Why Is a Major Jewish Organization Hosting Al Sharpton?

Feb. 14 2019

At an upcoming conference, the Religious Action Center—the advocacy and activism arm of American Reform Judaism—has on its roster of speakers the “civil-rights leader” Al Sharpton. An anti-Semitic demagogue, Sharpton has twice incited his followers to violence against Jews—in the 1991 Crown Heights riots and the 1995 attack on Freddie’s Fashion Mart—leading to a combined figure of nine deaths. Yet he was a frequent guest at the Obama White House and now has his own political talk show. Chris Robbins comments:

In August 1991 [Sharpton] helped incite a three-day race riot in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. . . . In response to a tragic [traffic] accident, Sharpton organized angry protests. . . . He railed against Jewish “diamond merchants” and later told a crowd that “if the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house.” Roused by Sharpton’s rhetoric, the mob rampaged. It pursued and cornered an innocent Jewish victim. Yankel Rosenbaum, then twenty-nine years old, was an Orthodox student visiting Crown Heights from Australia. Sharpton’s mob stabbed him to death.

[S]ome say Sharpton has outgrown his past. We could perhaps entertain that conclusion if Sharpton had addressed his misdeeds and asked his victims for forgiveness during his Obama-era makeover. But [he] is not repentant. The best we can say is that after cable-television executives insisted upon—and bought and paid for—Sharpton’s good manners, he has had the good sense to stay bought.

[The Religious Action Center] sees Sharpton as a key bedfellow in the anti-Trump alliance as well as a bridge to the African-American community. [It] thus chooses to see Sharpton version 2.0, the recently minted civil-rights leader and power broker. Sharpton’s sordid past is off limits. It would be better to remember Yankel Rosenbaum.

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Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: American Jewry, Anti-Semitism, Brooklyn, Politics & Current Affairs, Reform Judaism

 

Who Changed the Term “Nakba” into a Symbol of Arab Victimization?

April 19 2019

In contemporary Palestinian discourse, not to mention that of the Palestinians’ Western supporters, the creation of the state of Israel is known as the Nakba, or catastrophe—sometimes explicitly compared with the Holocaust. The very term has come to form a central element in a narrative of passive Palestinian suffering at Jewish hands. But when the Syrian historian Constantin Zureiq first used the term with regard to the events of 1948, he meant something quite different, and those responsible for changing its meaning were none other than Israelis. Raphael Bouchnik-Chen explains:

In his 1948 pamphlet The Meaning of the Disaster (Ma’na al-Nakba), Zureiq attributed the Palestinian/Arab flight to the stillborn pan-Arab assault on the nascent Jewish state rather than to a premeditated Zionist design to disinherit the Palestinian Arabs. “We [Arabs] must admit our mistakes,” [he wrote], “and recognize the extent of our responsibility for the disaster that is our lot.” . . . In a later book, The Meaning of the Catastrophe Anew, published after the June 1967 war, he defined that latest defeat as a “Nakba,” . . . since—just as in 1948—it was a self-inflicted disaster emanating from the Arab world’s failure to confront Zionism. . . .

It was only in the late 1980s that it began to be widely perceived as an Israeli-inflicted injustice. Ironically, it was a group of politically engaged, self-styled Israeli “new historians” who provided the Palestinian national movement with perhaps its best propaganda tool by turning the saga of Israel’s birth upside down, with aggressors turned into hapless victims, and vice-versa, on the basis of massive misrepresentation of archival evidence.

While earlier generations of Palestinian academics and intellectuals had refrained from exploring the origins of the 1948 defeat, the PLO chairman Yasir Arafat, who was brought to Gaza and the West Bank as part of the 1993 Oslo Accords and was allowed to establish his Palestinian Authority (PA) in parts of those territories, grasped the immense potential of reincarnating the Nakba as a symbol of Palestinian victimhood rather than a self-inflicted disaster. In 1998, he proclaimed May 15 a national day of remembrance of the Nakba. In subsequent years, “Nakba Day” has become an integral component of the Palestinian national narrative and the foremost event commemorating their 1948 “catastrophe.”

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More about: Arab World, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, New historians, Yasir Arafat