Monday, November 30, 2009

The ‘Crime’ of Praying with a Tallit, and a Plea for Tolerance

from the Forward, a first person account and opinion by Nofrat Frenkel, a woman arrested at the Kotel for wearing a tallis: The ‘Crime’ of Praying with a Tallit, and a Plea for Tolerance.

The response of the “righteous women of the Kotel” to my donning a tallit never delayed in coming: every Rosh Hodesh I could expect a different type of “blessing.” Curses in Hebrew and Yiddish, venomous treatment toward me and my tallit, and speculation regarding my gender and religion: “A man in the women’s section!” “He’s not even Jewish!” “Perhaps she’s dressed up for Purim?”

I tried not to hear. I tried to concentrate on my prayers and to pray to God “who blesses His people Israel with love” that He should bless His people with the love of man for His fellow man. How can I pray for the building of the Temple when the people are not ready for it? When someone performing a biblical mitzvah is derided and ridiculed?

One Rosh Hodesh, when I had finished my prayers and was making my way out from the prayer area, I suddenly saw a group of tallit-wearing women standing and praying

together. It was my first meeting with the Women of the Wall — Conservative, Reform and Orthodox women who have been meeting to pray together every Rosh Hodesh over the past 21 years. Some wear a tallit, tefillin or a yarmulke, some do not: each according to her religious outlook. I immediately felt that my place was with them.

Nofrat Frenkel (right), the author, reading from the Torah.

Each month we suffered verbal violence. The police looked on with amusement. The high court had decided some years ago that prevention of violence is justifiable grounds for the police acting to avoid an “offense to public sensitivity.”

We were forbidden to continue praying with ritual objects, forbidden to read from the Torah in the women’s section. We were allocated another space, away from the main Kotel plaza, a place for second-class citizens, in which we could pray without, God forbid, forcing the offended public to be exposed to the brutal sight of women performing the mitzvahs of tzitzit and reading the Torah.

The morning of Rosh Hodesh Kislev, November 18, was a cold Jerusalem morning. We stood, 42 Women of the Wall, and prayed in the women’s section. Our tallitot were hidden under our coats; the sefer Torah was in its regular bag. There was no booing, no pushing, no shouting.

We were surprised that our service passed off without any disturbance, and we thought that, perhaps, they had already become accustomed to our presence and that we could even read from the Torah, opposite the stones of the Kotel. Then, just moments after we had removed the sefer Torah from its bag, two men entered the women’s section and began abusing us.

All we wanted was to conclude our prayers in peace, so we decided to forgo the Torah reading there and go, as on every other Rosh Hodesh, to read the Torah at the alternative site. As we were exiting with me carrying the Torah, a policeman met us and began forcefully pushing me toward the nearby police station.

Read the rest...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Tax-exempt churches back anti-gay laws

from the National Catholic Reporter via Crooks and Liars: Portland ME Catholic Diocese Donated $550K To Defeat Same-Sex Marriage Campaign

U.S. Catholic churches are doing their part to make sure gay citizens remain second class. From the National Catholic Reporter:

Gathering money from 50 U.S. dioceses, the Portland, Maine, diocese contributed more than $550,000 to the campaign to rejected Maine's law extending civil marriage to gay and lesbian couples, according to financial records filed with the state agency that tracks political contributions.

In the Nov. 3 referendum, Maine voters rejected 53 to 47 percent the same-sex marriage law.

Supporters and opponents of the law spent more than $7 million, according to the Portland Press Herald.

During the summer, Bishop Richard J. Malone of Portland sent an appeal to other Catholic bishops seeking contributions to defeat the law that the state legislature passed and the governor signed in May.

According to financial records filed with Maine's campaign finance watchdog, the Portland diocese donated nearly $286,000 to Stand For Marriage Maine, which was seeking to repeal the same-sex law. Malone had ordered a second collection be taken up at Masses one September weekend which netted $86,000.

After Portland, Maine, the largest diocesan contributors were the Philadelphia archdiocese and Phoenix diocese, each giving $50,000. The sees of Newark, N.J., St. Louis, Mo., and Youngstown, Ohio, each contributed $10,000. The Diocesan Assistance Fund of Providence, R.I., gave $10,000.00.

When he interviewed a representative of the Philidelphia archdiocese about their donation, the NCR reporter got a response combining "God is on our side", and "this only promotes Catholic education" with "this is no different from feeding the poor". Bad PR is instructive because its deceptiveness is so flagrant.

Donna Farrell, communications director for the Philadelphia archdiocese said in a statement that Malone had requested donations to assist with education and to help people understand the timeless teaching of the church that marriage is between one man and one woman.

“As part of the universal church, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia responds to various requests for donations which come from outside the diocese, in order to advance the mission of the church by promoting and defending the teaching of Christ,” Farrell said.

“Examples of contributions which have been made by the archdiocese for other purposes include those to feed the hungry and provide for the needy in mission countries, to assist victims of natural disasters; to support Catholic military chaplains and pastoral care for our men and women in uniform and to defend the dignity and sanctity of life from conception to natural death.

"The archdiocese responds to such particular requests in addition to its ongoing commitment to provide tuition assistance for Catholic education, to sustain struggling parishes and to ensure that the Gospel message is known and realized.”

Now would Ms. Farrell care to explain why I should fund this form of anti-gay political campaign with my tax dollars?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Jews like Danish. Immigrants to Denmark like Jews not so much.

from the Copenhagen Post Online: Ethnic groups wary of Jews

New study shows five ethnic groupings in Denmark have negative attitudes towards Jewish people

More than 1500 immigrants from Turkish, Pakistani, Somali, Palestinian and Eastern European backgrounds have been interviewed, along with 300 ethnic Danes, for a study on attitudes towards Jews, reports Kristeligt Dagblad newspaper

Every person involved in the study, which will be published in a book about Denmark and foreigners, was asked three questions about their opinions on different groups in society, not just Jews.

But Jews didn’t fare well.

A third of respondents from non-Danish ethnic backgrounds said one ‘couldn’t be too careful enough in relation to Jews in Denmark’. In comparison, 18.2 percent of Danish respondents felt the same.

Three quarters of the former category said they wouldn’t like to see a family member marry a Danish Jew and 31.9 percent felt there were too many Jews in Denmark.

Of the Danish respondents, 14.7 percent said they didn’t want a Jew to marry into their family.

‘The study shows that anti-Semitic feelings are not just found in extremist circles. The opinions are far, far more widespread among immigrants than we normally imagine,’ said Professor Peter Nannestad of the Department of Political Science at University of Aarhus, who authored the study.

Chief Rabbi Bent Lexner from the Mosaisk Troessamfund, the religious community for Jews in Denmark, is not surprised by the results of the study.

‘The nice Danish naivety is apparent if you think it isn’t like that because that’s how the situation is. It’s not coincidental that the government is working on an action plan for how to create better information about the Jewish community in Denmark for these groups,’ Lexner said.

There are about 7000 Jewish people living in Denmark.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Buchanan: Go back where you came from, non-Christian, non-Europeans!

Eisenhower's America was a nation of 160 million with a Euro-Christian core and a culture all its own. We were a people then. And when we have become, in 2050, a stew of 435 millions, of every creed, culture, color and country of Earth, what holds us together then?

Disdain for xenophobic paleoconservatives like Buchanan?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Buchanan website: swine flu vaccine plot by "elites" to kill 2/3 of the world's population

According to a video posted on Pat Buchanan's website, a secret group of "elites" have put in place a plan to lessen the world's population through use of the swine flu vaccine. The video by Dr. Rauni Kilde, described as the former Chief Medical Officer of Finland, claims that the unnamed secret cabal plans to use harmful vaccines to reduce the world population by as much as 5 billion in order to alleviate overpopulation.

For some reason, the folks at the Buchanan website failed to include a second, more complete video of the interview with Dr. Kilde. That's the one where, in addition to vaccines, she also discusses UFO's and what she describes as "mind control" techniques.

According to the info helpfully provided on YouTube by the interviewer:

Our first attempt with Rauni had vital sections deleted by hostile agencies. In this re-interview Rauni discusses a major UFO Conference in Moscow, with 3 high ranking US Military. She roundly condems the Swine Flue racket as a fraud similar to the 1976. She is under constant harassement as was proven when major sections of the 1st interview destroyed in London.

