Let’s Talk About Antisemitism

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Those of you who know me know that I take prejudice, bigotry, and violent manifestations of it very seriously. That means all kinds of prejudice designed to dehumanize or demean the person; anti-Muslim bigotry, anti-Kurd bigotry, racism (whatever direction it may take) as well as antisemitism and anti-gay bigotry, among others.

One of the purposes this blog serves is as an outlet for that. Looking through my past posts, you will find references made to the horrors of white supremacy and anti-black racism, as well as to some of the anti-white racism that I myself have experienced in my own life. There isn’t enough time to discuss every story or every case, but balance is important, and I try to keep that balance.

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Antisemitism presents a problem, because it’s one of the more difficult ones to address. While for many Jews who have been victimized by this form of bigotry this may be a bitter pill to swallow, the unfortunate truth is that antisemitism is sometimes invoked illegitimately. Similarly to anti-Muslim bigotry, there is often a conflation of the religious ideas and the people who adhere to them, so you can wrongfully be called a bigot for criticizing a faith while respecting the people who practice it. The Israel/Palestine issue complicates this further; despite being a strong supporter of Israel, I have been called an antisemite for suggesting that the US should cut its funding for Israeli defense systems.

Amongst these wrongful invocations of antisemitism, the issue is further problematized by the occasional false flags. This year, two Jewish students at Northwestern University defaced a church by spray-painting swastikas and the word ‘Trump’ – the intention being to make it look like the work of far-right groups such as the KKK.

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The two students who defaced a church and attempted to blame it on Trump supporters

Of course, that doesn’t mean that we as a society don’t recognize the problem of antisemitism. But even when we do recognize it, this recognition is often confined to the growing Muslim communities of the West, from which we tend to acknowledge the emergence of strong and deep-rooted antisemitic sentiments. The idea that antisemitism is a ‘Muslim problem’ is increasingly common, and while acknowledging the prevalence of Islamic antisemitism is important to hasten our arrival at a solution, it sometimes makes us lose sight of the wider context.

It was less than 100 years ago that a number of white Christian Europeans, themselves emerging from the most enlightened and advanced civilization that the world had yet seen at that point, made the decision to annihilate the Jewish people. Of course, the Jews were not the only group designated for destruction in the Holocaust – but we must acknowledge the specific way in which they were systematically targeted and murdered, using the most advanced technology available. Some of the survivors of the genocide still live today. We are not so separated from the past.

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At my university, I have come to know a number of Jews whom I have the privilege of considering close friends. They are just as diverse – racially, politically, intellectually – as any other group. Some do not even adhere to the Jewish faith at all. Nothing would distinguish them from any other Cambridge student – even religious practice – but for a heritage held in common between them.

One evening several weeks ago, some of these friends were out drinking; I had been offered an invitation, but I declined. On that occasion, after entering the Graduate Union building, they were set upon by a mob of – mostly white, non-Muslim – students. These students physically and verbally intimidated my Jewish friends, mocking them for their kippahs (a symbol of observance amongst religious Jews) and even went so far as to briefly choke one with his own scarf. Worse still – the college that the offenders belonged to failed to appropriately discipline the students in question, instead engaging in a bizarre cover-up of the events, which it claims were ‘dealt with’ behind closed doors.

The reason – the sole reason – that this attack happened was because of the Jewishness of the victims. That is a problem. The fact that the university has not acknowledged that is also a problem.

Antisemitism is not a thing of the past. Real, ugly antisemitism from native Christian Europeans is as prevalent today as it has always been. When authorities in question refuse to acknowledge that – as in this case – the psychological harm to the victims as a consequence of having their victimhood denied can be even more severe.

With the emergence of Richard Spencer’s Alt-Right movement, it’s important to remember that antisemitism isn’t a thing of the past, nor is it undergoing some temporary resurgence. It’s a problem that we have, that we have to deal with, that never really went away.

