"Jexodus": Trump, Jews, and Israel | Viral Buzz News
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“Jexodus”: Trump, Jews, and Israel

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President Trump helped kick off the week with a tweet alleging that “Jewish people are leaving the Democratic Party” and citing a television appearance by a woman named Elizabeth Pipko from a group called Jexodus.

He followed it up Friday morning with another “Jexodus” tweet that, again, seems to have been inspired by something he saw while watching cable news (which was not, at that moment, covering the anti-Muslim mass shooting in New Zealand during the American nighttime).

There are, of course, millions of Jews in America, and at any given time it seems likely that some of them are switching parties. But the Jexodus trend, in addition to having a silly name, gives every appearance of being fake.

Jews are as loyal to the post-Obama Democratic Party as they were to the pre-Obama version. It’s true that the GOP’s embrace of Christian Zionism, combined with a rightward turn in Israeli domestic politics, has created a strong alignment between the GOP and Israel’s governing Likud Party. Democrats, historically the more consistently pro-Israel party, now have significant internal divisions on the issue.

But Jewish opinion on Israel is diverse, Jewish voting patterns are not necessarily driven by sentiment on Israel, and the implication that Jews should vote primarily based on their allegiance to Israel seems to uncomfortably partake of the larger swirl of anti-Semitic sentiment that’s surrounded Trump from the beginning of his campaign.

Jexodus, a silly name for a fake thing

The term “Jexodus” is a play on Candace Owens’s “Blexit” organization, which putatively aspires to lead African Americans out of the Democratic Party coalition. “Blexit” itself is a play on “Brexit” — something that has no literal relationship to American politics but which is intimately tied to Rupert Murdoch’s global right-wing propaganda broadcasting operation.

While there’s nothing particularly black or British about the idea of exiting, however, the original Exodus was Jewish (Moses leading his people out of bondage, etc.), so the idea of a “Jewish Exodus” is extremely silly.

It’s also fake.

The alignment of American Jews with the Democratic Party is extremely longstanding, dating back at least to Woodrow Wilson’s close political relationship with Louis Brandeis. It survived significant tensions during the 1920s when many Democrats were also closely aligned with the Ku Klux Klan.

According to exit polls, Democrats won 71 percent of the Jewish vote in 2016 and 79 percent in 2018. Polling by SSRS for the American Jewish Committee registers lower levels of Jewish support for Democrats but an identical trend: Democrats won 67 percent of Jews in 2016 and 74 percent in 2018.

What is true is that the long-term trend looks a little different. According to Pew’s “trends in party affiliation” survey, 69 percent of Jews were Democrats or Democratic-leaning in 1994. This fell to 67 percent by 2017, easily within the margin of error.

During the same period, the share of GOP-aligned Jews rose from 25 percent to 31 percent. That’s a pretty small shift over nearly a quarter of a century, but it happened during a time when highly educated people as a whole (about 60 percent of American Jews have college degrees) were showing a strong shift toward the Democrats.

Consequently, it is arguably true that Jewish affiliation has become a weaker predictor of Democratic Party allegiance than it used to be — even though it is definitely not true that Jews are fleeing the Democratic Party.

Republicans are hoping for a political windfall on Israel

The larger story here is that Republicans keep hoping for — and not receiving — a big electoral windfall from the Israel issue.

American Jews were members of the New Deal political coalition before the creation of the state of Israel. In the wake of World War II, they became an important pro-Israel constituency in the Democratic Party. To the extent that there was a constituency on the other side, it was largely in the Republican Party, which — through the intermediating influence of the oil industry — had more ties to the Arab states.

The Eisenhower administration undermined a joint Franco-British-Israeli military operation during the Suez Crisis, and George H.W. Bush used US loan guarantees as leverage against Israel to check settlement construction. During the 2000 campaign and even early in his administration, there was a perception that a George W. Bush’s administration would be a “like father, like son” situation, and in July 2001, Congress bucked the White House to impose stronger sanctions on Iran and Libya, in a vote that pitted pro-Israel groups against oil interests.

Things turned out very differently, however. The post-9/11 ascendancy of neoconservative hawks over so-called realists in the Bush administration, paired with the growing influence of Christian Zionists in GOP politics, plus a burgeoning (albeit quiet) anti-Iranian alliance between Israel and the oil-rich Gulf monarchies created an incredibly strong alignment between the Republican Party and the ascendant Israeli right.

During the same period, American Muslims have been slowly incorporated into the Democratic Party’s diverse coalition, Barack Obama’s administration saw significant tensions with both Israel and the Gulf monarchies over Iran, and the most strident critics of Israel in America are virtually all on the left.

This has not, in practice, generated an electoral windfall for Republicans among American Jews — perhaps in part because many of the high-profile critics of Israel, like Sen. Bernie Sanders, are themselves Jewish — who are not necessarily as single-mindedly focused on this issue as Republicans would like them to be. Many American Jews find Christian Zionism to be an alarming apocalyptic cult that accords poorly with the actual substance of Jewish Zionism.

And more broadly, while American Jews are largely (though by no means unanimously) supportive of Israel, most do not see political support for Israel to be an adequate substitute for supporting a pluralistic vision of the United States of America, which, after all, is where American Jews live. The contention that Jews should vote Republican because Republicans are stronger backers of the Israeli government isn’t identical to the “dual loyalties” issue that got Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) in trouble earlier this months, but it’s not entirely unrelated either. The reality is that American Jews are Americans, not Israelis, and while elements of GOP social conservatism appeal strongly to Orthodox Jews, for most Jewish Americans, Jewish values and Jewish identity are tied up with openness and pluralism in a way that makes the GOP a very hard sell.

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Look at How Much “Game of Thrones” Characters Have Changed Over 8 Seasons

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During the summer of 2019, the final season of Game of Thrones aired. The show had gone on for almost 10 years which is a long time not only for the characters but also for the actors who portrayed them.

Bright Side is remembering what characters looked like in the very first episodes of the groundbreaking series and is comparing them to what they look like in the final season of the show.

1. Cersei Lannister

2. Jon Snow

3. Tyrion Lannister

4. Daenerys Targaryen

5. Sansa Stark

6. Arya Stark

7. Jorah Mormont

8. Varys

9. Jaime Lannister

10. Sandor Clegane

11. Brienne of Tarth

12. Samwell Tarly

13. Davos Seaworth

14. Theon Greyjoy

15. Brandon Stark

Did you watch Game of Thrones? Did you enjoy season 8? Tell us in the comment section below.

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Baltimore’s ransomware attack, explained – Vox

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Thirteen bitcoins are standing between the city of Baltimore and many of the services and processes its citizens rely on after hackers seized thousands of government computers at the start of the month. The ordeal has been going on for two weeks, and there’s no clear end in sight.

Here’s what’s happening: On May 7, hackers digitally seized about 10,000 Baltimore government computers and demanded around $100,000 worth in bitcoins to free them back up. It’s a so-called “ransomware” attack, where hackers deploy malicious software to block access to or take over a computer system until the owner of that system pays a ransom.

Baltimore, like several other cities that have been hit by such attacks over the past two years, is refusing to pay up. As a result, for two weeks, city employees have been locked out of their email accounts and citizens have been unable to access essential services, including websites where they pay their water bills, property taxes, and parking tickets. This is Baltimore’s second ransomware attack in about 15 months: Last year, a separate attack shut down the city’s 911 system for about a day. Baltimore has come under scrutiny for its handling of both attacks.

The ransomware attacks in Baltimore and other local governments across the US demonstrate that as ransomware attacks spread, and as common targets such as hospitals and schools beef up their online systems’ security, there are still plenty targets vulnerable to this kind of hack. It also exemplifies the conundrum that ransomware victims face: pay up and get your access back, or refuse — potentially costing much more in the long run.

What’s going on in Baltimore, briefly explained

Hackers targeted the city of Baltimore on May 7 using a ransomware called RobbinHood, which, as NPR explains, makes it impossible to access a server without a digital key that only the hackers have.

The Baltimore hackers’ ransom note, obtained by the Baltimore Sun, demanded payment of three bitcoins per system to be unlocked, which amounts to 13 bitcoins to unlock all the seized systems. The note threatened to increase the ransom if it wasn’t paid in four days, and said the information would be lost forever if it wasn’t paid in 10 days. Both deadlines have now passed.

“We won’t talk more, all we know is MONEY! Hurry up! Tik Tak, Tik Tak, Tik Tak!” the note said.

The city government is refusing to pay, meaning that the government email systems and payment platforms the attack took down remain offline. The attack has also harmed Baltimore’s property market, because officials weren’t able to access systems needed to complete real estate sales. (The city said transactions resumed on Monday.)

Baltimore Mayor Jack Young, who’s officially been in his office less than a month, said in a statement on Friday that city officials are “well into the restorative process” and have “engaged leading industry cybersecurity experts who are on-site 24-7 working with us.” The FBI is also involved in the investigation.

“Some of the restoration efforts also require that we rebuild certain systems to make sure that when we restore business functions, we are doing so in a secure manner,” Young said. He did not offer a timeline for when all systems will come back online.

The Baltimore City Council president also plans to form a special committee to investigate this latest attack and try to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

A similar attack using RobbinHood hit government computers in Greenville, North Carolina, in April. A spokesperson for Greenville told the Wall Street Journal that the city never wound up paying, and that while its systems aren’t entirely restored, “all of our major technology needs are now being met.”

More than 20 municipalities in the US have been hit by cyberattacks this year alone. And such attacks can be expensive, perhaps especially if targets say they won’t pay. In 2018, hackers demanded that Atlanta pay about $50,000 in bitcoins as part of a ransomware attack. The city refused, and according to a report obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News, the attack wound up costing the city $17 million to fix.

Ransomware attacks aren’t new — but we’re still figuring out how to deal with them

In 2017, a ransomware called WannaCry targeted tens of thousands of computers using Microsoft Windows operating systems in more than 100 countries. Officials in the US and the United Kingdom eventually blamed North Korea for the attack. Also in 2017, corporations in the UK, France, Russia, Israel, and Ukraine experienced ransomware attacks. US hospitals were also targeted.

Here’s how Timothy Lee explained for Vox what was going on and how ransomware had become more prolific:

The basic idea behind ransomware is simple: A criminal hacks into your computer, scrambles your files with unbreakable encryption, and then demands that you pay for the encryption key needed to unscramble the files. If you have important files on your computer, you might be willing to pay a lot to avoid losing them.

Ransomware schemes have become a lot more effective since the invention of Bitcoin in 2009. Conventional payment networks like Visa and Mastercard make it difficult to accept payments without revealing your identity. Bitcoin makes that a lot easier. So the past four years have seen a surge in ransomware schemes striking unsuspecting PC users.

Some ransomware schemes are so sophisticated that they even invest in customer service, helping victims who want to pay their ransoms navigate the complexities of obtaining bitcoins and making bitcoin payments.

Since then, a number of sectors and organizations have made improvements to their security practices to protect against ransomware. But the latest Baltimore attack exemplifies what a whack-a-mole game this is: One area improves its practices and hackers just go looking for another.


Recode and Vox have joined forces to uncover and explain how our digital world is changing — and changing us. Subscribe to Recode podcasts to hear Kara Swisher and Peter Kafka lead the tough conversations the technology industry needs today.

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Cameron Russell for ELLE

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A film by Kai Z Feng of our February 2014 cover.

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