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Posts Tagged ‘Jerusalem Post’

Archeologists Find Evidence of 8th Century Fortress Near Ashdod

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

The Israeli Antiquities Authority announced the discovery of massive walls — likely the remains of a fortress — near Ashdod, dated to the eighth and early seventh century BCE, according to a report in the Jerusalem Post.

“There are two possibilities regarding who inhabited the fortress at that time: one possibility is that it was controlled by the Assyrians who were the regional rulers in the Iron Age. Another possibility is that Josiah, king of Judah, occupied the fort at the time, who we know conquered territory from the Assyrians and controlled Ashdod-Yam in the seventh century BCE,” said Sa’ar Ganor, an archaeologist from the Israel Antiquities Authority.

2011 Olive Harvest in Judea and Samaria Most Peaceful in Years

Monday, January 30th, 2012

According to statistics compiled by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the 2011 olive harvest in Judea and Samaria was the most peaceful in years, with a drop of over 50% in violence.

In 2011, according to statistics obtained by the Jerusalem Post, 33 violent incidents were recorded in comparison to 69 in 2010 and 50 in 2009.

Responses to US Administration Comments on Israel

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and U.S. Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman each sparked controversy—independently of the others—with recent comments related to Israel and the Jewish people.

The trifecta of statements, all appearing within the space of a few days last week, has spurred a large-scale debate among American Jews and Jewish organizations, many of whom are doubting the Obama administration’s support for Israel.

Clinton called Israeli democracy to task, raising concerns about two bills that could restrict foreign funding of non-profit organizations. Panetta urged Israel to get back to the “damn negotiating table” and pull itself out of its growing isolation in the region. Gutman said that Muslim hatred for Jews stemming from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should not be construed as anti-Semitism.

Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense for Democracies told the Washington Post that the U.S. is pressuring Israel because it knows it can’t get results from the Palestinians, particularly from Palestinian Authority (expired-term) President Mahmoud Abbas. At the Dec. 7 Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) Presidential Candidates Forum, Newt Gingrich called to reprimand Panetta and expressed shock that Clinton would “talk about discrimination against women in Israel, and then meet with Saudis.”

“This one-sided continuing pressure that says it’s always Israel’s fault, no matter how bad the other side is, has to stop,” Gingrich said.

“Panetta is a fine domestic politician, but his speech was outrageous,” he said. “How about saying to Hamas, give up violence and come to the table?”

Responding to Gingrich’s comments, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told ABC News that the U.S. has an unquestionable commitment to Israel and that Panetta “was simply noting in part of his speech that we should foster greater dialogue with the countries in the region and that Israel needs to do its part. It’s as simple as that.”

Clinton also weighed in on the ongoing controversies regarding gender segregation on several Jerusalem buses, and the demands by some Israeli rabbis that religious army troops not be forced to watch performing women. Clinton said these developments are “reminiscent of Rosa Parks.”

Israeli officials had mixed reactions to the Secretary of State’s remarks. Opposition leader Tzipi Livni said Clinton’s comments should serve as a wake-up call about what’s happening in the country, according to the Jerusalem Post. However, Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said Clinton seriously exaggerated.

“The exclusion and segregation of women is something totally unacceptable, and it needs to be stopped, but to cite this as a threat to Israel’s democracy is a big leap,” Steinitz said, according to Haaretz.

The National Conference on Jewish Affairs (NCJA) released a press statement calling to remove Gutman from his post as U.S. Ambassador to Belgium. In the wake of the controversy surrounding his comments, Gutman said that his words were taken out of context.

“Those who use the existence of the Jewish State of Israel or the ongoing deadlock in Israeli-Palestinians peace negotiations as an excuse to hate Jews are nothing more than anti-Semitic bigots… and I am pleased that (Gutman) has expressed regret for his remarks,” U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman (D-NJ) said in a statement.

The White House also distanced itself from the comments by stating it condemns “anti-Semitism in all its forms.”

Scholar and rabbi Dr. Michael Berenbaum, however, wrote in a column for the Los Angeles Jewish Journal that while “Israel is not to blame for anti-Semitism—anti-Semites are to blame for anti-Semitism … there is a direct correlation between actions in the Middle East and an increase in manifestations of anti-Semitism.”

Berenbaum cited France as an example, where “increased anti-Semitism came in waves,” occurring in much greater intensity during the various Intifada periods in Israel. “There can be no doubt about the correlation,” he wrote, adding that the absence of negotiations in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict also fuels the extremists.

At the Republican Jewish Forum, Mitt Romney criticized the Obama administration’s general Israel policy, saying the president chastises the country but has little to say about the thousands of rockets launched at southern Israel by Hamas. Romney said the president has also been weak with regard to Iran.

“These actions have emboldened Palestinian hard-liners, and they’re now poised to form a unity government with terrorist Hamas,” Romney said. “And they feel they can bypass Israel at the bargaining table.”

Jonathan Tobin of Commentary Magazine did see one silver lining to the “ominous signals” created by U.S. officials’ controversial comments on Israel, as well as the “failure of the administration’s promises to stop Iran’s nuclear program.”

“No matter what Obama, Panetta, Clinton and their underlings may think about Israel, they are keenly aware a full break with Israel is not something they can get away with,” Tobin wrote.

‘We Want To Break The Leftist Monopoly On Public Discourse In Israel’: An Interview with Caroline Glick

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Laughter really is the best medicine. Caroline Glick, deputy managing editor of the Jerusalem Post and senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, has found humor and satire to be valuable tools in making the case for a strong Israel. Her latest venture to that end is Latma, the Hebrew-language media satire website Glick created and edits.

The non-profit Latma is Glick’s newest platform for her staunchly nationalistic defense of Israel, promoted in her biweekly syndicated columns for the Jerusalem Post and in articles in The Jewish Press, The Wall Street Journal, National Review and Moment magazine, among others. Glick also is a frequent guest on Fox News, MSNBC and Israeli television.

Glick is currently in the U.S. to raise awareness of Latma.

The Jewish Press: How effective has Latma been since you started it?

Glick: I think Latma has been extremely effective since we started it about three years ago. Our goal was to use television and Internet in a new way. We want to break the leftist monopoly on public discourse in Israel. We are using groundbreaking new images through satire and humor to make the non-leftist worldview and the classical Zionist worldview about Israel’s place in the world socially acceptable. It’s been working very, very well – beyond our expectations. Right now we’re negotiating a contract with Channel One on Israel Television to produce our program as a regular prime-time series. If that occurs it will represent a revolutionary change.

Have you detected any tangible effect on public opinion since Latma’s appearance?

Public opinion in Israel is very strange, in the sense that polling data shows the overwhelming majority of Jews in Israel are right-wing, but the policies that government after government enacts are left-wing. The public tends to be quiescent in the face of this, largely because of the media, which makes it seem as though right-wing, nationalist positions are extremist.

The only way to stop this situation is to discredit the left. Subjecting Israel’s icons to ridicule has the effect of empowering the public to speak its mind. I believe the fastest and most effective means is through satire, because the thing about humor is that when you laugh at something, it’s no longer intimidating.

The left’s ability to frighten people into accepting the left’s arguments is diminishing. When Netanyahu went to the United States in May and Obama used the trip to try to force Netanyahu to accept the 1949 armistice lines, there was a very big pushback from the public. The media tried very hard to portray Netanyahu in the wrong, but the public embraced Netanyahu rather than the media’s version of events. At the time, I spoke at a very large demonstration outside the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv and several hundred people flocked to me afterward thanking me for Latma, telling me they never were activists before watching it.

Do you think the recent public embrace of Netanyahu will empower him to  move more to the right?

No. Just look at how he capitulated with the Shalit deal. It was [an emotional experience] to see Gilad Shalit, emaciated and traumatized, finally come home. But the deal Netanyahu agreed to is signed with the blood of the past and future victims of the terrorists he let go. The truth is that politicians, wherever they are, are beholden to the elite forces in a society. The elite are generally the media, academia, and whatever version of Hollywood exists in that country, and their beliefs tend to dictate the terms of reference for any politician. The positions of the voters are shunted aside because while they’re known at the ballot box, on a daily basis they’re not heard from.

Israel’s Derfner Affair

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

            One of the most bizarre controversies concerning freedom of the press and freedom of speech has been afflicting Israel in recent days.  The basic question is whether there exists some sort of natural right to advocate the mass murder of Jews.

 

The affair began when Larry Derfner, a left-wing columnist for the Jerusalem Post – probably the most pluralistic and balanced newspaper in Israel, giving ample room for opining by writers right, left and center – justified the killing of Israelis by Palestinian terrorists.

Derfner’s comments were actually published on a blog not connected with the newspaper, and it was his response to the mass murder perpetrated by Palestinians and some Egyptian collaborators near Eilat a few weeks back.
 
Derfner’s posting began: “I think a lot of people who realize that the occupation is wrong also realize that the Palestinians have the right to resist it – to use violence against Israelis, even to kill Israelis, especially when Israel is showing zero willingness to end the occupation . But people don’t want to say this, especially right after a terror attack like this last one that killed eight Israelis near Eilat . I think it’s time to overcome this reticence because this unwillingness to say outright that Palestinians have the right to fight the occupation, especially now, inadvertently helps keep the occupation going.
 
He went on: “But if, on the other hand, we were to say very forthrightly what many of us believe and the rest of us suspect – that the Palestinians, like every nation living under hostile rule, have the right to fight back, that their terrorism, especially in the face of a rejectionist Israeli government, is justified  - what effect would that have? A powerful one, I think, because the truth is powerful.  If those who oppose the occupation acknowledged publicly that it justifies Palestinian terrorism, then those who support the occupation would have to explain why it doesn’t.”
 
Of course Derfner failed to volunteer himself and his own family to be murdered by Palestinian terrorists resisting Israeli occupation.
 
Derfner’s comments triggered a firestorm. Hundreds of Jerusalem Post readers cancelled their subscriptions. Within days the editor of the Post announced the paper would no longer employ or publish Derfner.
 
Derfner issued a “clarification” and a sort of apology, but he remained fired. He then took to the pages of the Forward to try to spin his advocacy of murder into something less offensive.
 
While Derfner was being denounced for his advocacy of murder, leftists in Israel and around the world were defending him. Leftist blogs denounced the Post and its editor for engaging in the suppression freedom of speech, using words like “fascists” and “McCarthyists.”
 
Firing Derfner had nothing to do with freedom of speech. No one is stopping Derfner from standing on the street corners of Zion and advocating the murder of Jews. Actually, open advocacy of murder is against the law in Israel and is decidedly not regarded as protected speech, but that law is never applied against Israeli leftists.
 
Nevertheless, the Left is outraged that the Jerusalem Post “suppressed diversity of opinion and pluralism” by sacking Derfner. This is amusing coming from leftists, who are at the forefront of the campaign against freedom of speech and pluralism of ideas. For the radical left there is one single correct set of opinions – and democracy means only people holding those opinions should be entitled to express them in the media.
 
The most interesting defense of Derfner appeared in a blog entry published in the Huffington Post. It was written by Bradley Burston, a senior editor at Haaretz, Israel’s leftist daily newspaper.
 
            In his posting, Burston complained that pluralism and diversity of opinion at the Jerusalem Post were jeopardized by the canning of Derfner.
 
Burston happens to be employed by what is probably the most non-pluralistic newspaper in the Western world. The levels of pluralism and diversity at Haaretzare similar to those found in Pravda during the Brezhnev era.
 
Haaretz is a monolithic engine of propaganda in which virtually no non-leftist opinion is permitted. Its editorial pages are uniformly far left and anti-Zionist. Once a week a token right-winger is allowed to publish an op-ed – obviously so that editors like Burston can roll their eyes whenever anyone says Haaretz has no pluralism or diversity.
 
The propagandizing at Haaretz fills the paper and is not restricted to the editorial page. News stories are distorted to give them leftist ideological themes, twists and messages. Book reviews are invariably leftist and ideological.
 
So here we have the spectacle of an editor for a newspaper that suppresses diversity of opinion – and that imposes its political bias even on the most minor news stories – whining about the Jerusalem Post’s alleged lack pluralism and diversity.
 
Burston writes that the “management of the Jerusalem Post has caved in to what amounts to a political boycott.” No it hasn’t. It simply maintained fundamental standards of decency. Unlike Haaretz.
 
Burston is suddenly all in favor of pluralism and diversity. But never, Stalin forbid, at his own newspaper.
 
Leftists like Burston are  proclaiming Derfner some sort of free-speech martyr. Because freedom of speech for leftists means the right to agree with the left but never the right to denounce it, disagree with it, or mock it.
 
 

Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa. His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com.  He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com.

Popular Blogger Gil Student: ‘The Internet Is A Dangerous Place’

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

In the world of Orthodox blogs, few are as popular as Hirhurim.blogspot.com, run by Rabbi Gil Student. Visited over four million times since its founding five years ago, Hirhurim – which the Jerusalem Post ranked as the “Best Jewish Religion Blog” in 2005 – features informative, intriguing, and sometimes controversial discussions on halacha, Jewish philosophy, biblical stories, and more.

Rabbi Student, the managing editor of OU Press and founder of Yashar Books, recently compiled some of his blog posts in book form. Released last month, Posts Along the Way, Vol. 1: Shuls includes 50 short essays on such topics as women rabbis, Carlebach minyanim, and the permissibility of holding one’s child duringdavening.

The Jewish Press recently spoke with Rabbi Student.

The Jewish Press: What inspired you to start your blog in March 2004?

Rabbi Student: At the time, there was a Jewish blog discussing homosexuality from a halachic perspective and I didn’t feel the sources were being represented accurately.

In 2006 the Conservative movement officially issued a permissive ruling on homosexuality. But back in 2004 they were in the discussion stage and a lot of discussion was happening online and via e-mail lists, and it had slowly moved to blogs.

I decided to create my own blog to correct what I thought was an incorrect and misleading halachic position on this sensitive topic.

Many people views blogs as forums for gossip and criticism of the Orthodox community establishment. What is your take?

If you have a hammer, you can use it to build a house or bang someone on the head. It’s a tool. It can be used for good or bad. Just as a newspaper can be used for gossip and horrible character assassination – a blog can also. And just like a newspaper can be used to enlighten the community and give it important information – a blog can also.

What’s your background?

My background is, I think, part of what makes me interesting to people. I went to a Solomon Schechter elementary school – so I have a Conservative upbringing. Then I went to Frisch for high school, a very modern Orthodox school. For college I was in YU, and now I live in the moderate Yeshivish community on the outskirts of Flatbush.

So I believe I have a pretty good idea of how all those communities, in general, think about various issues. So when new issues come up, I kind of think about them from various perspectives.

It’s very hard to pigeonhole me, and I get a lot of criticism for that. Some people think I’m an extreme left-winger, some people think I’m an extreme right-winger, and some people think I’m an extreme centrist. And I just don’t think I’m any of them.

How did a kid from Solomon Schechter wind up becoming an Orthodox rabbi?

I don’t really have a story. A person matures and thinks things from a different perspective. I have to do what I think is right, and I’m convinced that where I ended up is the right direction to be going.

Is Student your real last name or a penname?

It’s my real name. Student is a legitimate Polish name that we can trace back to the 1870s; it was not changed at Ellis Island.

You gained some notoriety four years ago when, as the president of Yashar Books, you decided to distribute Rabbi Nosson Slifkin’s books despite a ban placed upon them by leading haredi rabbis. Can you talk about that controversy?

It was a very polarizing debate and the people who opposed my position were very harsh in their condemnations; it was disillusioning and disturbing.

I’ll give you an example: a personal friend of Rabbi Slifkin started a blog against him criticizing him very harshly – theologically, ideologically and personally. I found it very disturbing that someone who knows so much Torah could be so personally hurtful.

Why did you support Rabbi Slifkin?

As a religious businessman I contacted various local rabbanim and asked them if they wanted these books available for their communities. I’m a firm believer that p’sak halacha be very specific to the individuals and communities involved.

Rabbi Slifkin’s books were written for people who have doubts or questions about their faith, particularly regarding so-called contradictions between Torah and science. In his books, he shows how the two can be reconciled. Many rabbis who recognize there are people in their communities who struggle with these issues asked me to make sure that Rabbi Slifkin’s books were available in stores to help people, even after – and despite – the ban on the books.

Earlier in your career you were involved in defending the Gemara against anti-Semitic charges. Can you talk about this?

That must have been about ten years ago. I came across anti-Semitic accusations against the Talmud, which I knew historically had been around for centuries, but I was surprised to see people bringing them back up and posting them on the Internet. I felt it was important that someone should respond to them, so I spent time doing the research and posted a number of responses. To this day I get e-mails about it.

How do you respond to people who claim the Gemara requires one mode of behavior vis-?-vis Jews and another vis-?-vis non-Jews?

This is something that Rabbi Michael Broyde has written about in law journals – Judaism’s approach to people within the legal system and outside of the legal system. For people who are outside the legal system and do not follow halacha, there’s a different standard in how you treat them because it’s not a reciprocal relationship. The Torah does not demand that you put yourself at a disadvantage because you follow halacha and they don’t.

Also, I think the general attitude is like a free market: you have to treat everyone fairly but everyone has to take care of themselves. Within your own community, though, you have to treat each other as family, just like if you were running a store you’d give a better discount to your brother than to some stranger off the street. The Jewish people [comprise] one big family.

Charging interest [is an example of this]. There’s nothing wrong with charging interest. It’s standard business practice; there’s an opportunity-cost of money. But when you’re dealing with family, you give them an interest-free loan.

Here and there, though, you hear Jews claiming one can cheat and lie when dealing with non-Jews.

I think it’s absolutely not true; it’s a distortion of the Torah.

So why do Jews say this?

You’re asking me a sociological question. Maybe it’s a leftover from Europe when we were persecuted; maybe it’s just an inner city mentality of everybody for themselves.

You also wrote a book arguing that the Lubavitcher Rebbe cannot be Moshiach. Can you talk about that?

I actually prefer not to. People get very offended by it. I wrote the book for ba’alei teshuvah to let them know that there’s more than one perspective on the issue. I have no interest in fighting with Lubavitch.

Any parting thoughts?

I do want to say one thing: The Internet is a dangerous place and just because I’m writing on the Internet doesn’t mean that I think it’s good for everybody to just go on the Internet.

I think it’s important for people to use filters and to be careful about what links they click on. We really need to guard ourselves because there is a lot of schmutz out there.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles//2009/09/16/

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