Tag: Jewish-Christian Relations


On July 19, the Knesset of Israel engrossed as part of “the Basic Law” of Israel language defining Israel as a “nation-state.”

From Israel’s beginnings, friends of the State have been twisting themselves into semantic knots trying to explain to the world how Israel can be, now and forever, (in the words of Israel’s Declaration of Independence of 1948) “both a Jewish and a democratic state.”

The founders of Israel never intended that demographic realities in the surrounding world should ever rob Israel of its “Jewish” character. But none of them foresaw the present world in which millions of Muslim people are fleeing every day from the incompetence of Muslim governance and demanding admission without question to the non-Muslim world – which contains post-Christian Europe, America and (closest to home) Israel.

The new “constitutional” language establishes Israel as “the national home of the Jewish people” for the first time, and says further that “the right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.” It has sparked widespread criticism at home and abroad. Leaders of the Druze community of Israel are throwing a tizzy-fit over this new law, using epithets such as “evil and racist” — some crossing a dangerous polemical line with talk about Israel turning into an “apartheid state.” The Druze leaders are perfectly aware that this new language, no less than the existing set of legal arrangements, makes them secure as no non-Arab community is secure anywhere in the Middle East. Secure, and prosperous! But they have a well-worn and calculating habit of screaming “unfair” at every turn of Israel’s public life, so that their Arab neighbours should not turn on them as enemies of mankind.

This new constitutional language conforms even better than the language of 1948 with Christian Zionist understanding of life’s realities —namely, that hashem, the God of Israel, is the Lord of History. Implicitly, it clarifies both the political and the theological significance of the Twentieth Century Restoration of the Jews to the Land of Israel.

Sadly, there has never been room in the official publications of the historic churches in the West for affirmation of Israel along the lines described by this new declaration. In fact, since the 1970s, Christian Zionism has been explicitly defined as a “heresy” by the World Council of Churches – a body which otherwise has shown no interest in discussion of heresy or, for that matter, orthodoxy, or any other matters of theology. The WCC has its eyes on the target of commanding world opinion – not on theology.

In light of this reality, it has fallen to voluntary, para-church bodies like International Christian Embassy Jerusalem to give voice to the pro-Israel disposition of the vast majority of Christians in our part of the world.

(Paul Merkley is a retired Professor of History

from Carleton University and a CIJR Academic Fellow)

Paul Merkley: The Necessary Role of Christian Zionism

After about a quarter-century of public advocacy for Christian Zionism it still throws me off-balance when people come up to the platform and ask whether it isn’t a contradiction in terms to be a Christian and a Zionist.
In fact, the sin of wilful contradiction belongs on the heads of those Christians who reject the obligation of loyalty to Israel in order to stand in the company of the anti-Zionists who dominate the major churches today – not to mention the major media forces and the learned class.
The Old Testament (Tanakh) speaks clearly of a day when the Jews, having suffered through many centuries of abuse at the hands of great and lesser powers of every day, would be installed by Divine action within the stream of secular history, in a land of their own, centered on the place where, around the year 1000 BCE,King David had installed his newly-secured Kingdom. The correct term for belief in this promise is Zionism.
On November 29, 1947, the newly-established United Nations took back the “Mandate for Palestine” that the League of Nations had been given about twenty years previously to Great Britain and pledged to establish “a Jewish State and an Arab” State (NOT a Palestinian State) on the ground of the old Mandate. The Jews of the world solemnly committed themselves on that day to establish peacefully these two states. The Arab nations unanimously rejected the plan, and immediately committed themselves to casting all Jews into the sea.
A Christian Zionist is one who accepts the authority of Scripture – all of it, including the prophetic portions. Doing so, he signs on to the notion that History has a Master. He knows that in making this case he is defying the wisdom proposed by most of the historic Christian denominations – including the Roman Catholic Church and most of the “Protestant” churches. In this company, the State of Israel is just a political entity like all the others. In this company, it does not matter that Israel came into existence as result of the deliberate decision of the United Nations; likewise, in this company, it does not make sense that the seven decades of war which the disobedience of Arab and Muslim nations have imposed upon Israel on account of its obedience to the will of the United Nations has imposed upon all subsequent generations of Christian believers the obligation to stand with Israel.
A Christian Zionist is simply one who accepts the authority of Scripture – all of it, including the prophetic portions. With this, he signs on to the notion that History has a Master. Simultaneously, he signs on to the obligation to defend Israel in her ongoing struggle for existence.
(Here, I must say that I have never felt the need to justify either my Zionism nor my Christian faith to anyone at CIJR, and that through CIJR my appreciation for Jewish scholarship, Jewish Research and the cause of Israel has been greatly broadened. Mazel tov.)
(Paul Merkley is a Professor Emeritus of History,
Carleton University, and a CIJR Academic Fellow) 


Why They Keep Leaving Jews Out of the Holocaust: Rafael Medoff, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 10, 2017— The Canadian government has announced it will correct a memorial plaque at its new National Holocaust Monument, which spoke of the “millions of men, women and children during the Holocaust,” but neglected to mention Jews.

An Antisemitic Smear Gets Another Hearing: Jonathan S. Tobin, JNS, Oct. 9, 2017— Last month, former CIA officer Valerie Plame crossed a line on social media that even the mainstream liberal media couldn’t ignore.

Out of Bethlehem: Mitri Raheb's Empire of Lies: Dexter Van Zile, Jerusalem Journal, Oct. 10, 2017 — Thirteen days after Palestinian terrorists murdered two Israeli policemen on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, Lutheran Pastor Mitri Raheb visited the scene of the attack to celebrate.

Poland 2017: Tears And Tribute: Ettie Kryksman, Jewish Press, Oct. 6, 2017— In awed silence we walked through a path of a forest just outside Tykocin, Poland. Towering above us, tall trees silently witnessed our return.


On Topic Links


Why Trudeau's Shocking Holocaust Blunder Caused Gasps Worldwide: Vivian Bercovici, National Post, Oct. 12, 2017

France: Extreme Right and Left Leaders Distort Holocaust History: Manfred Gerstenfeld, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 18, 2017

In Erdogan’s Post-Coup Turkey, Anti-Semitism is on the Rise: Sophia Pandya, Tablet, Oct. 19, 2017

I am a Proud Pakistani and a Proud Zionist Too: Noor Dahri, Times of Israel, Oct. 11, 2017





Rafael Medoff

Jerusalem Post, Oct. 10, 2017


The Canadian government has announced it will correct a memorial plaque at its new National Holocaust Monument, which spoke of the “millions of men, women and children during the Holocaust,” but neglected to mention Jews. Unfortunately, Canadian Minister of Heritage Melanie Joly has compounded the original error, by announcing that the new plaque will acknowledge “the six million Jews, as well as the five million other victims, that were murdered during the Holocaust.”


There is, in fact, no historical basis for that “five million” figure. Yet it keeps cropping up, cited by people who apparently assume it’s true just because a lot of other people keep saying it is. After critics blasted the Trump administration for neglecting to mention Jews in its January 2017 statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, White House spokesperson Hope Hicks said the administration was trying to be “inclusive of all those who suffered.” She then provided a link to a Huffington Post UK article titled “The Holocaust’s Forgotten Victims: the 5 Million Non-Jewish People Killed by the Nazis.”


A busy White House spokesperson doesn’t have time to start researching Holocaust statistics. That’s understandable. Evidently she assumed a reputable news outlet would not run such an article without basic fact-checking. Also understandable. But she was mistaken. The author of the article was Louise Ridley, an assistant news editor at HuffPost UK who specializes in “media, social affairs and gender,” according to her tag line.


Ridley described some of the groups that were persecuted, in differing degrees, by the Nazis, such as gays, Roma (Gypsies), and the disabled. Her list also included “communists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, trade unionists, and resistance fighters.” And she pointed out that the Nazis murdered several thousand priests. The Nazis also murdered millions of Polish civilians and Soviet prisoners of war. In fact, the total number of non-Jews killed by the Hitler regime far surpasses five million. But none of that was part of the Holocaust.


The Germans murdered a lot of innocent people, for a variety of reasons. But the only ones who were targeted for complete annihilation, and whom the Nazis hunted down, in country after country, for the sole purpose of murdering them, were the Jews. The term “Holocaust” was coined to refer to that specific historical event. Don’t blame Louise Ridley or Hope Hicks for the confusion. It was Simon Wiesenthal, the famed Nazi-hunter, who was first responsible for spreading the “five million” figure. Confronted many years ago by Holocaust historian Yehuda Bauer, Wiesenthal said he invented the idea of “five million non-Jewish victims” because he thought it would help get non-Jews more interested in the Holocaust. One can understand Wiesenthal’s concern. But he chose the wrong way to address it.


The President’s Commission on the Holocaust, appointed by Jimmy Carter in 1978 and chaired by Elie Wiesel, specifically warned against “any attempt to dilute” the Jewish nature of the Holocaust “in the name of misguided universalism.” But the Wiesenthal formulation appealed to White House aides who liked the idea of making the Holocaust more ecumenical, even at the price of historical accuracy. As a result, Carter’s October 1979 executive order establishing the US Holocaust Memorial Council – which then created the US Holocaust Memorial Museum – referred to the Holocaust as “the systematic and State-sponsored extermination of six million Jews and some five million other peoples by the Nazis and their collaborators during World War II.”


Prof. Walter Reich, former executive director of the US Holocaust Museum, has written, “And so the executive order… officially defined the Holocaust in a way that realized Wiesel’s great fear – that the Holocaust would be defined as an event in which 11 million people, six million Jews and five million non-Jews, had been killed, and that the crucial distinction between the planned and systematic extermination of all Jews on racial grounds, and the killing of civilian non-Jews on, say, political grounds – in response to resistance, or because of acts of collective reprisal or brutality – would be lost.”


Simon Wiesenthal picked a number of non-Jewish victims that was high enough to seem substantial but still a little less than the number of Jewish victims. He thought that formulation would still keep Jews as the primary focus. Evidently he didn’t realize how easy it would be for someone – even an American or Canadian government official – to slide down the slippery slope from “a Holocaust of Jews and non-Jews,” to a Holocaust without Jews at all. It’s just not that far from a Holocaust of everybody to a Holocaust of nobody in particular.                                                           





                                        Jonathan S. Tobin

JNS, Oct. 9, 2017


Last month, former CIA officer Valerie Plame crossed a line on social media that even the mainstream liberal media couldn’t ignore. Plame gained fame due to her unmasking, which occurred when her husband was a prominent critic of the George W. Bush administration’s Iraq war policy. But her status as a liberal icon took a hit when she retweeted an antisemitic polemic that claimed that Jews were responsible for pushing the US into wars in the Middle East for Israel’s sake.


Plame defended the piece, before eventually issuing a weasel-worded apology that further damaged her reputation. But the interesting aspect of this incident was the way that some critics of Israel sought to disassociate their attacks on the Jewish state from the sort of antisemitic invective that Plame had promoted. The Washington Post’s Molly Roberts, for example, whined that Plame’s open hate discredited an otherwise reasonable argument about Israel and its friends playing the puppet master on unsuspecting Americans.


While almost all of the attention devoted to antisemitism in the weeks since the Charlottesville incident has been devoted to neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan, Roberts was unhappy that the attention devoted to Plame changed the narrative to one about the “intolerant left” and because it undermined her desire to have a debate about “the outsize role Israel plays in American foreign policy.” But the problem is that those who single out Israel and its supporters traffic in age-old antisemitic themes that cannot be disguised as scholarship or legitimate debate.


What Roberts seems to want is a rehashing of the “Israel Lobby” thesis, which was promoted by authors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt a decade ago. They claimed that Israel and its supporters, especially the AIPAC lobby, were buying the votes of members of Congress to do Israel’s bidding — and that this was harming the best interests of Americans. As it happens, Walt resurfaced this week with an article in The Forward, in which he claimed that “history proved us right” — and defended his smears against the pro-Israel community.


But the “Israel Lobby” thesis was based on two big lies. One was that, in Walt and Mearsheimer’s telling, the effort to impose the pro-Israel agenda on America was a conspiracy so vast that it contradicted the authors’ premise that a minority was manipulating a majority. Since most Americans support Israel and view it as a fellow democracy with common values, the claim that the Jewish tail is wagging the American dog is absurd. Second, the nature of Walt and Mearsheimer’s arguments hinged on antisemitic stereotypes about Jews buying influence or manipulating unsuspecting gentiles. The focus on the Israel “lobby” as the greatest force in US politics was also a distortion that ignored the work of other, more powerful lobbies. Singling out Israel and its supporters in this manner betrayed an agenda that was built on prejudice, not a defense of American interests.


While Walt continues to deny the antisemitic nature of his work, it is telling that in his Forward article, he cited — among other things — the rise of Jewish Voice for Peace, a group that engages in openly antisemitic and anti-Zionist incitement, as proof that his stand was correct. He and Roberts ignore the reality of the Mideast conflict, in which a Palestinian political culture rejects peace on any terms, and where Israel’s destruction is the only genuine obstacle to the conflict’s resolution.


