Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Shamrak Report: Perpetual Negotiations Must End and more......

Kushner arrived in Israel last Wednesday as a part of the new US administration's push to begin mapping out a pathway to the resumption of direct negotiations between Israelis and PA. The US delegation then travelled to Ramallah to meet with members the Palestinian Authority.
The meeting, which included Jared Kushner and US envoy Jason Greenblatt, was tense and not successful. The American delegation came to the meeting and presented Israeli demands but there was no dialogue about restarting bilateral negotiations or the possibility of a joint-summit between Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Trump.
Another issue discussed in the meeting was the subject of incitement by the Palestinian Authority, as one of the demands brought forward by Israel was that the PA stops paying salaries to terrorists’ families. Abbas refused American requests to stop the payment, asserting that it is an “internal Palestinian issue.”
Abbas allegedly tried to present the way in which Palestinians envision a future Palestinian state emerging in the region but them Americans kept reverting back to the issue of payment for terrorist families by the PA. The American delegation reportedly would not discuss the topic of a two-state solution, a flagship issue for the PA!
Abbas reportedly also demanded an end to Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank, claiming that it is the source of violence and tension as it prevents the Palestinians from aspiring towards the creation of a sovereign state.
The sources said that the American delegation sympathized more with the Israeli side!
Kushner and Abbas agree ‘peace will take time’. The White House said in a statement that the meeting, which was also attended by Trump’s peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, was “productive” and that both Abbas and Kushner “reaffirmed their commitment to advancing President Trump’s goal of a genuine and lasting peace” between Israel and the Palestinians. (Another ‘productive’ BS in progress!)
According to a senior Palestinian official, US Pres. advisor Kushner said that Trump will decide whether parties ready for peace process or whether initiative should be cancelled based on Kushner's assessment.
FOOD for THOUGHT by Steven Shamrak
Fake Palestinians and even Arab states or Iran are not the main threat to Israel! The lack of will to behave as the proud leaders of an independent state and take decisive actions against enemies to secure the future of Jewish people by all consecutive governments of Israel is the main problem! Please, read - The Sinai Option: Road to Permanent Peace!

Via PayPal $10,  $18,  $36,  $72,  $100,  $180,  $260
Yoram Cohen, former director of the Israeli Security Agency (a.k.a. Shabak or Shin Bet), said that, in his view, “reaching an agreement with the Palestinian Authority is a national Israeli interest and should be sought,” however, “In light of sizeable gaps, lack of trust, and an absence of readiness for serious compromises from the Palestinian side, and the fact the Palestinian Authority is unable to provide an effective response to terror threats, it is difficult for me to envision the possibility of reaching a political agreement in the coming years.” (Not all ‘dreams’ are perfect and attainable – Israel must take control of its future!)
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said that the next war with Israel could see thousands of Shia militia fighters join forces with Hezbollah to fight Israel. “This could open the way for thousands, even hundreds of thousands of fighters from all over the Arab and Islamic world to participate – from Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan,” he said in a speech broadcast on television. (Step Two – remove Hamas and enemies population from Gaza! It is not a matter of “If”, but Israel must be ready to do it when enemies wage next war against Israel.)

UN is Blind to Hezbollah Activities

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations said that UN turning a blind eye to Hezbollah. “It is unfortunate that UNIFIL has chosen to look the other way as Hezbollah continues to operate in the region,” Danny Danon said. He denounced the “dangerous provocation” and called on the council to demand the Lebanese government dismantle the Hezbollah outposts, as required by UN resolution. (The ‘Ugly Nazi’ has been an anti-Israel body from its conception. It will do nothing to stop enemies of Israel!)

Neither the Jerusalem Municipality nor Housing Ministry confirmed or denied a report claiming that the government has ordered a de facto construction freeze for 6,000 housing units in Jerusalem. According to Army Radio, 2,200 units will be halted in the contested neighborhoods of Gilo, several thousand in Har Homa, and hundreds more Pisgat Zeev.
Israel has been regularly supplying Syrian rebels near its border with cash as well as food, fuel and medical supplies for years, conducting a secret engagement in the civil war aimed at carving out a buffer zone populated by friendly forces. “Israel stood by our side in a heroic way,” Moatasem al-Golani, spokesman for Fursan al-Joulan (Knights of the Golan). “We wouldn’t have survived without Israel’s assistance.” Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the report, claiming Israel provides financial aid to rebel groups in Syria. “We do not interfere in this terribly bloody conflict. We do, however, provide humanitarian aid...”

Drone Dome Laser Weapon System

A Drone Dome - the system detects, tracks and neutralizes hostile drones using smart sensors and electronic jamming equipment. The system, which operates in all weather with a 360-degree circular coverage, has a range of several kilometers and uses an electro-optical/infrared sensor and radar to detect a threat.

Red Cross Facilitating Terror

The Palestinian Authority is using the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to pay salaries to PA terrorists in Israeli prisons. (As usual, the anti-Semitic Red Cross pretends that it does not know about it – like it did not know about Holocaust and atrocities committed by Nazis)

Knesset Members belonging to the Joint Arab List are violating the law by encouraging and assisting an organization that incites Druze youth not to enlist in the IDF. According to Section 109 of Israel’s Penal Code, a person is subject to five years’ imprisonment if they “incited or induced a person obligated to service in the armed forces not to serve or not to report for enlistment.” 
Quote of the Week:
"I would rather have a strong Israel that the world hates than an Auschwitz that the world loves" - Rabbi Meir Kahane - And they did love it!
by Jonathan S. Tobin
As expected, the ‘peace process’ is still an anti-Israel scam. 
Time to look for alternative solutions!
...During testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson let drop a bombshell. When asked about the Palestinian Authority’s payment of salaries to imprisoned terrorists and their families, the secretary announced the problem had already been solved. “They have changed that policy,” Tillerson assured Idaho Sen. James Risch.
If true, that would be quite a feather in Tillerson’s cap. But the claim was false. A day later, when speaking to the House Foreign Relations Committee, he was forced to backtrack and admit that instead there was only an “active discussion” about the issue. But, later in his testimony, Tillerson insisted he still believed the assurances he got from PA leader Mahmoud Abbas during President Trump’s visit to the region...
As it turns out, the Palestinians are a more reliable source of information than the State Department. Within hours of Tillerson’s statement, members of Abbas’ government announced payments to terrorists hadn’t stopped and there were no plans to stop them. Indeed, they considered the entire discussion a form of “aggression” against the Palestinian people...
The problem is not just that the PA uses the massive aid it gets from both the European Union and the United States to pay for terrorism — in just the last four years, they have doled out more than $1.1 billion to those who seek to kill Jews, Israelis and Americans. But by going public about this outrage, Trump and Tillerson have staked their reputations on ending it...
What Tillerson doesn’t understand is that anti-Jewish violence is an essential element of the Palestinian national narrative. Ending support for terror is essential to peace, but it’s also an impossible ask for Abbas, who is rightly worried about losing support to his Hamas rivals...
And by announcing that the PA had already stopped them, Tillerson gambled American credibility on getting Abbas to make a promise he can’t keep. Indeed, Tillerson set back Trump’s own negotiating position because now that the Palestinians have revealed the truth, the White House can’t plausibly claim it can get the Palestinians to stop the practice.
All of which means Trump’s peace initiative is likely over even before it starts!