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Shlomo Roiter, one of the victims of the attack and a close friend of mine, spoke to journalists about his experience

The Bizarre Hatred within the Radical Left

The shocking election of Donald Trump as US President has been said by many to confirm our worst nightmares about the state of America – a country in which bigotry and hatred is said to lie just under the surface.

And indeed it has – just not quite in the way we thought.

Since the election results were announced, confirming Trump as the victor in what turned out to be almost a landslide outcome as he cinched 306 electoral college votes to Hillary Clinton’s 232, the reaction of the American left has been fairly vitriolic.
pic-1While we’re all familiar by now with the rhetoric of anti-white slurs and unfounded accusations of sexism and homophobia amongst others, this recent wave of mass discontent amongst leftists has brought into question how ‘feminist’ they really are.

While Trump supporters have been the target of baseless accusations and calls for violence for some time, the recent inclusion of rape in this list is an unexpected innovation even more vile.

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One Clinton supporter (a woman) stated that she wanted “every female Trump supporter and every relative of them” to be raped, adding that she anticipated the day where she would be able to “rub my pain and every other woman’s pain in your fucking face”.

Another Hillary voter enlisted a number of sick and twisted punishments to be enacted against Republicans, of which rape was one. He says, “Wives and daughters or should I say your c*nts as you republicans like to call them should be brutally raped first.”
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The inclusion of “your c*nts as you republicans like to call them” suggests that the user was affronted by the indubitably unacceptable and hideous manner in which some notable Republicans – including President Elect Donald Trump – have spoken about women in the past. The irony of him then wishing rape upon tens of millions of innocent American women would perhaps be amusing, were it not so sickening.

The calls for rape by Democrats and Clinton supporters in the wake of the electoral result were not even confined to cyberspace. During the demonstrations and riots which have been taking place over the past few days, one protestor found the time to stand outside the Trump Tower with a sign calling for people to “rape Melania”.
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While the election of Barack Obama in 2008 admittedly also saw some protests and distasteful racial rhetoric against the new president, demonstrations in which protestors called for the incoming First Lady to be raped are an entirely new addition to the political scene.

Many aspects of this election cycle have been deemed ‘unconventional’, and traditional dynamics of the left and the right seem to have been turned on their head. Not only has President Elect Trump been the first Republican ever his position to hoist the LGBT flag, but some radical leftists, many of them staunch feminists, have in fact actively called for mass rape against women on the other side of the political spectrum.

Whether advocating for mass rape is to become a new pillar of the American left, or is to be taken merely as a symptom of the mass mental breakdown of disaffected Hillary supporters, is something that will hopefully become clear in the near future.

“If I were president, you’d be in jail”

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Unfortunately, though perhaps unsurprisingly, many seem to be reacting with shock to Donald Trump’s declaration that Hillary would “be in jail” were he elected. Many of these reactions come from Buzzfeed, AJ+, or Vox readership – but there are some serious voices scattered amongst them. What they have in common is a genuine failure to understand why it is that many of us harbor serious concerns about a Clinton presidency.

The phrase ‘email scandal’ may sound relatively innocuous. Many of you are likely tired of hearing all the fuss about Hillary’s emails – “what’s the big deal about a private server?” you might ask. While it may sound uninteresting, the email scandal is actual incredibly important.

Federal employees are obligated to leave full records of all actions made in their official capacity. This is the law. To not do so is unambiguously a crime. Yet Hillary Clinton broke this law by sending back and forth emails as secretary of state to an unknown number of unknown recipients – remember, this is illegal – and then deleted them to hide evidence of her wrongdoing, erasing over 30,000 emails (that we know of). This is also illegal.

When she was questioned about this before congress, she lied under oath. This is perjury. This is also illegal. The explicit statues that she broke can be viewed here.

A ‘crime’ is defined as “an illegal act for which someone can be punished by the government”. In fact, many have been sent to jail in the past for the exact same illegal acts that Hillary Clinton committed.

These are only the crimes that we know of; those she wasn’t able to conceal. But significantly, she committed these crimes while holding federal office. If people in the federal government are breaking federal laws yet not being punished for them, this is strong evidence for corruption.

Corruption is another good one to talk about – because Hillary Clinton (and the foundation she runs) is also hopelessly corrupt. We could talk about the billions of dollars her foundation received WHILE she was secretary of state, from individuals and countries she was dealing with in a professional capacity – Saudi Arabia is one. Or perhaps we might discuss the recent transcripts released by WikiLeaks of her private speech to Goldman Sachs, where she stated she needed a private position as well as a public position on policy – just to reassure the banks that whatever happened, they still owned her.

Finally we could talk about her awful record as secretary of state, and there is no better example of this than Libya.Libya was a country doing relatively well until the Arab Spring with among the highest living standards and average incomes in the Arab world. Upon the outbreak of revolts, Hillary Clinton pushed for airstrikes in that country, the results of which are clear for all to see. There may now be over a million refugees from Libya, around a sixth of the total population, and the country itself is in ruins (it was important enough for HRC to bomb it, but not to rebuild it). Islamic State and Al-Qaeda cells rule Libya now.

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Yet Hillary Clinton still celebrated the death of Gaddafi even as Libya was burning with the now infamous statement “we came, we saw, he died!”. Another scandal in Libya was Benghazi, when our ambassador in the city made dozens of additional requests for security, all of which Hillary Clinton ignored. Chris Stevens was killed along with many other Americans when the terrorist attack he feared eventually took place.

In this presidential election we are left with two candidates. Both are utterly unsuitable for the office, albeit in very different ways. But the shills who cry “Hillary did nothing wrong!” should be argued down at every opportunity. Whether we support her or otherwise, we cannot afford to ignore the deeply troubling record of future president Hillary Clinton.

Why We Must Not Turn Away ​From The Kurds

The Kurds of Northern Syria have suffered immensely throughout history. Indigenous to the region, they have never been granted any significant level of autonomy or self-rule. During the entire existence of the Syrian Arab Republic, they held the uncoveted status of most marginalized group, according to Minority Rights International, and were also subject to appalling levels of arbitrary detention, state-sanctioned torture, and illegal appropriation of private assets.

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This was worst under the height of pan-Arabism during the regime of Hafez al-Assad. A report by Chatham House details the severity of the situation; the Kurdish language was banned in public, and its use, as well as Kurdish music and publications, were all strictly illegal. However, little changed even after Assad inherited the throne in 2000, much to the detriment of the Kurdish minority.

This makes the recent resurgence of the Kurds within the context of the same Syria that clamped down on any expression of Kurdish identity so very incredible. The autonomous region of Rojava came into existence in 2013 as regional Kurdish militias formed after the Syrian Arab Army rapidly evacuated vast swathes of territory in the face of roving bands of Islamist terrorists as well as larger organisations like the FSA, JaN, and ISIS. The Kurdish militias coalesced into a single statelike structure around the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and took over governmental and military infrastructure left behind when the Assadists evacuated.

Rojava had little time to rejoice in its nominal independence from Syria, as it was immediately attacked from all directions. Attacks from terrorist groups within Syria continued, and the people of Rojava found their resolve tested at the long and bloody Battle for Kobanî. The unlikely victory gained by the military wing of the Rojavan government, the YPG, came at the cost of many civilian lives taken by indiscriminate car-bombs and shelling by ISIS forces. Despite the losses, the defeat of ISIS underscored the resolve of the Rojavan Kurds to the world and showed that they would not relinquish their long-desired independence so easily.

Since then, though, it seems as though the situation has gotten only worse. Despite the fact that Salih Muslim Muhammad, head of the PYD, has repeatedly declared that the Rojavan government will not seek independence from Syria, and will instead seek to maintain their status as an autonomous region similar to Iraqi Kurdistan, the Syrian government has effectively cut ties with the region and refuses to grant it military, economic, or any other substantive form of aid. This is despite Muslim’s repeated overtures to the Syrian government and declarations of support against the Islamist groups that wage terroristic war against both entities.

From its northern frontier with Turkey, Rojava is under constant attack. The Turkish government has stated its flat-out unwillingness to accept any sort of autonomous Kurdish state within Syria, independent or not, and have carried out regular bombing attacks against civilian targets in order to weaken the resolve of the Kurdish people. These attacks intensified early this year, ahead of the official invasion force, which entered Syrian Kurdistan in August.

Thus, the fledgling regional government in Rojava found itself fighting a war on three fronts; against ISIS, against Turkey, and at times even against the Syrian Government. Despite repeated attempts at a meaningful peace revolution, this state of outright hostilities has seen little change in recent years. While the US has engaged in sporadic airdrops to assist Rojava in the past two years, its assistance (and promises of assistance) has been noncommittal and indecisive. Russia, on the other hand, has proven a much more effective ally, allowing for the YPG to call airstrikes on locations it pinpoints, giving it some much needed air superiority in the fight against ISIS and other terrorist groups.

Yet, any support given by Russia – in other words, any substantial support at all – has been consistently undermined by the West at every turn. Former British foreign secretary Philip Hammond stated earlier this year that he was “disturbed” by reports of Russian assistance to Kurdish forces in northern Syria, shortly before the British joined the Americans in calling the Russians to ‘get out of’ Syria. Yet they provide no alternative, effectively condemning Rojava to extinction at the hands of Turkey and ISIS.

The performance of the United States has been particularly disturbing. Upon the attempted breakaway of Kosovo in the Balkans, the US sent in its air force to drop an astonishing amount of bombs on Serbia in order to guarantee the independence of the fledgling state. Ensuring the human rights of the Kosovar people and preventing genocide were among the reasons used to legitimise this campaign. Given this, American actions in Syria are difficult to rationalize. They are inconsistent not only with its previous decisions when facing similar circumstances, but also with the idea of America as a nation seeking to uphold international order, prevent genocide and crimes against humanity, and ensure peace in the world.

The United States and Britain have chosen to view Rojava and indeed the Kurdish people not as any other nation or folk deserving of basic freedoms, human rights, and entitled to a minimum standard of dignity, but instead as pawns in a twisted kind of Great Game still being played by Washington politicians against Putin’s Russia. As pawns, the Kurds are to be used when expedient and discarded when they become an inconvenience. And given the muted US response to the Turkish invasion of Rojava last month, it appears to be the case that the ‘inconvenience’ is mounting.

Increasingly, the voices from Western politicians, think tanks and so-called ‘policy analysts’ appear to be mounting. Condemnation of Rojavan institutions by Westerners who hold Rojava to an impossible standard is ever harsher. They critique the autonomous region for not being fully democratic, despite the fact that it is engaged in a war with genocidal opponents whose goal is not only the destruction of the state but also of the Kurdish people as a whole. They would demand that the government cease its conscription, ignoring the existentialist conflict the military wing of the PYD finds itself in, and all the while offering absolutely nothing in the way of an alternative.

Of course, some criticism of Rojava’s government and armed forces is legitimate. There is some evidence to suggest that conscription of those under 18 has happened on occasion, despite the practice being clearly illegal under Rojavan law. There are also grounds to criticise the state structure of the government and the total dominance of the PYD at the expense of other parties.

But these critics are overreaching in their conclusions. They suggest that since problems such as these exist, the West should abandon Syrian Kurds to the wolves.

To do so would be disastrous. Not only would it strengthen the Islamic State, the position of the totalitarian Assad government, but also an increasingly Islamist and autocratic Turkey. It would represent a grievous betrayal of previous promises of support made to the Kurds, and would thus cause the US to suffer a massive blow to its international prestige. But, more importantly, it would constitute a betrayal of the principles we hold so dear; those of universal human rights, international law, and the principle of self-determination as described in the UN charter.

Abandoning the Kurds will gain us nothing and strengthen our enemies. We must support them against our mutual foes as the only rock of stability in the otherwise turbulent Middle East.

-Will TG Miller

This article was initially published by Conatus News, and can be viewed at their website: http://www.conatusnews.com/why-we-must-not-turn-away-from-the-kurds.html

The White Boyfriend

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As a ‘white’ man living in an overwhelmingly white country, for a long time the only serious relationship I’d had was – rather predictably – with a white girl. Going abroad for a year of study changed that. When living in Kyoto, I met a wonderful young woman in a Chinese class we were both attending. She had cute short hair and unique facial features; one of her eyelids had an epicanthic fold, an inheritance from her Taiwanese mother, and the other did not, more closely resembling her Japanese father. The very first words she said to me, after hearing me rattle off a self-introduction to my teacher in Beijing dialect, were “Can you teach me Chinese?”.

We fell for each other quickly, and at first it seemed like our relationship was going amazingly. We posed together for photos at scenic spots, she became a part of the social life of my friendship group, and I introduced her to my parents over Skype. She struggled through a self-introduction with them in English, one of the most adorable displays of effort I had seen in a partner up until that point.

However, being a young Japanese girl, publicly pursuing a relationship with a ‘gaikokujin’ or ‘foreigner’ (used often in a racially derogatory sense) was close to scandalous for her parents. Whites generally do not enjoy a good reputation in Japan; we are considered hairy (which is true) smelly (I sweat buckets in the summer) and crass (no comment). More generally speaking, there is also a stereotype of crude foreigners, white or black, coming to Japan to enjoy alcohol and women. This influenced people’s perceptions drastically – first impressions matter, but in Japan, a strongly negative impression was already made for me.

It was not just the fact that I was foreign; the conservatism prevalent in Japanese society means that relationships are generally kept ‘on the DL’ – especially to one’s parents. I spoke fluent Japanese and in no way exemplified any of the stereotypes commonly used to describe whites in Japan (except hairy, oops) so my treatment by my wonderful girlfriend perhaps differed little from that which any other boyfriend might receive. Yet I still found a part of me disappointed at being denied entry into her social life; like a dirty secret.

This year, after my return to England, I again became involved with someone; this time from Nepal. I had recently gotten into powerlifting, which had taken me on an incredible journey of body transformation, and she happened to be a powerlifter too. We enjoyed unparalleled compatibility in almost all aspects of our lives. But again, despite the fact that I invited her physically into my home and would engage with her in all sorts of activities within the domain of my personal and social life, her family and friends, as with my previous girlfriend, did not even know that I existed.

The strain on our relationship this caused was not minor. I would take her out to clubs and parties, bring her along on trips out with my friends, and invite her into my home. But her inability to reciprocate – coupled with strictly imposed curfews and a lack of openness – started to take its toll, and contributed to increasingly frequent arguments. After more than half a year, I decided that it wasn’t worth it. I packed my bags and moved on. abaya.jpgMore recently, I met someone else – a beautiful and fascinatingly opinionated British girl of North African heritage who happened to be a devout conservative Muslim. Hijab and Abaya was her uniform, which led to some strange looks from people who saw us walking around town holding hands. The fact that she was a Muslim and I had already left the faith was never an issue for us. There were couple of spirited disagreements, such as when she proposed banning homosexuality, but in general we got on like a house on fire.

That house was not to last, of course. To her credit, she repeatedly warned me that our relationship was only temporary; that she could never really be with me, and that above all, I could never put any details of our relationship anywhere in the public domain. That meant Facebook, friends, colleagues, family were all off limits – it was just the two of us.

I am a culturally tolerant person, but I am also a social person. I want my other half to really be that in its truest sense; I want to be able to engage with my SO by getting to see the intricacies of their daily lives and opening them up to mine. This can be exceedingly difficult if the friends or family of a partner might look down on me for my race or religion, as has been the case time and time again.

