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November 23, 2014 / 1 Kislev, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘director’

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.

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.

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
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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.”

The Jewish Vote And The 1948 Election

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

THE JEWISH VOTE, THE HOLOCAUST AND ISRAEL
A conference sponsored by the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies Fordham U. Law School
140 West 62 St. (between Columbus Ave. & Amsterdam Ave.)

Sunday, September 23 – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
featuring Mayor Ed Koch, Prof. David Wyman and other prominent speakers
Info: 202-434-8994 or www.WymanInstitute.org

* * * * *

Bob Weintraub chuckled appreciatively the first time he heard that Barack Obama described his job before he went into politics as “community organizer.”

Bob knows a thing or two about community organizing: during the late 1940s, he helped organize a series of remarkable grassroots election campaigns in New York City that sent a powerful warning to President Harry Truman about the Jewish community’s unhappiness over his administration’s waffling on Zionism.

The story of Jewish activists who used local elections to influence America’s Mideast policy in the 1940s resonates strongly this election season – especially after Jewish voters in New York played such a crucial role in the unprecedented election of a Republican to fill Congressman Anthony Weiner’s old seat last September.

Weintraub grew up in Brooklyn’s East New York neighborhood and attended Thomas Jefferson High School during the politically tumultuous 1930s. “It was like a yeshiva in those days – 95 percent Jewish,” he told me in a recent interview. “But most of the Jewish kids had very little interest in Zionism or other Jewish concerns.”

As a result, a handful of students affiliated with the pro-Communist American Student Union and led by future historian Howard Zinn exercised disproportionate influence on campus. “Our teachers sometimes organized debates on issues of the day, such as disarmament, or the role of the federal government,” Weintraub recalled. “Usually Howard represented one side, and I represented the other.”

The events of the Hitler years convinced Weintraub that a Jewish state was the only solution for the Jews. “I was struck by photos in the newspapers of bearded, elderly Jews being forced to scrub the streets of Vienna, while crowds laughed and cheered,” he remembered. “I realized these kinds of outrages would never end unless the Jews had their own country.”

Most of his fellow students were “apathetic,” he said. “Even when news of the mass killings started reaching us, not many people seemed terribly concerned.”

“My parents were immigrants from Galicia,” he noted. “They corresponded regularly with their parents and siblings, who were still in Europe. As the years wore on, the letters from Europe told of things getting worse and worse for the Jews. And then at a certain point, the letters stopped coming.”

Eventually he learned that his father’s and his grandmother’s brothers and sisters, along with their spouses and children, were all murdered by the Germans and their Ukrainian collaborators.

Drafted in 1943, Weintraub was sent by the U.S. Army to Mississippi for infantry training before eventually being shipped out to Germany following the Battle of the Bulge.

* * * * *

When Weintraub returned home to East New York in the spring of 1946, he found a Jewish community engulfed in political turmoil.

The press was filled with stories about the plight of the hundreds of thousands of Holocaust survivors in European Displaced Persons camps, waiting for permission to go to Eretz Yisrael. U.S. envoy Earl Harrison had recently returned from a visit to the camps and reported that the DPs suffered from inadequate medical care, shelter, food, and clothing. Some had nothing to wear but German SS uniforms. Conditions were so poor, Harrison asserted, “we appear to be treating the Jews as the Nazis treated them except that we do not exterminate them.”

The overwhelming majority of the DPs wanted to go to Israel, but the British White Paper of 1939 had shut the country’s gates to all but a handful of Jews, and London showed no signs of relenting.

American Jews, Weintraub found, were deeply shaken as they came to grips with the full extent of the Holocaust. “People watched the newsreel footage in the movie houses of Allied troops liberating the death camps,” he pointed out. “They saw the piles of dead bodies. They were in anguish over what they were seeing. And more than a few felt guilty – and rightly so – that they had voted 90% percent for Roosevelt in 1944 as if nothing had happened.”

Jewish Democrats Slam GOP for Ron Paul Tribute, Jewish Republicans Slam Dems for Carter Speech

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

Jewish Democrats slammed Republicans for planning a tribute to Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) at the Republican convention.

In a press call Friday, a top aide to Rommey confirmed that there would be a prime time video tribute to Paul.

“Paying tribute to this man who disparaged the U.S.-Israel relationship on Iranian television and empathized with Iran’s nuclear weapons program – on top of the history of his hate-filled newsletters – is a national disgrace,” the National Jewish Democratic Council said in a statement. “Romney and the RNC should cancel the tribute and end this dangerous strategic partnership once and for all.” The RNC refers to the Republican National Committee.

Matt Brooks, the director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, said the video tribute was a “small price to pay” for denying Ron Paul a convention speech, and his delegates the opportunity to vote for him – agreements that the Romney campaign apparently extracted in exchange for the tribute.

Brooks had criticized Democrats for assigning a prime time convention speaking spot to former President Jimmy Carter, who has offended Jewish groups with his warnings that Israel’s West Bank policies could culminate in an apartheid state.