While most Jews are still focused on President Donald Trump’s wrongheaded comments about Charlottesville, the Democratic Party is becoming increasingly hostile to Israel. After eight years during which President Barack Obama’s efforts to pressure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government only worsened the conflict with the Palestinians — and Obama’s appeasement of Iran drove Sunni Arab states into the arms of the Israelis — talk of a suppressed debate about the Jewish state’s disproportionate influence in the US is ridiculous.


But now that we have a president who, despite other obvious faults, isn’t obsessed with the idea of “saving Israel from itself” or empowering an Iranian regime that is as much of a threat to the US and the Arab states as it is to Israel,it’s unsurprising that some on the left want to revive this dishonest discussion. In the 10 years since The Israel Lobby was first published, a rising tide of antisemitism has swept across the globe, fueled in part by smears of Israel and Jews — just like the ones that Walt has helped spread. That is an indictment of his work, not a vindication. Those who want to besmirch Israel’s supporters as undermining US interests without being rightly labeled as antisemites aren’t fooling anyone.




OUT OF BETHLEHEM: MITRI RAHEB'S EMPIRE OF LIES                                                           

Dexter Van Zile

Jerusalem Journal, Oct. 10, 2017


Thirteen days after Palestinian terrorists murdered two Israeli policemen on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, Lutheran Pastor Mitri Raheb visited the scene of the attack to celebrate. He did not celebrate the attack per se, but the mass protests that convinced the Israeli government to remove metal detectors it installed near the Temple Mount after the murders.


Raheb posted a video montage of his July 27, 2017 visit to Al Aqsa, two days after the attack. The montage, which was posted on Youtube and broadcast on Twitter and Facebook, shows Raheb standing arm-in-arm with other Palestinian pastors and paying his respects to Muslim leaders outside the mosque. In a Tweet linking to the montage, Raheb declared that his visit to Al Aqsa — where imams regularly spout hatred against Jews — was an “unforgettable night … demonstrating faith in the space of Empire and Christian-Muslim unity as a tool of creative resistance.” In response, one of Raheb’s fans declared the Lutheran Pastor from Bethlehem a Palestinian “national treasure.”


Most Christian peacemakers would consider it bad form to engage in exultant displays of solidarity with a political movement that uses anti-Jewish violence and hatred as a unifying agenda, but Raheb has been offering displays like this for years. From Raheb’s perspective as an anti-Israel agitator and approval-seeking dhimmi, his visit to Al Aqsa was a smashing success. It allowed him an opportunity to shroud jihadist violence behind veils of “creative resistance” and inter-religious “unity” between Christians and Muslims – never mind that the unity he lauded is rooted in a shared contempt for Jews and their state.


Raheb’s rhetoric was almost enough to make people forget that the drama surrounding metal detectors at the Temple Mount began with Palestinian terrorists shooting two unsuspecting Israeli police officers — one of them a father of a newborn baby — at close range, killing them. If Hail Stawi and Kaamil Snaan had not been ambushed by murderers who had been lying in wait for them on the Temple Mount, no metal detectors would have been installed, no protests would have taken place, and Raheb would have no “creative resistance” to celebrate.


The entire drama surrounding the metal detectors, and the murders that served as its opening act, were not rooted in a desire for freedom or self-determination for Palestinians, but in the unifying agenda of anti-Jewish hate, making the spectacle of Raheb’s visit — and his social media campaign drawing attention to it — ghoulish and horrifying. As a pastor, he should have been mourning the hatred that drove the drama he was participating in, but there he was fanning its flames — on the same stone pavement where the attack unfolded.


Instead of trying to calm and challenge the anti-Israel hostility that unaccountable Palestinian elites have used to stay in power for decades, Raheb aligned himself with it to stay in the good graces with the corrupt authoritarian kleptocrats who control the West Bank.


It’s good work if you can get it. Because of his ties and utility to the Palestinian Authority, Raheb has been able to build something of an empire in the West Bank. In addition to serving many years as pastor at the Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem (a position now held by Munther Isaac), Raheb is founder and president of the Diyar Consortium, a non-profit that provides social services to people in the West Bank. He is also founder and president of Dar al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture in Bethlehem, often described as the third largest private employer in Bethlehem. An empire like this — which includes a medical center, a cultural center and a publishing house — cannot be built in the West Bank without the support of the Palestinian Authority, which does not come free.


Because of his entrepreneurial ways, Raheb was able to establish the college on land previously owned by Lutheran missionaries from Germany and which the British had confiscated during World War I. The land eventually fell under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority under the leadership of Yassir Arafat. Raheb approached Arafat with architectural plans prepared by a prominent architect and asked for the land back so he could start his college. “With some arm-twisting, we were able to get at least six acres back of that land,” Raheb told an American audience in 2016. “Arafat said, ‘OK, you have to prove that the first building will be up and running because many people want that piece of land.’ It’s really prime land.” These days the college has five buildings.


To support the college and other institutions in Bethlehem, Raheb has founded a U.S. charity, Bright Stars of Bethlehem. Between 2009 and 2015 the charity raised a total of $5.5 million, helping Raheb’s empire of non-profits become the third largest private employer in Bethlehem. Like all empires, Raheb’s promotes a story that legitimizes its existence to itself and to its core constituents, which in this case are proponents of Israel’s destruction in Palestinian society and anti-Zionist activists in North America and Europe.


Raheb needs the support of both groups to maintain his empire in the West Bank. The first group — Israel haters in Palestinian society — allow him to function as a Christian in the West Bank and the second group — Israel haters in the West — provide him with the funds he needs to maintain his empire financially. Both of these groups use anti-Israel hostility as an instrument to achieve and maintain status in their respective societies. Raheb simply gives them the story they need to justify their hostility.


An important aspect of this story, which was on display during his visit to the Temple Mount, is that Israeli violence against the Palestinians is highlighted and condemned while Palestinian violence is ignored or hidden behind a veil of euphemism and obfuscation. This narrative has been the bread and butter of Palestinian Christian propaganda for quite some time. Naim Ateek, founder of Sabeel, was an earlier (but not the first) purveyor of this story, which Raheb has propounded for years.


This narrative is clearly evident in Raheb’s 2004 book, Bethlehem Besieged: Stories of Hope in Times of Trouble (Fortress Press). In this text, the pastor from Bethlehem tells the story of Israel’s 2002 invasion of the West Bank, which began on April 2 of that year. He talks about the tanks, armored personnel carriers and helicopters that Israel sent into to the West Bank and he describes the destruction wreaked upon the church where he was pastor…

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




Ettie Kryksman

Jewish Press, Oct. 6, 2017


In awed silence we walked through a path of a forest just outside Tykocin, Poland. Towering above us, tall trees silently witnessed our return. It was a somber march to the end of the path where a huge memorial pit gave testimony to unspeakable atrocities. Walking through this forest we tried to but could not fathom the thoughts of those innocent souls whose footsteps still resound in the Lupochowa forest.


The entire Jewish community of Tykocin marched down this path to their deaths. Men, women, and children all passed these trees, fearing but not knowing their final destination – until they came to a huge clearing where there was no place left to go. The forest surely trembled as the trees stood in muted silence while the Nazis’ methodical campaign of death by bullets was carried out. Within minutes an entire village was exterminated.


I am a child of Holocaust survivors. I know what the Nazis did to my family and to the Jewish people. Everyone in my mother’s family was killed. I have never seen my grandparents. I have no photographs or family mementos from grandparents, aunts, or uncles. I always wondered what my grandparents looked like. I will never know. Why, people asked me, would I want to go on a trip to Poland? It’s so depressing. It’s too hard to bear. You already know what happened. Why go there? And yet, until I walked through the woods where an entire town was wiped out, until I stood in a forest just outside Tarnow, where 900 children were killed, I felt there was no way I could pay proper tribute to their memories.


We stared silently at a memorial where those hundreds of children were shot. Dolls and flowers had been placed there, commemorating those precious children, snatched from their parents in the cruelest of ways. We thought of our own children and grandchildren and realized how fortunate we are to have them. We cried as we imagined the confusion, the terror, the abject fear of those precious souls before they were killed. It was impossible to comprehend that this had really happened. And yet, in that place of unspeakable horror, the inconceivable did happen. Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka, Majdanek, stand today as memorials to the atrocities perpetrated against the Jewish people fewer than eight decades ago. In each of the death camps, as were led by our tour guide, Rabbi Michael Olshin from Israel, we said Kaddish and made Keil Molehs.


It was the month of Elul and a member of our tour group had brought a shofar. We somberly remembered our grandparents and entire families who perished there as we listened to the cries of the shofar piercing the silence, assuring the souls surrounding us that we attest, here and now, that they will never be forgotten. Yet amid all the memories of an almost lost generation, new life rises from the ashes. We have come back with a promise fulfilled; a promise for the future. We have continued to build. Our families have continued to grow. We have not succumbed. We have not been defeated. We have not been reduced to relics of a once vibrant people. We are alive and thriving, Baruch Hashem. At each memorial we were uplifted by the sight of the blue and white flags of the state of Israel, placed there as reminders: “Never again.”


We will continue to visit, though our hearts are heavy and our tears flow freely. So, yes, the trip is an emotional and difficult journey, but at the very least those who perished merit our prayers and our tears. We came to tell them they are not forgotten and did not die in vain…

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


CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!




On Topic Links


Why Trudeau's Shocking Holocaust Blunder Caused Gasps Worldwide: Vivian Bercovici, National Post, Oct. 12, 2017—Rarely do local Canadian events receive widespread “real-time” attention in Europe, America and Israel, with coverage in top-tier media, like The New York Times, The Washington Post and the BBC.

France: Extreme Right and Left Leaders Distort Holocaust History: Manfred Gerstenfeld, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 18, 2017—The French admissions of Holocaust guilt, which came many decades too late, are currently being contested by important French politicians. This year the truth of contemporary France as the legal successor of the Vichy regime was denied by two extremist candidates in the presidential elections, Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Melenchon.

In Erdogan’s Post-Coup Turkey, Anti-Semitism is on the Rise: Sophia Pandya, Tablet, Oct. 19, 2017—On a visit to Turkey in 2011, I visited the Belek “Garden of Tolerance,” where a diminutive mosque, church, and synagogue are housed close together in an emerald-green park, apparently a testament of Turkey’s acceptance of other faiths.

I am a Proud Pakistani and a Proud Zionist Too: Noor Dahri, Times of Israel, Oct. 11, 2017—Landing in Israel was an experience like no other. I’d heard about the feeling of arriving at Ben Gurion from friends and colleagues I have met since founding the Pakistan Israel Alliance, but I certainly didn’t expect it to feel like this.







How Anti-Israel Resolutions Were Defeated at American Historical Association‎: Jeffrey Herf, Legal Insurrection, Jan. 6, 2016— …By a vote of 144 to 51, members of the American Historical Association, at the Business Meeting of their annual convention in New York City on January 4, decided not to pursue two resolutions that denounced aspects of the policies of the government of Israel.

Marxism Failed in the World, But Conquered Western Academia: Philip Carl Salzman, Daily Caller, Jan. 11, 2016 — One  of the great lessons of the 20th century, paid for with the suffering and blood of hundreds of millions, is that communism was a failure in both economy and governance.

Academics for Free Speech…No, Really: George F. Will, National Post, Dec. 28, 2015— Although he is just 22, Andrew Zeller is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in mathematics at Purdue University.

Christian Evangelicals in Jerusalem Show Love for Israel: Daniel Estrin, Business Insider, Oct. 1, 2016 — Thousands of evangelical Christians from more than 80 countries descended upon Jerusalem…


On Topic Links


2015's Hits at DanielPipes.org: Daniel Pipes Blog, Jan. 10, 2016

If You Want to Change the Campus Culture, Look to the Faculty: Mitchell Bard, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 14, 2016

ISIL Fight Forgets Lessons of First Gulf War: Matthew Fisher, National Post, Jan. 14, 2015

The Battle of the Budge – December 16, 1944 to January 25, 1945: Nurit Greenger, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 12, 2015





Jeffrey Herf

Legal Insurrection, Jan. 6, 2016


…By a vote of 144 to 51, members of the American Historical Association, at the Business Meeting of their annual convention in New York City on January 4, decided not to pursue two resolutions that denounced aspects of the policies of the government of Israel…It is the most decisive defeat that groups supporting resolutions denouncing Israel have suffered since "BDS" (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) efforts gathered steam in American universities in recent years.


This is a preliminary anatomy of its defeat. The case for rejection on procedural grounds was straightforward. Readers of Legal Insurrection will understand that debates about procedure are also debates about substance and the rule of law.


The AHA bylaws require that members wishing to submit resolutions to be considered at the Business Meeting must do so by November lst. An initial resolution was submitted by the Historians Against the War (HAW). HAW is a group of leftist academics that emerged in opposition to the war in Iraq and that issued a petition alleging Israel had committed "war crimes" during the war with Hamas last summer. I wrote about the emergence of a "pro-Hamas left". An earlier anti-Israeli resolution was rejected because, according to AHA executive director James Grossman, it went "beyond matters of concern to the Association, to the profession of history, or to the academic profession."


HAW's original petition included demands for a boycott of Israel universities and implementation of the Palestinian right of return. That resolution was rejected by the AHA Council because the advocates had not gathered enough signatures and because the content of the resolution was deemed, in the words of AHA executive director James Grossman, "beyond matters of concern to the Association, to the profession of history, or to the academic profession."


On December 22, 2014, HAW submitted revised resolutions. The revisions eliminated the boycott and right of return elements but included allegations that Israel threatened an oral history archive when it bombed buildings at the Islamic University in Gaza in August 2014, and that it denied access of foreign scholars and Palestinian students to universities in Gaza and on the West Bank. HAW then requested that the AHA Council decide whether or not to place the resolution on the agenda, even though it was submitted six weeks after the deadline, something that the Council had the right to do, despite the restrictions regarding resolutions in the organization's bylaws.


At its meeting on January 2, 2014, the Council, led by AHA President Jan Goldstein (University of Chicago), refused to do so for two reasons. First, the December 22 resolution was submitted six weeks after the November 1 deadline, and therefore, AHA members did not have the opportunity to evaluate them. Second, because the resolutions were filed so late, many members would not be at the business meeting because they did not know these matters would be discussed there.


A memo by Sonya Michel of the University of Maryland is an important document in this matter. Submitted on December 29th, the Michel memo was circulated to the AHA Council. Michel urged that the AHA Council not to place the HAW resolutions on the agenda because doing so would "be violating the spirit of that bylaw" requiring a two-thirds majority, which,"was probably inserted to prevent a small group (whether a minority or slim majority) from imposing its will at the last minute on the membership at large, perhaps catching them unawares about an important issue coming up." Doing so would also not give "members adequate time and opportunity for full consideration of important issues–issues that, in this case, are by all accounts extremely controversial," she added. "Notifying members that these items are on the agenda of the meeting only at the meeting itself would deny them the kind of information they would need to decide whether or not to attend the Business Meeting in the first place."


Michel and a number of us elaborated on these points as well at the business meeting. As I pointed out on the floor of that meeting, the issue of time needed for reflection was of central concern to historians. The rejection of the resolutions also rested on a reassertion of the principle that the AHA is a scholarly, not a political, organization.


To ask historians at a business meeting to reach conclusions about assertions of fact regarding events that supposedly occurred during the Gaza War and travel rights of scholars in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank was absurd. This was the case because it was asking historians to act on the basis political opinions rather than as a result of careful examination of evidence. No one, we argued, was able to make such assessments as a result of scholarly research. Doing so without research would be abolishing the distinction between politics and scholarship—doing what no historian should do, namely assume what remained to be proven before examination of evidence had taken place…

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




                    MARXISM FAILED IN THE WORLD,

                        BUT CONQUERED WESTERN ACADEMIA                                                                                                Philip Carl Salzman                                                                                                              Daily Caller, Jan. 11, 2016


One of the great lessons of the 20th century, paid for with the suffering and blood of hundreds of millions, is that communism was a failure in both economy and governance. This was demonstrated repeatedly with the fall of the Soviet Union, the switch in China from communes and central planning to capitalism, the vast slaughter of the Khmer Rouge, the breakdown of the Cuban economy, and the starving prison house that is North Korea.


The one place that marxism has succeeded is in conquering academia in Europe and North America. Marxism-Leninism is now the dominant model of history and society being taught in Western universities and colleges. Faculties of social science and humanities disguise their marxism under the label “postcolonialism,” anti-neoliberalism, and the quest for equality and “social justice.” And while our educational institutions laud “diversity” in gender, race, sexual preference, religion, national origin, etc., diversity in opinion, theory, and political view is nowhere to be seen. So our students hear only the Marxist view, and take it to be established truth.


Postcolonialism is the view that all ills in the world stem from Western imperialism and colonialism. The hierarchical caste system in India, that disenfranchises half the population as “untouchables,” is, according to postcolonial analysis, and invention of the British while they governed India. So too with tribes in Africa, allegedly invented by the British colonial authorities to “divide and conquer” the native African, who previously had all mixed together happily with no divisions and no conflicts. So too in Central Asia, where, thanks to Soviet colonial authorities, “formerly fluid hybridities and contextual identifications were stabilized, naturalized, and set into a particular mold that gave each group a definitive history, physiognomy, mentality, material culture, customs, language, and territory,” according to one postcolonial author. Apparently, according to the postcolonial view, history and culture in India, Africa, and Central Asia started with the arrival of outsiders in recent centuries.


In the Middle East, problems and disorder began, according to postcolonialism, with the Sykes-Picot arbitrary boundaries imposed by the West after WWI, and the imposition of the “foreign and colonialist” Jews on the “indigenous” Palestinians. Unnoticed by postcolonialists are the Persian, Hittite, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Mongol, and Ottoman imperial conquests that made up much of Middle Eastern history, or the unending tribal conflicts beyond the control of imperial authorities. Once again, for postcolonialists, local and regional cultures were benign, and history began with Western imperialism in recent centuries.


The dirtiest word in the marxist vocabulary is “neoliberal,” which stands for an economy based on capitalist principles and processes. Students have learned that “neoliberal” is equivalent to evil. Two students, independently, recently said to me that “we need to replace capitalism,” although they had no suggestions about what to replace it with. That half the world tried to replace capitalism in the 20th century, with disastrous results, they apparently had no idea. That capitalism has brought unparalleled prosperity, if not peace and happiness, is unknown to students. They have been taught that the only products of capitalism are exploitation and oppression. Globalization is taught as the expansion of exploitation and oppression worldwide. The great economic developments in Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, Thailand, and the economic progress in Africa, is terra incognita to students, taught only problems but no successes.


Students are taught that the primary value is equality: not liberal equality of opportunity, but the equality of result idealized in marxist theory. They are not taught, and give no thought to complementary values, such as freedom and prosperity. Equality of result is advocated under the guise of “social justice,” which means redistribution of wealth. Students rail against the “1%,” unaware that most members of that category are salaried doctors, lawyers, and businessmen who earn their top wages. Nor do they understand that stock ownership is widespread in Western societies, by both private individuals and public institutions, such as pension funds and universities.


The marxism taught in colleges and universities is anti-Western, seeing the West as no more than a source of conquest, oppression, and exploitation. Consequently, non-Western cultures are upheld as purer, more decent, and fairer than Western culture. The alliance between Marxist politics and islamism as seen in the support of Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Muslim Brotherhood follows logically. Students now see themselves as defenders of Islam, along with all other non-Western cultures, although they know little about these other cultures and their histories. It has been imagined that the West would fall through materialist decadence; but now it appears that the West is most at risk from self-hate, fostered by the treason of the academics.


Prof. Philip Carl Salzman is a CIJR Academic Fellow





ACADEMICS FOR FREE SPEECH…NO, REALLY                                                            

                    George F. Will

National Post, Dec. 28, 2016


Although he is just 22, Andrew Zeller is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in mathematics at Purdue University. He is one reason the school is a rare exception to the rule of unreason on American campuses, where freedom of speech is under siege. He and Purdue are evidence that freedom of speech, by which truth is winnowed from error, is most reliably defended by those in whose intellectual pursuits the truth is most rigorously tested by reality.


While in high school in Bowling Green, Ohio, Zeller completed three years of college undergraduate courses. He arrived at Purdue when its incoming president, Indiana’s former Gov. Mitch Daniels, wanted the university to receive the top “green light” rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which combats campus restrictions on speech and rates institutions on their adherence to constitutional principles.


Zeller, president of Purdue’s graduate student government, and some undergraduate leaders urged Daniels to do what he was eager to do: Purdue has become the second university (after Princeton) to embrace the essence of the statement from the University of Chicago that affirms the principle that “education should not be intended to make people comfortable, it is meant to make them think.” The statement says “it is not the proper role of the university to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable or even deeply offensive,” and it endorses “a solemn responsibility not only to promote a lively and fearless freedom of debate and deliberation, but also to protect that freedom when others attempt to restrict it.”


Why is Purdue one of just six universities that have now aligned with the spirit of the Chicago policy? Partly because of Daniels’ leadership. But also because Purdue, Indiana’s land-grant institution, is true to the 1862 Morrill Act’s emphasis on applied learning. It graduates more engineers than any U.S. university other than Georgia Tech. Purdue, tied with the University of California-Berkeley, awards more STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) undergraduate diplomas than all but two public research universities (Penn State and Texas A&M). Among such universities, a higher percentage of Purdue students graduate in STEM fields than those of any school other than Georgia Tech and the University of California, San Diego.


Scientists and engineers live lives governed by the reality principle: get the variables wrong, the experiment will fail, even if this seems insensitive; do the math wrong, the equation will tell you, even if that hurts your feelings. Reality does not similarly regulate the production of Marxist interpretations of “Middlemarch” or turgid monographs on the false consciousness of Parisian street sweepers in 1714. Literature professors “deconstructing” Herman Melville cause nothing worse than excruciating boredom in their students. If engineers ignore reality, reality deconstructs their bridges. The Yale instructor whose email about hypothetically insensitive Halloween costumes incited a mob has resigned her teaching position. She did so in spite of a letter of faculty support organized by a physicist and signed mostly by scientists, including social scientists, rather than humanities faculty.


In their scalding 2007 book “Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case,” Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson plausibly argue that Duke’s disgrace — a fictional rape; hysterical academics trashing due process — was driven by the faculty Group of 88. Signatories of its manifesto included “only two professors in math, just one in the hard sciences, and zero in law. … More than 84 per cent described their research interests as related to race, class or gender (or all three). The Group of 88 was disproportionately concentrated in the humanities and some social science departments. Fully 80 per cent of the African-American studies faculty members signed the statement, followed by women’s studies (72.2 per cent) and cultural anthropology (60 per cent).”


Higher education is increasingly a house divided. In the sciences and even the humanities, actual scholars maintain the high standards of their noble calling. But in the humanities, especially, and elsewhere, faux scholars representing specious disciplines exploit academia as a jobs program for otherwise unemployable propagandists hostile to freedom of expression. This is, however, a smattering of what counts as good news in today’s climate: for the first time in FIRE’s 16 years of monitoring academia’s authoritarianism, fewer than half (49.3 per cent) of American universities still have what FIRE considers egregiously unconstitutional speech policies. Purdue is one of six universities that eliminated speech codes this year, and one of just 22 with FIRE’s “green light” rating.                                                      





Daniel Estrin

Business Insider, Oct. 1, 2015


Thousands of evangelical Christians from more than 80 countries descended upon Jerusalem (in October) to show their support for the Jewish state, including pilgrims and politicians from countries with a history of hostility toward Israel. The celebratory summit reflects evangelical Christianity's dramatic growth worldwide and gives a boost to Israel at a time when the country is increasingly isolated internationally.


Attitudes in Israel toward evangelicals are evolving, from skepticism about Christian Zionist motives, to the realization that Israel cannot survive on the support of diaspora Jewish communities alone and is in no position to turn down the potential political and tourism boost the Christians can provide. "Israel has no better friends throughout the world," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a videotaped address that was beamed to a Jerusalem basketball stadium packed with cheering pilgrims Tuesday. The gatherers waved flags from home countries such as Angola, Brazil, China, Germany, Italy and the U.S. There was even a small delegation from Egypt, a country that shares a cold peace with Israel.


Evangelical Christianity is one of the world's fastest growing religious movements. Of the world's estimated 2 billion Christians, some 700 million are evangelicals, according to the pro-Israel International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, which organized the Jerusalem summit. Evangelical movements are expanding most prominently in Latin America, Africa and Asia — regions that "hold great potential for the nation of Israel in political, diplomatic and economic terms," according to a position paper the group presented last year to Israel's Foreign Ministry.


The annual weeklong summit is billed as the Feast of Tabernacles, the Christian term for the weeklong Jewish holiday of Sukkot, which in biblical times was marked by a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem. This year's gathering included rock concert prayer rallies in which believers sang Hebrew songs and an annual flag-waving parade through the streets of Jerusalem. Evangelicals say their affinity for Israel stems from Christianity's Jewish roots and an anticipated Messianic age when all nations of the earth will flock to Jerusalem. Jews and Christians both believe in a future Messianic age, though Jews do not accept the Christian belief that Jesus is the Messiah.


"Jesus is Jewish. He's coming again," said Marilyn Henretty, 77, of Annandale, Virginia, from the bleachers of one of the week's prayer rallies, clasping a tambourine and wearing a 12-gemstone ring representing the 12 tribes of Israel. "We believe it's going to be soon. All signs point to that." There has long been suspicion in Israel that the evangelical bear hug is connected to a belief that the modern Jewish state is a precursor to the apocalypse — when Jesus will return and Jews will either accept Christianity or die. Israel's Chief Rabbinate called on Jews to boycott an evangelical rally open to local Israelis this week, calling it "spiritually dangerous" and warning that evangelicals were trying to convert Jews to Christianity.


Israeli liberals are also uncomfortable with evangelicals because of their ties to America's political right and their support for Israel's settlement enterprise in the West Bank, a major sticking point in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some evangelicals, particularly from the U.S., work as volunteers on Jewish settlements in the West Bank. But suspicions are diminishing in Israel, especially as evangelical groups funnel hefty donations to Israel and evangelical representatives in Israel downplay the apocalypse, saying it is not a central tenant of faith for most of the world's evangelicals — or what makes them love Israel. "We feel that their support is genuine and not deriving from any ulterior motive," said Akiva Tor of Israel's Foreign Ministry…


Evangelicals at the summit boasted of their success at lobbying on Israel's behalf in the halls of parliaments around the world. There are currently 32 pro-Israeli caucuses in parliaments worldwide, according to the Israel Allies Foundation, a Jewish-Christian pro-Israel political group that brought two dozen lawmakers from 18 countries to Jerusalem this week to meet with Israeli lawmakers and officials. The Israeli parliament's Christian Allies Caucus, formed in 2004 to forge ties between Israeli lawmakers and Christian leaders, officially relaunched this summer after a period of dormancy. International Christian Embassy Jerusalem director Jurgen Buhler called it a "miracle."


At a prayer rally, Buhler introduced a group of 20 lawmakers from the Ivory Coast, which like most African nations broke ties with Israel in the 1970s but later restored them. The lawmakers flew to the Jerusalem summit on the Ivory Coast parliament's expense, Buhler said. The smiling lawmakers received a 12-ram's horn salute from a group of Taiwanese evangelicals blasting shofars, an ancient Jewish instrument. Also in attendance was Rev. Mosy Madugba of Nigeria, head of a network of Christian ministers, who said his close ties to Nigerian leaders helped change the country's traditional pro-Palestinian stance at the U.N. In recent years, Nigeria has abstained from supporting U.N. resolutions supporting Palestinian statehood.


Kenneth Meshoe, an evangelical South African lawmaker who heads the African Christian Democratic Party, said he has helped block anti-Israel motions in South Africa's parliament, including a recent effort to label Israeli products made in the West Bank as settlement products. His wife, Lydia, wore a bright yellow headdress and a Jewish Star of David necklace. Both said they hoped Jews would accept Jesus when the apocalypse comes. "God will bless those who bless Israel," he added.


CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!



On Topic


2015's Hits at DanielPipes.org: Daniel Pipes Blog, Jan. 10, 2016—Which articles, blog posts, speeches, and interviews on my web site, DanielPipes.org, fared best in the year recently concluded? In ascending order, here are 2015's ten most widely read, listened-to, and watched pages:

If You Want to Change the Campus Culture, Look to the Faculty: Mitchell Bard, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 14, 2016— A number of articles have been written about a new organization that is going to work with faculty to address problems on campus related to Israel and the treatment of Jewish students.

ISIL Fight Forgets Lessons of First Gulf War: Matthew Fisher, National Post, Jan. 14, 2015—If there has been a “good” conflict in the Middle East, the first Gulf War may have been it. Twenty-five years ago this week, the U.S. Congress authorized the use of force to oust Saddam Hussein’s invading troops from Kuwait. Four days after that Canada went to war for the first time since Korea.

The Battle of the Budge – December 16, 1944 to January 25, 1945: Nurit Greenger, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 12, 2015—The Battle of the Bulge was a major German offensive campaign launched through the densely forested Ardennes region of Wallonia in Belgium, France, and Luxembourg on the Western Front toward the end of World War II in Europe.



















On  November 28, 2015, Tawadros II, the 118th Coptic Pope, the leader of the worldwide body of Egyptian Orthodox Christians, travelled with a delegation of other Coptic clerics from Cairo to Jerusalem in order  to preside over the funeral for Anba Abraham, the Coptic Orthodox Metropolitan Archbishop of Jerusalem and the Near East  since 1992.


This was the first time since the end of the Six Day War in June, 1967, that the head of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church has set foot in Jerusalem. Spokesmen for the Coptic Orthodox Church insisted that this was “an exceptional situation” and was not significant of any coming change of the church’s stance on Jerusalem and the Palestinian cause.


Friends of Israel have being trying hard to turn this event into a “gesture” suggestive of a new chapter of reconciliation between the Coptic Church and the State of Israel – perhaps, ultimately, between the people of Egypt and the people of Israel. However, more than pinch of skepticism is needed here.


***Who Are the Copts?


The word “Copt” is a corruption of the Greek egyptos:  it refers to native Egyptian people who claim, with some plausibility, to trace to a missionary journey of St. Mark that took place during the reign of Emperor Nero (54 to 68 AD.) The language in which the Copts worship is the ancient language of the Pharaohs, while the world around them speaks Arabic, the language of the 7th century conquerors.


There is no reason to belittle their leader’s title of Pope – that is, the Father of  the church community – which is every bit as venerable as the claim to the same title by the Bishop of Rome.


It is generally reckoned that about 10% of Egyptians are Christian. The World Council of Churches calculates that the actual Coptic population living in Israel and the Palestine Authority is about 2,500.


Following the Council of Chalcedon (451), called to resolve differences over the nature of the relation between and among the Three Persons of the Trinity, the Copts turned their backs on the upstart theological princes of Rome and Constantinople and stayed with the Pre-Chalcedonian  Camp, where we find the other main churches indigenous to the Arab world. The unexpectedly rapid conquest of the Christian world by the Muslims in the 7th and 8th centuries was made possible by these divisions among the Christian kingdoms of the time.


In our own time, Copts  have experienced growing persecution at the hands of the Muslim majority of Egypt, who, with the co-operation of  ill-disposed academics and  poorly-informed journalists in our part of the world, have given currency to the myth that Christianity is a Western religion, imposed on the indigenous Muslims of the Middle East.


***Christian Communities and the Arab Spring That Wasn’t.


We can no longer pretend that the answer to the problems of the Middle East is democracy. We have already seen the fruits of democracy in Muslim nations like Iraq, where, since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, Christians have been brutally persecuted to the point that perhaps one-third of them have fled their homeland; and in Afghanistan, where a decade after the West overthrew the Taliban, committing billions of dollars and thousands of lives, the last public church has been destroyed, even as Christians suffer under blasphemy and apostasy laws enforced by the government installed and maintained by the West.


For nearly a half-century prior to this moment, November 28, 2015, Coptic Popes   had banned visits to  Jerusalem by members of the Coptic flock–  as a gesture of solidarity with the side that lost the Six Day war, and with it, custody of the Holy City. Apart from this larger issue, there are bad feelings between the Coptic leaders and the Israeli government on account of the latter’s recognition of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church’s title to a monastery of its own which was built many centuries ago on the roof of the Holy Sepulcher and which today is surrounded by a virtual village of transplanted Ethiopian people looking to be found by the Lord in the End of Times as closed as possible to the site of His Resurrection – as close, that is, as is possible given the possession of the Sepulchre itself by the syndicate of Roman Catholic  Greek Orthodox and Armenians who have custody of the Sepulchre itself.


The Coptic Pope’s ban has been far from airtight, however:  during Easter celebrations last year, some 5,000 Copts made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem; most of these, however, are residents of countries other than Egypt. It is the dream of every Copt to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem before one’s death, and for centuries the Copts did.


The painful truth is that most Christians of the Arab world have no desire to break ranks with Muslims against the Jews. For these Christians, contempt for Jews is founded in theology. For two millennia, these churches have taught that God’s rejection of the Jews follows from their collective act of “deicide.”  The evident consequences of this evil act include the destruction of their Second Temple, the end of their communities in the Holy Land and the Diaspora.


It should be noted that this paradigm of lethal hatred of Christians by Jews is promoted without any attention being given to the fact that Israel is today the only state in the region where Christian numbers are increasing, and where the Christian portion of the whole population has held steadily for half a century.


***“First, the Saturday People, Then the Sunday People.”


Just as surely as the extirpation of the Jews was prepared and then accomplished after 1949 by all the Arab regimes that had been humiliated by Israel’s survival, so today  extirpation of all  Christians from the region remains the declared goal of all branches of Muslim opinion.  The spirit of this campaign has found expression over recent years in a motto, “First, the Saturday People, then the Sunday People” (which, being translated means, Kill the Jews first, then the Christians) which appears on walls everywhere in the Middle East, and is even found in the Arab quarters of the Old City of Jerusalem. (See my essay, “After Saturday Comes Sunday, Bayview Review, December 21, 2011.)


Given this threat of liquidation closing in on both Jews and Christians living in the Middle East, solidarity of Christians with Jews everywhere ought to be advancing. Instead, ever since the early days of the Arab Spring, the principal spokesmen for all the local churches have been competing with one another to prove which is the most hostile to Zionism.


Particularly difficult for Christian friends of Israel to stomach has been the fact that as Muslim mobs were descending upon the dwindling Coptic Christian minority of Egypt, burning churches and despoiling church-goers, official spokesmen for that church were  trying to persuade us that this was all the work of the Masons and the Jews. The Coptic Pope, Shenouda III, denounced Western churches for following the guidance of Nostra Aetate and seeking “reconciliation” with the irredeemable Jews. He reminded his  countrymen that the Jews were “Christ-killers … because the New Testament says they are.”


The incumbent Pope’s visit to Jerusalem has been denounced by both secular and Christian Egyptians for weakening the resistance front against normalization with Israel. One senior Coptic voice, speaking in Arabic to Russia Today, suggests  that, in light of the close relationship between the late Archbishop Abraham and Pope Tawadros II,  the visit is  an ” ordinary” matter.


This does not indicate a change in the church’s stance on the Palestinian cause and which represents the majority of Egyptian Christians. In fact, this visit supports the Palestinian cause and several Palestinian officials actually keep inviting Arabs to visit Jerusalem.


No doubt,  Islamists will use the visit to further incite animus and hatred against the Copts wherever they can be reached – including here in Canada;  and Egypt’s deeply anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli political class are already condemning the Pope’s visit. But there is every reason to believe that in time for the Easter season of 2016 Copts everywhere will be assuming  that they have now a green light for what has previously, in principle, been impermissible.


***The New Political Situation of  the  Copts in Egypt.


But perhaps the most important factor at work here is the new political situation in Egypt. During the brief tenure of President Mohamed Morsi (June 2012-July 2013), the Islamists declared open season upon the infidel Copts; entire villages of  Christians were laid low and throughout the land  their homes, businesses and churches were torched and violated. Subsequently, Egypt’s Christians conspicuously supported Morsi’s ouster.


Since becoming President, Sisi has made repeated calls for greater religious tolerance and reform in Islamic discourse. “We talk a lot about the importance of reforming religious discourse,” said President Sisi in a televised speech to Islamic scholars in December 2015, but “In our schools, institutes and universities, do we teach and practice respect for the other?….God did not create the world for the ‘ummah’ [nation of Islam] to be alone. [He didn’t create it] for one community, but for communities. [He didn’t create it] for one religion, but for religions.


This last thought is, of course, ultimate blasphemy  in Muslim eyes.


President Sis has shown great boldness in declaring solidarity with the Copts against what he regards as the enemies of Egypt’s peace. Most recently, together with Muslim cabinet members, prominent media personalities and public figures, President Sisi attended the Christmas services at Cairo’s St. Mark Cathedral, the seat of the Coptic Orthodox Church —  something absolutely  unprecedented in the history of the Egyptian Republic. There and then he offered a public apology for what the Copts have suffered in the months before he overthrew President Morsi. “We have been late in restoring and fixing what has been burned, “ he proclaimed. “ Everything will be fixed. … Please accept our apologies for what happened.”


Now there is ein mensch.


We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication.


Christians Burn While Pope Worries about “Worldly” Matters: Raymond Ibrahim, Breaking Israel News, Aug. 9, 2015— In June, Pope Francis released his first independent encyclical. It merely served to highlight the indifference to the plight of persecuted Christians around the world.

Why All This Christian Anti-Israel Hatred?: Giulio Meotti, Arutz Sheva, July 3, 2015 — The dramatic situation has been perfectly described by Rabbi Haïm Korsia, Chief Rabbi of France, who called for a reaction of fraternal solidarity in the face of hatred against Christians, and established a comparison with the destruction of Eastern Jewry:

Is This the End of Christianity in the Middle East?: Eliza Griswold, New York Times, July 22, 2015 — There was something about Diyaa that his wife’s brothers didn’t like.

Iran's Nuclear Deal Raises Serious Questions: Irwin Cotler, Montreal Gazette, Aug. 13, 2015— In 2010, as part of the UN Human Rights Council’s first Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Iran, the Iranian government committed to implementing 126 of the 212 recommendations made to it by the international community.


On Topic Links


What Has Got Into the Churches?: Paul Merkley, Bayview Review, July 18, 2015

ISIS Abducts Christians to Use as ‘Bargaining Chips’: Susan L.M. Goldberg, PJ Media, Aug. 10, 2015

A Call to Formally Label ISIS Attacks on Christians, Yezidis as Genocide: Abigail R. Esman, IPT News, July 29, 2015

Syrian Christians and the English Jew: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, July 30, 2015


CHRISTIANS BURN WHILE POPE WORRIES ABOUT “WORLDLY” MATTERS                                          

Raymond Ibrahim

Breaking Israel News, Aug. 9, 2015


In June, Pope Francis released his first independent encyclical. It merely served to highlight the indifference to the plight of persecuted Christians around the world. The Pope warned about issues dealing with the environment, but he did not once mention the plight of persecuted Christians — even though he is well acquainted with it, and even though previous popes mentioned it when Christians were experiencing far less persecution than they are today.


Encyclicals are formal treatises written by popes and sent to bishops around the world. In turn, bishops are meant to disseminate the encyclical’s ideas to all the priests and churches in their jurisdiction, so that the pope’s thoughts might reach every church-attending Catholic.


If the plight of persecuted Christians had been mentioned in the encyclical, bishops and the congregations under their care would be required to acknowledge it. Perhaps a weekly prayer for the persecuted could be institutionalized, keeping the plight of those Christians in the spotlight so that Western Catholics and others would remember them, talk about them, and, perhaps most importantly, ask why they are being persecuted. Once enough people were familiar with Christian persecution, they could influence U.S. policymakers — for starters, to drop those policies that directly exacerbate the sufferings of Christian minorities in the Middle East.


Instead, Pope Francis apparently deemed it more important to issue a proclamation addressing the environment and climate change. Whatever position one holds concerning these topics, it is telling that the pope — the one man in the world best placed and most expected to speak up for millions of persecuted Christians around the world — is more interested in speaking up for a “safe” (politically correct, if scientifically questionable) subject, “the world” itself, rather than the pressing bloodbath in front of him, or a topic requiring real leadership from a Christian authority.


Meanwhile, Christians around the world and the Muslim world especially continue to be persecuted and slaughtered. In one little-reported story, the Islamic State burned an 80 year-old Christian woman to death in a village southeast of Mosul. The elderly woman was reportedly burned alive for refusing to comply with Islamic law.


In east Jerusalem, a group calling itself the “Islamic State in Palestine” distributed fliers threatening to massacre all Christians who failed to evacuate the Holy City. The leaflets, which appeared on June 27, said that the Islamic State knows where the city’s Christians live, and warned that they have until Eid al-Fitr — July 19, the end of Ramadan — to leave the city or be slaughtered. The leaflet was emblazoned with the Islamic State’s black flag.


In Egypt, after a foiled suicide attack on the ancient temples of Karnak in Luxor (a tourist destination), the Islamic State promised a “fiery summer” for Egypt’s Christian Copts. Abu Zayid al-Sudani, a leading member of the Islamic State, tweeted: “The bombing of Luxor, a burning summer awaits the tyrant of Egypt [President Sisi] and his soldiers, and the worshippers of the cross. This is just the beginning.”

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





WHY ALL THIS CHRISTIAN ANTI-ISRAEL HATRED?                                                                             

Giulio Meotti

Arutz Sheva, July 3, 2015


The dramatic situation has been perfectly described by Rabbi Haïm Korsia, Chief Rabbi of France, who called for a reaction of fraternal solidarity in the face of hatred against Christians, and established a comparison with the destruction of Eastern Jewry:

“Where are the Jewish communities which once lived in Aleppo, Beirut, Alexandria, Cairo and Tripoli? Where are the schools of Nehardea and Pumbedita in Iraq? And where is the flourishing Judaism of Esfahan and Tehran? In our memory alone. Expelled, killed, decimated, persecuted and exiled, Eastern Christians are now personally experiencing the same experiences of the Jews who once lived in those places”.


Christianity is dying in Syria and Iraq. Christian churches are demolished, Christian crosses are burned and replaced with flags of the Islamic State, Christian houses are destroyed, entire Christian communities are displaced, Christian children are massacred, and everything is done in plain sight. Islamists proclaim on a daily basis that they will not stop until Christianity is wiped off the face of the earth. So are the world Christian bodies denouncing the Islamic forces for the ethnic cleansing, genocide and historic demographic-religious revolution their brethen is suffering? No. Christians these days are busy targeting the Israeli Jews.


The Pope, who should represent the voice of one billion Catholics around the world, was not busy these days in writing an enciclica against the Islamic persecution of Christians. No, the Catholic Church was very busy in signing a historic agreement with the “State of Palestine”, a non-existent entity which, if it (God forbid) should be created, would be the first state after the Nazi Germany to officially ban the Jews and expel the remnant of its Christians.


These days, three US Christian bodies are also very active on the issue of the Middle East. These are the United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church and the Mennonite Church. These Churches are not worried about the Christians beheaded in Libya by the Islamic State. These Christians are not raising the alarm on the last Christians of Aleppo. No. They are all adopting resolutions to divest from the Jewish State, the Mennonites having kindly decided to put off the vote for two years. They demonize, target and isolate the Israeli people for defending themselves from barbaric terrorists.


It is a mystery. How can we explain all this Christian animosity toward the Jewish people in this time of suffering for Christian communities? It is a kind of anti-Semitism which cannot be explained by rational concepts. It is a virus, a malady, a disease, a cancer which will ultimately rebound against Christians themselves. Sorry, my irrelevant Christian fellows, but Israel and the Jews are not ready to commit suicide. Don’t forget what happened during the Holocaust. You sided with the enemies of the Jewish people and you were  also devoured by them.  




IS THIS THE END OF CHRISTIANITY IN THE MIDDLE EAST?                                                                  

Eliza Griswold                                                                                                    

New York Times, July 22, 2015


There was something about Diyaa that his wife’s brothers didn’t like. He was a tyrant, they said, who, after 14 years of marriage, wouldn’t let their sister, Rana, 31, have her own mobile phone. He isolated her from friends and family, guarding her jealously. Although Diyaa and Rana were both from Qaraqosh, the largest Christian city in Iraq, they didn’t know each other before their families arranged their marriage. It hadn’t gone especially well. Rana was childless, and according to the brothers, Diyaa was cheap. The house he rented was dilapidated, not fit for their sister to live in.


Qaraqosh is on the Nineveh Plain, a 1,500-square-mile plot of contested land that lies between Iraq’s Kurdish north and its Arab south. Until last summer, this was a flourishing city of 50,000, in Iraq’s breadbasket. Wheat fields and chicken and cattle farms surrounded a town filled with coffee shops, bars, barbers, gyms and other trappings of modern life.


Then, last June, ISIS took Mosul, less than 20 miles west. The militants painted a red Arabic ‘‘n,’’ for Nasrane, a slur, on Christian homes. They took over the municipal water supply, which feeds much of the Nineveh Plain. Many residents who managed to escape fled to Qaraqosh, bringing with them tales of summary executions and mass beheadings. The people of Qaraqosh feared that ISIS would continue to extend the group’s self-styled caliphate, which now stretches from Turkey’s border with Syria to south of Fallujah in Iraq, an area roughly the size of Indiana.


In the weeks before advancing on Qaraqosh, ISIS cut the city’s water. As the wells dried up, some left and others talked about where they might go. In July, reports that ISIS was about to take Qaraqosh sent thousands fleeing, but ISIS didn’t arrive, and within a couple of days, most people returned. Diyaa refused to leave. He was sure ISIS wouldn’t take the town.


A week later, the Kurdish forces, known as the peshmerga, whom the Iraqi government had charged with defending Qaraqosh, retreated. (‘‘We didn’t have the weapons to stop them,’’ Jabbar Yawar, the secretary general of the peshmerga, said later.) The city was defenseless; the Kurds had not allowed the people of the Nineveh Plain to arm themselves and had rounded up their weapons months earlier. Tens of thousands jammed into cars and fled along the narrow highway leading to the relative safety of Erbil, the Kurdish capital of Northern Iraq, 50 miles away.


Piling 10 family members into a Toyota pickup, Rana’s brothers ran, too. From the road, they called Diyaa repeatedly, pleading with him to escape with Rana. ‘‘She can’t go,’’ Diyaa told one of Rana’s brothers, as the brother later recounted to me. ‘‘ISIS isn’t coming. This is all a lie.’’ The next morning Diyaa and Rana woke to a nearly empty town. Only 100 or so people remained in Qaraqosh, mostly those too poor, old or ill to travel. A few, like Diyaa, hadn’t taken the threat seriously. One man passed out drunk in his backyard and woke the next morning to ISIS taking the town.


As Diyaa and Rana hid in their basement, ISIS broke into stores and looted them. Over the next two weeks, militants rooted out most of the residents cowering in their homes, searching house to house. The armed men roamed Qaraqosh on foot and in pickups. They marked the walls of farms and businesses ‘‘Property of the Islamic State.’’ ISIS now held not just Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, but also Ramadi and Fallujah. (During the Iraq War, the fighting in these three places accounted for 30 percent of U.S. casualties.) In Qaraqosh, as in Mosul, ISIS offered residents a choice: They could either convert or pay the jizya, the head tax levied against all ‘‘People of the Book’’: Christians, Zoroastrians and Jews. If they refused, they would be killed, raped or enslaved, their wealth taken as spoils of war.


No one came for Diyaa and Rana. ISIS hadn’t bothered to search inside their ramshackle house. Then, on the evening of Aug. 21, word spread that ISIS was willing to offer what they call ‘‘exile and hardship’’ to the last people in Qaraqosh. They would be cast out of their homes with nothing, but at least they would survive. A kindly local mullah was going door to door with the good news. Hoping to save Diyaa and Rana, their neighbors told him where they were hiding.


Diyaa and Rana readied themselves to leave. The last residents of Qaraqosh were to report the next morning to the local medical center, to receive ‘‘checkups’’ before being deported from the Islamic State. Everyone knew the checkups were really body searches to prevent residents from taking valuables out of Qaraqosh. Before ISIS let residents go — if they let them go — it was very likely they would steal everything they had, as residents heard they had done elsewhere.


Diyaa and Rana called their families to let them know what was happening. ‘‘Take nothing with you,’’ her brothers told Diyaa. But Diyaa, as usual, didn’t listen. He stuffed Rana’s clothes with money, gold, passports and their identity papers. Although she was terrified of being caught — she could be beheaded for taking goods from the Islamic State — Rana didn’t protest; she didn’t dare. According to her brothers, Diyaa could be violent. (Diyaa’s brother Nimrod disputed this, just as he does Diyaa’s alleged cheapness.)


At 7 the next morning, Diyaa and Rana made the five-minute walk from their home to Qaraqosh Medical Center Branch No. 2, a yellow building with red-and-green trim next to the city’s only mosque. As the crowd gathered, Diyaa phoned both his family and hers. ‘‘We’re standing in front of the medical center right now,’’ he said, as his brother-in-law recalled it. ‘‘There are buses and cars here. Thank God, they’re going to let us go.’’


It was a searing day. Temperatures reach as high as 110 degrees on the Nineveh Plain in summer. By 9 a.m., ISIS had separated men from women. Seated in the crowd, the local ISIS emir, Saeed Abbas, surveyed the female prisoners. His eyes lit on Aida Hana Noah, 43, who was holding her 3-year-old daughter, Christina. Noah said she felt his gaze and gripped Christina closer. For two weeks, she’d been at home with her daughter and her husband, Khadr Azzou Abada, 65. He was blind, and Aida decided that the journey north would be too hard for him. So she sent her 25-year-old son with her three other children, who ranged in age from 10 to 13, to safety. She thought Christina too young to be without her mother.


ISIS scanned the separate groups of men and women. ‘‘You’’ and ‘‘you,’’ they pointed. Some of the captives realized what ISIS was doing, survivors told me later, dividing the young and healthy from the older and weak. One, Talal Abdul Ghani, placed a final call to his family before the fighters confiscated his phone. He had been publicly whipped for refusing to convert to Islam, as his sisters, who fled from other towns, later recounted. ‘‘Let me talk to everybody,’’ he wept. ‘‘I don’t think they’re letting me go.’’ It was the last time they heard from him.


No one was sure where either bus was going. As the jihadists directed the weaker and older to the first of two buses, one 49-year-old woman, Sahar, protested that she’d been separated from her husband, Adel. Although he was 61, he was healthy and strong and had been held back. One fighter reassured her, saying, ‘‘These others will follow.’’ Sahar, Aida and her blind husband, Khadr, boarded the first bus. The driver, a man they didn’t know, walked down the aisle. Without a word, he took Christina from her mother’s arms. ‘‘Please, in the name of God, give her back,’’ Aida pleaded. The driver carried Christina into the medical center. Then he returned without the child. As the people in the bus prayed to leave town, Aida kept begging for Christina. Finally, the driver went inside again. He came back empty-handed…

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





IRAN'S NUCLEAR DEAL RAISES SERIOUS QUESTIONS                                                                          

Irwin Cotler                                                                                                                                               

Montreal Gazette, Aug. 13, 2015


In 2010, as part of the UN Human Rights Council’s first Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Iran, the Iranian government committed to implementing 126 of the 212 recommendations made to it by the international community. Last fall, on the eve of Iran’s second UPR, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, appeared before the House of Commons’ Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Human Rights, of which I am the vice-chair. I asked him to what extent Iran had lived up to its commitments. His response: “I have been very disappointed in the way this has turned out.”


In his more recent appearance before our Foreign Affairs subcommittee during our annual Iran Accountability Week, he joined other witnesses, including former Iranian political prisoners such as Maziar Bahari and Marina Nemat, in deploring the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran and the ongoing breach of its international undertakings.


Indeed, in the five years since making those commitments — on matters ranging from women’s rights, to freedom of religion and expression, to the humane treatment of detainees — the human rights situation in Iran has worsened in many respects. The persecution, imprisonment and torture of human rights defenders, members of minority groups, journalists and many other leaders of Iranian civil society has intensified, while the execution rate in Iran — which was already the highest in the world under former president Ahmadinejad — has almost doubled under the supposedly moderate President Hassan Rouhani.


Given the Iranian regime’s appalling track record of bad faith and duplicity when it comes to international commitments — as well as its standing violation of international treaties to which it is a party and its wanton violation of the human rights of its own citizens — there are serious questions to be asked about the nuclear agreement.


To begin with, will Iran truly scale back its nuclear operations, as it has pledged to do? It has been long-standing practice for the regime to conceal and lie about its nuclear activities, even using past negotiations as opportunities to distract the West while secretly progressing toward a nuclear bomb. Indeed, it was current Iranian President Hassan Rouhani himself who said of his time as chief nuclear negotiator in 2004: “While we were talking with the Europeans in Tehran, we were installing equipment in parts of the (nuclear) facility in Isfahan. … In fact, by creating a calm environment, we were able to complete the work on Isfahan.”


And if Iran continues to pursue nuclear weapons in secret, as it has done in the past, will we know about it? The deal requires inspectors to give advance notice of visits to nuclear — or suspected nuclear — sites.  If Iran does not agree to an inspection within 14 days, the matter will be adjudicated by a commission comprised of representatives of the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, China, Russia, the European Union and Iran. This process allows for up to 24 days between notice of inspection and the inspection itself, assuming the commission sides with inspectors.


With regard to military sites, the deal effectively — and surprisingly — excludes them from inspections, stating that “requests (for access) will not be aimed at interfering with Iranian military or other national security activities.” On this point, Iran’s defence minister has recently echoed the views of Supreme Leader Khamanei, saying that “we will not give any authority access to our military and security secrets.”


Furthermore, in the event inspectors determine that the regime is not adhering to its nuclear commitments, what will the international community be able — or willing — to do about it? According to the deal, sanctions against Iran would “snap back” into place if the regime violates its nuclear commitments, but such as “snapback” may prove difficult to achieve. It took decades to establish the impactful and wide-ranging international sanctions that brought the regime to the negotiating table. Once countries and companies around the world resume doing business with Iran, it will become exceedingly difficult to reinstate sanctions on a scale large enough to have an effect on the regime.


Moreover, Iran has declared that it will treat the reinstatement of sanctions as grounds to nullify its nuclear promises. As such, as long as Iranian violations of the terms of the deal are deemed limited in their breach, the international community is unlikely to reinstate sanctions for fear of all-out Iranian abandonment of the accord.


Finally, even if Iran’s government complies fully with the deal and scales back its nuclear operations as required, one key question remains: How will the regime use the windfall of over $100 billion in sanctions relief? The Iranian regime has long been a leading state-sponsor of terrorism, but its capacity to train, arm and finance groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, the Taliban, and extremist groups in Yemen and Bahrain — not to mention the criminal regime of Bashar Assad in Syria — has recently been hampered by international sanctions. With the sanctions lifted, the regime’s ability to offer substantial support to extremist, violent groups and governments will be restored.


Indeed, the Iranian regime poses a fivefold threat: the pursuit of nuclear weapons, support for terrorism, regional hegemonic belligerence, incitement to genocide and massive domestic repression. Even if the deal recently struck proves successful, it addresses the nuclear threat alone, and it may give Iran a freer hand to engage in aggression on the other four fronts.


Even the nuclear front may be undermined by a cycle of nuclear proliferation triggered by the legitimization of Iran as a threshold nuclear state, along with the Iranian regime’s regional hegemonic assaults. Let there be no mistake: this agreement does not solve the panoply of threats posed by the government of Iran. At best, it may help to mitigate the nuclear threat and even that is problematic.





On Topic


What Has Got Into the Churches?: Paul Merkley, Bayview Review, July 18, 2015 —Giulio Meotti is an Italian journalist who has for several years researched meticulously attitudes of Christians towards Israel and towards the Jews.

ISIS Abducts Christians to Use as ‘Bargaining Chips’: Susan L.M. Goldberg, PJ Media, Aug. 10, 2015 —Arab media reports: Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants have abducted hundreds of civilians, including dozens of Christians, from a central Syrian town it captured earlier this week, activists say, a development that has prompted hundreds of Christian families to flee to areas outside the control of the ultra-radical group.

A Call to Formally Label ISIS Attacks on Christians, Yezidis as Genocide: Abigail R. Esman, IPT News, July 29, 2015—They buy and sell the women, using them as slaves. They kidnap children, even infants, and detonate them as bombs.

Syrian Christians and the English Jew: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, July 30, 2015 —Christianity, whose presence in the Middle East predates Islam’s by 600 years, is about to be cleansed from the Middle East.








We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 




Israel’s Scandalously Deficient Response to Global Anti-Semitic Tsunami: Isi Leibler, Candidly Speaking, Feb. 24, 2015 — Successive Israeli governments have failed miserably to meet the challenge of global anti-Semitism, not providing the leadership demanded of a Jewish state in these turbulent times and leaving Diaspora Jews to their own devices.

Demonizing Israel With False Moral Equivalence: Manfred Gerstenfeld & Jamie Berk, CIJR, Feb. 27, 2015— Rhetoric plays a major role in the demonization process of Israel.

Mike Huckabee, Tour Guide in the Holy Land: William Booth, Washington Post, Feb. 23, 2015 — Whether or not Mike Huckabee becomes president of the United States, the nation of Israel — and especially Israel’s hard-line right wing — has few more devoted fans than the former Arkansas governor, evangelical pastor and gung-ho tour guide to the Holy Land.

A Salute to John Baird: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, Feb. 6, 2014— John Baird, the Canadian foreign minister who announced his retirement from politics this week, was more than a very good friend to the State of Israel.


On Topic Links


Remembering Prime Minister Menachem Begin: Breaking Israel News, Feb. 25, 2014

Hear Out Israel’s Leader: Joseph Lieberman, Washington Post, Feb. 22, 2015

Citing “Existential” Threat, Dermer Praises U.S.-Israel Ties, Defends PM’s Speech to Congress: Tower, Jan. 26, 2015

US-Israel Ties: The Mutually Beneficial, Two-Way Street: Yoram Ettinger, Jewish Press, Feb. 11, 2015





Isi Leibler        

Candidly Speaking, Feb. 24, 2015


Successive Israeli governments have failed miserably to meet the challenge of global anti-Semitism, not providing the leadership demanded of a Jewish state in these turbulent times and leaving Diaspora Jews to their own devices. The global anti-Semitic tsunami, an unprecedented surge of feral hostility compounded by the Internet, emanates from a combination of factors: rabid Muslim anti-Semitism and violence, demonical anti-Israelism of the Left, and traditional cultural and radical Jew-hatred of the Right. It has impacted on Jewish communities everywhere but ironically is most acute in Europe, the continent drenched with Jewish blood during the Holocaust. It gathered enormous momentum during the recent military confrontation with Hamas, climaxing in France.


The responses by European Jewish leaders differ in various countries. Overall, the French have responded courageously. In contrast, others have behaved like “trembling Israelites,” some remaining in denial and continuing to understate the problem. By and large, Jews in Europe are under great stress and many are despondent about their future. The situation in South America and South Africa has increasingly deteriorated. Even Canada and Australia, whose governments are strongly supportive of Israel, have witnessed an upsurge in anti-Semitism. In the United States, the Goldene Medina, despite the strong public and congressional support for Israel, many Jews are stunned by the anti-Israeli hysteria generated by the Left and some liberal media and shocked by the toxic levels of anti-Semitism displayed on many college campuses.


It is estimated that well over $100 million is invested in various overlapping agencies purporting to combat anti-Semitism. Some play a constructive role but others are useless and sometimes even counterproductive. Yet, despite this, American Jewry’s graying establishment leadership is on the defensive and has become less strident. The caustic and frequently hostile anti-Israeli remarks expressed by President Barack Obama were met with deafening silence — uncharacteristic of the traditionally feisty leaders. The reluctance, despite grass-roots outrage, of leading Jewish organizations — including the Anti-Defamation League — to publicly protest the New York Metropolitan Opera’s performance of the anti-Semitic opera “The Death of Klinghoffer” also exemplifies this trend.


Overall, Diaspora Jews are under enormous stress, confused and frequently divided as how to respond to the upsurge of anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic onslaughts. The global Jewish bodies purporting to combat these vicious trends all have limitations and have proven unable to provide the necessary direction on a global basis. The rejuvenated World Jewish Congress, headed by Ronald Lauder, has been a positive force, especially over the past year, among Jewish communities in Europe and especially in Latin America. Its inherent weakness is the absence of endorsement by the major American Jewish organizations, without which it cannot purport to represent world Jewry.


The Jewish Agency is headed by the charismatic Natan Sharansky, who possesses a full intellectual grasp of the problem. Unfortunately, he appears to have been diverted, channeling most of his energies toward fundraising, the bureaucratic management of an old and ailing organization, and concentrating primarily on non-contentious issues such as promoting Jewish identity. His absence of leadership was especially notable following the recent tragic events in France when he actually distanced the Jewish Agency from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call on French Jews to consider aliyah. Alas, today the Jewish Agency is no longer regarded as a major force in leading and coordinating with Diaspora Jews.


The World Zionist Organization (WZO), once a major body with active constituents throughout the world, is today utterly moribund, and has negligible impact as evidenced by its hibernation during the recent anti-Semitic upheavals in France. A few weeks ago, the WZO suddenly emerged from its slumber with a childish questionnaire to constituents inquiring whether they felt that anti-Semitism was growing. Incredibly, it was accompanied by a primitive video seeking to depict Belgian anti-Semitism. It highlighted a Rabbi Menachem Margolin of the Association of European Jews (not to be confused with the European Jewish Congress) who the previous week had castigated Netanyahu for his “Pavlovian calls for aliyah after every terror attack.” Former WZO leaders must be turning in their graves at the degeneration of this formerly respected body. Chairman Avraham Duvdevani should consider officially dissolving the organization which disgraces its remaining constituents in the U.K., Australia and South Africa who continue to be engaged in important Zionist activity.


Over a decade ago, Israel’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, in conjunction with the Diaspora Affairs Ministry, created the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism. It was enthusiastically supported and endorsed by major Jewish communal organizations and activists throughout the world. Sadly, due to lack of funding and personnel, it was unable to create a meaningful secretariat to maintain operations between the intermittent international conferences and therefore failed to provide the vital ongoing leadership and framework for consultation for which it was created. Ironically, despite the explosion of anti-Semitism, aside from a parliamentary offshoot, this organization is dormant. Its last conference was in 2013, with a follow-up meeting of 20 representatives held in February last year that was a nonevent. However, only recently, in a letter signed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett, the Global Forum invited Diaspora Jewish leaders and activists to participate in the fifth conference, scheduled for May 2015. That ministers, whose sole contribution to the organization comprised an opening statement to conferences, could launch a meeting scheduled for a date when they may no longer be in office, highlights how politicians with a penchant for exploiting platforms to aggrandize their political status have hijacked this area…

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





DEMONIZING ISRAEL WITH FALSE MORAL EQUIVALENCE                                                    

Manfred Gerstenfeld & Jamie Berk                         

CIJR, Feb. 27, 2015


Rhetoric plays a major role in the demonization process of Israel. Besides the use of lies, the dissemination of false arguments is prevalent among the major demonization techniques. It is thus important that those who publicly defend Israel are trained to see through such tactics. One prominent technique used against Israel is false moral equivalence. It is based on the deceitful claim that there is no difference between two greatly dissimilar actions.


Comparisons by nature easily lend themselves to abuse. Examples abound and only some of the most frequent ones can be mentioned here. Several go beyond the realm of common sense. A prominent one is the perverse claim that Israel’s behavior is equivalent to that of Nazi Germany or the Nazis. This example of false moral equivalence is widespread throughout Europe. Five studies covering nine European countries show that about 40% of Europeans think that Israel is a Nazi state. Another version of this falsehood is that Israel is exterminating the Palestinians. This is also widespread as found in European polls. Yet another variant of this false comparison is that “Zionism is fascism.” When speaking at the Fifth Alliance of Civilizations Forum in Vienna in February 2013, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayipp Erdogan stated, “Just like Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, it becomes unavoidable that Islamophobia must be regarded as a crime against humanity.” This statement was immediately criticized by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.


Since false comparisons are so easily made, a great variety of them are used against Israel. The false moral equivalence of Zionism and racism was a tactic created by the Soviet Union to justify its refusal to condemn anti-Semitism. This political strategy was initially used in an attempt to expel Israel from the United Nations in the 1960s. Although it failed, the Soviet Union, its satellite states and its Arab allies eventually succeeded in 1975 in passing UN resolution 3379. It determined that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.” Yet another example of false moral equivalence frequently used to demonize Israel is labelling Israel an apartheid state. Former U.S president Jimmy Carter is among those who made this false comparison in the title of his 2006 book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.


Israeli left-wing journalist Benjamin Pogrund’s book, Drawing Fire has as its subtitle Investigating the Accusations of Apartheid in Israel. The author says in a personal note in the book: I was treated for stomach cancer at one of Israel’s leading hospitals, Hadassah Mt Scopus in Jerusalem. The surgeon (he was the head surgeon) was Jewish, the anesthetist was Arab. The doctors and nurses who cared for me were Jews and Arabs. During four and a half weeks as a patient, I watched Arab and Jewish patients get the same devoted treatment. A year or so later, the head surgeon retired; he was replaced by a doctor who is an Arab. Since then, I’ve been in hospital clinics and emergency rooms. Everything is the same for everyone. Israel is like apartheid South Africa? Ridiculous.


Another popular false moral equivalence used is the idea that Israel represents a colonial power in the Middle East. Historian Richard Landes exposed the hypocrisy of this moral equivalence. He wrote about the benign nature of Zionist settlements in Ottoman and British Palestine, sharply contrasting from the imperial aspirations of European powers at the time. “Rather than arrive as zero-sum military victors, the Zionists arrived as positive-sum neighbors.” Yet another use of false moral equivalence is comparing the Holocaust to the Naqba. Many have adopted this false moral equivalence. The Holocaust and Naqba are far from similar, however. The Holocaust was a planned genocide of industrial extermination. The Palestinian Naqba was a direct result of the refusal of Palestinians to accept the existence of Israel, which led to their major military defeat.  


Another category of moral equivalence implies that the intended murder of innocent civilians is equivalent to the accidental deaths of civilians in military actions. In March 2012, European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton compared the deaths of innocent people like the Jewish children killed in Toulouse, France by serial killers and brutal dictators, like Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, to the accidental deaths of civilians due to Israeli retaliatory actions in Gaza. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni reacted by saying, “There is no similarity between an act of hatred or a leader killing members of his nation and a country fighting terror, even if civilians are harmed."…

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





MIKE HUCKABEE, TOUR GUIDE IN THE HOLY LAND                                                                                     

William Booth                                                                                                     

Washington Post, Feb. 23, 2015


Whether or not Mike Huckabee becomes president of the United States, the nation of Israel — and especially Israel’s hard-line right wing — has few more devoted fans than the former Arkansas governor, evangelical pastor and gung-ho tour guide to the Holy Land. The man is just nuts about Israel. Huckabee has been a regular visitor to Israel for 42 years, he says. Some years, he comes three or four times. He can’t remember how many trips exactly. Lots.


Among the many hats that Huckabee wears — he is also a former Fox news personality — the hat he has worn the longest is leader of the “Israel Experience With Mike Huckabee.” He’s led dozens of tours. Huckabee said he believes that “Americans support Israel, but until they see it, they don’t get it.” He’s not hot on the idea of two states for two peoples. But he is passionate about visiting the places where the Bible comes alive for him, such as the green hills now covered in wildflowers on the Mount of Beatitudes in the Galilee, where tradition says Jesus gave the sermon that called upon his followers to turn the other cheek, rather than take an eye for an eye.


Though busy preparing for another run for the White House, Huckabee is currently shepherding his flock of 253 paying guests around Israel for 10 days. That’s six busloads — a lot more people than may follow some candidates around New Hampshire in February next year. The Huckabee entourage includes Christian music hall-of-famer Al Denson, violinist and evangelical minister Maurice Sklar and country western star Larry Gatlin, who came off the bus here at Masada sporting a burnt-orange cap with a stitched-on pistol and the words “Texas: We Don’t Call 911” — which is kind of appropriate if you know the story of Masada. The price is $5,250, including round-trip airfare from New York, five-star hotel accommodations, all meals, deluxe motor-coach transport, licensed guides and all fees, tips and taxes. Huckabee’s wife, Janet, said they tell guests they can bring a $20 bill and come home with the change.


The Israel Experience tour focuses on the sacred, but there’s plenty of the political. On past trips, Huckabee and his guests have met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon. They get an earful in evening lectures, too. On this trip, they’ve heard from speakers such as the philanthropist and venture capitalist Kenneth Abramowitz, president of American Friends of Likud, Netanyahu’s party. Abramowitz has been quoted calling for shutting down the United Nations. During this trip, Huckabee said, Abramowitz spoke to his group about the myths of the Middle East, “such as if Israel gives up land, it will get peace, which is a complete myth.”


The Huckabeeans also heard from Morton Klein, national president of the Zionist Organization of America, who explained to the group, according to Huckabee, that there’s really no such thing as the “Palestinians.” “The idea that they have a long history, dating back hundreds or thousands of years, is not true,” Huckabee said. The tourists didn’t hear from the Palestinians themselves on this matter. Huckabee said he hasn’t met with the leadership in Ramallah. On this tour, the group didn’t go to Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, across the Israeli separation barrier in the West Bank, though they looked at it from one of the Jerusalem neighborhoods. “I’ve been a bit outspoken,” Huckabee said. “I’m not sure they’d be delighted to see me.”


They started this trip in Jerusalem’s Old City, bowed their heads at the Western Wall, slipped a note between the cracks in the great stones, strolled the Roman-era Cardo Maximus and took in the inspiring view from the Mount of Olives. They knelt where tradition says Jesus prayed in his moment of doubt and pain in the Garden of Gethsemane, hours before his crucifixion, his anguish so great that, according to Luke 22:44, “his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Don’t know your Bible verses? The participants on this tour do. As one of Huckabee’s guests joked, “Scripture will be quoted.” “It’s like the Bible in color,” Janet Huckabee said.


Here atop a high red butte in the Negev desert, towering above the Dead Sea, stands the mountain redoubt of Masada, built by King Herod just before the time of Jesus and occupied, as a kind of last-stand Jewish Alamo, by the Zealots who rebelled against Roman rule in 66 A.D. It is one of Huckabee’s favorite places in the world, and here the soon-to-be aspiring presidential contender gathered his people on Thursday. As the visitors stood beneath flapping blue, green and yellow banners — denoting the separate buses — and with the sun fighting with dark snow clouds above, Huckabee explained why. “One cannot understand the psyche of the Israelis, the heart and soul of Israel, without visiting two places,” Huckabee said: the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem and Masada. He called the latter “a God-made fortress” in the middle of the desert.


During the Great Revolt of the Jews, the rebels, known as the Sicarii because of their long, curved daggers, fled to Masada. The Roman 10th Legion laid siege to the mountaintop — 10,000 soldiers against 960 ­rebels, including women and children. Quoting the account left by Josephus Flavius, a Jewish ­leader turned Roman citizen who wrote “The Wars of the Jews,” Huckabee told his audience that in the hours before the gates were breached by the Romans, the rebel leader Eleazar Ben Yair told his people it was better to take their own lives than live as slaves to Rome. And that they did, with 10 men slaying all, and the last killing himself, Huckabee said. Huckabee compared their zeal for liberty to that of the American Founding Fathers and said the Jews on Masada fulfilled the New Hampshire license-plate motto, “Live Free or Die.” He said the Jews “reflect the values upon which our country was founded upon,” a love for freedom. He compared the Jewish Zealots to American men and women serving in the armed forces. He called the Jews “the only people who ever had this as their homeland” and said that when young recruits begin their service in the Israel Defense Forces, “they vow that Masada will never fall again — and they mean it.”  “Amen,” the audience said….

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





A SALUTE TO JOHN BAIRD                                                                                              

David M. Weinberg                                                                                                      

Israel Hayom, Feb. 6, 2015


John Baird, the Canadian foreign minister who announced his retirement from politics…was more than a very good friend to the State of Israel. Baird is proof positive that it is possible to engage in moral diplomacy in a cynical world. He demonstrated that it is possible to be solidly pro-Israel and simultaneously gain a respected role on the international stage and maintain excellent ties with the Arab world. No country has been as trailblazing in its support of Israel in recent years as Canada. Baird and his boss, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, have spoken out and acted to defend Israel, without apologies or hesitations. They have never felt the need to be politically correct and to "balance" their statements with (im)moral ambiguities about the Arab-Israeli conflict.


Canada was the first country in the world to cut ties with and aid to the Gaza government when Hamas seized power in 2006; the first country to withdraw its support from the infamous anti-Israel U.N. conferences known as Durban II and III; the first country to robustly defend Israel in the four wars it has been forced to fight in recent years against Hezbollah and Hamas; and a leading voice in defense of Israel at the G-8, G-20, U.N. Human Rights Council, and International Atomic Energy Agency. Over three years that it sat on the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Canada stood alone in defense of Israel, eight times casting the only "no" vote against unfair condemnations of Israel. Canada would not, Baird said, "go along, just to get along" with politically correct, but morally perverse, de rigueur condemnations of Israel. Baird personally cast Canada's vote against U.N. recognition of Palestinian statehood, with Canada being one of only nine countries that voted against the proposal. "We took a principled stand," Baird said. "We believe that statehood is a product of peace with Israel, and the Palestinian Authority is trying to go around Israel to the U.N. to get what they couldn't get at the negotiating table." Canada also has led the world in expressing deep skepticism of the interim agreements between the P5+1 and Iran, and in insisting that the scope of the talks must be broadened to include Iran's sponsorship of terrorism and its systemic violation of human rights.


The importance of the moral stances that Harper and Baird have taken in recent years must not be underestimated. They have emerged as voices of critique, courage and principle in a world that is in danger of losing its conscience about Jews and Israel. In a recent interview, Baird said the Harper government does not support Israel to win votes — he pointed out there are more Muslims and Arabs than Jews in Canada — but rather "because it is the right thing to do. I think when you do the right thing, in the end you will meet with success." "In our view, liberal democracies and international terrorist groups are not equal. They do not deserve equal treatment. True friends are measured by whether they are there for you when you need them most, when that support is steadfast, even when it's not popular or expedient," he said. "Just as communism and fascism were the great struggles of previous generations, terrorism is the great struggle of ours. And far too often the Jewish state is on the frontline in our struggle, and its people are the victims of terror. Canada will not accept or stay silent when the Jewish state is attacked for defending its territory and its citizens."…


The upright Canadian stance paves the way toward two important conclusions. First, Canada's leadership suggests that the cynical, often amoral calculations that characterize so much of modern diplomacy — especially when it comes to Israel — need not reign supreme forever. World leaders need not bow to the demonization or to the Orwellian twisting of language and history that increasingly pertains to Israel. On the contrary, Baird's record demonstrates that in the long run, moral stances are possible and can become the basis for pragmatic diplomacy. Second, Baird has demonstrated that you can be solidly pro-Israel and simultaneously gain a respected role on the international stage and maintain excellent ties with the Arab world. Never before has Canada held a more prominent role on the international stage, on issues ranging from the Ukraine to Iran, and from supporting human rights to fighting terrorism. Furthermore, it is demonstrable that Canada's role and stature in the Middle East have been enhanced, not hampered, by the Harper government's close ties with Israel…

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


CIJR Wishes All Our Friends and Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!



On Topic


Remembering Prime Minister Menachem Begin: Breaking Israel News, Feb. 25, 2014—“I am not only a follower of Menachem Begin, but I’m an admirer,” says Prof. Moshe Arens, recalling the Prime Minister’s legacy in an exclusive interview with VOI’s Ernie Singer on the 23rd anniversary of the leader’s death.

Hear Out Israel’s Leader: Joseph Lieberman, Washington Post, Feb. 22, 2015 —Last week, 23 House Democrats asked Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to postpone Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to a joint meeting of Congress scheduled for March 3.

Citing “Existential” Threat, Dermer Praises U.S.-Israel Ties, Defends PM’s Speech to Congress: Tower, Jan. 26, 2015—In a speech Sunday night, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, praised the U.S.-Israel relationship and explained the importance of the invitation of House Speaker John Boehner to Israel’s Prime Minister of Israel to speak before a joint session of Congress on March 3.

US-Israel Ties: The Mutually Beneficial, Two-Way Street: Yoram Ettinger, Jewish Press, Feb. 11, 2015—Conventional wisdom suggests that US-Israel ties constitute a one-way-street: The US gives and Israel receives.



























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PURIM 5771

Baruch Cohen

In loving memory of Malca, z’l


The Book of Esther has always been for Jews an allegory depicting the Jewish life and the Jewish lot among the nations. It is a book that conveys love for Jews, and for the tie that unites them.

Purim became the symbolic name for Jewish deliverance, and whenever a Jewish community was saved from a horrible fate, from a pogrom, or from the exile which a Haman-like ruler tried to impose, the community would, Purim-like, celebrate.

Purim will continue to be celebrated as long as prejudice and hatred of the Jews exists, as long as the likes of Ahmadinejad and al-Qaeda will be around. We will celebrate their disappearance, just as today we celebrate so many other special Purims.

A happy Purim to all!

Baruch Cohen

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

Purim—Encyclopedia Judaica Vol. 13. , pgs. 1305-1399

List of Special Purims

CITY                        OBSERVED ON                         DATE              REASON FOR OBSERVATION

Della Paglia (Italy)        25th Av                         1799                 Saved from massacre

Avignon                        28th Shevat                    1757                 Escaped danger of a riot

France                          14th Adar                      1191                 Chief Jew-hater execute

Cairo-called Purim Mizraym       28th Adar          1524                 Saved from extermination

Cunco (Italy)                 5th Kislev                      1799                 Synagogue saved from destruction

Ivrea (Italy)                  1st Shevet                      1797                 Escaped plundering during

revolutionary war

Lepano (Greece)           11th Tevet                     1699                 Saved during Turkish war

Medzibozs (Poland)       11th Tevet                     1648-49            Saved by Chmielnicki’s bands

Prague                          14th Heshvan                 1620                 Saved from sacking and riots

Rome                           1st Shevat                      1793                 Ghetto saved assault and fire

Sevmide (Italy)              25th Tammuz                 1809                 Saved from earthquake

Tiberias                        7th Elul                          1743                 Saved from danger of war

Vilna                            15th Av                         1794                 Saved during Russo-Polish war

Vidin-Bulgaria               4th-5th Heshvan             1806                 Saved by accusation that the ruler had been

poisoned by his Jewish physician


Jonathan S. Tobin
Contentions, January 12, 2011


Less than two years ago, the readers of the New York Times were being treated to Roger Cohen’s tribute to Iran’s supposedly kindly treatment of the remnant of a once-great Jewish community. Cohen’s rosy description of life inside the Islamist republic was widely scorned for his willingness to buy into the lies being peddled by the tyrants of Tehran. The Times columnist’s motive for trying to soften the image of that openly anti-Semitic government was to undermine support for sanctions or the use of force to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. The point was that if Iran’s eliminationist rhetoric about the State of Israel could be rationalized or its reputation for Jew-hatred wished away, it would be that much harder to forge an international consensus on the need to stop this regime for gaining nuclear capability.

In the intervening two years since Cohen’s fallacious pro-Iranian broadside, we haven’t heard much about the treatment of the small Jewish community there. But this week, via a report from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, we learned that the Iranian news agency FARS has announced that the site of the Tomb of Mordechai and Esther in the city of Hamdan has lost its official status as a religious pilgrimage site. The FARS report says that Iranian children are now being taught that the site, which honors the biblical heroine Queen Esther and her uncle Mordechai, who are the central figures in the story of the Jewish holiday of Purim, was “an arm of Israeli imperialism that impugns Iranian sovereignty.” FARS went on to say that the name of the shrine must be obliterated in order to teach Iranians to “beware of the crimes of the Jews.” It goes on to say that the site must become “a Holocaust memorial” to the “Iranian victims of Esther and Mordechai” and be placed under the supervision of the state religious-endowments authority. This is, of course, the same Iranian government that officially denies the fact of the actual Holocaust.…

The action against the tomb appears to be a response to a demonstration by Iranian students who called for its destruction in response to a false report that Israel was digging beneath the al-Aksa mosque in Jerusalem. While we cannot know whether the Iranians will follow through on this threat and actually tear down the tomb or transform it into a center of anti-Jewish hate, it does provide yet another insight into the virulent nature of the attitudes of those in power there. Not satisfied with whipping up hatred against the State of Israel and the tiny, cowed remnant community that still lives there, the Iranians are now striking out against biblical Jews. The vicious nature of this regime is rooted in a view of Islam that apologists for Tehran have consistently sought to ignore. While the blow against Esther and Mordechai may be purely symbolic, it must be placed in the context of a long-running campaign of incitement against Jews and Israel that makes the possible acquisition of nuclear arms by this country even more alarming.

The Iranian war on Purim makes it even more imperative that they never be allowed to gain the power to do what the ayatollah’s ancient hero Haman attempted: the physical elimination of a Jewish population. Anyone who thinks that we can live with a nuclear Iran needs to consider the madness of allowing a government that thinks the Purim story should be reversed the power to do just that.


Sue Fishkoff
JTA, March 3, 2011


The Chmielnicki massacres weren’t particularly funny. From 1648 to 1651, nearly 100,000 Jews were slaughtered throughout Ukraine by Bohdan Chmielnicki and his roving bands of Cossacks. It was arguably the worst pogrom in history, leaving hundreds of Jewish communities in ruins.

Yet according to Mel Gordon, a professor of theater arts at the University of California, Berkeley, those years of terror led to the canonization of what we now know as Jewish humor.… And it happened on one day in July 1661 when the badkhn—a kind of cruel court jester in East European Jewish life—was spared a ban on merrymakers.…

Gordon, who has authored numerous books on theater, cinema and popular culture, lectures widely on his badkhn theory at Jewish and non-Jewish venues. “Everyone says that Jews are funny because they suffered so much,” he said. “That’s ridiculous.…” Nor are Jews funny because they’ve “always been funny,” another common falsehood, Gordon says.… So it’s not genetic, and it’s not because of suffering or social marginalization, that led to this thing we call Jewish humor—it’s the badkhn.

The badkhn was a [central figure] in East European Jewish life for three centuries, mocking brides and grooms at their weddings. He also was in charge of Purim spiels in shtetl society. His humor was biting, even vicious. He would tell a bride she was ugly, make jokes about the groom’s dead mother and round things off by belittling the guests for giving such worthless gifts.… It’s that same self-deprecating tone that characterizes the Yiddish-inflected Jewish jokes of the 20th century, Gordon points out. Who is the surly Jewish deli waiter of Henny Youngman fame if not a badkhn, making wisecracks at the customer’s expense?

Before the 1660s, there were at least 10 different stock comic types in shtetl life.… One would rhyme, one would juggle, one might sing. Wealthy folks would hire a variety for their simchas, or festive celebrations. But in the summer of 1661, a decade after the Chmielnicki massacres and its resultant famines, leading rabbis from Poland and Ukraine—the “Elders of the Four Councils”—met in Vilna to discuss why such evils had befallen the Jewish people.

The elders decided the Jews were being punished by God. A return to strict observance was the only solution. Levity and luxury were to be avoided. As one of the new conditions, wedding festivities became much more somber, and holidays such as Purim and Simchat Torah less raucous. The traditional Jewish comics were outlawed.

During one discussion on July 3, 1661, Gordon relates, a rabbi asked his colleagues, what about the badkhn? He’s not really funny, the rabbi said. In fact, he’s abusive. The elders agreed, and the badkhn was exempted from the ban.… And that’s how the badkhn became the only Jewish comic permitted in the shtetls…and how his particular brand of sarcastic, bleak humor set the tone for what we know today as Jewish comedy.…

The badkhn’s role was secure from the 1660s to the 1890s and the beginning of the great Jewish migration to America and to the larger cities of Russia and Ukraine. Gordon’s father, who came to America in 1929 from the Polish shtetl Bielsk-Podlasky, remembers the badkhn of his youth. “He was always drunk in the cemetery, telling jokes to kids,” Gordon recalls. “He came out of hiding for Purim and weddings.”

Little remains of the badkhn today outside Chasidic communities, where they are the stars of the yearly Purim spiels.… But the badkhn’s influence is still felt in mainstream culture, Gordon says, from the Borsch Belt humor of the 1920s and ‘30s, to contemporary Italian and African-American comedians who trade in barbed insults and self-deprecation. “Even today, almost all Jewish entertainers have badkhn humor,” Gordon said. “Sarah Silverman is completely badkhn.…”


Robert S. Wistrich

Jerusalem Post, March 16, 2011


The virus of Jew-hatred at the heart of Western civilization is rooted in ingrained attitudes, many of them to be found in Christian theology, scriptural interpretation, art and literature. That legacy, which came to a climax in the Holocaust, has been the object of increasingly serious reflection by the Vatican and the Catholic Church during the past 50 years. Pope John XXIII initiated the first steps that culminated in the 1965 Vatican II document Nostra Aetate, which stated that “what happened in Christ’s passion cannot be blamed upon all the Jews then living without distinction or upon the Jews of today.”

Twenty years later, another important Catholic document about how to present the Jews and Judaism in Church teaching, noted that “Christian sinners are more to blame for the death of Christ than those few Jews who brought it about.” Pope John Paul II went a step further in robustly condemning anti-Semitism as a sin and by visiting Jerusalem in 2000 as part of his historic act of repentance towards the Jewish people.

So, at first sight the media publicity surrounding Pope Benedict XVI’s second volume about the life of Christ (“Jesus of Nazareth, Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection”) released last week, may seem surprising. What exactly is new here in the light of earlier Church pronouncements? Does the present Pope really offer an unprecedented or sweeping exoneration of the Jewish people for the death of Jesus? Is his book a significant contribution to the struggle against anti-Semitism?

I believe that the answer must be a qualified yes. Albeit Pope Benedict does not provide a sweeping absolution of all Jewish “guilt” for the Passion. The Jewish leadership of Jesus’ time and the supporters of the insurrectionary, Barabbas, still bear some responsibility for the crucifixion but it is relative and very much attenuated. More importantly, the cry of the Jerusalem crowd as presented in the Gospel of Matthew (27:25)—“His blood be upon us and on our children” (a somewhat implausible Jewish self-accusation for the death of Jesus with appalling historical consequences) is effectively contextualized by the Pope. So, too, are some of the passages in the Gospel of John which portray “the Jews” as sons of the Devil and sworn enemies of Christ. Benedict XVI does indeed seek to neutralize the potentially toxic anti-Semitism in these and other statements that resulted over the centuries in the savage persecution of Jews. Since his book will undoubtedly reach a wide audience (probably much greater than that of official Vatican documents like Nostra Aetate), that is surely to be welcomed.

For all too long there has been a serious discrepancy between what most Christian scholars would write today about the New Testament and what many lay Catholics and even some clergy—still influenced by long-standing anti-Judaism of the Church—continue to believe. Pope Benedict XVI’s most important contribution may well be to have begun the process of confronting (in a scholarly way) this considerable gap and refuting some of the anti-Jewish libels that have been constructed around the Gospel for nearly two thousand years. Not all these stereotypes are likely to disappear in the immediate future but the Pope has at least reaffirmed to Catholics world-wide not only that Jesus and his disciples were Jews but that there should be no room in Christianity for any denigration of the people of Israel.

No one can seriously doubt Benedict XVI’s commitment to improving Christian-Jewish relations despite a number of regrettable decisions and errors of judgment he made earlier in his papacy. There is still, however, a great deal that needs to be done. Parts of the New Testament, especially relating to the Passion narrative, despite the Pope’s new book, will doubtlessly remain a source for anti-Semitism.

More importantly, hatred for Israel has spread far and wide in our own day, well beyond the confines of the Church. The Islamic world, in particular, has become deeply infected by anti-Jewish stereotypes and myths like the blood libel, whose sources lie in the Christian Middle Ages. Some sections of the secular Left, too, have been contaminated by a crude hatred of Jews masquerading as “anti-Zionism.”

Perhaps the time has come for this Pope to speak out with the full authority of his office and his moral conscience, to denounce the almost daily incitement and slanders directed at the people of Israel from so many sources outside the Church. This would surely be consonant with the universal mission and concerns of the Holy See, as well as its desire for rapprochement with the Jewish nation. It would indeed be a timely jolt for the cause of Middle Eastern and world peace as well as promoting deeper understanding between peoples of different faiths.

(Robert S. Wistrich is professor of European history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
and author of
A Lethal Obsession: Antisemitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad.)