Friday, February 28, 2014

can't get to services tonight? Part 2 of the service

can't get to services tonight? Part 1 of the service

Why does the Shabbat psalm 92 compare the tzaddik righteous to a palm tr...

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Jewish composers and Yiddish poems

Overwhelmed and Awed at the Kennedy Center

Jews of European origin tend to think of their roots in the “old country”—if they think of them at all—with nostalgia for a sweet bygone era of people speaking in cutesy Yiddish, wandering around a picturesquely poverty-stricken farming village they way the characters do in Fiddler in the Roof, eating various smoked meats. In fact, the world of 19th-century and 20th-century Jewry in Europe was an extraordinarily complicated, jangly, emotionally fraught, tragic and soon-to-be-tragic-on-an unimaginable-scale place and moment in time. This was a historical moment during which a beleaguered, tormented, bedraggled people with no social capital but their connection to an ancient peoplehood and faith made their mark on the world in an almost unimaginably bold cultural ferment.
This hit home, and hard, for me last night in the concert hall at the Kennedy Center, when the remarkable non-profit group Pro Musica Hebraica presented a most unusual evening. The sole performer was Evgeny Kissin, the 42 year-old Jew born in Soviet Russia universally considered one of the greatest living pianists. Kissin played pieces by three almost entirely forgotten Russian-Jewish composers—Mikhail Milner  (1886-1953), Alexander Veprik (1899-1958) and Alexander Krein (1881-1953)—as well as a sonata by the far-better known Swiss-born Jew Ernest Bloch (who spent his adult life in the United States and died in Portland in 1959).
That Kissin played magnificently wasn’t surprising. What was surprising was this: Kissin paused twice to recite, entirely from memory and in Yiddish, 11 poems, many of them lengthy—a set by the original “Jewish intellectual,” I.L. Peretz, and the other set by the great modern Hebraist Haim Bialik (who, I only learned last night, also wrote in Yiddish). In a demonstration of the fact that a showman is a showman no matter the medium, Kissin declaimed them in a deep, rich voice with the plummy fervor of aThomashefsky.
This interweaving of music and poetry was emotionally overwhelming, because what they share was an astonishing lack of sentimentality—and a startling modernity.
There was no yeidel-deedle-deidel charm here, limited sweetness, little light. These were anxious musical pieces and anxious poems, startlingly self-aware and sophisticated. What proved so devastating was how they (and the music especially) seemed to herald in their frightening dissonances and determined lack of satisfying resolution the destruction soon to come. The poems are shot through with an image of nature relentlessly moving on while people stumble about in the dark as death hovers over them, ever-present. And yet, through both melody and verse, there ran that indelible Jewish blend of skeptical irony and pained humor. 
 And yet, at the time these musical pieces were written, 1924 and 1930 and 1935, there was an emerging light out of the most profound darkness. By the time the Shoah began, there were anywhere between 400,000 and 600,000 Jews living in Palestine, and there would have been far more had the British not slammed the gates shut. The powerlessness evoked by these works of art—a powerlessness that would lead to one of history’s greatest catastrophes and crimes—was being challenged by a new vision of Jewish self-sufficiency and strength.
That too was evoked last night, in the very person of the performer. As Charles Krauthammer, who runs Pro Musica Hebraica with his wife Robyn, noted, the “performance carries particular poignancy because on December 7, in a dramatic defiance of attents to isolate and ostracize Israeli artists and musicians, Mr. Kissin took Israeli citizenship as a show of unshakable personal solidarity.” Last night marked Evgeny Kissin’s first public appearance in the United States—as an Israeli. Kissin’s triumph at the Kennedy Center last night was a bold, defiant, and life-giving one: Try what you will. We are here. We are still here. We are flourishing.


Messianic Missionaries Change Tactics: A ‘Huge Problem, Bigger Than Ever’

Posted on 2/23/2014 by 


Messianic missionaries might not be approaching Jewish people on street corners anymore but that doesn’t mean the coast is clear: they’ve just changed venues.

Rabbi Soback

By Joan Hill
“Some people [tell me], ‘Well, I don’t think there’s such a problem anymore,’” said Julius Ciss, executive director of Jews for Judaism. “They don’t see missionaries on the street anymore but the perception that there’s not a problem is wrong; the problem is huge, it is bigger than ever. What is happening is the missionaries have changed their tactics with the times and the internet is where a lot of stuff is happening.”
A case in point: a GTA-based, multi-pronged pilot project for the In Search of Shalom campaign spearheaded by local groups Life in Messiah Canada and New Covenant Forum.
An online call for volunteers describes the “[a]ggressive advertising” intended to lead Jewish individuals to a website, which can connect them immediately by phone, instant messaging or texting to people who will “share the gospel with Jewish sensitivity and sensibility” and make referrals to local evangelists.
The advertising has been targetted to reach people in predominantly Jewish neighbourhoods, said Daniel Muller, general director, New Covenant Forum.
They’ve purchased ad space on every bus leaving Toronto’s Wilson Station between the end of August and the end of December and they paid Canada Post to deliver postcards in October to residences in specific high-density “areas and streets…along the Bathurst corridor,” said Muller.
The ads and postcard pose a religious question and include a quote from Psalm 34. The word shalom is written in English and Hebrew, creating the impression that the ads have been placed by a Jewish organization. A website address is listed but the campaign organizers are not named.
Both Muller and David Brewer, a representative of Life in Messiah Canada, refused to share the names of the other organizations and individuals involved in the campaign. This information is also not available on the campaign website.
Sam Walker, who was involved in the messianic movement in the past, said his antenna went up when he saw one of the ads on the back of a city bus.
“Sometimes, when an ad or synagogue seems too Jewish, it’s not Jewish at all,” said Walker. “It’s like they’re trying to out-Jew themselves by pretending to be [Jewish].”
Muller and Brewer also declined to divulge the budget for the campaign or disclose how many people had responded to their campaign. Brewer said the organizers had not yet decided if the pilot project was a success or if it would be launched in other cities or countries.
Some west Thornhill residents, an area of Vaughan with a large Jewish population, were hit with a double evangelical whammy in October. The soft-cover book The Twelve Sons of Israel showed up in their mailboxes through an unrelated campaign run by the City of David Messianic Synagogue of Thornhill, the International Alliance of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues (IAMCS) and the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America.
The book was delivered by Canada Post, but volunteers also dropped books off at some houses, leading some angry homeowners to call and tell them not to come back, according to Jeffrey Forman, spiritual leader of the City of David Messianic Synagogue of Thornhill, who said he was ordained as a “messianic rabbi” by IAMCS.
The budget for the book campaign was “modest,” said Forman, and his people “have not had a flood of calls inquiring about faith in messiah.”
Reuben and Sharyn Cipin said everyone in their retirement condo got the book and so did a relative and a friend who live in two other buildings. All three buildings have a high percentage of Jewish residents.
“A lot of people have been upset and many of them threw it out,” Sharyn Cipin said.
There is a massive effort being undertaken by Christians who want to convert Jews, said Rabbi Michael Skobac, director of education of Jews for Judaism.
“We have in our files about 1,000 Christian organizations dedicated to converting Jews,” said Rabbi Skobac.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Amazing holocaust story


Tuvia Ariel’s amazing true story about a number from the Holocaust.

by Rabbi Hillel Goldberg

As a child growing up in the Bronx, the last four digits of Terry Noble’s phone number were 7401. Coincidence: When Terry was assigned a social security number, the last four digits were 7401. And years later, when he found himself as a volunteer on a kibbutz in Israel – where he now called himself Tuvia Ariel – he worked with a carpenter whom he respected. The carpenter was a wiry, solid man, dedicated, the silent type. Ariel learned that he was one of the few who had escaped Auschwitz and survived, that he then joined the Polish partisans, then the British Army. It sent him to Palestine, where he deserted to join the Palmach, the Jewish fighting force, and helped Israel win her independence in 1948.
Quite a history.
Ariel had read the number tattooed on his arm. The last four digits were 7401.
But more than awe piqued Ariel’s curiosity about this survivor’s experiences in the Holocaust. Ariel had read the number tattooed on his arm. The last four digits were 7401.
“Don’t talk about it!” Ariel recalls the carpenter telling him forcefully, painfully. “I lost my whole family, my mother, my father; there was a brother in back of me, a brother in front of me – I’m the only one left. Don’t bring it up again!”
Ariel didn’t.
Except once.

Tuvia Ariel is a man with many stories. In fact, he is a story: the man who was once a famous musician’s adviser and arranged for kaddish to be recited for an estranged Jewish radical; the man who put in a stint at Yale Law School and was a soldier in the U.S. Army in Israel during the 1956 Sinai war. He tore the “USA” from his uniform and, looking like an Israeli, hitched his way down to the Sinai Peninsula, ready to fight, only to find that the war had ended two hours before.
I was told in advance how colorful Ariel was, but nothing prepared me for the likes of a comment he made one hour after I met him on Friday afternoon. I knew he had a new leg. I knew it was breakthrough for him. But who gives thought to such things? Who wonders what it is like to be without a leg, or with a new one?
Praying in the synagogue on Friday, I sensed nothing unusual as Mincha came to an end. Suddenly, Ariel approached me, almost in tears. “This is the first time in my life I prayed the Shemoneh Esrei standing up. I have never been able to address God like any other Jew, beginning the prayer by taking three steps forward, ending it with three steps backward…”
As follows:
He saved his life by cutting off his own leg as it got caught in a machine he operated on a kibbutz.
Ariel was raised in a non-observant home, in which theShemoneh Esrei was not recited. Then he went to Israel to volunteer. In 1967, on the fiftieth anniversary of the Russian Revolution, he saved his life by cutting off his own leg as it got caught in a machine he operated on a kibbutz – a machine that sucked his leg into its grinder and from which the rest of his body escaped only by his quick and gruesome self-amputation. A little over ten years later he became a religiously observant Jew. By then he was rotating between a wheelchair, crutches, and artificial legs, which, however, could never keep him standing still long enough to pray theShemoneh Esrei.
Then, that Friday, he did it. After walking home (only three blocks), he choked up again, “That’s the longest I’ve walked in 22 years.”
He was fitted with a new leg only shortly before – the day the Berlin Wall crumbled. He found his new leg innocently enough. Ariel was in the United States at the beginning of 1989 on a business trip. He saw an advertisement, featuring a new kind of plastic developed for spacecraft, also used for artificial limbs. The ad featured amputees engaged in vigorous basketball, not from wheelchairs, but standing up, running, passing, even jump-shooting. A regular game.
Not with people amputated below the knee, but above the knee.
Ariel thought to himself that seeing this was like seeing a grandmother, who had died long ago, suddenly walking down the street. When he lost his leg 22 years earlier, he never thought he would see himself live normally again – and here were people just like he was, playing basketball.
He inquired and was directed to an advanced prosthetic clinic in Oklahoma City. For above-the-knee amputees the old system had the stump rest on the prosthesis, which caused pain and circulatory problems and often did not work well, sometimes not at all. Using the new, flexible, rubber-like plastic, the new prosthesis grips the stump, which not only relieves pain and circulatory problems, but also better channels the energy and movement of the stump into natural, leg-like movements.
Even in advance of receiving his own leg, Ariel was not satisfied to give himself new life. He wanted it for all the above-the-knee amputees in Israel. So he had a long talk with the prosthetists in Oklahoma City about bringing this technology to the Holy Land. They agreed to train Israeli prosthetists in Oklahoma City and to travel to Israel to train Israeli prosthetists there, provided only that Ariel supply the plane tickets.
Ariel’s goal reached even beyond making the technology available in Israel. He aspired to establish a “Hebrew Free Limb Society” to provide a limb to the amputee as a loan, until – only a person like Ariel has the right to make this pun – “the amputee gets back on his feet.”
Strictly speaking, it is not idealism that motivates Ariel. It is something more – his sense that he has been designated as an angel of God before. He has reason to think this, and the way he sees it, his years of suffering now make him a messenger again – to help those whom the world forgets. Why is he certain he has been an angel once before, thus able to be so once again?

Ariel volunteered on two kibbutzim. The one where he lost his leg preferred that he leave the country. He was an embarrassment to the kibbutz. But Ariel would not leave Israel, no matter what. It took him about five years of various struggles to get into tourism schools; and somehow, between cars, crutches and artificial limbs, which kept him in pain and then went bad altogether, he remained a tour guide for 15 years.
Toward the beginning of his career, when he was low man on the totem pole, he was assigned to pick up tourists at the international airport in Lod and to bring them to the main office, whereupon an experienced guide would take over.
He yanked up his sleeve to show Ariel a number tattooed on his arm. Ariel looked, almost went into shock.
One day he picked up an American, ostentatiously wealthy, ostentatiously dressed and mannered. Even crude. Ariel could not bring himself to be friendly, so he was formal. Halfway from Lod to Jerusalem, the tourist, a perceptive man, yelled, “Pull over!” Ariel pulled over. The man barked, “You think I’m just a materialistic American tourist, don’t you? Well, I’ve paid my dues!” He yanked up his sleeve to show Ariel a number tattooed on his arm. Ariel looked, almost went into shock, and before he knew what was happening the tourist was saying, “I lost my whole family … a brother in front of me, a brother in back of me…” Ariel’s mind burned.
The man’s face was florid. Ariel calmed himself, saying simply, “Was your brother’s name Shimon?” The red face turned white. “We’re turning around, I’m not taking you to Jerusalem.”
Ariel made a U-turn and drove one-and-a-half hours to the kibbutz where he had worked with the wiry carpenter, near Afula. The psychic noise in the car was palpable. Finally Ariel reached the kibbutz and then the carpenter shed. He saw his former supervisor for the first time in ten years. Without introduction, he said simply: “Was your brother’s name Reuven?”
The carpenter’s face turned white.
Ariel returned to the taxi, unloaded it, told his American tourist, “Come. I am bringing you to your brother.”
He led him to the carpenter shed, did not enter – did not want to infringe on the privacy of the moment – then made a U-turn and drove to the entrance of thekibbutz. He stopped, and wept.
When he had seen the number tattooed on the tourist’s arm, the last four digits were 7-4-0-2.
Excerpted from The Unexpected Road: Storied Jewish Lives around the World,by Rabbi Hillel Goldberg, Feldheim Publication

Big Tent killing us

The 'big tent' to nowhere

by Asaf Romirowsky
The Jerusalem Post
February 23, 2014
Be the first of your friends to like this.
More and more, we hear from faculty and students about the need to have an "open tent" or a "big tent," of ideas and opinions specifically, when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict. While the nature of public discourse demands expressing a multitudes of ideas and opinions, the kind of openness espoused by this big tent idea is in fact myopic and limiting in its own narrow scope. The notion is sold as a non-binding position, when in reality those that sell it are simply uncomfortable or unwilling to take a firm position.
The big tent thus gives the impression of openness, but actually only caters to left-of-center views.
The genesis of this in the American Jewish community lies in our need to be open and pluralistic, which is generally a good thing but can become self-destructive.
While the Diaspora Jewish community is hardly monolithic when it comes to Israel, Israelis or Israeli policies, mainstream Jewish groups and organizations since 1948 have adopted the line of "supporting the democratically elected government of Israel – Left, Right or Center – and ensure the safety and security of its citizens." Of course not blindly, but under the belief that a strong, united front benefits the Jewish community at large.
This is the line organizations such as Federations, AIPAC, AJC, ADL and others have adopted to show bi-partisan support for the democratically elected government in Israel. Yet, we are seeing today how this policy has been interpreted as a so-called right-of-center agenda.
That is, support for Israel is perceived as a right-wing agenda – this is a farce.
Those who make these claims have gone to extreme measures, even to a point of adopting the Palestinian narrative, as if to say that if we (Jews) will become more Palestinian than the Palestinians, peace in the Middle East would come about.
Thus, the extreme Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) has made J Street seem like the height of moderation. As Isaac Deutscher formulated in his "non-Jewish Jew" regarding the State of Israel, "on a deeper, historical level the Jewish tragedy finds in Israel a dismal sequel. Israel's leaders exploit in self-justification, and over-exploit Auschwitz and Treblinka; but their actions mock the real meaning of the Jewish tragedy."
This has become the foundation for the adaptation and revisionism of the Arab-Israeli conflict among the Jewish Left, who feel the need to put aside their Jewishness to underscore their pluralism and openness.
Of late, these very issues were challenged by Hillel at Swarthmore College, where the students attempted to question Hillel's own stance on the Arab-Israeli conflict. To its credit, Hillel's newly- appointed international president and CEO Eric Fingerhut correctly held his ground and made it clear to Swarthmore where the red lines are, stating: "Your resolution [Swarthmore] further includes the statement: 'All are welcome to walk through our doors and speak with our name and under our roof, be they Zionist, anti-Zionist, post-Zionist, or non-Zionist.' This is simply not the case. Let me be very clear – 'anti-Zionists' will not be permitted to speak using the Hillel name or under the Hillel roof, under any circumstances.
"Hillel recognizes, of course, that 'organizations, groups or speakers that as a matter of policy or practice' violate these guidelines may well be welcomed on campus, according to the policies of the particular college or university. The Hillel on campus, however, may not partner with or host such groups or speakers.
This is entirely within our discretion as an organization, and we have clearly stated our intention to make these important decisions to protect our values and our critically important mission.
"Just as the university decides who will teach classes, and what organizations it will allow on campus, so Hillel will decide who will lead discussions in programs it sponsors and with whom it will partner."
Consequently, Hillel was criticized for limiting the debate on Israel – as if debating Israel's existence as a Jewish sovereign state fell within the realm of serious discourse. We have witnessed how the self-proclaimed "pro-Israel propeace" organization J Street has attempted to sell its agenda as the alternative to the "mainstream" and demand that the tent of the Jewish community stretch to include its views. The Jewish community for the most part opened itself to J Street. At least, until we saw the aggressively anti-Israel pro-boycott agenda advocated by many branches of J Street University begin to pop up demanding to be in the "big tent."
Now we see the even more extreme anti-Israel so-called Jewish Voice for Peace demanding that it be in the tent via its "Open Hillel" campaign. Where does it stop? Does the "big tent" allow those who wish to burn it down in, with flammable liquids and lit torches? The core of the problem regarding the "big tent" philosophy is that it has no red lines; everyone should be included, even at the expense of Jewish identity and survival of the Jewish state.
Israelis who live and breathe in Israel are hardly uniform in their own views, however, even those in leftist circles believe that Israel has the right to exist as a state in some capacity, within the 1949 or post-1967 borders. As such, one can understand why Israelis do not fully understand what is happening in the Diaspora with regard to these matters, as they have never faced the challenge of debating Israel's legitimacy in the environment we find on North American college campuses and many Jewish leftwing circles.
This is not to say that diversity of opinion and academic freedom should not be exercised. The difference is that there needs to be a differentiation between criticism and delegitimization, and between open discussion and self-inflicted annihilation.
Many, in their naiveté, have no grasp of how they fuel the anti-Israel groups on college campuses, groups like Jews for Justice in Palestine, the Muslim Studies Association and others who use this message to validate their own agendas.
What is even more problematic are those groups within the Jewish community who believe that this kind of "discussion" will further peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Finally, making a case for Israel becomes increasingly more difficult when Israelis and Jews decide to adopt a Palestinian agenda that detracts from the real issue behind the conflict: Mutual recognition of one another. And above all, mainstream Jewish groups have a responsibility to their stakeholders to establish clear lines that they will uphold while affording their constituents a wide range of opinions that fall within the realm of legitimate debate and public discourse. Being a "big tent" doesn't mean killing yourself to be in it.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Purim the true story JewU 33 what really happened?

Iran gets closer and US does nothing
Translations of this item:

U.S. Poll: Israel Still Most Favored Mideast Nation

 U.S. Poll: Israel Still Most Favored Mideast Nation
Despite recent friction between Israel and the United States over Israel's construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, Americans still view Israel as their most favored country in the Middle East, according to a new Gallup poll.
In fact, the 72 percent of poll respondents who say they have a "very favorable" view of Israel is the highest percentage since Gallup began the poll in 2010.
Back then, 67 percent viewed Israel very favorably, as did 66 percent last year.
The Gallup poll also found that 45 percent of Americans view Egypt favorably, up from 40 percent last year but down sharply from 58 percent in 2010.
As for Saudi Arabia, 35 percent view that nation favorably, while just 19 percent view Libya favorably, and 19 percent have a favorable view of the Palestinian Authority, virtually unchanged from 20 percent in 2010 but up from 15 percent last year.
Just 16 percent view Iraq favorably, and only 13 percent have a favorable view of Syria, an all-time low and the lowest percentage of all this year with the exception of Iran's 12 percent

Friday, February 21, 2014

Free Speech and the Left’s War on AIPAC

Free Speech and the Left’s War on AIPAC

The failure of the Senate to pass a bill authorizing additional sanctions on Iran if the current nuclear negotiations fail has emboldened some critics of the pro-Israel community. The inability of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee to ensure the bill’s passage despite the support of a bipartisan coalition of 59 members of the U.S. Senate has some of the lobby’s detractors smelling blood even though it was unfair to expect it to prevail in the face of President Obama’s veto threats. Author and columnist Peter Beinartcalled last month for the administration to boycott the group’s annual conference next month and when New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio offended his liberal fan base by endorsing the group, the writer was among a host of left-wing celebrities who signed a joint letter warning the mayor that he risked their ire by aligning himself with AIPAC. That letter set off a controversy since two of those who joined with Beinart to denounce AIPAC were prominent Manhattan Rabbis Rolondo Matalon and Felicia Sol. When some of their congregants at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun expressed their outrage at having their house of worship implicated in a scurrilous attack on AIPAC, Beinart, who mocked their support of Israeli democracy, in turn denounced them. Now Rabbi Eric Yoffie, former leader of the American Reform movement, has weighed in on the issue in an honorable attempt to try and put this matter in perspective in a Haaretz column and I believe his thoughtful article deserves a response.
According to Yoffie, both sides are well within their rights in this dispute. The rabbis were expressing a legitimate point of view and so were their congregants. While he sides with those who defend AIPAC, he took issue with my assertion that the claim that rabbis who wish to criticize Israel live in fear for their livelihoods is something of a myth. Yoffie believes such pressures exist and should be resisted. He wants all sides of the debate about Israel and AIPAC to speak up candidly for the sake of building a vibrant community where no one should fear to speak up. To a large extent I agree with that formulation. But the problem with the anti-AIPAC campaign as well as much of the efforts on the left to pressure or boycott Israel is that it is, at its heart, an attempt not to promote democratic discussion but to essentially disenfranchise Israeli voters and silence their American friends. That is why I must dispute Rabbi Yoffie’s effort to assign equal virtue to the positions of Beinart and the rabbis as well as to their critics.
Rabbi Yoffie is right that some liberal rabbis who criticize Israel may worry about offending some of their congregants as do others who are, as he notes, pressured from the left to disassociate themselves from the Jewish state. But my point was not to deny that such rabbis have their critics but to point out that efforts to restrain them are almost universally ineffective, as the continued tenure of the B’nai Jeshurun rabbis illustrates. Moreover, my point was not merely about the way rabbis use their pulpits to undermine Israel but to highlight the fact that, contrary to the myth promoted by the left, such figures, be they clerics or not, are generally richly rewarded by the praise of the secular mainstream media. For a Jew to speak out against Israel and/or AIPAC is to invite praise from a liberal media that is always eager to lionize such critics and to falsely portray them as courageous.
It should also be pointed out that the anti-AIPAC letter signed by Matalon, Sol, and Beinart was not about promoting diversity of views or a debate about the peace process so much as it was an attempt to shun and delegitimize AIPAC and its supporters. Though Rabbi Yoffie believes the signers crossed no “red lines” of offensive conduct, I would insist that by seeking to demonize AIPAC, those letter-writers were reinforcing the offensive and bigoted stereotype about the pro-Israel lobby promoted by those who see it as a conspiratorial group that doesn’t really speak for Jews and manipulates U.S. policy against American interests. No one is saying that AIPAC’s critics don’t have a right to voice their differences with the group, but what they want is not so much to debate it as to destroy it. Much as one would wish to bridge such differences, this is one argument where both sides are not right. One must either defend the right of the pro-Israel community to speak out on behalf of the democratically-elected government of the Jewish state as the BJ congregants have done or one joins with those who wish to isolate and pressure it, whether to save it from itself as Beinart thinks or to destroy it as the open anti-Zionists who signed the anti-AIPAC letter seem to want.
What is at stake here is not a right to speak up against Israel and AIPAC but the ability of the pro-Israel community to survive an all-out attack designed to silence it. As Rabbi Yoffie eloquently states:
I don’t agree with AIPAC on everything, but I agree with them most of the time; and the harsh dismissal of AIPAC by the signatories to the letter troubles me greatly. A Washington without AIPAC would not mean an Israel at peace; it would mean an Israel isolated and vulnerable, lacking the anchor that AIPAC has long provided and without which peace would be impossible.
Freedom of speech is not an issue in a community where dissent against Israel is widespread and generally rewarded with praise while supporters are often dismissed as stooges or hypocrites. Those who would destroy what Yoffie rightly called “Israel’s safety net” are not going to be silenced, but they should be held accountable.

Palestinians pay terrorists-how can there be peace?

Palestinians pay terrorists-how can there be peace?
American syndicated columnist Edwin Black, who provided an overview of his latest book, "Financing the Flames: How Tax-Exempt and Public Money Fuel a Culture of Confrontation and Terror in Israel."

Black, the son of Holocaust survivors who "has been in the human rights movement for nearly half a century," is not a right-winger. This is probably why Knesset members from a cross section of parties showed up, however briefly, to pay their respects. It also helps to explain the willingness of the British European parliaments to hear him out and take him seriously earlier this month, prior to his arrival in Israel.
He painted a chilling picture of the money trail, leading from the likes of George Soros, via "human rights" organizations engaged in a concerted effort to undermine Israel, and smack into the pockets of Palestinians who kill Jews.

Yes, he said, "A Palestinian can go from being a nobody to a somebody..., from rags to riches, just by blowing up a bus [in Israel] or breaking into a house and slitting the throats of some young [Israeli] children. As soon as he gets sentenced, he [begins to receive] a PA salary. It could be a few hundred dollars a month for a short sentence ... and up to several thousands of dollars a month for maybe killing 20 to 30 people and getting a 30-year sentence."

Nor is jail time a deterrent. "Nobody believes they're going to serve [a full] sentence," he said, "because they are going to be part of the next prisoner release, or of the next discussion even to have a discussion about a prisoner release."


This travesty is supervised by the Palestinian Prisoners Ministry and written into PA legislation. The law determines an ascending pay scale for terrorists: The more the carnage and the longer the prison term, the higher the salary.

According to Black, "This takes up $5 million to $7 million a month -- approximately six percent -- of the PA budget. If you add in the other payments [to terrorists] for weddings, social events, special bonuses, academic scholarships, it comes to 16% of the Palestinian budget. And where does the money come from? From American and European taxpayers."

Until the blood-for-money law is rescinded, he said, "There can be no peace between Palestinians and Israelis.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

How Do You Solve a Problem Like J Street?

Commentary Magazine


How Do You Solve a Problem Like J Street?

“There is no such thing as an Arab-Israel conflict,” insists Harvard professor Ruth Wisse, “there is an Arab war against Israel, there is an Arab war against the Jewish people’s right to a state.” This is just one of the many foundational truths and insights that are offered in the course of a newly released documentary, The J Street Challenge. The documentary premiered Monday night in Miami to a sell-out audience who also received an introductory presentation with Alan Dershowitz, who himself features in the movie.
J Street, founded in 2008 marketing itself as a kind of left-wing AIPAC, went out of its way from the beginning to emphasize itself as being staunchly “pro-Israel, pro-peace.” The national leadership of the group has publicly opposed the BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement and put itself forward as being a necessary liberal counterpoint to the anti-Zionism of the left as well as a Jewish cheering section for the Obama administration’s efforts to pressure Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians. Yet, as this documentary highlights, that mask soon began to slip as its idea of what it meant to be pro-Israel began to appear vastly out of sync with what just about everyone else understood by that term. It was no surprise, then, when some of its J Street U campus branches began to drop the “pro-Israel” clause of the organization’s slogan. More telling still has been the push by J Street U to have anti-Israel boycotters included in the “big tent” pro-Israel community.
The documentary certainly provides a thorough introduction for anyone who has not so far had the misfortune of encountering J Street or its message. Yet this is no standard-form exposé, as much as it certainly does expose a great deal about J Street’s more dubious operations and questionable sources of funding. Rather, The J Street Challenge seeks to go much further than this by making a serious effort to understand what is at the core of “J Street think” and to identify the driving force that makes certain Jews, particularly young liberal Jews, susceptible to the J Street message. In this way the documentary is about so very much more than an increasingly discredited lobby with little influence even with the Obama administration. At its heart the film is concerned with deconstructing the left-liberal attitude to Israel and the Arab-Islamic world.

This in-depth exploration of the mindset that has given rise to J Street is undertaken through somewhat of an all-star cast of interviews, which sit alongside archival footage providing a narration outlining the key points of the conflict. In addition to Wisse and Dershowitz, there are also clips and interviews featuring, among others, Shalem Center scholar Daniel Gordis, Wall Street Journal editor Bret Stephens, Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick, CAMERA’s Andrea Levin, Israel Project CEO Josh Block, and Dr. Charles Jacobs, whose organization, Americans for Peace and Tolerance, released the movie.
These interviews are layered with footage of J Street leaders and activists presenting their own views, creating an unfolding conversation between the various parties. Indeed, the documentary recreates for the viewer an accurate representation of the ongoing debate currently taking place between America’s Jewish community and its self-titled liberal Zionist fringe. Although in some instances, J Street claims are simply swatted with clips of Palestinians putting in their own words precisely what they think of peace and reconciliation with Israel.
J Street has long demanded that its views be debated publicly, and early on in the documentary Andrea Levin advocates that J Street should indeed be debated. In this way The J Street Challenge consciously sets out to directly confront J Street’s arguments and to ultimately defeat them on their own terms.
The group’s critics slam the legitimacy of the notion that liberal Jews in America can claim to know what is right for Israel better than Israelis do, taking J Street to task for its efforts to impact policy in Israel by bypassing the Israeli ballot box and instead lobbying for pressure from Washington. Gordis cuts to the heart of the J Street conceit when he points out, “None of us know what’s going to bring peace, none of us know what’s going to get the Palestinian side to make accommodations, the minute you’re absolutely certain that you have a monopoly on wisdom I think you stop listening.” The obsession with ending the conflict by ending the “occupation” is nicely taken down by Wisse, who retorts, “Since that so-called occupation was the consequence of the war against Israel, it cannot retroactively have become its cause.”
As the documentary wears on, exposed to this rather unforgiving dissection, the J Streeters almost begin to appear amusingly tragic. One J Street activist pleads that she supports J Street because she likes “creating good things in the world.” No match for Professor Wisse: “because they are so sensitive, and because they are so good-hearted … and wicked Israel is not as good hearted as I am. The stupidity of this kind of innocence in a world that is so complicated, when you belong to a people with such a tortured history of trying to arrive at the good in the midst of being persecuted and prosecuted falsely over so many centuries, I mean, its almost intolerable.”
What The J Street Challenge certainly exposes is the concerning way in which the J Street message risks having real traction with students. What this documentary does in response is to equip a broad public with the arguments by which to counter the supposedly sophisticated and morally superior arguments of liberals claiming to support Israel, while in reality only ever going out of their way to condemn it.