Council, my family received multiple death threats. Strange phone calls. Doxxing of my home and office. As far as I know, I was the only candidate for Seattle City Council out of 57, who needed security guards. Ring doorbells and baseball bats were not going to cut it. My 12-year-old son asked if he could have a knife to protect his family from the people that were trying to kill us.
Ironically, the threats against my family came from believers of an ideology that is against gun ownership. I continue to receive threats, especially from Antifa who claim to be anti-fascist and are anything but, even though the campaign had been over for months. My family and I were being targeted because we are Jewish not because of my politics. Extremist actions like these, against an individual who does not have strong feelings on an issue, will cause a person to be more supportive of an ideology they don’t identify with because that is who is advocating for them.
When I hear about attacks with a body count on a religious institution, I always assume there were no members “carrying”. This is the new normal for Jewish life in America. I am troubled by the new legislation targeting legal gun owners in Washington and Virginia. None of the legislation they are proposing will do anything to make Jews or Non Jews safer. New York and New Jersey have some of the most stringent gun laws in the country, and that did not stop determined attackers. Meanwhile, Jews who want to protect themselves, have a very difficult time applying for firearms permits because of these laws. As long as people are intent on killing us, and “progressive” politicians continue to put us at risk, we need the ability to protect ourselves.
The Ottawa Police Service is starting a hate crime investigation after a Holocaust memorial in Ottawa was defaced following the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, according to the Ottawa Citizen.
The Holocaust memorial had eggs thrown at it, and remnants of the attack remain visible in photographs. This incident was reported to the police at around four in the afternoon.
Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly stated on Twitter, “Incidents such as this are deeply disturbing to many communities especially when they target specific groups. It is completely unacceptable and it will not be tolerated.”
This incident was particularly deplorable as the anti-Semitic hoodlums threw these eggs only days after the 75th anniversary of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland.
Over one million Jews were murdered in Auschwitz-Birkenau over the course of the second World War. This Monday, over 200 survivors conglomerated at the camp to mark the anniversary.
Over the past few years, reports have shown anti-Semitism is on the rise in Canada, with 2016 and 2017 being record-breaking years for hate incidents directed towards Jews.
During WWII the Nazis murdered approximately six million Jewish people, almost two-thirds of the Jewish population in Europe. Through the use of mass shootings and extermination camps, the Nazis methodically carried out a genocide that many people in 2020 are beginning to forget.
Elie Wiesel wrote a Nobel Prize-winning book, Night, about surviving the Holocaust, “It is obvious,” said Wiesel, “that the war which Hitler and his accomplices waged was a war not only against Jewish men women, and children, but also against Jewish religion, Jewish culture, Jewish tradition, therefore Jewish memory.”
Decades since its publication only 43 percent of Canadians are able to answer the question of how many Jews were killed during 1941 and 1945, according to a recent poll according to the National Post.
Jack Jedwab is the president of the Association for Canadian Studies and has a wealth of historical knowledge regarding the Holocaust and anti-Semitism, he feels the polling is indicative a gap in Canadians’ understanding of this event.
“The sort of benchmark, of the target for knowledge about the Holocaust, is that everyone must know,” Jedwab said, “we’re still far from reaching that objective.”
The poll was conducted last November through a web panel and found that only 43 percent of Canadians knew the number of six million, with regards to Jewish people who were killed during the Holocaust. The web panel polled 2,295 Canadians.
Around 31 percent said they weren’t sure how many were killed which is similar to research conducted in the United States by the Pew Research Centre which found that around 45 percent of Americans knew that six million Jews were killed while 29 percent did not.
Leger Marketing for the Association of Canadian Studies poll revealed that 3 percent said less than 100,000 Jews were killed in the Holocaust while 6 percent thought the number to be 20 million. Pollees who held a university degree were most likely to know the actual figure (51 percent) whereas pollees with only a high school diploma were the least likely (36 percent).
In terms of the country broken down into provinces, Quebec was just under 36 percent being able to identify six million as the correct number. Saskatchewan had the highest amount of pollees with the right answer at 55 percent.
Senior citizens also had the highest rate of being correct at 55 percent whereas Canadians between ages 35 and 44 were the least likely to answer the question correctly.
Many Quebecers, 67 percent believed that Canada brought in Jewish refugees during WWII however people of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario didn’t believe that to be the case.
Jedwab believes there is a correlation between those uneducated about historical anti-Semitism and those who know little about the Holocaust.
It’s surprising to see Canadians so misinformed on this issue especially after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s heavily publicized apology on behalf of Canadian’s for deciding back in 1939 to turn away the MS St Louis, a ship that was carrying around 900 Jews who were fleeing Nazi persecution. It was also forced to return to Europe after being rejected from Cuba and the United States. Upon its return 255 of the passengers died, mostly in concentration camps.
