The Trumpian Idiot Strikes Again

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS NEWS)

 

Less than a day after President Donald Trump outraged many members of the Jewish community for his comments about their loyalty, he tweeted out the claim that Israeli Jews view him as the “second coming of God.”

In a series of tweets Wednesday morning, Mr. Trump quoted conservative radio host and known conspiracy theorist Wayne Allyn Root, who practically declared the president the Messiah during his show Tuesday night.

Quoting Root’s tweet, Mr. Trump shared the message that he is “the greatest President for Jews and for Israel in the history of the world,” that “the Jewish people in Israel love him like he’s the King of Israel” and even that “They love him like he is the second coming of God.”

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

“Thank you to Wayne Allyn Root for the very nice words. “President Trump is the greatest President for Jews and for Israel in the history of the world, not just America, he is the best President for Israel in the history of the world…and the Jewish people in Israel love him….

35.7K people are talking about this

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

….like he’s the King of Israel. They love him like he is the second coming of God…But American Jews don’t know him or like him. They don’t even know what they’re doing or saying anymore. It makes no sense! But that’s OK, if he keeps doing what he’s doing, he’s good for…..

27.8K people are talking about this

Mr. Trump said “Wow!” and thanked Root for the “very nice words.”

Root is a self-described “Jew turned evangelical Christian” and the author of a 2015 book titled “Angry White Male: How the Donald Trump Phenomenon Is Changing America,” which had a forward by now-indicted Trump associate Roger Stone.

Root is also known for promoting bogus right-wing conspiracy theories. He attended Columbia University while Barack Obama was also studying there, then later falsely claimed that Mr. Obama did not actually attend the school. More recently, he falsely said on Twitter that the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, which killed 58 people, was an act of Muslim terrorism. The gunman was not Muslim and investigators were unable to determine a motive.

The latest tweets come a day after President Trump criticized “any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat,” saying it “shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.” Leaders in the Jewish community raised concerns that the president was promoting anti-Semitic stereotypes by casting Jews as disloyal. Such accusations have a long and disturbing history of being used against Jews, said Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League.

Polling shows that a majority of Jewish Americans identify as Democrats and did not vote for Mr. Trump in 2016.

Anti-Zionist imam delivers opening prayers in US House

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

(OPED: A Demon leading a prayer in a House full of Demons, what is it that surprises folks about this?)(oldpoet56)

 

Anti-Zionist imam delivers opening prayers in US House

Republican Lee Zeldin, who is Jewish, says decision to invite Omar Suleiman, who has likened Israeli troops to Nazis and called Zionists ‘enemies of God,’ was a ‘terribly bad call’

Omar Suleiman gives an opening prayer for a session of the US House of Representatives, May 9, 2019. (Screen capture: YouTube via JTA)

Omar Suleiman gives an opening prayer for a session of the US House of Representatives, May 9, 2019. (Screen capture: YouTube via JTA)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — An imam who has wished for the end of Zionism, called for a third Intifada and likened Israel to Nazi-era Germany delivered the opening prayer for a session of the US House of Representatives on Thursday.

Omar Suleiman, the founder and president of the Dallas-based Yaqeen Institute, an organization that describes itself as a resource about Islam, referred to recent attacks on houses of worship — which has included synagogues in the United States — in his opening remarks.

“Let us not be deterred by the hatred that has claimed the lives of innocent worshipers across the world, but emboldened by the love that gathered them together to remember you and gathered us together to remember them,” Suleiman said in a short prayer after being introduced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat.

Suleiman has a long record of incendiary social media statements about Israel, as compiled two years ago by Petra Marquardt-Bigman, a researcher, and posted on the Algeimeiner Jewish news site. He has on multiple occasions wished for a third Palestinian Intifada, or violent uprising, likened Israeli troops to Nazis, and has wished for the end of Zionism, calling Zionists “the enemies of God.” He is a backer of the boycott Israel movement.

Pelosi’s office did not reply to multiple requests for comment by publishing time.

Republican Representative Lee Zeldin of New York, who is Jewish, said in a statement that inviting Suleiman to deliver the opening prayer was a “terribly bad call.” Suleiman’s congresswoman, Democratic Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, reportedly invited him to deliver the prayer.

