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October 24, 2016 / 22 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘blood’

Redeeming Relevance: Parshat Reeh: The Taste for Blood and the Imperative of Relevance

Monday, August 29th, 2016

When we read the Torah, through what lens are we supposed to read it? Are we supposed to read it as the Jews who received it would have? Or is it actually meant to be read in a way that fits with our own understanding of the world – one that cannot possibly be the same as that of those who first received the Torah?

I believe that the rabbinic discussion in the Midrash and later in the Mishna about the wording of one of the mitzvot in this week’s pasha can take us far towards answering this important question. Rashi’s formulation of the midrash on Devarim 12:23 brings this out quite remarkably. In it, Rabbi Yehudah tells us that the reason that the Torah tells the reader that they must be strong and not eat blood is because the Jews who had lived in Egypt struggled to fulfill this mitzvah. But then Rabbi Shimon ben Azai comes along and says that the actual reason for the wording is diametrically opposite – for him, the mitzvah of not eating blood is actually something very easy for the Jews to keep. Rather, the Torah is telling us that even an easy mitzvah requires exertion, and all the more so, a hard one.

The rabbis who oppose Rabbi Yehudah (Rabban Gamliel takes a similar to position to Ben Azzai) may not disagree with him about the state of affairs in Egypt. Indeed, a careful reading of their words show that they do not actually deny it. Rather, their objection is that his reading is irrelevant to the readers of the time (and, incidentally, ours as well). For in their times, Jews did not seem to have much of a taste for blood. And once that reason became irrelevant, it could no longer be how an eternal Torah was to be read in their time. What is interesting here is that the Torah’s eternity is not understood as it needing to carry the same message for all times, but rather that the Torah can sometimes carry a variety of valid readings for different times. And so, whereas Rabbi Yehudah’s reading may have been correct for the generation at Sinai, it was no longer correct for their generation. Moreover, while this takes the form of a disagreement in the Midrash, Rebbe unequivocally adopts the latter approach in the Mishna (Makkot 3:10)

In the introduction to the first volume of my Redeeming Relevance series, I wrote as follows:

The classical search for relevance seems to be rooted in what commentators perceived to be the unique properties that emanate from the Torah’s Divine authorship. That is to say, whereas a human author’s meaning is necessarily limited by his culture, God’s intentions and meaning can span whatever possibilities the words can legitimately carry.

God’s ability to communicate two contradictory things at once is actually illustrated in a different context by a famous midrash. In Mechilta 87 we read that when delivering the Decalogue (specifically, the fourth commandment), God said two different words, shamor and zachor, at the same time. What is illustrated here about God’s ability to communicate two words simultaneously – which the Midrash points out is impossible for a human speaker – can provide a paradigm for God’s propensity to communicate simultaneous meanings of the words actually written in the Torah.

For us then, the historic or original meaning of a mitzvah – while it has great value and instructive import – is by no means its paramount message. The meaning(s) we can derive for generations that followed, and our especially for our own, holds equal validity and thus we are compelled to search for these messages with renewed vigor in each generation.

Rabbi Francis Nataf

Palestinian’s Modern Blood Libel

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas must be surprised at the international outcry over his accusation this week that Israeli rabbis are plotting to poison Arab wells. After all, Abbas and his colleagues have been making similar allegations for more than 30 years, yet the international community has hardly said a word. (Abbas subsequently apologized.)

The best-known allegation was the declaration by Yasser Arafat’s wife, Suha, at a 1999 press conference that Israel was engaged in the “daily and intensive use of poisonous gas” against Palestinians, as part of a plan that was causing “an increase in cancer cases among women and children.” The Israelis had also contaminated 80 percent of the PA’s water sources with “chemical materials,” she said.

The episode sparked controversy because then-first lady Hillary Clinton was sitting next to Suha Arafat at the time and did not respond. Clinton later said she was unaware of Mrs. Arafat’s statement because her headphones were not working at that moment.

The list of Palestinian “poisoning” claims in recent years is lengthy and colorful. The director of the PA’s Committee for Consumer Protection, for example, has accused Israel of supplying Palestinian markets with chocolates that cause mad cow disease. The PA’s website has charged that Israeli planes drop bags of poisoned candy into Palestinian neighborhoods. The Palestinian representative to the United Nations in Geneva has claimed that “the Israeli authorities infected by injection 300 Palestinian children with the HIV virus.”

The PA’s deputy minister of supplies, Abdel Hamid al-Qudsi, sees an Israeli plot to stunt Palestinian population growth. “Israel is distributing food containing material that causes cancer and hormones that harm male virility and other spoiled products in the Palestinian Authority’s territories in order to poison and harm the Palestinian population,” al-Qudsi has asserted. “It is an organized plan and conspiracy which is under the auspices of the Israel Defense Forces.”

One of the first – and, from the standpoint of anti-Israel propaganda, most successful – such allegations in modern times began in the small Palestinian village of Arabbe in the spring of 1983. A schoolgirl who opened a window in her classroom fainted. Her classmates detected a strong odor of “rotten fish or eggs,” and some of them also fainted. Both Palestinian and Israeli doctors who visited the scene that day reported a strong smell of hydrogen sulfide, which commonly occurs in raw sewage.

In the days to follow, schoolgirls in Jenin, Barkin, and Mei Saloum complained of dizziness and headaches and were admitted to a local hospital, although their symptoms quickly vanished and they were released. Yasser Arafat claimed that Israel was carrying out “mass poisoning” of Arab girls in order to render them sterile. He said the school incidents were evidence of “the genocide against the Palestinian people.”

The foreign news media ran with the story. A front-page article in the Los Angeles Times was headlined “300 Arab Girls in West Bank Poisoned by Gas,” as if the poisoning was an indisputable fact, rather than an allegation made by the world’s most notorious terrorist leader. The newspaper darkly reported that “a yellow dust that proved to be rich in sulfur was found on a windowsill at one of the schools,” and that unnamed “investigators” were “reported to believe that the dust was a residue of the gas.”

The yellow dust turned out to be pollen. A mysterious tin of white powder that supposedly was an Israeli gas was found to be evaporated milk. And a bottle of strong-smelling liquid that Palestinians found “suspicious” was nothing more than a common household disinfectant.

The Israeli authorities soon found evidence that the entire episode had been cooked up by Palestine Liberation Organization propagandists. One Palestinian activist claiming symptoms of “poisoning” was found to have had himself hospitalized six times, and he was caught “pressuring girls to continue to remain in hospital,” the Jerusalem Post reported. Masked militants in Nablus made announcements over a local mosque’s public address system that the city’s water had been polluted by the Israelis. Some local Arab doctors acknowledged that “they were being pressured not to release the girls from hospital,” according to the Jerusalem Post.

Stinging from Arafat’s accusations and hostile international media reports, the Israeli government invited the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in Atlanta, to conduct its own investigation. The CDC’s inquiry concluded that the symptoms exhibited by the girls in Arrabe were caused either by “psychological factors” or by hydrogen sulphide, not poison. The girls in the other schools were suffering from nothing more than “anxiety,” to which hysterical Palestinian newspaper and radio reports “may have contributed.” Contrary to Arafat’s allegation, the CDC found “no evidence of reproductive impairment.”

Separate investigations by the World Health Organization and the International Red Cross likewise found no evidence of any Israeli poisoning.

Nonetheless, Arafat never retracted his accusations about Arrabe. Perhaps, then, it was fitting that after Arafat died from a stroke in 2004, PA officials claimed he had been poisoned by Israel – and continued spreading that blood libel long after multiple international investigations found no evidence that the Israelis poisoned him.

Dr. Rafael Medoff

The EU and US Cannot Condemn Abbas’ Blood Libel

Friday, June 24th, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s website, Elder of Ziyon}

It is 24 hours after Abbas’ blood libel speech at the EU parliament.

It was widely reported – Reuters and the New York Times both featured his lies in their articles. Even Al Arabiya’s coverage noted that there was no evidence for the claim.

Yet the only groups that have condemned it so far are groups that are explicitly Zionist to begin with. (Or they claim to be, in J-Street‘s case, even though that group seems to have ignored Abbas’ many previous statements that are nearly as inflammatory and false.)

The EU parliament gave Abbas a a 30-second standing ovation after the speech. European Parliament President Martin Schulz welcomed him by saying, “Your presence here today, the day after President Rivlin delivered his address, sends a strong signal that the will to achieve a lasting peace between Israel and Palestine is still alive.” But he has been silent since then.

The State Department spokesperson surreally talked about the incident but didn’t come close to condemning it.

QUESTION: Are you familiar with the comments – the part of his speech in which he said that there were some rabbis who were wanting to poison Palestinian water?
MR KIRBY: I’ve seen the comments. I can’t confirm the veracity of that.
QUESTION: You can’t – I’m not asking you to confirm it. I’m asking you what you think of it.
MR KIRBY: Well, look, I mean —
QUESTION: I mean, is this the kind of – is this the kind of language that you guys want coming from someone who says that he’s a partner for peace and wants to negotiate, and then he accuses the other side of trying to poison his people?
MR KIRBY: We’ve been – without speaking to specific comments, as you know I’m not wont to do, we have been very clear – the Secretary’s been clear about our concerns about inflammatory rhetoric and incitement and —
QUESTION: Well, this is before the EU parliament. What —
MR KIRBY: Again, we want – here’s how I’d put it, Matt: We —
QUESTION: You don’t think it’s —
MR KIRBY: As we’ve said before, we —
QUESTION: You don’t think it might be true, do you?
MR KIRBY: I – again, I’ve seen nothing to indicate the truth of that. But we have long said what we want is for both sides to ratchet down not just the violence but the rhetoric, which can inflame some of the violence. And we just don’t find that sort of rhetoric helpful.

Oh, accusing Jews of poisoning the wells is not “helpful” and is an opportunity for both sides to ratchet down the rhetoric. Thanks for those strong words from Israel’s best friend.

The fact is that while diplomats routinely and forcefully condemn Israel for actions that their own states are far more guilty of, there is nothing but praise for Mahmoud Abbas as he spouts his lies and incitement (Unbelievably, Abbas even began the speech saying that he is against incitement.)

The double standards cannot be clearer. And while they would deny this up and down, it is hard to construe the lack of reaction to this as anything other than an attempt to paper it over because the lie of Abbas as a peacemaker is too strong to be overcome by pesky facts.

Elder of Ziyon

Jerusalem’s Old City Stabbing Victim Improving, Terrorist Caught

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

A 60-year-old Orthodox Jewish man attacked Monday night in Jerusalem by an 18-year-old Arab from the Palestinian Authority is slowly improving at Shaare Zedek Medical Center.

He ran towards the Lion’s Gate to seek help from the security force there after being stabbed in the back by the terrorist in one of the alleys in the Old City.

The man’s lungs were penetrated by the knife, according to hospital officials, requiring drainage as well as a blood transfusion.

He is listed in serious condition in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.

The stabber initially escaped after the attack but was caught hiding in a nearby basement a few hours later.

Hana Levi Julian

Candidate Kasich Uses Matzah Factory Visit to Sermonize on ‘Blood of the Lamb’ [video]

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

Republican presidential hopeful and Ohio Governor John Kasich visited Haredi Brooklyn on Tuesday, including stops at a Jewish bookstore, a school and a shmura matzah bakery. There, at the matzah bakery, where 18 minute discs of unleavened dough are hand-made with the proper spiritual intent by kosher Jews, for the crowd that wouldn’t touch a machine-made matzah on Passover, there is where cultures and religions clashed.

“It’s a wonderful, wonderful holiday for our friends in the Jewish community – the Passover,” Kasich told reporters after his tour of the matzah bakery, holding a box of precious, fresh “shmura matzah” in his hands. Then he proceeded, quite naturally, into a mini sermon about the connection between the Passover blood and the blood of you-know-who.

“The great link between the blood that was put above the lampposts (he meant the doorposts, or mezuzahs to you and me) — the blood of the lamb, because Jesus Christ is known as the lamb of God. It’s his blood, we believe …”

That was it. At least that’s all that the YouTube clip allows us to see of the Kasich visit’s Christian sermon part.

Publicist Ezra Friedlander tried to soften the blow for the press, as JTA’s Uriel Heilman, who was quite stunned by the blood of the lamb thing, described it.

“He’s very knowledgeable and he takes his religion very seriously,” Friedlander told Heilman. “In context, I thought it was appropriate.”

According to Heilman, Kasich also emphasized his points by shaking the box of shmura matzah, turning it into “shvura (broken) matza.” Considering how much these things cost on the week before the seder, he probably didn’t understand why folks were ogling him like he was using a Fabergé egg to hammer in a couple of nails.

At the bookstore, according to Heilman, Kasich told a group of young religious men, “You know who I like? Joseph. You guys like Joseph? You study Joseph? What do you think about Joseph? Did you hear the most important thing Joseph said to his brothers?” And the governor provided the answer, saying Joseph told his brothers, “My brothers, you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”

In other words, Kasich, a Roman Catholic turned Anglican, was actually implying for the benefit of his potential Jewish voters, that even though you people crucified you- know-who, it’s all good in the end.

A very knowledgeable man.

David Israel

Israeli Scientists Find Protein in Blood to ID Alzheimer’s Disease

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

Researchers at Tel Aviv University, Technion, Rambam Medical Center and Harvard University discovered a new biomarker to identify cognitive aging and Alzheimer’s disease.

The new study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, found that levels of “activity-dependent neuroprotective protein” (ADNP) can be easily monitored in routine blood tests. Moreover, ADNP levels in blood tests correlate with higher IQ in healthy older adults.

The research was led by Prof. Illana Gozes, the incumbent of the Lily and Avraham Gildor Chair for the Investigation of Growth Factors. She is also former director of the Adams Super Center for Brain Studies at TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and a member of TAU’s Sagol School of Neuroscience. It was also spearheaded by Dr. Gad Marshall, Dr. Aaron Schultz, and Prof. Reisa Sperling of Harvard University, and Prof. Judith Aharon-Peretz of Rambam Medical Center – The Technion Institute of Technology. TAU PhD student Anna Malishkevich also participated in working with the team.

Investigators analyzed blood samples taken from 42 healthy adults, MCI (mild cognitive impairment) patients and Alzheimer’s disease patients at Rambam Medical Center in Israel. After comparing the DNP expression in the blood samples, the researchers prepared plasma samples and once again compared the protein levels.

Significant increases in ADNP RNA were seen in patients ranging from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to Alzheimer’s disease. ADNP levels tested in plasma and serum samples, as well as white blood cell RNA levels, distinguished between cognitively normal elderly, MCI and Alzheimer’s disease participants.

“This study has provided the basis to detect this biomarker in routine, non-invasive blood tests, and it is known that early intervention is invaluable to Alzheimer’s patients,” Gozes said.

“We are now planning to take these preliminary findings forward into clinical trials — to create a pre-Alzheimer’s test that will help to tailor potential preventative treatments. We have found a clear connection between ADNP levels in the blood and amyloid plaques in the brain,” she said.

The researchers are currently exploring larger clinical trials to better determine the ability of ADNP to predict cognitive decline and disease progression.

Hana Levi Julian

CNN Coverage of Har Nof Massacre Sparks Call to Pull Press Privilege

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

CNN hit a new low this week by focusing on the deaths of two terrorists in the midst of their killing spree Tuesday morning in Jerusalem.

The news network headlined its report “Israeli police shot dead two Palestinian civilians” to describe the horrific terror attack that left blood flowing in a synagogue.

Terrorists used hatchets, guns and knives to butcher their way through men at morning prayers in the Kehillat Bnei Torah Yeshiva synagogue on Agassi Street in the Har Nof neighborhood.

Shouting “Allah HuAkbar!” the terrorists began by stabbing worshipers before they opened fire. Two police officers fought back; one paid the ultimate price for his bravery.

Yet somehow, a CNN reporter managed to reach the conclusion that “Israeli police shot dead two Palestinian civilians.”

The italics are those of the writer, to emphasize the glaring inaccuracy of the headline which so outraged Samaria Regional Council media relations director Yossi Dagan. But CNN was really batting 1,000 on this one. The first headline to flash over the network was “Deadly attack on Jerusalem mosque.” That was followed by, “4 Israelis, 2 Palestinians Killed in Jerusalem.”

The plain fact is, those two dead terrorists were Israeli Arab cousins from the Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukabar. One of them worked in the nearby grocery store. And but hardly civilians, given their actions.

Dagan has filed a formal complaint with the Government Press Office (GPO) against CNN reporter Ben Wederman who he charges with being responsible for the headline and the network’s distorted coverage of the attack.

“There is no reality elsewhere in the world where journalists can report a terror attack in this style,” Dagan stated. “This rule should also apply to foreign reporters in Israel. There is good and there is bad, there are killers and there are victims.

The media arena in recent years has become an equally important battlefield for Israel and it must use all the tools at its disposal to demand certain baselines in its media coverage. Coverage like this legitimizes the next murder; whoever loses in this, loses the next war as well.”

Hours later, CNN posted a curt apology for the “mistake” :

“As CNN updated its reporting on the terrorist attack on the synagogue in Jerusalem earlier today, our coverage did not immediately reflect the fact that the two Palestinians killed were the attackers.  We erred and regret the mistake.”

The death toll from Tuesday’s murderous rampage rose from four to five by evening, when critically wounded Israeli Druze police officer Zidan Sayif lost his fight for life at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem. It was 30 year old Sayif who saved numerous others when he engaged the two terrorists in a gun battle, drawing their fire to himself and forcing them to focus on him, rather than continue their slaughter of the worshipers. Sayif is survived by a wife and 4 month old daughter.

Six other male victims were wounded, including two who remain in critical condition, two listed in serious condition, one in fair condition and one in good condition at Shaare Tzedek Medical Center and Hadassah Medical Center, both in Jerusalem.

All four of those who were slaughtered instantly were prominent rabbis in the anglo community. Rabbis Arye Kopinsky, 43, Kalman Levine, 55 and Moshe Twersky, 59, were all American-Israeli dual citizens; Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, 68, was a dual British-Israeli national.

All were laid to rest Tuesday afternoon. Police officer Sayif will be laid to rest at 2:00 pm Wednesday in his Galilee village of Yanuch-Jat. May their memories be for a blessing and may God avenge their blood.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/cnn-coverage-of-har-nof-massacre-sparks-call-to-pull-press-privilege/2014/11/19/

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