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July 28, 2016 / 22 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘meet’

Meet the Activist Rabbi and his Gay Bodyguard: the Knesset’s Most Incredible Allies

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

By Jesse Lempel/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – Looking at the two newest lawmakers for the Likud party, you would never guess they were close friends: Yehuda Glick is a Brooklyn-born Orthodox rabbi who built his career on pressing for Jewish prayer on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount; Amir Ohana is the first openly gay parliamentarian of the center-right Likud party and founder of its LGBT Caucus.

Yet the two men share an extraordinarily unique bond that began in earnest in 2014 when Glick was gunned down by an Arab would-be assassin, an attack he miraculously survived. After being released from the hospital, the death threats continued pouring in – yet the police declined to provide protection.

That’s when Amir Ohana, a relatively unknown LGBT activist from the southern city of Be’er Sheva and a former agent with the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), stepped in: he volunteered to be Glick’s personal bodyguard.

“I’m not a religious person, but I believe in freedom – and it was my honor to defend freedom,” Ohana, 40, explained in a recent interview with Tazpit Press Service (TPS) that took place, together with Glick, 51, in Ohana’s office in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. “I don’t hold religious views but I can respect our legacy and our history as a people. What I want is for everyone to be free to pray wherever they want, and the Temple Mount is the holiest place for Jews.”

The Temple Mount, however, also houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock complex – the third holiest site in Islam. The shrine has been a frequent flashpoint of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and tensions surrounding the site – in particular Palestinian claims that Israelis, including Glick personally, are “invading” and “defiling” the complex by visiting – are widely seen as underlying the most recent wave of terror attacks against Israelis.

Because of that tension, for the last several months all members of the Israeli parliament – Jewish and Arab alike – have been banned from visiting the holy site by order of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, head of the Likud party. And in keeping with the “status quo” on the site: Jews may visit sections of the compound in small groups, and only during designated hours, but are evicted if they attempt to pray.

Both Glick and Ohana strongly protest this policy. Glick has been perhaps the most visible advocate of Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount and, with his striking red beard, has become something of an infamous figure in the Arabic-language media and social networking platforms, where he has been caricaturized as a serpentine villain.

Glick as snake

The hatred directed at Glick eventually led to his near-assassination and, later on, brought him together with Ohana – who is now, as chance would have it, his colleague in the Knesset.

The ‘Enemy of Al-Aqsa’

On the night of October 29, 2014, Glick was leaving an event at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem. At 10:04 p.m. Mutaz Hijazi, a Palestinian from eastern Jerusalem, showed up on a motorbike.

“This guy stops right next to me on his motorcycle, wearing a white helmet and all black,” Glick recalled to TPS. “He says to me, in Hebrew, ‘I’m very sorry.’ I said, ‘What are you sorry about?’ I get close to him and he says to me, ‘You are an enemy of Al-Aqsa’ and he takes out a pistol and shoots four bullets into the center of my body.”

As Hijazi sped off, Glick staggered along with four bullets in his torso.

“My wife hid under the steering wheel. I saw that I was bleeding and – I have no explanation for this – I had no pain. I managed to walk maybe twenty yards, then I collapsed,” Glick said. “I heard Shai [Malka] say, ‘We just witnessed murder.’ He rips off my shirt and yells to me, ‘[Rabbi] Yehuda, don’t go! We need you!’ That was the last sentence I remember.”

Within a few hours, Israeli security agents – “Amir’s friends” in the Shin Bet, Glick says – discovered footage of Hijazi on the security camera from St. Andrew’s Scottish Church adjacent to the scene of the shooting. By 4 a.m. Israeli forces had tracked Hijazi to his family’s home in the Abu Tor neighborhood and, following a shootout on the roof, killed him.

Hijazi was a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, but a local official of the mainstream Fatah party also claimed responsibility for the “heroic act.”

“I knew there were threats, but I didn’t really believe that it could happen,” Glick said of his attitude before the shooting. “I also believed we have a democratic country and people don’t kill people because they have different views.”

“Now he’s dead and I’m alive,” Glick summed up.

‘A Zealot for Human Rights’

For all the fury he attracts from extremists in the Arab world, as well as from his left wing colleagues (one of whom boycotted his swearing-in ceremony at the Knesset), Glick also faces a backlash from rightist Israelis who recoil from some of his more liberal ideas – including his acceptance of non-Orthodox Jews, his criticism of an Israeli soldier who shot an already-wounded Palestinian terrorist, and his extensive interfaith work (which, according to Glick, was sparked by hours spent in his Bedouin .

Ohana, too, finds himself in the odd position of fending off attacks from opposing sides of the aisle. As he attended the Tel Aviv Pride Parade nearly two weeks ago, despite remarks from some of his right-wing political allies who have crudely likened the to parade to a celebration of bestiality, Ohana also received threats from some in the largely liberal gay community who despise his nationalist politics – so much so that the police, in a twist of fate, decided to provide Ohana with a personal bodyguard for the march. (The interview with Glick and Ohana took place before massacre at the gay bar in Orlando this past weekend and before the terror attack at Tel Aviv’s Sarona Market last week, at which Ohana happened to be present.)

“In Israel it’s quite unique. When you talk about right and left, unlike everywhere else in the world, you primarily talk about the Arab-Israeli conflict,” Ohana explains. “So there is no reason why a person can’t be right wing – and even, as I’m sometimes called, a hawkish right winger – and yet support LGBT rights, women’s rights, freedom of speech, everything that is considered liberal. We are a liberal national party.”

Remarkably, despite all their drastically different backgrounds and religious beliefs, Glick and Ohana seem to share this view. Both men seem determined to fight for issues beyond their own sectarian interests – whether it’s Ohana, the LGBT activist, protecting Glick’s struggle for the Temple Mount, or Glick, the Orthodox rabbi, irritating his base by supporting non-Orthodox women’s prayer groups at the Western Wall, for example, and even gay rights.

“I’m a zealot when it comes to human rights and respecting every single human being,” Glick boasts. “I think that every single person deserves rights. I mean it’s obvious, you know, we’re living in a democratic country.”

Does he, then, support gay marriage, an impossibility under the current Israeli arrangement in which marriage is governed by the Orthodox rabbinate?

“I support that he should have every single right he deserves,” Glick says somewhat evasively, pointing to Ohana, and referring to Ohana’s partner: “I know that he has a wonderful mate.”

Yet when asked why he wouldn’t attend the Tel Aviv Pride Parade, Glick replied: “I don’t see a problem with [going to the parade], but I wouldn’t go because other people might see me as a problem,” adding that he went to visit Shira Banki, a teenage girl stabbed by a Jewish religious extremist at the Jerusalem Pride Parade in 2015, while she was in the hospital. Shortly afterward, Banki died of her wounds.

‘Jerusalem of Peace’

Glick was sworn in to his parliament post in late May, following the resignation of former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. As our interview ended, he decided to inaugurate his new office by placing the ritual mezuzah on the doorpost – a small box holding verses of the Torah which is thought to protect one’s home.

Ohana tags along to Glick’s new office, borrowing a kippa from an aide, and the two hang the mezuzah together.

“I protected you once, so I may as well finish the job,” Ohana quips.

Glick then declares that his office has a name.

“This isn’t Yehuda Glick’s office,” he says. “It’s called ‘Jerusalem of Peace.’”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Did Raoul Wallenberg Meet Gerald Ford?

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

Raoul Wallenberg (born in 1912, date of death unknown) was a Swedish diplomat who became immortal through his selfless and heroic efforts to save Hungarian Jews. His moral and ethical courage stood in stark contrast to the world’s appalling failure to rescue Jews during the Holocaust, and he remains, with Anne Frank and Oscar Schindler, among the best-known names to emerge from the largely nameless mass of victims and heroes of the Holocaust.

President Reagan granted him honorary American citizenship in 1981, making him only the second person so honored (Winston Churchill was the other), and Israel awarded him honorary citizenship in 1986.

Singer-060316-WallenbergWallenberg’s autograph is one of the rarest and most expensive for Judaica document collectors. The reasons are obvious: he was a low-level diplomat from a foreign country and during his lifetime there was no reason for anyone to care about his signature or to save and value it. In addition, he disappeared into the Russian Gulag at a very young age (32) and almost immediately after he had gained fame. While a few Shutz-passes (letters of protection issued by Wallenberg to Hungarian Jews) signed by him do exist (though they are rarities), other autographed documents are virtually non-existent.

Exhibited with this column is an August 21, 1943 correspondence on Wallenberg’s personal letterhead regarding Central European Trading Company business, which may be the only Wallenberg correspondence in private hands in the world today. (In my many years of collecting Judaica documents, I have never seen another.)

Though the content is rather mundane, referring to a relatively straightforward and simple business transaction involving an unspecified method of payment, an error in the draft contract, and the validation of a chattel mortgage, it is a truly extraordinary rarity. (I encourage any readers interested in a verbatim translation of the letter to contact me at saul.singer@verizon.net.)

While conducting research on Wallenberg in 1997, I learned that he had attended the University of Michigan in the 1930s. I was intrigued because I had recently investigated another famous person who, to the best of my recollection, had also attended Michigan around the same time. This led to the intriguing discovery of a remarkable and generally unknown fact: Wallenberg and Gerald Ford (1913-2006) graduated from the University of Michigan together in 1935. I wrote to the former president about this astonishing coincidence and, in this August 6, 1997 letter, he responded as follows:

 

Dear Mr. Singer:

Regrettably, to the best of my recollection, I do not recall meeting or speaking with Raoul Wallenberg while a student at the University of Michigan – September 1931 to June 1935.

I have tremendous admiration for him, so I regret we apparently never met.

Singer-060316-Ford

An architect by profession, Wallenberg was a member of a prominent and wealthy Swedish banking family. In 1936, in the course of his business, he traveled to Eretz Yisrael, where he spent six months in Haifa studying management at the Holland Bank and where he first met Jewish German refugees. He was introduced to Kalman Lauer, a Hungarian Jew and owner of the Central European Trading Company, a specialty export firm. As a Jew, Lauer found it virtually impossible to travel to Hungary, the main market for his specialty foods, and Wallenberg became his partner and trade representative. While visiting Nazi-occupied Europe on the company’s behalf, he personally witnessed the Nazi persecution of the Jews and agonized over their plight. Wallenberg’s maternal grandmother, Sophie Wising, in whose home he was raised, was “one-fourth Jewish” – enough to be included in Eichmann’s transport, had she lived – and Raoul was enormously proud of his Jewish roots, occasionally exaggerating the extent of his Jewish heritage.

Because the Hungarian government had mostly refused to cooperate with the Nazi deportation of Jews, the largest community of surviving European Jews could be found there, but that changed on March 19, 1944 when a furious Hitler sent in his own occupying forces and Eichmann began rounding up Hungarian Jews and sending them to Auschwitz. At the request of the United States government and the World Jewish Congress, the Swedish government asked Wallenberg to serve as an attaché in Budapest (1944), and he thus became in essence the representative of the newly-established U.S. War Refugee Board, whose charge was to rescue as many surviving European Jews as possible. Wallenberg, having already volunteered to bring Lauer’s relatives out of Hungary, seized the opportunity to help other Jews there.

Using his diplomatic status as cover for a heroic rescue mission that became legend, he printed and distributed Shutz-passes – a fabrication of his inventive mind which became known as “Wallenberg passports” – and he established the “International Ghetto” through the purchase of 30 safe houses where over 33,000 Jews found refuge.

In November 1944, when thousands of Budapest Jews were forced on a death march to the Austrian border, Wallenberg followed them in a truck convoy and distributed food and medicine and managed to free about 500 of them. He literally ran after Nazi death marches distributing Swedish identity passes and ushering doomed Jews by the thousands to safety. In one notable incident, he thrust himself in front of a group of Jews who had been selected for deportation and announced to the Nazis: “This is Swedish territory…. If you want to take them, you’ll have to shoot me first.”

Though exposed to great personal danger at all times, Wallenberg succeeded in saving many thousands of Jews from certain death through threats, bribery, blackmail, and sheer strength of conviction. Perhaps his greatest single act took place during the final days before the fall of Budapest to the Russians, when the Hungarian fascists were planning the immediate liquidation of the more than 100,000 inhabitants of the Budapest Jewish ghetto. Wallenberg warned that the executioners of this mass murder would be tried as war criminals after the war, and the ghetto was left alone.

In December 1944, Wallenberg attended a dinner party in Budapest where he found himself sharing a table with Adolf Eichmann. He pointed out to Eichmann that the war was almost over and urged the Nazi barbarian to give up his mission of mass murder. Eichmann maintained that he would walk to the gallows, head held high, with the knowledge that he had fulfilled his Fuhrer’s orders and successfully carried out his assignment.

He added a not-so-subtle threat that even a neutral diplomat could meet with an “accident,” but before that threat could be executed – although in once incident Raoul escaped injury when his car was blown up – the Red Army marched into Budapest in January 1945.

Wallenberg was last seen on January 17, 1945, leaving Budapest by car to meet Soviet military officials in Eastern Hungary. The Soviet motivation for taking him prisoner is unclear, and speculation continues even to this day; one theory suggests the Russians suspected him of being an American agent.

His ultimate fate, which remains an abiding mystery, has been the subject of controversy for decades. The Soviets persistently denied all knowledge of his disappearance until 1957, when Deputy Foreign Minister Andre Gromyko alleged that Wallenberg had died ten years earlier of a heart attack in a Soviet prison. Notwithstanding periodic subsequent reports from former Soviet prisoners, who alleged that Wallenberg was alive and still incarcerated by the Russians, the sad fact is that Western authorities have never been able to determine the ultimate fate of this great Holocaust hero.

Saul Jay Singer

Meet Israel’s New-Old Immigrant Absorption Minister

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

By Michael Bachner/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – While most eyes have been on Avigdor Liberman being appointed as Defense Minister, another new minister from the Yisrael Beiteinu party was sworn into office on Tuesday afternoon in the Knesset. Incoming Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver, an Olah (immigrant) from Russia, has now returned to the office she headed between 2009 and 2015 and will be in charge of successfully integrating Israel’s many immigrants into society.

Sofa Landver, 66, was born in Leningrad in the Soviet Union (today Saint Petersburg, Russia) and moved to Israel in 1979. After serving in the Ashdod city council and in the Jewish Agency, she was elected as Knesset member for the Labor party in 1996 – the first former Soviet citizen to become a member of the Israeli parliament.

She was a Labor MK until the elections in 2003 when she lost her seat in the parliament. But in 2006 Landver made a significant political shift by leaving the left-wing Labor party and becoming a Knesset member for the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party headed by Avigdor Liberman, another immigrant from the former Soviet Union.

After the last elections in March 2015 Landver was forced to leave her office when her party did not join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition. Ze’ev Elkin, also originally from the Soviet Union, replaced her for one year until Liberman rejoined Netanyahu’s government last week.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Newest MK Yehuda Glick: ‘The Reform Are Jews and the Chief Rabbis Should Meet them’

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

In a surprising interview he gave Haredi radio station Radio Kol Hai, MK Yehuda Glick (Likud), known in the mainstream media as the “rightwing extremist” who advocates Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, used the opportunity to deliver conciliatory messages regarding his position on the relationship between state and religion in general and the Reform movement in particular.

Glick was the next in line on the Likud election list, and when Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon resigned from his office as well as from the Knesset last week, Glick took his legislator seat.

Glick told the Haredi radio listeners that “there’s no need to boycott the Reform, and it wouldn’t be so bad if the chief rabbis had met with them, we need to strengthen everyone. The Reform are Jews, and they deserve their human rights as Jews.” But Glick insisted that “the official body which is responsible for halakhic issues in the State of Israel is the Israeli chief rabbinate. But I believe the rabbinate should be considerate of the entire public, within halakhic limits.”

That part is a bit puzzling, seeing as the chief rabbinate believes it is acting within its halakhic boundaries when it views the Reform movement as an enemy of traditional Judaism and its values. The same chief rabbinate will probably have a hard time complying with MK Glick’s call to “integrate the Reform according to their proportionate presence in the Israeli population,” and his statement, “I believe the Reform movement needs a greater representation in Israel.”

When asked if he believes a Reform rabbi should be allowed to conduct a chupah ceremony, Glick said that, “It isn’t clear why in Israel it is required that weddings be conducted by rabbis. After all, the rabbi has no halakhic role in the chupah ceremony. All you need is the couple and two witnesses.” Glick said “there should be clear instructions as to how to conduct a wedding ceremony, and just as you don’t have to have a rabbi at a circumcision, under the chupah you don’t need a rabbi either.”

Speaking about drafting Yeshiva students to the IDF, an issue which may come up again with Avigdor Lieberman—who believes every young Israeli must serve—taking over the defense ministry. Glick related, “I have two sons who are soldiers and one son-in-law who studies in yeshiva, and I think each one of them contributes his part to the Jewish nation in a dignified way and should be allowed to do so.” Glick said “we should enhance the public’s appreciation of yeshiva students, but anyone who uses his yeshiva as a means for self advancement (meaning cheating the draft and going to work instead of serving) — that’s very serious. Ultra-Orthodox men who are not studying should volunteer in ZAKA or in Yad Sara.”

JNi.Media

Vatican invites Exorcist Director William Friedkin to Meet a Real Dybbuk

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

Jewish American filmmaker William Friedkin, 80, who directed the truly terrifying 1973 horror movie “The Exorcist,” this week told an audience at the Cannes film festival that he was invited by the Vatican’s chief exorcist to film a real exorcism earlier this month, AFP and The Local reported.

“The Exorcist,” named the scariest film of all time by multiple critics, including Roger Ebert  and Stanley Kauffmann, became one of the highest-earning films of all time, grossing more than $441 million worldwide, and was the first horror film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

A scene from The Exorcist

A scene from The Exorcist

Friedkin, who was born in August 1935 in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Jewish immigrants from Ukraine, told the Cannes audience at a late night masterclass, “I was invited by the Vatican exorcist to shoot and video an actual exorcism which… few people have ever seen and which nobody has ever photographed,” and, he insisted, was very similar to his own film. “I was pretty astonished by that. I don’t think I will ever be the same having seen this astonishing thing. I am not talking about some cult, I am talking about an exorcism by the Catholic Church in Rome,” he said.

“There must be something in there,” said Friedkin, who also made “The French Connection,” “Sorcerer,” “Cruising,” “To Live and Die in L.A.,” “Jade,” “Rules of Engagement,” “The Hunted,” “Bug,” and “Killer Joe.”

The late Rabbi Elyah Lopian, one of the leaders of the Mussar Movement in late 19th century eastern Europe, related to his students that Rabbi Israel Meir Kagan, the Chofetz Chaim, sent ten of his students in Radin, Poland, to exorcise a dybbuk from a woman. Rabbi Elhanan Wasserman would repeat the story every Purim. If you’re seeking confirmation of the fact that great Orthodox rabbis also performed exorcism, kindly check A Dybbuk Story.

JNi.Media

Meet The New Jew Haters, Same As The Old Jew Haters

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

The hook-nosed Jew is making a comeback. He may not be featured in the blatantly grotesque caricatures of twentieth-century Nazi propaganda, but remove the thinly veiled overtones and the anti-Semitic content is much the same. New packaging, same vile taste.

Do I sound alarmist? Perhaps. But one can be forgiven for finding parallels to the greatest tragedy that has befallen the Jewish people, especially since that tragedy unfolded a mere seventy years ago. And especially when current parallels are beginning to mirror the origins of that tragedy in terms of methodology and gradual intensity.

Anti-Semitism in our day has been creeping up worldwide much as it did in Nazi Germany – slowly and seemingly linked to other phenomena. Germany did not become a Jew-killing machine overnight. Though the country was always rife with Jew hatred, no one, during Hitler’s early rise, anticipated an out-and-out policy of mass murder. A methodical and increasingly comprehensive trashing of the Jewish character was used to justify the marginalization of Jews, their subjugation, and, finally, their extermination.

A small but notable current exhibit at the New York Historical Society, “Anti-Semitism 1919-1939,” depicts the rise and power of the Nazi party through propaganda. After viewing the display of artifacts, publications, signs, book covers, even currency, I was struck by the dichotomy inherent in German indoctrination leading up to and following the enactment of the Nuremberg Laws of 1935.

A running theme of Nazi propaganda before the Nuremberg Laws was Jewish culpability for the economic disaster that befell Germany following World War I. And it ran the gamut of stereotyping Jews as rich moneygrubbers on the one hand to Bolsheviks and communists on the other. Conspiracy theories of Jewish world domination through capitalism and politics struck an eager chord with Germans ready to blame the devastating inflation and unemployment on anyone but themselves. A Nazi slogan printed on a 1,000 reichsmark banknote in 1932 read “The Jew takes our gold, silver and bacon and leaves us with this garbage…. Come to Hitler, become a National Socialist.”

Once the propaganda took hold, it was easy to transition from the written word to concrete forms of punitive legislation. Because after all, if Jews were responsible for all of Germany’s tribulations, why shouldn’t they be punished by being prohibited from working, studying, and generally living as other Germans? Nazi ideologues no longer had to resort to referencing the “capitalist” or “Bolshevik” evils of the Jews. The gloves came off. Now it was “Dirty Jews” or untermenschen.

It took nearly two decades for Nazi propagandists to push the anti-Semitic tendencies of the Aryan nation to their extreme and brutal conclusion. In our globalized world twenty years seems like an eternity. Which is why, despite the fact that the Holocaust is still recent history and there is widespread awareness that such atrocities can and did indeed happen, any resurgence of anti-Semitism today should be cause for alarm. Particularly when that resurgence seems to be following a distressing pattern.

Anti-Israel sentiment – usually indistinguishable from plain old anti-Semitism – began to grow and spread, almost imperceptibly at first, shortly after the 1967 Six-Day War; took on a harder edge during and after the 1982 Lebanon war; and fairly exploded in the aftermath of the failed Oslo Accords. In the span of two decades, the ill-begotten euphoria over Oslo turned into disappointment and frustration, with Israel almost universally blamed for Palestinian duplicity and terror. The flow of events presented the perfect opportunity for Jew hatred to become legitimate once more.

Substitute the words “capitalists,” “cheaters,” or “parasites” for “occupiers,” “colonizers,” or “Zionist imperialists” and— presto! – you have the new lingo of 21st century anti-Semites. The Protocols of the
Elders of Zion
? Old school. Now there’s the “Powerful Jewish Lobby.” And in the ultimate debasement of language and reality, Jew haters use Holocaust references to castigate Israel for defending itself.

While it would be terribly gauche to yell “dirty Jew” while Holocaust survivors with tattoos on their arms are still alive, there seems to be nothing wrong these days with yelling “Zionist pig.” The virus infests academia and the UN, many mosques and some churches. It thrives in England’s Labour Party and in far left and far right political factions across Europe and South America. How else could BDS have spread so quickly in Europe and on college campuses the world over?

Traditional anti-Semitism from right-wing neo-Nazi type groups exists, but it is not nearly as prevalent as what is coming from the left. And while leftists can hardly be expected to malign Jews as socialists, they’ve borrowed a page from the Nazi handbook to justify singling out the Jew. How easy it is to condemn the Jew for his alleged abuse of others.

Fifty members of England’s Labour Party were recently suspended over anti-Semitic remarks that focused mostly on Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. But can anyone doubt that in many or most of the cases their sentiments are uncomfortably close to the old-fashioned Jew hatred that reigns at England’s Oxford University? The harassment and intimidation of Jewish students there has reached a level that prompted Oxford’s Labour Club co-chairman Alex Chalmers to quit a few months ago after complaining that many of its members “have some kind of problem with Jews.”

Such an admission is a frank assessment of the animosity facing too many Jews today. Although Israel’s critics utilize the phrase “cycle of violence” in a dishonest manner, the cycle does exist between Israel and its enemies, notably the Palestinians. But it goes something like this: incitement against Jews leads to violence against Jews, which in turn increases incitement against Jews.

Last week Israelis celebrated Yom Ha’Atzmaut – Independence Day – immediately after marking Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day. Some see the juxtaposition as one of cause and effect, with the horrors of the Holocaust paving the way for the birth of Israel. A vigorous counterattack is already long overdue against those whose vicious propaganda is aimed at reversing that cause and effect by using Israel to pave the way for more anti-Semitism.

From educators to politicians to the media, such indoctrination must not only be denounced but fought tooth and nail. The battle must begin with exposing the haters and their methods and end with ridding the world of its oldest scourge.

Sara Lehmann

Netanyahu and Herzog Meet to Discuss ‘Unity’ Coalition Amid Labor Party Backlash

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

By Jonathan Benedek/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Opposition leader and Zionist Union faction Chairman Isaac Herzog met on Sunday night to discuss the prospects of establishing a national unity government, according to a report by Israel’s Channel 2.

The meeting took place despite fierce backlash from members of Herzog’s Labor party and his political allies, who consider joining Netanyahu a betrayal, and recent polls showing Herzog’s support plummeting.

“I am not deterred by polls like these, which are about momentary fads,” said Herzog in comments to a closed conference aired on Tuesday by Israel Army Radio. “When checking them thoroughly, we can see that most of the public does not know what they mean, and still gives 30% support to the move, most of whom are from the bloc that I lead rather than the bloc on the right.”

Herzog explained last week that he will join Netanyahu’s coalition if he is given the “mandate” to deal with serious issues facing the country, including “to separate from the Palestinians” and “to make the United States and Europe our allies again.”

MK Shelly Yachimovich, a former Labor party head, is one of several of party members to strenuously object to a national unity government.

“This was an offer that should have been rejected with contempt long ago,” Yachimovich wrote last week in her weekly newsletter.

“It wouldn’t be a unity government,” she added. “It would be a right-wing government in every way, with Labor creeping in without conditions to get portfolios and positions.”

Opposition to a national unity government has also been pushed by members of the Coalition, including Likud MK Yoav Kisch.

“A narrow government that is faithful to settlements is better than a broad government lacking in values,” said Kisch last Thursday, implicitly claiming that a unity government with the Zionist Union would undermine the government’s ability to continue construction in Judea and Samaria.

“The very act of negotiating with Netanyahu is political profiteering and job trading. It’s disgraceful and constitutes a betrayal of the public trust,” Labor party MK Stav Shafir commented on Sunday.

Herzog dismissed such objections during a private meeting with Labor party activists in a recording aired Sunday on Israel’s Channel 10 news.

“If we can speak with Mahmoud Abbas, we can speak with Netanyahu,” Herzog said, referring to the president of the Palestinian Authority.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/netanyahu-and-herzog-meet-to-discuss-unity-coalition-amid-labor-party-backlash/2016/05/17/

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