web analytics
January 18, 2017 / 20 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘High’

Tefillah: A Meeting With Hashem – Fly High!

Friday, January 6th, 2017

Is this a familiar scenario? You have at least a hundred things on your mind. “Where can I buy a new… Need to pick up Dina for her doctor’s appointment… Mustn’t forget to call my mother and wish her a happy birthday… My son’s teacher wants me to call him… Which yeshiva should we send Chaim to next year… How can I generate more sales…” Then suddenly you realize that the sun is about to set and you did not yet daven mincha. So you start davening and try hard to concentrate on the words, but your mind is still racing. Before you know it, you are taking three steps back and Shemoneh Esrei is over. And certainly this is the case when something is bothering you or if you are dealing with difficult issues. Is there anything you can do to help yourself focus on the words of Shemoneh Esrei?

The following approach is based on an extraordinary essay by Rav Ury Weisbloom (Mashgiach of Yeshivas Nachlas Leviim in Haifa) in the preface of his sefer Ha’aras Hatefillah.

As you are sitting on the plane waiting for takeoff, you glance out the window. The rain is pouring down, the skies are covered with gray clouds, and the sun is nowhere to be seen. “Cabin crew, please be seated for takeoff.” The engines come to life with a great roar and the plane begins to pick up speed. You whiz past terminals and hangars until, all of a sudden, the airplane lifts off the ground. As you gain altitude, the people down below turn into microscopic specks, the streets and houses into a monopoly board, and the skyscrapers into toothpicks. Soon the ground is out of sight and the plane is engulfed by dark stratus clouds. You say a chapter of Tehillim and hold on for dear life as the plane is tossed around due to turbulence. And then, all of a sudden, the plane rises above the clouds and the sun is shining and the sky is blue. It is as if you are in a different world! Here everything is beautiful, calm, and serene.

Sometimes we get so caught up in our busy lives and trials and tribulations that we think everything is dark and gloomy. But we are making a huge mistake. Yes, it may seem as if our lives are difficult sometimes, but that is because we are looking at it from our perspective, down here on earth. But if we would look from above, we would see that our world is really just a small temporary place, like the waiting area in front of a grand ballroom. This is where we prepare ourselves for the real world – the World to Come. True, down here life is not easy and there are many challenges, but if we view our lives from the right perspective we will be able to deal with everything correctly – by realizing that the true world is the one “above the clouds,” up in Heaven, and from there Hashem is orchestrating everything. It may look like a storm down here, but in Heaven the skies are blue and the sun is shining, as Hashem is doing what is best for us.

This is what happens during davening. Previously we mentioned the Gemara in Brachos (6b) that tefillah is a matter that “stands at the top of the world.” When we daven Shemoneh Esrei we can imagine that a huge gust of wind has blown us up to Heaven – right in front of Hashem’s Throne of Glory. We leave behind all our worries and the mundane matters that are occupying our minds. Not that we forget about this world; on the contrary, many of our requests are for our physical needs, but we now ask from a different viewpoint. We are up in Heaven looking down at them from the correct perspective. And at the same time, we put aside all of the hundreds of things on our mind – we leave them far away, down on the ground. Up in Heaven, everything is calm and quiet!

Higher and Higher!

The truth is that we do not shoot straight up to the highest level of Heaven; we must pass through several stages in Shacharis before we reach Shemoneh Esrei. Rav Shlomo Wolbe zt”l (Alei Shur Vol. II, Section 3, chapter 2) cites the words of the Mekubalim who say that each section takes us up to another spiritual world.

We begin with birchos hashachar – the morning blessings. In this section, we are still down here in our world, and we thank Hashem for the basic aspects of our lives, for the way He created us: as Jews, not as slaves, etc. Then we thank Him for the ability to see, stand upright, walk, and more. By reciting these blessings with feeling and concentration, we learn how to view the daily aspects of the world from the right perspective. Nothing can be taken for granted; everything was created by Hashem and was given to us for a purpose.

Next we rise up to the world of p’sukei d’zimrah – the verses of praise. In this section we do not focus on the individual aspects of our lives; instead we discuss areas that involve the entire universe. Each chapter of Tehillim that we recite describes a different element of the way Hashem runs the world. The grand finale of this section is the Shiras Hayam, the song of Az Yashir. In the splitting of the Red Sea we saw that even though this world seems to be entirely physical and governed by the strict rules of nature, it is only that way due to the ongoing Will of the Creator. So when He wants a roaring sea to turn into towering walls of flowing water, it happens.

