When Hate Returns

Yom Hashoah, the Day of Remembering the Holocaust, is often a time for people to think about antisemitism generally, and not just the massacre of Jews at the hands of the Nazis and their abettors.

Many books have been written about the history of antisemitism, one of the best being “A Convenient Hatred: The History of Antisemitism” by Phyllis Goldstein. She tracks the nature of antisemitism at different points in history and in different lands. In her diagnosis, the root causes are often unique to that particular time and place.

I would like to consider when hate returns to a particular country under a different guise, such as historic antisemitism manifesting itself as anti-Zionism today. There are many examples, but this review will focus on the United Kingdom 1290/1929 and 1713/1939.

Banning Jews from England 1290
Banning Jews from Hebron 1929

1290 England: The origin of the “blood libel,” that Jews sought and and killed Christian children, began in England in the twelfth century. It its original incarnation, the accusation was that Jews killed the Christian, much as they had killed Jesus. Over time, the claims continued that the Jews used the child’s blood on Passover to make matzah and for the four cups of wine at the seder. Whether the people’s attacks on England’s Jews led to the edict of expulsion in 1290 is a source of debate, but the fact that King Edward I forced all Jews to leave the country and quickly seized their belongings and cancelled all debts that they were owed may indicate a financial motivation as well.

1922 Jordan & 1929 Hebron: The British assumed the mandate of Palestine in 1922 and quickly separated the land east of the Jordan River for the Hashemite Kingdom to win local friends, as they tried to do in other Arab lands including Iraq. They promptly ignored key components of the Palestine Mandate which clearly spelled out that no individual could be excluded from the land because of his religion, by allowing the Arabs to ban all Jews from the region. Just a few years later, in response to Arab riots in which they slaughtered several dozen Jews in the ancient Jewish city of Hebron, the British “evacuated” the remaining Jews from the city and moved them to Jerusalem, presumably to protect the Jews from future attacks. Jordan would remain Jew-free to this day, while Hebron would only be Jew-free until 1967, after the Jordanian Arabs attacked Israel and lost the west bank of the Jordan River to Israel, including Hebron.

The British leadership followed the antisemitism of the British people to expel the Jews of England in the 13th century, and would follow the antisemitism of the Arab people to expel the Jews from various parts of the Middle East during the 20th century.

Tolerating Antisemitism in Gibraltar in 1713
Tolerating Antisemitism in Palestine in 1939

1713 Gibraltar: Beginning in 1290, England would not allow any Jews to live openly in its lands for over 360 years. It was only in 1656 under Oliver Cromwell that Jews were allowed to return (presumably under the guise of trying to convert them to Christianity). But despite this new indication of tolerance of coexistence, the British would also tolerate antisemitism.

After a series of battles between England and Spain, the English won the rock of Gibraltar from the Spanish. In the Treaty of Utrecht, as the Spanish handed the island to the British, it demanded that England continue to ban the presence of Jews and Moors (Muslims), as the Spanish were still heavily influenced by the Inquisition run by the Catholic Church. The British agreed, even though they did not enforce it aggressively. (The ban is technically still part of the law governing Gibraltar, even though 2% of the island is Jewish).

1939 Palestine: The Arabs in Palestine were in the midst of multi-year riots that had begun in 1936 to stop the flow of Jews into Palestine because of international law that the British facilitate the immigration of Jews. In 1939, as the Holocaust descended on the Jews of Europe, the British agreed with the Arabs that no more than 75,000 Jews would be admitted into Palestine over the next five years in an edict known as the White Paper. The document would seal the fate of over 100,000 European Jews who became trapped in Europe.

History echoed itself. While the British had finally begun to accept Jews in England in 1656, less than 60 years later they accepted the Spanish demands that non-Christians be barred from lands that they were taking over. Over 250 years later, the British would take on the Mandate of Palestine in 1922, and then be part of an agreement that they would block Jews to satisfy the demands of the local Arab population.


Arabs riot in Palestine 1936

Britain’s leadership had historically followed the urging of its antisemitic populace (in 1290) and the Catholic Church (in 1713) to ban Jews, and did the same in the 20th century in Palestine at the urging of the Arabs in the Middle East.

From the Middle Ages through the Inquisition, Europe believed itself to be a Christian continent and expelled the Jews and repulsed the Muslim invasion. In the 20th century, many European nations have adopted a similar narrative that the Middle East is a purely Arab land and should be left to the Muslims. The European Christians and Middle East Arabs have ignored the desires and right of Jews to their own place in their homeland.

The British are currently debating whether their political parties – the liberal Labour Party in particular – are antisemitic or merely anti-Zionist. The correct question is whether they are outwardly antisemitic or simply tolerate antisemitism.


Related First.One.Through articles:

The Long History of Dictating Where Jews Can Live Continues

No Disappearing in the Land of the Blind

Palestinian Jews and a Judenrein Palestine

The EU’s Choice of Labels: “Made in West Bank” and “Anti-Semite”

My Terrorism

Save the Children

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Taking the Active Steps Towards Salvation

For many people, the favorite part of the Passover prayers is the Torah reading on the seventh day of the holiday.

The song “Az Yashir,” (the Song of the Sea), is a celebratory hymn that the Jews sang after they crossed through the Reed Sea safely and watched the Egyptian army drown. It is recited from the Torah in a unique melody compared to every other reading during the year, and it is the only time that the entire congregation stands for Torah-reading, other than the recitation of the Ten Commandments and the conclusion of each of the five books.

Just as the Haggadah that was read on the first night of Passover directs us to “show himself as if he had left Egypt,” everyone in the synagogue does not simply sit and listen to the words of the Torah, but takes an active step of standing while they listen to the song.

וּבְכָל דּוֹר וָדוֹר, חַיָּב אָדָם לְהַרְאוֹת אֶת עַצְמוֹ כְּאִלּוּ הוּא יָצָא מִמִּצְרַיִם, שֶׁלֹּא אֶת אֲבוֹתֵינוּ בִּלְבָד גָּאַל, אֵלָא אַף אוֹתָנוּ גָּאַל–שֶׁנֶּאֱמָר “וְאוֹתָנוּ, הוֹצִיא מִשָּׁם–לְמַעַן, הָבִיא אֹתָנוּ, לָתֶת לָנוּ אֶת-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּע לַאֲבֹתֵינוּ” (דברים ו,כג. In every generation, a person is obligated to show himself as if he had left Egypt:  for He did not redeem only our ancestors, but even us as well, as it is written “And He brought us out from thence, that He might bring us in, to give us the land which He swore unto our fathers” (Deuteronomy 6:23).

The participation of standing for the song is communal today, just as the song was sung by the entire congregation over 3,000 years ago.

א  אָז יָשִׁיר-מֹשֶׁה וּבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת-הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת, לַיהוָה, וַיֹּאמְרוּ,  {ר}  לֵאמֹר:  {ס}  אָשִׁירָה לַיהוָה כִּי-גָאֹה גָּאָה,  {ס}  סוּס  {ר}  וְרֹכְבוֹ רָמָה בַיָּם.  {ס} Exodus 15:1 Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spoke, saying: I will sing unto the LORD, for He is highly exalted; the horse and his rider hath He thrown into the sea.

The fact that the Jews were appreciative for their salvation is understandable, but also shocking that such emotion appears during this Song of the Sea for the first time in the bible. Throughout the story of the ten plagues and leaving Egypt, all the way until the shores of the Reed Sea, the Jews mostly complained to Moses; they certainly did not say ‘thank you’ to him nor exalt God.

11 Then they said to Moses, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness. (Exodus 14:11-12)

The constant actions of Moses during the story were in contrast to the persistent inaction of the Children of Israel. The Jews were content to stay where they were, to have all of their basic needs taken care of for them, whether food to eat or graves in which to be buried. The Jews were as much physical slaves to the Egyptians as they were to their own complacency. They had accepted their misery, and angry that Moses had the temerity to break the status quo.


The Crossing of the Red Sea
by Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665)

I will suggest here that the Song by the Sea was the third and pivotal step in the Jewish people taking action to break the weight of inertia and achieving salvation; not just freedom beyond the borders of Egypt, but of the slave mentality as well.

The First Steps: The Tenth Plague

The streak was on.

Nine times in a row, God had brought a plague onto the Egyptian people. In chapter after chapter, the bible recounts how God inflicted pain on land and sea, on animals and fields, yet all of the while, the Jews were in a protective bubble. They were not impacted by the plagues nor asked to participate in any way.

But at the announcement of the final tenth plague, the bible tells us that it was time for the Jewish people to take action.

וַיֹּ֨אמֶר יְהוָ֜ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֗ה ע֣וֹד נֶ֤גַע אֶחָד֙ אָבִ֤יא עַל־פַּרְעֹה֙ וְעַל־מִצְרַ֔יִם אַֽחֲרֵי־כֵ֕ן יְשַׁלַּ֥ח אֶתְכֶ֖ם מִזֶּ֑ה כְּשַׁ֨לְּח֔וֹ כָּלָ֕ה גָּרֵ֛שׁ יְגָרֵ֥שׁ אֶתְכֶ֖ם מִזֶּֽה׃ דַּבֶּר־נָ֖א בְּאָזְנֵ֣י הָעָ֑ם וְיִשְׁאֲל֞וּ אִ֣ישׁ ׀ מֵאֵ֣ת רֵעֵ֗הוּ וְאִשָּׁה֙ מֵאֵ֣ת רְעוּתָ֔הּ כְּלֵי־כֶ֖סֶף וּכְלֵ֥י זָהָֽב׃ וַיִּתֵּ֧ן יְהוָ֛ה אֶת־חֵ֥ן הָעָ֖ם בְּעֵינֵ֣י מִצְרָ֑יִם גַּ֣ם ׀ הָאִ֣ישׁ מֹשֶׁ֗ה גָּד֤וֹל מְאֹד֙ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם בְּעֵינֵ֥י עַבְדֵֽי־פַרְעֹ֖ה וּבְעֵינֵ֥י הָעָֽם׃

And the LORD said to Moses, “I will bring but one more plague upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt; after that he shall let you go from here; indeed, when he lets you go, he will drive you out of here one and all.  Tell the people to borrow, each man from his neighbor and each woman from hers, objects of silver and gold.” The LORD disposed the Egyptians favorably toward the people. Moreover, Moses himself was much esteemed in the land of Egypt, among Pharaoh’s courtiers and among the people. (Exodus 11:1-3)

If God was able to do everything on behalf of the Jewish people, why did He want them to take the jewels of the Egyptians? He could have just given the Jews riches or transferred the wealth to the Jews.

God knew that the Jews had a complacent mindset after hundreds of years of slavery. He needed them to break free of that inertia and confront their oppressors. To do that, He commanded the Jewish people to stand up and take back the wages and goods that had been taken from them while they worked as slaves for so long. Step 1: confront the oppressor.

Yet the single step would not be enough to earn redemption nor break the psychology of slavery, so God commanded the Jews to take additional action.

Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat itAnd they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof. 10 And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire. 11 And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord‘s passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. 14 And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever. (Exodus 12: 3-14)

God commanded the Jews to do something out-of-the-ordinary. Each family was to take a lamb into their houses for three days, and then slaughter it and paint its blood onto the outside doorposts of the house while they devoured the roasted meat throughout the night. Quite a bizarre farewell to Egypt.

Some biblical commentators believed that sheep were sacred to the Egyptians and that slaughtering them and painting their blood onto the outside of the house and eating them was a detestable offense to the Egyptians. If so, this action would be a continuation of the first step above: confront your enemy first by taking physical goods (jewels), and then by destroying their spiritual world (sacred sheep).

But the text reads differently. The bible writes that the blood is for God to see (“when I see the blood”), not the Egyptians. The blood on the doorways is therefore not designed as an insult to the Egyptians, but an act of affirmation that the Jews believed in God, and that God will protect them. For nine plagues God protected the Jews without their active participation, but for the final plague, the Jews needed to participate in their salvation. Step 2: show your belief.

The Next Step: Entering the Sea

The communal belief was short lived. As described above, the Jews quickly reverted to their old habits as they verbally attacked Moses for bringing them out of Egypt to face death at the hands of the Egyptian army at the shore of the Reed Sea.

And Moses similarly fell into the old trap of assuming that God would do everything for His people and called out:

וַיֹּ֨אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֣ה אֶל־הָעָם֮ אַל־תִּירָאוּ֒ הִֽתְיַצְב֗וּ וּרְאוּ֙ אֶת־יְשׁוּעַ֣ת יְהוָ֔ה אֲשֶׁר־יַעֲשֶׂ֥ה לָכֶ֖ם הַיּ֑וֹם כִּ֗י אֲשֶׁ֨ר רְאִיתֶ֤ם אֶת־מִצְרַ֙יִם֙ הַיּ֔וֹם לֹ֥א תֹסִ֛יפוּ לִרְאֹתָ֥ם ע֖וֹד עַד־עוֹלָֽם׃

יְהוָ֖ה יִלָּחֵ֣ם לָכֶ֑ם וְאַתֶּ֖ם תַּחֲרִישֽׁוּן׃

But Moses said to the people, “Have no fear! Stand by, and witness the deliverance which the LORD will work for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again. The LORD will battle for you; you hold your peace!” (Exodus 14:13-14)

Moses tried to allay the fear of the Jews and told them to sit back and watch God save them. But God was not pleased with the words of Moses.

The drama of the story is heightened, as the Torah reading takes a pause just after Moses makes his declaration. When the Torah reader takes up the reading again at the next aliyah, we imagine that the dramatic splitting of the sea is about to happen. But it doesn’t.

וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהוָה֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה מַה־תִּצְעַ֖ק אֵלָ֑י דַּבֵּ֥ר אֶל־בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל וְיִסָּֽעוּ׃

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry out to Me? Tell the Israelites to go forward. (Exodus 14:15)

God surprisingly questions Moses proclamation and instead calls for the Jewish people to literally take the next steps forward in another act of redemption.

The Midrash says that the Jewish people were frightened and reluctant to march ahead. But a prince from the tribe of Judah, Nachshon ben Aminadav stepped into the sea undeterred, and the waters finally split and saved him from drowning (Sotah 37a).

Nachshon’s actions can be viewed as a continuation of the important second step: show your belief, as an individual. Do not be lulled into the prevalent community attitude of letting the leaders or someone else take action. Do not sit and wait, as even a solitary person’s actions, coupled with a leader’s (Moses) prayers to realize God’s vision, can help redeem everyone.

Rabbi Aaron Kampf of Manchester, England balances the notion of individual action versus the will of God. In recounting the story of Queen Esther, Rabbi Kampf notes that Esther’s uncle charged her to speak up on behalf of the Jewish people to the king.

יג  וַיֹּאמֶר מָרְדֳּכַי, לְהָשִׁיב אֶל-אֶסְתֵּר:  אַל-תְּדַמִּי בְנַפְשֵׁךְ, לְהִמָּלֵט בֵּית-הַמֶּלֶךְ מִכָּל-הַיְּהוּדִים. Megillat Esther Chapter 4: 13 Then Mordecai bade them to return answer unto Esther: ‘Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews.
יד  כִּי אִם-הַחֲרֵשׁ תַּחֲרִישִׁי, בָּעֵת הַזֹּאת–רֶוַח וְהַצָּלָה יַעֲמוֹד לַיְּהוּדִים מִמָּקוֹם אַחֵר, וְאַתְּ וּבֵית-אָבִיךְ תֹּאבֵדוּ; וּמִי יוֹדֵעַ–אִם-לְעֵת כָּזֹאת, הִגַּעַתְּ לַמַּלְכוּת. 14 For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then will relief and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place, but thou and thy father’s house will perish; and who knoweth whether thou art not come to royal estate for such a time as this?’

The speech that Mordecai gave to Esther was not a pep talk of “you can do it; we’re all counting on you!” but one of humility. God has a plan, and you can either play or part or disappear into history because salvation will come from somewhere else.

An individual’s action will become successful or unsuccessful based on the will of God. A person should not be so self-centered as to believe that they alone can change the world. But as Rabbi Tarfon says in Pirkei Avot 2:16:

לֹא עָלֶיךָ הַמְּלָאכָה לִגְמֹר, וְלֹא אַתָּה בֶן חוֹרִין לִבָּטֵל מִמֶּנָּה

You are not expected to complete the task, but neither are you free to avoid it.

A person must be involved and take actions in partnership with God.

The Final Step: Gratitude

The Jews were finally free of the physical and mental slavery when they sang “Az Yashir” on the other side of the sea. They had confronted their enemies and showed their belief in God. They witnessed their Egyptian masters completely defeated.

However, one more step was required to become free: the expression of gratitude.

The actions that the Jewish people had taken in their salvation were all commanded by God: take the jewels; slaughter the lamb; paint the doorposts; move forward; etc. In many ways, the Jews had traded masters: the Egyptian taskmaster for God.

But on the safe dry ground they understood that the calls of complaints to their leader Moses were empty. Those were not steps forward but merely instinctive reactions, animalistic. Now, they decided for themselves to thank God.

Noble peace prize winner Elie Wiesel believed deeply in the action of expressing gratitude. He believed that gratitude was the ultimate expression of humanity:

“Gratitude is a word that I cherish.
Gratitude is what defines the humanity of the human being.
No one is as capable of expressing gratitude as one who has escaped the kingdom of night.”

And as the Children of Israel and Moses sang in unison about their gratitude to God, the transformation of a people was realized. They no longer were physically or mentally constrained by the will of Egyptian masters, broken of free will like cattle. They were on their way to participate actively in the teachings of their God and the God of their fathers.

Rabbi Meir Soloveitchik wrote: “While not all are loved by God in the same way, we are all held accountable for our actions, and are rewarded for a life well lived.” (Azure No. 19, “God’s Beloved: A Defense of Choseness“)’ Our ability to confront the wrongs, to demonstrate our faith and to be thankful for God’s gifts are key ingredients to the story of Passover and how we live our lives.


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Watching Jewish Ghosts

Holy Thursday arrived in Seville, Spain on March 29, 2018 with the traditional pomp and circumstance. Donning capes and tall conical hoods (the capirotes), the nazarenos marched through the streets of the city to the central Cathedral as they have done for hundreds of years.

Holy Thursday procession in Seville, Spain March 29, 2018
(photo: First.One.through)

But the hundreds of men in white hoods held a very different meaning for some people in the crowd. While the nazarenos may have focused on their penitence during holy week (Semana Santa in Spain), the scene meant something quite different to the lone American Jew watching the march.

As an American

Americans have long associated people dressed in white robes and hoods as belonging to the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), a racist and anti-Semitic group that continues to have some support in parts of the country. The Southern Poverty Law Center considers the group to be both the most infamous and oldest hate group in the USA. The group epitomizes hatred and violence.

As such, most Americans instinctively cringe when they hear about the group or see their members in the infamous hoods.

It is hard not to have the same immediate reaction when seeing that attire in a very different situation.

Marcher in Seville, Spain March 29, 2018
(photo: First.One.through)

As a Jew

Jews cannot come to Spain and not consider how few Jews remain in the country. The expulsion of the Jews in the summer of 1492 is marked in collective memory, much like the Holocaust of 1939-1945.

The cleansing of the Jews in Spain had an earlier start in Seville, as it was in that city that the Spanish Inquisition really got its start. In 1391, a preacher by the name of Don Fernando Martinez lectured his congregants that Jews were evil and were infiltrating Spanish society. While the riots that broke out in March were put down, the mob gathered strength and plundered the Jewish Quarter of the city in June. Roughly 4,000 people were killed. The synagogues in the city were either destroyed or converted to churches and the Jewish community was decimated.

Within two years, King Henry III of Castile (1379-1406) passed judgement on the preacher and the city itself for what had transpired. Few Jews returned and the city. That year, in 1393, the first brotherhood (hermanad) appeared called Las Negras. As a sign of penance during Semana Santa, the members donned white robes and capirotes, and have continued to do so until this day.

In time, other brotherhoods would cover the city. They would wear their own colors of Black-and-white, all purple or green. Over holy week, they would carry large candles and march towards the cathedral, many handing out candies to the children who would normally be scared of such scene.

There were no longer Jews in the city to care or remember.

Nazareno walking in Seville, Spain March 29, 2018
(photo: First.One.through)

This American Jew

I have no doubt that the Catholics celebrating Holy Week in Seville have no idea that the origins of their processions stemmed from their massacre of Jews. I do not even think that they ponder why their region of Spain uniquely uses this custom. The area of southern Spain is known as Andalusia, and is the part of Spain that was under Muslim rule from the 700’s until the Catholics expelled them in 1248. In all, I believe that today’s Catholics’ desire to seek purity is self-reflecting, and does not consider that their ritual comes from evicting all other religions from the province.

But this American Jew observes too many things. Like someone attending a funeral service at a cemetery who looks off in the distance to see cars go by without a care, I do not blame the Catholics for their indifference to my plight as they go about their own day. However, I cannot help see the ghosts of the Jews of Spain as I watch their procession during Semana Santa in Seville.


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In the Shadow of the Holocaust, The New York Times Fails to Flag Muslim Anti-Semitism

On March 23, 2018, an 85-year old Holocaust survivor was found brutally murdered in her apartment in Paris, France. The French authorities have been loathe to call the attack anti-Semitism, and the New York Times has been similarly adamant in not mentioning that the killers were Muslim.

In an article without any pictures on page A7 of the March 27, 2018 New York printed edition, the article noted how the French did not clearly call the murder stemming from anti-Semitism, writing:

“The Paris prosecutor’s office said on Monday that Ms. Knoll had been killed because of her ‘membership, real or supposed, of the victim of a particular religion,’ – a roundabout way of saying she was killed because she was Jewish.”

It was appropriate that the paper spell out what the prosecutor’s failed to state clearly – that the victim was attacked because of anti-Semitism. It is therefore surprising that the paper would similarly fail to identify the attackers in this incident – and many others in France – as being Muslims.

The Times wrote that the Paris prosecutor’s office said that the two men arrested for the murder were from “North African origin,” but failed to clarify that almost all of the men that moved to Paris from North Africa were Muslim.

When the Times gave background about the murder of an elderly Jewish woman, Sarah Halami, last year in France, it would only write that the killer was “a man of Malian origin who shouted ‘God is Great’ before throwing her out a window.” Did the paper clarify that he was Muslim, that 95% of Mali is Muslim, or that he actually said “Allahu Akbar” in Arabic? No.

When the Times wrote about the murder of four people in a Parisian kosher supermarket attack in 2015, it rightly called the attack antisemitic, but it only noted that the killer was “Amedy Coulibaly, a heavily armed Frenchman.” Did it mention that he was a pro-ISIS Islamic radical of Malian descent? No.

When the Times described the “2012 assault on a Jewish school in Toulouse by Mohammed Merah, who killed three children and a teacher after killing three soldiers,” did it add that he was a Muslim of Algerian descent that pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda? No.

Did the Times give any color as to root cause of the murder of an elderly Jew? Well, it did – because of perceived Jewish actions. “The suspect ‘said that the Jews have the money, and that was the reason he attacked her,’ Mr. Kalifat said [who heads a French Jewish organization.]” The problem was that Jews have the money. There was no mention of noxious Islamic Jew-hatred.

This has become standard practice for the New York Times, to conceal the background of the attackers, especially if they are Muslim.

The Times does not touch the much more prevalent anti-Semitism in the Muslim community than in France generally. The ADL released a report of Jew-hatred around the world and broke down the details by religion. The results were startling about the perception of Jews :

  • Jews have too much power in the business world: 35% of Christians; 65% of Muslims; 25% of Atheists held such views in France
  • Jews have too much power in the financial markets: 27% of Christians; 64% of Muslims; 23% of Atheists
  • Jews have too much power in the global affairs: 21% of Christians; 54% of Muslims; 19% of Atheists
  • Jews control the media: 21% of Christians; 61% of Muslims; 18% of Atheists

The disparity continued for seven other opinions. Overall, the ADL concluded that 49% of Muslims in France are anti-Semites compared to 17% of French Christians and 14% of French atheists.

The Holocaust of the Jews in Europe during World War II happened at the hands of Christians. The terrorism against the Jews worldwide today is happening at the hands of Muslim extremists. And the media is remaining silent as it seeks to curtail “Islamophobia.”


Related First.One.Through articles:

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New York Times Finds Racism When it Wants

The Only Extremists for the United Nations are “Jewish Extremists”

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Extreme and Mainstream. Germany 1933; West Bank & Gaza Today

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Fake Definitions: Pluralism and Progressive / Liberalism

It has long been a favorite marketing ploy to brand oneself in a manner that can give the maximum level of appeal. For example, those people in favor of abortion rights call themselves “pro-choice” rather than “pro-abortion,” to move the conversation from the killing of a fetus to one about a woman’s right to choose. It is brilliant and effective.

Over the past decade, the far-left liberal wing of the Democratic party began to make strides in taking over the party in both numbers and policy. As part of their hijacking the party leftward, they opted to re-brand themselves and their policies as “progressive” and “forward-leaning,” rather than “liberal.” The marketing maneuver was meant to demonstrate a path towards the future. In doing so, the liberals weren’t merely re-branding themselves, but trying to recast “conservatives” as older and backwards-thinking “deplorables,” to quote Hillary Clinton.

The marketing continues to be retooled, post the Democrats loss in the 2016 presidential election. The Democrats are giving pause as to whether to continue its leftward shift and push the likes of socialists like Bernie Sanders, or Elizabeth Warren and Keith Ellison. Would emphasizing the perception of being a bunch of “coastal liberal latte-sipping politically-correct out-of-touch folks,” as Barack Obama said be a good strategy, or should the party pivot itself as caring about ALL people and opinions?

Enter the next new thing for liberals: “pluralism.” It suggests a very wide tent open to all people and opinions – including conservatives.

But it ain’t. It’s just more liberal policies and people advancing a new tagline to try to win an election.

To be fair, it’s not just liberal politicians trying to win an election. It’s about all liberals who are trying to come to terms with their own biases. They still hate the people who “cling to guns and religion,” as Obama described, but by self-describing themselves as in favor of “pluralism,” they feel that they have pierced their liberal echo chamber.

Of course, it’s a sham, and one that left-leaning Jewish groups are embracing wholeheartedly.

Jewish Pluralism

Consider the Jewish organization the Shalom Hartman Institute. It proudly identifies itself as cross-denominational and calls for “radical pluralism.” Does it truly invite all people and opinions? Well, the group is run by a bunch of elite Ashkenazi intellectuals. Do the Israeli or American chapters have Haredis on its leadership team – the fastest growing group in Israel? No. Does it have a large number of Mizrachi Jews on its staff, representing the majority of Jews in Israel? No. How about any of the over 100,000 black Ethiopian Jews that have come to the country over the past few decades. Nope.

There are more Muslims on staff than all three of those Jewish groups combined.

But the left-leaning organization is working with left-leaning media outlets to advance the notion that it is pluralistic.

Consider the March 16, 2018 article in a major New York Jewish paper, The Jewish Week, which ran an article called “Across the Great Divide.” It posited the question: “Can Yehuda Kurtzer’s [president of the Shalom Hartman Institute North America] doctrine of pluralism heal the divides in the Jewish community?”

The Hartman Institute is only pluralistic in the sense that it’s members come from different denominations of Judaism including Reconstructionist, Reform, Conservative and Open Orthodox, but it’s politics are liberal.

Consider one of its recent topics on “Jewish Canon and Male Privilege.” Is this really a pluralistic organization that is open to a wide range of views, or is it simply seeking to bring in more conservative people to listen to the liberal talking points? Will the SHI host a discussion about “The Bible’s Prohibition of Homosexual Relations,” or “Why are Muslims Much More anti-Semitic than Other Religions Today?” I highly doubt it.

So it goes in the world with the word “pluralism.” The word is being co-opted by liberals and being stripped of its true meaning.

And it is a shame. Because the world could really use some genuine dialogue.


Related First.One.Through articles:

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A Country Divided

There are Standards for Unity

Older White Men are the Most Politically Balanced Demographic By Far

The Non-Orthodox Jewish Denominations Fight Israel

The Democratic Party is Tacking to the Far Left-Wing Anti-Semitic Fringe

J Street is a Partisan Left-Wing Group, NOT an Alternative to AIPAC

The Reform Movement’s Rick Jacobs Has no Understanding of Tolerance

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How Many Polacks Does it Take to Deny the Holocaust?

A satire.

The Polish government wanted to mark the occasion of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day in January 2018. After all, it was in Poland that loss of Jewish life was the greatest of any country in the world. The new popular right-wing party in charge, the Poland Law and Justice Party (PiSS), decided to put forward a multi-prong approach, similar to its retreat from Germany in 1939.

PiSS established several committees, including one to address the Polish educational system, one for the press and another for tourism. PiSS tasked each group with finding a new approach to commemorate the horrors that took place in the country during World War II.

The educational team hatched a novel idea that all students should be taught that the Polish people in Word War II were the only victims of Nazi atrocities and that no Poles participated in the rounding up and killing of Jews. It advised that the term “Polish Death Camps” should become illegal, and that the country should demand that all concentration camps be solely associated with Nazi Germany.

The PiSS parliament enthusiastically passed the proposal. It made the usage of the phrase punishable by up to three years in prison. The educational team was elated and quickly went to work.

A team of 400 people went into the libraries and book stores across the country and began to scour the contents for any mention of the phrase “Polish Death Camps.” Armed with white-out and scissors, the team seized upon the work like a German Shepherd on a fraulein in heat. They shouted “Arbeit Macht Frei” as they attempted to complete the cleanse by Labor Day on May 1.

The press team waited until parliament approved the Complicity Removal Proclamation, “CRaP,” as it was known within the halls of PiSS, to announce its contribution to Holocaust Remembrance Day. In addition to promoting the efforts put in place by the educational committee, the Holocaust press team developed a mascot for the public radio and TV broadcasters that was consistent with Poland’s new clean history: a bottle of white out capped with a crown.

The crowned white out bottle will be featured on all future government propaganda. “We originally wanted something that would recall the placards at our rallies ‘For a White and European Brotherhood,‘” said Jaroslaw Rasistowski, the Minister of Loud PiSS. “But thought that it would be too aggressive now that we’re in power. So we opted for a nail polish bottle as a play on the word ‘Polish.’ However, when the CRaP passed, we decided to modify the design into a white-out bottle. It really conveys everything we’re about.

The tourism committee is still convening. The current rumored plans are for the Polish government to assume greater control of the former Nazi concentration camps and put in place a few changes to “enhance” the sites for tourists:

  • Pokemon Go will be introduced to the camps with new characters sporting Nazi swastikas
  • Virtual reality goggles will be distributed to visitors and feature virtual straight white Christians in striped pajamas walking around the camp grounds
  • A new Carmelite convent will open at the Auschwitz Concentration Camp and feature free communion and lunch for all visitors

All in all, the PiSS government estimates that the new initiatives will employ a total of 3,000 Polaks, a tribute to the estimated 3 million Jewish citizens of Poland that were killed in the Holocaust.

The Polish efforts were extensive. And many countries and organizations have taken notice.

Just last night, the US Olympic Committee demanded that any story that mentions the infamous doctor Larry Nassar who abused the USA Women’s Team gymnasts for years, may no longer say that he worked for the “USA Olympic team,” as it considers that the Olympic Committee was itself a victim of the attacks too.


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Netanyahu’s Doctoral Thesis on the Nakba

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The Joys of Iranian Pistachios and Caviar

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The Hebron Narratives: Is it the Presence of Jews or the Israeli Military

The divide in the narrative of the pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian communities can be summarized in one city, and it’s not Jerusalem. It’s Hebron.

The Jewish Narrative

Jews look at the city of Hebron as the essence of their rights in the holy land. More than God’s promise of the land of Israel to the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (including Genesis 13:15-17), Hebron represents the very first real estate transaction recorded in the Bible. In Genesis 23:12-20, Abraham purchased a cave to bury his wife Sarah. That purchase crystallized the promise of God in the action of man.

The founding fathers and mothers of Judaism are almost all buried in Hebron in the Tomb of the Jewish Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah, making it the second holiest location for Jews. Their presence motivated Jews thousands of years ago to establish a large presence in the city and factored into King David’s decision to begin his rule there for the first seven years of his reign (Samuel II 2:1-11).

Cave of the Jewish Patriarchs in Hebron
with building atop attributed to King Herod
Hebron’s long Jewish history and religious shrine kept Jews living and visiting the city. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Jews in Hebron had only a small community with a synagogue and school. But in 1929, Arab rioters killed 67 people when a false rumor was spread that the Jews were set to destroy the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. The British, who were administering the Palestine Mandate at the time, concluded that there was no way to protect the Jews in the city and evacuated every Jew. It marked the true beginning of the modern war of Jews and Arabs living together in the Holy Land. No Jew would return to the city until after the 1967 defensive Six Day War, when the Jordanians lost the land that they had illegally siezed in 1949.

When the Jews returned to Hebron, they eliminated the centuries-old ban (established 1266) that the Muslims had placed on Jews entering the Cave of the Jewish Patriarchs. They reestablished a small neighborhood in the city where they could live safely, protected by the Israeli army so that they would not be slaughtered again as they were in 1929.

As opposed to the Muslims (including Ottomans) and Arabs (Jordanians) who banned Jews from the holy site and city, respectively, the Israelis made accommodations for sharing the space. They partitioned the Cave so that both Muslims and Jews could pray at the site and sectioned a small part of the city where Jews could safely live.

The Israelis enforced coexistence with the Arabs and Muslims that had offered them no or limited ground for centuries.

The Arab Perspective

Arabs view themselves as the native population of Palestine. Their ancestors came to the region en masse in the 6th and 7th century as they spread Islam through the Middle East and North Africa. Their position as the dominant people in the Holy Land was secured at the end of the Crusades in the 13th century.

Over the next 700 years, various Muslim and Arab people would descend on the region, whether Egyptians, Syrians or Ottomans. The common religion made the nature of the sovereign less relevant to the Muslim Arabs. People from places that would later become Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia would come and go to Palestine and to Hebron. The fluidity of backgrounds in a world that had not been so fixed with nationality as today was natural; Palestine was after all the gateway to Egypt and Africa from Europe and Asia for trade.

Hebron’s Muslims mostly tolerated (by 18th century norms but not today’s) the small Jewish community. It didn’t give them rights to visit or pray at Islamic holy shrines like the Ibrahimi Mosque, as they called the Cave of the Jewish Patriarchs, but they didn’t have them banned from the city or region.

That changed at the end of World War I and the end of the Ottoman Empire, as the world powers decided to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine through the 1917 Balfour Declaration and the subsequent elaboration of Jewish rights in the 1920 San Remo Agreement and the 1922 Mandate of Palestine. The Muslim Arabs who had seen a spike in Jewish emigration to Palestine over the prior hundred years now had a new fear and concern: the global powers were taking the sovereignty of Palestine away from Muslims and handing it to the Jews. And this, without the consultation or endorsement of the local Muslim Arabs.

The small minority of Jews was no longer a curiosity to be tolerated, but a group that was poised to assume control to be defeated.

When rumors came in 1929 about the Jewish attack on the third most holy site of Islam in Jerusalem, it was easily believed. The British had assumed their mandate just five years earlier and the Jews started to arrive in Palestine by the thousands. It was natural for the Palestinian Arabs to assume that the Jews were readying a takeover of their holy locations in Jerusalem and Hebron. The war was on.

When the Jews came back to Hebron in 1967, they didn’t just return as civilians, but with an army. They set a model for sharing the Ibrahmi Mosque that the Arabs tolerate, but in a format that Muslims fear that Israelis will try to replicate at the Al Aqsa Mosque Compound in Jerusalem.

It has now been decades that the Arabs of Hebron live under Israeli occupation, a reminder of their defeat in 1967 and of how their land and culture had been taken away from them. Every Israeli soldier that they see is there to inspect and check and validate their presence. But the Arab residents wonder why they need these Jewish interlopers to validate Arab presence in Hebron. They have been there for centuries.

The Conflicting Narratives

Whether one views one or both of these narratives as valid, the dichotomy of the root of the problem is very different. The Jews believe they have a natural right to live in the city as their ancestors had for thousands of years. The Israeli military is there to ensure the peace.

Yet for the Palestinian Arabs, the Israeli military is the core of the problem. They do not want to live under Jewish rule, neither as citizens of a Jewish State nor by an occupying army.

The Jews contend that the British action in 1929 did as much damage as the Palestinian Arab murderers. In the face of a heinous massacre of Jews, the response of the British Administrators was not to punish the Arabs and protect the Jews, but to ban the Jews from the city. That action taught the Arabs that violence pays. The terrorist group Hamas continued to make the point, having made Israel abandon Gaza in 2005.

The Palestinian Arabs make no apologies for any of their statements or actions: this is Arab land and home to Islamic shrines. The Israelis may say they are promoting coexistence, but they are doing so on stolen land. How noble is it to steal someone’s home and then offer to share it?!

Israelis view the Arab attitude as deeply problematic: their arguments are not localized to Hebron, but are the same throughout the land. The Palestinian Arabs reject the basic presence of a Jewish State in the land in any configuration. Why abandon Hebron, when the sentiment is the same for Haifa?

While moderate Arabs may indeed hold that view, they are willing to accept the de facto existence of millions of Jews within the 1967 borders. They realize that the Jews are not going anywhere any time soon.

So what makes a Hebron narrative different than a Haifa narrative or a Jerusalem narrative or a Jericho narrative? How and why is it unique in depicting the problems that people have in talking about the Israeli-Arab conflict?

Why Hebron?

Most of the world has accepted the reality and legitimacy of Israel and its borders within the 1949 Armistice Lines (the 1967 borders). Cities like Haifa, Tel Aviv and Nazareth are only contentious among the most rabidly anti-Zionist zealots who shout “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” The narrative that questions Haifa is one to be easily and readily dismissed as coming from the lunatic fringe.

Jerusalem is considered the most contentious topic for a variety of reasons ranging from the holiness ascribed to the city, its designation as a capital by the competing parties, and the fact that both populations – Jews and Arabs – live in the city in great numbers. Reasonable people can have completely different viewpoints on the best path forward.

And then there is Hebron. Compared to other major West Bank cities like Jericho, Nablus or Jenin, it is a city with a handful of Jews (as opposed to none), and home to a venerated site for Jews on par with Medina for Muslims, while most other cities have much more minor Jewish holy sites. As such, it is divided between areas under Palestinian Authority and Israeli control.

Modern division of Hebron into area under PA and Israeli control
The ongoing and persistent presence of Jews in Hebron has made it a flashpoint for an all-or-none possession of control and access for nearly 90 years. It was in Hebron that the world bodies took the first steps in modern times to evict all of the Jews, presumably for their own good. The 1929 action was an abrogation of the Mandate that the British were handed that “No discrimination of any kind shall be made between the inhabitants of Palestine on the ground of race, religion or language. No person shall be excluded from Palestine on the sole ground of his religious belief,” (Article 15).

Within a decade, the British would follow up their action with the 1937 Peel Commission and the 1939 White Paper, actions which would bar Jews from living in most of Palestine and prevent hundreds of thousands of Jews from moving to Palestine.

Hebron set the stage that coexistence was impossible; parallel existence was required.

But the counter-argument stands in reality in the State of Israel. In Israel, Arabs have full rights and account for over 20% of the population. Israel granted every non-Jew Israeli citizenship when it declared statehood in 1948, and offers any Arab in Jerusalem citizenship, if they so desire.

In EGL, east of the Green Line/ the West Bank, the desire for co-existence is seemingly non-existent. The Palestinian Authority has laws calling for the death sentence for any Arab that sells land to a Jew. The leader of the Palestinian Authority pledged that a future Palestinian state will not see the presence of a single Israeli (read Jew). Some Palestinian Universities even ban Jews from stepping foot on campus.

So today, most Israelis that live in EGL/West Bank are in towns that almost exclusively Jewish. The exception is Hebron, where just 700 Jews live among 250,000 Arabs. (Another 6,000 Jews live in adjoining Kiryat Arba).

It is Hebron that is the current test for coexistence for the Arab community. Can they accept and welcome the Jews in their midst? Could Israel withdraw its protective force from the small Jewish community of Hebron and not see them slaughtered?

Some Muslims that claim to be moderates say that Jews lived in Arab countries for centuries before the establishment of Israel. Will they defend and protect the Jews of Hebron and Kiryat Arba, or is the existence of Israel next door still too much of an insult for them to endure, and therefore cannot coexist with Jewish neighbors?

The narratives of Jew and Arab in the Holy Land and the pathway to either coexistence or divorce is encapsulated in the city of Hebron.


Related First.One.Through articles:

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Squeezing Zionism

The UN’s Disinterest in Jewish Rights at Jewish Holy Places

It is Time to Insert “Jewish” into the Names of the Holy Sites

The Long History of Dictating Where Jews Can Live Continues

The Palestinian’s Three Denials

The Cancer in the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Joint Prayer: The Cave of the Patriarchs and the Temple Mount

Dignity for Israel: Jewish Prayer on the Temple Mount

The United Nations and Holy Sites in the Holy Land

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NY Times Hides Abbas’s Violence and Pence’s Truth

The New York Times blatant bias towards the Palestinian narrative was in stark display in articles reviewing the speeches given by the acting-President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas to a large audience of politicians in Ramallah on January 14, 2018, and of the one given by US Vice President Mike Pence to the Israeli Parliament on January 22, 2018.

Hiding Palestinian Violence

The Times article appeared on the top of page A8 accompanied by a color picture of Abbas. The article relayed Abbas’s speech with supporting commentary throughout the article. Only at the very end of the piece, did the Times offer any competing viewpoints.

During its supporting description of Abbas’s speech, the Times deliberately chose to portray Abbas as a man of peace and hope.

NYT: “Indeed, Mr. Abbas, who reaffirmed his commitment to non-violence and stopping terrorism, seemed to hold out hope of a return to negotiations – but with someone other than the United States leading the way.”

What did Abbas actually say during his remarks to his Arab audience?

Abbas:We always and forever adhere to negotiations as the path to reach a political settlement with Israel. We don’t want war. We will not call for a military war with Israel. Whoever has [weapons] – go ahead and do it. I say this out in the open. If you have weapons, go ahead. I’m with you, and I will help you. Anyone who has weapons can go ahead. I don’t have weapons. I want the peaceful political path to reach a settlement.

Not only did the Times chose to negate the remarks in which Abbas supported those who used terrorism, the paper opted to not give any clarification about why the United States has been accusing Abbas for supporting terrorism:

Abbas:The Americans are always telling us that we must stop paying salaries to the families of the martyrs and the prisoners. We categorically reject this demand. Under no circumstances will we allow the families of the martyrs, the wounded, and the prisoners to be harmed. These are our children, our families. We are proud of them, and we will pay them before we pay the living.”

Why didn’t the paper use the Abbas statement to comment that Congress had voted on the Taylor Force Act to demand that the PA stop paying terrorist to kill Jews? Because if it did so, it would be shining a light on the despicable Palestinian action promoting murder?

In regards to reconciling with a terrorist group, the Times would add no color that the US designates Hamas as a terrorist group. It merely stated that “reunification” was a chance to bring the two physical Palestinian territories together, but it made no mention of incorporating the anti-Semitic terrorist group into a governing role in the Palestinian Authority:

NYT:Addressing hundreds of P.L.O. members, Mr. Abbas urged the Council to emphasize unification talks aimed at bringing Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules the Gaza Strip, into the Palestinian fold. ‘A state without Gaza is not possible,’ he said. ‘A state in Gaza is not possible.’

Instead, the Times talked of Abbas as a man of hope, a man who continued to push for a two-state solution and peaceful coexistence with Israel:

NYT:Mr. Abbas, 82, stopped well short of embracing an alternative to a two-state solution, the project around which he has built his career. The number of Israelis and Palestinians who hold out hope that such a solution can be achieved is dwindling, but Mr. Abbas said nothing about abandoning it.

“He also shied away from urging the kind of provocative acts, like ending the Palestinian Authority’s security cooperation with Israel or disbanding the authority itself, that could raise the costs of occupation for Israel and shake officials in Jerusalem and Washington.

The Times did not clarify why so many people have become disillusioned with a peace based on a two-state solution, such as an intifada running from 2000 to 2005, and wars raging from Gaza in 2008, 2012 and 2014 killing thousands, even after Israel withdrew all civilians and military forces from Gaza in 2005.

When the Times opted to mention the vile screed of Abbas that the Jews have nothing to do with Israel, it did so at the very end of the article, with an introduction that let people dismiss the content, and with a conclusion that allowed the statement to stand.

NYT:Testing his audience’s attention, Mr. Abbas also gave a lengthy history lecture reaching back to the 17th century, saying that Oliver Cromwell had first proposed shipping European Jews to the Holy Land, before tracing the beginning of Zionism to what he called the 19th-century journalist and activist Theodor Herzl’s efforts to ‘wipe out Palestinians from Palestine.’

“’This is a colonial enterprise that has nothing to do with Jewishness,’ Mr. Abbas said. ‘The Jews were used as a tool under the concept of the promised land – call it whatever you want. Everything has been made up.’

“Neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor Trump administration officials offered any immediate response.”

Did the Times attack this fake history? No. Did it call out Abbas’ rewriting of the entire Old Testament? No. Did it mention that Abbas also claimed that the Arab countries didn’t really evict a million Jews? No. Did it recount Abbas’s doctoral thesis on Holocaust denial? No. Did it mention that the United Nations has similarly been denying Jewish connection to Jerusalem? No.

The sloppy New York Times journalism gave a pass to Abbas’s #FakeHistory, and allowed its readership to question the very legitimacy of the Jewish State, just as the Palestinian narrative demands.

 

Hiding Pence’s Truth

On January 23, 2018 the Times covered the speech that Vice President Mike Pence delivered to the Israeli Knesset. The article would feature no picture of Pence standing in Israel’s capital of Jerusalem.

To begin, the Times did not begin to quote Pence until paragraph 9, compared to paragraph 2 in the Abbas story. The Times needed to lay the groundwork of how upset the Palestinians were to frame the article:

NYT: “Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital or believe it should be divided, with East Jerusalem becoming the capital of a Palestinian state.”

No Times clarification that Palestine is not yet a state.

NYT: “The international consensus, previously supported by the United States, has been that the city’s status can be determined only through negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.”

The Times deliberately misled its readers that that the Trump administration had said the same.

NYT:Arab lawmakers rose to their feet at the start of Mr. Pence’s speech in the Israeli Parliament and held up signs reading ‘Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine.’ Ushers pulled down the signs and escorted them out of the room, to the applause of others in the hall.

The phrasing did not make clear that the standing ovation by the members of Knesset was in favor of expelling the Arabs and drowning out their protest.

NYT:Mr. Trump has also threatened to shutter an office of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Washington and cut American donations to the United Nations agency that provides services for Palestinian refugees.

Once again there was no detail that Trump was taking these moves because the Palestinians support terror and refuse to come to the negotiating table.

NYT:That approach has been welcomed by many Israelis, while rankling with Palestinians, whose political and religious leaders have refused to meet Mr. Pence.

The Times took its time to set up the article that everything that Pence had to say was objectionable and unwelcome. It did nothing of the sort to introduce the Abbas speech.

Throughout the Pence article, in paragraph after paragraph, the Times countered every statement with a Palestinian narrative, a complete reversal of the Abbas article a week earlier when a counter-opinion of the Israeli perspective was only given at the very end of the article, and then, only muted.

NYT:We stand with Israel because we believe in right over wrong, in good over evil and in liberty over tyranny,” Mr. Pence said.

“Mr. Pence, an evangelical Christian, dotted his address with biblical references and spoke of the Jewish connection to Jerusalem in historical and religious terms.

Correction: Pence’s initial remarks had to do with the broad connection between the United States and Israel, one of “shared values.” He spoke of George Washington, John Adams and Abraham Lincoln who supported the great contributions of Jews to America and the world, and their rights to live in the Holy Land.

Did the Times write that Abbas is an Arab Muslim when he belittled the Bible? Nope. But it decided to highlight Pence’s religion. It was a setup for the ‘messianic extremist’ comment by Saeb Erekat to come later in the article.

NYT:He scarcely mentioned the Palestinians and did not refer to their history in the Holy Land, nor to their territorial claims.”

Did the Times write about the 3700-year history of the Jews in Jerusalem during the Abbas speech write-up? About the Jewish Temples? That Jews have been a majority in Jerusalem since the 1860s? No, why would it? The Times is part of the Palestinian propaganda machine.

NYT:The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, will not meet Mr. Pence. He has called Mr. Trump’s Jerusalem declaration ‘a slap in the face.’

“Saeb Erekat, the chief negotiator for the Palestinians, said that Mr. Pence’s ‘messianic discourse’ was ‘a gift to the extremists.’

“‘His message to the rest of the world is clear: violate international law & resolutions and the US will reward you,’ he said, according to his office’s Twitter account.”

Quite some airtime for the Palestinian point of view.

In the final paragraph, the Times opted to slam Pence yet again in another distortion of facts:

NYT:Mr. Pence canceled his last planned trip to the Holy Land before Christmas after Christian Arab leaders declined to meet with him.

No, Pence delayed his last trip to secure a vote on the GOP tax bill.


The Times gave a podium to a man that negated the history and rights of Jews in Israel and who supports terrorists both in language and money, printing 304 words of Abbas’s speech. It did not challenge a single word of his screed. Meanwhile, the paper took great pains to negate and belittle the US Vice President’s remarks, printing a mere 45 words of Pence’s speech.

Additional editions of #AllThePalestinianProgandaFitToPrint


Related First.One.Through articles:

Abbas’ European Audience for His Rantings

The New York Times Inverts the History of Jerusalem

The Arguments over Jerusalem

750 Years of Continuous Jewish Jerusalem

The Custodianship of a Child and Jerusalem

Palestinians agree that Israel rules all of Jerusalem, but the World Treats the City as Divided

What do you Recognize in the Palestinians?

The Palestinians aren’t “Resorting to Violence”; They are Murdering and Waging War

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Where’s the March Against Anti-Semitism?

The weekend of January 20, 2018 saw another run of the Women’s March around the United States. Various cities including New York City, Chicago and Washington DC had famous speakers address the crowds who came out to speak on behalf of a range of issues related to women’s rights ranging from equal pay, sexual violence and abortion.

Several groups still felt left out of the second annual march, including black women and the LGBT community. Those communities argued that it is women of color and the gay women that are suffering the most crimes, but the agenda had been controlled principally by straight white women.

They are not wrong on that first point.

The FBI produces a review of hate crime every year, and in November 2017 it published its report of Hate Crime Statistics in the US for 2016. The raw data supports the contention that blacks suffer many more hate crimes than whites or Hispanics, especially on a proportionate basis. It is even more true that the LGBT community suffers disproportionately. With an estimated population of 10 million in the United States, the 1,386 hate crimes committed against LGBT people meant that they were over 2.5 times more likely to be attacked than an average black person, who suffered 2,220 hate crimes among a black population of 43 million.

But the reality is that the group that suffers the most hate crimes are Jews. Year-in and year-out. And no one speaks up for them at these marches.

While one out of every 19,359 blacks suffered a hate crime, and one out of every 7,215 LGBT people were attacked, the staggering fact of 2016 was that one out of every 6,148 Jews was the victim of a hate crime (862 attacks against a population of 5.3 million).

But the women’s marches did not address rampant Jew hatred. In 2017 they opted instead to invite Israel-basher Linda Sarsour to address the crowds. In 2018, many Jewish groups participated in the march, but did not bring up antisemitism and simply focused on the issue of women’s rights.

The black and LGBT community actively pushed their narrow agenda forward, but Jewish groups were reluctant to do so. Which groups were correct in how they handled their involvement in the march?

More pointedly, where is the national march against antisemitism? How is it that cities can gather thousands of people to stand up to “Islamophobia,” but cannot even gather dozens to speak out against the more prevalent antisemitism?


Related First.One.Through articles:

Ramifications of Ignoring American Antisemitism

Leading Gay Activists Hate Religious Children

The Selfishness, Morality and Effectiveness of Defending Others

New York Times Finds Racism When it Wants

Pride. Jewish and Gay

Black People are Homophobic

Your Father’s Anti-Semitism

Totalities

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The Non-Orthodox Jewish Denominations Fight Israel

The tensions between the non-Orthodox Jewish denominations and Israel seemingly became tense over the Israeli government’s decision to postpone plans for an egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel, the Western Wall. In truth, the relationship between the Reconstructionist, Jewish Renewal and Reform branches of Judaism (the 3R’s) and the Jewish State have been terrible for a long time.

There are a number of Jewish organizations that actively seek to harm Israel in public fora. As detailed in “Unity – not Uniformity – in the Pro-Israel Tent,” the largest and most noxious of the left-wing organizations are: the Jewish Voice for Peace that advocates for a global boycott of Israel; J Street that advocates for sanctions against Israel at the United Nations; and the New Israel Fund, that supports organizations that go on global tours bad-mouthing Israel and groups that seek to destroy the Jewish character of Israel.

What that article did not convey and will be discussed and explored here, was that these anti-Zionist groups are uniquely backed by non-Orthodox rabbis.

Jewish Voice for Peace

Arguably the most proudly vocal anti-Zionist group is the Jewish Voice for Peace, JVP. The rabbis of JVP have supported the Gaza flotilla; written books demonizing Israel as a modern day blood libel; and arguably promoted the murder of Israelis.


JVP post supporting convicted terrorist Rasmeah Odeh

JVP’s rabbinic leadership almost exclusively comes from the Reconstructionist and Jewish Renewal branches of Judaism. At their core, they seek a Judaism that has nothing to do with Zionism. Many are proudly anti-Zionist.

Rabbi Joseph Berman (Non-Denominational)
Rabbi Linda Holtzman (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Buzz Bogage, Denver, CO
Rabbi Brant Rosen, Evanston, IL (Reconstructionist)
Student Rabbi Leora Abelson
Rabbi Rebecca Alpert (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Lev Baesh (Reform)
Rabbi David Basior (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Haim Beliak (Jewish Renewal)
Rabbi Joseph Berman (Unaffiliated)
Rabbi Andrea Cohen-Kiener (Jewish Renewal)
Rabbi Meryl Crean (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Michael Davis (also backed by the Students for Justice in Palestine which has supported terrorist groups)
Rabbi Art Donsky (Non-denominational)
Rabbi Michael Feinberg
Rabbi Ari Lev Fornari (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Sarah Bracha Gershuny (Egalitarian)
Rabbi Shai Gluskin (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Borukh Goldberg
Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb (Jewish Renewal)
Rabbi Julie Greenberg
Rabbi Edward Klein
Rabbi Alan LaPayover (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Eyal Levinson (Jewish Renewal)
Rabbi Jeremy Milgrom (Conservative)
Rabbi David Mivasair (Progressive)
Rabbi Dev Noily (Progressive)
Rabbi Alexis Pearce (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Michael Ramberg (Progressive)
Rabbi Ken Rosenstein (Jewish Renewal)
Rabbi Shifrah Tobacman (Jewish Renewal)
Rabbi Brian Walt
Rabbi Lew Weiss (Reform)
Rabbi Alissa Wise (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Joey Wolf (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Laurie Zimmerman (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Rain Zohav (Jewish Renewal)

The Anti-Defamation has essentially labeled JVP a hate group stating:

“JVP has consistently co-sponsored demonstrations to oppose Israeli military policy that have been marked by signs comparing Israel to Nazi Germany and slogans that voice support for groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. JVP has not condemned or sought to distance itself from these messages.”

The rabbis of these communities put politics front-and-center of their religion. And their politics are anti-Zionism.

J Street

J Street officially states that it is not in favor of the BDS movement, but has supported many speakers who do call for the boycott of Israel. More, J Street actively lobbied the Obama Administration to allow the censure of Israel at the United Nations and enabling the resolution labeling Israeli territory east of the Green Line to be deemed illegal.

The rabbinic core of J Street is slightly more “traditional” than the rabbis from JVP, counting many Reform rabbis. The list of hundreds of rabbis is too long to review here, but a sample highlights the trend:

Rabbi Ellen Lippmann, Brooklyn, NY (Reform)
Rabbi Lauren Henderson, Chicago, IL (Conservative)
Rabbi Alexander Kress, Abington, PA (Reform)
Rabbi Marisa Elana James, New York, NY (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie, New York, NY (Conservative)
Rabbi Amanda Schwartz, New York, NY (Conservative)
Rabbi Scott Aaron, Pittsburgh, PA (Reform)
Rabbi Alison Abrams, Deerfield, IL (Reform)
Rabbi Ruth Adar, Oakland, CA (Reform)
Rabbi David Adelson, New York, NY (Reform)
Rabbi Katy Z. Allen, Wayland, MA (Independent)
Rabbi Rebecca Alpert, Philadelphia, PA (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Thomas Alpert, Needham, MA (Reform)
Rabbi Steven Altarescu, Bronx, NY (Reform)
Rabbi Camille Shira Angel, San Francisco, CA (Reform)
Rabbi David Ariel-Joel, Louisville, KY (Reform)
Susan J Averbach, San Francisco, CA (Humanistic Judaism)
Rabbi Benjamin Arnold, Evergreen, CO (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Melanie Aron, Los Gatos, CA (Reform)
Rabbi Arik W. Ascherman, Jerusalem, Israel (Reform)
Rabbi Aura Ahuvia, Woodstock, NY (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Larry Bach, Durham, NC (Reform)
Rabbi Lev Baesh, Lexington, MA (Reform)
Rabbi Chava Bahle, Suttons Bay, MI (Jewish Renewal)
Rabbi Justus Baird, Princeton, NJ (Reform)
Rabbi Rachel Evelyne Barenblat, Williamstown, MA (Jewish Renewal)
Rabbi Benjamin H. Barnett, Corvallis, OR (Pluralistic)
Rabbi Bernard Barsky, Dayton, OH
Rabbi Lewis M. Barth, Encino, CA (Reform)
Rabbi Geoffrey Basik, Baltimore, MD (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi David Dunn Bauer, San Francisco, CA (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Renee H. Bauer, Madison, WI
Rabbi David Baylinson, Atlanta, GA (Reform)
Rabbi Micah Becker-Klein, Hockessin, DE
Rabbi Martin Beifeld, Richmond, VA (Reform)
Rabbi Anne Belford, Houston, TX (Reform)
Rabbi Marc J. Belgrad, Buffalo Grove, IL (Reform)
Rabbi Arnold Mark Belzer, Savannah, GA (Reform)
Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appel, Highland Park, IL (post-denominational)
Rabbi Karen Bender, Tarzana, CA (Reform)
Rabbi Olivier BenHaim, Seattle, WA (Reform)
Rabbi Allen Bennett, San Francisco, CA (Reform)
Rabbi James Bennett, St. Louis, MO (Reform)
Rabbi Philip J. Bentley, Hendersonville, NC (Reform)

The Reform movement isn’t explicitly anti-Israel the way that much of the Reconstructionist and Jewish Renewal movements are currently. However, the current head of the Reform movement, Rabbi Rick Jacobs is particularly political and claims that the official stance of Reform Judaism is anti-settlements. How he declared that his personal anti-Jews living in Judea and Samaria politics should frame the entire movement is something that members of Reform Judaism need to address.

New Israel Fund

The New Israel Fund gives money to groups like Adalah that have a stated purpose of ending any Jewishness in Israel. It lures people to donate money stating that it is about equality in Israel – and by that it means ending the Jewish Law of Return; the Hatikvah; Jewish star on the national flag, et cetera.

The international council of NIF features a number of non-Orthodox rabbis:

Rabbi Rachel Mikva (Reform)
Rabbi Bernard Mehlman (Reform)
Rabbi Anson Laytner (Reform)
Rabbi Daniel Weiner (Reform)
Rabbi David Levin (Reform)
Rabbi Morris Allen (Conservative)
Rabbi Norman Cohen (Reform)
Rabbi Alexander Davis (Conservative)
Rabbi Shosh Dworsky (Conservative)
Rabbi David Freedman
Rabbi Yosi Gordon (Conservative)
Rabbi Michael Adam Latz (Reform)
Rabbi Cathy Nemiroff (Reform)
Rabbi Debra Rappaport (Reform)
Rabbi Alan Shavit-Lonstein (Conservative)
Rabbi Adam Stock Spilker (Reform)
Rabbi Sharon Stiefel (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Aaron Weininger (Conservative)
Rabbi Marcia Zimmerman (Reform)
Rabbi Sharon Brous (Conservative)
Rabbi Rachel B. Cowan (Reform)
Rabbi Jerome K. Davidson (Reform)
Rabbi Marion Lev-Cohen (Reform)
Rabbi J. Rolando Matalon (non-denominational)
Rabbi Aaron Panken (Reform)
Rabbi Gordon Tucker, White Plains (Conservative)

Relative to JVP and J Street, the New Israel Fund has many more Conservative rabbis joining its leadership ranks. But still, none of these anti-Zionist organizations that have thousands of rabbis in leadership positions have a single Orthodox rabbi.

Why?

Beyond Liberal Politics

There is no question that some of these forms of Judaism revolve around liberal politics more than religion. Many of the synagogues state clearly on their websites that they are focused on tikkun olam (repairing the world), and they do this not through Torah-inspired commandments like helping the widow and orphan, but in new imagined ways like raising the minimum wage and saving the planet.

But there are many liberal rabbis in the Orthodox community too, and they support the Jewish State. They are proud to point out that Israel is one of the most liberal countries in the world, and certainly within the xenophobic, antisemitic and misogynistic Middle East. When liberal Orthodox rabbis find a need to criticize the Israeli government, they do it directly with the government in a constructive manner, not through antagonistic actions on the global stage.

Therefore, the issue cannot be simply attributed to the politics of many rabbis in the non-Orthodox world. There must be something systemic in the religious philosophy of those denominations that make them embrace Israel-bashing.

Who Is a Jew

The key Jewish prayer Shemoneh Esrei recited several times every day begins with the blessing of “our God and the God of our fathers.” It encapsulates the notion that Judaism is both a religion of being, passed down physically from our ancestors, as well as one of choice – “our God” – in which each person takes ownership of his faith.

In regards to being a Jew, Orthodox Judaism (and Conservative Judaism, at this point in time) have held the line on using traditional halacha in critical life events that define “who is a Jew.” Two of those are birth and marriage.

Both the Orthodox and Conservative movements believe that the child of a Jewish mother is a Jew, regardless of the religion of the father. The other denominations believe in patrilineal descent, that religion can be passed down via the father’s religion. This is a fundamental breakdown between the religious denominations regarding “who is a Jew.”

Similarly, Orthodox and Conservative rabbis do not perform interfaith weddings. The rabbis in the other movements are very proud to perform such ceremonies and openly advertise their services.

These two life events are obviously interconnected. An interfaith couple will have a non-Jewish parent, and about half of the time, produce a non-Jewish child according to the traditions of matrilineal descent practiced by Orthodox and Conservative Judaism. Sanctioning interfaith marriages has produced a chasm between the Reform/Reconstructionist/Jewish Renewal (3R) movements with other Jewish denominations, AND with Israel itself.

Israel created a Law of Return in 1950 that allowed any Jew to move to Israel. In 1970, the law was amended to clarify that a Jew “means a person who was born of a Jewish mother or has become converted to Judaism and who is not a member of another religion.” While the 1970 amendment made provisions for the non-Jewish spouse and children of a Jew to move to Israel, the Law of Return used a definition of matrilineal descent that only Conservative and Orthodox used, upsetting other denominations that support patrlineal descent. However, the law’s clause on conversion did accept non-Orthodox conversions performed outside of Israel, as decided by the Israeli Supreme Court in March 2016.

Universalism versus Particularism

Being a Jew is simply part one. The actions and demands of the religion, the mitzvot, are part two, and the breakdown between Orthodox Judaism and the branches that seek to harm Israel are profound.

Orthodox Judaism believes that the Torah has 613 commandments for a Jew to live by. Some are clear-cut, like “Do not kill,” while others are subject to broader interpretation like “keep the Sabbath holy,” as there may be many different methods of keeping the Sabbath holy. Conservative Judaism basically follows the concept of the 613 mitzvot, but interprets them differently (for example, Orthodox Jews will not use electricity on Sabbath to “keep it holy,” while Conservative Jews will often use electricity.)

In contrast, the 3R branches of Judaism have revamped the mitzvot in a way that fits a “new age” rewriting of the laws. They have made the commandments about human-centered spirituality that spreads out to God and all mankind, rather than commandments that are passed down from God to man.

The Jewish Renewal site makes its mantra clear, stating it’s “a transdenominational approach to revitalizing Judaism.” Its reach is to everyone: “Renewal is an attitude, not a denomination,” with “an emphasis on accessible spiritual experience.” In other words, this is a movement without demands, such as only eating kosher foods. It is more akin to a yoga retreat. Not only is there no need to be Jewish, a person needn’t perform ancient rote rituals. Just engage in new age meditation.

Reconstructionist Judaism is more traditional than Jewish Renewal, but far from “traditional.” Its emphasis is on “Jewish Identity,” as its website states: “what primarily gives Jews our identity is not belief but rather the feeling of belonging to the Jewish civilization itself. We observe Jewish holidays, rituals and customs, not because a divine being commanded us to, but because it is our primary method of reinforcing Jewish identity.” In other words, God’s commandments are not really commandments (or God doesn’t exist) for Reconstructionist Jews. The basis for observing any tradition is simply a matter of keeping the “Jewish identity” around, not because of any higher authority.

These days, the Reform movement has put the world front and center. It’s mission is to build “communities that transform the way people connect to Jewish life, building a more whole, just, and compassionate world.” It does this through tikkum olam, “repairing the world.” The movement’s leader, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, speaks of Reform Judaism as operating in concert with the global community: “the heart of a tikkun olam that embraces always both the universal and the particular.

These three branches of Judaism approach religious practice very differently than Orthodox Judaism. Their Judaism is centered on global mankind’s yearning to connect – to the planet and the people around the world – to achieve a personal fulfillment of serenity. Jewish rituals are props to achieve that state of zen. Similarly, non-Jews bring their own props to their encounters with God and mankind. Universalism and particularism (of props) coexist in a human-centered meditative state of bliss.

This 3R approach towards religion is an inversion of Orthodox Judaism that is premised on a top-down philosophy. The Bible and Ten Commandments began with God, not man. The 613 commandments given to Jews were just that – commandments – not guides to validate one’s own sense of social justice. These commandments were uniquely given to Jews, as Orthodoxy believes that non-Jews were given only seven commandments which relate to universal morality.

The orientation of particularism of Orthodox rabbis extends broadly: to Jewish people (they do not perform interfaith weddings); the Bible (with unique commandments only for Jews); and to the holy land itself, which they believe was given to the Jewish people. According to a Pew poll in 2013, 84% of Orthodox Jews believe that God gave Israel to the Jews. That compares to only 54%, 35% and 24% of Conservative, Reform, and non-denominational Jews, respectively. By way of comparison, 55% of Christians believe that God gave Israel to the Jews. How remarkable is that? Christians are more Zionistic than non-Orthodox Jews.

This dichotomy between Orthodox and non-Orthodox denominations is at the core of different approaches to the Jewish State and the holy land. For Orthodox Jews, the Jewish State is particular, just like the bible and Jewish people. In contrast, the non-Orthodox denominations focus on universalism, and shun particularism as a form of tribalism and nationalism, with more than a whiff of racism.

It is therefore not a surprise that Jewish denominations that shun particularism in favor of universalism also denounce Zionism.

But why would universalists attack Israel on the global stage?

The fundamental approaches to Judaism, Jews and the holy land do not just lead to a difference of opinions; it destroys the baseline of communication, making discussion virtually impossible. In mathematical terms, the universalists are speaking in base 10 and the particularists are speaking in base 7. They can both understand each other in simple matters, like single digit numbers or that Abraham is the father of monotheism. But on complicated matters like a democratic Jewish State living in peace and security in the heart of the Arab Muslim Middle East, the interaction falls apart like discussing the number 242 (equal to 242 in base 10, but just 170 when converting base 7 to base 10). They are just not talking about the same thing. So rather than talk to each other, they talk to people with a similar language. The 3R rabbis take their version of tikkun olam to the global stage, like the United Nations.

Whereas Orthodox liberal Jews can call out for rights for Israeli Arabs and Palestinian Arabs without vilifying Israel, non-Orthodox rabbis seemingly cannot. Orthodoxy can approach equality within the rubric that the holy land as special and unique for Jews, while the non-Orthodox only see tribalism and primitive thinking. The 3R rabbis burnish their bona fides by burning ties that could reek of particularism as they engage with the global community.

The Current Dynamic

The universalism / “anti-tribalism” movement within the 3R denominations often attacks both Orthodox Jews and the Jewish state. It has sometimes provoked a backlash.

In September 2015, the Reconstructionist movement announced a new policy to allow rabbis to marry non-Jews as a reaction to the movement’s conclusion that “many younger progressive Jews, including many rabbis and rabbinical students, now perceive restrictions placed on those who are intermarried as reinforcing a tribalism that feels personally alienating and morally troubling in the 21st century.” With such declaration, several Reconstructionist rabbis became fed up.

In April 2016, twenty Reconstructionist rabbis left the denomination to form Beit Kaplan, as they felt that the Reconstructionist movement had lost its way. They said that “the decision to form the association was sparked, in part, by the recent RRC policy shift that muddled the definition of what it means for a rabbi to have a Jewish family. Other contributing factors include a desire to return the focus of liberal Judaism to Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan’s vision of Jewish peoplehood and a desire to affirm connections to the Jewish people globally, including in Israel.”

Several Reconstructionist rabbis became infuriated with the official positions of Reconstructionist’s universalism. Their new assembly felt compelled to clarify that not only did it think that sanctioning rabbis intermarrying was a destructive force on the Jewish family, it said that it “unequivocally reject[s] any movement to delegitimize Israel in the community of nations,” because the Reconstructionist movement had become a haven for demonizing the Jewish State.

In short, Beit Kaplan felt that the Reconstructionist movement had lost the basic concept of the definition of being a Jew and the special nature of the Jewish State.

The 3R rabbis’ Israel-bashing had started to gain momentum during the 2014 Gaza War, when many non-Orthodox rabbis actively vilified the Jewish State. The lunatic rabbinic fringe even held fasts for the people of Gaza, but not for anyone in Israel.

Consider Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, the leader of an enormous gay Reconstructionist congregation, member of J Street and listed in Newsweek’s list of 50 Influential Rabbis. Her radical left-wing politics were mostly blessed by her members, but her tirades against Israel became too much for many to bear. In 2014, one of the board members of her congregation resigned, publicly stating the “recent [2014 Gaza War] events have demonstrated that CBST [the gay synagogue] is far more committed to a progressive political agenda than to the Jewish people….  I don’t want to raise my kids in a synagogue that’s praying for people firing rockets.

The attitude was pervasive. Leading rabbis of JVP and J Street – all non-Orthodox – called for a divorce between Judaism and the Jewish State, and between the holy land and Jews.

Consider Rabbi Brian Walt, a member of JVP and coordinator of the Jewish Fast for Gaza, who gave a talk entitled “Affirming a Judaism and Jewish identity without Zionism,” in which he declared: “political Zionism violates everything I believe about Judaism.” Or Rabbi Ellen Lippmann, on the board of J Street and signatory to the fast for Gaza who penned a letter for Code Pink to support the BDS movement, stating she “saw the destruction that is wrought by too many Israeli settlers,” making her change “my mind about the purchase of products made in the Jewish West Bank.

Non-Orthodox rabbis comfortably argued that there are too many Jews in the holy land because they segmented the religion, the people, the land and their identity. As they believe that religion is defined solely by identity, there is no need for a particular land, and no narrow definition of the Jewish people, as identity is self-selected.


Non-Orthodox rabbis wrap themselves in a tallit as a mere Jewish prop in a universalistic and humanistic approach towards meditation, while they shudder at the particularism of the God of Orthodox Judaism and the Jewish State.

Supporting Israel is not a battle of political orientation between liberal and conservative Jews. It is a philosophical break in the Jewish community with a fault line regarding the uniqueness of Jews and the Jewish State. The non-Orthodox denominations’ religious philosophy will only let it embrace an Israel that is: about people, not God; about rights not rituals; more secular than religious; more democratic than Jewish; and more universal than particular.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Students for Justice in Palestine’s Dick Pics

The Left-Wing’s Two State Solution: 1.5 States for Arabs, 0.5 for Jews

The Reform Movement’s Rick Jacobs Has no Understanding of Tolerance

A Seder in Jerusalem with Liberal Friends

There are Standards for Unity

The Three Camps of Ethnic Cleansing in the BDS Movement

The Anger from the Zionist Center

Tolerance at the Temple Mount

The Impossible Liberal Standard

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