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December 9, 2016 / 9 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘director’

Peacenik McGovern: We Should Have Bombed Auschwitz

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

George McGovern is widely remembered for advocating immediate American withdrawal from Vietnam and sharp reductions in defense spending. Yet despite his reputation as a pacifist, the former U.S. senator and 1972 presidential candidate, who died Sunday at 90, did believe there were times when America should use military force abroad.

Case in point: the Allies’ failure to bomb Auschwitz, an episode with which McGovern had a little-known personal connection.

In June 1944, the Roosevelt administration received a detailed report about Auschwitz from two escapees who described the mass-murder process and drew diagrams pinpointing the gas chambers and crematoria. Jewish organizations repeatedly asked U.S. officials to order the bombing of Auschwitz and the railroad lines leading to the camp. The proposal was rejected on the grounds that it would require “considerable diversion” of planes that were needed elsewhere for the war effort.

One U.S. official claimed that bombing Auschwitz “might provoke even more vindictive action by the Germans.”

Enter McGovern. In World War II, the 22-year-old son of a South Dakota pastor piloted a B-24 “Liberator” bomber. Among his targets: German synthetic oil factories in occupied Poland – some of them fewer than five miles from the Auschwitz gas chambers.

In 2004, McGovern spoke on camera for the first time about those experiences in a meeting organized by the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies with Holocaust survivor and philanthropist Sigmund Rolat and filmmakers Stuart Erdheim and Chaim Hecht.

McGovern dismissed the Roosevelt administration’s claims about the diversion of planes. The argument was just “a rationalization,” he said, noting that no diversions would have been needed when he and other U.S pilots already were flying over that area.

Ironically, the Allies did divert military resources for other reasons. For example, FDR in 1943 ordered the Army to divert money and manpower to rescue artwork and historic monuments in Europe’s battle zones. The British provided ships to bring 20,000 Muslims on a religious pilgrimage from Egypt to Mecca in the middle of the war. Gen. George Patton even diverted U.S. troops in Austria to save 150 of the famous Lipizzaner dancing horses.

“There is no question we should have attempted…to go after Auschwitz,” McGovern said in the interview. “There was a pretty good chance we could have blasted those rail lines off the face of the earth, which would have interrupted the flow of people to those death chambers, and we had a pretty good chance of knocking out those gas ovens.”

Even if there was a danger of accidentally harming some of the prisoners, “it was certainly worth the effort, despite all the risks,” McGovern said, because the prisoners were already “doomed to death” and an Allied bombing attack might have slowed down the mass-murder process, thus saving many more lives.

At the time, 16-year-old Elie Wiesel was part of a slave labor battalion stationed just outside the main camp of Auschwitz. Many years later, in his bestselling book Night, Wiesel described a U.S. bombing raid on the oil factories that he witnessed.

“[I]f a bomb had fallen on the blocks [the prisoners’ barracks], it alone would have claimed hundreds of victims on the spot. But we were no longer afraid of death; at any rate, not of that death,” Wiesel wrote. “Every bomb that exploded filled us with joy and gave us new confidence in life. The raid lasted over an hour. If it could only have lasted ten times ten hours!”

At the time, McGovern and his fellow pilots had no idea what was happening in Auschwitz.

“I attended every briefing that the air force gave to us,” he said. “I heard everyone, from generals on down. I never heard once mentioned the possibility that the United States air force might interdict against the gas chambers.”

Ironically, in one raid, several stray bombs from McGovern’s squadron missed the oil factory they were targeting and accidentally struck an SS sick bay, killing five SS men.

McGovern said that if his commanders had asked for volunteers to bomb the death camp, “whole crews would have volunteered.” Most soldiers understood that the war against the Nazis was not just a military struggle but a moral one, as well. In his view they would have recognized the importance of trying to interrupt the mass-murder process, even if it meant endangering their own lives in a risky bombing raid.

Dr. Rafael Medoff

Jane Fonda to Host Holocaust Event on Sexual Violence

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Jane Fonda will host an event in Los Angeles focusing on sexual violence during the Holocaust.