We now have risen to an even higher world, and our perspective of the world is getting clearer.

The next section is birchos krias Shema – the blessings of krias Shema. Until this point in the tefillah, we have described what Hashem does down on earth. Now we rise to the level of the sun – the source of light – but we do not stop there. We shoot right past the planets and stars into the world of the angels. There we see how with awe they shout praises of Hashem! We see that while the angels are arranged in ascending ranks, they nevertheless strive to reach greater levels of understanding of the Master of the Universe.

But our trip is not yet finished. We finally enter the world of Torah – the greatest connection to Hashem that a human being can have. Only after all this do we say Shema Yisroel and accept upon ourselves Hashem’s absolute sovereignty. Finally we talk about the redemption from Egypt where Hashem chose us as His nation and brought us close to Him. That last step brings Him close to us; we are now ready to start Shemoneh Esrei – our great meeting with Hashem.

We now have discovered how tefillah brings us to the top of the world. So let’s put everything aside and fly right up to the spectacular world of davening, and pour out our hearts to Hashem. He is waiting to see us there!

Rabbi Eliezer M. Niehaus

Education Committee Debate on ‘Breaking the Silence’ in Schools Hits High Notes

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

The Knesset’s Education, Culture and Sports Committee last week met to debate allowing Breaking the Silence group into Israeli public schools, following petitions filed by MKs Amir Ohana (Likud) and Oded Forer (Yisrael Beitenu).

The meeting was called after Breaking the Silence representatives had been invited to give lectures in schools, and against the background of a bill which is being drafted by Education Minister Naftali Bennett to prohibit the appearance of the organization’s representatives in front of children in educational institutions.

As right- and left-wing MKs argued over whether to prohibit the activity of Breaking the Silence in schools, six MKs were ejected from the stormy debate, during which MK Ohana said Breaking the Silence “is at the top of the industry of lies against the State of Israel.”

MK Zehava Galon (Meretz) said Breaking the Silence is a “patriotic organization” and that those who object to it want a “paranoid education system that does not deal with criticism.”

Breaking the Silence did not send representatives to the meeting, and the two school principals who invited the organization’s representatives to appear in front of their students were absent as well.

According to its website, Breaking the Silence “is an organization of veteran combatants who have served in the Israeli military since the start of the Second Intifada and have taken it upon themselves to expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories. We endeavor to stimulate public debate about the price paid for a reality in which young soldiers face a civilian population on a daily basis, and are engaged in the control of that population’s everyday life. Our work aims to bring an end to the occupation.”

MK Oren Hazan (Likud) called Galon a “traitor” and she replied, “You are a pimp [as confirmed by the] court.”

“Our children fight no less and are killed no less than you,” Galon added. “Whoever reveals improper conduct should be respected. You are a group of cowards and hypocrites, that’s what you are.”

“Breaking the Silence does so in order to present the IDF soldiers as soldiers who systematically abuse locals,” Ohana said, adding “this poison against the soldiers and the State of Israel which is created by Breaking the Silence should be stopped, and we must say ‘not in our schools.'”

According to MK Forer, the organization has crossed the line. “It slanders Israel in the world, takes a fragment of [an event] and turns it into a whole story. The organization should be unequivocally taken out of the schools and the academia’s walls,” he said.

MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz) asked, “Who slanders Israel in the world more than [Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett’s people, who argue among themselves over who has a bigger flag? When I have to reply to the question of who do I trust more, Naftali Bennett or [Tel Aviv school principal] Ram Cohen – I unequivocally trust Ram Cohen more.”

Cohen was recently reprimanded by the Education Ministry after inviting Breaking the Silence to address his students.

“Breaking the Silence is more Zionist and patriotic than anyone here,” Gilon continued. “The hypocrites are the most repulsive. They are the ones who, just like a hyena, jump on a corpse. I will not tell you that I refer to (Yesh Atid Chairman MK) Yair Lapid; you will understand that on your own.”

MK Merav Ben Ari (Kulanu) called on the Ministry of Education to invite organizations “which present the IDF as it is – a moral army,” to appear in schools. She also urged Breaking the Silence to “stop disrespecting the Knesset” and attend discussions which its representatives are invited to.

Amit Deri, head of the Reservists on Duty organization, said that Ram Cohen refuses to allow representatives of IDF reservists to give lectures to his students. “We have been to every school which Breaking the Silence lectured in, we arrived immediately afterwards. This organization encourages insubordination de facto.”

Shai-El Nachmani from the Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium high school told the committee that he was present at a Breaking the Silence lecture and the message he received was that students must not enlist in the army. Committee Chairman MK Yakov Margi asked whether the Breaking the Silence representative explicitly said to not enlist. “They did not clearly say it, but that’s what I concluded,” Nachmani replied.

According to “Im Tirtzu” director Matan Peleg, “The main issue with Breaking the Silence’s activity is that they blame the entire Israeli society for war crimes. I want to take every soldier who has committed a crime and put him in jail, but this organization blames the entire State of Israel for war crimes. You tell me: how is this educational, and why should we bring them to [our] schools?”

Avichai Shorshan, one of the founders of “My Truth,” added, “Breaking the Silence takes extreme events which do not reflect everyone and disseminate them all around the world as if this is the face of the IDF. Hamas uses materials from Breaking the Silence in order to operate against us in international institutions. Is it appropriate for this organization to meet our children?”

MK Yehuda Glick (Likud) said that since “Breaking the Silence declares that it is against the occupation, it means that it holds a political position – which should be prohibited in schools.” Schools, according to Glick, “must only host pluralist organizations.”

MK Yousef Jabareen (Joint Arab List) said, “This is another campaign of silencing which is not only aimed towards Breaking the Silence, but also against human rights organizations. He added, “This is an attempt of silencing the main issue of occupation. It is becoming clear that the State of Israel is not democratic even for Jews themselves, when it silences other’s opinions.”

MK Dov Khenin (Joint Arab List) read aloud Natan Alterman’s poem “Al Zot” (For This), and noted that in 1948 David Ben-Gurion requested to print out the poem and hand it out to all IDF soldiers. “Today there is one school principal who still has the courage to bring out this voice and he is immediately summoned to a field court martial. We are not only talking about Breaking the Silence. We are talking about the moral image of our society,” Khenin said.

MK Haim Jelin (Yesh Atid) told the committee that he grew up in a dictatorship and each time someone is called a traitor his heart tears apart. “When Bedouins were killed during Operation Protective Edge, the mayor of Dimona was the first one to offer his condolences, not the MKs who are here shouting. I am sad because I don’t see how it is possible to mend the rift.”

MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) said that she educates children to join the army and contribute as much as they can, but at the same time educates them to be aware of all opinions, ask questions and criticize.

“The only system where this still somehow exists is in the public education system, and now the Minister of Education wants to take it away. In the state religious education system there is no place for asking questions and criticizing,” said Rozin. The discussion, she said, exists only in the secular public education sector, “because the rest are blocked from pluralism.”

David Israel

Another Friend in High Places: Jason Greenblatt Trump’s Representative for International Negotiations

Saturday, December 24th, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump has named his chief legal officer for the past 20 years Jason Dov Greenblatt, an Orthodox Jew, as special representative for international negotiations, a spokeswoman for the Trump transition team announced Friday.

Greenblatt, a former adjunct professor of management at Yeshiva University, served as candidate Trump’s adviser on US-Israel relations. He graduated in 1992 from the New York University School of Law and worked for the law firm Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP before joining the Trump organization.

A source familiar with the appointment told CNN that Greenblatt will be working on the Israel-Palestinian peace process, US relations with Cuba, and various trade agreements.

The Trump team released a statement about Greenblatt’s appointment, citing him as saying, “My philosophy, in both business and in life, is that bringing people together and working to unite, rather than to divide, is the strongest path to success. I truly believe that this approach is one that can yield results for the United States in matters all over the world. I look forward to serving on President-elect Trump’s team, and helping to achieve great outcomes for our country.”

Although President-Elect Trump should not be taken for granted on any issue, his choices for Ambassador to Israel and for the Israel-PA peace negotiator are at least an opening signal to Israel’s rightwing majority that the next resident a 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is going to be their friend.

