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December 4, 2016 / 4 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘JEWS’

The Day After: An Open Letter to Orthodox Jews

Monday, November 21st, 2016

Last Tuesday night, Donald Trump stunned the world with his election as the forty-fifth President of the United States. Wednesday morning the rejoicing, recriminations and rioting began. One of the most fascinating stories is the “Jewish vote.” Exit polls showed that Hillary Clinton took about 70% of the Jewish vote—far from historical highs, but still an overwhelming majority. This landslide means that Jews voted for Clinton (or against Trump) in higher proportions than almost any other ethnic or religious demographic I including Latinos (65%), whose vote was touted as a lock for Clinton based on the media’s relentless spin of Trump’s immigration stance as racist. Yet interestingly and meaningfully, exit data and anecdotal evidence about Orthodox Jews suggest that we broke massively for Trump. Among other things this means that non-Orthodox Jews likely voted well over 80% for Trump. Thus the two Jewish voter demographics are not only distinct but oppositional: Jews appear to have been among the most anti-Trump and the most pro-Trump of all demographics.

Liberal congregations around the country announced grief services. Parallels to Kristallnacht exploded across the Internet. Reform temples held “shivah” events. Left-wing Jewish publications and organizations decried the abandonment of their own cherished “Jewish values” –political correctness, open borders, redefined marriage, gender and family, and abortion on demand.

Meanwhile, spontaneous dancing broke out Wednesday morning at relieved and overjoyed frum congregations in America and Israel. Giddy jokes were made about whether to say Hallel. Of the fifteen New York City neighborhoods in which Trump was strongest, ten were on Staten Island. The other five were: Boro Park, Midwood, Brighton Beach, West Brighton, and Ocean Parkway South. In Nassau County, the Five Towns similarly delivered a huge Trump landslide. Ocean County, NJ – where Lakewood is located – voted overwhelmingly for Trump, far more so than any other place in that state. Exit polls of the thousands of charedi American citizens who live in Israel showed more than 85% voting for Trump.

Orthodox Jewry has taken another great step forward as a distinct voting bloc, revealing concerns and priorities very different from those that animate Jewish progressives.

Orthodox voting priorities are not hard to understand. The Orthodox commitment to Jewish continuity and knowledge of Jewish history has always been far stronger than that of non-Orthodox Jews. Combined with the imminent connection of virtually every frum family to Jews in Israel and the norm for Orthodox Jews of all stripes to spend at least a year and often many years in batei medrash and seminaries in Israel, most Orthodox Jews – regardless of conflicting religious views on the medinah – count the security of the

Israel’s Jews as a top priority. By way of contrast, when polled among all Jews, concern for Israel hovers low on the priority list, consistently between eight and tenth –far behind a raft of liberal causes and concerns far more central to contemporary progressivism than to traditional Judaism.

The assault by the left on our rights as Jews has gotten more and more aggressive. Democrats have ceased speaking of religious liberties and now concede only that there is a “right to worship”. That is intolerable to frum Jews. We see what is happening again in Europe – the challenges to bris and shechita in the name of progressive secular values – and know that many groups (too often led by ethnic Jews) are agitating for the same battles here. Just weeks ago a judge in California at the instigation of chickens’ rights advocates prevented Jews from performing the ancient pre-Yom Kippur custom of kapporos. Traditional religious institutions and consciences – Jewish and otherwise – already are under siege from activists seeking to strip away religious exemptions, not satisfied with equality under the law, but demanding the surrender or destruction of any traditional worldview. The specter of Democrats having the power to appoint more federal judges was terrible to contemplate.

Jews make up less than 2% of the American population. As a subset of American Jewry, frum Jews are an anomaly – a small albeit growing minority. Considered this way, it’s unclear why this sociological and demographic tale is of anything but marginal interest to the political calculations of those in Washington.

