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August 24, 2016 / 20 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘criticism’

IMRA: Gestures To PA – But Keep The Gloves Off

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

The current series of Israeli gestures could serve a vital role in enabling the Jewish State to keep the “ball” in the Palestinian “court” without being sucked into renewing the “settlement freeze”.

But making gestures should in no way be accompanied by a reconciliatory approach towards objectionable Palestinian behavior and Palestinian pronouncements.

Toning down criticism of the PA not only doesn’t serve the interests of Israel – it ultimately does not serve the interests of the Palestinians.

First, Israeli interests:

Israeli criticism of the PA serves both to highlight and emphasize the standard of behavior that we expect the Palestinians to meet while providing vital evidence that these standards are not being met.

The failure of the Palestinians to meet these standards can serve a critical role in justifying Israel’s final status requirements.

After all, if the Palestinians had honored Oslo – in particular the security elements of the agreement – we would be facing incredible pressure in final status talks to accept paper thin security arrangements.

The gross failure of the Palestinians to honor their security obligations makes “peace for piece of paper” a farce that no serious third party would even consider suggesting – let alone trying to impose.

But there are also Palestinian interests.

If you believe that the Palestinian leadership genuinely wants to implement a “two state solution” rather than a “two state stage” with the ultimate goal of destroying Israel then one would want to empower them to be able to honor their obligations.

And the best way to empower the Palestinian leadership is to put them in the position that they can point to the sharp criticism they suffer from for violations in order to justify compliance to their “street”.

For everyone’s best interests – let’s keep the gloves on.

Dr. Aaron Lerner

Rebuke: The Malpractice Of A Mitzvah

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

When the Torah mentions the obligation to rebuke a fellow Jew, it ends with the words, “and do not bear a sin because of him” (Vayikra 19:17).

The Targum translates this as, “and do not receive a punishment for his sin.”

According to the Targum, it appears that if Reuven ate a ham sandwich and I didn’t rebuke him, I would be punished for his sin. This seems difficult to understand. Why should I be punished for his sin? At most, you might argue that if I was capable of rebuking him and didn’t, I would be responsible for the sin of not rebuking him. But how do I become responsible for the sin he perpetrated? He transgressed it; I didn’t.

The answer to this question is based on understanding the connection one Jew has to another.

The Kli Yakar brings a mashal. Imagine a man who is on an ocean voyage. One morning, he hears a strange rattling sound coming from the cabin next to his. As the noise continues, he becomes more and more curious, until finally, he knocks on his neighbor’s door. When the door opens, he sees that his neighbor is drilling a hole in the side of the boat.

“What are you doing?” the man cries.

“Oh, I’m just drilling,” the neighbor answers simply.

Drilling?”

“Yes. I’m drilling a hole in my side of the boat.”

“Stop that!” the man says.

“But why?” asks the neighbor. “This is my cabin. I paid for it, and I can do what I want here.”

“No, you can’t! If you cut a hole in your side, the entire boat will go down.”

The nimshal is that the Jewish people is one entity. For a Jew to say, “What I do is my business and doesn’t affect anyone else,” is categorically false. My actions affect you, and your actions affect me – we are one unit. It is as if I have co-signed on your loan. If you default on your payments, the bank will come after me. I didn’t borrow the money but I am responsible. So too when we accepted the Torah together on Har Sinai, we became one unit, functioning as one people. If you default on your obligations, they come to me and demand payment. We are teammates, and I am responsible for your performance.

The Targum is teaching us the extent of that connection. What Reuven does directly affects me — not because I am nosy or a busybody, but because we are one entity, so much so that I am liable for what he does. If he sins and I could have prevented it, that comes back to me. A member of my team transgressed, and I could have stopped it from happening. If I did all that I could have to help him grow and shield him from falling, I have met my obligation and will not be punished. If, however, I could have been more concerned for his betterment and more involved in helping to protect him from harm and didn’t, I am held accountable for his sin.

This perspective is central to understanding why rebuke doesn’t work.

When Reuven goes over to Shimon and “gives it to him good,” really shows just what did wrong, the only thing accomplished is that now Shimon hates Reuvain.

To properly fulfill the mitzvah of tochacha, there are two absolute requirements. The first relates to attitude, the second to method.

What’s My Intention?

When I go over to my friend to chastise him, the first question I must ask myself is, “What is my intention?”

