Friday, April 20, 2018

An Open Letter to Gail Simmons of Food & Wine Magazine Concerning Its Honoring of Racist Cafe Owner, Reem Assil

Michael Lumish

{Also published at the Algemeiner.}

Gail Simmons
of Food & Wine
and Top Chef
Dear Gail,

Laurie and I have been fans of Top Chef since the 2006 opening-season in San Francisco. We lived in the Central Haight at the time and were recently married as I was chewing on a dissertation and she was designing a career in marketing. We also briefly talked with you at a Grapes to Glass festival in Sonoma a few years ago.

You were at the Food & Wine table and we just dropped by to say "hello" as fans.

I may have been a bit star-struck at the time.

I am also, by the way, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and a PhD in American History from Penn State University.

The reason that I am knocking on your door is to sincerely request that Food & Wine not honor Reem Assil's culinary efforts in Oakland. I suppose that it is too late since it has already named Reem's among Food & Wine Restaurants of the Year for 2018.

It is not your fault, but Food & Wine is making a mistake.

By venerating the antisemitic murderer Rasmea Odeh, Reem Assil is popularizing hatred for Jewish people in day-to-day retail spaces within the San Francisco Bay Area.

Terry Joffe Benaryeh, the niece of Edward Joffe, has written about the trauma to her family and their overcoming of that trauma in the pages of the Times of Israel. She writes eloquently about moving her family beyond the very malice that Reem Assil celebrates.

Reem's flatbread and coffee-shop features a floor-to-ceiling mural of the murderer of Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner. They were just college students, barely out of their teens in Jerusalem from the Hebrew University when Rasmea Odeh shattered their bones all over the Supersol grocery store in 1969 on behalf of the PFLP. This is essentially the same group that pushed 69-year-old wheel-chair bound Leon Klinghoffer off of the deck of the Achille Lauro during a cruise with his wife in celebration of their 36th wedding anniversary.

I am closely familiar with this story because Reem Assil and her attorneys dragged me into the legal system for writing about it on my small blog, Israel Thrives.

Among the people best able to describe Rasmea Odeh's political murders is Cornell University Professor of Law, William Jacobson:



But the truth is - whatever the quality of Assil's flatbread - this woman is not only honoring an ideological antisemitic killer but is popularizing it on the local, retail-level in the name of "social justice."

I sincerely hope that Food & Wine will recognize that it has made an understandable mistake because it is not as if Assil's veneration of the murderer Rasmea Odeh is common knowledge.

I do not believe that this mistake was malicious, but it should be corrected not only for the integrity of Food & Wine but because it is simply not ethical.

But what cuts close to the bone for me personally is the fact that three times Reem Assil and her attorneys sought Temporary Restraining Orders (TROs) against me and were three times denied by the courts. They sought these TROs not because I ever spoke with Reem Assil or ever came within ten feet of the woman. I do not know her. Yet Assil's attorney's sought these restraining orders to prevent me from writing about the demonstrable fact that she is celebrating an ideological killer of Jews.

What most analyses of this story miss are two crucial points.

The first is that in her legal efforts to silence our vigils for the dead, Assil also sought to push against the Western and American tradition of freedom of speech. My case was a test case. It was meant to see if Assil and her friends could not legally silence American Jews, and friends of the Jewish people, from speaking out against antisemitism.

The second is that in celebrating Rasmea Odeh in that giant floor-to-ceiling mural, Assil sought to mainstream violent antisemitism in common American retail spaces. It represents the popular cultural expression of hatred towards Jews.

I very much want you to understand that it is not in the interest of Food & Wine, or anyone else, to join such a racist celebration within living memory of the Holocaust.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

A Note to an Old Friend

Michael Lumish

I recently started communicating with a guy that I have known online since my days on Daily Kos and Maryscott O'Connor's defunct My Left Wing.

This gentleman is, to my mind, an intelligent person to be respected.

He is a pro-Israel Jew, an attorney, a progressive, and an epicure.

But what I fail to understand is how even highly sophisticated and intelligent people simply refuse to acknowledge the fact that the Left is the greatest purveyor of bigotry and hatred in the United States today.

I asked this question:
The American Right is giving up racism, while the Left is racializing everything.

Am I wrong?
My old friend agreed with others that, yes, I am wrong.

This is my response to the guy:
Even here I have to disagree with you.

