Volume X1, No. 4,007 • March 17, 2017 • March 17, 2017
American Liberal Jewish Leaders Fuel Antisemitism: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 15, 2017— We try to rationalize that the anti-Zionist behavior of individual Jews does not justify antisemitic bigotry.
J Street's Dead End: Gregg Roman, The Hill, Jan. 22, 2017— At the end of 2017, the far-left Jewish advocacy group J Street will celebrate its 10th anniversary.
A Centennial Landmark: the Russian Revolution of March, 1917: Paul Merkley, Bayview Review, Mar. 13, 2017— Our earliest encounter with the study of History ought to have occasioned a certain exaltation , but also a significant distress.
Mark My Word: David Wolpe, Weekly Standard, Mar. 6, 2017— In 1992, the exiled Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide spoke to Jewish leaders in New York City.
[N.B: Rabbi Abraham Cooper will be a Keynote Speaker at CIJR’s 29th Annual Anniversary Gala: “Israel’s Contributions Biblical and Modern to Western Civilization. Sunday, Mar. 26, 2017 (Montreal)
For More Information and Registration Click the Following Link—Ed.]
When Gatekeepers of Justice Leverage the Law to Abet Injustice: Abraham Cooper, Huffington Post, Mar. 11, 2017
IPT Examines J Street's Unusual "Support" for Israel: IPT News, March 9, 2017
The Best Archaeological Finds in Israel of 2016: Ruth Schuster. Ha’aretz, Dec. 28, 2016
Why Are Jews Called Jews?: Elon Gilad, Ha’aretz, Feb. 15, 2017
Jerusalem Post, Mar. 15, 2017
We try to rationalize that the anti-Zionist behavior of individual Jews does not justify antisemitic bigotry. However, the crass political exploitation of their Jewish identity by American leaders of purportedly “nonpartisan” mainstream Jewish organizations is unprecedented. Today, in what must be described as self-destruction, a substantial number of irresponsible leaders of the most successful and powerful Jewish Diaspora community seem to have gone berserk, and are fueling antisemitism.
Nobody suggests that Jews should not be entitled, like all American citizens, to engage in political activity of their choice. As individuals, they may support or bitterly criticize their newly elected president – but as leaders of mainstream religious and communal organizations they are obliged, as in the past, to assiduously avoid being perceived as promoting partisan political positions. What has taken place in leading mainstream American Jewish organizations during and since the elections can only be described as a self-induced collective breakdown. What might have been regarded as a temporary aberration has in fact intensified in recent weeks.
Let us set aside the fact that many of these liberal Jewish organizations have also distanced themselves from or even abandoned Israel. They have done so even though the Trump administration has the potential to restore the US-Israel alliance that president Barack Obama undermined in a vain effort to appease Muslims. It is also clear that, for many assimilated liberal Jews, Israel is no longer a priority, especially now that President Donald Trump has signaled his intentions to renew the alliance.
The facts are that liberal Jewish leaders have declared a hysterical war against the Trump administration. Led initially by the Anti-Defamation League but rapidly joined by the Reform and Conservative wings of the Jewish community, many Jewish community leaders have exploited their positions to endorse a vicious campaign in which Trump is portrayed as a satanic antisemite promoting fascism and racism, representing the antithesis of Jewish values. This, despite the reality that his presidency highlights an unprecedented acceptance of Jews at the highest levels of government.
Headed by CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, a former Obama staffer, the ADL initiated its campaign during the elections by effectively echoing the far-left J Street. It accused Trump of tolerating and encouraging antisemitism and white supremacy and engaging in Islamophobia. Greenblatt went so far as to proudly announce that if immigration restrictions weighed against Muslims he would proclaim himself a Muslim, and called on Jews to do likewise. At the same time, some progressive rabbis, usually without a mandate from their constituency, organized fasts and days of mourning in their synagogues and, donning prayer shawls and kippot, they paraded at the forefront of anti-Trump demonstrations that vulgarly undermined the presidency, emphasizing that their political stance was a product of their religious Jewish values.
