Yevgeny Prigozhin and Viral Misinformation about Jews

Last week, Yevgeny Prigozhin—the former leader of the Russian proxy military group Wagner—died in a plane mishap that was almost certainly retribution for his attempted mutiny in June. Since his death, headlines have appeared in Jewish publications claiming that Prigozhin had, or might have had, Jewish ancestry. Tom Gross puts paid to these claims, and traces their proliferation:

The first round of headlines claiming Prigozhin was Jewish appeared some months ago. As I said at the time, there is no evidence whatsoever that the claim is true. The rumors that Prigozhin “had Jewish blood” were started by Ukrainian websites that were trying to discredit Prigozhin among his fellow Russians.

These false claims were then picked up in an irresponsible way by prominent Israeli media outlets, no doubt eager for page clicks in today’s overly competitive, increasingly down-market media environment. These include the online edition of Israel’s best-selling newspaper Yediot Ahronot.

Prigozhin’s Wikipedia page, which appears in 71 languages, is now locked and cannot be edited. It says that Prigozhin’s father is Jewish, referencing an article in the Times of Israel. That article is also incorrect. It has been changed to reflect this, but the Wikipedia entry has not. Other media continue to promote this falsehood.

I have checked and, as far as I can tell, there is no evidence that Prigozhin was in any way Jewish. Indeed, his right-hand man Dmitry Utkin, who died alongside him, was an outright Nazi with swastika and SS tattoos. . . . In a world where anti-Semitism is unfortunately still rife, these kinds of headlines are unhelpful, to put it mildly.

Read more at JNS

More about: Anti-Semitism, Media, Russia

How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus