In Israel, a new five month scholarship program being offered to young aspiring athletes – one of them could be you.
Volunteer workers picking grapes and pruning vines in Bordeaux would hardly expect the world to take notice. But when 130 volunteers (Christian evangelicals, no less) come to Har Bracha, a settlement in Samaria, to help out in its winery, it became worthy of attention – indeed, extraordinary preoccupation – from The New York Times.
In an unusually lengthy July 6 article, focusing on tax-exempt donations to settlements, nearly 5000 words spilled over from the front page to fill two full inside pages. Hardly coincidentally, it appeared the morning Prime Minister Netanyahu was scheduled to meet in the White House with President Obama, whose opposition to settlements as “obstacles to peace” is well known.
The Times labored diligently to turn a molehill of familiar facts into a mountain of Jewish scandal. Accompanied by six photographs and a large map of Jewish “settlements” (including a Jerusalem neighborhood), three reporters explored what has been public information for years: charitable groups make tax-exempt donations to Jewish settlements.
As far back as 1997, Salon magazine published a hostile article decrying “armchair Jewish nationalists who, assisted by generous tax breaks,” funded settlements and purchased property in Jerusalem. Like Salon, and in virtually identical language, the Times expressed its displeasure that while the American government opposes Jewish settlements the American Treasury Department helps to sustain them through “tax breaks.”
This all comes as no surprise. Any knowledgeable New York Times reader is familiar with its enduring “Jewish problem.” Publisher Arthur Hays Sulzberger, the assimilated Jew who tightly controlled editorial policy between 1935-61 (and whose grandson is the current publisher), was terrified lest the Times be considered a “Jewish” newspaper. It persistently buried news about the Holocaust while pursuing the anti-Zionist editorial policy that expressed Sulzberger’s fervent personal views.
Since the Six-Day War, the Times has been palpably hostile to any Israeli claims to land resting on religious or historic grounds. With the Obama administration asserting that truncated Israeli borders are “vital to defusing Muslim anger at the West,” the newspaper effectively functions as his house organ.
But rarely in its obsessive coverage of Israeli settlements has the Times made so much of so little. It revealed that at least forty groups have donated more than $200 million in tax-deductible gifts for these communities, as by law they are entitled to do. Times reporters seem acutely uncomfortable that donors, American evangelicals and Jews alike, actually believe the territory of Judea and Samaria is “critical to Israeli security and fulfillment of biblical prophecies.”
An array of curious asides punctuates the Times story. Settlers are identified as “men with skullcaps and sidelocks, women with head coverings, and families with many children.” (They are, in a word, Jews!) “Militant” settlers, “aided by tax-deductible donations from Americans,” are likely to violently resist forcible evacuation from their homes. (Who wouldn’t?) Its reporters even managed to discover a senior Israeli military commander (surely secular) who lamented that donations went to “a radical religious academy whose director has urged soldiers to defy orders to evict settlers.”
In the settlement of Yitzhar, Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira of the Od Yosef Chai synagogue seems suspect for his “strong views.” Plaques inside his synagogue even thank American donors. Shocking! Curiously, the only reference in the article to biblical Judea and Samaria as a promised land comes from a Palestinian Arab: “It is not the Promised Land. It is our Land.”
As it frequently does when it reports on Jewish settlers, the Times ran a revealing photograph that subverted its own allegations. Prominently displayed on the front page, it showed the Lavi family of Har Bracha, owners of a vineyard. Six family members were dancing exuberantly on a hilltop rock. None wore skullcaps or head coverings, although there did seem to be a handful of children.
Surely intended to reinforce its denigration of settlers as illegal trespassers, the photo challenged the imputation that they squat on inhabited “Palestinian” land. A broad expanse of empty landscape extended to the far horizon. No Palestinian towns, villages, homes or tended fields were visible. Many other Jewish settlements, though not all, are similarly situated.
Hostile critics of Israel, such as the Obama administration and The New York Times, are inclined to bundle settlements in Judea and Samaria with neighborhoods in Jerusalem (including the Old City), the better to challenge the legitimacy of Jerusalem as capital of the Jewish state. The Times devoted more than half a column to the fund-raising activities of The Jerusalem Reclamation Project/American Friends of Ateret Cohanim. With generous donations from Dr. Irving Moscowitz (who was also prominently featured in the Salon article), it has purchased property in the Old City and East Jerusalem for homes and yeshivas. To be sure, Jews had lived in some of these neighborhoods before Arabs expelled them.
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The growing revelations that the Obama State Department watered down public statements on the attack in order to cleanse them of any mention of al Qaeda and terrorism is a travesty.
We must confront Islamist groups with what Prime Minister David Cameron referred to as “muscular liberalism.”
Al-Qaradawi’s visit and statements also serve as a reminder that the Israeli-Arab conflict is centered, more than ever, around religion.
Everyone who reads newspapers should know at least one thing. Threats to annihilate Israel have always been unremarkable. Almost never, it seems, have Israel’s existential enemies sought any reason for concealment.
Mark Treyger, a candidate for city council in New York City’s 47th council district, met recently with the editorial board of The Jewish Press at the newspaper’s Boro Park office.
Israel’s government did not want to liberate Jerusalem. Or to be more specific, the Labor and National Religious Party ministers did not want to liberate Jerusalem. “Who needs that whole Vatican?” Defense Minister Moshe Dayan explained at the time.
Last Friday, the Western Wall underwent an unwelcome transformation from sacred site to media circus as the group known as the Women of the Wall sought to hold a decidedly non-traditional prayer service.
Two recent revelations have raised serious questions about the kind of government President Obama is running.
Readers of my monthly Baseball Insider column may have noticed its absence last week (the column appears in the second issue of every month). The reason for that is I have something more serious and personal to share with you, something that didn’t seem appropriate for a baseball column.
Herbert Romerstein died last week after a long illness. With Herb’s passing, we lose not only a good guy but a vast reservoir of knowledge that is not replaceable.
Freedom House recently released its annual report on press freedom throughout the world at an event sponsored by the Newseum in Washington. But along with the usual and appropriate condemnations of dictatorships and totalitarian states, the group decided to slam the one democracy in the Middle East as well as one of the few states in the region where press freedom actually exists: Israel.
What is the relationship between Pesach and Shavuos?
Rabbi Naftali Jaeger, rosh yeshiva of Sh’or Yoshuv, relates in the name of the Ishbitzer Rebbe a striking metaphor:
Now is the time for Ankara to take some corrective domestic and foreign policy measures consistent with what the country has and continues to aspire for but fails to realize.
One of my searing early memories from Israel is a visit nearly four decades ago to the Ghetto Fighters Museum in the Beit Lohamei Hagetaot kibbutz. The world’s first Holocaust museum, it was built soon after the Independence War by survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.
Nearly sixty-five years ago Israel declared its independence and won the war that secured a Jewish state. But its narrow and permeable postwar armistice lines permitted incessant cross-border terrorist raids. For Egypt, Syria and Jordan, the mere existence of a Jewish state remained an unbearable intrusion into the Arab Middle East. As Egyptian President Nasser declared, “The danger of Israel lies in the very existence of Israel.”
For anyone with historical memory the expulsion of Jews – by the Romans, English, French, Spaniards, Nazis, and Muslims – instantly evokes tragic episodes in Jewish history. Now the state of Israel expels Jews from their homes. Something is amiss in Zion.
Near the end of the nineteenth century, Theodor Herzl, the Viennese journalist who would wrestle with the plight of Jews amid the enticements and dangers of modernity, felt trapped. For his son’s sake he considered conversion to Christianity; to solve the vexing “Jewish Question” he even fantasized the mass conversion of Jews.
The recent kerfluffle over Israeli government video ads and billboard posters, designed to entice wayward yordim to return home, instead exposed the troubled psyche of American Jews.
In the good old days, Forest Hills, New York – where I grew up between 1939 and 1951 – was a shtetl for assimilated American Jews. Like my parents, all our neighbors were American-born offspring of Eastern European immigrants. A generation removed from their identity conflicts, we children knew that Forest Hills, liberated from Judaism, was our promised land.
With Sgt. Gilad Shalit safely returned in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian terrorists and murderers, celebration – propelled by wishful avoidance – spread throughout Israel.
In May 1967 Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook spoke to his former Mercaz HaRav students at their annual Independence Day reunion in Jerusalem. Usually a festive day of celebration, this year was different. Rabbi Kook sorrowfully recalled his feeling of despair nineteen years earlier, when the State of Israel was born: “I was torn to pieces. I could not celebrate.” Suddenly he cried out: “They have divided my land. Where is our Hebron? Have we forgotten it? And where is our Shechem? And our Jericho – will we forget them?”
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