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December 11, 2016 / 11 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘answer’

The Answer (Continued From Last Week)

Monday, July 25th, 2016

Reb Daniel Yaffee, the wealthiest man in Berlin, made a foolish bargain in his youth, whereby he promised to give his friend, David, all the money he would ever make in the future over 10,000 marks. Then David gave him a penknife as a token. His friend, a pauper, has now returned after many years to seek money for his daughter’s wedding and Reb Daniel remembers the bargain. He rushes to the great Rav Tzvi Hirsch Levin to seek some solution.


The Answer

Reb Daniel finished telling his story to Rav Tzvi Hirsch who looked at the shaken man who stood before him, and said: “Reb Daniel, the Almighty knows how hard you worked for your money and how honestly you obtained it. What you worked for remains yours and your friend David has no claim on it.”

Reb Daniel looked at the rav of Berlin and exclaimed in surprise: “What do you mean? It is true that David has not asked me for the money, but I am obligated to keep my word that I gave in a business deal.”


Future Transaction

Rav Tzvi Hirsch explained, “I tell you that, according to law, you are not obligated to give anything. There is a clear law in the Talmud that states that a man cannot sell a future interest in a thing that has not yet come into being. And even the minority that holds it is possible to do so, say that it is possible only when the object has a definite chance of coming into existence, such as selling the future crop from a tree.

“In your case, however, and in any far-fetched future transaction, the law holds that the buying party never took the bargain seriously or considered it a real transaction.

“David obviously never considered your becoming wealthy as being possible, and when he gave you the penknife, he did it as a friend and it remained only a present.

“If you want to, you can certainly give David as much money as you wish, but legally you owe him nothing.”

Reb Daniel Happy

When Reb Daniel heard these words, it was as if a stone was lifted from his heart. The sun seemed to shine brighter as he left the rav. He emptied his pockets of all his money as he rode home, giving it to the numerous poor people who stopped him along the way.

Running into his house, he told the good news to his wife and then sat down to say Tehillim in praise to the Almighty.

Then he hurried to his store and took 1,000 ducats from the safe. It was a very great sum, far in excess of the money that David had needed for his daughter’s wedding.


David Arrives

As Reb Daniel was seated at his afternoon meal, his friend David returned.

“Welcome, David, sit down and join me at my meal.”

“Thank you, Daniel. I am very happy that you feel better. Your color has returned to your face.”

“It was nothing, really,” said Reb Daniel. “Listen David, I have been thinking about what you asked me and I have decided not to give you 1,000 marks for your daughter’s wedding.”

David’s face fell as he heard these words, and he said, “Is there anyone else to whom I can turn for the money I so desperately need?”

Reb Daniel smiled. “You didn’t let me finish, David. I have decided to give you not 1,000 marks, but 1,000 ducats. From it, use 1,000 marks for your daughter’s dowry, 500 for wedding expenses, and the rest for a business to support yourself in your old age.”

Rabbi Sholom Klass

Corbyn Never Bothered to Answer Herzog’s Letter on Labour Anti-Semitism

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

Jeremy Corbyn never replied to a concerned letter about revelations of deep-seated anti-Semitism in the UK Labour party, sent a month ago by Israeli sister party chairman Isaac Herzog, The Guardian reported. Herzog sent his letter after MP Ken Livingstone had been suspended from the Labour party at the end of April for making highly controversial remarks about Hitler and Zionism. Appearing on the Vanessa Feltz Show on Radio London last month, Livingstone said: “When Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel.”

Herzog wrote to Corbyn that he was “appalled and outraged by the recent instances of anti-Semitism by senior Labour party officials in the United Kingdom.” Herzog added: “I would like to take this opportunity, in the week leading up to Holocaust Memorial Day in Israel, to invite you to bring a delegation from the British Labour Party to Israel’s national Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem. By doing this, perhaps we can ensure that the anti-Semitism expressed in recent days is not the example to set to British young generation, but rather one of tolerance and acceptance of all people, regardless of faith.”

Herzog also commented: “As someone whose father served in the British army and risked his life fighting against Hitler and the Nazis, the views expressed by Ken Livingstone, the former Mayor of London and member of Labour’s national executive, in which he claimed that Hitler ‘was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews’ were particularly horrific, and unthinkable for a British politician and the 21st century.”

The Guardian cited an Israeli Labor party official who confirmed rumors in the London Jewish community that they had received no reply from Corbyn.

Wes Streeting, the Labour MP for Ilford North, told The Guardian, “It should be a matter of common courtesy to reply to a letter from the leader of one of our sister parties, particularly on an issue as important as tackling antisemitism. But this is fairly typical of the flat-footed and lackadaisical attitude that we’ve seen from the outset. It is simply unacceptable.”

Ian Austin, MP for Dudley North, said he was shocked that his party leader had not sent Herzog a reply.

Corbyn suspended Livingstone, a personal ally, over his comments, and established an independent investigation. He reassured his MPs last week that he was giving this issue a high priority.


Lieberman Isn’t the Answer

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

The new Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, isn’t the solution to Israel’s security problems. The solution is stated clearly in the opening of this week’s Torah portion, Bechukotai:

“If you walk in My statutes, and keep My commandments and do them, then… you shall dwell safely in your Land. And I will give peace in the Land, and you shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid, and I will remove evil beasts out of the Land, neither shall the sword go through your Land” (Bechukotai, 25:3-7).

Would that G-d would remove the evil beasts from our Land with their butcher knives and swords!

It is obvious that salvation will not come from the new Defense Minister, nor from new elections.

The holy Kabbalist, Rabbi Yaacov Abuchatzera, z’tzal, grandfather of the Baba Sali, explains that all of the terrible tribulations that fall upon the Jewish People, as set forth in the Torah portion, Bechukotai, stem from sexual transgressions. “Both the Rishonim (early rabbincal authorities) and Achronim (later rabbinical authorities) have stated that the majority of man’s sufferings, whether through pestilence, war, or famine result from transgressions to the Brit” (See the book, “Abir Yaacov,” section, Pitochei Chotam; Bechukotai).

In the beginning of the Torah portion, in reward for keeping the commandments, G-d promises the Jews that there shall be ample rain in the Land of Israel, agricultural blessing, abundant harvests and produce, victory over all enemies, and peace in the Land. But should the Jews stray from the Torah, and fall into sexual transgression by violating the Brit, then great trouble and hardship begins:

“But if ye will not hearken unto Me, and will not do all these commandments; and will not do all My commandments, but break My covenant (Brit); I also will do this unto you: I will appoint terror over you, even consumption and fever, that shall make the eyes to fail, and the soul to languish; and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. And I will set My face against you, and ye shall be smitten before your enemies; they that hate you shall rule over you; and ye shall flee when none pursue you” (Bechukotai: 25:14-17).

If the Jewish People continue to violate the Brit, the punishments become worse and worse. The meaning of guarding the Brit is not merely the obligation to circumcise our children, but also to guard our sexual purity. This is what differentiates us from the gentile nations, and this is what guarantees our settlement of Eretz Yisrael, as Hashem promised Avraham in the Covenant of the Brit (Bereshit, 17:8-10). As the Torah portion of Achrei Mot makes clear – the punishment for sexual misconduct is national destruction and exile, G-d forbid, from our Land (Vayikra, 18:28).

In his commentary to the Torah portion, “Bechukotai,” Rabbi Abuchatzera writes in no uncertain terms:

“A person who comes to serve G-d should first rectify any blemish to the Brit in the proper fashion, and afterward begin to serve G-d…. When the Brit is blemished and has not been rectified, everything is canceled and considered naught.”

It is not enough that we be diligent in keeping the Torah but lax in our sexual lives. Rabbi Abuchatzera explains that the sufferings described in the Torah portion result if we blemish this part of our lives:

“Even if you will do all of the mitzvot, I will consider that you have not done them. Even if you will observe My statutes with love, I proclaim that you have despised My statutes. And even if you will perform My judgments with great joy, I proclaim that you have abhorred them. All of this is because you violated My Brit and have not rectified it. For this reason, everything you do is considered canceled and as naught. Therefore, whoever desires to do penitence, let him first rectify blemishes to the Brit, and after that, the things he does to please G-d will succeed.”

In another place, the Torah speaks about the Israeli army: “When you go out to encamp against your enemies, you should keep from every evil thing. If there be a man among you that is not pure by reason of impurity of a seminal emission that chances by night, he shall go abroad out of the camp…. For the L-rd your G-d walks in the midst of your camp to deliver you, and to give up your enemies before you; therefore your camp shall be holy, that He see no unclean thing in you and turn away from you” (Devarim, 10-16).

All of our security and wellbeing, both in a national, military sense, and in the camp of our homes, depends on our sexual purity. The Talmud explains that the meaning of “you shall keep from every evil thing” means that you should not gaze upon the beauty of a woman, because a man shouldn’t have sexual thoughts in the day and come to seminal impurity at night,” (Avodah Zara 20A). This includes Google gazing as well.

Our camps are to be holy. Sexual transgressions cause the Shechinah, the Divine Presence, to flee. Without the protection that the Shechinah affords, our country and our homes are vulnerable to all sorts of misfortune, G-d forbid, whether it be enemy knives and missiles, or health, livelihood, and marital problems at home.

Lag B’Omer celebrates the secrets of Torah which Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai revealed in the holy Zohar. Like Rabbi Abuchatzera, he repeats, again and again, throughout the Zohar that the key to personal blessing and national security is the guarding of the Brit. This Lag B’Omer, may the deep messages which we learn from the masters of the secrets of Torah illuminate our path back to Hashem and lead us to peace in our land.tzvi fi

Tzvi Fishman

What Will I Answer?

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

Each of us has a holocaust hiding in the closet. For the religious, it is that G-d turned His back on them. For the assimilated, it is that enlightenment refused to conceal the fact that they were Jews. We all stand bare, on the edge of the unresolved pit. Everyone and his holocaust.

From the edge of that pit we crawled and a state was established. We thought it would answer our questions. The religious thought that the Mashiach was just around the corner. The secular thought that the state would make us normal. It would bring peace and we would become just like the rest of the world.

But nothing is solved today. It is only the cattle cars, always waiting patiently, that unite us. Yad Vashem has become our Holy Temple; the Temple of Existence. The Defense Minister is its High Priest. IDF officers are its Priests and Levites.

I try not to use German products, my foot will not touch German ground and I grow a beard only to exact revenge for those Jews whose beards the Nazis forcibly cut. But what will I answer the Aryan grandson who feels no remorse for the deeds of his grandfather? After all, now I am the criminal. I am the last of the colonialists. And I know that it is the same anti-Semitism flowing through the veins of the young people. What will I answer them? What?

Existence at the edge of the unresolved pit, existence that hides questions in the closet, existence that flees a message, existence bereft of destiny, existence for the sake of existence – has stripped me of justice.

Suddenly I wake up, dressed in an SS uniform. And in Europe they point at me,

They throw mud at me. I am the new Nazi. And I try to flee. What will I answer? What will I answer?

The Priests and Levites point at the soldier from Hebron – the “Eastern Jew.” It’s because of him, just because of him. The angel of death has awakened over me. And pushes me back to the pit.

Moshe Feiglin

The Answer to Globalized Jew-Hatred

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s website, Abu Yehuda}

It’s a truism these days that traditional Jew-hatred has moved up one level of abstraction and turned into psychopathic Israel-hatred. Indeed, excessive concern over the question “is anti-Zionism antisemitism?” usually indicates that the questioner is guilty of both. There’s nothing surprising about this: in this day of globalization of trade and communications, Jew-hatred has globalized as well.

The centuries of dealing with Jew-hatred have made us familiar with various strategies for self-defense, although before we had a state and an army there weren’t many effective ones.

One of our perennial favorites was to appeal to the local prince or emir either by flattery, argument or bribery to try to get him to protect us against the pogromists that were always ready to loot, rape and murder in Jewish neighborhoods. This strategy sometimes worked temporarily, but sooner or later a friendly official would be replaced by one who “did not know Joseph” or a bribed one would raise his price to more than we could pay.

There is another strategy, which is to give nothing and fight our tormentors. Unfortunately the odds were usually so lopsided – as in the case of Bar Kochba or the Warsaw Ghetto – that although we kept our honor, we lost our lives.

Note that our enemies today do not even give us the choice to die on our feet or live on our knees: they want us to kneel so they can cut our heads off.

Zionism was, among other things, an attempt to give us the option of not only fighting, but winning. It has been the most successful strategy of all to protect our people. Zionism’s answer to Jew-hatred was to change the odds, to fight the British colonialists and the pro-Nazi Arabs at the same time in order to create a Jewish state with a Jewish army that would not have to beg for or buy its survival.

Great sacrifices were made to this end. When it became clear that neither the British nor the Arabs were prepared to let us have the homeland that the world had promised us, the Zionists of both the Left and the Right fought and died for it. The odds were not in our favor, but the Jews had the will to win – why shouldn’t they, when they felt their backs against the walls of Hitler’s gas chambers?

As everyone knows, the Jewish state was established and beat back several additional attempts to destroy it. Israel now has a powerful army, one of the best air forces in the world, and a nuclear deterrent, even a second-strike capability. We have changed the odds.

But our enemies in the West and the Muslim world changed their strategy as well. They realized that they couldn’t get rid of the Jews by frontal attack, at least not today. So they launched a broad diplomatic and psychological campaign, aiming to weaken the Jewish state to the point that it could ultimately be overrun. The Arabs, the West and the Soviets with their international Left fellow-travelers all participated. Today it is a global enterprise in which everyone does their part.

The American State Department has fought against the Jewish state since its inception. Today it works tirelessly (usually with help from the president and his administration) to reverse the outcome of the 1967 war and return Israel to the indefensible borders of 1949. It also refuses to accept the Jewish ownership of any part of Jerusalem. The Obama Administration has followed a policy to strengthen Iran in the region at the expense of Israel and other former US allies.

The PLO, for its part, works in accordance with its “phased plan” initially developed in the 1970s to establish an Arab-controlled enclave in the land of Israel which can serve as a base for terrorism and ultimately an additional front in a regional war. It cooperates with the UN – an organization that is supported by the US and Europe – to present itself as the representative of an oppressed ‘Palestinian people’ who claim to be the real owners of the land of Israel. Also financed by the US and Europe, the PLO mounts a continuous series of diplomatic initiatives against Israel and incites and supports terrorism against Jews, although it somehow manages to maintain that it is not responsible for it.

The European Union and individual European governments (especially Germany and the insufferable Scandinavians) pump massive amounts of money into the PLO and anti-state NGOs staffed with Jewish Israeli traitors and international anti-Zionist activists. They cooperate with the PLO’s diplomatic initiatives and psychological warfare operations designed to demonize and delegitimize Israel. The NGOs, since the 2001 “anti-racism” conference in Durban, South Africa, have succeeded in promulgating the wildly incorrect – but powerful – myth that Israel practices apartheid and commits ‘genocide’ against the ‘Palestinians’.

Arab petrodollar-funded academics established anti-Zionist Mideast Studies departments in American Universities, while Arab and Muslim immigrants in the US supply the foot-soldiers of an increasingly militant anti-Israel campus activism.

Hamas, which could not exist without ‘refugee’ aid from UNRWA, the UN’s special ‘Palestinian-only’ refugee agency, initiates periodic wars against Israel which terrorize the population and serve as jumping-off points for worldwide anti-Israel activism. It also mobilizes Sunni Islamic opposition and motivates suicide bombers.

Finally, Iran, previously considered a ‘rogue state’ but now increasingly a partner to the US and Europe, provides money and weapons to the Lebanese Hezbollah organization, a global terrorist enterprise which comprises a very serious military threat – today, the most dangerous one that Israel faces – on its northern border.

It is remarkable how practically the entire world can cooperate against Zionism, when it is unable to cooperate on almost anything else!

The psychological campaign has been particularly effective, both in enlisting people outside of Israel, many of whom have never met an actual Jew, and in sowing doubt among and weakening the will of Israeli Jews.

As a result, almost any military action by Israel, no matter how serious the provocation, is immediately denounced by the world media as “disproportionate” or worse. Western governments, especially the US, take action to restrain Israel.

A small but very vocal minority of Israelis has internalized the anti-Zionist ideas of our enemies. This minority has members in important positions in the media, the judiciary and even the army, and can have a disproportionate influence on the government’s decisions. Together with the coordinated international pressure that has been detailed above, the result is to paralyze our government and make it unable to take strong action against foes like Hamas and Hezbollah. It is apparently unable to declare the PLO an enemy, or even to stop providing logistical support (food, water, electricity and until recently, cement) to Hamas at the same time that Hamas prepares for war against Israel.

It does take action against Jewish nationalists, whose activities – despite an all-out effort to pin a case of arson/murder on them – appear to be limited to small-time assaults and vandalism. It punishes a simple soldier for killing an incapacitated terrorist who had just attempted to murder a Jew. In this way, it believes it will show the world that Israel is a just and humane society.

Such attempts are less likely to succeed even than the hasbara which promotes Israel as an enlightened state and a popular destination for gay tourism. It is the international equivalent of a Jewish community trying to beg or buy safety from the local princes. It is a Diaspora response, not a Zionist response.

Israel’s public behavior needs to change. Our officials need to understand that neither the Arabs nor the West accept the existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East. They did not accept it in 1948, they do not today and they will not tomorrow. This is not based on a rational calculation of interests; it is a result of deeply felt anti-Zionism, which is globalized Jew-hatred. Our adoption of Western humanist values to an even greater degree than the West itself is never enough for them; and the Arabs rightly hold us in contempt.

Therefore there is no point in trying to hold off the pressure from the US and Europe by making concessions to the Arabs, on the grounds that these minor retreats aren’t dangerous and will make us look good. We cannot ‘look good’ to those who hate us, and the demands for concessions will never end.

There is no point in behaving humanely to those who would behave toward us as the Islamic State does in Syria, if we let down our guard. There is no point in giving up our honor as the owners of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount in order to keep the Arabs quiet. And there will be no point in not using artillery and air power, including even tactical nuclear weapons if appropriate, to shut down the missiles from southern Lebanon.

Zionism indeed changes the odds and makes it possible for the Jewish people to stand up and fight, and to win. But to realize the change we must use the power of our state and our army.

The world will not understand the need for a Jewish state, no matter how we behave. But it can be made to understand that there is one and that it will fight fiercely and without quarter against anyone that tries to destroy it.

Vic Rosenthal

How to Answer an Israel Boycott

Monday, April 25th, 2016

{Originally posted to the Commentary website}

Friends of Israel have watched with alarm as the BDS — boycott, sanction, divest — movement has sought a beachhead in this country on college campuses. The BDSers have failed with most academic institutions rejecting calls to divest from companies that do business with Israel. But just as insidious are the efforts to exploit scholarly associations in order to try and ban contacts with Israeli schools and scholars. The first great success they had was with the American Studies Association, which voted to boycott Israel in 2013. Since then others, such as the National Women’s Studies Association, have followed in their footsteps. These boycotts have been roundly condemned as both discriminatory and unhelpful to the cause of peace by reputable scholars and university presidents. But that’s left those who consider these attempts to exploit any influence these groups possess to aid in a war that aims at the destruction of the Jewish state frustrated at their inability to stop a determined minority of Israel-haters from hijacking organizations whose purpose has nothing to do with the politics of the Middle East.

But it turns out there is something that can be done about it. With the help of some enterprising legal minds, a number of prominent members of the American Studies Association are suing the ASA and the leaders behind the boycott of Israel in federal court. On the surface, that sounds like a nuisance suit that might be a waste of the court system’s time. But a closer look at the effort shows that this legal attack on the BDS movement is on solid ground.

Legal scholars Eugene Kontorovich and Steven Davidoff Solomon laid out the rationale for the suit in an article in the Wall Street Journal back in December.

In passing the boycott resolution, the ASA violated the terms of its corporate charter, which just happened to be approved by Congress when it was founded and the District of Columbia Non-Profit Corporation Act that requires an organization to operate only within the provisions of its charter. Promoting a campaign to stigmatize Israelis and to deny them access to U.S. institutions is not only an act of despicable prejudice. It has nothing to do with the ASA’s purpose of promoting scholarship about American studies and therefore changes the very nature of the group.

According to Jerome Marcus, lead counsel for the plaintiffs:

This case stands for the simple proposition that nonprofit corporations must pursue the lawful purposes for which they are established, for which they receive nonprofit status, and for which they raise charitable contributions.

By stepping beyond the purposes for which it was founded in order to become a vehicle for political advocacy, the ASA violated that charter, which is not only filed with the IRS in order to maintain its non-profit status but is, in legal terms, a contract with its members. Moreover, the method by which the ASA leaders managed to pass the resolution also violated the rules stated in that same charter.

Can this effort succeed in brushing back the ASA as well as setting a precedent that may serve to deter other groups from being hijacked in this manner? While there is no way of knowing in advance how the federal courts will decide, the prospects for the suit are better than you might think.

There are legal precedents for non-profits being compelled to abide by the terms of their founding documents. The chief merit of the suit is that the violation of the ASA’s charter cannot be reasonably denied. Boycott advocates claim that the fact that the United States supports Israel brings activism against the Jewish state under the rubric of American studies but this is rubbish. Whatever one may think about Israel, waging an economic war against it or discriminating against its institutions and citizens in no way advances the purposes of scholarly work on specifically American topics. The only way for this to be conceivably possible is for the group to have transformed itself from one dedicated to scholarship into a political organization. And that is precisely what the lawsuit alleges the leaders of the group did when they pushed this resolution through to passage. But by doing so without formally amending their constitution, they violated the law.

Nor can the boycott organizers claim that the vote taken at their convention is implicit permission from the members to do just that and to change the ASA’s purpose. One problem with that claim is that the vote did not conform to the terms of the group’s bylaws. In that case, the indecent haste of the Israel-haters undermined their authority to act.

Nor is there any legal or political precedent that might give the ASA’s leadership the right to act in this manner. Contrary to what one might assume, during the campaign against the apartheid regime in South Africa neither the ASA nor most other similarly constituted groups boycotted that nation. If it had and gotten away with such conduct, it might have been reasonable for its members to think that a similar attack against Israel might be legal even if there is absolutely no analogy between the circumstances of a democratic state with a Jewish majority defending itself against foes determined to destroy it and the white minority regime in South Africa.

Moreover, the terms of the boycott are such that they leave no room for doubt as to the political purpose. The boycott is not rooted in claims of discrimination against Arabs or the manner in which democratic Israel treats Palestinians. Its terms call not merely for any Israeli institution or scholar to disassociate themselves from their country’s policies but to work to change its borders and to potentially replace it with a Palestinian state — the stated goal of Hamas and even that of the moderate Palestinian Authority that regards all of pre-1967 Israel as “occupied” territory.”

Let’s not mince words about the basic purpose of Israel boycotts. Those who advocate for them are seeking to treat the one Jewish state on the planet differently than any other country. By denying the Jewish people the right to self-determination in their ancient homeland and the right of self-defense against those who seek its elimination, the boycotters are practicing a form of discrimination. Though anti-Zionists claim not to be prejudiced against Jews, what they are doing is an act of bias. Acts of bias against Jews are anti-Semitism.

The perversion of a group that was founded to promote scholarship about America into one that aims at attacking Israel is a scandal. But as this suit shows, it is also illegal. Let’s hope that the courts heed the strong arguments in the filing and put the ASA and the entire scholarly world on notice that such illegal and prejudicial conduct will not be tolerated. At the very least, it will stand as a warning to other such associations that they cannot take part in illegal boycotts of the Jewish state with impunity.

Jonathan S. Tobin

Radical Community Groups Condemn NYC Pols’ Trip to Israel

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

A coalition of radical left “community groups” held a protest and press conference outside New York’s City Hall on Monday, Jan. 13. The groups were denouncing a scheduled February trip to Israel by 15 members of New York’s City Council. They want the trip cancelled.

Several dozen people showed up to hear speakers denounce Israel for its “counter-terrorism operations that seek to suppress and control Palestinians,” and for its contribution “to the militarization of police in NYC and around the country.”

The trip is being sponsored by New York’ City’s Jewish Community Relations Council and the United Jewish Appeal.

The protesters included many of the standard groups whose lifeblood is demonizing Israel. They included CODEPINK, Students for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace and Queers Against Israeli Apartheid.

The speakers hammered away at a favorite theme they have been playing over the past few months, linking “disregard for justice,” and racism allegedly found both in American police forces and in Israeli security institutions. Of course the standard canard of Gaza as an “open air prison” and the security barrier as a tool of apartheid were repeatedly raised.

One speaker who calls herself a “human and animal rights social justice attorney,” Bina Ahmad, works at the Staten Island Legal Aid Office which played a role in the legal challenge over Eric Garner’s death at the hands of a New York City police officer.

Ahmad demanded to know whether the politicians were going to tour the separation barrier or the devastation in Gaza. She reportedly analogized Israel’s “occupation of Palestine” to the New York Police Department’s “presence in communities of color.”

“Do not neglect your official responsibilities to our diverse city by touring an apartheid state,” the coalition members had written in a letter to the council members scheduled to be on the trip.

The critics also blasted the sponsor, NYC’s JCRC, which “has helped undermine the basic civil rights and liberties of our city’s Muslim residents.”

City Council members who will be part of the delegation to Israel include Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Mark Treyger, Brad Lander, Antonio Reynoso, David Greenfield, Rafael Espinal, Darlene Mealy, Mark Levine, Helen Rosenthal, Corey Johnson, Ritchie Torres, Andrew Cohen, Donovan Richards, Eric Ulrich, and James Van Bramer.

Egregious misrepresentations of reality were stated as fact by various speakers, including public aid attorneys and academics.

Conor Tomas Reed is an educator and graduate student at the City University of New York. He blathered on about Israel’s “segregated workforce” and “wage discrimination along ethnoreligious lines,” and insisted that those participating in the city council junket were taking an “anti-labor” stand.

David Galarza, a Puerto Rican activist chanted “Puerto Rico, Palestine, Occupation is a crime!” He also compared the 1963 firebombing of a black church in Birmingham, Alabama in which four little black girls died, with the death of four brothers on a Gaza Beach during this past summer’s Operation Protective Edge.

Photographs of the two bombing incidents were held up as Galarza called out the eight names of the dead children. Problem is, it is still not known how exactly the four Bakr boys died on that Gaza Beach this summer, and what they were doing there, near a munitions cache, during a war.

Here is a portion of the letter sent to the council members in protest of the trip to Israel:

As New Yorkers, we recognize that the struggle for social and racial justice in our own city is deeply connected to that of the Palestinian people. Israel’s callous disregard for international human rights norms and the impunity enjoyed by Israeli police and occupation forces cannot be viewed apart from the near-total lack of accountability mirrored by the NYPD and other police forces as they target communities of color in the United States.

In recent weeks, many of us joined demonstrations to protest the killings of countless Black people by police forces across the country. Members of City Council also protested these killings. However, these gestures are wholly incompatible with participating in a private tour funded by special interests hoping to legitimize Israel’s laws discriminating against its Palestinians citizens and the violence it inflicts upon Palestinians under military occupation. To demonstrate in support of racial justice while participating in a tour of apartheid is a fundamental contradiction.

International law requires Israel to protect the civilian population in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, yet it has repeatedly failed to do so. The world has witnessed Israel’s increasingly horrendous war crimes, from the fatal shootings of protesters in the West Bank5 to the horrific slaughter in Gaza. Strengthening cultural, business, and educational ties to a state engaged in these ongoing transgressions is not a proper goal for our city.

At a time of public outrage over police brutality, participation in a delegation ignoring Israeli policies that inspired and reinforced unjust tactics of the NYPD can only aggravate New Yorkers’ concerns. Any trip in support of Israel conflicts with a concern over domestic police abuses.

And here is a sample of the signatories to the letter:

Jewish Voice for Peace – New York; Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel; CUNY for Palestine; Students for Justice in Palestine Chapters: Hunter, Pace, NYU, Columbia, CUNY School of Law; Women in Black Union Square; Committee for Open Discussion of Zionism; Librarians and Archivists with Palestine; Center for Constitutional Rights; International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network – New York; New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy (NYAGRA); Al-Awda NY; The Palestine Right to Return Coalition New York City; Labor Against the War; Malcolm X Grassroots Movement; US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation; Trinity Lutheran Church (Brooklyn); American Muslims for Palestine; National Lawyers Guild, NYC Chapter; West-Park Presbyterian Church; Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER); Coalition International Socialist Organization (ISO); Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence (CAAAV)/Organizing Asian Communities; Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC); Park Slope Food Coop Members for BDS; Irish Queers

The nine day trip is scheduled to start on Feb. 15.


Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/radical-community-groups-condemn-nyc-pols-trip-to-israel/2015/01/14/

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