Yet upon closer scrutiny, this election provides evidence of vast potential power untapped by Orthodox Jews. The mass of ethnic, unaffiliated and “social justice” Jews have depleted their political significance even as they have enervated their religious identity. They appear willing to follow the Democrats everywhere, no matter how extreme, immoral, anti-religious, anti-Israel, or anti-Semitic. Orthodox communities, on the other hand, stand on the cusp. If we choose to see ourselves as just another ethnic minority engaged in the kinds of transactional politics that sells out our principles and our future to the highest bidder, we will have failed, relegated to footnotes as an outlier. If however we take stances for our principles and for our survival we will emerge as spiritual, moral and intellectual leaders in the battle that now rages between left and right in this country.

It is no coincidence that the party that grants nuclear weapons to the “Death to Israel” Iranian mullahs and that stands poised to be led by a BDS_supporting Member of Congress who slanders Israel as an apartheid oppressor of innocents, also opposes traditional morality at home. It is no fluke that those who elevate the protection of innocent life and religious exercise and conscience above almost all else, also see the security of the Jewish state as America’s most important foreign policy goal.

Those who carry the Torah’s messages have always been few in number, but they have transformed vast civilizations. For decades, we have been turned inward, focused on rebuilding a community almost lost in the European inferno, while secular progressives have dominated the Jewish presence in Washington. Today, their communities are in crisis, having assimilated and eroded to the point of tragedy. Meanwhile, Orthodox communities which have maintained fidelity to ancient Jewish law and custom are flourishing as in the first vigor of youth. But we too stand at a crossroads. We can continue to ignore the world around us and be essentially irrelevant, losing sight of our people’s raison d’être. Or we can be the tip of a mighty spear: leaders of the literally tens of millions of American Faith and Values voters for whom religious freedom and the security of the Jewish state are also always top priorities.

Bruce Abramson and Jeff Ballabon

State Dept on ‘Illegal Settlements’: Jews Bad, Arabs Good

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

This will soon change, you know, but for now it was fascinating to watch how State Dept. Press Office Director Elizabeth Trudeau, at a daily press briefing, November 14, 2016, was able to describe the exact same construction issue as against and for peace, depending on the religion of the people involved.

A reporter said: “Yesterday, Israel’s ministerial committee for legislation unanimously approved a law to retroactively legalize the illegal outposts. Do you have any comment on that?”

Trudeau responded: “We’re deeply concerned about the advancement of legislation that would allow for the legalization of illegal Israeli outposts located on private Palestinian land. … If this law were enacted, it could pave the way for the legalization of dozens of illegal outposts deep in the West Bank. … Our policy, as you know, on settlements is clear. We believe they are corrosive to the cause of peace.”

Next question, without an interruption, hardly a break for air:

“Also, a couple of days ago the Israelis made a Palestinian family of 12, or a number of families, demolish their own homes in East Jerusalem. I wonder if you have any comment on that.”

Trudeau: “We’ve spoken before to this practice of demolition. … We believe that any actions like that raise tensions are counterproductive to peace.”

To conclude: building Jewish homes in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem without legal authorization is “corrosive to peace,” while building illegal Arab homes in the same territory is not only a good thing, demolishing them is also corrosive to peace.

Spoken like an honest broker.

David Israel

Jews and Golden Calf: The 2016 Presidential Election

Monday, November 14th, 2016

According to a New York Times exit poll 70% of American Jews for Hillary Clinton while only 24% voted for Donald Trump. The huge differential is larger than the margin of Jews that voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 (30%). This is bewildering from a pro-Israel standpoint. In an attempt to understand the confusing nature of Jews, non-Jewish friends of mine ask me how can so many Jews seemingly always vote for a candidate and a party against their people’s apparent own self-interest.

In 2016, to believe it still has anything to do with Truman or FDR, one is deluding oneself about the place where Israel stands in modern Democrat party politics. The booing of the United Jerusalem platform during the 2012 Democrat convention, the Israel flag burning outside the 2016 Democrat convention, the sea of “Palestine” flags within their convention hall and the swell of pro-BDS Muslim voters in the Bernie camp has to make one wonder why Jews would vote for a party that elevates these dangerous fringe elements? Why did Hamas-funded BDS supporters clamor around Bernie? Why does Hillary have the Huma Abedin, the daughter of the editor of a Saudi pro-Muslim Brotherhood newspaper as her closest confidant and whisperer? Why reject Donald Trump whose vows to tear up the Iran Deal, embraces Israel, and vows to defund the UN for their blatant support for Hamas and the anti-Semitic UNESCO?

