Tag: Exodus


The Atlantic Publishes All You Need To Know About the Left: Dennis Prager, Daily Wire, July 11, 2017— Last week, The Atlantic rendered a great service to those of us who contend that America is in the midst of a civil war between the right and the left.

The Science of Racism is Back: Philip Carl Salzman, C2C Journal , June 30, 2017— The founder of anthropology in North America was Franz Boas, a German Jew who began his work in the early 20th century, when racial explanations of human behaviour were popular.

Are Biased Textbooks Turning Young Americans Against Israel?: Rafael Medoff, JNS, July 11, 2017— According to some experts, anti-Israel bias in the textbooks used by many American high schools may be to blame for the decrease in sympathy for Israel among young adults.

France Marks 70 Years Since Historic 'Exodus' Voyage to Israel: Arutz Sheva, July 9, 2017— Seventy years ago this week, some 4,500 Jewish Holocaust survivors gathered aboard a rickety old steamer in the French Mediterranean port of Sete, destined for a journey that would help spur the creation of an independent Jewish state.


On Topic Links


Israel Built A 9/11 Memorial Out Of Ground Zero Wreckage – You Have To See it: Benny Johnson, IJR, 2015

Leading Researcher on Campus Jewish Life Rejects Report of ‘Devastating Loss’ of Support for Israel Among Young Jews: Rachel Frommer, Algemeiner, June 23, 2017

Jewish Voice for Peace Is Spreading Hate on Campus. It’s Time for Jewish Academics to Speak Up.: Jarrod Tanny, Tablet, July 5, 2017

The Appalling Protests at Evergreen State College: Charlotte Allen, Weekly Standard, June 9, 2017




THE ATLANTIC PUBLISHES ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE LEFT                                                                    Dennis Prager

Daily Wire, July 11, 2017


Last week, The Atlantic rendered a great service to those of us who contend that America is in the midst of a civil war between the right and the left. It provided a smoking gun — actually, the gunshot itself — to those of us who contend that the left (never to be confused with liberals) is intent on dismantling Western civilization. It published articles by two left-wing writers, one by Peter Beinart titled "The Racial and Religious Paranoia of Trump's Warsaw Speech," and one by its national correspondent, James Fallows, written on the same theme as Beinart's.


The subject of both articles was President Donald Trump's speech in Warsaw, Poland, last week, a speech described by The Wall Street Journal as "a determined and affirmative defense of the Western tradition." Yet, to the Atlantic writers, defending Western civilization is nothing more than a defense of white racism. Beinart begins his piece saying: "In his speech in Poland on Thursday, Donald Trump referred 10 times to 'the West' and five times to 'our civilization.' His white nationalist supporters will understand exactly what he means. It's important that other Americans do, too." And Fallows begins saying, "what he called 'civilization' … boils down to ties of ethnicity and blood."


Is there one liberal or conservative American who thinks that the words "the West" and "Western civilization" mean a celebration of white-blood purity? I doubt it. What we have here are two vital lessons. One is that leftism is the primary racist ideology of our time, seeing everything in terms of race, whereas mainstream liberalism and conservatism advocate a race-blind society as manifest in Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "content of his character" line. The left disdains this view. To cite one of innumerable examples, the University of California has published a list of biased "microaggression" statements students and faculty are to avoid. One of them is "There is only one race, the human race." In other words, the left, which controls our universities, teaches American students that it is wrong to believe in one human race. That was precisely what the Nazis taught German students. And now, we have another expression of this doctrine enunciated in the pages of The Atlantic: that those who wish to protect or save Western civilization are talking about saving the white race.


I am certainly not equating leftism with Nazism. The left doesn't seek to annihilate all Jews (it merely supports the Palestinians, who seek to annihilate the Jewish state). I am merely stating an unassailable truth: No significant political movement since the Nazis has "honored" race or equated Western civilization with race, as Beinart and Fallows do. The second service provided by The Atlantic writers is proof that the left loathes Western civilization and therefore has become the internal enemy of Western civilization both in America and Europe.


In the left's eyes, the mere suggestion that Western civilization needs to be saved is, by definition, a call for the preservation of the white race. Therefore, the left opposes calls to save Western civilization. As Beinart wrote: "The most shocking sentence in Trump's speech — perhaps the most shocking sentence in any presidential speech delivered on foreign soil in my lifetime — was his claim that 'The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive.' … Trump's sentence only makes sense as a statement of racial and religious paranoia."


Those of us who have long equated the left with opposition to Western civilization are vindicated. We didn't need Beinart and Fallows — we already had innumerable examples, such as the University of Pennsylvania English department removing its longstanding poster of William Shakespeare because he was a white male — but in their explicit articulation of the left's view, they are immensely helpful. Shakespeare is read in every language that has an alphabet not because he was white or European but because he is regarded as the greatest playwright who ever lived. But the leftists who run that English department place race (and gender) above excellence — a thorough rejection of Western values. Ironically, outside of liberals and conservatives, those most likely to celebrate Western values are likely to not be Western. The Japanese would scoff at the idea that Bach and Beethoven did not write the greatest music ever composed. That is why some of the greatest Bach recordings of our time come from Japanese musicians living in Japan. Nor would the Japanese deny that their modern country's democratic values come from the West…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]





Philip Carl Salzman

C2C Journal , June 30, 2017


The founder of anthropology in North America was Franz Boas, a German Jew who began his work in the early 20th century, when racial explanations of human behaviour were popular. Decades before European racism would come to fruition in the Holocaust, Boas was arguing against race as a way of understanding people. It would not have eluded Boas that the Canadian peoples he studied, the Inuit and First Nations of the Northwest Coast, were viewed by many with racist disparagement and discriminated against. In opposition to such views, he maintained that “nurture,” the learning of ideas, values, and actions from parents, peers, and community, rather than “nature,” biology and genetics, determined the course of human lives.


By mid-century racism was not just out of fashion, but actively reviled. Biological anthropologists assembled evidence showing how promiscuous gene flow led to gradual variations, or clines, within and among populations, such that no clear or immutable race-based characteristics existed. Thus there was no scientific basis for identifying races, or for believing that they had a reality in nature.


How times have changed! Racism is now back as an accepted and, indeed, celebrated way to explain human differences. And nowhere is it trendier than on university campuses in Canada, the United States, and beyond. Not just among radical students demanding race-based entitlements, but also within institutional processes such as faculty hiring. Aboriginals are preferred to teach Aboriginal Studies. Middle Easterners are preferred to teach Middle East Studies. African Studies ditto. East Asian Studies ditto. The logic is partly borrowed from the tenets of modern feminism and sex and gender minority rights, which hold that only members of such groups can fully understand them. Attempts by outsiders to speak for or even about others is decried as “cultural appropriation”.


You might imagine that this would not sit well with cultural anthropologists, who often go to distant lands to study people who are different from them. But even anthropologists are now keen for racial hiring. At my university, McGill, where a big thrust is underway to expand First Nations Studies, anthropology professors are insisting on hiring a First Nations anthropologist. There is no way to square this with deracinated anthropology; it is simply, fundamentally, racist. Ironically, these new racist hiring policies are prescribed to fight racism. In March, a pair of McGill Anthropology students published an article in the McGill Daily titled “Classroom Colonialisms: Calling out racism and working towards decolonial anthropology at McGill.” Leaving aside that the Daily is a student newspaper renowned for its anti-Semitic racism, the students’ solutions for racism in anthropology are hiring non-white staff and purging the classics of anthropology from the program because most were written by white males.


It is sad that people claiming to be students of anthropology do not grasp the simple and irrefutable logical point that making decisions on the basis of race is racism, no matter which races you favour. Perhaps they believe, as some of my colleagues in the McGill Anthropology Department do, that there is good racism and bad racism, and that they are advocating good racism. Yes, you read that right; “good racism.” We have heard such arguments many times in human history, and seen their consequences. Reducing people to demographic categories, rather than treating them as the unique individuals they are, is a betrayal of liberal values and the Enlightenment and of the idea of the university as an institution of civilization founded on universalistic criteria such as merit.


The hottest new idea among “social justice warriors” is “intersectionality,” which means that the interests of victim groups intersect, and that they should seek liberation through unity. Thus women, gays, people of color, and Muslims should unite to throw off their oppressors: men, heterosexuals, whites, and Jews. This idea ought to be dismissed as incoherent given that most women are heterosexual, that homosexuality is forbidden and women are obliged to be subservient in Islam, and that Jews are historically victims of Christians and Muslims.