Rav Kook on Parashat Chukat: The Book of God's Wars

The Torah reading concludes with an obscure reference to the “Book of God’s Wars,” describing the Arnon canyon near the border between the Land of Israel and Moab. The verses are cryptic, and the Talmud (Berachot 54a-b) fills in the details with the following story:

Just before the Israelites were to enter the Land of Israel, the Amorites (one of the Canaanite nations) laid a trap for them. They chipped away at the rock, creating hiding places along a narrow pass in the Arnon canyon. There the Amorite soldiers hid, waiting for the Israelites to pass through, when they could attack them with great advantage.

What the Amorites didn’t know was that the Holy Ark would smooth the way for the Jewish people in their travels through the desert. When the Ark arrived at the Arnon Pass, the mountains on each side crushed together, killing the Amorite soldiers. The Israelites traveled through the pass, blissfully unaware of their deliverance. But at the end of the Jewish camp were two lepers, named Et and Vehav. The last ones to cross through, it was they who noticed the riverbed turned crimson from the crushed enemy soldiers. They realized that a miracle had taken place, and reported it to the rest of the Israelites. The entire nation sang a song of thanks, namely, the poetic verses that the Torah quotes from the “Book of God’s Wars.”

Challenges to the Torah

The Talmud clearly understands that this was a historical event, and even prescribes a blessing to be recited upon seeing the Arnon Pass. Rav Kook, however, interpreted the story in an allegorical fashion. What are “God’s Wars"? These are the ideological battles of the Torah against paganism and other nefarious views. Sometimes the battle is out in the open, a clear conflict between opposing cultures and lifestyles. And sometimes the danger lurks in crevices, waiting for the opportune moment to emerge and attack the foundations of the Torah.

Often it is precisely those who are on the fringes, like the lepers at the edge of the camp, who are most aware of the philosophical and ideological battles that the Torah wages. These two lepers represent two types of conflict between the Torah and foreign cultures. And the Holy Ark, containing the two stone tablets from Sinai, is a metaphor for the Torah itself.

The names of the two lepers were Et and Vahav. What do these peculiar names mean?

The word Et in Hebrew is an auxiliary word, with no meaning of its own. However, it contains the first and last letters of the word emet, ‘truth.’ Et represents those challenges that stem from new ideas in science and knowledge. Et is related to absolute truth; but without the middle letter, it is only auxiliary to the truth, lacking its substance.

The word Vahav comes from the work ahava, meaning ‘love’ (its Hebrew letters have the same numerical value). The mixing up of the letters indicates that this an uncontrolled form of love and passion. Vahav represents the struggle between the Torah and wild, unbridled living, the contest between instant gratification and eternal values.

When these two adversaries — new scientific viewpoints (Et) and unrestrained hedonism (Vahav) — come together, we find ourselves trapped with no escape, like the Israelites in the Arnon Pass. Only the light of the Torah (as represented by the Ark) can illuminate the way, crushing the mountains together and defeating the hidden foes. These enemies may be unnoticed by those immersed in the inner sanctum of Torah. But those at the edge, whose connection to Torah and the Jewish people is tenuous and superficial, are acutely aware of these struggles, and more likely to witness the victory of the Torah.

The crushing of the hidden adversaries by the Ark, as the Israelites entered into the Land of Israel in the time of Moses, is a sign for the future victory of the Torah over its ideological and cultural adversaries in the time of the return to Zion in our days.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Yehoshua – the Advantage of the Student

By HaRav Shaul Yisraeli zt"l

based on Siach Shaul, p. 420-421

Moshe did not merit to enter and capture Eretz Yisrael on behalf of the nation. His disciple, Yehoshua, about whom it is said, "the lad did not abandon the tent" (Shemot 33:11) did so instead. While Moshe’s sin caused this outcome, certainly it was set from beforehand that it would be Yehoshua who would bring the people in. (We will not get into the solution to the paradox of bechira and yediah (human choice and divine foreknowledge)).

Moshe’s failing is explained as follows: "Since you did not believe in Me to sanctify Me" (Bamidbar 20:12). The stated reason, a lack of belief which caused a lack of sanctification of Hashem’s Name is hard to understand in its simple meaning. After all, Moshe spoke to Hashem "face to face" on a level never before or after matched. What does it mean that he did not believe?

The Sabba MiNovordok (Madreigat Ha’adam, Birur Hamidot 6) explains that Moshe made a calculation stemming from his desire to sanctify Hashem’s Name. [He did not want to speak to the stone that Hashem selected out of fear that the people would say that it was a stone that had the natural powers to give water.] The mistake was that one never obtains sanctification of His Name by violating His word. The mistake stems from a person’s willingness to base his actions on his own reasoning. The spies made a similar mistake. They were afraid that the fulfillment of the mitzvot in the Land could not be done in the way it was in the desert.

Yehoshua, on the other hand, had a different position. He accepted matters with a "simple belief" without bringing into consideration the prospect of the divine word contradicting his intellectual calculations. This approach uses the strengths of being student-like. By this we mean being like a student who does not ask or investigate what he is told but accepts it with simple belief so that no possible idea can prevent him from carrying out the instructions without question. Yehoshua reached this level by being the "lad who did not abandon the tent."

The gemara says that the word "emunat (the belief of)" (Yeshaya 33:6) refers to the Talmudic Order of Zeraim (dealing with agricultural halacha). Conquest of the Land is related to Zeraim. This is where one requires belief, specifically simple belief without questioning. Therefore, if someone has any lacking in the correct type of belief even in the most subtle of ways, it is still a lacking that disqualifies him from conquering the Land.

The Red Heifer and Logic

By Rabbi Dov Berl Wein

The mitzva of the red heifer interrupts, so to speak, its narrative of the events that befell the Jewish people in the desert with the description of a commandment that admittedly has no rational human understanding in logical terms. Even the great King Solomon, the wisest and most analytical of all humans, was forced to admit that understanding this parsha of the Torah was beyond his most gifted intellect and talents.

If the Torah is meant to instruct us in life and its values, to improve and influence our behavior and lifestyle and to help us achieve our goal of being a holy people then why insert this parsha in the Torah when it can seemingly have no practical impact on our daily life or broaden our understanding of God’s omnipresence in our lives?

Though there is a section of Mishna devoted to the laws and halachic technicalities of the sacrifice of the "red cow" it does not deal with the underlying motives for the existence of this commandment and it also does not address why this parsha is inserted in the midst of the description of the events that occurred in the desert to the generation of Jews who left Egypt and stood at Mount Sinai.

We have historical record and description in the Mishna and from non-rabbinic sources as to the actual performance of the commandment in Temple times. This comes as a reminder of our necessary obeisance to God’s commandments even if they are not always subject to actual human understanding. Yet, some glimmer of comprehension is demanded by us to make this parsha meaningful to us.

I think that perhaps the Torah comes to point out the very fact that human life is in fact always irrational and that human behavior many times defies any logic or good sense. How could the generation that left Egypt and witnessed the revelation at Sinai complain about food when there was adequate Heavenly food? How could they prefer Egypt or the desert itself over living in the Land of Israel? And how could Moshe’s and Aharon’s own tribe and relatives rise against them in defiant and open rebellion?

Are these not basically incoherent and irrational decisions with a terrible downside to them? And yet they occurred and continue to recur constantly in Jewish and general life throughout history. In spite of our best efforts and our constant delusion that we exist in a rational world, the Torah here comes to inform us that that is a false premise.

If everyday life defies logic and accurate prediction then it is most unfair and in fact illogical to demand of Torah and God to provide us with perfect understanding of commandments and laws. The Torah inserts this parsha into the middle of its narrative about the adventures of the Jewish people in the desert to point out that the mysteries of life abound in the spiritual world just as they do in the mundane and seemingly practical world.

One of the great lessons of Judaism is that we are to attempt to behave rationally even if at the very same time, we realize that much in our personal and national lives is simply beyond our understating.

The Spirit Always Prevails (Parashat Chukat)

By HaRav Zalman Baruch Melamed 
Rosh HaYeshiva, Beit El

Dedicated to the speedy recovery of Asher Ishaayahu Ben Rivka

The Sages relate that Og king of the Bashan said: "What is the size of the Israelite Camp? Three square 'Parsaot' (Persian miles)." He then went and uprooted a mountain encompassing three square "Parsaot" with the intention of throwing it onto the Israelites. As he carried the stone above his head, the Almighty caused ants to come upon it, and they penetrated the mountain, until it fell on his head and became lodged on his neck. He wanted to pull it off, but its "teeth" (i.e., projecting sides) extended in each direction, as it is written: "You 'smash' the teeth of the wicked." Rather than reading it "smash" ("Shibarta"), read it "extended" ("Shirbavta"). Moses was ten cubits in height, yet, compared to Og, he was very short. What, then, did he do? He took a spear ten cubits in height, jumped ten cubits, struck Og in his ankle, and killed him.

This, then, is how the Talmud describes the confrontation between Moses and Og king of the Bashan. What we have here, of course, is an idea hidden in symbolism. Og believes that brute physical might is the determining factor in war, and that one who possesses such might is bound to triumph. Og was not perturbed by Israel's spiritual strength. Yet, he was defeated. Without values, it is impossible to succeed. The "teeth" of the mountain that extended in each direction symbolize inner division and defilement - power-struggles within the ranks of Og's army.

As a matter of fact, Og's placing the mountain on his head is what eventually brought about his death via the blow in his ankle. He fell, and the stone smashed his head. The spirit always triumphs. This is what our sages wished to tell us in this Midrash. Sometimes it takes time and is not visible to the eye, yet, in the end, spirit always prevails over matter. Matter deteriorates and passes. It is large and impressive but possesses no permanency. Spirit itself possesses degrees of potency. The highest degree is faith in the Almighty and His Law; the stronger this faith is, the more assured, speedy, and complete is victory.

Israel's first war after entering the Land of Israel was with Sichon, the King of Cheshbon. It is said of Rabbi Kook, zt"l, that when he traveled in the Diaspora and spoke about the importance of coming to live in the Land of Israel. People would respond by making calculations as to whether or not such a move would actually be feasible. The Rabbi explained that a Jew must immigrate to Israel with trustfulness and confidence. This is the reason, explained the Rabbi, that the King of "Cheshbon" - which means "calculation" in Hebrew - had to be defeated first.

In our Torah portion ("Chukat") the Jewish people have come a long way. The earlier battles, in which there had been great sanctification of God's name, have passed. The Children of Israel now find themselves opposite the Jordan, in a land that will become sanctified only after Israel has crossed over onto the Western side of the river. We find ourselves in a similar situation today. We already have a number of victories under our belt, but the battle is not yet over. The Torah lights our way, and we advance with complete confidence that all opposition will be crushed in the face of Israel's mighty faith - a faith that is growing ever stronger.

US pressure on Israel? No need to panic!

By Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger

Can Israel afford to defy US presidential pressure to concede land, which is historically and militarily critical to the future of the Jewish State?

US presidential pressure has been an integral part of the US-Israel saga since 1948. However, in retrospect, US pressure on Israel has been based on erroneous assessments of the Middle East, failing to advance the cause of peace, as evidenced by the only two peace accords (between Israel and Egypt and Jordan), which were the result of direct Israeli initiatives, not US pressure.

In fact, US pressure on Israel has forced Arabs to outflank the US from the maximalist side, causing further setbacks to the peace process.

Furthermore, the outbursts of US pressure, over the last 69 years, have resembled bumps on the road of staggering, mutually-beneficial, defense, commercial, technological, scientific and agricultural US-Israel cooperation, which has exceeded expectations.

From 1948, US presidential pressure on Israel – in defiance of the majority of Americans and their representatives in the House and Senate – has reflected the worldview of the State Department bureaucracy, which has systematically misread the Middle East.

For example, in 1948, “The Wise Men” at the State Department opposed the establishment of the Jewish State, contending that Israel would be an ally of the USSR and would be crushed by the Arabs. In 1979, the State Department stabbed the back of the pro-US Shah of Iran and courted the anti-US Ayatollahs. In 1990, it considered Saddam Hussein a potential ally, unintentionally providing a “green light” for his invasion of Kuwait. In 1993, Foggy Bottom embraced Arafat as a messenger of peace, worthy of the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. In 2011, it referred to the Arab Tsunami as the Arab Spring, transitioning toward democracy. In 2011, it turned its back on Egypt’s pro-US Mubarak, welcomed the rise to power of the anti-US Muslim Brotherhood, and in 2014, it turned a cold-shoulder toward the current pro-US Egyptian leader, General Sisi.

If Prime Minister Ben Gurion had succumbed to US pressure during 1948-49, he would not have established the Jewish State, nor asserted Israeli sovereignty over western (pre-1967) Jerusalem, significant parts of the Galilee and the Negev, laying the foundations for the most effective US beachhead in the Middle East.

If Prime Minister Eshkol had submitted to the 1967 US pressure, he would not have preempted the Soviet-backed Egypt-Syria-Jordan military assault, intended to annihilate Israel, as a prelude to the pro-Soviet Egyptian hegemony of the Arab World, toppling the pro-US Arab oil-producing regimes, and devastating the US national security and economy. Nor would Eshkol have reunited Jerusalem, which has allowed unprecedented free access to all holy religious sites in the city.

Contradicting the architects of US pressure on Israel, the defiance of US pressure since 1967 transformed Israel from a supplicant to a strategic partner of the US, bolstering the vulnerable pro-US Arab regimes, sparing the US the mega-billion-dollar requirement to expand its naval, air and land military presence in the Middle East, Indian Ocean, Red Sea and Mediterranean.

If Prime Minister Begin had surrendered to US pressure in 1981, he would not have ordered the destruction of Iraq’s nuclear reactor, which spared the US a traumatic 1990-91 confrontation with a nuclear Saddam Hussein.

If Prime Minister Shamir had acceded to US pressure, retreating from the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria (West Bank), which dominate the 9-15-mile-wide “pre-1967 Israel,” he would have transformed Israel from a national security producer, extending the strategic hand of the US, into a national security consumer, a burden upon the US.

If Prime Minister Olmert had abided by US pressure, he would not have devastated the Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007, which would plague today’s global order with a nuclear Assad or nuclear ISIS.

If Prime Minister Netanyahu had not stood up to US pressure, allowing the establishment of a Palestinian state in the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria, he would have triggered an anti-US chain-reaction in the region. This is evidenced by the Palestinian track record, which would have led to the toppling of the vulnerable Hashemite regime in Jordan, causing a ripple effect which would have destabilized all pro-US regimes in the neighboring Arabian Peninsula, upgrading the geo-strategic profile of Iran, Russia, China and possibly North Korea in the Middle East.

US presidential pressure of Israel has been an inherent, unavoidable leadership-litmus test for Israeli prime ministers, whose challenge has been to overcome – not to avoide - pressure, while adhering to core ideology and strategic goals. True leaders do not sacrifice deeply-rooted ideology and long-term national security on the altar of short-term, tenuous convenience (e.g., relief from US pressure). Leaders are aware that steadfastness and defiance of pressure may injure frivolous popularity, but enhance durable respect. Fending off – and not hesitancy and retreat in the face of - pressure, has advanced Israel’s posture of deterrence, thus moderating Arab aggression.

In the battle against Iran’s Ayatollahs and other Islamic terrorists, and in the attempt to bolster pro-US Arab regimes, the US prefers a defiant and not a vacillating Israel as an ally.

The assumption that Israeli prime ministers must bow to US pressure and commit to dramatic concessions - lest they severely undermine US-Israel relations – ignores precedents set by former Israeli prime ministers, and constitutes a poor excuse for weak Israeli leaders.

At the end of a 1991 meeting between Prime Minister Shamir and Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, Senators George Mitchell and Bob Dole - which I attended and was replete with disagreements - the latter said: “Mr. Prime Minister, do you know why the Majority Leader and I absolutely disagree with you, but immensely respect you? Because you’re tough!”

Ignoring Middle East reality, US pressure on Israel has focused on the Palestinian issue, which has never been the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict, a core cause of regional turbulence and anti-US Islamic terrorism, nor a crown-jewel of Arab policy-making. Hence, the Israel-Jordan peace treaty and the recent enhancement of Israel-Saudi relations are totally independent of the Palestinian issue.

Will President Trump learn from past mistakes, by avoiding self-defeating pressure on Washington’s most reliable, effective, democratic and unconditional ally?

Will Prime Minister Netanyahu follow in the footsteps of Prime Ministers Ben Gurion, Eshkol, Golda Meir, Begin and Shamir, who generally defied US pressure – while expanding Jewish presence in Jerusalem and the mountain ridges of Judea & Samaria - and therefore earned esteem, catapulting the national security of Israel and its strategic ties with the US to unprecedented heights?

Palestinians: Why Abbas Cannot Stop Funding Terrorists

By Bassam Tawil

  • This is their way of expressing their gratitude to those who have chosen to "sacrifice" their lives by trying to murder Jews. It is also their way of encouraging young people to join the war of terrorism against Israel. The financial aid sends a specific message: Palestinians who are prepared to die in the service of murdering Jews need not worry about the welfare of their families.
  • The more years a Fatah terrorist serves in Israeli prison, the higher the salary he or she receives. Some Fatah terrorists held in Israeli prison are said to receive monthly stipends of up to $4,000. Many of them are also rewarded with top jobs in both Fatah and the Palestinian Authority (PA). Why should any Palestinian go to university and search for a job when he can make a "decent living" murdering Jews?
  • Such a plan to dry up the funds that support terrorists and their families, is doomed from the start unless these leaders reverse their behavior and embark on a process of de-radicalizing their people.
In his recent meeting with US presidential envoys Jason Greenblatt (left) and Jared Kushner (center) in Ramallah, an enraged Mahmoud Abbas (right) rejected their demand that he halt payments to terrorists and their families. (Photo by Thaer Ghanaim/PPO via Getty Images)
For the record, this is not a defense of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas or of funding terrorists. It is simply an explanation of what is taking place. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that the idea of ending payments to Palestinian terrorists and their families is a challenging one, to say the least. Old habits, especially of hate, are hard to break.
The practice of paying salaries to terrorists and the families of "martyrs" is as old as the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which was founded in 1964. It did not start after the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in 1994. Nor did this practice start after Abbas was elected as president of the PA in January 2005.
Prior to the establishment of the PA, the PLO relied solely on Arab and Islamic financial aid to pay salaries to imprisoned terrorists and the families of those killed in terror attacks against Israel.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Jewish Power Drive: A Torah Thought for Parashat Korach

By Moshe Feiglin

And they gathered upon Moses and Aaron and they said to them, ‘It is too much for you, for all the congregation is holy and G-d is among them, and why should you lord over the congregation of G-d?’ (From this week’s Torah portion, Korach, Numbers 16:3).

Korach’s struggle against Moses and Aaron was the classic power struggle. A leader rises who is determined and delineates a goal. He is an exemplary role model and leads the people successfully. Nevertheless, some people are dissatisfied and question his authority. “Why should you lord over us?” Korach and his assembly ask Moses and Aaron. “True, you strive for a lofty goal, but your motivation is nothing more than power driven arrogance.” What is wrong with them? Didn’t they see what happened to the king of the only superpower in the world (Pharaoh) when he dared to defy Moses? What did they see that we can’t see?

The answer is simple. They didn’t see anything because they were blinded by the strongest of all human drives: the drive for power.

The uninitiated cannot understand this. A person who has not tasted the taste of power – someone for whom the safety catch on the power grenade has never been pulled – cannot comprehend just how strong this drive is. But people are willing to die for power; they are willing to kill their children and their wives to achieve it. The human race has experienced no stronger drive.

In order to ensure the continuity of life, the Creator embedded the drive for procreation in both humans and animals. And to ensure the continuity of human society, the Creator created an even stronger drive; the power drive. There is no society without leadership and few would be willing to assume the weight of the community on their shoulders without the motivation fostered by this drive. Without the drive for power, human society would return to a state of chaos.

Just as we cannot give birth without the drive to procreate, so we cannot lead without the drive for power. The challenge is not how to eliminate it, but rather, to serve G-d with all our hearts. In other words, to enlist both our good inclination – the aspiration for liberty and responsibility – and our evil inclination – the aspiration for power, to achieve our goals. The good inclination must lead and chart out the course, the framework and the rules, while the drive for power must provide the energies necessary to succeed.

Shabbat Shalom,

Chodesh Tov.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Taking Versus Giving

By HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir

This week’s parashah begins, “Korach took” (Numbers 16:1). Korach’s whole interest in life was in taking. He yearned to take the leadership away from Moses and Aaron. His legendary wealth was the result of taking. He pursued honor and desired to take it away from others, as reflected in his telling Moses and Aaron, “You have gone too far” (16:3), interpreted by Rashi as meaning: “You have taken far too much greatness for yourselves.” 

He generated controversies -- built upon insincere motives -- within the Jewish People, and these controversies brought tragedy upon himself, his family and his company: “The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their houses, along with all the men who were with Korach and their property” (16:32).

Moses, as opposed to Korach, was the embodiment of the trait of giving: “I did not take a single donkey from them” (16:16). He was humble, “more so than any man on the face of the earth” (13:3). When G-d sent him to lead Israel in their exodus from Egypt, Moses argued, “I beg you, O G-d, I am not a man of words... I find it difficult to speak and find the right language” (Exodus 4:10). Moses fled from honor, hence honor pursued him.

Right now, we must learn a lesson from the tragedy of Korach and his company. We must not be guided by selfish self-interest either on the personal or national level. Materialism must not stand at the center of our lives, since it leads to the moral breakdown of the individual and the community. Quite the contrary, we must yearn for and educate towards giving, towards altruism and morality, towards benefiting our fellow man, loving him and developing friendship with him.

It is true that we live in a materialistic generation: As Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook wrote:

“We have a tradition that spiritual rebellion will surface in Eretz Yisrael and among the Jewish People at large at the onset of their national rebirth. The material complacence which will beset part of the nation, thinking that they have already arrived at their final destination, will make them less spiritual... The longing for lofty, holy ideals will cease, and spirituality will automatically decline and wane” (Orot, page 94).

Yet the day is not far off when a revolution will transpire in the form of a great movement of repentance which will revive the nation and bring redemption to them and to the whole world. This will be the sort of repentance which stems “from the holy spirit which will proliferate then” (Ibid.). Through this, we will merit with our own eyes to see “a new light shining over Zion” (morning prayers).

Looking forward to complete salvation,
Shabbat Shalom.
Chodesh Tov.

My Conclusion from the Yemenite Children Horror

By Moshe Feiglin
Finally, most of the facts are on the table. Thousands of Yemenite children in Israel were abducted from their parents between 1948 and 1954. Some were sold to adoptive parents in Israel and abroad. Others were even used for medical experiments. On Wednesday, the government finally released some of the protocols regarding the affair, which has been covered up until now.

So now what do we do with the horrifying facts that were revealed? Will it help for state leaders who were not even born in those years to apologize to relatives of the abducted children who are too young to remember what happened? Even if we eventually learn all the hair-raising details, what can we do with the information? Where can we take it? How do we use it to create a formula that will prevent this type of evil from ever rearing its head here in the future? What is the principle that allowed it to happen and how can we eliminate it forever?

When Abraham was asked why he lied about his wife he answered, “There is no God in this place, and they will kill me.” When the government is centralized, when man decides that he is replacing God and takes the authority to run the life of another person – to decide where he will live, what he will believe, where he will work, how much he will earn, etc. – he will eventually also be willing to sacrifice that person’s body on the altar of some lofty ideology.

Where there is no God, there is no God’s image, either. And then there is no difference between man and dog, so why shouldn’t we perform some medical experiments on him? For the greater good, of course. Because where there is no God, the individual is nothing more than biological waste.

My conclusions from the Yemenite Children horror:
  • To keep a healthy distance from centralized government. 
  • To keep a healthy distance from any regime that attempts to control more and more pieces of the lives and liberty of its citizens. 
  • To keep a distance, for example, from a regime that decides that it is fine to torture tens of young boys to produce “evidence” that over one year later has not led to one serious indictment (so that the “country won’t fall apart,” as Bennett justified this recent scandal). 
  • To keep a distance from any regime that decides that it is fine to take biological samples from its citizens for biological marking – to enhance their security, of course. For the greater good, of course. 
Yes, I am talking about the recently passed Biometric Law.   That is how it begins…

Israelis Should Listen to Abbas – to Every Word

Ha’aretz’s May 29 editorial was “Listen to Abbas.” I want to join this call. Listen very carefully. Abbas is very careful to use the term “two states,” but not “for two peoples.” Because the Jews are not a people in his eyes, the two states that Abbas refers to are a national Palestinian state and a country called Israel, to which “the refugees” eventually “will return.” Two countries will be west of the Jordan: one theirs and the other – also theirs.
Abbas knows from experience that it is sufficient to wrap this hostile position in a few terms that have a friendly ring – peace, harmony – so that well-meaning Israelis will hasten to interpret them according to their own wishes, ignoring everything else he says, allowing him to blur the fact that the Palestinians have refused every serious proposal put before them.
Last month, during his visit to India, Abbas spoke of the Nakba – an injustice that, in his words, “began over 100 years ago with the appearance of Zionism with its false vision….Our people will not leave behind the issue of the Nakba until all their legitimate national rights are recognized, without exception – and first and foremost, the right of return.”
If we begin to listen to Abbas, methodically and over time, we will discover that he is not preparing himself for any compromise. 
The writer is a senior lecturer in communications and public policy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Korah: The Impure Populist Charade

By Rav Yehuda HaKohen

“Koraḥ son of Yitzhar son of Kehat son of Levi separated himself, with Datan and Aviram, sons of Eliav, and On son of Pellet, the offspring of Reuven. They stood before Moshe, leaders of the assembly, those summoned for meeting, men of renown. They gathered together against Moshe and against Aharon and said to them, ‘It is too much for you! For the entire assembly – all of them – are holy and HaShem is among them; why do you exalt yourselves over the congregation of HaShem?’” (BAMIDBAR 16:1-3)

Koraḥ – a highly respected Levi and cousin of Moshe – brazenly accused two of history’s greatest leaders of covetously assuming chief positions and elevating themselves above the Children of Israel. In what appeared to be a gallant protest on behalf of the masses, Koraḥ portrayed the Kadosh Barukh Hu’s chosen shepherds as corrupt officials unworthy of their status.

But Koraḥ’s populist charade was impure. Equality does not necessitate uniformity and Koraḥ’s accusation that Moshe sought to create a hierarchal system to benefit his family over others ignores the distinct roles and functions within Am Yisrael. Any worthy examination of the special tasks within Israel necessitates starting not from the branches but from the actual tree and its roots. Each of us is a unique expression of the collective Israeli soul – Knesset Yisrael – that shines into our world through millions of Jews in space and time, each with a distinctive function within the greater Hebrew mission.

Rather than debate the actual roles and tasks of different tribes, it is important to first understand what Israel is, as well as our unique historic mission. Our equality does not result from being created identical but rather from the fact that we each have equally crucial functions and important roles to play as part of the greater Hebrew mission. Tribesmen of Yehuda cannot be priests and Kohanimcannot be kings. Disastrous consequences resulted from King Uzziah burning the ketoret in the Temple and the Hasmonean priests usurping the throne. Not because one role is superior to the other but because every unique part of the Israeli collective must serve the function he or she was Divinely created for.

A healthy attitude fosters the realization that we are each uniquely fashioned for a very specific purpose and one who tries to negate his or her unique function in an effort to usurp the roles of others will ultimately only miss out on the experience of fully expressing his or her true inner essence.

By posing as a champion of the people, Koraḥ endeavored to incite a mutiny meant to advance himself to power in place of Moshe. And worse – by rejecting the Divine selection of Moshe and Aharon, Koraḥ was in fact rejecting the Torah.

Koraḥ was accompanied in his attempted coup d'état by a number of esteemed national leaders, securing for his campaign a stamp of legitimacy. One of his followers, however, appears conspicuously absent from the narrative following his initial introduction.

On son of Pellet had been one of the original leaders of the attempted mutiny yet he is not mentioned in the later confrontations or in the consequences that follow. The Sages teach (Sanhedrin 109b) that On’s righteous wife successfully persuaded her husband to withdraw from Koraḥ’s group. She said, “What do you have to gain from this? Even if Koraḥ is successful, he will be the High Priest and you will serve him as you currently serve Moshe and Aharon.” She then prevented Koraḥ from coaxing her husband back into the feud by sitting with her head uncovered outside her family tent. As a Hebrew man, Koraḥ would not permit himself to see a married woman’s hair and, as a result, gave up on the idea of recruiting On back to his inner circle. Due to her wise intervention and willingness to publicly shame herself by exposing her naked hair, On’s wife saved her husband from harm and protected her family from terrible catastrophe.

That we do not even know the name of On’s wife is itself a great testament to her modesty and complete identification with the Hebrew collective. Throughout our history, women have often been the source of Israel’s true inner strength. While the spotlight in Scripture generally shines on male figures, many of these heroes are only able to achieve greatness due to the loyal support and self-sacrifice of their wives. Daughters of Israel, who modestly work behind the scenes as silent partners to their husbands, often shy away from honor while providing support and encouragement from the home. The story of On is a perfect example of a man whose righteous wife was able to think clearly and take decisive action for the sake of her family and the entire Hebrew Nation.

Unlike Koraḥ’s wife, whose endless nagging and belittling of her husband had actually provoked his seditious behavior in the first place, On’s wife heroically brought her husband back from the brink of self-destruction. With a wisdom and determination so typical of Hebrew women, she succeeded in keeping On away from meaningless conflict while building a strong Torah home on the foundations of HaShem’s Truth.

With Love of Israel,
Yehuda HaKohen

Holy and Secular in the Redemption of Yisrael

Rav Uri Sherki
Yeshivat Machon Meir
Kehilat Beit Yehuda, Y'lem

The national rejuvenation of the Yisrael, which was expressed in a practical manner by the existence of the Zionist movement and the State of Israel, encompasses many different levels, which can be divided into two categories: bringing the secular to life and bringing the holy to life. Rejuvenation of the secular includes returning to all of the realms that we were unable to develop during the bitter days of the exile. This includes political, economic, and military existence, as well as our own culture and the arts.

In the early days of Zionism, religious people objected to having the Zionist Congress concern itself with culture and religion, fearing that this might inhibit cooperation between different sectors of the nation and interfere with achieving the desired political goal of establishing a viable country. Rav Kook was opposed to this approach, and he felt that it was not possible to have an authentic national awakening without a corresponding cultural rejuvenation. This means that it is necessary to become involved in culture in spite of the danger that this might force us to struggle in order to form its proper characteristics (Igrot Re’iyah, 158).

And what constitutes holy rejuvenation? We might have thought that it would consist of returning to traditional religious behavior, which is concerned only with the spiritual fate and the happiness of each individual and not with political rejuvenation – that is, that the nonreligious sector would repent and begin to observe the mitzvot. However, while it is certainly important for every Jew to observe all of the mitzvot, that is not the main focus of the “holy” rejuvenation.

The holy without the secular is weak, and it does not have the power to lift up the lives of the community and of all humanity. Secular living itself contains hidden within it a power of holiness which could not break through during the exile, the “sanctity of nature.” This will be revealed by the process of redemption (see Orot, page 45, and Orot Hakedusha Section 2, 23). This leads us to the conclusion that rejuvenation of the secular is in itself a form of renewal of sanctity and not merely a preliminary step towards the goal.

The denial by religious people of the value of the rebirth of the secular and the view of participation in the Zionist enterprise as a dangerous adventure which is liable to exact too high a price while at the same time raising the banner of religious isolation – all this will lead holiness to become weaker, since it cannot stand alone without the vitality of the secular life. Rav Kook writes:

“In religious circles on the other hand (that is: as opposed to the drying up of the holy sources by the academic secular sector), this can lead to a weakening of force, because of a lack of the secular influence... We must therefore reveal the program of unified spiritual force, since this is our unique secret which will never be revealed to any other nation.” [Igrot Har’iyah, 748].

Religious holiness, which Rav Kook describes as “regular holiness,” is no more than one aspect of true exalted holiness. Exposing the exalted form of holiness, which operates in all realms of life and appears in all its perfection through the combination of the various identities that make up the public face of Yisrael - religion, nationalistic feeling, and a cosmopolitan outlook (see Orot, pages 70-72) - is the mission of the generation of rejuvenation.

“I did not Take One Donkey from Them”

By HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Rosh HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh
Datan and Aviram accused Moshe of some very serious faults, such as not keeping his promise to bring the people to a land of milk and honey. An even worse accusation was that he took on himself to become “a ruler over us.” [Bamidbar 16:13]. From Moshe’s reply, we can see what they claimed: “I did not take one donkey from them” [16:15]. As Rashi notes, “Even when I went from Midyan to Egypt and put my wife and son on a donkey – when I could have taken one of their donkeys, I only took one of mine.”

Moshe, our first leader, teaches us how to lead the public. This is also what the profit Shmuel said near his death: “Now, behold, answer me before G-d and before his anointed one – whose ox did I take, whose donkey did I take, whom did I defraud, whom did I oppress?” [Shmuel I 12:3, from this week’s Haftorah]. Shmuel’s behavior and his wariness of taking any physical benefits were evidently part of the education he received from his mother.

In the beginning of the book of Shmuel, we are told, “And his mother made him a little coat which she brought to him from year to year” [Shmuel I 2:19]. Evidently the verse is trying to contrast this behavior with what we are told about the corrupt customs of the sons of Eli, who took advantage of their high positions for their own personal benefit. The late Chanan Porat correctly wrote that this little act of giving Shmuel his own personal coat was an act of defiance against the behavior of the sons. It was as if she said: “My son will not benefit from public property, he will not wear a coat that was bought from public funds, even if in a formal sense this would be permitted. My son will not make use of ‘a grandiose government vehicle, added pay for clothing, or free electricity.’ He will not strike to improve his physical benefits. My son will wear his own little coat.”

I remember when I was very young, when an electric refrigerator was still considered a luxury, somebody advertised that he had a refrigerator to sell. Paula Ben Gurion, the wife of the Prime Minister, called the man and asked about the terms. The two of them settled all the details. However, a few hours later she phoned the man to call the deal off, since David Ben Gurion refused to let her buy the refrigerator. He said thst most of the people were still using ice boxes, “and what is good for everybody else is good for us too.”

It is written in the Tosefta about the era of the Second Temple that the people “loved their money.” The Natziv explains that the main problem was with the leaders of the nation, adding, “And this evil inclination is still extant among us.”

You Say You Want a Revolution

By Rabbi Ari Kahn
The time was ripe for a power grab: The frightful report of the spies and the unequivocal sentence handed down were still ringing in the peoples’ ears; the Promised Land never seemed farther away. The strategy was simple: Foment unrest, and stage a takeover. The tactics employed were cynical: Collect the disheartened, and create the facade of a united opposition. The message was populist: “All the people are holy.” (B’midbar 16:3). The results were disastrous: Death and even greater despair. The leader of this uprising was none other than Moshe’s own cousin, Korach.

What may have seemed like a unified revolt was more like a chimera, an impossible confederation between Korach, from the tribe of Levi, a trio of Reuvenites, and a larger group of other men, presumably all firstborn sons who, like the Reuvenites, considered themselves wrongly displaced priests: Until very recently, it would have been the firstborn sons who would have been the kohanim,religious and political leaders who served God in the newly-built Mishkan. Members of the tribe of Reuven, the eldest of Yaakov’s sons, as well as the firstborn sons of other families, forfeited this honor through poor judgment and sin; the Levites were appointed in their stead.

Korach was both power-hungry and an opportunist; in addition, he was a first class manipulator. He was well aware of the heartfelt disappointment of those who had been passed over, and set out to use it to his advantage. In what may have seemed an act of historic reconciliation, he, a member of one of the most illustrious families of the very tribe that had displaced the firstborn, reached out to form a coalition with them. As the new kohanim, and the stewards of the Mishkan, the Levites were more than simply those chosen to replace the firstborn who had sinned; they were actually complicit in what Korach must have described as Moshe’s greatest act of “infamy,” his call to wipe out the perpetrators of the sin of the golden calf. Foremost among those perpetrators were the firstborn; the people who sprang into action and carried out Moshe’s order to kill the sinners were from the tribe of Levi – arguably, even Korach himself had taken sword in hand. To make matters even worse, Korach pointed out, there was one guilty party in the golden calf debacle who had gotten off “scot free:” Moshe’s brother Aharon seems to have benefitted unduly from his family connections; Aharon, then, was the weak link on Moshe’s team.

Korach argues that the firstborn, despite their sin, are still holy. This statement, coming from a member of the privileged clan of Levi, had tremendous impact on those who felt wronged. Charmed by his words and seduced by his apparent sincerity and empathy for their loss, two hundred and fifty men mobilized to shore up Korach’s rebellion.

Yet the two other heads of this three-headed monster cannot be easily reconciled with one another. If Korach himself will become the new high-priest, how does this help the three Reuvenites who stood shoulder to shoulder with Korach? If they are to reclaim the role of the kohanim for their tribe, where does that leave the firstborn sons of the other tribes?

The person who saw through the deception and realized that Korach’s words were no more than demagoguery was the wife of one of the original conspirators, On, son of Pelet - a man who is not only a hapax legomenon but a complete mystery in terms of his disappearance. As the rebellion takes shape, Korach bands together with Datan and Aviram, sons of Eliav, and On son of Pelet - all from the tribe of Reuven. And yet, as the rebellion unfolds, On seems to vanish. In the final act, all the other co-conspirators perish, while On is never heard from again.

The Talmud (Sanhedrin 109b-110a) fills in the details of On’s disappearance, and identifies On’s wife as the heroine of this cautionary tale. On’s wife sees that Korach is taking advantage of the feelings of guilt, frustration and loss that are running rife among the firstborn men. She understands immediately that Korach is making cynical use of their anguish, and using them as pawns in his own game. She understands that although Korach, too, feels he has been slighted, allowing him to feign empathy for the others, he will not hesitate to cast his allies aside when his own desires are fulfilled. She sees that the endgame is poorly conceived and unrealistic; the chimera really has only one head, and that is Korach; the others are being played. Mrs. On spells it out for her idealist husband: “You will never be the leader. You have only one choice to make: Will you follow Moshe, or Korah?” “My ‘comrades’ will soon be here to collect me, so that we may march together in protest,” he worries. She gives him a drink, puts him to bed, and says, “I will take care of this.”

Knowing that the battle cry of this revolution is “Everyone is holy,” (16:3) she stands at the entrance to their tent and brushes her uncovered hair. The other rebels arrive; upon seeing a married woman’s uncovered hair, they quickly turn around and walk away rather than cast their eye on such immodesty. These “holy” people were willing to rebel against Moshe, to slander Aharon, to cast aspersions on those chosen by God Himself, and to undermine the faith of the entire nation – but they were not willing to look at a married woman’s hair.

This Talmudic passage gives full expression to Korach’s manipulation and to the tragic gullibility of his followers. Korach convinces them that they are as holy, if not more holy, than Moshe and Aharon. He convinces them that they should be the ones to don the clothing of the kohen. He convinces them to take incense in hand and approach the Mishkan – despite the fact that even bona fide kohanim who brought incense when not specifically commanded to do so had perished in the Sanctuary. And like Nadav and Avihu, the 250 faux-kohanim perish. Korach, Datan and Aviram, who sent their duped followers to their deaths, do not make that mistake. They never put on the clothing of the kohen, nor do they bring incense; they know what the consequences will be.

In fact, for these three men, the entire charade had very little to do with holiness; that was merely the bait they used to lure in their supporters. For Korach, Datan and Aviram, the rebellion had been about leverage and power from the very start. They hoped that Moshe would retire in order to preserve unity. They expected that this modest, selfless public servant would retreat, and take Aharon with him.

Korach, Datan and Aviram had a very different agenda than the other participants in the rebellion, and different fates awaited them. The two hundred and fifty men who joined Korach in a desperate and misguided attempt to serve God had been led astray by a man who sought glory, power, honor – not holiness. This naïve but misguided group truly sought holiness, and like Nadav and Avihu, they were consumed by a fire that came from God. They departed in a blaze, like a sacrifice on the altar. Korach, Datan and Aviram, on the other hand, sunk into ignominy. They fell into a never-ending abyss.

Only one of the conspirators lived through this episode: On, the son of Pelet, was saved by his wife’s keen insight and decisive action. She understood Korach’s strategy, and saw through his tactics. She understood the tragic, warped piety of the firstborn men who joined the rebellion, men who saw themselves as holier than Aharon, holier even than Moshe - so holy that they could be stopped in their tracks by a few strands of hair.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Illiberal Left Attacks Christian Zionists, Again

By Ari Morgenstern

IfNotNow protesters disrupt a Boston Red Sox baseball game on June 13. 
Photo: IfNotNow via Twitter. – Every few years, a young far-left activist discovers Christians United for Israel (CUFI) and they are appalled. The idea of conservative Evangelicals advocating for the Jewish state runs counter to every prejudice about Christians the young advocate was raised to harbor. So the individual scours the internet, desperately hunting for that one item that will confirm their bigotry. And when they come up dry, they ignore, tinker with or amend the facts because they cannot confront a simple reality: They are intolerant of Evangelical Christians.

The latest example of this pattern is provided to us by Benjamin Koatz, who authored an op-ed in the Forward demonizing Christian supporters of Israel in an effort to justify the decision of his group, IfNotNow, to disrupt a pro-Israel church event. The piece does not discuss real policy disagreements with CUFI, but it makes painfully clear just how far gone are the author and his cohorts.

As part of the effort to denigrate CUFI founder and chairman John Hagee, Koatz links to a video produced by the organization We Hold These Truths. On Koatz’s own blog he notes that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) described We Hold These Truths as a “conspiracy-oriented anti-Semitic group.”

It’s not surprising that Koatz finds common cause with the darkest fringe groups on the internet since he believes, “This far-right Evangelical Zionist dominion still reads to me like political conspiracy theory.” Nor is it surprising that Koatz’s attack was published by the Forward which has an unfortunate history in this context.

While not relying on antisemites to substantiate his other claims, the rest of Koatz’s assertions are equally absurd. We’ve heard them all before, and they’ve all been discredited.

For example, Koatz argues that CUFI’s members and Hagee are antisemites. The opposite, of course, is true. And on the specific assertion regarding Hagee’s sermon on the Book of Jeremiah, that issue was closed nearly a decade ago. In fact, at the matter’s conclusion the ADL wrote a letter to Hagee noting, “We are grateful that you have devoted your life to combating anti-Semitism and supporting the state of Israel.”

In addition, Koatz also goes to great lengths to argue that Christian Zionism is motivated by eschatology. This anti-Christian stereotype has been debunked in a variety of outlets including New York Magazine. In fact, in 2011 Hagee noted the following in the very same outlet that published Koatz’s appalling accusations:

The vast majority of Christian Zionists and Evangelicals do not believe there is anything we can do to hasten the second coming of Jesus. Our theology is clear that we humans are utterly powerless to change God’s timetable. Yes, like many Jews we do believe that the creation of Israel was the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. And like our Jewish friends we also search the scriptures to understand what may come next in God’s plans for His creation. But since we are powerless to change these plans, our motives for standing with Israel come from elsewhere.

It’s plain to see that Koatz is dishonest and misguided. But what is far more troubling is that he and his group behave as if Christian Zionists do not deserve the same basic decency accorded to all other people groups.

Reasonable individuals can disagree without behaving unreasonably. Groups like Americans for Peace Now, which often disagree with CUFI’s policy positions, make their case without demonizing Christian Zionists. And CUFI discusses policy on a regular basis with those who hold a different worldview. CUFI has met with leaders that span the political spectrum, from Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to Vice President Mike Pence. At times we disagree and at others we find common ground, but never do we denigrate or demonize.

I’m not sure if Koatz and his group genuinely want to effect policy or if they are simply interested in making a spectacle, but either way, barging into a church sanctuary and advancing anti-Christian stereotypes is simply beyond the pale.

Ari Morgenstern is the communications director for Christians United for Israel.