In a joint statement on November 2, 2016, Jason Greenblatt and Trump’s choice for US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, then Co-Chairmen of the Israel Advisory Committee to Donald J. Trump, said: “For those of you who are true friends of the State of Israel, and for those of you who believe that the State of Israel and the United States of America have an unbreakable friendship, we urge you to read the below. We would like to express our gratitude to those individuals who have helped us over the past few months — we truly appreciate your efforts, friendship and guidance. We would also like to express our gratitude to our friend, a great friend of the State of Israel, Donald J. Trump, who gave us the tremendous opportunity to serve in this capacity. May God bless the United States of America and the State of Israel.”

The two Trump advisors also promised back in November: “The US should veto any United Nations votes that unfairly single out Israel and will work in international institutions and forums, including in our relations with the European Union, to oppose efforts to delegitimize Israel, impose discriminatory double standards against Israel, or to impose special labeling requirements on Israeli products or boycotts on Israeli goods.”

As to the peace process, Greenblat and Friedman suggest “the US should support direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians without preconditions, and will oppose all Palestinian, European and other efforts to bypass direct negotiations between parties in favor of an imposed settlement. Any solutions imposed on Israel by outside parties including by the United Nations Security Council, should be opposed. We support Israel’s right and obligation to defend itself against terror attacks upon its people and against alternative forms of warfare being waged upon it legally, economically, culturally, and otherwise.”

Finally, the cherry on this Hanukkah sufgania: both men promised that “the US will recognize Jerusalem as the eternal and indivisible capital of the Jewish state and Mr. Trump’s Administration will move the US embassy to Jerusalem.”

In other words, expect a big improvement in US-Israeli relations come January 20, 2017.


High Anxiety Continues Over Obama in the UN Until January 20

Friday, December 9th, 2016

Anxiety continues to roil through the pro-Israel world over a possible last-minute political move by the Obama administration that could permanently alter the Israeli-Palestinian geo-political landscape.

Forty-eight hours after the November 8 election, I flew to South Florida for a series of lectures and briefings organized by StandWithUs, NOVA Southeast University and other organizations as part of the State Department’s International Education Week, this to analyze the prospects regarding relations with Israel in the last weeks of the Obama administration. Everywhere, audiences were on the edge of their seats asking whether President Obama would take extraordinary passive or active steps in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to recognize a Palestinian state or impose a peace settlement, including a territorial mandate following the lines of the 1948 truce. Unlike General Assembly resolutions, which are not binding, the UNSC generally creates lasting pillars of international law.

As we approach Noon, January 20, 2017, uncertainty continues to abound among even the most astute of political insiders.

President Barack Obama remains personally silent. Administration assurances in recent days proffer comfort to those hanging on every word to discern a course of action. But embedded ambiguities in each of those assurances only increases the speculation.

For example, in recent days, unnamed administration sources were quoted by the Associated Press suggesting that President Obama “has nearly ruled out any major last-ditch effort to put pressure on Israel over stalled peace negotiations with the Palestinians.” The phrase “nearly ruled out” shines brightly in that report to emphasize that no decision has been made.

A few days ago, America’s ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, told Israel’s Army Radio that America “will always oppose one-sided initiatives,” adding that this position “is a long-term policy. Whenever there were one-sided initiatives, we opposed them in the past and we will always oppose them.” Skeptics note that “opposing” such a UN move is not the same as blocking it with a veto.

Those who know the administration best remain queasy that a sudden and unexpected move may play out in the UN Security Council in coming weeks. Obama has circumvented Congress on the Iran nuclear deal and many other issues where the President has explained he can unilaterally use his “phone and pen.” Among the un-reassured is House Foreign Relations Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., who emphasizes Obama’s “unpredictability.”

Royce told an interviewer, “If you are heavily signaling that you’re not going to oppose and veto U.N. Security Council resolutions that seek to impose one-sided solutions, the consequence is others will take your measure, and the momentum will build, given the natural attitudes at the U.N.”

The most likely scenarios for Obama action in the UNSC are variations of the following three:

* First: unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state within specified or approximate borders following the 1948 armistice lines where no Palestinian state ever existed. In virtually all world forums, this would more juridically move the status of Israel’s administrative presence in Judea and Samaria from disputed to occupation.

* Second: abstain from vetoing a pending French resolution that would impose settlement lines and/or recognize a Palestinian state within 18 months absent agreement by the parties.

* Third: impose a territorial settlement within a two-year deadline if the parties do not craft one themselves.

Any of the three measures would subtract the need for negotiations and bring Israelis and Palestinians closer to an entrenched stalemate.

