Friday, May 25, 2018

Temple Whether We Like it or Not: A Torah Thought for Parashat Naso

by Moshe Feiglin

Sometimes I think that if those who we call ‘seculars’ would understand what the Temple really means, they would run and build it – despite the loud protests of the religious.

The Temple expresses the unmediated connection between man and G-d. Religion was created when the Temple was taken from us. The authenticity missing from religious ceremonies, the shivers that run up and down the secular’s spine when he sees the seemingly meaningless routine in those four amot of halacha – which are all we have left since the Temple was destroyed and which are actually the Temple’s replacement – the disconnect between religion and life – are all the product of the loss of the Temple.

If the secular would know that through the Temple it is possible to ascend to a true sense of living – not through ceremonies, but by experiencing the entire breadth of life; personal, national and universal, physical and metaphysical – he would run to build it.

And the religious? They would oppose it, of course. Not only because they would not manage to determine how and how much, when, why and where exactly… but rather because they have become accustomed to ‘religion’ – to the schizophrenic split between faith and life. They have become accustomed to parallel tracks that will never meet – except for in drashas that will end with: “May the Temple be rebuilt…” but not by us, of course.

G-d, however, has His own way to force redemption upon us and the world. It is important to remember that we didn’t get to Jerusalem, the Sinai, the Golan or even Nahariya because we wanted to be there. The Temple will be rebuilt. It will carry us, even though it will be we who build it.

Shabbat Shalom.

The Challenge of Gratitude

by Rabbi Steven Pruzansky

The ambivalence of many American Jews to President Trump and his support for Israel is puzzling on one hand and downright churlish on the other.

Consider this: Jews have grown very comfortable with American presidents who promised to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the American embassy to Yerushalayim, never fulfilled those promises, and kept making them anyway. It is as if Jews do not expect promises from politicians to be kept (well, maybe that is not so unusual). But Jews have also grown very comfortable with American presidents who criticize the building of settlements in the heartland of Israel, and some who have even threatened to sanction Israel over it. And they accepted the anomaly of Jews being permitted to build in Bethel, New York or Shiloh, Tennessee but not in the original Bethel or Shiloh. That’s just the way it is – but it is strange.

Jews have also grown very comfortable with American presidents who either pay lip service to Israel’s right of self-defense or seek to emasculate it entirely. These presidents routinely decried Israel’s “use of disproportionate force” or urged Israel to accept with equanimity “sacrifices for peace.” The better ones embraced Israel’s right to self-defense in theory but not always in practice, urging “restraint,” caution, and a limited response so as not to offend the terrorists or jeopardize the possibilities for a lasting peace.

And Jews have grown very comfortable with American presidents who have endorsed and even obsessed over the partition of Israel into two states (another partition, it should be added). These presidents have seemed to feel that only the two-state illusion will bring a just and durable peace to the region. That is, only allowing a hostile and irredentist enemy sovereignty over Israel’s heartland and control of its high ground will ensure prosperity and tranquility for the Jews of the truncated State of Israel. Most American Jews were fine with that – because that is what the presidents professed (and some Israeli prime ministers led them to believe) even when the facts on the ground taught the exact opposite.

It bears mentioning that Jews have also grown very comfortable with American presidents who either were troubled by Arab terror (but more troubled by an Israeli response so they drew a moral equivalence between the two) or “understood” Arab terror as emanating from the frustrations of their lives. A State Department spokeswoman once attributed Arab terror to the lack of gainful employment in their communities. So these presidents demanded that Israel should understand it as well, and certainly not “overreact” to the murder and maiming of their own citizens. And we grew very accustomed to the notion that only Israel had to make substantive concessions on the road to “peace,” never the enemy who sought Israel’s dismemberment and dissolution.

We got used to this type of treatment, so used to it that many Jews today are more troubled by an American president who has renounced each of the approaches outlined above than by the presidents who squeezed, cajoled, threatened, criticized, censured, pressured Israel or otherwise failed to keep their promises. It is as if we feel that we do not deserve fair, decent and supportive treatment coming from a friendly president. Too many Jews find it hard to appreciate our good fortune or otherwise express their gratitude to the incumbent president. Of course, not every American Jew is a supporter of Israel and many agree with each of the disquieting and tendentious policies delineated above that were conventional wisdom for decades. But of those who don’t? How do they rationalize their reticence?

However one feels about President Trump, a non-politician to be sure and an individual whose approach to life certainly has its share of idiosyncrasies, the inability of many Jews to show appreciation and gratitude for his current policies towards Israel is inexplicable, even boorish. In their desire to be “super-moral” they have eschewed basic etiquette, something that itself is immoral. And appreciation is also due to his close advisors who share the views of supporters of a strong and proud Israel dwelling in security from sea to river and have been unafraid to promote and implement them.

Finally, American Jews have a president who, holding firm against intense pressure from most other American allies, fulfilled his campaign promise, recognized Yerushalayim as Israel’s capital and moved the American embassy there – abruptly ending Israel’s bizarre status as the only nation on earth not entitled to declare its own capital. The Trump administration has been unabashed in its support of Israel’s right of self-defense as real and substantive, and has steadfastly refused to second-guess or micro-manage Israel’s defense strategies. The Trump administration has muted any objection to Israel’s settlement policy, a marked change from generations of US opposition and occasionally antagonism to Jews living in Judea (of all imaginable paradoxes) and Samaria, and has even expressed occasional support for those endeavors as Israel’s natural right. The Trump administration has abandoned the two-state illusion in favor of the inspired characterization that the United States will support two states “if both parties agree.” Of course... The Trump Administration, and the outstanding Ambassador Nikki Haley, have afforded Israel complete protection from the hypocrisies and inverted reality of the United Nations.

This is in addition to the renunciation of the Obama agreement with Iran and the ramping up of pressure, sanctions and who-knows-what-else down the road – all to halt an Iranian nuclear program whose expressed aim is the destruction of Israel.

It is inconceivable that Hillary Clinton, had she been elected, would have done any of these things.

Have Jews become so partisan, or has support for Israel declined so much among American Jews, that simple recognition of these facts eludes us? Have we forsworn elementary derech eretz because the president is an imperfect man? Are his critics – and were his election opponents – perfect, all paragons of morality and virtue? How have we become so peevish as a people?

Perhaps there is another problem at play here, one that transcends politics and personalities.

The great Musarist Rav Shlomo Wolbe wrote that every person has an erech elyon, a supreme value that transcends all others. What does it mean to have a supreme value? It means a value that is the measure of everything, the barometer by which every consideration in life has to be assessed, and into which all other values have to fit. Think, for a moment, of those Jews more than a century ago who made Communism their highest value. They sacrificed their souls, their families, their interests and their purpose in life to see Communism spread and succeed. In the early years, there were some religious Jews who were Communists – but when the contradictions and the challenges to the integration of Torah and Communism arose, it was the Torah that was abandoned, not Communism. It was the Torah that had to bend or break so that Communism could succeed. Whatever part of Torah did not conform to Communist dogma had to be abandoned.

Communism is dead (except on a few American college campuses and in North Korea) but was replaced by several other “–isms.” A century ago, secular Zionists made Zionism their primary value, and tossed out parts of the Torah that they felt impeded the realization of the Zionist dream. (That notion still exists but the number of adherents has dramatically fallen) In another iteration of this phenomenon, there are radical feminists today who evaluate and scrutinize every aspect of Torah to ascertain what conforms to feminism and what doesn’t – and the latter has to be discarded. That is their erech elyon, their supreme value. Rav Wolbe wrote that some people make money their erech elyonand for others it is the pursuit of honor or pleasure or children. As if to say, my pursuit of pleasure or my children’s happiness comes first – even above the Torah.

It is so difficult to break away from that mindset; but, Rav Wolbe noted, for the faithful Jew there is nothing in the world that we value as much as we value G-d and our relationship with Him and our fidelity to His will. That is always the erech elyon of the faithful Jew, who posits that G-d and His Torah are the primary values and every other value is subordinate. G-d is always at the top of our ladder of values, or is at least supposed to be, and whatever else a Jew values in life – justice, peace, wisdom, even feminism and Zionism, etc. – must fit into the hierarchy of values that places the Torah as supreme.

