Bernie Sanders is Less Sophisticated Than Forrest Gump

The King of the Democratic Socialists, Senator Bernie Sanders, continues to show off his stupid ideas. His latest – capping pay of private companies.

The current salvo is part of Sanders’ “Stop Walmart Act” in which he wants to limit CEO’s pay to 150 times that of a typical employee. Somehow, raising the quality of life for poorest Americans is not sufficient via increases to the minimum wage and work conditions. Sanders is intent on putting the breaks on income inequality by limiting what the top brass earn. So if the average employee made $50,000 per year at a company, the CEO pay would be capped at $7.5 million.

Think about applying the logic to the movie business.

Tom Hanks earned roughly $60 million for his work in Forrest Gump. Taking his pay and dividing by 150 would mean that the average worker for that movie – including hair and makeup, lighting, sound editor, key grip (whatever that means) – would earn $400,000. Needless to say, the average worker on the movie made nowhere near that total. If the average person made $75,000, should Hanks have his pay capped at $11.25 million?

In baseball, Mike Trout earns $33.25 million a year playing for the Angels. The ecosystem in baseball is vast and includes groundskeepers, umpires, gate and parking attendants, people in concessions and advertising and marketing. Does the average person who works in Major league Baseball make $221,667? If they don’t, then Sanders believes that Tout shouldn’t make as much as he does. His perception of fairness trumps the value of his contribution as determined by the free markets.

People can readily appreciate the performances of actors and athletes, and pay money to see them perform. But the management talents of corporate executives is not easy to comprehend or see. A bad CEO could cost a company billions of dollars and thousands of jobs. Their work is not simply to amuse people for a few hours, but has dramatic impact on shareholders, employees and customers.

But for new era of American Socialists, income inequality is inherently evil. As freshman member of Congress Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez saida system that allows billionaires to exist… is wrong” and “immoral.


Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders

The start of this thinking in the Democratic Party can be traced to 2012, when President Barack Obama made the remark “if you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.” While there is a kernel of truth to his broader commentary that most businesses are built with many employees and an ecosystem which enables wealth creation, the current alt-left version of that thinking is that ALL people who have a hand in wealth creation inherently deserve a good portion of that wealth. In the example above, Sanders does not only think that a grounds-keeper at a stadium should get a large raise when the baseball players get huge paydays, but Mike Trout’s Little League coach when he was ten years old should also be entitled to some of Trout’s salary.

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is another presidential hopeful from the left-wing who is hyper-focused on income inequality. She has proposed forcing large companies to have almost half of the boards of directors be representatives of the employees. Such efforts are meant to curtail the efficiencies and cost-savings which companies like Amazon utilize to pass cost-savings onto consumers, and instead ensure more employees are hired and make more money relative to shareholders and management. The goal is for unskilled labor to get shielded in a world of automation while trimming Jeff Bezos’s wealth; a double win for progressives. For the people who maximized efficiencies and created new companies, not so much.

Big progressive government is trying to launch the biggest takeover ever – of the entirety of the American business community. It promises to be heavy-handed, very intrusive and punitive as it devalues the contribution of those who innovate and lead.

Bernie Sanders proudly adopted one of the mottoes of Forrest Gump, that “mama said there’s only so much fortune a man really needs… and the rest is just for showing off,” as he pushes to pass laws preventing highly skilled people from making “too much” money. In truth, the Democratic Socialist motto is “stupid is as stupid does.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Progressives are Stripping the Equity of Our Lives

Fake Definitions: Pluralism and Progressive / Liberalism

Purim 2019, The Progressive Megillah

Bernie Sanders is the Worst U.S. Presidential Candidate for Israel Ever

An Open Letter to Non-Anti-Semitic Sanders Supporters

Please Don’t Vote for a Democratic Socialist

This July 4, I am Leaving the Democratic Party that Left Me Long Ago

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Purim 2019, The Progressive Megillah

Roughly 2,500 years ago where the patriarchy reigned,
Jewish history was made in a failed coup, bloodstained.

Far from the destroyed Temple, in the Persian vicinity
A ruffian named Haman was imbued with toxic masculinity.

He used his privileged status to easily befriend the king,
And set in motion a plan to set the palace right wing.

Haman targeted the snowflakes and anything intersectional
And demanded that every Jew position themselves genuflectional.

