We Should Not Pay for Your First Amendment Rights

This past Sunday witnessed various protests during National Football League games with players refusing to stand for the playing of the national anthem. This article does not address whether the protests have merit or do not. The players actions miss a basic point: people shouldn’t have to pay for your first amendment rights.

Americans have various rights under the first amendment, including to free speech. That right enables individuals who want to stand on a street corner and yell about how much they hate America the freedom to do so.

But the football stadium is not a public street.

People pay hundreds of dollars to enter the stadium to watch a football game, not to watch players express their political opinions. Fans at home also spend lots of money for cable and satellite TV to watch their favorite teams. More specifically – to watch their teams play football.

The only way that a player should have a right to express his feelings about politics is with the approval of the team’s owner and the NFL. Should those governing bodies deem it appropriate to sanction certain behavior, then it becomes part of the game like a black bandage on a jersey in memory of a player.


NFL players take a knee during the national anthem
(photo: Michael Dwyer/AP)

If the NFL and team owners approve the actions of the players expressing their political opinions during the game, then the audience can decide whether they want to spend their time and money watching such activity. But until the league and owners approve the players’ actions, it should be banned or fined.

Thomas Jefferson once said:

“To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is both sinful and tyrannical.”

Even if you agree with the sentiments of the protesters, it is “both sinful and tyrannical” to be forced to pay to propagate such expressions.


Related First.One.Through articles:

New York Times Confusion on Free Speech

Selective Speech

The Fault in Our Tent: The Limit of Acceptable Speech

Elie Wiesel on Words

Active and Reactive Provocations: Charlie Hebdo and the Temple Mount

Subscribe YouTube channel: FirstOneThrough

Join Facebook group: FirstOne Through  Israel Analysis

 

Advertisements

Your Father’s Anti-Semitism

Over the past eight years, we became convinced that anti-Semitism no longer existed, and are now astounded at its re-emergence. Why?

What We Were Led to Believe

The Obama administration informed Americans that anti-Semitism in the United States was no longer a major issue under his watch. The real hatred that the country needed to confront was the targeting of Muslims and immigrants, not Jews.

The American media reported that anti-Semitism in Europe was barely perceptible. The real issue there was the persecution of refugees.

Jewish leaders and Israeli officials explained that the Jewish State of Israel assumed the role of the World Jew, and attacks on Israel were the new socially-accepted form of anti-Semitism. So when the political left educated everyone that criticizing Israel on the world stage was something that friends do – not anti-Semites – it was obviously a tremendous relief.

There was clearly no more anti-Semitism remaining in the world.

But suddenly, as the sun set on the Obama ride, the old hatred suddenly appeared again. Not surprisingly, the left-wing told us it was all related to the rise of Donald Trump.

Anti-Semitic incidents jumped in the days after the election, mostly from vandalism. The most vocal and visible display of Jew-hatred will happen next week, as the small town of Whitefish, Montana hosts a march by armed white supremists on January 15.  The organizer is a vocal supporter of Trump, cementing the pairing that Trump and his supporters are anti-Semites (or “deplorables” according to Hillary Clinton).

And so we are led to believe that the anti-Semitism which was supposedly vanquished under the Obama years, is rearing its vile head as Trump assumes the presidency.

Reality

That narrative is not reality. Anti-semitism has always been present in the US and Europe, but simply ignored. Some of the hatred now being seen in America is simply more public and overt. It’s your father’s anti-Semitism. Old School Jew-hatred.

Over the eight years of Obama’s presidency, an average Jew in the USA was statistically twice as likely to face a hate crime as an average black or Muslim person. Obama just chose to not discuss it, and the media sought to distract attention away from it.

In Europe, the year 2014 saw waves of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel riots and actions, even as Israel tried to broker a peace deal with the Palestinian Arabs. However, the media tried to downplay the Jew-hatred. Obama refused to even acknowledge it.

As for the Nazi marches, they are not new in America. They marched in Obama’s home state of Illinois in 1977, when Democrat Jimmy Carter was president. And Bill Clinton was president when anti-Semitism came through Montana in December 1993.

brenner-montana
Frederic Brenner’s photograph of protestors in Billings, Montana
January 1994

During Chanuka 1993 in Billings, Montana, someone threw a brick through the window of a Jewish home that had placed a menorah in the window. The people of the town responded to the vandalism by cutting out paper menorahs which thousands of people pasted in the windows of their homes and stores as a common call to combat hate. The hatred did not go away, and more windows displaying menorahs were broken by rocks and bullets. But the silent protest continued. The photographer Frederic Brenner took the iconic photograph above of the townspeople of Billings hoisting menorahs, as featured in his incredible work, Diaspora.

Message

Obama focused his presidency on repairing America’s relationship with the Arab and Muslim world and deliberately chose to not focus on the more common anti-Semitism that has always pervaded society.  The liberal press followed his lead and lulled people into a false sense that anti-Semitism didn’t live here anymore. Believing themselves beyond anti-Semitism, the liberal art scene celebrated Arab terrorists that killed an elderly handicapped Jew as “a masterpiece.” In the smug shroud of self-righteousness, liberals couldn’t conceive that such actions and statements were the embodiment of anti-Semitism.

It is against this backdrop that people consider the “alt-right” and Nazi marches. Something completely alien and faraway.

It is false perspective.

Frederic Brenner’s “Diaspora: homelands in exile,” included a second book called “voices” which included commentary of many writers, historians and philosophers about Brenner’s photographs. Here are condensed reflections from two people on the Billing, MT photo:

“There, at the crossroads in the barren landscape of Montana, the citizens of Billings are brought together…. The menorah is a mark of Jewish difference. By everyone adopting a menorah on this occasion, this difference no longer distinguishes Jews from others…. We cannot hear the music, but “America the Beautiful” blares from the loudspeakers that the photographer brought to the shoot…. In this photograph, which has been shot through a glass pierced by a bullet, the citizens of Billings mass to a vanishing point marked by the bull’s-eye of violence.”

-Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett

“Never forget; never forget to see that through which you see, the apparently diaphanous element of visibility. Here that element is broken. The photograph is taken through the broken glass of a window. There is always the risk of not seeing the medium through which a view is taken. Here the medium that risks passing unnoticed, being simply omitted from the description, is the signature or the wound, not to say the scar, of an event: the breaking of glass…. The menorahs they are holding high, the seven- or eightbrached candelabrum (and not the star of David) recalls a particular event, a local violence: the brick thrown from the street through a window, December 2, 1993, against a symbol of Jewish faith. Is not the photo taken from the point of view of this window, through the broken glass itself? From the place of violation?”