Suleiman in 2016 was at the scene of an anti-police shooting, in which five policemen were slain. He delivered a prayer at a memorial service a week later appearing on a stage with Texas’ two Republican senators, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, then-president Barack Obama and former president George W. Bush.

READ MORE:

Chabad shooting victim named as Lori Gilbert-Kaye, said to have shielded Rabbi

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Chabad shooting victim named as Lori Gilbert-Kaye, said to have shielded rabbi

Friend says 60-year-old mother jumped between gunman and rabbi at Poway Chabad center; Israeli girl and her uncle injured in rampage

Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who was killed in a shooting at a San Diego County synagogue on April 27, 2019 (Facebook)

Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who was killed in a shooting at a San Diego County synagogue on April 27, 2019 (Facebook)

The US woman killed in a shooting at a San Diego County synagogue was named late Saturday as Lori Gilbert-Kaye, a 60-year-old mother.

Gilbert-Kaye was attending Passover services at the synagogue when a gunman opened fire with an assault rifle on worshipers at the Poway, California, synagogue, local authorities said.

Three other people were injured, including Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, 57, who was leading services at the time and was shot in both hands.

The other two were Noya Dahan, 8, a girl originally from Sderot in Israel who was hit by shrapnel in the face and leg, and her uncle Almog Peretz, 31, who was shot in the leg as he ushered children in a playroom to safety, according to media reports. Israel’s Foreign Ministry confirmed the two were injured, adding that the consul in Los Angeles, Avner Saban, had spoken with the girl’s mother and offered help.

Authorities said all three were in stable condition.

Gilbert-Kaye was described in media reports and by fellow congregants as a mother of one.

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein of Chabad of Poway, California. (Facebook)

Her friend Audrey Jacobs, a community activist, said Gilbert-Kaye had jumped in front of Rabbi Mendel Goldstein — Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein’s son — “to take the bullet and save his life.”

“Lori you were a jewel of our community a true Eshet Chayil, a Woman of Valor,” Jacobs wrote on Facebook. “You were always running to do a mitzvah (good deed) and gave tzedaka (charity) to everyone. Your final good deed was taking the bullets for Rabbi Mendel Goldstein to save his life.

“Lori leaves behind a devastated husband and 22-year-old daughter,” she added.

Witnesses said the injured rabbi continued his speech calling for unity and peace despite suffering gunshot wounds to both index fingers.

“The rabbi said, ‘We are united,’” said congregation member Minoo Anvari, who said her husband witnessed the shooting.

“He prayed for peace,” she said, according to the Chabad website. “Even in spite of being injured he refused to go to the hospital until he spoke. And he finished his speech and he then left the synagogue.”

“We are strong; you can’t break us,” Anvari said.

Rabbi Goldstein also serves as a Jewish chaplain at the local San Diego police department.

He underwent surgery and would have to remain hospitalized for several days, according to Dr. Michael Katz, trauma chief at Palomar Medical Center, according to the San Diego Jewish World.

According to Jacobs’ Facebook post, the family of the injured Israeli girl and her uncle “moved to San Diego from the Israeli city of Sderot to get away from the terrorism and the constant attacks on their community.”

Sderot has been targeted by thousands of rockets fired by terror groups in the Gaza Strip over the last 15 years.

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore addresses the media in front of the Chabad of Poway Synagogue after a shooting on April 27, 2019 in Poway, California. (Photo by SANDY HUFFAKER / AFP)

Rabbi Yonah Fradkin, executive director of Chabad of San Diego County, said in a statement that “in the face of senseless hate we commit to live proudly as Jews in this glorious country. We strongly believe that love is exponentially more powerful than hate. We are deeply shaken by the loss of a true woman of valor, Lori Kaye, who lost her life solely for living as a Jew.”

“Lori Gilbert-Kaye is a Jewish heroine, and will be remembered as a heroine in Jewish history,” said Israel’s minister of diaspora affairs, Naftali Bennett. “She sacrificed her own life, throwing herself in the path of the murderer’s bullets to save the life of the rabbi. But it is clear that such heroism and good deeds are not only characteristic of dear Lori in death, but that this was the way she lived her life — constantly doing charity and good deeds for those in need.”

Police have named the suspect in the shooting as John Earnest, 19, from San Diego, and have said they are reviewing an anti-Semitic white nationalist manifesto allegedly posted by a user with the same name.

“We’re looking into digital evidence and checking the authenticity of an online manifesto,” the office of San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said.

Earnest surrendered to police after leaving the synagogue and calling to report the shooting, according to authorities.

Gore declined to say what the motive for the crime was, but Poway Mayor Steve Vaus and others have said it appeared to be a hate crime.

Agencies contributed to this report.

READ MORE:

Jewish voters are furious at Dems’ defense of Ilhan Omar

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK POST)

 

Jewish voters are furious at Dems’ defense of Ilhan Omar

Jewish voters furious at Democrats’ defense of Rep. Ilhan Omar say they’re done with the party that has held their support for generations.

“We felt we had a home there,” said Mark Schwartz, the Democratic deputy mayor of solidly blue Teaneck, NJ. “And now we feel like we have to check our passports.”

Jordan Manor of Manhattan, who calls himself a “gay Jewish Israeli-American,” laments, “The party I thought cared about me seems to disregard me when it comes to my Jewish identity.”

Mark Dunec, a consultant in Livingston, NJ who ran for Congress as a Democrat in 2014, says, “I’m physically afraid for myself and for my family,” adding, “I see my own party contributing to the rise of anti-Semitism in the United States.”

Omar, a freshman congresswoman from Minnesota, sparked the firestorm in February for using anti-Jewish tropes: saying that support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins” and accusing Jewish-American legislators of “dual loyalty.”

Many, including some fellow Democrats, deemed her comments anti-Semitic — but the party’s lefty activists pushed back.

“No one seeks this level of reprimand when members make statements about Latinx + other communities,” complained Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a March 5 tweet.

Omar issued only a partial apology.

In response, the House passed a resolution condemning all “hateful expressions of intolerance” with kitchen-sink language that named nearly a dozen different groups.

“I feel confident that [Omar’s] words were not based on any anti-Semitic attitude,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

Many Jewish Dems in the city aren’t buying it.

“The fake defense she doesn’t know what she’s saying? I don’t believe it,” said Sara, a Queens teacher who asked not to be fully identified. “This is a grown woman and a member of Congress. Trying to excuse this as naivete is inexcusable.”

For her and others, anger is sparking immediate action.

“The watered-down resolution triggered my decision to walk away from the Democratic Party,” said Allison Gangi of Manhattan.

“I never dreamed anti-Semitism would have become mainstream on the left, but it has.”

Sara said she is “not comfortable anymore being a Democrat” and will register as an independent.

Among his Teaneck neighbors, Schwartz said, “Our only question now is, do we start voting Republican, or do we become Republicans?”

Others say they feel like the wandering Jew of legend.

“I’m homeless. I don’t think I can vote for Trump, even though he’s great for Israel,” said Jason, a start-up owner from Long Island who asked that his surname not be used. “But as a Jew, I can’t see a way to support the Democratic Party. It’s supporting your own destruction.”

Last week, President Trump issued two tweets boosting “Jexodus,” a new advocacy group — advised by a prominent GOP strategist — that encourages moderate and conservative Jews to find a new political home. More than 4,000 people have signed on, organizers said.

“Since launching this, the anti-Semitism we are seeing is so blatant and obvious it’s terrifying,” said Elizabeth Pipko, the group’s spokeswoman and a volunteer on Trump’s 2016 campaign.

The organization’s Instagram and Facebook pages are regularly targeted with hateful messages, she said.

“I leave them up, because people have got to see it,” Pipko said.

FILED UNDER     

Pittsburg: Hundreds at funeral for 97-year-old Synagogue victim

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Wounded daughter joins hundreds at funeral for 97-year-old synagogue victim

Rose Mallinger, the oldest person killed in worst anti-Semitic attack in US history, is the last of the 11 victims to be laid to rest

This undated family photo provided by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) shows Rose Mallinger, 97, who was one of the people killed on when a gunman opened fire at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. Her daughter, Andrea Wedner, was among the wounded. (Courtesy of the Mallinger family/UPMC via AP)

This undated family photo provided by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) shows Rose Mallinger, 97, who was one of the people killed on when a gunman opened fire at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. Her daughter, Andrea Wedner, was among the wounded. (Courtesy of the Mallinger family/UPMC via AP)

Pittsburgh bid farewell Friday to 97-year-old Rose Mallinger, the oldest person killed in America’s worst anti-Semitic attack in history and the last of the 11 victims to be laid to rest.

Mallinger was shot dead by a gunman who reportedly yelled “All Jews must die” after bursting into the Tree of Life synagogue during Shabbat services last Friday. Her daughter, Andrea Wedner, 61, was shot and wounded.

Wedner attended Friday’s funeral with a nurse, said Rabbi Aaron Bisno. She has  been hospitalized since the massacre Saturday.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald were among the many hundreds who attended Mallinger’s funeral.

Rose Mallinger, right, was 97 when she was killed in the Tree of Life synagogue attack on Oct. 27, 2018. Her daughter Andrea Wedner, left, was wounded. (Katie Couric/Facebook via JTA)

“I’ve known Rose a long time, and it was always going to be that she was so vibrant and bright and sharp-witted that she would live past 100,” said Michelle Organist, who also knows Wedner. “You knew something was going to take her eventually, but it wasn’t going to be gun violence.”

Born in 1921, Mallinger may have been just three years shy of 100, but for the former school secretary, “age was truly just a number,” her family said.

The final resting place of Rose Mallinger, 97, lays ready for her casket in the Tree of Life Memorial Park on October 31, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Mallinger, a mother of 3, grandmother to 5, and great-grandmother of 1, was among the 11 victims killed in the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue on October 27, 2018. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images/AFP)

“She retained her sharp wit, humor and intelligence until the very last day,” they said in a statement. “No matter what obstacles she faced, she never complained. She did everything she wanted to do in her life.”

She was a devoted member of Tree of Life in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood, a center of Jewish life in Pittsburgh and home to a thriving, liberal and diverse community.

“Her involvement with the synagogue went beyond the Jewish religion… It was her place to be social, to be active and to meet family and friends,” said her family.

A mother of three, Mallinger had five grandchildren and one great-grandchild. “She loved us and knew us better than we knew ourselves,” the family added.

Pittsburgh has been holding funerals since Tuesday for those killed in the attack. A 46-year-old gunman, who was injured in a shootout with police, has been charged with crimes that could see him sentenced to death.

On Tuesday, US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania visited Tree of Life to pay their respects to the victims.

Visitors walk past the hearse as they gather for the funeral of Rose Mallinger, 97, at Congregation Rodef Shalom on Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in Pittsburgh. Mallinger was one of the eleven victims killed in the deadly shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood last Saturday. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Around 1,500 people took to the streets to protest against the visit, holding Trump at least partly responsibility for the shooting through his inflammatory language and demanding that he renounce white nationalism.

AP contributed to this report

READ MORE:

Palestinian President Abbas Shows The World Again That He Is A Hate Filled Ass

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS)

 

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Palestinian National Council at his headquarters in Ramallah on Apr. 30, 2018
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Palestinian National Council at his headquarters in Ramallah on Apr. 30, 2018
Majdi Mohammed—AP

By IAN DEITCH / AP

May 2, 2018

(JERUSALEM) — Remarks by the Palestinian president about the causes of 20th century anti-Semitism in Europe were sharply condemned as anti-Semitic and drew widespread condemnations from Israel and around the world on Wednesday.

In rambling remarks that were part of a lengthy speech to the Palestine Liberation Organization parliament on Monday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said it was the Jews’ “social function,” including money lending, that caused animosity toward them in Europe. He also portrayed the creation of Israel as a European colonial project, saying “history tells us there is no basis for the Jewish homeland.”

The comments drew criticism that Abbas perpetuated anti-Semitic stereotypes and ignored the deep Jewish historical connections to the Holy Land.

The Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial said in a statement that Abbas’ speech was “replete with antisemitic tropes and distortions of historical facts” and accused the Palestinian president of “blatantly falsifying history to the point of accusing the Jewish victims as being responsible for their own murder.”

The U.N.’s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, said in a statement that “leaders have an obligation to confront anti-Semitism everywhere and always, not perpetuate the conspiracy theories that fuel it.”

“Denying the historic and religious connection of the Jewish people to the land and their holy sites in Jerusalem stands in contrast to reality,” he said.

The U.S. ambassador to Israel lashed out at Abbas over his remarks.

“Abu Mazen has reached a new low,” Ambassador David Friedman tweeted, referring to Abbas by his nickname. “To all those who think Israel is the reason that we don’t have peace, think again.”

The rhetoric reflects the escalating tensions between the Palestinians and the Trump administration. Ties have been strained since Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last year, prompting the Palestinians to suspend contacts with the administration.

Friedman and Abbas have sparred before. In March, Abbas called Friedman a “son of a dog” in an angry rant.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Abbas’ remarks were “the pinnacle of ignorance” and that the Palestinian leader was “again reciting the most disgraceful anti-Semitic slogans.”

The European Union said in a statement that the Palestinian president’s speech “contained unacceptable remarks concerning the origins of the Holocaust and Israel’s legitimacy.”

Abbas’ office declined to comment.

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon sent a letter to the U.N. Security Council demanding condemnation of Abbas’ remarks and accusing the Palestinian president of trying to rewrite history with conspiracy theories.

Senator Santorum Tells Journalist Chris Cuomo The Truth About Anti-Semitism: Cuomo Can’t Accept Truth?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Santorum: Anti-Semitism also comes from pro-Palestinian, Muslim community

Santorum: Anti-Semitic acts coming from Muslims 01:49

Story highlights

  • Rick Santorum argued with the CNN anchor over who is responsible for a spate of anti-Semitism
  • 48 Jewish centers were threatened in January

(CNN)Former Sen. Rick Santorum clashed with CNN anchor Chris Cuomo on Tuesday morning over who is responsible for a rash of anti-Semitic acts since Inauguration Day.

“If you look at the fact of the people who are responsible for a lot of this anti-Semitism that we’re seeing, I hate to say it, a lot of it is coming from the pro-Palestinian or Muslim community,” said the former Republican senator and presidential candidate. “So let’s just lay out that fact.”
Cuomo, however, took issue with Santorum’s characterization of the menace, which has taken the form of numerous threats on Jewish Community Centers across the nation.
“I don’t know that that’s a fact, by the way,” Cuomo said. “[Y]ou have white haters historically … who target the Jews in this country.”
“That’s not what’s going on college campuses, Chris, white haters,” replied Santorum. “Let’s say the truth about this.”
In all, 48 JCCs in 26 states and one Canadian province received nearly 60 bomb threats during January, according to the Jewish Community Center Association. Most were made in rapid succession on three days: January 9, 18 and 31. A number of JCCs, including Orlando’s, received multiple threats.
On Monday, another wave of bomb threats hit 11 JCCs across the country, bringing the total to 69 incidents targeting 54 JCCs in 27 states, according to the JCCA.
Trump has faced calls from Democrats and Jewish leaders urging him to speak out against the rise in anti-Semitic incidents.
On Tuesday, while speaking at the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, he said, “This tour was a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms. The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.”
In a separate interview with MSNBC he said, “I will tell you anti-Semitism is horrible, and it’s going to stop and it has to stop.”
Also on Monday, Ivanka Trump, who converted to Judaism, tweeted: “America is a nation built on the principle of religious tolerance. We must protect our houses of worship & religious centers. #JCC”.
She was the first member of the Trump family to comment on the bomb threats.
Later in the conversation with Santorum, Cuomo asked why the Trump administration wasn’t doing more to directly address the threats, which have shaken much of the nation’s Jewish community.
“You guys have no problem going after Muslims for things they don’t do, let alone what they do. So why doesn’t Trump go after the Muslims who are doing this on college campuses against the Jews?” he asked.
“I am for him doing that,” Santorum said. “I think he should.”

