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September 30, 2016 / 27 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘criticism’

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

The Problem with Haredi Magazines

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Mishpacha and Ami Magazines are competitors. They both seek to serve the same populations. They are virtually identical in Hashkafa – which is decidedly Charedi. How Charedi are they? Well neither of them will show a picture of a woman no matter how Tzanua (modestly dressed) she is. Even if she were wearing a Burka. That’s pretty Charedi.

At the same time they both seek as broad-based an Orthodox readership as they can find. Thus they will feature very positive articles on both the Satmar Rebbe and Rav Hershel Shachter of Yeshiva University.

While I believe they are both absolutely wrong in excluding pictures of Tzanua women – I applaud them for their broad based approach to Orthodoxy. There are many informative articles and weekly columns by talented writers in both magazines. But all is not rosy. I often find things in these magazines which are truly maddening. This week both magazines had articles like that.

In what was an otherwise very positive story in Ami about how the Jewish community’s extraordinary efforts in alleviating the pain of those who have suffered – and are still suffering – the after effects of Superstorm Sandy, there was one little blurb that bothered me. It read as follows: “The Rosh Yeshiva gave us a Psak to help anyone who asked.”

On the surface that sounds wonderful. The Rosh Yeshiva is Rav Reuven Feinstein. He of course said the right thing. Now the Yeshiva students who were working so hard helping their fellow Jews could also help to alleviate the plight of non Jews suffering the same fate.

Really? They had to ask a Shaila? Did they think that if a non Jew desperate for some help – they should tell him, “No”? “Sorry, we can’t help you”? “We can only help Jews”?

That too is a Shaila? What kind of Chinuch do these young Jewish students get that causes them to hesitate in feeding a fellow human being in need? The implication is obvious. Had they not been able to ask a Shaila and a non Jew desperate for food – saw these boys handing ou t food and asked for some himself, they may very well have refused them until they asked a Shaila. Can there be a greater Chilul HaShem than that?

Now I don’t know if they didn’t “shoot first and ask questions later”. Maybe they did feed the needy non Jew and merely wondered if they were doing the right thing. But even that is ridiculous. A fellow human being needs food to survive – you give it to him. Did they think God would punish them for doing so?

There is something terribly wrong with Charedi Jewish education if it does not make obvious the absolute requirement to help your fellow man in these circumstances.

On a completely different subject – this week’s column in Mishpacha by Eitan Kobre really got me upset. In yet another in what seems to be a never ending assault on the President by right wing pundits, Mr. Kobre goes to town on how stupid the black community in Washington DC is for voting for the President.

I am going to stop short of calling Mr. Kobre a racist. I don’t think he is. After all in using economist Thomas Sowell – a black man – to bolster his opinion it is kind of hard to say that he is prejudiced against black people.

But still there does seem to be a subtle prejudice that is hard to prove. He is not castigating all black people. Just those who voted for the President. Which – if I recall correctly – was well over 90%. He attributes this to voting racial pride rather than voting for what’s good for you. As an example of that he points to the fact that Republicans advocate vouchers which – where they have been used – has benefited the black community immensely. I believe that many black people endorse vouchers. And yet they voted for a President that will never implement them and instead will continue funneling money into the black hole of the public school system.

But is it really so surprising that people will vote their racial or ethnic pride – choosing that over someone whose substantive positions have proven to be more beneficial to them? How many Jews vote for the Jewish candidate because he is Jewish? Are Jews stupid too? Besides – are vouchers the only thing to base one’s vote upon?

To be clear, I have no problem with Mr. Kobre’s arch conservative politics. Although I am more of a centrist than a political conservative, I tend to lean a bit more toward the conservative approach. So politically we are not that far apart.

But to bash the President as if he were some sort of socialist “Robin Hood” interested in taking from the rich via taxes and giving it away to the poor via an enormous increase in entitlement programs – is taking the criticism to a new low. Mr. Kobre may not have used those terms in his column. But that is clearly how he thinks of the President. (Not that he’s alone. As I said Thomas Sowell agrees with him. As do many conservative pundits. In fact Rush Limbaugh makes Mr. Kobre look liberal by comparison.)

I do not recall this kind of criticism made against any other Democratic President. Nor even against a democratic candidate for President. Is he the most left leaning President or Presidential candidate in recent history? You would think he was the second coming of Karl Marx if one looks at the sheer venom of some critics. While I wouldn’t go that far with Mr. Kobre’s criticism, there does seem to be an inordinate amount of dislike for the man that goes beyond politics.