Furthermore, they supported and participated in demonstrations led and hijacked by vicious anti-Israel Muslim activists such as Linda Sarsour and even convicted Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Odeh. In a similar vein, the ADL continues to promote Black Lives Matter despite its hatred of Israel and support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. The constant false accusations of antisemitism were highlighted by the biased liberal media, emboldening right-wing degenerates who were provided with enormous exposure. This created a perception of a sudden rise in radical Right antisemitism.
There has been a huge flurry of antisemitic outbursts in social media. Jewish organizations have been plagued with bomb threats and several cemeteries were desecrated. The media highlighted these developments and many Jews panicked, in the belief that this was evidence of a dramatic increase in antisemitism, and accepted the false allegation that this was due to the Trump factor. Last week, Greenblatt went so far as to make the preposterous statement that Trump had “emboldened” antisemites and encouraged acts of terrorism in his own country.
Fortunately, to date not a single Jew has been harmed. It only takes a few fanatical scoundrels to ignite a flow of antisemitic tweets and social media activity. It only takes a handful to telephone bomb threats to Jewish organizations. The campaign to blame Trump and accuse him of indifference to anti-Jewish agitation is simply nonsensical. It is also noteworthy that the first person arrested for having made numerous bomb threats was no alt-right extremist but an African-American notorious for his tweets against “white people” and the “white media.”
Alas, the reality is that in promoting their personal political agenda and vulgarizing and demonizing Trump while posing as Jews motivated by religious principles, they are hypocritically exploiting their leadership positions and fueling antisemitism.
This becomes even more stark in contrast to the eight years of Obama’s administration, during which not a single condemnation was uttered against the outrageously biased statements of the administration in relation to Israel. Obama’s repeated statements attributing moral equivalence to Israeli defenders and Palestinian terrorists, his accusations of disproportionate Israeli response to terrorism and his refusal to condemn the Iranians as they repeatedly vowed to wipe Israel off the map were all ignored. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was treated despicably in Washington while Obama was groveling to the Iranian terrorists…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
The Hill, Jan. 22, 2017
At the end of 2017, the far-left Jewish advocacy group J Street will celebrate its 10th anniversary. At its inception, J Street promised to be the first political movement "to explicitly promote American leadership to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." However, the organization's pursuit of this goal was an abject and damning failure.
Circumstances couldn't have been more amenable toward J Street's lofty goal. Within 14 months of J Street's inception, Barack Obama swept to power in elections that also left both houses of Congress controlled by Democrats. As president, Obama's approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was groundbreaking in many ways, deviating from the positions and tone of his predecessors, both Republican and Democrat. J Street backed this shift with political cover, campaign donations, and organizational unanimity, providing a convenient panacea to American Jewish community outrage over Obama's maneuvers.
The fledgling J Street found itself at the top table with veteran Jewish and pro-Israel organizations at the White House, with almost unprecedented access during Obama's two terms. J Street touted itself as a vital part of the Obama administration's Israeli-Palestinian policy. It wasn't merely a spectator: J Street saw itself as a vital part of the administration's strategy and policy on Israel and the peace process. It prided itself on the puppeteer role it played in defending the White House or pushing its policy platform. "We were the blocking-back, clearing space for the quarterback to do what we wanted him to do," said J Street's president, Jeremy Ben-Ami, in 2011. He added, Obama "hasn't been able to push as aggressively as we would like," and J Street has "switched from being out front and clearing the way, to pushing him to do something more."
Something more turned out to be a lot less. During the full eight years of the Obama administration, which set as one of its foreign policy goals a peaceful resolution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas never sat in the same room for more than a few hours in total. While Netanyahu constantly repeated that he was willing to meet with the Palestinian leader at any place at any time, with no preconditions, Abbas made a series of impossible preconditions that pushed meaningful negotiations further and further away. J Street ended up blaming Netanyahu for Abbas's intransigence.
Mutual distrust between the parties may not have been greater in a generation, and it could be argued that peace is as far away as it has been since the Oslo Peace Process began. J Street's continued criticism of the Israeli government created a pseudo-Zionist political shield on the Jewish community's left flank that the Obama administration used to blame Israel for actions largely caused by Palestinian obstinacy.
For eight years J Street supported Obama's destructive policies toward Israel like the unilateral settlement freeze, nuclear détente with Iran, and his allowance for international condemnation of Israeli communities in the West Bank. As a group that prided itself on its ability to make its voice heard in the American administration's halls of power, J Street's inability to influence must take a very heavy responsibility for the remission of the peace process. Moreover, in its unrelenting vision of itself as chartering new territory, it lost many ideological allies.
J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami's efforts to conjure support for Obama's treatment of Israel fell flat even among Democrats. At the end of 2008, when Israel decided to defend itself against incessant rocket attacks from the terrorist organization Hamas in the Gaza Strip, J Street attacked Israel's defensive actions. Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president emeritus of the Union for Reform Judaism, called J Street's reaction to Israeli policy "morally deficient, profoundly out of touch with Jewish sentiment and also appallingly naïve."
In 2009, J Street initially tried to facilitate meetings between Richard Goldstone, lead author of a slanderous report on Israel's war on terror in Gaza, and members of Congress. In 2011, when it appeared to advocate for the U.S. not to veto a deeply problematic UN resolution condemning Israel, supporters like Democratic Congressman Gary Ackerman of New York cut ties with the organization. J Street also placed itself out of mainstream pro-Israel circles when it invited prominent activists in the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement to its conferences and claimed that George Soros had not funded the organization until it became a matter of public record that he had in fact provided significant donations, especially during its formative years.
All of these hits have left the reputations of J Street and its combative president battered and bruised. However, the latest election results have delivered the knock-out punch. If perhaps the only selling point J Street could offer its potential donors in recent years has been largely unfettered (if squandered and ineffective) access to the White House, this will now be completely removed from the equation by the victory of Donald Trump and continued Republican control of both houses of Congress. J Street has now become an organization vilified by former friends, distanced from the Left in Israel, and distrusted by many more. It may reconstitute itself in some constellation or another, but its heyday has passed.
Bayview Review, Mar. 13, 2017
Our earliest encounter with the study of History ought to have occasioned a certain exaltation, but also a significant distress. My generation was in grade school during the last years of the Second World War, when, as our teachers explained, the forces of light and the forces of darkness were locked in a battle whose outcome would determine whether we would all become slaves. As an elderly person who has taught history for about a half century, I have become more and more confirmed in this view of the matter – but this is at the cost of increasing alienation from my student audience – and also, sad to tell, from many of my peers.
But how can History really be about the largest possible meanings, and also about me? I was born into this world at a moment when History (correctly understood as everything that we can learn about the human story by contemplating the written record of human affairs) had been accumulating increasingly complex meanings for about five thousand years. I learned in Sunday School about the probability that my life would travel, alongside of History, in the same track of time – measured by the rising and the setting of the sun – for maybe three score and ten, or perhaps fourscore years (Psalm 90:10) and at that point I would be tossed out of the track of time. Meanwhile, those bigger human meanings will go on, in my absence, becoming bigger and more complex for God-only- knows-how-long…
As it happens, we are now (March, 2017) in the midst of the centenary of one of the most consequential moments in Twentieth Century History — the unfolding of the Soviet Communist Revolution. This is a story that began in the childhood of my parents (born 1908 and 1910.) It is now entirely completed, and its content has gone forward into the History textbooks for more-or-less disinterested evaluation by the current generation and future ones. It thus serves for marking-off the passage of historical time and for the measuring of the singular lifetimes of those of us who give any thought at all to History.