For too many Americans, hatred of Donald Trump has become their erech elyon – the one principle that dominates their lives, their every breath, waking moment and productive endeavor. They live to “resist,” whatever that means. As Chazal taught us, both love and hatred “disrupt the normal course of things.” We act differently, uncharacteristically, and sometimes even perversely, when we love or hate something too much, even irrationally.

But hatred of the President should not trump derech eretz, and ingratitude has a way of eventually biting the ingrate. Who’s to say such pro-Israel policies will continue indefinitely – and who’s to say they should, given the ungratefulness of the putative beneficiaries? Many American Jews dreamt that one day a genuinely, no-holds-barred pro-Israel president would emerge and embrace policies that many of us have been advocating for years. And now that it has happened, and while it is happening, isn’t elementary appreciation in order?

Unless we have grown so accustomed to maltreatment and criticism that we believe we deserve nothing but perpetual obloquy, it is. And it behooves us to demonstrate it, especially since G-d’s will is executed in mysterious ways and often through the most unexpected agents.

Here’s one Jew who is immensely grateful to President Trump. May his love of America and Israel continue – to the benefit of both countries.

US Aid Seriously Harms Israel’s Economy and Security

by Moshe Feiglin

Earlier this week, Ayal Union, Vice President of Finances at Israel Aircraft Industries, and said the following in a radio interview: “Israel is now seventy years old and it has to stand on its own two feet. Israel must withdraw from the US Aid Agreement, because the damage that it does to Israel’s aircraft industry is destructive. Twenty two thousand Israelis will be fired if it goes forward.”

“It is like a drug addiction,” he added. “Just like we lost the textile industry in the nineties, if the agreement continues, we will lose the aircraft industry.”

The reasons for ending US foreign aid to Israel and the damages that it causes are detailed in Zehut’s platform. The US aid is like a cast on a healthy leg. It does serious harm to our economy and our security. In PM Netanyahu’s first speech at the US Congress, he also spoke of ending US aid.

So why hasn’t it ended? Because the aid industry sustains generations of political wheeler-dealers.

Selective Horror

by Moshe Feiglin

Hats off to Israel’s public broadcast corporation, which has not let us forget for one moment that a police officer kicked an Arab, leftist protester in his leg over the weekend. Police brutality, particularly when it is directed at detainees – is a very serious matter and it is good that it is being spotlighted. But after an opening monologue on the event and 20 minutes into the newscast on Israel Broadcasting Corporation, they were still on the same topic. In an attempt to hear the news, I switched over to Israel Army Radio, but they were also talking exclusively about the same item.

Zehut’s platform deals with the problem of police brutalityand we completely oppose police brutality and administrative detention – for both Jews and Arabs, alike.

Hats off to the media for their valiant struggle for human rights in Israel? Not so fast. Last week, the sixth Arab house in the village of Duma was burned. When the second home was burned and three of its residents killed, the media was up in arms. Somebody had written “revenge” in Hebrew on one of the walls of the home and nothing more was necessary. The media were absolutely convinced that the perpetrators were “the hilltop youth”.

“Why hasn’t anybody been arrested yet?” the media mantra reached a crescendo, and Defense Minister Bogi Ya’alon hurried to supply the goods. Tens of hilltop youth were arrested and severely tortured, with the backing of the relevant legal counsels and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. This was not about a kick in the leg, which did or did not take place, but rather, actual severe torture perpetrated against minors over many long weeks – all supported by the media (and shamefully, also with the support and encouragement of ministers Bennett and Shaked, who joined in the frenzy and even stoked the fire).

What came out of all of the arrests? Out of the tens of boys tortured, there were two indictments, which rely mainly on confessions under torture. The two are still in prison in harsh conditions and their trial has not yet begun. In the meantime, a preliminary trial is underway to determine if it is legal to accept confessions attained under torture.

All the while, the houses in Duma continue to go up in smoke. All of them belong to the same extended family, all of them on the same street. So who keeps burning the houses in Duma? Perhaps it is a simple clan war, common in Arab society, and had nothing to do with the hilltop youth?

Yes, it is good to bring police brutality out in the open. It is good that the media is talking about the police officer who kicked the Arab protester. But has anyone heard the media opening with a monologue about tens of youths who were tortured for naught and never indicted? Don’t the continued arsons in Duma demand the release – at least to house arrest - of the two detained youths?

So allow me to doubt the honesty of the public broadcasting struggle on behalf of human rights in Israel. It is actually all about politics. Just politics.

Gd has our Back

by Rabbi Pinchas Winston
Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them: Should any man’s wife go astray and deal treacherously with him . . . (Bamidbar 5:12)

HOW MANY TIMES have you seen someone do something in public and wonder to yourself, “Doesn’t that person see what they look like?” The better and more embarrassing question might be, “How many times have I done something in public, oblivious to what it looks like to others?”

I know that there have been many times when I thought I was the only person somewhere, only to find someone else there. Without even thinking about what I might have done, I have immediately felt embarrassment as I had been caught in the act of doing something. Only after realizing that I had not done anything out of the ordinary did I finally start to feel “normal” again.

Other times it has not been as simple. Sometimes I would think I was alone for quite a while, only to see I wasn’t. But by that time so much time had passed so I could not recall everything I did. Since I was not aware of my context until much later, I could not recall by then everything I MIGHT have done or said. In such cases, you almost want to ask the “other” person (or video camera you did not see until later) if you did anything you should feel embarrassed about.

Does this make me self-conscious? It certainly does, but for the most part, in a productive kind of way. I don’t spend my time worrying about what others think about me, but I do make a point of TRYING not to give them something negative to think about me. I try to remain aware of my surroundings, and act appropriately, especially if I am a religious Jew among non-religious people. I am wary about creating a Chillul Hashem—Profanation of God’s Name.

One really good piece of advice for avoiding embarrassment is, never ASSUME you are alone, KNOW you are not alone. How many people have been caught doing the funniest things on hidden cameras? How many “hysterical” videos have been posted over the years revealing the antics of people who thought they were free of the public eye, much to THEIR embarrassment? Some lenses can take pictures from a 275 miles away, not that you could be caught doing anything discernible from that distance.

Unless we’re talking about God’s lens. He can take “shots” from Heaven and they all come out crystal clear. He doesn’t need to blow up any of His pictures, and even if He did they would not come out grainy at all. They are all high density resolution, so there’s no mistaking who the subject is: You.

Unlike the CIA, FBI, KGB, etc., God doesn’t mind us knowing that He has us in His frame. On the contrary, He PREFERS it. He wants us to be self-aware at all times before Him, telling ourselves, “God is watching what I am doing. Is this something I have worry about?” It’s called, “Fear of God,” and it is one of the most important traits to develop for going to the World-to-Come and avoiding Gehinom.

Fear of God therefore is THE weapon of choice against the yetzer hara. The yetzer hara works overtime at convincing a person that what they are doing is not so bad after all. The person knows what they are doing is not right, but their desire to do it is so great that resisting it is “painful.” The yetzer hara breaks the deadlock by telling a person that the sin they want to do isn’t so bad, or maybe not a sin at all. In some cases it may even convince the person that it is a “mitzvah”.

Getting caught in the act usually provides instant context. There are few things as telling as the face of child who gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar. The excuses, rationalizations, and justifications may flow from his mouth to save his life, but his face screams out, “GUILTY AS CHARGED.” Facing his punishment, he will even ask himself, “Was it really worth it in the end?”

Within a human context, the answer can still come back “yes.” Humans are not all-knowing, and some bank robbers have outsmarted even the most sophisticated security systems. Crime is so rampant, “Blue Collar” and “White Collar,” because it can pay quite well, if and when you get away with it.

Within a Heavenly context, there is no such thing as crime paying. Heaven may take its time in exacting payment for a crime, perhaps even after a person has died. But pay they will, and ALWAYS in a way that will make the person ask, “What was I thinking when I did that? I must have been out of my mind when I thought it was worth it!”

Well, that’s how the Talmud phrases it:

A person does not sin unless a spirit of insanity enters them. (Sotah 3a)

Take a Sotah, for example, the suspected adulteress. A known adulteress did not go through the procedure discussed in this week’s parsha. If there were witnesses to his sin, she and her accomplice were given capital punishment. If the sin was not witnessed in such a way as to make her culpable of death by Bais Din, then Heaven took care of it another way.

To become a Sotah, a woman had to be warned by her husband in front of witnesses to not be in seclusion with a particular man. If she was caught by witnesses in seclusion with that particular man for a specific period of time, but denied any wrongdoing, then she was brought up to the Temple to be tested as a Sotah. If guilty, she and her co-sinner died gruesome deaths. If innocent, then she was blessed instead.

The question often asked is, if the woman was innocent, why must she go through such a humiliating experience. The answer usually given is, she may have been innocent of adultery, but she should never have ended up in a situation of suspicion, especially once she was warned. It was her lack of “social context” that put her in a circumstance requiring her to not only clear her name, but erase Hashem’s Name to do it. That is VERY serious.

Ultimately, there is a difference between a person who is just on the good boat “Life” for a pleasure cruise, and a person who is sailing through life with a mission. The first person is far less aware of himself or his context, focused more on what life can give to him than what he can give to life. It’s the way that most people go through life, especially today, which is why the divorce rate soars.

The second person, like a spy on a mission, does just the opposite. They are very unfocused on the experience they could be having, and more focused on who they are, what they are doing, and what is happening around them. They know that the slightest distraction can cost them their life. They appreciate how the slightest indulgence can ruin their mission.

We are not spies, and we don’t have to worry about our physical safety to such an extent. We can have fun. We can indulge a fair bit. But, like a spy, we can never lose track of context. We have to be aware of ourselves, and of what we are doing, not because a hostile enemy wants to take us down. It is because a loving God wants to raise us up. He WANTS us to succeed. He WANTS us to go to the World-to-Come, and wants to help us avoid the pitfalls created by our yetzer hara.

The best thing about this, besides the fact that we will live far more productive lives, is that God will have our backs. If He sees that we do the best we can to remain aware of actions in order to keep them true to Him, then God will watch out for us when we cannot in order to help us accomplish that goal. As the Talmud says, “If a person sanctifies himself a little, they will sanctify him a lot” (Yoma 38b).

The Religion of Racism

by Daniel Greenfield

Obama once called slavery, “America’s original sin”. Jim Wallis, a member of Obama’s White House Faith Council, has a book out titled, "America's Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege".

Accusations of sinfulness usually tell us more about the values of the accuser than the accused.

If racism is America’s original sin, then its redemption lies in anti-racism. For liberal theologians, Christian and Jewish, who no longer believe in the traditional biblical sins, racism is a godsend. It provides the moral drama of damnation and redemption, confession and absolution, in a way that is compatible with the larger secular culture and their own political ambitions.

Fighting racism isn’t just a cause, it’s a religion. And all that remains of major religious denominations.

The most resonantly dramatic events for Christian and Jewish liberal denominations remain the fight against slavery and the struggles of the civil rights movement. They revisit and recreate them ceaselessly. And each protest movement, whether it’s Muslim migrants at airports, illegal aliens from El Salvador at the border or Black Lives Matter racists at coffee shops, is a religious revival experience.

The trouble is that the hunt for this particular sin has come to pervade our legal system, taint workplaces, terrorize campuses and unleash social media mobs on random offenders. We are not in a libertine age just because sexual morality is as dead as disco and drugs are on the verge of being legalized. The sins of traditional morality have been replaced by an even more ruthless moral code.

Employees, employers, students and businessmen still fear being fired, expelled and hounded out of society for offending the sensibilities of a fanatical sect and its zealous enforcers. They hide behind hypocrisy, denouncing others while living in terror that their own private offenses will be outed.

A drunken tweet, an indiscreet joke or a mere implication can end even the most respected career.

The religion of racism has become a twisted creed that has perverted its own origins. What began as a unitary effort to bring together different races around religion has instead become a cult that uses its beliefs to divide us with white people as perpetual sinners and black people as unstained saints.

Its fetishization of black victimhood is bad for black people and its conviction that white people are inherently sinful is bad for everyone. As real racism has diminished, its conviction in the ubiquity of this particular sin has not. Fighting the overt discrimination of segregation turned into hunting for covert bigotry by working backward through disparate impact creating a guilt through lack of association.

If black people weren’t visiting national parks or living in sufficient numbers in Utah, it was evidence that national parks and Utah were racist. Racism was no longer something to be discovered by witnessing its presence, but by noting the absence of some ideal multicultural diversity statistic. Civil rights shifted from lifting state sanctions that mandated discrimination against black people to imposing state sanctions that mandated discrimination on behalf of black people. Like the segregationists, they were abusing government power to impose the version of the ideal racial balance that they wanted to see.

The absence of the realization of this vision became its own evidence of racial sinfulness.

One fundamental difference between a free society and an oppressive society is that the former punishes bad behavior while the latter punishes the absence of good behavior. A free society, such as America, punishes theft. An oppressive society, such as the Soviet Union, punished the failure to work.

When civil rights shifted from punishing mandatory segregation to punishing the lack of integration, it ceased to be a movement pursuing freedom and instead became a totalitarian movement.

Racism diminished, but the religious, emotional and financial need for its existence on the part of the religion of racism did not. Their mission became manufacturing racism. The most mundane interactions were reinterpreted through the discriminating eye of the microaggression. Otherwise neutral institutions were accused of pervasive whiteness. Racism ceased to be an observable interaction between individuals and became the unseen gluonic binding block of all social matter in America.

The religion of racism had reached its logical conclusion. It was no longer the absence of black people, but the presence of white people that was racist. Racism was America’s original sin. White people carried it everywhere with them like radiation. To be white was to have your body and your mind, your thoughts, your writings and even the inanimate objects around you be infected by racial radioactivity.

Racism was no longer an objectively measurable phenomenon. It had taken on all the characteristics of metaphysics. It was everywhere and yet undetectable. It was transmitted by the immutable nature of race, a phenomenon that was paradoxically a construct and yet inflexibly inescapable.

Every tragedy, grievance and outrage was ultimately attributed to this primal evil and original sin.

Political opposition to Obama, poor water management decisions, infant mortality rates, environmental shifts, the vagaries of entertainment industry casting, gun violence and a thousand others could be put down to racism. The religion of racism, like all religion, had found something that explained everything.

To understand America, all you had to do was understand racism. And then you would know that we were a country perpetually divided between privileged white people and powerless minorities.

Implicit bias is the final catechism of a faith in racism. It is a pseudo-religious ritual whose purpose is to force its victims to confess their sins and assert its doctrinal belief in the innate racism of white people. Like all cults, it does this through the familiar brainwashing process of challenging and breaking down identity, through twisted reasoning and emotional abuse, and then reconstructing it in its own image.

To its believers, implicit bias is the truth that we are all racist. But that we can be saved from our racism by confessing it. Activism is penance. Denounce others and you too can make it to multicultural heaven.

The religion of racism has the right to believe in its hateful creed. What it does not have the right to do is enforce it on others. And yet the left has made a mockery of the separation of church and state by making its own secular religion, obsessed with planetary and racial damnation, into a national creed.

And, like all efforts at imposing a religion, it has led to a religious war which some call a culture war.

The religion of racism is less concerned with actual racists, than with racial unbelievers. The ultimate heresy, the one it’s rooting out with implicit bias and extreme prejudice, is that racism isn’t everywhere. And it’s not a burning national crisis that requires handing out unlimited witch hunting powers.

The theocrats of social justice prefer opposing views to skepticism. The existence of racists reaffirms their belief in the defining power of racism. It’s the skeptics of racism who are the real threat.

If you don’t believe that racism is significant, you challenge their entire reason for being.

And the religion of racism meets these challenges by manufacturing a racial crisis as it strings together anecdotal incidents from a Waffle House to a New York City apartment to a student dorm to a coffee shop, to support its unified field theory of universal bigotry and suppress skepticism about its powers.

The puritanical panic has less to do with fear of racism than the emotional needs of the witch hunters. Informing on your neighbors, denouncing fellow students and becoming the center of attention is emotionally fulfilling for the same psychological reasons that it was for the Salem accusers, the Parisian mobs of the French Revolution and the rampaging Communist students of the Cultural Revolution.

But beyond the twisted psychology of the activist accusers, the judges of kangaroo courts and the town criers of the media eager for scalps, the human sacrifice of the purge releases social tensions. This was the social function of human sacrifice. The shocking spectacle of bloodletting, the mob psychology and adrenaline release, relieved the fears and anxieties bedeviling society and left them feeling cleansed.

The constant hunt for scapegoats is a feature of an anxious society fearful for the future. Social justice scapegoating gives a generation on the edge of history a temporary sense of control by abusing others.

The left likes to believe that it’s a positive movement, defined by its utopian aspirations, not its brutal tactics. But it is a movement built on fear and hate, on a historical inevitability that is premised not on human progress, but on human collapse, on inescapable problems and necessarily ruthless solutions.

The religion of racism isn’t unique to America. But there is something special about it in this country. It stinks of the soured beliefs of liberal religious denominations, their loss of faith in God and man, and their growing conviction that salvation lies only in men wielding the unlimited power of their governments.

Lefty Anti-Semitism is a Serious Problem With a Long History

by Daniel Greenfield

When D.C. Councilmember Trayon White came under fire for blaming Jews for controlling the weather, dumping a Holocaust Museum tour and donating to an anti-Semitic Nation of Islam event, the loudest voice in his defense came once again from the Working Families Party. The WFP is a spinoff of ACORN.

Rafael Shimunov, the WFP’s Creative Director, claimed that each exhibit of the Holocaust Museum was a “new trap” as the "under educated Black man was followed by rich white people waiting for him to say something offensive." Shimunov, a member of the anti-Israel hate group If Not Now, had previously also defended Keith Ellison and Linda Sarsour over their own anti-Semitic comments and history.

White isn't an "under educated Black man" victimized by the Holocaust Museum's exhibit “trap.” He has an MA in Public Administration and a BA in Business Administration. He’s a bigot. Not a victim.

But why would a senior figure in the WFP waste his time defending Trayon White’s anti-Semitism?

Before Trayon White made headlines for his bizarre claims of Jewish weather control, he had been backed by lefty activist groups that are political allies of the WFP. White had been endorsed by D.C. for Democracy along with other anti-incumbent insurgents. He also received the backing of Jews United for Justice. There aren’t a whole lot of Jews in Trayon’s district, but, despite its name, JUFJ isn’t really a Jewish group. Like the WFP, it’s a Soros organization. And it kept trying to cover for Trayon.

But this sort of thing keeps happening to the Working Families Party.

Laurie Cumbo, a WFP endorsed New York City Council candidate, explained black anti-Semitic violence by claiming that Jews with "bags of money" were trying to force black people out.

"We don’t want to ruin the lives of young people who are too young to understand," she said, of the attackers.

In early April, New York State Assemblywoman Diana Richardson allegedly made some nasty remarks about Jews. Richardson was the WFP's candidate. And its first big State Assembly win. The Jewish Press called on Richardson to resign. And I reached out to figures within the WFP to ask them to condemn her bigotry. There was no response. The WFP doesn’t condemn anti-Semitism. Instead it defends it.

Linda Sarsour had praised Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. She even defended Farrakhan against accusations of anti-Semitism from, what she called, the “Jewish media.” Her efforts to marginalize Jews, celebrating stone throwing against Jews and BDS activism were met with Jewish protests. Four top WFP officials, Dan Cantor, its National Director, Joe Dinkin, its National Communications Director, and Bill Lipton, its New York State Director, signed a letter defending her.

Cantor and the WFP have also been enthusiastic proponents of Keith Ellison even though the longtime former Nation of Islam member had a very ugly history of anti-Semitism. The Minnesota Daily opinion editor, Michael Olenick, had even described Ellison’s writing as "a genuine threat to the long-term safety and well-being of the Jewish people." But that wasn’t a problem for the Working Families Party.

And these incidents keep popping up around the WFP and its candidates.

Some years ago one of the WFP’s field directors had to be fired from a state campaign over social media ugliness aimed at Israel. Next month, the Party pulled its support for the candidate’s campaign.

The WFP operates on the margins of the far left. And its candidates, like Cynthia Nixon, its pick for New York governor, who signed a BDS petition by the anti-Israel JVP hate group, tend to be on the anti-Israel side of the aisle. Bill Lipton’s social media and Rafael Shimunov’s activism make it rather clear that top figures in the radical group share the left’s traditional hostility to the Jewish State.

But the cases of Trayon White, Cumbo and Richardson show a comfort level with anti-Semitic bigotry in the black community that has nothing to do with Israel. Even Keith Ellison’s old history of defending anti-Semitism by Khalid Abdul Muhammed (“that old no-good Jew, that old imposter Jew, that old hooked-nose, bagel-eating, lox-eating… just crawled out of the caves and hills of Europe, so-called damn Jew”) to Joanne Jackson ("Jews are among the most racist white people I know") had nothing to do with Israel.

Women’s March leaders like Tamika Mallory have tried to change the topic from anti-Semitism to Israel. But Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism isn’t motivated by Israel. The Nation of Islam predates the rebirth of the Jewish State. The stereotypes that Cumbo, White and Richardson are drawing on are even older.

And the left has a long, ugly history of trafficking in those stereotypes.

"What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly God? Money. Money is the jealous god of Israel, in the face of which no other god may exist," Karl Marx ranted.

Like some of the WFPers, Marx had Jewish ancestors, but that didn’t interfere with his anti-Semitism.

The same idea was put forward by Pierre Leroux, who had coined the term ‘Socialism’, "When we speak of Jews, we mean the Jewish spirit, the spirit of profit, of lucre, of gain, the spirit of commerce."

Charles Fourier coined the term, "feminism". "The Jewish nation is not civilized," he wrote. "It devotes itself exclusively to traffic, to usury, and to mercantile depravity."

"Every government having regard to good morals ought to repress the Jews," he demanded.

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, the father of anarchism, made him seem downright benevolent. "The Jew is the enemy of the human race. One must send this race back to Asia or exterminate it.”

It’s not hard to see how the racial nationalism and socialism of the Nazis emerged. And it’s equally easy to see the same political elements at work among some of the WFP’s anti-Semitic allies.

The Working Families Party doesn’t have an anti-Semitism problem because of Israel. Neither does Jeremy Corbyn in the UK. The Labour Party’s ugly history of anti-Semitism goes back to its roots in the National Socialist Party and Henry Hyndman. "The attack upon the Jews is a convenient cover for a more direct attack at an early date upon the great landlords and Christian capitalists," the founder of England’s first Socialist political party had urged. Anti-Semitism is a class warfare political distraction.

When Rafael Shimunov defends anti-Semitism by talking about “rich white people”, it’s hard not to hear the historical echoes of the way that the left has always used class warfare to justify the hatred of Jews.

The conspiracy theories, Jews controlling the weather, may be goofier than ever, but Trayon White had fastened on a classic anti-Semitic obsession of the left. It’s the very same one that touched off the latest round of condemnations of Corbyn’s anti-Semitism in the UK. That’s not a coincidence. It’s a pattern.

The left knows that class warfare sells better when packaged with anti-Semitism. Israel is just an excuse. Using Jews as economic scapegoats appeals to the petty tribal bigotries of the districts that the WFP is after. The WFP tweets a lot about the Nazis even while it borrows their politics of racial resentment.

And that’s why the Working Families Party has an anti-Semitism problem.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Yishai Fleisher Show: Samsonite

Rabbi Ari Kahn: Parashat Naso - Authentic Holiness

Palestinians: Americans Now Legitimate Targets

by Bassam Tawil
  • Ultimately, it is all about money. The Palestinian Authority is desperate for US financial aid; without it the Palestinian leadership would not be able to survive. So the Palestinians are hoping to extort protection money from the Americans. It is like saying, "You see what will happen to you if you stop funding me? It could always get worse for you. I suggest that you restore my accountability-free funding, and perhaps I will see to it that you do not get hurt."
  • The Americans should call the Palestinian bluff and send a warning to the Palestinian leadership that there will be consequences for their rhetoric and actions if they do not cease the incitement and brainwashing. The US should use the money as leverage to demand this from the Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority needs your money and you have the right to demand something good in return for it. There is no reason why any American should be funding the same Palestinian propaganda machine that is inciting not only against Israel, but also against the US and its citizens.

Now it is official: Palestinians view the US as an enemy. Anti-US rhetoric comes from Palestinians representing all walks of life -- from President Mahmoud Abbas to ordinary citizens in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Some Palestinians even see US citizens and officials as "legitimate targets" for violent assaults. Pictured: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. (Photo by Kevin Hagen/Getty Images)

There is a new development in Palestinian hatred of the Trump administration: the Palestinian leaders' verbal attacks on the US are now being translated into acts of violence against US delegations visiting Palestinian communities in the West Bank.

The Palestinian campaign against the US began in December 2017, when President Donald Trump made his announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and escalated after he announced that the US embassy in Tel Aviv would be moved to Jerusalem.

The anti-US rhetoric has come from Palestinians representing all walks of life -- from the most senior, including President Mahmoud Abbas, to ordinary citizens in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and from secular groups such as the ruling Fatah faction to extremist Islamist organizations such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

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Immortal Bulls

by Rabbi Ben Tzion Spitz

Higher than the question of our duration is the question of our deserving. Immortality will come to such as are fit for it, and he would be a great soul in future must be a great soul now. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

As part of the consecration ceremonies and rituals that surrounded the establishment of the Tabernacle in the desert, the princes of the tribes of Israel donated to the Levites twelve bulls along with six wagons to be pulled by them. These wagons, pulled by a pair of oxen each, enabled the transport and delivery of the materials required for the service to be done in the Tabernacle.

Rabbeinu Bechaye on Numbers 7:3 (Naso) quotes a Midrash showing Moses, the ultimate negotiator vis-à-vis God, exhibiting some concern about these animals. Moses is quoted as basically saying, “God, what if one of these bulls die? One of the wheels of the wagons would break, then the sacrifice of the princes would be nullified, and the service of the Tabernacle would become void!”

God responds to Moses: “Moses, you’re right! Therefore, these bulls will live forever.”

The Midrash doesn’t leave well enough alone with that. In typical Talmudic fashion, the Rabbis have a debate as to how long the bulls of the Tabernacle lived. The Sages state that the bulls lived until the construction of the first Temple in Jerusalem (over 480 years later), when King Solomon offered them as sacrifices in that consecration ritual. Rabbi Meir, however, disagrees, and states that the Tabernacle bulls continue to live to this day, that they never aged, never got any blemish and never got ill.

Rabbeinu Bechaye draws out an additional lesson from the above Midrash. He states that if these bulls, these simple creatures, gained eternal life by merely being beasts of burden around the holy work of the Tabernacle, then how much more so are we assured of eternal life by attaching ourselves to God, the Eternal, the Creator of the universe.

May we always be attached to God and to holy work, as simple or as menial as it might be.

Shabbat Shalom.

To Bless His People Israel with Love

by HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir

G-d introduces the priestly blessing by saying, “This is how you must bless the Israelites” (Numbers 6:23). Rashi comments, “Bless them in such a way that everyone hears it -- Not hurriedly or hastily, but devoutly, with a full heart.”

The relationship between two people can be discerned not just by what they say to each other, but by how they say it, by the style and spirit in which the words are spoken. Such factors reveal a speaker’s attitude, as in our morning prayers: “All accept the rule of the kingdom of heaven, one from the other... in serene spirit.” Indeed, the kohen who is commanded to bless the Jewish People must do so lovingly, for the kohen’s role is to show Israel benevolence, to shower them with bounty and goodness, and to strengthen their spirit. All this is possible only through love. Just as in education, the secret of success is abundant love between parent and child and between child and teacher, so too, abundance and goodness grace the Jewish People through the kohanim blessing them with love. G-d responds to them in accordance with their love, as Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato explains: “The greater one’s love for Israel, the greater love G-d shows one” (Mesilat Yesharim).

Today, Israel are in great need of the priestly blessing. We also greatly need to follow in the path of Aaron the Kohen Gadol [high priest], who “loved peace and pursued it, loved his fellow man and brought him near to the Torah” (Pirkei Avot Ch. 1:12). Through increasing our love and faith, may we merit salvation and complete redemption, speedily in our day. Amen!

Looking forward to complete salvation,
Shabbat Shalom.

Modesty Leads to Torah

by HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Nasi HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh

Sefer Bamidbar opens: "Hashem spoke to Moshe in the Wilderness of Sinai." (Bamidbar 1:1) What is the previous verse? "These are the commandments that Hashem commanded Moshe to Bnei Yisrael on Mt. Sinai." (Vayikra 27:34) Chazal comment in Yalkut Shimoni (I:684):

At the time that Bnei Yisrael received the Torah, the nations of the world were jealous of them. They said: Why are these worthy of drawing closer [to G-d] than all the [other] nations?G-d said to them: Bring your genealogical books just as Bnei Yisrael bring, as it says, "They established their genealogy according to their families." This is what it says, "These are the commandments," and adjacent to it, "Count the heads" – they merited to take the Torah only on account of the genealogy.

Why were the nations jealous; who stood in their way? After all, G-d went around to all the nations and they refused the accept the Torah?!

The sefer G'lilei Zahav explains this issue based on a Midrash in Parshat Naso (Rabbah 13:3):

"A man's pride will bring him down low" (Mishlei 29:23) – this is [Mt.] Tavor and Carmel, who came from the end of the world, proud to say, "We are high and G-d will give the Torah on us.""But a lowly spirit will support his honor" – this is Sinai that lowered itself to say, "I am low." Therefore, G-d placed His honor on it, and gave the Torah upon it, and it merited all this honor, as it says, "G-d descended upon Mt. Sinai."

Chazal taught us that one who is haughty cannot receive the Torah. Only one who has the traits of his Master, to despise haughtiness and choose the trait of humility and low-spiritedness can receive the Torah. Thus, it says in Masechet Megillah (29a): "Why do you prance, O you mountains of majestic peaks" - Why do you want to adjudicate with Sinai? All of you are blemished relative to Sinai ... Rav Ashi said: This teaches that one is haughty is blemished." A haughty person who learns Torah – it does not remain with him. Chazal also say (Ta'anit 7b): Why is the Torah compared to water? Just as water leaves a high place and goes to a low place, so, too, words of Torah are not upheld other than in one whose mind is low-spirited.

This is the nature of Israel that they inherited from their forefathers: "Not because you are more numerous than all the peoples did Hashem desire you and choose you, for you are the fewest of all the peoples." (Devarim 7:7) Chazal taught: I desire you – because even when I give you greatness you minimize yourselves.

The Holy and the Mundane

by HaRav Zalman Baruch Melamed
Rosh HaYeshiva, Beit El

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

Our sages of Blessed Memory compared the Sin of the Golden Calf with the plight of the unfaithful wife, the "Sotah", that appears in this week’s Torah portion. Immediately following the Giving of the Torah - Matan Torah - after the wedding of the Community of Israel with the Holy One Blessed be He, we, the nation of Israel, "went astray." Just as the Torah mandates that the Sotah be made to drink a special liquid as part of the process of determining her guilt, Moshe Rabeinu obligated the Jews - in the wake of the sin of the Golden Calf - to drink a special liquid mixture. Whomever had participated in the sin of the Calf was smitten as a result.

What was unique about the "Sotah" water? How did it determine whether or not a particular woman - suspected of infidelity - was truly unfaithful to her husband?

To understand the dynamic at work here, we should note that the liquid was composed of water, "Mayim Chayim", dust from the Tabernacle ("Mishkan"), and crushed parchment from a scroll on which several verses and the name of God were written. All of the ingredients were mixed together into a holy drink; if an unfaithful wife partook of it, she would be smitten. A process, described graphically by the Torah, begins - ultimately leading to her tragic death.

The procedure of the Sotah teaches us that holiness and moral turpitude, spiritual impurity, simply cannot live under the same roof. Thus, when they confront one another, there is a clash - a sort of "explosion" - that leads to the death of the sinner. If the woman turns out not to have sinned in the first place, if she has continued to live a holy, moral life, she becomes a beneficiary of additional holiness: Thus, the Torah promises, if she had earlier been barren, she now, after drinking this unique mixture, will be able to conceive and give birth to a child.

We, as Jews devoted to serving God, should be committed yet cautious not to attempt to rise too quickly on the path towards holiness; excessive tension between a newly-found holy lifestyle and the Jew who wishes to absorb this holiness, may well bring about an "explosion." This is what occurred to most of the four rabbis who entered the mystical "orchard" (see Shir Hashirim Rabba 1:1): Three of them were harmed in one way or another as a result of that experience, since they were not sufficiently prepared for their encounter with holiness. Only Rabbi Akiva, who made sure to prepare himself for that event, "entered and exited in peace" - and was, like the "faithful wife", deserving of an extra level of holiness over and above that which he possessed before the mystical encounter.

The Nazirite, or "Nazir", is a holy man. With the laws of the Nazir, the Torah provides an avenue for a Jew to rise to higher levels of kedusha (holiness) should he so choose. A Nazir is nevertheless warned not to permit anything to impinge upon his newly-acquired status. He may not, therefore, allow himself to be defiled through contact with a corpse; he must let his hair grow long, and must not drink wine.

The Jewish approach to wine is two-fold. On the one hand, we are told by King David in the book of Tehilim (Psalms) that "wine gladdens a man’s heart." Simcha, or joy, is an expression of completeness, says the great Maharal of Prague. Wine is used as a libation on the altar and is also the choice drink for saying Kiddush on Shabbat each week. One the other hand, excessive consumption of wine leads to drunkenness, to a dulling of the senses, and to an intensification of man’s animal drives.

Our understanding of the Nazir also reflects this dichotomy: >From one angle, he is considered holy, but from another perspective, he is a sinner. (Talmud, Tractate Ta’anit 11a) There are times when an ascetic approach is appropriate. This was the case during our lengthy exile, when we lived outside of our Land; asceticism, a removal of ourselves from the physical world, was a crucial aspect of service of God. Since we have returned to our Land, however, to the source of our national life, we are bidden to return to an approach that stresses not separation from - but sanctification of - our material reality . In this more holistic view, anchored in our return to Eretz Yisrael, Kedusha is attained chiefly through our elevation of the physical world...

Ascetics and Aesthetics

by Rabbi Dov Berl Wein

physical environment of the world that we live in. As I have already written many times before, Judaism abhors extremism. It seeks a balanced life style in line with the commandments and value system of the Torah. As such, as in the case of the nazir who abstains from wine and other human pleasures during his period of nezirut, the Torah asks him to bring a sin-offering at the end of the nezirut period for having voluntarily foregone the drinking of wine and his abstinence from the pleasures of human society generally during this period of nezirut. The Talmud teaches us that the great High Priest of Israel, Shimon HaTzadik, found only one case of nezirut in his long reign as being High Priest as being truly justified and purely motivated by a desire for greater holiness. The Torah does not preach asceticism as a way of life. It looks for the proper balance in life between wanton hedonism on one hand and hermit-like behavior on the other hand. It is conscious that it is often difficult to find the perfect balance in the middle at all times and that therefore adjustments have to be made according to the circumstances and nature of one’s society and times. In a generation of immorality – sotah – a tilt towards asceticism may be justified. But the Torah makes it clear that this is not ideal norm in Jewish society.

In the high Middle Ages, asceticism became a way of life amongst the Christian clergy and to a certain extent even amongst its masses. Self-flagellation, hair shirts, and other means of pain and privation became the norm of religion then. Though the Talmud ordains days of private fasting as legitimate, there is no reference there to any form of physical self-mortification. One’s body is to be treated with respect and gentility and not to be abused. However, perhaps due to the influence of the times on the Jews as well, we do find that in the Middle Ages, Jewish pietists did prescribe forms of ascetic behavior as being instrumental in obtaining forgiveness for sins committed. Kabbalistic thought oftentimes reinforced this behavior pattern, though it was never widely adopted in the Jewish world. The numerous false messiahs that arose in the Jewish world always tended towards ascetic behavior, sometimes inexplicably mingled with wild hedonism and debauchery. In later times, extreme adherents of the Mussar movement also engaged in a type of asceticism in their personal lives, though again this never became the norm in this movement, let alone in Jewish society generally. The line between restraint in one’s behavior and asceticism was sometimes difficult to find but it was always present in Jewish society. In short, the pursuit of pure asceticism was not felt to be in consonance with Jewish values and a Torah way of life. However, in a generation of unbridled hedonism such as ours, a measured small dose of asceticism would seem to be proper for balanced Torah living.

The Torah encourages aestheticism. Beauty, design, harmony, cleanliness are all part of a Torah way of life. The appreciation of the world that exists around us only reinforces our belief and gratitude towards the Creator of the universe. Beautiful buildings have always been part of Jewish tradition from the times of the Holy Temples through the grand synagogue buildings that exist in our current Jewish world. Art has gained great ground in the Jewish society and environmental issues are on the Jewish horizon. An appreciation of the aesthetic qualities of life can only contribute to the wonder of faith which is the basis of Jewish life. During the long exile of the Jewish people there were many times when aesthetics were neglected simply because of poverty, persecution and the bigotry of the host countries. The non-Jewish world resented greatly any form of special beauty in Jewish society. Jewish clothing was proscribed, synagogues were to be obscure and plain and the poverty of the Jews destroyed any true sense of appreciation of aesthetic norms and creative artistry. In modern times this situation has changed and there is a renewed interest and pursuit of aesthetic values in the Jewish world. Art decorates the walls of many Jewish homes, the infrastructure projects of the State of Israel are in the main very aesthetically pleasing (What do you think of our new bridge of strings at the entrance to Jerusalem?) and there is a growing appreciation of the simple beauty of our country. The pursuit of a pleasing aesthetic environment should definitely be part of our way of life here in Israel and wherever Jews reside in the world.

The Nazir – Yes, No, Sometimes

by HaRav Shaul Yisraeli, zt"l

The matter of nazir, one who vows to abstain from grape products, hair cutting, (and, for regular nezirut) coming in contact with the dead, is one of the noteworthy elements of our parasha, especially because of the diverse approaches to it.

The Torah does not bind one to the restrictions of a nazir automatically and does not instruct a person to accept it upon himself. Yet the Torah has several hints at a very positive outlook on the practice. First, the Torah describes the process of making oneself a nazir as being "for Hashem" (Bamidbar 6:2). He is then described, during his nezirut, as being "holy to Hashem" (ibid. 8). As the Seforno expounds: "He merited having the light of life and being ready to understand and teach, as is fit for the holy people of the generation." This is in line with the Ramban’s explanation of the sin-offering that a nazir brings after his nezirut. The Ramban says that he is a sinner, in that he had experienced the sanctity of the service of Hashem of a nazir and should have continued that state forever. When he returns to the world of physical desires, he needs atonement.

However, the Talmud does prominently cite the very different approach of Rabbi Elazar Hakapar, who says that the nazir’s sin is causing himself pain by preventing himself from drinking wine (Ta’anit 11a). The Yerushalmi (Nedarim 9:1) says: "It is not enough for you what the Torah prohibited that you forbid yourself in other things?" The Rambam writes that he had not heard a more wonderful idea than this.

There is somewhat of a compromise approach in Chazal, which Rashi cites in our parasha. The discussion of the nazir follows the discussion of the woman who is suspected of infidelity to her husband. The gemara (Nedarim 9b) says that when a person is exposed to such a negative influence that pushes him in the direction of illicit relations, it is the correct time to make an oath of nezirut. It then tells an interesting story of one whose evil inclination independently was starting to get aroused, and he decided to become a nazir in order to temper it. Rabbi Shimon Hatzaddik, who was generally critical of nezirut, was highly impressed and said: "My son, may there be many nezirim like you in Israel."

The lesson from that gemara is that nezirut is not appropriate for all, and it is not only unnecessary but harmful under normal circumstances. It is sinful to deprive oneself when there is no need. However, it is necessary and effective as a measure for emergencies, whether the evil inclination is aroused by what it sees within society or individually. We learn this concept from Shimshon (discussed in the haftara) as well. He had a stormy life of ups and downs and was endowed with great bravery but strong desires. That background helps us understand the Divine guidance that decreed that he should be a nazir, with the hope that it would help him survive spiritually as a non-traditional Jewish savior at one of the most difficult times of the period of the Judges.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Gaza Riots: Really About the Embassy?

by Bassam Tawil
  • Throughout history, the excuses to attack Israel keep changing.
  • For 8 years under the Obama administration, the Palestinians had portrayed themselves, and been treated as, the deserving underdog -- the "good guys." Now, a foreign government is actually holding the Palestinians accountable and calling them out for activities they had taken for granted, such as incitement to riot and murder, or funding terrorists and their families. The Palestinians do not like it one bit.
  • The Palestinians hate the Trump administration not because of the decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, but because it speaks truth to them and exposes their perfidy and malice. They hate the Trump administration because they see it as an obstacle on their way to eliminating Israel.
  • What happened at the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip was an act of aggression by Hamas on Israeli sovereignty. It was an act of war. Even the terrorists did not say that they were protesting the embassy relocation. The terrorists and the rest of the Palestinian demonstrators were chanting "Death to Israel" and "Death to America." They were chanting that their goal is to replace Israel with an Islamic state.
  • The idea that Hamas is concerned about the US embassy move is a sick joke. All one needs to do is to listen carefully to what Hamas is saying, namely that its struggle is to "liberate all of Palestine, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River." Hamas is saying that the protests it has been orchestrating are aimed at enabling millions of Palestinians to flood Israel and turn it into an Islamic state.

Pictured: A group of young Gazan men drag away of section of razor wire that was cut away from Israel's security fence, as part of Hamas' attempt to breach the border and cross into Israel, May 14, 2018. (Image source: VOA News)
Much of the world is convinced that the Palestinian protests that took place on May 14 and 15 were directly connected to the inauguration of the US embassy in Jerusalem.

This misapprehension can be traced directly to the international media, which helped create the impression that the clashes that took place between Palestinians and the Israel Defense Forces along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel came in response to US President Donald Trump's decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Instead, what we have witnessed in the past few days is part of the ongoing Palestinian struggle against Israel. This is a struggle that began with the establishment of Israel 70 years ago and is continuing to this day. It is a struggle that every now and then finds a new excuse to launch terror attacks against Israel and kill as many Jews as possible.

Most notably, throughout history, the excuses to attack Israel keep changing.

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Prof. Bernard Lewis – unique realism on the Islamic threat

by Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger

The litany of books and essays on Islam and the Middle East by Prof. Bernard Lewis - who passed away on May 19, 2018 - have been vindicated throughout the recent global and Middle East turbulence and unpredictability. They have exposed the self-defeating policies by most Western policy-makers, who have sacrificed realism on the altar of well-intentioned wishful-thinking and oversimplification, especially when it comes to facing the clear, present and lethal Islamic threat to Western democracies.

Prof. Bernard Lewis’ January 1976 essay in Commentary Magazine highlighted the fundamentals of the Islamic threat well before the current intensification of Islamic terrorism in Europe, the proliferation of Islamic cells in the USA and Latin America, the 2010 eruption of the Arab/Islamic Tsunami, the 2001 assault on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, the 1998 bombing of the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the 1995-96 bombings of US targets in Saudi Arabia, the 1983 bombing of the US Embassy and the US Marines headquarters in Lebanon, the 1980s rise of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, and the 1979 Ayatollahs’ rise to power in Iran:

“…. Is a resurgent Islam prepared to tolerate a non-Islamic enclave, whether Jewish or Christian, in the heart of the Islamic world….? Islam from its inception is a religion of power, and in the Muslim worldview it is right and proper that power should be wielded by Muslims alone. Others may receive the tolerance, even the benevolence, of the Muslim state, provided that they clearly recognize Muslim supremacy. That Muslim should rule over non-Muslims is right and normal. That non-Muslims should rule over Muslims is an offense against the laws of God and nature, and this is true whether in Kashmir, Palestine, Lebanon or Cyprus…. Islam is not conceived as a religion in the limited Western sense, but as a community, a loyalty and a way of life…. The Islamic community is still recovering from the traumatic era when Muslim governments and empires were overthrown and Muslim peoples were forcibly subjected to alien, infidel rule. Both the ‘Saturday people’ and the ‘Sunday people’ are now suffering the consequences.”

“….To the modern Western mind, it is not conceivable that men would fight and die [in intra-Islamic conflicts] in such numbers over mere differences of religion…. To admit that an entire [Islamic] civilization can have religion as its primary loyalty is too much…. This is reflected in the present inability to recognize the importance of religion in the current affairs of the Muslim world….

“There are two essential points which need to be grasped: the universality of religion as a factor in the lives of the Muslim peoples and its centrality….

“The three major Middle Eastern religions are significantly different in their relations with the state and their attitudes to political power. Judaism was associated with the state and was then disentangled from it…. Christianity, during the first formative centuries was separate from, and indeed antagonistic to, the state…. Islam, from the lifetime of its founder was the state. The identity of religion and government is indelibly stamped on the memories and awareness of the faithful from their own sacred writings, history and experience….

“Muhammad did not die on the cross. As well as a Prophet, he was a soldier and a statesman, the head of a state and the founder of an empire, and his followers were sustained by a belief in the manifestation of divine approval through success and victory. Islam was associated with power from the very beginning…. This association between religion and power, community and polity, can already be seen in the Qur’an itself and in the other early religious texts on which Muslims base their beliefs. One consequence is that in Islam religion is not, as it is in Christendom, one sector or segment of life; it is concerned with the whole of life…. In such a society the very idea of the separation of church and state is meaningless…. Church and state, religious and political authority, are one and the same….

“The imagery and symbolism of the [Palestinian] Fatah is strikingly Islamic. Yasir Arafat’s nom de guerre, Abu Ammar (the father of Ammar) is an allusion to the historic figure of Ammar ibn Yasir, the son of Yasir, a companion of the Prophet [Muhammad] and a valiant fighter in all his battles. The name Fatah [Fatih, the Conqueror] is a term meaning a conquest for Islam gained in the Holy War…. The Palestinian Liberation Army brigades are names after great victories won by Muslims… in holy wars against non-Muslims – Qadisiyya against the Zoroastrian Persians, Hattin against the Crusaders, Ayn Jalut against the Mongols….

“As the [Arab] nationalist movement has become genuinely popular, so it has become less national and more religious – less Arab and more Islamic…. In moments of crisis it is the instinctive communal loyalty which outweighs all others…. The world is divided basically into two. One is the community of the Muslims, the other that of the unbelievers. The subdivisions among the latter are of secondary importance….

“The war is a holy war, and the rewards of martyrdom, as specified in scripture, await those who are killed in it….

“Islam is still the most effective form of consensus in Muslim countries, the basic group identity among the masses…. As regimes come closer to the populace, even if their verbiage is left-wing and ideological, they become more Islamic….

“In the period immediately preceding the Six-Day War in 1967, an ominous phrase was sometimes heard: “First the ‘Saturday people,’ then the ‘Sunday people.”’ The ‘Saturdaypeople’ have proved unexpectedly recalcitrant, and recent events in Lebanon indicate that the priorities may have been reversed….”

The Shamrak Report: Gazans are Part of an Ideology of Hatred

by Ben-Dror Yemini
Rioters of Gaza, who are sending flaming kites across the border and vandalizing goods and fuel pipelines aimed at easing the Gazans’ life, couldn’t care less about the distress in the strip. On the contrary, they want to increase it, because that’s Hamas’ ideology - destruction and ruin.
Israelis, all Israelis - apart from a minority of hard-hearted people - are looking at the residents of the Gaza Strip with great sadness. It’s such a pity: An unemployment rate of 60 percent among young Gazans, a serious shortage of clean water and medications, and power supply only several hours a day.
Most Israelis would like to see Gaza blooming and thriving. Once, before the disengagement, there were plans to build the “Singapore of the Middle East.”
...It could have been a wonderful beginning. Without occupation. Without settlements. Without Israel. The crossings to Israel and Egypt were operated under agreements which the European Union was part of. Goods were flowing in. An entire world was watching them with a huge desire to help.
We know what happened next. Instead of Singapore, we got Afghanistan. It happened primarily because the industry of hatred overpowered the industry of prosperity. Hamas took over the strip with shocking violence, which included mass executions. The cancellation of the crossing agreements led to a siege, which Israel never wanted. But that’s exactly what Hamas wanted.
Gaza turned into a mass of oppression, distress and self-victimization. The settlements’ industrial zones turned into ruins or into jihad training camps. The strip was covered with great darkness. Once again, we learned that wherever radical Islam rears its head, the result is destruction, ruin and bloodshed. Gaza suffered the same fate. Not because of Israel, not because of Egypt, but because dark Islam provided the only thing it can provide - destruction...
Food for Thought. by Steven Shamrak
There are many millions of Muslims living in Europe. More than in Israel! It is illegal in Europe for mosques to use loud speakers when calling to pray, but in Israel it is legal. The speakers, all over Israel, start to make big noise from 4 o'clock in the morning, 5 times a day. There was an attempt to make it illegal, but at the first sign of international ‘outrage’ and pressure, Netanyahu backed off – as a weak leader he is, “all talk no action”! He has done it so many times. The last flip-flop of his was when an attempt to deport African illegal migrants was made recently. Israel needs strong Zionist leadership – not wimps!
UN rights chief slams Israel’s ‘wholly disproportionate’ response to Gaza riots. Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein claims Israel may be (but never is) in 'grave breach' of Geneva Convention and said "killing resulting from the unlawful use of force by an occupying power may also constitute willful killings, a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention". (There is no IDF presence in Gaza! UN would Love to see the 'Proportionate' death of Jews, as did the UN predecessor, the League of Nations, which was complicit in extermination of Jews during WW2 in Europe!)
Senior Hamas official Salah Bardawil told Palestinian media that 50 out of 61 rioters killed in the Gaza Strip border riots on Monday last week belonged to the terror group's ranks.(Another three were ISIS terrorists)
The UN has launched an investigation against Turkey for allegedly selling electronic equipment to Iran which is listed as banned, nuclear-related products and technologies.
A video taken of an UNRWA school and refugee camp in the Gaza Strip allegedly shows that UNRWA encourages anti-Semitism and the realization of the 'right of return' through violent means. UNRWA reportedly closed its schools in Gaza last week, allowing students to participate in the riots at the Gaza border. The United States is the largest donor to UNRWA and provides the organization with $360 million a year. In January, the Trump Administration froze $65 million in funding to UNRWA.
Israel has expelled Turkey’s Consul in Jerusalem following the expulsion of Israel’s Ambassador to Turkey in Ankara. Israeli ambassador to Turkey subjected to humiliating checks at Istanbul airport. Turkey’s Erdogan has long been a champion of the Palestinian Authority, Gaza, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood which gave birth to the Hamas. Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel has ordered a halt to agricultural imports to Israel from Turkey in response to the expulsion. (Why is Turkey still in NATOErdogan has turned Turkey into an Islamic state. Kemel Attaturk must be spinning in his grave.)
Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said he sees "no reason morally and historically" not to recognize the Armenian Genocide, adding that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan "is truly an enemy." Erdoğan recalled his ambassador to Tel Aviv and expelled Israel's ambassador. In response, Israel asked Turkey's consul-general in Jerusalem to leave. The initiative for Israel’s official recognition of the Armenian genocide by the Turks in World War I is gaining momentum. The bill, initially submitted by MK Itzik Shmuli (Zionist Camp), has been endorsed by no fewer than 50 MKs from both coalition and opposition parties.
Guatemala Moves its Embassy Back to Jerusalem
President Jimmy Morales Cabrera of Guatemala ceremonially dedicated his country’s embassy in Jerusalem on Tuesday, alongside Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, cabinet ministers and the mayor of Jerusalem, two days after the US embassy’s dedication in the capital. The Old City walls were illuminated with the flags of Guatemala and Israel. Guatemala was in fact the first nation to recognize the city as Israel’s capital and established its first embassy there in 1959.
Hamas is in complete control everywhere in the Gaza Strip... – spontaneous they’re not! Israel delivered to Hamas through the Egyptian Intelligence, that if the riots persist, Israeli assassination teams will start hunting down the Hamas leadership. Unlike the Hamas promises about taking back Israel, this is not an idle threat. (Hamas leaders are eager to send others to be killed, but not willing to sacrifice themselves!)
Hamas/PA prevented the passage of trucks with goods through the Kerem Shalom border crossing despite Israel reopening it after it was torched 3 times by Hamas. Hundreds of trucks arriving at the crossing were thus forced to turn back.
Only half of the money the PA transfers to terrorists and their families will be automatically deducted from the customs and taxes Israel collects and transfers on behalf of Ramallah. This has been the compromise proposed by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman recently in the bill to “offset the salaries of terrorists.” The original bill determined that any amount found to be transferred by the PA to terrorists and their families would be deducted entirely without the discretion of the Cabinet. (How many flip-flops can Israel make? No wonder the enemies do not take Israel’s threats seriously!)
More than a quarter of a million people have been counted in both Israeli and Palestinian census, bringing into sharp focus need for clarity on already sensitive demographics issue; Israeli statistics bureau counts 332,000 Arabs as Jerusalem residents, while Palestinian bureau counts 265,000 in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem, meaning they were counted twice.(Looks like Arabs of East Jerusalem did not inform the PA about their demographic scam!)
After dealing for many weeks with Hamas’ new weapons - the firebomb kites that land in Israeli agricultural land igniting fires and inflicting severe damages on local farmers, the IDF began using a new weapon against the kite threat - radio-controlled model airplanes with knives attached to their wings.
QUOTE of the WEEK:
“This is not peaceful resistance. Has the option (of armed struggle) diminished? No. On the contrary, it is growing and developing. That’s clear! So when we talk about ‘peaceful resistance,’ we are deceiving the public. This is a peaceful resistance bolstered by a military force and by security agencies, and enjoying tremendous popular support.” Mahmoud al-Zahar, the co-founder of Hamas, spoke to Qatar’s Al Jazeera network a day before 60 people were killed in violent protests on the Gaza border – On this point, all of us, Jewish-Zionist patriots, agree with him!Unfortunately, there are many useful idiotic Jew-haters in the West, especially among members of the press, who are so willing and eager to be 'deceived' to carry out their venomous anti-Semitic assaults against Israel!
Fight for what is Right!
by Steve Feldman (a FaceBook essay)
For millennia, the Jew has pleaded with the facts and the law to the powers that be.
From the Romans to the Spanish to the French to the English to the German to the Arab. History has shown it doesn't work. Those Jews who thought they could reason with the vicious Jew-haters ended up dead.
To this day, literally millions of Arabs and Muslims want the Jew dead. The Arab interlopers, who occupy holy Jewish land in Judea and Samaria, not to mention Gaza, openly admit it.(And they are eagerly assisted by traditional international anti-Semites in European governments and by leftist Jew-hating press!)
The Middle East conflict is not a conflict at all.
It's not about land or politics; on the contrary, it's about the Jew. The mere existence of the Jew offends them.
To think that the Jew today, even in Eretz Yisrael, still has to explain or justify defending the Jewish nation against hordes or genocidal Arabs, storming its borders, to kill and maim the Jew, underscores the savage Jew-hatred in the world and the media.
One would think that any rational human being, who looked at facts, would immediately come down on the side of the Jew, but they don't. In fact, they blame the Jew for defending himself.
Israel has, in effect, become the world's Jew. So be it!
But the Jew should not and cannot be rational with the irrational Jew-hater. It's a waste of time and effort.
He just needs to fight. Fight for what's right! Every minute of every day of every week of every year, for the rest of our lives. And our children's lives. And their children. From generation to generation.
Because the Jew did not continue to transmit the moral code by giving up or giving in. The Jew must not surrender!
Many in the world don't like it, but the Jew is an immortal force of nature. Am Yisrael chai!