But, inspired by intersectionality, the Black Lives Matter movement has expanded its fight against white police violence against blacks to ally with Palestinians against Jews, despite the long history of Arab involvement in the African slave trade and the institutional racism against blacks that persists today in many Arab countries. Black Lives Matter is equally blind to the realities of black homicide in America, where the 13 percent of the population which is black suffers 45 percent of the murders, of which 90 percent are committed by other blacks. The new racism, predicated on the belief that there are good races, but also bad races, generally holds that white people are bad, because they are “privileged” and, in most developed countries, the majority.  They have not suffered as victims of racism like other races. But even that rule is selective and willfully ignorant of facts and history, not least the serial persecution of Jews and centuries of enslavement of white Europeans by Arabs.


It is no accident that the revival of racism coincides with the re-demonization of Jews. The Boycott, Divest, and Sanction movement on North American campuses is nominally aimed at Israel. But Jewish students are sometimes targets of invective, and even violence. In my Anthropology Department at McGill, professors have aligned themselves with BDS, as has the Anthropology Graduate Students Association, even though BDS fits the U.S. State Department criteria for anti-Semitism, as it selectively singles out and disparages Israel and advocates for termination of the country. Supporters of BDS stand with Palestinian Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, and others that promise variously to place Jews under the disabilities of subordinate-class dhimma status, expel them entirely from their historical home, or murder Israeli Jews and all Jews around the world (see the Hamas Charter). So my colleagues and students have thrown their support to people who advocate racial genocide…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]


Prof. Philip Carl Salzman is a CIJR Academic Fellow






Rafael Medoff

JNS, July 11, 2017


According to some experts, anti-Israel bias in the textbooks used by many American high schools may be to blame for the decrease in sympathy for Israel among young adults. According to the Brand Israel Group, only 54 percent of US college students lean more toward Israelis than the Palestinians, down from 73 percent in 2010. The decrease was even sharper among Jewish college students, dropping from 84 percent to 57 percent. “The problem starts in high school,” Dr. Sandra Alfonsi, the founder of Hadassah’s “Curriculum Watch” division, told JNS.org. “There’s no doubt [that] the lack of sympathy for Israel on college campuses today is at least partly the result of several generations of teenagers being educated with textbooks that are slanted against Israel.”


One of the most controversial texts used in high schools around the country is the Arab World Studies Notebook, a 540-page volume authored by Audrey Parks Shabbas. Shabbas heads Arab World and Islamic Resources and School Services, a curriculum publisher that seeks to promote a positive image of Arabs and Muslims in US schools. After parents in Anchorage, Alaska, complained to their local board of education in 2004 about the book’s slant against Israel, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) prepared a 30-page analysis of the textbook. The AJC found it to be riddled with “overt bias and unabashed propagandizing,” such as depicting Israel as the aggressor in every Arab-Israeli war, and praising Muslim conquerors throughout the ages for their “gentle treatment of civilian populations.”


As a result, the Anchorage Board of Education removed the Notebook from the local high school curriculum. School authorities in Tulsa, Oklahoma, have also withdrawn the text. Shabbas has claimed that the Notebook has been distributed to more than 10,000 teachers, and “if each notebook teaches 250 students a year over 10 years, then you’ve reached 25 million students.” “The most important statistic is the number of workshops that Shabbas has given to instruct teachers in how to use the book,” Curriculum Watch’s Alfonsi said. “She has conducted hundreds of such three-day teacher-training sessions.” Shabbas’s website names 211 schools where she ran teacher workshops from 2000-2006. Other years are not listed. Shabbas did not respond to requests for comment from JNS.org.


The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) recently published a 108-page monograph, “Indoctrinating Our Youth,” which describes how high schools in the Boston suburb of Newton have been using biased texts such as the Arab World Studies Notebook, and also are inviting anti-Israel speakers to address their students. One controversy began in 2011, when a Newton South High School parent complained about a passage from the Notebook that accused Israel of torturing and murdering hundreds of Palestinian women. Other parents soon joined the protests. Matt Hills, vice chair of the Newton School Committee, dismissed the critics as “McCarthyesque.”


In early 2012, Newton Superintendent of Schools David Fleishman said that the Notebook had been removed from the curriculum because it was “outdated.” But an investigation by Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT), a Boston-based activist group, found that the Notebook was still being used in Newton as late as the 2013-2014 school year. The dispute has been complicated by the refusal of Newton school authorities to identify which Israel-related materials were being used by teachers. Many school districts around the country list their curriculum materials on their websites. APT President Charles Jacobs told JNS.org that his group “will continue to build support for a policy of transparency, so that parents and citizens can know what is being taught to Newton’s students.”