The landmark in question is the popular uprising that took place in Petrograd (today, St Petersberg) on March 23, 1917. (As this event occurred before Russia’s calendar was brought into line with the calendar used in the West it is remembered as the February Revolution. Sorry about that.) As always with historical recitals, it is necessary to flash back before flashing forward. An earlier season of violent popular uprisings had broken out on “Bloody Sunday” January 9 (January 22, New Calendar) 1905, in protest of the Czar’s disastrous failure in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905. A few months later, the revolutionary mood dissipated, as Czar Nicholas II promised to call an elected Parliament.
The Petrograd uprising of February (March) 1917 ignited copy-cart demonstrations throughout the land over the next week. Each of these uprisings reflected some element of spontaneous popular outrage on account of Russian defeat in the current Great War, but each was at least equally being manipulated by political parties bent on total overthrow of the Czarist regimes and then of its “liberal” successor. An early result of this “February Revolution” was the abdication (March 2) of Nicholas II, the last of the Czars. One especially colorful example of how much difference a century has made in Russian history is the fact that the name of Czar Nicholas name is generally taken for a blessing among Russians surviving today. Not surprisingly, Vladimir Putin, encourages this thinking.
In the last days of that Revolutionary year (October/November, 1917) a small minority of extreme Socialists managed through sabotage, infiltration and then a dramatic and disciplined display of absolutist fervor, to win over the masses of soldiers with its promise to take Russia out of this unpopular war. The Provisional Government disappeared following the coup, and with it went all hope for democracy. Thus began over sixty years of Soviet Communism. The withdrawal of the U.S.S. R. from the Great War (March 3, 1918) allowed Germany to move its huge Eastern army back to the Western Front — nearly reversing the outcomes of that war for us all.
Well beyond the years of the First World War, the Soviet Communists gave direction to revolutionary spirits everywhere in the world. After Soviet Communism was thrown out following 1989, the several other Communist governments were overthrown or dismantled. Today, only five regimes are still calling themselves Communist: People’s Republic of China (PRC), Cuba, North Korea (DPRK), Laos and Vietnam.
Weekly Standard, Mar. 6, 2017
In 1992, the exiled Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide spoke to Jewish leaders in New York City. Having studied for three years in Jerusalem, he spoke to them in Hebrew as well as English. Aristide was slightly shocked to discover, after the talk, that he was not understood: Most of the American Jewish leaders did not speak Hebrew.
Although unmentioned in Lewis Glinert’s elegant book, that anecdote is emblematic of the paradoxes of modern Hebrew. Even after the establishment of Israel, being Jewish does not always entail speaking Hebrew. Before the establishment of the state, Hebrew was a language familiar primarily to the pious. As the secular Theodor Herzl asked in The Jewish State: "Who among us knows enough Hebrew to use it to buy a railway ticket?" Hebrew was not exactly a "dead" language, but lived only in sacred tomes and learned discourse. When the early Zionists began their push for statehood, the number of genuine Hebrew speakers could be counted on one hand.
The revival of modern Hebrew is only the latest chapter of the story. Glinert begins with the Bible, whose Hebrew shows a variety of levels and covers centuries of language development. The rabbinic texts following the Bible—the Mishnah, an austere and stately law code providing the foundation on which the mostly Aramaic discourse of the Talmud is based; the Hebrew of interpretation (midrash); and the proliferation of written legal decisions—sustained the thread of Hebrew. Yet as Glinert writes of the rabbinic age of Rome: "By any sociological yardstick, the prospects of native Hebrew's survival were now minimal."
After the destruction of the Temple in the first century, Jews were scattered among non-Hebrew-speaking populations. As the Aristide incident demonstrates, keeping linguistic proficiency in a foreign land is difficult. Jews continued to pray in Hebrew, however, and a succession of adepts modified and clarified the workings of the language: The Masoretes standardized the text of the Torah, and the mystics and poets performed exegetical acrobatics with letters and numbers. (In Hebrew, letters have numerical values as well: aleph is 1, yod is 10, and so forth. So each word also has a numerical equivalent, giving rise to ingenious and often far-fetched connections.) Along the way, Hebrew benefited from the efforts of religious genius as well: In 11th-century France, the great commentator Rashi used a compact and elliptical Hebrew to illuminate the meaning of the Bible and Talmud. When, in the next century, Maimonides wrote his monumental law code, he fashioned a form of Hebrew that made the code both a linguistic as well as a legal landmark.
The poets of Spain's golden age wrote beautiful odes to God, but also poetry about war and wine and women. Other medieval poets, living in a textual echo chamber, composed elaborate referential poem/prayers, called piyyutim. These were not only creative and pietistic exercises, but intellectual feats: Some were of great beauty, others as much puzzle boxes as poetry. Glinert walks the reader through the phases of Hebrew with sufficient historical background to make the story clear but uncluttered. There are fascinating byways, such as the place of Hebrew in the revival of science during the Renaissance. The early story of our nation is also deeply affected by the centrality of Hebrew to the Pilgrims and their intellectual descendants. The first two presidents of Harvard were Hebrew scholars, as was the first president of Yale, Ezra Stiles, whose university seal still bears a Hebrew motto.
The capstone of the story is the miraculous revival of Hebrew as a spoken language. As Glinert writes: "It was not only necessary to invent words denoting locomotive, telegraph, or parliament; the language would also need to express such conceptual distinctions as people, nation, and state." It was left to the collective creativity of a new movement, Zionism, and individual fanatics, such as Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, to shape, update, and enforce the new language. (One of the many piquant details Glinert includes here is that the national poet laureate of modern Hebrew, Hayim Nahman Bialik, was forced to apologize in the press for speaking Russian in public!)…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!
[N.B: Rabbi Abraham Cooper will be a Keynote Speaker at CIJR’s 29th Annual Anniversary Gala: “Israel’s Contributions Biblical and Modern to Western Civilization. Sunday, Mar. 26, 2017. (Montreal)
For More Information and Registration Click the Following Link—Ed.]
When Gatekeepers of Justice Leverage the Law to Abet Injustice: Abraham Cooper, Huffington Post, Mar. 11, 2017—In keeping with democratic Germany’s commitment to combat anti-Semitism, a court in Essen ruled last year that chanting “death and hate to Zionists” at a demonstration was an illegal anti-Semitic activity. Unfortunately, however, there are other German judges today who subvert that commitment by ignoring common sense, morality, and history.
IPT Examines J Street's Unusual "Support" for Israel: IPT News, March 9, 2017—J Street, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group, has an unusual way of showing it "is the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans."
The Best Archaeological Finds in Israel of 2016: Ruth Schuster. Ha’aretz, Dec. 28, 2016—Israel is soaked in blood and relics of human history. Primitive humans passed through Israel on their way out of Africa: now we know what they ate. Israel is part of the area where human society formed: 12,000 years later, we have found their homes. Modern civilization arose in these parts, as did the three big monotheistic religions: all left behind gods, death and destruction at which we now gaze in awe. Here are just some of the stories in Israeli archaeology in 2016.
Why Are Jews Called Jews?: Elon Gilad, Ha’aretz, Feb. 15, 2017—The word “Jew” ultimately comes from Judah, an ancient kingdom centered in Jerusalem, in the 2nd century BCE. But how did the kingdom's Hebrew name, Yehudah (Judah in English), pronounced ye-hu-DAH, beget “Jew”?
Prof. Frederick Krantz, Director (Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)
Prof. Harold Waller (McGill University)
Prof. Ira Robinson, Associate Chairman (Department of Religion, Concordia University)
Baruch Cohen, Research Chairman (Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)
Rob Coles (Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)