Florida Recount: Who is Manipulating Whom?

A recount in Florida’s gubernatorial race didn’t change the results. A separate recount in Florida’s Senate race is looking like it will do the same – reaffirming a Republican victory for Rick Scott. Still, the controversies have been nonstop, with Democrats charging Republicans with trying to impede the democratic process and Republicans charging Democrats with trying to alter the results of the election. Who is manipulating whom? More at Vox.

So even if Nelson were to swing 10 times as many votes in this recount as Gore did in 2000, he would still come up short. Democrats know that recounting the existing votes is unlikely to change the result. So Democrats have filed a series of lawsuits asking courts to change Florida elections laws after the fact. The result would be that they can count ineligible votes in the hope that these will provide the margin necessary to overcome Scott’s lead.

Given the size of Rick Scott’s lead in the race for a United States Senate seat from Florida and Ron DeSantis’s lead in the race to be the state’s governor, most election experts agree there’s little chance that even the most exquisitely careful recount would deny these two Republicans victory. Yet both men are not only acting as if it’s 2000 all over again, when control of the White House hinged on a few hundred votes in Florida, they are also fanning conspiratorial flames with claims of outrageous fraud, seconded by President Trump. The flimsiness of their charges can be measured by the response they’ve gotten not from their political adversaries but from some of their allies.

Elections are how our nation peacefully settles political disputes. For all of the mudslinging and acrimony surrounding our campaigns, elections are a source of strength for our nation. But for elections to matter, voters must have confidence in their integrity… No election win and no partisan outcome is more important than the preservation of the credibility of our democratic system.

Why Has Ilhan Omar Changed Her Tune on BDS?

Ilhan Omar is one of the first two Muslim women to be elected to Congress. She’s also one of three new congresspeople known for their leftist politics regarding Israel. But is Omar more critical of Israel than she let on during her campaign? Some observers say that her comments in support of the BDS movement contradict her earlier positions on the issue. Omar maintains that she’s been consistent and that her statements on BDS are being misconstrued. More at Times of Israel.

Omar has supported BDS for a while, even though she will now occasionally slip in some platitudes about the peace process. As Scott Johnson of Power Line points out, Omar misled Jewish voters in her district, obfuscating about her position and, as she still does, conflating her support for BDS with a bill that would have stopped continued taxpayer funding of the movement. No one is attempting to “criminalize” anti-Israel speech, although it’s heartening to see that Omar is a free speech absolutist. We’ll see whether her position on the “criminalization” of speech will remain consistent moving forward.

Omar, on the campaign trail, was asked about the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement. She gave vague answers about how BDS undermined the two-state solution. With the election behind us, she was much more forthcoming, making it clear she likes the movement, finds it morally fine, but simply disagrees with its tactics… [During the campaign] she was polling far ahead in a solid blue district, so being more forthcoming about BDS wouldn’t have cost her the election. It might have hurt her party-mates, however, who would have been asked to comment on her anti-Israel position.

Many have since seen in Omar’s change of heart a betrayal — including some Jews who voted for her. Many in the Jewish community view BDS as an anti-Semitic attempt to delegitimize the world’s only Jewish state, and see support for BDS as tantamount to depriving Jews of the right to self-determination. And yet, unlike Ocasio-Cortez and Tlaib, who bowed to pressure from the left to abandon a call for a two state solution, Omar did not.

Is Emigration to Israel the Best Response to Antisemitism in Europe?

UK Jews are not happy about the possibility of having Jeremy Corbyn as a Prime Minister. The Labour Leader has long been suspected of holding antisemitic views, and almost half of the UK’s Jewish population is concerned enough about rising antisemitism to consider emigrating to Israel.

Almost half of UK Jews consider emigrating due to rising anti-Semitism, and its hold on the Labour Party, said Chairman of Campaign Against anti-Semitism Gideon Falter in an European Jewish Association (EJA) meeting in Brussels… According to the data, 40 percent of British Jews are considering leaving the UK, some of them to Israel, due to the rising anti-Semitism they experience, and 90% of them believe that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour is anti-Semitic and that Jews should refrain from voting for it.

I’m sorry for those enlightened, cosmopolitan Jews, but this must be said openly: Their mission to rehabilitate the haters and discover the light in their hearts has ended. They shouldn’t wait until Corbyn is elected prime minister of Britain, or until Linda Sarsour becomes head of the Democratic Party in the United States. They must correctly understand the historical process by which anti-Semitism effects a rapprochement between the radical right and the radical left and its Muslim supports. This is the time to start thinking about emigration. Luckily for them, their parents supported the establishment of Israel, and therefore, today they have a homeland and a country to which to flee.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz recently stated, “Europe without Jews cannot be Europe.” His country currently holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union until the end of this year. Austria is organizing a conference on antisemitism on November 20-21 jointly with the European Jewish Congress in Vienna… If one wants to analyze whether Europe without Jews will indeed still be Europe or not, one must investigate in other directions. A major traditional symbolic role of Jews has been as scapegoats in European societies. That is now shared with immigrants. If Jews were to leave, radical Muslims and extreme rightists would have to vent their violence exclusively on others.

Did Netanyahu Make the Right Call on the Gaza Ceasefire?

Choosing ceasefires over invasions, Prime Minister Netanyahu seems to be deadset on avoiding war at all costs. But the costs are building, both for Israel’s southern towns and for Bibi politically. Is a ceasefire worth it?

The political din breaking out in Jerusalem threatens to drown out Benjamin Netanyahu’s uncharacteristic decision to make an accommodation with Hamas. . . . The prime minister calculated, correctly, that doing so would free Israel up to deal with the more ominous threat to the north, from the troika of Hizballah, Syria, and Iran. The decision also suggests he has finally acknowledged that Hamas’s control of Gaza is a political reality that cannot be wished—or bombed—away… Netanyahu must now persuade Israelis that he has not gone soft on Hamas.

The Israeli acceptance of a cease-fire the minute Hamas offered it erodes what is left of Israel’s deterrence, opening the door for further and more severe rounds of fighting in the not-too-distant future… Moreover, both the truce efforts and the surprise rocket attack launched against Israel on Monday were Hamas’s doing. Israel barely responded, serving as the pawn of an organization that is waging a war of attrition against the residents of its southern region…

Netanyahu sees no better outcome for Israel in Gaza than to accept what amounts to a kind of low-grade fever in Hamas’s violent but relatively controlled and predictable rule. If anything, Gaza serves him as a political billboard of sorts — a warning to the Israeli public of what it can expect of a Palestinian state should one ever come into being. This is a policy of palliatives, and maybe it’s better than the conceivable alternatives…

Then again, Israelis also pay a steep price for restraint. Casualties on the Israeli side of the latest round of fighting may have been relatively light — 18 wounded and one dead — but hundreds of thousands of Israelis were forced into safe rooms during the fighting

What Do Americans Make of Julian Assange?

The DOJ is apparently preparing to prosecute Julian Assange, the enigmatic founder of Wikileaks. According to sources, the department is confident it will be able to secure Assange’s appearance in a U.S. courtroom and bring the saga of the Wikileaker to an end. Assange’s reputation is not what it used to be. Once thought of as a crusader for truth and transparency, he is often ridiculed as an opportunist today. If he is prosecuted, will Americans care?

An indictment from special counsel Robert Mueller that portrayed WikiLeaks as a tool of Russian intelligence for releasing thousands of hacked Democratic emails during the 2016 presidential campaign has made it more difficult for Mr. Assange to mount a defense as a journalist. Public opinion of Mr. Assange in the U.S. has dropped since the campaign. Prosecutors have considered publicly indicting Mr. Assange to try to trigger his removal from the embassy, the people said, because a detailed explanation of the evidence against Mr. Assange could give Ecuadorean authorities a reason to turn him over.

So, how does WikiLeaks make itself become a modern day Gandhian project? Gandhi put the principle of non-violence at a center of his efforts. He wanted to end wars and state abuse of power, not by the methods of oppressors, perpetuating further violence, but with different means. For this, he employed a non-violent civil disobedience as a way for people to engage in the peaceful resistance against injustice. Now, in this digital age, WikiLeaks revived this Gandhian tradition of peaceful resistance online at a global scale. Assange saw potential in cryptography to offer a way for common people to non-violently resist the domination of powerful states.

…like many online high-fliers of the aughts, Assange lacked a moral imagination equal to his skills as a technologist. Instead he soared along — a Byronic heartthrob to budding anarchists — on that era’s mandate: Do it for the lulz. Over the past decade, the lulz — the laughs — have curdled. When it synced with investigative journalism, exposing the Pentagon’s sometimes grave misconduct in Afghanistan, Iraq and Cuba, that was one thing. But to hook up with Russian oligarchs and military intelligence to embarrass one American political candidate on behalf of another — that’s not lulz. That’s deputizing yourself to an actual authoritarian regime, the kind that a hacker like Assange used to be committed to exposing.

Should We Be Outraged About Kim Kardashian’s Private Firefighters?

Kim Kardashian’s use of “private firefighters” to protect her California home has sparked outrage. Private Firefighters are just one of the many perks of having an elite insurance plan for your home, but is it conscionable to protect the properties of the super-rich with better resources than those used for the property of everyone else?

That firefighting remains a bastion of public-goods provision might be precisely why private companies’ increasing involvement feels so controversial. “This isn’t a story of the kooky Kardashians doing things in the most publicity-friendly manner possible. It’s a story of the ramifications of economic disparity in this country. Frankly, I’m flabbergasted,” Greenberg wrote in an email. “Firefighters are consistently ranked the most beloved public servants, not just because they look good on calendars but because they treat everyone equally. Rich people don’t get their own ‘better’ firefighters, or at least they aren’t supposed to.”

To be clear, the Wests don’t have a team of firefighters on speed dial akin to a Kardashian “glam squad.” The benefit likely comes from their insurance company… It’s nice that people are able to protect their homes, but the high cost of coverage for these services is problematic, argues Robert Raymond in the Huffington Post. “The real injustice in this story is structural inequality,” he wrote. “Wealth shouldn’t mean the difference between a home that burns down and a home that doesn’t. A society where wealth allows one neighborhood to be saved, while a poorer neighborhood goes up in flames because the people there weren’t able to purchase the same resources, is inherently unjust.”

…the policies have drawn criticism for exacerbating inequalities—providing some people with additional protection from a wildfire but not others. Those who qualify for AIG’s service, for example, comprise 42% of Forbes’ list of the 400 richest Americans, reports NBC News. Ultimately, however, wildfires don’t discriminate—other celebrities like Miley Cyrus and Gerard Butler lost their homes to the fires, while thousands of structures in the town of Paradise have burned.

Roundtable Extra: Commentary on Parashat Vayetze

This week at the Jewish Journal, Parashat Vayetze in under discussion. Parashat Vayetze (Genesis 28:10-32:2)- features the story of Jacob’s dream and Jacob’s ladder, Jacob’s first encounter with Rachel at the well, and his marriage with her and with her sister Leah after being cheated by their father Laban.

In Shmuel Rosner’s Torah Talk with Rabbi David Lazar, they discuss, among other things, on the objectification of women – and men – in this Vayetze.

At the Jewish Journal’s Table for Five, we discuss the passage: “Jacob kissed Rachel, and he raised his voice and wept.” –Genesis 29:11. Click Here for the full discussion.

  • Yafa Benaya: Could anything or anyone tap into the emotional side of this seemingly stone-cold individual?
  • Tzvi Freeman: Jacob, the Zohar tells us, bore the face of Adam. As Adam contained every soul of humanity, Jacob contained every soul of the Jews.
  • Rabbi Cantor Hillary Chorny: R’Tanchuma describes the specific type of kiss that Isaac gave Rebecca as a kiss of kinship.
  • Rabbi Scott Bolton: Jacob, the man, cried tears and, as the Talmud says, “the Gates of Tears always remain open.”
  • Rabbanit Alissa Thomas-Newborn: Love makes us lift our voices, perhaps even find the Divine voice within ourselves and another. 

Today’s Hot Issues

Florida Recount: Who is Manipulating Whom? Why Has Ilhan Omar Changed Her Tune on BDS? Is Emigration to Israel the Best Response to Antisemitism in Europe? Did Netanyahu Make the Right Call on the Gaza Ceasefire? What Do Americans Make of Julian Assange? Should We Be Outraged About Kim Kardashian’s Private Firefighters? Roundtable Extra: Commentary on Parashat Vayetze