This isn’t going to be the end of interracial or intercultural dating for me; I think that the best kind of relationships are those where you can truly learn from each other and grow as people, and mixed relationships are a great formula for that kind of experiential learning. Sadly, until such a time as my partner’s culture respects me as much as mine respects her, I’ll probably always be the ‘white boyfriend’ her parents warned her to avoid.

Turkey has just invaded Rojava – here’s why that matters

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Turkish tanks preparing to assault Suruc. Turkish Kurdistan, 2014

Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) emerged in the milieu resulting from the total breakdown of civil society in Syria following the emergence of the Islamic State and the division of the country by various Sunni extremist rebel groups led by boisterous warlords, with a good amount of ‘secular’ rebels (secular only in the sense of not being outright Islamic extremists).

The Syrian government’s response to the official declaration of Rojava in 2014, which now functions as an autonomous region within the country, was initially extremely hostile, and the government treated Rojava like any other area controlled by rebels; this has now changed. Assad has given Rojava a large degree of unofficial recognition, and the two governments are in full communication with each other. Rojava was also recognized by pro-Assad Russia, which opened up a Rojavan consulate in Moscow last year.

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Salih Muslim Muhammad, key figure in the PYD and ‘leader’ of Syrian Kurdistan (Al-Monitor)

Relations between the two improved after Salih Muslim Muhammad, the ‘president’ of Rojava, officially stated that he would not seek independence and that the country would remain an autonomous region within the Syrian Arab Republic. This was a great reassurance to Assad. In return for these overtures, the Syrian government began assisting Rojava on the world stage, such as by formally protesting at Turkey’s rampant, illegal, and genocidal bombing campaigns on Syrian Kurdistan – targets of which include schools, hospitals, and offices of the legitimate government there.

Recently, things have changed. Brief exchanges of fire between Syrian Army troops and Rojavan troops have led to increased tensions. Last week, the Syrian Airforce began air strikes in Hasakah (the second city of Rojava) without warning, killing 20 civilians (mostly farmers) hospitalizing dozens more, and causing serious damage to infrastructure. Hasakah is a city in which power is shared between the Syrian government and Rojava, and although tensions have occasionally flared up with small arms fire being exchanged between sides in recent months, for Assad to engage in airstrikes against the city is a first since the diplomatic reprieve between the two sides. Thankfully, the US scrambled jets over Hasakah to prevent further air action by the Syrian government, but the situation remains tense and it is impossible to say how things will develop from here.

This morning, Turkish tanks rolled into Syrian Kurdistan as the Turkish army commenced a full-scale invasion of the area around the border city of Jarablus. The incursion is completely illegal under international law. While Turkey has previously been engaged in a brutal and close to genocidal airstrike campaign against Rojava, a campaign noted for making no distinction between civilian and governmental targets, this may represent a change in the conflict. Turkey’s desire to annihilate any possibility of a resurgent Kurdish nationalism in the region could lead to an attempt to eradicate Rojava itself.

What happens next is crucial. The Kurds in northern Syria are an indigenous people to the region and they are there to stay. They have established a pluralistic, nonsectarian government along democratic and federal lines that allows no discrimination against the Arab population in the region. Rojava has done its best to reassure Assad that it will not seek independence, and is content with remaining within the Syrian Arab Republic as an autonomous region.

If Assad allows this incursion by Turkey to continue without further protest, it will signal that the Syrian government has changed its stance towards Rojava from toleration murderous hostility. It must be understood that from the Kurdish perspective, the only purpose of remaining within Syria as an autonomous region is peaceful relations with Assad. If this is not possible, Rojava will likely seek full independence as its sole recourse.

We are witnessing a key time in the history of the Syrian Civil War and the Kurdish people. If Assad will not allow Arabs and Kurds to coexist, then brutal, bloody war will be the only possible outcome.

Why Did Islamist Terrorists Target a Priest in France?