More than 200 people are expected for the invitation-only event on Nov. 8 at the Ray Kurtzman Theater. The event is sponsored by the USC Shoah Foundation and Remember the Women Institute.

Fonda, an award-winning actress and a political activist, was asked to be involved because she is active with programs and charities that deal with genocide and gender, a source familiar with the event told JTA. Fonda will read aloud works from Israeli playwright and author Nava Semel, and also will introduce a reel of testimonial clips from Holocaust survivors discussing sexual violence.

“Sexual violence during the Holocaust is rarely spoken about; many historians and scholars don’t want to address it,” said Rochelle Saidel, executive director of Remember the Women Institute. “It’s hard to have rape documentation of the Holocaust because many of the victims were silenced, since it was against Nazi law to have any sexual involvement with Jews. But the reels being shown are gathered testimonials, and it’s a part of history that shouldn’t be forgotten.

Following Fonda’s presentation, a panel will feature Saidel and Stephen Smith, executive director of the USC Shoah Foundation, moderated by Jessica Neuwirth, president of Equality Now.

JTA

Events In The West

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Events In The West: Over Shabbat, October 26-27, David Makovsky, a Ziegler distinguished fellow, the director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and one of the foremost experts on the current Israeli-American political landscape, will be the scholar-in-residence at Beth Jacob Beverly Hills… On November 2-3, Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Valley Village, CA will host an AIPAC Shabbaton on “The 2012 Elections: What you need to know about the upcoming elections and their effect on the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

Shul Updates: If you live in the Hancock Park/La Bea area of L.A. and don’t know what to do with your water bottles or can’t spend the time standing in line to recycle them, you can resolve the problem and give tzedakah at the same time. Contact Congregation Tifereth Tzvi, and they will send someone to pick up your bottles.

LA JOLLA, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Birth: Leon and Avishag Kaplan, a daughter.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Births: Edmundo and Esti Rosenberg, a son (Grandparents Michael and Sheryl Rosenberg)… Rabbi Aaron and Avigayil Gartner, a son (Grandparents Rabbi Meyer and Shulamith May)… Ben and Elana Vorspan, a son (Grandparents David and Bonnie Vorspan; Sol and Pearl Taylor)… Shmuel and Shoshana Halprin of Yerushalayim, a son (Grandparents Reuven and Yehudis Orloff)… Yisroel and Nechama Munitz, a daughter (Grandparents Rabbi Sender and Gitty Munitz)… Dov and Rachele Teichman of NY, a son (Grandparents Sidney and Marcia Teichman)… Barry and Sari Stricke, a son (Grandparents Les and Stella Stricke)… Andy and Luaren Lauber of NY, a daughter (Grandparents Sam and Lila Pfefferman)… Yoni and Tali Weiss, a son (Grandparents Yaakov and Rayme Isaacs).

Mazel Tov – Engagements: Mimi Mendelsohn, daughter of Ed Mendelsohn and Frances Mendelsohn, to Jake Green of Teaneck, NJ… Brian Schames, son of Dr. Yossi and June Schames, to Debbie Schwartz of West Orange, NJ.

Congratulations: Rabbi Eli Broner is the new director of Campus Life and Alumni Relations at Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy.

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Birth: Eitan and Leah Esan, a son.

Mazel Tov –Bar Mitzvah: Benyamin Helwani, son Yosef and Gail Helwani.

Mazel Tov – Bas Mitzvahs: Daniella Engel, daughter of Alan and Rachel Engel… Chaya Daffner, daughter of Shmuel and Tonda Daffner.

VALLEY VILLAGE, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Birth: Shmuel and Shoshana Drossman, a daughter (Grandparents Rabbi Israel and Dr. Phyllis Hirsch).

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Bar Mitzvah: Elyah Weiser, son of Rabbi Simcha and Betty Weiser.

DENVER, COLORADO

Mazel Tov – Bar Mitzvah: David Last, son of Rabbi Benjamin and Sheryl Last.

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

Mazel Tov – Engagement: Pesha Kletenik, daughter of Rabbi Moshe and Rivi Kletenik, to Chezky Werzberger of New York.

Jeanne Litvin

Don’t Blame Adelson For Collapse Of Israel’s Monolithic Liberal Media

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Liberal pundits have coined a new saw: Sheldon Adelson and the newspaper he owns, Israel Hayom, are primarily responsible for the collapse of many Israeli media outlets, and this endangers Israeli democracy.

The assertion is wrong on both the business and ideological levels.

The imminent failures of Maariv and Channel 10 television, and the deep troubles of Haaretz and other smaller publications, are first and foremost the function of long-term market forces, such as the advent of Internet news sites, that predate Israel Hayom.

Maariv’s downward slope began long before Israel Hayom debuted in 2007, which explains why Maariv was bought and sold four times – always at a loss – over the past 20 years. Its consistently terrible management and lack of brand positioning spelled its doom.

The same for Channel 10. The same for the Davar, Hadashot and Hatzofe newspapers – all of which have folded over the past 20 years. Sheldon Adelson had nothing to do with these bankruptcies.

Undoubtedly, some readers have moved from Maariv, Yediot Aharonot and Haaretz to Israel Hayom because the latter is distributed free. These readers also may have discovered that Israel Hayom is a good paper, with solid editing, experienced reporters, comprehensive coverage and a fine lineup of sharp columnists (full disclosure: including me).

But Israel Hayom also has tens of thousands of subscribers who pay for home delivery. And now Maariv and Yediot are distributing tens of thousands of free copies every day, too, on trains and in shopping malls across Israel.

What really irks the veteran Israeli media outlets is that readers have abandoned them for ideological reasons. Readers fled Yediot and Maariv because they became crass, trashy publications dominated by glossy features about models, actors, singers, rich playboys and the “true heroes” of Israel – journalists themselves.

By contrast, Israel Hayom features academics, scientists, pioneers, and Zionist and social activists. It also promotes hiking and travel within Israel, not the casinos in Greece, the restaurants in Rome or the fleshpots of Thailand.

Readers also edged away from Maariv, Yediot and Haaretz because of the deep gap that opened between the left-wing ideological viewpoint peddled by these publications and the healthy, increasingly conservative instincts of the Israeli public.

Those papers idolized Shimon Peres and his “new Middle East,” puffed up Yasir Arafat and promoted the Oslo process long after its failure was clear, and they lionized Ariel Sharon and pumped for Gaza disengagement while ignoring Sharon family corruption.

Yediot and Haaretz also regularly dump on Jerusalem, Israel’s largest city, as medieval and backwards while exalting Tel Aviv as cool and cultured. They sneer at Orthodox Judaism and mock religious Jews. They disparage Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with savage vehemence and fanatical constancy. Not a month goes by without Yediot conjuring up some nasty, cockamamie story about Netanyahu’s wife, Sarah.

For Haaretz, Israel can do no right and the Palestinians can do no wrong.

There’s more. In the 1970s and ‘80s, Yediot under editor Dov Yudkovsky, and to a lesser extent Maariv under editors Rosenfeld, Shnitzer and Dissenchik, became razor-sharp media watchdogs, launching one investigative report after another into government and financial sector corruption. They were papers with values and an edge.

But under Yediot publisher and acting editor Noni Mozes, and under Maariv’s disgraced and jailed publisher Ofer Nimrodi and current owner Nochi Dankner, the last decade has been dismal. The papers became enmeshed in promoting the financial and political careers of Israel’s liberal elites and the vested business interests of the publishers themselves. They often defended corrupt politicians and attacked attorney generals and the system of law enforcement. They came to represent the interests of their owners’ business and political connections, not the public interest. This is a real threat to democracy.

It’s no surprise that Israel’s top crime-busting investigative journalist, Mordechai Gilat, left Yediot in disgust after a 30-year career there. Gilat now writes for Israel Hayom.

Israel’s Ted Koppel, a journalist named Dan Margalit – former editor of Maariv, anchor of Israel’s top TV political debate program and the man who exposed Yitzhak Rabin’s financial misdemeanors – is Israel Hayom’s senior political and diplomatic columnist.

It’s also no surprise that Yediot and Maariv are now running an unabashed, aggressive campaign promoting the return to politics and national prominence of Ehud Olmert and Aryeh Deri, both of whom earned reputations as corrupt politicians and both with criminal convictions. And lo and behold, both happen to share left-of-center political orientations.

David M. Weinberg

The Oldest Story In The World

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

“This is the day of the beginning of your creation,” we read in our Yom Tov prayer books. According to Jewish tradition, Rosh Hashanah marks the day of the creation of Adam and Eve, and on that very day they proclaim God as King of the Universe.

And yet, as we know from the very first story in the book of Genesis, the glory of that day is short-lived. Within hours, Adam and Eve eat from the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. Their eyes are opened. They become aware that they are naked and they are ashamed.

In a recent essay in a secular-oriented Jewish weekly, a woman describes a modern re-enactment of this tale. Her faith in God is shattered when she reads the book Cosmos and discovers a “mind-defying universe where distances are so vast that they are measured in light years.”

She is sorry to have read it because now she knows “God’s terrible secret, that this universe is large, and that He pounds out worlds like matzo balls, as many as He pleases, without so much as glancing at Earth.”

Though she had once felt close to God, she no longer knows how to integrate a personal God into her world.

“I tried to understand God,” she writes. “I mean, we humans have always wanted a God that is all-great and all-powerful, but not quite like that. Just enough so we could pretend He is a lot like us and we are enough like Him, and that the universe is not much larger than our minds.”

The god she had created in her own image has been shattered.

The loss of her innocence is not unlike the loss of innocence we all experience as we travel from childhood to adulthood. Once upon a time, we knew that our parents were all knowing and all powerful, that they loved us more than anything, and that we were perfect in their eyes. We knew good people were rewarded and bad people were punished so they would mend their ways. We knew God had created the world and that He listened to our prayers.

And then one day, sudden as a death, we lost our innocence. We learned that our parents were not perfect and neither were we; that truth, if it existed, would not be simple, but convoluted and twisted and complex. We no longer knew if we mattered in this unfathomable world, and how God could really know us or wish to do so.

Like Adam, like Eve, like countless people who have crossed this earth, we taste the fruit and are banished from Eden.

But that is not the end of the story. All of our history is a journey to find redemption and recapture what was lost.

We cannot remain childish in our understanding but we pursue always the wish to be childlike in our knowledge. While a simplistic faith cannot sustain us, we still seek a place where our faith is simple.

There is a chassidic tale of an ignorant shepherd boy who came to the synagogue and, unable to read the prayers, pierced the heaven with his heartfelt cries and whistles. We do not envy his ignorance. And yet no matter how sophisticated and subtle our understanding, we long to be able to utter a prayer as sincere as his shepherd’s call.

The true Jewish “coming of age story” is not about loss, but about search. The search for a teacher, for a mentor, for a deeper and stronger faith – one as sure and unquestioning as the faith of a child, and yet bold enough, brave enough, to heal our fragmented world.

Perhaps that is why the Jewish New Year begins in the fall. As the gold and glitter of summer dims and fades, as the days grow shorter and the leaves crumble, there is a death of innocence. And yet from amidst the death, new life springs forth.

The shofar is simple ram’s horn, an instrument without subtlety or gradation. The sound, say the chassidic masters, is like the call of a child. It is blown on Rosh Hashanah in a rhythmic sequence. First a tekiah – a long, simple cry. Then the shevarim, a broken call, with three shorter blasts. Then the teruah, with nine staccato sounds, like a sob. And finally a longer tekiah, which goes on and on with a slow exhaling of breath.

Chana Silberstein

Efraim Zuroff on Capturing Nazis and Bringing Them to Justice

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Yishai is joined by Dr. Efraim Zuroff, who is the director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center office in Jerusalem and one of the last Nazi hunters, those dedicated to bringing Holocaust perpetrators to justice. Yishai and Zuroff talk about Zuroff’s background and how he found himself becoming involved in bringing aging Nazi war criminals to justice. They also talk about Zuroff’s book “Operation Last Chance” and also the ongoing investigation that uses the same name, specifically talking about Nazi war criminals that have been captured and tried in recent years.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Moshe Herman

Rosh Hashanah: The Prayer Without Words

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

You’ve seen the scene before – the congregants are silent, the tension can be cut with a butter knife, all eyes are peeled on the bimah in the center, two blessings are uttered, and the silence is pierced….by the most primitive horn one could find!

Any newcomer would have expected the next step to be a major sermon, or at least a profound liturgical piece chanted by the cantor. The Machzor has no shortage of the latter, and our rich tradition does not suffer from a drought of the former. And yet God decreed one major biblical commandment on Rosh Hashanah: to blow the shofar to get through the Day of Judgment each year rather than ask for forgiveness and plead our case with the help of words.

But the story doesn’t end here. We are commanded not just to blow the horn; when praying in a minyan (Tractate Rosh Hashanah 34b) we must blow at the end of the three additional blessings of Mussaf (Code of Jewish Law, OC, 592). Knowing the rather strict laws forbidding any form of interruption in the midst of the Amidah (Code of Jewish Law, OC 104) nobody would ever think of eating matzah or shaking the lulav in the midst of the holiday Amidah. And yet, on this High Holiday we intentionally interrupt the prayer.

Thus, concluded Rav Soloveitchik (based on the Ritva/Ramban, Rosh Hashanah, ibid.), the blowing of the shofar must be a prayer in and of itself and thus it causes no “interruption” to the service but rather blends in as a prayer among prayers.

While prayer all year is usually built around specific themes or requests uttered in words, the mere sounds of Tekiah-Shevarim-Teruah comprise a different kind of prayer. It’s not asking for anything, nor is it just praising God. Selichot, begging for repentance in the wee hours of the morning, are not in the service on these days at all, and it would be rather hard to find any direct request in the liturgy during this onset of the year.

Rather, we come before God stating again and again that He is Melech/King forever, and then blow the shofar, which is another way of stating one major prayer: Do what’s right for Your people!

Not “ensure the Republicans win,” not “forgive me for my sins,” and not even “save us from Iran.” No, we blow the shofar and ask God to take the sounds and transform them into the most needed requests for the sustenance of the Jewish people in the upcoming year. As the Talmud states in the name of God (Rosh Hashanah 16a): “Say before me the prayer of Malchuyot [Kingship] to crown me your king, say before me the prayer of Zichronot [Remembrance] so I will remember you for the better. And with what – with the shofar.”

It’s one thing to ask God for all your heart’s desires. But on this day, we rise to another level of prayer; we blow the shofar which is one genuine plea – “God, please rule the world in a way that will insure that we prevail this year.”

Therefore it’s no wonder that we are so silent and tense before those first shofar blasts penetrate the walls of the synagogue, as the prayer contained therein is more vital than anything we could ask for.

But how fortunate are we to know this “secret” prayer without words and thus state, right after the first thirty blasts, “Blessed are you, the Jewish people, that know the secret of the shofar; God, in Your Ways we will work under Your Guidance.”

With our “primitive” shofar, our prayer without words will turn into the most needed petition. No wonder we walk into Rosh Hashanah upright, dressed in our best, with faith that God will look after His people in 5773. Nothing says it better than the words of the Midrash (Yalkut Shimoni, Tehillim 247, quoted by the Tur, OC, 581):

“No nation is like this nation…. the normative way of the world is for someone on trial to wear black clothing, walk unshaven and with uncut fingernails, as he doesn’t know the outcome of his trial. But the Jewish people don’t do that; they wear white clothing…and eat/drink on Rosh Hashanah, as they know that God will perform miracles for them.”

Rabbi Yehoshua Grunstein

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/rosh-hashanah-the-prayer-without-words/2012/09/12/

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