-Jacques Derrida

These writers observe the protesters of Montana, calling for unity in the face of anti-Semitism. But they note the importance of the photograph itself, that it is taken through the broken glass that was the violence. It placed the viewer squarely in “the place of violation,” not as a casual observer.

And we have lost that.

In the effort to reach out to Muslims, America sanitized its anti-Semitism. Americans have now been trained to only recognize the most outrageous Jew-hatred – something foreign and obscene – as if from a different place and generation. In doing so, Americans watch the violence as voyeurs, not as engaged participants. Protests come in mumbles, not in screams. The expressions lack empathy.

Jacques Derrida continued about the photograph of the protest against Jew-hatred a generation ago: “in the background, one can see the American flag. The large star-spangled banner recalls at once the vocation of the witness (multiethnic, multicultural, etc.) of a nation that, despite the racisms and anti-Semitism that have continued to disfigure its history, takes over from the chosen people and inscribes freedom of religion and opinion in its Constitution.” America’s promise for religious freedom is actualized by Americans that take the responsibility upon themselves. And they do it the face of – and in the place of – the violence itself.

Can America truly protest in common cause with Jews when it doesn’t recognize the violence and anti-Semitism prevelant in society? After the last eight years of willful deceit, it is more likely that people will protest the president-elect and his supporters, than the anti-Semitism that they themselves have chosen to ignore.


Related First.One.Through articles:

The Selfishness, Morality and Effectiveness of Defending Others

Stopping the Purveyors of Hateful Propaganda

Leading Gay Activists Hate Religious Children

“Jews as a Class”

Obama’s Select Religious Compassion

Ramifications of Ignoring American Antisemitism

The “Unclean” Jew in the Crosshairs

New York Times Finds Racism When it Wants

The End of Together

Subscribe YouTube channel: FirstOneThrough

Join Facebook group: FirstOne Through  Israel Analysis

The Right Stuff, Then and Now

On December 8, 2016, the world said farewell to the last surviving Mercury astronaut, John Glenn, at age 95.

The story of the first American astronauts was told beautifully in a book by Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff, which was later turned into a remarkable movie of the same name. Wolfe relayed the incredible bravery of those men, who possessed “the right stuff” to handle the rigors of space travel.  The story explored the various tests that they endured, ranging from handling G-forces to being able to stay calm while enclosed in a small space for long periods of time to handling the press and their wives.

The bravery of the men and the space program itself were not without controversy. Many people thought the cost of the program was prohibitive and those funds could be put to better use at home. The bravery of the men was ridiculed, as some considered that these pilots were nothing more than “spam in a can,” performing feats that a monkey could do just as easily.

glenn_at_tickertape_parade_speech_sf_still_624x352
Astronaut John Glenn and his wife at New York ticker-tape parade, March 1962

Yet America applauded the bravery of the astronauts and celebrated the collective accomplishments of the entire space agency for the successful launches and returns of the astronauts. Ticker-tape parades greeted those celebrities from the sky, as the nation was uplifted by the courage and accomplishments of the entire space agency. The country took its first steps into the great beyond.

The “Right Stuff” Today

America doesn’t celebrate courageous Americans the same way anymore. New York ticker-tape parades are reserved for local sports teams that win national championships like the New York Yankees in baseball or the New York Giants in football.  On occasion, the city celebrates a national sports team like the woman’s national soccer team.

Instead, cable television and the Internet hoist their own heroes, and broadcast them on the screen for willing viewers.

In 2015, the sports media company ESPN awarded its Arthur Ashe Courage Award to a famous athlete that was undergoing a gender transformation, Caitlyn Jenner. The public reaction was mixed, with many in the liberal media celebrating Jenner’s courage for undergoing the surgery and coming out publicly with the story, while more conservative commentators thought that a courage award should be given to those athletes that do amazing things like scaling El Capitan with fingertips or soldiers that lost limbs in the service of the country.

caitlyn-jenner-espn
Caitlyn Jenner receiving the ESPN Courage Award

CNN attacked the Hollywood director, Peter Berg, who made unflattering comments about Jenner.  The media called Berg “hateful” and “transphobic” for his comparison of Jenner to a soldier that lost his limbs. The CNN attack on Berg moved past his comments to Berg himself, saying that he was a “coward hiding in the darkness spreading hate.”  It demonized Berg, as it considered that Berg demonized Jenner.

The Loss

Civilized Debate. Fifty years ago, people ridiculed the astronauts as being nothing more than chimpanzees sitting on a rocket. They went on to criticize the entire space program as wasteful.  However, the accusations didn’t break down into name calling and hate, but a discussion on the importance of the space program and the role of the astronauts.

Today, the accusations are more personal.

The Internet lets public comments linger forever, and enables the whole world – not just a few media outlets – to comment freely.  Today, every person has immediate access to news from around the world and their own handheld broadcast terminal.  The major media companies, left without a unique role, have pivoted to no longer simply telling the news, but to broadcasting their opinions.  As part of that effort, they decide who is courageous, not the municipality of New York. They vilify those that counter their worldview, rather than engage in a thoughtful review of “gender fluidity.”

Science for All. America once celebrated universally recognized engineering accomplishments and the people who performed feats that we could never do ourselves, even as we debated those very activities. Today our society clashes on media’s choices of heroes who perform actions that we would never do to ourselves.

Unfortunately, in that debate, we have forgotten a key message: why does our society constantly prefer to put athletes on platforms, but not scientists? Why have Veterans Day and Memorial Day simply become days for shopping and barbeques rather than days to honor people who put society above themselves?

We have debased courage. We have trivialized accomplishments. We have elevated self-interest and self-gratification over societal needs. And in that maelstrom, we have personalized attacks rather than debate concepts and actions.

As we remember John Glenn on his passing, let’s also consider the incredible teams of engineers and scientists that made his journey possible, and the courage and dedication of people who put their lives on the line for our common good. Maybe we can use that energy to advance our collective society, and debate openly without vilifying each other.


Related First.One.Through articles:

A Deplorable Definition

NY Times Discolors Hate Crimes

Subscribe YouTube channel: FirstOneThrough

Join Facebook group: FirstOne Through  Israel Analysis

Israel Has Returned Excellent Wine Making Back to the Middle East

There is one country in the Middle East that has reintroduced the art of wine making to international acclaim, after centuries of barely producing any wine at all: Israel.

Ancient History of Wine in the Holy Land

The Old Testament is full of stories of the use of wine in the Holy Land, and Judaism features wine prominently in many of its commandments.

Ancient synagogues in Israel are replete with vines and grapes adorning mosaics and columns in the Galilee, Golan Heights and Judea and Samaria. The architecture and art of the Romans who ruled in the region 2000 years ago also feature grapes and wine prominently.

aronaronclose

Ancient Synagogue in the Golan Heights featuring vines and grapes
along the portals to the Torah Ark (photo: First.One.Through)

The prevalence of vineyards and wine in the Holy Land came to a stop when Arabs invaded en masse in the 7th century, bringing Islam’s ban of alcohol to the region.  Further, an earthquake in 749CE led to a destruction of most of the synagogues and buildings that featured grapes and wine in the region.

For the next 1100 years, whether ruled by Arabs or non-Arab Muslims (the Ottomans), the land barely produced any wine at all.

Jews Bringing Wine back to the Holy Land

Some of the earliest records of wineries reopening in the Holy Land include Rabbi Yitzchak Shor in 1848, and Rabbi Avram Teperberg, who opened a winery in the Old City of Jerusalem in 1870.  The modern record of the longest continually operating wineries goes to the efforts of Baron Edmund de Rothschild, who established vineyards in Palestine and shortly thereafter the winery, Carmel, with a location in Rishon Le Zion (1890) and another in Zichron Yaakov (1892).

Winemaking spread further after the Six Day War in 1967, after Israel took control of Judea and Samaria which had been illegally annexed by Jordan in 1950. Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria in that war as well, as Syria had used that high plateau to bombard Israel’s Galilee region below it.  Israel turned both of those areas into thriving wine making regions, as they had been historically.

While there were 14 wineries in the Holy Land when the Jewish State was reestablished in 1948, there are over 200 wineries in the country today, with some estimates that include the very small wineries to being over 350 wineries.

Psagot
Entrance to Psagot Winery in the Binyamin section
of Judea and Samaria/ the West Bank

(photo: FirstOneThrough)

Wine Production in the Middle East

Today, Israel stands apart from the rest of the Middle East regarding wine production. The only neighbor that approaches the Jewish State’s fondness for wine is Lebanon, which not coincidentally, has a large Christian population.

Israel produced 31 million liters of wine in 2014. Lebanon placed second with just half Israel’s volume, 15.4 million liters. Egypt only produced 3m liters, while Syria, Jordan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the other regional countries did not rank at all.

Meanwhile, the Lebanese drink much more wine than they produce locally, 21.3m liters. In contrast, Israel consumes a small portion of the wine it produces, only 7.8m liters, and exports the rest around the world.

While the Muslim-dominated countries in the region do not produce wine, they do consume negligible amounts: Jordan consumes 373,000 liters, Egypt 225,000, KSA 114,000, and Syria just 15,000, a combined total that is less than 10% of Israel’s consumption, even while their population dwarfs Israel by over 17 times.

Medals, Awards and Notables

The Israelis have not just begun producing wine in the region again, they have perfected the art form.

Over the past several years, the Israeli wineries have produced excellent wines and have entered various competitions, including those held in Europe.  Wineries like Carmel (2010) and Golan Heights Winery (2011) even started winning top prizes at those events.

golanheights
Golan Heights Winery in Katzrin (photo: First.One.Through)

The Vineyards in Disputed Territories

Many of the award-winning wines are derived from grapes grown and wineries located in the disputed territories.

The Golan Heights was allocated to Syria under the Sykes-Picot Agreement after World War I.  Syria ruled the area until 1967, when Israel took the region from Syria to protect the Galilee region from persistent Syrian shelling.  Today, even in the midst of a bloody civil war that has claimed nearly half a million people, Syria continues to demand that the lands be returned.

golanheightsvineyards
Some Israeli vineyards in the Golan Heights
(photo: FirstOneThrough)

The land east of the 1949 Armistice “Green” Line, (east of the Green Line, EGL, or the west bank of the Jordan River) was allocated to be part of the reestablished Jewish homeland in international law in 1920 and 1922 in the San Remo Agreement and the Mandate for Palestine, respectively. However, in 1947, the United Nations sought to divide the mandate into distinct Jewish and Arab states (which the Arabs rejected). The Arabs attacked Israel in 1948, took hold of EGL in 1949, and in 1950 the Jordanians annexed the area and renamed it the “West Bank.”  The Arabs want this land for a new country to be called Palestine.

Due to the disputed nature of the Golan Heights and the EGL/West Bank, there are international efforts underway to use distinct labels for the products from these regions.  Some governments contend that labeling the products as “Made in Israel,” is inaccurate, even though countries around the world use labels in such fashion for territories regularly.  Some stores have gone further, and boycott wines and other products produced in these contested areas.  The various products made in the Israeli territories account for about $250 million in exports, or about 1% of Israel’s export economy.

It is interesting that some of the countries that lead this boycott effort are the largest consumer of wine in the world.  They include: France (#2); Italy (#3); Germany (#4); the UK (#6); and Spain (#7). One would imagine that those countries would be thrilled that Israel has brought back award-winning wine production to the region that Islam had obliterated for centuries.  The Israelis not only share their values, but export items they adore.


Israel produces a wide variety of great wines today.  The wines run from the ancient – yes ancient, as Israelis are using science to bring back old wine recipes extracted from sediment found in ancient pottery, to brand new wines like Jezreel, a new winery established by an American family that made aliyah.

For lovers of wine around the world who are thrilled to see the Jewish State bring back the holy land’s great history of producing wine which was destroyed for a thousand years, don’t just buy the wine, insist that your local store stock the shelves with Israeli wines as well.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Recognition of Acquiring Disputed Land in a Defensive War

Israel, Mother Nature’s Son

Israel, the Liberal Country of the Middle East

Subscribe YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/FirstOneThrough

Join Facebook group: Israel Analysis

Purim 5776/ 2016 Poem

Over the past few decades, there has been a growing trend in many Jewish communities to enhance the tradition of shaloch manot, sending gifts to their friends and neighbors on Purim.  The enhancement comes in the form of creating a “theme” for the gifts of food and candy, and including a poem.

This year, 5776 in the Jewish calendar and 2016 in the secular calendar, had various people using themes that included the US presidential race; recent movies; and popular singers.  Here is mine, that celebrated the infrequent occurrence of enjoying a leap year in both calendars.

How often is there a combined leap year
In both solar and lunar calendars?
One would need to look far and near
Measuring time with phased calipers.

Well, the year 2016 in the Gregorian tally
And 5776, in Jewish computation
Have aligned as natural allies,
And generated a special kind of elation.

You see, most of the world just adds a day
To that rump of a month in the frost.
While Jews go the all of the way-
Bringing a month to the front, embossed.

Jews have doubled the month of Adar
A month known as singularly happy.
Where sadness cannot otherwise mar
A people that is oftentimes sappy.

I yelled “Hooray! Two Adars is great!
Can we now celebrate Purim twice?”
But my rabbi set me straight-
“No, but that would have been nice.”

He suggested we double down on gifts-
Particularly, if serving alcohol.
But this shaloch manot has no fifths,
Yet the sentiment is the same, overall.

Happy Purim, Happy Purim!
Is our double exclamation!
Fill your own cup to the brim-
(Since Friday is anyway a vacation.)

Double Bubble, “Two”tsie rolls and Twix,
Are our way of highlighting the double.
Other great candy pairs are in the mix
As two foods get us out of trouble.

A bit more time to partake of the goodies,
In this year with added month and day.
But the shift will be quick for you foodies,
Since Pesach is still just a month away.

20160403_051611[1]


Subscribe YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/FirstOneThrough

Join Facebook group: Israel Analysis

Liberals’ Biggest Enemies of 2015

Hillary Clinton is no FDR

In October 2015, the Democratic presidential candidates held a debate. The debate moderator quoted a line from Franklin Delano Roosevelt when he ran for president in 1932 “judge me by the enemies I have made,” and asked the candidates to describe enemies they are most proud of. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responded “well, in addition to the NRA, the health insurance companies, the drug companies, the Iranians, probably the Republicans.” This response drew huge applause from both the Democratic audience and the left-wing media.

It was nice of Clinton to mention at least one foreign entity when she recalled her enemies. After all, she was Secretary of State for four years during the War on Terror. However, I guess she felt that she did not do a very good job fighting Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Boko Haram or other radical jihadist groups to mention any of them. She certainly did not want to draw attention to her handling of Libya where she overthrew the government and then let the Islamic State take over the country.  Or the way she oversaw leaving Iraq, letting the Islamic State take over that region.  Or her refusal to engage in Syria to let Syrian leader Assad kill hundreds of thousands of his own people… and cede some of that country to the Islamic State too.

The radical jihadists probably view Clinton as their best friend.

clinton_12521_7769
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with Libyan soldiers declaring victory,
October 2011 
(photo: Reuters)

Clinton did not highlight foreign enemies because they got the better of her. The one foreign entity that she mentioned was Iran, where she ultimately supported a deal that left the Iranian nuclear infrastructure intact.

No, Clinton mentioned DOMESTIC enemies. She mentioned the NRA (the National Rifle Association) which fights to protect the second amendment of the Bill of Rights. The right that the NRA defends have arguably much greater standing than Clinton’s favored group, Planned Parenthood (which she loudly defended in her remarks), which performs and advocates for procedures that are not specifically enumerated in the U.S. constitution.

Clinton’s calling out of Republicans as an enemy was also telling. Was she targeting 41% of American citizens, or just the Republicans elected to government office?

In a two-party system such as the United States, the democracy requires each party to exist. The other party is not an enemy which seeks to harm the country that must be vanquished. It is a counter-party with a different set of priorities and/or policies to govern. Each party serves an important and essential role in balancing budgets and laws to avoid a run-away system of governance by executive fiat.

Yet the person with arguably the most experience in government of any of the presidential candidates, believes the worst enemies she has encountered are: a group that tries to defend the U.S. constitution; and either half of the country or the other political party that enables America’s democracy to exist.

Perhaps Clinton should familiarize herself with the rest of FDR’s 1932 speech in which he also said “we are not Democrats, we are not Republicans; we are a people united in a common patriotism…. My friends, my policy is as radical as American liberty. My policy is as radical as the Constitution of the United States.

Today’s leading liberal put fellow Americans in her crosshairs.  Her battle plan is to shape a democracy of her liking, bending to her interpretation of law.

Liberal American Jews’ Number One Enemy is Israel

American Jews tend to vote Democratic in presidential elections, as roughly 70% of Jews are registered Democrats.  J Street, a left-wing group did a poll in September 2015 that concluded that 68% of Jews would vote for Hillary Clinton (the 68% figure would actually be the worst showing for a Democrat amongst Jewish voters since Michael Dukakis secured 64% of the Jewish vote in 1988).

Regarding the U.S.A., many liberal Jews focus their efforts on attacking conservative American policies.  When it comes to Israel, liberal Jews are twice as likely as conservative Jews to berate the Jewish State.

In October 2013, the Pew Research Center conducted a poll with the following findings:

  • 50% of Republican Jews had a very strong emotional attachment to Israel, compared to 25% for Jewish Democrats
  • 67% of Republican Jews feel that Israel was given to Jews by God, while only 30% of Democratic Jews felt that way
  • Meanwhile 56% of Jewish Democrats felt that Jewish “settlements” in Judea and Samaria hurt Israel’s security, while only 20% of Republican Jews considered Jews living in homes east of the Green Line a security threat
  • Under President Obama, 66% of Republican Jews felt the US was not supportive enough of Israel, while 62% of Democrats thought that Obama had it just right

J Street pushed very aggressively against the current Israeli government run by Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu as detailed in “The Fault in our Tent: The Limit of Acceptable Speech” including advocating that the U.S. government should vote against Israel at the UN Security Council.

Like J Street, the left-wing Israeli newspaper Haaretz held a conference in the United States in 2015, along with the liberal group the New Israel Fund, NIF.  The HaaretzQ conference included peculiar (alarming?) demonstrations of removing the Israeli flag from the stage as it offended some speakers, and a Haaretz columnist describing Jews who move to Israel as committing a “crime”, as Jewish Aliyah should be illegal.  That line received wide applause from the liberal crowd.

Palestinian Authority member, Saeb Erekat, speaks at the Haaretz and New Israel Fund conference in Roosevelt Hotel, NYC, on December 13, 2015. Photo by Amir Levy/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** ???? ?????? ???? ??? ??? ???? ????? ????? ?????? ????? ?????????

Palestinian Authority member, Saeb Erekat, at the Haaretz and New Israel Fund conference in NYC, on December 13, 2015. (Photo by Amir Levy/Flash90)

Another left-wing group, Jewish Voice for Peace, JVP, claims to advocate for “social justice, equality, human rights, respect for international law, and a U.S. foreign policy based on these ideals.”  The group’s interpretation of their mission is that Israel, by its very nature as a Jewish State, cannot meet these ideals, so their mission is to push the U.S. to dismantle the Zionist project.  JVP’s 2015 conference loudly supported the BDS, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement of Israel.

Even the president of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, a less radical liberal Jewish group, described a handful of Jews living in Hebron in just 3% of the city as a “self-imposed existential threat” to the country.

Liberals have become convinced that most Jews and the Jewish State are the enemies of peace.  It’s a line familiar to anyone that has read the Hamas Charter.

Recently, liberal groups have focused their attention on checking off each of Natan Sharansky’s “3 D Test” of anti-Semitism: demonization; double standards; and delegitimization.

  • Demonizing the Israeli Defense Forces, as groups like NIF fund Breaking the Silence
  • Double standards for Israel, the most liberal country for a thousand miles in any direction, as JVP reserved its criticism, condemnation and calls for divestment only against Israel
  • Delegitimization, as the Haaretz conference and speakers sought to remove Jews and Jewish symbols from the land

Jewish liberals think like Hillary Clinton: the enemy is from within, and must be stopped by all measures possible.

Conclusion

Tuvia Tenenbom wrote a book in 2015 called “Catch the Jew!” where he assumed a Sacha Baron Cohen/Ali G/ Borat kind of persona in Israel and the West Bank.  At times he pretended to be Jewish, Christian or Muslim, and sometimes German or Israeli.  He was a “Master Agent” and donned whatever role would get people to open-up and speak freely about their thoughts about Israel, Palestine, Jews and Arabs.

Tenenbom’s book spared no one.  He saw racism and petty-mindedness in every corner of the Holy Land.  The food and land received the accolades, while the residents of the land and consumers of the food were roundly criticized.

However, Tenenbom’s conclusion broke the region into shades of black: while he cringed at Jewish and Arab racism, he at least understood it.  There’s a selfish motivation to wanting an Arab-free or Jew-free country.  However, he viewed the liberal Europeans who fund NGO’s to “Catch the Jew” as a more vile form of racism, a deeper shade of black. How racist can one be to travel over a thousand miles to criticize Jews?

But the darkest shade of black, the worst kind of person to Tenenbom, were the self-haters.  Groups like Rabbis for Human Rights and individuals like Haaretz journalist Gideon Levy were skewered the most.  Tenenbom concluded that Germans do not have to openly be anti-Semitic anymore; they can just fund self-hating Jews and let them destroy Israel by themselves:

“If logic is any guide, Israel will not survive.  Besieged by hate from without and from within, no land can survive for very long.”


Liberals often laugh at conservative Americans who proudly wave their flag.  I used to think it was because liberals thought conservative Americans to be primitives who “cling to religion and guns” as Senator Barack Obama said when he ran for office in 2008.  However, in 2015, it became clear that liberals do not look down in a condescending manner at fellow countrymen, but stare across their neighbor’s yard through a rifle scope.

In 2015, liberals declared that the enemy is from within.  What battles will that bring in 2016?


Related First.One.Through articles:

A Disservice to Jewish Community

The Democrats’ Slide on Israel

Joe Biden Stabs a Finger at Israel

Parallel and Perpendicular Views of Iranian Nuclear Deal

Rick Jacobs’ Particular Reform Judaism

Subscribe YouTube channel: FirstOneThrough

Join Facebook group: FirstOne Through  Israel Analysis

20151119_161515
Full page NIF ad in The Jewish Week, November 20, 2015
claiming those opposed to NIF have an “ultranationalist agenda” and implying
that Israel without NIF intervention would be an illiberal, racist country

The Last Sounds of “Son of Saul”

The Holocaust movie “Son of Saul” is unlike every other movie ever made in the genre. While much has and will be written about the narrow focus on the principal actor’s face throughout the movie, words cannot properly convey the impact of the sounds infused in each scene.

Sounds of a Concentration Camp

The movie opens with the camera focused on a faraway subject, completely out-of-focus. The viewer struggles to make out the distant activity, and in a short time realizes that this is intentional, when the main protagonist of the film, Saul Ausländer, slowly walks into the middle of the image in sharp focus. He remains centered there for the remainder of the movie.

The close-up of Saul leaves the movie viewer with a sliver of background imagery. The war is mostly inferred by the rapidly passing images on the screen’s edges. The viewer’s mind is left to expand upon the brutality of the concentration camp where Saul works processing the dead for the Nazis.

The picture is further clouded by Saul. His face, which fills 70% of the frame, is expressionless. He is a walking dead, somewhere between the prisoners that arrive by train at the camp, and those “pieces” that he carts to the crematoria for burning. Saul shares no emotion and offers little in the way of dialogue with the other Sonderkommandos, those Jews tasked with helping the Nazis annihilate the Jews of Europe. The little dialogue that occurs, is choppy as the Sonerkommandos come from a variety of countries – Hungary, Poland, Germany, Ukraine – and do not speak the same language.

Devoid of strong visuals and dialogue, the movie provides rich sounds. There is no background music to direct our emotions.  The sounds are of the camp itself that fill the viewers’ ears. Sounds of babies crying. Mother’s screaming. Gun shots. Metal doors crashing closed. Rocks crunching under the feet of the Sonderkommandos. Papers scraping the floor, gathered for burning.

This is the dialogue of “Son of Saul.” These sounds transport the viewer from a modern movie theater to 1944 Nazi Europe. It is not surround sound; it is transportive sound.

The Last Sounds

Saul’s journey to an awakening begins when he sees a boy survive the gas chambers. While terminal, the child won a minor victory over the Nazis’ efficient killing machine. He beat the system.

This boy gives Saul some depth of vision. He gives Saul hope – not of his own survival – but that the humanity of the natural world can break through into the unnatural brutality where he exists. Saul’s mission is set, that with the help of a rabbi, the boy will not be incinerated like everyone else in the Nazi’s ovens, but will have a proper Jewish burial.

Saul risks his own life and those around him to fulfill this mission. He understands that he and the other Sonderkommandos are the unnatural walking dead who will soon die and be incinerated. However, the boy is nature’s dead, who must have a natural burial.

As Saul manages to get the boy, his “son”, out of the concentration camp ground, he loses the body in a river. The body is taken by nature and cleansed in water. Then, without the boy’s body, Saul’s mission and hope disappear and he almost drowns before being saved by another prisoner.

Saul sits with fellow Sonderkommando in a broken shed, all catching their breaths. The dialogue between them remains almost non-existent. As they sit, a new sound slowly is introduced that seems out of place.  The noise grows louder, but unclear. The viewer considers whether this is rain falling on the leaves of the trees in the forest. But the picture tells us that it is not raining. We see the men are damp, but it is from the swim across the river, not from raindrops.

Slowly the viewer becomes aware that the sound is not raindrops, but the crackle of the fire from the crematoria ovens.

The movie viewers witness Saul showing some expression at last, as the movie’s hero understands both his completed mission and fate: he helped his son escape to nature; his fate will be to burn with the other Sonderkommandos in the Nazi’s fire.

In the unnatural world where he exists, fire extinguishes water.  However, he achieved a moment of humanity, where the water was able to extinguish the Nazi fire.

Son of Saul
Géza Röhrig who played Saul Ausländer, talking to the audience at
screening of “Son of Saul” sponsored by the Claims Conference, December 2015
(photo: First.One.Through)

In December 2015, the Claims Conference put on a special showing of “Son of Saul” in New York City. The Claims Conference obtains money from Germany and other countries that participated in the slaughter of Jews during the Holocaust, and distributes that money to the Holocaust Survivors as well as educational projects like this movie.

The Executive Chairman of the Claims Conference, Greg Schneider, interviewed the film’s star Géza Röhrig who played Saul Ausländer at the end of the screening. Via Skype, Géza relayed that the sound editing of the movie took over five months, involving hundreds of man-hours to create the environment the writers and directors sought to convey.

It was a remarkable effort that helped create one of the great movies of our time.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Eyal Gilad Naftali Klinghoffer. The new Blood Libel.

Memory and Responsibility in Germany

Wearing Our Beliefs

Subscribe YouTube channel: FirstOneThrough

Join Facebook group: FirstOne Through  Israel Analysis

“Jews as a Class”

In December 2015, Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump announced his intention to impose a ban on all Muslims coming into the United States in response to various terrorist attacks done by militant radical jihadists. The question of whether such an action could be legally and practically enforced made historians look back to the treatment of Americans of Japanese descent during World War II. However, there is a better reference point for singling out a religious group, which happened 153 years ago this week.

General Grant Expelled the Jews

In the heat of the American Civil War, Major General Ulysses S. Grant was eager to establish military advantage. One of the ways he sought to accomplish this task was to curtail illegal smuggling of cotton and other goods out of the South which helped finance the Confederate’s war efforts. One group that Grant saw as being particularly involved in the trade was the Jews.

As such, on December 17, 1862 Union General U. S. Grant issued General Order No. 11 which stated:

The Jews, as a class violating every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department and also department orders, are hereby expelled from the Department [of the Tennessee] within twenty-four hours from the receipt of this order.

Post commanders will see to it that all of this class of people be furnished passes and required to leave, and any one returning after such notification will be arrested and held in confinement until an opportunity occurs of sending them out as prisoners, unless furnished with permit from headquarters.

No passes will be given these people to visit headquarters for the purpose of making personal application of trade permits.

By order of Maj. Gen. U. S. Grant”

As clearly spelled out, the order singled out one minority group – in its entirety – to be expelled from their homes within Grant’s territory (western Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi). This order continues to stand as the most anti-Semitic act by the US government to this day.

Grant expel jews
Jonathan D. Sarna’s book on Grant Expelling Jews in the Civil War

The Objection

As detailed in Jonathan D. Sarna’s book “When General Grant Expelled the Jews,” there were many objections to Order No. 11 at the time:

  1. Treat smugglers as individuals. While there were certainly Jewish smugglers profiting from the war, American laws require action against the people who actually commit the crime, and in some cases, people who aid and abet the illegal activity. In no situation does the law enable prosecution of an entire category of people who have no connection to the illegal activities.
  2. Prosecute all smugglers. There were many non-Jews involved in the smuggling trade. The North itself enabled the sale of cotton which it hoped would be used to finance its own war efforts while it penalized the South. Yet Grant’s orders do not punish all smugglers, but only Jewish one’s together with co-religionists, reeked of anti-Semitism and illogic.
  3. Non-violence, nor calls for violence. None of the smugglers committed any violent acts against other Americans. While Grant argued that the smuggling itself helped fund the Confederacy, neither Jews as individuals, nor any Jewish group overall called for harming the Union. All of the smugglers – Jews and non-Jews alike – were simply seeking a profit.
  4. Jews were serving in the Union Army. There were roughly eight thousand Jews serving in the Union army, including nine generals. The broad edict by Grant would have forced his own soldiers to be expelled from the region.

President Lincoln thought the order was inappropriate and countered the order. Lincoln commanded his general chief of the army, Henry Halleck, to revoke the order on January 4, 1863. Halleck wrote a letter to Grant which stated:

“It may be proper to give you some explanation of the revocation of your order expelling Jews from your department. The President has no objection to your expelling traitors and Jew peddlers, which, I suppose, was the object of your order; but, as it in terms proscribed an entire religious class, some of whom are fighting in our ranks, the President deemed it necessary to revoke it.”

Grant, who was later to become president of the United States, deeply regretted his Order No. 11 later in life, according to Sarna. He created a cabinet that included more Jews than any previous administration. When he was asked in 1875 why he issued such a bigoted order, he simply replied that in wartime “nice distinctions were disregarded. We had no time to handle things with kid gloves.”

Which has a similar ring to some calls against Muslims in America today.

Muslims in America Today

On December 8, 2015, the Wall Street Journal led with an editorial “The Obama-Trump Dialectic” which blamed the rise of Donald J. Trump’s illiberal suggestions of how to treat Muslims on the failures of Obama to confront militant radical jihadists.

The Obama failures regarding calling out and responding to radical Islam are plentiful, but beyond the scope of this article.  The question is Trump’s desire to treat “an entire religious class” (to use the Lincoln-Grant phraseology) as a single unit.

Trump had two principle ideas of handling Muslims as of December 2015:

  1. a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on”
  2. a database for tracking all Muslims in the United States

Each of Trump’s ideas treats all Muslims as a distinct minority subject to rules that do not apply to any other people.  The distinction is based on religion, as was the case for Jews in 1862, which was objectionable to President Lincoln.

1. Immigrants: The first idea relates to incoming immigrants, not US Muslim citizens.  As such, while objectionable in principle, it is different than applying discriminatory laws against US citizens who have broad protections under the law.  Trump’s arguments for foreign Muslims today are different than for Jews in 1862, as they also are in comparing Jewish immigrants fleeing Europe in the 1930s and 1940s:

  • There were no global Jewish militants threatening to destroy America, like radical jihadist groups ISIS, Al Qaeda, and others today
  • Foreign Jewish groups did not kill thousands of Americans as was the case of Muslim foreigners over the recent past
  • There was no Jewish state for Jews 150 years ago or during World War II to act as a natural safe haven for Jews fleeing persecution, while there are 57 Muslim countries to absorb fellow Muslim immigrants
  • Jews were not engaged in any violent activities in America in the 1860s or during World War II, while Muslims today are engaged in several international wars and have attacked America
  • Jews have always been a very small minority, while there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world leading to a potentially much more significant immigration issue
  • Jews have a long history of being expelled from countries, and hoped for a tolerant country in the United States which was founded on the principle of religious freedom; Muslims do not have a history of being expelled, but they also hope to enjoy America’s freedoms

Regarding Muslim immigration, Obama’s failures to call out Islamic terrorism is magnified by his refusal to take a strong stand on border control, according to Republicans and the WSJ.  Trump said that the ban would only be temporary until the government better understands the situation.

As detailed in “A Logical Approach to Immigration from Personal History,” there is a successful history of the US processing immigrants fleeing persecution to make sure that proper vetting takes place.  It would NOT ban all Muslims, but instead require them to first be situated out of harm’s way in a displaced person’s camp, say in Jordan, at which point vetting would occur.  Women and children would be permitted into the US first, followed by men at some point in the future.

Most significantly, not every situation is the same.  Muslims in Myanmar are different than Sunnis and Shiites from the Middle East.  Each may or may not have valid reasons to seek asylum in the USA.

Trump’s call for an edict against “Muslims as a class” regarding immigration recalls Grant’s comment during wartime that “nice distinctions were disregarded. We had no time to handle things with kid gloves.”  But today, there is time to manage a logical vetting process – which is more robust than put forward by President Obama.

2. Muslim Citizens. While non-American Muslims are not afforded protection of US laws (but only those that relate to immigration policies), American Muslims are full citizens with full rights and protections.  They account for 0.9% of the US population.  While some may have committed terrorist acts, the vast majority have not.  Further, there is no indication that there is a widespread plot to harm America or American interests.

Like the Jews in 1862, there is no basis of treating all co-religionists as a single “class,” while the treatment of the Jews was punitive, and the Trump suggestion for Muslims would just be placing the group under surveillance.

The US government just ended its vast metadata collection program.  That database was on all Americans that helped to track connections between potential terrorists.  Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie stated that ending that program was a big mistake, as using data collection and analytical tools helped locate would-be terrorists and keeps Americans safe.

Chris Christie RJC
NJ Governor Chris Christie addressing the Republican Jewish Coalition
in Washington, D.C., December 2015

(photo: First.One.Through)

A new modified approach of data collection in which people who make calls to, or visit war zones, such as Iraq and Syria, would be tracked may be an appropriate next step.  That would be more logical and fair and not treat all Muslims “as a class” simply for their religious beliefs, but based on actions.  An action-based monitoring system and database would capture information on Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Conclusion

On December 10, 2015, the liberal newspaper The New York Times led with an editorial “The Trump Effect, and How it Spreads” which blamed the entire Republican party as being a bunch of racists.  As opposed to the Wall Street Journal editorial two days prior, it did not place any blame for the popularity of Trump’s positions on the many failures of the Obama administration.

While liberals and conservatives would both agree that a government’s primary concern is for the safety of its citizens, it does so within the framework of laws. America has laws requiring the separation of church-and-state and also does not have a class-based entrenched society.  The foundation documents of the country are that “all men are created equal, and they should be treated equally under the law.

General Grant made an anti-Semitic order during the Civil War, but society was fortunate to have Abraham Lincoln who realized the deep inherent flaw of punishing an entire group of people.  In the middle of that episode, Lincoln made the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, which freed the slaves.  Lincoln understood that if all men are to be equal, it must include every minority – blacks or Jews.

General Grant had Lincoln to keep his anti-Semitic edict in check, and Grant ultimately proved to be a good friend of the Jews.  His Order No. 11 was issued in the fervent hope of winning the war and protecting the Union.

Donald Trump has no power today so his words can best be kept in check by public voices, and ultimately the public vote.  Both Republicans and Democrats have spoken out against his suggestions as being un-American.  Indeed they are.

However, just as Grant was acting out of the interest of protecting America (with a very bad idea), it did not mark him as a permanent anti-Semite. It is similarly possible that a President Trump would place many Muslims on his cabinet.

Trump’s calls to treat Muslims “as a class” is wrong and racist. However, it does not mean that he will ultimately harbor anti-Muslim animus, just as Grant reformed in a time of peace.  The NY Times suggestion that all of the Republican candidates are racists is as narrow-minded and bigoted as Trump’s declaration.  However, it is more unlikely that the Times changes its biased viewpoints, than Trump modifying his.


Related First.One.Through articles:

I’m Offended, You’re Dead

Dancing with the Asteroids

The Gap between Fairness and Safety: WMDs in Iraq and Iran

Not Seeing the Eiffel Tower for the Girders

The Banners of Jihad

Finding Mr. Right-Wing

Subscribe YouTube channel: FirstOneThrough

Join Facebook group: FirstOne Through  Israel Analysis

Israel, the Liberal Country of the Middle East

Summary: Israel is by far the most liberal country of the entire Middle East and North Africa region (MENA). It is also probably the most liberal country from Western Europe to Australia and down to South Africa.

Diversity of population. Israel has a diverse population. The majority, 75%, are Jewish, about 20% Arab Muslims, and the balance of 5% a mix of Christians, Baha’i, Druze and others. Almost all of the MENA region is 90%+ Muslim, with a large number being almost completely Arab Muslim (Morocco; Tunisia; Iran; Yemen; Iraq; Jordan; Turkey; Algeria; Gaza and EGL; Saudi Arabia; Libya; Egypt; Syria). Lebanon is the only other country in the region with some diversity.

Equal Justice. Israel administers its legal system to all levels of society.  Consider that both a former Prime Minister and President were sentenced to jail for general crimes such as bribery and sexual assault (as opposed to a method to remove a dictator). They were afforded no special privileges compared to ordinary citizens.

Salim_Joubran
Salim Joubran, Israeli Arab Supreme Court Judge

Women’s Rights. Women in Israel have full rights of equality including the ability to vote, inheritance, walk in public alone, drive, etc. These are rights that are not found in much of the MENA region. Saudi Arabia has virtually no rights for women.  The new 20th Knesset will have 29 women– 24% of the parliament, significantly higher than the 16% of women in the US congress.

shaked
Ayelet Shaked, Member of Knesset

Free Speech, Assembly and Press. Israel permits freedom of expression. Freedom House ranked Israel as the only country in MENA with a free press for several years, and just added Tunisia. The MENA region continues to be the most repressive in terms of freedoms in the entire world, such as Turkey which leads the world in jailing the most journalists.

african protest
Thousands of illegal African immigrants protest in front of parliament

Freedom of Religion. Israel allows people of all faiths the freedom to practice their religion. This compares to much of the MENA region which has criminal laws against apostasy– changing one’s religion from Islam to something else- even though such right is guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A growing number of countries in Europe have begun to restrict freedom of religion including bans on minarets at mosques, head coverings in public and permitting kosher and halal foods.

mormon
Mormon church in Jerusalem built with assistance of Israeli government

Gay Rights. According to a gay rights group, ILGA, Israel was the only country to get a perfect score on gay rights in the region between Western Europe, South Africa and Australia. For example, Israel permits gay couples to adopt children and serve openly in the army , something which many western countries do not permit. In some MENA countries such as Iran, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Mauritania, gays are actually publicly executed by the government.

gays in israel
Gays in Israel

Environmental Matters. Israel is a “green” country. It leads the world in recycling plastic, having surpassed Europe in 2012. It created the first commercial wind farm in MENA and the first permanent bike sharing program. It leads the word in drip irrigation technology. It was one of only two countries in the world to have more trees entering the 21st century than it had in the 20th due to forestation efforts.

windfarm
Wind Farm in the Golan

Open Public Office. People of all backgrounds and faiths are allowed to serve in the Israeli government, to become Prime Minister, serve in every branch of the military and Supreme Court. The new 20th Knesset will have 17 Arabs – 14% of the parliament. This compares to 8% black representation in the US Congress. Many countries, like Syria, restrict the participation of people who are not Muslims from participating in public office.

Ayoub_Kara
Ayoub Kara, Druze MK from Likud Party

Death Penalty. Israel only has a single reason for sentencing someone to death – crimes against humanity – which it has carried out only once: fifty years ago for Adolf Eichmann for his role in the Holocaust. Much of the MENA region uses capital punishment for a range of offenses including: apostasy; adultery; drug trafficking; being gay; murder; witchcraft; and prostitution.

Abortion. Abortion is legal in Israel for a variety of circumstances. It is illegal in almost the entire rest of the MENA region, with the exception of Tunisia.

The Arts. Israel is the only country in the MENA region to have both an opera house and a ballet company.  Opera exists in Israel, Oman and Syria and ballet companies are in Israel, Tunisia, Egypt, UAE and Iran.

opera
Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center

Animal Rights. Israel became only the third country/ entity (after the European Union and Norway) to ban the sale of cosmetics that were tested on animals.

Human Body Rights. Israel permits full control of a person’s body including tattoos, body piercings and prostitution. More neighboring countries are enforcing bans on tattoos and piercings such as Turkey. Lebanon and Israel are the only countries in MENA that permit and regulate prostitution.

tattoo

Protecting Women. Israel passed a law that bans the use of underweight models to prevent women from becoming anorexic.

barrefaeli
Israeli model Bar Refaeli

Universal Healthcare.  Many countries in the Middle East provide universal healthcare including: Israel; Kuwait; Bahrain; and UAE.

 

Israel. An open society in the middle of the Middle East.


Related First One Through article

Israel: Security in a small country

In Israel, the winner is…Democracy

Eyal Gilad Naftali Klinghoffer. The new Blood Libel.

A troublesome series of reports in major “liberal” media outfits like the New York Times and BBC have shown a pattern of “blame the victim” uniquely when it comes to Jews and Israel.

Consider the BBC’s Nicky Campbell’s coverage of the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers, Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaer and Naftali Frankel, in Judea & Samaria arguing that “Palestinians would say perhaps these people were in the West Bank illegally.” He then continued to discuss Arabs in Israeli jails to “give [the kidnapping] some perspective” as if the comments provided any justifications for the kidnapping of teenagers trying to get home from school. (I suppose Nicky would support Iraqis kidnapping his daughters because of the UK involvement in the Iraqi war.)

The New York Times followed on June 16 when it posed several questions regarding “the cavalier practice of hitchhiking” in the West Bank. Was the NYT suggesting that these boys were responsible for their own kidnapping?

The hitchhiking abduction coverage was not unique. The New York Times ran an editorial on 6/19/14 bemoaning that the New York Metropolitan Opera, “bowing to the wishes of Leon Klinghoffer’s daughters and other Jewish critics,” decided to not globally telecast an opera about the murder of a 69-year old American Jew by Palestinian terrorists. The Times thought that “the opera gives voice to all sides” as if the rationale of the murder of an elderly American confined to a wheelchair was worthy of serious consideration. The general manager of the Met, Peter Gelb, said that the composer “John Adams said that in composing ‘The Death of Klinghoffer’ he tried to understand the hijackers and their motivations, and to look for humanity in the terrorists.” Gelb and the Times have called the opera “a masterpiece”. I am considering the right term for the Met and the Times.

Somehow, these outlets believe that Jews bare at least partial responsibility for the crimes committed against them: Jews are not victims; they are vehicles to voice displeasure of the state of the Palestinian Arabs.

To illustrate and contrast the vileness of this targeting of Jews and Israel by these media outlets, consider the coverage of other crimes during this same time period.

The New York Times covered the sexual assaults of women in Egypt during the celebrations for new President Abdul Fattah al Sisi with appropriate disgust. It ran articles, editorials and op-eds that condemned the attacks. The Times did not run articles questioning why the women were out late among so many men. The paper did not suggest that the women were dressed inappropriately. It did not post articles by Egyptian clerics who describe the value of modesty for women and the inappropriateness of their being out among men. Because if the paper had done so, it would have served to validate the disgraceful attack and place blame on the victim.

Similarly when a young man, Elliot Rodger, went on a shooting rampage in California because he felt rejected by girls in his school, the papers did not post opinions that girls should be nicer to young men and consider their feelings. As is clearly obvious, doing so would be an insult to all of the innocent victims of the rampage.

The daughters of Leon Klinghoffer, Lisa and Ilsa, put it best in their letter to the editor of the New York Times on June 21: “Our 69 year-old father was singled out and killed by Palestinian terrorists on his wedding anniversary cruise in 1985 solely because he was Jewish. His memory is trivialized in an opera that rationalizes terrorism and tries to find moral equivalence between murderers and the murdered. Imagine if Mr. Adams had written an opera about the terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks, and sought to balance their worldview with that of those who perished in the twin towers. The outcry would be immediate and overwhelming. But ‘Klinghoffer’ is justified as ‘a work of art’ and an opportunity to ‘debate’ the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is an outrage.”

The media’s blind spot for Jewish victims in its visual field have left Jews in the dark ages of history once again. The “progressives” are developing a new Blood Libel, in which every Jew has a hand soaked in the misfortune of Arabs. They have turned the State of Israel into a new blood matzah, conceived and living in sin.  During the Dark Ages, Jews were accused of taking missing Christian children.  At present, the progressive press blames Jews for their own missing and felled Jews – sacrifices that must be made to uphold the evil Jewish State.

Can anything right the “left”? If the Royal Ballet were to perform “The Untimely Fall of Lee Rigby” with beautiful arias about the sorrowful tale of Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, the two people who were sentenced to life in prison for Rigby’s murder, would the press react? Would the British press cheer the “work of art” and celebrate the “humanity in the terrorists” who hacked a soldier to death on the streets of England to avenge the killing of Muslims by British forces? The Klinghoffer daughters believe the “outcry would be immediate and overwhelming,” from the press and public. While I agree, I fear that it would not cause progressives to rethink their attitude towards Jews. The new Blood Libel has caught hold.


Related FirstOneThrough articles:

The Death of Civilians; the Three Shades of Sorrow

UN Comments on the Murder of Innocents: Itamar and Duma