Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Great Palestinian Shakedown: Have the Arabs Had Enough?

by Bassam Tawil 

  • Many people in the West are not aware that the Palestinians are trying to torpedo any peace initiative in order to blame others.
  • The Palestinians are crying Wolf, Wolf! -- but only a few in the Arab world are listening to them. This, in a way, is encouraging and offers hope for them finally to be released from decades of repressive and corrupt governance.
  • These are just some of the challenges Saudi Crown Prince is facing. It is important to support him in the face of attacks by some Palestinians and other spoilers.
Saudi Arabia and most of the Arab countries are obviously fed up with the recurring attempts by the Palestinians to blackmail them and extort money from them. Pictured: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas embraces Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 30, 2015. (Photo by Thaer Ghanaim/Palestinian Press Office via Getty Images)
A young Saudi man has posted videos on social media in which he calls the Palestinians "dogs" and "pigs." The man says that Saudi Arabia has provided the ungrateful Palestinians with "billions of dollars" during the past few decades. "The Palestinians," the Saudi man charges, "have been milking us for decades."
The videos, which have since gone viral, have understandably drawn strong condemnations from Palestinians, who say they would not have been made public without the tacit approval of the Saudi authorities. For the Palestinians, the abusive videos represent yet another sign of increased tensions in their relations with Saudi Arabia.
Further evidence of Saudi disdain for the Palestinians was provided in a video posted by Saudi Arabia featuring a Palestinian gunman as a terrorist.

Dumb self-hating Jews, or: Rule of Law, what's that?

Bernie Sanders

Senators Feinstein and Sanders initiate letter urging Netanyahu not to demolish illegally built Palestinian Arab villages.

By Ben Ariel, INN

Ten Democratic senators, among them four Jews, on Wednesday wrote Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu urging him not to demolish Palestinian Arab villages despite the fact that they are illegal and built without authorization.

“We have long championed a two-state solution as a just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” said the letter, initiated by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and which was quoted by JTA.

“Yet, your government’s efforts to forcibly evict entire Palestinian communities and expand settlements throughout the West Bank not only directly imperil a two-state solution, but we believe also endanger Israel’s future as a Jewish democracy,” the letter adds.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman recently said Israel plans to demolish the village of Susiya, near Hevron, and Khan al-Ahmar, a Bedouin village near the Maaleh Adumim.

The other Jewish senators to sign the letter are Al Franken of Minnesota and Brian Schatz of Hawaii. Sens. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Tom Carper of Delaware, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Jeff Merkley of Oregon also signed.

Last week, the European Union (EU) also condemned Israel for the demolition of illegal Arab buildings and demanding Israel refrain from further demolitions.

In a statement released by the local Office of the European Union Representative, the EU slammed Israel over the planned eviction of Bedouin squatters who established illegal settlements in the northern Jordan Valley in eastern Israel over the past decade.

Some of the illegal construction in Judea and Samaria has been directly supported by the EU. According to a report by Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) in February 2016, the EU had built over 1,000 illegal structures in Judea and Samaria. Of those 1,000 buildings, 400 were built from 2012 to 2014, while 600 more were built in 2015 alone.

Over the last few years, Israel has several times demolished structures built illegally for Arabs by European NGOs with funding from the European Union.

The countries involved in the illegal construction have consistently condemned Israel for the demolitions, even as it has been made clear to them that the demolition orders were issued because the structures were built without permission.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Truth About the Partition Plan

By Moshe Feiglin

On the 29th of November, 1947, the UN did not really make a decision. The famous Partition Plan was only a recommendation to partition “Palestine”, give a small part to the Jews and the rest to the Arabs.

It was only a recommendation. The UN did not send troops to enforce its plan, the Arabs immediately rejected it and it had no practical significance.

The establishment of the State of Israel was not contingent – neither legally nor practically – on the UN Partition Plan. The British fought against us (within the framework of the Jordanian army) and the arms that did reach Israel mostly came from the Soviet bloc – and had no connection to the Partition Plan.

What were the factors that did bring about the establishment of the State of Israel?

Two things.

The blood of the IDF soldiers.
And the miracles of our Father in Heaven.

And what guaranteed the continued existence of Israel after it was established?

The fact that the Partition Plan of November 29th was never fulfilled…

Because in the impossible borders proposed by the Partition Plan (without the Galilee, Nahariya, Be’er Sheva and Ashdod) and with approximately 400,000 Arabs remaining in a small area with about 600,000 Jews, the Plan did not leave any practical chance for the State to survive.

What we are really celebrating today is the legitimacy that the State of Israel received from the nations of the world for a fleeting moment.

It behooves us to remember how the State actually did come to be and how it will continue to exist.

Religion and State in Israel : An Interview with Moshe Feiglin on Israel Army Radio

Your stand is a bit complex and very interesting. You say that Health Minister Litzman, (editor: who resigned from the government due to desecration of the Shabbat by state-funded train construction) is completely right. On the other hand, you say that on questions of Shabbat observance of privately owned supermarkets and on public transportation, every community should decide for itself. Please explain the dissonance between Litzman’s stand and your own.

There is dissonance between Israel’s identity as a Jewish state and the need to preserve the almost absolute liberty of the citizens. Liberty is also a Jewish idea. The State of Israel has to express its Jewishness in everything associated with its official institutions and its state structures - like the train, which, perhaps should not be, but is currently part of the government structure. On the other hand, issues like where there will be open supermarkets on Shabbat should not be decided by the Knesset – the central government – but rather inside the community, in the neighborhood.

Isn’t that what we have now with the status quo? (editor: The arrangement established upon Israel’s founding whereby religious observance in Israel’s public domain would remain as it was then.) There are municipal by-laws and supermarkets in certain communities are open and nevertheless there is some sort of general Jewish, religious character. That is very close to what is happening now.

From a certain standpoint, it is going in the same direction, but in other ways, not at all and it may even go in the opposite direction. For example: The local community is the body that will decide if the gay parade will march through its territory or not. It goes in both directions: Not only deciding whether to open or not, but how its character and nature will be in general.

Let us go into detail. An elderly couple who lives in Haifa. They want to travel to their children in Rishon on Shabbat. They do not have a car. They need public transportation on Shabbat. Will they have it?

If you ask me, Zehut is opposed to public transportation on weekdays, as well. The State does not have to transport people. The State has to make it possible for private companies to do it efficiently and inexpensively. And if the State would do so, that couple would have many more inexpensive options, as opposed to today. All of that would be without State intervention. That is actually the great lie. But we are not here to talk about details like transportation, but rather about Israel’s Jewish character. Let us focus on that.

Let us talk about Israel’s Jewish character. The question is why to breach something that has functioned well for decades, since the founding of the State, and to come and say that it is not the role of the Knesset. The status quo has worked not badly at all until now.
I remember clashes over the Shabbat since my childhood and I am already 55. To say that it functioned not badly is really far from accurate. Clashes over religion and identity take place here all the time. These clashes form the basis for polarization and never-ending conflict. As soon as we remove the State from this game and leave the question of the identity of the area in the hands of the community instead of in the hands of the State, two things will happen. First, we will have one less thing to fight over. Second – and perhaps this will surprise you – Israel’s Jewish identity will become stronger because a large majority of the citizens of Israel are interested in fortifying our Jewish identity.

How do you preserve the State’s Jewish identity if you uproot the Shabbat, which is something so essential to Judaism?

I hope you do not suspect me of trivializing the Shabbat.

I do not suspect you, I just want to challenge you in this discussion, that is all.

I will tell you why I think that Litzman, in this discussion, is absolutely right. Because the State – as opposed to the individual – does have to be committed to the Torah of Israel and to the culture of Israel, which primarily stems from the Torah of Israel. As we know, it is fine to close the major Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway in the middle of the week just because the US or French president has arrived – even if he doesn’t actually use the highway, but is just on his way from the airport to Jerusalem and flying over the highway. Nobody asks how it is that in the middle of the week you closed a major traffic artery because the king of the Americans or the king of the French arrived. By the same token, we as a state must honor our culture and identity and know that a government company – a company that belongs to the government and not to individuals – does not work on Shabbat. Actually, the entire debate is over how much weight we give to the identity of the State, or to our State as a Jewish State.

Moshe Feiglin, let us talk about the core issues like weddings, conversions. According to your model, are they community issues? Government?

My grandparents of blessed memory were wed before the State was established and they managed to get married despite the fact that the State did not wed them. If they had needed to, which they didn’t – to divorce, they could have also done that without the State. The State should not wed people or divorce them. The State has to register them and it should even desist from that. It is important to understand, for all those who immediately begin to shout, “How will we be a Jewish State?” We have grown accustomed to relying on central government or the State as the body that must foster the character of our state or society. We are constantly fighting over this.

That is the whole idea of democracy. You elect your representatives and they are those who fashion the public space, including on issues like how the Shabbat will look.

The role of the State is to defend you. It is not the role of the State to wed and divorce you, not to transport you and not many other things that politicians say.

That is a different issue. I am asking about the character of the Shabbat. These are our elected officials on both the local and national level.

Let’s give an example that people will understand. When they asked the residents of Northern Tel Aviv if they are interested in their local shopping mall being open on Shabbat, the majority of the elitist, secular residents answered that they prefer for it to be closed. Because this issue has become an issue over which we fight in the Knesset and not in the neighborhood, suddenly they talk about religious coercion and divisions and everybody joins in - and everybody benefits politically from the fight. What we want is for these issues to be determined in the community.

What is the role of the Chief Rabbinate in your model? What authority will it have?

The only authority that it will retain will be conversions, because we are a Jewish State and in order to know who can become a citizen and who cannot, the State needs to be able to turn to a government body. Thus, this authority cannot be taken from the Chief Rabbinate. The rest of the authority of the Rabbinate will be in determining a standard. For example, the Rabbinate will have to determine what food is kosher and what is not. It will not supervise kosher status, but an establishment that claims that it is kosher, will say, “Kosher according to the Rabbinate standard”. This enables us to leave the dialogue in the hands of the citizens, to determine their identity, to stop fighting. The interest today in preserving our identity is much, much broader than we think.  When politicians try to take the credit and turn the issue into a boxing ring, the entire issue gets stuck.

This is actually a model of ideological capitalism, is it not? The majority will determine the character.

We want liberty. We want a dialectic between different communities. In all, an amazing process is occurring here, of a nation returning to its Land with all kinds of ideas, ideologies and identities. A dialogue can develop here. Everybody wants it. Let’s allow it to happen.

Moshe Feiglin, it was very, very interesting. Thank you very much.

Know thine Enemy

by Moshe Feiglin

During Operation Protective Edge in 2014, then-Deputy Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot updated the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on the conflict and the IDF's handling of the terror tunnel threat. Rocket fire had been targeting Tel Aviv for over a month, and an end to the war was nowhere in sight. No secrets were discussed at that meeting, and almost every word was reported later on the evening news, but I will quote what I myself, having grown sick of the idle chatter, said at the meeting.

Turning to Eizenkot, I asked a simple question: I have never been chased by a tunnel, so could you please tell me, who is the enemy?

I cannot remember his exact response, but there is no real need to do so, because, after almost two months of fighting, he was unable to answer my question.

I recently found myself in a similar situation.

When several senior terrorist operatives were killed as a result of the IDF detonating a terror tunnel inside Israeli territory last month, the military responded in what appeared to be an apologetic manner in which it clarified it had only intended to destroy the tunnel and not kill the terrorists inside.

The following day, I discussed the matter on a morning news program on Channel 13 with Brig. Gen. (ret.) Giora Inbar, who found no fault with the IDF's response.

Reminded of the previous meeting with the Knesset committee, I turned to Inbar and said, "Can I ask you a question?"

"Ask as many questions as you'd like," he replied.

"Who is the enemy, Hamas or the tunnel?" I asked.

"The tunnel," Inbar replied.

The answer did not surprise me. It was clear to me that just like Eizenkot during Operation Protective Edge, Inbar too would not answer that Hamas is the enemy.

For the average citizen, this answer is hard to swallow. Can the IDF's senior command really be so blind to reality? How can it be that the people responsible for our security do not recognize an enemy that any child can see?

In the 24 years since the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords, the military leadership in Israel has undergone a revolution of consciousness that has blinded it to reality.

As the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin once said, there is no more "us" and "them," there are only "enemies of peace" and "supporters of peace."

And so, just like that, our national identity disappeared. The IDF began to see itself as a type of U.N.-style military force, whose job it was to freeze the current situation and keep the "peace."

No officer stood a chance of being promoted without adopting the conceptual world of the "New Middle East."

The result was a nearly six-fold increase in the number of deaths among Israel's civilian population and nearly 20 times the number of wounded compared to the period that preceded the accords.

For the senior military leadership that developed out of the Oslo consciousness, Hamas cannot be an enemy, it can at most be a recalcitrant partner. Operation Protective Edge was in effect the operation to preserve Hamas' rule. More than the rockets that fell on Tel Aviv, the IDF was disturbed by the possibility that the Hamas regime might collapse.

It is in this manner that the tunnel has become the enemy, and a small terrorist organization that bombarded Tel Aviv for months was able to come out even in a conflict with an army that knows no enemies.

It was during this process of identity loss that the IDF forgot what it means to be victorious. If you don't know who you are, you cannot recognize your enemy. And if you don't know your enemy, no matter how big, strong or sophisticated you are, you will always lose.

The way to the restoration of Israel’s security passes through the return to our identity and our ability to understand who our enemy is.

Let us be strong and of good courage!

By HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Mei

Jacob attempts to flee from Esau, and he does indeed succeed in smuggling out his family across the Jabbok River. Yet he remains behind and confronts Esau’s angelic prince:
“A stranger appeared and wrestled with him.... When the stranger saw that he could not defeat him, he touched the upper joint of Jacob’s thigh. Jacob’s hip joint became dislocated as he wrestled with the stranger.... He was limping because of his thigh” (Genesis 32:25-26,32).

Rashbam explains that Jacob was punished and smitten and acquired a limp because he fled rather than trusting G-d’s promise to protect him and make him defeat Esau. We find the same with all those who diverge from G-d’s path and with those who refuse to accept the missions G-d assigns them. All are punished (Rashbam, Genesis 32:29).

Today, we must learn a lesson from Jacob’s flight and his subsequent limp. Wherever the Jewish People retreat and flee, G-d forbid, everyone can seem them limping. Precisely today, when we are facing a difficult test, when our enemies are attacking us in order to banish us from our land, we must become stronger of spirit. We must know and believe that we are fighting a just war over the land of our ancestors. Only through the Jewish People’s having control over their land will G-d’s name be sanctified for all to see. Then we will be able to spread benevolence and illuminate the whole world, all mankind, with the timeless and divine values of peace, justice, love and truth.

Our enemies’ whole goal is to take control over Eretz Yisrael, and thereby to bring ethical and spiritual darkness to the world. May it never be! In King David’s time, when Aram was attacking Israel from both front and back (II Samuel 10:9), Joab, the head of King David’s army encouraged the soldiers of Israel with the words, “Let us be strong and of good courage for our people and for the cities of our G-d, and the L-rd will do that which seems good in His eyes” (v. 12). Let us too be strong and of good courage, and then we will defeat our enemies and cease our limping.

Looking forward to salvation,
Shabbat Shalom.

A Man Wrestled with Him

by HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Nasi HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh

This parsha contains "a message for generations, for everything that occurred to our patriarch with his brother, Esav, will always occur to us with the descendents of Esav." (Ramban) All of Jewish history is encapsulated in that long night: "Yaakov was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn." (Bereisheet 32:25) This "man" (Esav's angel) is Yaakov's eternal opponent, as Chazal say, "It is an accepted tradition, it is known that Esav hates Yaakov."

What is the basis of this eternal hatred?

The Rambam writes in Iggeret Teiman:

Because the Creator designated us with his commandments and his laws, and our greater worth over others is clear ... all the heathens were jealous of us (hated us) greatly because of our religion ... Their desire to is battle against G-d and to fight with Him, but He is G-d, so who can fight Him?

Therefore, the nations of the world fight against the nation that represents G-d in the world, as Yeshaya says, "You are my witnesses – the word of Hashem – and I am G-d." (43:12) Chazal comment: "It you are My witnesses, I am G-d, but if you are not My witnesses, I am, as it were, not G-d."

The Rambam's assertion that the war of the nations against Israel is, in truth, a war against G-d, is explicit in numerous verses. For example, in the end of Parshat Ha'azinu, it says: "I shall return vengeance upon My enemies, and upon those who hate Me I shall bring retribution." (Devarim 32:41) The Ramban comments on this: "Out of their hatred of G-d they do all these bad things to us, and they are His enemies and His haters." Sefer Tehillim similarly begins: "Why do nations gather, and regimes talk in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the princes conspire secretly, aginst Hashem and against His anointed." What do they want? "Let us cut off their cords and let us cast off their ropes from ourselves." (Tehillim 2:1-3) The Divine ideal that the Jewish People represent in the world is something that burdens the nations, and they aspire to free themselves from the moral yoke that Israel places upon them. Hitler said to the German author Hermann Rauschning: "Providence destined me to be the great liberator of mankind ... I am liberating mankind from the moral bonds of Judaism."

This is not to say that every non-Jew is cognizant of this viewpoint, but subconciously they protect themselves from Judaism through this hatred. Rav Kook zt"l writes (Orot p. 49):

The idolatrous view recognized in Israel, in Judaism, its greatest enemy, the force that, in proportion to its spreading, it [the idolatrous viewpoint] will be constrained in the world, and a great, instinctive, hatred of Israel came forth from all the nations.

In greater detail, Rav Kook writes (Orot p. 157):

Until the time of the ultimate redemption we have bestowed upon the world only teachings of obligations; morals and justice which emanate from the Divine Truth. However, the world does not want to accept obligations, and, if it does accept, hatred remains in the heart towards the primary advocate for the knowledge of the obligation, which does not allow the barbaric spirit to expand to its full desire. However, when the time will come for the light of the world to be revealed, the world will recognize that we are bestowing upon the world the ways of life of true pleasure ... and pleasure and happines is something relevant to all, at least to desire, and the beneficing source of satisfaction and pleasure is honored and cherished. Therefore, "Ten men, of all the [different] languages of the nations, will take hold ... of the corner of the garment of a Jewish man." (Zechariah 8:23)

The end of the struggle is hidden in the completion of that night: "When he percieved that he could not overcome him ... He said, 'Let me go, for dawn has broken.'" (Bereisheet 32:26-27) The struggle is possible only during the night, while the darkness still covers the earth, but when the morning breaks the truth is revealed. The angel of Esav seeks to disengage and stop the struggle, but Yaakov is not prepared to do so. He demands Esav's admission, since without this – the struggle cannot conclude and it will renew in the future in various issues. Yaakov said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me'" – when you admit that not only is Israel not a reason for hatred, but rather a source of blessing.

Already in the trial of the akeidah Hashem said to Avraham, "I shall surely bless you ...and your offspring shall inherit the gate of its enemy. All the nations of the earth shll bless themslves by your offspring." (Bereisheet 23:16-17) Avraham was blessed with two blessings. One is his strength and eternity, that this nation will never be overcome and that it will always inherit its enemies. The second is the spiritaul blessing that testifies as to its destiny – "All the families of the earth shll bless themslves by you." (28:14) All the nations will ultimately recognize the special quality and worth of Am Yisrael, and that it brings blessing to the world.

Indeed, Esav's angel accepted this – "He blessed him there." He conceded to him about the blessings and the birthright. This is a sign for the descendents that in the end of days all will come and say: (Yeshaya 2:2-3)

"Let us go up to the Mountain of Hashem, to the Temple of the G-d of Yaakov, and He will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in His paths." For from Zion will the Torah come forth, and the word of Hashem from Yerushalayim.

The Shamrak Report: Criminality of the Enemy Population and more.....

by Itsik Saban
Arab Israelis are “prominently involved” in violent crimes and in drug trafficking, said Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh.
According to the data, although Arab Israelis make up 21% of the population, their involvement in serious crimes is double or more that figure: Police statistics for 2017 show that Arab Israelis are involved in 57% of murder cases, 55% of attempted murder cases and 59% of arson cases.
The statistics also show Arab Israelis are involved in 45% of all theft cases, in 36% of all property crimes, and are implicated in 26% of drug trafficking cases.
In 2016, the statistics showed that Arab Israelis were involved in 63% of murder cases, 57% of arson cases, 48% of theft cases, 36% of property crimes and 22% of drug-related crimes...
A recent campaign to collect illegal weapons in the Arab sector was essentially a “failure,” as very few weapons were turned in, even though owners were guaranteed immunity from prosecution...
Additionally, the data showed that in 2016, the number of overall criminal cases dropped to 329,823, as opposed to 446,689 in 2007. This drop did not necessarily reflect an improvement, but may reflect the fact that the public has lost faith in the police and therefore files fewer complaints.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said in an interview: "It's a very unique time for us in the Ministry of Justice and in Israel. During the recent months we're actually changing the old rules, the old paradigm regarding the law in Judea and Samaria...”
"A Palestinian state is no longer the only solution for peace in the Middle East. We think that a valid peace can be born from a position of strength, from building and strengthening the settlements in Judea and Samaria, and from encouraging economic peace and economic development of the Palestinian Authority.” (She is still using the old PC 'song')
"So I think we are at a very historical point where we have a very friendly administration in the United States, a right-wing (just a bit more Zionist than others) government here in Israel..."
FOOD for THOUGHT by Steven Shamrak
SHAMFUL JEWISH SELF-HATE: There are 1.3 billion Muslims in the world - not a single anti-Wahabism (Islamic world domination movement) Muslim organisation anywhere. There are just 14 million Jews, but there are a multitude of Jewish anti-Zionist organisations all over the world, supporting enemies of Israel and even Jews! I always say, “Nobody respects those who have no self-respect!”
Half of the fake, multigenerational "Palestinian refugees" have emigrated abroad from Lebanon. Hamas official fears the phenomenon will affect the "right of return". Some 260,000 “Palestinian refugees” had left the refugee camps in Lebanon to various countries. "The Zionist enemy is working in this way to empty the refugee camps and to destroy the foundation for the right of return," Hamas’s representative in Lebanon Ali Baraka said. (Of course it is fault of Israel that Arab state have not aloud their "beloved brothers" to work and have equal rights for 4 generations - Unlike Jews who found shelter in Israel, escaping Muslim countries!)
Since 2014, the High Court has only allowed 36% of the home demolition orders against terrorists. 64% were either cancelled, limiting to closing off a room, or restricted to an individual wall or two. In 34% of the cases, the High Court only allowed individual walls to be demolished, 18% were limited to sealing off a room, and 12% were cancelled outright. In 2016, thirty demolition orders were ordered against terrorist homes, and the court only permitted eight of those homes to be fully demolished. In 2017, only one terrorist’s home was demolished. (The problem with Israel's left-leaning courts is that they would sooner punish Jews than enemies.)
Palestinian factions, including rival groups Hamas and Fatah, have agreed to hold a general election by the end of 2018, Precise date to be decided on by PA President Abbas; situation in Gaza remains precarious with civilian control in Fatah's hands but security mechanisms still dominated by Hamas.
President Reuven Rivlin denied the request for a pardon filed by Elor Azaria, who is serving a 14-month sentence for killing an Arab terrorist. 
Mahmoud Abbas ordered representatives in the Palestine Liberation Organization on Tuesday to freeze all contacts with the United States. But in the long tradition of 'Palestinian' double-speak, Abbas said that he was “committed to a historic peace deal (with Israel – couldn’t say the name) under the auspices of President (Donald) Trump.” At the same time State Department spokeswoman says US wants PLO to keep its Washington mission open despite recent threats to shut it down. (What a farce! An anti-Israel scam played by both sides! And it did not take long for the US to backtrack on the decision to close the PA office in DC)
As Israel marks 40 years since Sadat's visit, in Cairo, which initiated the move that led to a peace agreement with Jerusalem, there is no desire to celebrate the dramatic decision made by their president in 1977.
Quote of the Week:
“I will insist the Hebrews have (contributed) more to civilize men than any other nation. If I was an atheist and believed in blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations... They are the most glorious nation that ever inhabited this Earth. The Romans and their empire were but a bubble in comparison to the Jews. They have given religion to three-quarters of the globe and have influenced the affairs of mankind more and more happily than any other nation, ancient or modern.” - John Adams, the second President of the United States.
Islamophobia Myth - Most Hate is Against Jews
In the aftermath of the 2016 election, many liberals claimed that hate crimes against Muslims were on the rise in the United States, and tried to link that directly to the election of President Donald Trump.
However, The FBI recently released a report detailing all the reported hate crimes of 2016, and the numbers are a real eye-opener. It turns out that Muslims weren’t the most targeted group.
Jews were the group that was targeted the most in the category of “hate crimes motivated by religious bias.” In that category, 54 percent of crimes reported were “anti-Jewish.” You can see the full breakdown here.
Only 25 percent were “anti-Muslim.”
That’s a huge gap in the number of hate crimes, one that blows a huge hole in the liberal narrative that hate crimes against Muslims have been rising, thanks to Trump.
In terms of solid numbers, 834 hate crimes were reported against Jews, 318 against Muslims and 63 against Catholics.
Of course, there are likely many more hate crimes that have gone unreported, or crimes based on religious animosity that did not qualify legally for the category, but the breakdown in terms of statistics is likely very similar to the ones that were reported.
The Daily Wire reported that there was a 9 percent increase in the number of hate crimes against Jews from 2015.
These are some deeply disturbing statistics, but you will barely hear the mainstream media talking about them very much.
After all, these numbers don’t fit the narrative liberals are trying to push, so they will simply be swept under the rug and ignored.
If the numbers were reversed and anti-Muslim hate crimes were at the top, you wouldn’t hear the end of it. This report would be splashed across the front page of every newspaper in the United States.
All hate crimes, regardless of which religion/group they are targeting, are unacceptable - that’s why they’re called “crimes.”
Acting as if hate crimes against one group are more important than those against another group is simply disgusting and un-American.
Anyone who commits a hate crime should be brought to justice.
We may have our disagreements in this country, but the very basis of our democracy is that people can live their lives as they please without fear.

Rav Kook on Parashat VaYishlach: "I Have an Ox and a Donkey"

Upon his return to Eretz Yisrael, Jacob sent a message to his brother Esau: “I have an ox and a donkey” (Gen. 31:6). Why was it necessary to tell Esau about this ox and donkey?

According to the Midrash (Breishit Rabbah 75), Jacob was not speaking about the material possessions he had amassed, but about something of far greater significance. The ox refers to Mashiach ben Joseph, the precursive Messianic leader descended from Joseph. The ox is a symbol of the tribe of Joseph; both Jacob and Moses used the imagery of an ox when blessing Joseph (Gen. 49:6; Deut. 33:17).

And the donkey? That is a reference to Mashiach ben David, the ultimate Messianic king descended from David, who will arrive as “a pauper riding on a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9).

Why do we need two Messianic leaders? And why are they represented specifically by these two animals?

Two Forces

In a remarkable eulogy entitled “The Eulogy in Jerusalem,” delivered after Theodore Herzl’s death in 1904, Rav Kook explained this concept of two Messiahs. The eulogy beautifully articulates his views on the secular Zionist movement and the tragic rift between the religious and secular sectors of the Jewish people.

God created us with both body and soul. We have forces that maintain and strengthen the body, and forces that protect and develop the soul. The ideal is to have a robust body together with a strong and healthy soul. The soul, with its remarkable faculties, is meant to utilize the body to fulfill God’s will in this world.

The Jewish people function in an analogous fashion to the body and soul. There are forces within the nation that correspond to the body, working to meet its material and physical needs. These forces prepare a firm basis for Israel’s holy mission. And there are forces in the nation that work directly toward developing Israel’s special spiritual qualities.

Efforts to promote public security and welfare are common to all nations, just as all creatures have bodily and physical functions. But the higher aspect of furthering our spiritual aspirations on the national level is unique to the Jewish people - “It is a nation dwelling alone, not counted among the other nations” (Num. 23:9).

Joseph and Judah

These two tasks were divided between two tribes, Joseph and Judah. Joseph looked after the material needs of the Israelites in Egypt. The Sages taught that Joseph spoke seventy languages, thus indicating that his task was a universal one, common to all nations. He protected the Jewish people in Egypt, and is described as “the opposing force to Esau” (Breisheit Rabbah), defending the nation against those who attack the Jewish people.

Judah, on the other hand, was responsible for cultivating the special holiness of the Jewish people. “Judah became His holy nation” (Psalms 114:2).

Ultimately, both of these aspects were to be combined in the Davidic monarchy. David was a warrior who fought the enemies of Israel and brought peace to the nation. But he was also the “sweet singer of Israel,” the psalmist who would rise at midnight to compose holy poems praising God.

The Split

When Jeroboam led the northern tribes of Joseph to split from the southern kingdom of Judah, he introduced a tragic divide between these two forces, the material and the spiritual. The Midrash says that God grabbed Jeroboam by the coat and told him: “If you repent, I and you and [David] the son of Jesse will walk together in the Garden of Eden.” Together, you and the Davidic monarch will nurture the Jewish people and enable them to accomplish their Divine mission.

Jeroboam’s reply, however, was: “Who will lead?”

God answered, “The son of Jesse will lead.”

Jeroboam refused to recognize the pre-eminence of the nation’s spiritual mission. Throughout history, we have witnessed the ongoing conflict between these two forces: secular movements that work towards improving the nation’s material lot, and religious ones that promote its spiritual nature exclusively.

The redemption of the Jewish people can only be attained when both of these forces are functioning. Those who work towards strengthening the nation’s spiritual aspects are preparing for Mashiach ben David, who personifies the ultimate goal of the nation. This spiritual goal, however, cannot be attained without the necessary material foundations. All efforts to better the material conditions of the nation are part of Mashiach ben Joseph’s mission.

The Fall of Mashiach ben Joseph

The Talmud in Sukkah 52a teaches that Mashiach ben Joseph will be killed, and that a “great eulogy in Jerusalem” (Zechariah 12:13) will be delivered at his death. What is the significance of this piercing eulogy, when the nation will mourn the loss of Mashiach ben Joseph “as one mourns for an only child”?

Due to the rift within the Jewish people, these two forces clash. Those who promote the nation’s material aspects belittle the importance of Torah and mitzvot. And those who stress the special nature of Israel reject all changes and attempts to better its material standing. This leads to rebellion against religion on one side, and anemic stagnation on the other.

With the fall of Mashiach ben Joseph, all will realize that these are not opposing movements, but forces that should work together so that material progress will form a basis for developing the unique character of the nation. This is the significance of the “great eulogy in Jerusalem.” All sectors of the nation will mourn this loss, all will recognize that it is a tragic mistake for these forces to be divided and estranged from one another.

The Ox and the Donkey

What about Jacob’s message to Esau? Why did he use these two animals, the ox and the donkey, to allude to the two Messianic leaders?

The ox is used to plow the ground, preparing the area to be planted. This corresponds to the mission of Mashiach ben Joseph - to defend the nation from enemies and prepare the way for the revelation of Mashiach ben David. We also see this in the fact that the Tabernacle, a preparation for the Temple, was established in Shiloh, in the territory of Joseph, while the Temple itself was built in the inheritance of Judah.

The donkey, on the other hand, is used to carry produce from the field. This corresponds to the mission of Mashiach ben David, who brings the final fruit of redemption.

A Hint to Esau

Jacob’s message to his brother, “I have an ox and a donkey,” alluded to the future Messianic Era, a time when he will no longer fear Esau’s enmity. We find a second hint later on. After the two brothers meet, Jacob promises that he will visit Esau on Mount Seir. The Sages wrote:

“We searched throughout the text of the Torah, but we never found that Jacob visited Esau on Mount Seir. It could not be that Jacob was deceiving him. So when will Jacob go to him? This will take place in the future era, as it says, “Saviors will ascend Mount Zion to judge the mountain of Esau” (Obadiah 1:21).” (Breisheit Rabbah 78:14)

(Sapphire from the Land of Israel. Adapted from Shemuot HaRe’iyah(VaYishlach 5691), quoted in Peninei HaRe’iyah, pp. 68-72. “Eulogy in Jerusalem” from Ma’amarei HaRe’iyah, pp. 94-99.)

Hijab Barbie: Useful Idiots of Cultural Jihad

by Judith Bergman

  • Far from being a symbol of empowerment, the new Hijab Barbie is an example of a cultural and civilizational jihad -- and the submission of a Western company, Mattel, to that jihad. Cultural jihad is the attempt to change and subvert Western culture from within, or more simply put: to Islamize it.
  • Rather than reminding girls of a world of opportunities, the hijab reminds them of all the things they cannot do in many Muslim countries. These include decisions about their own lives and bodies, such as not having their genitals mutilated, and generally not leading the free lives that women in the West -- including the ones working at Mattel -- probably take for granted.
(Image source: Facebook screenshot via BBC/YouTube)
A new Barbie doll has been launched as part of Mattel's "sheroes" line. It is a doll in full hijab modeled after American-Muslim Olympic fencer, Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first American athlete to compete in the Olympics wearing a headscarf, which -- apparently -- Mattel felt was something for little girls worldwide to emulate. That and the possibility of selling millions of toys in the burgeoning Muslim market, of course.
According to a statement from Mattel:
"Barbie is celebrating Ibtihaj not only for her accolades as an Olympian, but for embracing what makes her stand out," said Sejal Shah Miller, Vice President of Global Marketing for Barbie. "Ibtihaj is an inspiration to countless girls who never saw themselves represented, and by honoring her story, we hope this doll reminds them that they can be and do anything."

Individual Stones and Communal Stones

by HaRav Shaul Yisraeli zt"l

(based on Siach Shaul, p. 106-8)

[Below are excerpts of an address Rav Yisraeli gave as part of a gathering of rabbis to remember Yeshivat Volozhin, which had closed approximately half a century before the event.]

In our parasha, we are told that Yaakov made a monument (matzeva) of stone upon his return to Eretz Yisrael (Bereisheit 35:14), as he had promised when he was leaving the Land (ibid. 28:22). Chazal tell us that this stone was the even ha’shtiya (which stood on the place of the aron during the Second Temple Period). The Ramban (ad loc.) explains that the reason that it became forbidden to use monuments, which Hashem hates (Devarim 16:22), even though previously they were beloved, is that the idol worshippers had turned them into a part of their service.

We can expand on this idea within a broader philosophical light. We can break up modes of service of Hashem into two parts – the way the forefathers served Hashem, and the way the Israelite nation did. The fundamental difference between them is that the forefathers served as individuals, whereas the nation served as a community. Each of the three forefathers served through his own spiritual powers, with each one innovating and breaking new spiritual grounds. Avraham had a son other than Yitzchak, and Yitzchak had a son other than Yaakov. But each one was left out of the legacy, and the torch of service of Hashem was passed to an individual. Thus, the forefathers’ service was like a matzeva, with a single stone serving as a ladder that leads to a state of clinging to Hashem.

Afterwards, though, the Jewish Nation was established, and we quickly start having distinctions. There are Levi’im and Yisraelim, those who are close and those who are distant, upper and lower echelons. Yet all of them join together to form one mizbe’ach (altar). A higher pillar cannot exist if it does not rest on a lower pillar. With no foundation, there is no building.

"When it rested, he would say: ‘Return, Hashem, unto the ten thousands and thousands of Israel’" (Bamidbar 10:36). Chazal teach us that the Divine Presence dwells on no less than 22,000 Jews (Yevamot 63b). When one of these people is missing, no matter how simple or distant a person he is, that missing piece of the edifice causes the whole structure to be untenable, and the Divine Spirit will not dwell. This is what an altar represents, and this is what the Israelite nation is about – one united altar made of many pieces of stone.

The Volozhiner Yeshiva made the existence of the town of Volozhin famous, while the people and history of its Jewish community remain mainly unknown. However, without the town and other towns like it, the yeshivot, which produced great Torah giants, could not have existed. Unfortunately, we do not have many communities like Volozhin in Eretz Yisrael these days, which are willing to do that which it takes to form a yeshiva. Our village (K’far Haro’eh, with its modest hard work and its very Israeli lifestyle, worked hard to build a home for the home of Torah (Yeshivat K’far Haroeh), with an atmosphere that is conducive to the development of a Torah institution.

Gifts, Prayer and War

by Rabbi Dov Berl Wein

Dedicated to the memory of Simcha bat Chana

The Midrash teaches us that when our father Yaakov was aware of the impending confrontation with his erstwhile brother, Eisav, he prepared a number of options for himself as to how the scenario would play itself out. He was prepared to pay Eisav a large amount of wealth to leave him in peace. He prayed to the Lord for Divine intervention on his behalf. And he also mobilized his family and servants for armed battle if necessary. Many may look at this plan of Yaakov as being composed of three individual and almost mutually exclusive options. One does not in all good logic bestow wealth upon an enemy that one feels one will have to fight in the near future. Even though there have been such instances of monetary appeasement in the past of human history most wars are preceded by embargoes, confiscations of the wealth of the perceived enemy and generally bellicose statements before the war actually breaks out. Prayer is also universally invoked with each side convinced that the God of war is on its side in the conflict. Yet prayer also indicates the wish that the war be avoided somehow and that the Divine canopy of peace somehow be spread over the contending powers. And the realm of prayer is usually left to the pious and the clergy (not always are they synonymous) and plays at best a secondary role in war preparations. And finally there is the option of battle itself with all of the uncertainty, mayhem and murder that accompanies this most brutal of human activities. Midrash seems to imply that Yaakov prepared himself for these three options in a manner that one of them would be the chosen course of behavior in dealing with Eisav.

Yet a closer examination of the words of the Torah indicates that Yaakov intended to employ all three options simultaneously. Yaakov’s gift to Eisav, large and generous as it was, would be unsuccessful in deterring Eisav. Eisav’s appetite would only be whetted for greater spoils. He would certainly misread Yaakov’s generosity towards him as a sign of weakness and timidity and therefore become more determined to destroy Yaakov and now believe that he could so easily. Yaakov is aware of the inherent weakness of the policy of appeasement of Eisav alone. He must therefore convince Eisav that he is not a pacifist at all costs. Eisav must see him as being prepared to wage war successfully and tellingly. Only when Eisav realizes Yaakov’s warlike abilities will he see the gifts given to him in their true light – not as tokens of weakness but simply a method of accommodation of two different cultures and societies. And Yaakov also invokes prayer as a weapon in this struggle and informs Eisav of its presence in his arsenal of defending himself against Eisav’s evil intent. Prayer is the explanation to Eisav how Yaakov successfully survived the house of Lavan and against all odds emerged whole, mighty and wealthy from that twenty year ordeal. Yaakov in essence informs Eisav: "Don’t disregard God’s presence and will in the equation of our struggle."

Yaakov is the prototype of all later struggles of the Jewish people and is especially relevant to our current world and its attendant problems. The Jewish people have always given large gifts to our enemies to dissuade them from violence and hatred. Most of the time the world looked at these gifts as signs of Jewish weakness, which in fact was what they really were. Our prayers were mocked at and the world never believed that God was on our side no matter how miraculous and patently obvious our powers of resilience and survival were. And the world also never believed that the Jews would be able to successfully defend themselves and their country. Jews were supposed to be bankers, musicians and peddlers but not soldiers or warriors. This latter fallacy has been amply corrected by the Israel Defense Forces over the past close to seventy years. Nevertheless our gifts and compromises offered are still evidently misinterpreted as being signs of weakness. There is a blindness that envelops our foes that does not allow them to see us in true reality void of all stereotyping and preconceived beliefs. It is viewed as an insult to their faith that the Jews should somehow be entitled to belief in their God and observance of their ancient traditions. Therefore until our foes also recognize our three pronged answer to their threats as being legitimate and strong we are reduced to following the maxim of Theodore Roosevelt: "Speak softly and carry a big stick."

Ya'akov's Messengers

by HaRav Zalman Baruch Melamed
Rosh HaYeshiva, Beit El

Dedicated to the memory of R. Avraham ben-tziyon ben shabtai


"And Ya'akov sent malachim to his brother Esav to the land of Se'ir in the field of Edom." Our sages deliberated on the question of who these "malachim" exactly were: One view is that they were indeed human agents - namely, messengers, of Ya'akov Avinu. Another view is that they were actual angels. "Rav Hama Bar Chanina said: Hagar was our matriarch Sara's maidservant, and angels appeared to her; is it not all the more logical that angels would appear to Ya'akov, who was the beloved of [God's] house?"

We should, however, take note of a key distinction between the revelation of angels to Hagar, to Eliezer (Avraham's servant), to Yosef, in comparison to their contact with Ya'akov. In the latter case, if we are to read the term malachim literally, from the verse we learn that Ya'akov actually sends the angels on a mission! They adhere to his orders! This type of relationship defies all that we know to be true about what is within man's capabilities, since it is clear that humans are on a lower spiritual level than the celestial angels; if so, how could he order them to carry out his wishes? We have no choice but to conclude that the Torah is telling us that Ya'akov Avinu was on a higher level than the angels! He is able not only to meet them, as did other Biblical personalities, but he was also able to commission them to fulfill his wishes.

Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook (of blessed memory) notes that, in Jewish law, an agent must share his sender's level of obligation to perform Torah mitzvot (commandments) Thus, in Jewish law, a non-Jew is an invalid agent. (This means, for example, that a Jew cannot appoint a non-Jew to light his - the Jew's - Chanukah candles, since a non-Jew is not obligated to observe the holiday.) This criterion is rooted in the principle that an agent stands in the place of the one who sends him: "A person's agent is like himself."

Question: How is it therefore possible that angels could function as the agents of a human being? Angels are not "Children of the covenant!" in any sense of the word! Rabbi Kook's answer: Angels fulfill the Divine will naturally, without having to be commanded. In a similar fashion, our forefathers fulfilled the Torah not because they were commanded to do so, but because the fulfillment of mitzvot emanated from the depth of their very being.

The forefathers thus share something in common with angels - in the sense that both beings are fulfillers of the Divine will; though Ya'akov is human and the angels are not, his nature, too, prompts him, in an angel-like fashion, to perform God's will. This perspective helps us understand how Ya'akov could appoint angels as agents to act on his behalf.

Looking at things this way, we can come to appreciate the spiritual loftiness of the fathers of our nation - people who existed somewhere between the physical and spiritual worlds, out of a complete and natural connection with the word of God, a connection that led them to experience ongoing encounters with the word of God and with his ministering angels.

In this world - as illustrated on numerous occasions in the Torah and Talmud - we find that God gives power to righteous people to resemble their Creator: to stop rains, to revive the dead, etc. Yet, there is a reality that is loftier than that of the world as we know it, a reality that the world will enter in future days, when the world reaches its ultimate state of perfection, when it becomes "filled with the splendor of God." At that time, it will become apparent that the entirety of the physical world is insignificant compared to the reality of God's existence. This is what our tradition means when it says that, on that day, "God will remain alone."

Our sages add that at that time, it will also become apparent that Ya'akov Avinu had a lion's share of this Divine quality. Ya'akov succeeded in raising himself to a level at which the entirety of existence was, so to speak, as naught, relative to him. In other words, Ya'akov strove for and reached the pinnacle of what a person must try to become. The entire world exists by his merit, he therefore possesses the quality of "Ein Od Milvado" -"There is none except for him" - a phrase normally reserved for God Himself.

In the book "Nefesh haRav," Rabbi Joseph Soleveitchik is quoted as saying that just as it is incumbent on a person to cleave to the ways of the Creator and His attributes ("Just as He is compassionate, so should you be compassionate, just as He is merciful, so should you be, etc) similarly, just as God is the One and only unique existence, so should man try to cleave to this quality, and to strive to reach his own personal potential. Every person has unique qualities, a special synthesis of his physical and spiritual self - not present in any other person. Man is obliged to develop the unique side of who he is as an individual, and not to simply defer to others.

An illustration of this concept can be found in a statement of the Vilna Gaon, who taught that after the sealing of the Babylonian Talmud, every "Talmid Chacham," (Torah scholar) has permission to study the Talmud to his heart's content, and should not, in the course of his Torah study, defer to other scholars that preceded him, who lived after the canonization of the Talmud. Thus, according to the Gaon, if a Torah scholar whose learning has led him to a halachic conclusion against that arrived at by the Shulchan Aruch, - and he (the Torah scholar) nevertheless rules in accordance with the Shulchan Aruch on that very issue - he has transgressed a Torah prohibition!

Ya'akov Avinu possesses the quality of "Levado," of being alone - he has a unique personality unlike that of anyone else in the world. We find that the each of our forefathers possessed unique qualities. Avraham specialized in Chesed, in the performance of kind acts towards others; Yitzchak was the master of "Din" - of self-restraint; Ya'akov Avinu was known for his adherence to, and love of truth.

On the other hand, we find a certain inclusivist quality in the patriarchs, of a willingness to negate their own personal egos in their efforts toward building of the Jewish nation, and of perfecting the world as a whole. In fact, our sages point out that of the three patriarchs, Ya'akov is the most inclusivist, most all encompassing of all. If so, then, there is no contradiction between developing one's unique personality and maintaining one's connection and commitment to the nation as a whole. The opposite is in fact, true: the ideal Jew finds his own fulfillment in his ongoing concern for his fellow Jews. One's own unique personality is cultivated and enriched by his concern for others...

Monday, November 27, 2017

Anatomy of a Smear

by Rabbi Steven Pruzansky

As if on order, no sooner had I written “Life with a Smear” when we were presented with a real life example of a smear – a deliberate and conscious attempt to manipulate and distort the words of a public figure in order to shame her, force an apology, get her fired and ruin her life and career – all for the purpose of gaining some petty, partisan, political advantage.

The other day, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely purported to “disrespect” and “outrage” “all of American Jewry” (these are actual quotes from her critics) by articulating basic truths of which most American Jews are aware. Asked why there is a disconnect these days between much of American Jewry and Israel on diplomatic issues, and how such matters as the “Kotel” controversy have angered such a large part of American Jewry, she answered that Israel is the homeland of all Jews, “of all streams,” and every Jew should come live here and thereby influence Israeli society. But, she added, most American Jews are “not understanding the complexities of the region,” as they are –and here are the phrases that allegedly ticked off the self-appointed leaders of the branches of American Jewry that are in such a steep decline – “people that never send their children to fight for their country, most of the Jews don’t have children serving as soldiers, going to the Marines, going to Afghanistan, going to Iraq. Most of them have quite convenient lives. They don’t know how it feels to be attacked by rockets.”

If we parse her words fairly and objectively, it is clear that her sentiments are true and indisputable. Most American Jews do not have children serving as soldiers, Marines, in Afghanistan or Iraq. That is obvious, and I would speculate that most American Jews don’t even know someone who serves in the American military or served in Iraq or Afghanistan. (I do – a young former congregant was a Marine who fought during some of the harshest combat in Fallujah, Iraq, and I was proud to officiate at his wedding at which he wore his full dress uniform, replete with sword, and of course a good number of chaplains.) But most don’t, and that is true today of most Americans.

This is not because American Jews are selfish, uncaring, unpatriotic or disloyal. In truth, we are underrepresented in the American military according to our percentage of the population, but that has to do mostly with the underrepresentation of particular socio-economic brackets in the American military and the underrepresentation in the military of sections of the country where most Jews live. The higher socio-economic bracket to which one belongs and the more liberal the area of the country in which one lives, we find the lower the rate of participation in the military. This is true for Jews and non-Jews. We can quibble whether this should be so but not whether it is so. It is, and so it has been since the United States abolished the draft 45 years ago. (Parenthetically, only 25 % of the current members of Congress have served in the military, compared to close to 80% of the congressmen in the 1970’s.)

What Tzipi Hotovely said is absolutely true.

But this is how a smear works: Rick Jacobs, the leader of Reform Judaism who has become an open foe of a strong, proud, traditional Israel, castigated her for being “ignorant and ill-informed,” because, as he said, “my father served with distinction” in the American army. Indeed – we honor his father’s service! – but she did not say that Jews have never served in the American military (“never send” is not the same as “never sent,” and even that phrase was clarified), but rather that most Jews “don’t” serve in the American military. Note the verbal legerdemain – pretending her remarks were a blanket statement about the past rather than a comment on the present. That is rank dishonesty, and he should be ashamed of himself for engaging in it.

The point is not whether his father served or even whether he served (I assume he didn’t; he and I both came of age after the United States switched to an all-voluntary military). When there was a draft, Jews were drafted and served like any other citizen; American Jews fought in World War II in a greater proportion than our share of the population. I’ve walked the grounds of the American military cemetery at Normandy. The Stars of David that mark the graves of the dead American-Jewish soldiers stand out, if only because the thousands of crosses are arranged so neatly. But they are there, in almost every row. She was speaking about current events, how most American Jews today are detached from a military life, and how that surely taints their views on Israel where fighting in the military in an existential conflict that will not end is part of life and the expectation of almost every teenager. And she is correct – so correct that I would be curious to learn how many of her critics, or her critics’ children, have fought in the American military.

