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December 19, 2013 10:43 am

The Top Ten Issues Facing Jews in 2013

avatar by Abraham Foxman

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    World Powers Negotiate with Iran, with Limited Results

    Following his election to the Iranian presidency, Hassan Rouhani, who pledged to improve Iran’s economy and relations with the international community, embarked on a global “charm offensive” in an effort to put forward a more moderate face of the Islamic Republic. Within months intense negotiations commenced and, ultimately, an agreement was struck in Geneva between the P5-plus-one powers and Iran over its nuclear program.

    While the initial limited agreement was a first step toward a broader solution to the standoff over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, many in the U.S. and particularly Israel’s leadership remained deeply skeptical of the regime’s intentions, given their long record of noncompliance. Tehran agreed to accept some limits on its nuclear activity in exchange for temporary sanctions relief. At the same time, members of Congress considered proposing legislation that would pursue further crippling sanctions against the regime should a final agreement not be reached. As the year came to a close the Western powers and Iran continued to work on a plan for implementing the Geneva agreement, while doubts remain about Iran’s commitment to making serious concessions on its nuclear program in a permanent agreement.

    In Visit to Jerusalem, Obama Urges Two-State Solution

    In the first visit to Jerusalem of his presidency, President Barack Obama appealed to the people of Israel to not give up on the peace process and reassured the Israeli public that they have a friend in the White House and could count on the special U.S.-Israel relationship enduring under his leadership. He powerfully summed up the special relationship with words uttered in Hebrew, “Atem lo levad“ (“You are not alone”). The president called for a two-state solution as being necessary for Israel to maintain a Jewish and democratic state.  He acknowledged Israel’s past offers to the Palestinians while articulating American opposition to Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Finally, appearing in Ramallah before Palestinian representatives, he argued that the settlement issue, like others, must be resolved at the negotiating table, marking a contrast to the most egregious early blunder of his administration, in which he made the settlement issue a precondition for negotiations.

    Supreme Court Decisions Change Landscape for Civil Rights in America

    In a landmark decision in a case brought by a Jewish woman and destined to impact significant numbers of Jews, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that legally married same-sex couples are entitled to all of the federal rights, protections and benefits of civil marriage. While the court analyzed the case as a discrimination case, Jewish and other religious organizations also made the argument that the Defense of Marriage Act reflected an effort by its supporters to inappropriately enshrine their religious understanding of marriage into civil law.  Federal authorities interpreted the decision to mean that legally married same-sex married couples are entitled to the same federal benefits as other married couples even if they are living in states where their marriage is not recognized as a matter of state law.

    In another closely watched case, the Supreme Court struck down a critical part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, one of the most important and effective civil rights laws ever passed protecting minority voters from discrimination. The provision the court invalidated — requiring certain states and counties with a history of discriminatory voting practices to “preclear” changes in voting laws with the federal government — had played a key role in ensuring that every American could exercise his or her right to vote. Jewish groups played an important historic role in arguing in favor of the act and its periodic renewal, and advocated specifically in this case to keep the pre-clearance provision. Following the court’s decision, the Jewish community joined others in vowing to press Congress to adopt new legislation to protect voting rights.

    Attacks Against Jews Increase Globally; Neo-Nazis Gain Traction in Europe

    Global anti-Semitism remained a serious concern in 2013, as Jewish communities around the world, and particularly those in Eastern and Western Europe and South America, witnessed a rise in serious anti-Jewish assaults, vandalism and harassment.  In France, attacks against Jews continued at a disturbing rate.  In Vitry-Sur-Seine three men accosted a teenager, who was singled out because he was wearing a skullcap, and threatened to kidnap and kill him and other Jews; a 20-year-old Jewish man wearing a Star of David pendant was mugged and robbed twice outside of Marseille’s main train station. Numerous other attacks targeting Jews and Jewish institutions were reported in Argentina, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Russia, Romania, Sweden, Ukraine, Venezuela and the United Kingdom.

