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Wednesday, Feb 28th

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Antisemitism and Holocaust denial are rife, just look at Stephen Fry’s X trolls

Stephen Fry

Last week it was announced that Stephen Fry would be delivering this year’s alternative Christmas message on Channel 4.

What refreshing news. After all, it was only in 2008 that the Holocaust-denying, Jew-hating president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was given the platform.

So to hear instead that Fry – a national treasure and a powerful campaigner on issues including gay rights and mental health – will be using this moment to raise awareness of the hatred and racism directed at Jewish people right now, is very welcome.

Antisemitism has risen year on year but the events of recent months have shaken many of us to our core. It is unbelievable that today, 90 years after Hitler rose to power and almost 80 years since his antisemitic crimes were exposed to the world, we are seeing antisemitism reach levels that I have never witnessed before in my lifetime.

TVNL Comment:  For the record, I lost two grandparents, five aunts and uncles and their entire families in the Holocaust.  Long story about how my parents escaped with two children, including me.  I often fantsize meeting a Holocaust denier under my own conditions.  I am nearing 89 years with very little left to lose.

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California town proposes ban on Pride, Black and women’s history celebrations

California town proposes ban on PRIDE, bLACK AND WOMEN'S Histories

The southern California city of Huntington Beach, a bastion of conservative voters, has made the move to block diverse monthlong celebrations of Black history, women’s history and Pride, in favor of observing the revolutionary and civil wars, California’s history and America’s independence.

An agenda item introduced on 19 December forbids any programming that pertains to previously established honorary celebrations for women, people of color and LGBTQ+ groups from taking place on city-owned property, including libraries, or of being featured in city communications such as social media posts, according to Natalie Moser, a city council member who voted against the action.

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New York college students who support Palestine fear post-9/11-style retaliation

NY College students fear retaliationOn the morning of 12 October, a crowd of about 100 members of the Brooklyn College chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine and neighborhood residents gathered outside the school’s campus for a rally in support of the Palestinian people.

The atmosphere was tense, with a heavy police presence on the ground, police helicopters hovering overhead and campus security turning out in large numbers. Inna Vernikov, an avid Israel supporter who represents southern Brooklyn on the New York City council, flashed a gun in the waistband of her pants. Tweeting from the sidelines, she called the students “Hamas supporters” and accused them of wanting to “bring the terror here to rid the world of the Jewish people”.

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New York City Council votes to ban most instances of solitary confinement

NYC Council votes to end solitary confinement

The New York City Council voted to ban most uses of solitary confinement in city jails Wednesday, passing the measure with enough votes to override a veto from Mayor Eric Adams.

The measure would ban the use of solitary confinement beyond four hours and during certain emergencies. That four hour period would be for "de-escalation" in situations where a detainee has caused someone else physical harm or risks doing so. The resolution would also require the city's jails to allow every person detained to spend at least 14 hours outside of their cells each day.

The bill, which had 38 co-sponsors, was passed 39 to 7. It will now go to the mayor, who can sign the bill or veto it within 30 days. If Mayor Adams vetoes the bill, it will get sent back to the council, which can override the veto with a vote from two-thirds of the members. The 39 votes for the bill today make up 76% of the 51-member council. At a press conference ahead of the vote today, Council speaker Adrienne Adams indicated the council would seek an override if necessary.

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Jamal Khashoggi’s widow granted political asylum in US

Jamal Khashouggi and wife

The widow of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist who was murdered in 2018, has been granted political asylum in the U.S., according to The Washington Post.

“Thank you to ⁦@RepDonBeyer @timkaine @danapriest @washingtonpost for your powerful help in getting me political asylum and telling the truth. Not done yet in getting #JusticeforJamal @JKhashoggi,” Hanan Elatr said in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, on Thursday.

Elatr included a link in the post to an article from the Washington Post, where her husband previously worked, about her newfound asylum. According to the Post, the decision on her asylum came this month.

“I couldn’t really believe it,” Elatr said in the wake of reading a letter on the decision, per the Post. “I said, ‘Is this real?’ I couldn’t digest it.”​​

Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government, was murdered while in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

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Artists rally in support of West Bank theater members detained since Dec. 13

West Bank Theater group detained

The Freedom Theatre has endured extraordinary stress and privations since it was first founded in 1987 by an Israeli and Palestinian couple. Located in a refugee camp on the West Bank, it has gained international renown for original plays and creative workshops for Palestinian children and families.

But in 2011, its artistic director was shot by masked assailants. Juliano Mer-Khamis, an Israeli film director, was the adult son of the theaters' founders. Last year, the chair of its board, Bilal al-Saadi, was arrested by the Israeli army. He was detained for six months in what PEN America described as "a serious human rights violation."

Last summer, the theater was shelled by the Israeli military as part of a days-long campaign in the area, with extensive damages reported by the non-partisan Middle East Institute and documented by the theater. On Wednesday December 13, in the midst of one of the biggest raids on Jenin in decades, the Israeli army ransacked and vandalized the theater, according to its staff, and arrested artistic director Ahmed Tobasi and two of its members. Israel says it was conducting an operation searching for militants, who have been expanding their activities in Jenin for over a year.

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White South Carolina couple ‘harassed Black neighbors with burning cross’

SC couple burn cross facing black coupleThe FBI has searched a house in South Carolina after a white couple allegedly put up a cross that faced their Black neighbors and set it on fire.

On Wednesday morning, federal agents searched the house of 28-year-old Worden Butler and 27-year-old Alexis Hartnett in Horry county for a “civil rights investigation involving allegations of racial discrimination”, WBTW reports the agency saying.

According to Horry county police reports reviewed by WPDE, between 23 and 24 November, Butler and Hartnett, who are white, allegedly harassed and stalked their neighbors, who are Black, with “racially motivated words and actions”.

In one incident, Butler and Hartnett reportedly erected a cross that faced their neighbors’ privacy fence. “The cross was facing the victims’ home and the suspect set the cross on fire,” a police report said.

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