Here’s another shameful smear: the accusation that she was disrespecting all those young American Jews who go to Israel and enlist in the IDF. Again – smear. Distortion. Misrepresentation. Lie. And this is how it works – did she mention lone soldiers? Did she mention the IDF? Of course not. Look at both her words and the context. In our community, many dozens of youngsters over the years have enlisted in the IDF, and we are proud of all them. But have any of them fought in Afghanistan or Iraq? Not to my knowledge… So this is a blatant effort to willfully distort her words. She made no reference to the IDF – so how can she be accused of disrespecting those who fight in the IDF? But this is how the smear game works – more verbal sleight-of-hand – denouncing someone for what was said and is true by attributing to them things that were not said and are false.

There are two real problems at play here, and Minister Hotovely is responsible for neither of them. The officialdom of the heterodox movements is uncomfortable, even resentful, of a successful woman who is proudly Jewish, proudly religious, proudly traditional, proudly Israeli and proudly right-wing. She undermines several of their persistent narratives about Orthodoxy and traditional life in Israel. Seeing the Deputy Foreign Minister of Israel wearing a shaitel must gall them. Too bad – for them.

And the bigger problem is this: with the heterodox movements in a free fall, both in terms of raw numbers as well as influence in American politics because of their persistent liberal bias, they need an enemy to energize their base. They need periodically – these days, it’s every few weeks – to find a scapegoat, an accusation, an insult or a cause to get their people riled up. It can be the Haredim to whom they attribute all sorts of mischief and ill-will. It can be the Kotel, where suddenly – literally, suddenly, after many decades – the status quo of exclusively traditional prayer bothers them. It is as if they woke up one day and realized – or contrived – that the status quo must bother them. It can be the non-acceptance of their conversions, their rabbis, or their modes of worship in one form or another. It can be the growth of the settlements or a forceful response to Arab terror or Gazan rockets. But it is always something.

That is why even an apology from Tzipi Hotovely, which she proffered because that is the way the smear game is played (and shame on the Prime Minister for not standing behind her), will not suffice for the complainants. They want her and her kind out! It is not her but what she stands for that irritates them. She is a constant reminder of what they too could have – with their children and grandchildren – if only they would return to the honest study of Torah and the true observance of mitzvot. That is why they seem to be perpetually aggrieved and always cross about something going on in Israel.

When many Israelis speak of “American Jewry,” they conjure to themselves a benign image of Jews who proudly love and support Israel, feel a deep emotional bond, and constitute a solid bloc of the type of encouragement and cooperation that one can expect from family. Would that it were so – but those days are long gone, sadly. Most American Jews today are unaffiliated – they do not identify as Orthodox, Reform or Conservative. They don’t feel that bond with Israel that their parents and certainly their grandparents did, most by far have never even visited Israel, and the ranks of American Jewry (including the heterodox movements) have been decimated by intermarriage that has obviously sapped their identification with Jews and the Jewish State. And the heterodox movements are permeated with Western ideas and values that occasionally conflate with Jewish ideas and values, but not always, and they can by and large no longer tell the difference.

The cause of Israel struggles today on college campuses because too many young Jews are cut off from their Jewish identity. The more the Jew is disengaged from Judaism, Torah, mitzvot and Jewish values, the more he or she will be disengaged from Israel. It is a tragic but accurate formula – that is why Minister Hotovely was banned by a “Jewish” group from speaking at Princeton – but there is little that Israel can do to reverse that trend. Identification and support for Israel will result from an enhanced sense of Jewish identity but those young Jews who are estranged from Israel have already embedded another identity and set of values and priorities. That is what has to be reversed and at this the heterodox movements are ill-equipped as they have long fostered an alienation from Torah.

That is why they force themselves to be outraged, manufacture slights and insults, and are avid players of the “Gotcha Game,” in which they monitor every single word of their targets in order to find the one word that they can wrench from context, cast in the most negative light or otherwise twist and falsify – all so that they can show relevance to their dwindling flock and their fellow travelers in the secular media. This is the smear game in action.

It would be edifying if Israelis truly understood what is happening in American Jewish life, paid less attention to the instigators of insincere indignation, and more attention to those Jews whose Jewish children and grandchildren will be building Torah, supporting Israel, making aliya and preserving the future of the Jewish people. And, of course, it would be an absolute delight if all Jews – of every stripe and background – did the same, and in so doing brought the era of redemption closer.

Tzipi Hotovely prefers the truth to pandering

by Batya Medved

I have been shocked by the backlash following Deputy Foreign Minister and Likud member Tzipi Hotovely’s recent interview with i24 news, in which she expressed the opinion that American Jews who don’t send their children to war are incapable of fully comprehending the complexity of Israel’s reality. While I’ve read many articles slandering and criticizing her, I have yet to hear one real counter-argument.

Hers is an unpopular but secretly extremely common opinion shared by many Israelis, and it comes down to this: being Jewish does not make one entitled to Israel. Being Jewish does not mean that it is the Israeli government’s job to cater to oneself. Being Jewish does not give one the right to comment on and criticize things whose reality one does not understand. And neither do one’s donations.

The only thing that being Jewish means, as far as I’m concerned, is the potential to Israeli citizenship. If American Jews want to make aliyah and criticize a country where they have citizenship, that’s great. That’s how democracy works. But being Jewish does not equal being an Israeli citizen.

Why does the prime minister need to apologize for Hotovely’s remarks? Why does she need to be rebuked for politely and coherently expressing the stance that most Israelis hold? Israelis fight for this country, pay taxes in this country and vote. Americans don’t. And as long as that’s true, Americans shouldn’t have an automatic say in how Israel runs things.

Unfortunately, Israeli politicians are more concerned with the American community’s collective outrage than with the truth, and unfortunately, taking offense comes more naturally to said community than listening.

We don’t share a culture. We don’t share a language. We don’t share borders. So what on earth makes American Jewry think it’s entitled to tell us how to run our country? This reaction is a demonstration that every indignation is righteous except for ours.

Palestinians vs. Trump: The Battle Begins

by Bassam Tawil 

  • Although the full details of the proposed plan have yet to be made public, the Palestinians have already made up their mind: Whatever comes from Trump and his Jewish team is against the interests of the Palestinians.
  • The Palestinians' rhetorical attacks on the Trump administration are designed to prepare the ground for their rejection of the proposed "ultimate solution."
  • Take careful note: these warning shots may well be translated into yet another intifada against Israel under the fabricated pretext that the Americans and Israelis, with the help of some Arab countries, seek to strip the Palestinians of their rights. One wonders when the world will wake up to the fact that those rights have already been stripped from the Palestinians -- by none other than their own brainwashing, inciting and corrupt leaders.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (right) meets with Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor to U.S. President Donald Trump, on June 21, 2017 in Ramallah. (Photo by Thaer Ghanaim/PPO via Getty Images)
Over the past year, the Palestinians have managed to keep under wraps their true feelings about US President Donald Trump and his Middle East envoys and advisors. In all likelihood, they were hoping that the new US administration would endorse their vision for "peace" with Israel.
Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas ensured that his spokesmen and senior officials spoke with circumspection about Trump and his Middle East advisors and envoys. The top brass of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah felt it was worth giving Trump time to see if he was indeed gullible enough to be persuaded to throw Israel under the bus and fork over their demands.
Well, that bus has long passed.