web analytics
August 30, 2014 / 4 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Commentary Magazine’

Responses to US Administration Comments on Israel

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and U.S. Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman each sparked controversy—independently of the others—with recent comments related to Israel and the Jewish people.

The trifecta of statements, all appearing within the space of a few days last week, has spurred a large-scale debate among American Jews and Jewish organizations, many of whom are doubting the Obama administration’s support for Israel.

Clinton called Israeli democracy to task, raising concerns about two bills that could restrict foreign funding of non-profit organizations. Panetta urged Israel to get back to the “damn negotiating table” and pull itself out of its growing isolation in the region. Gutman said that Muslim hatred for Jews stemming from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should not be construed as anti-Semitism.

Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense for Democracies told the Washington Post that the U.S. is pressuring Israel because it knows it can’t get results from the Palestinians, particularly from Palestinian Authority (expired-term) President Mahmoud Abbas. At the Dec. 7 Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) Presidential Candidates Forum, Newt Gingrich called to reprimand Panetta and expressed shock that Clinton would “talk about discrimination against women in Israel, and then meet with Saudis.”

“This one-sided continuing pressure that says it’s always Israel’s fault, no matter how bad the other side is, has to stop,” Gingrich said.

“Panetta is a fine domestic politician, but his speech was outrageous,” he said. “How about saying to Hamas, give up violence and come to the table?”

Responding to Gingrich’s comments, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told ABC News that the U.S. has an unquestionable commitment to Israel and that Panetta “was simply noting in part of his speech that we should foster greater dialogue with the countries in the region and that Israel needs to do its part. It’s as simple as that.”

Clinton also weighed in on the ongoing controversies regarding gender segregation on several Jerusalem buses, and the demands by some Israeli rabbis that religious army troops not be forced to watch performing women. Clinton said these developments are “reminiscent of Rosa Parks.”

Israeli officials had mixed reactions to the Secretary of State’s remarks. Opposition leader Tzipi Livni said Clinton’s comments should serve as a wake-up call about what’s happening in the country, according to the Jerusalem Post. However, Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said Clinton seriously exaggerated.

“The exclusion and segregation of women is something totally unacceptable, and it needs to be stopped, but to cite this as a threat to Israel’s democracy is a big leap,” Steinitz said, according to Haaretz.

The National Conference on Jewish Affairs (NCJA) released a press statement calling to remove Gutman from his post as U.S. Ambassador to Belgium. In the wake of the controversy surrounding his comments, Gutman said that his words were taken out of context.

“Those who use the existence of the Jewish State of Israel or the ongoing deadlock in Israeli-Palestinians peace negotiations as an excuse to hate Jews are nothing more than anti-Semitic bigots… and I am pleased that (Gutman) has expressed regret for his remarks,” U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman (D-NJ) said in a statement.

The White House also distanced itself from the comments by stating it condemns “anti-Semitism in all its forms.”

Scholar and rabbi Dr. Michael Berenbaum, however, wrote in a column for the Los Angeles Jewish Journal that while “Israel is not to blame for anti-Semitism—anti-Semites are to blame for anti-Semitism … there is a direct correlation between actions in the Middle East and an increase in manifestations of anti-Semitism.”

Berenbaum cited France as an example, where “increased anti-Semitism came in waves,” occurring in much greater intensity during the various Intifada periods in Israel. “There can be no doubt about the correlation,” he wrote, adding that the absence of negotiations in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict also fuels the extremists.

At the Republican Jewish Forum, Mitt Romney criticized the Obama administration’s general Israel policy, saying the president chastises the country but has little to say about the thousands of rockets launched at southern Israel by Hamas. Romney said the president has also been weak with regard to Iran.

“These actions have emboldened Palestinian hard-liners, and they’re now poised to form a unity government with terrorist Hamas,” Romney said. “And they feel they can bypass Israel at the bargaining table.”

Jonathan Tobin of Commentary Magazine did see one silver lining to the “ominous signals” created by U.S. officials’ controversial comments on Israel, as well as the “failure of the administration’s promises to stop Iran’s nuclear program.”

“No matter what Obama, Panetta, Clinton and their underlings may think about Israel, they are keenly aware a full break with Israel is not something they can get away with,” Tobin wrote.

Is It Really PR? (Conclusion)

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

In last week’s column I wrote about world condemnation of Israel and, once again, she is being ostracized. This time it’s because of the Flotilla fiasco. She is even castigated by her loyal friends, including Jews, for her inept PR. Even if Israel had the most brilliant, eloquent, and articulate representatives speaking on her behalf, she would still be demonized.

Just consider that of all the “do-gooders,” who are quick to malign Israel, not one has taken the background of the Gaza blockade into account. Not one of them bothered to mention that no nation in the annals of history has ever extended such a hand of friendship to those who want to annihilate her. Against all logic, Israel uprooted her own citizens, deported them from their homes, from the land that they ploughed and sowed with tears and sacrifice – a land that for almost 2,000 years lay dormant and was a barren desert.

Incredibly Israel handed that land over to a people who have only one goal – to wipe Israel off the map. After that tragic deportation, Hamas expressed their appreciation by turning that land into a launching pad for terror, from where they rained rockets and missiles on Israel’s towns and villages, maiming and killing children and adults.

Not one of Israel’s deprecators mentioned that, nor did any of her critics bother to point out that, despite all this, Israel continued to extend humanitarian aid to Gaza. The blockade was only there to prevent lethal weapons from reaching those terrorist murderers. No one bothered to point out that, despite continuous deadly attacks from Gaza, Israel continued to supply them with electricity, water and food – something that their Muslim brothers – the Egyptians (who also share a border with Gaza) fail to do. Israel is slandered, while the barbaric murderers are celebrated as heroes – martyrs who champion the cause of the oppressed.

Perhaps Allan Dershowitz best summed it up when, in an interview with Commentary Magazine, said, “If the Palestinians put down their weapons, there would be peace tomorrow; if the Israelis put down their weapons, there would be genocide tomorrow.”

And now we have to deal with the world’s demand for an investigation. Should we be concerned about such a probe? Even Israel’s Minister of Industry and Trade, Binyamin Eleazer, has been quoted as stating, “We have nothing to fear. Everything is in the open… transparent. The video footage of our soldiers being attacked, the photographs can be shown to anyone who asks.”

For other nations, such evidence may be valid, but when it comes to Israel, there are different rules. We are condemned simply because we are Jews, and Israel is the Jewish State.

I do agree that there should be an investigation… but not of the Israeli commandos who boarded the ships with paintball guns only to be savagely attacked by the hooligans on board who awaited them with metal bars, pipes and knives. No matter what the video reveals, even if there is clear footage of these terrorist slicing off the ear of an Israeli commando, it will be of no avail. Even if a Jew is appointed to head this investigation, Israel will still be branded “a nation of murderers.”

I am calling for an internal investigation made by every Jew. An investigation of our history, our Torah, so that once and for all, we may understand why we are vilified, why even the most preposterous lies leveled against us are readily accepted as truth. Mind you, this acceptance is not limited to Muslims, but is endorsed by the “enlightened, freedom-loving people” of the world. Only after such probing will we know how to react and choreograph a proper response that would ensure the life of Israel.

Libelous accusations, scandalous outrageous lies against us are as old as our nation. It’s all documented in the Torah. It began at the very genesis of our history, when Pharaoh accused us of being a fifth column – a Trojan horse that threatened Egypt.

Amazingly, there was no outcry, no protest against Pharaoh’s venomous lies. They were more than happy to embrace Pharaoh’s propaganda and enslave us.

Alas, this same pattern has been repeated throughout history. Throughout the centuries, we built civilizations, generated prosperity, made awesome scientific contributions to the countries in which we resided, only to be rewarded with persecution. And that pattern that started in Egypt has followed us throughout the millennia.

Allow me to highlight just a few of these diabolical accusations.

During the Middle Ages, when the Bubonic Plague ravaged Europe, it was we, the Jewish people who were maligned and held responsible. Later, there were the “Blood Libels,” which accused us of slaughtering Christian children and using their blood for our Passover Sedarim.

Then let us recall the Dreyfus case, in which a loyal, decorated, assimilated Jewish officer of the French Army was tried for espionage without basis or foundation. No matter what evidence was put forth to prove his innocence, it was to no avail. His guilt was established simply because he was a Jew. It was that trial that gave birth to modern-day Zionism. Theodore Herzl, a secular journalist who covered the case, came up with the idea that the only solution for anti-Semitism was for the Jews to have their own homeland and become a nation like all other nations.

And now that Israel has been created and the Zionist dream has been realized, ironically, it is that very State of Israel that Herzl envisioned that is the cause of the “new anti-Semitism.”

Who would have imagined that? And I didn’t even mention the most catastrophic of lies slung at us in the “enlightened, civilized 20th century,” a lie that cast six million of our people into ovens. Ask how that could have happened in the 20th century? How was Hitler, yemach shemo, able to do that?

He knew history well and accomplished it all with his mouth. Make libelous accusations against the Jews and no matter how scandalous, how outrageous, how insane, how barbaric these accusations were, they would be readily accepted, because they were focused against the Jews.

So now we have arrived in the liberal 21st century and nothing has changed. Yes, our PR must change, though not in the way the average person might imagine. That will simply not work. Our Torah specifically tells us how to present our image.

Rashi, in the very first passage of Genesis explains. “Why,” he asks, “does the Torah commence with the creation of the heavens and the earth? After all, the Torah is not a book about history, but of commandments, so it should have opened with the first mitzvah. But, Rashi explains, “The day will come when we, the Jewish people, will return to our land and the nations of the world will accuse us of thievery, of taking the land by force. Then, we must point to the Torah that testifies that G-d created the heavens and the earth, the world belongs to Him, and it is He who deeded that land to us as an eternal inheritance.”

There is no other nation whose land has been assigned by G-d, whose boundaries have been designated by Him. It is only we who have been given that gift, and that is the only PR that will work for us. Perhaps you are smiling and thinking, “Rebbetzin, with all due respect, this is all naive. Will the nations really believe that?”

Absolutely, but the problem is that we don’t believe it.

“Ki Hi Chochmaschem – For this is your wisdom in the sight of the nations”

(Deut. 4:6). How simple and how tragic that even after thousands of years, we fail to comprehend.

Still, you might wonder why is this satanic hatred of our people? Why, despite all the good that we do, we are scorned and persecuted? No matter what we do, no matter how much we give; no matter how patriotic we may be, in the end, we are always vilified. What is behind all this?

Whether we like to admit it or not, our lives are dictated and guided by G-d. We sealed a covenant at Sinai – to be His people and live by His Torah. Sadly, over the centuries, too many of us have tried to escape that responsibility and disappeared in the universal melting pot. But the world never accepted us, and those among us who shed our Jewish garments were forced to don them again… and against all odds, we survived the centuries.

Today we are here, as vibrant as ever, and very soon, we will see our redemption. Everything is unfolding in accordance with G-d’s plan. Let us be strong and beseech G-d to take our hands and lead us through this terrible darkness. Let us remember the plea of G-d written by King David: “If only My people would walk in My ways, in an instant I would subdue their foes and against their tormentors I would turn My Hand” (Psalm 82).

If we will it, it will be.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/rebbetzins-viewpointrebbetzin-jungreis/is-it-really-pr-conclusion-2/2010/06/16/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: