The ADL's Abraham Foxman Continues the Fight Against Anti-Semitism
From Mel Brooks to Woody Allen to Jackie Mason to Sarah Silverman to Sacha Baron Cohen, Jewish comedians have a long and celebrated history of telling jokes about their own people. But Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, says that words are too powerful to take lightly in this way, because jokes about specified religious or racial or ethnic groups are where the most
virulent forms of discrimination begin: "If you can use words
in a way to demean
and undermine their humanity, then it eventually doesn’t matter what
you do because they’re not human. And it starts with jokes, it starts
with separating as a group, the other. ... It all starts with a joke and it builds."
In his Big Think interview, Foxman talks at length about how anti-Semitism has evolved during the 45 years he has worked at the ADL. When he started, he says, "one out of three Americans was infected, seriously infected, with anti-Semitism." Today, that number has gone down to about 12 to 14 percent of the country. "Twelve, fourteen percent is still 40 million Americans, which is still quite serious, and we’re talking about somebody that’s seriously infected. And I’m sure there’s another 40 million who may believe Jews are too powerful in finance, or they control the government, or Hollywood, or killed Christ, or aren’t loyal, and these are all stereotypes of anti-Semitism that still exist. But on the whole, it has changed because at least it’s unacceptable; it’s not PC to be anti-Semitic." Even so, he notes, 20 percent of Americans—and over 30 percent of the people in Europe—believe that Jews are to blame for the financial crisis of the past few years.
He also talks about how the Obama administration's policies are affecting the country's relationship with Israel. He says that Obama has sent a message that we are reaching out to the Arab Muslim world at the expense of our relationship with Israel—and that the play likely won't do anything to help solve the intractable Mideast peace process: "If Israel does not feel that its only ally continues to be its friend, then it will not risk, it will not compromise to the extent that it has," he says. He also says that while not all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, any criticism that questions the country's legitimacy is.
Finally, Foxman talks about the irony and tragedy that religion is not always a force for good in the world—even though that's what it is supposed to be. "The judgment is still out whether the promise of the faith, and love, and understanding and sensitivity that religion promises is maybe more counter-productive because some religions teach exclusiveness," he says.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
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