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Limbaugh slammed for comparing Democrats to Nazis

 
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WASHINGTON – Rush Limbaugh’s remarks comparing Democrats to Nazis drew swift condemnation from many corners of the Jewish community — and also sparked a fight between Jewish Democrats and Republicans over which side isn’t doing enough to stop the use of such analogies.

Several non-partisan Jewish groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Congress, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, slammed Limbaugh’s comments. Some Democrats also pointed a finger at the only Jewish Republican in Congress, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia, insisting that he condemn Limbaugh’s remarks.

In response, some Jewish GOPers criticized Limbaugh but attempted to turn the tables, noting that while Limbaugh was just a talk-show host, a Democratic lawmaker had generally avoided criticism over his use of a Nazi-related comparison.

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Rush Limbaugh on his radio show said the similarities between the Obama health care logo and the Nazi logo were “overwhelming.” Palm Beach County Sherif's Office

The controversy underscores the degree to which Jewish organizations continue to lose ground in their fight to keep partisans on all sides from demonizing their political opponents as Nazis.

The latest flap erupted last week with Limbaugh’s remarks on his nationally syndicated radio show. He was upset that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had noted that some of those protesting the Obama health-care plan at town meetings across the country had carried signs bearing swastikas.

Limbaugh responded that the similarities between the Obama health-care logo and the Nazi logo were “overwhelming,” then launched into a lengthy comparison of “the Democrat Party of today and the Nazi Party in Germany.”

“Well, the Nazis were against big business,” Limbaugh said. “They hated big business and, of course, we all know that they were opposed to Jewish capitalism. They were insanely, irrationally against pollution. They were for two years of mandatory voluntary service to Germany. They had a whole bunch of make-work projects to keep people working, one of which was the Autobahn.”

Jewish groups criticized the remarks, saying they not only were insensitive to Holocaust victims but also undermined American democracy.

The comments “are grossly offensive and intolerable,” the AJCongress said in its statement. “They reflect a nasty and hyperbolic tendency in our political culture, one which makes reasoned discourse impossible, confuses disagreement with evil, and which makes it impossible to distinguish evil from ordinary politics. It is not acceptable from either the right or the left, both of which have in recent memory used such analyses.”

The ADL and Simon Wiesenthal Center hammered home similar messages, though the latter stopped short of criticizing Limbaugh directly by name.

Democrats seemed almost as interested in shining a spotlight on Cantor as on Limbaugh, demanding that the Virginia Republican denounce the comments. They noted that just days earlier, Cantor had insisted that Limbaugh had a place in the GOP when he said, “My sense is that we need the Sarah Palins, Dick Cheneys, Rush Limbaughs, the Colin Powells. We need all of them.”

Cantor, who was traveling in Israel last week, had not commented as of midday Monday. Multiple JTA requests to his office seeking comment were not returned.

The National Jewish Democratic Council took aim at Cantor.

In a statement, President David Harris said Cantor “is wrong; we do not need anyone who abuses the memory of the Holocaust in our political discourse, period. It is incumbent upon Cantor and the Republican Party to condemn Limbaugh and these utterly contemptible tactics.”

Several prominent Republican Jews did slam the Limbaugh analogy, but also stressed that Limbaugh was a radio talk-show host and not an officeholder. For example, the executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Matt Brooks, called Limbaugh’s comments “outrageous” and “not appropriate,” but said more attention and condemnation should be directed at a Nazi-related comment made by a Democratic lawmaker, U.S. Rep. Brian Baird of Washington.

The congressman said he’d be holding “telephone town halls” instead of in-person meetings with constituents because he feared “an ambush.”

“What we’re seeing right now is close to brown-shirt tactics,” Baird reportedly said. “I mean that very seriously.”

“Rush Limbaugh is a talk-radio host,” Brooks said. “To try to hold him to the same level of accountability” as an elected official like Baird “is ludicrous.”

Fred Zeidman, a top Jewish Republican activist and chairman of the council that oversees the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, said that “Rush is in the entertainment business, and so much of what he does” is meant to be “provocative.”

Still, Zeidman added, “any comparison to Nazism is offensive to the survivors and the victims, and I wish he wouldn’t do it.”

Harris agreed that Baird’s language was wrong, but asserted that such comparisons come more often from the right.

“We think all Holocaust comparisons used in politics are wrong and unfortunate on both sides of the aisle,” the NJDC leader said. “We’ve been careful to say over the years that nobody should be engaging in Hitler comparisons, Nazi comparisons.”

JTA

 
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Reckoning at Nariman House

Looking back at the horror at Mumbai’s Chabad house, finding hope in its rededication

The last time I visited Nariman House — Beit Chabad in Mumbai was in 2009, less than a year after the horrific terrorist attack there.

I had been on my annual visit to India, but I was not sure whether I wanted to see Nariman House again. In 2008, my daughter and I spent a Shabbat at Chabad-Nariman House with Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, whom everybody seemed to call Gabby, and his wife, Rivka. My memories of the house were very positive. I had particularly strong memories of Gabby’s pleasant nature and openness. Still, when some acquaintances at the Indian Express asked to go back to Nariman House, I had mixed feelings.

Until that point, I had only audio memories of that night, when I acted as an interpreter to another Chabad rabbi, speaking to one of the terrorists by phone in an unsuccessful attempt to save the Jewish victims. This visit, however, was much a more real and vivid testimony to the events of Thanksgiving Day, 2008. I noted the bullet holes on the walls of Nariman House, along with the message painted in Hindi and English by the Hindu and Muslim neighbors: “We condemn the terrorist attacks of 26-11-2008.” Over time, there were fewer and fewer newspaper reports, and the memories faded from my immediate consciousness. Still, as a Jew and as an Indian, and as somebody with a close connection to the terrorist attack, I could not forget it entirely.

 

Lessons from the Shoah

Interactive program uses testimonies to give Schechter students a new understanding

“The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones.”

Is there any way to turn that around? To make any miniscule amount of good come out of great evil?

The Holocaust as living memory soon will flicker out. Survivors who can tell their stories are growing old. Soon it will be just images, photographs, videos, written and spoken words.

The Holocaust was pure evil, the unleashing of the worst human fears and instincts. There was nothing at all good about it. But in a soul-affirming act of reversal, it now is possible, almost 70 years after it ended, to use it to teach students how to become better people.

The first steps in that process are never to forget it, to honor its victims, and to listen to its survivors.

 

Hands-on learning for local rabbis

Jerusalem’s Hartman Institute teaches about war as rockets fall

If local rabbis attend the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem to take advantage of what Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner calls “great learning and great people,” this year they got more than they bargained for.

Rabbi Kirshner, religious leader of Temple Emanu-El in Closter, who this year spent his fifth summer at Hartman, said that “ironically, the topic was war and peace in Jewish texts. Little did we know it would be so relevant.

“A lot of rabbis in the diaspora talk about Israel from a distance,” he said. “But to be there, to attend the funerals of the three boys” — Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaer, and Eyal Yifrah, whose abduction and murder were the catalyst for the ongoing situation in Israel and Gaza — “to be familiar with bomb shelters,” makes a big difference.

 

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Israel launching drive to void Goldstone Report

WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would launch an international campaign to cancel the Goldstone Report after its author, ex-South African Judge Richard Goldstone, wrote in an Op-Ed in the Washington Post that Israel did not intentionally target civilians as a policy during the Gaza War, withdrawing a critical allegation in the report.

Netanyahu said he had asked his security adviser, Ya’akov Amidror, to establish a committee focused on “minimizing the damage caused” by the report.

 

Facebook and Zuckerberg does an about-face and deletes Palestinian page calling for a Third Intifada

Following widespread criticism, a Facebook page calling for a third Palestinian intifada against Israel was removed on March 29. On the Facebook page, Palestinians were urged to launch street protests following Friday May 15 and begin an uprising as modelled by similar uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan. Killing Jews en masse was emphasized.

According to the Facebook page, “Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once the Muslims have killed all of the Jews.” The page had more than 340,000 fans. However, even while the page was removed, a new page now exists in its place with the same name,  “Third Palestinian Intifada.”

 

Did heated rhetoric play role in shooting of Giffords?

WASHINGTON – The 8th District in southern Arizona represented by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords comprises liberal Tucson and its rural hinterlands, which means moderation is a must. But it also means that spirits and tensions run high.

Giffords’ office in Tucson was ransacked in March following her vote for health care reform — a vote the Democrat told reporters that she would cast even if it meant her career. She refused to be cowed, but she also took aim at the hyped rhetoric. She cast the back-and-forth as part of the democratic process.

 
 
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