    Neo-Nazi parties were participants in the parliaments of four European nations. The political platforms of Jobbik in Hungary, Ataka in Bulgaria, Golden Dawn in Greece, and Svoboda in Ukraine were anti-democratic manifestos of racism and anti-Semitism. Two of the parties, Jobbik and Golden Dawn, have associated militias that assault minorities. Xenophobic parties were active in other European countries as well. And, in a clear threat to religious freedom, the Polish parliament voted in July against a proposal to explicitly allow kosher and halal slaughter. The vote put in doubt the legal status of kosher and halal slaughter, striking a blow to the future of Jews living in Poland and giving rise to questions of whether anti-Semitic prejudice played a role in the decision.

    Election of Pope Francis Bodes Well for Catholic-Jewish Relations

    Following the surprise announcement in February that Pope Benedict XVI was retiring in office, the Vatican moved quickly to name a successor. The election of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina as Pope Francis was hailed as a significant moment in the history of the church. Under his leadership in Buenos Aires, Cardinal Bergoglio made important strides in promoting Catholic-Jewish relations. His first outreach to the Jewish community as pope was strongly encouraging.  Francis sent a message of friendship to Rome’s chief rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni, expressing hope that he would be able to contribute to the progress that relations between Jews and Catholics have enjoyed since the Second Vatican Council.  The pope later invited Rabbi Di Segni to the papal installation. In early December, Pope Francis met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and discussed his desire to visit Israel in the near future.

    Syrian Civil War Prompts Refugee Crisis; Assad Fires Chemical Weapons

    The two-and-half-year civil war in Syria continued to rage with no end in sight, a mounting death toll that reached as high as 126,000 people, and a growing refugee crisis, with an estimated 1.6 million people fleeing to neighboring countries including Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Jordan.  President Bashar al-Assad continued to hold on to power, even after his government was accused of deploying chemical weapons against Syrian civilians in August. President Obama announced he was prepared to use military force to respond; however, a diplomatic agreement was struck with Russian facilitation to dismantle and remove Syria’s chemical weapons cache.

    The civil war created a number of challenges for the international community and for Israel, with concerns that Syria’s conventional and chemical weapons could end up in the wrong hands. In May, Israel targeted weapons-storage facilities in Syria amid fears that the Syrian regime had begun transferring sophisticated missiles to Hezbollah. Iran and Hezbollah declared their support for the Syrian government, and as Hezbollah militants were fighting rebel forces, Sunni terrorists possibly aligned with the opposition were suspected in bombings targeting Hezbollah strongholds in Lebanon.

    Anti-Semitism Challenges Internet Providers

    Internet providers and social media networks continued to grapple with the issue of anti-Semitism and hate speech.  In France, Twitter was ordered to reveal the identities of the authors of a series of racist and anti-Semitic tweets in response to a request from law enforcement and a Jewish student group.  In July, Facebook took action to remove the page of a leading Hungarian purveyor of anti-Semitic and anti-Roma hate speech. But serious challenges remained. Anti-Semites, racists, conspiracy theorists and Holocaust deniers continued to find new and more creative ways to exploit the Internet and social media to spread their messages of anti-Semitism and hatred.  Even Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei got into the act, using his Facebook profile to feature a visual representation of the classic anti-Semitic conspiracy theory of Jewish control of the U.S. government.

    U.S. Spearheads New Round of Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations

    The Obama Administration began a new push toward a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the announcement in July that Secretary of State John Kerry had secured an agreement on the resumption of direct negotiations between the parties. Despite a flurry of activity in the intervening months, with Secretary Kerry making a series of shuttle diplomacy visits to the region, mediators for both sides talked of wide gaps between the parties, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned that any failure to reach an accord after the nine-month period allotted for talks would lead the Palestinian Authority to seek recourse to international institutions, including the United Nations and the International Criminal Court. Meanwhile, the European Union threatened to take action on produce originating in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and was considering withholding funds it gives to the Palestinian Authority each year should the talks collapse.

