Global Review on antisemitism among US Republicans, Putin-Russia and towards the Marvel/DC Comic Universe

Global Review on antisemitism among US Republicans, Putin-Russia and towards the Marvel/DC Comic Universe

A good indicator of antisemitism worldwide is Israel’s Jerusalem Post, which has now identified two developments in Russia and the US: that antisemitism among the Republicans, the GOP is growing exorbitantly, and all deadly hatred crimes in 2% of the Jewish population involve Jews in 60% of the cases, not Blacks and Black Lives Matters or Asians. Although Trump’s son-in-law Jareed Kutchner is Jewish and his daughter Ivanka has converted to Judaism, just as Trump has appeared on the part of Bibi Netanyahu as the most reliable comrade-in-arms against a nuclear Iran, Trump’s radicalization has promoted anti-Semitic (white) Christians and the alt-right. Trump is not being accused of being an anti-Semite, as long as he becomes US President it shouldn’t matter to him, but that he and the Republicans have catalyzed anti-Semitic tendencies in the US. But the Republicans‘ anti-Semitism problem goes back at least to Nixon and cannot be limited to Trump’s GOP, just as the 80 million US evangelicals are only strategically philo-Semitic, but as Luther hope for the conversion of the Jews and are therefore essentially anti-Semitic again:

“The GOP has an antisemitism problem – opinion

Neither party in the United States has a monopoly on antisemitism. Jew-haters can be found on the extremes of both parties, but the GOP seems to attract a disproportionate number.

Neither party in the United States has a monopoly on antisemitism. Jew-haters can be found on the extremes of both parties, but the GOP seems to attract a disproportionate number.

White nationalists and xenophobes are firmly entrenched in today’s party mainstream. And for many in another major pillar of today’s GOP – the Christian Right – an affinity for Israel and a fascination with Jewish religious symbolism conceal motives steeped in “end-time” prophecies and the conversion of the Jews.

The core of the GOP revolution centers on racism and xenophobia, and antisemitism is the inevitable partner of these malignant forms of bigotry.

Southern Democrats had a long reputation as racists, dating back before the Civil War, but that changed dramatically in the 1960s with the enactment of historic civil rights legislation, led by Lyndon Johnson and Congressional Democrats.

Richard Nixon quickly sought to capitalize on the expected backlash with his Southern Strategy, targeting a “silent majority” – really thinly disguised buzz words to call racists to cross over to the Republican Party. It worked.

The GOP energetically appealed to whites who wanted to preserve segregation and their “way of life.” Their appeal may have been largely anti-black, but it was also anti-Hispanic, anti-Asian, anti-immigrant and antisemitic. Nixon himself was a racist and an antisemite, as his tapes revealed.

Many Democrats followed South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond, who called themselves Dixiecrats, and became Republicans. 

Where did the political polarization come from?

Today’s polarizing politics can be traced back to the revolution led by Newt Gingrich (R-Georgia) in the mid-1990s. He infused the GOP with the idea that the Democrats were the enemy and no longer just political rivals. What ensued has been insurrection, authoritarianism and tribalism in his party. A central tenant has been, as Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank noted, “stoking fears of minorities and immigrants.” 

Jews are barely 2% of the US population but targets of 60% of all religiously motivated hate crimes, according to an FBI report cited in The Jerusalem Post. All indicators show it is getting worse.

Bess Levin notes in her Vanity Fair column, “Republicans have never been accused of embracing people from all walks of life regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexuality or country of origin,” but lately they’ve “ramped up their attacks.”

Republicans complain about “cancel culture,” but theirs is the party that wants to cancel church-state separation, abortion rights, teaching about racism, gay marriage and the investigation of the January 6 insurrection.

One of the most disturbing cancellations for Jews is the movement among Republicans, supported by conservative Supreme Court justices, to tear down the wall between religion and state. That protection has been vital to Jewish survival and success in the American democracy that is so threatened today.

Among those trying to destroy the wall is Rep. Laurent Boebert (R-Colorado). “The church is supposed to direct the government, the government is not supposed to direct the church. I’m tired of this separation of church and state junk,” she has said.

CNN has reported public opinion polling shows support for Christian nationalism is growing among Christians.

Extremism on the rise 

Another strident voice for that cause is Marjorie Taylor Green (R-Georgia), a self-declared “Christian nationalist.” She often shares platforms with Donald Trump as well as with notorious antisemites, compares COVID-19 restrictions to the Holocaust, has been a QAnon conspiracy follower and is best known for revealing that California forest fires were ignited by Jewish space lasers.

After the president’s address at Independence Hall about the threats to democracy, she tweeted, “Joe Biden is Hitler. Nazi Joe has to go.” The response from GOP leadership was its usual acquiescent silence. The American Jewish Committee called her tweets “vile, offensive.” Haaretz reported her comments “were echoed by conservative pundits.”

In an interview at the far-right Turning Point USA Student Action Summit in Florida in July, she declared, “We need to be the party of nationalism and I’m a Christian, and I say it proudly, we should be Christian nationalists.”

The problem permeates the House Republican leadership. When someone like Greene is particularly outrageous, the invertebrate House GOP leader, Kevin McCarthy, announces he will have a private chat with the alleged offender and then reports that the problem has been solved. Green and Boebert are increasingly seen as the new voices of the Republican party, and if Republicans control the next House they can expect high profile and more vocal roles.

Antisemitism is a central element of the Right’s warnings about the Great Replacement Theory. They see themselves as threatened by foreigners, notably non-white and non-Christian, who want to replace good old white Americans of western European descent. 

White Christians fear that they will no longer be the majority in this country in another generation or so, and in their view “any Democratic victory will irrevocably reconfigure the nation,” making them a minority, Ron Brownstein wrote in the Atlantic.

In some races this year, a candidate’s Jewish heritage is a target for attacks. Doug Mastriano is an election denier who showed up at the Capitol on January 6 and is now the Republican nominee for governor of Pennsylvania. He accused Josh Shapiro  – the state attorney-general, and now Mastriano’s opponent in the race for governor – of sending his children to a “privileged, exclusive, elite school” as proof of “a disdain for people like us.” 

Of course, he didn’t mention that it is a Jewish day school and the same one their father had attended as a boy. The attack was the work of Mastriano’s campaign consultant, Andrew Torba, a rabid antisemite who runs Gab, the social network widely popular among antisemites, white nationalists and neo-Nazis. Mastriano eventually and quietly tried to distance himself from Torba.

Some of the antisemitic dog whistles are subtle, like the rants about the “war on Christmas” and accusations that people are afraid to say, “Merry Christmas.” Others are as clumsy as a Jewish space laser and day school tuition. But you won’t hear much, if anything, critical of them on Fox News, One America News Network or Newsmax, or read about them in the Daily Caller, the Washington Examiner, Gab or the Daily Wire. As Trump reportedly said about the white supremacists at Charlottesville, “they’re my people.”

Likewise, the return of anti-Semitism in Russia in view of the Ukraine war is now being highlighted. While Putin is conceded that he has been one of the most staunch combatants of anti-Semitism to date, he appears to be relaxing the reins. In addition, Selensky is a Jew himself and that doesn’t fit with Putin’s Nazi propaganda, since one has to resort to constructions of Nazi Jews and Jews as oligarchs and traitors to the people. In addition, the Russian language produced the word pogrom through the pogroms against the Jews and Russia also became known for the Tsarist  secret service falsification of the protocols of the Elder of Zion

“As Putin’s war sputters, antisemitism seeps into the Russian media

As Russia’s war effort in Ukraine flounders, openly anti-Jewish rhetoric is entering the country’s mainstream media.

Soon after he rose to power 22 years ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin cracked down on the open antisemitism that nearly all of his predecessors had either encouraged, tolerated or ignored.

Now, as Russia’s war effort in Ukraine flounders, openly anti-Jewish rhetoric is entering the country’s mainstream media, with a popular talk show host naming Jews on air as being insufficiently patriotic and a think tank accusing a prominent Jewish philosopher of siding with Ukraine out of greed.

The shift in rhetoric about Jews in Russian media began about two months ago, according to Roman Bronfman, a former Israeli lawmaker who is writing a book about post-Soviet Jewry. That was around when news emerged that Ukrainian troops had successfully stopped the advance of Russian forces on Ukrainian territory; since then, they have repelled Russian troops from some areas the Russians had captured.

“At a moment when the regime’s stability was threatened, a Jewish target was selected,” Bronfman said. “In many ways this is a repeat of multiple episodes in Russian history, including the final days of Josef Stalin’s time in power.”

Putin’s past tough stance against antisemitism 

In a country where persecution of Jews had been policy for many decades prior to the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1990, antisemites faced harsh sentencing under Putin— one man in 2019 was jailed for two and a half years for scrawling antisemitic graffiti — and vigorous policing. In another notable instance, in 2020, police in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar had a rabbi fake his own death to trap two terror suspects.

This tough stance, which contrasted with the more laissez-faire approach of his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, has been politically useful to Putin, who has cited alleged antisemitism by Ukrainians as one of the reasons for his invasion of Ukraine in February. (He may well have warm sentiments for Jews or Judaism on a personal level, as well.)

But Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has left him isolated on the world stage, with his claims of Nazis in Ukraine largely dismissed as a fabrication, making a strong stance against antisemitism less useful. And as Russia’s war machine stalls in Ukraine — Putin this week announced a draft of 300,000 reserves soldiers for the war — there are mounting signs that the Putin-era taboos on displays of antisemitism are falling.

In July, Vladimir Solovyov, a popular talk show host who has Jewish ancestry himself, listed on air the names of Jews whom he faulted for lacking patriotism. That was around the same time that Russia began seeking to end local activity of the Jewish Agency for Israel, which facilitates emigration of Jews to Israel. A court case on the matter is pending.

Is antisemitism resurfacing in Russia?

In recent weeks, the rhetoric appears to be accelerating. In a Sept. 18 article in Moskovskij Komsomolets, a highbrow Russian daily, a senior and veteran writer named Dmitry Popov compiled a list of well-known Jews whom he called “foreign agents,” a term that the Russian government frequently applies to its perceived enemies. He added sarcastically that the Jews might one day form a government in “the beautiful Russia of the future” — ostensibly after Putin exits office.

The article shocked many readers, including Yulia Kalinina, a former longtime writer at the paper who had worked closely with Popov. (It was later revised to omit the apparently antisemitic passages.)

“Antisemitism has returned: Jews are blamed for the ‘beautiful Russia of the future,’” Kalinina, who has Jewish ancestry, wrote in an article published last week in the Novi Izvestiya website.

Speaking anonymously, another former or present employee of Moskovskij Komsomolets told Novi Izvestiya: “Russian antisemitism is much older than the Soviet Union. One of the three Russian words that have become an international term, in addition to vodka, is pogrom.”

More evidence of a shift in tolerance for antisemitic rhetoric came last week as Bernard-Henri Lévy, a prominent French-Jewish journalist and philosopher who is a vocal advocate of Ukraine, visited the war-torn country.

The Strategic Culture Foundation, a Russian conservative think tank that is often cited in mainstream media in Russia and beyond, published a screed about Lévy that used language reminiscent of the classical antisemitism of the 19th and 20th centuries.

“This 74-year-old French citizen, born in a family of Algerian Jews, smells blood with his nose and, without delay, flies to lap it up — and for good money,” read the article, which was signed by Agnia Krengel, a frequent contributor for the think tank.

The uptick in antisemitism adds to the forces that have caused tens of thousands of Russian Jews to leave their country since Putin invaded Ukraine. About 20,000 people, or 15% of Russia’s estimated Jewish population, have emigrated in 2022 from Russia to Israel under its law of return for Jews and their relatives — and authorities in Israel are preparing for many more now that Putin has begun mobilizing troops to sustain a war he is widely understood to be losing.

The mass exodus of Russian Jews could exacerbate the perception that they are not patriotic. Already, Russian media has noted that Chabad of Russia has appeared to speak of the war critically at a time when all other prominent clerics of state-recognized faiths have endorsed it. Meanwhile, reports have noted that multiple highly-visible Jewish oligarchs — including Roman Abramovich, Viktor Vekselberg and Michael Friedman — have left Russia since the war began. Those reports “led to an optic of Jews abandoning ship when the going gets hard,” Bronfman said.

Bronfman said he doubted that the rising antisemitism came directly from Putin himself. Instead, he said thought it reflected the zeitgeist at a time when ordinary Russians are experiencing privations and even danger because of Putin’s war in Ukraine.

“The antisemitic rhetoric we’re seeing now, the loosening of the taboo around it, are probably not directed directly by Putin’s government. Nor was the perception that Putin cares for Jews. These are matters of a general atmosphere,” Bronfman said. “Officials and the general population are reading between the lines on how they should treat the Jews. And the message is changing.”

Further excitement in the anti-Semitic scene is that an Israeli superhero is now appearing in the Marvel Comic Universe, who is also called Sabra and is said to ne named after the massacre by the Falange militia in the 1980s in the Palestinian refugee gangs Sabra and Shatilla under  the butcher Sharon and Begin and by the name of the Israeli heroine  would be glorified. The fact is, however, that the name is a common name that came into being as a comic long before the massacre. One may see this as an insensitivity to the Muslim or Arabic culture, but these conspiracy theories have little substance:

“Marvel to modify Israeli superhero after anti-Zionist backlash

“Superheroine ‘Sabra’ will be much different to her comic book counterpart in the fourth Captain America film.

Following Israeli actress Shira Haas’s casting as the Israeli superheroine and Mossad agent “Sabra” to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) last week, many took to social media with anti-Zionist posts, expressing outrage at the Israeli hero’s live-action debut.

Pro-Israel supporters rejoiced at the inclusion of an Israeli superhero in a Hollywood film, while anti-Israel social media users expressed disappointment. “#CaptainApartheid” also began trending on social media shortly after the casting, the New York Times reported.

“While our characters and stories are inspired by the comics, they are always freshly imagined for the screen and today’s audience,” Marvel Studios told Variety and CNN in response. “The filmmakers are taking a new approach with the character Sabra, who was first introduced in the comics over 40 years ago.”

With Sabra’s debut in the film, she would be considered one of the first mutants to appear in the MCU. Her real identity is Ruth Bat-Seraph.

“The filmmakers are taking a new approach with the character Sabra, who was first introduced in the comics over 40 years ago.”

Marvel Studios

Sabra and Shatila massacre

Many anti-Zionists on social media stated that Marvel bought into Zionist propaganda, promotes the dehumanization of Palestinians, supports Israeli occupation and have alleged that the Israeli superheroine is named after the Sabra and Shatila massacre in Beirut, Lebanon-

The massacre centered on two Palestinian camps in Lebanon called Sabra and Shatila. In September 1982, thousands of Palestinians and Lebanese Shiites were murdered in these camps by the Lebanese Christian Phalangist militia during the 1982 Lebanon War.

The Phalangists were initially allies of Israel to fight against the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in order to stop attacks by them on northern Israel from Lebanon’s south. Israeli forces entered Lebanon with the intention of rooting out PLO fighters but were not present when the massacre took place.

The Phalangists committed these massacres as revenge for the assassination of then-Lebanese President Bachir Gemayel, who was assassinated two days prior.

What does the massacre have to do with the Marvel character?

Critics accused Marvel of “being insensitive to the link between the Israeli superhero’s name and that of the refugee camp,” the Times reported. Haas’s casting was announced one week before the 40th anniversary of the tragedy and Marvel was criticized for the timing of the announcement, as the word represents a tragic time in the Arab world.

The NGO, pro-Palestinian organization Institute for Middle East Understanding wrote on Twitter last week that the casting was promoting Israel’s violence against Palestinians and enabling the continued oppression of millions of Palestinians living under Israel’s authoritarian military rule.

One post that went viral on Twitter among various anti-Zionist tweets stated that “Israel’s Marvel superhero Sabra has many powers, including demolishing Palestinian homes with her mind and assassinating Palestinian children with her laser beam eyes.”

Another post said, “I don’t think y’all understand how disgusting it is that an Israeli superhero and hummus brand are called ‘Sabra’ because they’re named after the massacre where Palestinians in a Lebanese refugee camp were brutally tortured and killed and Israel is PROUD of this.”

What Sabra is really named after

However, it should be noted that Sabra being named after the 1982 massacre is impossible because Sabra made her debut two years prior in the 1980 Incredible Hulk comic series.

The Sabra character was actually named after a term that describes any Jewish person born in Israel and also comes from “tsabar,” the Hebrew name of a cactus fruit – a representation of Israel that it’s tough on the outside but sweet on the inside.

More backlash

Other Twitter users shared a recurring page from the 1981 Hulk issue „Power and Peril in the Promised Land“ where the Hulk shows anger towards the Israeli character for initially showing little remorse over the death of an Arab boy.

“Boy died because boy’s people and yours both want to own land! Boy died because you wouldn’t share!” Hulk tells Sabra.

A report by CNN also states that Sabra fought against offensive Arab stereotypes in the comics and critics have shown concern that such stereotypes could be shown on the big screen. One Sabra comic saw the superheroine’s son, Jacob, killed by Palestinian terrorists who attacked a school bus, i24 reported.

Etgar Keret, an Israeli graphic novelist and author told CNN that the Israeli hero was created in a different time with a simpler story. “This Sabra was created before two [Palestinian] Intifadas, it was created before the failing of the Oslo Accords. It was created in a totally different reality and state of mind.”

Was the Israeli hero plagiarized from a different character?

The introduction of Sabra also garnered controversy from Israeli comic book artist and writer Uri Fink, who told i24 News that Marvel stole his idea for the Sabra character.

Fink created a character called Sabraman as a teenager alongside publisher David Herman in 1978, two years before the 80’s Incredible Hulk comic run. Sabraman’s parents were killed in the Holocaust and he moves to Israel shortly after the Second World War.

“Same as Sabra, [Sabraman] was also a super agent of the government,” Fink said. “The thing is, I don’t claim she’s a rip-off. I’m sure the name Sabra was inspired by Sabraman.”

Fink also stated that his creation was also to appeal to the Jewish communities in the United States as well as Israeli audiences, so Sabraman’s stories were published in English and Hebrew. When asked if he would sue Marvel over the character, Fink said that he would not have any case in which to sue them and said that Sabra is a completely different character with different powers – only that they used the same name.

Fink tweeted following Haas’s casting that he talked Herman out of suing Marvel back in 1980 because they had no chance against Marvel’s fleet of lawyers nor is there any copyright on the word “Sabra.”

Other criticisms of ‘Captain America: New World Order’

Surprisingly, there were other criticisms targeted towards the film’s title in which Sabra will appear – with many saying that is antisemitic.

“New World Order” is a conspiracy theory that theorizes a secretly emerging totalitarian world government.

The pro-Israel and Jewish advocacy group American Jewish Committee states on its website: “The New World Order conspiracy theory becomes antisemitic when it’s followed by a reference to a Jewish business leader or political official with a secret agenda who’s seeking global control.

“The conspiracy theory behind the New World Order involving Jewish leaders is based on the idea that Jews have formed a power structure in which they control every aspect of humankind – the economy, media, and political landscape,” the organization added.

Haas’s casting for the film was announced alongside Jewish actor Tim Blake Nelson, who is reprising his 2008 Incredible Hulk role as The Leader. Therefore, social media users noted that having a Jewish actor be the villain of a movie with the title “New World Order” is antisemitic.

Will this film have a positive or negative portrayal of Israel?

Several pro-Israel social media users noted that having an Israeli superhero will not necessarily mean that the film will paint a positive portrayal of Israel. Even Uri Fink recommended to “keep an eye out to see how exactly Sabra is portrayed in these movies,” citing that Marvel and Disney are very “progressive.”

However, in contrast, experts say that Sabra’s live-action debut will be a public relations win for Mossad, as the character used to be an agent working for them.

Avner Avraham, a former Mossad officer and founder of the Spy Legends Agency (which offers consultations on portraying Israeli spies), said that the portrayal will help younger generations learn about the Israeli agency, CNN reported but he shares Fink’s concern that the Israeli hero on the big screen could be vilified.

The screenplay for Captain America: New World Order has yet to be finalized, according to Variety. The film is slated for release in May 2024.

Also stirring up anti-Semitic sentiments and Arab fanatics is the fact that an Israelite, who also previously served in the Israeli Defense Forces, played the role of DC Wonderwoman. While Western feuilleton columns praised feminist heroin, anti-Semites and anti-Zionists saw it as clear proof once again that Hollywood and the entire US media industry were under the yoke of Jews and US-Israel.

At the same time, many Muslims proudly point out that Marvel also brought the first Muslim female superhero to the screen. A kind of fighting Malala, which outrages Islamists again. But Arabs and anti-Semites never take it that seriously.

„Ms. Marvel‘, MSU’s first Muslim super heroine is finally here
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