Rejecting Despair and Confronting the Challenges: Isi Leibler, Candidly Speaking, July 21, 2015 — I will not add to the flow of articles that have more than adequately analyzed the horrendous long-term consequences of U.S. President Barack Obama’s capitulation to the Iranian ayatollah…
Friedman’s Fantasy: Michael Devolin, Jihad Watch, Apr. 2, 2015 — “A salesman is got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory.”
Suing to Profit From a Nazi’s Diaries: Roger Kimball, Wall Street Journal, July 14, 2015 — This spring marked the 70th anniversary of the effective end of the Nazi regime.
Nine Days in Av: Stewart Weiss, Jerusalem Post, July 16, 2015— Friday, July 17, begins the semi-mourning period popularly known as “The Nine Days.”
Look Before Leaping: Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, Mar. 25, 2015
The New York Times vs. Israel: Jerold Auerbach, Algemeiner, June 10, 2015
Globe & Mail Presents Dubious Anti-Israel Organization’s Report as “Credible”: Honest Reporting, June 10, 2015
When Tisha B’Av Occurs On Shabbat Or Sunday: Raphael Grunfeld, Jewish Press, July 23, 2015
Jerusalem Post, July 16, 2015
Friday, July 17, begins the semi-mourning period popularly known as “The Nine Days.” Culminating in Tisha Be’av – one of only two 25-hour fasts in the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur being the other – this period calls for a lessening of festivities, a moratorium on weddings and a general mood of solemnity.
This is a calamitous chunk of our calendar, for it was during these dates that numerous catastrophes befell the Jewish people, the most devastating of which were the destruction of both Holy Temples in Jerusalem and the loss of our independence.
It is a tribute to our culture – not to mention an ongoing proof of our eternal history – that we are prepared to draw attention to our failings and foibles no less than to our successes and celebrations, in a constant struggle for self-improvement. As every athlete knows, you learn more from your losses than from your wins, and so each year we struggle to understand what went wrong, why and how the events of the “Black Fast” occurred, and what we can do to rectify those mistakes so they will not happen again.
The Rabbis of the Talmud make it crystal clear that the hurban, the Destruction, was a function of our own sinful actions, and not the result of some political or military decision imposed on us from the outside. As a preeminent people that continually defies the norms of history, it is we ourselves, and not those around us, who control our fate. If we so merit it, no force can dislodge us. But if we fail to live up to the high standard set for us, then “the Almighty has many messengers” at His disposal. As the Talmud succinctly puts it, the Romans were not responsible for our defeat; they were merely “grinding already-ground flour.”
It is therefore worthwhile to review the comments of our Sages regarding Tisha Be’av, to see if we have made any progress over the last 2,000 years. Tractate Shabbat lists several reasons for the tragedy, beginning, appropriately, with Abaye’s statement that Jerusalem was destroyed due to desecration of the Shabbat. In halachic terms, Shabbat is not only considered the most important holiday of the year – surpassing even Yom Kippur – but it is the primary yardstick by which we measure religious commitment. It is the one question we ask to qualify potential witnesses (e.g., to a wedding), and it was one of a very few ritual commandments whose violation could actually result in the death penalty being administered by a human court.
But the significance of Shabbat is not only a legal consideration; Shabbat is what gives the Jewish state its uniqueness, its soul, its spiritual core. It is the single most important ingredient in preventing Israel from falling into the trap of becoming a state like any other state. And it is remarkable how Shabbat in Israel has made such an amazing “comeback” in recent years, as we have seen some of even the most nonobservant kibbutzim building on-site synagogues, and study programs as well as batei knesset in Tel Aviv fill to capacity each Shabbat. Ra’anana, I’m proud to say, boasts 85 synagogues – and more on the way. “Seven days without Shabbat,” it’s been said, “makes one weak!” Rabbi Hamnuna comments, “Jerusalem was destroyed because we neglected the education of our young.” Israel struggles with its education system – overcrowded classrooms, changes in the matriculation requirements with each new education minister, overall lack of decorum – but on the whole, we turn out some pretty bright students.
We have one of the highest literacy rates in the world (97.8 percent) and we spend 7.5% of our GDP on education – more than Canada, Japan, America, England or Australia. Want to know just how “smart” we are? Go into any kindergarten, and talk to the children. They’ll make you want to go back to school! Ula remarks: “Jerusalem was destroyed because there was not enough shame between people.” We are a society that is often high on blame but short on shame. Blame deflects our problems onto others and impedes our self-improvement. But shame can actually be a virtue; it can keep our ego and our arrogance in check – if we get ashamed by the right things – and lead us back to more pristine behavior.
I am ashamed when our country shows leniency to terrorists; when drivers lose control and act rudely and belligerently on our highways; when MKs fail to act with dignity and decorum in the Knesset; when “rabbis” abuse their power (and their congregants); when I succumb to anger, disillusion or lack of faith. Shame is the emotional partner of humility, and humility is the doorway to enlightenment and respect for others…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Candidly Speaking, July 21, 2015
I will not add to the flow of articles that have more than adequately analyzed the horrendous long-term consequences of U.S. President Barack Obama’s capitulation to the Iranian ayatollah, who to this day explicitly identifies the destruction of Israel as a primary objective and endorses calls of death to America and Israel by his followers.
Iran is an Islamic global counterpart to Hitler’s dictatorship in its fiendish denial of human rights. Yet the U.S. is effectively rewarding and reinforcing the leading global promoter of terrorism for its ongoing commitment and fanatic determination to undermine the democratic world. Beyond transforming Iran into a threshold nuclear state, Obama has provided Tehran with $150 billion to intensify its global terrorist activities, in addition to the removal of embargoes of conventional arms and ballistic missiles, thus bringing European and North American cities into the range of Iranian missiles.
It has repeatedly been described as “the worst agreement in U.S. diplomatic history” and will be recorded as an act of infamy that not merely threatens the survival of Israel and the moderate Arab regimes in the region but capitulates to a fanatic Islamic terrorist state, some of whose leaders would be willing to facilitate a premature paradise for its citizens by engaging in suicidal initiatives in order to bring forward the “end of days.” The U.S. has demeaned itself as a world power and lost the confidence of its traditional friends who have witnessed Obama’s lies, his repudiation of crucial assurances initially made in relation to Iran and his betrayal and abandonment of longstanding allies while groveling to rogue states and dictatorships…
We must now strategize a new approach. In the short-term, our efforts must be directed toward convincing Congress and the American people of the diabolical global consequences if this agreement is consummated. The prospects of reversing, or at least introducing additional control or supervisory mechanisms instead of blindly trusting the duplicitous Iranians, are not good. However, we must do all possible to persuade Congress to reject the deal, and if necessary achieve a two-thirds majority vote in the House of Representatives and the Senate in order to override the president’s veto. That would require a substantial number of Democrats to join the majority Republicans in opposing their president and places special pressure on the 28 Jewish legislators, especially Senator Chuck Schumer who represents a major Jewish constituency but also seeks to become the Senate Democratic leader.
Such action necessitates Israeli politicians to urgently set aside their narrow politics and speak out with one voice in order to neutralize claims that it is only right-wing elements in Israeli society that oppose the Iranian deal. To his credit, Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog has already fully endorsed Netanyahu’s efforts in opposing the current deal. He has bitterly condemned the agreement and stated that he would visit the U.S. and warn the Americans that, if consummated, it “will unleash a lion from the cage” and enable an “empire of hate and evil” to undermine Israel’s security as well as global stability. More than ever, the time is now opportune for Herzog to override the radicals is his own camp and join a unity government. Were he to assume the role of foreign minister, Israel would be speaking with one voice which would make an enormous impact on global public opinion. Rumors suggest that negotiations are taking place to bring this about, which would be welcomed by the overwhelming majority of Israeli citizens.
Israel’s challenge is to persuade congressional Democrats to stand up and if necessary repudiate their own president, not merely because he is endangering Israel but because he is undermining the standing and security of the United States and paving the way for the emergence of an evil global power that could unleash a blight on mankind for future generations. The relatively feeble response to date by the traditionally robust American Jewish leadership has been a significant factor in failing to inhibit Obama from implementing anti-Israeli policies — at total variance with the inclinations of the majority of Americans and their congressional leaders.
Belatedly, there is now some movement. Howard Kohr, executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, has launched a major campaign to persuade Congress to reject the deal. Malcolm Hoenlein expressed his personal opposition when he recently visited Israel with the newly elected head of the President’s Conference. But that umbrella body, operating by consensus, has yet to make a clear-cut condemnatory statement.
To his credit, Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, in what was possibly his last major public statement prior to his retirement, outrightly condemned the Obama administration. Many smaller organizations led by the Zionist Organization of America have bitterly protested against Obama’s betrayal but most American groups responded in a tepid manner, even after Herzog forthrightly condemned the deal. The American Jewish Committee headed by David Harris expressed concern but avoided calling on members to lobby Congress to veto the deal.
To their shame, the leadership bodies of the Conservative and Reform movements responded with deafening silence, at best, but many of their “progressive” rabbis are actively supporting Obama. Needless to say, J Street, the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” organization, boasts that it is spending millions of dollars to lobby Congress to support the bill…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Jihad Watch, Apr. 2, 2015
Writing of America’s relationship with Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s Iran, Efraim Karsh recounts that, “So entrenched had the idea of this Iranian-American symbiosis become that successive US administrations came to view Iranian interests as indistinguishable from their own.” It would seem that Thomas Friedman is still infected with this illusion. In his recent New York Times article, Look Before Leaping, a title falsely implying he is not suggesting a “leap of faith,” Mr. Friedman propounds that, “America’s interest lie not with either the Saudis or the Iranian ideologues winning, but rather with balancing the two against each other until they get exhausted enough to stop prosecuting their ancient Shiite-Sunni, Persian-Arab feud.”
I perceive the prediction “until they get exhausted” used in the same sentence as “their ancient Shiite-Sunni, Persian-Arab feud” to be utterly oxymoronic. For the same reason the State of Israel can promise political compromises to the so-called Palestinians “when they decide to recognize Israel as a Jewish state” simply because they can count on the fact that traditional Islamic hatred of all things Jewish will never allow the Arab Muslim to live in peace within or alongside a country of Jews. “Wisdom is also a defense.”
If this feud (more accurately defined as Shiites versus Sunnis) between the Saudis and the Iranians is by now ancient, I cannot foresee either side becoming exhausted in the near future. I see a pattern of Islamic intransigence here. GlobalSecurity.org reports that during the Iran-Iraq war, “…more than one and a half million war and war-related casualties — perhaps as many as a million people died, many more were wounded, and millions were made refugees. Iran acknowledged that nearly 300,000 people died in the war…Iran’s losses may have included more than 1 million people killed or maimed.”
Iran’s dictatorship is remembered by many, regarding that war, for its 1983 “human wave offensives” along the 40 kilometer stretch near Al Amarah where, in one day alone, 6000 Iranian soldiers were killed in action. I wonder how long Mr. Friedman believes it would take this regime, now so close to becoming nuclear-armed, and given its history of vending the lives of its soldiers and its citizens as mere holy fodder in time of war, to become “exhausted” with “prosecuting” that “ancient Shiite-Sunni, Persian-Arab feud”?
Friedman promises that, “Patching up the United States-Iran relationship could enable America to better manage and balance the Sunni Arab Taliban in Afghanistan and counterbalance the Sunni jihadists, like those in the Islamic State, or ISIS…” What “United States-Iran relationship” is Mr. Friedman referring to? Last time I looked, there was no “United States-Iran” relationship.” Scott Peterson of Christian Science Monitor remarked in 2010, regarding celebrations in Iran of the anniversary of the takeover of the American Embassy in Tehran that, “Anti-US students chanted ‘death to America’ and predicted the fall of the ‘great Satan,’ the nation still officially most vilified by the Islamic Republic, during the annually staged event.
Anti-Americanism has remained a pillar of the Islamic revolution…” John Limbert, a former American hostage during the takeover and described in Peterson’s article as the “State Department’s top official at that time on Iran, confessed that, ““Past efforts to move the relationship to something more productive…have foundered on misunderstandings, mistrust, and the assumption that anything the other side agrees to must be bad for us.”
In the last paragraph of his dreamy ideation, Mr. Friedman challenges his readers: “So before you make up your mind on the Iran deal, ask how it affects Israel, the country most threatened by Iran. But also ask how it fits into a wider United States strategy aimed at quelling tensions in the Middle East with the least involvement necessary…” Well, first of all, a lot of pundits on Middle Eastern politics, especially pro-Arab pundits, would posit that American involvement anywhere in the world where Muslims and Islamic statehood are concerned is cause for more harm than good.
A lot of pundits of the pro-American side (of which I am one) would posit that American (or Canadian or British) involvement—in any measure—with peoples so inculcated with Islamic taught anti-American and anti-Western hatred inevitably becomes a waste of our time and the lives of our sons and daughters. What is the Christian proverb? “Don’t throw you pearls before the swine.” Or as Jesse Klein succinctly put it in the National Post recently, “At some point, we have to come to the realization that it’s not worth spilling our blood and wasting our treasure to intervene in a civil war in which both sides want to kill us.”
As for the State of Israel and the threat of Iran’s nuclear posturing, “how it affects Israel,” easy for Mr. Friedman, living, virtually, light years away from such a severe existence as that endured every day by Israeli Jews, to bet the lives of 6 million of them in selling the puerile fantasy to his readers that this Iranian regime will suddenly renounce a millennia-old hatred of the Jews and its imperial ambitions for a new-found love affair with America, the Great Satan. I’ll sooner have angels flying out of my ass.
Following Mr. Friedman’s career as a journalist in the last few years, after reading critiques of his work with much broader range than my own, I am constantly reminded of Nicholas Murray Butler’s famous quote, which reads, “An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less.” It seems Mr. Friedman is become more a salesman and less and less an expert on the Muslim Middle East. But then again, untruths and fantasy are today common fare for the Western journalist. They dream at the expense of the democratic freedoms of others, for the sake of our enemies, regardless of the consequences for our friends, in this case the State of Israel and the Jewish people. It’s Western journalism, and of late such insouciant and imprudent dreams go with the territory.
Wall Street Journal, July 14, 2015
This spring marked the 70th anniversary of the effective end of the Nazi regime. On April 30, 1945, Adolf Hitler shot himself in his bunker as the Soviet army bore down upon his lair. The next day Joseph Goebbels, his rodentine minister of propaganda, committed suicide with his wife, after having their six children injected with morphine and then crushing ampules of cyanide in their mouths to finish them off. You might think that after 70 years the rotten stench of the Nazi regime would have totally dissipated. But no. That mephitic swamp still produces the odd belch.
That criminals should not be allowed to profit from exploiting their criminal activity is about as close as we are likely to get to a universally agreed-upon moral principle. Yet last week an appeals court in Munich—by coincidence, the site of Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch, the event that really got the Nazi ball rolling in 1923—upheld an earlier decision that the heirs of Joseph Goebbels were entitled to compensation because a recent biography quoted from his diaries without permission.
The lawsuit was brought last year against Random House Germany, whose imprint, Siedler, published Peter Longerich’s “Goebbels: A Biography” in 2010. (An English translation was published in the United States and Britain in May.) Mr. Longerich, now a professor of modern German history at Royal Holloway, a college of the University of London, draws heavily on Goebbels’s diaries, which run to some 30 volumes. Goebbels began his near-daily entries on his 26th birthday, in 1923, and stopped on April 10, 1945, a couple of weeks shy of his personal armageddon.
The sum in question is not large—about $7,000—but the moral offense is incalculable. Cordula Schacht, a lawyer who claims to hold the copyright to the diaries and to represent Goebbels’s heirs, filed the suit. Rainer Dresen, general counsel to Random House Germany, told London’s Guardian newspaper that he offered to pay the royalties if Ms. Schacht agreed to donate the proceeds to a Holocaust charity. He said she rejected the offer, insisting that the money go to Goebbels’s relatives, including the descendants of his siblings. Mr. Dresen speculates that other publishers have paid for the use of Goebbels’s diaries. “We’re the first publishing house who avoided that—and have been sued.”
Cordula Schacht is a daughter of Hjalmar Schacht, Hitler’s early minister of economics and president of the Reichsbank. Although he was instrumental in helping Hitler lay the economic foundation for the Third Reich, Hjalmar Schacht later turned against the regime (he was distantly connected with the July 1944 plot against Hitler) and was acquitted of war crimes at Nuremberg. Ms. Schacht’s involvement in the Goebbels diaries stems from a relationship she had as a legal adviser to François Genoud, a shadowy Swiss banker who might have stepped straight out of “The Odessa File.” Born in 1915, Genoud was an early and stalwart Hitler enthusiast. The carnage of the war and murder of six million Jews did nothing to dampen his ardor. “Hitler was a great leader,” Genoud said many years later, “and if he had won the war the world would be a better place today.”
Along the way, Genoud—who committed suicide in 1996—financed the legal defenses of Adolf Eichmann and Klaus Barbie, “the butcher of Lyons” who personally tortured French prisoners of the Gestapo. Genoud supported the Ayatollah Khomeini during his exile in Paris; he also was a friend and financial adviser of Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem before the war. During the war, Haj Amin, a vicious anti-Semite who dreamed of murdering Jewish émigrés to Palestine, helped the Nazis recruit Bosnian Muslims for the Waffen-SS. He lived on until 1974. Genoud was the executor of Goebbels’s will and purchased rights to his diaries in 1955. According to the British historian Richard J. Evans, Genoud transferred his interest in Goebbels’s diaries to Cordula Schacht in 1996 shortly before his death. She has since claimed to be the copyright holder, though, as Mr. Evans notes, the Bavarian State also claims to own the copyright.
This Byzantine legal story should not obscure the very clear moral that David Cesarani, a historian at Royal Holloway, set forth. “If the owners of copyright want acknowledgment or token payment, that is fair enough. If they want fees that are then paid to a good cause, that is irksome but reasonable. However, if they want to profit personally from the writings of Nazi ancestors, criminals, and/or to control the extent of usage, that is unacceptable and verges on the obscene.” I’d say this episode crosses that threshold. Random House Germany intends to appeal the case to the German supreme court. I hope they prevail.
CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!
J Street Launches Campaign Backing Iran Deal; AIPAC Calls for Rejection of Accord: JTA, July 16, 2015—AIPAC called on Congress to reject the Iran nuclear deal, saying it does not meet critical markers that the influential pro-Israel lobby outlined in recent weeks. But the liberal Jewish Middle East lobby J Street announced a multimillion-dollar campaign to support the agreement.
Look Before Leaping: Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, Mar. 25, 2015 —I can think of many good reasons to go ahead with the nuclear deal with Iran, and I can think of just as many reasons not to. So, if you’re confused, let me see if I can confuse you even more.
The New York Times vs. Israel: Jerold Auerbach, Algemeiner, June 10, 2015—A deep sigh of editorial relief was discernible at The New York Times following the Supreme Court decision in Zivotofsky v. Kerry, the Jerusalem passport case.
Globe & Mail Presents Dubious Anti-Israel Organization’s Report as “Credible”: Honest Reporting, June 10, 2015—On June 6, Globe and Mail reporter Patrick Martin published an article for online subscribers exclusively entitled: “Report on Gaza war raises questions about Israel’s ‘moral army’ claim” which presented the allegations of Breaking the Silence (BtS) – an anti-Israel NGO which produced a report it claimed detailed alleged abuses by Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip last summer – as “credible,” despite that this organization has been discredited due to its agenda, flawed methodology, and foreign sources of funding.
When Tisha B’Av Occurs On Shabbat Or Sunday: Raphael Grunfeld, Jewish Press, July 23, 2015—Five tragedies occurred on Tisha B’Av. It was decreed that those who left Egypt would not enter the land of Israel, the first and second Temples were destroyed, the city of Betar was captured with thousands massacred, and Turnus Rufus plowed the site of the razed Temple. Consequently, Tisha B’Av was declared a day of national mourning and a fast day.