Using the Killing of George Floyd to Universalize—and Minimize—the Holocaust

Nov. 30 2020

The Holocaust museum in Maitland, Florida recently unveiled a new exhibit that consists of photographs of people responding to the death of George Floyd, a black man gratuitously killed by a white police officer in May. Ruthie Blum comments:

Floyd’s case is . . . utterly irrelevant to the Holocaust. And a center dedicated to commemorating the slaughter of six million Jews during World War II has no business devoting wall space to it. But the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center (HMREC) boasts of the “inspiring and powerful” pictures of the location of and witnesses to Floyd’s killing.

“The mission of the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida is to use the history and lessons of the Holocaust to build just and caring communities free of anti-Semitism and all forms of prejudice and bigotry,” [the museum’s executive director, Lisa Bachman], told the UK-based Jewish News on Wednesday. . . . She is either missing the point of Holocaust education or, worse, intends to shift its focus. Contrary to this ever-growing attitude among liberal Jews and closet Jew-haters, anti-Semitism is not merely one among many “forms of prejudice and bigotry.” It is particular and must be treated as such.

[J]uxtaposing the wrongful death of a lone criminal, whose killer was indicted for murder, with the purposeful and brutal extermination of millions of innocent men, women, and children by a well-oiled governmental machine violates all standards of ethics. . . . A site created to remind visitors why they must “never forget” the starvation, rape, torture, and gassing of Europe’s Jews should not be using a pictorial rendition of an individual American’s fateful run-in with a bad cop as an “educational” tool. Shame on the heads of the Holocaust center for thinking otherwise.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Anti-Semitism, Black Lives Matter, Holocaust


Leaked Emails Point to an Iranian Influence Operation That Reaches into the U.S. Government

Sept. 27 2023

As the negotiations leading up to the 2015 nuclear deal began in earnest, Tehran launched a major effort to cultivate support abroad for its positions, according to a report by Jay Solomon:

In the spring of 2014, senior Iranian Foreign Ministry officials initiated a quiet effort to bolster Tehran’s image and positions on global security issues—particularly its nuclear program—by building ties with a network of influential overseas academics and researchers. They called it the Iran Experts Initiative. The scope and scale of the IEI project has emerged in a large cache of Iranian government correspondence and emails.

The officials, working under the moderate President Hassan Rouhani, congratulated themselves on the impact of the initiative: at least three of the people on the Foreign Ministry’s list were, or became, top aides to Robert Malley, the Biden administration’s special envoy on Iran, who was placed on leave this June following the suspension of his security clearance.

In March of that year, writes Solomon, one of these officials reported that “he had gained support for the IEI from two young academics—Ariane Tabatabai and Dina Esfandiary—following a meeting with them in Prague.” And here the story becomes particularly worrisome:

Tabatabai currently serves in the Pentagon as the chief of staff for the assistant secretary of defense for special operations, a position that requires a U.S. government security clearance. She previously served as a diplomat on Malley’s Iran nuclear negotiating team after the Biden administration took office in 2021. Esfandiary is a senior advisor on the Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Group, a think tank that Malley headed from 2018 to 2021.

Tabatabai . . . on at least two occasions checked in with Iran’s Foreign Ministry before attending policy events, according to the emails. She wrote to Mostafa Zahrani, [an Iranian scholar in close contact with the Foreign Ministry and involved in the IEI], in Farsi on June 27, 2014, to say she’d met Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal—a former ambassador to the U.S.—who expressed interest in working together and invited her to Saudi Arabia. She also said she’d been invited to attend a workshop on Iran’s nuclear program at Ben-Gurion University in Israel. . . .

Elissa Jobson, Crisis Group’s chief of advocacy, said the IEI was an “informal platform” that gave researchers from different organizations an opportunity to meet with IPIS and Iranian officials, and that it was supported financially by European institutions and one European government. She declined to name them.

Read more at Semafor

More about: Iran nuclear deal, U.S. Foreign policy