The suspense has been intensified by developments in recent days.

On November 28, 2016, former president Jimmy Carter authored a passionate op-ed in the New York Times titled “America Must Recognize Palestine.” Carter advised President Obama to exercise one final chance of “countering the one-state reality that Israel is imposing on itself and the Palestinian people.” Carter continued, “Recognition of Palestine and a new Security Council resolution are not radical new measures, but a natural outgrowth of America’s support for a two-state solution.” Carter warned, “The United States can still shape the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before a change in presidents, but time is very short.” Carter has not been a lone voice but part of a chorus of Democratic voices urging such a move by Obama to thwart any Trump policy moves after January 20, 2017. Trump is expected to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel, and Vice President-elect Mike Pence repeated that stance December 1 in Cincinnati just moments after Trump concluded his first “victory rally.”

That same day, December 1, President Obama once again signed a six-month extension of the presidential override preventing the implementation of the Congressional mandate moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. President-elect Trump has promised to move the Embassy. Since each presidential override binds the American government for six months, the Trump Administration could not move the embassy until the end of May 2017. At the same time, the delay would constitute a heavily-weighted bargaining chip in the Trump administration’s expected pressure on the Palestinian Authority to achieve a final resolution with Israel.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is fully aware of the dynamics, and as recently as a few days ago, confirmed that he continues to stay in close contact and coordination with the French government over its pending UN resolution. Abbas has repeatedly assured his people and the world that the UN would deliver independence in 2017. French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, speaking at a December 1, 2016 press conference in Paris alongside Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan, reaffirmed that France was determined once more to convene an international peace

conference before the end of 2016. If that conference is unsuccessful, France could unilaterally recognize Palestine—within what territorial lines remains unclear.

Already, 88 American senators have written a pointed bipartisan letter to Obama warning him not to exercise a lame-duck effort at the UN. Likewise, after his electoral win, Trump’s Mideast advisor sent a private message to the White House warning against any such action in view of overwhelming popular and congressional sentiment against it.

Former Ambassador John Bolton, on behalf of the President-elect, was far more audible in an interview on November 20, 2016, when he publicly warned Obama against any UN action that imposes peace or recognizes a Palestinian state. On November 29, 2016, the House of Representatives passed a nonbinding bipartisan bill urging President Obama to continue blocking any UN resolution that would unilaterally impose a one-sided peace, including by a failure to veto such a resolution in the UN Security Council.

Most interesting is an examination of comments, made several days ago, by State Department Spokesman John Kirby that “our view hasn’t changed that we believe the preferred path for the Palestinians to achieve statehood is through direct negotiations.” Putting aside “the preferred path” and the policy to “oppose one-sided initiatives,” all it would take to allow a French measure to succeed in the UN Security Council is for the Obama administration to do nothing.

The world could still see a US abstention backed by all sorts of fortified rhetoric about “painful decisions” and “historic moments” that would nonetheless completely retreat from American policy and create an irreversible demarcation under international law.

If push comes to shove, some observers suggest that Israel may have an unforeseen ally in Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev are in regular communication with Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Putin, as many observe, would love to frustrate the Obama administration, as he has on Syria, and openly coordinate with the incoming Trump administration to fulfill an already-started effort to

oversee a peace conference between Palestinians and Israelis. For his part, Abbas met with Medvedev just last month in Jericho, and reportedly even named a street after him.

The most recent punctuation to the anxiety is a series of condemnations over Israeli settlement policy by Secretary of State John Kerry December 4 at the annual Saban Forum. Kerry would not rule out a UN veto unless the resolution “is a biased, unfair resolution calculated to delegitimize Israel.”

Until 11:59 a.m. on January 20, 2017, no one knows whether President Obama will add another notch to his legacy or allow the future destiny of Israel and Palestinians to be written by others, including the parties themselves.

Edwin Black

MK Glick to Petition High Court Against Netanyahu Temple Mount Obstruction

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

Rebellion in the Likud ranks: On Wednesday, MK Yehuda Glick announced his plan to petition the Supreme Court against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the latter’s barring of Knesset members and cabinet ministers from ascending too the Temple Mount, Srugim reported. The prohibition has taken effect close to the start of the current wave of terror, dubbed “the Al Aqsa intifada” by the Arabs, who claim to have started the violence in response to a Jewish conspiracy to destroy the Temple Mount mosque.

