You Can’t Force People to Assimilate. So Why Is China at It Again?

Good overview and analysis. Holding the 2020 International Metropolis Conference in Beijing hard to justify, particularly given the spin given by the Centre for China and Globalization (see Fri Jun 28 CCG to host International Metropolis Conference in Beijing in June 2020):

The Chinese government’s campaign of internment in the northwestern region of Xinjiang is extraordinary, by dint of its scale — but also, its contradictions.

Up to 1.5 million people from predominantly Muslim Turkic minorities — Uighurs, Kazakhs and Kyrgyz — have been arbitrarily detained in political re-education camps designed in part to make them renounce their religious beliefs.

At times, the Chinese authorities have portrayed this mass detention campaign as a “strict preventative measure” against violent extremist ideologies. At others, they have called it a benign “vocational training” initiative, comparing detainees to “boarding school students.”

But eyewitnesses — as well as the government’s own documents — reveal that these facilities are prisonlike internment camps that rely on intensive brainwashing procedures and forms of psychological torture. (There also have been reports of physical torture and rape.) Beyond the camps, the state’s social re-engineering efforts involve systematically separating childrenfrom their parents and enlisting more and more adults in forms of forced labor.

Although China has occasionally faced violent resistance from some Uighur groups, notably terrorist attacks in Beijing in 2013and Kunming in 2014, the re-education campaign in Xinjiang isn’t really about combating extremism. (The United States’ antiterrorism czar, Nathan Sales, said as much earlier this month.) Those detained aren’t just young men — the group most vulnerable to radicalization, it is thought — but also the elderly and pregnant women, as well as atheists and converts to Christianity. One can be interned for putting too much gas in one’s car, refusing to smoke in public (abstention is taken to be a sign of piety) or receiving phone calls from relatives overseas. Members of ethnic minorities who said that they had tried everything to become “model Chinese citizens” have reported that those efforts didn’t save them from internment.

Why not? And why is the Chinese government repressing entire ethnic groups when such heavy-handed tactics are likely to only promote resistance and radicalization? And why is it willing to risk alienating Muslim governments in Central Asia and beyond even as President Xi Jinping has made the grand Belt and Road Initiative his flagship international project?

Because the Chinese Communist Party cannot not try to coerce assimilation. Its ultimate goal in Xinjiang — as elsewhere in China — is to exercise complete ideological supremacy, and that also entails trying to transform the very identity of the country’s minorities. The C.C.P. lives in perennial fear that, short of having a complete grip on Chinese society, its long-term survival is in danger.

And so the C.C.P. is doubling down today on a campaign of forced assimilation in Xinjiang that has failed elsewhere in the past.

The party’s current re-education drive is an upgraded version of the Cultural Revolution. This campaign, too, seeks to achieve ideological control by eradicating alternative ideological and belief systems. But it does so in a much more sophisticated and high-tech way. In Xinjiang, reams of personal information about Uighurs and other minorities are entered into police databases after being collected at checkpoints, through feeds from surveillance systems or during house visits.

Only this effort seems to ignore that one effect of the Cultural Revolution was to create a spiritual vacuum and that in the decades since China has experienced various spiritual revivals. Many Uighurs and Tibetans, as well as members of the Han majority, have ardently embraced both traditional and new beliefs.

The number of Christians in China is thought to have increased from 3.4 million in 1950 to about 100 million today — or more than the C.C.P.’s entire membership. Even C.C.P. members have either openly embraced a major religion or have anonymously admittedthat they attend religious services, seek divination, burn incense or keep idols in their homes. Many of the devout see no contradiction between their faith and their patriotism or respect for the party.

Still, the C.C.P.’s campaign of assimilation today continues to target religion, because, in the party’s eyes, religion, which tends to represent a person’s deepest allegiance, competes with loyalty to the state and undercuts the party’s ideological foundation: materialism.

China’s spiritual revival has thoroughly confounded the core Marxist assumption that economic development would naturally extinguish religious beliefs; in fact, it has occurred even as the country has been lifted out of poverty. Increasing wealth also seems to have fueled corruption, including within the C.C.P. — undermining the party’s legitimacy and moral standing. The C.C.P. is now doubly on the ideological defensive.

The government, beyond targeting religion, has also tried to promote ethno-linguistic assimilation — again, through material incentives. Some minorities have pursued a Chinese language education in order to achieve upward social mobility. But many more have only become more entrenched in their distinct ethnic and religious identity.

Earlier this year, Tibetan nomads were told they could obtain state subsidies only if they replaced their altars devoted to Buddhist deities with images of Chinese political leaders. Likewise, Christian villagers in southeast China had previously been told to replace depictions of Jesus with portraits of President Xi if they wanted to continue to receive poverty-alleviation subsidies. Local officials then reportedly claimed, according to social media, that the initiative had successfully “melted the hard ice” in Christians’ “hearts” and “transformed them from believing in religion to believing in the party.”

Top Trump officials headline conference focusing on the ‘new #antiSemitism’

Worth reading for the last pointed question posed to the three, which all deflected:

U.S. Attorney General William Barr called anti-Semitism a “cancer” at a Department of Justice summit on the topic notable for its focus on anti-Israel activity and for speeches by the top leaders of the departments of Education, the Treasury and the FBI.

Monday’s Summit on Combating Anti-Semitism, held at the DOJ headquarters here, featured panel discussions and an audience of about 150, mostly men representing various Jewish organizations and government agencies that deal with some aspect of hate crimes and civil rights.

The conference was bracketed by speeches by Barr and three other top officials of the Trump administration: Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin and FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Elan Carr, the State Department’s Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating anti-Semitism, said the lineup was a sign of how seriously the administration is taking what he called a “time of striking growth in anti-Semitism around the globe.” He said that growth extends from Europe to the United States, “where vandalism in New York and other cities, according to the Anti-Defamation League, occurs on a fairly regular basis, and campuses have become hostile places for Jewish and pro-Israel students.”

Anti-Israel activity — at colleges and by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel — was perhaps the major theme of the summit, with two of the four panels largely devoted to aspects of the topic: “Anti-Semitism on Campus” and “Combating Anti-Semitism While Respecting the First Amendment.”

Carr noted at least three sources of present-day anti-Semitism: the “white supremacist far right,” the “anti-Zionist far left” and “radical Islam.”

But he drew particular attention to what he called “the new anti-Semitism,” which he said “attempts to disguise its Jew hatred as hatred for the state of Israel and the anti-Zionist endeavor.”

DeVos said that “BDS stands for anti-Semitism.” She described her department’s investigations into incidents of alleged discrimination aimed at pro-Israel students at Williams College in Massachusetts and at a pro-Palestinian event sponsored by departments at Duke University and University of North Carolina.

She also invoked President Donald Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as did Mnuchin, as a sign of U.S. support for Israel.

In his remarks, Barr referred to the wide landscape of anti-Semitism, including a rise in reported hate crimes, the deadly shootings at synagogues in Pittsburgh and southern California, conspiracy theories and cemetery vandalism.

Describing anti-Semitism as a “cancer,” he said he wants to “assure the Jewish community that the Department of Justice and the entire federal government stands with you and will not tolerate these attacks.”

The conference, scheduled for weeks, was held following a news cycle dominated by accusations that President Donald Trump had himself courted bigotry, first in hosting a meeting at the White House for right-wing social media figures and then saying in a tweet that four Democratic members of Congress, all women of color, should “go back” to their countries of origin.

Josh Rogin, a columnist for the Washington Post who moderated a panel on “Prosecuting Hate Crimes,” referred to this tumult in a question to the three law enforcement officials on the panel. Asked to what they attributed the rise in hate crimes, and if they considered Trump’s often polarizing behavior as one of the causes, all three — representing the Attorney General’s civil rights division, the FBI’s criminal investigation division and the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia — declined to offer any reasons.

All three focused their answers instead on their efforts to prosecute purveyors of hate crimes and their work with local communities on prevention.

Source: Top Trump officials headline conference focusing on the ‘new anti-Semitism’

The Bible-Belt Preachers Standing Up to Trump’s Xenophobia

Far too few examples:

America’s political polarization is a pervasive fact of 21st-century life, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is taking it lying down—including, stunningly, in the heartland of the conservative Christian right.

American Heretics: The Politics of the Gospel, now playing in theaters, is a documentary about a handful of Oklahoma preachers who are taking a stand against what they see as the radicalization of their faith. That open-minded priests, and congregations, exist in the U.S.—championing more liberal interpretations of the gospel, and conceptions of the Almighty—is not breaking news. Yet Jeanine Isabel Butler’s film remains an eye-opening look at iconoclastic men and women who are going back to the biblical source in order to reclaim Christianity from extreme Evangelicals, who they argue have found, in President Trump, an ideal figurehead for their warped religious views.

The senior minister of Oklahoma City’s Mayflower Congregational United Church of Christ, which is dedicated to preaching the Bible’s foundational lessons of compassion and charity, Reverend Robin R. Meyers suggests early on in American Heretics that Donald Trump is beloved by Evangelicals because he embodies their idea of an Old Testament-style God who’s angry, unforgiving and vengeful. Moreover, Meyers maintains that the commander-in-chief’s popularity is wrapped up in white Christians’ belief that their time as a popular American majority is coming to a close—a notion that, coupled with their traditionalist cultural values, has pushed Christianity into ever-more-radical terrain. Especially when it comes to politics.

Meyers and his colleague Lori Walke contend that they’re not interested in promoting politics from the pulpit, insofar as that means directly advocating for Democratic or Republican platforms. Instead, per American Heretics’ subtitle, they’re all about preaching the politics of the gospel—i.e. returning to the Good Book and adopting what it says about how to treat one’s fellow man, and how to live a just and moral life. As Meyers avows, he has no interest in becoming a mouthpiece for a particular party ideology. He does, though, think it’s vital for preachers to use the Bible as a vehicle for investigating the pressing problems facing Americans today—a process that, by its very nature, is inherently political.

Located deep in the Bible Belt—Oklahoma didn’t have a single county go for President Obama during either of his two presidential campaigns, whereas all of its counties went for Trump in 2016—Mayflower is a liberal outpost behind enemy lines. Valuing people’s literal actions more than their convictions, it opposed the Iraq War back in the early-2000s, and began issuing gay marriage licenses (and performing ceremonies) before it was legal to do so. In its later passages, Butler’s film depicts a vote conducted by Meyers and Walke to determine whether Mayflower should become a sanctuary church for undocumented immigrants. By a 2-to-1 majority, its parishioners ratify that measure, deciding that the Bible’s principles command them to protect those in need (and suffering from persecution), no matter the potential legal ramifications.

Given that its purview is broader than this single topic, American Heretics isn’t capable of addressing the complications of the immigration debate. Consequently, its snapshot of a single mother struggling to care for her ill child while facing the threat of deportation—and Meyers and Walke’s efforts to help her—comes across as a cursory footnote. Nonetheless, Myers and Walke’s stance on this issue is emblematic of their forward-thinking approach to Christianity, which bucks the movement established by Jerry Falwell and Oral Roberts in the ‘60s and ‘70s that’s now spawned our present mega-church-dominated Evangelical environment.

The rise of the radical white Christian right is a concurrent focus of American Heretics, which alongside its concentration on Meyers and Walke’s philosophy, also spends considerable energy—via talking heads, and the usual collection of archival material—detailing the evolution of Southern religious dogma during the 20th century. That historical recap proves a handy, if somewhat hasty, primer designed to provide context for today, and the forces that Mayflower opposes. And it’s also complemented by commentary from Bernard Brandon Scott, a longstanding Darbeth Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Oklahoma’s Phillips Theological Seminary, who discusses the ancient origins of the Bible and how they run contrary to current Christian-right opinions—including with regards to immigration, which Scott says is supported by the Bible because Jesus, Joseph and Mary snuck into Egypt, and thus were illegal immigrants themselves.

American Heretics’ most fascinating figure turns out to be Carlton Pearson, who rose to Evangelical prominence during the ‘80s and ‘90s as an acolyte of, and chosen successor to, Oral Roberts. In old TV clips, Pearson is seen preaching the gospel with an intensity that’s infectious, commanding the stage in front of thousands. Now at 66 years old, however, Pearson is the affiliate minister of Tulsa’s All Souls Unitarian Church, where he counsels a far different congregation—one whose membership, per the sign on the door, includes “everyone.” That shift was the result of Pearson’s realization, in the mid-‘90s, that he didn’t agree with Christianity’s conception of a God that wanted to punish non-believers by dooming them to eternal torment in Hell. When, through research, he opted instead for a doctrine of inclusion, he was dubbed a heretic and ostracized from his flock—thus opening a new door on a more empathetic faith.

Pearson’s story is compelling proof of genuine religious transformation, and that by hewing closer to the Bible, fundamentalists can become more tolerant (and, dare one say, liberal). American Heretics, unfortunately, skimps a bit on Pearson’s journey, which is all the more frustrating in light of its final scenes regarding All Souls Unitarian Church, which play as runtime-padding filler. Even those minor missteps, though, can’t neuter the film’s inspiring advocacy for a devout Christianity that’s in tune with both scripture and modern attitudes about equality and kindness. For Meyers and company, the politics of fear—against any number of “others”—are in direct opposition to the teachings of Christ. And embracing His values, even in the center of red-state America, is not only possible but necessary if one covets a truly righteous future.

UK: Muslim community shuns women released from prison, says report

Of note. Likely varies within the different Muslim communities:

The Muslim community in Britain shuns women who have been to prison while forgiving convicted men, “no matter what they’ve done”, according to a report.

Female former prisoners told researchers, Muslim experts in the criminal justice system, that they suffered a “conspiracy of silence” after being released from jail, having to hide or move away in order to not bring shame on their families.

“Our situation is made that much more worse because we are women and within our community being a woman caught up in crime is one of the most unacceptable things that can happen to a family, regardless of the reasons. There is a more forgiving attitude towards Muslim men who offend,” say the former convicts in a foreword to a report by the Muslim Women in Prison rehabilitation project, which calls for a “cultural shift in the community’s approach to women’s criminality and also a fundamental shift in the institutions in their treatment of Muslim women”.

The Muslim Women in Prison project worked with 55 women on their release from HMP New Hall and Askham Grange, two Yorkshire jails, helping them reconnect with their families – or to start a new life if that was impossible.

One woman, speaking at the launch of the report in Bradford on Monday, described how her family would make her hide upstairs if they had visitors, following her release from prison five years ago after serving seven and a half years of an indeterminate public protection sentence.

In a film made to accompany the report, the mother of one jailed woman said that Muslim men could be convicted of “10 crimes – they could even kill someone” and they would be accepted back into the community, while her daughter and others were ostracised.

The report describes how women of Islamic faith serve an “unfair community sentence” upon release, when they are shunned by their community – “in contrast to the liberal and sympathetic treatment that Muslim men are often given”.

The authors, Sofia Buncy and Ishtiaq Ahmed, say that “izzat” (honour) plays a disproportionate role in British Muslim life: “Defamation of the family name, particularly by a female going to prison, can be the ultimate calamity on the good name, status and the social standing of the family.

“This can potentially result in marginalisation of the family by others – people no longer wanting to associate with them. Worse still, people may not wish to sustain existing or new marriages ties into the family, thus ruining family aspirations.”

One father told them: “What would people say if we took her back? I have other daughters of marriageable age. Who would want to ask for their hand knowing she lives in the house?”

One client at Bradford’s Khidmat Centre, where Muslim Women in Prison runs its resettlement programme, said: “People are usually very unforgiving if you’re a Muslim woman coming out of prison. A lot of the time we are cut off by family and community so no one else wants to bother with us either. Men are just able to come back out and fit in no matter what they have done.”

Other women told researchers that the Islamic faith was “sometimes unjustifiably used to maintain family norms and traditions which are based more on cultural and patriarchal constructs”.

Imran Hussain, a Bradford Labour MP who is the shadow justice minister, hailed the report as “groundbreaking”.

“It’s fine civil servants in London writing their reports about different communities … but this is a report where communities themselves take ownership of some very difficult and complex situations,” he said.

But Julie Siddiqi, a veteran campaigner, said the “elephant in the room” was that Muslim community leadership was still very male-dominated. She said: “If we are talking about community-led solutions, if we think that one-third of mosques don’t even have a space for women to pray, we have a long way to go … Unless we change the leaders in our communities, this work isn’t really going to get embedded properly.”

The proportion of prisoners in England and Wales who are Muslim has increased from 8% in 2002 to 15% in 2018, despite Muslims making up 5% of the general population. The proportion of Muslim women in jail increased from 5.2% in March 2014 to 6.3% in March 2017, when there were 251 incarcerated, according to the Ministry of Justice.

Source: Muslim community shuns women released from prison, says report

Why the federal election might not happen on Oct. 21

One of the challenges in a country as diverse as Canada, is ensuring that election dates do not fall on any religious holiday or otherwise significant date.

Will be interest to see how a judge rules. Does only 17 hours of voting time compared to 60 for most voters present an unreasonable accommodation or not?

Chani Aryeh-Bain had just four days to soak in her victory before the trouble began. On April 14, 2019, the 51-year-old mother of five handily clinched the nomination to run for Parliament under the Conservative banner in her lifelong riding of Eglinton–Lawrence in midtown Toronto. She was so excited, she didn’t take a good look at the election calendar until days later. Nobody on her team did.

“We did not clue into the extent of the disadvantage immediately,” says Ira Walfish, a community activist who volunteered for Aryeh-Bain. Four days after she secured the nomination, Aryeh-Bain crafted a worried email to Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer, Stéphane Perrault, requesting he change the date of the federal election. They hoped for the best, but Walfish remembers the team’s mindset at the time: “This is not gonna go well.”

The solution could have been simple: move Canada’s federal election date to Oct. 28. The problem? The date is currently set for Oct. 21, which is also, in 2019, a somewhat obscure but important Jewish holiday called Shemini Atzeret.

Most non-Jews haven’t heard of Shemini Atzeret. (Many non-religious Jews haven’t, either; even the etymological origins of the Hebrew word “atzeret” are vague.) It is nonetheless a high holy day, following a flurry of the most sacred holidays in Judaism, which together block off huge swaths of September and October in any observant Jew’s calendar.

“Shemini Atzeret is the vacation to recover from the holiday,” writes Carla Naumburg in an article titled “In Which I Finally Figure Out What Shemini Atzeret Is”, published in Kveller, a magazine for Jewish mothers. “To just chill and take it all in, to stop, pause, hold back, and keep in.”

Aryeh-Bain and many of her team members and volunteers, including Walfish, are modern Orthodox Jews—not black-hat Hasidic, but they strictly keep kosher and observe Shabbat and other holidays. Despite Shemini Atzeret’s comical ambiguity, observant Jews are strictly forbidden from working or travelling on the day, and are instead encouraged to reflect and pray. They definitely can’t canvas constituents to vote. Indeed, they can’t even vote.

The holiday’s loose definition is perhaps why Perrault, upon seeing Aryeh-Bain’s email, did not respond with any urgency for three weeks. When he finally did, according to court documents, Perrault called the timing “unfortunate,” but noted Elections Canada did not choose the date and the election was too soon to alter.

That didn’t satisfy Aryeh-Bain, and the broader Jewish community slowly awoke to the problem at hand. Over subsequent months, Jewish leaders, activists and several Liberal MPs—including Aryeh-Bain’s incumbent opponent, Marco Mendicino—all wrote to Perrault, urging him to move the date. Failing that, community organizations hoped for some kind of compromise. Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, wrote in an op-ed in the Toronto Star that they asked Perrault to add another polling day convenient for observant Jews. “Elections Canada has never explained why it did not pursue this least-disruptive course of action,” he wrote.

The only option, after so many letters, was a legal battle. Aryeh-Bain and Walfish mounted a lawsuit against Elections Canada in June, scheduled to be heard in Toronto’s Federal Court this week, on July 16. Elections Canada is not responding to queries about it, but in March, a spokesperson told The Canadian Jewish News that voters can always use advanced polls or apply for special ballots before Oct. 15. Critics argue those measures are insufficient—data suggest 75 per cent of those Canadians who actually vote do so on election day, while three per cent choose convoluted special ballots—while even advanced polls are obscured by the minefield of autumnal Jewish holidays and weekly Shabbat services. While most Canadians will enjoy 60 hours’ worth of voting opportunities this year, observant Jews are limited to just 17.

In their application, Walfish cites a community of 75,000 observant Jews who will be directly affected by the conflicting date, while their evidence includes more than 140 concerned letters written to Elections Canada. Modern Orthodoxy is the second-most prominent sect among self-identified Jewish Canadians after Conservatism, according to a recent report by the Environics Institute; with approximately 350,000 Jews across the country, the impact of the decision could be significant.

“It’s a major problem,” Walfish emphasizes. “This keeps happening. It’s like, hello? Get out a calendar. It’s in the [Canada Elections] Act. Just move the stupid election…. They can move it if they want to. I can’t change the religion.”

Walfish points to the precedents supporting their case. In 2007, Ontario’s provincial election also coincided with Shemini Atzeret—and the government agreed to change that date. Conversely, in Oct. 2018, Elections Quebec declined to compromise after learning that, once again, it coincided with the same holiday.

“The turnout was dramatically affected,” recalls David Tordjman, a modern Orthodox candidate running this year for the Conservative Party in Mount Royal, Que. Tordjman might have even more to lose than Aryeh-Bain: last October, voter turnout in neighbouring D’Arcy-McGee, Quebec’s most densely Jewish riding, plummeted from 72 per cent to 44 per cent, due to overcrowding and hours-long lineups at poorly managed advance polling stations. This year, Tordjman sees the same frustration across social media.

“The issue, at the end of the day, is accessibility,” he says. “All we want is the same capacity and the same amount of time to vote.”

Both Tordjman’s and Aryeh-Bain’s ridings are home to more than 20,000 Jews, according to the 2011 National Household Survey, and both are potentially crumbling Liberal strongholds. Liberal Joe Volpe ran Eglinton–Lawrence for 20 years until Stephen Harper’s future finance minister, Joe Oliver, ousted him in 2011; in 2015, Mendicino narrowly won it back by fewer than 3,500 votes. Mount Royal, once Pierre Trudeau’s stalwart base, was run by legendary Jewish MP Irwin Cotler for 16 years until he resigned, passing the mantle to Liberal Anthony Housefather in 2015.

In 2019, under a simmering froth of negative sentiment toward Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and newly elected right-leaning provincial governments, both are potentially battleground ridings—especially Eglinton–Lawrence. As it stands, Aryeh-Bain “will be precluded from getting out the vote on the most important day of the election,” the court application states. “In short, she must fight the election with one hand tied behind her back.”

There is a very real chance, if the date remains unchanged, that Shemini Atzeret could decide the riding. If it does, this won’t be the last court battle mounted against the government—if not this election cycle, then perhaps next time an election falls on Shemini Atzeret, which can’t be too far away.

Source: Why the federal election might not happen on Oct. 21

Trump Fans the Flames of a Racial Fire

Hard to disagree:

When it comes to race, Mr. Trump plays with fire like no other president in a century. While others who occupied the White House at times skirted close to or even over the line, finding ways to appeal to the resentments of white Americans with subtle and not-so-subtle appeals, none of them in modern times fanned the flames as overtly, relentlessly and even eagerly as Mr. Trump.

His attack on the Democratic congresswomen came on the same day his administration was threatening mass roundups of immigrants living in the country illegally. And it came just days after he hosted some of the most incendiary right-wing voices on the internet at the White House and vowed to find another way to count citizens separately from noncitizens despite a Supreme Court ruling that blocked him from adding a question to the once-a-decade census.

Republican lawmakers, by and large, did not rush to the president’s side on Sunday either, but neither did they jump forward to denounce him. Deeply uncomfortable as many Republicans are with Mr. Trump’s racially infused politics, they worry about offending the base voters who cheer on the president as a truth-teller taking on the tyranny of political correctness.

Only in the evening did Mr. Trump respond to the furor, saying that Democrats were standing up for colleagues who “speak so badly of our Country” and “whenever confronted” call adversaries “RACIST.”

At that point, Tim Murtaugh, a campaign spokesman for Mr. Trump, responded to a request for comment, saying, “The president pointed out that many Democrats say terrible things about this country, which in reality is the greatest nation on Earth.” He did not explain why Mr. Trump told American-born lawmakers to “go back” to countries they were not from.

Other presidents have played racial politics or indulged in stereotypes. Secret tapes of Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon show them routinely making virulently racist statements behind closed doors. Mr. Nixon’s Southern strategy was said to be aimed at disenchanted whites. Ronald Reagan was accused of coded racial appeals for talking so much about “welfare queens.” George Bush and his supporters highlighted the case of a furloughed African-American murderer named Willie Horton. Bill Clinton was accused of a racial play for criticizing a black hip-hop star.

But there were limits, even a generation ago, and most modern presidents preached racial unity over division. Mr. Johnson, of course, pushed through the most sweeping civil rights legislation in American history. Mr. Bush signed a civil-rights bill and denounced David Duke, the Ku Klux Klan leader, when he ran for governor of Louisiana as a Republican. His son, George W. Bush, made a point of visiting a mosque just days after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to emphasize that America was not at war with Muslims. Barack Obama invited an African-American Harvard professor and the white police officer who mistakenly arrested him for a “beer summit.”

Mr. Trump’s history on race has been well documented, from his days as a developer settling a Justice Department lawsuit over discrimination in renting apartments to his public agitation during the Central Park Five case in New York. Jack O’Donnell, the former president of Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, later wrote that Mr. Trump openly disparaged others based on race, complaining, for example, that he did not want black men managing his money.

“Trump has not only always been a racist, but anyone around him who denies it, is lying,” Mr. O’Donnell said on Sunday. “Donald Trump makes racist comments all the time. Once you know him, he speaks his mind about race very openly.”

Mr. Trump, he said, regularly trafficked in racial stereotypes — Jews were good with money, blacks were lazy, Puerto Ricans dressed badly. “White people are Americans to Trump; everyone else is from somewhere else,” Mr. O’Donnell said. “He simply denies the reality of how we all immigrated to the United States.”

Mr. Trump propelled his way to the White House in part by promoting the false “birther” conspiracy theory that Mr. Obama was actually born in Africa, not Hawaii. He opened his presidential bid in 2015 with an attack on Mexican “rapists” coming across the border (although “some, I assume, are good people”) and later called for a ban on all Muslims entering the United States. He said an American-born judge of Mexican heritage could not be fair to him because of his ethnic background.

As president, he complained during meetings that became public that Haitian immigrants “all have AIDS” and said African visitors would never “go back to their huts.” He disparaged Haiti and some African nations with a vulgarity and said instead of immigrants from there, the United States should accept more from Norway. He said there were “very fine people on both sides” of a rally to save a Confederate monument that turned deadly in Charlottesville, Va., although he also condemned the neo-Nazis there.

He is only saying what others believe but are too afraid to say, he insists. And each time the flames roar and Mr. Trump tosses a little more accelerant on top. The fire may be hot, but that’s the way he likes it.

Yazidi women rescued from Islamic State captors face dilemma of leaving ‘Daesh’ children or being shunned…

Sad story. A reminder that what happened to the Yazidi women under Daesh was tragic, compounded by some of the more conservative views within the Yazidi community:

Baadre: Freed after years in jihadist captivity, Jihan faced an agonising ultimatum: abandon her three small children fathered by an Islamic State fighter or risk being shunned by her community. “Of course I couldn’t bring them home. They’re Daesh (Islamic State) children,” said Jihan Qassem matter-of-factly, sitting in a sparse concrete structure she now calls home.

“How could I, when my three siblings are still in Islamic State hands?,” she added, highlighting the harsh reality that the children serve as constant reminders of the brutalities inflicted on the closed, tight-knit Yazidi community by the so-called Islamic State group.

Dozens of Yazidi women and girls systematically raped, sold and married off to jihadists after being abducted by Islamic State from their ancestral Iraqi home of Sinjar in 2014 have faced the same gut-wrenching dilemma.

What to do about the children born of these forced unions? Now freed, the women are desperate to heal from the wounds inflicted on the conservative minority — but raising jihadist offspring would make closure impossible, they said.

Kidnapped at 13, Jihan was forced to marry a Tunisian Islamic State fighter at 15 and then fled with him and their children from Islamic State’s bombarded Syrian holdout of Baghouz four months ago.

When US-backed forces learned she was Yazidi, they whisked her and her two-year-old boy, year-old girl and four-month-old infant to a northeast Syria shelter hosting other mothers from the brutalised minority.

The safehouse, known as the Yazidi House, circulated her photograph on Facebook and her older brother Saman, still in northern Iraq, recognised his long-lost sister. He wanted her home. But without the children.

After days of an anguished back-and-forth, Jihan decided she would leave her infants with Syrian Kurdish authorities in exchange for what she said was her real family. “They were so young. They were attached to me and I to them… but they’re Daesh children,” she murmured. She said she doesn’t have any pictures of her children and doesn’t want to remember them.

“The first day is hard, and then little by little, we forget them,” she said. For centuries, Yazidis who married outside the sect — even against their will — were ex-communicated.

Girls forcefully taken by Islamic State in 2014 risked suffering the same fate, but a landmark decree by Yazidi spiritual leader Baba Sheikh said survivors of Islamic State’s sexual abuse should be honoured by the community. That compassion, however, has not been extended to their children.

In April, the Yazidis’ Higher Spiritual Council issued an ambiguous decree welcoming “children of survivors,” sparking hope of a second reformation to accept those born of a Yazidi mother and Islamic State father.

But a ferocious backlash from conservative Yazidis prompted the Council to clarify that nothing had changed: it would only welcome children born to two Yazidi parents. Any further reform was seen as a threat, opening the floodgates of change to a traumatised community, said Yazidi activist Talal Murad.

“If there’s this kind of change in the creed, other things could change too — there will be a breakdown, a total collapse of the Yazidi religion,” said Murad, who also heads Ezidi24, an outlet covering Yazidi affairs.

Council representative Ali Kheder told AFP the debate wasn’t solely about dogmatic reform. “First, according to Iraqi law, any child with a missing father will be registered as a Muslim, automatically,” said Kheder in the Council’s headquarters in Sheikhan.

Islamic law, on which the Iraqi constitution is based, stipulates that religion is inherited from the father. Psychologically too, Kheder said the Yazidi society remained too scarred by the prolonged abduction of their own people to accept raising the children of their abusers.

“Until now, we have thousands of Yazidi women and girls in IS hands. No one asks about them. They ask about a few children that can be counted on one hand,” said Kheder.

The Council said it does not keep statistics on returning Yazidi survivors with infants born of rape. While most Yazidi mothers leave their children at the Yazidi House in Syria, some brought IS-born infants home to Iraq. They declined interviews because of the subject’s sensitivity.

One woman insisted to her Yazidi family that she would raise her year-old infant fathered by a missing IS fighter, but balked when she discovered she could not acquire Iraqi identification papers for him as his father was not present.

She gave him up for adoption, her doctor said. Another 18-year-old arrived in Iraq in the spring after finally being freed, but was heavily pregnant by her Islamic State captor, according to a social worker involved in her case. She spent weeks in a safehouse without her family’s knowledge until she gave birth, sent the newborn away and joined her relatives in a displacement camp.

Last year, five children born to Yazidi mothers and Islamic State fathers were left at an orphanage in Mosul, which helped local Muslim families adopt them, according to Mosul’s director of women and children’s issues Sukaynah Younes.

They are now registered as Muslim. The psychological impact of this separation will likely be long-lasting. Jihan herself still seemed torn. Weeks ago, she had described her children to a social worker as her “flesh and blood,” saying she missed them.

While she sounded more detached when speaking to AFP, a shy smile crossed her face as she remembered them. When she was out of her brother’s earshot, she cried quietly.

How Canadians are part of an underground network helping Hong Kong protesters in their struggle against Chinese control

Good long read:

Dark circles ring Abraham Wong’s eyes. The Vancouver realtor’s phone has been on 24 hours a day since early June, when a series of protests against Hong Kong’s controversial extradition bill intensified.

In a downtown Vancouver office Thursday, Wong’s phone continually buzzed with messages from protesters on the ground in Hong Kong. He is texting and talking to people as young as 14, answering questions about everything from how to immigrate to Canada to how overseas audiences perceive the police crackdowns on protesters.

The 32-year-old businessman, who has both Canadian and Hong Kong citizenship, said he is one of hundreds of Canadian-based supporters of the pro-democracy movement that has spilled onto the streets of the former British colony.

Protests have become part of life for Hong Kongers, ever since it was returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” agreement, which requires Beijing to respect the autonomy of its rule-of-law legal system for 50 years.

Tens of thousands of people from Hong Kong immigrated to Canada in the years surrounding what is known as the 1997 “handover,” but many remain engaged in the city’s struggles.

Wong is the public face of the Canadian supporters, who are part of an informal, international network that has expanded in recent weeks to help Hong Kongers who are protesting the extradition bill.

The unnamed network provides free legal information, public outreach to raise awareness and media relations for protesters, including some who broke into and vandalized the Hong Kong legislature on July 1 and now fear they will be arrested by police.

“If protesters seek asylum in our countries, we are prepared to do whatever we can do to help them settle safely,” says Wong, who was born in Hong Kong and participated in pro-democracy protests before he immigrated to Canada in 2003.

“We would help them find accommodation, find jobs or enrol in school. We have volunteer translators ready to help.”

One by one, organizers such as Wong introduce trusted people into the network. Members now include people from Vancouver, Toronto, New York, Germany and Tokyo. Most have Hong Kong roots, since they are motivated partly out of concern for relatives and friends living in the city.

The groups are careful not to expose the identities of the protesters they are trying to help and use encrypted apps to communicate with people in Hong Kong, Asia’s most Canadian city.

An estimated 300,000 Canadian citizens call Hong Kong home, while more than 200,000 immigrants from Hong Kong live in Canada, according to the 2016 Census. Hong Kongers have a soft spot for Canada, ever since close to 2,000 Canadians bolstered British forces to fight the Japanese at the beginning of the Second World War. Many were captured and kept as prisoners of war until they were liberated in 1945; almost a quarter did not make it home again, according to Veterans Affairs Canada.

Canadians are once again stepping into the fray, this time armed only with cellphones and apps, aiding the fight for what some describe as the soul of Hong Kong.

They include the network of supporters back home, but also Canadians on the ground in Hong Kong, a city on the southern tip of mainland China. The downtown financial district is just a one-hour train ride away from the closest mainland city of Shenzhen.

At the heart of the latest uprisings is a fear of greater Chinese government control over Hong Kong and the erosion of civil liberties, spurred by the prospect of amendments to its Fugitive Offenders Ordinance. The amendments would have made it easier to send suspected criminals to mainland China to face trial in courts controlled by the Communist Party.

“Hong Kongers have seen their rights and core values come under attack: freedom, justice and democracy,” Wong wrote in a June 13 editorial for the Star about the extradition bill.

He feared that, by speaking out publicly against the bill, he could be arrested and sent to mainland China the next time he stepped foot in Hong Kong or even had a stopover at the airport.

The protests, which started in April when Hong Kongers first heard of the amendments, continued after the city government suspended the approval process on June 15 but did not formally axe the bill.

On July 1, the 22nd anniversary of the city’s return to Chinese sovereignty from British rule, a group of young protesters broke into the legislature building and destroyed furniture, defaced portraits and sprayed protest graffiti all over the walls of the legislature that read: “Hong Kong is not China, not yet” and “The government forced us to revolt.”

In Hong Kong four days later, pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo described how she tried to stop a young man from storming the legislature, where she holds one of 70 seats as an independent with no party affiliation.

“He reminded me of my son, a rugby player,” Mo, a graduate of Ottawa’s Carleton University, said in a July 5 interview at a coffee shop while the legislature was closed for repairs. “He was vowing to storm in and I approached him, saying, ‘Hey look, think twice, the rioting charge could cost you 10 years behind bars. It’s just not worth it.’ He put his arm around my shoulders and seemed to appreciate the concern, but told me to get out of the way … they would die for this fight.”

The day before, pro-Beijing lawmaker Regina Ip, chairperson of the New People’s Party, and a backer of the extradition bill, said in an interview that she was interested in how the leaderless protesters were so well organized and noted that solidarity marches have happened around the world against the extradition bill.

She said she had no hard evidence that foreign governments had “interfered” in the Hong Kong protests, but noted interference and influence are two different things.

“Naturally, foreign influence is pervasive. Influence is not the same as direct interference,” Ip said in a July 4 interview at her office in Wanchai, in central Hong Kong.

“There are behind-the-scenes organizers no doubt, but it’s not for me to point fingers … The (Hong Kong) government should be proactive in investigating.”

Ip said politicians should focus on economic policies to fight poverty, which she said was the underlying reason for public resentment against the influence of mainland China.

Beijing’s state media has focused on the idea of foreign influence in the protests, where it’s not clear whether “foreigners” include the Hong Kong diaspora. In a June 9 editorial, the China Daily wrote that “some Hong Kong residents have been hoodwinked by the opposition camp and their foreign allies into supporting the anti-extradition campaign.”

An active Hong Kong protester, who did not give her name for fear she would be arrested, said her Canadian passport gave her the courage to engage in peaceful political resistance. She organized a volunteer first aid response team, which attends each protest to help people suffering from heatstroke, tear gas and altercations with police.

“My family was persecuted during the Cultural Revolution in mainland China (from 1966-1976), so they really valued the protection of a foreign passport. My mother travelled to Montreal twice to give birth to my brother and me.”

The protester, who was interviewed in a Hong Kong church July 5, is in communication with the informal network of supporters from Canada. She is aware that people like Ip accuse protesters of actively seeking foreign support for the protests, and although they do want foreign governments to acknowledge their fight for democratic rights, she said governments have no direct role in funding or organizing the pro-democracy movement.

In addition to withdrawing the extradition bill, some protesters are also calling for the right to directly vote in elections, the release of protesters who have been arrested and an independent investigation into the police, particularly in relation to the June 12 protests where police fired rubber bullets on the crowd.

As further evidence of why Beijing can’t be trusted and the people of Hong Kong need democracy to hold their local government accountable, activists like Wong cite the cases of detained Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor and the internment in “re-education” camps of over a million Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

Protesters have openly appealed for support from people and governments around the world. Last month, a crowdfunding campaign by the anonymous “Freedom Hongkonger” group of protesters raised more than $800,000 to take out front-page ads in prominent newspapers urging readers in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Switzerland and Japan to pressure G20 leaders, who met in Japan in late June, to act against the extradition bill and support democracy in Hong Kong. Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the meetings in Osaka, while Hong Kong finance chief Paul Chan was part of the Chinese delegation.

The Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement has organized two rallies outside the Chinese consulate on Granville St. in support of Hong Kong protests, and the group is also in touch with protesters in Hong Kong to offer its support.

“People in Canada are very connected to protesters in Hong Kong. We are having meetings to consider our next steps,” said Mabel Tung, the society’s chairperson, although she wouldn’t provide any details.

Joshua Wong, a prominent Hong Kong activist who has served time in prison for his leading role in the 2014 pro-democracy protests called the Umbrella Movement, said people around the world should care about what’s happening in Hong Kong, even if it’s out of self interest.

“The extradition bill could affect foreign citizens to be extradited to face trial. It’s not appropriate for any government to allow extradition of their people from Hong Kong to China,” Wong said in a July 5 telephone interview in Hong Kong.

“It’s a good move for Canada, and the U.S. and the U.K to speak out. I hope more countries will do the same.”

“We are asking for the government to listen to the voice of people,”

Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, speaking to reporters by teleconference Thursday from London, said the extradition bill issue is a “special concern for Canada because of the 300,000 Canadians living in Hong Kong. We have a duty of care towards them and we take that very seriously.”

Canada has issued two public statements expressing its concern that the bill could harm the rights and freedoms of people in Hong Kong, including one issued jointly with U.K. foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt on May 30 that highlighted possible effects “on business confidence and on Hong Kong’s international reputation.”

But whether Canada will give refugee status to pro-democracy activists from Hong Kong is unclear. Last year, Hong Kong protesters Ray Wong, 25, and Alan Li, 27, were granted refugee status in Germany.

When Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada was asked whether any Hong Kong protesters have sought asylum in Canada, a spokesperson said they could neither confirm or deny it “for reasons of privacy.”

Jean-Nicolas Beuze, the Canada representative for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said the UNHCR cannot play a role in advising Hong Kong protesters whether or not to seek asylum in Canada and Canadian authorities would have to assess any claims.

Back in Hong Kong, the protests continued after Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam said Monday the extradition bill was “dead” because she did not formally withdraw it. Protesters are organizing another march on Sunday in Shatin, one of Hong Kong’s 18 districts, which is north of Kowloon.

Last Sunday, protesters poured into the streets of Kowloon, a district popular with tourists who come there from mainland China to shop. Chanting “Democracy for Hong Kong,” “Carrie Lam resign,” and “Love your country, come protest,” they moved through the streets in unison, using hand signals to motion to the back of the crowd when it was time to stop for a red light and when it was OK to cross an intersection. They stopped outside malls to wave at mainland Chinese tourists inside, encouraging them to come out and join them.

A woman from China’s Guangdong province, watching the procession with a look of wonder, asked what the protests were about. When she learned that Hong Kongers were opposing the extradition bill because they don’t trust China’s legal system, she only nodded.

Wearing black and hoisting yellow umbrellas to symbolize their hope for democracy, the crowd surged down the streets, singing with deliberate irony the national anthem of the People’s Republic of China called the “March of the Volunteers.”

“Arise, we who refuse to be slaves!

With our flesh and blood,

Let us build our new Great Wall!

The peoples of China are at their most critical time,

Everyone must roar in defiance.

Arise! Arise! Arise!”

Source: How Canadians are part of an underground network helping Hong Kong protesters in their struggle against Chinese control

Election 2019: Ridings in which visible minorities, European ethnic ancestries, non-official languages most often spoken at home and religious minorities

As part of my background work for diversityvotes.ca, I have prepared the following comparative tables that highlight groups that form a significant portion of the population in ridings. These capture visible minorities, European ethnic ancestries, language most often spoken at home, Indigenous peoples  and religious minorities. All data is from the 2016 census, save for religious minorities which dates from the 2011 National Household Survey.

In general, a threshold of 10 percent of the population or more has been chosen, with lower or higher percentages where appropriate.

If interested in having this data in Numbers, Excel or Filemaker, please contact me regarding the cost.

Visible minorities

VM Ridings Arab 5 percent (20 ridings)

VM Ridings Black 10 percent (21 ridings)

VM Ridings Chinese 10 percent (37 ridings)

VM Ridings Filipino 10 percent (9 ridings)

There are no ridings where Japanese form more than three percent

VM Ridings Korean 5 Percent (3 ridings)

VM Ridings Latin American 5 percent (7 ridings)

VM Ridings SE Asian 5 percent (4 ridings)

VM Ridings South Asian 10 percent (47 ridings)

VM Ridings West Asian 5 percent (8 ridings)

VM Ridings VisMin 20 percent (134 ridings)

Ethnic ancestry, largest European, non-founding (excludes Indigenous peoples, British Isles, French, Canadian and Canadian provinces), single and multiple

EO Ridings Dutch 5 percent (75 ridings)

EO Ridings Dutch 10 percent (10 ridings)

EO Ridings German 20 percent (41 ridings)

EO Ridings Italian 10 percent (26 ridings)

EO Ridings Norwegian 5 percent (18 ridings)

EO Ridings Polish 5 percent (60 ridings)

EO Ridings Portuguese 5 percent (8 ridings)

EO Ridings Russian 5 percent (17 ridings)

EO Ridings Spanish 3 percent (6 ridings)

EO Ridings Swedish 4 percent (5 ridings)

EO Ridings Ukrainian 10 percent (35 ridings)

Language most often spoken at home (single), indicator of those more likely to follow ethnic media (5 percent or more)

Language most often spoken at home: Mandarin

Language most often spoken at home: Cantonese

Language most often spoken at home: Punjabi

Language most often spoken at home: Arabic

Language most often spokenat home: German

Language most often spoken at home: Persian

Language most often spoken at home: Tamil

12 other languages are spoken at home between five to ten percent of the population : Italian, Spanish, Cree, Tagalog, Inuktitut, Portuguese, Russian, Bengali, Korean, Polish, Urdu and Vietnamese.

The following table lists the languages and ridings (less than five ridings for each language:

Other languages most often spoken at home – less than 5 ridings – None more than 10%

Indigenous

Indigenous Ridings 10 Percent

Religious minorities (2011 NHS)

RM Ridings Aboriginal 1 percent (23 ridings, only 1 greater than 5 percent)

RM Ridings Buddhist 5 percent (12 ridings)

RM Ridings Hindu 5 percent (23 ridings)

RM Ridings Jewish 5 percent (14 ridings)

RM Ridings Muslim 5 percent (69 ridings)

RM Ridings Muslim 10 percent (24 ridings)

RM Ridings Sikh 5 percent (20 ridings)

