Tag: Jewish culture

CAMPUS “SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIORS” STIFLE FREE SPEECH & ACADEMIC FREEDOM; REMEMBERING FALLEN SOLDIERS & LEONARD COHEN

 

Jordan Peterson — a Real Professor, at Last: Rex Murphy, National Post, Oct. 30, 2016 — By now most of the country is familiar with the story of one professor, Jordan Peterson…

Professor who Tweeted Against PC Culture is Out at NYU: Melkorka Licea, New York Post, Oct. 30, 2016 — An NYU professor crusading against political correctness and student coddling was booted from the classroom last week after his colleagues complained about his “incivility,” The Post has learned.

Angels of the Battlefield: Bernie M. Farber, National Post, Nov. 11, 2016— As today is Remembrance Day, it behooves us to recall those who served with great courage during the Second World War…

The Extraordinary Israeli Story Behind Leonard Cohen's 'Lover, Lover, Lover': Judy Maltz, Ha’aretz, Nov. 11, 2016— It wasn’t only that his sad and beautiful lyrics resonated so strongly with them.

 

On Topic Links

 

The Right to be Politically Incorrect: Jordan Peterson, National Post, Nov. 8, 2016

The Forgotten WWI Battle That Helped Define Canada as a Nation: Roy MacGregor, Globe & Mail, Nov. 11, 2016

New Leonard Cohen Song is Very Jewish — and Very Dark: Gabe Friedman, Times of Israel, Sept. 22, 2016

The Tangled Jewish Roots of Mile-End’s Music Scene: Mark Slutsky, Red Bull Music Daily, Oct. 26, 2016

 

 

 

JORDAN PETERSON — A REAL PROFESSOR, AT LAST

Rex Murphy

National Post, Oct. 30, 2016

 

By now most of the country is familiar with the story of one professor, Jordan Peterson, at the University of Toronto, who has expressed strong and vivid dissent over the university’s attempt to force him to use certain words — ersatz pronouns, a batch of neologisms (ze, zim, zer, and a raft of others, in place of he or she) coined by progressive groups, intended to apply to students who “self-identify” as other than the archaic and obsolete designations of man and woman.

 

Prof. Peterson will not use these new cant words. He will not be ordered by the university, or pressured by activists, to take their words and put them in his mouth. He goes further and insists that it is an abandonment of academic freedom, and freedom of speech more generally, for the university or others to insist or attempt to mandate such a practice. He has made three videos arguing his case. He points out the ideological forces, the “political agenda” behind “language politics,” and correctly argues and identifies that there is far more at stake in this instance than some local gripe about grammatical commonplaces on a single campus.

 

As a consequence, Peterson received from his university two letters of reprimand and warning, one of which I would like to deal with in some detail, for it is a most miserable document, in content, tone and misdirection. And, coming from a university, it is also simultaneously shameless and utterly shame-worthy. The letters are easily available online for your reference. There is much to object to, but let me concentrate just on the following passage.

 

As a result of Peterson’s speaking on these matters, “Some students have been the target of specific and violent threats, including threats of assault, injury and death against them individually and as members of the trans community. We trust these that these impacts on students and others were not your intention in making (the controversial remarks). However, in view of these impacts, as well as the requirements of the Ontario Human Rights Code, we urge you to stop making these remarks.”

 

Is the university seriously claiming, by inference or direct assertion, that because a professor has freely chosen not to speak a set of freshly made-up words that others insist he speak, that others, because of the professor’s intellectual dissent, have really been made targets of “assault, injury, and death threats”?

 

Has the University of Toronto been moved to Iran now, that such things happen? That such “impacts” fall from the serene academic sky when a professor unfolds a reasonable (if contentious) argument, an argument moreover which, if at all studied, proves to be an actual defence of the idea of a real university, one that respects standards of debate, argument, and illustrates the very academic autonomy university tenure was meant to buttress and consolidate?

 

Is it really their expectation or experience that Peterson’s defence of the centrality of free speech and intellectual exchange precipitate “assaults, injury or death threats”? I must believe, though it storms my senses of logic and credibility, that the university authorities do so, since they go on to “urge” him to stop making his arguments.

 

But if there are real threats of death, injury and violence, why “urge” him to stop? Why not, in so serious a matter, order him. Answer: because “urge” is a weasel word, and allows the enlightened authorities at the seat of higher learning to convey their sweet and sanctimonious concern without having the courage to actually command what, if the danger was real, they certainly would.

 

I simply don’t believe them. But if they present their police reports (for surely threats of injury, violence and death have been reported?), and show evidence of increased security and police patrols, I might change my mind. In the meantime, on the wild chance all this is indeed the case, every student should stay away from University of Toronto campus until the carnage stirred up by The Great Pronoun War subsides.

 

This is human resources-speak at its demeaning worst. The whole letter is the university’s leaders reaching for the stock phrases and code speak of “social justice” to coat their otherwise absolutely unsupportable efforts to contain their discomfort with an academic who is, actually, true to his calling. It’s a letter of threat, masquerading as an epistle of concern.

 

And following that logic, are they seriously asserting that the professor should abandon his absolute right to speak the thoughts and words he chooses to speak in the academy, because if he does not, then somehow should these “death threats” materialize, he will bear the burden of being their cause? This is an implicit accusation straight out of the nightmare pages of real world dystopias, all the menace of Animal Farm without Orwell’s drear wit.

 

Just who is “unsafe” here? Peterson himself, of course. When bravely and openly he went public to argue his case, a mob surrounded him, threatened him, drowned out his words with a “white noise” machine, and subjected him to a barrage of insults, slanders and pure insolence.

 

Were I a president of a university, and it sent out a letter of this intellectual fragility and insidious threat under the university’s imprimatur, I would see it expunged instantly, or resign for fear of disgrace by association. And were I a president, and a mob of hostile, anti-intellectual bullies harassed and threatened a professor on my campus, either the members of the mob would go, or I would. It should be as clear as that.

 

The older, raw, honest tyrannies told people what not to speak. But the new, wilier versions, midwifed by our famous human rights overseers, are proposing to insist on what we must speak. Here be the new axioms of our day: we own your pronouns, use no others. “He” and “she” are assault words. Freedom of speech is the life-raft flotsam of gurgling obscurantists and bigots going down for the last time. Prof. Jordan Peterson is a brave man. Better, he is an actual, a real, university professor. May his stamina and courage hold. Parents, send your children to his classes.

 

                                                                         

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PROFESSOR WHO TWEETED AGAINST PC CULTURE IS OUT AT NYU                                                                    

Melkorka Licea                                                                                                       

New York Post, Oct. 30, 2016

 

An NYU professor crusading against political correctness and student coddling was booted from the classroom last week after his colleagues complained about his “incivility,” The Post has learned. Liberal studies prof Michael Rectenwald, 57, said he was forced Wednesday to go on paid leave for the rest of the semester. “They are actually pushing me out the door for having a different perspective,” the academic told The Post.

 

Rectenwald launched an undercover Twitter account called Deplorable NYU Prof on Sept. 12 to argue against campus trends like “safe spaces,” “trigger warnings” policing Halloween costumes and other aspects of academia’s growing PC culture.

 

He chose to be anonymous, he explained in one of his first tweets, because he was afraid “the PC Gestapo would ruin me” if he put his name ­behind his conservative ideas on the famously liberal campus. “I remember once on my Facebook I posted a story about a kid who changed his pronoun to ‘His Majesty’ because I thought it was funny,” he told The Post. “Then I got viciously attacked by 400 people. This whole milieu is nauseating. I grew tired of it, so I made the account.”

 

On Oct. 11, Rectenwald used his ­internet alter ego to criticize “safe spaces” — the recent campus trend of “protecting” students from uncomfortable speech — as “at once a hall of mirrors and a rubber room.”  Two weeks ago he posted on his “anti-PC” feed a photo of a flyer put out by NYU resident advisers telling students how to avoid wearing potentially offensive Halloween costumes. His caption read: “The scariest thing about Halloween today is . . . the liberal totalitarian costume surveillance. NYU RAs gone mad,” he wrote. “It’s an alarming curtailment of free expression to the point where you can’t even pretend to be something without authorities coming down on you in the universities,” Rectenwald told The Post.

 

But the Twitter feed soon sparked a “witch hunt” by the growing army of “social justice warriors,” he said. In an interview published Monday in the Washington Square News, NYU’s Independent Student Newspaper, the eight-year instructor admitted he was the Deplorable NYU Prof. “My contention is that trigger warning, safe spaces and bias hot-line reporting is not politically correct. It is insane,” he told the student paper. “The crazier and crazier that this left gets . . . the more the alt-right is going to be laughing their asses off [and] getting more pissed.”, he was quoted as saying. The divorced father of three came forward because “I thought there was nothing objectionable about what I had said.”

 

But Rectenwald says he began getting “dirty looks” in his department and on Wednesday figured out why: A 12-person committee calling itself the Liberal Studies Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Working Group, including two deans, published a letter to the editor in the same paper. “As long as he airs his views with so little appeal to evidence and civility, we must find him guilty of illogic and incivility in a community that predicates its work in great part on rational thought and the civil exchange of ideas,” they wrote of the untenured assistant professor.

 

“We seek to create a dynamic community that values full participation. Such efforts are not the ‘destruction of academic integrity’ Professor Rectenwald suggests, but rather what make possible our program’s approach to global studies,” they argued. Rectenwald likened the attack to “a Salem witch trial. They took my views personally. I never even mentioned them and I never even said NYU liberal studies program. I was talking about academia at large,” said the professor, a popular instructor who was graded 4.4 out of 5 on ratemyprofessors.com.

 

The same day the letter was published, Rectenwald was summoned to a meeting with his department dean and an HR representative, he says. “They claimed they were worried about me and a couple people had expressed concern about my mental health. They suggested my voicing these opinions was a cry for help,” Rectenwald told The Post. “Then they said I should leave and get help.” He said, “They had no reason to believe that my mental health was in question, unless to have a different opinion makes one insane.” Students told him that professors openly discussed with students how he may be fired.

 

The leave has “absolutely zero to do with his Twitter account or his opinions on issues of the day,” said NYU spokesman Matt Nagel. But Rectenwald is disheartened. “I’m afraid my academic career is over,” he said Rectenwald. “Academic freedom: It’s great, as long as you don’t use it.”                          

 

                       

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ANGELS OF THE BATTLEFIELD                                                                          

Bernie M. Farber                                                                                                           

National Post, Nov. 11, 2016

 

As today is Remembrance Day, it behooves us to recall those who served with great courage during the Second World War, and to remember that heroes come in all shapes and sizes — not all of them carried guns or flew Spitfires. Those who were part of the Canadian Field Ambulance Service are a fine example. Very often these angels of the battlefield undertook to administer to the medical needs of those who were wounded in action, dressing injuries and evacuating soldiers, very often risking their own lives to do it.

 

Pte. Harold “Red” Fromstein served with the Black Watch, Canada’s oldest Highland Regiment. Established in 1862, the Black Watch — based in Montreal, where it still has its headquarters — fought gallantly in battles from the time of the Fenian raids in 1866, through two world wars and even in modern Afghanistan.

 

Born in Toronto, Fromstein moved with his family to Montreal as a teenager. He and his brothers were well known for their athletic abilities and were active with the Young Men’s Hebrew Association there. When war broke out in 1939, the three brothers, like more than 17,000 other young Canadian Jews (fully 20 per cent of the entire Canadian male Jewish population of the time), enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces.

 

Fromstein was only 17 years old when he joined up in August 1940, but he was so anxious to see action that he used his older brother’s name and papers. He saw much action as a stretcher-bearer with his rifle company. While serving in France in July 1944, he was shot and treated in a French medical unit in Nazi-held territory, forcing him to remain in hiding until American troops captured the area.

 

A few months later, in February 1945, he found himself in the Hochwald Gap in Germany. Though by that time the Germans knew the war was lost, they were determined to make the Allies fight for every inch of the Fatherland. At one point during this ferocious clash, several Canadian tanks and a large part of a rifle company were pinned down under heavy fire. There were many casualties and moving forward was almost impossible.

 

Pte. Fromstein understood what he had to do. Oblivious to the gun and mortar fire, he scurried over to the wounded and tended to their injuries. Many had to be evacuated and it was up to him to make that happen. Disregarding his own safety, he organized the effort to move the gravely wounded. The tortuous path to safety extended over a mile of gun-infested trails and mortar fire. The heroic actions of Pte. Fromstein undoubtedly saved many lives.

 

As a result of his extreme courage under unspeakable battle conditions, he was awarded the Military Medal on June 5, 1945. The citation read, in part, “This soldier’s exceptionally courageous acts, which were far in excess of his normal duty, definitely saved the lives of several of his comrades and not only earned him the admiration and respect of all ranks of his company but assisted greatly in maintaining the morale of his comrades at fighting pitch.” Fromstein was among the 1,971 Canadian Jewish soldiers to receive military honours, more than 10 per cent of the entire Canadian Jewish fighting force.

 

 

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THE EXTRAORDINARY ISRAELI STORY BEHIND LEONARD COHEN'S 'LOVER, LOVER, LOVER'           Judy Maltz                                       

Ha’aretz, Nov. 11, 2016

 

It wasn’t only that his sad and beautiful lyrics resonated so strongly with them. And it wasn’t only because he was a fellow member of the tribe. Leonard Cohen, who died on Friday at the age of 82, has long held a special place in the hearts of Israelis, thanks in large parts to his extraordinary act of solidarity during one of their darkest moments.

 

In October 1973, when the Yom Kippur War broke out, Cohen was living on the Greek island of Hydra with his partner Suzanne and their son Adam. Wanting to lend his assistance to the Jewish people but not knowing exactly how, he boarded a flight to Tel Aviv, hoping to volunteer on a kibbutz. Israel’s collective farms were facing a severe manpower shortage at the time because most able-bodied men had been called up to combat.

 

He was sitting at a cafe on Tel Aviv’s famed Dizengoff Street, engaged in conversation with a well-known Israel actor, when the Canadian songwriter and poet was recognized by one of his local admirers, the singer Oshik Levi. Levi approached Cohen and asked what he was doing in Israel. When Cohen relayed his plans to volunteer on a kibbutz, Levi immediately dissuaded him, saying he could put his talents to much better use elsewhere. Why don’t you come join me and some friends who’ll be performing for the troops in the Sinai? Levi suggested.

 

Cohen was initially reluctant. He didn’t think his sad songs were the best way to boost the morale of the troops, he said. “I told him that everything will be alright,” Levi later recounted in an interview with i24News.

 

Levi was part of a band known at the time as “The Geneva Conference,” which included one of Israel’s most talented musicians, Matti Caspi. For the next few months, Cohen joined them as a singer, with Caspi accompanying him on guitar as they made the rounds performing for Israeli troops during the Yom Kippur War. A recently unearthed photo taken near the Suez Canal at the time shows Cohen standing between Caspi and the controversial general who would many years later become Israel’s prime minister – Ariel Sharon.

 

It was after his first performance in the Sinai that Cohen, according to various accounts, found himself a relatively quiet corner and scribbled down the words to what would later become one of his popular songs. He emerged with a piece of paper on which were written to words to “Lover Come Back To Me” and which was performed there in the Sinai Desert during the Yom Kippur War for the very first time. Also known as “Lover, Lover, Lover,” It ends with the following words:

 

And may the spirit of this song,

may it rise up pure and free.

May it be a shield for you,

a shield against the enemy.

 

Cohen would later say he wrote “Lover Come Back to Me” for soldiers on both sides of the battle lines – Israeli and Egyptian. But at a performance in Tel Aviv in 1980, he said it was inspired “by the grace and the bravery of many Israeli soldiers at the front” and described his experiences with the troops during the Yom Kippur War as “invigorating and depressing.”

 

The song was eventually included in his 1974 album “New Skin for the Old Ceremony.” That album also included another well-known song believed to have been influenced by Cohen’s Yom Kippur War experiences: “Who By Fire?” That song is based on the words of the Hebrew prayer, “U’netanneh Tokef” – recited on the Jewish High Holy Days.

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

On Topic Links

 

The Right to be Politically Incorrect: Jordan Peterson, National Post, Nov. 8, 2016—A month ago, I posted three videos to my YouTube channel, as a means of speaking out against our culture’s politically correct insanity. I specifically objected to Bill C-16, a bill that has now passed second reading in the House of Commons, which adds “gender identity” and “gender expression” to the list of attributes protected by the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, and to similar legislation already in place in Ontario and other provinces.

The Forgotten WWI Battle That Helped Define Canada as a Nation: Roy MacGregor, Globe & Mail, Nov. 11, 2016—The Baker Boys had a grand plan. To celebrate Greg Baker’s 65th birthday, his brothers Randy and Bruce would join him on a trek they had dreamed about most of their lives. They would leave their Ottawa homes and fly first to England to see the small coastal town in Suffolk that their grandfather and two older brothers left in 1908 to settle in Canada.

New Leonard Cohen Song is Very Jewish — and Very Dark: Gabe Friedman, Times of Israel, Sept. 22, 2016—Leonard Cohen released a new song on Wednesday, which happens to be his 82nd birthday — but it isn’t quite a celebratory tune. Dense with Jewish language and themes, “You Want it Darker” will appear on the songwriter’s upcoming album of the same name (his 14th studio album) on Oct. 21. The song delivers on the promise of its title — it’s really, really dark. The song is an eerie, minimalist rumination with strong religious elements in the lyrics. At the end of the chorus Cohen sings “Hineni, hineni; I’m ready, my lord.” Hineni is Hebrew for “here I am,” and is the response Abraham gives when God calls on him to sacrifice his son Isaac.

The Tangled Jewish Roots of Mile-End’s Music Scene: Mark Slutsky, Red Bull Music Daily, Oct. 26, 2016—Picture this: Montréal is a regional epicenter of a thriving music scene. It’s largely based around the Plateau and Mile-End neighborhoods, in venues on Fairmount, St-Laurent, Duluth and St-Urbain streets. Its practitioners have flocked to the city from around the world, attracted by the music community’s vitality and international reputation. The best of them, some surprisingly young, are considered stars in the musical firmament, though many still toil away in poverty. The community is supported by an appreciative local press and attracts impresarios, audiences and money.

 

ISRAEL’S DEMOCRACY THRIVES, DESPITE BIBI-BENNETT ROW; MEANWHILE, NYT UNFAIRLY CRITICAL OF ISRAELI PRESS

Stop Bickering, Boys: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, Aug. 5, 2016— It's good the Knesset went into summer recess this week, and it would be great if the cabinet did so too.

Sorry, ‘New York Times,’ But Israel’s Press Is Doing Just Fine: Liel Leibovitz, Tabler, Aug. 1, 2016— Did you hear the one about the Middle Eastern country that really cracked down on its freedom of the press?

Israel Emerges As A Player On The World Stage: Jonathan Adelman, Huffington Post, Aug. 8, 2016— The emergence of Israel as a small but significant player on the world stage is one of the remarkable developments at the end of the post-Cold War era.

Tisha b’Av: A Guide for the Perplexed: Yoram Ettinger, United With Israel, Aug. 11, 2016— Tisha b’Av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, is the most calamitous day in Jewish history, first mentioned in the Book of Zechariah 7:3.

 

On Topic Links

 

Can Open Primaries Heal Israeli Politics?: Mazal Mualem, Al-Monitor, Aug. 10, 2016

Israel’s Economy – an Island of Stability: Yoram Ettinger, Ettinger Report, July 28, 2016

Kahlon’s Budget: Jerusalem Post, Aug. 9, 2016

Tisha B’Av and the Nature of Evil: Pini Dunner, Algemeiner, Aug. 12, 2016

 

STOP BICKERING, BOYS

David M. Weinberg

Israel Hayom, Aug. 5, 2016

 

It's good the Knesset went into summer recess this week, and it would be great if the cabinet did so too. That might be the only way to prevent the coalition partners, especially Prime Minister and Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister and Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett, from gouging out each other's eyes. The pair have been at each other's throats for years, but it seems their squabbling is becoming nastier and more personal every month. It has gone way beyond the bounds of expected political rivalry, especially between two leaders who supposedly belong to the same nationalist camp.

 

You would think that there were no bigger issues for them to worry about together, such as keeping U.S. President Barack Obama and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at bay, or thwarting the radical liberal cultural coup that is being attempted in this country. It's not that the two leaders don't have serious issues to disagree about. They do, including the (re)deployment of the Israel Defense Forces in the West Bank, (the lack of) settlement construction and the legalization of outposts, the continuing religious-national disgrace on the Temple Mount, IDF readiness for war with Hamas and the government's (insufficient?) attention to the tunnel threat, real-time and comprehensive intelligence briefings for security cabinet members, the regulation of public broadcasting and prosecution of the soldier who shot a wounded terrorist in Hebron.

 

Netanyahu and Bennett have legitimate, differing opinions on these issues, and these differences will likely find political expression the next time Israelis go to the polls. But in the meantime, there is a government to run, and a nationalist camp to keep in power. Does the vicious name-calling and mutual demonization really help? In recent months, Bennett has wildly and wrongly accused the government (that is, Netanyahu) of "dancing to the tune of" left-wing human rights group B'Tselem and of "ethical befuddlement."

 

He infuriated Netanyahu last month by harshly and unfairly indicting the prime minister of "voting for the Gaza disengagement and destruction of Gush Katif, releasing more terrorists than anyone in the history of the state, freezing construction in Judea and Samaria, surrendering to Hamas and declaring a Palestinian state at Bar-Ilan University." Bennett consistently accuses Netanyahu of hiding relevant intelligence from the cabinet and information about diplomacy from the public. And he has voted against Netanyahu in several critical cabinet decisions.

 

For his part, Netanyahu has nonsensically called Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (also of Habayit Hayehudi) "darlings of the Left," while he begs Opposition Leader MK Isaac Herzog to bring his hard-left Zionist Union party into the government to replace Bennett. Netanyahu has spuriously accused Bennett of "teaching the poems of [controversial] Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish" to Israeli schoolchildren. Netanyahu slams Bennett whenever the Habayit Hayehudi leader tries to raise a serious matter in the cabinet. He lords it over Bennett in public with the refrain "I have led more soldiers into battle than you. You will not preach to me." And he has threatened to fire Bennett half a dozen times, calling him "cheeky" and "irresponsible."

 

Alas, both leaders are guilty of "firing inside the armored personnel carrier" by undermining the nationalist camp with unrestrained acrimony from within. This is unwise and intolerable, and must end. If not, the government will collapse. Would Netanyahu and Bennett and their voters prefer that Herzog, his fellow party member MK Tzipi Livni and former Justice Minister Haim Ramon lead Israel toward an Oslo III agreement or a unilateral withdrawal from Judea and Samaria and a division of Jerusalem? Would they prefer to see MK Amir Peretz (Zionist Union) return absurdly as defense minister, or Shelly Yachimovich (Zionist Union) disastrously lead a socialist revolution as finance minister? The answer, obviously, is of course not. So stop squabbling, boys, and get on with the business of efficiently running the government with a minimum of mutual respect.

 

In the past, ardent political rivals have worked civilly together at the helm of the country despite inherent tensions. This was the case with Prime Ministers David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Sharett, or Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, or Yitzhak Shamir and Shimon Peres, or even Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu. Not smooth, and without much love. But in each case, their governments racked up real achievements. Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman clawed at each other mercilessly over the past two years, while Lieberman was a member of the opposition. But now that they're in the government together, a certain decorum exists.

 

In the end, Netanyahu and Bennett have a lot in common. They are gifted, intelligent, outspoken, well-rooted in security discourse, conversant about the U.S., and ideologically committed to conservatism. Bennett needs to be patient and earn more political experience. Netanyahu must learn to groom successors. The Talmud (Shabbat 63a) comments that even the most vociferous and bitter disagreements can lead to good results if the dueling scholars actually listen to each other attentively. If they do so, says Rabbi Shimon Ben-Lakish, the heavens will listen to the Jewish people, too, and vanquish enemies. Is it too much to ask Netanyahu and Bennett to make a similar scholarly effort? It might even help us win some important diplomatic battles.

                                                           

 

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                 SORRY, ‘NEW YORK TIMES,’ BUT ISRAEL’S

PRESS IS DOING JUST FINE               

                                      Liel Leibovitz                                    

Tablet, Aug. 1, 2016

 

Did you hear the one about the Middle Eastern country that really cracked down on its freedom of the press? Not Turkey, where 42 journalists were arrested last week in the latest assault on the tenets of democracy; I’m talking, of course, about Israel, the subject of yet another grim opinion piece this weekend in The New York Times. In case you’re the sort who doesn’t read much past the headline, the Times made sure you would not walk away confused: The lengthy dirge, written by New York-based Israeli reporter Ruth Margalit, was titled “How Benjamin Netanyahu is Crushing Israel’s Free Press.”

 

How indeed? You would hardly believe the depraved things Jerusalem’s demonic despot would do to solidify his grasp on power. Bibi, Margalit solemnly informs us, appoints people who agree with him politically to key positions in government. Shocked yet? Get this: He also has his office call newspapers and websites and try to spin the news in his favor. If such benighted moves fail to shake you to the core, if you still don’t feel the chill of fascism’s shadow, Margalit has one last bit of damning evidence for you. Take a deep breath: To crush the precious freedom flower that is Israel’s press, Bibi, that monster, is opening up the media market to more competition.

 

“All three of Israel’s main television news channels—Channel 2, Channel 10, and the Israel Broadcasting Authority—are now in danger of being fragmented, shut down, or overhauled, respectively,” Margalit wrote. “The government’s official reason behind these moves is to open up the communications industry to more competition. But there seems to be a double standard: On other issues, like natural gas, the prime minister has been loath to take a stand against monopolies. As Ilana Dayan, a leading investigative journalist for Channel 2, told me: ‘Sometimes competition is the refuge of the antidemocrat.’”

 

Because I know Margalit a little bit and respect her more than that, I’ll say little about the glaring inanity of comparing a scarce and finite natural resource like gas to the media market, which, in the age of the internet, is a superabundant field. I’ll similarly resist the urge to inquire just what sort of worldview one ought to have to see the proliferation of diverse voices as somehow antithetical to democracy. Nor will I ask why, if indeed the tyrant is unleashing his own version of Game of Thrones, coming at his competitors with swords and bloodlust, do so many senior Israeli journalists feel so giddy to share their jeremiads with Margalit; you infrequently see Erdogan’s foes so loose-tongued, which, to all but the reporters and editors of the Times, should have served as yet another indication that headlines warning of the free press being crushed are perhaps a tad immature.

 

Instead of raising these obvious objections, I’ll do something Margalit and her editors didn’t bother doing and offer both facts and analysis. Rather than dignify the assertion that Israel’s press is under assault—an uproarious proposition to anyone who actually consumes the Israeli press and knows it to be largely dedicated to fierce criticism of the prime minister, his cabinet, his worldview, and anything associated therewith—I’ll try and consider why so many of Israel’s reporters, enjoying robust liberties as they do, still nonetheless imagine themselves under attack.

 

First, the figures: In a seminal study released in 2010, Israeli communications scholar Avi Gur researched the publicly expressed opinions of 38,887 people over 124,879 minutes of broadcast and in 8,324 opinion pieces in the print media during the years 1996 to 1999—then, as now, Netanyahu was prime minister—in order to ascertain whether or not the Israeli press was indeed ideologically left-leaning. His conclusion is stark: Yediot Aharonot, for example, the nation’s most widely read and influential media organ, favored left-wing positions an overwhelming 83.5 percent of the time, and others weren’t too far behind. Not that any senior of the media was contesting Gur’s findings: Raviv Drucker, for example, one of Israel’s leading investigative reporters and a man who has made a fine career dogging Netanyahu with the tenacity of a blue tick coonhound smelling a critter stirring in the distance, wrote a piece some years ago and admitted that 80 percent or more of his colleagues across the board were committed lefties.

 

This, in part, helps explain why blatant ideological impositions on the free press are just dandy when they come from the left, like when Amos Schocken, the publisher of the radically liberal Haaretz admitted to strongly and enthusiastically supporting the Obama administration’s position on the Iran deal against the stated policy of the Israeli government. When the smart and sensible folks take a stand, it’s time to applaud their courage; when the primates on the right attempt to express their views, it’s time to alert the Times that democracy is dying.

 

This myopic and morally corrupt approach would be maddening if it weren’t so comical, and if it didn’t cost the Israeli left more or less everything, electorally speaking. Out of ideas, out of time, and out of touch with reality, the small cabal that huddles in Tel Aviv’s newsrooms can hardly believe that the unwashed masses could be so impudent as to demand media that faithfully reflect reality, or that at least offer more the singular and approved and rigid point of view. With no one left to listen in Israel, they turn to the Times, which, to paraphrase Margalit’s piece, is quickly becoming the refuge of the blame-Israel-only crowd. It’s sad to see a reporter who should’ve known better abandon any attempt at insight or nuance and turn instead to the Times for the most banal sort of affirmation, and it’s sad to see the Times continue to publish such drivel without attempting any real depth or understanding. Nevermind, and godspeed: Keep your opinion pages, which, like your opinions, are but sound and fury, signifying absolutely nothing.         

 

Contents                                                           

             

ISRAEL EMERGES AS A PLAYER ON THE WORLD STAGE       

Jonathan Adelman                                   

Huffington Post, Aug. 8, 2016

 

The emergence of Israel as a small but significant player on the world stage is one of the remarkable developments at the end of the post-Cold War era. The slow economic growth of the United States and Europe has shown the weakness of the status quo powers. The American semi-withdrawal from the Middle East and the British withdrawal from the European Union have opened the door to new powers. The chaos in the Middle East and the rise of revisionist authoritarian states such as Russia, China and Iran and democratic states like India raise the possibility of a new world order. This would be partly dominated by hardline conservative nationalism, charismatic leadership, slow economic growth, and hostility to the old globalist order.

 

With eight million people Israel can only play on the fringes of a new global order. But, it has a flourishing economy of $300 billion and nearly $40,000 GDP/capita. Its democratic, liberal politics and growing economy make it able to play both sides of the street. Its military was rated by the Institute for the Study of War as “pilot to pilot and airframe to airframe” having “the best air force in the world“ and the best army in the Middle East. Israel’s extensive work on air defenses (Iron Dome, David’s Sling, Arrow 2 and soon Arrow 3), carried out with the United States, makes it a serious military power. Its 80-100 atomic bombs put it in a rarified club of nine states in the world. Its intelligence capabilities (Shin Beth and Mossad) are formidable.

 

With over 250 foreign companies creating research facilities in Israel, its strong high-tech capability has been rated by the University of Lausanne as one of the top five world powers in this key area. While foreigners in 2015 invested $4 billion in Israel, Apple alone has invested over a billion dollars in creating a hardware development center with 800 Israeli employees. The Israelis, who created drip agriculture, are exporting $2 billion a year in water technology and recently hosted the leading international water conference

 

Three of the world’s most powerful countries have invited Israeli companies to work with them in high-tech. The Americans have paired Technion with Cornell University in the new high-tech university in Roosevelt Island in Manhattan. The Russians have asked Israeli high-tech to help develop their new Silicon Valley in Skolkovo in the suburbs of Moscow. The Chinese have asked Technion to work with them to create a Shantou-Technion School of Technology in Guangdong Province.

 

Israel has, despite its poor past relationship, developed excellent relations with Russia. There are over one million Russian immigrants in Israel and all seven of Israel’s early long serving Prime Ministers before 2005 were either from Russia or spoke Russian. Israel’s kibbutzim, moshavim and Histadrut owe their creation to Russian socialist ideas. Bibi Netanyahu has visited Moscow four times in the last year; Putin has visited Israel twice. While the two countries differ over Moscow’s support for Iran and selling them the S-300 anti-missile defense system, Israel has sold $1 billion of drones to Russia over the years. It has $3 billion in trade and shares a desire for peace in the region.

 

The Israelis, who also did not have diplomatic relations with China until 1992, have seen their relationship expand strongly. Today their trade is expanding to $10 billion a year. Chinese investors have been looking to invest billions of dollars in Israel. Israel is looking to export their water technology to a country with 400 million people living in arid regions. Israel is also developing a strong relationship with India. It has $5 billion in trade with India which could multiply to $15 billion if the two sides decide to create a free trade zone. Israel is the second greatest exporter of arms to India, preceded only by Russia. India’s Foreign Ministry visited Israel in January and proclaimed that there was a “very high importance” to their new relationship. Prime Minister Narenda Modi is also scheduled to visit Israel.

 

For the tiny and poor 1948 Israel to be able less than 70 years later to play a role among the great powers of the world seems amazing. And, yet, in the twenty-first century, everything is possible.

 

 

Contents          

                                                     

                        TISHA B’AV: A GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED

Yoram Ettinger                       

          United With Israel, Aug. 11, 2016

 

Tisha b’Av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, is the most calamitous day in Jewish history, first mentioned in the Book of Zechariah 7:3. It is a day of fasting (one of four fast days connected to the destruction of Jerusalem), commemorating dramatic national catastrophes, in an attempt to benefit from history by learning from – rather than repeating – critical moral and strategic missteps. Forgetfulness feeds oblivion; remembrance breeds deliverance.

 

Major Jewish calamities are commemorated on the ninth day of Av: The failed “Ten Spies/tribal presidents” – contrary to Joshua & Caleb – slandered the Land of Israel, preferring immediate convenience and conventional “wisdom” over faith and long term vision, thus prolonging the wandering in the desert for 40 years, before settling the Promised Land; The destruction of the First Temple and Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (586 BCE) resulted in the massacre of 100,000 Jews and a massive national exile; The destruction of the Second Temple and Jerusalem by Titus of Rome (70 CE) triggered the massacre of 1 million Jews and another massive national exile, aiming to annihilate Judaism and the Jewish people; The execution of the Ten Martyrs – ten leading rabbis – by the Roman Empire;

 

The Bar Kokhba Revolt was crushed with the killing of Bar Kokhbah, the fall of his headquarters in Beitar (135 CE), south of Jerusalem in Judea and Samaria, the plowing of Jerusalem, and the killing of 600,000 Jews by the Roman Empire; The pogroms of the First Crusade (1096-1099) massacred tens of thousands of Jews in Germany, France, Italy and Britain; The Jewish expulsion from Britain (1290); The Jewish Expulsion from Spain (1492); The eruption of the First World War (1914); The beginning of the 1942 deportation of Warsaw Ghetto Jews to Treblinka extermination camp.

 

Napoleon was walking one night in the streets of Paris, hearing lamentations emanating from a synagogue.  When told that the wailing commemorated the 586 BCE destruction of the First Jewish Temple in Jerusalem he stated: “People who solemnize ancient history are destined for a glorious future!” A key message of the Ninth Day of Av, personally and collectively/nationally: Sustain faith and hope, and refrain from forgetfulness, despair, fatalism and pessimism, irrespective of the odds, which may seem – through conventional, short-term lenses – insurmountable, but could be a transition toward deliverance.  From Auschwitz to Jerusalem, from exile (estrangement, dispersal and enslavement) to the ingathering in the Land of Israel (spiritual and physical liberty).

 

The centrality of Jerusalem in Jewish history is commemorated on the ninth day of Av.  It is highlighted by Psalm 137:5 – “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.” According to the Babylonian Talmud, Ta’anit 30: “He who laments the destruction of Jerusalem will be privileged to witness its renewal.” The Book of the five Lamentations (The Scroll of Eikhah which was composed by Jeremiah the Prophet, who prophesized destruction, exile and deliverance) is read during the first nine days of Av. The numerical value of the Hebrew letters of Eikhah (איכה) is 36, which is equal to the traditional number of righteous Jewish persons. The Hebrew meaning of Eikhah (איכה) could be interpreted as a reproaching “How Come?!”, as well as “Where are you?” or “Why have you strayed away?”  The term איכה features in the first chapter of Deuteronomy and the first chapter of Isaiah, which are studied annually in conjunction with the book of Lamentations on the 9th day of Av. Thus the 9thday of Av binds together the values of Moses, Jeremiah and Isaiah and three critical periods in the history of the Jewish People: destruction, deliverance, renewal.

 

The ninth day of Av concludes a three-week-lamentation of Jewish calamities, emphasizing two reproaches by the Prophet Jeremiah and one by the Prophet Isaiah, launching a seven-week period of consolation, renewal and the ingathering, highlighted by Isaiah prophecies. The commemoration of the ninth day of Av constitutes a critical feature of Judaism. It enhances faith, roots, identity, moral clarity, cohesion and optimism by learning from past errors, and immunizing oneself against the lethal disease of forgetfulness. The verb “to remember” (זכור) appears almost 200 times in the Bible, including the Ten Commandments. Judaism obligates parents to transfer tradition to the younger generation, thus enhancing realism, while avoiding euphoric or fatalistic mood. The custom of house-cleaning on the ninth day of Av aims at welcoming deliverance. Fasting expresses the recognition of one’s limitations and fallibility and the constant pursuit of moral enhancement and humility.

 

The four Jewish days of fasting, commemorating the destruction of the Two Temples: the 10th day of Tevet (the onset of the Nebuchadnezzar’s siege of Jerusalem), the 17th day of Tamuz (the day the walls of Jerusalem were breached), the 9th day of Av (the destruction of both Temples) and the 3rd day of Tishrei (The murder of Governor Gedalyah, who maintained a level of post-destruction Jewish autonomy, which led to a murderous rampage by the Babylonians and to exile). The ninth day of Av culminates the 21 days of predicament (ימי בין המצרים), which began on the 17thday of the month of Tamuz, when the walls of Jerusalem were breached by Nebuchadnezzar (1st Temple) and by Titus (2nd Temple)…

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

 

 

 

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On Topic Links

 

Can Open Primaries Heal Israeli Politics?: Mazal Mualem, Al-Monitor, Aug. 10, 2016—The Likud faced the greatest crisis in its history on the eve of the 2006 elections. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's establishment of a new party, Kadima, had left Likud in shreds. Little remained of what had once been a large ruling party. After replacing Sharon as Likud chairman, Benjamin Netanyahu convinced the party’s Central Committee to relinquish the authority to choose the party’s Knesset list and to transfer that power to the entire party membership.

Israel’s Economy – an Island of Stability: Yoram Ettinger, Ettinger Report, July 28, 2016— 1. According to a study conducted by the University of Lausanne, Israel is one of the top five world high-tech powers, as indicated by a 2015 $1bn investment, in Israel, by Apple, creating a hardware development center. The USA, China, Russia and India are, actively, soliciting high-tech cooperation with Israel. India and Israel negotiate a free trade zone, which would increase their current $5bn trade balance. Israel is second only to Russia in the exportation of military systems to India (Jerusalem Post, July 24, 2016).

Kahlon’s Budget: Jerusalem Post, Aug. 9, 2016—In many respects, Kulanu is a political party born of the socioeconomic unrest of the summer of 2011. Moshe Kahlon, who stands at the head of the party, made a name for himself when he was still with the Likud as communication minister under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It was Kahlon who finally helped facilitate free market competition among cellphone operators that ended an era of price-gouging and exorbitantly high cellphone bills.

Tisha B’Av and the Nature of Evil: Pini Dunner, Algemeiner, Aug. 12, 2016—The period of mourning for the destruction of our two Jerusalem temples does not seem to fit with the idea that Judaism is underpinned by optimism and a backdrop of joy and positivity.

 

 

 

 

 

NYT, G & M’S ONGOING ANTI-ISRAEL BIAS QUESTIONED, AS LAMPEDUSA’S JEWISH CONNECTION IS REMEMBERED

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

 

The Rage Of The New York Times: Andrea Levin, Andrea Levin, Apr. 8, 2015 — A three-story billboard opposite the newsroom of The New York Times sponsored by CAMERA currently reads “The New York Times Against Israel: All Rant, All Slant, All the Time. Stop the Bias!”

J’Accuse: Globe and Mail Delegitimizes Israel’s Claim to Jerusalem: Mike Fegelman, Times of Israel, Apr. 24, 2015— Despite the Jewish people’s continuous and unbroken physical presence in the land of Israel for over 3 millennia, Jews are routinely presented as foreign occupiers of their own ancestral and biblical homeland.

The Jewish Connection to Lampedusa: Josephine Bacon, Algemeiner, May 11, 2015 — Lampedusa, a tiny island off the coast of Sicily, has been in the news in Europe lately. This is where the boats land that are packed with illegal immigrants from Africa, who often board in Libya.

Love is What Links Us to God: Jonathan Sacks, Algemeiner, May 21, 2015— One of the most amusing scenes in Anglo-Jewish history occurred on 14 October 1663.

 

On Topic Links

 

The Latest "Breaking the Silence" Report Isn't Journalism. It's Propaganda.: Matti Friedman, Mosaic, May 14, 2015

CBC Provides New Definition for Balanced Reporting: Diane Weber Bederman, Canada Free Press, May 18, 2015

BBC Conveniently Fails to Report on Rocket Attack From Gaza Strip: Hadar Sela, Algemeiner, Apr. 27, 2015

In Idiotic Editorial, New York Times Prioritizes Iranian Pride and Jobs Over Israeli Concerns: Elder of Ziyon, Algemeiner, Apr. 8, 2015

 

                            

THE RAGE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES                                                                                    

Andrea Levin                                                        

Jewish Press, Apr. 8, 2015

 

A three-story billboard opposite the newsroom of The New York Times sponsored by CAMERA currently reads “The New York Times Against Israel: All Rant, All Slant, All the Time. Stop the Bias!” The same message and others dot billboards on expressways in and out of the city as well as avenues in Manhattan, including approaches to tunnels traversed daily by tens of thousands of commuters. Across the metropolitan area, millions of people are reading the messages of the billboards.

 

The messages are not an overstatement. The unhinged fury of The New York Times over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his reelection by the people of Israel is only the latest event that points powerfully to underlying attitudes that permeate the publication’s acrimonious obsession with the Jewish state. The editorial tirade against Netanyahu on the occasion of his victory – calling him “craven” and “racist,” a builder of expansive settlements and a duplicitous obstacle to peace – underscores the extreme and factually distorted sentiment about not only the Israeli prime minister but the nation of Israel, sentiment that pervades all too much of the news coverage as well as the opinion pages.

 

The Times presents Israel continuously as the cause of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the only real actor on the stage. Palestinians and their leadership are foils and backdrop, victims with little or no political or moral responsibility for their own actions. Their own culture, faults, corruption, and human rights issues are almost entirely invisible. They are primarily rung in to denounce Israel in one guise or another. A sampling of reports before and after the vote gives a taste of the bias.

 

The Times’s indictment of Israel often centers on settlements as the greatest impediment to ending the conflict – despite Palestinian rejection of peace offers entailing Israeli concessions on the issue and despite Israel’s unilateral removal of all settlements from Gaza, a move that, of course, did not reduce tensions there. Thus, among the news stories prior to the election that seemingly aimed to tar the incumbent prime minister was a striking 3,000-plus word, front-page, above-the-fold article on Jewish settlements that appeared on March 13, four days before the election. The piece, by Jodi Rudoren and Jeremy Ashkenas, included an entire two-page spread on inside pages with an enormous photo and aerial images of individual settlements expanding – it was implied – cancer-like over decades. The online version was titled: “Netanyahu and the Settlements.”…

 

Three times in the first three paragraphs readers were told settlements would impede a “future state” for Palestinians, “threaten prospects of a two-state solution” and complicate “creation of a viable Palestine.” Repeatedly the story came back to this – that Netanyahu’s settlement policies “deepened the dilemma for peacemakers.” Martin Indyk was quoted harshly charging that in the failed 2014 peace negotiations, “Mr. Netanyahu’s ‘rampant settlement activity’ had a ‘dramatically damaging impact.’” (Unmentioned was the fact that Indyk was outed six months ago in the Times itself as a recipient of $14.8 million in Qatari funding to the Brookings Institute where he’s executive vice president. Qatar supports Hamas and al Jazeera and is the largest funder of Brookings.)

 

There was not a word in the story to convey that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and before him Yasir Arafat, rejected Israeli peace offers that would have curtailed settlement expansion and removed some outlying settlements. Other basic counterpoints to the story line were also simply omitted. For example, no hint was given that there might not be any impediment to a future Palestinian state if the Palestinians did not insist that their state be Judenrein but rather were open to including Jews and their communities the way Israel includes one and a half million Arabs – over 20 percent of its population.

 

Pro forma references to international “ire” regarding Jewish settlements were cited but there was no exploration of the contending positions. In 3,000 words there was no mention of any of the core legal issues. There are obviously differing views about the political advisability and future of settlement development, but there are also basic facts that can aid in understanding the merit of each side. For example, as literally hundreds of international jurists have attested, the right of Jews to live in these areas was clearly established by the original League of Nations Mandate for Palestine (1922), which called for “close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands” of the Mandate. This Jewish right was reaffirmed by Article 80 of the United Nations charter, which preserved the application of the League of Nations Mandate’s stipulations.

 

The contending argument is that Israeli settlements violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention relating to the transfer of populations. Israel disputes the relevance here, arguing the Convention is not applicable because there is no forcible transfer; Jews have moved voluntarily to the disputed areas to establish communities. In a few sentences, the Times could have added to reader awareness about the differing views on this contentious subject. But the thrust of this story was to tar Netanyahu as a settlement zealot, an effort that’s actually made difficult when even the Times’s own charts show the prime minister doing about the same – or sometimes less – than previous Israeli leaders in housing starts in settlements.

 

In a nod to the obvious reality that statistics regarding settlement building don’t set Netanyahu notably apart from his fellow prime ministers, especially during his second administration, the reporters inject other negative innuendo, charging: “He has taken more heat over settlements than his predecessors, analysts said, in part because of his broader intransigence on the Palestinian issue and the use of construction as a retaliatory tool.” Which “analysts” are leveling these charges? What is their expertise on the topic? What exactly was the “broader intransigence on the Palestinian issue”? What and when was the “use of construction as a retaliatory tool?”…

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

                                                                       

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J’ACCUSE: GLOBE AND MAIL DELEGITIMIZES

ISRAEL’S CLAIM TO JERUSALEM                                                                                                    

Mike Fegelman                                                                                                   

Times of Israel, Apr. 24, 2015

 

Despite the Jewish people’s continuous and unbroken physical presence in the land of Israel for over 3 millennia, Jews are routinely presented as foreign occupiers of their own ancestral and biblical homeland.

The Jewish people’s un-renounced legal and religious claims to their historic and national homeland – a claim recognized by the international community and enshrined in legal instruments by the pre-UN League of Nations and Article 80 of the UN Charter – is routinely met with antipathy by Canada’s journalists and Israel’s detractors.

 

All too often, Canadian news outlets delegitimize the Jewish people’s historical connection to Jerusalem, Israel’s proclaimed capital. A land Jews have lived in for 3,000 years and the site of ancient Jewish temples. It was only during Israel’s War of Independence in 1948 (an unprovoked pan-Arab attack to destroy the nascent State of Israel) that Jordan captured and occupied the city until 1967, when Israel reunified and retook the eastern portion of Jerusalem. In the 19 years of forced exile, Jewish holy sites and homes were burned and destroyed, and Jews themselves were ethnically cleansed from Jerusalem. Upon liberation, the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem was rebuilt and Jewish life and reverence in Jerusalem resumed and continues to present day.

 

Israel’s Basic Law of July 30, 1980, declares “Jerusalem, complete and unified, is the capital of Israel. Jerusalem is the seat of the President of the State, the Knesset, the Government, and the Supreme Court.” On December 5, 1949, the Israeli government declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel. Even though some countries, including Canada, don’t recognize Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem, and insist on the “corpus separatum” status of Jerusalem, most accept the validity of Israeli law. Considering the importance of the status of Jerusalem, our media must report accurately and with necessary context. Regrettably, the Globe and Mail, a national newspaper regarded as Canada’s “paper of record”, produced coverage that maligns Israel’s claim to Jerusalem.

 

In a commentary published by the Globe on March 7, international affairs columnist Doug Saunders erroneously stated the following: “In 1993, the Palestinians recognized Israel as a legitimate state for the first time. In turn, Israel was to recognize the Palestinians’ national ambitions and negotiate a border based on the 1967 lines, beyond which Israeli populations would not extend. Both parties would share Jerusalem and renounce violence. It was a solution based on mutual compromise, ratified in the Oslo accords of 1993 and 1995.” In making this statement, Saunders erroneously claimed there was agreement via Oslo that Israelis and Palestinians would “share Jerusalem”. Instead, the final status of Jerusalem is to be determined by negotiations between the parties. Oslo didn’t prejudice the outcome of Jerusalem and Israel never agreed to this.

 

Having communicated these concerns to Globe and Mail Public Editor Sylvia Stead on March 13, I received the following reply from Ms. Stead: In the 1993 Oslo agreement, Jerusalem was included in the ‘Final Status Items,’ which is to say that its division between Israel and Palestine, as mandated in the United Nations resolution which created Israel (181(II)). The understanding, during the negotiation and ratification of the Oslo agreements, was that this would lead Jerusalem to be divided between Israeli and Palestinian authorities. In fact, this was guaranteed in a letter sent in 1993 by Foreign Minister Shimon Perez, acting on the prime minister’s authorization, in which the Palestinians were informed that ‘all the Palestinian institutions of East Jerusalem, including the economic, social, educational and cultural, and the holy Christian and Muslim places, are performing an essential task for the Palestinian population… the fulfillment of this important mission is to be encouraged.’ In sum, Oslo ratified an agreement which included the division of Jerusalem as part of its mission.

 

Contrary to Ms. Stead’s contentions, the 1993 Declaration of Principles (the term “Oslo agreement” is a misnomer), Jerusalem was included in the “Final Status Items.” At the time, Prime Minister Rabin stated that “Jerusalem is the ancient and eternal capital of the Jewish people.” An undivided Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty, with religious freedom for all, is and remains a fundamental Israeli position. The Declaration did not contain any reference to UNGA 181, and the side letter from FM Shimon Peres means precisely what is written and nothing more. The claim that the DOP in any way committed Israel to shared sovereignty in Jerusalem is entirely and demonstrably false.

 

In consultation with Dr. Jacques Gauthier, a Canadian international human rights lawyer who is considered to be the foremost expert on the legal status on Jerusalem, Dr. Gauthier confirmed there’s no validity to the Globe’s argument that there was an agreement via Oslo that Israelis and Palestinians would “share Jerusalem”. In Dr. Gauthier’s 2007 thesis entitled “Sovereignty Over the Old City of Jerusalem: A Study of the Historical, Religious, Political and Legal Aspects of the Question of the Old City,” he states the following about the Oslo Accords:

 

    For a period of eight months in 1993 secret negotiations were pursued by a group of specially appointed Israeli and Palestinian representatives. The Oslo Peace Accords were the products of these secret negotiations.  The Oslo Accords postponed the discussion of the difficult Jerusalem issue until the completion of permanent-status negotiations. The question of Jerusalem was therefore for the first time included on the list of matters for negotiations between the parties. However, the underlying principles of the Oslo Accords comprised the concept of ‘land for peace’ based on the U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338 and the discontinuance of the occupation of Palestinian territories which was interpreted by the Palestinians as including all of East Jerusalem and the Old City. On September 13, 1993, the ‘Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements’ was signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization on behalf of the Palestinian People. These Agreements are often referred to as the ‘Oslo I Accords.’ The Declaration of Principles makes reference to Jerusalem but only in the context of the rights of the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem to participate in municipal elections and of confirmation that the parties accepted the principle that, although the self-governing authority did not have jurisdiction in Jerusalem and the Old City during the interim self-governing phase, the Jerusalem issue would be included in the permanent-status negotiations.

 

Despite our protestations, the Globe refused to correct its material errors and altogether failed to provide sources (despite repeated requests) to back up its claims…

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

                                                                       

 

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THE JEWISH CONNECTION TO LAMPEDUSA                                                                       

Josephine Bacon                                                                                                           

Algemeiner, May 11, 2015

 

Lampedusa, a tiny island off the coast of Sicily, has been in the news in Europe lately. This is where the boats land that are packed with illegal immigrants from Africa, who often board in Libya. Lampedusa is a tiny rocky outcrop, so small that it does not even show up on some maps, but it is now packed tightly with refugee camps. It is so crowded that the cemetery is full, and there is no room to bury the bodies of the many escaping Africans who drowned at sea.

 

Yet the island of Lampedusa has a Jewish connection. It is an extraordinary story. In June, 1941, Flight-Sergeant Sydney Cohen, a Royal Air Force pilot, was trying to fly back to his base in Malta in his Swordfish bi-plane. He veered off course and was forced to make an emergency landing on Lampedusa. He and his crew decided to surrender to the large Italian garrison, but before they could do so, the garrison of 4,300 Italian troops stationed there rushed out waving white flags! They made Syd the commander of the island! In his own words, “A crowd of Italians came out to meet us and we put our hands up to surrender, but then we saw they were all waving white sheets and shouting, ‘No, no – We surrender!’” And that’s how Sydney Cohen became King of Lampedusa!

 

Sydney Cohen, a tailor’s cutter from Clapton, a Jewish suburb of London, accepted the Italian surrender (confirmed on a scrap of paper) from the Commandant. Afterward, he flew back to Malta where he delivered the “document of surrender.” The positive propaganda created by the incident was soon relayed back to Britain, where it was widely circulated. In 1941, British morale was at its very lowest, a Nazi invasion being feared daily. One English newspaper, the News Chronicle, carried the headline “London Tailor’s Cutter is now King of Lampedusa.”

 

This inspired a Yiddish playwright, S.J. Charendorf, to turn the story into a Yiddish musical. “The King of Lampedusa” was staged in 1943, first at the New Yiddish Theatre on Adler Street, and later at the Grand Palais in the Mile End Road. It starred the doyen of London’s Yiddish Theatre, Meier Tzelniker, and his daughter Anna. It had the longest run of any production in Yiddish and was even staged in Palestine. The BBC broadcast an English translation, the hero being played by the famous English-Jewish actor, Sidney Tafler. News of the play reached Germany and attracted the attention of Nazi sympathiser “Lord Haw-Haw” (the Nazi equivalent of Tokyo Rose), who mentioned it in his propaganda broadcasts and even threatened the theatre with a visit from the Luftwaffe (It never happened, but the theatre eventually closed due to lack of support and is now part of Queen Mary College of London University).

 

The story of the King of Lampedusa ended sadly. After the war was over, Flight-Sergeant Cohen and his plane were flying back home to England but were lost without a trace over the English Channel on August 26, 1946. His body was never recovered. Happily, he had seen the play before he died while on leave in Haifa, Palestine, in 1944. In 2001, rumors circulated that Hollywood had decided to turn the play into a movie, but with a different ending: the survival of Flight Sergeant Cohen and the realization of his dream to emigrate to Australia and become a sheep-farmer. Unfortunately, it hasn’t happened yet.

                                                                       

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LOVE IS WHAT LINKS US TO GOD                                                                                          

Jonathan Sacks                               

Algemeiner, May 21, 2015

 

One of the most amusing scenes in Anglo-Jewish history occurred on 14 October 1663. A mere seven years had passed since Oliver Cromwell had found no legal bar to Jews living in England (hence the so-called “return” of 1656). A small synagogue was opened in Creechurch Lane in the City of London, forerunner of Bevis Marks (1701), the oldest still-extant place of Jewish worship in Britain. The famous diarist Samuel Pepys decided to pay a visit to this new curiosity, to see how Jews conducted themselves at prayer. What he saw amazed and scandalised him. As chance or Providence had it, the day of his visit turned out to be Simchat Torah. This is how he described what he saw:

 

    And anon their Laws that they take out of the press [i.e. the Ark] are carried by several men, four or five several burthens in all, and they do relieve one another; and whether it is that every one desires to have the carrying of it, I cannot tell, thus they carried it round about the room while such a service is singing … But, Lord! to see the disorder, laughing, sporting, and no attention, but confusion in all their service, more like brutes than people knowing the true God, would make a man forswear ever seeing them more and indeed I never did see so much, or could have imagined there had been any religion in the whole world so absurdly performed as this.

 

This was not the kind of behavior he was used to in a house of worship. There is something unique about the relationship of Jews to the Torah, the way we stand in its presence as if it were a king, dance with it as if it were a bride, listen to it telling our story and study it, as we say in our prayers, as “our life and the length of our days.” There are few more poignant lines of prayer than the one contained in a poem said at Neilah, at the end of Yom Kippur: Ein shiyur rak ha-Torah ha-zot: “Nothing remains,” after the destruction of the Temple and the loss of the land, “but this Torah.” A book, a scroll, was all that stood between Jews and despair. What non-Jews (and sometimes Jews) fail to appreciate is how, in Judaism, Torah represents law as love, and love as law. Torah is not just “revealed legislation” as Moses Mendelssohn described it in the eighteenth century. It represents God’s faith in our ancestors that He entrusted them with the creation of a society that would become a home for His presence and an example to the world.

 

One of the keys as to how this worked is contained in the parsha of Bemidbar, always read before Shavuot, the commemoration of the giving of the Torah. This reminds us how central is the idea of wilderness – the desert, no man’s land – is to Judaism. It is midbar, wilderness, that gives our parsha and the book as a whole its name. It was in the desert that the Israelites made a covenant with God and received the Torah, their constitution as a nation under the sovereignty of God. It is the desert that provides the setting for four of the five books of the Torah, and it was there that the Israelites experienced their most intimate contact with God, who sent them water from a rock, manna from heaven and surrounded them with clouds of glory.

 

What story is being told here? The Torah is telling us three things fundamental to Jewish identity. First is the unique phenomenon that in Judaism the law preceded the land. For every other nation in history the reverse was the case. First came the land, then human settlements, first in small groups, then in villages, towns and cities. Then came forms of order and governance and a legal system: first the land, then the law.

 

The fact that in Judaism the Torah was given bemidbar, in the desert, before they had even entered the land, meant that uniquely Jews and Judaism were able to survive, their identity intact, even in exile. Because the law came before the land, even when Jews lost the land they still had the law. This meant that even in exile, Jews were still a nation. God remained their sovereign. The covenant was still in place. Even without a geography, they had an ongoing history. Even before they entered the land, Jews had been given the ability to survive outside the land.

 

Second, there is a tantalising connection between midbar, ‘wilderness,’ and davar, ‘word.’ Where other nations found the gods in nature – the rain, the earth, fertility and the seasons of the agricultural year – Jews discovered God in transcendence, beyond nature, a God who could not be seen but rather heard. In the desert, there is no nature. Instead there is emptiness and silence, a silence in which one can hear the unearthly voice of the One-beyond-the-world. As Edmond Jabès put it: “The word cannot dwell except in the silence of other words. To speak is, accordingly, to lean on a metaphor of the desert.”…

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

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom and Happy Shavuot Holiday!

 

Contents

                                                                                      

 

On Topic

 

The Latest "Breaking the Silence" Report Isn't Journalism. It's Propaganda.: Matti Friedman, Mosaic, May 14, 2015—Last week, a report by an Israeli group called Breaking the Silence made headlines in the U.S., Britain, and most of Europe, becoming one of the week’s biggest international stories.

CBC Provides New Definition for Balanced Reporting: Diane Weber Bederman, Canada Free Press, May 18, 2015—Last March I once again contacted the CBC regarding their bias-this time against the Harper Government’s response to the Supreme Court ruling allowing the right to wear the niqab during the citizenship ceremony.

BBC Conveniently Fails to Report on Rocket Attack From Gaza Strip: Hadar Sela, Algemeiner, Apr. 27, 2015—With the BBC having sent at least two of its Jerusalem Bureau staff to cover the story of migrants and refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean (Quentin Sommerville has been reporting from Libya and Yolande Knell from Sicily), coverage of events in Israel has been decidedly sparse over the past two weeks.

In Idiotic Editorial, New York Times Prioritizes Iranian Pride and Jobs Over Israeli Concerns: Elder of Ziyon, Algemeiner, Apr. 8, 2015 —While many, many newspapers, from both the left and the right, are publishing strong reservations about the Iranian nuclear deal, the New York Times is firmly in line with the Obama administration – and even more in line against Binyamin Netanyahu.

 

              

              

REMEMBERING SYRIA’S ANCIENT JEWISH COMMUNITY

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 

 

Contents:

 

Tales of a Convicted Jew’s Escape From Syria: Michelle Devorah Kahn, National Post, Dec. 1, 2014— All it took to get from one end of the room to the other was a slight step forward.

The Woman Who Saved Syria’s Jews: Emma Beals, Daily Beast, Mar. 17, 2014— In Syria's three-year war, which is becoming more sectarian by the day, much has been made of the fate of the country's minorities.

One Muslim’s Quest to Save a Revered Syrian Synagogue: Adam Entous, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 1, 2014 — Maj. Avichay Adraee, an Israeli army spokesman, was taken aback when he received a message from a mysterious man writing from the heart of Syria’s bloody civil war.

Jewish Heritage Sites in Arab Counties Face Extinction: Ksenia Svetlov, Israel Hayom, Oct. 31, 2014— A large group of tourists gets off the brightly colored bus.

 

On Topic Links

 

A Brief History of the Syrian Jewish Community: Wall Street Journal, Dec. 1, 2014

The President's Plucky Persian Pal: Parody, Weekly Standard, Nov. 24, 2014

Right-Wing Ukrainian Leader Is (Surprise) Jewish, and (Real Surprise) Proud of It: Vladislav Davidzon, Tablet, Dec. 1, 2014

Back in St. Petersburg, Former Refusenik Encourages Jews to Emigrate: Cnaan Liphshiz, JTA, Dec. 1, 2014

                                                  

                   

TALES OF A CONVICTED JEW’S ESCAPE FROM SYRIA                                 

Michelle Devorah Kahn                                                                                                 

National Post, Dec. 1, 2014

 

All it took to get from one end of the room to the other was a slight step forward. Every couple hours, a man would walk by his cell and spit on him. There was no food. There was no water. There was no light. There were no comforting words, only brief moments when hopeful thoughts would fleetingly pop into his head. From 1948 to 1950, my grandfather had one job: He was a prisoner; a convicted Jew. Joseph Avraham Esses was born on Oct. 16, 1919, in Aleppo, Syria. His father was a textile merchant and he was the eighth of 14 children. Although he enjoyed a happy childhood — filled with love, laughter and an abundance of Baklava — living side-by side with his Muslim Arab neighbours, things would take a turn for the worse. This was the point in his life he never spoke about; the point I was most curious about.

 

So in 2007, for a class project, I set up two chairs, directed a camera at my grandfather and interviewed him. My grandfather was a very closed and cautious man at the time, and after much debating and negotiating with him, I began to understand why. He explained to me that as the end of the 1940s approached, everything changed and the attitude towards the Jewish people, who were once the “brothers and sisters” of the Muslim Arabs, shifted greatly. At the time of the establishment of the State of Israel, my grandfather, then a young adult, owned and managed his own shop, selling clothing and incidentals (perfume, cologne, accessories, etc.).

 

One evening, after closing up his shop, he was walking home when three young Muslim men cornered him in the middle of the street and began beating him with their fists and whatever pathetic weapons they had (sticks, rocks, etc.) and shouting, “You want a country? You want a country?! Here is your country!” Along with the entire Jewish community of Aleppo, he witnessed many atrocities. Friends and family members often disappeared, never to be heard from or seen again, or were slaughtered during broad daylight for all to see. One incident involving a Jewish family man who was hiding from the Muslims, lead to his three young daughters being kidnapped from the marketplace and held captive for days, where they were tortured and ultimately killed. A few days later, their cut-up bodies were delivered to the family’s home and left on their doorstep in a sack.

 

Being Jewish became a crime and my grandfather was convicted of it. Men, women and children were often hung for this crime in the town square, as the Arabs cheered. My grandfather was luckier than most. He had established strong, positive relationships with both the Arabs and Jews over the years (professionally and socially), and boasted about having the son of Syria’s chief of police as his best friend. But, at the risk of appearing disloyal, everyone had no choice but to put aside their personal feelings for political ones. So my grandfather was allowed to live, but he was thrown in jail. Many were left in there for days on end, starved, tortured and belittled, and left to stand in dirt and feces. Even luckier for him was that his relationship with the Arabs secured him a nightly release, but each morning he was put back into that same jail cell. Never knowing if things would improve, or if they would continue to worsen, his family had no choice but to leave. Slowly, he began securing the escape of his younger siblings and his dear mother.

 

One night, being the final family member left, Joseph turned on all the house lights, left the radio at full blast, unlocked the front door and left forever. He escaped across the border into Lebanon with a fake passport, which listed his birthplace as Philadelphia. He left behind all his cherished family heirlooms, belongings, money and memories. When he crossed the border safely into Lebanon, he ran out from the vehicle, kissed the ground and began singing a song of freedom. This was not an easy interview for me to sit through. It was the first, and maybe the only, time he had ever spoken about this in his life. Most of my family didn’t know what I did. I knew he was in pain and I knew he was afraid of people knowing the truth. But I also knew I had a duty to my ancestors and my heritage to learn what really happened. I began interviewing other family members and gathering stories and photos. In the end, I had a full-length documentary on my grandfather’s life titled, Wanted: The Joseph Esses Story.

 

Recently, the Israeli Knesset designated Nov. 30 as Jewish Refugee Day — a national day of commemoration for the almost one million Jewish refugees forced to flee Arab lands and Iran. This date was chosen to commemorate the onset of anti-Jewish riots that began in November 1947, following the UN Partition Plan. Earlier this year, Canada formally recognized the plight of the 850,000 Jews who were expelled, or fled, from Arab countries after Israel’s founding. It is thrilling for me to know that my own grandfather is one of the many Jews who will be honoured. I am also grateful that I can share this day with him and remember all those who never made it out. My grandfather and I have become very close. We regularly get together for coffee and I tell him about my films, my friends and the dating scene in Toronto. Sometimes I think that I must sound so immature to him. I am complaining about mediocre things, such as how I hate the cold and wish I didn’t have to take the bus. But he always has this grin on his face; this chuckle waiting in the back pocket of his navy blue suit. I couldn’t put my finger on it before, but maybe it’s because one of those brief fleeting hopeful thoughts he had in his jail cell was that one day he would have the chance to worry about mediocre things, too.

 

                                                                       

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THE WOMAN WHO SAVED SYRIA’S JEWS                                                         

Emma Beals

Daily Beast, Mar. 17, 2014

 

In Syria's three-year war, which is becoming more sectarian by the day, much has been made of the fate of the country's minorities. Christians, Druze and Kurds in the country have enjoyed more column inches dedicated to their plight over the last three years than ever before. But one Syrian minority is almost never spoken of—the Syrian Jews. “If they were there now, what would have happened? I know what would have happened. It would have been the slaughter of the Syrian Jewish community, that is for sure," says Judy Feld Carr matter-of-factly. Delving into why this slaughter never happened uncovers a story of spy-craft, subterfuge and tightly-kept secrets.

 

In the late 1970's, Feld Carr, a Canadian mother and musicologist, was reading a newspaper when she was struck by an article about 12 Syrian Jewish men who tried to escape into Turkey overland from Qamishli, in the north of the country. They stepped on a land mine and Syrian border guards watched them die. She was so moved by the story that she decided to track down members of Syria's Jewish community. She began cold-calling numbers in Syria until she eventually hit upon a contact. "I sent a telegram to the Rabbi in Damascus asking if he needed religious books and prepaid [for his response]." she explains. "Who would have ever believe, an answer came back with a shopping list! That was the beginning, the first opening since 1948."

 

In the decades following the creation of the state of Israel, Syria's Jewish community had become isolated, says Sarian Roffe, a historian of the Syrian Jewish community. "After Israel's creation that was it. They shut the doors because they didn't want people to go to Israel and fight against them," she says. "So the doors to leave Syria were closed and there was increased persecution."  There was also enforced segregation—Jewish residents of Damascus, Aleppo and Qamishli were forced to live only in certain neighborhoods and initially had to seek permission to travel further than three kilometers from their homes. Feld Carr's relationship with the Damascus Rabbi started to develop into more frequent coded telegrams and secret messages written into religious books. Eventually, she says, some members of the community managed to leave the country and meet with her. To do so, they had to leave family members behind as 'collateral'. "This one older couple came to meet me and told me what was happening in Syria." she explains. "Then somebody went to Aleppo in the north and asked me, 'Is there any way to get my brother out?' And that's how I started. It was crazy. I ransomed him. I started buying people!"

 

Now in her 70's, living in Ontario, Feld Carr tells the story with a delightful sense of astonishment that it ever took place. "Even I when I look back on it, I think the whole thing it was wild. But it worked, it worked!" she says about the mission that consumed 28 years of her life. One person turned into two and eventually she gave up her career to undertake the rescue operation, which saw her smuggling 3,228 people out of Syria before she finished—coincidentally on the day of the World Trade Center attacks. "I finished in 2011. The day of the Trade Center tragedy was my last family. The last ones who wanted to leave," Feld Carr says. For years her mission was a closely guarded secret. Even her close friends didn't know what she was doing. Funding was collected from private donors and people had to find her themselves; she never contacted them directly. They'd track her down through friends and family once they had exhausted every other available option. "I would be getting calls: 'Mrs. Judy, I have a mother, I have a sister, I have a child, can you do something to help? What can you do to get them out?' That's how these people came to me," she says. Even then, she was careful not to raise their expectations: "I never gave a promise that I was going to be able to do it, 'cause quite frankly, how did I know I would be able to do it? It depended about the secret police, it depended about the army, it depended on all kinds of situations inside the country."

 

Once they made contact, individuals left their fate in the hands of a Canadian woman they'd never met. Eventually, if they were lucky, they'd get a call. "They got a message, and my messages were all through an underground: 'Go now. In the next hour'. That's how it worked. They would leave everything they owned behind; their pictures, their clothing, everything. 'Just go now.'" The stress of having strangers' lives in her hands was immense. "You can imagine dealing with somebody's life that you don't know. What if I made a mistake? One mistake and somebody would be caught because of me. This was very difficult to deal with emotionally," she says. Despite the anguish, she was careful to maintain her responsibilities to her own children and ageing parents. She kept meticulous files on each person. An individual rescue could take months and she often had many in progress at once. As such, she needed to keep detailed records of everything she did. Each story was harrowing and she often had to split up families as she went. "I'll give you one example, it's like a Sophie's choice," she says. "I got the mother, father and kid into New York. The kid had cancer behind his eye. There were two little kids left behind. Then she had a baby in New York. She kept calling me and saying she's going back to Syria. She'd call me at least twice a week with a translator sobbing on the phone."…

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

 

                                                                       

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ONE MUSLIM’S QUEST TO SAVE A REVERED SYRIAN SYNAGOGUE          

Adam Entous                                                                                             

Wall Street Journal, Dec. 1, 2014 

                            

Maj. Avichay Adraee, an Israeli army spokesman, was taken aback when he received a message from a mysterious man writing from the heart of Syria’s bloody civil war. The man, a Sunni Muslim who created a Facebook page called “Jobar Synagogue,” said he was on a mission to preserve his town’s crown jewel, a centuries-old religious site venerated by the three major religions. Merely contacting the Israelis was an act that could have put his life in danger. “If we do not move fast to protect this historical heritage, it will be lost forever,” he wrote to the Israeli major, via Facebook.

 

The exchange last year was part of a frantic mission to rescue the synagogue, located in the battle-worn Damascus suburb of Jobar. The man behind the Facebook page, who uses the nom de guerre Abbas Abu Suleiman, got the attention of rabbis in Israel and New York, Syrian exiles in Washington and a Manhattan diamond-district salesman who visited the synagogue as a boy. Mr. Suleiman hoped the Jewish community would intervene with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad not only to save the site, but to halt the bombardment of his hometown. Safeguarding a part of Syria’s multicultural religious heritage, he hoped, might help the country rebuild whenever the war was over. Maj. Adraee gets as many as 18,000 Facebook messages each day, many berating him for Israel’s policies toward its neighbors. After receiving Mr. Suleiman’s plea, he didn’t know what to think. Was this man an ally? An opportunist? He replied to the Facebook message with a question mark. Others contacted by Mr. Suleiman had a similar reaction. Jewish leaders on two continents worried about, among other things, whether intervening would endanger the tiny community of aging Jews remaining in Syria.

 

This account of Mr. Suleiman’s quest is based on interviews with him on Skype, transcripts of his Facebook chats and discussions with Muslim and Jewish leaders in the U.S., Syria and Israel. Mr. Suleiman asked The Wall Street Journal not to disclose his real name. The Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in Jobar has been part of Jewish life in Syria for centuries. An inscription that for years was part of the synagogue’s wall described it as the shrine of the Prophet Eliyahu Hanavi since 720 B.C. The synagogue has been rebuilt many times over the years, according to the chief rabbi of the Syrian Jews, Avraham Hamra. Of Damascus’s 22 synagogues, the one in Jobar is the most revered because it was built atop a cave where, according to religious teachings, the prophet Eliyahu concealed himself to avoid persecution. Muslims and Christians regard Eliyahu as a prophet, making the site one of the few in Syria revered by all three religions. Before the civil war, Jews, Muslims and Christians would visit the synagogue and take turns descending into the cave to pray. Inside was a stone chair believed to have been used by Eliyahu. Syrians of different faiths believed saying a prayer in the cave would bless a new business venture and safeguard their health, Rabbi Hamra said. In the early 20th century, an estimated 25,000 Jews lived in Syria, split between Damascus and Aleppo, according to Abraham Marcus, a professor of Middle Eastern history at the University of Texas at Austin. The Jews of Syria began to leave in the early 1900s. The exodus accelerated before the founding of Israel in 1948.

 

Today, Rabbi Hamra said, there are 17 Jews left in Damascus and probably none in Aleppo, making it Syria’s smallest known religious minority. Nine are men, one short of a minyan, the quorum of 10 Jewish male adults required for certain religious obligations. All the Jews in Damascus are 60 years old or older.

Syria’s Jews have a complex relationship with the Assad regime. Many see him as a protector, and the opposition, dominated by groups aligned with al Qaeda, as the real threat. Government agents monitor the nation’s Jews, according to rabbis and government defectors, which circumscribes what they can do or say.

When Mr. Suleiman started his quest, Jobar was under the control of opposition forces, as it still is. Groups operating there included the Western-backed Free Syrian Army as well as the Nusra Front, which has ties to al Qaeda. Jobar and other eastern Damascus suburbs are strategically significant as gateways to the capital, and have seen heavy fighting.

 

In the security vacuum, thieves in Jobar looted the synagogue, taking prayer books, scrolls and the ornate interior doors, local activists say. On one occasion, members of the FSA rescued some of the stolen items. Local activists set up a special committee to protect the synagogue. Mr. Suleiman says he volunteered to take the lead. In peaceful times, the synagogue had attracted visitors from Syria and beyond. More than just a religious site, it put Jobar on the map. For the sake of the town, residents believed they needed to save it. Before the war, Mr. Suleiman had worked as a manager at his family’s factory. He had lived in Jobar for his whole life but had never gone inside the synagogue until the summer of 2012, when he decided to help protect it. Local Jobar leaders locked the doors and posted guards outside. On June 10 of last year, Mr. Suleiman posted a message, using his Jobar Synagogue account, on the Arabic-language Facebook page of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He explained what leaders in Jobar were doing to secure the site and asked whom they could contact about the antiquities. He got no response. He messaged Maj. Adraee, the Israeli Defence Force’s Arabic-language spokesman, later that month. “I tried to connect to many different entities and sources but with no luck,” he said in one message. Next, he contacted Amine Helwani, one of Damascus’s 17 remaining Jews. Mr. Helwani and his brother used to visit the synagogue to make sure everything was in order, according to Rabbi Hamra. Mr. Helwani replied in a series of Facebook messages. He said the war prevented anyone making the drive across town. He asked about an old Torah scroll and about the condition of the rugs. Mr. Suleiman said he couldn’t find the Torah scroll, and that he had rolled up the rugs to protect them…

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

 

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JEWISH HERITAGE SITES IN ARAB COUNTIES FACE EXTINCTION       

Ksenia Svetlov                                          

Israel Hayom, Oct. 31, 2014

 

A large group of tourists gets off the brightly colored bus. The waters of the nearby Euphrates River flow gently in the shade of the palm trees that adorn both banks. The local children run over to sell souvenirs and water bottles to the tourists. Welcome to Al Kifl, a small town southeast of Baghdad and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, where tradition says that the grave of the biblical Prophet Ezekiel is located. After a brief visit, the bus takes you to the northern part of the country, to the Assyrian city of Kush, where the grave of the Prophet Nahum is said to be located. Then it will take you to Mosul so you can pray at what is believed to be the final resting place of the Prophet Daniel, according to Jewish, Christian and Muslim tradition.

 

This could have been the picture of Jewish tourism in Iraq, the ancient home to many of the Bible's characters. Until the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, it was still possible to dream of a celebration at the grave of Nahum, or of prayer services at the grave of Ezekiel and a visit to the Jewish quarter in Baghdad.

But those who had dreamed of a better future in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein have had a rude awakening. The new Iraq has treated its own heritage — the Babylonian, Christian, Muslim and, of course, Jewish — with sheer brutality, and far worse than the old Iraq ever did. Terrorism on a daily basis, religious fanaticism and a weak and corrupt government — all these have led to the utter ruin of human life and of important heritage sites all over the country.

 

As the sound of an explosion rips through the air, another golden dome of an ancient Shiite mosque falls into the building. Another museum is looted by Islamic State terrorists; another ancient Jewish home is consumed by flames. The mosques in the important Shiite city of Najaf were demolished countless times by Sunni terrorists; the Baghdad Museum was looted; and the remnants of American tanks now riddle the ancient city of Babylon. This chaos has made the fate of the Jewish sites all too predictable. While several synagogues are still standing in Baghdad, Ezekiel's Tomb has been turned into a mosque. Most of the ancient Jewish inscriptions there have been destroyed or covered with cement. Daniel's Tomb in Mosul was blown up by Islamic State, which opposes worship at tombs in general, whether they are the tombs of Jewish prophets or relatives of the Prophet Muhammad in Mecca and Medina. In other areas, Islamic State and other jihadist groups are destroying sites held sacred by Shiites, including magnificent mosques, as well as Christian churches.

 

The atmosphere destruction has reached Syria as well. Aleppo's historic market suffered severe damage recently, together with the Umayyad mosque in Damascus and many Jewish sites. The Jobar Synagogue in Damascus, also known as the Prophet Elijah Synagogue, was demolished in May 2014. The site is in ruins, and no one will do anything to save what remains of the beautiful building that the Jewish community constructed in the Middle Ages. Almost 20 years ago, the manuscripts known as the Damascus Codices, books of the Hebrew Bible that were written in Tiberias in the 10th century C.E., were removed from the Hosh al-Basha Synagogue in Damascus and taken out of Syria in a daring Mossad operation. They are now in the National Library in Jerusalem, far from those who dream of the destruction of books and people alike.

 

In a time when large areas of Iraq and Syria are controlled by fanatics, at the peak of a bloody civil war, it is hard to get a clear picture of the state of the Jewish heritage sites in those regions. Still, Professor Shmuel Moreh of the Hebrew University, an Israel Prize laureate in Arabic literature, a native of Baghdad, and the author of the book "My Beloved Baghdad," speaks of a group of courageous Iraqis who took on the difficult mission to document the damage done to Jewish holy sites, synagogues and cemeteries, and to the residential neighborhoods of one of the oldest Jewish communities in the Middle East. "Our friends, Shiites and Sunnis, most of them academics employed in universities in Iraq, writers and poets, are documenting what is going on in their country for us," Moreh said. "When news about 'renovations' at Ezekiel's Tomb appeared in the Arabic press, we sent a few friends to Al Kifl, and they brought sketches and photographs of the place. As it turns out, the Shiites destroyed the Hebrew inscriptions under the guise of renovations, and turned the place into a mosque."…

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

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

Contents           

 

On Topic

 

A Brief History of the Syrian Jewish Community: Wall Street Journal, Dec. 1, 2014—Syria used to be home to a vibrant Jewish community.

The President's Plucky Persian Pal: Parody, Weekly Standard, Nov. 24, 2014—Dear Barack: Peace be with you, too!

Right-Wing Ukrainian Leader Is (Surprise) Jewish, and (Real Surprise) Proud of It: Vladislav Davidzon, Tablet, Dec. 1, 2014—My meeting with Right Sector’s Borislav Bereza, newly elected member of the Ukrainian Parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, took place on a sunny Friday morning.

Back in St. Petersburg, Former Refusenik Encourages Jews to Emigrate: Cnaan Liphshiz, JTA, Dec. 1, 2014 —hrough the backseat window of a black KGB car, Yosef Mendelevitch could see university students his age hurrying to take their finals.

 

 

 

               

 

 

 

                      

                

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

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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 

 

Contents:

 

NB: FINAL REMINDER:  CIJR Presents the Annual Sabina Citron International Colloquium: “Gaza and the Media Wars Against Israel.” Sunday, November 16, 2014, 9:00am-3:00pm, at Shaarei Shomayim Congregation, 470 Glencairn Avenue, Toronto, ON. A number of outstanding experts on the politics of the media will be speaking, including: Barbara Kay, National Post columnist and author of two books, Richard Landes, who has exposed the use of film footage of conflicts in Israel. Landes coined the term Pallywood (Palestinian Hollywood), which Ruthie Blum (Jerusalem Post). The day-long conference, chaired by Professor Sally Zerker (York U.) will feature a host of other speakers, including: Diane Weber Bederman – Distinguished Israel-issues journalist; Jonathan Halevi (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs); and noted investigative journalist Lawrence Solomon (Financial Post). These speakers, some of the top minds in North America in fields ranging from journalism and politics to academia, will deliver a fascinating overview of media coverage of Israel and the Middle East. Please register at the door.—Ed.

 

A European Open Letter to the EU Foreign Affairs Chief: Carla Komarin, Arutz Sheva, Nov. 11, 2014 — Endowed with the authority of a Top Diplomat as EU Foreign Affairs Chief, you travelled to the Holy Land. 

Small Experiences With Big Media: Manfred Gerstenfeld, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 10, 2014 — When one publishes about subjects such as Israel and Europe or anti-Semitism, one is regularly contacted by journalists.

Not Telling it Like It Is: Sarah Honig, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 13, 2014— For hours after last week’s vehicular terror in Jerusalem (capped by an attack on passersby with a metal rod), Sky News persisted in not telling it like it is.

Rare Canadian Jewish Comic Book Turns up in Toronto: Renee Ghert-Zand, Times of Israel, Nov. 11, 2014— Thanks to a curious library volunteer, Canadians learned of the discovery of a rare comic book honoring Jewish World War II heroes in time for the country’s Remembrance Day, November 11.

 

On Topic Links

 

A Quiet Clash at the Swedish Foreign Ministry: Daniel Pipes, Washington Times, Nov. 13, 2014

Demonstrators Bring 100 Wheelchairs to Protest The Death of Klinghoffer Opera (Video): Linda Lovitch, Jerusalem Online, Nov. 1, 2014

I Shed The Myths of My Childhood, But Gaza Made Me Love Israel Again: Robert Phillips, International Business Times, Nov. 3, 2014

Holocaust Survivor Moved by 'Fear of Forgetting': Monique Muise, Montreal Gazette, Nov. 10, 2014

Book Review: ‘My Grandfather’s Gallery’ by Anne Sinclair: Hugh Eakin, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 11, 2014

 

 

         

A EUROPEAN OPEN LETTER TO THE EU FOREIGN AFFAIRS CHIEF         

Carla Komarin                                                                                                    

Arutz Sheva, Nov. 11, 2014

 

Endowed with the authority of a Top Diplomat as EU Foreign Affairs Chief, you travelled to the Holy Land.  There you called to divide Jerusalem and demanded the partition of Israel. Your words were: "I think Jerusalem can be and should be the capital of two states."  You also said: "We need a Palestinian state – that is the ultimate goal and this is the position of all the European Union." And then — what?  What does the EU expect to happen next?  After the partition?  Do you expect the Palestinians will stop their incitement and all attacks against Jews once they have a state?

 

You said: "We need a Palestinian state – that is the ultimate goal and this is the position of all the European Union."  Fact is, not even the Palestinians themselves think they need one, or they would have accepted the numerous offers for a state from the Israeli side.  All the Palestinians need is the destruction of Israel.  Even during your visit to Israel, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called on Saturday for the destruction of Israel, whereby he used the term an end date for "Israeli occupation." In case you had not known:  The end of the "Israeli occupation" is the term the Palestinian Arab world uses to describe the destruction of the state of Israel.  With the use of the term  "Israeli occupation" they mean the entire state of Israel.  Before June 1967 the Arabs were attacking Israel and fighting against what they called "Israeli occupation", even though before 1967 there did not exist a single "Israeli settlement".  The Arab attacks culminated in the Six-Day-War in June 1967.

 

All the partition of Jerusalem and Israel would bring about, is an easier way for the Arab world to try to destroy the state of Israel. Is there at least one indication that a Palestinian State will bring about peace? If so, what is it? According to a recent survey almost 2/3 of Palestinians want a two-state solution to be part of “a program of stages” to liberate all Palestine "from the river to the sea" (Source: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, June 25, 2014).  A clear majority (60% overall, including 55% in the ;West Bank; and 68% in Gaza) say that the five-year goal 'should be to work toward reclaiming all of historic Palestine, from the river to the sea.'  These are remarkable findings.

 

Fatah refers to all Israelis as "settlers"; Palestinian Authority TV on a regular basis refers to all of Israel as "occupied Palestine" and depicts a world without Israel.  The Palestinian Authority makes no attempt to educate its people towards peace and coexistence with Israel.  On the contrary, from every possible platform it repeatedly rejects Israel's right to exist, presents the conflict as a religious battle for Islam and perpetuates a picture of the Middle East, both verbally and visually, in which Israel does not exist at all. Israel's destruction is presented as both inevitable and a Palestinian Arab obligation. These are well-known facts.  The Palestinian Arabs do not even bother to hide their true intentions.  What exactly makes the EU think the opposite?  What is the basis for the hypothesis of the EU that a partition of Jerusalem and Israel will bring about peace?  Is there at least one indication that a Palestinian State will bring about peace?  If so, what is it?

 

Neither you nor any other EU-official has ever answered that question as yet. Actually, Mrs. Mogherini, your speech as EU foreign Affairs Chief was cryptical, when it dealt with the consequences of a partitioned and divided Israel.  For you used the term "challenge":  "The challenge is to show that Jerusalem can be shared in peace and respect." In 2006 Gaza was a challenge too.  And an experiment.  A challenge is always an experiment.  If there ever was a political challenge and an experiment, then the disengagement from Gaza was one.  How peaceful has Gaza become after that experiment? Furthermore, when in Israel, you pointed out that the world "cannot afford" another war in Gaza.  Indeed, the world should not afford another war in Gaza.  That is why financial support for Gaza should always be linked to a disarmament of Gaza and to no more digging of terror-tunnels from Gaza into Israel.  I missed that part in your press conferences.

 

When speaking with Israeli politicians, you called for a return to peace talks. You said: "It is also worrying that after the ceasefire was reached in Cairo in August, we are still having difficulties in advancing with the direct talks." Whom are you calling to the negotiating table?  Do you not know that the Palestinians do not want to negotiate with Israel? And this leads back to the initial question:  Why exactly does the EU believe that land-for-peace should work?  In other words:  What is the basis of your faith that peace will be brought about by a divided Holy City Jerusalem and by the partition of the state of Israel?

 

This is a clear and simple question, and those who care for the peace of Jerusalem and Israel have every right to expect answers. Meanwhile even Israel's rejection to divide the capital Jerusalem is held against her, when the opposite should be the case.  For you see, no one who really loves Jerusalem would want the Holy City to be divided. There is a story in the Bible called the verdict of King Solomon.  In that story the question was asked, who is the real mother of the baby child.  The real mother did not want her child divided, the false pretentious mother wanted the child to be divided. The same applies to Jerusalem:  Those who really love and care for the Holy City would never want Jerusalem to be divided.

 

                                                                       

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SMALL EXPERIENCES WITH BIG MEDIA                                                           

Manfred Gerstenfeld

Jerusalem Post, Nov. 10, 2014

 

When one publishes about subjects such as Israel and Europe or anti-Semitism, one is regularly contacted by journalists. It sometimes leads to bizarre experiences. Several such experiences resulted from my 2013 book, Demonizing Israel and the Jews. The book brought to light the fact that, based on opinion polls – the main one from the German University of Bielefeld – 150 million out of 400 million European Union citizens aged 16 years and older believe in the conspiracy theory that Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians.

 

In March 2013, when my first article appeared in the Netherlands pointing out that in view of these polls, there are five million Dutch who believe in this anti-Semitic conspiracy theory against Israel, I was contacted by the local office of Dutch RTL television. Their reporter wanted an interview with me as soon as possible. We made an appointment for the very next day, and the reporter arrived accompanied with a camera man. When I explained the unpleasant findings about his native country, the reporter rapidly became emotional and irritated. After five minutes, he sent his camera man away. We continued our conversation while I tried to calm him down. I gave him a copy of the book and never heard from him again. The next journalist who came to interview me about the book had no difficulties whatsoever with my statements. They seemed to him to be well-substantiated. This journalist represented one of the largest German papers. I’ll not disclose his name, in order to avoid unpleasantness for him. He interviewed me for two hours, and later on we had lunch for another two hours. His editors never published the article. A few months later I spoke to a colleague of his. She said that one of the editors had stated, “We cannot insult our readers.”

 

Thereafter I was interviewed by telephone by a journalist from a major Dutch daily, whom I had known for several years. He sent me a copy of the interview for verification, and I made a few small corrections. It never appeared in print. Many months later, I was interviewed by a journalist of the large German economic paper, Handelsblatt. He inquired about several things, including my findings in Demonizing Israel and the Jews. As promised, he sent me the draft interview. I made some minor suggestions, but afterwards, when I didn’t hear from him, I tried to reach him a number of times, unsuccessfully. The interview was never published. A few of the smaller European papers and blogs in Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands have given some attention to the book, but the major media remain silent. It is not so difficult to understand why. The book’s conclusions destroy much of the humanitarian image of post-war Europe. How very false that image actually is has become much clearer throughout the summer of 2014, with the outburst of anti-Semitic incidents and the multiple demonstrations in favor of the Hamas Islamo-Nazi movement in many European countries.

 

The facts above present a rather sad description of the censorship in major European media. Yet I cannot complain about the publicity which my book received. The big national Canadian daily, The National Post, devoted a column to it. The important American Jewish weekly The Jewish Week dedicated an editorial on its front page to it. Sizable American websites published lengthy interviews with me, which garnered many reactions. The Jerusalem Post and some other English-language Israeli media gave it much attention. The Jewish media in about 13 countries wrote about the book. Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of The Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), based in Los Angeles, raised the issue in a meeting with Pope Francis I. The SWC and The Gatestone Institute sent the book, accompanied with a letter, to the leaders of several countries as well as to the leaders of the European Union. The German president’s office answered that a major study on anti-Semitism in Germany will soon be initiated, which will also include a study of German anti-Israelism. The associate dean of the SWC, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, thereafter met with a deputy German minister on this issue. All in all, quite nice for an author.

 

My strange experiences with journalists are not limited to the reactions to this book. One day in 2012, a journalist from a Belgian state television station came to interview me. He wanted my opinion about a fourpart Israeli television program called Allah-Islam, the Spread of Islam in Europe, which had been broadcast by Israel’s Channel 10 TV. An Israeli journalist, Zvi Yehezkeli, had presented himself in Europe as a Palestinian. He filmed the Muslim ghettos in a number of European countries. The program paid attention to the violence, drugs and weapons possession, as well as other criminal activities occurring in parts of the Muslim communities. Yehezkeli mentioned the religious fanaticism, the intimidation of dissenting Muslims, the discrimination against women, and the honor killings. He also devoted attention to the widespread anti-Semitism in these communities. The rare European programs that discuss such issues usually only deal with one particular aspect in a single country. The Belgian journalist asked me what I thought about this program. I said that my first reaction was that Channel 10 should not have made this program. The many problems with parts of the European Muslim communities was a major European issue. It would have been normal if Channel 10 could have purchased such a program from European sources, but there were no such programs available, I said. The journalist admitted that I had a point, but added, “I am not convinced that my bosses want to broadcast this.” And indeed, they did not…

 

The most surreal experiences I had, though, were with the Norwegian media. An interview by journalist Fredrik Graesvik was aired in March 2009 by the major Norwegian commercial TV station TV2. He translated most of what I said correctly. Graesvik, however, interjected that I considered all Norwegians to be “barbarians and un-intellectual” because they killed whales and seals. This was a major distortion of my words. The individual at TV2 who transcribed this distorted interview for the station’s website maltreated my quotes even further, falsely claiming that I had said that “Norwegians are unintelligent and barbaric” and that “Norway is the most anti-Semitic country in Europe.” The Norwegian press agency NTB spread these false quotes even further. They were taken up by many Norwegian and even some Swedish papers. As a result, I now own a representative collection of hate emails from Norwegians.

 

Sidsel Wold, who was at the time the Israel correspondent from Norwegian state radio NRK, succeeding in outdoing TV2. She interviewed me and afterwards claimed that she had mistakenly deleted the interview. Instead of interviewing me anew, she fabricated a false interview. She culled some recorded text of mine off the Internet. Thereafter, she aired an invented interview with me, full of distortions, and then criticized the text she had falsely attributed to me. In 2010, the Media Watch organization Honest Reporting selected Wold for a special dishonorable mention among journalists all over the globe. Wold thus was the one Norwegian journalist which got any international attention for her overall work.

 

Manfred Gerstenfeld is a CIJR Academic Fellow

 

                                                                       

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NOT TELLING IT LIKE IT IS                                                                                             

Sarah Honig       

Jerusalem Post, Nov. 13, 2014

 

For hours after last week’s vehicular terror in Jerusalem (capped by an attack on passersby with a metal rod), Sky News persisted in not telling it like it is. Its running news ticker at the bottom of the screen single-mindedly informed viewers that “Israeli police say a driver has rammed his car into pedestrians in East Jerusalem in an ‘intentional’ attack causing several injuries.” The very inclusion of the verb ‘say’ sufficed to cast doubt on Israeli communiqués. Then, to chip further away at residual Israeli credibility the word intentionally was tendentiously placed in quotation marks. This surely was overkill, considering that the reliability of the Israeli report was already challenged by the caveat of the opening phrase. If during the first few minutes of the incident Sky could somehow make excuses for what looked like thinly-veiled antagonism, it certainly couldn’t long after the event. Nevertheless, that hardly objective news bar was still featured, when any duty editor of even grudging goodwill or nominal neutrality should have known better.

 

In contrast, another report was cited with unadulterated acceptance. Sky’s above mentioned “breaking news” flash was accompanied throughout – for as many hours – by a bulletin that stated matter-of-factly (without any caveats this time) that “Israeli police have clashed with Palestinians inside Jerusalem’s al-Aksa Mosque compound after Jewish nationalists announced plans to visit the site.” The subliminal nuances were unmissable and there was no qualifying vocabulary. The al-Aksa Mosque compound designation suggested exclusive Muslim connections and no Jewish ones. Then came the unequivocal attribution of causality. The clashes occurred “after Jewish nationalists announced plans to visit,” i.e. Jews instigated the clashes. Not a word appeared about rocks and Molotov cocktails stored in the sacred spot and tossed at Jews praying below in front of the Western Wall.

 

Such facts may interfere with Sky’s insinuation that Jews are interlopers, trespassing in what has only ever been a Muslim shrine. The implication is that it’s Jews who disturb the peace along with their police “inside” the compound. The injection of the term nationalists sealed the negative connotation. Nationalists are villains in the lexicon of political correctness.The sentinels on Sky’s moral high ground know whom to distrust a priori and whom to trust inherently. Uninitiated audiences perceive the world through the broadcasters’ distorting glass. Their opinions are thereby at least partly shaped and their preexisting prejudices are subtly reinforced. To be sure, Sky isn’t the only overseas news outlet with an attitude. Almost all its purportedly pluralist and tolerant counterparts are equally disingenuous and almost all classify Temple Mount terminology as politically incorrect.

 

More often than not, anchors and reporters allude to Haram a-Sharif and lest the masses out there not be fully clued in, they add by way of elucidation that “the Haram” is where al-Aksa Mosque is located. At most, Temple Mount comes in as an aside meant to clarify what the commotion is about. “This is also where Jews claim that their ancient temples once stood,” some correspondents throw in with a pinch of skepticism. Alternative edification is that “this is also what Jews refer to as Temple Mount.” The undertones here are paramount. Jews invariably “claim.” Their version is hardly one that can be reasonably accorded credence. The Arab insistence that no Jewish temples or Jewish historical/religious ties to Jerusalem ever existed is thus amplified by media quibbling. Out of nowhere Jews seemingly invaded Jerusalem and out-of-the-blue they brazenly seek to overrun Muslim sanctuaries. The resort to an adverb like “also” isn’t incidental or insignificant. It imparts the impression of precedence and rightful ownership. The Arabs are treated as legitimate proprietors. Jewish claims are ancillary and unsubstantiated…

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

 

 

                                                                       

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RARE CANADIAN JEWISH COMIC BOOK TURNS UP IN TORONTO            

Renee Ghert-Zand           

Times of Israel, Nov. 11, 2014

 

Thanks to a curious library volunteer, Canadians learned of the discovery of a rare comic book honoring Jewish World War II heroes in time for the country’s Remembrance Day, November 11. The National Post reported on October 31 that the 1944 comic book, “Jewish War Heroes,” turned up in a box of books donated to the Kelly Library at the University of Toronto’s St. Michael’s College. The comic book was the first installment of a three-issue series published by the Canadian Jewish Congress to raise awareness about Jewish participation in the war effort against Nazi Germany and the Axis powers. The series was a means of combating the incorrect perception among some Canadians that Jewish citizens were shirking their national duty.

 

Each page of the found comic book was devoted to a different featured Jewish war hero. Yank Levy wrote a book on guerrilla warfare and appeared on the cover of Life magazine; Israel Fisanovitch was a Soviet submarine captain; and Brigadier Frederick Hermann Kisch and Alfred Brenner received the Distinguished Flying Cross. The first issue contained an informational page stating that 1.5 million Jews were known to be serving in the various Allied armies, navies and air forces — the bulk of them in the US and Soviet armed forces (500,000 each). There were at least 12,000 Jews in Canadian uniform, the same number as from Australia, New Zealand and Africa combined. Palestine and the UK each had 50,000 Jewish officers and enlisted men and women. “One out of every seven Jewish men and women all over the world are in uniform,” the narrative stated.

 

It is not known how many copies of “Jewish War Heroes” were originally printed. It is believed that only a small number have survived. Sylvia Lovegren, the library volunteer who found the comic book tucked between the pages of a book on WWII, did some research that turned up a few other existing original copies (computer scans and photocopies of the series are more common). “There are two library-bound copies in Toronto…Other than that, there is a copy in the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC and one in the National Library of Israel,” Lovegren told The National Post. While most Canadians may not have been aware of this rare comic book, or of the extent of Jewish participation and valor in the WWII, the discovery of the “Jewish War Heroes” among the donated library books did not completely surprise Jewish comics aficionados. “I certainly knew about it,” Steven M. Bergson told The Times of Israel. In fact, the data processing specialist for the Toronto UJA and the editor of Jewish Comix Anthology has owned photocopies of “Jewish War Heroes” for some years.

 

For Jewish comic book fans and scholars, what makes “Jewish War Heroes” so special, however, is that it is an early example of Canadian Jewish involvement in comics. Although by 1944 comic books were becoming popular with kids and some adults, there were really no Jews involved in the comic book industry in Canada. A few Canadian Jews eventually ended up moving south of the border to the US, where the industry was more robust and noted Jewish creators, like Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, were associated with it. Ironically, the Canadian Jewish Congress-commissioned comic book series was drawn by a non-Jew. George Menendez Rae, who is best remembered for his national superhero, Canada Jack, illustrated the work. “No Jews worked on comics in Canada, in either writing or drawing until the 1980s,” said Bergson. According to Bergson, an auction house in Israel sold originals of issues 1 and 2 of the series for $800. The National Post quoted Peter Birkemoe, owner of Toronto comic book shop The Beguiling, as saying that he thought that the comic books would go for between $1,000 and a price “close to five figures” at auction now.

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

Contents           

 

On Topic

 

A Quiet Clash at the Swedish Foreign Ministry: Daniel Pipes, Washington Times, Nov. 13, 2014 —Sweden is arguably the most "European" of European countries by virtue of its historically cohesive nationhood ("one big family"), militaristic and socialist legacies, untrammeled immigration, unmatched political correctness, and a supercilious claim to the status of a "moral superpower."

Demonstrators Bring 100 Wheelchairs to Protest The Death of Klinghoffer Opera (Video): Linda Lovitch, Jerusalem Online, Nov. 1, 2014 —The story portrays the hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro by a group of Palestinian terrorists.  They murdered 69 year old Leon Klinghoffer, a New York Jew who was bound to a wheelchair. 

I Shed The Myths of My Childhood, But Gaza Made Me Love Israel Again: Robert Phillips, International Business Times, Nov. 3, 2014 —Another week brings more ugly Palestine headlines: illegal settlements, attempted murders and restricted access to holy sites in the name of "security".

Holocaust Survivor Moved by 'Fear of Forgetting': Monique Muise, Montreal Gazette, Nov. 10, 2014—Arthur Ney was only 12 years old in the spring of 1943 when he found himself, by chance, outside the walls of the Warsaw ghetto as it burned.

Book Review: ‘My Grandfather’s Gallery’ by Anne Sinclair: Hugh Eakin, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 11, 2014  —In November 2013, German tax authorities revealed that they had found more than 1,200 works of art, many of them looted from Jewish collections during World War II, in the Munich apartment of an elderly recluse named Cornelius Gurlitt.

 

 

 

 

 

               

 

 

 

                      

                

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THE WEEK THAT WAS: U.S. M.E. POLICY BOLSTERS ISLAMISTS; ANTISEMITIC OPERA SCHEDULED FOR MET; NEW BIOGRAPHIES OF CHABAD’S 20TH CENTURY LEADER

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 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org

 

Abdication has a Price: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, June 19, 2013— Yes, it is true that there was no al-Qaeda in Iraq when George W. Bush took office. But it is equally true that there was essentially no al-Qaeda in Iraq remaining when Barack Obama took office.

Three Boys, Iran and American Retreat: Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post, June 18, 2014— Last Thursday three Israeli teens — Naftali Fraenkel and Gilad Shaar, both 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19 — were kidnapped while hitchhiking home from school. Fraenkel is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Israel.

The Problem With the Klinghoffer Opera: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, June 17, 2014— In an attempt to split the difference with its critics, the Metropolitan Opera announced today that it would go ahead with its plans to put on a production of John Adams’ opera The Death of Klinghoffer but would not include the piece in its list of live simulcasts that can be watched in movie theaters around the world.

Book Review: 'Rebbe' by Joseph Telushkin and 'My Rebbe' by Adin Steinsaltz: Dara Horn, Wall Street Journal, June 13, 2014—“Are you Jewish?” If you've lived in a large American city in the past 30 years and look the part, chances are that a young Hasidic man has approached you with this question.

 

On Topic Links

 

Canadian Jews Rally for Kidnapped Israelis: Paul Lungen, Canadian Jewish News, June 20, 2014

The Message Behind the IDF’s Extensive Operation: Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post, June 18, 2014

Silence Comes as No Shock: Batsheva Neuer, Jerusalem Post, June 18, 2014

Metropolitan Opera Romanticizes One NYer’s Murder: Ronn Torossian, New York Post, June 16, 2014

 

 

ABDICATION HAS A PRICE                                                        

Charles Krauthammer                                                                                                   Washington Post, June 19, 2014

 

Yes, it is true that there was no al-Qaeda in Iraq when George W. Bush took office. But it is equally true that there was essentially no al-Qaeda in Iraq remaining when Barack Obama took office. Which makes Bush responsible for the terrible costs incurred to defeat the 2003-09 jihadist war engendered by his invasion. We can debate forever whether those costs were worth it, but what is not debatable is Obama’s responsibility for the return of the Islamist insurgency that had been routed by the time he became president.

 

By 2009, al-Qaeda in Iraq had not just been decimated but humiliated by the U.S. surge and the Anbar Awakening. Here were aggrieved Sunnis, having ferociously fought the Americans who had overthrown 80 years of Sunni hegemony, now reversing allegiance and joining the infidel invader in crushing, indeed extirpating from Iraq, their fellow Sunnis of al-Qaeda. At the same time, Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki turned the Iraqi army against radical Shiite militias from Basra all the way north to Baghdad. The result? “A sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq.” That’s not Bush congratulating himself. That’s Obama in December 2011 describing the Iraq we were leaving behind. He called it “an extraordinary achievement.”

Which Obama proceeded to throw away. David Petraeus had won the war. Obama’s one task was to conclude a status-of-forces agreement (SOFA) to solidify the gains. By Obama’s own admission — in the case he’s now making for a status-of-forces agreement with Afghanistan — such agreements are necessary “because after all the sacrifices we’ve made, we want to preserve the gains” achieved by war.

 

Which is what made his failure to do so in Iraq so disastrous. His excuse was his inability to get immunity for U.S. soldiers. Nonsense. Bush had worked out a compromise in his 2008 SOFA, as we have done with allies everywhere. The real problem was Obama’s determination to “end the war.” He had three years to negotiate a deal and didn’t even begin talks until a few months before the deadline period. He offered to leave about 3,000 to 5,000 troops, a ridiculous number. U.S. commanders said they needed nearly 20,000. (We have 28,500 in South Korea and 38,000 in Japan to this day.) Such a minuscule contingent would spend all its time just protecting itself. Iraqis know a nonserious offer when they see one. Why bear the domestic political liability of a continued U.S. presence for a mere token?

 

Moreover, as historian Max Boot has pointed out, Obama insisted on parliamentary ratification, which the Iraqis explained was not just impossible but unnecessary. So Obama ordered a full withdrawal. And with it disappeared U.S. influence in curbing sectarianism, mediating among factions and providing both intelligence and tactical advice to Iraqi forces now operating on their own. The result was predictable. And predicted. Overnight, Iran and its promotion of Shiite supremacy became the dominant influence in Iraq. The day after the U.S. departure, Maliki ordered the arrest of the Sunni vice president. He cut off funding for the Sons of Iraq, the Sunnis who had fought with us against al-Qaeda. And subsequently so persecuted and alienated Sunnis that they were ready to welcome back al-Qaeda in Iraq — rebranded in its Syrian refuge as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria — as the lesser of two evils. Hence the stunningly swift ISIS capture of Mosul, Tikrit and so much of Sunni Iraq.

 

But the jihadist revival is the result of a double Obama abdication: creating a vacuum not just in Iraq but in Syria. Obama dithered and speechified during the early days of the Syrian revolution, before the jihadists had arrived, when the secular revolt was systematically advancing on the Damascus regime. Hezbollah, Iran and Russia helped the regime survive. Meanwhile, a jihadist enclave (including remnants of the once-routed al-Qaeda in Iraq) developed in large swaths of northern and eastern Syria. They thrived on massive outside support while the secular revolutionaries foundered waiting vainly for U.S. help. Faced with a de facto jihadi state spanning both countries, a surprised Obama now has little choice but to try to re-create overnight, from scratch and in miniature, the kind of U.S. presence — providing intelligence, tactical advice and perhaps even air support — he abjured three years ago. His announcement Thursday that he is sending 300 military advisers is the beginning of that re-creation — a pale substitute for what we long should have had in place but the only option Obama has left himself. The leverage and influence he forfeited with his total withdrawal will be hard to reclaim. But it’s our only chance to keep Iraq out of the hands of the Sunni jihadists of ISIS and the Shiite jihadists of Tehran.

 

 

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THREE BOYS, IRAN AND AMERICAN RETREAT                                               

Jennifer Rubin                                                                                                    

Washington Post, June 18, 2014

 

Last Thursday three Israeli teens — Naftali Fraenkel and Gilad Shaar, both 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19 — were kidnapped while hitchhiking home from school. Fraenkel is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Israel. Secretary of  State John Kerry put out a statement: “The United States strongly condemns the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers and calls for their immediate release. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families. We hope for their quick and safe return home.  We continue to offer our full support for Israel in its search for the missing teens, and we have encouraged full cooperation between the Israeli and Palestinian security services.  We understand that cooperation is ongoing. We are still seeking details on the parties responsible for this despicable terrorist act, although many indications point to Hamas’ involvement.  As we gather this information, we reiterate our position that Hamas is a terrorist organization known for its attacks on innocent civilians and which has used kidnapping in the past.”

 

Interestingly, Kerry did not mention that one of the kidnapped boys is also an American. Although he plainly indicated that Hamas was implicated and reiterated it is a terrorist group, U.S. policy continues to tolerate the unity Palestinian government, indeed suggesting this might be a good thing. Meanwhile the president has not spoken a word about the kidnapping in public – not even a hashtag from the first lady has been forthcoming. Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies tells Right Turn, “The administration’s silence on the West Bank kidnapping is surprising on two fronts. First, one of the abducted teens reportedly is a U.S. citizen. Second, the U.S. and Israel appear to agree that Hamas is involved, just weeks after Hamas-controlled Gaza reconciled with the West Bank Palestinian Authority.”

 

Perhaps the second point explains the first: If the administration made a big deal of the kidnappings it would call attention to its continued toleration of the unity government, comprised of the Palestinian Authority and the groups likely responsible for  boys’ kidnapping. Then Congress and the American people might actually demand the United States give up on the fraudulent peace talks, stop pretending the unity government is simply made up of “technocrats” and start exerting pressure on Palestinian terrorists and its patrons in Tehran. An official of a pro-Israel group e-mails, “The kidnappings underscore the reality it is pure folly to consider the Palestinian Authority-Hamas alliance as a government of mere ‘technocrats.’  Unless one believes there is such thing as ‘technocratic terrorists’, Hamas has demonstrated once again that they are nothing more than a gang of Islamic extremists who are dedicated to Israel’s destruction.”

 

Taking a step back, the administration’s Israeli policy is only one portion of its incoherent approach to the Middle East. Hamas is supported by and increasing at the beck and call of the mullahs, Iran expert Ray Takeyh explained today at a panel on Iran sponsored by the group JINSA. We do nothing in Syria (an Iran client) and apparently want to talk to Iran about Iraq, where Iran has been stirring sectarian violence and seeks to dominate. And we expect to demonstrate to Iran and our Sunni allies that we are serious about Iran’s behavior in the region, not only its pursuit of nuclear weapons? They can be forgiven if they’ve jumped to the conclusion the United States is unwilling to directly take on Iran or those it supports…

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

 

Contents
 

THE PROBLEM WITH THE KLINGHOFFER OPERA                                          

Jonathan S. Tobin                      

Commentary, June 17, 2014

 

In an attempt to split the difference with its critics, the Metropolitan Opera announced today that it would go ahead with its plans to put on a production of John Adams’ opera The Death of Klinghoffer but would not include the piece in its list of live simulcasts that can be watched in movie theaters around the world. Though sticking to his belief that the opera is not anti-Semitic, Met general manager Peter Gelb, did appear to be heeding the warnings of the Anti-Defamation League that the broadcast of Klinghoffer around the globe at a time of increasing anti-Semitism in Europe, Africa and Asia would be a mistake.

 

Predictably, neither side in this dispute is happy. The ADL and the family of Leon Klinghoffer, whose murder by Palestinian terrorists is depicted in the opera, are upset about Gelb’s determination to stage the piece in spite of protests. Meanwhile composer John Adams defended his opera and told the New York Times that he believes any effort to limit its reach not only raises issues about artistic freedom but also promotes intolerance. Adams’ position is absurd but he is right to think his anger about Gelb’s move will resonate in the artistic community. As with any issue involving critics of politicized art, those who are offended by the opera invariably are portrayed as small-minded or wishing to silence dissident voices. Defenders of Klinghoffer will claim, not without some justice, that many staples of the classic operatic repertory were once politically controversial and subjected to censorship. But comparisons with the operas of Giuseppe Verdi, to take just one prominent example, which were often rightly seen as subverting repressive monarchies or promoting the cause of Italian freedom, and Adams’ excursion into the Middle East conflict, are not apt. The libretto of “Klinghoffer” rationalizes terrorism, denigrates Jews and treats the plight of the Palestinians as morally equivalent to the Holocaust. Whether or not one accepts the notion that Adams’ creation is a musical masterpiece, as the Met insists, the point of the piece is one that is not merely offensive. It is, in its own way, a part of the global campaign of delegitimization of the Jewish state and the Jewish people. As such, the decision of one of the world’s leading arts organizations as well as one of the great cultural institutions of the city with the world’ largest Jewish populations, to produce this atrocity, even if won’t be shown around the world, is deeply troubling.

 

The problem with Klinghoffer is not, as some of its defenders have always claimed, that it humanizes the Palestinians. But by using the story of the hijacking of the Italian cruise ship, Achille Lauro as the setting for its attempt to juxtapose the Jews and the Palestinians, it creates a false moral equivalence thought ought to offend all decent persons, especially in the city where the 9/11 attacks occurred less than 13 years ago.

For those who don’t remember, the Achille Lauro incident was one of the most shocking acts of international terrorism. During a cruise from Alexandria, Egypt to Ashdod, Israel in 1985, the ship was taken over by terrorists from the Palestinian Liberation Front, a faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization led by Yasir Arafat. Eventually, the hijackers traded the ship and its passengers for promises of safe conduct from the Egyptian government. But before they left it, the Palestinians murdered one of the many American passengers; a wheelchair-bound elderly Jew named Leon Klinghoffer, and then threw his body into the sea. To say that art should challenge its audiences to rethink their positions on issues or values is one thing. But to rationalize terrorism and the murder of a helpless old man simply because he was a Jew and spoke up against his tormentors does more than push the envelope of conventional tastes. It treats the indefensible as arguable. It portrays actions which are, in any civilized society, considered immoral and base and treats them as merely a question of one’s point of view. As such, “Klinghoffer” must be considered as not merely offensive but morally corrupt.

 

Given its contemptible premise, many people who know little of the cultural world in our day, may find it hard to understand how Klinghoffer could have been initially produced only a few years after the events it depicts took place in 1991 and become in the last quarter century a staple of the international operatic repertory, at least as far as contemporary opera is concerned. But such offensive views are mainstream opinion in the world of high art these days where productions of classics are often distorted to transform them from their religious and sentimental origins into parables for Marxist or other left-wing ideologies. Indeed, even operas which are inherently sympathetic to the Jews, like Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Dalila, have been turned into pro-Palestinian parables (though, it must be admitted that the Met’s 1998 Samson is actually quite sympathetic to the Jews). In such an artistic milieu, Klinghoffer is considered no more controversial than Verdi’s Rigoletto.

 

That the Met, which has a large Jewish fan base, should go down this contemptible road with Klinghoffer is a testament to Gelb’s determination to transform the venerable opera house into a laboratory for contemporary theater. Gelb has offended many, if not most of his subscribers with awful and ugly modernist productions in recent years and become the butt of almost constant attacks from disgruntled New York opera fans. But he has, to date, survived these disasters and, with a contract that runs into the next decade, seems to think that he can do, as he likes. But the Klinghoffer controversy comes at a particularly bad time for him. The Met is currently negotiating with its unions about new contracts and Gelb has decided to try cut back on salaries and benefits for opera house workers as well as the chorus and orchestra. The conflict has been embittered by Gelb’s arrogance and profligate spending on his pet productions as well as the fact that he pulls down, as the New York Times reported yesterday, a whopping $1.8 million in salary, a staggering amount [at] an arts institution that is hurting financially. While it is always difficult to predict the course of labor negotiations, a strike that would postpone the opening of the Met this September or even the cancellation of the entire 2014-15 season a very real possibility. If so, the planned October-November run of Klinghoffer may never happen.

 

But strike or no strike, the decision to stage Klinghoffer taints the reputations of both Gelb and the Met. If the labor dispute results in a postponement of the Klinghoffer performances, the Met board should seize the opportunity to junk the production entirely. Indeed, now that Gelb has already admitted that the opera may well fan the flames of anti-Semitism if broadcast abroad, the Met should not do so at home either. If they don’t rethink their misguided plan, one of New York’s most beloved arts organizations will come under increasing and justified criticism for legitimizing terror and feeding anti-Semitism. It would be a fitting punishment if, along with all of his other problems, Gelb pays for this monumental error in judgment with his job.     

                                                                             

Contents
                            

BOOK REVIEW: 'REBBE' BY JOSEPH TELUSHKIN

AND 'MY REBBE' BY ADIN STEINSALTZ

Dara Horn

Wall Street Journal, June 13, 2014

 

“Are you Jewish?” If you've lived in a large American city in the past 30 years and look the part, chances are that a young Hasidic man has approached you with this question. Men who answer "yes" are given a quick tutorial in donning tefillin, ritual objects worn by Jewish men during prayer; women receive Sabbath candles with instructions to recite ancient blessings. It all seems suspiciously cultlike, but these bearded enthusiasts aren't out to convert anyone. They are emissaries of Chabad (also known as Lubavitch), a religious movement whose goal is to expose more Jews to Judaism—unconditionally.

 

Their approach has succeeded in a secular age when hundreds of other Jewish organizations have failed. A recent Pew study of American Jews showed a dramatic attenuation of communal ties, and other religions have also seen declining institutional involvement, but Chabad has built thriving outposts from Anchorage to Zimbabwe, touched the lives of millions, and become ubiquitous almost to the point of comedy. On a recent trip to Australia, I discovered that the building adjacent to my hotel in Melbourne was an exact replica of 770 Eastern Parkway, Chabad's legendary Brooklyn headquarters. Two excellent new biographies of Chabad's great 20th-century leader, the Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-94), help explain how one man turned a decimated sect into a world-wide presence.

 

Hasidism is a religious revival movement inspired by the spiritual crises that followed the 1648 massacres of tens of thousands of Jews in Ukraine. Led by charismatic leaders called rebbes (a variant of a Hebrew word for "teacher") who elevated seeking God through sincere action like prayer and deeds of kindness above studying Torah. Hasidism flourished in Eastern Europe, with various dynastic courts gaining ardent followers. In the 1780s, a rebbe named Shneur Zalman in the Belarusian town of Lubavitch founded a new Hasidic group called Chabad (a Hebrew acronym for wisdom, understanding and knowledge), distinguished for its intellectual rigor. He also began his own dynasty; leadership descended within the family through followers' consensus. It is this mantle that Menachem Mendel Schneerson, a direct descendant of Shneur Zalman, reluctantly assumed after the death of his father-in-law Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson, the sixth rebbe, in 1950. (The tangled Schneerson family tree would put the Windsors to shame.) After a year of power struggles with a brother-in-law who badly wanted the job—and whose son was later sued by Chabad for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of rare books—Schneerson became the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe in 1951.

 

By all accounts, Schneerson, born in 1902 and raised in Ukraine, was gifted with extraordinary intelligence and empathy. He never studied in a yeshiva but learned Torah and Talmud with his father and reportedly committed all 63 tractates of the Talmud to memory; his close relationship with his father-in-law, whom he first met in 1923 and who was later imprisoned and exiled by the Soviets, defined his spiritual life. As a young man he studied physics, calculus and philosophy at the University of Berlin. Just before the Nazi takeover, Schneerson and his wife moved to Paris, where he earned a degree in electrical engineering. This served him well when the couple escaped to New York in 1941, where he found a job at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, supervising work on battleship electrical systems. Most Lubavitchers were murdered in the Holocaust; at Chabad's new Crown Heights headquarters, people had to be pulled off the street to provide the quorum of 10 Jewish men for prayers. The new Rebbe's worldliness—he spoke seven languages and could read more than 10—prepared him to lead not just a small sect but a movement that could reach millions.

 

Those who admire young Mormons who commit to two-year missions ought to be awed by Chabad shluchim (emissaries), young married couples barely in their 20s who are sent to far-flung places to build Jewish communities and serve the needs of Jewish travelers—not for two years but for their entire lives, raising their children abroad. As pre-eminent Israeli Torah scholar Adin Steinsaltz details in "My Rebbe," this practice began with the fifth rebbe at the turn of the 20th century, who sent shluchim to outlying regions of the Russian empire. But Schneerson vastly expanded the program. Shluchim are recruited for their intelligence and ingenuity, serve voluntarily, receive no salary (they must raise funds to support themselves), and devote their lives to bringing Judaism to places where resources like kosher food or synagogues are often nonexistent.

 

The Rebbe insisted on maintaining shluchim in challenging circumstances. In "Rebbe," American rabbi and author Joseph Telushkin describes a 1982 incident where the Israeli government planned to evacuate the Tunisian Jewish community after the Palestine Liberation Organization established a headquarters in Tunis. The Rebbe, citing his own intelligence sources, insisted the threat wasn't credible. The Israelis backed down, and Chabad, along with the city's native Jewish community, remains in Tunis today. Such persistence isn't without risk: In 2008, shluchim in Mumbai were targeted, tortured and murdered during citywide terrorist attacks, an incident that goes unmentioned in these books. It is worth noting that this atrocity did not lead to any pullback—8,000 shluchim currently serve around the world.

 

Both of these biographies depict the Rebbe's management style. One of the Rebbe's principles, for instance, was his religiously motivated insistence on never waiting to get things done. As Mr. Telushkin recounts, in 1978 a Jewish chaplain for South African prisons visited the Rebbe and lamented that Jewish prisoners, many of whom were dissidents, had permission to observe Passover but not Hanukkah. The Rebbe suggested that the chaplain approach the director of prisons. When the chaplain noted that Hanukkah would begin the following evening, the Rebbe told him to call the director at home, even though it was after midnight in Johannesburg, so that "he would be impressed by the matter's urgency." The director was indeed impressed, and prisoners received Hanukkah candles the following night.

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

 

Contents

 

CIJR Wishes All Its Friends & Supporters Shabbat Shalom!

 

On Topic

 

Canadian Jews Rally for Kidnapped Israelis: Paul Lungen, Canadian Jewish News, June 20, 2014 —As three abducted Israeli teens entered their second week of captivity, communities from across the country and around the world held vigils, gathered in solidarity and said prayers for their safe return.

The Message Behind the IDF’s Extensive Operation: Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post, June 18, 2014— The clear message behind the IDF’s large-scale operation in the West Bank is that Israel will not turn the other cheek in the face of wanton terrorism against its civilians.

Silence Comes as No Shock: Batsheva Neuer, Jerusalem Post, June 18, 2014 —Five days after three Israeli teenagers were abducted by Islamic terrorists, there was still silence from EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

Metropolitan Opera Romanticizes One NYer’s Murder: Ronn Torossian, New York Post, June 16, 2014—In 1985, New Yorker Leon Klinghoffer, 69, and his wife Marilyn took a cruise to celebrate their 36th wedding anniversary. Leon never came back: Four members of the Palestine Liberation Front hijacked the Achille Lauro, shot him in the head and threw him overboard in his wheelchair.

 

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

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JEWISH WORLD POPE FRANCIS VISITS ISRAEL (AN “OASIS” OF STABILITY FOR CHRISTIANS); AWARD-WINNING POET RECOGNIZED IN ISRAEL; READING BAMIDBAR

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 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org

 

Welcoming Pope Francis: David M. Weinberg, Jerusalem Post, May 22, 2014— This entire newspaper would not suffice to recap the anti-Jewish doctrines promulgated by Church Fathers which guided Catholic theology and practice down to the middle of the last century.

In Israel, Pope Francis to Witness Oasis of Stability in Chaotic Region for Christians: Sean Savage, Algemeiner, May 21, 2014—  Following in the footsteps of his two immediate predecessors, Pope Francis will embark upon a historic visit to Israel, Jordan, and the West Bank from May 24-26.

Tuvia Ruebner Never Stops Mourning the Lost: Toby Perl Freilich, Tablet, May 12, 2014 — Although long recognized for his lyric poetry in Europe, Tuvia Ruebner has spent most of his creative life in Israel laboring in relative obscurity, cast into the shadows of Yehuda Amichai and other modernist poets who enjoyed top billing among the “Statehood Generation.”

The Link Between Bamidbar And Shavuot: Rabbi Avi Weiss, Jewish Press, May 21, 2014— This week’s parshah, Bamidbar, is read prior to the Shavuot holiday.

 

On Topic Links

 

What Pope Francis Can do for Mideast Peace: Einat Wilf, New York Post, May 22, 2014

Middle Eastern Christians: Battered, Violated, and Abused, Do They Have Any Chance of Survival?

: Justus Reid Weiner, Jerusalem Post, May 22, 2014

On Middle East Visit, Pope Will Find a Diminished Christian Population: Nicholas Casey, Wall Street Journal, May 22, 2014

When Pope Francis Makes His Visit to Israel, This Rabbi Will Be His Guide: Meredith Hoffman, Tablet, May 12, 2014

 

WELCOMING POPE FRANCIS                                                  

David M. Weinberg                                                                                             Jerusalem Post, May 22, 2014

 

This entire newspaper would not suffice to recap the anti-Jewish doctrines promulgated by Church Fathers which guided Catholic theology and practice down to the middle of the last century. For centuries, Jews were rejecters of Christ, “perfidious” objects of contempt to be isolated and humiliated until they “saw the light,” a non-people shorn of their covenantal heritage including the right to the Land of Israel. Inquisition, blood libel, pogrom, burning the Talmud and burning Jews at the stake, ghettoization and Holocaust – these were the fruits of 2,000 years of vicious Christian anti-Semitism. In our generation, one pope was complicity silent throughout the Holocaust. Another pope warmly embraced Yasser Arafat way back when (in 1982) no one else would go near the terrorist chieftain. It took until 1993 for the Vatican to accord diplomatic recognition to the State of Israel.

But this is not the whole story, and it is wrong not to appreciate the vast strides forward of recent years in Christian-Jewish relations and Vatican- Israel ties. The ancient Christian anti-Semitism that fueled the Nazi movement has since been roundly repudiated by the Church, beginning with Nostra Aetate in 1965 and expanded upon by Pope John Paul II. John Paul II significantly changed the way in which Christians view, and teach about, Jews. He affirmed that God’s covenant with the Jewish people retains eternal validity; termed anti-Semitism a “sin against God” and called on the faithful to do tshuva for misdeeds against the Jews (using the Hebrew word for repentance); respectfully attended synagogue services and spoke of Jews as “elder brothers”; acknowledged Israel’s right to exist and its right to security; and established diplomatic relations with the state that embodies Jewish continuity. John Paul II’s millennial pilgrimage to Israel in 2000 was indeed an historic voyage.

Pope Francis, who arrives in Israel on Sunday, has deep friendships with the Jewish community of his homeland, and a track record of teaching respect for the Jewish People. He has spoken of Christianity and Judaism as partners, not adversaries, in the modern world; a world where a global struggle is under way against moral relativism on the one hand, and radical religious (mainly Islamic) extremism on the other.
Consequently, Francis should be warmly welcomed in Israel, to build on the bridges of understanding and cooperation that have been established. This is all the more true when we broaden the lens beyond Catholicism, to the Christian evangelical world that has become Israel’s best friend in global affairs. Israeli and Jews everywhere need to be cognizant of and grateful for the moral, spiritual, financial and political support of these believing Christians. They pray and lobby for Israel every day.

And yet, many in the Israeli religious community, in particular, still channel fear and resentment towards Christianity in general, and the Vatican in particular. They scaremonger about purported Vatican takeovers of Jewish sites (like King David’s tomb on Mount Zion), and relate with disdain to well-meaning Christian clergy and even to interfaith cooperation among lay leaders. I have seen angry Jewish religious treatises and newsletters which dismiss the Vatican’s warmer touch as Catholic lip-service, a tactical change in tone forced upon the Church by political realities. They assert that the Church’s goal remains the “theoretical, spiritual and practical destruction of the eternality of Israel,” and the “collapsing of the State of Israel by supporting anti-Israel terrorist organizations, under the cover of concern for justice and humanity.” Such militant talk provides ideological cover for misguided, fringe youth who have taken to occasionally vandalizing Church property.

I say that such radical unfriendliness towards Christians and the pope is wrong – morally, tactically and educationally. Morally, the Jewish People and the State of Israel ought to amicably adjust to favorable change in Christian attitudes where such exists, and it does. Tactically, we need not alienate millions of fair-minded Christians around the world. We have no need to make enemies out of friends and to spurn goodwill where it is proffered. Educationally, contempt for the Church is, I feel, somewhat passé. As a proud people restored to its homeland, we no longer need to scorn. We have the strength to accept the reformed Church and work with its leaders, to mutual benefit. In accepting the Vatican’s outstretched hand, I don’t mean to erase the memory of our galut years; of the Jewish People’s sad sojourn in the Diaspora as a people despised by the Church. Even the friendliest current voices cannot drown out Church history. It’s not humanly possible. We certainly have the right to stand aloof from the past attitudes and conduct of the Church.

Furthermore, distinguishing between today’s pro- and anti-Israel Christians is not always easy for Jews.
The lines blur between Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s rotten Anglican-missionary- colonized heart, pro-BDS Presbyterian and Episcopalian churches in the US, and the diabolically anti-Israel Church of Scotland, on the one hand; and the newly Israel-friendly Vatican and even friendlier evangelical churches around the world, on the other. But we have an obligation to discern and appreciate these differences, and to respond maturely to each in kind…

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

 

                                                                       

Contents
                                               
             

         

IN ISRAEL, POPE FRANCIS TO WITNESS OASIS

OF STABILITY IN CHAOTIC REGION FOR CHRISTIANS             

Sean Savage                                                                                                          Algemeiner, May 21, 2014

                         

Following in the footsteps of his two immediate predecessors, Pope Francis will embark upon a historic visit to Israel, Jordan, and the West Bank from May 24-26. Throughout his career, Francis has shown a deep appreciation for the Jewish people and has made Jewish-Catholic relations a top priority. Yet this month, Francis will arrive in a Mideast region beset by uprisings, sectarian violence, and religious extremism, where Christians are routinely being driven from their homes and persecuted by Islamic fundamentalists.

 

As one of the few areas of stability and prosperity in the region, Israel has become an important ally for Christians. As such, on his trip the pope will face the dual challenge of confronting extremism, while also promoting reconciliation between the region’s Christians, Jews, and Muslim. “The Vatican is hoping this trip promotes unity among Christians, encourages Christians in the Middle East to remain committed, [while also] improving relations with Jews and Muslims,” John Allen, an associate editor for the Boston Globe who has covered the Catholic Church for nearly two decades, told JNS.org.

 

A major challenge Pope Francis and Vatican officials face, however, is walking the fine diplomatic line between support for Israel and staying on friendly terms with Arab-Muslim-majority countries, which are home to many Christians and important holy sites for the religion. “The Vatican tries to take a neutral position on many of the political controversies in the region,” Rabbi Dr. Eugene Korn, the Jerusalem-based director of the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC), told JNS.org. The Vatican, said Korn, “is enormously fearful of Christians who are being persecuted and are fleeing Muslim countries in the region,” and doesn’t want to provoke more violence against them by taking sides.

 

Nonetheless, privately, Vatican officials are often vocal in their support for Israel and grateful for the basic protections it provides to Christians and their holy sites. “The reality is that most Vatican diplomats are inclined to be supportive of Israel because they know whatever problems Christians in Israel face, pale in comparison to the problems they have in the rest of the Middle East,” Allen explained. “Many native Arab Christians in Israel do complain about being second-class citizens, facing travel problems and discrimination,” he said. “But they are not getting shot like they are in Syria, Egypt or Iraq. There is a great deal of sympathy for what they see as basic security, rights and rule of law in Israel.”

 

Israel has one of the few Christian communities left in the Middle East that is still growing.  According to 2013 figures released by Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, there are roughly 161,000 Christians living in Israel, up from 158,000 in 2012. At the same time, Christian populations elsewhere in the region are rapidly declining. According to the Pew Research Center, just 0.6 percent of the world’s 2.2 billion Christians now live in the Middle East and North Africa. Christians make up only 4 percent of the region’s total inhabitants, drastically down from 20 percent a century ago. In Israel, the Christian community largely thrives, regularly outperforming Jews and Muslims in education. But that is not the case in Palestinian-controlled areas. In Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, Christians have declined from about 70 percent of the population a few decades ago to only 15 percent today. “Being Catholic and living in Israel and in the Holy Land is without a doubt a grace and a privilege for many reasons; it means being close to the Holy Places, to local Christians, especially those belonging to the Eastern Churches, and to the Jewish people,” Father Francesco Voltaggio—rector of the Galilee Seminary, a Catholic-Jewish dialogue center founded by Pope John Paul II—told JNS.org. Voltaggio, who will meet Pope Francis during his visit, feels that the trip will cement Catholic-Jewish relations while also being an important opportunity to open dialogue with Muslims. “I expect a step forward in the renewed relationship between Christians and Jews, as well as an opening of hope in the dialogue with Islam, a dialogue that is often marked by wounds, yet is necessary today more than ever, so as not to prevent tragedies, like the violence caused by fundamentalism,” Voltaggio said.

 

While most of Pope Francis’s itinerary in Israel will take him to the usual spots visited by heads of state—such as Yad Vashem and the Western Wall—as well as to meetings with to Israeli leaders, the most remarkable aspect of the trip may be the trend it is setting. “This is the third consecutive pope who has visited Israel,” Korn said. “This is going to establish an informal policy for popes in the future.” “It really strengthens the Vatican policy of coming to Israel and paying homage to the Jewish people,” he said.

 

But despite the goodwill developed between the Vatican and Israel, several obstacles remain. One of the largest is that the “Fundamental Accord” signed by Israel and the Vatican in 1993, which established relations between the two states, has not been finalized—leaving Church properties in Israel in a state of limbo when it comes to taxation or other administrative areas. “You can find fault on both sides [for not finishing the agreement]. But the fact that this has been dragged out for so long has become a source of irritation in the Vatican,” Allen said. One of the points of contention related to this area has been the status of the Cenacle—the traditional site of the Jesus’s Last Supper on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. Jews also revere the building containing the Cenacle, as the tomb of King David. Hundreds of religious Jews recently held a protest against the building’s rumored transfer to the Vatican during the pope’s visit. Lior Haiat, an Israeli Foreign Ministry official who is handling public diplomacy for the papal visit, said rumors surrounding the impeding transfer of sovereignty over the Last Supper room, as part of finalizing the 1993 agreement with the Vatican, are “untrue.” Nevertheless, he said Israel has been in discussions with the Vatican over the status of Christian holy sites…               

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

 

Contents

TUVIA RUEBNER NEVER STOPS MOURNING THE LOST                                Toby Perl Freilich

Tablet, May 12, 2014

 

Although long recognized for his lyric poetry in Europe, Tuvia Ruebner has spent most of his creative life in Israel laboring in relative obscurity, cast into the shadows of Yehuda Amichai and other modernist poets who enjoyed top billing among the “Statehood Generation.” Though of their generation Ruebner, now 90, was always an outlier—both literally, since he lived on a northern kibbutz far from the cafés of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and creatively. His work focused on loss and destruction, topics out of favor with the generation of newly smelted Israelis. But these days, Ruebner is enjoying a new buzz in Israel. In the past decade, the accolades have been stacking up—the Anne Frank Prize, the Jerusalem Prize, the Israel Prime Minister’s Prize for Literature (twice), and finally, in 2008, the coveted Israel Prize.

 

Since 1957 he has published 15 poetry collections, most recently in 2013, and two new books of his poems in English translation are poised to come out: In the Illuminated Dark: Selected Poems of Tuvia Ruebner, translated and introduced by Rachel Tzvia Back—who accompanied me on a recent visit to Ruebner—and Late Beauty, a book of Ruebner poems translated by Lisa Katz and Shahar Bram. Ruebner is old enough to both appreciate the newfound fame and realize that it changes nothing; he is still haunted by the past and grateful for the present. For a man whose life and work have been overshadowed by loss—of his parents, his beloved little sister, a young wife, and an adult son—Ruebner has a remarkably bright presence. Hard of hearing, he listens intently and has a sense of humor and playfulness that belie his age. In his poem, “Postcard from Pressburg-Bratislava,” Ruebner writes:

 

    I was born in Pressburg. I had a mother, a father, a sister.

    I had, I believe, a small and happy childhood in Pressburg.

 

All the sadness and displacement expressed in his poetry seem to rest on something solid, secure, even joyous.

 

Outside the Ruebner home on Kibbutz Merhavia, I was greeted by Galila, Tuvia’s wife, and was immediately struck by how starkly beauty can express itself in an 82-year-old woman. Galila, a former concert pianist, led me inside where her husband was seated at the computer, wearing a long brown jalabiya and a colorfully embroidered Nepalese cap. Ruebner likens the seduction of territorial expansion to that of a mythological siren

 

The living room is tiny, on the scale of most old kibbutz apartments, its walls almost entirely obscured by works of modern art, shelves of books, family photographs, and Ruebner’s own body of photographic work. In January 1924, when Ruebner was born to a prosperous Jewish family, Pressburg—or Bratislava, as its Slovakian speakers knew it—was home to German, Hungarian, and Slovakian-speaking communities. Picturesquely situated along the Danube, it was sandwiched between Austria and Hungary and passed to Slovakian control just before Ruebner was born. He grew up in a traditional but largely secular household (“We were a little more observant than Kafka,” he noted wryly), where he and his father would sneak their bacon off paper plates in the hallway. He attended the Neolog synagogue with his parents on the High Holidays and his grandparents on Passover and was educated in a Protestant Evangelical school until fifth grade. The principal was a Masonic brother of Ruebner’s father at the local lodge. For religion lessons, a rabbi was enlisted to instruct the Jewish students in Bible stories and religious rituals.

 

Though he’d compose the occasional poem for a family event, it was prose that captured Ruebner’s imagination as a boy. In grade school, his teacher sent a short story of his to the renowned Prager Tagblatt. It was about a mountaineer who, upon cresting the top, catches the sunrise and promptly tumbles down the mountain. The paper declined the submission, claiming, “This can’t be the story of a 10-year-old.” Ruebner’s formal schooling ended after only a year of high school, when anti-Semitic laws banned public education to Jews. A counselor at his Hashomer Hatzair youth movement group arranged for him to join a Hachshara to train for life in Palestine, where he wrote stories for the publicly posted newspaper. One of his counselors, partial to poetry, suggested that Ruebner begin to write “expressionistically.” Pressed for an explanation, the counselor replied, “A corn leaf is a comma,” and advised Ruebner to read Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus. It ignited in him a love of Rilke and a lifelong passion for poetry.

 

Because of his membership in a Zionist youth group, Ruebner’s family was able to buy him an exit visa, and in 1941, when he was 17, Ruebner bade a halting farewell to his family and made his way to Palestine. Sent to Kibbutz Merhavia, he enjoyed the work outdoors but found the flat, parched terrain ugly, and longed for the lush and gently rolling landscape of his childhood. The yearning for home was compounded by the harsh welcome the new arrivals received. In explaining why he continued to write poems in German for 12 years after his arrival, Ruebner erupts in a torrent of painful memories, “We arrived during the war, Rommel was at Alexandria; we weren’t wanted. They took all our possessions and divided them among the kibbutz members. My separation from home had been a difficult one. I was a stranger; I felt I didn’t belong here. I didn’t want to change my name, I didn’t want to become a sabra.”

 

In 1944, he found out why, two years earlier, he had stopped receiving replies to his allotted 24-word, Red Cross postcards home: In June of that year his parents and his 12-year-old sister, Alice (Litzi), had perished at Auschwitz. In his grief he sought the solace of another Slovakian émigrée: a woman named Ada Klein, whom he married. They had a daughter in 1949, but within months the young parents were in a bus accident that killed Ada and left Ruebner seriously wounded with burns covering much of his body. While in the hospital he was visited by Lea Goldberg, already a renowned poet and a close friend…

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

 

Contents
 

THE LINK BETWEEN BAMIDBAR AND SHAVUOT

Rabbi Avi Weiss

Jewish Press, May 21, 2014

 

This week’s parshah, Bamidbar, is read prior to the Shavuot holiday. Rabbi Isaiah Halevy Horowitz suggests that this Torah reading teaches us important lessons about the holiday. Bamidbar presents the names and leaders of each of the tribes of Israel. It can be suggested that the delineation of the leaders of each tribe is linked to Shavuot as it promotes the idea that the heads of the community should be paragons or teachers of Torah. The parshah also describes the way the Jews encamped around the Tabernacle. Rav Umberto Cassuto echoes the similarity to Shavuot as he calls the Tabernacle a “mini-Sinai.” We simulated Sinai as we wandered through the desert, constantly reliving the experience of revelation.

Bamidbar begins by telling us that God spoke to Moshe in the Sinai desert. Rabbi Nachman Cohen in A Time for All Things maintains that the confluence of Bamidbar and Shavuot is “to underscore the great significance of the Torah having been given in the desert – no man’s land.” Rabbi Cohen points out that the location of the vast expanse of the wilderness is significant for it teaches us that the Torah is not “the exclusive property of given individuals.” Living a desert existence makes us feel vulnerable. The fact that the Torah was given in the desert also teaches that “Torah can only be acquired if a person humbles himself.”

 

My colleague Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky inspired another idea. Perhaps the key relationship between Bamidbar and Shavuot is “counting.” Not only does our portion deal with the census – the counting – of the Jewish people, but the Torah, when mentioning Shavuot, stresses the counting of days between the holidays of Pesach and Shavuot. In the words of the Torah, “seven weeks shall you count” (Leviticus, 23:15). This teaches that as important as the holiday of Shavuot may be, equally important is the count toward the holiday. An important lesson emerges. Whenever we are engaged in a particular project, whether working toward a professional goal or striving to achieve in our personal lives, it is important to reflect and to evaluate how much time has already been spent on the endeavor and how much is still required to achieve its realization. Evaluating forces us to consider the gift of every moment we have. Rabbi Joseph Lookstein points out that we must not only realize what the years have done to us but what we have done with our years.

 

Hence the confluence of Bamidbar and Shavuot. In the words of the Psalmist, “Teach us to number our days” (Psalms, 90:12). Bamidbar teaches the significance of each person and Shavuot teaches the importance of every moment for the individual.

 

CIJR wishes all its friends and supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

What Pope Francis Can do for Mideast Peace: Einat Wilf, New York Post, May 22, 2014 —As Pope Francis sets off for his visit to Israel, Jordan and Palestine, his aims are clearly humanitarian, but he risks falling into the pitfalls of the political.

Middle Eastern Christians: Battered, Violated, and Abused, Do They Have Any Chance of Survival?: Justus Reid Weiner, Jerusalem Post, May 22, 2014—Throughout the Middle East, the birthplace of Christianity, Christians are facing pervasive and systematic persecution that is steadily increasing in its intensity and scope.

On Middle East Visit, Pope Will Find a Diminished Christian Population: Nicholas Casey, Wall Street Journal, May 22, 2014—At the Church of the Nativity, triumphal banners with biblical stories hang in Manger Square, where Pope Francis will celebrate Mass this weekend.

When Pope Francis Makes His Visit to Israel, This Rabbi Will Be His Guide: Meredith Hoffman, Tablet, May 12, 2014—The day before her wedding, Florence Ofer, a blonde 27-year-old accountant, strolled out of the Shabbat service at Benei Tikva, a synagogue in Buenos Aires, praising the shul’s rabbi, Abraham Skorka, who was going to conduct her wedding.

                               

 

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

FOR LOVE OF ISRAEL, LOST JEWISH CITIES AND THE MIRACLE OF CULTURAL RENAISSANCE

 

Contents:

We must rediscover our love of Israel;

Jewish Aleppo, lost forever;

The Center of Jewish Culture is Already in Israel;

Chain of miracles;

 

On Topic Links

________________________________________________________________________

 

WE MUST REDISCOVER OUR LOVE OF ISRAEL

Stu Krantz

Washington Jewish Week, July 5, 2012

 

When our forefathers (for Ashkenazim) were living in shtetls in Poland, Russia, or wherever, Israel was seen as the true homeland where one day we would end up. This idea has largely disintegrated from the modern American Jewish community and has resulted in a conundrum: are we Jewish Americans or American Jews?

 

I go to a Jewish day school, and I can guarantee you that I'm in the minority when I declare that I am, without question, an American Jew. For me, it's all about pride in being Jewish. When I went to a 4-day event a couple months ago where I was one of maybe 5 Jews out of the 240 kids that were there, I felt something that I had never really felt before: pride in being Jewish. I really liked being part of such a small minority.

 

Ever since the first destruction of the temple in 586 BCE and through today, people have sought to annihilate the Jewish people at every turn….As a kid growing up in a "secular" American Jewish household (as most of my friends are), it's very easy to see our life as the "ideal" situation and forget how ridiculously lucky we are to live in this day and age. The notion that we can live our lives experiencing hardly any real anti-Semitism only arose in the middle of last century, less than 100 years ago.

 

OK, cool, but where does Israel fit in? It all goes back to Jewish American vs. American Jew. If we live in America, we're bound to assimilate. We can't just be Jewish in America; we must also be American. And don't get me wrong, because I love America and think America is the greatest country in the world, but the only place we can really just be Jews is in Israel.

 

That's why Israel is important to me. There's no Jewish Israeli vs. Israeli Jew. Sure, there may be secular and religious, but everyone is Jewish. After having no place to be for 3000 years, we finally have a place that is our own. How fitting it is that a nation of people, considered the scum of the earth for so long, has risen to the upper classes of society and has been able to build a beautiful, gleaming country out of a patch of desert land. Israel will always be ours.

 

As Israeli rapper Subliminal (a personal favorite of mine) says in his song "The Light and the Shadow, "האר מציון יותר מחבר חי מים ליום ואף פעם לא מוות"  In English: the light from Tzion (Israel) is more than a friend, it lives every day and never gives up. (It sounds a lot better in Hebrew.)

 

Israel makes me proud to be Jewish. I'm not very religious, but Israel is a source of pride for me, as is my Jewish identity. We've been persecuted for 2000 years, and now we have our own country that protects minorities, in addition to Jews. After merely surviving for so long, we can now affirmatively say, "We are here!"

 

And we have our own country to prove it.  (Top)

[Stu Krantz is a 15 year old  intern for the Washington Jewish Week and grandson of CIJR Director Prof. Fred Krantz.]

__________________________________________________________________________________

 

JEWISH ALEPPO, LOST FOREVER

Joseph Dana

Tablet, August 23, 2012

 

The northern Syrian city of Aleppo, once a pillar of Jewish existence worldwide, is slowly being destroyed by the fighting that has engulfed Syria for the past 17 months. Last week, a Free Syrian Army rebel warned that soon “there will be nothing left to destroy in Aleppo.” Imagine Rome or Paris destroyed by civil war in the social media age.…

 

What made Jewish existence in Aleppo so unique and vibrant? For thousands of years, Aleppo was an unofficial capital of the Sephardic Jewish world. Fuelled by wealth from international trade and waves of Jewish immigration, the city’s Jews sustained a pious community revered for educational excellence and as a guardian of traditions with roots in ancient Israel. Aleppine folklore—some even say that one of Kind David’s generals personally laid the foundation for its great synagogue, now located at the heart of fighting—hints at the prestige of the city in Jewish history.

 

But the city is lost, and Jewish existence has been all but erased from its cobbled streets. Remarkably, what has not disappeared is the Aleppine way of life in diaspora communities spanning the globe.

 

“I would say without any hesitation that the [community of Jews from Aleppo] is the strongest Jewish community in the world in the sense of solidarity,” Yom Tov Assis, a professor of medieval history at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, told me in his book-saturated office. Assis was born in Aleppo and briefly experienced the violence in the city that accompanied Israel’s independence. He recently founded the center for the study of Aleppine Jewry at the Hebrew University in an effort to preserve and study the traditions of his vibrant community. “There is hardly any Jewish community apart from the Haredim, the ultra-Orthodox, that is so strongly attached to its past and traditions,” he said.

 

Outside of Israel, few cities in the Middle East have a richer history of Jewish cultural activity, education, and trade than Aleppo. Legend has it that the city, which is referred to as Haleb in both Hebrew and Arabic, derives its name from a story of Abraham guiding a flock of sheep through the fleecy shrubbery of the surrounding mountains. He is said to have distributed his sheep’s milk (halev in Hebrew) to the local residents of the city, nestled in Northern Syria’s rolling hills, which thereby was known as Haleb.

 

Starting in the late 10th century, Aleppo grew to serve as a passageway between the Jewish communities of the Babylonian center and Israel. Its geographic position and impressive sphere of influence bridged the divide from Persia to the lucrative markets of southern Europe. The city held an almost mythic or legendary status among Jews worldwide. Visiting the city in the late 16th century, Italian monk Pietro Della Valle observed in a travel journal that, “Here, in one district [in Aleppo], converges all the Orient, with its jewels, silks, drugs, and cloths; and it is also joined by the Occident, namely France (in force), Venice, Holland, and England.” Aleppine Jews also used their wealth to establish prominent educational institutions and were recognized for their carefully kept traditions in line with the biblical practices of ancient Jews. In a letter to the Jewish community of Lunel in Southern France, Maimonides noted that “in all the Holy Land and in Syria, there is one city alone and it is Halab in which there are those who are truly devoted to the Jewish religion and the study of Torah.”

 

Historically, Aleppo found itself at the crossroads of two of Jewish history’s major developments: the expulsion of Jews from Spain and the rise of the Zionist movement. As refugees from Iberia flooded the Eastern Mediterranean in the early part of the 16th century, Aleppo became one of the most important centers of absorption. When Aleppo fell under Ottoman rule in the 16th century, the Caliphate maintained a relatively warm relationship with the Jewish community. Provisions ensuring that synagogues were not built taller than mosques and that Jewish religious behavior was performed quietly—part of their status as Dhimmis—meant that Jews found a fragile entente.

 

In 1948, after the United Nations voted to implement a two-state solution in Palestine, anti-Jewish riots broke out in Aleppo. False rumors spread that the codex had been destroyed in an attack. From this point until the late 1980s, the community dismantled itself, and the Aleppine Jewish diaspora began to take shape—mainly in Israel, Brooklyn, and South America. “We used to summer in Lebanon near Beirut,” Assis told me. “One summer my parents rented a large bus with other Jews from Aleppo, and only after we crossed into Lebanon did they inform us that we would never return to Aleppo.”…

 

What, then, is the best way to remember Jewish life under Muslim rule in the Middle East? It’s a question that has floated through the halls of Jewish academia for at least 30 years, alternately provoking idealized versions of peaceful life in the Arab world and dramatic tales of persecution. Especially among those dedicated to European Jewish history, which still struggles to understand the tragedy that befell European Jewry in the 20th century, there is a tendency to view life under Muslim rule as exceedingly peaceful, marked by co-existence and even mutual respect. Outside of academia, the question tends to adopt political contours, with people seeking to place blame either on the Zionist movement or the Arab populations that expelled their ancient Jewish communities after the creation of the state of Israel.

 

Whichever side one falls on politically, it is clear that, for Jews, Aleppo was lost in 1948. The recent destruction of the city’s ancient monuments is merely a reminder of what had already been lost. While the Aleppine community in Israel is not nearly as numerous or powerful as their brethren in Brooklyn—the largest Aleppine Jewish community in the world, covered widely for their financial success and excess—their proximity to Syria and relationship with Jews from other Arab countries give the events in their lost city a more immediate feel.

 

Like for the Aleppine community in Brooklyn, the idea of Aleppo lives on in schools and synagogues in the exile community in Israel. During our conversation, Assis relayed stories of his adolescence moving around the Middle East. “When I arrived in Beirut and Istanbul, I found myself far more learned than any other kid my age,” he said. “We had a very strong Jewish education, we used to read the Bible and translate it on the spot to the astonishment of our teachers.”…

For people like Assis, maintaining this tradition in the face of the winds of history is nothing short of an obligation. “The Jewish world under Islam has vanished,” he said. “You can mourn the whole Jewish world under Islam, there is nothing left. What happens to the cemeteries, to the synagogues, to the books, to everything? Well, God knows.”  (Top)

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THE CENTER OF JEWISH CULTURE IS ALREADY IN ISRAEL

Vic Rosenthal

Jewish Press, August 20th, 2012

 

A particularly pessimistic article about the future of France’s Jews — that is to say, about the lack of one — has prompted me to think about the future of the Jewish people everywhere.

 

Two major centers of Jewish culture disappeared during the 20th century, in Eastern Europe and the Muslim Middle East. Now there is pressure on what is left of the Jewish populations of Western Europe.

 

A general explanation for this phenomenon can and does fill books, but a quick summary is that traditional forms of antisemitism that developed in the Christian and Muslim worlds came together and exchanged DNA during the Nazi period, making both strains more virulent. Then, after 1948 and in the cauldron of the Cold War, political anti-Zionism combined with simple Jew-hatred to produce today’s particularly dangerous pathogen, which is as deadly as Nazism and as easily transmissible as left-wing politics.

 

Jews today are concentrated in Israel and in the US. There’s no need to discuss yet again the external and internal threats Israel faces (although I’m confident that it will prevail in the current confrontation with Iran). What about the Jewish population of the US?

 

America is different from Europe or the Muslim world. America defines itself as a nation of immigrants, so the Jew is not automatically an ‘other’ as in France, for example. America has an aggressive tradition of institutionalized religious tolerance which is unmatched anywhere else in the world.

 

The influence of Muslims is less of a problem than in Europe. American Muslims are a much smaller percentage of the population than in Europe, and they tend to be more educated, assimilated and likely to accept Western values.

 

That is not to say that there isn’t a certain amount of Jew-hatred here, either the more traditional “paleo” kind represented by Pat Buchanan or David Duke, or the so-called “new antisemitism” that hides behind an anti-Zionist political facade. But the great majority of Americans find these attitudes offensive. While ugly stereotypes about Jews are common, they rarely result in overt behavior. All this could change, but not easily and not quickly.

 

But there are other factors at work that will reduce the importance of American Jews. The Jewish community in the US is shrinking (by 5% since the 1990′s) because of a low birth rate and high degree of intermarriage among secular and Reform or Conservative Jews, who are close to 80% of the total. It is much harder for secular or liberal Jewish families to maintain Jewish cultural identity in the majority non-Jewish US than in Israel.

 

Orthodox Jews, on the other hand, are increasing numerically and as a percentage of the Jewish population. At least half of those are considered Haredi (“ultra-Orthodox”), which is the fastest growing subgroup.

 

I think that these trends will gradually result in less Jewish influence on American culture and politics because of smaller numbers and the tendency of the more observant Jews — especially Haredim –  to participate less in the public sphere. While I don’t think we will see a surge of antisemitism here, I expect that the Jewish community will become smaller proportionally and less involved in American life and politics.

 

The center of Jewish culture — spiritual, scientific, entrepreneurial, artistic — is today, as it should be, Israel. This was not the case in 1948 or 1967, but it is true now, and I can only expect it to become more true as time goes by. Which means that the future of the Jewish people depends on the survival and prosperity of the Jewish state. (Top)

__________________________________________________________________________________

CHAIN OF MIRACLES

Robert M. Goldberg

Weekly Standard, May 28, 2012

      

There are many remarkable episodes in this compelling autobiography of Israel Meir Lau, the former chief rabbi of Israel. One in particular captures Lau’s character and shapes his future. Lulek (as he was called) was 5 years old in 1942 when he saw his father, Moshe, also a rabbi, beaten and deported to Treblinka, and only 6 when his mother, Chaya, was taken from him and murdered at Ravensbruck. Thereafter, he and his older brother Naphtali were—after working in a glass factory near the Piotrków ghetto—shipped to the Czestochowa labor camp in Poland.

 

The defining episode occured when the labor camp’s commandant had lined up the 10 children in Czestochowa and told them that they would be slaughtered because they were “useless.” The 7-year-old Lulek imagined he had “formed a small mound from the mud and stood on top of it in order to make myself taller.” From that imaginary mound, Lau relates, “I gave the first speech I had ever given in my life, which was also the speech of my life, in the battle for my life. I have delivered thousands of speeches [since], but none has been comparable to this speech”:

 

Why does the commandant say such things about us? That we are useless? That we are incapable? For twelve hours a day in Hortensia, the glass factory in Piotrków, I pushed a cart with sixty bottles of water among the furnaces of the glassblowers. Fill, empty, fill—and that was already a year ago. Now I’m older and I can do more. I, the youngest, and my friends who are older than I am—we have a right to live, too.                                                                (Top)

 

 

___________________________________________________________________

 

On Topic

 

∙       Israel National News, August 24, 2012
Elad Benari

∙       Jerusalem Post, August 24, 2012
Jeremy Sharon

∙       Canadian Jewish News, August 23, 2012
Rabbi Dow Marmur

∙       Jewish Press, August 24th, 2012
Lori Lowenthal Marcus

_______________________________________________________________________

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.   CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.

Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.

To join our email distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org

 

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home at no extra cost.

 

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.