Thank you Pat Buchanan for bringing this sort of sane, well-considered analysis to the health care debate.

UPDATE (11/6/09): You can read a bit of Dr. Kilde's writing here. It concerns her belief that a secret program has been implanting behavior-changing microchips into the brains unwitting human subjects since the 1940s.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Israeli commandos seize huge Iranian arms shipment

Traficant to testify for Demjanjuk; working for Holocaust denial website

Disgraced former Congressman Jim Traficant was recently freed from federal prison after serving seven years of hard time for corruption and tax evasion. He surprised many people who haven't followed his case by claiming in subsequent interviews that he had been framed by the "Israel lobby".

Now, according to a column he has published on the neo-fascist, Holocaust denial website American Free Press, Traficant is planning to travel to Germany to testify on behalf of John Demjanjuk. Demjanjuk has been indicted for war crimes committed while allegedly serving as a guard at the Sobibor concentration camp during World War II; the trial is set for later this month. Traficant also announced that he would be writing a regular column for American Free Press. (Read Traficant's AFP column here. Read a Youngstown, Ohio Business Journal report on this here; and Editor and Publisher, here.)

Demjanjuk has been a cause célèbre on the far-right, getting support from Pat Buchanan, who compared him to Christ (read here), David Duke (read here) and David Irving (read here). Of that group, only Buchanan and Traficant had careers in the political mainstream. Buchanan worked for two Republican administrations (Nixon and Reagan), made one serious and two not so serious bids for the presidency, and has for a long time regularly regurgitated political opinions as a cable news talking head. Traficant served as a Democratic congressman from Ohio's 17th CD for almost 9 terms, his last term having been abbreviated by a conviction and subsequent expulsion from Congress for corruption and tax evasion.

It looks like Traficant's rehabilitation is not going well, his first post-prison employment being with Willis Carto's American Free Press. Carto, for those lucky enough not to know of him, has been for the last 50 years perhaps the important organizer of neo-fascist groups and publisher of anti-Semitic literature in the United States, devoting a personal fortune to that cause. (Readhere and here and here.) American Free Press and The Barnes Review are currently Carto's most popular magazines/websites. With Carto's dotage, the public face of AFP is frequently Michael Collins Piper. Piper has been courting Traficant for AFP, writing an entire book (readhere) and a number of columns (read here) all devoted to defending Traficant and blaming "Zionists" for his downfall. In fact, Piper has become a virtual press agent for Traficant, both enabling and capitalizing on his extremism in the process. AFP and Piper have also provided Traficant with material support, raising funds for him (see below) and now giving him a job as a columnist.

By way of background, Piper is also the author of Final Judgement, a book which combined JFK assassination conspiracy theory with anti-Semitic Israel bashing, achieving levels of implausibility which even others on the conspiracy theory circuit mock. (Read here.) An advertisement for another of Piper's books, Judas Goats: The Enemy Within -- which is described as "the shocking story" of a Jewish fifth column "subverting the American nationalist movement" --appears on the AFP website. Also advertised: The High Priests of War, The New Jerusalem: Zionist Power in America , Dirty Secrets: Crime, Conspiracy & Cover-Up in the 20th Century, and The GOLEM: Israel's Hell Bomb. His AFP articles have a similar focus on anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and support for Holocaust denial.

Far-right Emissary to the Muslim World

Piper has been described as the U.S. far-right's emissary to the Muslim world, devoting a great deal of attention to building ties between the neo-fascist far-right and Muslim anti-Zionists. He has worked particularly closely with former Malaysia PM Mahathir bin Mohamad and his chief aide Matthias Chang. Piper led a delegation of "9/11 truth" advocates to a Kuala Lumpur conference hosted by a foundation run by Mahathir and Chang. That conference, which nominally concerned Islamic culture, was devoted largely to bashing Jews and Israel. (Read more about that in a well-written news account here and in Piper's account here. ) There Piper continued to promote the line that the governments of Israel and/or the United States were behind 9/11. This has been one of Piper's main themes, starting almost immediately after 9/11 in an article containing the following:
"Did Ariel Sharon help orchestrate the September 11 terrorist attacks to instigate all-out US war against Israel's enemies? Don't discount it."
Since that time, Piper's articles blaming Israel for 9/11 have been disseminated by, among many others, the pro-Palestinian Internation Solidarity Movement (ISM) (read here in French, auto-translated here).