If my intention is to set him straight and stop him from doing a terrible sin, I will almost certainly fail. The only intention that fits the role of a successful mochiah is: “This is my friend; I am concerned for his good.”

If I am looking out for kavod Shamayaim, or if I am a do-gooder concerned for the betterment of the world, my words will accomplish the exact opposite of their intended purpose. I won’t succeed in separating my friend from the sin; I will only succeed in separating him from me. The first requirement for the proper fulfillment of tochacha is that it must be out of love and concern for my friend.

The second condition for tochacha to be effective has to with the way it is delivered. The Chofetz Chaim was once approached by a certain community leader who complained that no matter how much he reproached the people of his town, they didn’t listen. The Chofetz Chaim asked this person to describe how he went about rebuking his townspeople. The man described his method of yelling fiery words at them. The Chofetz Chaim asked him, “Tell me, when you put on tefillin, do you shout and carry on? Why do you feel the obligation to do so when you do this mitzvah?”

Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier

Encouraging Without Pushing

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Dear Dr. Respler:

I recently lost my husband of 51 years, and I am very depressed. He was a true talmid chacham and a loving husband. Every morning when he was well, he went to shul early. He never missed a minyan and he learned every day. All his life he ran a business and, baruch Hashem, he worked hard and took excellent care of our children and me. I look at my grandsons and my grandsons-in-law and they don’t hold a candle to my husband. Even the children who learn in kollel are not as careful as my husband was about being on time for minyan.

Everyone seems too busy for me, and I feel very lonely. My daughter says that I am pushing the children and grandchildren away since I am too critical. Has anyone ever heard of constructive criticism? I want to help my children and grandchildren become better people. My friends’ children and grandchildren are always calling and visiting her. Mine come to see me, but they seem anxious to leave. My friend, who is really great to me, also tells me that I am too critical. She says I push my loved ones away with my remarks. What do you think?

Lonely Widow

Dear Lonely Widow:

Years ago I spoke in a Lubavitch community, where the rav at the time, Rabbi Sachs, expressed the brilliant thought that constructive criticism is an oxymoron. We all love to hear positive, loving things, but unfortunately some people tend to give more criticism than compliments.

Most people gravitate to those with a positive outlook. When I do marriage counseling I attempt to begin breaking the negative cycle by assigning this task to the couple: they must give each other at least three sincere compliments a day. This is generally difficult for them, but it begins to change the negative marital cycle. We can then evaluate more deeply the negative marital patterns that are destroying the relationship. Similarly, I advise generally critical people to be more positive and complimentary in an effort to break a negative cycle in their lives.

Your letter appears to reflect that you may be overly critical of your loved ones. Perhaps your daughter is correct, and you are distancing them from you by being critical. I am certain that your intentions are honorable, but think about this: Would you want to be around someone who is disapproving and critical of you, or would you rather be with someone who is positive and loving? Is it possible for you to share some of your concerns with your children and grandchildren in a more affectionate manner and with a soft, gentle tone? Remember that if we are generally loving and occasionally critical, our words have more validity.

It would be helpful if you asked yourself the following questions, as they may help in your self-examination: Do you criticize others, possibly subconsciously, in order to gain control in the relationship? Are you more critical when feeling insecure? Did your parents criticize you when you were a child? Do you feel that you show your love to those you care about?

Complimenting people is the easiest way to build someone’s confidence. Doing this makes you closer to the person and makes the person want to be closer to you. We can always find something good to say about someone. So the next time you see your children and grandchildren think about a compliment you can pay them, not necessarily one that can improve them. Of course we all want to improve our loved ones and ourselves, but people generally do not take well to criticism. True improvement comes from much love and statements phrased in a positive manner. As it is always hard for individuals to accept criticism, people are more likely to accept it if it comes from someone that they feel loves them and thinks highly of them.

You will not be able to help your children and grandchildren improve unless you build a positive relationship with them and they feel emotionally safe with you. They must understand that you have a high regard for them and that you only say something negative when it is important. Being consistently critical will get you nowhere because it is likely that no one will listen to your words. Most individuals in this kind of predicament generally tune out the negativity and become defensive when anything critical comes up. Thus the only way to have a good relationship with others is to work on being more positive and complimentary.

People cannot improve everything at once, so if something happens that you feel is important to mention, use a positive and loving manner to help the person improve. Give the person a compliment and then offer your opinion as to how this improvement can take place. For example, if one of your grandchildren is not speaking with derech eretz to his or her parents, you might say something like, “Honey, you are such an amazing child and I often see you go out of your way to do mitzvos. I am so proud of you. I am sure that you do not realize that the things you sometimes say or the way that you say it is not with the proper derech eretz. I know that you want to be respectful, so maybe this is something we can work on together. What do you think, my special grandchild?” This makes you sensitive to your grandchild’s feelings, while still getting your point across. This may still be difficult for your grandchild to accept, but at least he or she will not feel like staying away.

Dr. Yael Respler

The Academic Jihad Against Israel

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

In Genocidal Liberalism: The University’s Jihad Against Israel & Jews, published by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, Dr. Richard Cravatts pulls no punches, relentlessly anatomizing the pedagogic bias currently in place, which is neo-Marxist in its orientation and undeniably anti-Jewish in its expression.

The university, he charges, is by and large no longer “a place where civility and reasoned scholarly discourse normally occurs,” given the “gradual ratcheting up of the level of acrimony against Israel and Zionism” and the Left’s insistence that such criticism, no matter how incendiary or libelous, “is no more than political commentary on the Jewish state.”

He furnishes a near- interminable list of “strident anti-Israel initiatives” that mar the intellectual life of the “liberal” and “humanistic” university, including academic boycotts of Israeli professors, the fostering of vociferous and occasionally violence-prone anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish Muslim student groups on campus, the furthering of divestment and disinvestment from Israeli companies and companies doing business with them, and the shutting down of pro-Israel speakers.

Cravatts points to an influential 1965 essay by Herbert Marcuse, titled “Repressive Tolerance,” which planted the seed of political and epistemic subversion in the fertile soil of American academia. “Purporting to endorse freedom of expression for all,” Cravatts writes, the essay instead reserved “that right, in actual practice, only to favored groups.” The program “could only be accomplished…by favoring ‘partisan’ speech to promote ‘progressive’ or revolutionary change,” which would be, in Marcuse’s phrase, “intolerant toward the protagonists of the repressive status quo.” By the latter, Marcuse meant classical liberal thought with its emphasis on tradition, individual autonomy, civic responsibility and limited government.

Our contemporary Marcusians have learned their lesson well. In this way, the door was opened for the delivery of mendacious doctrines from post-colonial fanatics and postmodern destabilizers like Edward Said and Michel Foucault who have done so much damage to the principles of intellectual honesty and objective study on which the university is presumably founded.

Marcuse, a leading member of the left-wing Frankfurt School, clearly drew his inspiration from German philosopher Martin Heidegger, whom Cravatts does not mention but whose spirit pervades current “humanistic” thought. The godfather of the current mob of academic gangsters, Heidegger was appointed rector of the University of Freiburg in 1933, using his considerable reputation to further the Nazi supremacist dogma. For Heidegger, the function of the university was to provide what he called, in his Rector’s Address, “service to knowledge” as an obligation to the National Socialist state, that is, to entrench a species of politicized education – in this case, the absurd theories of National Socialism, the restriction of free expression, and, ultimately, a lethal campaign against the country’s and the continent’s Jewish inhabitants.

The current academic campaign against Jews and Israel, expressed in the condemnation of Israel as an apartheid and occupying regime engaged in the “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians, is merely an updated and partially laundered variant of the German original. It is a palpable lie masquerading as an apodictic truth supported by fraudulent research and revisionist infatuations. The invention or suppression of facts and the propagation of fictitious memes and venomous tropes have become the liberal academy’s stock in trade.

I should indicate that Cravatts’s subject has been addressed before by several erudite and committed writers who have lobbied to clean up the latrine of higher education in America. David Horowitz in such books as Indoctrination U and Reforming our Universities, Gary Tobin et al. in The Uncivil University (referenced several times by Cravatts), and Stephen Norwood’s chilling The Third Reich in the Ivory Tower expose the academic Left’s growing rapprochement with tyrannical doctrines and especially with the metastasizing Islamic movement, such rapprochement constituting a symptom of its abdication from founding principles and the betrayal of its mandate.

* * * * *

There is no doubt that the natural corollaries of the narrow, deformed and prejudicial temper prevailing in academia are anti-Jewish odium and anti-Israel denunciation. The two are indissolubly linked. Loading “cruel and destructive invective on Zionism,” says Cravatts, the professors are in reality “promulgating vile, disproportionate opprobrium that frequently shows its true face as raw anti-Semitism.”

Norwood, for his part, reveals how Harvard, Yale and Columbia during the 1930s embraced or were sympathetic to the fascist regimes of Hitler and Mussolini. Today, as Cravatts amply demonstrates, the educational establishment cultivates an equally comprehensive sympathy for Islamofascist themes, curricula and organizations. Third-rate thinking, ignorance, ingratitude, chicanery and political indoctrination have become the mainstays of the Humanities, Middle East Studies programs and misnamed Social Sciences departments.

As an instance of such dissembling, Cravatts directs our attention to a BDS (Boycotts, Divestment, Sanctions) manual, Fighting the New Apartheid: A Guide to Campus Divestment from Israel, authored by Palestinian-born Fayyad Sbaihat of the University of Wisconsin, in which we read that the divestment campaign should avoid “debating facts on the ground.” In order for the BDS agenda to be successful, “Israel must be characterized as a pariah state” regardless of “specific events and facts [which] can prove illusive when one attempts to build a case around them.”

David Solway

5th Annual New York Peace Film Festival Offers No Attacks on Israel

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Is this a man bites dog bit of news, or what? When the press release from the organizers of the NY Peace Film Festival popped in my email, I naturally braced myself for the usual torrent of anti-Semitic graffiti masked as criticism of Zionism we have learned to expect from any event with the words Peace and Festival in the title.

To my very pleasant surprise, someone at the 5th annual festival has decided—imagine!—to dedicate the entire program to films discussing peace efforts around the world. Sure, I was a little perturbed they didn’t have anything good to say about Israel in that department, but I’ll take a silence over what normally would have been there.

So I invite the reader to check out this absolutely Zionism-safe presentation (except it’s in a church and takes place on Shabbat – what, you want everything?). Remember how we always say, why don’t they ever discuss other areas of the world? Well, this time they totally do:

NYPFF features two documentary shorts that address the recent civil wars in Sudan and in Sierra Leone. Saturday, March 10 at 2:30, Another Journey: Tales from Southern Sudan’s Homeless Generation lets four victims of the Sudanese civil war tell their story as they trekked 3,000 miles to find safety from warring parties. In each of the refugee camps they learned to build community with those around them, realizing that the human family is wider than the confines of their village. Two of the victims along with the filmmaker will be on hand to answer questions following the screening.

Then, at 3:30, Fambul Tok (Family Talk) highlights a grassroots initiative to reconcile neighbors. The brutal, decade long civil war in Sierra Leone left communities shattered, and only a few of those responsible for horrendous crimes liable for punishment. Capitalizing on Sierra Leone ’s tradition of gathering together as a village and talking out problems, Fambul Tok allows neighbors to confront one another and talk through their wrongs with remarkable results. One of the filmmakers will be on hand following the screening for a Q&A.

You can visit the festival website for clips from all the participating films, and I guess you can take it off your Nanny Guard list – no Jew bashing talk here…

Yori Yanover

Welcome, Mr. Speaker: Rivlin Enters Irish Parliament Through Back Entrance

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators blocked the main entrance to Irish parliament Thursday, forcing Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin to enter though a back entrance.

Rivlin, the highest-ranking Israeli official to visit Ireland since 1985, told Army Radio that he wanted to speak with the demonstrators blocking the entrance but security officers prevented him.

Rivlin’s visit comes at a period of tense relations between Ireland and Israel, with Ireland directing heavy criticism at Israel for its blockade of Hamas-governed Gaza, and leading boycotts of Israel.

 

Jewish Press Staff

US Cuts Funds to PA’s Sesame Street

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

In a briefing to reporters on Tuesday, the US State Department explained why $2 million in funding for the Palestinian Authority’s version of Sesame Street has been cut. The cut follows the US Congress decision to freeze almost $200 million in funds to the U.S. Agency for International Development, in response to the PA’s bid for UN membership last September.

State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland expressed regret for the cut, noting that the purpose of funding the show was to help Israeli-Arab and Palestinian children understand that Arabs and Jews need to coexist peacefully.

Appearing to try to avoid politicizing the issue, Nuland said that the US government is presently more focused on funding programs that provide basic services to Palestinians. But the show has had its share of controversy, with some of its content falling under criticism for promoting anti-Israel tropes and canards.

Jewish Press Staff

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/us-cuts-funds-to-pas-sesame-street/2012/01/11/

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