“While decades have passed since we turned our backs on Jewish refugees, time has by no means absolved Canada of its guilt or lessened the weight or our shame,” Trudeau said during his apology.
“Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my god and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes,” Wiesel wrote of his first night at Auschwitz.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) is suing the Jewish advocacy group B’nai Brith for defamation, first reported by Blacklock’s Reporter.
The Ontario Superior Court declared that “a union may now sue to defend its reputation … This is a case in which the defamation action appears to have merit.”
The lawsuit comes after a statement by the CUPW promoted “greater solidarity” with Palestine. The union also attacked Israel for the “inhumane” blockade of Gaza.
Weeks later, B’nai Brith stated that the CUPW had “aligned itself with the path of violence and extremism … this is both deeply immoral and obviously not in the best interests of Canadian postal workers.”
B’nai Brith went on to say that “many have also asked us whether CUPW can legally compel its Jewish and Israeli members to pay fees which may be used to support a foreign organization that wants to see them murdered.”
As a result of these statements, the CUPW launched a lawsuit against the Jewish advocacy group, which the Ontario Superior Court has permitted to continue.
Global anti-Semitism is on the rise. 2019 ended with a Hanukkah machete attack in New York, and 2020 began with a slew of swastikas being spray-painted on cars, buildings, and Jewish camps from Vancouver Island to Brooklyn. Just a few days ago, four people were hospitalized in Uman, Ukraine after a mob armed with sticks and knives stormed a synagogue.
While this violence is horrific, it does not exist in a vacuum. These attacks have been flourishing in an environment where anti-Semitism is widespread and unbound by political and religious affiliation.
Take NowThis, the self-proclaimed “progressive social media-focused, youth-oriented news organization.” No reasonable person would expect the wokest of the woke to casually drift into blatant Jew-hatred, let alone Holocaust denial. Yet, in a video posted on January 16, NowThis did just that.
During a 5-minute clip, featuring university students active in Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace, one student made the remark that “Anne Frank didn’t die [in] a concentration camp. She died from typhus.” This canard originated with neo-Nazis.
Not only is this claim false–Frank died in Bergen-Belsen–the context of the statement, in service of an overtly political agenda, renders it a disgusting exploitation of the Holocaust.
Ironically, part of the agenda in question was to reject a widely accepted definition of anti-Semitism from the International Holocaust Remembrance (IHRA). This contemporary definition of the oldest form of hatred recognizes that Jewish conspiracy theories, Nazi comparisons, Holocaust denial, and denying Jews the right to self-determination (aka by claiming the State of Israel is a racist endeavor) are all anti-Semitic. Numerous countries have adopted the IHRA definition, including Canada this past June.
The statement, shared by NowThis with its over 2 million followers, is a crystal clear form of Holocaust denial that places the blame for the death of Jews not on the Nazis, the horrific conditions in which they imposed on Jews, and their genocide, but on an apparently spontaneous disease.
In the face of this overt form of antisemitism, NowThis did not apologize or remove the video. The organization simply issued a “correction,” removing the Holocaust denial line.
Unfortunately, the lightly edited video is not significantly better, and much of the rhetoric violates the IHRA definition.
In the extant version, the NowThis video undermines the fact that anti-Zionism is often anti-Semitic, while promoting BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns and a Palestinian right of return. Each of these, certainly in the rejectionist worldviews of Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace, effectively deny Jewish people their right to self-determination, hold Israel to a double-standard, and are therefore not, as the four students claim, “legitimate criticisms of Israel.” It turns out that the Neo-Nazi and anti-Israel rhetoric are not divergent–they are part of the same warped, anti-Semitic ideology.
For those who follow contemporary anti-Semitism, the impact of the NowThis video is unsurprising. We expect no less when, of all the diverse Jewish and non-Jewish voices on campus, NowThis chose to interview members of these two hate groups.
Jewish Voice for Peace, perhaps because of its name, often gets a pass on its anti-Semitism. In 2019, Rockefeller Brothers Fund gave them $175,000, and they had $3.7 million in revenue in 2018. This is the same Jewish Voice for Peace that promotes leading American anti-Semitic voices–Linda Sarsour, Ilhan Omar, Marc Lamont Hill. Yet activists from this group are the “experts” whom NowThis chose to interview on antisemitism.
If NowThis was genuine about righting its wrong of sharing neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic content, it would remove the video in its entirety and issue a formal apology. NowThis could partner with mainstream Jewish student groups to create a new short video about Holocaust education and promoting the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.
Instead, millions of young people are left absorbing discrimination, hate, and lies courtesy of NowThis.
Becca Wertman is Managing Editor and Canada Liaison at NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based research institute.