The problem with the Left is not at the fringes - as it is on the Right - but in the mainstream, both grassroots and organizational.

{And please understand that my intention is not to be confrontational or partisan.}

The truth, as you well know, is that antisemitic anti-Zionism in the West is largely coming from the Left and political Islam.

Even just today we have the women's movement under Linda Sarsour and others dismissing the Anti-Defamation League as essentially a racist organization.

It is left-leaning organizational venues, like the NYT or the Guardian or the HuffPost or, yes, Daily Kos, that have made homes of themselves for political anti-Zionism.

And, needless to say, this constant whining and screeching and moaning and groaning about the evils of "whiteness" and "white" people comes entirely from the Western Left.

One of my fundamental criticisms of the American Left is that we do not get to pick-and-choose which ethnic groups it is OK to be hateful towards.

Progressive-left racism represents a big blind-spot for the Left.

But all racists throughout history have believed that their racism was fully justified... and, thus, not really "racism" at all.
And on a related note to a different person under the same discussion who, although highly intelligent himself, refuses to acknowledge American advancement in racial relations, I wrote:
You are misreading American history entirely.

Between Martin Luther King, Jr. and the presidency of Barack Obama the United States did more to move beyond the crusty old racisms of the past than any other country during a similar period of time and no one did more than did the American right-wing in that regard.

The right, under William F. Buckley Jr., emphatically repudiated mainstream Republican Party antisemitism and in recent decades has absolutely repudiated de jure racism of the type that typified Jim Crow.

Unfortunately - and, again, I say this as someone who comes out of the American Left - it is within the Left that we are seeing the shedding of liberalism and the rise of truly intense forms of bigotry and racial hatred.

The three fundamental types of progressive-left bigotry are anti-white racism, antisemitic anti-Zionism, and the type of "humanitarian" racism which treats people of non-European descent like children.

What seems fairly obvious, and very sad, is the apparent need of many political people on the Left to continue whipping up racial tensions after a time when we've moved so well beyond them.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Rabbi Slifkin and Ayman Odeh on Israel's independence

Sar Shalom

The New York Times carried yet another propaganda piece by Ayman Odeh decrying Israel's Independence Day as the Palestinians' "Nakba." Among the points Odeh raises is that of the 70,000 Arabs in the Haifa area before the Independence War, all but 2,000 were, according to Odeh's narrative, expelled, with his grandparents among the 2,000 who remained.

Odeh goes on to list other crimes he attributes to Israel. On one level, it would be worth fisking those claims. However, on another level, it is worth looking at an analysis of another group's response to Israel's Memorial/Independence Day by Rabbi Natan Slifkin. In describing the reasons for chareidi practice, Slifkin describes:
There are the explanations that are given for kiruv or PR or even internal purposes, and that are believed by many Anglo charedi wannabees, and sometimes even by some real McCoy Israeli charedim. And then there are the real explanations, which are well understood by astute observers of the charedi world, as well as many people within the charedi world.
One of Slifkin's examples is Yom Hashoah for which Rabbi Slifkin writes:
Explanations such as "the siren is chukas hagoy," or "we don't mourn during Nissan," or .... The real reason is that Yom HaShoah is an event created by and for the nation of the State of Israel as a whole, and charedim do not want to identify as part of that wider community.
A similar phenomenon is in effect with Arab complaints about Israeli abuse of the "indigenous" Palestinians. The public reasons are the ones that Odeh wrote and the the NY Times published today. The real reason is that the Jews have abrogated the Pact of Umar and the Arabs are angry that they cannot respond as Abu Ishaq did in 1066.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

This Week on Nothing Left

Michael Lumish

This week Michael Burd and Alan Freedman speak with Rev Fred Nile about conservative politics and his participation in a joint Jewish-Christian event in Sydney to mark Israel’s 70th birthday, and then hear an interview Michael conducted with ‘Robert’, a Gaza supporter at the recent rally in Melbourne and the holder of some very strange views.

The guys then follow up on the situation of Jeremy Corbyn and UK Jewry with British blogger Richard Millett and academic Frank Furedi.

And while Isi Leibler is taking some time off, Michael and Alan catch up on the latest in Israel with Arnold Roth.