A suit by a rank and file MK against the leader of his party is extremely rare. Should Glick persist with his petition he is likely to be sanctioned by his Knesset faction, the Likud, and be barred from speaking from the podium and submitting bills. He might also be dismissed from the Knesset, should the leadership be able to enlist sufficient support from the members. He could also be tried by the Likud internal court.

Before assuming the legislator’s mantle, Glick made his living as tour guide on the Temple Mount, and in October 24 was the victim of an assassination attempt because of his promotion of Jewish access to the holy site.

This is the second time Netanyahu has blocked MKs from entering the sacred compound. During the 19th Knesset, the PM prevented MKs Uri Ariel and Shuli Mualem (Habayit Hayehudi) and Moshe Feiglin and Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) from ascending. The reason Glick is irate this time is the fact that Jerusalem police have announced they no longer see the need to stop MKs from entering the Temple Mount, but Netanyahu persists in his refusal to open the gates to them.

When he became a member of Knesset, about half a year ago, Glick justified the prohibition, which was pinned on attempts by Arab MKs to stir up riots on the Temple Mount. The last time Glick has been to the site was on the day before his swearing in as MK.

David Israel

Campus Warrior Tells High School Seniors About College Anti-Semitism

Friday, November 18th, 2016

Last Wednesday, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, co-founder of the AMCHA Initiative which combats campus anti-Semitism in America, spoke with 25 Brighton High School students in Rochester, NY. Later, in the evening, she spoke to an audience of 150 concerned parents, educators and community members. Both events were organized by Roc4Israel.

In early November, the Rochester Campus Times reported confrontations between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian students at an event organized by the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) after the screening of “The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States.”

Noah Spivak, president of the Jewish Student Union at the high school, told JNi.media via an email from an AMCHA activist: “Soon we will each be applying for colleges and we are very concerned by the recent rise in anti-Semitic behavior on campuses across the country. Thanks to today’s meeting with Tammi, many of us feel better prepared for what we might encounter.”

Rabbi Shaya Kilimnick of Congregation Beth Sholom in Rochester, also told JNi.media via the same email: “Recently our campuses have become the battleground for anti-Semitic and anti Israel activities, mostly  by pro-Palestinian protests orchestrated by experienced hate groups — under the blind eye of University administrators. This has left our Jewish students vulnerable and exposed to  hatred and under attack.”

“Last evening, Tammi Rossman Benjamin of AMCHA provided us with leadership and offered us a selection of opportunities to engage in, so that we can be able to approach this challenge successfully. We encourage all who are concerned for our Jewish children to become involved.”

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin summarized her message, saying: There’s bad news and there’s good news. The bad news is that as a result of BDS and other anti-Zionist activity, Jewish students are experiencing alarming and unprecedented levels of anti-Semitism on campuses across the country.  The good news is that the Jewish community and its allies are uniting at last to do something about it, and you can help.”

Following is a portion of Tammi Rossman-Benjamin’s talk, generously transcribed for JNi.media.

●  ●  ●

As you might imagine, anti-Zionist sentiment and activity have had extremely negative consequences for many Jewish college and university students. The injection of the anti-Zionist movement, and particularly BDS, onto campus in the past decade has fueled a significant resurgence and increase in anti-Semitism.  The lines between appropriate political discourse on Israeli policy and discrimination toward Jewish students have become blurred. Jewish students report that anti-Zionist activists single out, harass, intimidate, and even assault them, regardless of their personal feelings on Israel. And far too often, anti-Zionist expression is laced with centuries-old classic anti-Semitic stereotypes. The anti-Zionist activists target not only pro-Israel students, but anyone presumed to support Israel, first and foremost Jewish students, regardless of their actual personal feelings on Israel. As a result, Jewish students engaging in Jewish activity having nothing to do with Israel — wearing their Jewish sorority or fraternity letters, displaying Star of David necklaces, walking to Hillel for Sabbath dinner – report fearing for their safety and well- being. In addition, because of their support, or even just presumed support, for Israel, Jewish students report being rejected from progressive social justice activities such as pro-choice rallies, anti-rape demonstrations, Black Lives Matter events and racial justice conferences.In addition to ostracizing and alienating Jewish students from certain areas of campus life, anti- Zionist students repeatedly attempt to shutdown events organized by Jewish students and suppress their free speech about Israel and other topics. Sadly, Jewish students are being targeted, discriminated against and ostracized, and their civil rights are being egregiously violated.
That’s the view from 30,000 feet.  Now let’s get down to what I hope will be helpful specifics.

Anti-Israel student groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine, or SJP, whose very mission includes the promotion of BDS, are found on hundreds of U.S. campuses. (I know that at University of Rochester, the group Students for a Democratic Society, SDS, has spearheaded considerable anti-Zionist activity on campus, most recently the screening of an the film “Occupation of the American Mind,” a film which not only demonizes and delegitimizes the Jewish state, its whole premise is based on the classic anti-Semitic tropes popularized in the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” of Jewish wealth, power and mendacity being used to control the government and media). SJP and similar groups, besides promoting BDS on their Facebook pages and other social media, on the large “apartheid walls” they build, in op-eds they publish in student newspapers and at events they host quite regularly, groups like SJP are responsible for organizing campaigns to get their own schools to boycott Israeli products like Sabra humus, to terminate their school’s academic exchange programs with Israel, and, most frequently, to have their student governments vote on resolutions demanding that the university divest from any of its financial holdings in businesses which do business with Israel. More than 90 anti-Israel divestment resolutions have found their way to about 50 U.S. campuses across the country.  About half of all resolutions have passed, but this number is, frankly, irrelevant, because any school whose student government or student body even considers such a resolution is racked with divisiveness, hostility, and animosity for weeks on end. And whether a resolution ultimately passes or not, the anti-Israel forces have used these campaigns as opportunities to inject enormous amounts of anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic sentiment onto campus.

And it’s not just student groups like SJP, whose members are devoted to anti-Israel activity, that are involved in these efforts.  In this age of “intersectionality,” where the grievance of one group is opportunistically linked to the grievance of other groups, SJP has deliberately forged alliances with many other minority student groups on campus, who frequently add their groups’ names to the sponsorship of BDS-promoting events and the endorsement of anti-Israel divestment resolutions. For example, SJP has made common cause with Black Lives Matter, and students from both groups frequently co-host rallies and events linking Blacks and Palestinians and promoting BDS. Last year at the University of Rochester a talk by Reverend Graylan Hagler entitled “Connecting the dots: From Ferguson to Palestine,” which demonized and delegitimized Israel and promoted BDS, was sponsored by several student groups, including an Arab group, an Indian group, a Muslim group, the Black Students’ Union, and a multi-ethnic fraternity.

In addition to that, thousands of faculty on hundreds of campuses have also publicly endorsed BDS efforts, especially the boycott of Israeli universities and scholars, as well as the divestment resolutions of students on their own campus. Some faculty boycotters bring their anti-Israel animus and activism into their classrooms, and it is not unusual for academic departments to sponsor virulently anti-Israel talks and symposia, some of them even including calls for the boycott of Israel.  For example, earlier this year at Vassar College, a talk by women and gender studies professor Jasbir Puar, in which she falsely accused Israel of maiming and murdering Palestinians and harvesting their organs, and she actively encouraged her audience to endorse the BDS movement, was sponsored and funded by 6 academic departments, including Women’s Studies, English, International Studies, Political Science, Africana Studies, and Jewish Studies.  Indeed, since 2015 we have documented more than 60 departmentally sponsored events like this, on campuses across the country.

Given the sheer number of students and faculty who have positioned themselves squarely against Israel, even to the point of opposing its very right to exist, it’s no wonder that many Jewish students who identify with the Jewish state feel like the whole campus community is united not only against Israel, but against them.

Unfortunately, it gets worse. In a recent study that our organization carried out, looking at the prevalence of anti-Semitic activity and the factors that affect it on more than 100 US campuses with the largest Jewish students populations, we found that on close to half the campuses we investigated, students are threatened because of their Jewish identity, sometimes regardless of their personal feelings on Israel. They are assaulted, harassed and intimidated, their places of residence defaced with swastikas and other anti-Semitic graffiti, their participation in campus activities shunned, the events they organize disrupted and shut down, and more.

If you are a member of a Jewish or pro-Israel organization — perhaps Roc4Israel or a synagogue-affiliated group — or if you would consider forming an organization, perhaps an alumni group concerned about anti-Jewish hostility at your alma mater, please consider spearheading or participating in a campaign, say, to get the president of the University of Rochester or of your alma mater, to follow in the footsteps of the UC Regents.  We can help!   AMCHA will work with your group to develop a plan, provide you with our research on anti-Semitic activity at your school, advise you as you carry out your plan, and help you network with other groups across the country.

