News from July 6 to July 12

DeSean Jackson, Israel's budget dilemma, and Peter Beinart

Hey everyone! As always, feel free to reach out to me with questions, comments, or concerns at newsofthejews@gmail.com. If you need good Jewish/Israeli shows or movies, make sure to check out this newsletter. Also, make sure to check out the trailer for the upcoming movie “An American Pickle,” which features Seth Rogen playing a 1920s Jewish immigrant and his grandson.

DeSean Jackson’s Instagram posts headline a week with several internet-related antisemitic incidents:

What happened with Desean Jackson? Last week, Desean Jackson shared an image on his Instagram that featured an antisemitic passage (falsely) attributed to Hitler. Though Jackson later said that he posted the image because he believed it was an example of black oppression, it references antisemitic theories similar to those propagated by the perpetrators in the Jersey City shooting in December. At the end of the passage in the post, the author says, “Hitler was right.”

How have people reacted? Some responses to Jackson’s post were discouraging, but many were encouraging.

Regarding the discouraging part of the response, some statements made by notable figures arguably worsened the situation. Stephen Jackson, a former NBA player, said Jackson “speaking the truth” and later brought up the Rothschilds during an exchange on Twitter (He later spoke with Rabbi David Wolpe on Instagram Live where he disavowed antisemitism and walked back the comments). Malcolm Jenkins, an NFL player and Jackson’s teammate on the Eagles, was criticized for only calling Jackson out for distracting from other social justice causes, not making antisemitic posts. 

However, some of Jackson’s critics sought to make the situation into a positive by using it as an opportunity to educate people about antisemitism. Julian Edelman, a Jewish NFL player, invited Jackson to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. and offered to accompany Jackson to the National Museum of African American History and Culture (they have since spoken and are making plans). After 94-year-old Holocaust survivor Edward Mosberg wrote an open letter to Jackson, they spoke over Zoom (while Mosberg wore the uniform he was forced to wear at the Mauthausen concentration camp). Jackson has reportedly accepted Mosberg’s invitation to tour Auschwitz with him when public health conditions allow for it.  Zach Banner, a non-Jewish NFL player, was one of the few professional athletes to condemn Jackson, posting a two-minute video preaching a message of unity and respect that was widely praised.

Jackson and Mosberg. Source: Jackson’s Instagram

My take (personal opinion): Geoff Schwartz, a Jewish former NFL player, said that he was not surprised that so few NFL players spoke up because a lot of them probably don’t know anything about Judaism or antisemitism. That’s really the source of the problem; bigotry often comes from a place of ignorance. Luckily, ignorance is a disease that can be treated. In Jackson’s case, he will be exposed to Jewish history and culture over the next couple of months that will likely change his perspective. When you encounter antisemitism in the future, educate, don’t ostracize. It might be harder, but it is braver and ultimately more productive than canceling someone. Of course, there are exceptions, but generally, people want to do better and will try to do better if you help them. If Mosberg, who nearly became one of Hitler’s victims, can find it within him to help Jackson learn, you can too. 

Anything else? Jackson’s post got the most attention this week, but there were a few other high-profile antisemitic incidents this week. Shein, a popular fast-fashion site, was widely criticized for selling a swastika necklace. Though the necklace is oriented like the Buddhist symbol that the Nazis repurposed, the symbol is widely considered offensive in America and Europe, even if it has different connotations in other parts of the world. Shein has since apologized. In other news, videos of rapper and television personality Nick Cannon hosting rapper Richard Griffin–who was removed from the hip hog group Public Enemy over antisemitic remarks–on his podcast re-emerged this weekend. The videos, allegedly filmed last year, are filled with the duo promoting antisemitic conspiracy theories. 

Further reading:https://yair.substack.com/p/the-right-way-to-respond-to-racism (Yair Rosenberg on how we should reciprocate support from those who stand up for us)

Netanyahu and Gantz spar over Israel’s budget:

What happened? Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz are at a stand-still over whether the Israeli government should pass a one or two year budget. According to Likud and Blue and White’s coalition deal, the government must sign a two-year budget by August 15, at which point the government may be dissolved if no budget is signed. The budget was supposed to be presented to Knesset lawmakers this week, but it was delayed multiple times for political reasons.

What is the disagreement? For an in-depth explanation of the situation, I highly recommend checking out Haviv Rettig Gur’s piece in the Times of Israel. Proponents of the one-year budget–including many Israeli economists, budget officials, and Likud–say that passing a two-year budget would be inappropriate since they don’t have enough information to predict what Israel’s economy will look like in two years. Led by Blue and White and many self-employed workers, supporters of the two-year budget say that it would give citizens stability and financial certainty.

In addition to the economic dimension of the debate, there’s also a political element to the disagreement. Sensing that Netanyahu would try to call early elections instead of being replaced by Gantz in October 2021, Blue and White pushed to include a provision in its coalition deal with Likud that would make Gantz Prime Minister if Israel went to elections early. However, according to the agreement, if the coalition collapses due to Gantz refusing to sign the budget, Netanyahu would remain Prime Minister until the election. Netanyahu skeptics believe that he is angling for a one-year budget so that he could make unrealistic budget demands next year, forcing Gantz to veto the budget and head to another election. If that’s the case, he will remain Prime Minister until the election, which current polling suggests that Netanyahu win. Though a two-year budget may be economically perilous, it would prevent Netanyahu from pulling a fast one on Gantz a year from now. 

What to watch for: Although it may seem like a minor squabble, Israel’s budget situation is extremely significant for political and economic reasons. Accordingly, several compromises have been suggested, ranging from amending the coalition deal to allow Gantz to become Prime Minister regardless of the reason for the government’s collapse to passing a two-year budget but immediately begin amending the budget for the second year. As they argue over budget details, nearly a million Israelis are unemployed (~20%), and there are large protests in Tel Aviv over the government’s economic policies. Keep an eye on this dynamic, important situation. 

Further reading: https://uk.reuters.com/article/israel-budget/netanyahus-push-for-one-year-budget-could-strain-israeli-government-idUKL8N2DV48W

Jewish intellectual Peter Beinart’s one-state solution essay generates debate:

What happened? On July 7, Peter Beinart published an ~6,700-word article in the Jewish Current explaining that he is now in favor of a one-state solution, rather than the popular two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Beinart’s essay made waves because he had previously been an outspoken supporter of the two-state solution, and his writings on the proposal were widely read. Given his historical support for two states, Beinart’s about-face sparked notable debate (and a lot of criticism) within the Jewish community. If you have the time, I recommend reading Beinart’s piece and some of the reactions to it below:

The Jews of Privilege” by Benjamin Kerstein (Tablet)

Memory Malpractice” by Yehuda Kurtzer (Tablet)

Peter Beinart’s Great Change” by Gideon Levy (Haaretz)

Q & A with Peter Beinart” by David Klion (Jewish Currents)

Peter Beinart's One-State Solution Sounds So Perfect It's Practically Utopian” by Anshel Pfeffer (Haaretz)

Peter Beinhart's betrayal of Liberal Zionism and Israel” by David M. Weinberg (Jerusalem Post)

Peter Beinart was an outspoken advocate of the two-state solution. Now he’s abandoning it.” by Ben Sales (Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

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