In the last 20 years we have seen the rise of strong, prominent, popular non-Jewish New York Republicans who are ardent Israel supporters such as Al D’amato, Rudy Giuliani, Peter King, Donald Trump, George Pataki, while defiant Jewish Democrats such as Steven Israel, Jerald Nadler, Diane Feinstein, J street and others followed in lock step behind Obama during his march to force through the lie known as the Iran Deal?

Many will say that many American Jews fear Republican pro-Zionist Christians as a fake ally in disguise whose real motivation is mass conversion of Jews at some future “come-to-Jesus” time point. One would think that the radical global justice alliance of the Black Lives Matter movement with the violent BDS/Students for Justice in Palestine, who are both openly anti-Semitic and attack Jewish students on American campuses, would finally open the eyes of Jews who may equivocate in party affiliation. The Radical left constitutes the current grassroots of the Democrat party and will be its future. It is a cadre of groups such a Code Pink, ANSWER, SJP, Students and Graduate Activists, Students for a Democratic Society, LUPE, Legalization for All Network, and dozens of others that openly lend support to de-legitimization of Israel and Zionists as racists, usurpers, and murders. Dinosaurs such as Chuck Schumer and Diane Feinstein consistently haul in millions of Jewish Democrat dollars into a party that nurtures this growing anti-Semitic poison much akin to Rosemary’s baby, an evil that was nurtured dim- wittedly to maturity.

Ironically, I believe the answer lies in a 2013 Pew Research poll that states that only 40% of American Jews believe that G-d gave the Land of Israel to the Jews, while 82% of white evangelicals believe so, and even 54% of black evangelicals do. What is the matter with American Jews and their lack of fealty to their own religion and history? The answer is the corrupting socialist justice movement which has entranced a majority American Jews into thinking that godless universal secularism and global suffrage of “oppressed peoples” are the solutions to collective acceptance by the same radicals. The newly freed Israelites were hard worn to shake their old Egyptian ways, and when egged on by the trouble making Eruv Rav, rejected G-d and created a man-made idol, to worship and replace that G-d, even after the massive miracles of the Exodus and the Red Sea crossing.

In our time, we must return back and embrace G-d and His miracle in our time, the rebirth of Israel as the enormous first step towards Jewish renewal and reunification towards the time of Moshiach. We must renew our love for G-d and His gift of the Land of Israel, as commanded in His Torah, for us to inherit it, though we must fight for it like Joshua if we are to possess it. We must reinvigorate Zionism, and fight and defend our Birthright, otherwise when the wheels come off the cart for American Jews one day, many of us will wake up to the ugly reality of the assimilated German Jews in the 1930s- a repudiation by the society that they tried so hard to embrace. For now, and nothing lasts forever, the best friend of the modern day miracle of the fruit of Zionism, the State of Israel, is the evangelically based-Christian Zionist Republican party of Donald Trump, and Jews would be wise to embrace such as friend of the Jewish people. As we know, good friends are hard to come by.

Matthew Karlovsky

‘Jews Not a Minority’ Laura Ingraham May Be Trump’s Press Secretary

Sunday, November 13th, 2016

Radio talk show host, best-selling author, and conservative political commentator Laura Ingraham is on the short list to become President Elect Donald Trump’s press secretary, The Hill reported Saturday night. Ingraham, who began her career as a Supreme Court law clerk and white-collar defense attorney, helped Trump with debate preparation, offered occasional strategic advice, and campaigned for the Republican candidate, using her spots as Fox News contributor and her nationally syndicated radio show.

A renowned rightwing ideologue, in 2014 Ingraham endorsed Dave Brat in his primary challenge to then House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). Cantor’s upset defeat shocked the Republican establishment and created the psychological milieu that helped make a revolutionary candidate like Trump acceptable to party voters, against the wishes of the party leadership. In May, Ingraham made headlines when she admitted she had forgotten that Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was Jewish. Speaking on her radio show, Ingraham said, “Well, now they’re saying, ‘How dare you, Bernie. How dare you stay in this race.’ Now, what if Bernie were a minority? … What if he were a 74-year-old black man … Would you think they’d be telling him to get out of the race? I don’t think so.”

A moment later, after receiving a tweet from a listener, Ingraham corrected herself: “Oh, OK, you’re reminding me. Bernie is a minority. He’s Jewish. OK. See I don’t think of Jewish people as minorities because they’re so successful and so. But, yeah, that’s technically correct so I appreciate that correction on our Twitter feed.”

A Roman Catholic, Ingraham is clearly a supporter of Israel. Appearing on Fox News’ The Kelly File in February 2015, she said, “I think Israel has become for the left the new South Africa. Remember, in the 1980s, it was the divestment movement from South Africa. … And now it’s divest from Israel. Israel is the less, you know favorite, you know, whipping post of fury and anger and outrage, because remember, if Israel’s an ally of the United States, Israel must be bad because the United States is bad.”

Ingraham made headlines after her speech at the GOP convention, when she wore a huge, gold cross and threw her arm up in a gesture that, from one angle, looked like a Hitler salute. She didn’t, of course, but in the midst of the campaign this was fodder for a full news cycle.

In April 2016, Ingraham tweeted: “Israel has been snubbed by this Admin…[but] has treated Iran with tender love and care.”

Ingaham, who adopted two boys from Russia (and a girl from Guatemala), could be an asset to the Trump Administration in forging an improved relationship with Russia. She lived in the Soviet Union for a semester at Dartmouth College. “I took Russian from eighth grade through most of college,” she told an interviewer in 2013, “so my Russian is pretty good.”

Also, back in the 1990s, Ingraham dated leftwing TV personality “Angry Man” Keith Olbermann. Commenting on one of his tirades against then President GW Bush, Ingraham said, “I believe MSNBC really needs to bring in a medical team at this point. . . . I don’t know what happened to him. I really don’t. He didn’t use to be this way…” Eventually, MSNBC dropped Olberman, for allegedly calling US soldiers “cold blooded killers” (he did, but the quote was taken out of context).

This past week, Ingraham has been twitter-shaming President Obama for not intervening to stop the violent protests against the November elections results. “Where is Pres Obama urging calm?” she tweeted on Saturday. As White House Press Secretary, expect her to be confrontational, if not outright defensive. As The Hill put it, “Selecting Ingraham would send a signal that Trump has no interest in softening his relationships with the Republican leaders in Washington, D.C.”


Netanyahu: Soon Majority of Jews Will Live in Israel

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday told an audience celebrating Aliyah Day in Jerusalem that “we are closing fast on the historic moment when the majority of the Jewish nation will be living in Israel.” The PM added, “I think this is the only way to secure the Jewish State.”

Netanyahu noted that Aliyah continues to be a key factor determining Israel’s destiny. He pointed out two fundamental reasons for Aliyah: the growing anti-Semitism in several countries, and, most important, “the Zionist fervor.” He promised that his government will utilize all its offices to bolster Aliyah.

The Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs held a festive meeting to mark Aliyah Day, attended by new immigrants, immigration activists, MKs and senior officials from the Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigration Absorption.

Committee Chairman Avraham Neguise (Likud), one of the initiators of the Aliyah Day Law, said that this day “emphasizes the oxygen of the State of Israel — the new immigrants — Jews who were motivated by the Zionist and biblical forces to return to their native land.”

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said, “Today, the 7th of Cheshvan, it is appropriate to speak about making Aliyah to Israel, because today we begin asking for rain of blessing, and such are the immigration waves to Israel, which bring a special blessing with them. Without the immigrants – we would not have a state, and therefore each day in Israel is ‘Aliyah Day.'”

Edelstein stressed that “we should establish a powerful, just and welcoming society which creates hope for the future,” and as a result “we will receive more and more immigrants, who will have many more opportunities.”

Minister of Immigration Absorption Sofa Landver said, “Immigrants continue to arrive each day, and the Zionist vision and dream are fulfilled each day, with the same enthusiasm. We should salute the strength and courage to leave everything behind and make Aliyah to Israel, despite the absorption difficulties and the language barrier.”

Noting that “nearly every person in Israel is an immigrant, or an offspring of one,” Lanver said that “we must strengthen our hospitality, and allow them the feeling of coming home.”

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky said he still enjoys going to the airport and seeing the new immigrants step off the plane. “Thousands of generations have prayed that at least their children will come to Jerusalem – and here these prayers are answered,” he said. He added that “the absolute majority of immigrants do so out of free will, as they are faced with many opportunities – and still choose to come here, and this is a great victory for Zionism.”

Sharansky added, tongue-in-cheek, “We cannot forget our partnership with the world’s Jews – we cannot give up on any Jew, even if they are not ‘Orthodox.'”

MK Yehiel Hilik Bar (Zionist Camp), also one of the initiators of the Aliyah Day Law, said, “We tend to take immigration and Aliyah for granted, and so we are marking this day is in order to stress that it is not taken for granted, and that Aliyah has been achieved through hard work, self-sacrifice, loss of human lives, and through endless behind-the-scenes efforts.”

Former director general of the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigration Absorption, MK Oded Forer (Yisrael Beitenu), said emotionally, “The prayer and hope of ‘next year in Jerusalem’ is fulfilled in front of our eyes.”

The Knesset also held a special plenary session in honor of Aliyah Day.

David Israel

‘Jewish Pirates Make Pirates More Interesting’

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

The word Jewish is not a common adjective for pirate. But there was a time when Jewish pirates roamed parts of the world. What those Jewish pirates were seeking was not riches, but retribution, revenge for the displacement and murder of so many Jews by the Spaniards during the Inquisition.

The story is a fascinating one and the Israeli Californian Arnon Shorr wants to share it with the world.

Shorr’s enthusiasm for “The Pirate Captain Toledano” is contagious. He speaks and writes in full, descriptive paragraphs about Hollywood, pirates, the Inquisition, and what makes a good movie. He also speaks eloquently about why the script he’s written is not just a pirate movie and not just a Jewish movie, but a rich, exciting tale that brings history alive and happens to be about Jews who were pirates.

Shorr first became fascinated with moviemaking when he was ten years old. He was dumbstruck when, while watching “Jurassic Park” and seeing the credits at the end, he realized that some people have a job as moviemakers! This realization ignited a lifelong fascination with cinematic story telling.

The recipient of many awards for the films he has made, this latest one, “The Pirate Captain Toledo,” holds a special place in Shorr’s heart. Pirate movies had not been especially intriguing to him, he recently told the JewishPress.com, until a friend gave him the book “Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean.” Shorr loved the history revealed in that book for several reasons.

One, rather than greed as the incentive for thrills on the high seas, this historically accurate book provided a fascinating motivation for the piracy. These were not just pirates who happened to be Jews, these Jews were pirates precisely because they were Jewish: a people, dispossessed and cast from their homes because of maniacal Jew-hatred. This made the pirates more interesting and the Jews more interesting. The fact that the Jews were sephardic was especially appealing to Shorr, whose mother’s family is from Libya. That these Jews were brave swashbucklers was also a lure. Enough with the Woody Allen neurotic types!

The book proved an inspiration for a film script that Shorr says came to him about a year after reading the book. The entire script struck him as a complete thought:”literally, whole-cloth.”

Shorr never planned to be a movie maker of Jewish films, but he explained why many of his films have had a Jewish narrative – sometimes subtle, sometimes not.

“I grew up in such a multiplicity of Jewish lives and stories, I find that Jewish identities and narratives often find their way into my work. I’ve written screenplays that re-interpret the Golem legend in a contemporary American setting, and that re-tell the Exodus as a post-Apocalyptic action adventure,” Shorr explained. “I even have an outline for a Jewish/Christian Romeo and Juliet story set in rural Iowa.”

But making a pirate film isn’t as easy as making many other kinds of movies. Large ships are expensive, for example. And Shorr couldn’t rely on the usual suspects to have his film made.

Shorr explained why this Jewish-themed story was unlikely to be financed by Hollywood. He doesn’t hold a grudge and he’s not claiming anti-Semitism. It’s just that “Hollywood tends to follow trends, rather than creating them, so until there’s enough market precedent for Jewish narratives working in the mainstream, it’s an uphill battle to convince Hollywood executives to consider such projects.”

So, kind of like his Jewish pirates taking matters into their own hands, Shorr is tackling this project himself. This approach gives him the free hand to develop the storyline without reliance on Jewish shtick – you won’t find a caricature of a charedi Jew or a Judaism-rejecting one in Shorr’s film. His Jewish pirate retains a connection to Judaism while on his quest for revenge.

For funding, Shorr turned to Jewcer.com, a crowdfunding source for Jewish projects. You can see him there in a video describing the project and seeking support.


Shorr believes that if the story is good, audiences will love it. This is so whether or not traditional producers might have shied away from a “Jewish story” that doesn’t feature typical Jewish characters.

“It’s not that there needs to be a Jewish pirate movie because the fact of piracy makes Jews more interesting. There needs to be a Jewish pirate movie because Jewish pirates make more interesting pirates,” the filmmaker continues.

“That this movie gives us an opportunity to refresh a Jewish narrative is an important ancillary benefit, but if a story really is amazing, it can be as ‘Jewish’ as it needs to be – it’ll never be ‘too Jewish,'” says Shorr. And what’s just as fascinating is, just as Shorr described, the story gives far greater texture to the traditional cliched pirate persona.

The Jewcer campaign ends on Nov. 20. The Ocean Institute at Dana Point, an enthusiastic supporter of the project and one on whose ships “The Pirate Captain Toledano” will be made, if all comes to fruition, is also offering special treats for the higher donors to the project. Those goodies include private tours of the ships and even a private catered dinner for 20 (kosher food is a possibility) on one of the tall ships.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Russian MP Affirms Jews’ Temple Mount Ties, Foreign Minister Calls Israel’s UNESCO Reaction ‘Over the Top’

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

A delegation of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday held meetings at the Russian Federation Council — the upper house of the country’s Federal Assembly. Addressing the criticism of Russia’s vote in favor of UNESCO’s resolution which ignores the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the chairman of the Council of the Federation Committee on Foreign Affairs, Konstantin Kosachev, said Russia has never questioned the Jews’ right to the Temple Mount, nor has it questioned the right of others to the holy site.

However, in late October, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told TASS that Israel’s emotional approach to resolutions of UNESCO on Jerusalem is “not quite justified,” suggesting the Israelis’ “emotions are over the top.”

“Israelis have a sensitive attitude toward that issue,” he said, “But this time we felt that Israelis’ emotions are a bit over the top in that issue,” Gatilov said, adding that “in this regard, the excessively emotional approach of Israel is not quite justified.”

Knesset Committee Chairman MK Avi Dichter (Likud), and MKs Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beitenu), Eyal Ben-Reuven (Zionist Camp) and Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid), and their hosts stressed the importance of the relations between the countries, as well as the need to continue the diplomatic and security dialogue and continue developing the economic, cultural and technological ties.

The talks also focused on Israel’s and Russia’s mutual interest in seeking regional stability and combating terror, and ideas on how to cooperate were discussed.

As to the Russian government’s decision on paying working pensions to Israelis who immigrated from the former Soviet Union, the officials said the decision is supposed to be approved by the State Duma (the lower house of the Russian parliament) and the Federation Council by the end of the year.

The delegation also met with the Russia-Israel Friendship Association, and attended a dinner hosted by the Israeli ambassador. The dinner was also attended by four chairpersons of committees in the State Duma and the Federation Council, as well as by Russia’s chief rabbi.

On Tuesday the MKs are scheduled to meet with representatives of the Israeli Foreign Ministry in Moscow, with President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy to the Middle East, Mikhail Bogdanov, with members of the State Duma’s Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Defense Committee, and with the deputy head of the National Security Council.

David Israel

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