Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Is Judaism in US better than in Israel?

Many religious American Jews don’t want to make aliyah (emigration to Israel). They say Israel isn’t religiously ‘Jewish’ enough.
Forget the fact that our Sages have said, “whoever dwells in Eretz Yisrael [the land of Israel] is considered to be one who has a G-d, and whoever dwells outside of Eretz Yisrael [land of Israel] is considered to be one who is G-dless..as if he worships idols (Tractate Ketubot, 110b; translation per ArtScroll Daf Yomi edition, 2011).
It doesn’t matter. America’s Jews are stubborn. Israel isn’t G-dly enough. They’d rather live with a majority of non-Jews.
That non-Jewish majority may now turn against religious Jews. On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the US (SCOTUS) ruled by a 5-4 margin that same-sex marriage must now be the law of the land (of USA) (Allen West, “Why the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage could lead to civil war”, allenbwest.com, June 26, 2015).
This ruling could cause problems for Orthodox Jews and their Orthodox Rabbis. For example, to paraphrase West (ibid), what will happen when a gay couple goes to an Orthodox Rabbi and asks to be married?
You say, wait a minute: why would a gay couple go to an Orthodox Rabbi to ask to be married? The answer, of course,  is simple: to sue that Rabbi and his synagogue for breaking the law.
Do you think the gay community isn’t anti-Semitic?  You’re wrong (Warren Hoffman, “Antisemitism in the Gay Community”, Huffington Post, January 27, 2015). Do you think the gay community—and its supporters—don’t identify Judaism as anti-gay? You’re wrong (ibid).
For many in America, Jewish ‘people’ aren’t the only ‘Jewish problem’. For them, the religion of Judaism—along with the Christian religion—are also ‘the problem’: both religions oppose gay marriage.
Within the religious Jewish community in America, both the Orthodox Agudat Israel of America and the Orthodox Union (OU)—the two top organizations for religious American Jews—understood immediately what this Court ruling could mean to religious Judaism. In a statement that came out the same day the ruling was announced, the Agudat Israel of America warned that its members face ‘moral opprobrium and were in danger of ‘tangible negative consequences’ if ‘[religious Rabbis and institutions] refuse to transgress their beliefs’ (Seth Lipsky, “U.S. gay marriage ruling puts Orthodox Jews on collision course with American law”, Haaretz, June 28, 2015).
Those ‘tangible negative consequences’ could well include expensive lawsuits. There will certainly be lawsuits as a result of this ruling because this decision opens a horrible ‘pandora’s box’: it could turn into a Constitutional nightmare.
It pits same-sex marriage against the Constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion (ibid). This new ruling means that a religious clergyperson, when confronted by a gay marriage request, can now obey either the law of the land or his religion. He has no other options.
This ruling will also create absurdity, and that’s not going to be good for those who are religious. For example, the ink on the ruling has hardly dried, but we’ve already seen the first absurdity: when Orthodox Jewish youth in New York City decided to protest a pro-gay parade on June 28, 2015, their school wouldn’t let them go to the parade. The public reason for this refusal was that going to such a parade wasn’t appropriate. But, privately, with such a new ruling, there might have also been some legal concerns as well: was it legal for a school to allow the youth in its charge to protest what was now legal?
Would your school want to take the risk of finding out how that could fall out--in today's pro-gay climate?
Nevertheless, it appears that someone—we don’t know who—felt that protesting gay life was still important. So ‘someone’ sent surrogates to do the protesting (Alex Griswold, “Orthodox Jews Can’t Protest Gay Pride Parade, Hire Mexicans Instead”, mediaite, June 29, 2015). 
Yes, plainly Hispanic men, dressed in absurd costumes that looked like comic imitations of ultra-religious Jewish clothing, protested the parade. Of all the crazy costumes in that gay pride parade, these Hispanic protesters ended up wearing the oddest costumes of all (ibid).
That absurdity doesn’t make Orthodox Jews look like geniuses.
Our Talmud (ibid) says that “a person should always dwell in Eretz Yisrael [land of Israel] even if he has to dwell with a majority of idolators, and a person should not dwell outside of Eretz Yisrael [even among] a majority of Jews” (per the ArtScroll translation, Ketubot, 110b).
Do religious Jews in America reject their Sages' words?  I can’t answer that question. But they certainly appear to prefer living among a majority of non-Jews.
The gemara here is correct. It really is better to live in Israel.
Perhaps the SCOTUS is sending a message. Perhaps it’s time for religious Jews to make aliyah.

Will a Greek default destroy the EU--or be a non-event?

Greece is like an addict. It’s addicted to a socialist economy—lots of jobs, high tax for producers, free this and that for everyone.

The problem is, it can’t pay for what it provides. It lives beyond its means. It borrows money to live.

Now it owes billions. Its creditors, including the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have been lending money to Greece for the last several years—and they’re now hesitant to give more. If they do give more, they want Greece to cut back on its free-spending life-style.

Greece refuses. The current (Leftist) government was voted into office specifically to block creditors from intruding on Greece’s free-spending ways. Yes, Greece needs more money to keep from defaulting on its loans. But it won’t do as its creditors demand.

Greece’s total debt pushes 243 billion euros, or app 269 billion US dollars (“How much Greece owes to international creditors”, Reuters, June 28, 2015). Most of that debt appears to date back to 2010 (ibid). Since then, European governments, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the IMF have granted two major bailouts to keep Greece from defaulting (ibid). Most of the the remaining debt appears mostly to be in Greek-issued government bonds that are held by a variety of European banks (ibid). There appear to be other creditors as well (ibid).

Greece owes a ton of money. It’s got a 1.6 billion euro debt that comes due June 30, 2015. It’s obligated to pay off that debt. It can’t.

Big loans make complex contracts. 269 billion (USD) in loans make extremely complex contracts. No one knows what will happen if Greece won’t or can’t pay that 1.6 billion euro loan.

The best case scenario is, nothing happens. The EU and Greece will come up with a plan. The worst case scenario is, the entire EU economy house of cards collapses.

It’ll be a spectacular collapse. Germany's exposure for the two bailouts totals 57.23 billion euros (ibid). France's exposure is 42.98 billion (ibid). Italy's is 37.76 billion and Spain's 25.1 billion (ibid). Few countries have the ability to cover exposures this large without some sort of economic pain.

This situation is virgin territory for the EU. It’s also an economic minefield. One false step, and something will blow up in somebody’s face.

Now the June 30th deadline looms. Greece says it will hold a national referendum on July 5, 2015 on the question of accepting a bailout that requires belt-tightening. The Leftist government in Greece has reported that it will abide by the results of that vote (Alastair MacDonald, “In? Out? In between? A Greek legal riddle for EU”, Reuters, June 30, 2015).

For now, the EU has declared that if Greece doesn’t accept its bailout terms, Greece could be expelled from the EU (ibid). The Greeks, meanwhile, declare that Greece has no intention of quitting the EU—and cannot be forced out (ibid).

The original EU agreements that created both the EU and the concept called the ‘euro zone’ are clear: there is no provision for expelling a country from either (ibid). Apparently, the only document that discusses a country leaving is one created in 2009. But that only dealt with a country that requests leaving. Greece says it has no intention of doing that.

Also, the underlying concept of EU agreements all focused on stating that, in effect, the euro currency was forever. No one ever dreamed that a member country would ‘break the rules’ (ibid).


(I can’t help making a side-comment here. The EU acts as if G-d is liar when He said in the Torah that the borders of Israel, essentially, include all of Judea-Samaria. When the EU states that it's illegal for Jews to be in Judea-Samaria, it's saying G-d is wrong--or lying. Concerning Israel, the EU speaks as if its word is more perfect than G-d’s. But this ‘Greece problem’ demonstrates that the EU clearly doesn’t know how to create ‘perfect words’ that will last forever. If the EU can’t create a world for itself, why does it think it knows better than G-d regarding Israel?)

In this Greece-EU struggle, no one knows who’s got the upper hand. Does the EU hold Greece by the, ahem, with its threat of expulsion; or is it the other way around—does Greece have the upper hand with its legal challenge of, ‘you can’t touch me’; or, will each squeeze the other into a painful stalemate where both will suffer?

The EU thinks a lot of itself. But it’s ignorant. It knows nothing about Israel. It knows nothing about the words of G-d in the ‘Old Testament’. It knows nothing about the economic mess it’s gotten itself into. It’s clueless on all three issues.

If you want to know what happens when you give a lot of power to stupid, bigoted people, look at the EU.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Everyone attacks Israel. Fight back!

Man flexes his muscle to show his greatness. Man celebrates his power. He celebrates by attacking and humiliating Israel.

Apparently, attacking Israel has become the sport of nations. Bashing G-d’s Treasures (Israel and the Jewish people) has become the fad of the decade.

You don’t have to take all the bashing. You don’t have to feel personally assaulted, humiliated or shamed by anti-Israel and anti-Jewish attacks. You can fight back—at least, you can strike back. It doesn’t matter that your effort might be a small one. What counts is, you act.

Of course, if many of you take the same action (see below), your collective effort won’t be so small. Your collective effort could pick up enough steam to make a difference.
Will you make that effort?

The attempts to humiliate Israel are on the rise. The new 2015 UN Gaza Report just out condemns the world’s most moral army—the IDF (“Report of the detailed findings of the Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict”, ohchr. org, June 23, 2015). This hostile UN Report even calls upon countries to arrest travelling Israeli officials and IDF officers to try them as war criminals.

The so-called ‘Palestinian Authority’ joins the UN’s effort to humiliate and criminalize Israel: it has just submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC) official papers accusing Israel of war crimes (“Palestinians submit documents against Israel to ICC”, JTA, June 25, 2015). It aims to “prove” that Israel commits war crimes and crimes against humanity. It wants to make Israel the modern re-incarnation of Nazi Germany.

Then there's Iran. It wants to destroy Israel. It wants a nuclear weapon. It negotiates with the West. It demands ever more concessions.
A June 30, 2015 deadline approaches. The West seems eager to concede to Iran.

Last month, the website NGO Monitor revealed that the European Union (EU) pads its anti-Israel credentials by funding vicious anti-Israel Non-Government Organizations (NGOs). Some of these EU-funded groups promote anti-Semitic cartoons and have published claims that Jews use Christian blood to make Passover matzah (Alana Goodman, “Report: UN, European Governments Funding Anti-Israel Groups”, Washington Free Beacon, May 11, 2015). Others work actively in Israel to isolate and demonize Israel.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement tries to make economic war against Israel. It wants you to boycott Israel.

You are not without a voice in all of this. You can speak. You can vote. Indeed, you can vote with the most powerful weapon you possess: you dollars.

Don’t laugh. The world runs on your dollars. When you spend—or don’t spend—people listen.

Here are some suggestions. Most of these come from usastandswithisrael. This list is not exhaustive. It’s a start:

-Start or join a ‘Buy Israel’ group. As one example, go to buyisraelgoods. org. Go to your geographic area (if you’re in the USA). Look for Israeli products. In fact, even if you do not live in one of the locations listed, when you want to buy something specific, you can still find out what brand names to look for. Just click on a regional city near you, click on the product category you’re interested in, and identify brand names and retail outlets; some of those brands and outlets might be in your city/area. Your ‘buy Israel’ commitment will help fight the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. It will help Israel stay economically strong.

-If you don’t want to start a ‘buy Israel campaign’, then shop for Israeli product: wine, cheese, hummus, Israeli cosmetics and clothes designed by Israelis (ibid). Some of their names might show up on the lists discussed just above. Buy pharmaceuticals from Israeli companies such as Teva that make generic drugs (ibid). Buy SodaStream for your table.

-Boycott Europe. Take holidays in Israel. Don't take European vacations. Write the Consulates and tell them why you won't be coming to Europe this year (ibid).

-Boycott businesses that boycott Israel.  Boycott businesses that support pressuring Israel. Find ‘Contact us’ on their websites and tell them you won’t do business with them so long as they work to hurt Israel.
-Don't send your children to colleges where anti-Israel foment is rabid. Tell these schools you won't support any place that promotes hate and discrimination.
If you’re a businessman, put Europe at the end of the line when selling goods and services overseas. Certainly, if you sell innovative medical techniques, medications and technology (ibid), try not to sell into the EU. Let those Europeans know it's because the EU refuses to admit Jewish settlements are legal (ibid).

These are small, individual efforts. Individually, they don’t add up. But taken together, you’re talking millions of dollars, perhaps tens of millions—perhaps more.

Now it’s your turn. How would you add to this list?

If you’d make a different list, what would be on it?

Share your ideas. Fight back!


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Jewish history and more, according to American colleges

A reader has sent to me an essay. It’s good.

It’s from The Observer. Written by Paul Miller, it’s called, “Israel-Hating Professor Hired to Teach Class on Israel at U of Missouri”. It appeared June 24, 2015. The subtitle is, “U.S. Higher Education Goes Down the Rabbit Hole”. I’ve edited it to fit my format. Take a look:


“Would you let David Duke teach a class on African-American history? How about Anita Bryant starting an LGBTQ studies program?  This is almost incomprehensible . It’s got the makings of a Saturday Night Live skit. But this is no laughing matter. This insanity is a reality--and your children are being indoctrinated.

George Smith despises Israel. The University of Missouri (Mizzou) biology professor has called the creation of the Jewish State “a shameful chapter in Jewish history.” Smith finds humor in Hamas rocket attacks against Israeli citizens. When Sderot (Israel) resident Noam Bedein came to Mizzou to discuss the nearly 13,000 rockets Hamas has fired, killing and injuring the people of Sderot, Smith showed up and distributed fliers that mocked the attacks – justifying terrorism because the average Palestinian has to “go through a checkpoint every time he has to take a sh*t.”


But in their infinite wisdom, university officials at Mizzou felt that Smith’s decades-long history of denouncing the Jewish State and its right to exist did not disqualify him from being a fair and objective lecturer on Israel’s history. They also saw no need for him to have any formal education or expertise in Middle East studies. Smith, a scientist, was approved to teach … wait for it … “Perspectives on Zionism.”

Your eyes are not deceiving you. A class about Zionism, the belief that the Jewish people have a G-d-given right, affirmed by international law, to a country of their own and that that country belongs in the biblical Land of Israel, will be taught by a completely unqualified faculty member who calls the establishment of Israel the “Palestinian Holocaust.”

However, leave it to the students to see through a college’s progressive agenda and academic malfeasance to right a wrong.

As reported by JNS.org, “Perspectives on Zionism,” which was scheduled to be taught by self-proclaimed “post-Zionist and Nakba [catastrophe] Jew-in-law” George Smith, was nixed due to no enrollment, according to a June 10 announcement.

With Israel under siege on college campuses, often in the form of blatant anti-Semitism, don’t tell me no students were interested in this course. What happened was, students associated with pro-Israel organizations such as Christians United for Israel, StandWithUs and Students Supporting Israel sprang into action and educated their peers on the absurdly offensive nature of this course.

Where the Mizzou administrators failed, the students prevailed.

In keeping with the new tradition in academia of excusing anti-Semitism and the delegitimizing of Israel under the banner of “progressive thinking,” the University of California, Riverside was comfortable with blatant anti-Semites teaching a course on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Student Tina Matar, who heads the UCR chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, an organization dedicated to the elimination of Israel, was teaching the course. The course’s faculty sponsor was English professor David Lloyd, founder of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.

This class was so blatantly one-sided that the non-partisan Verity Educate, a non-profit group that analyzes the accuracy and objectivity of classroom curricula, determined that the course’s “written material, particularly Dr. Steven Salaita’s ‘Israel’s Dead Soul,’ raises extremely serious questions about whether the course itself contributes to anti-Semitism.”

The offensive nature of this course is part and parcel of the epidemic of anti-Semitism that has engulfed the 10-school UC education system in recent years, from Holocaust imagery appearing on campuses, to a Jewish student’s religious identity becoming an issue disqualifying her from serving on student government.

But we’re not just seeing anti-Semitism and disdain for Israel being promoted by academia. Apparently, beheading Christians, throwing gays off buildings and turning women into sex slaves is also hunky-dory.

As my colleague and professor emeritus Abraham H. Miller wrote last week in the Washington Times:

If you want to understand why academicians are often society’s court jesters, then the program titled, “ISIS – An Historical Perspective,” presented at the University of California, Santa Barbara last month, would have gone a long way toward providing an explanation.

Up to bat in defense of Islamic extremism and to absolve the Islamic State of the brutality that daily lacerates the sensitivities of civilized human beings were assistant professor of history Sherene Seikaly and her colleague, professor Adam Sabra.

Billed as seeking to “contextualize” ISIS formation and actions, the two professors engaged in nonsense that should have incited the audience to question how they ever were awarded degrees.

Seikaly and Sabra are in good company when it comes to excusing terrorism and blaming America. Earlier this month Drexel University in Philadelphia gave an honorary degree to Noam Chomsky. The MIT linguistics professor (emeritus) has embraced, literally, the Iranian terror group Hezbollah and has called the principles of Hamas as “preferable to the policies of America and Israel.” Hamas charter calls for the annihilation of the Jewish State and Jewish people.

“That’s the reason they’re called lessons,” the Gryphon remarked: “because they lessen from day to day.” – Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

By the way, your kid’s tuition payment is due next month.



2015 UN Gaza Report: Hamas and IDF are not moral equals

The 2015 UN Report on the 2014 Gaza-Israel war (“Report of the detailed findings of the Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict”, ohchr. org) is an attempt to identify war crimes committed in that war. It treats Israel and Hamas as moral equals (Shahar Azani, “The world’s betrayal of Israel,” Huffington Post, June 24, 2015).  They are not.

The very fact that this UN study treats Israel and Hamas as moral equals signals to you that the Commission which wrote this Report doesn’t understand the challenges of modern war. It doesn’t understand the laws of war (called, International Humanitarian Law, or IHL), Israel’s commitment to those laws—or the extent to which Hamas violates those laws.

Look at modern war. In the 21st Century, war is a very complicated business. It’s no longer just a military endeavour. Those days are gone.

The only way an army can avoid committing war crimes today is to commit to the laws of war (IHL). Today, an army needs more than an expertise in weapons, manpower allocation and strategy to step onto a battlefield. It needs legal expertise.

The IDF has that expertise (Willy Stern, “Attorneys at War: Inside an elite Israeli military law unit”, The Weekly Standard, June 15, 2015). Hamas does not. That’s one reason the IDF and Hamas are not moral equals.

One doesn’t have to be some kind of moral rocket scientist to understand this distinction. Nevertheless, the Commission which wrote this UN Report appears clueless about it.

In the West, most armies are not up to speed on making modern warfare ‘legal’ (ibid). If tested, they’d fail the legal part of warfare (ibid).

There are few armies in the world prepared to go to war legally. Around the world, many argue that Israel has one of the best—if not the best--military capacity to follow the laws of war (ibid).

Hamas has no such capacity. This is another reason Hamas and the IDF are not moral equals. But regarding this distinction, this UN Commission is clueless.

If the Commission which wrote this document was competent, it would start its Report with the most basic of moral war requirements: an army which is moral must drill its personnel at every level on how to fight within the laws of war. There is simply no other way to fight a war ‘legally’.

Israel commits to such drill. Hamas does not.

This is another reason Hamas and the IDF are not moral equals. Regarding this moral training requirement, this UN Commission is clueless.

Think about the importance of moral training in war. Every time a combatant shoots at anyone, he runs the risk of committing an illegal act—a war crime. The laws of war (IHL) are that strict. Yes, IHL certainly permits a combatant to shoot. But a combatant has that legal permission only under specific, pre-determined conditions. If he does not meet those conditions, he commits a war crime. If he never learned about those conditions, he will commit war crimes. If he was told what those conditions were but never trained in them, he will commit war crimes.

Israel’s officers and soldiers are trained how to operate within those conditions. Hamas offers no such training. Regarding this distinction, the Commission is clueless.

The IDF and Hamas are not moral equals.

Battle commanders operate with even stricter rules. If a battle commander doesn’t understand the conditions within which he must work, he, too, will commit war crimes (ibid).

Hamas doesn’t train its commanders how to operate within those conditions. The IDF does.

Hamas and the IDF are not moral equals.

Regarding how commanders must be trained to fight morally, this UN Commission is clueless. It thinks Hamas and the IDF are morally equal.

Hamas fighters have no ethical training. IDF soldiers do. Hamas commanders have no commitment to follow ethical rules. IDF commanders do. Hamas has no infrastructure in place to help commanders fight within the laws of IHL. IDF does.

Hamas and the IDF are not moral equals.

The Commission suggests that it knows about laws of war (IHL). But it’s clueless about how these laws work in war.

Here now is a very tiny glimpse at how Israel fights its wars according to the laws of war. This is just one example. As you read, you should keep in mind that no other army in the world (ibid) fights this way (the following is a long excerpt  from the Willy Stern essay, above):

Look at two documents. The first is from the IDF. The second is from Hamas.

The first document is an IDF ‘target card’. It’s used when commanders prepare strikes against enemy targets.

The cards contain a wealth of information about each target from intelligence and operations units. Before any attack can go forward, IDF legal advisers have to sign off on that card. These lawyers must put their own check mark on the card—they call it a ‘tick’—indicating that it’s a lawful target.

At that point the target is approved. It’ll go forward unless the commander himself nixes it.

Hamas has no such protocol. It uses no lawyers. When Hamas attacks, it has no idea if its attack is legal or not. It doesn’t even care if an attack is legal.

Hamas and the IDF are not moral equals. The Commission, however, believes they are. The Commission is clueless.

How can any military win a war when it decides to fight with lawyers having the right to cancel every attack? The question is irrelevant. This is how Israel fights.

The Commission is clueless.

In Gaza, the IDF prepared and used more than 4,000 of these target cards for strikes during the 50-day conflict in July-August 2014. An attorney had to put a ‘tick’ on every attack that met their standards before it could start (I understand that, due to battlefield conditions, there are times when deliberation is impossible; an attack must be initiated within seconds. I understand also that battle commanders who work with lawyers during battle do have the discretion to act in such split-second situations—and do so legally).

The second document is from Hamas. It’s not an ethics manual. It’s not for verifying the legality of actions in battle. It’s a ‘doctrine manual’ prepared by Hamas. It was captured by IDF ground forces in Shejaiya, Gaza in early August, 2014. The document advocates that fighters embed themselves among Gazan innocents, in the hope that the IDF will kill civilians” (ibid).

Hamas and Israel are not moral equals. It’s an absurdity to suggest they are. If the Commission which wrote this Report fails to understand this distinction, it has no business investigating for war crimes. It doesn’t understand the first thing about ethical war.





Friday, June 26, 2015

Ramadan, Religion, sports and Jew-hate

Ramadan has begun. It’s a major Muslim month-long period of fast and feast. This year, it began June 18th. It will end July 17th.
This holy month is supposed to “help teach Muslims self-discipline, self-restraint and generosity” (“Ramadan 2015: when does it end and tips for fasting”, The Week, June 24, 2015). It’s also a season of sport in the Palestinian Authority.
During the month of Ramadan, Palestinian Authority (PA) youth will be playing a football tournament in the PA town Abu Dis, east of Jerusalem—not too far from where I live. Some of the participants will be playing on teams named after terrorists who have killed Israeli civilians, mostly Jews. For the PA, this is called, creating role models for kids (Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, “Palestinian sports teams named after terrorists”, PalestinianMediaWatch, June 25, 2015).
Here’s a look at some of teams in the PA sports league playing in the football (soccer) tournament:
 -“The Martyr Abu Jihad team” (Abu Jihad was responsible for deaths of 125 people);
-“The Martyr Khaled Nazzal team” (Nazzal was responsible for the 1974 Ma’alot massacre, where 22 schoolchildren and 5 adults were killed);
-“The Martyr Abu Ali Mustafa” (Ali Mustafa was responsible for many terror attacks);
-“The Mutaz Hijazi team” (this terrorist shot and attempted to murder Rabbi Glick in November, 2014) (source for these names: Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, June 23, 2015).
How would you like your children to play for teams named after killers and those who died trying to kill?  Would you want your child playing for a team named after the 9/11 attackers?
It’s an absurd question. But for the PA, it’s the way things work. There’s nothing absurd about it at all.
The PA has been presenting murderous terrorists as heroes to children (by naming tournaments after them) for some time now. It’s a long-standing policy of the Palestinian Authority--and Fatah. Palestinian Media Watch (pmw) has documented this policy. You can track a decade’s worth of ‘killer naming incidents’ on the pmw Homepage, under “The Palestinian World, Sports”.  
The policy is incitement. It trains Arab youth to honour Jew-killers. It ennobles Jew-killers. It makes Jew-killers famous to impressionable children.
Supposedly, the PA has pledged to stop all kind of incitement against Jews. Clearly, it hasn’t.
Here’s a Modest Proposal. The PA has often said there can be no peace with Israel until Israel accepts the return into Israel of some 4.5 million ‘refugees’. Well, perhaps Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should make a demand of his own: Israel will not negotiate anything with the PA until Fatah and Hamas end their Jew-hate incitement, Jew-hate sermons, Jew-hate TV programs and Jew-hate-filled educational curriculums (if you want to see what this ugliness looks like, go to palestinianmediawatch and surf through its Homepage, also under the heading, “The Palestinian World”).
If there’s to be peace, let’s be serious about peace. Let’s stop the Jew-hate. Let’s stop incitement.
Otherwise, there’ll never be peace.

Iran, Obama and Israel: a Gemara lesson?

The word, Gemara, is an Aramaic word that typically refers to the Jewish Talmud. The Talmud is the Jewish Oral Tradition. This Oral tradition explains and is the legal commentary on the Torah (“Judaism: The Oral Law—Talmud and Mishna (jewishvirtuallibrary, no date). Without it, much of the Torah appears vague or unclear. With it, our Jewish religion comes to life.

But the word, Gemara, also has a more specific meaning. You see, the Talmud has two parts, the Mishna and the Gemara. The Mishna is a compilation of laws gathered from the Torah, along with minority opinions, value statements and observations about those Torah references (ibid). The Gemara follows a Mishna quote. It is a compilation and collection of oral discussions about the contents of that particular quote. These discussions cover each detail of that Mishna citation.

A Mishna might be ten lines long. The Gemara discussion might be ten pages long—or longer.  

For centuries, these discussions had been oral. But they were finally organized and written down over a period of time some 1500-1600 years ago.

The Talmud's discussions are recorded in a consistent format (ibid). For example, a law from the Mishna is cited. This is then followed by rabbinic deliberations on its meaning (those ten+ pages). These rabbinic discussions are called, ‘the Gemara’ (ibid).

When someone refers to ‘a Gemara’, he is referring to one of those rabbinic discussions. One such discussion in the Tractate, Sotah (8b), begins with a statement in a Mishna (ibid, 8b) which states, “According to the measure with which one measures out [his actions], [the Heavenly tribunal] measure for him [in return]”.  The need for these brackets is to fill in the remaining parts of a statement; this stylistic uniqueness is commonplace in the Oral tradition. This is why it is not recommended to study the Talmud alone. One could misstate or misunderstand what is written. It takes at least two people searching commentary together to figure out the meaning of what is written.

This is also why the ArtScroll edition of the Talmud has become so popular. It provides the individual student the commentary and background information necessary to understand the basics of what’s happening on each line of the Talmud.

According to the ArtScroll edition of the Talmud, this quoted statement above (Sotah, 8b) means that, “in whatever manner one conducts oneself, Divine Judgment deals with him in a similar manner” (ibid, 8b2-2, Note 15). This is known as ‘measure-for-measure’. The ArtScroll commentary adds that ‘G-d treats a person in this way so that he will recognize that [what happens to him] was a reward or punishment directed by Divine Providence’ (ibid).

This particular Gemara excerpt reminds me of US President Barack Obama’s dealings with Israel and Iran. Look at his behaviour: concerning Israel, Mr Obama has gone on record to state he is Israel’s best friend (Coleen Curtis, “President Obama Tells Israeli People: The U.S Is Proud to Be ‘Your Strongest Ally and Your Greatest Friend’", The White House Blog, March 20, 2013). He has said that the “U.S. has Israel's back and that it would initiate a military strike on Iran if Tehran failed to pull the plug on its nuclear arms program” (Amrutha Gayathri, “Is President Obama Israel's Best Friend?”, International Business Times, March 7, 2012).

But since making these statements, Mr Obama has worked to betray Israel (Rachel Levy, “Obama Aides Lay Groundwork to Betray Israel at UN Security Council”, The Jewish Press, March 21, 2015). Despite his professions of friendship with Israel, he’s “constantly proven that he is not a friend to Israel” (Shawn Hannity transcript, “Is President Obama betraying Israel?”, Fox News, March 2, 2015).

-Obama has repeatedly stated that ‘settlements’ are ‘illegitimate’ and must stop (actually, this isn’t just a betrayal of Israel, it’s a betrayal of the Torah, which states that the Jewish people are to ‘settle’ Israel—a ‘settlement’ process that includes that same Judea-Samaria which Obama calls ‘illegitimate’ and which the Torah calls ‘Israel’) (ibid).

-Obama refused to have his picture taken with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—and walked out of a dinner meeting with Netanyahu (ibid), abandoning Netanyahu without comment.

-Obama was caught on an open microphone exchanging with then-French president Nicholas Sarkozy derogatory remarks about Netanyahu (ibid).

-During the 2014 war with Gaza, Obama didn’t ‘have Israel’s back’, but was instead highly critical of Israel (ibid).

-As a result of actions by Obama, relations with Israel have never been worse (ibid).

With regards to Iran, you saw in the quote above (Amrutha Gayathri, above) that Obama has said he’d attack Iran if Iran didn’t ‘pull the plug’ on its nuclear ambitions. He also gave Israel’s Netanyahu his personal commitment “to do whatever it takes to prevent Iran from producing an atomic bomb” (Jeffrey Goldberg, “Obama's Crystal-Clear Promise to Stop Iran From Getting a Nuclear Weapon”, The Atlantic, October 2, 2012).

Now, Obama is proposing to allow Iran’s nuclear facilities to stay in place. He’s also, it seems, agreed in secret documents to deliver to Iran “high-tech reactors and other state-of-the-art equipment” that would “modernize and improve Iran’s nuclear program” (Adam Kredo, “Iran demands more nuclear concessions”, Washington Free Beacon,” June 24, 2015).

That’s not keeping a promise. That’s betraying a promise.

Iran has stated repeatedly—even during these nuclear negotiations—that its intent is to destroy Israel. Any assistance the US gives to the Iranian nuclear program is a direct threat against Israel. It’s also a signal that Obama has not been the friend to Israel he has said he is.

In the Tractate Sotah (11a), we learn how G-d measures out punishment to a gentile leader (Pharaoh) according to how that leader measured out his own actions towards the Jews.

If you live in America, here’s a piece of advice. Think about Obama’s behaviour. Think about what happened to Pharaoh in the Exodus story. Then, make aliyah. Come to Israel. Walk away from one who betrays the Jewish nation.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The dangers of writing about the new UN Report on Gaza

By now you know the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has published its new Report on the Gaza-Israel war of 2014 (“Report of the detailed findings of the Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict”, ohchr. org). If you read this blog, you’ve seen more than one essay about this Report. You know (shudder) there will be more.
If a writer is sensitive about maintaining high readership numbers, writing about this Report could be dangerous. The topic doesn’t seem to attract readers. It seems to repel readers. At least, that’s my short-term experience.
Is that true? Do these stories repel you—or keep you away?
I can think of only one reason pro-Israel readers could be repelled by such essays: they already know that a Report from the UNHRC will be biased, one-sided and prejudiced against Israel. They know what the Report’s conclusions will be. Therefore, why should they read about something when they already know the beginning, middle and end of it?
It’s a good question. I hope my readers won’t abandon this blog because I’ve stubbornly chosen to continue to beat this toxic topic.
I’ve got a number of essays to write about this story. I’m going to do that because I believe more writers should take on the Report. Confront it. Point out why it can’t stand a simple truth test. Show where it fails. Show how these Israel-haters think. Show how they misrepresent law to criminalize Israel.
Rip off their mask of professionalism. Let the world see how venal they are.
Talk about how this Report hurts the world more than it hurts Israel (I’ve hinted at this in today’s post below). Beat it to the death it deserves so that no one will dare do it again.
Nevertheless, despite such bravado, I don’t want to frighten away my readers. For me, that would be self-defeating. I don’t want my readers to look elsewhere for analysis and news comment. I want to stay on your ‘go-to’ list.
So I’ve got a plan. If you’re tired of ‘THE REPORT’, I’ll help you. I’m going to try to give you something each day that is NOT ‘UN REPORT’. Each day I write, I’ll try to publish a non-UN story.
In addition, each time I do publish a ‘UN REPORT’ story, I’ll try to make sure that, if you don’t care to read it, you’ll have something else to read here instead.
I want you to have a fresh reason each day to visit the blog. I’d be pleased if you’ll stay with me.

The 2015 UN Gaza Report undermines law and order

Law is an attempt to establish order. It creates order by setting out what’s right and what’s wrong. It codifies those rights and wrongs through rules we call, the law.

If one refuses to abide by those laws, or in some manner wilfully ignores them, then one violates the law. One qualifies to be punished for that violation.

If order is to be maintained, violators must be punished. Otherwise, no one will obey the law. Order will evaporate.

Those who work with law face three challenges. First, they’ve got to write laws that actually work in the real world. Second, they’ve got to encourage people to follow that law. Third, they’ve got to figure out how to discourage those who refuse to accept that law; they need to calculate a set of consequences for not abiding by the law.

These requirements apply to your hometown. They apply on the international stage. They apply anywhere peace is threatened.

The worse thing law-makers can do is to condemn those who obey laws while, at the same time, they give law-breakers what amounts to a slap on the wrist. That will never promote peace. It will empower lawlessness.

In your hometown, that would mean more robberies. On the international stage, it means more terror.

This is what the UN does with its 2015 Report on the 2014 Gaza war. It appears to condemn the law-abider and the terrorist equally. But it finds more fault with the law-abider. 

In today’s world, where terror increases dramatically and peace is threatened by lawless ruthlessness, this UN Report disincentivises obeying the law. It makes the terrorist arrogant.

Arrogant terrorists do not spread peace. Criminalizing the law-abiding does not support ‘order’.

Israel has a well-earned reputation for its adherence to the laws of war (Willy Stern, “Attorneys at War: Inside an elite Israeli military law unit”, The Weekly Standard”, June 15, 2015). It has a track record in this area (ibid). Even the International Committee of the Red Cross (icrc), the world’s promoter of laws of war, has acknowledged that Israel’s military, the IDF, conforms to the stricter definitions of those laws of war (‘Customary IHL, Practice, By Country, Israel, Rule 14’, icrc.org/customary-ihl, no date).

Hamas, on the other hand, rejects those laws. Richard Goldstone, who led a 2009 UN Commission that vilified Israel, suggested as much in an essay where he actually recanted his original 2009 anti-Israel conclusions (Richard Goldstone, “Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and war crimes”, Washington Post, April 1, 2011). Still,Hamas laughs at the Report as Israel gets hammered.

The laws of war are designed to protect civilians. But international commitment to those laws will weaken if the UN vilifies a conforming national army after it has fought a lawless enemy.

Civilians also suffer when the UN bashes a conforming national army. They suffer dearly every time terrorists believe they have gained advantage from being lawless.

This UN Report will bring suffering to civilians. It emboldens terror.

Israel is the world’s most law-abiding army (Stern, ibid). If it is hammered after using IHL in war, how will less-legally sophisticated national armies be judged when they fight terror? The answer frightens Western armies.

To give you a sense of the gap between how Israel uses the laws of war versus everyone else in the world, consider this criticism from an expert on military law from Germany: he says, yes, Israel goes to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties in Gaza (Stern, ibid). But he criticizes Israel nonetheless—for an important reason.

He believes that the IDF is taking many more precautions than are required by IHL and in doing so, he fears the IDF is setting an unreasonable precedent [my emphasis] for other democratic countries of the world who may soon find themselves fighting in asymmetric wars against brutal non-state actors who abuse these laws (ibid).

Think about what he’s saying. He’s not criticizing Israel—as the UN does in this Report—for not abiding by IHL. He crtiticizes Israel for being too good at applying the law.

He’s not the only military expert who thinks this way (ibid). When Pnina Sharvit Baruch, a former IDF attorney (ibid), attends legal conferences around the world, she says she faces ‘recurring claims’ from other militaries’ legal advisers that the IDF “is going too far [my emphasis] in its self-imposed restrictions intended to protect civilians, and that this may cause trouble down the line for other democratic nations fighting organized armed groups” (ibid).

There is an unbelievable disconnect here. The Human Rights world sees Israel as a brutal killer which does not in any way abide by IHL. Other Western armies, however (who understand war and IHL), see Israel as going so frighteningly far to abide by the laws of war, they fear that their own armies in future wars will be judged by Israel’s standards—and they’ll come up wanting.

Their fear is simple. If Israel, the recognized standard-setter for applying IHL in war, is criminalized, what will happen to us, who are not now able to reach Israel’s legal skill-level?

The UN is destroying Western military confidence. At a time when war against terror could erupt at any moment, the UN’s assault on a legal war-leader (Israel) is suicidal. It gives the terrorist the confidence to attack the West.

Of course, if Israel is so law-abiding, why did it destroy so many civilian homes, and why did it kill so many civilians?

I’ll answer those two questions next week in two separate essays.

Just remember: Israel does a better job obeying IHL in war than any other country—I’ll talk about how Israel does that in one or two other essays, as well.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The 2015 UN Report on Gaza: it's a 'balagan'

I have a problem. While reading over the 2015 UN Report on the 2014 Gaza-Israel war, I got frustrated. It's badly conceived. It's badly executed. It's what Israelis call, a 'balagan'--a mess. 

I ended up doing something I’ve never done: I found myself writing three different essays at the same time, going back-and-forth between them as I found more ‘evidence’ in this and that part of the Report.

That’s called multi-tasking. That normally doesn’t work for me and it certainly didn't work for me here.

In the end, I finished the day with none of the three essays completed.  I found myself with my own 'balagan'—my own mess.

I hope to sort through that mess tomorrow. But my schedule tomorrow takes me away from my work for part of the day; I don’t know if things will turn out any better tomorrow.

So I’ll share this with you: based on what I’ve seen so far, I’d say that the Commission that wrote this Report doesn’t understand how the laws of war (called, International Humanitarian Law, or IHL) work in the real world and, as a result, builds a damaging-sounding but flawed case against Israel. The Commission also  doesn’t understand history and, as a result of that, misuses history to make an anti-Israel assertion upon which to build that flawed anti-Israel case.

On top of all that, the Commission makes a recommendation that could, in theory, create havoc for Israeli officials and diplomats. It’s an uncalled-for recommendation. It doesn’t promote peace in the Middle East; instead, it floats the idea of all-out legal war—against the Jewish state.

I’ll talk about these accusations in those essays I’m trying to finish. In the end, I hope to suggest that, as a result of pure incompetence, this Commission has produced a document that will not delegitimize Israel. But the incompetence will have an unintended consequence: it will so soil the reputation of the United Nations, it will begin the process of delegitimizing the United Nations itself.

That’s how unprofessional this Report is.

Stay tuned.





Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The 2015 UN Report on the 2014 Gaza-Israel war

I’m so angry I could spit. The 2015 UN Report on the 2014 Gaza-Israel war that just came out is a piece of garbage. It’s more anti-Israel propaganda than investigation. It’s supposed to investigate what happened in Gaza in 2014 according to the laws of war. But it seems to know nothing about how those laws actually work.

On June 22, 2015, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) issued a long-awaited report on a UN-run study into the 2014 war between Gaza and Israel (“Report of the detailed findings of the Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict”). The Report is long—close to two hundred pages.

The Commission completed more than 280 interviews. It received more than 500 written statements and documents (“Report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict”, p. 4, paragraph 8). Nevertheless, it fails.

The Commission begins this Report with a statement that immediately signals trouble. The Report says, “The commission [which wrote the Report] considers that, in situations of armed conflict or occupation, international humanitarian law [IHL] and international human rights law apply concurrently” (ibid, p.4, paragraph 12).

This statement sounds innocent enough. But it’s not innocent. It’s where the UN goes wrong. It’s where the UN corrupts the laws of war.

The UN Commission here says it will apply Human Rights Law and Laws of war (IHL) concurrently. What they aren’t telling you is that Human Rights Law and IHL are two very distinctive bodies of law that are often in conflict. The conflict is, Human Rights Law seeks Maximum Safety for civilians; civilians are to be protected at all times. IHL, however, allows for civilian death to occur in war, even ‘accidental’ death.

These sets of laws conflict on a more fundamental level. The basic premise of Human Rights law is safety and security for civilians, their property and their living environments. The basic premise of war is destruction. 

How does this UN Commission apply Human Rights law and IHL concurrently?  It doesn’t.  

That’s the problem. The UN says it will apply IHL and Human Rights law at the same time. This Report is that effort. But this Report doesn’t reveal concurrency. It reveals that the whole concept of concurrency fails, especially when—as here--it’s used to propagandize against one of the combatants.  

For example, in 2014, when civilians died in certain Gazan apartment buildings during an Israeli attack, the Commission studied what had happened. In the process of doing that, it short-changed the laws of war. It misrepresented the laws of war. It used its version of concurrency to demonize Israel. It bastardized IHL to build a biased case against Israel.

Here’s how that bastardization process worked. This case is just one of many such instances you’ll see in this Report.

In the particular incident referred to above, several buildings in Gaza were apparently destroyed by an Israeli attack. The Commission looked at the civilian death toll from that attack. It admitted it had found evidence the buildings might have had a military significance (ibid, p.4 paragraph 39).

That’s important. IHL requires that, when civilians are present, a target must have military significance. Otherwise, civilian deaths related to an attack could be war crimes.

But immediately after the Commission acknowledged the building could have been a legitimate military target, it did something the International Committee of the Red Cross (icrc) suggests one shouldn’t do: it second-guessed the motivation of the attacker (the IDF) (“Customary IHL, Practice, By Country, Israel, Rule 14”. Icrc. org/customary-ihl, no date): it stated that it was in no position to determine if the IDF attack on those apartment buildings actually had a military reason (ibid).

This statement has, by definition, no basis in fact. What’s it doing in a Report that’s supposed to be fact-based?  Why does the Commission second-guess what the IDF thought, especially when the icrc has expressed a cautionary warning against doing that in an IHL matter? Why suggest that a possible military target was not a military target?

If there was a purpose to such speculation, that purpose wasn’t made clear. But the speculation certainly prejudices a reader against Israel. It raises the possibility that Israeli attacks in Gaza did not have military purpose.

What’s curious about this speculation is that the Commission, in the very next sentence, says, “It appears that the potential targets [in those buildings] were mostly individuals who were or who could have been present in the building at the time it was hit, presumably on account of their alleged links to the police, Hamas or an armed group” (ibid). That suggests that the IDF did have reason to believe that bona fide military targets were in those buildings. So why, in the previous sentence, did the Commission suggest the buildings might not have been bona fide military targets?

The Report never says. Yet, the Commission includes this sort of anti-Israel speculation repeatedly throughout the Report. It strikes me as a form of subliminal suggestion—against Israel. It has no place in a professional, fact-based Report.

Such suggestion is not the essence of an objective investigation. It’s the essence of an attempt to influence the reader to a pre-determined conclusion.

Is that the UN goal here?

In the next sentence, the Commission took the trouble to parse for you its interpretation of IHL. It stated, “international law provides that persons may be targeted only [my emphasis] if they participate directly in hostilities or are members of organized armed groups with a continuous combat function” (ibid).

The key word here is, ‘only’. It suggests that if the IDF had no knowledge that individuals in those buildings were participating directly in hostilities or were part of a group that maintained ‘a continuous combat function’, it had no legal right to hit those buildings.

Again, what purpose—other than to raise suspicions against Israel—does such a statement serve?  This is an important question because this interpretation of IHL is absolutely false.

It reveals a complete ignorance of how IHL is supposed to work.

The IDF military commander who ordered that attack is under no legal obligation to know for a fact that people in those buildings ‘actively participated in hostilities or were members of a combat group’ in order to be legally able to attack.

Yes, that IDF commander does have legal requirements he must meet before he attacks. But none of them have to do with knowing precisely the military standing of people in that building: first, he must have a military objective when attacking those buildings. Second, he must have ‘reasonable’ belief that the buildings contain a military significance. Third, he must calculate, at his discretion, if potential incidental civilian casualties are proportionate to the military objective he hopes to accomplish with an attack.

He is not required to have direct evidence of anything or anyone in those buildings. He must simply demonstrate ‘reasonableness’ for his decision-making.

To help him reach that ‘reasonableness’, the IDF places lawyers specially trained in this subject at the point of command. Those lawyers make sure that the commanders’ ‘reasonableness’ meets standards established by the IDF.

Hamas has no such lawyers. Hamas does not follow any IHL requirements. Hamas does not require reasonableness when its commanders order an attack against Israel. Hamas uses no lawyers specially trained in IHL code. Hamas does not require that targets must have a military significance. Hamas, in other words, violates IHL requirements with virtually every battle decision it makes. Israel conforms to IHL requirements—and has records to prove it.

The Commission neglected to mention the existence of these two very different legal realities. These realities make the IDF and Hamas two very, very different combatants in the eyes of IHL. One, Israel, conforms to IHL requirements. It really does ‘follow the laws of war’.

The other combatant, Hamas, flaunts IHL. It rejects any pretence at legality in war.

That distinction alone should focus the Commission’s attention on Hamas’ performance in war. But it doesn’t. Instead, the Commission focused on misapplying IHL, misrepresenting facts (I’ll talk more about this later this week)—and using subliminal suggestion--to cast suspicion on Israel.

That’s not using IHL to determine what happened in Gaza. That’s using a bastardized interpretation of IHL to harm Israel.

I’ll have more to say later in the week.


Israeli Leftists, Israeli ‘art’ and Muslim comedians

Once upon a time (during the Spring-Summer of 2015), there was an Arab-language theatre in the coastal Israeli city of Haifa. This theatre employed actors for plays produced at the theatre. This theatre received money from the state of Israel, specifically from the Minister of Culture. This theatre wanted to produce a play about an Arab terrorist.

In the 1980s, this terrorist was part of a ‘Palestinian’ group that kidnapped an Israeli soldier who was hitch-hiking. According to news reports, these terrorists held the soldier captive for several days. They then murdered the soldier by mutilation, gouging out his eyes before cutting off parts of his body starting with his genitals and then shooting him (Eliran Aharon, “Leftists Protest 'Being Silenced' at Theater Award Ceremony”, Arutz Sheva, June 19, 2015). One of these terrorists apparently now serves a life sentence in an Israeli prison. The play is supposedly about his life in prison.

The playwright, who has an Arab-sounding name, wrote the paly because, he said, the terrorist subject of the play ‘inspired’ him (Judah Ari Gross, “Culture minister defunds Arab theatre hosting controversial play”, Times of Israel, June 16, 2015). Does that mean the play was ‘political’?

In Israel, almost everything associated with ‘Palestinians’ is political. Was that true here?

The family of the murdered soldier said, yes it was. They claimed the play glorified terror against Israel (ibid). They felt that such a play should not be supported by State of Israel funding (ibid).

The management of the theatre and the play’s director said, no. There was no glorification in the play (ibid). They said it’s just a fictionalized account of daily prison life for ‘Palestinians’ (ibid).

There are NGOs (Non-Government Organizations) in Israel which work very hard to report to the UN that Israel tortures ‘Palestinians’ in Israeli prisons. Any play about prison life for ‘Palestinians’ could therefore be very political, especially if anyone connected with the play thought of himself as ‘political’.

Somewhere near the beginning of this story, there were national elections in Israel. It pitted the political Left against the political Right. Campaigning got intense. Just before the election, Left-wing artists and playwrights gave speeches in which they depicted Right-wing voters as religious “amulet kissers” who bow down to the “graves of wise men” (Joshua Mitnick, “Culture War Erupts Over Arts Funding “, Jewish Week, June 27, 2015). The Leftist political party for whom these Leftist artists and playwrights were speaking lost the election. The Rightist Likud won.



After the election, a new Culture Minister was appointed. The woman appointed wasn‘t a Leftist. She was known to be a very strong Right-wing politician.

Oops, again.

Right-wing politicians in Israel do not usually support activities they consider to help, support or make stars of Israel’s enemies. They are strongly protective of Israel, which means that producing a play about a brutal Jew-killer wouldn’t normally be found on any of their top-ten to-do lists.

That’s why, somewhere in this story, the new Culture Minister chaffed at supporting what she felt was a ‘subversive work that delegitimized Israel’ (Times of Israel, ibid).

Leftists in Israel don’t like Right-wing politicians. Therefore, near the end of this story, artists, playwrights and others held an emergency meeting of ‘cultural leaders’, presumably to discuss the new Minister’s attitudes and statements. At that meeting, an Israeli actor got angry. He referred to Right-wing Likud voters as a herd of ‘beasts’ (ibid).

Didn’t he know the new Culture Minister is a member of the Rightist Likud party?

Apparently, this actor didn’t care. All he seemed to care about was that the ‘beasts’ were opposing ‘art’.

Somewhere else in this story, the Chairman of the Israel Arts and Culture Council spoke to the management of the theatre (ibid). The Chairman has since reported two items of interest. First, the theatre management could not or would not identify the sources of its funding. Second, the manager of the theatre told the Chairman that the theatre was, ‘political’ (ibid).


To the surprise of only the Leftists, this Chairman recommended that state funds to the theatre be cut off. There were too many ‘irregularities’, he said, in the theatre’s funding.

On June 16, 2015, the Rightist Likud Member/Culture Minister—one of the supposed ‘beasts’--froze the theatre’s funding. Not surprisingly, Leftists squealed. They claimed they were ‘being silenced’ (Arutz Sheva, ibid).

Meanwhile, another play got silenced, cancelled for being subversive. This play, however, wasn’t in Israel. It was in Ramallah, the capital city of the ‘Palestinian Authority’. It was cancelled because of the following scene:

Two members of the Islamic State kill two Muslims who in their opinion weren’t knowledgeable enough about religion. Then they argue about which of them gets to kill a Christian they had also captured, because the killing of a Christian gets you extra points on Judgment Day.

Meanwhile, the Christian has a heart attack. The two ISIS guys beg him to hold on until they can kill him, ‘after which you can go to hell’ (Oudeh Basharat, “No room for free speech for Israeli Arabs – and Israel isn't to blame”, Haaretz, May 18, 2015).  

That scene offended too many Muslims. They said, it showed contempt for religious leaders (ibid). Authorities in Ramallah cancelled the play.

All of this may explain why living in the Middle East is so dangerous: Muslims don’t understand comedy and Israeli Leftists don’t have a brain.