Sunday, September 30, 2018

A picture, a war crime --and measure-for-measure

The world accuses Israel of committing war crimes. The world ignores war crimes committed against Israel.

Let's even the score, if only for a moment.

According to the rules of war gathered and catalogued by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), using children to participate actively in "hostilities" is considered to be a war crime in both international and non-international conflict (here).  

The terror organization Hamas controls Gaza. It rules Gaza. Its Charter calls for the destruction of the 'Zionist' entity--Israel. It teaches its children to go to war against Israel. It sends its children to participate actively in attacks against Israel.

I have a picture for you. Because it's just a picture, there are obvious questions that need to be answered in order to validate its authenticity. 

But I will not answer those questions. I will not validate. I refuse to do that because Hamas never answers any questions-to-authenticate any of its anti-Israel pictures. So if they don't have to authenticate, why should I?

After all, what's good for goose is good for the gander, right?

Here, therefore, is a picture of a Gazan child participating in an attack against a border fence that separates Gaza from Israel. It's a picture of an act that might be defined as the commission of a war crime--using a child in hostilities:

This picture comes from (here). It appeared on September 26, 2018.

Take a close look at his hands. He appears to be holding  cutters. He's trying to cut a barbed-wire fence. That fence is at the Gaza-Israel border. 

How do you know all of this? Because, like Hamas with its pictures, I'm telling you what this picture is about.

Of course, given the content of this picture, I'd say there's a better chance than a Hamas picture that it's accurate. I don't have a track record for deception-with-pictures that Hamas has.

Look at the picture again. There are Israeli soldiers on the other side of that fence. That's why the child appears to try to stay low. He could be shot by soldiers defending Israel against those attempting to cut that fence and rush into Israel with weapons. 

Israel has the right to defend its citizens against people rushing into the Jewish state with the avowed purpose of killing Jews. Indeed, Israel has the legal responsibility to protect its citizens against such attacks. 

So why is a child using cutters at that fence? He has no business being in such a place. He's in danger of being shot.

If Hamas can deceive you with a picture of a dead Syrian child killed by Syrian troops--and claim it's a dead Gazan child killed by Israel--then I can show you this picture. I can claim it is authentic. I can tell you this picture proves Hamas commits war crimes by sending children into danger.

Of course, the UN will condemn Israel on the basis of a Hamas photo. Will it condemn Hamas on the basis of this picture?

Don't bet on it. Hamas will not pay a price for its pictures. 

But it will pay nonetheless for this cruelty. Judaism will see to it.

Yes, Judaism. Our Jewish religion teaches that G-d rewards and punishes everyone, measure-for-measure. Nations, too, will be rewarded and punished measure-for-measure. 

Hamas will pay for its crimes against Israel. So will the UN--measure-for-measure.

This picture will be part of the evidence used to prove the crimes of Hamas and the UN.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Everybody spits at Israel

Look around the news. Israel is everywhere. Apparently, the world can't stop talking about Israel.

When it comes to Israel, however, you don't see 'happy talk'. You don't see writers, political leaders, politicians and others saying nice things about this, the world's only Jewish state.

You don't see people celebrating Israel. Instead, you get a parade of people rejecting, attacking, demonizing and criminalizing Israel. People even try to deny Israel's right to exist.

Israel is the country people love to hate. Here's a tiny sample of what the world has been saying about Israel:

-The EU won't recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital (here).

-Egypt says Israel undermines Middle East peace (here).

-Al Qaeda announces Tel Aviv (like Jerusalem) is Muslim (here).

-Global public opinion is more sympathetic to the Palestinian Cause than to Israel (here).

-Iran declares that Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a liar (here).

-Israel is the world's most fascist, racist state (here).

-Does Israel in the Bible really mean Israel? (here)  .

-Israel's new Nation-State law is 'a clear form of Apartheid' (here).

-Israel is the world's 'bad boy' who can't stop abusing innocent Palestinians--or its own democracy (here).

-Israel is dragging the United States into World War Three (here).

-Israel's international reputation is garbage; it could easily provoke a Harvard Business Review case called, 'The Great Global Squander' (here).

When you read stuff like this, no one could blame you for thinking that Israel has got to be the world's worst international Public Enemy Number One. Actually, you don't have to draw such a conclusion: the United Nations has already done that for you. So far as the UN is concerned, Israel is the world's worst human rights abuser (here, here). 

Then, there's the rest of Israel. Its Shekel is the world's worst currency (here). Its traffic congestion is the worst in the West (here); its airline is the worst, etc, etc. 

Muslims spit on Israel. Europeans  spit on Israel. An increasing number of Americans spit on Israel.

Jews spit on Israel. Jews who say they're Jewish but aren't spit on Israel. Even Jews living in Israel spit on Israel.  

As you might imagine, Israel is one of the world's most hated countries. Even when it doesn't make a top-ten-most-disliked-countries list, it gets an honorary mention (here)--as the country that "kills thousands in the name of Judaism" (ibid). 

Is that Israel's problem--it supposedly kills in the name of Judaism? Is that why everybody spits on Israel, because they believe that Judaism makes Israel evil (here)?

Don't believe it. 

Instead, this is what you should know: after decades of being spat upon, hated and demonized, Israel has become one of the most successful nations in the world--economically sound, innovative, inventive--and free. In a Middle East characterized by failure, tyranny and murder, Israel stands alone as the only Free country in the region. 

Makes you wonder, doesn't it?  The more people spit at Israel, the stronger Israel gets.  

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Succot: Israel's holiday of rejoicing--and Israel

Tonight, Sunday, September 23, 2018, Jews around the world begin the Jewish holiday called, Succot. It is, our prayers tell us, "the time of gladness/joy". 

Our Jewish heritage teaches us (from our Torah, in D'varim, 16:14) that we must be joyous with each of our three major holiday celebrations--Passover,  Shavuot and  Succot. But Succot is the only Jewish holiday specifically identified with 'gladness/joy'. 


There are many answers to this question. Each answer gives an insight into one of the many levels of spirituality found in our religion. But Succot also reminds of something more earthly. It reminds us that, as HaRav Avraham Yitchak HaCohen Kook (1865-1935, often called the the father of Religious Zionism) has said: the rickety, temporary booth we sit in during Succot is our protective Fortress (here).

 How ironic, yes? The Succah booth we sit in on this holiday is so flimsy, we can't even call it a dwelling. It is completely non-permanent. Yet it reminds us of HaShem, whose cloud of Glory protected the Jewish nation as it wandered in the desert more than  3,300 years ago. It reminds us today that this holy Land, our national home, has a direct connection to HaShem, our G-d--and to His protection (ibid). 

Think about how HaShem has protected Israel since the modern Israel was founded 70  years ago. On May 14, 1948, David Ben Gurion stood in Tel Aviv and announced that the new Jewish nation (voted into existence by the UN 5+ months earlier) will be called, Israel. At that moment, overwhelming Arab armies (trained and equipped by the British) began to attack this flimsy, rickety, vulnerable Israel. 

The Arabs surrounding Israel didn't accept the UN vote to create Israel. They want'ed to destroy Israel even before it was 'born'.

On May 14, 1948, Israel's "army'" was more rag-tag than formal. Israel certainly had no formally trained or equipped military. It didn't even have the money to make sure every Jew fighting those Arab armies had identity tags called, 'dog tags'. 

Yet, a miracle occurred. The rickety, flimsy Israel beat those Arab armies. 

Arab armies came together again and again to destroy Israel--in 1956, 1967 and 1973. There was more such formal fighting in 1982 and 2006. 

Each of these military campaigns failed. But they weren't the only way Arabs aimed to kill Jews. They had another way to attack us--through terror.  

In 1917, the British gave Jews the Balfour Declaration, which signaled a British support for Jews to establish a Jewish state in the Jewish ancestral homeland. Three years later, in 1920, the Jews' right to rebuild their homeland was put into an International Agreement at San Remo, Italy. 

In the 39 years between that 1920 San Remo Agreement and the year Yasser Arafat helped to found the Arab Fatah organization (1959), Arabs in-and-around Israel attacked Jews repeatedly. Arabs murdered some 1,388 Jews in terror attacks. But then, during the 45 years between 1959 and Arafat's death in 2004, Arabs murdered more than 2,100 more Jews--a rate that averages out more than 30% higher per year than the 1920-59 period. 

That increase wasn't an accident. It was deliberate. It was the work of Arafat. 

Yasser Arafat was a committed terrorist. He was known for this commitment. Some have even called him, 'the father of modern terrorism' (here).

He certainly lived up to that title. After he died, Mahmoud Abbas succeeded him. Between Arafat's 2004 death and December 31, 2017, Arabs living under Abbas' rule have murdered another 268 Jews in terror attacks.

Arafat's goal was to drive the Jews out of Israel through a campaign of terror. When, in 1993, he signed the Oslo Accords, he didn't see that Accord as a peace agreement. He saw it as a holding pattern to prepare some kind of modern ambush of Israel (here). He acknowledged that this plan was based upon a similar plan Mohammed himself had used 1,300+ years before (ibid). 

Arafat said he wanted the Jews to leave Israel like 'rats abandoning a sinking ship' (here). Terror was how he would drive out the Jews.

To give you a sense of how well he did with that goal, recall that, in 1959, when Arafat helped to found Fatah, there were perhaps 1.8 million Jews in Israel. In 1993, the year Arafat signed the Oslo Accords, there were perhaps 4.4 million Jews. 

Today, as of September 20, 2018, there are 6.6+ million Jews in Israel. 

Comparing Arafat's goals to Jewish population numbers reveals how G-d has protected this flimsy, rickety, vulnerable  Israel. Arafat's terror goal failed. There are now more Jews living in this holy Jewish Land than in any other nation in the world. 

2018 may well be the first time since Jews were driven into exile by Rome more than 1,948 years ago that more Jews live in Israel than in any other place on the planet. Given the genocidal goals promoted by the Arabs around us, this Jewish population growth in Israel is itself a miracle. 

This Israel is indeed protected by HaShem, our G-d. This protection is why Succot and modern Israel are connected. Rav Kook (above) was correct. Succot reminds us of the spiritual reality that connects HaShem to this Land, to His People--and to protecting His people. Israel is, indeed, a Fortress.

More than  3,300 years ago, HaShem protected His Chosen people in the desert. Today, He protects His Chosen People once again. If you want to understand the impact of this protection, consider this: since 1920, when there were less than 100,000 Jews in Israel, to today, with Israel's 6.6 million Jews, Arabs have murdered at least 3,800 Jews in terror attacks. 

Do the math. Since 1920, the number of Jews in Israel has increased by 6.5 million. That increase means that, for every Jew murdered by an Arab, there are an additional 1,700+ Jews in Israel today (3,800 victims x 1,700 additional Jews per victim = 6.5 million additional Jews in Israel today).

We mourn those deaths. But we rejoice in our succot because those holy souls have midwifed the Promise HaShem made so long ago to return us home to our Fortress. We rejoice at Succot because this holiday reminds us so vividly of the Promise Kept.

Chag Someach: Happy holiday.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

How did these countries ever qualify to be on a UN Human Rights Council?

According to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) website, the first purpose of the UN Human Rights Council is to strengthen and protect human rights around the globe (here). The second purpose is to address human rights violations--and to make recommendations about those violations (ibid).

These are serious goals. But there's an equally serious--perhaps even fatal--problem with this Council. Of the 47 Members of the UNHRC (here), 14 are not free countries (here).

That's a problem. 

To protect human rights, you have to know what it means for a country to  offer its citizens human rights. Un-free countries do not typically offer their citizens human rights. It's why they're called  'un-free'.

By contrast, a free country knows exactly what human rights are--and how they're supposed to work. They have a known rights track record.  

Free countries understand human rights for women and gays. Free countries know how to protect the human rights of racial and ethnic groups. It's part of what makes them 'free' countries.

On what rational basis are the 14 un-free countries on the UN Human Rights Council qualified to serve on a Council that's supposed to protect human rights? If these un-free countries can't--or won't--protect the human rights of their own citizens why trust them to protect someone else's rights?

To understand what it means to have the UNHRC loaded with countries where basic universal human rights are not practiced, consider this question: would you trust someone who employs people who care little about proper plumbing maintenance to fix a plumbing problem in your house?

That's what it's like to turn to un-free countries to make informed decisions about human rights. To repeat: if these countries won't treat their own people fairly, why does the UN believe they are qualified to judge your country fairly?

This problem is compounded when you consider that, in addition to those 14 un-free countries, there are an additional 12 Members on the UNHRC considered to be only 'Partly Free' (here). This means that a total of 26 Members of a human rights organization--greater than 55 percent of Membership--have little (or no) experience with human rights. With such a Membership, how competent can this Council be? 

It gets worse. The UNHRC is stuffed with countries known to be significant human rights violators. For example, Members Tunisia, Hungary, Venezuela, Kenya, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Senegal and United Arab Emirates were among the top 20 countries in the world with the steepest decline in scores for political rights and civil liberties in 2017 (here, p. 6).  Why are these countries on a Council designed to protect anyone's human rights?

Saudi Arabia is in a special category all to itself: it has a history of being, year-after-year, on the list of the world's top 10 worst rights violators (ibid). Why is it on the UNHRC?

Afghanistan, Georgia, Iraq, Mexico and, again, Saudi Arabia, are on a 'freedom watch list' because of their anti-democratic trajectory (ibid, p.9). What are these countries doing on a Human Rights Council? 

Burundi, Ethiopia, Venezuela, Hungary, Mexico, Rwanda and Kenya are on a list of the countries with the largest 10-year freedom declines (ibid, p. 10). What do these countries know about human rights, when their longer-term rights track-records all point in the opposite direction? 

Venezuela oppresses its citizens with violence (here). It limits freedom of the press (ibid). It jails those who oppose the current regime (ibid). What is Venezuela doing on a human rights Council?

In 2017, instead of increasing freedom and rights, China began a "broad and sustained" offensive against  human rights in China (here). Why is China on a Human Rights Council?

Because it is so painfully clear that Members of the UNHRC violate their own citizen's human rights, we can ask a question. Do these countries really serve on the UNHRC to protect human rights, or do they serve on UNHRC to use their Council Membership to steer the Council away from their own violations (here)?

I think we know the answer to that question. It's an answer that makes the UNHRC look more like a safe harbor for corrupt rights abusers than a guardian of world human rights.

It's existence makes the UN look like a criminal enterprise.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Recall Notice

The two Jewish  months called, Elul and Tishrei, appear back-to-back beginning, usually, in July or August of each year. The entire month of Elul, and the first ten days of Tishrei are marked by a call to Teshuva--'return'. It is a time to think about who we are and how we behave. It is a time to return to HaShem.

This period of 40 days ends with the most solemn Jewish Day of the calendar year--Yom Kippur. This year, Yom Kippur will be this Tuesday night -Wednesday, September 18-19, 2018.

On Yom Kippur, we fast. We pray. It is the Day our individual and collective fates are sealed for the year. It is, officially, our big chance to pray for a good, healthy year.

While the month of Elul has ended (we are now in day 8 of Tishrei), Jews still speak of return-repentance-renewal. We still have the essential concept of 'Elul'--the time to 'return'--in our thoughts.

In the spirit of this concept, I must tell you I have received a 'Recall Notice'. It is a serious notice, As with many Recall Notices, this one came after its date of publication--but it has arrived still in time to participate in it.

You may have seen it. It's called, Elul Recall Notice. Here it is (you can find it here):

Urgent Elul Recall Notice

by Daniel Pozner

    Regardless of make or year, all units known as "human beings" are being recalled by the Manufacturer. This is due to a malfunction in the original prototype units code named "Adam" and "Eve", resulting in the reproduction of the same defect in all subsequent units. This defect is technically termed, "Serious Internal Non-morality, " but more commonly known as "S-I-N."
    Some of the symptoms of the SIN defect:
    [a] Loss of direction
    [b] Lack of peace and joy
    [c] Depression
    [d] Foul vocal emissions
    [e] Selfishness
    [f] Ingratitude
    [g] Fearfulness
    [h] Rebellion
    [I] Jealousy

    The Manufacturer is providing factory authorized repair service free of charge to correct the SIN defect.
    The Repair Technician, Hashem, has most generously offered to bear the entire burden of the staggering cost of these repairs. To repeat, there is no fee required.
    The number to call in for repair in all areas is: P-R-A-Y-E-R.
    Once connected, please upload the burden of SIN through the REPENTANCE procedure. Next, download ATONEMENT from the Repair Technician, Hashem, into the heart component of the human unit. No matter how big or small the SIN defect is, Hashem will replace it with:
    [a] Love
    [b] Joy
    [c] Peace
    [d] Kindness
    [e] Goodness
    [f] Faithfulness
    [g] Gentleness
    [h] Patience
    [I] Self-control

    Please see the operating manual, TORAH, for further details on the use of these fixes. As an added upgrade, the Manufacturer has made available to all repaired units a facility enabling direct monitoring and assistance from the resident Maintenance Technician, Hashem. Repaired units need only make Him welcome and He will take up residence on the premises.
    WARNING: Continuing to operate a human being unit without corrections voids the Manufacturer's warranty, exposes the unit to dangers and problems too numerous to list, and will ultimately result in the human unit being incinerated.
    Thank you for your immediate attention.
    Please assist by notifying others of this important recall notice.
      Have an easy Fast.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Rabbi Ari Fuld, z"l--a targeted terror attack?

This morning, a Jew was murdered outside a shopping center in a place in Israel called, Gush Etzion. The victim was Rabbi Ari Fuld. Early reports suggested he was in his mid-forties. 

Baruch Dayan Emet.

His crime? He was a Jew. He was an ardent and 'undefeatable' defender of Israel.

He was murdered by an Arab.  Early reports may have suggested it's possible the Arab might have known who Rabbi Ari Fuld was. Was the terrorist waiting for him?

Rabbi Ari Fuld, father of four, was a pro-Israel activist. He was known in the area. On TV, on the internet and in the 'street', he confronted those who oppose Israel. He was very verbal about his defense of Israel--and not particularly polite with those who believed the lies Arabs and their supporters tell about Israel. 

He was an intimidating opponent. He was always much, much more knowledgeable than those who opposed him. Those who challenged him always had a problem. The problem was simple. Rabbi Fuld knew more about the topic discussed than they. His opponents had their talking points. But Rabbi Fuld had facts. His anti-Israel opponents often looked foolish beside him.

He's been called, 'an online warrior' (here). He was exactly that. His attitude was, "I will give the facts to defend Israel and to destroy those who lie and fabricate history” (ibid).

That's exactly what he did. The one defense I most remember was about the 'trouble' with Jewish 'settlement'. His response to a statement that settlements were the obstacle to peace went something like this: you think Jews are getting murdered because the settlements exist? We (Jews) were getting murdered before there were settlements here. We were getting murdered before the state of Israel was here. We were getting murdered back in the 1920's--because we're Jews. ...That's the obstacle to peace--an Arab culture of 'kill Jews'. Until we change that, there will be no peace!'

Please note, this 'quote' above is just my paraphrase. I'm sure Rabbi Fuld had other responses to the anti-settlement argument. This is simply one I seem to remember.

He's right. Our Arab neighbors live in a culture that marinates in genocide. Look at the Hamas Charter. It's a genocide document. Look at the PLO Charter. It's aim is to remove the 'Zionist entity' from the world. That may or may not be genocide--by itself. But when you consider how exactly the 'Zionist entity' would in fact be removed from this region, well, that's genocide because it would require the wholesale butchery of Jews.

Look at the website, palwatch. There, you'll find example after example of anti-Jew genocide--and some of the most virulent anti-Israel hate you'll ever find. As Rabbi Fuld has suggested, Jewish settlements have nothing to do with 'killing peace' in this region. Killing Jews kills peace.

Rabbi Fuld spoke against Jew-hate. He spoke against the consistently false 'Palestinian Narrative'. He confronted Israel's enemies, face-to-face, and few--if any--could blunt his arguments.

Now, his arguments are over. He will defend Israel no more. This morning, he was murdered by an Arab teenager. 

Rabbi Fuld was a known entity in the Gush-Hevron area. He was aggressive confronting anti-Israel lies. Was he targeted?

We don't know. We may never know. Perhaps a police investigation based upon such a premise might yield interesting results--and save Jewish lives. Dare the police think in these terms? 

These questions will have to wait. Now, we must comfort the family. May Rabbi Fuld's family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem. May they find strength in his life's mission. 

Friday, September 14, 2018

Newsweek: can anti-Israel essays be illegal?

I found the essay below while surfing the internet. It highlights an article from a recent edition of Newsweek magazine--a once-popular weekly that has fallen on hard times. It would appear that Newsweek has published an anti-Israel article that, according to at least one observer, might be illegal. 

Can articles that demonize Israel be illegal? Maybe.

The essay below, about the Newsweek article, has importance for two reasons: first, it illustrates clearly how minor incidents in Israel can be so magnified out of proportion as to demonize Israel and/or Israelis; and second, it suggests a potential legal path to  attack those in America who publish essays that demonize the Jewish state.

Here's the article. It was written by Ronn Blitzer. It was published here:

Did NBC Intentionally Wait for Rosh Hashana to Run Biased Anti-Israel Article?

Back in July, I wrote about how a Newsweek article pushed the limits of how journalism can still be quite slanted, even if it technically falls within legal boundaries. That piece focused on Birthright Israel, the organization that provides free trips to Israel for Jewish college students and young adults, for the purpose of helping them learn about their heritage. The article falsely implied that Birthright was in danger of collapsing due to protests from participants who were sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, even though it was only based on two isolated incidents. A month and a half later, NBC News has now run a similar article based on the same premise, despite no new information, titled “As Israel moves right, young American Jews target Birthright tours in protest.”
The timing of the article is concerning; not just because the protests are old news, but because they waited to publish the old news until hours before the beginning of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. By the time the article went up, many observant Jews–who tend to be pro-Israel–were likely too busy preparing for the holiday to even notice. In fact, the reason why I’m first writing about this now is because I was celebrating the two-day holiday, during which work and the use of electronics are prohibited. The New Republic was also late in discussing the matter, but they wrote about it in a different context, and published their piece last week, well before the holiday.
Law&Crime reached out to NBC about the article and the timing of its publication, but they declined to comment.
Like the Newsweek article, NBC News refers to two incidents from June and July–even though they characterize them as taking place “in recent weeks.” The instances in question involved trip participants who left their groups in protest, claiming the organizers did not provide enough of the Palestinian side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Of course, that’s not what the trips are for, because they aren’t political at all. As a Birthright spokesperson told NBC, the trip is meant to give “the gift of a free education experience to Israel for Jews worldwide between the ages of 18 and 32 so they can explore their Jewish identities, strengthen their connections to Israel and experience its diverse society,” and “without endorsing any specific agendas, opinions or beliefs.”
While Newsweek‘s framing of the issue gave the initial impression that these incidents were spontaneous demonstrations of outrage, NBC was more up front about how they were staged by a left-wing activist group.
At the same time, NBC’s writer used these isolated incidents as the basis for claiming that this is a thing that’s regularly happening, giving the impression that Birthright is part of some large political problem. In reality, the dozen or so people who joined organized walk-offs are a minute fraction of the tens of thousands of people who go on the trips that, again, are not meant to be political in nature.
A spokesperson for Birthright told Law&Crime that NBC News Digital’s managing editor defended the article after complaints that the headline ignores the fact that the people who left Birthright trips were just 12 people out of 30,000 reported yearly participants. The spokesman said he was told by the managing editor, “There isn’t always room for those kinds of details in the headline.”
Articles like NBC’s and Newsweek‘s dance awfully close to the line of what’s legal. While they don’t go so far as to meet the elements of defamation, some states have “false light” laws, which typically are against widely publicized statements that identify a particular subject and paints them in a false or misleading light that would be offensive to the subject. While such laws are far from universal, these articles skirt awfully close, as they give an impression of Birthright Israel that the organization disputes.
Not only that, the article simply uses these isolated instances as a launching point for a much broader–and equally questionable–premise that young Jews in general are rebelling en masse against a Jewish State that is actively moving away from their leftist ideals. The article even pits those on the left at odds with those who oppose the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, which seeks to isolate Israel economically. In reality, even Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas spoke out against this movement.
How does NBC support the idea that the new generation of Jews and the State of Israel are drifting further and further apart? By relying heavily on quotes from two of the protesters, and from the rabbi of a congregation described as “progressive non-denominational,” as opposed to being part of any of the major movements within Judaism (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist).
When the article tries to argue that “Even prominent mainstream Jewish leaders in the U.S. are starting to publicly criticize Israel’s government,” the only example provided is an op-ed that doesn’t even make reference to Palestinians, Birthright, or the Arab-Israeli conflict.
In reality, young Jews–like young people in general–don’t all fall into the same political box, and many of them support Israel regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum. I know quite a few liberal young professionals who oppose many of the Israeli government’s policies and want to see change, but they still love the country and do not agree with the tactics employed by far-left activists.
Yes, there are those like the ones who walked off their trips, but to say that they define their generation, and that the far left is the new normal is not accurate.

Is it possible that US state laws against "False Light" stories can give those in America who defend Israel something to fight with? Could these laws be used to slow down--or stop--anti-Israel propaganda in America that disguises itself as 'news' or 'opinion'? 

These are good questions. If False Light laws can be used to defend Israel, they should be deployed--immediately.  

Of course, several questions about False Light laws need to be answered first. Some of the more obvious questions that  come to mind are: do such state laws apply to both individuals and nations? Do such laws apply to a whole group of people (Israelis)? Do they apply to organizations (Birthright)? How often have they been used in court? What has been the outcome of these cases? 

Questions about False Light laws need to be answered before anyone can invoke them in court against anti-Israel misrepresentations we see posted online almost every day. Still, the potential for legal action seems intriguing, does it not? It's certainly worth exploring. 

Any lawyers out there willing to give this concept a hard look?

PS:    Pass this essay around. Maybe someone you know knows someone who might help me follow up on this idea.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Fast of Gedaliah, betrayal--and the Palestinian Authority

Today is a Fast day for Jews. This particular Fast follows immediately after the second day of Rosh Hashanna. It reminds us that a Jewish leader had once been assassinated in Israel--because of a treacherous, murderous betrayal by fellow Jews.

The assassinated leader's name was Gedaliah. He was righteous. He was well-liked by his people in Israel--but hated by those who disagreed with, shall we say, his political affiliations. 

He was murdered at approximately the time of the destruction of the First Temple, almost 2,500 hundred years ago. Our Fast today is called, the Fast of Gedaliah. 

As I Fast over the betrayal that marks Gedaliah's assassination, I think about our world today. Clearly, the closest association to today would be some treachery or betrayal being plotted against Israel's current leader. But I don't look to such Jewish treachery, at least not today. 

Instead, I choose today to think of Gedaliah as, perhaps, a metaphor for today's larger treachery/betrayal--that of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Israel's supposed 'peace partner' . The treachery/betrayal I think of is the betrayal of the PA against both Israel and the US.

That's a big stretch, I know. But then... 

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has made promises over how much it wants peace. Read PA leader Mahmoud Abbas' speeches to the UN in each of the past few Septembers. He's a man of peace, he says. He wants only peace, he says.

But each year, when it came time to 'put the rubber to the road', Abbas balked. He's made trouble, then blamed Israel. He said he wanted to talk peace, then betrayed his peace partner.

So long as Barak Obama was US President, Abbas won every time he pulled such a trick. But today, Obama isn't President. 

The man in today's White House is far less patient with such Palestinian duplicity.  Saying one think to Trump about peace with Israel and then doing the opposite no longer goes over well at the White House.

It seems that Abbas and his officials may have played their 'yes-no-maybe' game one time too often (here).

As a result of the US's loss of patience with Abbas, the world begins to see Abbas and the PA in a way few outside Israel have seen. As Palestinian essayist Bassam Tawil suggests, the PA's attitude towards the US has suddenly become rather simple--and obvious. 

He says that, "In reality, the Palestinians have one main message for the US administration". It is, in essence, a message of 'we aim to betray you'. That message is, "We hate you and incite against you, but we fully expect that you will continue providing us with cash, to the tune of billions of dollars. And, when you do try to help us, we reserve the right to spit in your face" (here).

The PA is expert at this game. For example, Palestinians recently protested in Ramallah. They objected to the Trump plan to cancel US aid to UNRWA, the UN relief agency that has been considered by many as useless for peace but great for promoting anti-US/anti-Israel hate. Trump has announced he will end funding to an UNRWA that acts more like a terror-training organization than a refugee relief agency. To protest that cancellation, protesters in Ramallah burned pictures of Trump, Trump son-in-law and advisor Jason Kushner and David Friedman, US Ambassador to Israel. 

For Tawil, the message of this protest was also simple. It was the Palestinian way, he said, to tell the US: "we burn the photos of your president and top officials and we hate you, so kindly continue to give us hundreds of millions of dollars every year" (ibid).

The Palestinians are good at this tactic. They've been doing it for years. With the Obama Presidency, no one in the White House saw anything unseemly about it: the Palestinians spit in the face of the US; then they held out their hand to the US to beg for money.

What was wrong with that? Obama saw nothing wrong with it.

Apparently, Obama thought it was okay for the PA to spit at America even as it took hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Palestinians use another tactic. They say they're willing (kind of) to seek peace with Israel. Then they refuse to engage in what they call 'normalization' (economic cooperation) with Israel. 

Given that Israel is the Middle East's economic powerhouse, this Jewish state has a lot to offer a fledgling new state. But the PA hasn't been interested. It spits into Israel's economic face just as it spit into America's face.

The Trump White House apparently understands that this isn't a recipe for success. Instead, it's a foundation for creating a 'Palestine' that's a beggar state, not an economically competent state.

The Palestinians don't care. They aren't after statehood. They don't care about economic security. They want to destroy Israel--and they want 'friends'  who will cheer them on. 

They know how to win over those friends. While Palestinian protesters were at that recent Ramallah protest to demand that the US reverse its decision to stop funding UNRWA, Abbas's men were blocking a US-sponsored attempt in east Jerusalem to meet Palestinian businessmen to discuss ways to help the Palestinian economy (ibid). For the PA, that is the road to winning friends and influencing people--that is, the kind of people who hate the US.

The PA wants three things. (1) It wants to incite against Israel and the US. (2) It particularly wants anti-US countries to help it destroy the Jewish state. (3) It wants the US to bankroll whatever the PA wants to do.

Obama helped them. So far, Trump says, hell, no.

So the Palestinians move forward. They incite against the US. They continue to spit at the US.

They incite against Israel. They spit into Israel's face.

It works. According to Bassam Tawil, PA incitement has  brought to the PA many anti-US/anti-Israel friends.  That incitement has helped to make the US a Public Enemy Number One for many Arabs and Muslims around the world (ibid). Its anti-Israel incitement has kept the anti-Israel pot boiling.

This is how the PA plans for its future. What is this called? It's the Palestinian version of 'how to win friends and influence people'. But of course, if peace were the goal, this is the wrong plan--and these would be the wrong friends. 

But then, this is the PA we're talking about. It's not interested in peace--with anybody. 

It embraces hate and, apparently, loves betrayal. It demands US money, then betrays the goodwill America shows by spitting in America's face.

If, for the Fast of Gedaliah, you're looking for a practical definition of 'betrayal', look no further. 

Sunday, September 9, 2018

A Happy New Years Greeting Like You've Never Seen

 You can probably guess what a New Years Greeting video must look like from a President or a Prime Minister. It's a tradition: the President or PM seats at a desk facing the camera. He speaks for perhaps 2-3 minutes. His gives the viewer his New Years Greeting.

This year, to welcome the new Jewish year, number 5779, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has his own way to greet the year: It's a different 'greeting', indeed--assuming, of course, that what you are about to see is, in fact, authentic. In today's world of fake news, you can't always tell what's true.  

You can watch in a moment, but first...this video is in Hebrew. There are no subtitles.

So here's a verbal preview:

As the video opens, a nice modern, young Israeli Jewish family is sitting with their young son, and guests, around the family dining room table that's already been set for a holiday meal. Everyone at the table is singing 'Happy New Year, Happy New Year, Happy New Year'. Everyone appears to be having a good time. 

As they sing, there's a knock at the front door. The young son--perhaps 6 year old--jumps up and (apparently thinking this is a Passover Seder holiday) says, 'It's Eliyahu HaNavi! (Elijah the Prophet, who is 'welcomed' at one's front door as part of the Passover Seder ritual). 

As the boy jumps from the table to rush to the door, his mother turns towards the boy's retreating figure and says, essentially, 'wrong holiday, Yoavi'. 

The boy opens the door. He finds...Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu is dressed in suit , white shirt and no tie, wearing potholders on his hands and holding a hot pot. 

The boys asks him, 'Eliyahu?' Netanyahu looks at him, smiles, and says, 'Netanyahu'.

The little boy turns to face the interior. He shouts, 'it's a guy from TV'.

[Wait. This is a Prime Minister's New Year's Greeting? Yep--and the fun hasn't even begun].

The father in the video hear's the boy call out that 'it's a guy from TV'. The father shrugs, says, 'let him come in!'...then whispers to his wife the name (I think) of a children's TV character.

Netanyahu enters the dining room carrying the hot pot. The parents are shocked. They stand up--stunned. The father says, 'Prime Minister??????'. 

Netanyahu smiles. He gives over the hot pot to the wife, along with the potholders, and starts to sit at the table. As he does so, the father, now smiling broadly, asks, 'It was a tough year, eh?' (something like that).

As Netanyahu bends to sit, he says,  'Nooooo, it was an EXCELLENT' year.' Then he proceeds to explain exactly why the year just past was so EXCELLENT.  

He doesn't stop talking. He never runs out of examples to show how fantastic the year was. The parents wilt. The guests wilt. The wife appears ready to fall over, asleep. As Netanyahu pauses to take a breathe, the husband starts to eat something, then stops as Netanyahu launches into another list. The husband's face is frozen in astonishment --and a desire to start eating already.

The young boy falls asleep, his face on his plate. Everyone at the table is asleep.

 Finally, Netanyahu ends, clearly delighted with what he's just said, and just as clearly oblivious to his audience's stupor. The husband claps, politely. As he claps, his son suddenly sits up and says something (I can't translate it). Netanyahu turns to him with an eager look on his face,  points a finger at the boy and says, ' Education! I didn't tell you about education!'

Netanyahu launches again into another list of accomplishments. Everyone at the table wilts. 

The camera fades--out the window. From the outside, we see Netanyahu at the table, talking again with great relish; the parents and guests are completely bored to death. As you watch this scene , large words appears on the screen: "Happy New Year". 

After that, the camera is back inside. You see the wife eating, apparently from the food Netanyahu had brought with him. The wife loves it. She says, 'you must give me the recipe'. He says, in essence, 'of course'.

He pulls out a huge three-ring binder from his lap, as if he'd been waiting for her to ask. He opens the binder, starting to thumb through the pages. For the first page he looks at, he says, 'Not this one'; he turns to a second page and says, 'definitely not this one...'

Take a look. The video is less than 1:40 long. You can see from the first picture below how the wife wilts while the PM talks. I'll comment afterwards:

To an American, this presentation of a national leader as a man who doesn't know when to shut up must appear downright weird. The only logical explanation for such a portrayal would be that it was made as a spoof by the political opposition. But this is Israel. This is Netanyahu. 

It's not like America here. This ad was made by Netanyahu's office (at least, that's my impression; if I'm wrong--and if this was made by the Opposition here--I'll let you know).

Netanyahu has done something like this before. I can remember that, in the last election, he ran a campaign ad that begins by showing a family waiting in their apartment for a babysitter to show up so they can go out for the evening. The doorbell rings. The father opens the door. It's not the babysitter. It's Netanyahu--who announces, using his nickname, Bibi--hi, I'm your Bibisitter'. Can I come in?'

At the end of the  ad, Netanyahu is sitting with his charge on the sofa, watching TV, eating popcorn with the child, clearly enjoying himself.

That's a campaign ad?

Even if you don't like this guy, he does appear to have a sense of humor. He also seems to have a sense of, hey, let's lighten up a bit, eh? 

The video comes from here.  

Happy Rosh Hashanna!