In response to a request for copies of these materials, Fleishman said that the requester would need to pay $3,643 to cover photocopying expenses. Eventually, a Freedom of Information request filed by community activists forced the release of some of the materials. Newton Mayor Setti Warren, a member of the nine-person School Committee, attended committee meetings on the textbooks issue, but did not actively participate in the discussions, according to community members. The mayor, who is now a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Massachusetts governor, did not respond to requests for comment from JNS.org.


Several mainstream Jewish organizations in Boston, including the local chapter of the Anti-Defamation League, initially denied that biased materials were being used in local schools. They also criticized the APT for organizing protests against the Newton school authorities. Later, the New England ADL changed its position, agreeing that the Arab World Studies Notebook and another anti-Israel text, A Muslim Primer, should not have been used in schools…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]    





Arutz Sheva, July 9, 2017


Seventy years ago this week, some 4,500 Jewish Holocaust survivors gathered aboard a rickety old steamer in the French Mediterranean port of Sete, destined for a journey that would help spur the creation of an independent Jewish state. On Sunday the city marked the audacious attempt to reach what was then the British-controlled Mandate of Palestine in the presence of a few of the remaining survivors of the voyage, along with France's Grand Rabbi Haim Korsia.


"It's the last time that we have survivors: in 10 years they'll be gone," said Freddy Dran, co-president of the "Exodus Committee" and a representative of the Jewish community in Sete, near Montpellier. "We've found that in Sete and the region, half the population has no knowledge of this event, which had a profound impact on 20th-century history," he said, calling the commemoration "an educational project for younger generations". The plight of those onboard was memorably dramatized in the 1960 Otto Preminger film of the same name, starring Paul Newman.


"Boarding this ship was like climbing Mount Sinai," according to Isthak Roman, whose father was onboard, speaking at Sunday's ceremony. On the night of July 10-11, 1947, a strange-looking boat overflowing with people, most of them survivors of Nazi concentration camps, began slowly making its way out of the harbor, officially destined for Colombia. The operation was mounted by the Haganah, a Jewish pre-state organization in the Land of Israel, which had acquired the flat-bottomed boat originally intended for only river navigation from an iron yard, before discreetly bringing it to the Mediterranean.


At the same time, the group began bringing thousands of would-be immigrants to Sete aboard more than 170 trucks. "If we hadn't decided quickly to load these 4,554 people we would have had serious problems," a leader of the truck convoy, one of five Sete residents at the time who attended the anniversary ceremony. "Haganah was behind this entirely clandestine operation, very few people in Sete were aware of what was going on," said Gustave Brugidou, president of a Sete historical society. Most residents were focused on the Tour de France racers as the cycling race passed through the city on July 10, and "were astounded to see all these people arriving on Mole Saint Louis dressed in winter clothes in the middle of summer," he said, referring to the port's jetty.


The passengers, representing a multitude of nationalities and including about 1,700 women and 950 children, squeezed themselves onto the boat still known as the "President Warfield". Their goal was to break through the infamous British blockade on Jewish immigration to Palestine, where the Zionist movement hoped to create a Jewish state, and the ship was renamed the "Exodus 47" on July 16, a reference to Moses's biblical exodus, and a flag bearing the star of David was hoisted. Had European Jews been allowed into British Mandate-controlled Palestine, many could have been saved. As it was, the British caved to Arab pressure, preventing Jews from escaping the Holocaust and did not change their policy to accept survivors.


Two days later, a British navy vessel that had been trailing the Exodus seized it just a few dozen miles from the Palestine coast, in a confrontation that resulted in at least two deaths. "The ship's commander asked them to stop the fight, he said, 'My mission is to bring Jews to Israel alive, not dead'," Yossi Bayor, who was 15 when he boarded the Exodus, told the ceremony in Hebrew. The passengers were rounded up by the British and put on prison ships bound for the French coast, where they refused to disembark, and after several weeks were brought to Hamburg, Germany, in the British-controlled zone where the Holocaust survivors were put back in camps. "The conditions were terrible, we had no sleeping berths, everyone was on the floor," Bayor recalled.


The ordeal sparked a global outcry, and most of the passengers were later interned on Cyprus, then a British colony, and did not reach Israel until it declared statehood in 1948. "Thanks to — or because of — the odyssey undertaken by this ship from Sete, the State of Israel was created a few months later," said Brugidou, underscoring its influence on the decisive United Nations vote to divide Palestine in November 1947. The name Palestine for the area was coined by the Roman conquerors who destroyed the Second Temple in 70 C.E. in revenge for the fight put up by the Jewish forces. It referred to the ancient and now long gone Philistine tribes who came from the Greek Isles and were an implacable enemy of the Jews in biblical times and has no connection with the Arabs who call themselves Palestinian today..


CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!






On Topic Links


Israel Built A 9/11 Memorial Out Of Ground Zero Wreckage – You Have To See it: Benny Johnson, IJR, 2015—It is called the 9/11 Living Memorial Plaza, and was initiated and designed by Eliezer Weishoff. Completed in 2009 for $2 million, it sits on 5 acres of hillside, 20 miles from the center of Jerusalem according to Wikipedia.

Leading Researcher on Campus Jewish Life Rejects Report of ‘Devastating Loss’ of Support for Israel Among Young Jews: Rachel Frommer, Algemeiner, June 23, 2017—A leading social scientist and researcher of campus Jewish life told The Algemeiner on Thursday that a new report claiming there has been a “devastating loss” of support for Israel among US Jewish students did not match his findings from nearly 20 years of systematic study of the topic.

Jewish Voice for Peace Is Spreading Hate on Campus. It’s Time for Jewish Academics to Speak Up.: Jarrod Tanny, Tablet, July 5, 2017—I am a professor of Jewish history in North Carolina, and I find it very discouraging that so few young academics, particularly tenured ones, in Jewish studies are willing to speak out against Jewish Voice for Peace’s ideology and its increasingly vitriolic tactics. I am calling on my colleagues who believe that dialogue and justice are not incompatible with Zionism to recognize Jewish Voice for Peace’s demagoguery.

The Appalling Protests at Evergreen State College: Charlotte Allen, Weekly Standard, June 9, 2017 —At Evergreen State College, the revolution will be televised. And it already has been, thanks to the smartphone.




















Baruch Cohen


In loving memory of Malca z’’l

The Seder is rooted in the innermost of the Jewish heart.—The Haggadah Book

I love Passover because it is a cry against indifference.—Elie Wiesel, Forward, 1992.

Passover affirms the great truth that liberty is an undeniable right of every human being. By celebrating the Passover, we are learning about our past, and thus ensuring our future. The ideas that underline the feast of Passover are noble and humane: the idea of freedom, the idea of justice, and the democratic struggle for human dignity.

The Jewish sages have posited that liberty must be fought for and renewed in every generation.

During centuries of unending adversity, we Jews, have found renewed strength and hope in the Passover celebration, which unites today’s generation with its heroic ancestral past in the common struggle for justice, liberty and humanity.

The Passover festival has two basic messages whose poignancy and significance are true for all times: first, deliverance from bondage and suffering, and the drive to do away with ignorance; the second message of Passover is that deliverance is an ongoing process!

The Passover holiday teaches us that we triumphed over degradation and affliction. Our history gives us the confidence to carry on our struggle, against our old and new enemies; already, through that struggle, we achieved a glorious victory: our beloved state of Israel.

The Jewish democratic struggle is also one for all people for all nations; Passover represents the global desire for love to triumph over the darkness of hate. The basic human resolve to be free is clearly evidenced by the ongoing uprisings in the world against tyrannical regimes. Hopefully, this coming Holy day of Passover will be a holiday of freedom and liberation for all.

Hag Passover Sameach!

Happy Passover to the entire House of Israel and to all CIJR friends and supporters.

(Baruch Cohen is the Research Chairman at the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.)


NewsRealBlog, March 3, 2011


An antisemitic Jew I know, rather than seeing the Passover ceremony as the celebration of freedom (the world’s first and for a long time only successful slave revolt), and of justice and morality (the Ten Commandments), derides the whole ceremony as the unconscionable and immoral celebration of the genocide of the Egyptian people. What troubles him so much is the fact that, after each plague, when Pharaoh seems about to soften and let the Jews go, God hardens Pharaoh’s heart, leading to the necessity of yet another plague, culminating in the death of the first born.

I know that some people have tried to explain away this part of the story by saying that it is simply dramatic license, meant to increase the tension and danger of the Jew’s escape from Egypt. After all, if it had been easy, it wouldn’t have been much of a story. You know, Moses asks, “Hey, Pharaoh, can we go?” and Pharaoh answers “Sure.” That’s not a narrative with much punch or heroism, and God’s involvement is minimal or, at least, unexciting. It’s much more exciting to have an escalating series of plagues, with the audience on tenterhooks as to whether those pesky Jewish slaves will actually be able to make a break for it.

This reasoning is silly. There’s a much more profound purpose behind the ten plagues, and that is to remind us of the tyrant’s capacity for tolerating others’ suffering, as long as his power remains in place.

What Pharaoh discovered with the first nine plagues is that life can go on, at least for the ruler, despite an increase in the burdens placed upon his people. A blood filled Nile River may, at first, have seemed appalling, but the red receded and life went on. Pharaoh still held together his government. The same held true for each subsequent plague, whether lice or boils or wild animals or frogs, or whatever: As long as Pharaoh could maintain his power base, he was okay with the incremental decimation visited upon those he ruled.

Sheltered in his lavish palace, Pharaoh might worry about a populace starving and frightened, but that was irrelevant as long as that same populace continued to fear and worship him. The people’s suffering, ultimately, was irrelevant to his goals. It was only when the price became too high—when Pharaoh’s power base was destroyed because his citizens were destroyed—that Pharaoh was convinced, even temporarily, to alter his evil ways.

Human nature hasn’t changed much in 3,000 years. Think, for example, of both the Nazis and the Japanese at the end of WWII. For the Nazis, it was apparent by December 1944 (the Battle of the Bulge) that the war was over. Hitler, however, was a megalomaniac in the pharaonic mold, and his high command, either from fear or insanity, would not gainsay him. Rather than surrendering, the Nazi high command was willing to see its country overrun and its citizens killed. Only when the death toll became too high, and it was apparent that nothing could be salvaged from the ashes, did the war on the continent finally end.

The same held true for the Japanese. Truman did not decide to drop the bomb just for the sake of it. Even the fact that it would impress the Soviets was an insufficient reason for doing so. What swayed Truman was the fact that his advisers told him (credibly as it turned out) that the Japanese Bushido culture would not allow Japan to surrender even when surrender had become the only reasonable option. Instead, the military warned Truman that, although the Americans would inevitably win the war, if Truman didn’t take drastic action, victory would take another year, and cost up to 100,000 American lives and at least that many Japanese lives (including Japanese civilians).

Truman therefore had two choices: another year of war, with the loss of 100,000 Americans and many more than 100,000 Japanese; or an immediate stop to the war, with no more American casualties and at least 100,000 Japanese casualties. Put that way, the choice was a no-brainer. The outcome would be the same for the Japanese, but Truman would save the lives of more than 100,000 Americans, British, Australians and Dutch. The Japanese high command was Pharaoh. No amount of smaller plagues could stop the command from its chosen path. Only a large plague would swiftly lead to the inevitable conclusion.

But what about the innocent lives lost as a result of Pharaoh’s, the Nazi’s, and the Japanese high command’s intransigence? As the Japanese tale shows only too well, the innocents were always going to die.… The same holds true for the Germans, whom the Nazis had long ago designated as cannon fodder to support their intensely evil regime. That’s the problem with an evil regime.… Pharaoh will let you die of plagues, and the Nazi and Japanese leadership will let you be bombed and burned—as long as they can retain their power.

Iran is no different. Although the people bleed and cry under the brutish regime, no plague, including rioting in the streets, has come along that is bad enough to break the back of that tyranny. The people continue to die by inches, and the regime threatens everyone within bombing distance.

[Some] believe that it is immoral to impose serious consequences against the Iranian regime because there are innocents who will suffer from those consequences. What these liberals fail to understand is that, when power doesn’t reside in the people, but resides, instead, in a single group that is insulated from all but the most terrible strikes, imposing small plagues against the country (freezing a few bank accounts, public reprimands, vague threats) is utterly useless. These small plagues, no matter how much they affect the ordinary citizen, do not affect the decision-making process in which a tyrant engages. The only thing that will move the tyrant is to destroy his power base. Everything else is theatre.…


Rafael Medoff
Haaretz, April 15, 2011


The famed investigative journalist I.F. Stone undoubtedly took part in some interesting Passover seders in his time, but he had never spent one with Jews whose lives particularly connected them to the events in ancient Egypt—until 1947, when he participated in a remarkable seder with Holocaust survivors in a detention camp on the island of Cyprus.…

“This is being written 3,000 feet up over the blue Mediterranean,” began Stone’s dramatic account in the pages of the New York City daily newspaper PM. “I am in a tiny four-passenger two-motored mosquito plane bound for Haifa from Nicosia in Cyprus, where I have just spent the first two days of Passover in camps established by the British to intern ‘illegal’ Jewish immigrants seized in Palestine.”

