Christy Ferer on Hate

by cferer on February 20, 2015

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Who cannot be mesmerized by the global violence of ISIS and the global intolerance we have witnessed against all religions and races.  When I attended Investigation Discovery’s documentary on “Hate in America”  I was reminded of what happens here at home. Everyday.


This organization and Southern Poverty Law Center founded by Morris Dees raise awareness for domestic violence, civil rights, bullying, victims’ rights and healing through their  Inspire a Difference campaign by inspiring viewers to take action and make a difference in the lives of others.


I am attempting to be  be one of the inspired. The screening included a former white supremacist who converted to be a part of the inspired movement.


His journey was fascinating. The turning point for him came when his favorite African American cashier at McDonalds reeled when she saw the swasticka  on his hand. She said, “I know you…that’s not you”. He walked out and thought …”This is not me” discovering it takes too much negative energy to hate.


Also impressive was Kerry Kennedy who carries on the legacy of her father Robert Kennedy.

In the fight for equal rights for workers . She stunned the audience when she announced the  Jim Crow laws exist for certain workers including domestics, and have never been overturned.


She has written: “Jim Crow is alive today in New York, resulting in inexcusable conditions for people who plant our vegetables, pick our fruit and milk our cows. All this is legal in New York, the remnants of a bargain struck nationally with the Dixiecrats to exclude minority workers from New Deal federal fair labor laws.”


The Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act, passed by the State Assembly last year and languishing in the State Senate, is the first step to addressing some of these egregious violations of international human rights New York farm workers still face.


The bill is far from radical; it  it merely extends to farm workers the same labor protections nearly every other industry in America has enjoyed since the industrial era. But it would be revolutionary for the roughly 100,000 men, women, and children who give New York its daily bread.


The State Assembly has passed the bill several times; where it stalls is in the Senate, a body that has the votes to pass the bill into law, but where special interests have prevented it from coming to the floor for a vote.


We cannot allow partisan politics to condemn New York’s farm workers to another year of misery and abuse. New York’s legislature must bring the FFLPA to a vote in 2014.

Learn more about Vidicom and Christy Ferer here. 

Feelings on France

by cferer on January 12, 2015

So many of my friends have flooded me with their empathy, questions and musing over the reign of terror in France.
Many know that has been my second home, place of much business and pleasures and the root of many friendships.
Below is an article written by a friend of mine who I met as fellow journalists 35 years ago. Ann Elizabeth Moutet’s english is better than mine.
She is a brilliant columnist, French and yes, Jewish. She is French first. Her grandfather once ran for President of France.
She has a great sense of humor, always accessible and all around a jolly and thoughtful person whom I am proud to call my grande amie.
This article addresses so many deep issues…including the fact that wicked satire is older than even Voltaire who was a master at it.
And,uncomfortable cartoons that take no prisoners is and has been the French way of life.
Finally France is challenging the anti-Semitism it has long ignored.
Paris shootings: Terror, sadness but also strength. The tragedies in Paris have galvanised the French public
by Anne-Elisabeth Moutet, Paris
8:09PM GMT 10 Jan 2015
It has been a terrifying, depressing, yet also strangely uplifting week in Paris. It is as if the bloody murders of 12 people, among them cartoonists whose work and names were familiar to most French people, last Wednesday at 11am in the Charlie Hebdo offices, had released something important about the country’s soul, something which had seemed almost forgotten in recent years.
France is not entirely united, because we French are an ornery people and we will argue on anything from the filter of our Gauloise cigarettes to the wartime government. But France is certainly more united than it has been in a very, very long time.
In the early hours of shock, all of us who’d grown up giggling at Wolinski’s and Cabu’s cartoons, seen in our teenage comic weeklies, broadsheet political pages, Vélib ads, or indeed the wilfully offensive, wickedly funny and anarchistic Charlie Hebdo, could not imagine a France without them.
Aged 17, and a Charlie reader, I went to support the team in court on the public benches during slander or obscenity cases regularly brought against them. Afterwards, everyone – readers and cartoonists – would repair for beers stood us by Charlie’s founding editor, the late François Cavanna, at the café opposite the Palais de Justice. More recently, I was a regular co-panellist on the talk show 28 Minutes on ARTE, France’s equivalent of BBC2, with the editor Charb, as soft-spoken and calm as his cartoons were brutal; and Coco, who sometimes brought her baby daughter Irène in her carrier. Coco – Corinne Rey – was held at gunpoint by the terrorists and made to open the door to the Charlie building. On Friday she gave her only television interview to 28 Minutes, promising that the magazine would go on, with as much bad taste and as much offence as before, telling the programme team: “I lost my first family; you are my second family.”
The usual pundits – the unchanging coterie of Establishment journalists now as despised by the French people as cartoonists are still loved – immediately started intoning their usual clichéd predictions: France would be divided, the Muslim minority would be ostracised, Marine Le Pen’s hate-mongering Front National would benefit.
In that, these modern versions of Lenin’s useful idiots were unwittingly at one with the murderers. “The notion of backlash before it even happens is a jihadi propaganda weapon to shield the jihadists by elevating tensions between communities,” explains the Lebanese Middle-East expert Walid Phares. The Kouachi brothers, who spent time with al-Qaeda-affiliated movements in Yemen, had integrated this as part of their terrorism shock and awe tactics.
Yet, essentially, none of this happened. Most commenters and politicians gave us tired platitudes; it was the people, away from the distrusted elites, who spoke true. In France, the ultimate top-down country, where hierarchies matter as much as in the Mandarin civil service and subordinates are expected to shut up, every catchword and hashtag came from the grass roots. The first night, as the country struggled to understand what had happened, people carried homemade placards with the famous #JeSuisCharlie hashtag, but also #JeSuisAhmed in the shot policeman Merabet’s name and large jerry-built neon signs that said “We Are Not Afraid”.
As the nation was still processing the first quake came the deadly aftershocks: the murder of a policewoman in south Paris on Thursday. Then, as the police dragnet spread to over one quarter of the country, two hostage-takings, one in a factory near Charles de Gaulle airport, where the Charlie attackers were holed up; the other, co-ordinated to try to blackmail the police into sparing the terrorists, in a kosher supermarket in east Paris.
This last was a cruel reminder that for well over a decade now, a toxic brand of largely Islamist-inspired anti-Semitism has fouled France, claiming life after life in what everyone insisted on calling “isolated incidents”, perpetrated by disenfranchised youths from the country’s problematic banlieues, spouting a mishmash of fashionable pro-Intifada sentiment mixed with the resurgent tropes of the oldest anti-Dreyfusard hatred.
One young rock DJ, Stéphane Sellam, had his throat slit by a childhood friend (the murderer, one of his neighbours, then boasted to his mother, “I have killed a Jew, I’ll go to paradise, Allah guided me!”). A 21-year-old mobile phone salesman, Ilan Halimi, was kidnapped by a gang, tortured over three weeks then burnt to death in 2006. In 2012, Mohamed Merah killed Jewish children in a school in Toulouse. Less than a month ago, armed thugs invaded a young Jewish couple’s flat in Créteil, beat them up, robbed them and raped the 19-year-old woman because “Jews are all rich”. Assaults against yarmulke-wearing Jewish boys on their way to school are so common that rabbis have issued authorisations not to wear them.
The French West Indian stand-up comedian Dieudonné has been filling theatres with a strange mix of extreme-Left and Front National supporters (including, once, Jean-Marie Le Pen himself) for a show in which he jokes about the “myth of Auschwitz” and, of course, “Jewish bankers”.
Every time, the police investigated; the authorities said all the right things; then everything was forgotten again: no spontaneous vigils or national shock. The country, however disapproving in its overwhelming majority, seemed to be getting inured to the sad but inescapable fact that Jews get attacked. You could denounce it to general nods of agreement, but try to suggest that one extremist strain of Islam was actively fostering this and you immediately got branded “Islamophobic”.
This is the kind of atmosphere in which a deranged man will drive his car into a crowd of Christmas shoppers, shouting “Allahu Akbar”, and “This is for the children of Chechnya and Palestine” — prompting three copycat assaults throughout France within days. This is the kind of atmosphere that brought us to this terrible week. “First they came for the Jews. Then they came for the cartoonists. Then, for good measure, they came for the Jews again,” one journalist quipped.
We, the nation, all knew such things if we paid any attention at all; but they were never mentioned in Central Paris polite society; and what was absolutely forbidden was connecting the dots. “Isolated” was the catchword.
The dots are being connected now. On one of yesterday morning’s most popular radio talk shows, teachers from France’s problematic banlieues were saying how they’d tried to organise debates on the Charlie killings in their classes, only to hear the majority of their pupils justifying them. For years, another explained, it had become impossible to teach mid-20th century history in classes, for fear of starting mini-riots. “The Ministry of Education knows, but we get no help at all,” one teacher told the popular interviewer Jean-Jacques Bourdin.
We are mourning our dead; the country remains under maximum terror alert; police helicopters fly over Paris as I type; the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré is closed off to traffic in the blocks around the Élysée palace and various Métro and tramway lines were evacuated at least three times in the past 48 hours. None of the economic and political ills we have been moaning about for months and years has changed – and yet, it is as if France, under shock, is waking up.
There is a mood of defiance instead of fear. Nobody talks about anything else; but almost nobody (the editor of a national news weekly saw no contradiction between his JeSuisCharlie button and his languid opinion that cartoonists should be “responsible” and “think of the consequences” before publishing “just anything”) seems to give in to the temptation of surrender. If France ever experienced a Blitz spirit, this is it.
In a country that seems at war, two luminous voices are redefining, in a radical way, a national shock that is the country’s 9/11—and they come from two French Muslims; one Socialist MP and one constitutional magistrate who is a former Sarkozy minister.
The ex-minister is Jeannette Bougrab, a beautiful, slight, tragic figure, who was the partner of Charb. Charlie Hebdo’s slain editor was a radical, an anarchist; as messy and casual as Bougrab is chic and precise. Theirs was a meeting of minds. Each said of the other that they fell in love with “a freedom fighter”. The daughter of an Algerian metalworker who’d fought on the side of the French in the Algerian war, Bougrab, a feminist and a lawmaker who argued against the headscarf and the burqa, said vehemently that the French republic, by letting go of some of its principles, “failed the Charlie dead”.
“We could have avoided this massacre. Now everyone loves Charlie Hebdo; but until last week they were branded as Islamophobes; they were pointed out for murder on Twitter and elsewhere in general indifference, they received anonymous death threats daily.” Charb, she says, was finishing a book to do away with the false Islamophobia concept – a concept assuming that criticising an idea is racism. It will soon be published under the Charlie imprint.
The other voice is Churchillian in tone: it belongs to the Socialist MP Malek Boutih, who two decades ago founded the SOS Racism movement precisely to combat growing anti-immigrant racism. There is an ongoing polemic on who should “be allowed” to attend this Sunday’s March. François Hollande, although he has received Marine Le Pen at the Élysée like other political leaders, does not wish to see her among the marchers. Boutih, in a television interview, did the unthinkable in the regimented world of French politics: he contradicted the president. To him, people’s votes, like their origins, no longer mattered. “Do you think the killers, these new Nazis, looked at ethic origin or voting records before shooting?”
Tapping into the new French mindset – so alien in a country where ideological polarisation is reinforced by backbiting and personal feuds among the political class – he said: “Any human being who recognises the nature of barbarity, who believes in democracy, is welcome. Political parties do not decide national unity: the nation itself does. We’re all together in this, fighting this new IslamoNazism. And I think the country is finally taking its own destiny in hand.”…/Paris-shootings-Terror-sadness…
© Telegraph Media Group & Anne-Elisabeth Moutet, 2015.

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