    Anti-Israel Activity Spreads on American College Campuses

    Student groups that engage in campus advocacy designed to demonize and isolate Israel continued to organize anti-Israel events, conferences and demonstrations on college campuses. This activity was ratcheted up in several fundamental aspects in 2013, including mock “eviction notices” that were distributed to students’ dorm rooms at Harvard University, Rutgers University, the University of Michigan, San Diego State University and the University of California, Santa Cruz as part of an effort to castigate Israeli policy, as well as an increasing rate of academic departments engaging in sponsorship of anti-Israel programming.

    More than two dozen anti-Israel programs received endorsements or sponsorship from academic departments, most notably a series of anti-Israel events at Brooklyn College in February and November. Anti-Israel activism on campus was also increasingly focused on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Student senates at nearly a dozen universities considered and voted on non-binding resolutions that called for divestment from multinational companies that do business with Israel. Five of these resolutions passed, though they had no practical impact on university investments. In addition, two academic associations, the Association for Asian American Studies and the American Studies Association, approved resolutions calling for academic boycotts against Israel institutions.

    Anti-Semitism Declines in U.S., but Concerns Remain

    The level of anti-Semitic attitudes reached historic lows in the United States. A 2013 ADL survey of the American people found that 12 percent of Americans harbor deeply entrenched anti-Semitic attitudes, marking a 3 percent decline from a previous poll in 2011 and down significantly from a benchmark poll conducted in 1964, which found that 29 percent of Americans then harbored anti-Semitic views. Anti-Semitic incidents were reported to have declined as well. Meanwhile, a Pew Research Center Survey of Jewish Americans found that only 15 percent personally had been called offensive names in the past year, and a solid majority worried more about discrimination against other minority groups than against Jews.

    Nevertheless, concerns about the lasting power of anti-Semitism persisted. A lawsuit filed by a national public interest law firm alleged that several Jewish students in the Pine Bush, New York school district suffered egregious anti-Semitic discrimination, harassment and bullying at the hands of a number of other students. The lawsuit made national headlines and raised concerns that some schools and communities were not doing enough to address anti-Semitic stereotyping, bullying and scapegoating.

    The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world’s leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.  Twitter: @ADL_News

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    • Peter

      It was best summand up by Spanish writer Sebastian Vilar Rodriguez.
      The following is a copy of an article written by Spanish writer Sebastian Vilar Rodriguez and published in a Spanish newspaper on Jan. 15, 2008. It doesn’t take much imagination to extrapolate the message to the rest of Europe – and possibly to the rest of the world.

      REMEMBER AS YOU READ — IT WAS IN A SPANISH PAPER
      Date: Tue. 15 January 2008 14:30

      ALL EUROPEAN LIFE DIED IN AUSCHWITZ By Sebastian Vilar Rodrigez

      I walked down the street in Barcelona , and suddenly discovered a terrible truth – Europe died in Auschwitz .. We killed six million Jews and replaced them with 20 million Muslims. In Auschwitz we burned a culture, thought, creativity, talent. We destroyed the chosen people, truly chosen, because they produced great and wonderful people who changed the world.

      The contribution of this people is felt in all areas of life: science, art, International trade, and above all, as the conscience of the world. These are the people we burned.

      And under the pretense of tolerance, and because we wanted to prove to ourselves that we were cured of the disease of racism, we opened our gates to 20 million Muslims, who brought us stupidity and ignorance, religious extremism and lack of tolerance, crime and poverty, due to an unwillingness to work and support their families with pride.

      They have blown up our trains and turned our beautiful Spanish cities into the third world, drowning in filth and crime.
      Shut up in the apartments they receive free from the government, they plan the murder and destruction of their naive hosts.

      And thus, in our misery, we have exchanged culture for fanatical hatred, creative skill for destructive skill, intelligence for backwardness and superstition.

      We have exchanged the pursuit of peace of the Jews of Europe and their talent for a better future for their children, their determined clinging to life because life is holy, for those who pursue death, for people consumed by the desire for death for themselves and others, for our children and theirs..