They were tumultuous times, to say the least. Hundreds of thousands of Holocaust survivors still crowded the displaced persons camps in Allied-occupied Europe, clamoring for the right to immigrate to Palestine. The British, bowing to Arab opposition, had almost completely shut the gates to the Holy Land. Palestine itself was in flames, as Jewish underground forces waged guerrilla warfare against the British authorities. Meanwhile, in Washington, the Truman administration wobbled back and forth on the politically controversial issues of Jewish immigration and statehood.

In a desperate race for the Promised Land, survivors were boarding Aliyah Bet (unauthorized immigration ) ships bound for the Palestine coast. More often than not, they were intercepted by British naval patrols and taken to Cyprus. That’s where I.F. Stone’s story began.

“There are two sets of camps on the sweet-smelling ancient Greek Isle of Cyprus for 11,300 refugees now held there,” Stone explained. “Both are being enlarged to meet the expected Spring rush of Aliyah Beth boats which will probably boost the Jewish population to 20,000 before the end of June.…”

On Passover eve, “unexpected and unannounced,” Stone and a friend, Alex Taylor of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, dropped in on the Efrati family: Moshe Efrati, 35, “a laundryman by trade,” his wife Rachel, their 15-year-old daughter Miriam and 12-year-old son Eliezer. Despite the lack of an invitation, the visitors “were at once made welcome.”

“Father Efrati sat at the head of the table, reclining on a pillow as is customary for the seder,” Stone’s account continued. “On his right, sat his bright-eyed son of 12, already a student in the yeshivah organized by religious Jews in the camp. On the father’s left sat his good wife and daughter. Alex and I were given haggadas (Passover service books ) and the seder went on.”

“It was no hop-skip-and-jump affair, as is customary in most American Jewish homes,” Stone noted. “Efrati left nothing out. We rose to drink our wine with blessings, partook of the bitter herbs and first matzohs. Efrati sang the parts with relish and explained and translated as he went along.…”

Stone, himself a secular Jew, was clearly moved by the warmth and religious devotion of the family in the midst of such difficult surroundings. “The mother looked on as if she didn’t know how one man could be so bright,” he wrote, “and the daughter was fascinated while the son’s eyes shone.”

What struck Stone the most was the connection between past and present. “The Passover has a deep personal meaning for these Jews.… For them the ancient cruel taskmasters were no fable: They had been in slave labor camps under German occupation. For them, the God who smote the Egyptians was the same God who brought the Third Reich low.”

Stone was profoundly impressed by the vibrant life he saw among the Cyprus exiles, as he strolled around the camp the next day. “Life flows on strong, and vigorous babies are being born at the rate of 30 to 40 monthly,” he reported. “There have been almost 600 weddings since the camps were established last August, and there were 135 nuptials during the two weeks before Passover. “There are schools and synagogues, camp newspapers, an art exhibition, and workshops,” not to mention “several soccer teams which often play the British guards and boast they have never been beaten.”

What did the future hold? The seder at the Efratis’ offered a clue. “Were [the displaced persons in Cyprus] not like the Jews under Moses?” Stone asked. “Moses went through one kind of wilderness or another to the promised land. And as Efrati explained in his own running commentary to the service comfortingly, ‘We had to go down into Egypt for 400 years, but we need only be six months or so in Cyprus.’”

Stone thought Efrati’s prediction too optimistic. Given the severe British restrictions on Jewish immigration, he observed, “it will take 18 months before the latest arrivals get their chance to go to Palestine.”

But British rule in Palestine did not last another 18 months. That autumn, in the face of the Jewish underground’s military assaults and sharply escalating international pressure—generated in no small measure by sympathetic journalists such as Stone—the British surrendered. Seven months after Stone’s Passover with the Efratis, London accepted the United Nations vote on partitioning Palestine and announced it would withdraw. Four months later, the first British troops began leaving, and two months after that, on May 15, 1948, the British withdrawal was completed.

For the Efratis and thousands of other displaced persons whose plight I.F. Stone helped publicize with his impassioned prose, the exodus was over and homecoming was finally at hand.

(Dr. Rafael Medoff is director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies.)


Daniel Gordis
Jerusalem Post, April 15, 2011


We read it so often that we hardly even notice it anymore. It’s that famous line from the Haggada, which Jews around the world will recite in just a few days: “And even if we were all wise, filled with understanding, all elders and all learned in the Torah, we would still be obligated to tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt.”

Why, though? If we were all so deeply learned, what possible need would there be to tell a story? The message is clear—there are truths that emerge from stories that cannot be gleaned from “mere” study. There is knowledge to which the heart can lead us that the mind cannot. As much as Jews take the intellect seriously, we understand its limitations. There is a sort of knowing that can come only through telling—or hearing—a story.

It is the difference between great philosophy and profound literature. As critical and even world-changing as some of the great philosophers have been, for many of us, it is the broken heart and the soul laid bare that we encounter in great literature that touches us more deeply.

From there, we glean our most profound insights about what matters, to what we hope to dedicate our lives. The notion that we can create real allegiance only through minds and without touching hearts is foolish. That is why the Bible contains no rigorous philosophy, but many stories. And that is why the more we tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt, the Haggada tells us, the more we are to be praised.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a column (“Of sermons and strategies,” April 1) about American rabbinical students who feel distanced from Zionism, some of whose critiques of Israel seem to me to have crossed red lines. Since that column appeared, I’ve had numerous meetings with students studying in Israel for the year. Some I met in groups, some alone.

Politically and religiously, they represented a broad spectrum. They were smart, sensitive and genuine. As we spoke, some shared their most basic worry—that Israel would not be decent.

And I shared mine—that Israel would not survive.

Obviously Israel’s decency is critical. But a country that does not exist cannot be decent. And as we spoke, memories began to emerge. I shared with some of these students my earliest memory about Israel. It was June 1967, and I was almost eight years old. We were in the kitchen, in Baltimore, having dinner. But this dinner was different from all other dinners.

My brothers and I ate, and our parents served us. As on almost every night, our little black-and-white television was tuned to Walter Cronkite. But on this night, my parents didn’t eat—they didn’t even sit at the table. All they did was feed us, watch TV—and pace across the kitchen.

The next evening, when that odd scene unfolded once again, I finally asked them, “Aren’t you going to eat?” “We’re not hungry,” they said. I was dumbfounded. How could you not be hungry at dinner time? And two days in a row? When my own kids ask what it was that led us to move here, I say nothing about lectures I heard or books I was given to read. It was, I explain, the simple fact that with Israel seemingly on the very precipice of destruction, my parents simply couldn’t eat.

Some of the students then shared their own earliest memories of Israel. One recalled the day that all the students in his Orthodox day school were summoned together for an assembly, and how the whole school watched as Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty. For another, it was the intifada, and the images (again, on television) of helmeted IDF soldiers with rifles chasing young boys who’d thrown rocks.

My formative memories were of Israel on the verge of extinction, while theirs were of Israel being recognized by its neighbor or of the seeming imbalance of Israeli-Palestinian power. And that makes all the difference.

None of us knows with certainty how widespread the alienation from Israel among these students is, but no one ought to deny that it is there. And it is obviously even more widespread among college students at large. What Pessah is designed to remind us is that a major part of our response has to be memory creation.

Many American rabbinical students go to Bethlehem each year, on a program designed to expose them to the feelings of the “other” side. But there’s passion to be felt on this side, too. Go to Bethlehem, fine. But why not also visit Ein Prat and witness the meeting of Western civilization and Jewish tradition in a beit midrash populated by post-army secular and religious Israelis together? Speak to people in Bethlehem…but then go to the student-run villages of Ayalim, where a new, socially aware, politically diverse, largely non-religious Zionist activism is taking root precisely among young people their age. Those are the sorts of memories we have to add to the hopper.

What’s shaping these students? It’s fine to assign books on human rights and on the problematics of Israeli democracy. But I’d have them read Amos Oz’s Tale of Love and Darkness, too, so they can see the non-negotiable love for Zion with which a staunch leftist writes. I’d have them read Yehuda Avner’s The Prime Ministers, and “visit” the offices of Eshkol, Meir, Rabin and Begin—“relive” moments when life here hung by a thread.… True, they won’t have actually lived through it—but the Seder night suggests to us that we can remember even things that we did not experience.

A student dropped me a line after one of these meetings. “It may sound strange,” he said, “but for some of us, the most memorable idea to come out of the meeting is that Israel might actually not survive.” For someone of my generation, what is shocking is that that was surprising. But it’s not a matter of anyone’s “fault.”

It’s a matter of what we remember, and what we don’t. That’s the business that we’re in this coming Monday night. The Seder is the moment for reminding ourselves—and each other—that the next generation of Jewish leaders will join us not if we beat them into intellectual submission, but if we can bequeath to them new memories—and thus, at the same time, our aspirations, as well as our foreboding awareness of the fragility of freedom.

(Daniel Gordis is senior vice president of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem.)