Like I said, I do not accuse Mr. Kobre of being a racist. And yet he goes to extraordinary lengths to foment hatred of the man by the Jewish people. Why else did he once again make reference to the Reverend Jeremiah Wright?! What was his point here other than to somehow connect the President to Wright’s rabid anti Israel stance?

And all this in the face of the President’s unqualified support of Israel’s bombing raids in Gaza. I wonder how Reverend Wright characterized it?

Adding insult to injury – that Mr. Kobre wrote this article and that Mishpacha published it before there was a cease fire and while Hamas was still firing rockets at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem make it even more egregious. Especially since it was the Obama administration’s financial investment in the Iron Dome Defense system which prevented the kind of carnage that would surely have ensued had it not been there! If anything Mr. Kobre should be thanking the president profusely instead of calling black people stupid for voting for him.

Come on Eytan. You can do better than that!

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Harry Maryles

The Snake Made Me Do It

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

If Eve had read www.jewishsexuality.com, she wouldn’t have followed after her eyes and got us all kicked out of the garden. If Adam had read jewishsexuality.com, he wouldn’t have eaten the “apple.” Today, we don’t have to make the same mistakes they did. We have the teachings of the Torah and the advice of the Sages to rely upon. While I won’t quote from the holy Zohar here, for people who enjoy the secrets of Torah, there’s a lot more to the snake than his pretty long tail.

Which brings us to Noach. If his generation had taken the time to read jewishsexuality.com, they could have avoided the flood. The Zohar teaches that the wanton sexual sin of the time was the real cause of the flood. Measure for measure.

Concerning Noach himself, our Sages express a certain criticism. Yes, he righteously followed each and every order in building the ark, but he didn’t hurry around the countryside, from village to village, warning people what would be if they didn’t improve their ways.  Maybe he felt they wouldn’t listen. After all, the sexual urge is a powerful passion, and people don’t like being told that they can’t do whatever they please, like they did in the days preceding the flood. Noach was a private tzaddik, minding his own business, unlike Avraham who traveled to and fro, teaching people about the godly way to live.

If a person sees that his fellow man is erring in his ways, he has the obligation to enlighten him, so that the transgressor can correct his wrongdoing. If he doesn’t, he himself becomes part of the sin. True, not everyone is on a level to rebuke others, and rebuke isn’t an easy thing to do, but the principle is clear that when you see someone heading for destruction, it is a good deed to endeavor to save him.

That is what I have been doing when writing about the mitzvah of aliyah. I don’t seek to insult anyone – rather to wake people up to the higher and holier reality which we enjoy here in theLandofIsrael, living according to the guidelines of Torah. And this is why I urge readers to browse through the jewishsexuality.com website, to alert them of the dangers that brought on the flood.  Whether it is the flood of assimilation that is devastating the Jewish People in the Diaspora, or the flood of immodesty and licentiousness on the Internet in which the world is drowning, everyone must do his share to save not only himself, but also his fellow.

Put the two together and you get the Covenant of the Brit between God and the Jewish People, coming up in the Torah portion of Lech Lecha, where our sexual holiness and the gift of the Land of Israel are inseparably linked.

Tzvi Fishman

Choice Of Carter As Convention Speaker Decried

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Former president Jimmy Carter, who has garnered much criticism in recent years for his harsh words about Israel, will address the Democratic National Convention in prime time.

The Democratic National Convention Committee and Obama for America announced that Carter will speak Sept. 4 via video on the second day of the convention in Charlotte, N.C.

“President Carter is one of the greatest humanitarian leaders of our time and a champion of democracy around the globe,” said convention chair Antonio Villaraigosa, who also called the former president “a lifelong champion of human rights and investments in education and energy.”

He said that Carter “will provide unique insight” for economic recovery.

Abraham Foxman, national director of Anti-Defamation League, sharply criticized the invitation.

“I wish he wouldn’t [speak],” Foxman said. “I don’t think the convention should provide a platform for someone with such a biased obsession with Israel that borders on anti-Semitism.”

“I know it’s very difficult for any political party to deny a platform” to living former presidents, Foxman said, adding he hoped Carter’s speech would not be aired during any discussion about the Middle East or foreign policy.

David Harris, the president of the National Jewish Democratic Council, which in the past has been critical of Carter’s Middle East pronouncements, told JTA he was “confident” Carter would not speak about the region at the convention.

“Whether it’s Israel in particular or the Middle East in general, President Carter’s analysis has been consistently wrong, and harmful to the peace process to boot,” Harris said. “I’m confident that he won’t be speaking about Middle East policy at the Democratic Convention; today’s Democratic Party leaders – including one of the most pro-Israel presidents in U.S. history, President Obama – are best suited to that task.”

Republican Jewish Coalition director Matt Brooks said the decision showed how “out of touch” the Democrats had become. “Giving a platform to someone who has been openly hostile to Israel and equated the country to the South African apartheid regime is offensive,” Brooks said in an email.

Prime-time speakers at the convention include first lady Michelle Obama and keynote speaker San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who will also speak on Sept. 4 at Time Warner Cable Arena. Former president Bill Clinton and U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren will deliver their remarks on Sept. 5 at the arena. Both President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will deliver their acceptance speeches on the final night of the convention, Sept. 6, at Bank of America Stadium.

Carter, in the statement from the convention organizers announcing his speaking tour, expressed his regrets at not being able to attend.

He said he and his wife Rosalynn “remain steadfast in our support for President Obama and the progress he will make in the next four years.”

Carter, who was president from 1977 to 1981, appeared but did not speak at the 2008 Democratic convention.

(JTA)

Jewish Press Staff

Jacques Rogge: Impartial to a Fault

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

This picture of IOC president Jacques Rogge—who refused to permit the minute of silence in commemoration of the 11 Israeli athletes murdered by Palestinian thugs in Munich—was published by Forbes in November of 2011. The caption below reads:

President of the International Olympic Committee Jacques Rogge pauses during a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010. Rogge on Tuesday expressed concern over “obstacles” facing Palestinian athletes, and in veiled criticism of Israel said athletes should be granted free movement regardless of politics.

They also shouldn’t be murdered in their dorms at the Olympic village, if at all possible.

Yori Yanover

Thanks for the Criticism, David Ha’ivri, But I Think We Were 100% Right

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Pundit David Ha’ivri has written a profound criticism of the Jewish Press Online, which I heartily recommend: (Activist: Jewish Press Online Chided Israel’s friends while Legitimizing Progressive Jewish Groups).

Here is my response, in my capacity as Front Page Editor:

Dear David,

It is quite possible even for the Jewish Press online edition to be wrong, and when we are, we welcome criticism.

We weren’t wrong in this instance, though.

First, we had already dealt with this story only a few days earlier, in two articles published July 20th: “Michelle Bachmann Doubles Down on Muslim Brotherhood Infesting US Government Charge,” and “Is Weiner Running for Mayor? Show Me the Money…” So that the JTA story we “copied and pasted” came within a context with which our readers were familiar.

Incidentally, JPress editors rarely copy and paste a JTA story mindlessly, if only for the fact that we receive 39 whacks every time we let slip a reference to the “West Bank” instead of “Judea and Samaria.”

So that when you write: “Also surprising and disappointing is the fact that The Jewish Press mentioned in passing that this Muslim woman, who is a top aide to Secretary of State Clinton, is married to a former congressman who himself happens to be Jewish. It does not mention that this man brought shame on himself and was impeached for sending pictures of his private parts to young women via text messages” – we didn’t because we had just done it the other day. Twice.

Personally, I honestly and completely believe that Michelle Bachman is several tea cups short of a party. She has been known to make bizarre statements which rarely stand up to scrutiny. All of America recalls the GOP debate when Bachman went after Texas Governor Rick Perry for his 2007 executive order mandating that young girls in Texas be vaccinated against HPV, the most common sexually transmitted disease and one that can lead to cervical cancer.

Bachman actually said: “To have innocent little 12-year-old girls be forced to have a government injection through an executive order is just flat out wrong. That should never be done. That’s a violation of a liberty interest.”

She then told NBC’s “Today” show: “I will tell you that I had a mother last night come up to me here in Tampa, Fla., after the debate. She told me that her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection, and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter.”

Except the congresswoman was unable to identify that tearful mother, nor substantiate with any known medical authority a connection between the vaccine and mental retardation. It was a stern reminder that perhaps the U.S. primary system is not as good a way of picking leaders as we thought.

You write: “When I looked into the backgrounds of these ‘Jewish’ organizations, I was even more surprised – and disappointed – that an established and respected Jewish publication like The Jewish Press would give a platform to groups like The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and The Society for Humanistic Judaism.”

I don’t think it’s our job as a news website to decide who is and isn’t entitled to be called Jewish. In a broader context we could point out the subtle distinctions between a Shomer Shabbes Yid from Flatbush and anyone from either of the above mentioned organizations. But in a story that’s about a blip on the political radar screen – Congresswoman made a wild, unsubstantiated attack, a bunch of organizations including Jewish ones registered their objection – citing those distinctions doesn’t make much sense. Plus, our readers are smart enough to know the difference.

But near the end, you write something truly scary: “The person mentioned in the representatives’ inquiry is not a very observant Muslim, and the inquiry did not refer in any way to her religious observance. What was in question is her very close family relationship to leading figures in the Muslim Brotherhood.”