Berlin professor: Contemporary antisemitism is not racism or xenophobia

While I am not convinced by the arguments to consider antisemitism as a completely distinct form of racism and discrimination, her points on its history, incidence and the distinctions between antisemitism and criticism of Israel are thoughtful:
Statistics indicate a dramatic rise in antisemitism everywhere in the world. The brutal murder of Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll last year in Paris and the murder of 11 worshipers in the attack on the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh last October are only the devastating peaks of this development. Germany’s antisemitism czar recently warned that it is not safe for Jews to wear kippot in certain areas.
In February, French President Emanuel Macron said that antisemitism has reached its highest level since World War II.
“We have predicted this development for a long time, but our warnings were dismissed as alarmism,” says Monika Schwarz-Friesel, a professor of cognitive science at the Technical University of Berlin and one of the world’s leading antisemitism researchers. She blames Israel-related antisemitism and the failure of politicians, scholars, civil society and the media to address it. In an interview with The Jerusalem Report, Schwarz-Friesel also talks about the results of her recent research on online antisemitism and her new book, Jew-hatred on the Internet: Antisemitism as cultural constant and collective sentiment. (The title is translated from the German.)
Where is the current explosion of antisemitism coming from?
We are waking up to a reality that has developed over a long time. Antisemitism was never really gone. There was a period after World War II when its open communication was suppressed, but that doesn’t mean that it was erased from people’s minds. It only mutated into new forms, among which Israel-related antisemitism became the most pervasive and influential. The latter, very prominently promoted, e.g. by the BDS movement, has been instrumental in making Jew-hatred respectable again by whitewashing it as criticism of Israel. That whole process was never really challenged. On the contrary, everything has been tried to deny and marginalize it. Now we are facing the consequences.
Are you saying that the present situation was predictable?
Indeed so. I can read out for you the minutes of a symposium in which I participated 10 years ago in Jena, Germany, and you would think that they were written today. We made it very clear, back then, that Israel-related antisemitism is increasingly promoting the dissemination, radicalization and social acceptance of Jew-hatred. We explicitly warned that lest decisive counter-measures are taken, there will be an eruption and normalization of antisemitism. No one heeded our warnings. Instead, they were dismissed as alarmism. The fight against antisemitism remained focused on the activities of right-wing neo-Nazis, who in fact have very little influence on society as a whole. In contrast, Israel-related antisemitism and its massive popular impact were ignored. I clearly blame politicians, civil society and the media for ignoring, belittling and sometimes even participating in the dissemination of Israel-related Judeophobia.
Recently, however, the German parliament passed a resolution against BDS and anti-Israel antisemitism.
That resolution was a right and important decision. But I am afraid it is too little too late. It should have been passed 10 years ago.
There are many who think that measures against the BDS campaign infringe on free speech. How do you respond to people who say that charges of antisemitism are used to silence criticism of Israel?
Plainly, that they are wrong. Their accusation is void of any empirical merit. We actually did check this in various corpus-based studies. There is no noteworthy actor or discourse that has ever claimed that it is forbidden to criticize Israel, or that has used the charge of antisemitism to silence rational and fact-based criticism of the Jewish state’s policies. The opposite is true. Barely any other country is criticized as much as Israel in the European media. Those who emphatically claim that criticism of Israel must be allowed oppose a taboo that in reality does not exist. And they usually do so to whitewash Israel-related antisemitism.

So how do you distinguish between criticism of Israel and Israel-related antisemitism?
In fact, this is very simple. The line is crossed when statements about Israel reflect antisemitic stereotypes rather than the reality on the ground.
Can you give an example?
Let’s take the recent Israeli Nation-State Law. Criticizing this law as counterproductive, unnecessary or discriminatory is certainly not antisemitic. But when people, as we have seen, label it the “new Nuremberg race laws” or a “diabolic Zionist crime,” then they demonize Israel in a way that is antisemitic. Such statements are not based in reality. Instead they project stereotypical ideas of Jews as an absolute evil, by rendering the Jewish state a Nazi-like regime.

Outbursts of antisemitism often coincide with Israeli military operations, such as the 2014 Gaza War. What role does the Middle East conflict play in promoting Jew-hatred?
Crises in the Middle East often trigger antisemitic outbursts, but they are not their root cause. We can conclude that from our observation. Most antisemitic communications reproduce stereotypes that are much older than the Israeli-Arab conflict on which they are often projected. This also applies to antisemitism among Muslims. Mantras such as “child murderer Israel” target the Jewish state, but in fact replicate the classic antisemitic blood libel that has been around for centuries.

Your current book covers, among other things, the results of your much acclaimed new long-term study on antisemitism online.

What are your findings?Throughout the last decade, antisemitism on the Internet has been growing significantly. In some data sets we found an increase as high as 22 percent. In the online talkback sections of quality German newspapers, the number of antisemitic comments multiplied by four. This is accompanied by a radicalization in terms of semantics. In contrast to survey data, the Internet communications that we have reviewed are authentic, meaning they were not produced in response to the question of a researcher, but rather express the genuine impetus of their authors. So far, our study is the first of its kind in antisemitism research.

Is there any social group that stands out in particular among the producers of antisemitic speech online?
Our findings confirmed once more that antisemitism is not the exclusive problem of political extremists or of people with a low level of education. In fact, most antisemitic communications are authored by normal everyday users. That means that we encounter Jew-hatred everywhere on the web, and not only in confined spaces specifically dedicated to radical ideas.
A few weeks ago YouTube announced that it would ban videos that promote Holocaust denial. Shortly before that, Facebook said it would delete the profiles of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and Islamist Louis Farrakhan. Did these measures make a difference?
According to our observations of the past five years, things only got worse. We regularly conducted spot checks to see whether certain contents have remained or disappeared. Also after Germany’s so-called Network-entrenchment law took effect in October 2017, imposing fines on social media providers who don’t comply with regulations for the restriction of hate speech, nothing substantial changed. The only thing that happens is that specific extreme cases of Holocaust denial get deleted. However, usually these contents just reappear later somewhere else. Eliminatory antisemitism expressed in mantras such as “Bomb Israel!” “Destroy Israel!” or “Jews are the biggest scum on earth” is still widespread all over cyberspace. The old anti-Jewish eliminatory hate is unbroken, as if Auschwitz never happened.
How is that possible?
There is a very simple explanation: 2,000 years of Jew-hatred are met by no more than 50 years of very ineffective education against it. In addition, large parts of society are in denial when it comes to facing the actual scope of antisemitism. Influential people, among them also scholars, continue to oppose measures against BDS. They falsely claim that criticism of BDS is an infringement of free speech and disseminate the fairytale that charges of antisemitism are used to silence criticism of Israel. Such arguments are void of any empirical corroboration. They not only sabotage the struggle against antisemitism, but actually promote the respectability of modern Jew-hatred.
So what can be done?
The political world has to face the facts and base the struggle against antisemitism on scholarly research rather than on empirically unsubstantiated fantasies. This will lead us automatically to the conclusion that Israeli-related Jew-hatred has to be targeted much more decisively.
By the same token, we have to dismiss the wrong but popular idea that contemporary antisemitism equals racism or xenophobia. Antisemitism is rooted in Christianity’s attempt to dismiss the Jewish basis it evolved from. As such, it has been an integral part of Western civilization for 2,000 years, deeply shaping the ways in which people think and feel. Comprehending this unique character of Jew-hatred as a cultural category sui generis rather than as one form of prejudice among others is a precondition to challenging it successfully.

Source: Berlin professor: Contemporary antisemitism is not racism or xenophobia