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Anti-Semitism Isn’t Back. It Never Went Away.

Nov. 22 2016

Responding to the commonly heard refrain that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and election have led to a surge of anti-Semitic incidents, Mordechai Lightstone, a ḥasidic Jew, comments:

I have a full beard, a black hat, and a dark suit. Yet even in Brooklyn, people have always said nasty things to me and to other people who look like me. I’ve had kids yell “Heil Hitler” at me on Eastern Parkway and teens throw glass bottles at me on Bedford Avenue. On the eve of Yom Kippur, anti-kapparot protesters . . . gathered in Crown Heights, brandishing signs that compared [Ḥasidim engaged in the ritual slaughter of chickens] to Hitler. They screamed obscenities, hit men with signs, and told small children that their parents were going to die.

Last week I took a picture of a swastika spray-painted onto a Crown Heights sidewalk and posted it on Twitter. It was instantly retweeted, quoted, and written about by media pundits across the country. Buzzfeed added it to a list of “28 Reported Racist and Violent Incidents after Donald Trump’s Victory.” The [New York City] mayor’s office tweeted a condemnation of the swastika. All of this is great, at least as great as one can call a response to a swastika, but I wonder what’s changed now.

Two-and-a-half years ago, I was walking with my kids on Shabbat morning and saw swastikas sprayed on a Crown Heights wall along with [a vulgar anti-Semitic message]. It made local news, but the mayor’s office didn’t retweet that picture. I didn’t see condemnations coming in from San Francisco, Phoenix, or Moscow, the way I did this week.

So it’s nice that the Anti-Defamation League has taken a stand against [right-wing anti-Semitism on social media]. But I still think about how rioters in 1991 threw rocks at [the headquarters of the Chabad-Lubavitch Ḥasidim], smashed windows of Jewish homes, and shouted “Heil Hitler” in Crown Heights—at that time, the ADL called it a “local issue.”

Read more at Tablet

More about: ADL, American Jewry, Anti-Semitism, Bill de Blasio, Chabad, Jewish World, New York City

Israel’s Economy Thrives While the Middle East Disintegrates

Jan. 19 2018

Now that the data have come in from 2017, it is clear that the Israeli economy had another successful year, expanding at a rate higher than that of any other advanced country. Israel’s per-capita GDP also grew, placing it above those of France and Japan. Daniel Kryger notes some of the implications regarding the Jewish state’s place in the Middle East:

The contrast between first-world Israel and the surrounding third-world Arab states is larger today than ever before. Israel’s GDP per capita is almost twenty times the GDP per capita of impoverished Egypt and five times larger than semi-developed Lebanon.

Like any human project, Israel is a never-ending work in progress and much work remains to integrate ḥaredi Jews and Israeli Arabs into Israel’s knowledge economy. Properly addressing Israel’s high costs of living requires more economic and legislative reforms and breaking up inefficient oligopolies that keep the prices artificially high. However, by any standard, the reborn Jewish state is a remarkable success story. . . .

Much has changed since OPEC launched its oil embargo against the West after the failed Arab aggression against Israel in October 1973. Before the collapse of the pro-Arab Soviet empire, China and India had no official ties with Israel and many Western and Japanese companies avoided doing business with Israel. Collapsing oil prices have dramatically eroded the power of oil-producing countries. It has become obvious that the future belongs to those who innovate, not those who happen to sit on oil. Israel has today strong commercial ties with China and a thriving partnership with India. Business delegations from Jamaica to Japan are eager to do business with Israel and benefit from Israel’s expertise. . . .

[For its part], the boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) movement may bully Jewish and pro-Israel students on Western campuses. However, in real life, BDS stands no chance of succeeding against Israel. The reason is simple: reborn Israel has . . . become too valuable a player in the global economy.

Read more at Mida

More about: BDS, Israel & Zionism, Israeli economy, Middle East, OPEC