Pictured below are Piper, Mahathir and British journalist Yvonne Ridley of Iran's Press-TV at the Kuala Lumpur Islamic Culture conference. Piper writes of Ridley's presentation that

"British journalist Yvonne Ridley, now a convert to Islam, reflected on her own experiences in the media and emphasized how the media has promoted bias against Muslims. She also noted that while Bush has advocated “democracy,” the very moment the Palestinians elected a government that Bush did not like, the president moved to block aid and effectively starve the Palestinians — that is commit genocide against them...

"Following this conference, (Piper's group was) invited for a private visit with Dr. Mahathir, the former Malaysian prime minister, at his office at the Perdana Global Peace Organization. Joining us were his former political secretary, Matthias Chang, who remains a close advisor to Dr. Mahathir, Mrs. Ridley, and Mrs. Sabariah Abdullah and Miss Abida Anwar from Saba Islamic Media, the publisher of the Malaysian editions of my books."

Ridley, the former Taliban hostage who subsequently converted to religious Islam and political Islamism, is employed by the Iranian dictatorship as a television host on their English language propaganda station, Press-TV.

Piper has extensive ties to Matthias Chang, which I discussed at length in this article concerning Chang's connections to Cynthia McKinney. McKinney has touted Chang's trilogy of books called Future Fastforward and attended several of his anti-Israel conferences. Chang's trilogy argues that a "Zionist" conspiracy of "shadow money-lenders" works to destabilize the world economy and start wars in order to establish a world-controlling "oligarchy". Chang oddly claims this oligarchy will mirror that of the former Soviet Union -- odd because that oligarchy has not fared particularly well. Chang's books are published in the U.S. by AFP and promoted by Piper, and Chang participated in one of their annual conferences at Piper's invitation.

Piper writes of Chang's presentation at the Kuala Lumpur conference as follows.

"No-nonsense Malaysian attorney and author Matthias Chang gave a rousing address titled “The Killing Machine,” which was supplemented with a highly effective multimedia presentation. Although not a Muslim — he’s a Christian of Chinese descent — Chang strongly told the Muslims of Malaysia that they should stand up to the United States and Israel in the ongoing scheme to wage war against their fellow Muslims in Iran, all of which is part of a broader agenda for world domination. This, of course, is outlined in Chang’s book, Future Fastforward, available from AFP."

Strange Bedfellows

Piper's international outreach is not limited by either logic or loyalty to "anti-Zionist" Muslims. Like others on the far-right, he also makes common cause with anti-Muslims. In this, he has much in common with Lady Michele Renouf. After he joined with Renouf to support the Holocaust denier David Irving in his legal battles (read here), she reciprocated by giving a presentation at the 2006 annual conference of the AFP in Washington, D.C. (pictured below) . As I mentioned above, they also both appeared at the Tehran Holocaust denial conference. (An edited video of her presentation at that conference is available here at a racist website.) Renouf addressed the audience wearing a green robe and Islamic headscarf, and called Ahmadinejad "a hero" for opening a debate about the Holocaust. Also there was David Duke, who called the Holocaust a myth designed to oppress Palestinians and gain world domination.

Renouf, like Piper, is attempting to build bridges between the far-right and Muslim anti-Zionists. She has been involved with a group called the "New Right" which brings together elements of George Galloway's Respect party and the BNP. She has also appeared several times on Press-TV as their resident expert Holocaust denier. (Read here.) Interestingly, the BNP has at times attempted to distance themselves from the Holocaust denial of David Irving and Michele Renouf, and at other times condemned that Holocaust denial as not extreme enough. I guess that's the problem with this kind of extremist historical revisionism: it is by nature arbitrary and subject to the whims of those who espouse it.

Both Piper and Renouf share an emphatically anti-Jewish, not anti-Muslim, belief system, distinguishing them from some others on the far-right. In attempting to bring together the far-right with Muslims they navigate hazardous shoals. Their dilemma: how to bring together two groups which are sometimes enemies. Their simple answer: focus exclusively on the issue of "anti-Zionism" and avoid the dangerous contradictions inherent in their position.

The David Duke - Traficant - Piper connection

Traficant's opposition to Israel and his work on behalf of Demjanjuk have gained him support from members of the anti-Semitic far-right better-known than Michael Collins Piper, namely the neo-Nazi and former KKK leader David Duke. In August, Traficant, in a statement given to the media on his behalf by Piper, disavowed in strong terms support given him by Duke. Duke had published on his website, purportedly without permission, Piper's pitch to raise so-called "canteen contributions" for Traficant to use while in prison. Duke also published on his websites several columns and videos supporting Traficant, even publishing a piece written by Traficant himself. Traficant has refused to reveal to the media how much money he has received from Duke and Piper's fundraising efforts. The Warren, Ohio Tribune Chronicle report on this subject credulously quoted Traficant and Piper's disavowal of Duke, but completely neglected to mention that Piper, like Duke, is a far-right anti-Semite. (Read here.)

If that reporter had known who Piper was, he could have asked why Traficant would attempt to distance himself from one far-right bigot with the assistance of another. Piper's explanation might have tried to distinguish Duke's white nationalist opposition to "Jewish Supremicism" from Piper's "American nationalist" opposition to ZOG. After that, Piper might have explained why both he and Duke will be featured speakers at this weekend's American Free Press conference in Washington, D.C. (Read about that at Duke's website here; WARNING: HATE GROUP WEBSITE. The phone number Duke gives to register for that conference belongs to Piper's office. Read here, bottom of page.) He then could have gone on to explain their many years of association and cooperation.

So Piper, when talking to mainstream reporters comes on like he hates David Duke. But, when the media's not looking, he invites Duke to speak at his "free speech" conferences. (By the way, if you want to read about the overt Nazism on display at earlier AFP/TBR conferences, I wrote about one of them here, about halfway down the page. Here's a photo of Hutton Gibson appearing at one with Holocaust denier Frederick Töben.)

[Duke, maybe even more than Piper and Renouf, flies headlong into the propellers of the dispute between Muslim anti-Zionists and Europe's xenophobic right, supporting whichever side is most appropriate to his current audience. Of course, even supportive audiences must, on some level, expect a bit of the charlatan from Duke, the man who has traded white robes, pointed hoods and swastika armbands for business suits, pseudoscholarly conferences and honorary PhDs. And his approach is precisely that of Piper and Renouf, he avoids this issue by relying on shared anti-Semitism, something all sides can agree on (read here and here and here). His audiences cooperate by not confronting him with difficult questions.]

To give you a sense of who Piper is, embedded below is a video of Piper arguing that Jewish influence on the United States government is the most important issue today, an argument which I believe he has made throughout his career. Start watching at about 1:40. He says that U.S. politicians of both mainstream parties grovel before Jews on hands and knees and that only AFP will report this. He should expect angry letters from David Duke and many others in response to this slight.

Traficant's Career Choice

Traficant's new position with AFP and his connection to Piper makes a lot of sense when you listen to what Traficant has to say now that he's out of stir. He claims that his support for John Demjanjuk led the "Israel lobby" to frame him: the old "I'm not corrupt, the evil Jews set me up" defense. (The fact that the Israeli Supreme Court previously found Demjanjuk not guilty of earlier charges and freed him seems to have escaped his notice.) It seems appropriate somehow that Traficant, his political career essentially over, has found an ideological home with this neo-fascist magazine in decline. Other disgraced former politicians have taken a similar route of blaming their decline on the Jews and have found a niche in which they can operate; Cynthia McKinney and George Galloway come to mind. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see them sharing a stage at some "anti-Zionist" event, hosted perhaps by Mahathir or Ahmadinejad. That event will no doubt be covered at length by AFP and Press-TV.

(Read more about all this on Piper's website here.)

If anyone reading this has more information on the Traficant / American Free Press connection, feel free to write me at adamhollandblog (at)


adamhollandblog [AT] gmail [DOT] com