I don’t respond well to guilt by association. I think it’s cheap. It doesn’t show concern, it’s a permanent call for pitchforks and torches and let’s kill the bastards.

Don’t get me wrong, as a husband and a father I’m in favor of racial profiling in some cases, when it means police get to do a better job protecting all of us—at the expense or inconvenience of some individuals. I’ve been pulled off lines at airports because of my helmet-size, black yarmulke and my suspicious beard, I know the drill.

Yori Yanover

Israel’s Chief Rabbinate Facing Heated Calls For Change On Several Fronts

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

WASHINGTON – The latest battle over religious pluralism in Israel has unleashed a new barrage of criticism and calls for reform aimed at the Orthodox-controlled Israeli Chief Rabbinate.

Unlike major flare-ups in past decades, however, this time it’s not just the Reform and Conservative movements leading the charge – mainstream, consensus-oriented Jewish groups with no denominational affiliations are speaking out, too.

One flashpoint has been the fallout from the Israeli attorney general’s decision to approve government funding for Reform and Conservative religious leaders as “rabbis of non-Orthodox communities” – albeit through the Ministry of Culture and Sports rather than the Orthodox-controlled Religious Services Ministry, which funds Orthodox rabbis.

That announcement drew a caustic response from Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, who in a June 27 meeting urged more than 100 fellow Orthodox rabbis – including Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger – to pray “in order to stop the destroyers and saboteurs of Judaism [because] they are trying to uproot the foundation of Judaism.”

“There is a natural backlash on the part of American Jews and American Jewish leaders when the Chief Rabbinate issues such statements,” said Steven Bayme, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Koppelman Institute on American Jewish-Israeli Relations. “As we enter the 21st century, the [Chief Rabbinate] needs to be reevaluted in terms of democratic norms and modern Israel’s relationship to world Jewry.”

In response to Rabbi Amar’s remarks, about 50 Reform and Conservative rabbis protested outside of the Chief Rabbinate’s building in Jerusalem. Two Conservative rabbis filed a police complaint accusing Amar of incitement – a particularly serious claim in Israel ever since the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

The Jewish Federations of North America, which has leaders from across the religious spectrum, but which in recent years has become more vocal on behalf of Israel’s non-Orthodox Jews, was quick to respond.

“It is a fundamental Jewish virtue to ‘love your fellow as yourself.’ We condemn comments that disparage fellow Jews and, in particular, well-established branches of Judaism that represent 80 percent of North American Jewry,” Jerry Silverman, the president and CEO of JFNA, said in a statement. “Statements such as those made by Rabbi Amar only serve to alienate our fellow Jews from our religion, our people and the Jewish state.”

Shortly after that controversy, the board of governors of the AJC – another nonsectarian Jewish organization with no formal ties to either the Reform or Conservative movements – went even further in criticizing the Chief Rabbinate and calling for major changes to the institution.

“In the 21st century, a coercive Chief Rabbinate has become, at best, an anachronism, and at worst a force dividing the Jewish people,” the AJC’s leaders declared in a resolution.

The Chief Rabbinate’s actions “threaten to divide the Jewish people and risk an anti-religious backlash against Judaism itself within the Jewish state,” they wrote. The AJC urged Israel’s government “to undertake promptly all needed actions” to end the Chief Rabbinate’s monopoly over issues of personal status.

The latest wave of criticism comes amid a backdrop of religion-related controversies – tensions between Modern Orthodox rabbis and haredi Orthodox rabbis over conversions; the push for civil marriage in Israel; and the struggle over whether haredi men should serve in the military or continue to be exempt to study in yeshivas.

“Like any human institution, the Chief Rabbinate could use improvement,” said Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, executive director emeritus of the Orthodox Union.

“What those improvements would be though requires a lot of thought and a lot of study, and from the OU’s perspective in no way could the Orthodox nature and the halachic nature of the Chief Rabbinate be compromised.”

Rabbi Weinreb stressed that OU congregations and rabbis adhere to the Israeli Chief Rabbinate’s decisions. He added that the process of electing chief rabbis could be refined so that it is “less political.”

The call for radical reform of the Chief Rabbinate was greeted warmly by Reform and Conservative groups.

“It’s a powerful letter from the dead center of the American Jewish establishment weighing in on what the Israeli government and the Israeli public still thinks is a fringe issue,” Mark Pelavin, associate director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said of the AJC’s position. “It’s a welcome voice in that debate.”

Neil Rubin

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/religious-secular-in-israel-israel/israels-chief-rabbinate-facing-heated-calls-for-change-on-several-fronts/2012/07/11/

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