      What a terrible mistake was made by miserable Europe …

      The Global Islamic population is approximately 1,200,000,000; that is ONE BILLION TWO HUNDRED MILLION or 20% of the world’s population. They have received the following Nobel Prizes:

      Literature:

      1988 – Najib Mahfooz

      Peace:

      1978 – Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat

      1990 – Elias James Corey

      1994 – Yaser Arafat:

      1999 – Ahmed Zewai

      Economics:

      (zero)

      Physics:

      (zero)
      Medicine:

      1960 – Peter Brian Medawar

      1998 – Ferid Mourad

      TOTAL: 7 SEVEN

      The Global Jewish population is approximately 14,000,000; that is FOURTEEN MILLION or about 0.02% of the world’s population. They have received the following Nobel Prizes:

      Literature:

      1910 – Paul Heyse

      1927 – Henri Bergson

      1958 – Boris Pasternak

      1966 – Shmuel Yosef Agnon

      1966 – Nelly Sachs

      1976 – Saul Bellow

      1978 – Isaac Bashevis Singer

      1981 – Elias Canetti

      1987 – Joseph Brodsky

      1991 – Nadine Gordimer World

      Peace:

      1911 – Alfred Fried

      1911 – Tobias Michael Carel Asser

      1968 – Rene Cassin

      1973 – Henry Kissinger

      1978 – Menachem Begin

      1986 – Elie Wiesel

      1994 – Shimon Peres

      1994 – Yitzhak Rabin

      Physics:

      1905 – Adolph Von Baeyer

      1906 – Henri Moissan

      1907 – Albert Abraham Michelson

      1908 – Gabriel Lippmann

      1910 – Otto Wallach

      1915 – Richard Willstaetter

      1918 – Fritz Haber

      1921 – Albert Einstein

      1922 – Niels Bohr

      1925 – James Franck

      1925 – Gustav Hertz

      1943 – Gustav Stern

      1943 – George Charles de Hevesy

      1944 – Isidor Issac Rabi

      1952 – Felix Bloch

      1954 – Max Born

      1958 – Igor Tamm

      1959 – Emilio Segre

      1960 – Donald A. Glaser

      1961 – Robert Hofstadter

      1961 – Melvin Calvin

      1962 – Lev Davidovich Landau

      1962 – Max Ferdinand Perutz

      1965 – Richard Phillips Feynman

      1965 – Julian Schwinger

      1969 – Murray Gell-Mann

      1971 – Dennis Gabor

      1972 – William Howard Stein

      1973 – Brian David Josephson

      1975 – Benjamin Mottleson

      1976 – Burton Richter

      1977 – Ilya Prigogine

      1978 – Arno Allan Penzias

      1978 – Peter L Kapitza

      1979 – Stephen Weinberg

      1979 – Sheldon Glashow

      1979 – Herbert Charles Brown

      1980 – Paul Berg

      1980 – Walter Gilbert

      1981 – Roald Hoffmann

      1982 – Aaron Klug

      1985 – Albert A. Hauptman

      1985 – Jerome Karle

      1986 – Dudley R. Herschbach

      1988 – Robert Huber

      1988 – Leon Lederman

      1988 – Melvin Schwartz

      1988 – Jack Steinberger

      1989 – Sidney Altman

      1990 – Jerome Friedman

      1992 – Rudolph Marcus

      1995 – Martin Perl

      2000 – Alan J. Heeger

      Economics:

      1970 – Paul Anthony Samuelson

      1971 – Simon Kuznets

      1972 – Kenneth Joseph Arrow

      1975 – Leonid Kantorovich

      1976 – Milton Friedman

      1978 – Herbert A. Simon

      1980 – Lawrence Robert Klein

      1985 – Franco Modigliani

      1987 – Robert M. Solow

      1990 – Harry Markowitz

      1990 – Merton Miller

      1992 – Gary Becker

      1993 – Robert Fogel

      Medicine:

      1908 – Elie Metchnikoff

      1908 – Paul Erlich

      1914 – Robert Barany

      1922 – Otto Meyerhof

      1930 – Karl Landsteiner

      1931 – Otto Warburg

      1936 – Otto Loewi

      1944 – Joseph Erlanger

      1944 – Herbert Spencer Gasser

      1945 – Ernst Boris Chain

      1946 – Hermann Joseph Muller

      1950 – Tadeus Reichstein

      1952 – Selman Abraham Waksman

      1953 – Hans Krebs

      1953 – Fritz Albert Lipmann

      1958 – Joshua Lederberg

      1959 – Arthur Kornberg

      1964 – Konrad Bloch

      1965 – Francois Jacob

      1965 – Andre Lwoff

      1967 – George Wald

      1968 – Marshall W. Nirenberg

      1969 – Salvador Luria

      1970 – Julius Axelrod

      1970 – Sir Bernard Katz

      1972 – Gerald Maurice Edelman

      1975 – Howard Martin Temin

      1976 – Baruch S. Blumberg

      1977 – Roselyn Sussman Yalow

      1978 – Daniel Nathans

      1980 – Baruj Benacerraf

      1984 – Cesar Milstein

      1985 – Michael Stuart Brown

      1985 – Joseph L. Goldstein

      1986 – Stanley Cohen [& Rita Levi-Montalcini]

      1988 – Gertrude Elion

      1989 – Harold Varmus

      1991 – Erwin Neher

      1991 – Bert Sakmann

      1993 – Richard J. Roberts

      1993 – Phillip Sharp

      1994 – Alfred Gilman

      1995 – Edward B. Lewis

      1996- Lu RoseIacovino

      TOTAL: 129!

      The Jews are NOT promoting brain washing children in military training camps, teaching them how to blow themselves up and cause maximum deaths of Jews and other non Muslims. The Jews don’t hijack planes, nor kill athletes at the Olympics, or blow themselves up in German restaurants. There is NOT one single Jew who has destroyed a church. There is NOT a single Jew who protests by killing people.

      The Jews don’t traffic slaves, nor have leaders calling for Jihad and death to all the Infidels.

      Perhaps the world’s Muslims should consider investing more in standard education and less in blaming the Jews for all their problems.

      Muslims must ask ‘what can they do for humankind’ before they demand that humankind respects them.

      Regardless of your feelings about the crisis between Israel and the Palestinians and Arab neighbors, even if you believe there is more culpability on Israel ‘s part, the following two sentences really say it all:

      ‘If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence. If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel .” Benjamin Netanyahu

      General Eisenhower Warned Us It is a matter of history that when the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, General Dwight Eisenhower, found the victims of the death camps he ordered all possible photographs to be taken, and for the German people from surrounding villages to be ushered through the camps and even made to bury the dead.
      He did this because he said in words to this effect:
      ‘Get it all on record now – get the films – get the witnesses – because somewhere down the road of history some bastard will get up and say that this never happened’

      Recently, the UK debated whether to remove The Holocaust from its school curriculum because it ‘offends’ the Muslim population which claims it never occurred. It is not removed as yet. However, this is a frightening portent of the fear that is gripping the world and how easily each country is giving into it.

      It is now more than 60 years after the Second World War in Europe ended. This e-mail is being sent as a memorial chain, in memory of the, 6 million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians, and 1,900 Catholic priests who were ‘murdered, raped, burned, starved, beaten, experimented on and humiliated’ while the German people looked the other way.

      Now, more than ever, with Iran, among others, claiming the Holocaust to be ‘a myth,’ it is imperative to make sure the world never forgets.

      This e-mail is intended to reach 400 million people. Be a link in the memorial chain and help distribute this around the world.

      How many years will it be before the attack on the World Trade Center ‘NEVER HAPPENED’ because it offends some Muslim in the United States ?

    • Elise

      Funny how the ADL cannot utter the word Islam when discussing the rise in antisemitism. They are nothing but leftist hacks who give a pass to MoslemJew-hatred, which by the way is more of the reason for the rise in EU antisemitism then neo-nazis.

    • David

      Question:

      How about the PEW report and the fact that approximately 85 percent of Jews are ignorant of Judaism or just not interested in exploring
      The beauty of the religion.

      Who runs the world and what is the message from our boss? Reality is that Jews assimilating and leaving Torah causes antisemitism and “issues”.(Beis Halevi)

      Does anyone remember”Berlin is our Jerusalem”?

      Shouldn’t the PEW report and it’s findings be top 10?

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