One of more than 25 states to put anti-BDS legislation on the books, Arkansas is a battleground in a conflict that’s gone national.
When letters first showed up on Alan Leveritt’s desk saying the Arkansas Times was required to sign a pledge not to boycott Israel in order to continue to receive state contracts, he ignored them.
“I was frankly not aware there was a boycott of Israel when I started getting these notices,” Leveritt told NBC News.
As the publisher of the Arkansas Times, a monthly magazine based in Little Rock, he relies on advertisement revenue from state entities to keep his business afloat.
“Publishing a newspaper is not a lucrative business right now,” he said, adding that he’d hoped the letters would just “go away.”
But eventually, a purchasing manager at the University of Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College, who Leveritt pointed out was “just going by the letter of the law,” insisted that he sign the pledge to retain their ad revenue.
Alan Leveritt, publisher of the Arkansas Times.
Alan Leveritt, publisher of the Arkansas Times.Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times
The purchasing manager was following Act 710, a 2017 bill passed in the Arkansas Legislature “to prohibit public entities from contracting with and investing in companies that boycott Israel.”
This means that if a company wanted a state contract over $1,000, the public entity granting the contract had to certify that the company does not participate in a boycott of Israel. If a company doesn’t sign the pledge, Arkansas law allows it to still receive a contract if it offers its services at a reduction of at least 20 percent.
Act 710 was passed as a way for the Arkansas Legislature to affirm its support for Israel and respond to the BDS movement, a growing pro-Palestinian effort which calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel to secure Palestinian rights.
While Leveritt isn’t shy in saying the Arkansas Times leans “left of center,” neither he nor the publication has ever supported a boycott of Israel or the broader BDS movement.
“We don’t have a dog in that hunt,” Leveritt said. “We are a lot more interested in Medicaid expansion than we are Jerusalem.”
But now a geopolitical issue he felt like he had no stake in was affecting his already precarious small business.
Leveritt thought about signing the pledge. “To have something like this thrown on top of you is enough to capsize the boat,” he said. Ultimately, Leveritt said he couldn’t go through with it, though.
He believed being forced to sign a pledge like the one Act 710 mandated violated his constitutional rights and his journalistic ethics.
Although this evasion is predictable, it’s quite remarkable to see a more or less open admission from two allegedly masterful historians that they don’t possess facts sufficient to dispel the very “myth” they set out to challenge. To describe any such presentation of facts as a “futile attempt” seems intellectually flaccid; a concession of the weakness of one’s case.
But what is really presented here, of course, is the standard structure of Jewish historiography: avoid the facts, downplay them if concession is absolutely necessary, and move the discussion into abstractions and sophistry. Taking a page from the ADL playbook, Browning mewls coyly that “a small kernel of truth underpinned the stereotype of the Jewish Bolshevik,” but insists, regarding Communism, that “the Jew as “the face of the revolution” was a “culturally constructed” perception.” We therefore arrive at the familiar position where facts don’t matter and everything Jews don’t like is triumphantly declared a mere construct. . . .
Jewish economic competition in the modern period is caricatured as an irrational “image,” and Jewish war profiteering is simply an “accusation.” Epithets, images, accusations, and the passive and innocent Jew. In sociological-psychological terms this is classic Freud and Frankfurt School, and in historiography it is classic Langmuir.
As with Langmuir’s sophistry, such assertions require a significant amount of either duplicity or cognitive dissonance, or perhaps both. The number of texts covering historical Jewish black-market activity alone is astonishing. We know from one Stanford-published history, for example, that in France in 1941, 90% of black market traders in one province were Jews. Similarly, in Mark Roodhouse’s Oxford-published Black Market Britain: 1939–1955, it is remarked that Jews were massively over-represented in prosecutions for black-market activity in London during the 1940s. . . .
We’re again in very familiar territory: when you feel you can’t avoid a fact (“Jews were invariably disproportionately represented”), and you can’t downplay it, then explain it by way of prejudice (“they were not welcome”). The problem with snapshots of history like this, as I’ve explained many times before, is what I’ve come to term a “cropped timeline explanation” — something that is extremely common in all Jewish and philosemitic historiography concerning anti-Semitism. When faced with an uncomfortable and unavoidable fact involving Jewish behavior (Leftism, usury, financial crime, pornography, etc.) one starts with assumptions of anti-Jewish prejudice and works from there. Jews are on the Left? It must be because they were excluded from the Right. Problems begin to arise when the question is asked why Jews were excluded or viewed as socially or culturally oppositional in the first place. Here, “irrational prejudice” is the last resort, but beyond it, when faced with further interrogation of that idea and the even deeper historical context, nothing is there. One is confronted with blank stares, rhetorical dead ends, and a factual wasteland.
By now I was already getting the sense that Browning was drowning in his own review, under the sheer weight of his own evasions and contortions. The questions, for any reader, were surely multiplying. Were Jews over-represented in Communism or not? If yes, how is the idea of Jewish leftism a myth? If the ‘myth’ can’t be debunked with facts, how can it be debunked by a work of academic sophistry that labels it a cultural construct? The contortions only worsen. . . .
Thus, we are treated to a review of Gerrits by Eliezer Ben-Rafael of Tel-Aviv University, who asserts that Gerrits tackles “the myth of Jewish Communism” by presenting “the fascinating stories of Jewish Communism and Jewish Communists.” If debunking ideas with proof of their veracity wasn’t enough, it’s explained in one banal revelation that the myth combines “anti-Semitism and anti-Communism,” and has a link to reality in the fact that “in effect, many Jews were prominently involved in Communism not only in Russia, but also in the Hungarian and Bavarian revolutions of 1917 and, after the Second World War, in Czechoslovakia, Romania, Lithuania, Poland, and Bulgaria.” Jewish Communism is thus clearly a myth because Jews were prominently involved in Communist revolutions in several countries over several decades. Right. . . .
An excellent example of evasion along these lines is Hanebrink’s discussion of Béla Kun. Hanebrink argues [p.25] that there was “nothing meaningful at all” about Kun’s Jewish background while elsewhere [p.16] noting that of the 47 people’s commissars gathered by Kun for the 1919 Hungarian Soviet regime, 30 were fellow Jews. Clearly feeling that his own arguments are unconvincing, Hanebrink follows up his earlier surrender on the issue of facts with [p.25]: “Truly understanding the hopes, fears and motivations of any particular Jewish revolutionary in all their irreducible complexity is ultimately a task best undertaken by a biographer.” . . .
Paul Hanebrink’s A Specter Haunting Europe is, ultimately, an extremely strange book, but all too typical of contemporary writing on Jewish history. It is thick on promises and thin in substance. It is characterized by glaring omissions and a deeply insincere analysis accompanied by a cloying philosemitism. Interestingly, the text lacks any semblance of intellectual confidence, and one feels that Hanebrink, who is presumably not himself Jewish, is surely aware of what he is creating: a blatant pro-Jewish apologetic. The reasons why a White academic might want to produce something like this are not difficult to surmise. As with Christopher Browning, such endeavors are massively incentivized. Despite being unoriginal, low on facts, and poor in analysis, Hanebrink, associate professor of history at Rutgers, has written a book published by a prestigious academic publisher (perhaps the most prestigious) and has been lavishly praised in the major organs of the mainstream media. The message from our latter-day commissars is clear: “Sell out and we’ll make you a star.”
State Attorney’s unit operates outside the law to censor Facebook & YouTube posts; 2017 saw 500% increase in posts censored as a result of Cyber Unit’s action.
Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel continues to demand that Israel’s state attorney’s office shutter its “Cyber Unit” which – in collaboration with major social media outlets such as Facebook and YouTube – is illegally censoring user content.
Adalah sent an initial letter on 2 August 2017 to Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, State Attorney Shai Nitzan, and Cyber Unit director Haim Vismonsky demanding that they immediately cease the illegal operations of the state attorney’s Cyber Unit.
. . . .
Israel’s dramatic increase in online censorship in 2017, without any legal authorization and in violation of a series of basic principles in constitutional and administrative law, raises the real concern of a potential spillover of state censorship of protected publications.
ADALAH DEMANDS THAT ISRAEL’S CYBER UNIT:
Immediately cease submitting requests for the removal of social media content, since doing so violates fundamental principles of constitutional and administrative law;
Immediately transmit for our review a copy of the work procedure according to which the Cyber Unit submits requests for removal of content based on the public’s right to know.
WHAT IS THE CYBER UNIT?
The Cyber Unit began operation during the second half of 2015 and is responsible for “dealing with cyberspace enforcement challenges” via censorship of social media posts. This censorship – conducted in collaboration and coordination with social media outlets, including U.S.-based giants Facebook and YouTube – entails the removal of content added by users, restriction of access to certain websites, and outright blocking of users’ access to these sites.
The number of Cyber Unit requests to remove content skyrocketed in 2017.
Data provided by the unit revealed that in 2016 it submitted 2,241 content removal requests; of these, 1,554 were removed, and 162 were partially removed. In 2017, however, the Cyber Unit submitted 12,351 content removal requests – an increase of more than 500% percent; 85% of the requests ultimately led to the full removal of the concerned posts and another three percent led to partial removal.
Cyber Unit clerks and administrative officials decide for themselves, within the framework of an alternative enforcement system, if a certain instance of expression “is incitement to violence and terror, and support of a terror organization” or is a “forbidden publication towards public servants in the framework of their jobs.” However, Israel’s state attorney is usurping authority – reserved for the judicial branch – illegally and without any legal authorization. The Cyber Unit cannot impose sanctions based solely on suspicion.
submitted 1 day ago * by TiredOfLying4Google
I was involved in the internal decisions involving James Damore’s memo, and it’s terrible what we did to him.
First of all, we knew about the memo a month before it went viral. HR sent it up the reporting chain when he gave it as internal feedback, but we did nothing. There wasn’t anything we could do, except admit to wrongdoing and lying to our employees. We just hoped that no one else would see his document.
Unfortunately, the memo started spreading within the company. The floodgates opened and previously silent employees started talking. To quell dissent, we: told executives to write to their employees condemning the memo; manipulated our internal Memegen to bias the ratings towards anti-Damore posts (the head of Memegen is an “ally” to the diversity cause); and gave every manager talking points on what to tell their reports about the memo. In all our communications, we concentrated on how hurt employees purportedly were and diverted attention from Google’s discriminatory employment practices and political hegemony, never mind the science.
We needed to make an example of Damore. Looking for some excuse to fire him, we spied on his phone and computer. We didn’t find anything, although our spying probably made his devices unusably slow, preventing him from organizing support within the company. When we did fire him, our reputation and integrity took a hit, but at least other employees were now afraid to speak up.
Firing him without an NDA was a huge risk though. He was a top performer and knew too many compromising secrets, like Dragonfly, the secret censored search project in China. He had also reported several legally dubious practices in Search that still exist. Only God knows why he never leaked Dragonfly or the other issues, but I think it’s because he actually cared about Google.
Our response after we fired him was equally disgraceful. We were supposed to have a Town Hall TGIF to answer employees’ questions about the controversy. However, after questions started coming in that we couldn’t reasonably answer, we had to cancel it. We shifted the blame onto “alt-right trolls” and have avoided talking about it openly since then.
To control the narrative, we planted stories with journalists and flexed Google’s muscles where necessary. In exchange for insider access and preferential treatment, all we ask for is their loyalty. For online media, Google’s ads pay their paycheck and our search brings their customers, so our influence shouldn’t be underestimated.
We dealt with his NLRB case in a similar way. People are ultimately lazy, so we found a sympathetic lawyer in the NLRB and wrote the internal NLRB memo for her. No one wanted to spend the effort to oppose it, despite it being laughably weak. Then, after Damore dropped his NLRB case and filed a class action lawsuit, we had the NLRB publicly release their memo. Our PR firms sent press releases saying “the NLRB ruled the firing legal”, which was, of course, manufactured bullshit.
All of our scheming was over the phone, in deleted emails, or through an external PR firm, so we can deny all of it. Now that we’ve forced him into arbitration, we’re close to screwing him over completely.
Bladensburg Peace Cross, located at west entrance to city on MD 450.
In Bladensburg, Maryland, there is a memorial to the 49 men from the area who died in WWI. It was erected in 1925 by the American Legion.
The memorial is known as the Peace Cross and is forty-feet in height.
The American Humanist Association is a group representing people who believe in “being good without a god.” They regard the memorial as unconstitutional because it is a religious symbol giving the impression that it is only honoring servicemen who were Christians.
In 2014, they filed a lawsuit which demanded that the memorial is destroyed, changed or taken away. On Wednesday that suit received a ruling from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that agreed with their stance. The court ordered the memorial must be taken down because it is shaped like a cross.
According to the ruling, the cross is the “core symbol of Christianity,” and therefore a government-sanctioned memorial in that shape is a breach of the separation of church and state. The court in its 2-1 ruling stated that an observer would conclude from the memorial that the government endorsed Christianity.
The ruling reverses a prior decision in 2015 that determined the purpose of the cross was not primarily religious and that the site had mainly been used to celebrate federal holidays, not religious holidays.
The memorial was placed at the intersection of Route 450 and Alternate US 1. It stands on a rectangular base that has the words Valor, Endurance, Courage, and Devotion inscribed on it.
According to Roy Speckhardt, the executive director of the American Humanists Association, a government war memorial should be respectful to all veterans, not just those from a particular religious group.
Chief Judge Gregory dissented. In a separate document, he wrote that the memorial was dedicated to the character of the deceased soldiers who bravely fought for their country and the liberty of others during the war. He believes that a monument dedicated as such cannot violate the Constitution that those men defended.
The site is owned and maintained by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. They have spent $117,000 maintaining and repairing the monument. The commission was created by the Maryland General Assembly in 1927 to serve the Montgomery and Prince George’s county areas.
The commission has the option of appealing to the Supreme Court. First Liberty Institute lawyer Hiram Sasser said that the ruling was a “dangerous precedent” because it ignores history and could lead to the destruction and/or removal of memorials across the nation. First Liberty Institute and the Jones Day law firm are representing the American Legion in the legal battle.
Michael Carvin is a lawyer for Jones Day. He said that removing the memorial would be a dishonor to those who died in WWI. He added that the memorial has stood for nearly 100 years and is protected by the First Amendment.
The First Liberty Institute is a group from Texas whose mission is “to defend and restore religious liberty across America.” They look to protect religious expression in all areas of US life.
Who’s in control of that?
Reports: NBC News Covered Up ‘Credible’ Rape Allegation Against Harvey Weinstein
A former NBC News producer who was working with Ronan Farrow on the reporter’s investigation of alleged sexual misconduct by Harvey Weinstein claimed Thursday that an order to stop pursuing the bombshell story came from “the very highest levels at NBC.”
In a statement to Fox News, Rich McHugh, who left the network’s investigative unit earlier this month, said the order came as he and Farrow were preparing to travel to Los Angeles to interview a woman “with a credible allegation of rape” against the now-disgraced movie producer.
“I was told not to do the interview and ordered to stand down, thus effectively killing the story,” McHugh said. “That was unethical, and a massive breach of journalistic integrity.
“Is there anyone in the journalistic community who actually believes NBC didn’t breach its journalistic duty to continue reporting this story?” McHugh added. “Something else must have been going on. ”
The American Civil Liberties Union will weigh its interest in protecting the First Amendment against its other commitments to social justice, racial equality, and women’s rights, given the possibility that offensive speech might undermine ACLU goals.
“Our defense of speech may have a greater or lesser harmful impact on the equality and justice work to which we are also committed,” wrote ACLU staffers in a confidential memo obtained by former board member Wendy Kaminer.
It’s hard to see this as anything other than a cowardly retreat from a full-throated defense of the First Amendment.
A bill that would criminalise boycotts against Israel has been signed by 45 US senators and 237 congressman.
The so-called “Israel Anti-Boycott Act” would impose fines of up to $250,000 (£192,000) on any US citizen “engaged in interstate or foreign commerce” who supports a boycott of Israeli goods and services.
The US has long defended Israel in territorial disputes in the Middle East, even as the Israeli military has expanded into areas assigned to the Palestinians by international law.
This position runs counter to that of the United Nations, which claims Israel’s settlements in occupied Palestinian territory have “no legal validity”, and “constitute flagrant violation of international law”.
🎀 Retweeted Tommy Robinson
So @thetimes can have a headline saying ‘Muslim Migrants Behind Rise In Antisemitism’ but if we suggest they are behind the rise in any other crime, it’s hate speech and illegal to say in places like France?