3 min Editorial: Israel’s right to exist

11 min Rev Fred Nile, Christian support for Israel

36 min Discussion and then Gaza supporter ‘Robert’ at Melbourne rally

50 min Richard Millet, UK blogger on Corbyn and UK Jewry

1 hr 10 Frank Furedi, UK academic on Corbyn and UK Jewry

1 hr 28 Arnold Roth in Israel


The podcast can also be found on the J-Air website.

Or its Facebook page.

NOTHING LEFT can be heard live each Tuesday 9-11am on FM 87.8 in the Caulfield area, or via the J-Air website www.j-air.com.au

Contact Michael and Alan at Nothing Left:

michael@nothingleft.com.au

alan@nothingleft.com.au

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Ruth Wisse and the Israeli "Messy House" Metaphor

Michael Lumish

{Also published at Jews Down Under.}

Ruth Wisse
Professor of Yiddish Literature, Harvard
Israel has been in for vicious criticism recently over its response to the violent Arab March of Return.

Hamas sent about 30,000 soldiers, and families of soldiers, to challenge the integrity of the fence between Israel and Gaza. They have also burned thousands of tires near that fence creating a local environmental catastrophe.

About seventeen people were killed in the first wave of this little adventure-slash-picnic and, according to some sources, about seven hundred people were shot by the IDF.

{This statistic, by the way, is difficult to believe. If the IDF shot up over seven hundred people there would definitely be more than seventeen, or so, dead.}

Simultaneously, Israelis are in an uproar over their version of the Middle East / African immigration crisis.

There are about 38,000 illegal immigrants from Africa in the country who have created their own little ghetto in south Tel Aviv. Some are calling that neighborhood "Little Africa." The high-pitched, table-pounding debate within Israel is about just what to do with these people.

The right-wing wants them deported because they are illegal immigrants and the left-wing wants them to move in with your grandmother.

In recent months it looked as if the Netanyahu government might deport them back to Africa, but a deal was struck through the offices of the United Nations wherein Western countries would take in half of those illegal immigrants and Israel would assimilate the other half. My sense is that this was a compromise that most on both sides of the argument could live with.

Needless to say, Netanyahu canceled the deal and now no one is happy. The left-wing in Israel is screaming from the rafters that this is cruel because all refugees deserve - as a friend of mine put it -"to have their specific, individual case heard by a fair system of refugee determination."

Meanwhile the right-wing is upset because of Netanyahu's unreliability and flip-flop-o'mania.

As the criticism of Israel begins to ramp-up in this current developing season of Israel Hatred, it is important to keep in mind some very wise words from Harvard Professor of Yiddish literature Ruth Wisse who, I assume, will forgive me for paraphrasing.

In a lecture a few years ago she used a metaphor to criticize the friendly critics of Israel who just wish that Israel was a more moral country. These are the kind of people who genuinely regret that Israel fails to be a Light Unto the Nations and who champion Tikkun Olam.

Professor Wisse asks us to consider the following scenario:

Let us imagine that you own a house in a particular neighborhood and one day a friendly neighbor dropped by for a beer and chit-chat on a hot summer Sunday afternoon. This is a guy who lives just down the street, who you know by first name, and who you've been more-or-less friendly with for years.

Suppose this neighbor suggested, as you're settin' on the porch, that you really needed to clean up your yard and house a bit because things are getting a little messy. He's talking as a friend to a friend and in an entirely non-hostile manner. You know, the yard needs a little weed-whacking and there is still that broken window in the second bedroom that must be replaced.

But let's say that, in truth, your house is the best-kept house in the neighborhood. The houses surrounding your house and those nearby are obnoxious wrecks. Yards are entirely overgrown like jungles. Roofs are caving in.

Neighbor kids are running around with slingshots, but no pants.

And let's say that you've always wanted to live peaceably with these neighbors, yet they throw rocks through your windows and threaten violence and death upon your family.

What would you think of your friend's advice to trim your weeds under those circumstances?

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The New York Times Celebrates Reem Assil's Antisemitic Cafe in Oakland

Michael Lumish

{Also published at the Algemeiner.}

Reem Assil Grinning Before an
Ideological Murderer
Photo by: Cece Capiro
The New York Times "Travel Section" has a piece by Rebecca Flint Marx entitled, An Arab Bakery in Oakland Full of California Love.

In truth, Reem's flatbread café is not a very loving place for Jewish people because it publicly celebrates the murders of college students Eddie Joffe and Leon Kanner.