Yet the Jew Mordechai would not bow or quake
And later mansplained to his niece Esther the actions to take.

But Esther was already woke to Haman’s weaponized speech
And with Mordechai hatched a plan to have Haman impeached.

She asked the Jews in the kingdom to start fasting in the morning
In the first biblical example of a community trigger warning.

She burst into the king’s party, uninvited and quite disheveled
‘Attempted mass murder!’ through clenched teeth, at Haman she leveled.

The microaggression forced the king to seek a safe space in the garden.
When he returned to see Haman toppled on Esther, Haman lost his chance for a pardon.

Haman screamed in anguish in a curse filled with misogyny
And soon hanged from a tree with all ten of his male progeny.

The tables had turned and the streets were turned red
As the Jews attacked their enemies with 75,000 dead.

The Jews were not vanquished on Purim, aligned with the elites
Capped with handing money to the poor and giving each other treats.

Today’s alt-left progressives might find this ending bittersweet
And reject the story’s conclusion or find religion obsolete.

But antisemitism’s continuing roar from the extreme right and the left
Shouldn’t leave our whole community with a wide sickening cleft.

Hand your blue friends some red treats, and the conservative something blue.
Be joyous and celebrate wholeheartedly with each and every Jew.

Progressives are Stripping the Equity of Our Lives

The annual showing at the Davos, Switzerland World Economic Forum is always a spectacle. It is usually due to the who’s-who list of billionaires, celebrities and world leaders in a beautiful location. In 2019, it also featured stupid ideas led by the “progressive” views of worker protection and entitlement.

A Progressive View of Automation

One of the important themes discussed at the WEF was the consideration of the “Future of Work.” The Forum put forward three alternative views of how a world of digitization and automation could develop in the future. The considerations revolved around efficiencies, how to improve the value to customers, and how technology will require a new set of skills as it transforms the job market. The discussion sought to consider the future dynamics of competing aims of shareholders, workers and customers.

While progressives tout the concept of “fairness,” their actual concern is about a particular type of “equality,” which is the equal distribution of money. The status of “wealth inequality” and “income inequality” drives the proposed progressive agenda and thereby hijacks the definition of “fairness” to be one that reaches the conclusion of wealth and income equality.

In such an orientation, the holders of mass wealth – typically owning large stakes in companies – are afforded no leniency. If the future of automation brings an accelerated and inflamed debate of competing interests between shareholders, employees and consumers, the discussion is concluded as soon as it was introduced.

The progressive rag, The New York Times had an article written about the WEF called “The Hidden Automation Agenda of the Davos Elite.” As the title suggests, the article reviewed how the “elite” – those evil one-percenters – were hatching nefarious plans to destroy the workers of the world. The corporate titans at Davos were marketing how automation was going to bring all sorts of new inventions to the world with lower prices for consumers, however, the real goal was to replace people with robots, and hoard all of the economic gains for themselves.

“Automating work is a choice, of course, one made harder by the demands of shareholders, but it is still a choice. And even if some degree of unemployment caused by automation is inevitable, these executives can choose how the gains from automation and A.I. are distributed, and whether to give the excess profits they reap as a result to workers, or hoard it for themselves and their shareholders.

“The choices made by the Davos elite — and the pressure applied on them to act in workers’ interests rather than their own — will determine whether A.I. is used as a tool for increasing productivity or for inflicting pain.”

The progressive argument is plain: the elite / executives / shareholders will hoard the gains from digitization and automation, unless pressure (or new progressive tax and corporate laws) force the benefits to be distributed to workers.

A Progressive View of Employee/ Shareholder Protections

The progressive view of wealth is that it is essentially “immoral” as the recent progressive political star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in an interview. It is a view shared by many progressives who view capitalism as evil at its core.

The notion that someone could build and own a business and become ridiculously wealthy – say Howard Schultz who created Starbucks – is inherently wrong according to the far left-wing. The hard work and risks which Schultz took along the way to create a company that employed tens of thousands of people and produced a product that millions of people enjoy is somehow negated by the tremendous wealth he personally amassed. According to progressives, his earnings and wealth should have been stripped along the way and passed on to the people who made and served the coffee. The salary of the workers was clearly inappropriate compensation if the company became so profitable. For progressives, the redundant task of making venti lattes all day which requires limited skills, no education and no risk – a task that will soon be automated – is not the essence of the discussion. The objection is that the person who owned the company made thousands of times more than the average worker, a conclusion, they believe that is immoral.

This progressive logic takes a bizarre turn when employees don’t help create value but destroy it.

Consider the electric utility PG&E which is being sued for causing the forest fires that killed people and destroyed billions of dollars in property value. Employees at the company are accused of committing a series of terrible errors, including not cutting the power in dry areas suffering from high winds (when the power lines came down from the wind, the electric sparks ignited the dry brush).

Who “paid” for the worker errors? Were thousands of employees fired? Was the employee pension fund stripped? Were line workers lined up before commissions and denounced in the media? No.

The executives and shareholders took the heat. Shareholders – many “women and orphans” who own utility stocks for the “safe” dividends – paid the price. On November 8, 2018, PGE stock closed at $47.80. One week later, on November 15 it stood at $17.74.

Did progressives cry fowl that the economic “windfall” wasn’t being shared equitably? Did they suggest that the workers who caused all of the death and destruction should bear the costs? No. They passed legislation meant to protect customers from rate hikes. Democrat State Senator Bill Dodd said his bill was needed because “without it, ratepayers will be left holding the bag and communities will needlessly suffer.

The Democratic Senator from California, Kamala Harris, who just announced her intention to run for president hasn’t said a word about the large corporate bankruptcy in her state. Any ideas why she would remain mum on such an enormous story? (Please don’t suggest it’s her ties to Democrats aligned with PG&E).


As the Democratic party lurches leftward, it is swaying deeper and deeper into an economic policy based on wealth redistribution over capitalism. The progressives have determined – and are demanding – that a worker whose job can be automated should not only not be fired, but be entitled to profit-sharing.

Progressives are seeking to dramatically revamp the notion of private ownership. They are advancing an economic system where we will collect fixed payouts as determined by federal officials. Workers, one and all. Equal and protected.

Private ownership will only be at the nod of the government. Strict limits will be imposed on compensation, capping salaries and demanding a set number of worker representatives sit on the board of directors. “Private” enterprise will be managed aggressively by politicians through heavy regulation and taxes, not by market forces.

The progressive aim is to strip people of the equity of their efforts and replace the return on their passions with interest payments as bondholders of the state. An “equitable” economy liberated and succored by a large government.

Such a system stymies equity investment and risk taking. It shrinks the economy and hurts innovation. No matter.

US President Ronald Reagan once said “this country is too great for small dreams.” For progressives, the great dream is a small country.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Please Don’t Vote for a Democratic Socialist

This July 4, I am Leaving the Democratic Party that Left Me Long Ago

Political Pinatas: Populist Greed Meets Populist Anger

A Country Divided

If You Want to Take Money out of Politics, Liberal Leaders Suggest Voting for Trump

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“Free Israel” and the New Pro-Zionist Placards

There are some pro-Palestinian slogans which have become popular such as “Free Palestine.” Such language presumes that the country of Palestine exists today and is in a state of occupation by a foreign power(s). Many people believe that the contours of such “Palestine” is as it was in 1922 when the British assumed the Mandate of Palestine, or the configuration of 1924, after the British split off the land east of the Jordan River for the local Hashemite tribe which became the country known as Jordan today.

Their calls to “Free Palestine” are often accompanied by “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” This clarification of “Palestine” clearly excludes the area of “Trans-Jordan” and targets areas west of the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: Israel, Gaza and the region commonly referred to as the “West Bank.” The call for “freedom” is a call for an eradication of the Jewish State of Israel.

A CNN talking head by the name of Marc Lamont Hill made both of these calls at the United Nations this week. After he was fired from his CNN gig for the comments to destroy Israel, he poked his fingers into the cloud on Twitter and later in an article, stating that he was not calling for the killing of Jews, just the eradication of the Jewish State which should be replaced by a “bi-national” state throughout the region. Just a few sentences later he reversed that opinion calling for “a redrawing of borders to the pre-1967 lines,” seemingly suggesting that he does not want a single bi-national state in the land “from the river to the sea,” but one bi-national state in Israel and a separate purely Arab state of Palestine.

All of Lamont Hill’s comments and explanations are against a backdrop of his oft-repeated comments that the entirety of Israel is illegal, “stolen by greed and destroyed by hate,” with laws “written in the blood of the innocent.” He calls for a “revolutionary struggle” and “fight for freedom” against Israel.

This far left-wing mouthpiece was seemingly now tripping over himself as he tried to keep his job as a teacher at Temple University, and maybe have a shot at making some coin at other venues spouting his radical opinions.

His comments and explanations shed light on the various audiences which listen to such diatribes.

One group includes radical Islamists that instigate violence against the Jewish State. These forces include terrorist groups like the political party Hamas, Hizbullah and Palestine Islamic Jihad, as well as student groups like Students for Justice in Palestine. These organizations are hate groups which loudly embrace the calls of “Free Palestine” and “from the river to the sea…” in the most straightforward manner: destroy Israel.

A second group who loves these slogans are relatively more moderate and include radical progressives. They do not want to slaughter millions of Jews in Israel (ain’t that special?), but they also don’t believe that the Jews have any rights to live in “Palestine.” This group seeks to normalize the notion that Israel is an illegal enterprise and that the Arab terrorist groups are nothing more than “resistance groups” against the theft of their land and heritage.

The first group seeks a war of arms and the annihilation of Israel. The second group wants Israeli Jews neutered, without a Jewish State.

Lamont Hill’s first declaration at the UN was made for the former, the Arab and Muslim extremists that call for the eradication of the Zionist experiment.

Lamont Hill’s subsequent “clarifying” statements were for the alt-left wing, which hopes that through the normalization of extremist language and demands such as boycotts of Israeli professors and goods and calling Israel a “colonial power” which “ethnically cleanses” the land of Arabs, it can arrive at a very favorable pro-Arab result in negotiating a two-state solution. With the pro-Israel camp beginning in a middle-of-the-road position while the pro-Arab camp starting in the far extreme, a compromise would highly skew in favor of the Palestinian Arabs.

It’s clever and horrifying.

Solutions to these radical Islamist extremists’ and far left-wing progressives’ assaults on Israel are two-fold: a vigorous challenge to the slogans and people, as well as a re-positioning of the pro-Israel stance in a similar refrain. Hopefully the two-pronged approach will bring the pro-Palestinian parties towards the middle and enable an enduring peace.

Challenge the Extremist Slogans and People

Lamont Hill should not have been fired from CNN in November 2018. He should have been fired from CNN, Temple University and every other venue back in January 2015 when he reached back into the vile antisemitic screed of the Middle Ages calling a blood libel on the Jewish State, with accusations of stealing and killing the “blood of the innocent.” Where was the outcry back then?

This treatment harkens back to when the acting-President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas stood before the United Nations and denied the history and heritage of Jews in Israel, calling them “racists” and “colonial occupiers” committing “ethnic cleansing” of Arabs, to which he received a standing ovation. Abbas’s long history of Holocaust denial, vilifying Israel and promoting attacks on Jews was long ignored by the western press. It was only in April 2018 during a long-winded speech of vitriol that the media thought that maybe Abbas had gone too far. In fact, his speech included virtually all of his same antisemitic remarks he had used in the past. The only thing that was new was the sudden awareness of Abbas’s vileness.

It is incumbent on everyone to not be sanguine that the media and universities will call out the anti-Semites who are given podiums and positions of power. People must demand these voices of hate be stripped of those positions. TODAY, call and write Richard Englert, President of Temple University to remove Marc Lamont Hill. You are free to attach this article.

Richard M. Englert
President of Temple University
Second Floor, Sullivan Hall
1330 Polett Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19122

215-204-7405 (phone)
215-204-5600 (fax)
president@temple.edu

New Pro-Zionist Placards

Concurrent with calls to remove the hated language and mouthpieces, should be the re-positioning of the Israeli posture. It is time to match – or better yet, mimic – the pro-Palestinian Arab slogans. Perhaps people will appreciate the offensiveness of the long-used Arab comments.  Or it will simply provide symmetry of the two opposing sides.

Here are some examples:

  • Free Israel.” – A call to remove all of the Arabs from the Jewish state. It seems that many Islamic extremists and left-wing progressives believe that Israel with a 25% non-Jewish population is racist anyway. Maybe they will pause and rethink their position of a Jew-free Palestine.
  • From the River to the Sea, Israel will be free.” – A call to fully re-take Gaza and all of the “West Bank” again. Evict all Arabs to any of the dozens of Arab countries where they can enjoy the “Arab culture” which they feel Israel is destroying.
  • Boycott Palestine / Jordan” – The country of Jordan occupies 77% of 1922 Palestine. The population there is majority Palestinian and the Queen is Palestinian. It is time to boycott this country that not only robbed the Jewish State of much of its dedicated homeland, but passed laws forbidding any Jew from obtaining citizenship. Do not visit the country and do not accept a professor to teach or lecture. Ban Jordanian/Palestinian students from participating in university exchange programs and don’t let them compete in any sort of competition.
  • Stop the Genocide of Jews” – March in the streets calling out the car ramming attacks, the stabbings, bombings, stonings and firing at cars perpetrated by Palestinian Arab terrorists.
  • Terrorism Palestinians” – The problem is not just with the terrorist group Hamas that attacks Israel or the Fatah party that pays money to terrorist families and names schools and squares after the killers. The Palestinian people themselves vote for these antisemitic thugs. Polls show that 93% of Palestinian Arabs are anti-Semites and other polls show that the Arabs support violence against Jewish Israelis.
  • Stop the Arab ethnic cleansing of Jews” – Over 850,000 Jews were expelled from Arab countries since 1948. The Jordanians expelled all of the Jews from Judea and Samaria, including the eastern part of Jerusalem. Arabs continue to call for elimination of Israel, with 30 countries still refusing to acknowledge Israel’s basic existence.
  • Stop the Seige of Israel” – Israel is under a blockade of acceptance, over 70 years after the reestablishment of the Jewish State. At this time, 30 countries still refuse to acknowledge its existence. More radicals seek to boycott Israel’s people and produce.
  • Pray for Israel” – Israel is under siege by radical Islamic terrorists and far left-wing progressives. Fight the hate.
    • I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.Genesis 12:3
    • Whoever blesses Israel will be blessed,
      And whoever curses Israel will be cursed.Numbers 24:9

Israel has been under assault in the media and corridors of power, and the radical Islamists and alt-left progressives have been given tacit approval and encouragement to shout their blood libels louder. It is well past time for the pro-Zionist community to respond.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Where’s the March Against Anti-Semitism?

The Three Camps of Ethnic Cleansing in the BDS Movement

Ending Apartheid in Jerusalem

I am a Zionist. A Deep Zionist. An Amazed Zionist. A Loud Zionist.

The Anger from the Zionist Center

Students for Justice in Palestine’s Dick Pics

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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.


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

The various religious denominations in Judaism have coexisted peacefully in the United States for over one hundred years. Each denomination has very different viewpoints on the Torah and on acceptable practices and customs in matters of religious life. The choices each make are distinct, and they do not seek to control or influence how the other denominations choose to interpret or handle their religious lives. As such, the tolerance that each exhibits for the other is just a consequence, not a goal. The groups are not fighting over the same remote control. They lead parallel lives.

It is with this in mind that I note the various themes and calls for “tolerance” over the past months from Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union of Reform Judaism.

Consider Rabbi Jacobs Chaunkah message.

Jacobs opens his message with a note from Dr. Shaye Cohen who claimed that the battle of the Hasmoneans “marks the first time in recorded history that a war was begun in defense of religious liberty and individual freedom of belief.” An interesting point from a Harvard professor with a PhD in Ancient History.

However, the comment was quickly misinterpreted by Jacobs. In the following paragraph he wrote that “The Maccabees fought the first battle for religious tolerance in history. (emphasis added).” That is a complete distortion of Cohen’s comment and of history.

judas_maccabeus_before_the_army_of_nicanor
Judah the Maccabee in battle

The story of Chanukah related to the Syrian Greeks trying to Hellenize the Jews over 2100 years ago. The Greeks did not seek to introduce another alternative form of religious practice into the Holy Land. They sought to replace Judaism by defiling the Jews’ religious places.  The fight was an ALL-OR-NONE proposition.

The reaction by the Hasmoneans was similar in nature. The fought back for “religious liberty” and to rid the land of pagan practices. They countered the defilement of the Temple with purifying the Temple. They responded to the introduction of pagan practices with its expulsion.  The last thing that Chanukah celebrated was “religious tolerance.” It was a battle between all-or-nones.

Reform’s View of Tolerance in Israel Today

Judea and Samaria

Rabbi Jacobs misunderstanding of tolerance stretches from his interpretation of history in the Holy Land from over 2000 years ago until today.

In November 2015, Jacobs addressed his reform movement’s biennial in a keynote address. In this important speech about the direction of Reform Judaism he said (at 24:30) “Our Reform Movement, we have long opposed Israeli settlement policy in the West Bank (applause). The occupation threatens the very Zionism we hold dear.” He declared that his religious movement opposed Jews living in parts of the Holy Land. Seemingly not very tolerant.

He continued: “- the living expression of a Jewish and democratic state. It causes pain and hardship to the Palestinians and alienates Israel from friends and allies around the world. Only two states for two peoples, both states viable and secure, living side-by-side in peace, will bring this tragic conflict to its long-awaited end (loud applause).” Jacobs argued for a tolerance achieved by separation. A divide into two distinct states. However, he really meant a specific state of Arabs which should have no Jews, and a second state of Israel with both Jews and Arabs (the “progressive” two state solution is 1.5 states for Arabs and 0.5 states for Jews).

It was a curious twist on tolerance, for a “progressive” to condemn a Jewish “settler” that sought to live in peace alongside Arabs.

The Kotel

Rabbi Jacobs comments in November 2015 seemed to come into conflict with his actions a few months later.

In July 2016, Rabbi Jacobs marched into the occupied territories and demanded rights for Reform Jews.

rick-jacobs-kotel
Union for Reform Judaism president Rabbi Rick Jacobs, center, participating in a prayer service at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, July 4, 2016. (photo: Courtesy of the URJ)

Rabbi Jacobs came to the Old City of Jerusalem to pray and advocate for new privileges for non-Orthodox Jews. He did not seem to care or notice that much of the world considers the Old City of Jerusalem to be occupied Palestinian territory. That same territory which he thinks should be under Palestinian Authority, a political agency which advocates against Jews living anywhere in the area and seeks to stop the “Judaization” of Jerusalem.

His mind-bending views on “tolerance” continued as he led and advocated for egalitarian prayer at the Kotel.

The Kotel is the Western Wall of the Jewish Temple Mount. It has was the area set aside by Suleiman I 450 years ago for Jews to pray, after he kicked them off of the Temple Mount itself. Since 1967, the area has functioned as an Orthodox synagogue, and only Orthodox prayer practices are allowed there.

Jacobs seeks to change that and demands the legality of non-Orthodox practices at the Western Wall.  He is not satisfied with non-Orthodox prayers happening at the Southern Wall (which is actually bigger and prettier), away from the Orthodox services. We wants the Orthodox to tolerate his practices at the Kotel.

This is quite a different approach than Jacobs applies in other situations.  Jacobs normally advocates for peace via separation; tolerance via parallel paths.  Yet when it comes to the Kotel, (in an area he thinks shouldn’t even be part of Israel), he has demanded to impose his practices in the space of others.

Real Tolerance in Israel Today

The story of Chanukah was a fight for “religious liberty.” The all-or-none approach of the Greeks was countered with an all-or-none purge by the Jews. Neither side sought “religious tolerance.”

Remarkably, Modern Israel has taken a different approach.

  • While the Arabs of the Middle East sought to stop Jewish immigration – even at the dawn of the Holocaust – Israel opted to grant 160,000 non-Jews Israeli citizenship when it declared a state in 1948.
  • Even though the Arabs expelled all of the Jews from the Old City of Jerusalem in 1949, after Israel reunited Jerusalem in 1967, it handed religious control of the Jewish Temple Mount to the Islamic Waqf.
  • Even though the Arabs continue to advocate for a Jew-free state, Israel has allowed all Arabs in Jerusalem to apply for Israeli citizenship since it annexed the eastern part of the city.

In a world where the all-or-none approach is typically met with an all-or-none response, Israel has shown remarkable tolerance and acceptance of “the other.”

Rabbi Jacobs chose to distort the meaning of Chanukah and turned it into a call for advocacy on behalf Muslims in Burma in a global fight for religious tolerance. It is a nice message, but one not found in Chanukah, and disconnected from his attitudes towards Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem.

Let’s celebrate the holiday of Chanukah and the miracle of Modern Israel. It is a story that liberals can enjoy without distorting history and the English language.


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Israel, the Liberal Country of the Middle East

Squeezing Zionism

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Today’s Inverted Chanukah: The Holiday of Rights in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria

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