Why We Remember – Yom HaShoah

“Zachor!” “Remembrance!” is one of the most important themes in the Jewish tradition. We have just remembered our journey from Egypt, from slavery to freedom. Not long before that, we remembered Amalek and read the story of Esther, stories of persecution. We are constantly urged to remember.

Our tradition doesn’t just believe that “He who forgets history is destined to repeat it.” Instead, our tradition believes that history often repeats and those who forget or ignore the lessons of history, how to cope with threats as they unfold, will not long survive when they do. We have both a justifiably paranoid tradition and a tradition that believes in miracles and preaches hope amid darkness.

We’ve learned too well that people who threaten to do us harm and have the means to do so must be taken at their word. The greatest sin of our age is not indifference to the suffering of others, it is indifference to threats that lead to the preventable suffering of others. It is seeing rail lines on their way to camps and not bombing them. It is watching genocide unfold while hoping that sanity will prevail. Failure to act against those who threaten has time and again led to a byproduct of that failure, to discussions of not “standing idly by” as those threats are put into action. Too often those threats have been made against our people. The nation and people of Israel must constantly be on guard against threats from those capable of carrying them out.

This week, we are to remember the times when threats were made against our people and carried out. We remember the victims, who perished in the flames of hatred. We remember the heroes and survivors. We remember rebels and warriors. We remember the indefatigable neshamot, the unquenchable spirits of our people who endured and survived, and we remember so many stories of sadness and difficulty, of hope and courage.

We strive to make true the words of Professor Yehuda Bauer, “Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.”

That is the meaning of “Never again!”

We are the people who see the best in others and often having trusted in the world to stand up to evil find ourselves disappointed. We are like Rabbi Jacob Rader Marcus, who wrote in 1935 during the Rise of the Nazis, “There is doubt, however, that the fear of widespread pogroms at the present is well-grounded. It is probable that the masses of the Party, if not some of the leaders, original envisaged a program which would wipe out the entire Jewish community. The response of the world to the atrocity reports made it clear, however, that such a policy could never be put into execution.”

We are a people constantly hoping that history will not repeat. We do our best to foster relationships and promote peace where there is strife. Yet we do not stop there, we strive to repair our world and bring about a time when spears may be turned into plowshares, when there will be no need for weapons, for war will have ceased in our world, because people will prize each other’s humanity, each other’s prosperity, each other’s life and blessings.

We are a people gazing at our world today and seeing anti-Semitism once again on the rise, morphing as it always has, into new forms. We see it from university campuses to marching in the streets of Europe.

We are a people who yet trusts in the good of humanity in spite of all we have experienced as a people and we know that no matter how long it storms, the sun will eventually burst forth from the clouds.

We are like Anne Frank, a young woman hiding in an attic during some of the darkest days of our people’s history, saying, “Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart” and “I must uphold my ideals, for perhaps the time will come when I will be able to carry them out.”

We live in that time. We can make a difference.

We are a people who hid in attics in Amsterdam and fought in the Warsaw ghetto. We made matzah with portions of meager rations saved because maintaining our Jewish traditions sustains our faith and hope. We are a people who are a light in the darkness, who cry out when we see injustice, and who knowing that we cannot alone complete the work of making our world fit our messianic hope, nonetheless refuse to stop trying to accomplish that goal.

We are Jews.

We hope.

We challenge.

We mourn.

We remember.

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Apologies and The Arab Community

The President of Israel doesn’t have a whole lot of responsibilities, but one of them, when the job is done well and the holder of the office is well respected, has been to be a sort of moral and ethical conscience. In that light, President Rivlin’s suggestion that there is no place for such remarks in elections and the suggestions coming forth that Benjamin Netanyahu apologize to the Arab community for his racial and ethnic based comments should be appreciated and followed.

Even if PM Netanyahu meant his statement to be a reference to the voters for the opposition party, the Joint Arab List, said during the heat of election day as a way to urge his voters to turn out, many have taken it as a reference to all Arab voters and as encouragement for those harboring racial animosity to vote for him as a counter to them. Following a very ugly election, such an apology and sincere attempts to reach out to the Arab community in Israel are essential.

Democracies depend not just on the ability of every citizen to vote but on the understanding that elected representatives represent not just those citizens who voted in their favor, but that they represent every citizen. As members of a small minority community in America as are our brethren in other nations, we know well the importance of that principle and are very thankful for the consideration and respect of those who are not members of the Jewish community and may well not have been our choice to be our representatives. We know what it means to be a stranger.

The Jewish tradition teaches as two of its highest principles, “Remember that you were a stranger in Egypt” and “Love thy neighbor.” Those principles should be the basis for the post-election healing that must happen in Israel.

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The Aftermath: What Now?

Now, that Israeli elections are over, it’s time to consider what happened and what the impact of it all will be going forward. Some things will be impacted fairly substantially, others not so much. First, what actually happened?

Let’s compare the 2013 Elections with yesterday’s and look.

In 2013, there was a joint Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu list on the political right that received 31 seats. In this election, the two parties combined received 36 seats.

In 2013, left leaning Labor (15) and center-left Hatnua (6) had 21 seats combined. In this election, running together, they received 24.

Yair Lapid’s center-left Yesh Atid party lost eight seats from 19 to 11, making it the biggest loser in this election.

The political further right also suffered. Jewish Home lost 4 seats from 12 to 8. Shas lost 4 seats from 11 to 7. UTJ lost one.

The Joint Arab List went from a combined 11 seats to a combined 13 seats, taking one from Meretz, the leftist party for which many Arabs have voted in the past. Meretz ended up with 5 seats.

The creation and rise of Kulanu adds an issue no one is addressing yet. Some see Kulanu as simply a centrist party, with Yesh Atid and Hatnua from 2013 being replaced by Yesh Atid and Kulanu in 2015. However, that misses an important point. Kulanu is an offshoot of Likud.

Functionally, 2013’s Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu’s 31 seats actually swelled to 46 in this election if you include Kulanu as being part of that 2013 Likud led group and adding its 10 seats. That is massive growth in two years.

What happened?

Most of the discussion concerning the Israeli elections in the United States has been about Iran and Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Neither were substantial issues in the election. Why? As Buji Herzog himself said, “There is no daylight between his position and Bibi’s on Iran.” The left and the right are of one mind on Iran. That this position is one in strong opposition to the perceived negotiating position and strategy of the Obama Administration is something that would have created friction between either man as Israeli Prime Minister and the Obama Administration. Herzog would only have begun his term with less animosity. However, Herzog would also have begun his term having been given less trust to stand up to the Obama Administration on that issue.

Netanyahu’s willingness to go to Washington and speak truth to power may have influenced some Israeli voters, even as it upset many American ones. I realize that polls did not strongly show that to be the case, but considering that the polls also completely misread the Israeli election, I wouldn’t put much trust in their having read that particular issue accurately either.

On the peace process, Netanyahu’s is being quoted as if he would actively combat the creation of a Palestinian state of some kind at some point in the future under any circumstances. In an interview with NRG, Netanyahu was asked about the creation of a Palestinian state. His response was:

I think anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state and to evacuate territory is giving radical Islam a staging ground against the State of Israel. This is the reality that has been created here in recent years. Anyone who ignores it has his head in the sand.

When asked to clarify his answer, “If you are a prime minister, there will be no Palestinian state?” Netanyahu’s response was, “Indeed.”

Netanyahu also stated that his party will continue to advocate for a united Jerusalem and that the creation of Har Homa in 1996 was at least partly a way to keep Bethlehem from encroaching upon Jerusalem. That all said, he also said something being completely ignored by those interested in two states, namely that a strong Likud government is necessary to withstand international pressure to divide Jerusalem and return to the 1967 borders. What is being missed?

Netanyahu could have only said that it is necessary to avoid the creation of a Palestinian state. Clearly implied here is a willingness to talk so long as dividing Jerusalem and following the exact 1967 borders are not the end game.

Additionally, Netanyahu has elsewhere argued that Israel must control the Jordanian border for an extended period. Many have said that this means there will be no fully independent Palestinian state without Israeli border control for some time, if ever. However, that doesn’t mean that negotiations for a vastly improved situation in the West Bank are not possible. While this isn’t a perspective in line with the Obama Administration’s or the Palestinian leadership’s, there is no doubt that there is substantial wiggle room here. The door is still open for peace negotiations to which Israel will almost certainly agree, regardless of Netanyahu’s statement to NRG, when proposed by the US following the establishment of a coalition, avoiding the threat of a UN Security Council resolution and the absence of a US veto.

In the meantime, in what appears to have been an attempt to pull votes from the political right in order to strengthen the Likud, Netanyahu has opened himself up, along with the about to be formed Israeli coalition, to be accused of opposing any peace agreement with the Palestinians. In the short term, there is a great deal of concern and criticism.

While it is most likely that the coalition that Netanyahu will lead will be a heavily right-leaning coalition of Likud, Kulanu, Jewish Home and Israel Beiteinu, along with the Hareidim, Shas and UTJ, there is a possible alternative. Yesh Atid, Yair Lapid’s centrist party, might find it beneficial to once again join the coalition. This could keep UTJ and Shas from being a part of the coaltion and from undoing Yesh Atid’s prized legislation, the Draft Law. Otherwise, the Hareidim will no doubt insist upon concessions that will see the agreement unravel and remove penalties for yeshiva students who do not serve.

Is Yesh Atid willing to sit in a Netanyahu led coalition again, something which would make it a center-right coalition and not a right-religious one? Some coalition related compromises will be in the air.

Now, regarding the Arab community: PM Netanyahu made some references to “Arab voters are coming out to vote in droves” which are being taken as overtly racist by many and are certainly problematic. It is reasonable for Netanyahu to apologize and argue that he misspoke, simply meaning that the opposition, including a party whose supporters are Arabs by definition (the Joint Arab List), was getting its voters to the polls and his own voters better get out to vote as well. However, I doubt he will even deign to address the issue and so will continue to be criticized for what American ears generally heard as racist.

The day after, the White House and State Department were offering their concerns about Netanyahu’s statements about both a future Palestinian state and Arab voters. They have an obligation to do so and to seek clarification on both counts. But when the dust settles, the reality is that Benjamin Netanyahu will once again be the democratically elected leader of one of America’s best friends and strongest allies.

Yesterday, Sec. State Kerry already reached out to congratulate PM Netanyahu on his election victory. The President most likely will when a coalition is formed and Netanyahu officially becomes Prime Minister again, though he certainly won’t be enthusiastic about it.

Israel will continue to be seen as the major American ally in the region, the only one with Strategic Partner status, strongly supported by the vast majority of Congress and, grudgingly perhaps so long as Netanyahu is the Prime Minister, by this White House. Iran will continue to be a major threat to Israel’s security and that of its neighbors. Concern about a potential “bad deal” being achieved will strengthen until proven founded or unfounded. Threats from terrorism both from within the Palestinian territories and from beyond Israel’s borders will remain a pressing issue. Israel will continue to strategically partner with Jordan and Egypt. Its tech sector will continue to grow. Its housing crisis will remain problematic. The Europeans and the UN will continue to heap scorn on Israel and the Cubs still will not have won a World Series since 1908.

While there are perhaps some new things going on here and there. For the most part, “Ein chadash tachat hashemesh.” There is nothing truly new under the sun. Benjamin Netanyahu will begin his fourth term as Prime Minister of Israel and the Israeli and American political left are struggling to understand why.

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The Elections are Over! But who will govern?

From Rabbi Micky Boyden:

On Tuesday Israelis will go to the polls and at precisely 10 p.m. people will be glued to their television screens as the various TV channels publish their exit poll results. If previous experience is anything to go by, there will be a large degree of unanimity between them and they will reflect fairly accurately the final, official results that will only be known on Thursday.

However, whereas in many democracies election results represent the end of the race, in Israel they only harbinger the beginning.  Since neither the Likkud nor the “Zionist Union” headed by Yitzhak Herzog are likely to win much more than 20% of the Knesset seats, Israel’s next government will inevitably be determined not by the electorate but as a result of horse trading between the various parties.

Although the polls predict a victory for the “Zionist Union”, Herzog will be hard put to form a center/left government.  Were he to include Meretz, the religious parties would be reluctant to join him. Those same parties might well be unprepared to sit with Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party, which is committed to introducing legislation to force the charedim to undertake military or national service.

A new jack in the pack is the United Arab List, which is predicted to become the third largest party in the forthcoming Knesset with an anticipated 13 Knesset members according to a reliable poll published at the end of last week. (http://www.israelelection2015.org/blog/2015/3/13/march-13-smithreshet-bet-poll)

In contrast with Herzog, Netanyahu would have a much easier time in putting together a government. However, his government would be a right-wing/religious party coalition. Given what is happening on the international stage and the prospect of a deal with Iran on its nuclear program, he might well prefer to reach an agreement with Herzog’s “Zionist Union” that would include rotating the premiership between the two of them. Today’s announcement that Tzipi Livni would be prepared to forego her right to rotate the premiership with Herzog should that become necessary in order to form a national unity government points in that direction.

Therefore, irrespective of what happens at the polls tomorrow, we are likely to be faced with either a right-wing/religious party government coalition, or a unity government in which Herzog and Netanyahu would be the major players.

Should the latter be the case, the United Arab List could well be set for the first time in Israel’s history to become the largest opposition party in the Knesset and the Arab-Jewish Hadash party’s leader, Ayman Odeh, could end up being the Leader of the Opposition. Now that would be a turn-up for the books!

Rabbi Michael (Micky) Boyden

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The Truth about Netanyahu, Iran, and Congress

“It’s about Iran, stupid!” In a nutshell, that phrase sums up the discussion of whether or not Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu should go ahead and speak to a joint session of Congress. That statement is as true for many of his detractors as it is for supporters of the Prime Minister. Supporters believe that Netanyahu needs to shout from the rooftops about the dangers posed by a “bad deal” with Iran, while many of the critics of the proposed speech are concerned that, because of the politics involved, attention is being diverted away from addressing the issue and may make it more difficult for Democrats to confront the President over a policy with which they themselves are concerned.

Of additional concern for progressive Israel advocates is the vitriol and pressure leveled on Democratic members of Congress to take a public stand on this issue which could both harm their support from benefactors and harm their ongoing support for Israel. While the latter impact of such a speech may be limited, many supporters of Israel will consider a boycott of the Prime Minister’s speech to be a boycott of Israel, unforgivable. Right now, it appears that only a relatively small number of Democratic Congresspersons will boycott and there are good reasons that the number remains small.

Initial charges of a breech in protocol have been proven unfounded and retracted. There was no protocol violation in either the extension of an invitation to PM Netanyahu by the Speaker of the House, nor in its acceptance. The White House was notified prior to both steps in keeping with protocol. Traditional practice is that the White House is consulted. This allows the White House to convince Congressional leaders not to issue an invitation if there are issues about which Congressional leaders do not know that may impact their decision.

If the charge that the invitation is insulting because the President and Prime Minister have fundamental disagreements over how to address Iran’s nuclear program, then I suggest that we have a much bigger problem to address. It is simply not acceptable to launch a boycott of Israel or the Israeli Prime Minister specifically because of partisan politics. Would either party ever boycott a speech by the leader of Britain or France who happened to be on the other side of the political spectrum from them? Of course not. Nor is it acceptable to boycott the Israeli Prime Minister because you don’t like what he has to say. That would be a boycott of Israel every much as attempts to divest from Israeli companies because of Israeli policies is such a boycott.

Finally, such a boycott now is not provided the cover of the argument that the speech should not be given due to the proximity of the Israeli elections. Israeli election officials have cleared the speech and issued the Prime Minister guidelines so as to avoid accusations of electioneering.

The issue is truly about Iran, my friends. It is about the fact that information about the negotiations that has been released so far is frightening in its implications for Israeli security and for realistic hopes to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. In fact, if what was revealed by the Associated Press on February 3rd is accurate, the pending deal is extremely dangerous for Israel and for us all, amounting to an abdication of the responsibility to fulfill the spirit of promises, if not their letter, made both to Israel and to the American people. If these currently proposed parameters of such a deal were well understood by Israelis there would be little or no support for the deal among Israelis along with increased demands for Israel’s Prime Minister to speak out against it.

The reports are that negotiators may have already agreed to allow Iran to keep 10,000 known centrifuges spinning. This is after previously promising not to allow Iran to keep more than a couple of thousand and in spite of the fact that, because nuclear fuel is readily available and may be freely donated to Iran by several nations who have volunteered to do so, no centrifuges are even necessary for Iran to have a peaceful nuclear program. The more operating centrifuges, the faster enrichment may take place and the faster weapons grade material may be acquired.

Among the concessions currently being discussed include the dialing back of efficiency of the centrifuges, something that could easily be altered going forward. Iran would be mere months away from acquiring the necessary materials should they choose to do so by simply reversing the reductions in efficiency and could do so on a substantial number of centrifuges in a matter of weeks, allowing it to move forward with enrichment without the outside world even knowing.

With a political process that operates at a snail’s pace and an America highly unlikely to be able to quickly approve and arrange necessary military operations, such a delay in enrichment capability is not a sufficient guarantee even with fully effective and free monitoring of all suspect sites. History has taught us clearly that Iran could easily wait until just before an inspection to protest it for some reason, then conduct negotiations for a period of months about the inspection, and then accomplish its goals with little or no ability of inspectors to even see what was happening. Would the United States conduct air strikes and ground operations in an immediate response to any such breech in the deal without negotiations first? Promising to do exactly that would be an essential guarantee. Yet it is almost impossible to fathom that the United State would promise that or that anyone would believe the promise.

What we see in the proposed agreement as discussed in the Associated Press article is not a means of preventing Iran from advancing its nuclear weapons program, but is instead a means of escorting them to the threshold free of threat or sanctions in the hope that Iran will not subsequently choose to violate the agreement. It is indeed an agreement worthy of comparison to seeking “Peace in Our Time,” clearly allowing the advancement of a nation taking every opportunity to act in conflict with that premise. Let us hope that it too doesn’t lead to the deaths of millions and another genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of those pledged to commit one.

I may be jumping the gun on this one. The President may conclude a better deal than the one presented by the Associated Press. There may be an agreement that substantially limits the number and efficiency of centrifuges, but so far reports are not of such an agreement. There may be provisions to declare any breech of the agreement to be considered an act of war with immediate consequences to follow, but I can’t imagine that such language would be found in it, nor that action would actually be forthcoming if it were.

Say what you will about whether or not PM Netanyahu should continue with plans to deliver a speech to Congress, a speech likely to be boycotted by only a small percentage of the members of one party. I certainly have found myself wavering back and forth about whether or not it would be the best decision for PM Netanyahu to go through with the presentation. If such an agreement as described above is in fact what is being discussed now between the United States and Iran, it must be opposed strongly. Benjamin Netanyahu should not be the only Israeli or Jewish leader screaming from the rooftops at the US Congress to act against it and progressive Democrats must be among them.

Ultimately, the real question is not whether or not Benjamin Netanyahu can prevent a bad Iran deal with a speech to Congress. Instead, the question is “Will anyone else???”

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Should Netanyahu address Congress?

The broohaha surrounding Prime Minister Netanyahu’s impending address to Congress has manufactured a rift between two allies where none does, or should, exist and has reduced a substantive conversation to a simplistic ad-hominem attack.

I write this as someone who has never voted Likkud and will not support Netanyahu in the forthcoming elections. I agree with those who argue that Netanyahu, among other objectives, wants to use his address to Congress as a platform to increase his chances of continuing to serve as Israel’s prime minister, something that appears more than likely to happen.

That having been said, the emergence of Iran as a regional power in the Middle East with a potential nuclear capability is far too serious an issue to be ignored. I urge everyone to read David Suissa’s remarks in the Jewish Journal.

As he, in my opinion, correctly observes: “With the stakes so high and the deadline for a deal so close, it’s about time we had this crucial debate.”

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Time to Reconsider and A Word of Warning

The current state of the disagreement concerning PM Netanyahu’s speech to Congress is damaging to bipartisan Israel advocacy with many leaders finding themselves forced to choose between respecting the President and respecting the Israeli Prime Minister, to the US-Israel relationship under this and potentially under future Democratic Presidents because of hostility created now, as well as to addressing the vital security issue of the Iranian nuclear weapons program which is, in theory, the purpose of PM Netanyahu’s speech.

Challenging the President’s policy on Iran need not happen in the House Chamber at all. Significantly damaging Democratic support for Israel and hampering the ability of Democrats to aid in advancing Israeli advocacy generally and for a good deal with Iran specifically must not happen at all. That said, it is time for PM Netanyahu to consider an alternative to speaking before Congress on March 3rd.

Israel lives in a very dangerous neighborhood. The Iranian threats, plural, to Israel’s security, well-being, and even existence are real. It is understandable why the Prime Minister should be concerned about the impact that any nuclear agreement with Iran might have and that Israeli leaders should advocate for the best possible agreement that might be achieved. There is real fear by Israelis of an agreement that leaves Iran as a nuclear threshold state mere months away from clandestinely producing a nuclear weapon in an environment with limited or no real military threats being made against it and limited ability to inspect the many known much less unknown facilities by the nations pledging to prevent it from crossing that threshold.

Yet also a major threat to Israel’s security would be substantially weakened bipartisan support in the US Congress and in the American public generally. The ability to speak about the threat of Iran before Congress should not be accepted at the cost of substantially weakening bipartisan support.

This is why it is time for the Prime Minister to reconsider accepting the invitation to speak before Congress on March 3rd.

However, a word of warning.

The idea that boycotting the Israeli Prime Minister should be acceptable because of American party politics is deeply disturbing. I know of no other national leader who has ever faced such a boycott threat from either political party’s leaders. Israel, Israelis, and Jews are all too often singled out for different treatment both positively and negatively. The fact that the sole time the President of the United States and leaders of a major political party have publicly declared a boycott against attending a speech given to Congress by any nation’s political leader happens to be against the leader of the Jewish state should be of the utmost concern to members of the American Jewish community. If it is in fact the case that disagreement over policy differences justifies claiming insult and then that justifies a boycott, we have entered a new and frightening era for Israel advocacy and for the Jews in America.

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Wiping Israel off the Map

There is something pathetic about the fact that Collins Bartholomew should have chosen to publish an atlas in 2014 in which the State of Israel does not exist.

A spokesman for the company is reported as having excused the fact by commenting that leaving Israel off the map reflected “local preferences” and that including a map that incorporated Israel would have been “unacceptable” to its customers in the Gulf.

I looked at Philips’ Record Atlas published by George Philip & Son back in 1958 and noted that Israel appeared on its maps of the Eastern Mediterranean. More than half a century later, what was then taken for granted is now open to question.

Collins’ Primary Geography Atlas for the Middle East, which is available in paperback, PDF and Kindle format, is described by Amazon as being “An ideal school atlas for young primary school geographers.”

We are informed that its content “is specifically designed for schools in Middle East countries. It enables students to learn about the world today by exploring clear and engaging maps, study satellite imagery, understand key facts and statistics.”

One of those “key facts” is that, more than 65 years after Israel was admitted as a member of the United Nations, the Jewish State does not exist!

The lack of preparedness of some to recognize the State of Israel is not only a blot on Collins’ professional integrity but more seriously impedes progress towards a resolution of the Israel/Palestinian conflict.

Palestinian children are inculcated with the belief that Israel does not exist and that it is only a matter of time until the “Zionist entity” will in the words of Iran’s former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (remember him?) be “wiped off the map”.

There is a psychological principle that our ability to build a future as individuals is dependent at least in part upon our preparedness to accept the past, recognize reality and move on.

What is true for individuals is also true for peoples and nations. The preparedness of the Arab world in general and the Palestinians in particular to see Israel on the map is a prerequisite for any hope of a resolution of the Israel/Palestinian conflict.

There is something ironic about the Palestinian Authority turning to the UN Security Council and the International Court of Justice for official recognition at the very time that “local preferences” demand that a reputable publisher wipe Israel off the map! 

While the heat is on Collins Bartholomew for the time being, it really needs to be turned on those Gulf States that find Israel’s very existence “unacceptable”.

 

 

 

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If Only We Could Will Amnesia

In our tradition, we “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” We call forth visions of a time, as we pray, when broken things will be made whole, when strife will cease, when the world will be at peace. We imagine an idealized Jerusalem whose streets are filled with the celebration of brides and grooms and the shouts of children at play. We have seen those streets filled will joy and celebration time and again since the founding of the modern nation of Israel. Yet, the reality that we see before us today is not that Jerusalem, but one filled with darker emotions and too often mourning.

Rav Joseph Soloveitchik said that:

The student of Torah is like the amnesia victim who tries to reconstruct from fragments the beautiful world he once experienced.

We have experienced a taste of Messianic Era Jerusalem: joyous celebrations of life in the Western Wall Plaza, the walls of Old City lit up with colorful lights by the Jaffa Gate, crowded streets filled with people from around the world, of all races, of all faiths, living together. Prayers and songs offered in innumerable languages have risen to the heavens each day, advancing hope for the coming of that day. We long to reconstruct that Jerusalem from memory or to construct it from visions.

Today, we would like to forget for a while, to let go. If only we could remove from our minds the visions of brutality and hatred, blood stained prayers for peace, the sounds of gunfire and the ensuing screams of agony and pain from the families of teachers of Torah, who were viciously torn from the world as they prayed for the reconstruction of its beauty. Would that we could forget their deaths and all of the anger and hatred. If only we could will amnesia upon ourselves.

But for now, let us remember those who perished literally Kidush Hashem, as they sanctified God’s name, in the midst of offering T’filah this morning in Har Nof, only few kilometers north of Yad Vashem:

Rabbi Aryeh Kupinsky.

Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg.

Rabbi Kalman Levine.

and

Rabbi Moshe Twersky, grandson of Rav Joseph Soloveitchik.

May we also remember a hero, Officer Zidan Saif of the Druze village of Yanuh-Jat, the first police officer on the scene of the attack, who died this afternoon from injuries suffered this morning.

May their names be remembered for a blessing.

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J Street’s Absurd Manipulation of Poll Data

J Street is one of the worst offenders I have ever seen when it comes to misrepresenting statistics for political purposes. On election night, it conducted a poll about which it is has published conclusions.
Here’s what J Street says about support for an Iran deal

And here’s what it says about support for an “Active” US role in the peace process

J Street also said in an email sent out to supporters that by 2 to 1 American Jews feel that Netanyahu’s policies are hurting the US-Israel relationship.
I strongly urge those concerned to look at the actual poll upon which its recent Tweets and statement are based, but I will do my best to offer insights on the poll itself. It can be found at this link or at the address below.
Let’s start with the “Active Role” question. Here is the poll question and results.
Q.32 Now, something different. Do you support or oppose the United States playing an active role in
helping the parties to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict?
Total
Strongly support …………………………………………………………….43
Somewhat support…………………………………………………………..42
Somewhat oppose …………………………………………………………..10
Strongly oppose ………………………………………………………………6
Total Support……………………………………………………………….85
Total Oppose ………………………………………………………………..15
Support – Oppose ………………………………………………………….69
What does “SOMEWHAT SUPPORT” mean? If that means, NOT PRESSURING ISRAEL. Then you could add to it “Somewhat Oppose” and “Strongly Oppose” and conclude that 57% oppose the pressuring of Israel that J Street supports. But wait a minute! Helping the parties could be primarily pressuring the Palestinians and barely criticizing the Israelis! So even concluding that 43% support the kind of role for which J Street advocates would be incorrect!
The next four questions are not only more telling, but DAMNING:
Q.33 (SPLIT A) Would you support or oppose the United States playing an active role in helping the
parties to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict if it meant the United States publicly stating its disagreements
with both the Israelis and the Arabs?
Total
Strongly support …………………………………………………………….32
Somewhat support…………………………………………………………..41
Somewhat oppose …………………………………………………………..18
Strongly oppose ……………………………………………………………..10
Total Support……………………………………………………………….72
Total Oppose ………………………………………………………………..28
Support – Oppose ………………………………………………………….45
(ref:USROLEB)
[400 Respondents]
Q.34 (SPLIT B) Would you support or oppose the United States playing an active role in helping the
parties to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict if it meant the United States publicly stating its disagreements
with Israel?
Total
Strongly support …………………………………………………………….17
Somewhat support…………………………………………………………..31
Somewhat oppose …………………………………………………………..28
Strongly oppose ……………………………………………………………..24
Total Support……………………………………………………………….48
Total Oppose ………………………………………………………………..52
Support – Oppose ………………………………………………………….-3
Respondents clearly do not strongly support publicly criticizing Israel, much less pressuring Israel as is seen in question 36 below.
Q.35 (SPLIT A) Would you support or oppose the United States playing an active role in helping the
parties to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict if it meant the United States exerting pressure on both the
Israelis and Arabs to make the compromises necessary to achieve peace?
Total
Strongly support …………………………………………………………….32
Somewhat support…………………………………………………………..42
Somewhat oppose …………………………………………………………..16
Strongly oppose ……………………………………………………………..10
Total Support……………………………………………………………….74
Total Oppose ………………………………………………………………..26
Support – Oppose ………………………………………………………….48
(ref:USROLEC)
[400 Respondents]
Q.36 (SPLIT B) Would you support or oppose the United States playing an active role in helping the
parties to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict if it meant the United States exerting pressure on Israel to make
the compromises necessary to achieve peace?
Total
Strongly support …………………………………………………………….19
Somewhat support…………………………………………………………..28
Somewhat oppose …………………………………………………………..29
Strongly oppose ……………………………………………………………..24
Total Support……………………………………………………………….46
Total Oppose ………………………………………………………………..54
Support – Oppose ………………………………………………………….-8
(ref:USROLEC1)
And look at the questions about the Gaza war!
Q.38 Do you approve or disapprove of Israel’s military action, known as Operation Protective Edge, that
took place in Gaza this summer?
Total
Strongly approve…………………………………………………………….47
Somewhat approve………………………………………………………….33
Somewhat disapprove………………………………………………………15
Strongly disapprove …………………………………………………………5
Total Approve ………………………………………………………………80
Total Disapprove…………………………………………………………..20
Approve – Disapprove ……………………………………………………61
(ref:PEAPP)
Q.39 Regardless of whether you approve or disapprove of the military action that Israel took in Gaza this
summer, do you think it made Israel more secure, less secure, or had no impact on Israel’s security?
Total
More secure…………………………………………………………………..55
Less secure ……………………………………………………………………14
No impact……………………………………………………………………..31
More secure – Less secure……………………………………………….41
80% strongly or somewhat approve with Israel’s actions in the Gaza war with most of those being “STRONGLY Approve.”
Now for another “Aha!” moment! J Street said 84% of respondents supported A DEAL WITH IRAN. Look at the poll question below! J Street’s poll question isn’t even remotely close to how they presented the data!!! They published the data as if the question were for ANY deal. This question if for a highly restrictive deal!
Q.43 Now, imagine that the U.S., Britain, Germany, France, China, Russia, and Iran reach a final
agreement, which restricts Iran’s enrichment of uranium to levels that are suitable for civilian energy
purposes only, and places full-time international inspectors at Iranian nuclear facilities to make sure that
Iran is not developing nuclear weapons. Under this agreement, the United States and our allies will reduce
sanctions on Iran as Iran meets the compliance benchmarks of the agreement. Would you support or
oppose this agreement?
Total
Strongly support …………………………………………………………….32
Somewhat support…………………………………………………………..52
Somewhat oppose ……………………………………………………………9
Strongly oppose ………………………………………………………………6
Total Support……………………………………………………………….84
Total Oppose ………………………………………………………………..16
Support – Oppose …….
And regarding Netanyahu’s policies and harm to US-Israel relations, here’s the real question and its responses.
Q.49 Now, something different. Do you think Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies have helped
Israel’s relations with the United States, hurt Israel’s relations with the United States, or had no impact on
Israel’s relations with the United States?
Total
Helped …………………………………………………………………………21
Hurt …………………………………………………………………………….40
No impact……………………………………………………………………..40
Helped – Hurt…………..
This data means that 61% feel that Netanyahu’s policies either have improved relations or had no impact versus only roughly 40% who disagree and there is no measure of the extent of that disagreement. In other words, there is no way to know how much people feel like Netanyahu’s policies have harmed the relationship. Furthermore, a blatantly obvious question is missing. Where is the question about whether or not they feel that President Obama’s policies have helped, hurt, or had no impact on the US-Israel relationship? That might have been interesting to know, unless they deliberately didn’t want to know the answer. My guess is that many people will put some blame on both sides if given the option.
This poll was conducted and then interpreted in such a way as to lead to false and misleading conclusions about the views of the American Jewish community regarding Israel. It is shameful.
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