Jeremy Corbyn leads the British Labour Party. (Photo/JTA-Getty Images-Thierry Monasse)
Jeremy Corbyn leads the British Labour Party. (Photo/JTA-Getty Images-Thierry Monasse)

Is ‘heil Hitler’ free speech?; ‘evil’ CJM protest; Corbyn’s anti-Semitism

Protest at CJM was ‘evil’

Kudos to French President Emmanuel Macron and French people for “Saying ‘Enough’ to anti-Semitism in France” (J. editorial, Feb. 21).

However, while we are all justifiably concerned about the fast-growing anti-Semitism in Europe, it should be of no lesser concern what’s happening in our own backyard.

On Feb. 9, a crowd of anti-Israel activists, organized by Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT) and Alliance of South Asians Taking Action, gathered in front of the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco carrying signs “Unmask Israeli Apartheid” and “Unmask Zionism.” (This is the same group that has been aggressively trying to get Manny’s Café, owned by a Jewish man with Israeli heritage, out of the Mission District.) They also projected anti-Israel and anti-Zionist slogans on the facade of the museum.

Perversely, their protest came two days after the opening of CJM’s exhibition “Show Me as I Want to Be Seen,” featuring the works of the transgender French Jewish artist Claude Cahun (1894–1954).

“We must name the evil: anti-Semitism is hiding behind the mask of anti-Zionism,” Macron said, and so must we here, in San Francisco.

Amazingly, I learned about this protest from an art blog and have not seen or heard anything about it, or about any response by the Jewish leadership, in the local media.

Sonia Melnikova-Raich
San Francisco

Airbnb in the West Bank

The individuals suing Airbnb, saying the company’s refusal to list Jewish properties in the West Bank is anti-Jewish (“Why S.F.-based Airbnb’s policy on Israeli settlements is boiling over,” Feb. 15), refuse to recognize that those properties are not in Israel and that the land is Palestinian.

The Jews that occupy the West Bank are, in fact, standing in the way of a peaceful resolution and therefore may themselves be considered anti-Jewish. A two-state solution seems far away at the moment, but only it will provide security to Israel as a homeland of the Jewish people.

Jon Kaufman

Is ‘heil Hitler’ free speech?

My Israeli friend was recently on Muni in San Francisco. To her surprise, a man blurted out “heil Hitler” and two others chimed in. No one else on the bus reacted, and she was extremely upset by the incident. Although it wasn’t directed at her, it felt like she was in a nightmare. Her father was in Germany during the rise of the Nazis and forced to repeat that phrase by soldiers. Her family later fled for their lives to Israel.

Clearly, reacting on Muni wasn’t a safe option, so she went to the S.F. Police to report the incident. She was told saying “heil Hitler” is considered free speech.

Apparently not in Germany or several other European countries. There, it is a crime if shouted at someone known to be Jewish. Then it becomes hate speech.

It seems to me there must be something between free speech and hate speech (besides rational thinking and common decency). Are we just supposed to “sit and take it?” My friend and I are unable to think of what action to take. Thus, the price of “free” speech.

Rachel Myers
San Francisco

Corbyn’s anti-Semitism runs deep

Thank you for Dan Friedman’s op-ed (“It’s not just anti-Semitism: Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit problem is also a disaster for Jews,” Feb. 22), noting that there is “overwhelming public proof” of Corbyn’s anti-Semitism.

That assertion is no exaggeration: Corbyn tried to remove the word “Holocaust” from Britain’s “Holocaust Remembrance Day” and bitterly opposed the Labour Party’s adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s full working definition of anti-Semitism. He also defended a Der Sturmer-style anti-Semitic mural.

Corbyn even praised anti-Semitic blood libeler Raed Salah as an “honored citizen” and “a voice that must be heard” and invited him to Parliament. Salah has said that Jews “knead the blood of children into the bread” they make, and claimed that 4,000 Jews who worked at the World Trade Center were warned on Sept. 11, 2001, to stay home, implying Jewish/Israeli culpability for the Islamist terror attacks.

Corbyn also has called Hamas and Hezbollah his “brothers” and “friends”; complained on Iranian television about the BBC’s “bias” in favor of Israel’s “right to exist”; and hosted an event equating democratic, multicultural Israel with Nazi Germany.

In 2013, Corbyn asserted that “Zionists” (meaning British Jews) don’t understand history or English irony even if they’ve lived in Britain their entire lives, implying that Jews can never become real Britons. And in 2014, he attended a wreath-laying ceremony in Tunisia honoring a Palestinian terrorist who planned the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre of 11 Israelis.

Meanwhile, Corbyn’s loyalists have viciously bullied Jewish and pro-Israel members of Parliament like Luciana Berger into quitting the party.

Last year, the three major British-Jewish newspapers published an extraordinary joint front-page editorial warning that Corbyn poses an “existential threat to Jewish life in this country.”

Stephen A. Silver
San Francisco

Our history, our future

The lack of understanding of Zionism by Jewish youngsters (“Nobody my age knows what Zionism means,” Feb. 15) is just one reason why Jews feel hapless in the face of insults, lies and pure hatred gushing from BDS, Students for Justice in Palestine and similar groups. A larger problem is the forgotten Jewish story and history lost in the midst of fighting the anti-Semitism.

In 1904, famous Russian writer Aleksandr Kuprin published a short story titled “Zhidovka,” a pejorative for a Jewish woman. Here are two excerpts from it, which I dared to translate being unable to find an English text:

“The amazing, unfathomable Jewish people … Through the millennia they have been moving on, not mixing with others … carrying on in their hearts the eternal anguish and the eternal light. Ages ago the flashy and expansive life of Rome, Greece and Egypt turned into museum collections, while this mystical people, who were already patriarchs at the times of these countries’ childhoods, not only exists, but has preserved everywhere its robust southern cast, its faith full of high hopes and intricate rituals, and the sacred language of its stirring hallowed books.”

The story continued: The Jewish people’s “entire history has been filled with hatred, cruelty, murderous horrors, inquisition … How could they survive? Or indeed, peoples’ fates have their own inconceivable, mysterious goals?”

Remarkably, all this was written before the Holocaust.

Now, let’s leap forward, into the post-1948 era, where one Jewish state exists and strives, within the Jewish ancestors’ land, constituting (roughly) .16 percent of the land belonging to 21 Arab countries.

And Jews are called “occupiers”? Supporters of an “apartheid” state? Racists?

It’s absurd.

If a Russian writer of the early 20th century had been wondering about Jewish survival, can we as Israel’s contemporaries affirm this survival and be proud of it?  This might be the best answer to the current anti-Semitism and its twin, anti-Zionism.

Vladimir Kaplan
San Mateo

Blurry vision of the conflict

The Palestinian National Charter states that “claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with history” and Palestinians “reject all solutions which are substitutes for the total liberation of Palestine.”

This explains why Israelis have always lived with atrocities perpetrated by Palestinians. Palestinian intransigence regarding sharing the land unjustly affects Israelis and necessitates implementation of security policies that protect the lives of Israelis.

It is well known that both Israeli and Palestinian homes are bulldozed when courts decide the structures lack proper permits.

The character of the Jewish people has held up astonishingly well considering that terror attacks on civilians in Israel are an ongoing feature of life in the country. If, like George Altshuler (“Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the kaleidoscope,” Feb. 27), you are “prepared for outrage,” odds are that you will employ selective vision so that you will experience outrage.

Perhaps Mr. Altshuler is looking through the wrong end of his kaleidoscope.

Julia Lutch

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