Paul, a libertarian who this year sought the GOP presidential nomination, has opposed foreign assistance, including to Israel, and has criticized multiple administrations, including that of President Obama, for what he describes as an overly militant posture in the Middle East.

In the 1980s and 1990s, he also published eponymous financial advice newsletters that mined racist, anti-homosexual and anti-Semitic tropes, although he now insists that he did not vet everything in the publications, and blames past associates for the offensive material.

The Romney aide, in the call, said Paul’s showing during the primaries merited the tribute.

“Gov. Romney and Rep. Paul, while they certainly disagree on many issues … they’ve always had – if you watched part of the debates this year, you’ve have seen there’s a lot of mutual respect between the two of them,” Russ Schriefer was quoted by Talking Points Memo as saying. “And so Rep. Paul’s people came to us and said they’d like to do a short tribute to him, and we said absolutely, it would be a good time to do that.”

Paul and Romney generally avoided attacking each other during the campaign, and other contenders accused the two of forging an alliance to marginalize opponents to Romney, in exchange for guaranteeing Paul and his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) greater influence within the party.

The younger Paul, who also backs cutting off foreign assistance, including to Israel, and who will have a convention speaking role, has otherwise avoided the incendiary statements that have marked his father’s career.

Ben Swann’s “Reality Check” takes a look at how the RNC is attempting to change the 5 state rule and decredential the entire Maine delegation only 4 days before the Republican National Convention.

Incitement Underscores Palestinian Unwillingness To Make Peace

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

When Barack Obama entered the White House, he promised to make Israeli/Palestinian peacemaking his priority from “day one.” And, indeed, in his own way he did. He pressured Israel into freezing Jewish construction in the West Bank for ten months in a bid to entice the Palestinians to negotiate.

Yet Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority refused negotiations except for a few days near the end of the 10-month period and has not negotiated substantively since.

On its face, this is puzzling. If Abbas and the PA were eager for statehood alongside Israel – as they claim in their official speeches in international forums – nothing would be easier than to agree to negotiations that would lead in that direction, under an American president who has been strongly pushing for this.

But they don’t.

The reason? Lacking a state is less intolerable for the Palestinian movement than accepting the right of Jews to have a state of their own. And indeed, Palestinians turned down statehood on the four occasions detailed plans were proposed to create one – 1937, 1947, 2000 and 2008.

The common denominator to these rejections was that these plans all encompassed a Jewish state living alongside it. The leitmotif of Palestinian politics has been the rejection of precisely this proposition.

There are mountains of evidence to establish this proposition, but let’s confine ourselves to merely a recent six-week period.

Demonization of Jews: The PA TV children’s program “The Best Home” that aired on April 22 and again on May 8 featured a child reciting a poem which included the following words: “Our enemy, Zion, is Satan with a tail.”

Terrorists glorified: On April 16, the PA publicly mourned the anniversary of the death of PLO arch-terrorist Khalil Al-Wazir (Abu Jihad). The PA held six sporting events in his honor and broadcast TV programs celebrating him and his career of terror attacks. WAFA, the official PA news agency, glorified his killing of Israelis and enumerated in detail and with approbation his attacks on Israeli civilian targets in an article that also appeared in the official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida.

An old Wazir speech was exhumed from the archives and rebroadcast, a section of which included the following, “On one street, for example, we will hold 500 people [hostage]…at any moment, he can blow up everyone; blow up their building, or the whole thing, no matter how many people are there.… We want to turn the Tel Aviv day black. We want to turn the Tel Aviv day into destruction, Allah willing.”

On May 31, ninety-one Palestinian terrorists, including many suicide bombers whose corpses were recently handed over by Israel to the PA as a goodwill gesture, were given a military funeral for heroes by the PA. Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and other PA dignitaries were in attendance. All the returned terrorists were categorized as shahids (martyrs), thus conferring on them the status of national and religious heroes.

The secretary general of Abbas’s office, Tayeb Abd Al-Rahim, declared, “We ask Allah to gather you in the uppermost heaven, along with the prophets, the righteous,” while the Mufti of the PA, Muhammad Hussein, said, “By Allah’s will, we still have elite groups of martyrs like these among us.… The souls of the noble martyrs envelop us, and their souls tell us to follow in their path.”

Compromise repudiated: The day before Israel Independence Day, PA TV broadcast a political statement that included the following: ” Let all religions know that I do not make truces, let every person know that I do not compromise.… Let Jaffa [an Israeli city] know that I will return to it.” Clearly, such is the political program and message the PA wishes to transmit to its people.

Muslim supremacism: On May 11, PA TV featured a children’s program in which a young Palestinian girl was asked to recite a poem that includes insults to Christians and Jews (“They are remnants of the [Christian] crusaders and Khaibar [Jews]“; are “inferior and smaller, more cowardly and despised” and the “enemies of destiny”).

These salient themes in the Palestinian public square inform us that Palestinian incitement is a symptom of rejection of Jewish sovereignty, not the absence of peace. In these circumstances, peacemaking is not so much premature as it is foredoomed.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/incitement-underscores-palestinian-unwillingness-to-make-peace/2012/08/22/

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