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August 24, 2016 / 20 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘criticism’

Misguided Criticism by American Jewish Liberals

Sunday, July 10th, 2016

27 Jewish “social justice organizations” recently wrote a widely-publicized open letter calling upon “political candidates to put an end to the racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia” which “has emerged in this year’s campaign.”

Naturally, all Jews – and decent people anywhere – agree racism of any form is unacceptable, and none of us approve of what these organizations describe as “hurtful characterizations of entire ethnic groups as criminals.”

All Americans can agree that “The Jewish community knows all too well what can happen when particular religious or ethnic groups become the focus of invective. We have witnessed the dangerous acts that can follow verbal expressions of hate.”As such, it was disappointing that a radical, extremist organization such as The New Israel Fund, which openly supports a boycott of Israel were among the organizations who signed this letter.

It is quite clear that today’s Democratic Party is not the Democratic Party of old.

Israel must always be a bi-partisan issue and sadly we’ve recently seen that historic bond between Israel and the Democratic Party erode and weaken. Shamefully, elements of the Democratic Party are anti-Israel and doing all they can to destroy the pro-Israel consensus, as they stand shoulder to shoulder with those who boycott Israel.

Further, why did this letter not urge all candidates to stand with Israelis across the political spectrum who say no to dividing Jerusalem and a no nuclear Iran?

Naturally, all of us stand with the letter writers in condemning Anti-Semitism.  Therefore, why did this letter not urge all candidates to “shun advisors and close family friends” (i.e. Max Blumenthal) who are Anti-Israel, compare the Israel Defense Forces to Nazi Germany, refer to Israel as an “apartheid state” and harm the Jewish State.

As Alan Dershowitz—a Clinton supporter – notes, “Max Blumenthal is well outside the acceptable range of rhetoric about Israel. His constant comparisons between Nazi Germany and the Jewish state establish him as an extremist bigot whose greatest appeal is to anti-Semites and others who apply a double standard to the Jewish state.  Any political candidate who would associate himself or herself with such views would be unacceptable to Americans… I hope that the Clintons ask Sid to expressly disassociate himself from his son’s views–and if he refuses to, that they no longer work with him on any matters.”

 

The reality is that this letter was about what Jeff Jacoby, the op-ed editor of the Boston Globe has written namely that “liberalism has superseded Judaism as the religion of most American Jews.” As Author Norman Podhoretz wrote in “Why Are Jews Liberal” that “where the Torah of contemporary liberalism conflicts with the Torah of Judaism, it is the Torah of liberalism that prevails and the Torah of Judaism that must give way.”

While Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League claims this letter is not about “..a liberal or conservative issue”, he neglects to mention his recent embrace of J Street and to mention the fact that he is a former senior advisor to the most Anti-Israel President in modern history, Barack Obama.  That says it all.

Yes, we must all condemn Anti-Semitism – and we must also remember as Jacoby has written, “This liberalism isn’t rational. It isn’t sensible. It certainly isn’t good for the Jews.”

Hank Sheinkopf, Ronn Torossian

Definition of Insanity: Slaughtering Jews Invokes Criticism of Israel

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

{Originally posted to the Israel Rising website}
Last Wednesday a murderous terror attack took place in Tel Aviv, ripping four innocent lives away from their loved ones forever. One moment they were sitting in a café enjoying themselves, and a split second later they were gone, lifeless, leaving only precious memories behind.

When did Tel Aviv become “disputed territory?”

In the wake of this latest in a lengthy wave of despicable attacks we are left once again to wonder when will it end? When will those who support and perpetrate such acts realize there exists no moral equivalence between murder and justice? Do these murderers actually think the Jews are going to be intimidated into giving up their rightful homeland? It’s high time they accept this and find another cause to vent their hatred toward. Their goal will not be realized.

Israel is the one single nation whose people were dispersed throughout the world for two millennia, only to be reborn in its original location. That cannot be coincidence.

After the attack we’re witness to the typical reaction coming in from around the world voicing outrage and condemnation, while expressing solidarity with Israel and its need for security. Having been the victim of more terror attacks than they wish to admit, Israel is quite used to seeing such empathetic statements.

Frankly, while not attempting to speak on behalf of Israeli leadership, I’d be willing to bet they are sick and tired of hearing and reading such reactions. Why? Not because they aren’t appreciated. I’m sure they are. However, they’re sick and tired of having to endure such horrific tragedy which engenders said reactions. Frankly, I wouldn’t blame Israel one bit.

However, while sympathetic statements poured in condemning the terrorism, there exists another chorus of voices. These voices minimize the murderous attack on innocent civilians and use the tragedy as a platform for their own agenda. At a moment when grief and shock resounds throughout the country, especially with the bereaved families, they take the opportunity to launch criticism of Israel.

For example, French Foreign Ministry Jean-Marc Ayrault said this in reaction to Israel’s decision to revoke permits for thousands of Muslims planning to enter Israel during Ramadan- “the decision by the Israeli authorities today to revoke tens of thousands of entry permits could stoke tensions which could lead to a risk of escalation….we must be careful about anything that could stoke tensions.”

Moreover, while Palestinian Arabs danced in the streets celebrating the brutal murders MSNBC ran a report on the attack, which included the following comments- “the siege that continues in Gaza….there’s a tremendous amount of frustration on the part of the Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank…..further oppression in the occupied West Bank.” New Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman was referred to as an “extreme right winger…he’s a settler himself.”

Adding insult to injury is the ever friendly United Nations. During their 2015 session for example it passed 20 resolutions singling out Israel for criticism. The number of resolutions passed against the rest of the world- 3.

Plus, the office of the UNHRC High Commissioner (United Nations Human Rights Council) Zeed Ra’ad Al Hussein released this statement- “We are deeply concerned about the response from the Israeli authorities, which includes measures that may amount to prohibitive collective punishment and will only increase the sense of injustice felt by the Palestinians at the very tense time.”

If the issuers of these statements will permit me, I would like to offer what some might consider to be a much needed pragmatic reaction to their comments- Are these people living on planet earth? OK, so this isn’t very pragmatic.

In all seriousness where is their collective conscience? They have the audacity to sit in judgement of the Israeli government’s policies and while simultaneously minimizing the murder of innocent civilians.

In the totality of their collective untimely salvos at Israel where were any comments regarding the responsibility of the Palestinian Arab leadership? For example, Hamas was eager to take responsibility for the attack, offering praise to the murderers. Mahmoud Abbas provided a general statement which criticized violence, yet offered no specific condemnation of the attack.

Am I the only one who thinks that after such an event, it might be an appropriate time to suggest Mahmoud Abbas publicly condemn the murderers and announce strict measures to prevent such attacks, since the terrorists came from territory he is responsible for? Is it unreasonable to expect that mainstream media such as MSNBC include comments about how little is done by the Palestinian leadership to prevent ongoing terror? Moreover, would be reasonable to expect that MSNBC state that murdering innocent civilians is unacceptable, period, even if their network disagrees with Israeli policies.

Might one expect that the UNCHR urge the Palestinian leadership to act more like a genuine peace partner by cracking down on the extended intifada which has pushed the prospects for peace further away than ever. Where are such voices?

Statements from the EU, Britain and even the US did not mention a word about the need for the Palestinian Arabs and their leadership to do a better job of policing their own. General statements condemning the violence do nothing to prevent similar murders from reoccurring. This is inexcusable.

When the response to terrorism is viewed as less acceptable than terrorism itself, it’s a welcome mat for more.

Sometimes I wonder if two Israelis were sitting in a café in Ramallah or Gaza City and suddenly without warning started shooting indiscriminately at Palestinian Arabs, murdering them in cold blood, what might world reaction be to such horror?

On second thought maybe it’s not such a good idea to wonder such things.

Dan Calic

UN: Ban Ki-moon Did Not Mean to Retract Statement on Anti-Israel Bias

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process Robert Serry attempted to clarify Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s seemingly conflicting statements regarding anti-Israel bias at the world body, stating that Ban did not retract his original statement confirming the existence of that bias.

On Aug. 16, Ban told university students at the UN headquarters in Jerusalem, “Unfortunately, because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israel has been weighed down by criticism and suffered from bias and sometimes even discrimination.”

But when later pressed by reporters in New York about his statements regarding UN discrimination against Israel, Ban answered, “No, I don’t think there is discrimination against Israel at the United Nations. The Israeli government in fact, you know, raised this issue that [there is] some bias against Israel.”

In an interview on Israel Radio on Sunday, however, Serry said that Ban meant what he originally said.

“I’ve been in touch with the Secretary-General’s office in New York, and I can assure you that what he said there in New York was not meant as a retraction,” Serry said on Israel Radio.

“[Ban] has said, unfortunately, because of the conflict, Israel has been weighed down by criticism, and suffered from lies and sometimes even discrimination,” Serry added. “This is what I know he has been saying here, and I know this is what he stands for.”

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) welcomed Serry’s clarification of Ban’s comments.

“We are pleased that Mr. Serry has reiterated the Secretary-General’s belief that Israel is not treated fairly, and does indeed suffer from ‘lies’ and ‘discrimination’ in the world body,” AJC Executive Director David Harris said in a statement.

JNS News Service

Can One Be a Shomer Torah u’Mitzvos and Accept Bible Criticism?

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Another voice has entered the online discussion about Bible Criticism and orthodox Judaism. Professor Jacob L. Wright is an orthodox Jew who has studied, taught, and written extensively on Bible Criticism.

He made waves Pesach time when he published a provocative article on the Huffington Post where he talked about “The Myth of Moses.” In his article he explained that his view of the Bible is that it is a composite work with each layer added for a specific reason. In the Moses story, there was a need to justify the existence of an Egyptian prince named Moses who saved the Israelites and establish him as a bona fide Israelite. So the Bible tells the story of a boy who was cast off by his mother into the Nile. This story has very obscure references as the names of the major players in the story are not mentioned. Later, the story was viewed as salacious so new details were added as a prologue to the story.

If it weren’t the Bible and I weren’t orthodox, this would be a great theory to explain anomalies in the text. But it is the Bible and I am orthodox so it hardly sits well with me when the Bible is explained away as myth.

Professor Wright was interview by Professor Alan Brill on his Kavvanah website. The interview is worth your time and consideration if you don’t mind reading what is widely considered to be absolute kefira.

The first important thing in the interview is the introduction where Brill outlines the current status of Biblical Criticism. It’s required reading so I copy it in full here:

As background, the problems of the Bible go back to the tenth and eleventh century Islamic critiques of the Bible by Ibn Hazm and others. Second, modern figures such as Spinoza and Jean Astruc sought to understand the Bible as a human book using the same tools that we use to understand Greek and Roman books. And in the 19th century, Wellhausen popularized a theory that the Pentateuch had four authors. But the important part of his theory was that the ritual and priestly material was a priestly Pharisaic digression from the original pure faith of the prophets necessitating Christianity for a restoration. Hence, Solomon Schechter called it higher anti-Semitism, David Zvi Hoffman showed that Leviticus is not in contradiction to the rest of the story, Kaufman showed that the prophets assumed the priestly material, and Cassuto showed based on Sumerian and Akkadian sources that the divisions fail.

Well, Wellhausen was writing a century ago, with the aforementioned defenses all formulated in a post WWI climate. For at least forty years the field was already given to authors such as Gunkel who assumes the Bible is legend, the way Gilgamesh is legend. And Martin Noth who assumed most of the narrative was formulated originally as oral traditions- read here. Questions of redaction were not tied to Wellhausen, or even literary documents, but to oral traditions.

What do historians currently think about the context of the Bible? They assume that it was written between 720 BCE and 587 BCE, between the destruction of the Northern Kingdom and the destruction of Jerusalem, with some editing until the end of Ezra’s life circa 440 BCE. (Minimalists make it more recent and Evangelicals defend the chronological dates.) They work from parallels to Assyrian texts, the nature of script, linguistics, and reconstructed context of author. Little of this has anything to do with literary doublets. If you want to reject historical criticism, then start learning ancient linguistics and texts contemporary to the Bible. No harmonization of passages changes this dating nor does anything from Cassutto or Hoffman affect it. (However, Prof. Josh Berman is seeking to shift the discussion from Assyrians to the Hittites in 1300 BCE, an effort that may be accepted by the Orthodox but does not promise to have much of an impact on the experts. But it is better than refuting Kugel, who is not a historian of ancient Israel or source critic so the critique does not help.)

This past May there was a major conference at Hebrew University on“Convergence and Divergence in Pentateuchal Theory;” if you are interested in these topics, then that was the place to be. The conference opened up with a clear statement that there are three approaches: a Documentary approach (not based on Wellhausen but on Noth and others) where there are separate documents; a Supplementary approach,where a single document get more and more complex; and a Fragmentary approach, where we cannot separate out authors or layers anymore.

Rabbi Eliyahu Fink

Vatican Newspaper Slams Roger Waters Antisemitic Imagery

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

An op-ed appearing in L’Osservatore Romano—the Vatican’s semi-official newspaper—slammed the use of anti-Semitic imagery by former Pink Floyd member Roger Waters at a concert in Belgium last month. The op-ed, however, did not mention Waters by name.

“The spirit and the style of the Werchter Rock festival was visible, with the fans who had every right to listen to music that they enjoy. But did they also have the right to draw the Star of David on the back of a pig and not be reported?” wrote Christina Dobner, the author of the op-ed.

“We continue to talk about the respect for every religion and every human being, yet we keep falling into these shameful situations,” she wrote.

During the concert, Waters featured a giant pig-shaped balloon emblazoned with a Star of David. The pig-shaped balloon has been used in Pink Floyd concerts for decades as part of performances of songs from their album, “The Wall.”

Waters, who has been a vocal supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, has garnered widespread criticism for his concert display.

“With this disgusting display Roger Waters has made it crystal clear. Forget Israel, never mind ‘limited boycotts promoting Middle East Peace.’ Waters is an open hater of Jews,” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told The Algemeiner.

In an open letter on his Facebook page, Waters rejected Cooper’s criticism and denied that he is an anti-Semite.

“Like it or not, the Star of David represents Israel and its policies and is legitimately subject to any and all forms of non-violent protest. To peacefully protest against Israel’s racist domestic and foreign policies is NOT ANTI-SEMITIC,” Waters wrote.

JNS News Service

Rice’s Failure in Rwanda Precludes her from Becoming Secretary of State

Monday, December 10th, 2012

That Susan Rice either willfully misled the American people on the Benghazi attacks, or lazily absorbed intelligence briefings without the least bit of personal involvement, is obvious. That she was covering for the Obama Administration in denying a terror attack just weeks before the election is speculative but likely. That she does not, therefore, deserve to become Secretary of State is arguable.

But what is not arguable is that she deserves to be denied the post for a different reason altogether: Rwanda. What emerges when taken together – Rice’s weak response in Benghazi, blaming the murder of four Americans on a stupid video, and her shameful lack of action in the Rwandan genocide – is a career diplomat of singular weakness, lacking the spine or muscularity to assert American moral influence in the world.

Rice was part of Bill Clinton’s National Security Team whom in 1994 refused any involvement whatsoever in the Rwanda genocide leaving more than 800,000 men, women, and children to be hacked to death by machete in the fastest genocide ever recorded. The Clinton Administration had just been spooked by the Black Hawk down incident in Somalia and wanted no further foreign entanglements. But the lengths to which they went to deny assistance to the Tutsis, with Rice being central to the decision-making process, will forever live in infamy.

But not content to insist on American non-involvement, the Clinton administration went a step further by obstructing the efforts of other nations to stop the slaughter. On April 21, 1994, the Canadian UN commandeer in Rwanda, General Romeo Dallaire, declared that he required only 5000 troops to bring the genocide to a rapid halt. In addition, a single bombing run against the RTLM Hutu Power radio transmitting antenna would have made it impossible for the Hutus to coordinate their genocide. But on the very same day, as Phillip Gourevitch explains in his definitive account of the Rwandan genocide, We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We will Be Killed with Our Families, the Security Council, with the Clinton Administration’s blessing, ordered the UN force under Dallaire reduced by ninety percent to a skeleton staff of 270 troops who would powerlessly witness the slaughter to come. This, in turn, was influenced by Presidential Decision Directive 25, which ‘amounted to a checklist of reasons to avoid American involvement in UN peacekeeping missions,’ even though Dallaire did not seek American troops and the mission was not peacekeeping but genocide prevention. Indeed, Madeleine Albright, the American Ambassador to the UN, opposed leaving even this tiny UN force. She also pressured other countries ‘to duck, as the death toll leapt from thousands to tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands… the absolute low point in her career as a stateswoman.’

In a 2001 article published in The Atlantic, Samantha Power, author of the Pulitzer-Prize winning A Problem of Hell and arguably the world’s foremost voice against genocide and who currently serves on the National Security Council as an aide to  President Obama, referred to Ambassador Susan Rice and her colleagues in the Clinton Administration as Bystanders to Genocide. She quotes Rice in the 2002 book as saying, “If we use the word ‘genocide’ and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November congressional election?” Rice’s subordination of a human tragedy of epic proportions to partisan politic interests mirrors the current allegations of why she denied a terror attack in Benghazi. Rice then joined Madeline Albright, Anthony Lake, and Warren Christopher as part of a coordinated effort not only to impede UN action to stop the Rwanda genocide, but to minimize public opposition to American inaction by removing words like “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing” from government communications on the subject.

In the end, eight African nations, fed-up with American inaction, agreed to send in an intervention force to stop the slaughter provided that the U.S. would lend them fifty armored personal carriers. The Clinton Administration decided it would lease rather than lend the armor for a price of $15 million. The carriers sat on a runway in Germany while the UN pleaded for a $5 million reduction as the genocidal inferno raged. The story only gets worse from there, with the Clinton State Department refusing to label the Rwanda horrors a genocide because of the 1948 Genocide Convention that would have obligated the United States to intervene, an effort that Susan Rice participated in.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Lieberman Approves Rice Nomination, But Won’t Partake in Vote

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said he would not object to the nomination of Susan Rice, the United States’ ambassador to the United Nations, as secretary of state.

Lieberman’s apparent endorsement of Rice on Tuesday is largely symbolic; he is retiring as senator and likely will not be serving by the time Hillary Rodham Clinton, the current secretary of state, steps down, a move anticipated early next year.

However, Lieberman’s statement this week after meeting with Rice that she was telling “the whole truth” about why she initially depicted the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya as a spontaneous eruption and not as a planned terrorist attack undercuts criticism of Rice as unreliable by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

Lieberman has throughout much of his career joined with McCain and Graham as a foreign policy hawk; his dissent, now that he is free from such alliances, could be used by Democrats to depict GOP attacks on Rice as political and not substantive.

The Benghazi attack is believed to have been the work of Al Qaida-affiliated terrorists, intelligence Rice says was not made available to her in the days after the attack, when she was the Obama administration’s point person in explaining U.S. reaction.

Four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, were killed in the attack.

President Obama has not said he would nominate Rice to the post, but also has said he would not be deterred from doing so by McCain and Graham.

JTA

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/lieberman-approves-rice-nomination-but-wont-partake-in-vote/2012/11/29/

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