Showing posts with label Ultra Right. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ultra Right. Show all posts

December 20, 2019

US Evangelicals Have Made Israeli Evangelicals Rich with Money and Political Power






                         Image result for evangelical money in Israel

  
  This story was published in Israel by Haaretz.com. Adamfoxie has taken the major excerpts of this long story explaining all the money squadrons of where the money comes from and where it goes.
Evangelical believes that having Israel be like it was during the times of Salomon, rich and powerful will cause other nations to come against them and then Jesus will come to start armageddon and god will defend its people. They feel the sooner you get those dominoes in place the sooner Jesus Christ will come to pick up his church in the second coming. It amazes me that even if that was true, why would this Ultra Evangelicals with so much hatred and judgment in their hears believe that Jesus Christ will want them near him. These Evangelicals either are ignorant of the bible and even the parts they know if they don't like it they won't follow it. I wonder why they keep bibles in any case? Oh to read especially picked passages on special occasions and straight weddings.








Israel's settler elite is trying to emulate the Tea Party. But it's faking it
In 2005, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon withdrew Israeli troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip. This was a moment of deep trauma and rupture for the religious right, one that sent it spiraling into a panic. In pulling settlers out of the Strip, Sharon, the godfather of the settlement project, had shockingly turned his back on his favorite children. The politician they had relied on since the late 1970s to bankroll their hilltop homes and to force helpful legislation through the Knesset had betrayed them. Worse: most Israelis supported his plan. While the leaders of the religious settler right sermonized in public squares against Sharon’s plan, using every apocalyptic warning in their arsenal, most Israelis continued to sip their morning lattes in nearby cafés, entirely indifferent to the settlers’ outcry.

 
When Sharon’s successor, Ehud Olmert, kept the religious right out of his coalition government in 2007 and held serious negotiations with the Palestinians, the settlers decided it was time for a strategic change: The next time there was a decision to be made about the future of settlements, they would take center stage.

Jewish settlers watch as Israeli forces demolish an illegally built structure in a West Bank settlement Emil Salman
In 1987, the right-wing journalist Uri Orbach published an op-ed in the settler journal Nekudah. There, he laid out what would become, in the wake of 2005, a blueprint for a systematic settler takeover of the country’s levers of power. In his article, Orbach pleaded with the settler youth to divert their ideological fervor from grabbing land to grabbing the spotlight — in other words, to take over the Israeli media. “The People of Israel needs someone to be their voice,” wrote Orbach, who went on to explain that filling the ranks of the country’s media outlets with settler reporters who held “the right positions” would ensure a future where only “the right questions are asked” and certain issues — the price Israelis pay in blood and taxes for the settlements, for example — “never get on the air.”

Uri Orbach, a right-wing journalist, laid out a blueprint for a systematic settler takeover of the country’s levers of power. Marc Israel Sellem
The leaders of the religious right sensed an opportunity. The old social democratic elite, which had founded the State of Israel, began losing interest in public institutions and withdrew into itself. The sons and daughters of the founding generation, and then their grandchildren — our generation — gravitated toward careers in business or the law rather than public service. 

 
In 2005, Rabbi Yisrael Rosen, a prominent figure in the settler movement, broadened Orbach’s famous call to arms. “We will conquer Israeli democracy from within,” wrote Rosen. “We will achieve this by directing more and more worthy people to the media, the judiciary, politics, and even the arts.”

Rabbi Yisrael Rosen, a prominent figure in the settler movement, broadened Orbach’s famous call to arms: "We will conquer Israeli democracy from within." Emil Salman

This strategy, commonly referred to among the right-wing as “settling the hearts” (as opposed to the land), proved a resounding success. Today, some of the most prominent broadcast reporters in Israel — who, indeed, succeeded in shifting the public debate in the country markedly farther to the right — cite Orbach’s seminal article as inspiring their careers. As Hillel Ben Sasson explained in a 2012 article published by the progressive think tank Molad: “The knitted kippa, the identifying mark of the national religious community, has become increasingly visible in the media, judicial and educational systems, to the point where many of Mr. Netanyahu’s senior staff have donned the garment.” In the military, the nation’s holy of holies, this is even more pronounced: “Some 40 percent of IDF officers wear a kippa — and the number is rising,” Ben Sasson wrote.

A tea party in the West Bank
So far, so Israeli. But the settlers’ colonization of Israel’s public sphere and state apparatus is not the result of some sudden divine, or even domestic, inspiration. They have consolidated their power in a methodical manner, ensuring that organizational effectiveness and financial backing compensate for a lack of popular support. Settlers, it is crucial to remember, make up a mere 4.5 percent of Israel’s population. The profound irony of their ultranationalism is that, in the name of serving Israel, the new religious right is importing to the region an unmistakably American-style conservative ideology, which represents a sharp shift from the ideas traditionally held by its political predecessors. 
To understand what’s new about the new Israeli right, it is worth taking a closer look at Ayelet Shaked, who served as Israel’s justice minister from 2015 until just before April’s election. Shaked, the chairwoman of the newly formed, far-right Yamina (Hebrew for “rightward”) alliance, is repeatedly tipped by pundits as Netanyahu’s most likely successor. Arguably the religious right’s most powerful politician, she is also one of its most atypical. A young, Facebook-savvy, secular woman from Tel Aviv, trained as a software engineer, came to public attention as a fierce opponent of allowing African asylum seekers the possibility of refuge in Israel. For the settler right, her usefulness derives from her ability to translate their messianic ideas into simple, ultranationalist sound bites that resonate with the Israeli mainstream: Instead of quoting obscure passages from the Bible, Shaked uses simple slogans about national security, identity, and patriotism. 

The launch of the Yamina alliance in August, with Ayelet Shaked and Bezalel Smotrich in the center, flanked by Rabbi Rafi Peretz to their right. \ Moti Milrod

In 2016, Shaked published an economic manifesto in a new right-wing, American-style libertarian publication called Hashiloach. “Each time members of the Knesset vote for a new law,” she wrote, “they are simultaneously voting against our liberty in another sphere of life because it then becomes regulated by the state.” Shaked, a self-confessed Ayn Rand admirer, displayed in her text a conservative economic perspective that, until recently, was simply unheard of in collectivist Israel. A 2018 poll conducted by the Berl Katznelson Center found that more than 80 percent of Israelis are sympathetic toward trade unions; 76 percent are willing to pay higher taxes to strengthen public education, and 70 percent support the nationalization of natural resources. Shaked’s dog-eat-dog worldview couldn’t be more out of whack with how much Israelis trust and support the idea of a welfare state.

Rabbi Uri Sadan of the Keter Institute for Torah Economics, outside the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem, 2015. Emil Salman

But it is not just one right-wing magazine that published one right-wing politician. A blaring flurry of right-wing publications has popped up in the last dozen years. Media outlets run by the religious right regularly feature articles extolling the virtues of trickle-down economics, making them sound as if they had just been translated from Fox News: “Raising the Minimum Wage Would Harm the Poor” and “When Taxes are Cut, Everyone Enjoys the Fruits of Growth” are concepts that have “Made in the USA” written all over them. Lately, they have even expanded to climate denialism, publishing articles like “Trump is Right: It’s Time to Stop Fighting Global Warming.” These conservative talking points and ideas flow like water from the Atlantic all the way to the Mediterranean.
The ocean runs deep. Haggai Segal, editor-in-chief of the religious right’s foremost newspaper, Makor Rishon, also picked up the libertarian thread. A few years ago he suggested that Israel’s national insurance system, which includes full state-run coverage for all, wasn’t fair and harbored freeloaders. “Instead of each person financing his own insurance,” wrote Segal, “the state coerces him into also paying for his neighbor, who doesn’t bother to make a living.” 

Bezalel Smotrich, a prominent religious right politician and current transportation minister Noam Revkin Fenton

Haggai Segal, editor-in-chief of the religious right’s foremost newspaper, Makor Rishon Olivier Fitoussi

Two in five Israelis live under the poverty line, but in the tea party mind-set, facts like these are up for debate. Bezalel Smotrich, a prominent religious right politician and current transportation minister, infamously quipped: “The poverty statistics are exaggerated: I have five children, and I don’t believe that two of them are poor.” In the midst of an intense political battle fought by the left to increase disability insurance, Rabbi Uri Sadan of the Keter Institute for Torah Economics declared disability “a divine edict that doesn’t accord its possessors the right to a salary from the state.”

In fact, the religious right has stood at the forefront of resistance to every single social justice campaign in Israel — from the massive protests in the summer of 2011 to the struggle to raise the minimum wage. They even declared themselves on the opposite side of the elderly and the disabled during the campaign to raise their government-issued disability insurance. 

The latest gospel the religious right has imported from the world of the Koch brothers-funded think tanks is that of the misnamed “right to work” laws that are geared at crushing organized labor. This signifies a deep ideological transformation. Up until a decade ago, the religious right would regularly ally itself with the social-democratic left around important education and welfare reforms. Today, following a decade of heavy conservative influence, its leadership has become fully proficient in libertarian dogma.

The South African option
Another American right-wing cause that was formerly unheard of in Israeli politics but recently added to the religious right’s agenda: gun rights \ Gil Cohen-Magen
The American right has not only given Israel libertarian economics. A new issue, also formerly unheard of in Israeli politics, was recently added to the religious right’s agenda: gun rights. 
Amir Ohana, a young Likud lawmaker closely affiliated with the new right’s political infrastructure and Israel’s transition justice minister, began pushing for new legislation aimed at loosening firearm restrictions. “Self-defense is our most basic right,” declared Ohana last year, claiming that arming Israeli citizens would serve as “a force multiplier for the security forces” against Palestinian terrorists. “Unfortunately, it is likely that there will be more shooting accidents,” he conceded, adding: “When you cut wood, chips fly.” His initiative was proudly featured on the NRA’s website.

Amir Ohana, Israel’s transition justice minister, is close to the new right’s political infrastructure and has pushed for loosening Israel's gun laws. Emil Salman
In civil rights terms, the religious right is determined to roll back the impressive achievements of Israeli liberalism, specifically the “constitutional revolution” that began in the ’90s and granted constitutional supremacy to Basic Laws concerning human rights. Recently, Shaked led an attempt to defang the Supreme Court entirely and revoke its power of judicial review with a law that was just a hair’s breadth away from being enacted. If she and her allies succeed the next time around, the right would effectively eliminate the only surviving veto point in a political system characterized by an all-powerful coalition government and an unusually weak parliament.

And this is all before we’ve touched on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There, the religious right’s leadership has done a great deal of work to replace the status quo of settlement expansion in the West Bank with a new beast: annexation — that is, a unilateral Israeli declaration of sovereignty over the West Bank. Until just a few scant years ago, this was considered beyond the pale in Israeli politics, a doomsday scenario for both left and right. If Israel gave citizenship to the 2.5 million Palestinian residents in that swath of land, Jews would be voted out of office in what would spell the end of a Jewish state. If alternatively, it did not grant them citizenship, that would sound a death knell for Israel as a democracy.

The old right never properly formed a clear thesis about the conflict. Its approach was largely reactive and consisted of opposing the two-state solution advocated by the left. But over the past few years, the leaders of the new religious right have sidled up to annexation and have presented plans that are aimed at including more West Bank land in Israel proper. Former Education Minister Naftali Bennett suggested that Israel annex Area C, defined by the Oslo Accords as some 60 percent of the West Bank. (Area C is where all Israeli settlements — and some 200,000 Palestinians — sit). 

Bennett’s plan, launched on social media in the form of a slick viral video, involves the construction of a complex array of bridges and tunnels to connect the hundreds of tiny Bantustans that would remain under Palestinian control. Other figures on the religious right, such as National Union leader Bezalel Smotrich, have proposed annexing the entire West Bank without granting citizenship to a single Palestinian — a plan that would make Israel the next South Africa.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented his plan for Israel to annex the Jordan Valley if he is reelected, September 10, 2019. Tomer Appelbaum
Crucially, these campaigns have been complemented by changes on the ground, in large part due to the fact that the politicians who advance them (Shaked, Bennett, and Smotrich) have served as ministers for the last number of years. Although only a small part of his ruling coalition, this hell-bent band of ideologues was able to exploit Netanyahu’s inveterate hesitancy to steer the whole government their way. 

For example, in early 2017 the religious right steered through the so-called regulation law, which legalizes the status of settlements built on private Palestinian land, forcing the legal owners to forfeit their property in return for land elsewhere or monetary compensation. They did not do all of this alone, however; it takes more than a handful of energetic politicians to rewrite the norms at the basis of a nation’s public life.

From the classroom to the cabinet table
To understand how the right-wing institutional machine operates — and how steeped it is in American money and influence — all one need do is look at Israel’s recent passage of the controversial nation-state law, which the Knesset passed last year. This legislation, which provoked an international stir, bestows a constitutionally superior status on Jewish citizens in Israel over Arab and other non-Jewish ones — thus, in effect, violating the principles set forth in Israel’s Declaration of Independence. 

Zvi Hauser, a former Netanyahu cabinet secretary, was hired as a lobbyist to promote the nation-state law. Hauser is currently running against Netanyahu as part of the Kahol Lavan ticket. Yanai Yechiel
The law originated in two of the religious right’s most prominent research centers: The Institute for Zionist Strategy, which introduced the idea underlying the bill almost a decade ago; and the Kohelet Policy Forum, which accompanied the drafting of its final version, gave it public and intellectual backing, and hired Zvi Hauser, a former Netanyahu cabinet secretary, as a lobbyist to promote it. 
When the bill became law, Kohelet threw a celebratory banquet attended by politicians, scholars and media figures associated with the right. The periodical Hashiloach, in which Shaked presented her libertarian credo, published essays that provided the camp’s agents of change with effective talking points. The Israel equivalent of Breitbart, a website called Mida, dedicated dozens of pieces to the law, which is heralded as a “fulfillment of Zionism.” 

Mida, the Israel equivalent of Breitbart, dedicated dozens of pieces to the Nation-State Law Screen capture

Academics associated with Kohelet have, in recent years, rewritten the civics textbooks used in Israel’s public school's system, in the spirit of the nation-state law: Reframing Zionism as a religious movement; painting Israeli Arabs in a negative light and dropping any mention of the settlements. These same researchers often double as staff in partisan institutions such as the Jewish Statesmanship Center, a training ground for right-leaning youngsters seeking entry to key positions in public service. At the same time, the religious right’s network of premilitary prep schools and student programs is educating a whole generation of right-wingers in accordance with the worldview that elevates Israel’s Jewish character over its democratic commitment.

The right has set up a network of premilitary prep schools and student programs, which is educating a whole generation of right-wingers. Bnei David Institutes
The Kohelet Policy Forum, named after the biblical book of Ecclesiastes, is perhaps the most important cog in the right-wing machine today. Its annual budget is estimated at over $8.5 million, an enormous sum in terms of the Israeli political system — nearly equal to the annual budget of the Israel Democracy Institute, the country’s leading nonpartisan think tank established some two decades prior to the forum. 

In addition to the nation-state law, Kohelet has bigger, more dangerous legislation coming down the pike: It is pushing for “right to work” laws that would unseat union power; annexation legislation that would apply Israeli sovereignty to the West Bank; and, finally, a bypass law that would effectively strip the Supreme Court of its power of judicial review. 

Meir Rubin, head of the Kohelet Policy Forum Emil Salman
“Kohelet’s people are involved in virtually every significant legislative reform enacted by Netanyahu’s government, far beyond settlement-related issues — from the country’s Jewish identity to the national energy policy,” says a source who worked till recently in the Justice Ministry. “Their reports turn into government policy; their messaging memos are quoted verbatim by civil servants and politicians. When they appear before Knesset committees, all other civil society organizations are immediately sidelined. Their approach — which sanctifies the settlements on the one hand, and wild, unfettered markets on the other — has become bon ton in government circles.” 

Learning from the Kochs
The spread of American-style conservative ideas is certainly not confined to the corridors of power in Jerusalem. One cannot walk into a bookstore in Israel nowadays without coming face-to-face with Ben Shapiro’s smug face, grinning on the cover of the Hebrew edition of “How to Debate Leftists and Destroy Them: 11 Rules for Winning the Argument.” 

This “survival manual,” along with Jordan Peterson’s conservative mega-bestseller “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos,” was published recently by Sella Meir — a publishing house supported by the American neoconservative Tikvah Fund and managed by luminaries of Israel’s new religious right. In recent years, the publisher has flooded the Israeli book market with key texts from the Anglo-American conservative bookshelf, from Ayn Rand to Douglas Murray and, of course, Donald Trump.

Jordan Peterson’s conservative mega-bestseller '12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos' was published in Israel recently by a publishing house supported by the American neoconservative Tikvah Fund. Lars Pehrson / SvD / TT NEWS AGE

Books are not the only thing the Tikvah Fund has to offer Israelis. It attracts Israeli students to its seminars at home and abroad, thanks to lavish study conditions and generous scholarships. In these seminars, young Israelis are educated in the tenets of conservative thought, guided by speakers such as John Bolton, Bret Stephens, Bill Kristol and Elliott Abrams (the last two also sit on the fund’s board of directors). 

In Washington, where think tanks and leadership training operations are thick on the ground, the activities of these groups may seem par for the course. But in Israel, which has far fewer stable, well-funded political institutions, the appearance of the Tikvah Fund and other conservative projects with U.S. money behind them is a dramatic political development. 

Attendees at the first-ever Israeli Conservatism Conference, held in Jerusalem, May 2019. Dor Kedmi
Last May, Jerusalem hosted the first-ever Israeli Conservatism Conference. A brand-new organization, calling itself the Israeli Conservatism Movement, was behind the event: Its stated goal is “developing a distinctly Israeli and conservative school of thought, and a community affiliated with its ideas.” 

Roger Hertog, a U.S. conservative businessman and chairman of the Tikvah Fund, shares this vision. “On the road to conservative victory,” he explained from the podium, “ideas must manifest themselves in the cultural and political processes that will shape Israel’s destiny. That is the challenge facing conservatism in Israel … and I think it can be won. It’s not just that ideas matter. They’re the only thing that matters,” he concluded. 

According to estimates, the Tikvah Fund invests $10 million to $15 million a year in its project to transform Israel. And its cumulative impact can’t be overstated: Each and every one of the publications and institutions mentioned above is either fully or partly sponsored by the fund.
This is, of course, a legitimate move in the battle of ideas that takes place in any democratic society. And yet, one should call it for what it is: The right-wing, spearheaded by the Tikvah Fund, is attempting to replace Israel’s Declaration of Independence — the closest thing Israel has to a constitution, and a document that outlines a model for liberal Zionism, upholding equality for all citizens, Jewish or not — with the tea party’s manifesto. 

To achieve that, it is employing the tried-and-true strategies of the Koch brothers, the Mercers, the Adelsons and other royal families of the American right. It is important to understand the involvement of U.S.-based foundations and thinkers in the war of ideas in Israel — not only since it proves how ridiculous the Israeli right’s incessant cries of “foreign interference” are, but primarily since it illustrates why Israeli progressives and their American partners keep swinging and missing: They avoid talking about the far-reaching differences between liberal and conservative strategies when it comes to investing money and efforts in Israel. 

The then-chairman of the board of Americans for Prosperity, David Koch, speaking at the Defending the American Dream summit, August 1, 2015. Paul Vernon, AP
Do-gooders vs. power builders
For two decades now, the idea of liberal Zionism has been under constant attack both from the right (for alleged betrayal of Zionism) and the far left (for alleged betrayal of liberalism). Meanwhile, as a political actor, it has been losing elections with consistency. But its leadership in Israel and supporters abroad have been missing the point for years: They have become obsessed with ethics rather than politics and preferred sporadic activism and self-styled heroic dissent to the systematic, long-term building of power.

It isn’t the case, of course, that there is less money on the liberal wing of the American Jewish community. However, liberal U.S. foundations involved in Israel pursue a very different course of action compared to their right-wing counterparts. They are mostly looking to support “do-gooders” — or, as they put it, to “strengthen the social cohesion in Israel” and “create a vibrant Israeli democracy.” That is to say, they invest in projects aimed at empowering marginalized groups and promoting civic activism. Noble causes, to be sure, but apolitical ones.

Liberal donors who are engaged with Israel in a more political manner do so mainly by supporting projects that promote equality between Jews and Arabs and even by assisting election campaigns. But here, as well, we’re talking about short-term, project-based strategy — not about laying a strong institutional infrastructure for the long-term.

Conversely, Israel’s right-wing organizations are, well, right-wing. All of them, almost without exception, deal with ideas and policies that cut across all aspects of life and differ only on the basis of function. Some focus on education and training; others work on policy and research; still, others are media outlets. 

In contrast, many of the left-wing organizations and foundations are issue-specific. They support youth programs; lift people up from poverty; promote peace. These initiatives — led by organizations that rarely perceive themselves as part of the same political camp — may mitigate the worst effects of right-wing rule, but do very little to advance the only political force in the country that could, by taking office, prevent these harms from taking place, to begin with.

Those of us who believe that the road to a better and fairer life in the Middle East doesn’t go through boycotting the Jewish state — both because that wouldn’t be moral and since it would only lead to a sharper rightward turn in Israeli society — are left with only one strategy: To strengthen the Israeli left. 

The battle over the soul of Israel is a political one and is to be waged between the religious right and new, reinvigorated left. The problem is that this institutional, power-centered approach has been consistently overlooked by progressive commentators and donors. This is precisely what has to change.

Palestinian women crossing an Israeli checkpoint between the West Bank town of Bethlehem and Jerusalem, May 2018. MUSA AL SHAER/AFP

When people examine the Israeli left, they give one of two explanations for its current state. The first blames the crisis on the unattractiveness of its ideas — chiefly, the two-state solution. The second blames the weakness of its politicians and parties while completely ignoring the state of the left’s institutions. Both explanations are myopic. What the religious right and its American conservative backers understand is that ideas need policy research, mechanisms for educating young people, media institutions to promote them, groups of activists to demand them, and training programs to funnel the best and brightest of the movement into public service. 

They also understand that political parties can only ever see as far as the next election campaign and that nothing can replace institutions that work year in, year out to build a political camp over the long-term. 

The Israeli left, which established the State of Israel, has already written a glorious chapter in Jewish history — and did so against all odds, in the dourest historical circumstances imaginable. In all likelihood, it can do it again. If we compare the state of the religious right following the disengagement from Gaza to that of the left today, we will find that the left’s starting point is still significantly better. 

Even after years of no negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, poll after poll shows that most Israelis prefer the two-state solution over the right’s path of annexation — this despite public debate being heavily tilted in favor of those who reject any kind of diplomatic compromise. On questions of socioeconomics and freedom of religion, the left enjoys an even clearer advantage.
In other words, public opinion is, at least for now, well ahead of the political system — and the future of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state depends on the latter’s ability to catch up. This can happen only when the Israeli left creates its own network of public-facing, politically focused institutions. 
To be sure, the responsibility for the country’s future lies, first and foremost, on the shoulders of young Israeli activists like us. But after a decade in which conservative money and expertise have been building up a new, dangerously effective far-right elite in Israel, it is time for our progressive partners abroad to seriously rethink their own game plan.

Rami Hod is executive director of the Berl Katznelson Center, an educational and ideas institution working to revive progressive Zionism in Israel. 
Yonatan Levi is a research fellow at the Berl Katznelson Center and a PhD student at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

A Whole Nation Goes On a Frenzied Over A Gay Film~~The Answer: Ultra Nationalists



   

It will seem like these people just got television and still don't understand it......?....?....? But no they have been watching it for a while but maybe they don't have more pressing problems...?.....?....?
No, they have plenty of problems and one of them is the Ultra Nationalists


Catherine Pilishvili 

Senior Associate, Europe and Central Asia Division



Conflicts around gender and sexuality are often indicators of social tension. A recent public clash over the screening of a film in Tbilisi gives insight into the fault lines of contemporary politics in Georgia.
Georgia’s democratic gains have been seriously tested by the ruling party backtracking on electoral reforms. Politics is growing increasingly polarized, and last month the gulf between the far-right and progressive values erupted in a violent confrontation outside a cinema where the story of a romance between two men unfolded on screen.
The film And Then We Danced, which plunges viewers into the world of the Georgian National Ballet, is by Swedish-born filmmaker Levan Akin, (who is of Georgian descent), and is Sweden’s “Best International Feature” entry for the 2020 Oscars.
And Then We Danced opened for a limited, three-day screening on November 8, prompting a fervent backlash from far-right and religious groups, who reacted to the gay theme as a threat to their way of life and to Georgian tradition.
Traditional dance is fundamental to Georgia’s heritage and the National Ballet is a source of national pride. Any Georgian describing traditional dance will tell you how they’re moved by the beating drums and dancers’ movement. It hits your soul. It’s the sound of home.
Akin’s film is a commentary on masculinity and tradition in Georgian culture. As the film’s opening sequence eloquently explains, “Georgian dancing is based on masculinity. There is no room for weakness.” The plot follows a young dancer as he grapples with traditional ideals of masculinity, his passion for dance, and his growing desire for his male rival.
Akin approaches culture and tradition as dynamic, not static, and encourages the audience to rethink gender norms in light of his expansive and inclusive vision of tradition.
As the film was screened in November, protesters took to the streets. They attempted to stop moviegoers from entering the cinema and tried to storm the area but were held back by police who had the area cordoned off. They burned an LGBT flag while a priest recited a prayer, set off firecrackers, and threw smoke bombs at moviegoers. Protesters chanted “long live Georgia” and “shame,” some holding crosses and religious icons.
The Interior Ministry deployed police at the cinema to protect public safety and free expression.
Ana Subeliani was hospitalized after being struck by a stone outside the cinema, where she stood in solidarity with the rights of LGBT people. She described being suddenly hit by “a heavy object to the head.” She felt extreme pain, with blood gushing from her head, and even though she had lost an eye. Describing it as the “most aggressive protest of this kind” that she had seen in recent years, Ana told me, “As soon as we showed up, homophobic protesters surrounded our group and insulted us. They are focused on demonizing and marginalizing LGBT people.”
Ana’s Facebook post detailing the incident soon attracted media attention.
One person is facing criminal charges for the attack on Subeliani, while 27 others were detained by police on misdemeanor disobedience charges.
The controversy surrounding Akin’s film echoes the violent disruption by thousands of protesters, including Orthodox clergy, of a gathering in Tbilisi marking the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia in May 2013. Police evacuated LGBT activists to safety but failed to contain the mob, who threw stones and other objects at a van carrying the activists and injured a journalist.
As the country stepped closer to the EU, Georgia adopted anti-discrimination laws in 2014. However, homosexuality remains highly stigmatized and is at the epicenter of “culture wars” between progressives and conservatives, with antigay elements backed by the massively influential church, at times with hateful rhetoric. Georgia’s ombudsman says that LGBT people experience abuse, intolerance, and discrimination in every sphere of life.
Protecting minority rights is a cornerstone of democracy. But the government is falling short on its obligations. As Georgian authorities look for allies in this polarized political environment, they should be mindful of the high stakes and real fault lines on human rights and should not condone or encourage violence against LGBT people and their supporters. More needs to be done to deter and condemn homophobic statements by public officials. Tiptoeing around ultra-nationalists, and sometimes portraying their statements as legitimate speech encourages further homophobia and violence.
“I made this film with love and compassion,” Akin said after the violent protests against his film. “It is my love letter to Georgia and to my heritage. With this story, I wanted to reclaim and redefine Georgian culture to include all, not just some.”
These are the values the Georgian government should embrace and protect.

Germany Hires 600 Police to Fight The Ultra Right, One day it Could be Us but with Thousands More

 

                              Image result for germany hires 600 police to fight ultra right


By Tim Hume



Germany just created hundreds of new intelligence jobs to hunt down far-right extremists and neo-Nazis as part of a tough new approach to tackling the growing problem. 

The new plan, announced in Berlin by Interior Minister Horst Seehofer Tuesday, creates 600 jobs, in total — 300 in the federal police and 300 in the domestic intelligence services — and comes as a reaction to rising far-right violence in the country. In the past six months, Germany has experienced two deadly acts of terrorism: an attempted gun rampage at a synagogue in Halle that killed two people, and the assassination of a pro-refugee mayor, Walter Luebcke. 
Germany has also faced a string of recent scandals involving far-right sympathizers in the army and police, and a new office will be dedicated to sniffing out extremists in the public sector. 
“Germany has to become more active against the far-right,” Seehofer told reporters. “As a consequence of Halle, we want to assure the public — many steps are being taken.”

Officials said they would also take a broader approach to tackle right-wing extremism — monitoring entire networks rather than just individuals and widening their focus to look more at the online far-right activity.
“In the past, we have concentrated very strongly on violence-oriented right-wing extremism, focusing on certain individuals,” Thomas Haldenwang, president of the domestic intelligence service, told reporters.
“Today, we realize we need a holistic approach.”
Germany has been grappling with surging right-wing extremism in the wake of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision in 2015 to allow about one million asylum seekers into the country.  
Since then, the country’s far-right fringe has become larger and more dangerous. Officials said last year there were about 24,000 right-wing extremists, about half of whom could be considered dangerous; this year, the total of extremists has risen to 32,200, according to the Tagesspiegel newspaper. Half of all politically-motivated violent crimes in Germany last year were carried out by the far-right, according to official statistics. 
Far-right cells have also been busted in the police and military, where their access to weapons and tactical training makes them a particular security concern. Earlier this month, a special forces sergeant was revealed to have been suspended on suspicion of far-right activism, while eight members of an elite police commando unit were linked last month to a network of far-right doomsday “preppers.”
Robert Lüdecke, the spokesman for the anti-racist group the Amadeu Antonio Foundation, told VICE News that the rough new approach was welcome but “long overdue.”
“For too long, German security circles have solely been focussing on Islamist terror, while too little has been done to combat right-wing violence,” he said.
He said the failures of the German security establishment to confront the far-right had emboldened extremists while leading the targets of their threats — Muslims, Jews and other minorities, left-wing politicians, anti-racist organizations — to lose confidence in the authorities.
“The right-wing scene has gained a new self-confidence in recent years, and they fear hardly any consequences for their plans,” he said.

September 5, 2018

In Poland a Group of Right Wing Nationalists Destroy LGBTQ Display Street for Pride


 


Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor

 
A group of men believed to be right-wing nationalists descended on an LGBTQ street fair in Poland, ripping up rainbow colored umbrellas and frightening those in attendance. 
The event was organized by Lambda Szczecin, a local LGBTQ organization, on Sunday, less than two weeks before Szczecin is set to hold its first ever Pride. A video posted to the Facebook page for a documentary called Artykuł Osiemnasty (Article 18), about the lack of marriage equality in Poland, shows three men, who are described in the caption as “National Patriots,” destroying property and getting into a verbal altercation with a man who confronted them for their actions. 
The video asks anyone who recognizes the homophobic bigots to come forward with information. Lambda Warsaw shared a picture from the event after the hooligans began their destructive and chaotic action, calling on everyone to attend the Pride event on September 15.
“We will be there with our huge rainbow flag,” the post reads. 
“We will also help to ensure the safety of LGBT people in Szczecin,” it goes on. “At the end of September, we will conduct training for violence victims from West Pomeranian and surrounding areas. It will increase the number of places where LGBT people can safely report violence.”
In addition to not being able to marry, same-sex couples in the country also cannot adopt, and there are no protections against discrimination in housing. Violence against the LGBTQ community has reached such a level in Poland that Amnesty International has urged the country to take hate crimes there seriously.

September 25, 2017

Marriott is Happy to Host The Largest Supremacy Groups Gathering in America







AirBnB, Google, WordPress, Apple, and even Uber are among the companies who have refused the business of white supremacists or other hate-speech groups—it seems that taking a moral stand through business is catching on. Though that isn’t the case for every company: On Oct. 2-3, Marriott is scheduled to host ACTCON, the gathering of ACT for America, at its Marriott Crystal Gateway hotel in Arlington, Virginia.
ACT for America is the US’ largest anti-Muslim organization, and claims some 750,000 members around the country. Its CEO, Brigitte Gabriel, publicly expresses her Islamophobia. She’s also a Donald Trump supporter with direct access to his administration.
“The portent behind the terrorist attacks is the purest form of what the Prophet Mohammed created,” Gabriel wrote in her 2008 book,They Must Be Stopped. “It’s not radical Islam. It’s what Islam is at its core.” Gabriel has also insisted that a “practicing Muslim, who believes in the teachings of the Koran cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America.” After learning about the convention’s location, civil-rights organization Muslim Advocates on Sept. 11 emailed a letter (pdf) to Marriott’s president and other members of the company, demanding that the hotel distance itself from ACT by refusing to host the conference. Last month, PayPal dropped the anti-Muslim group from the list of organizations it serves.
There is precedent: In 2011, Marriott refused to host a conference for American Renaissance, an organization that promotes white supremacy. In its letter, Muslim Advocates appealed to the hotel chain’s list of diversity partners, and to its public stands against the Muslim ban and in support of LGBT rights.
Though Marriott acknowledged receiving the letter, Scott Simpson of Muslim Advocates told Quartz that the company did not communicate any intention of canceling the conference, which is why the organization decided to make the letter public this week. In a statement, a Marriott spokesperson said it is “a hospitality company that provides public accommodations and function space,” adding that accepting a group’s business does not constitute endorsing them.
Simpson disagrees. He says hosting the ACT conference shows that the hotel chain isn’t abiding by its purported respect for diversity, let alone acknowledging that Muslim guests may feel threatened by the gathering.
Marriott International is the largest hotel chain in the world. The company is worth more than $33 billion, and was recently granted $62 million (or about $17,500 per employee) in state and local subsidies for its new headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland. The grant was given to stop Marriott from relocating, which would have been a big loss for Maryland’s Republican governor, Larry Hogan, who had made industry retention a core of his campaign. Back in 1999, Marriott received $43 million in taxpayer-funded subsidies, plus a deal for road improvement, to keep its headquarters in Bethesda.

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August 23, 2017

So Many Ultra White Nationalist are Anti Gay~ Why?




Hundreds of white nationalists lined the streets of Charlottesville, Va., last Saturday to protest the removal of a Confederate monument. Some waved Confederate and Nazi flags, others brandished shields. They shouted racist and anti-Semitic slurs with chants of “They will not replace us.” 
At one point, they chanted in unison: “F--k you, fa---ts!” 
What these white, mostly male, presumably heterosexual protesters have in common is a belief in a “white Ethnostate,”according to Southern Poverty Law Center Research Analyst Keegan Hankes. He referred to the so-called “alt-right” or far-right movement as a “grab bag of right-wing ideologies.” 

Violent Clashes Erupt at "Unite The Right" Rally In Charlottesville

Hundreds of white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and KKK and members hurl water bottles back and forth against counter demonstrators on the outskirts of Emancipation Park during the Unite the Right rally August 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

“They believe that white people are being systematically replaced and that inheritance to their homeland is being taken away from them,” Hankes told NBC News. 
Since the 2016 election, which advocates say emboldened many right-wing extremists, there has been a reported rise in anti-LGBTQ violence that is disproportionately affecting people of color. 
While not all white nationalists are homophobic, Hankes said the majority of right-wing extremists are “virulently anti-LGBT” and share an anxiety and fixation on white birth rates, which is just barely keeping pace with racial minorities. He said some extremists may blame the disparity on the legalization of same-sex marriage. 
“There’s this belief that basically white people are being replaced faster than they can reproduce,” Hankes said. 
White nationalists are planning more protests across the United States, and Hankes said they are galvanized over a recent video of anti-fascists toppling a Confederate monument in Durham, N.C. 
“I haven’t seen them this angry in a long time,” he said. 
“At Least They Can’t Breed”
Former white supremacist Angela King, 42, was a propagandist for various neo-Nazi groups in the early 1990s. She admitted to creating propaganda aimed at promoting higher birth rates among white women. 


A mug shot of Angela King from when she was in prison in 1999. Courtesy of Angela King

“I did women-centric propaganda-type things,” King said. “I would write articles for some of the racist magazines or papers about things like white women shouldn’t get abortions, but women who aren’t white should.” 
The neo-Nazis and skin head King ran with believed gays were sick. She said they didn’t hesitate to ridicule LGBTQ people and abuse them in the streets. 
“It was always a joke, that ‘at least they can’t breed,’” recalled King, who has come out as a lesbian since leaving the movement. 
In her early 20s, King spent three years in prison for robbing a Jewish-owned store. While serving time, she realized she was attracted to women. 
“I knew at a young age that I was attracted to the other little girls and not the little boys,” she said. But her religious upbringing coupled with the homophobia she learned at home gave her a deep sense of shame. 
“I was like, ‘Oh, sh-t, something is wrong with me, I’m disgusting, I’m all these horrible things,'” she said. “So it wasn’t until prison that I actually had a relationship and started down the path of acceptance for myself.” 
"This Has Just Grown Into This Huge Beast"
The years King spent in prison forced her to reflect on her hateful views, which she said she learned from her parents at an early age. Several black prisoners confronted her over her neo-Nazi tattoos. They insisted she tells them what she would do if she saw them on the street. Would she call them the N-word? Would she hurt them? 
“In prison, one cannot just jump up and run away from tough conversations like that, so they held me accountable,” she said. “And another thing they did was they viewed me as a human being, and I really didn’t feel like I deserved that at all.” 


Angela King (second from left) and her Life After Hate colleagues in April 2017. Courtesy of Angela King

A co-founder of the nonprofit Life After Hate, King now works to counter and reform people with extremist views. In recent years, she has nervously watched the far right grow into a more unified front. 
“Technology has certainly sped up the rate at which these groups are able to communicate and share information and plan,” she observed. 
King said she used a copy machine to make white supremacist propaganda in the 1990s. 
“We always had a lot of flyers that were very stereotypical, and there were flyers that mocked just about everything and anything you can imagine: from a gay person to a Jewish person to a person of color too, you name it, someone with a disability,” King recalled. 
Today, the same propaganda is created quickly in the form of digital memes and other media that can be shared widely across the internet, she said. 
“They are in a completely different format today, but it’s the exact same dehumanization of marginalized people,” she explained. 
King said the merger between the so-called "alt-right," whose followers she said tend to eschew Nazi iconography for a cleaner, media-friendly image, and what she called the “violent far right” she once belonged to, is unprecedented. 
“They cleaned up the language,” she said. “They made it a little more palatable, and now this has just grown into this huge beast that’s doing this giant snowball downhill.” 
We Can't "Pretend Like It's Not Happening"
The backlash against marginalized communities doesn’t surprise the University of Southern California Professor Chris Freeman, whose work primarily focuses on 20th century gay and lesbian studies. With the election of President Barak Obama, American’s first black president, and the legalization of same-sex marriage, the rise of far-right groups is consistent with historical trends, he said. 
“Germany was very progressive on issues around sexuality at the turn of the 20th century,” Freeman said. In the years after the First World War, during the Weimar Republic, Berlin was a queer Bohemia, he explained. The city was home to the Institute for Sexual Science, a famed sexology Institute headed by Jewish physician Magnus Hirschfeld. 

III.Reich, burning of the books 10.05.1933:Students of the natiional-socialist students association NSDStB collecting 'un-german and decadent' books in order to transport them to the pyre at the berlin Opernplatz: Picture shows the confiscation of th

Books being confiscated at Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld's Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin, Germany, in 1933. ullstein bild via Getty Images

“His Institute was burned, probably because there were some pretty credible rumors that some of the clients were people who were higher up in the Nazi party,” Freeman said. 
While anti-Semitism was at the heart of Nazi ideology, some of the frenzies that led to its uprising can be attributed to far-right hostility toward the sexual liberation of the 1920s, Freeman explained. As the country grew increasingly progressive, he said, more and more Nazis were elected. 
“There was a push that was pretty likely to be successful in Germany in the 1920s and early '30s to repeal anti-gay laws,” Freeman added, "and then that all went belly-up when the Nazis took over.” 
After Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, the Nazis began the widespread persecution of gay men. It is estimated that between 5,000 and 15,000perished in concentration camps. 

Male Concentration Camp Prisoners

Gay prisoners at the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen, Germany, wearing pink triangles on their uniforms, are marched outdoors by Nazi guards on December 19, 1938. Corbis via Getty Images

“So in terms of thinking about the politics of the far right, it’s reactionary politics, and it’s based on fear and hatred,” Freeman added. 
The professor sees parallels between the rise of Nazism in Germany and the far right in the United states. 
“People who believe in this idealized past that does not exist are panicked because [of] the visibility of queer people in the movement for our acceptance and the potential meltdown of the gender binary,” Freeman explained. 
What’s different, he said, is that the world now has a history of what Nazism is and what it led to, which it didn’t have 75 years ago. 
“We don’t have the ability to pretend like it’s not happening,” Freeman said. 
White People Must "Have Conversations With Our Fellow White People”
For King, who was forced to confront her own prejudice and still lives in its shadow, bigotry is a hard problem to solve. She said most extremists are not willing to listen, and even non-extremists have trouble understanding what marginalized groups go through. 
“There was a while where I was in the mentality where I was like, ‘Well, I’m part of the gay community, I’m marginalized, I know how it feels,” she said. Then, in 2016, a gunman massacred 49 people at Pulse nightclub, an Orlando gay venue, and she felt afraid for the first time. 
“I couldn’t attend [the vigil] because I was so afraid that someone like I used to be was going do something,” she explained. 
King said it was “a heavy experience to have.” 
“I think it’s the kind of experience that every American needs to have in some way to get an idea of what their fellow human beings go through,” she said. 
It’s important to engage people with extremist views and challenge their beliefs, King said. But she noted that people of color can’t be expected to have conversations with extremists marching through their towns with torches and swastika flags. 
“I think it really is up to white people to have conversations with our fellow white people,” King added.
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