Colorado teen kills self as sign of Nazi allegiance: “I have crippling depression but I shall cure it by killing Jews”

Published: Salon (October 17, 2016)

The suicide of a Colorado teenager has been linked to a Nazi-themed Facebook group that the young man apparently led.

The teenager apparently believed that killing himself would “show his allegiance to the Nazi Party and the killing of Jewish people,” according to local law enforcement officials. The theory stems from a message he wrote shortly before his death, proclaiming, “I have crippling depression but I shall cure it by killing Jews.”f

The Facebook group itself was called “4th Reich’s Official Group Chat” and engaged indiscussions ranging from plans for “executing n***ers” to poems like “You can hang Jews on trees, shoot them right in the knees. Gas as many as you please.”

read more

Jews must speak out against Islamophobia: Standing with our Muslim brothers and sisters is critical

Published: Salon (September 14, 2016)

When news first broke earlier this week that a mosque in Orlando had been set on fire, presumably because it had been attended by Omar Mateen, the man who in June shot 49 people to death at the nightclub Pulse, I immediately thought of Alaa Basatneh. Three weeks earlier I’d interviewed the Syrian-American journalist and activist and had been struck by her optimism.

“I do have faith that, down the road, just like the Jews faced a lot of negativity in the past in the U.S. — and the Irish, the Italians, the Japanese, you know the entire list— things are going to be the same for Muslims,” she had told me. “It’s going to take a lot of time and effort from the Muslim-American community.”

read more

Jews have a special responsibility to fight Donald Trump

United against hate. (Reuters/Jonathan Drake)

Published: Quartz (July 9, 2016)

Donald Trump’s anti-Semitic tweet—I’m sorry, his allegedly anti-Semitic tweet—is still in the news in the US, and with good reason. The presumptive Republican nominee has repeatedly refused to apologize for linking Hillary Clinton, corruption and Judaism all in one ill-advised meme. Meanwhile, his Jewish son-in-law Jared Kushner is being publicly pressured by one of his employees at the New York Observer (which he owns) to denounce Trump’s actions.

Which brings us to one of the most popular defenses of Trump–namely, that he can’t possibly be anti-Semitic because of his Jewish family. Trump does indeed have a Jewish son-in-law, a Jewish daughter (Ivanka Trump converted to Judaism upon marrying Kushner), and a Jewish grandchild. And it’s totally irrelevant. This argument is not only specious, it elides the great moral question presented by this election: Will America’s legacy be one of peaceful diversity or hate?

read more

Right-wing media is just this gross: Donald Trump has unleashed forces more destructive than Fox News

Published: Salon (May 18, 2016)

It’s hardly surprising, that Breitbart recently referred to William Kristol as a “renegade Jew” in one of its headlines. The conservative website has been shilling pretty hard for Donald Trump over the past year, so it makes sense that the less savory aspects of Trump’s political style would eventually rub off on them.

What is that style, though? Outlets from The Washington Post to The Atlantic have spilled plenty of ink describing The Donald as un-politically correct, but Trump’s rhetoric does more than simply transgress the boundaries of polite conversation. From the moment he launched his presidential campaign until the present, Trump has repeatedly used ethnic labels and stereotypes to both define his opponents and discuss major policy issues. In the process, the Trump movement has trafficked a distinct brand of racial and religious tribalism into American life, one that is entirely comfortable with forgetting about who a person is and instead collectively defining individuals based on what they are.

read more

Why Bernie Sanders lost the Jewish vote

Published: Quartz (April 20, 2016)

Senator Bernie Sanders is the most successful Jewish presidential candidate to date. But he did not prevail in the Apr. 19 Democratic primary in New York–despite the state’s massive Jewish community and his personal ties to Brooklyn. Even if Sanders does not end up the Democratic nominee, his efforts to push Americans politics to the left will be remembered for years to come. Among the most notable parts of his legacy may well be his attitudes toward Israel–which may also have cost him the support of his fellow Jews at the polls (who voted against him 58% to 42% in New York).

read more

What it actually feels like to be targeted by Donald Trump’s neo-Nazi fan club

Published: Quartz (March 10, 2016)

With 458 delegates under his belt so far (and counting), Donald Trump is now more than one-third of the way toward receiving the Republican presidential nomination. Although millions of Americans both inside and out of the Grand Old Party are reacting to this prospect with justifiable disgust, millions more find nothing wrong with a frontrunner reluctant to condemn the Ku Klux Klan.

I don’t believe Trump is an American Hitler. At the same time, the experiences of the past few months have shown me just how dangerous he—and his supporters—already are. As I’ve discussed in the past, Trump has openly used racism to win political support, beginning with his ill-advised birther stance during the 2012 election cycle. Over the past few years, he has attracted white supremacists drawn to his bigoted rhetoric and appreciative of his hesitation to distance himself even from self-professed radicals.

read more

Why Bernie Sanders’ Judaism is so important

Published: Salon (February 11, 2016)

With his New Hampshire primary victory now in the books, Bernie Sanders has done more than simply guarantee that Hillary Clinton won’t have a free ride to the Democratic nomination. Indeed, even if Clinton ultimately bests Sanders in the upcoming primaries, the Vermont senator has still achieved something of lasting significance:

He is the first Jewish American to win a presidential primary.

This isn’t to say that he is the first American of Jewish descent to win a presidential primary. That distinction belongs to Barry Goldwater, an arch-conservative Arizona senator who upset the GOP establishment by winning the Republican presidential nomination in 1964. Although his father was ethnically Jewish, however, Goldwater himself had been raised as an Episcopalian by a devoutly religious mother. Despite never denying or apologizing for his Jewish background, Goldwater didn’t identify with it either during his politically active days, prompting one journalist to quip, “Somehow I always knew that our first Jewish president would be an Episcopalian.” Regardless of whether or not one considers Goldwater to have been a Jew, though, it is clear that Jewish voters did not embrace his values or want them implemented in the White House: Goldwater pulled in only 10 percent of the Jewish vote against President Lyndon Johnson that year, a historic shellacking within that demographic that no major party candidate has matched in more than 50 years since.

read more