ISRAEL WILL CONTINUE TO PROSPER, DESPITE TEMPLE MOUNT CRISIS AND WEAKENING OF U.S. JEWISH SUPPORT Posted on August 4, 2017 Printer Friendly Losing and Winning the Temple Mount: Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, August 3, 2017— Last week, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his security cabinet caved in to the demands of the PLO and its partners… The Vanishing of the Jewish Collective: Hillel Halkin, Mosaic, May 15, 2017— I fully agree with Daniel Gordis (and with Elliott Abrams in his earlier essay in Mosaic) that it is putting the cart before the horse to ascribe American Jewry’s growing distance from Israel to Israel’s perceived moral failings… My Response to Bret Stephens: Dennis Prager, Townhall, July 25, 2017 — Bret Stephens devoted his New York Times column last week to admonishing me for my tweet from two weeks ago and critiquing my follow-up column last week explaining the tweet. ‘Menashe’ Is a Marvel: Alan Zeitlin, Jewish Press, Aug. 2, 2017 — When I first started working as a journalist, a colleague asked me for advice because he was going to interview a chasidic man for a story. On Topic Links Why Many American Jews Are Becoming Indifferent or Even Hostile to Israel: Daniel Gordis, Mosaic, May 8, 2017 If American Jews and Israel Are Drifting Apart, What's the Reason?: Elliott Abrams, Mosaic, Apr. 4, 2016 Is the News Media an ‘Existential’ Threat?: Bret Stephens, New York Times, July 20, 2017 Welcome to the Jews' Republic of China: The Grandiose Chinese Plan to Settle Jews in 1939: Aharon Shai, Ha’aretz, Aug 04, 2017 LOSING AND WINNING THE TEMPLE MOUNT Caroline B. Glick Jerusalem Post, August 3, 2017 Last week, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his security cabinet caved in to the demands of the PLO and its partners in Hamas, the Islamic Movement, Jordan, Iran and Turkey by agreeing to remove metal detectors and other security screening equipment from the Temple Mount. The equipment was installed last month in response to Palestinian incitement and acts of jihadist violence against Israelis, including the murder of two policemen, at Judaism’s holiest site. After polls showed 77% of Israelis felt he and his cabinet members capitulated to terrorism, Netanyahu issued a statement thanking US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner and Trump’s senior negotiator Jason Greenblatt for their help in resolving the crisis. The underlying message of Netanyahu’s statement was that he and his ministers folded like a cheap suit to our enemies’ demands, effectively ceding Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount to our enemies because Kushner and Greenblatt pressured them to do so. But then this week, a congressional intern did us the favor of surreptitiously recording and leaking remarks Kushner made on the issue in off-record remarks to interns at the White House. Kushner’s remarks, which came in response to a question about his role in mediating the Palestinian conflict with Israel, were fairly detailed. Regarding the Temple Mount crisis, Kushner justified Israel’s decision to place metal detectors at the entrance of the Temple Mount. In his words, following the murder of the policemen by terrorists armed with guns smuggled onto the Mount, “putting up metal detectors on the Temple Mount… is not an irrational thing to do.” Kushner also emphasized several times the central role that Palestinian incitement played in fomenting the violence on the Temple Mount. He drew the logical conclusion that the same incitement which fomented the violence on the Temple Mount led to the massacre of the Saloman family in their home in Halamish two weeks ago. Unlike all previous US mediators, Kushner didn’t blame “both sides” for causing the violence. He placed the blame squarely on the Palestinians who incited and committed murder. In speaking this way, Kushner made clear that he isn’t the type of person who will apply bone-breaking pressure on Israel to capitulate to the demands of terrorist murderers. Certainly Netanyahu and his ministers are strong enough to withstand whatever pressure Kushner and Greenblatt may have brought to bear on them last week. Indeed, as one administration official put it, “The idea that the same Netanyahu who withstood eight years of unrelenting pressure from the Obama administration crumpled under pressure from Kushner and Greenblatt is simply ridiculous.” So if it wasn’t American pressure that convinced Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and their colleagues in the security cabinet to crumple, why did they do it? All of their instincts were pointing them down the opposite path. From a security standpoint, you don’t need to be a genius to understand that you don’t respond to an enemy on offense by surrendering your defenses. More generally, Netanyahu and his ministers all know that just as releasing terrorists from prison guarantees more dead Israelis, so capitulating to the demands of terrorists ensures more dead Israelis. But if the decision was wrong from a security standpoint, it was downright crazy from a political perspective. Among the 77% of Israelis who said the decision amounted to capitulation were doubtlessly 100% of Likud and Yisrael Beytenu voters and 85% of Kulanu voters. (Bayit Yehudi voters at least knew their cabinet representatives, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, voted against the measure.) According to the media, the cabinet was intimidated into surrendering by a doomsday scenario presented by the IDF and Shin Bet representatives at the cabinet meeting. Channel 2 reported that the IDF and Shin Bet warned the politicians that failure to capitulate would result in a security nightmare, whose details they laid out in a frightening PowerPoint slide. The Palestinians would start a new terrorist war, they said. Fatah’s Tanzim terrorists, who have been inactive in recent years, would renew their attacks, they warned. The Palestinians would undermine Israel’s capacity to fight Hezbollah effectively in Lebanon, they insisted. And finally, if Israel failed to capitulate, a “rare unity” of forces in the Islamic world stretching from Turkey to Iran would emerge, they hectored. Not to put too fine a point on it, but all of these doomsday admonitions are debatable. Take the issue of the “rare unity” from Iran to Turkey. Since the Turks tried to break Israel’s maritime blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza seven years ago, unity has been the rule not the exception in Turkish-Iranian relations. Both supported the Muslim Brotherhood in the so-called Arab Spring. Both supported Hamas in its 2014 war against Israel from Gaza. And today, both support Qatar against the Saudi- and Egyptian-led bloc of Sunni Arab states. As for the Sunni Arabs, last week, the Saudis took the stunning step of siding with Israel on the metal detectors. The Saudis noted supportively that they installed metal detectors in Mecca and Medina. As to the rest of the scenarios the security chiefs raised, they may or may not be true. But what is certainly true is that it isn’t the job of the security community to tell Israel’s leaders they have no choice but to surrender to aggression. It is their duty to formulate plans for defeating the aggressors, period. And incidentally, ahead of Tisha Be’av, which fell this year on Monday night/Tuesday, unlike the IDF and the Shin Bet, the police did just that. Whereas the Shin Bet wanted to prohibit Jews from visiting the Temple Mount on the day of mourning commemorating the destruction of the First and Second Temples, the police recognized it was its job to enable Jews to visit. Rather than join the Shin Bet in recommending that Jews be barred from visiting the Temple Mount, the police provided the requisite protection and enabled more than 1,200 Jews to visit the site without incident… [To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.] Contents THE VANISHING OF THE JEWISH COLLECTIVE Hillel Halkin Mosaic, May 15, 2017 I fully agree with Daniel Gordis (and with Elliott Abrams in his earlier essay in Mosaic) that it is putting the cart before the horse to ascribe American Jewry’s growing distance from Israel to Israel’s perceived moral failings, whether vis-à-vis the Palestinians or anything else. There are indeed Israeli policies toward the Palestinians that deserve to be criticized by anyone who cares about human rights, as many American Jews do. But if Jews like Hasia Diner cared as much about Israel, they would couch their criticism differently. They would express it with more pain and less indignation; they would be more empathic and not so self-righteously condemning; they would seek to understand the reasons for Israel’s behavior even if they found it unjustified; and above all, they would continue as Jews to identify as strongly as ever with Israel as a Jewish state. They would go on feeling that it is their state despite their reservations about its conduct. The fact that they do not feel this way has less to do with Israel’s shortcomings than with their own attenuated sense of Jewish peoplehood, the reasons for which Gordis discusses cogently. Growing numbers of American Jews care about Israel only to the extent that Israel validates their own self-image, and have no use for it, or turn against it, when it doesn’t. And yet, in all fairness, are most Israelis any different in their attitude toward American Jews? Apart from American Jewry’s support for Israel, do they take an interest in it, bother to become knowledgeable about its history and institutions, know anything about its religious and intellectual life, make an effort to understand it, or worry about its future? It, too, exists for them only instrumentally, to the extent that they and their interests exist for it. If the rampant assimilation of American Jews alarms them at all, this is only because they fear a consequent weakening of Israel’s political base in the United States, not because the vanishing of Jews in the Diaspora is of concern to them per se. And although they do on the whole have the sense of Jewish peoplehood that so many American Jews lack, they tend to think of Israel, and of Diaspora identification with it, as this peoplehood’s only meaningful expression. There is of course, as Gordis observes, one major exception to this rule: the religiously traditional communities of both countries, which are conscious of a bond between them and of the ideal of a bond among all Jews that once used to be called klal yisra’el, the Jewish collective. Perhaps these communities will eventually set the tone for Israeli-American Jewish relations, as Gordis, while rightly cautioning against blindly extrapolating from current demographic trends to the future, contemplates their doing. Meanwhile, however, most Israelis and American Jews will continue to drift farther apart. And one additional reason that they will do so, besides those enumerated by Gordis, is that they will have less in the way of shared origins. For much of the 20th century, the Jews of America and the Jews of Israel had the same East-European nativity, parents, or grandparents. Now, these European roots have receded into the past—and with them, one more link between the two groups. The main difference between Daniel Gordis’s outlook and mine is that I’m less perturbed by all this than he is. The distance between Israeli and American Jews is growing? Let it grow. It’s natural. The two populations live in different worlds, speak different languages, face different problems, challenges, and dangers, have different worries, fears, and life experiences, adhere to different values, and think of themselves and their surroundings in different ways. In the absence of a strong sense of klal yisra’el, no amount of preaching, education, tourism, Birthright programs, or superficial “Americanization” of Israeli life, let alone the establishment of a Palestinian state or an outbreak of peace in the Middle East, is going to change this. Most American Jews are not going to spend much of their time thinking about Israel, and even fewer Israelis are going to think about American Jews. But so what? So what? One of the premises of classical Zionist thought, amply borne out in our times, is that in the liberal democratic societies of the modern Diaspora, the assimilation of most Jews is inevitable. It always amuses me to hear it proclaimed, in the name of Zionism, that assimilation in America must be combated. Why or how combat what your beliefs tell you must take place, whether combated or not? This is not an argument against Jewish education in America. It is an argument against the illusion that such education, if pursued vigorously enough, can stem a historical tide. And because I believe classical Zionism’s analysis of the Jewish condition to be correct, I also believe, like most Israelis, that the only viable vehicle for Jewish peoplehood in our times is a Jewish state. Despite my American background, I must confess that American Jewish life in itself does not interest me very much—certainly not enough for me to grieve over its being opted out of by more and more American Jews. What about the fear that a shrinking and less pro-Israel American Jewry could affect American policy toward Israel? Once, to tell the truth, I shared this fear. But look at the last two decades of American history. There have been elected in them two strongly pro-Israel Republican presidents who received (and expected to receive) little in the way of Jewish help or votes, and one cool-toward-Israel Democratic president who was the darling of a large number of American Jews. Surely, this suggests that despite the widespread notion that American policy toward Israel has been shaped by Jewish political pressure, other factors are more important. Israel has survived a great deal in the first 69 years of its existence and prospered in spite of it. It will survive the weakening of American Jewish support for it, too. Contents MY RESPONSE TO BRET STEPHENS Dennis Prager Townhall, July 25, 2017 Bret Stephens devoted his New York Times column last week to admonishing me for my tweet from two weeks ago and critiquing my follow-up column last week explaining the tweet. The tweet reads, "The news media in the West pose a far greater danger to Western civilization than Russia does." Since he wrote the column as a "Dear Dennis" letter to me, I will respond in kind. Dear Bret: I'll try to respond to the most salient arguments you made. I'll begin with one of the most troubling. You wrote: "Wiser conservatives — and I count you among them, Dennis — also know that when we speak of 'the West,' what we're talking about is a particular strain within it. Marx and Lenin, after all, are also part of the Western tradition, as are Heidegger and Hitler." I was taken aback that such a serious thinker could write that nihilist communists and nihilist Nazis are all "part of the Western tradition." That's what the vast majority of professors in the social sciences teach: There's nothing morally superior about Western civilization — it's as much about Hitler and Lenin as it is about Moses and Thomas Jefferson. And, anyway, Moses never existed and Jefferson was a slaveholding rapist. Among those professors' students are virtually all those who dominate the Western news media. Am I wrong? Do you think your colleagues at the Times or the Washington Post or Le Monde or BBC believe in the moral superiority of the West? Of course they don't. Most believe in multiculturalism — the doctrine that all cultures are equal — and it is therefore nothing more than white racism to hold that Western civilization is superior. Didn't nearly all of your (nonconservative) colleagues who commented on President Trump's speech in Warsaw call it a dog whistle to white supremacists? On those grounds alone, my tweet was accurate. I am surprised that anyone — especially you — thinks Vladimir Putin's Russia poses a greater threat to the survival of Western civilization than the Western left. No external force can destroy a civilization as effectively as an internal one — especially one as powerful and wealthy as the West. The Western left (not Western liberals) is such a force. Western liberals always adored the West. I was also stunned by your saying, "I'm not sure that Justin Trudeau declaring there is 'no core identity, no mainstream in Canada' counts as a Spenglerian moment in the story of Western decline." The prime minister of Canada announces with pride that his country has no core identity and you don't think that counts as an example of a declining civilization? And here's another upsetting sentence: "To suggest that Vladimir Putin is a distant nuisance but Maggie Haberman or David Sanger is an existential threat to our civilization isn't seeing things plain, to put it mildly." The reason I found that troubling is I never cited Haberman or Sanger, and you well know that no generalization includes every possible example — that's what makes it a generalization. But I did specifically cite the writers in The Atlantic who equated Western civilization with white supremacy, and your substitution of your New York Times colleagues for The Atlantic commentators allowed you to avoid dealing with The Atlantic writers' and others media attacks on Western civilization. Despite the fact that neither my tweet nor my column said a word about Trump, you devoted almost half your column to denouncing the president. Yet, as I wrote in the column, my tweet would have been just as accurate had I sent it out during former President Obama's administration or Hillary Clinton's, if she were president. Bret, to your great credit, you are a lonely voice of strong support for Israel at your newspaper (your readers should see the videos on the Middle East you made for Prager University; they have eight million views for good reason). Doesn't the almost uniform hostility toward Israel in the media and academia trouble you? Does it trouble you that most Democrats in America hold a negative view of Israel? That Jewish students at many American, not to mention European, universities fear expressing support for Israel or just wearing a yarmulke on campus? That so many young American Jews, influenced by the media and their professors, loathe Israel? I am certain all of that greatly troubles you. Is any of that Putin's doing? Or is it all the result of the media and academia?… [To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.] Contents ‘MENASHE’ IS A MARVEL Alan Zeitlin Jewish Press, Aug. 2, 2017 When I first started working as a journalist, a colleague asked me for advice because he was going to interview a chasidic man for a story. He said he’d never had a conversation with a chasidic person. I told him to ask questions like he would of anyone else. He returned after the interview with a smile. “He was a regular guy,” he said with joy and surprise. Unfortunately, when it comes to the media and film, chasidic Jews are sometimes portrayed as people from another world who joylessly follow archaic laws. Some films have featured chasidic characters that are corrupt and others who decide the only way to find freedom and joy is to escape being religious. Thankfully, that is not the case in “Menashe,” a groundbreaking and heartwarming film that neither demonizes nor romanticizes what it means to be a chasidic Jew. It is also one of the few films in the last 70 years to be released in Yiddish. In his first role in a movie, Menashe Lustig gives a stunning performance as Menashe, a widower who is trying to make ends meet by working at a supermarket. He faces several obstacles while trying to take care of his son. It is his desire to be a good father that grounds the film in universality. Menashe has considerable flaws. He is disorganized, struggles to get his son to school on time or be on time for work himself, and he needs to earn more money. He goes out on a date made by a matchmaker even though he has no intention of remarrying at that time. But he is charismatic, has a great sense of humor and has a good heart. For all the great experiences a father and son can share, from going to a baseball game to building a tree house, here, eating an ice cream cone or making funny faces is enough to show the bond and the connection that the father and son have. Lustig’s performance makes you root for the character, even if at times you’re annoyed with him when he’s getting himself into trouble. As the son, Rieven, Ruben Niborski nails the role of a normal kid who wants to be happy, misses his mom and is trying to make the best of things. His smile is memorable and he has clear chemistry with Lustig. Yoel Weisshaus is also on point as the brother-in-law, Eizik, who is financially stable. Menashe resents the fact that Rieven is living with Eizik and his wife because they have a stable household and Menashe is told he must remarry in order to have custody of his son. Eizik is the antagonist who makes Menashe feel disrespected. When it is time to have a memorial dinner in honor of his deceased wife, Menashe wants to make it at his home, but Eizik tells him it’s not wise to do so because he will mess things up and embarrass himself in front of the rav. But we also see Eizik as someone grounded in pragmatism and he does care about the child’s welfare. Menashe’s boss is tough on him, and yet toward the end, he doesn’t totally dismiss a plea for help from Menashe, who is in financial need. Director Joshua Z Weinstein, who is known for documentaries, gives the film a partially documentary feel. He smartly resists the urge for any grandiose and over-the-top scenes that could come off as cheesy. If fact, the climactic scene has to do with a kugel. Another brilliant move by Weinstein is to depict rituals with no explanation in order to provide an immersive experience for the viewer. The mikvah is not explained, nor is negel vasser, the washing of the hands upon waking up and before getting out of bed. Another key component is that the rav, played with a measured grace by Meyer Schwartz, winds up saying a simple line that is the sweetest one in the film. Weinstein’s fine touch makes this film a juggernaut that pulls at the heartstrings. In a perfect world, people would judge others on how they act and not on their garb or religious observance. But this is not a perfect world. I would have liked to see a little more music and in the scene where Menashe is hanging out with his Hispanic co-workers, it would have been good to see him joking around more with some impersonations. We’ll have to wait for the next film Lustig is in. Perhaps it will be a slapstick comedy. Weinstein, who is also a co-writer of the film, deserves much credit for deciding to do “Menashe” in Yiddish. Not only could it narrow the audience base, it required the script to be translated because Weinstein isn’t fluent in the language. His decision to shoot the movie in Boro Park gives it an authentic feel. Largely based on the real life of Lustig, who shows great vulnerability and passion on screen, “Menashe” is one of the most memorable Jewish films you’ll ever see. While it’s about a regular guy, this is no regular movie. CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom! Contents On Topic Links Why Many American Jews Are Becoming Indifferent or Even Hostile to Israel: Daniel Gordis, Mosaic, May 8, 2017—ll told, the two Jewish communities of the United States and Israel constitute some 85 percent of the world’s Jews. Although other communities around the globe remain significant for their size or other qualities, the future of world Jewry will likely be shaped by the two largest populations—and by the relationship between them. If American Jews and Israel Are Drifting Apart, What's the Reason?: Elliott Abrams, Mosaic, Apr. 4, 2016—Everyone knows that American Jews and Israel are drifting apart—and everyone is confident of the reasons why. Israel, it is said, has become increasingly nationalistic and right-wing; “the occupation” violates liberal values; and the American Jewish “establishment,” with its old familiar defense organizations and their old familiar apologetics, has lost touch with young American Jews who are put off by outdated Zionist slogans and hoary appeals for communal solidarity. Is the News Media an ‘Existential’ Threat?: Bret Stephens, New York Times, July 20, 2017—Dear Dennis, To err is human. To tweet is to regret. When I decided last month to leave Twitter, it was in part because I knew that, while I couldn’t avoid the former, I could at least escape the latter. Not everything that pops into the heads of smart people is smart. Still less of it needs to be shared. Welcome to the Jews' Republic of China: The Grandiose Chinese Plan to Settle Jews in 1939: Aharon Shai, Ha’aretz, Aug 04, 2017—In 1939, China prepared a plan to settle persecuted European Jews in the southwestern Yunnan province, close to the Burmese border, according to documents recently found in Chinese state archives. For unknown reasons, the plan was never implemented.