Or, at least, it is not loving towards those of us who care about our families and friends in the land of our ancestry.

The very title of Marx's piece is a form of journalistic deceit.

"An Arab Bakery in Oakland Full of California Love"?

Perhaps I am a tad biased.

I don't know how I could not be, given that I am the guy that Reem Assil dragged into the legal system for speaking the truth about the hatred she spreads through the veneration of the murderer Rasmea Odeh.

To be blunt, Reem's bakery is defined not by love but by the other side of that coin.

In a run-down section of Oakland - within spitting distance of the Fruitvale BART Station where Oscar Grant was shot dead on New Year's Eve, 2009 - Reem Assil spreads malice toward the Jewish people... but, apparently, according to the New York Times in a loving way.

The floor-to-ceiling mural of the murderer and antisemitic anti-Zionist Rasmea Odeh is the point of contention.

Marx, in an act of journalistic malpractice - even for a food writer - described Odeh as merely some  "controversial Palestinian activist" until an editor, after a response by angry Jews, no doubt, added the caveat:
In 1970, Ms. Odeh was convicted by Israeli courts for her role in the murder of two students. In 2014, she was convicted of immigration fraud in U.S. federal court and was deported to Jordan in 2017.
Indeed.

Yet, somehow, the New York Times still features the piece under the headline, An Arab Bakery in Oakland Full of California Love.

Furthermore, Justin Phillips of the San Francisco Chronicle tells us that Reem Assil continues meteoric rise with new fine-dining restaurant at Jack London Square.

The truth is that Rasmea Odeh is a confessed and convicted murderer in an Israeli court case observed by the International Red Cross  as William Jacobson, Cornell University Professor of Law and proprietor of the Legal Insurrection website, clearly outlines in this video.

Many years after the murder her partner, Aisha Odeh, confessed to the crime in a proud manner on Palestinian-Arab television and revealed Rasmea's role in those murders. She claims at the 1:35-minute mark, "Rasmiyeh Oudeh was more involved than I was..."

She is the convicted killer of Hebrew University students Edward Joffie (21) and Leon Kanner (20) in the 1969 terrorist attack by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). The PFLP is also the organization responsible for the flinging of 69-year-old, wheelchair-bound, Leon Klinghoffer off of the Achille Lauro cruise ship in 1985 into the Mediterranean Sea on his wedding anniversary.

Odeh was released in 1980 from an Israeli prison as one of 78 other Palestinian-Arabs in return for a single Jew.

She then lied her way into the United States where - much to my astonishment - made a name for herself as a "progressive-left feminist" organizer in Chicago and an eventual associate of that faux-icon of human liberation, Linda Sarsour.

The United States government, meanwhile, recently deported Odeh to Jordan not because she kills people, but because she falsified her papers into the United States by forgetting to the mention the fact that she kills people.

Reem Assil - with a big smile on her face and in an "Oaklandish Warriors" t-shirt in the photo above - is, thus, glorifying an anti-Jewish genocidal racist killer.

This woman is Americanizing - with the t-shirt and baseball cap - violent hatred toward Jews.

She is attaching Arab-Palestinian malice toward Jewish people onto good old-fashioned sports Americana with a young hipster look and that is a terrific tactic if what you are after is the normalization of racist bigotry.

On a culinary level, Reem's joint is a small step above your average food truck - and therefore it is hard to imagine just why the New York Times, of all places, would take notice - but her flatbread has significance on a political level because she breaks fresh ground in the San Francisco Bay Area in terms of spreading antisemitic anti-Zionism.

Reem Assil, in her reverence for Rasmea Odeh, is helping to make Jew Hatred cool and is doing so on a day-to-day retail level.

The heartlessness, within living memory of the Holocaust, is difficult to fathom.

Marx tells us that, according to Assil, social justice "has always been a core component of Reem’s."

This is false.

Whatever the quality of Assil's flatbread the very last thing that her joint has to do with is social justice.

Assil is not so much serving flatbread to the Oakland public as she is serving up violent political malice toward Jewish people.

The mural of Rasmea Odeh puts every Jew passing by on notice.

It reminds me just a tad of 1930s Berlin.

It is like walking by a giant Nazi Swastika every time that I enter the Fruitvale BART Station.

"California love"?

I certainly hope not.

The Times should be ashamed of itself.

What a disgrace.