Belgium: Catholic School Teacher’s Anti Jewish Cartoon Is Praised By Administration

(This story is courtesy of the Times Of Israel News Paper)

FIRST PERSON / I’ve seen how anti-Israel vitriol has mainstreamed classic anti-Semitism

How my reporting about an anti-Semitic cartoon changed my views of Belgium — for the worse

Luc Descheemaeker was denounced by UNESCO, Germany and the US, but his school says it’s ‘proud’

August 26, 2016
Belgian cartoonist Luc Descheemaeker posted this image to his Facebook page after it won a prize at Iran’s widely condemned Holocaust mockery cartoon contest om May 2016. (Facebook)

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — I used to think I had a pretty good understandingof what it means to be Jewish in Belgium.

Get The Times of Israel’s Daily Edition by email
and never miss our top stories
  FREE SIGN UP!

A longtime observer of that polarized binational country, whose dysfunctions and successes often reflect those of the European Union headquartered in its capital, Brussels, I have family ties there and am fluent in the local languages.

But I had to readjust my understanding of Belgian Jewry’s circumstances this month while reporting on a local Catholic school’s stated pride in and support for a teacher who had published anti-Semitic caricatures, and who recently won a cash prize at Iran’s Holocaust mockery cartoon competition.

Shielded by education officials’ wall of silence and celebrated in mainstream Belgian media as a champion of free speech, Luc Descheemaeker was able to pass off anti-Semitic imagery as legitimate criticism of Israel in a way that I had thought impossible in an established Western democracy in the heart of Europe.

As Descheemaeker’s advocates circled the wagons around him — his school praised him as working to preserve, not distort, the memory of the Holocaust — I saw firsthand how anti-Israel vitriol has mainstreamed classic anti-Semitism in a country where Jews are leaving partly because they feel their children can no longer comfortably attend the public schools.

My Belgian eye opener began with a post on The New Antisemite blog, which tracks anti-Jewish sentiment in Europe. It said the vice director of the Sint Jozef Institute highschool near Antwerp had told a Belgian Jewish publication that she was “very proud” of Descheemaeker after he won $1,000 and a special mention at the Second International Holocaust Cartoon Contest in Tehran.

Belgian cartoonist Luc Descheemaeker shared news of his prize at the Iranian Holocaust cartoon contest in May on his Facebook page. (Facebook)

Belgian cartoonist Luc Descheemaeker shared news of his prize at the Iranian Holocaust cartoon contest in May on his Facebook page. (Facebook)

The winning entry by Descheemaeker, a plastic arts teacher who retired this year, was a drawing of the words “Arbeit Macht Frei” over Israel’s security barrier along the West Bank. The German sentence, which means “work sets you free,” was featured on a gate of the Auschwitz Nazi death camp in Poland.

Previously, I found, Descheemaeker had published at least two cartoons that used classically anti-Semitic imagery. In one, an Orthodox Jew waits to bludgeon a peaceful Arab baby and his mother with a giant Star of David. In another, the Jew is waiting to startle a jihadist who is holding a shopping bag while wearing an explosives vest — presumably so she blows herself up.

The Forum of Jewish Organizations of Belgium’s Flemish Region condemned Descheemaeker’s Arbeit Macht Frei cartoon as “an example of modern anti-Semitism” and his earlier work featuring depictions of Jews as “classically anti-Semitic.”

Additionally, the cartoon contest in which he participated was decried as anti-Semitic by UNESCO, Germany and the United States, among others.

And finally, comparing Israeli policies to those of Nazi Germany is an example of anti-Semitism, according to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance – an intergovernmental organization with 31 member states, including Belgium.

I was skeptical of the blog’s report about the school’s endorsement of Descheemaeker because Western European educational institutions rarely seek to associate themselves with his brand of imagery.

Belgium has made discernible progress in recent years in coming to terms with the Holocaust-era complicity of its authorities and population. Surely, I thought, Descheemaeker would not get support and praise from a prestigious Catholic school there.

My first surprise was the reply I received from the school to my query over Descheemaeker. Yes, confirmed the school director Paul Vanthournout – “we are proud of Luc Descheemaeker,” though not, per se, over his winning the award in Iran or his cartoons, he said. Vanthournout declined to comment on these activities, which he said had nothing to do with Descheemaeker’s teaching position, but assured me that Descheemaeker “is not an anti-Semite.”

As proof, the school director cited an award that Descheemaeker won in 2002 from Belgium’s Queen Paola for staging a student show based on Art Spiegelman’s Holocaust memoir “Maus.”

I wanted to see whether the school can get away with defending the maker of blatant anti-Semitic imagery by claiming to be neutral on its celebrated teacher’s extracurricular activities. So I repeatedly queried the board of education, the royal house, the Queen Paola Foundation, the municipality where the school is located and Belgium’s federal center against discrimination. I received one written response, from the foundation, saying it had no comment for me.

This see-no-evil approach from government offices in a country whose leaders often declare a zero-tolerance attitude to anti-Semitism surprised me. But the real shock was the response from the Belgian media to JTA’s coverage of the affair.

De Morgen, one of Belgium’s largest and best-respected dailies, ran an article that omitted reference to Descheemaeker’s caricatures of Jews. It described the Iranian competition as a “controversial” affair “themed on the Holocaust,” which the paper said was instituted as a statement about freedom of expression following the publication of insulting caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in Denmark.

(UNESCO, the cultural arm of the United Nations, had called the contest “a mockery of the genocide of the Jewish people.”)

Descheemaeker, who is described in the paper as an internationally acclaimed caricaturist, is quoted as saying in reaction to the uproar created by his work: “There is still such a thing as freedom of expression.”

Knack, a popular news site, took the same editorial line.

(Descheemaeker did not respond to JTA requests for an interview sent through his school, on social media and via email.)

Confused, I reached out to Joel Rubinfeld, founder of the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism and former president of the CCOJB umbrella group of French-speaking Belgian Jewish communities. I wanted to know whether Belgian education officials were more tolerant of expressions of anti-Semitism than their counterparts from other Western European countries.

Joel Rubinfeld, Director of the Belgian League against Anti-Semitism (Maryll Israel/JTA)

Joel Rubinfeld, Director of the Belgian League against Anti-Semitism (Maryll Israel/JTA)

“It’s a problem,” he said. “We’ve encountered a number of cases where schools did not take the necessary measures when Jewish pupils were targeted in anti-Semitic bullying, for example.”

A teacher who last year told a Jewish high school student, “We should put you all on freight wagons,” was allowed to keep his job following an internal inquiry. It ended with him apologizing while denying any anti-Semitic intent in the first place.

Cases involving anti-Semitic abuse among students are regularly ignored at Belgian schools, “which don’t apply the measures necessary to make these cases stop,” Rubinfeld said.

One student was forced to leave his public school and was enrolled in a private Jewish one last year following harassment, which included a threat to “break his skull” if he showed support for Israel. Also last year, the Belgian media reported on the online shaming by classmates of a pro-Israel high school student. He also left the public education system for a Jewish school.

As Belgian Jews continue to grapple with the anti-Semitism problem in their country — in 2014, a suspected jihadist was arrested for the shooting deaths of four people at the Jewish museum in Brussels — a growing number are deciding to look for a new home.

Last year, 287 Jews immigrated to Israel from Belgium, which has a Jewish population of about 40,000. It was the highest figure recorded in a decade. From 2010 to 2015, an average of 234 Belgian Jews made aliyah annually — a 56 percent increase over the annual average of 133 new arrivals from Belgium in 2005-2009, according to Israeli government data.

“In Belgium, the choice for Jews is often between abuse or ghettoization,” Rubinfeld said. “It’s not surprising that a growing number of Belgian Jews are finding alternatives to both.”

Belgian cartoonist Luc Descheemaeker posted this image to his Facebook page after it won a prize at Iran’s widely condemned Holocaust mockery cartoon contest om May 2016. (Facebook)
FROM THE TIMES OF ISRAEL
Unfiltered Opinion

Unfiltered, non-cohesive thoughts and observations

The World Through My Glasses

Travel | Photography | Food

Astute News

The Science of News and Analysis

Volksnieuws uit Amsterdam-Noir

Ongesubsidieerd, Ongecensureerd, Vrij, Heldhaftig, Barmhartig en Rechtvaardig Street-Talk & Art

slicethelife

hold a mirror up to life.....are there layers you can see?

Justice in Conflict

On the challenges of pursuing justice

Human Cyclist

A cycling blog

Ticker Eats the World

Travel | Food - Stories | Photography | Reviews | Books | Films

%d bloggers like this: