Across Israel, Meir Panim responds to the growing needs of the country’s 1.75 million impoverished residents through various food and social service programs.
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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Welcome the book of Leviticus!
If the nationalist Knesset members don’t provide the answer, the Arab MKs will do so in their place.
International Agunah Day falls annually on Ta’anis Esther, this year on March 13.
Even a foxhole Yid has to admit that antisemitism is on the upswing.
As shocking and insulting and horrifying as it is, Nazi war criminals are still living freely among us.
One can almost imagine a shocked Mr. Kerry thinking to himself, “How could he?” Yet not only did Mr. Putin do what he did, China, one of the three major international players along with the U.S. and Russia, agreed with him, not with Mr. Kerry.
Ramaz is a venerable Modern Orthodox educational institution whose mission statement contains the explicit commitment to “Ahavat Yisrael, and love and support for the State of Israel.”
In the course of the ages there wasn’t a Jewish community more convinced of its capacity for survival than the Jewish community of Hungary in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Liberals got an Affirmative Action president who doesn’t have the wisdom or the authority to change the battle plan.
The world excuses Islamic murder, but focuses on flaws, often imaginary, on the part of Israel.
Abbas also sent wreath to honor suicide bomber who killed 8.
It has been a very challenging year that has taken a toll on the Cohen family.
Yossi Klein Halevi’s Like Dreamers (Harper) explores the lives of seven Israeli paratroopers in the Six-Day War who, his subtitle suggests, “Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation.” It offers a fascinating variation on the theme of Israel at a fateful crossroads, in search of itself, following the wondrously unifying moment at the Western Wall in June 1967 when Jewish national sovereignty in Jerusalem was restored for the first time in nineteen centuries.
Eighty years ago, in January 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany. Barely a month later Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated president of the United States. For the next twelve years, until their deaths eighteen days apart in April 1945, they personified the horrors of dictatorship and the blessings of democracy.
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.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/fit-to-print/2010/07/14/
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