Together, we can make a real difference.


Shaked Blinks First But Wins Advantage in Contest with High Court President

Sunday, November 6th, 2016

The mark of a statesman—or, in this case, a stateswoman—is their ability to retreat momentarily for the sake of future victories. In her very public and very aggressive contest against Supreme Court President, Justice Miriam Naor, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) collected her winnings and stepped back, knowing she was not yet prepared to pay the full price of a complete victory.

Shaked is spearheading several concurrent moves, all of which have provided the context for a proposed bill by Yisrael Beiteinu MKs—with Shaked’s blessings—to deprive the Supreme Court members of the Judicial Appointments Commission of their veto power over Supreme Court candidates. The moves the Justice Minister was advancing behind the cover of the new bill were a Netanyahu cabinet request for a 7-month delay of the decree to demolish the Amona community in Samaria; a new Regulation Act to compel Arab claimants who prove they own the land belonging to Jewish communities to accept market value as compensation; and a list of appointments to the Supreme Court which the current Court members loath.

Last week, Justice Naor lost her cool, sending a leaked letter to Shaked telling her the proposed Judicial Appointments Commission bill was tantamount to placing a gun on the table. On Sunday the two women met and Shaked eventually consented to putting a temporary lid on her bill — depending on how well the court would deal with her proposed appointments to replace four retiring justices—that’s 4 out of 15—in 2017.

Shaked’s candidates are considered brilliant, and they are also critical of the judicial activism of the court over the past 40 years, since the Likud party for the first time won a decisive electoral victory and relegated the Labor party to what eventually became a perpetual seat with the loyal opposition.

There’s Prof. Gideon Sapir from Bar Ilan University, who has voiced his loud criticism of the high court for neglecting the national component in their decisions. Sapir was harsh in his criticism of the court’s support for the uprooting of Gush Katif’s Jews in 2005.

Then there’s Judge Yosef Elron, who enjoys the backing of Finance Minsiter Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) who is a member of the appointments committee, and also the support of the two members of the bar on the committee. The justices don’t like Elron and prefer to appoint in his place an insider, one of their own, Ron Sokol, the son-in-law of former Supreme Court Justice Theodor Or.

Shaked’s list of 28 candidates also includes Professor Aviad Hacohen, who writes the judiciary column for Shledon Adelson’s daily Israel Hayom, as well as Tel Aviv District Court Judge George Karra, Tel Aviv District Court Judge Chaled Kabub, Tel Aviv District Court Judge Dr. Michal Agmon-Gonen, Central District Court Judge Menachem Finkelstein, Haifa District Court Judge Yael Willner, Tel Aviv District Court Judge Ruth Ronnen, Central District Court Judge Prof. Ofer Grosskopf, Central District Court Judge Michal Nadav, Jerusalem District Court Judge Tamar Bazak Rappaport, Tel Aviv District Court Judge Gilad Neuthal, Official Receiver General Prof. David Hahn, Adv. Asaf Posner, Prof. Aviad Hacohen, Tel Aviv District Court Judge Dr. Kobi Vardi, Tel Aviv District Court Judge Shaul Shohat, Nazareth District Court Judge Asher Kula, Jerusalem District Court Judge Nava Ben-Or, Jerusalem District Court Judge Ram Winograd, Jerusalem District Court Judge David Mintz, Jerusalem District Court Judge Moshe Sobel, Jerusalem District Court Yigal Mersel, Prof. Haim Sandberg, and Prof. Shahar Lifshitz.

Shaked’s final four will likely include two rightwingers, an Arab and a centrist woman, such as Judge Tamar Bazak Rappaport, who also serves, as Vice Chairman of the Anti-Trust Tribunal, which deals with issues of cartels, monopolies and mergers.

Of the two rivals, Shaked turned out to be the one speaking softly and holding a big stick behind her back. Naor was loud and blustery, and it looks like she got her way — for now. But Shaked did not put down her big stick, and in the long and exhausting struggle the country’s judiciary will be undergoing soon, she likely plans to bring home a few wins.

David Israel

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/shaked-blinks-first-but-wins-advantage-in-contest-with-high-court-president/2016/11/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: