A Basic Lesson of How to be Supportive

There is a famous restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina called Hyman’s Seafood. Its menu is replete with non-kosher goodies like shrimp, crabs and calamari. The locals love the family run business – now in its fifth generation of management – as do the various celebrities and tourists who often must wait outside in line for up to an hour to enjoy the food and ambiance.

The warmth of the restaurant is very much part of the appeal. In addition to the many autographed pictures of movie stars that adorn the walls, are small cards sprinkled around the two-story building with sayings and words of advice. They include funny and off-color comments about relationships as well as more thoughtful sayings from important people such as Rabbi Israel Salanter. Yes, that’s a rabbi card in a traif restaurant.

The peculiarity keeps going. The storefront has mezuzahs on each door. There is even an option to have kosher food brought in from the local Chabad!

You see, the owners of Hyman’s are all about attitude. They envision a world that is inclusive, positive and happy. Their formula for creating that world includes spreading those messages throughout the store, and they live that credo by finding a way to enable every person to eat in their restaurant – even those that cannot eat the food because of dietary restrictions.

Pretty incredible.

Not surprisingly, the owners run their business in the same fashion. They have a sign on one of the walls that reads: “If you like us, tell others. If not, tell us!

It’s so simple and basic. Spread positive messages to everyone you can. Encourage others to frequent the establishment. Boost the store’s image and popularity.

However, if there are issues that bother you, don’t tell others about the perceived problems, but bring them up to management. Be constructive and the owners will make the effort to address the matter to the extent that they can. Don’t write letters to newspapers or get on social media with the bad news, as those actions would be detrimental to the business.

It is a simple concept that too many liberal self-declared “pro-Israel” groups and people fail to comprehend.

J Street and New Israel Fund

J Street’s tagline is that they are “pro-Israel,” even though it actively undermines Israel on the global stage. The group lobbied the Obama Administration to censure Israel at the United Nations and declare Jews living in the eastern part of the promised land to be illegal! How can such a group possibly be considered pro-Israel? Would someone who likes Hyman’s Seafood report them to the Department of Health? Trash them on Yelp?

The New Israel Fund supports Breaking the Silence which does media tours undermining the Israeli Defense Forces. How is that being constructive in working with the Israeli government itself to find ways to improve?

It’s not, and it’s not appreciated by the Israeli government.

Liberal “Balance”

Supporters of J Street and the New Israel Fund like Rabbi Sharon Brous believe that they truly love Israel and are simply trying to understand all sides of the situation with Palestinian Arabs. Brous penned a letter in the Los Angeles Times on August 26, 2018 about her taking her daughter to Hebron in an effort to show her “the other side,” which included “the harshest effects of the occupation.” Her letter described how difficult life was for the 200,000 Palestinian Arabs because some Jews wanted to reestablish the Jewish community there. She relayed how extreme and racist these Jews were.

Did she show a real balance to her daughter? Did she speak to the 93% of Palestinian Arabs that are antisemites? Did she tell her daughter that when the city was under Muslim control Jews were forbidden from even climbing the steps of the Tomb of the Jewish Patriarchs, let alone pray there? Did she educate her daughter that the Palestinian Authority has a law that calls for the death penalty for any Arab selling a home to Jews? That its president has demanded a Jew-free country?

Brous didn’t really show her daughter a complete or honest story. And that is her business to educate her daughter in a manner she desires.

However, her daughter wasn’t her real audience. The daughter was merely a tool for her to write to the whole world. Brous published her opinion piece marketed as a story in the widely read LA Times to publicly vilify Israel, written in a smug fashion of being an honest educator and parent.

The readers of paper understood the message: lovers of Israel think the country is vile too.


If groups like J Street and NIF, and public Jewish leaders like Brous want to be included in the pro-Israel community, they must learn a simple lesson from Hyman’s Seafood: if you have an issue, bring it up with directly with the party in charge. In public, sing the praises loudly to all.

Today’s self-declared “pro-Israel” alt-left groups and rabbis are harmful to Israel. Until these groups and individuals make major fundamental changes, they should be excluded from any pro-Israel forums, including schools, synagogues and umbrella Zionist organizations.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Unity – not Uniformity – in the Pro-Israel Tent

The Fault in Our Tent: The Limit of Acceptable Speech

Denying Entry and Citizenship

The Non-Orthodox Jewish Denominations Fight Israel

The Evil Architects at J Street Take a Bow

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Unity – not Unanimity – in the Pro-Israel Tent

The story of the Tower of Babel in the Bible is just a few sentences in length, but it has long captured the imaginations of all sorts of people. Artists have pictured its physical heights, while biblical scholars and theologians have sought to decipher the story’s meaning.

A new book by Rabbi Shai Held, “The Heart of the Torah,” took an interesting approach to the story. Held questioned the essence of the “sin” of the architects and builders of the Tower of Babel. If the punishment for their actions was that the people of Babel were scattered around the Earth, each speaking a different language, it would imply that the crux of the offence was the group’s cohesiveness. Too much unity was a seemingly bad thing, at odds with today’s view of unity as a worthy goal.

Held responded to his own observation by advancing the notion that the problem of the people building the Tower was not their unity, but their uniformity. It was not a problem that everyone was working to accomplish something together, but that the societal structure created a monolithic mass in which people were indistinguishable from each other. Such a state is unnatural, and could only be accomplished with an authoritarian ruler. It was that totalitarian regime that was the core of the sin and what needed to be broken, not the cohesiveness of a multitude of people. Hence the “punishment” to create more unique individuals with their own language and direction who could not be controlled by a single ruler.

Unity of Purpose

A good example of a group of different people uniting in a common purpose can be found in sports.

A professional basketball team typically includes players with a variety of different skills: one player may be a good outside shooter; another a solid rebounder; a third good at dribbling and passing; etc. The players likely do not have a uniform set of skills, but have a unity of purpose of winning a game.

As part of the effort to win, the players support each other. They pass each other the ball. They set screens and picks to provide an open shot. They encourage and cheer their teammates on, whether they are playing well, or need encouragement to perform better.

That is unity, and the mark of a successful team dynamic.

Conversely, a bad teammate is one that throws the ball to opposing team. That never shows up for practice. That tells the referee that one of their teammates committed a foul. Allowing such a player onto the court hurts the entire team.

A good teammate tells a fellow teammate when he is in the paint for too long; a bad teammate tells the referee that his teammate should be called with a 3-second violation. A strong team witnesses teammates pulling each other up; a weak team has teammates shouting each other down.

In short, a team with unity uses active and passive means to help the team win. A flawed team has teammates yelling at each other and calling for outside forces to punish their own team.

With such orientation, it is useful to explore unity and uniformity in the pro-Zionist tent.

The Pro-Israel Tent

The pro-Israel camp has been attempting to figure out how wide to extend its community tent. There are many opinions surrounding Israel, whether about land, politics or religion. There is certainly no fear of uniformity. But what about unity? When do the myriad opinions become intolerable for a joint effort?

As in the sports example above, the pro-Israel tent should allow people with different voices, but not those that seek to use external pressure to harm the Jewish State. Outside forces might be financial, such as the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement against Israel, and using the United Nations or United States to pass anti-Israel resolutions and laws.

There are a number of groups that claim to be pro-Israel that precisely take these actions:

  • Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) is an advocate for BDS of Israel and lobbies governments, churches and schools to support BDS. It seeks to use financial pressure to force Israel to capitulate to a variety of demands ranging from giving up Judea and Samaria, to removing the limited blockade of Gaza. It has also proudly hosted events for convicted terrorists. The group’s leader, Rebecca Vilkomerson has stated clearly “our charge is to change U.S. policy [about Israel].”
  • J Street pushed the Obama Administration to declare the Jewish towns in Judea & Samaria (the “settlements”) as illegal and to allow a United Nations resolution to pass in December 2016. That action has set in motion a massive action campaign against businesses in Judea & Samaria.
  • New Israel Fund (NIF) supports a variety of groups that seek to end Israel as a Jewish State. NIF supports Adalah which seeks to replace the Jewish State with a bi-national state in which Jews would be a minority. NIF funds groups and movies that tour the world that demonize Israel and the Israeli Defense Forces.

All of these groups are bad actors. They go to international fora to condemn Israel and suggest punitive actions against the Jewish State. They do not seek to advance Israel by engaging with the country directly with concerns, but through external force.


Rabbi Held described the dangers of uniformity in his review of the Tower of Babel. “If everyone says the same words and thinks the same thoughts, then a society emerges in which there is no room for individual tastes, thoughts and aspirations, or for individual projects and creativity.” Uniformity is a problem, but not unity. Unity without uniformity combines the talents of each individual in a common purpose and enhances the participants as well as the end-result. However, a lack of uniformity together with a lack of unity is simply chaos. There is nothing that binds the people or mission together other than a flimsy veneer that will ultimately dissolve.

The Jewish State and pro-Israel groups will never have uniformity of opinions, but it should have unity of purpose. Those groups that want to be part of the Pro-Israel and Pro-Zionist movement should adhere to the basic principle of not going to external fora to harm Israelis or the government of Israel. While these groups may self-identify as pro-Israel, they cannot be welcomed into the pro-Israel community.


Related First.One.Through articles:

There are Standards for Unity

A Disservice to Jewish Community

Students for Justice in Palestine’s Dick Pics

The Fault in Our Tent: The Limit of Acceptable Speech

The Evil Architects at J Street Take a Bow

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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.

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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

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Join Facebook group: FirstOne Through  Israel Analysis

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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