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August 28, 2016 / 24 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘criticism’

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

Improving One’s Mood

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Dear Dr. Yael:

For the most part, my husband is a very good husband and father. He loves our children and will often go out of his way to make sure their needs are met. He is also loving and good to me. However, he often comes home with a very negative attitude. When he arrives home from work, he sees nothing good. He criticizes the children for not being in pajamas or for not finishing their homework. Even if he is right on both counts, he does not convey his criticism appropriately or at the right time.

When my husband comes home, he should be excited and happy to see the children and me. I want him to be positive and loving and to notice all the good things the children have done. I want my children to be excited when my husband comes home, and not want to go to their rooms as soon as possible. While I don’t blame the children for not wanting to be around when my husband is acting negatively, I wish my husband would be more positive so that the children would look forward to his return home. I do not think that they dread his coming home from work; however, they are definitely learning to stay away from him.

I know my husband works hard and wants time to relax after a long day. But the children miss him and want his attention. What can I do to help my husband come home with a happier attitude?

Anonymous

Dear Anonymous:

It is difficult to ascertain why your husband is coming home in such a bad mood. Perhaps he is hungry and tired from a long day at work and wants to relax a little when he gets home. Maybe he is experiencing a lot of stress at work and is bringing it home with him. Or it’s possible that he just grew up in this kind of home and is recreating what he went through. If your husband is simply tired or hungry, or just wants some time to relax when he comes home, you will be able to easily remedy your situation.

When he is calm and not hungry, you can explain to him, in a gentle and loving manner, that he seems to be coming home in a very bad mood. It may be something he doesn’t even realize is happening. Ask him why he thinks this is. If he says that he does not know, ask him if he is having a hard time at work or if he is extremely hungry or tired when he returns home. If he says that he is hungry, one solution may be to send an extra snack with him to work, so he does not come home with an empty stomach.

Making your husband aware of this – in a non-accusatory way – is a step in the right direction. If your husband becomes defensive, make sure to remain calm and tell him that you know that he is a great husband and father. Assure him that you want to help him feel better when he comes home.

Devising a plan that works for both of you is key. It would be ideal if your husband could think of a solution, as people are generally more invested in something when it is their idea. So, even if you originate the jointly accepted idea, try to make it seem as if he came up with it. If he expresses a liking to your suggestion, say to him, “What a great idea. I like how you thought of it.” And if your husband is not on board with your idea, then make every effort to jointly create a plan of positive action.

Attempt to explain to your husband how hard you try to have things organized during the hectic period before he gets home, and that you get nervous when he comes home feeling unhappy. Using an “I feel” message generally helps people not to become defensive, as it puts the “blame” on you and not on the other person. Thus, saying things like “I feel bad when you come home upset. I want you to be happy to come home and I want the children to feel good about the time they spend with you. What can I do to help make this time easier for you?” would be helpful. This will likely make it easier for your husband to explain to you what is going on with him at the present time, and it will help you arrive at a solution together. Also, this is generally more effective than saying something like, “Why do you always have to be in a bad mood when you come home? It is extremely annoying and obnoxious, and I want you to stop it!” These ineffective comments will probably lead to a fight, and although you may release your frustration you will likely feel worse afterward.

Dr. Yael Respler

Danny Danon: Remembering Shamir – The Integrity of ‘No’

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

The people of Israel lost a true leader with the passing of Yitzhak Shamir. Before assuming the reins as our seventh prime minister, Shamir dutifully served his people and his country first as head of the underground Lehi, then in the Mossad where he was responsible for tracking down and eliminating some of our worst enemies including Nazi war criminals who had fled to Egypt, and finally in the political arena where he served as a Member and then Speaker of Knesset, Foreign Minister and finally Prime Minister after the resignation of his mentor Menachem Begin.

Upon the death of a loved one, we often take the time to look through the memory book of their life and search for the lessons that their legacy can teach us. In the case of Yitzhak Shamir, a multi-volume set of thick bound tomes might be more appropriate a metaphor. These books are filled with the earth of the whole land of Israel, and immersed in values and an understanding of our unique place in history. His spirit and his values are an inspiration to all of those who love this land, and especially to the members of his beloved Likud movement that strive to stay true to Shamir’s teachings.

You do not negotiate on your core ideology. This is what guided Shamir in his steadfast defense of the rights of the Jewish people to their historic homeland. In the years that he guided Israel’s foreign policy, he would not compromise on this basic tenet. In 1992, under intense pressure from the American administration, Shamir stood fast and made clear to the world that money cannot buy and replace values. He bravely rejected the US demand that he stop building in Judea and Samaria in return for loan guarantees. This money was very much needed to absorb our brothers who were then coming home from the former Soviet Union, but Shamir knew such an act on his behalf would create a slippery slope that would set a terrible precedent for the future leaders of Israel. Such a move on his behalf would have endangered his beloved settlement enterprise which he knew was invaluable for the future well-being of the State.

Shamir’s decisions and policies were not always popular or politically correct. There was no end of criticism both in Israel and form the international community. In fact, there were times when his refusal to abandon his core values probably cost him at the ballot box, such as when he lost to Yitzhak Rabin in the 1992 elections. Nevertheless, over time, his steadfastness disproved today’s assumption that you must be guided daily by opinion polls to obtain power, and then govern. Without ever abandoning his beliefs, Shamir was able to not only reach the highest office in the land, but he also ended up serving in office longer than any other prime minister since David Ben Gurion. Moreover, because of his intellectual honesty and core decency, since leaving office Shamir is admired by all Israelis – whatever their political persuasion – for the great leader that he was.

To better convey Shamir’s unique foresight and leadership capabilities, I must share a short story. In the early 1990s, while serving as a Betar emissary in the United States, I invited one of my childhood heroes to visit my host community. Yitzhak graciously agreed to come and speak at an event I had organized promoting Israel and aliyah. When he was asked for his opinion about the demographic threat that is so often raised, Shamir answered with full confidence that we must remain steadfast and work tirelessly to bring millions of Soviet Jews home to Israel. At that time, such a prediction seemed completely unrealistic and even a tad naïve. Nevertheless, Shamir’s analysis proved with time to be completely accurate and proved how important it is for a leader to remain true to his values. By believing and planning, one million Russians ultimately came to live in Israel, changing our core demographic reality forever.

That night, after he had finished addressing the group, I had the honor of spending an evening with the former Prime Minister. I was enthralled with his stories and life lessons, especially with his core conviction that a leader must truly believe in and be ready to defend his policies. If a leader does so, he told me, there is no need to worry about the criticism that will inevitably follow any brave decision.

Danny Danon

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/danny-danon-remembering-shamir-the-integrity-of-no/2012/07/03/

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