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December 22, 2014 / 30 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Operation Cast Lead’

TED Publishes Anti-Israel Lies in Interview With Arab Photographer

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Who doesn’t love TED?

For those who don’t know, TED is the phenomenally popular series of lectures that began as a one-off conference in 1984 showcasing the convergence of Technology, Entertainment and Design. TED now encompasses almost every conceivable category, so long as people In The Know deem it is, or will be, great.

TED is run by a non-profit foundation and is best known for the 18 minute talks given by the hundreds of presenters chosen by the TED staff. TED also hosts conferences, sells books, encourages independent “TEDx” events and takes on “TED Fellows.”

There is an in-depth interview with a Gazan female photojournalist chosen as a TED fellow in 2014. It was posted on the TED Blog on April 25, 2014. The now-26 year old Eman Mohammed spoke with Karen Eng, part of the TED writers team.

Much of what Mohammed discusses during the interview has to do with the wildly misogynistic culture of Middle Eastern men. Mohammed insists that the misogyny is not dictated by Islam, but is instead an oppressive cultural norm.

In Islam, you’re allowed to work, you’re allowed to be in the field. And men have to respect you because you’re a woman, regardless of what you do, as long as it doesn’t go against Islamic rules. You can’t be, say, an escort or something like that. That goes against modesty rules. But you can be anything else, if you want to. Photography doesn’t offend Islam in any way. So it was never an issue religiously speaking, but it was a huge issue culturally speaking.

Mohammed also discusses, naturally, her work. Her truly spectacular photographs have been used by such major players as Getty Images, The Washington Post, Le Monde, the Guardian, UNICEF and Save the Children.

On the TED blog, Mohammed was allowed to caption her own pictures. In those captions and during brief sections of the interview, Mohammed provided wildly inaccurate accounts of the activities, ethical standards, and operating procedures of the Israel Defense Forces.

In discussing how she was injured while photographing an incident during the Cast Lead Operation in Gaza in 2008, Mohammed attributed to the IDF a particularly heinous practice for which Palestinian Arab terrorists are notorious.

There had been an air strike on a police compound, and I was there afterwards. The thing about the Israeli military, when they start an air strike, they wait for civilians and medical teams to arrive, and then they strike again, so they can have biggest number of casualties.

Before the erection of the Security Fence, when homicide bombers were regularly terrorizing Israel, it happened that an initial bombing was followed by a second one, timed so that it would explode when rescue workers and onlookers had rushed in to help the wounded at the initial bombing site.

The IDF, in stark contrast, dropped over two and a half million leaflets throughout Gaza, and phoned and texted the residents there, warning them of impending attacks.

As the media watchdog organization CAMERA, which was the first to notice the problematic TED interview and wrote about it in an article published in its Hebrew publication, Presspectiva, continued,

Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of the British forces in Afghanistan addressed the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2009, praising the “extraordinary measures” that Israel took in Cast Lead to avoid civilian casualties:

I am the former commander of the British forces in Afghanistan. I served with NATO and the United Nations; commanded troops in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Macedonia; and participated in the Gulf War. I spent considerable time in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, and worked on international terrorism for the UK Government’s Joint Intelligence Committee.

Mr. President, based on my knowledge and experience, I can say this: During Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Defence Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.

Israel did so while facing an enemy that deliberately positioned its military capability behind the human shield of the civilian population.

Hamas, like Hizballah, are expert at driving the media agenda. Both will always have people ready to give interviews condemning Israeli forces for war crimes. They are adept at staging and distorting incidents.

The truth is that the IDF took extraordinary measures to give Gaza civilians notice of targeted areas, dropping over 2 million leaflets, and making over 100,000 phone calls. Many missions that could have taken out Hamas military capability were aborted to prevent civilian casualties. During the conflict, the IDF allowed huge amounts of humanitarian aid into Gaza. To deliver aid virtually into your enemy’s hands is, to the military tactician, normally quite unthinkable. But the IDF took on those risks.

Despite all of this, of course innocent civilians were killed. War is chaos and full of mistakes. There have been mistakes by the British, American and other forces in Afghanistan and in Iraq, many of which can be put down to human error. But mistakes are not war crimes.

There is other misinformation provided as fact by Mohammed which the TED writer and/or editor failed to suggest were anything but fact. She discusses as fact, the highly disputed use of white phosphorous by Israel in the 2008-09 Cast Lead Operation, and the specific targeting of civilians and residential areas. Several of those points are addressed in the CAMERA article, which has been translated into English.

Shindler’s Listless Op-Ed in the NYT

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

In his NYTimes op-ed, “Bibi’s Big PR Stunt“, Colin Shindler writes as if he’s become unmoored from comprehending what Benyamin Netanyahu actually said.

Some examples:

a.   It seems that Mr. Netanyahu wishes to define the country as the nation-state solely of the Jews. 

b.   Israel’s first right-wing prime minister, Menachem Begin, did not make the 1979 Camp David agreement with Egypt conditional on recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. 

c.   The suggestion that Israel should be recognized as a Jewish state emerged clearly after the Israeli army’s offensive in Gaza, Operation Cast Lead.

d.   It seems that the idea only became a matter of apparent Zionist conviction with the formation of Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition with far-right parties in 2009. 

e.   For many of the early Zionists, a “Jewish state” meant a state with a Jewish majority in which the Jews could exercise national self-determination. It did not mean an exclusive state of only Jews. Nor did it suggest an implicit “transfer” of its Arab inhabitants. Even Vladimir Jabotinsky, the revered forefather of the Israeli right and a close associate of Mr. Netanyahu’s father, remarked in January 1938 that “it must be hateful for any Jew to think that the rebirth of a Jewish state should ever be linked with such an odious suggestion as the removal of its non-Jewish citizens.”

f.   In the context of the unresolved situation on the West Bank, it purports to elevate Jewishness over democratic norms.

Now, let’s do the simple thing first.  Review what Mr. Netanyahu said on May 4, 2014.

“The State of Israel is a Jewish and democratic state. Our basic laws give full expression to the democratic side of the state. We do this by providing full equal rights to every citizen in Israel…

…On the other hand, that the State of Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish People is not sufficiently expressed in our basic laws, and this is what the draft basic law is meant to provide. It will define the national right of the Jewish People over the State of Israel, without infringing on the individual rights of any Israeli citizen in the State of Israel…It will anchor in a basic law the status of the national symbols – flag, anthem, language and other aspects of our national experience. These aspects are under a constant and increasing assault from abroad and at home.

But the foundation of the existence of the State of Israel stems from its being the national home of the Jewish People and from the Jewish People’s deep links to the Land of Israel. Of course, there are those who do not want the State of Israel to be defined [so]…They want a Palestinian nation-state to be established alongside us and that Israel should gradually become a binational, Arab-Jewish state inside shrunken borders…

The State of Israel provides full equal rights, individual rights, to all its citizens, but it is the nation-state of one people only – the Jewish People – and of no other people. And therefore, in order to bolster the status of the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish People, I intend to submit a basic law that will anchor this status [and that]…the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state are preserved.

…during the previous government’s term, proposed a draft law on this issue, I announced immediately that I would support it…

If anyone can claim, even in the pages of the New York Times which gets its “facts” about Israel wrong on too many occasions, that what Prof. Shindler (whom I know personally) asserted and what Netanyahu said are similar, I guess there is something wrong with their reading glasses.

Israel Explodes the ‘Big Lie’ – Gaza Al Dura Boy Wasn’t Killed

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

An official Israeli government report declared Sunday that Mohammed al-Dura, the 12-year-old boy whose picture convinced the entire world that the IDF had killed him, not only did not die but also may never have been shot.

Now, 13 years after the supposed killing that incited the senseless murders of Israelis as well as Jews throughout the world, the Israel government report categorically concluded that the France 2 report was much more of a hoax than thought several years ago.

For a close look at the footage, click here.

“Contrary to the claim that the boy was dead, the committee’s review of the raw footage indicates that at the end of the video – the part that was not broadcast – the boy appears to be alive,” according to the report by the Ministry of International Affairs and Strategy.

“The probe has found that there is no evidence to support the claims that the father, Jamal, or the boy Mohammed, were shot. Furthermore, the video does not show Jamal being seriously wounded. On the other hand, many signs indicate that the two were never hit by the bullets.”

The panel was comprised of officials from the Defense and Foreign ministries, experts from outside the government and the police, and it was headed by Yossi Kuperwasser, former director general of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs.

The revelation puts another nail in the coffin of the “Al Dura news report” that was challenged by a French Jew, Philippe Karsenty, who charged that France 2 journalist Charles Enderlin created a media lie by broadcasting edited footage that alleged that the IDF killed the boy.

An emotionally wrenching photo that was seen around the world shows Mohammed supposedly crying out as he and his father took cover during a gun battle between the IDF and Palestinian Authority terrorists at the beginning of what has been termed the Second Intifada, also known as the Oslo War, in 2000.

The alleged shooting of Mohammed Al Dura was filmed by Talal Abu Rahma, a Palestinian Authority photographer who free-lanced for France 2. The film lasts for 55 seconds and shows the boy screaming before the sound of gunfire, followed by a scene of the boy apparently dead over his father’s legs.

Enderlin told viewers the boy was killed and had been the “target of fire from the Israeli positions.” The gunfight occurred on the second day of the Oslo War and spread venom throughout the Arab world, inciting terrorist against Israel.

To make matters worse, the IDF apologized within 24 hours even though the military had not verified the alleged shooting.

The timing of Sunday’s government report is astounding because a French court is to rule later this week on a libel suit filed by Enderlin against Karsenty, who previously was backed by a lower French court, which stated that Karsenty presented a “coherent mass of evidence” and that the Palestinian Authority cameraman for France 2 was not “perfectly credible.”

Karsenty’s investigation revealed that France 2 had edited the film and it was not clear whether the boy died from Israeli or Palestinian Authority fire. At the same time, media watchdogs began documenting “Pallywood” productions that the Palestinian Authority staged for journalists, who gobbled up faked scenes of supposedly wounded Arab victims of IDF gunfire who magically were later seen walking around freely after having been shoved into ambulances.

From a further perspective, the Israeli report punctures another Big Lie that has haunted Israel ever since the Six-Day War in 1967 way.

A small sample of other lies includes:

–   Israel  occupied Judea and Samaria, most of which were in fact taken over by Jordan without any international authorization;

–   Children of Arabs who were chased out of Israel or who fled Israel are ”refugees,” a second generation status that the United Nations does not grant to anyone in the world except Arabs who claim Israel as their home;

–  Israel aggressively attacked Lebanese “guerillas” who pulverized northern residents before the “Peace for the Galilee campaign, now known as the First Lebanese War, in which Israel established a security zone in southern Lebanon to defend the north;

–  Israel committee war crimes for years, especially during the Operation Cast Lead counterterrorist campaign in the winter of 2008-2009. The United Nations Goldstone report claimed Israel for dozens of war crimes but the report’s author, Judge Richard Goldstone, later admitted that had he known then what he knows now, he would have reached different conclusions;

–Israel built an “Apartheid’ Wall that creates a separation between Jews and Arabs. In fact, most of the “wall” that runs for more than 200 miles is a fence, which has helped reduce the number of suicide terrorist attacks against to near zero. The fence also does not “keep out” Arabs because Israel operates checkpoints at numerous gates to make sure that Arabs who are not terrorists can travel freely into the rest of Israel; and

–  Israel “degrades” Palestinian Authority Arabs at checkpoints, even though it uses the same search methods that the United States and other Western countries use at airports and borders.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said after the new report was released that the France 2 film in 2000 “was an example of the deceitful delegitimization that we are constantly subject to. There is only one way to battle lies – by telling the truth.”

The supposed killing of the boy has been cited as the catalyst for the grizzly and barbaric lynching IDF reservists the following month in Ramallah, where they had arrived by mistake. The “Al Dura incident” also was said to have incited the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl as well as Osama bin Laden.

The question remains whether Mohammed al Dura was ever wounded, or if he even was a real person.

There is a less of a question concerning the credibility of international coverage of Israel.

Day by day, reports covering the “peace process” and the “Palestinian struggle” show fatigue in continuing to report Arab claims that have become so ludicrous that they simply are ignored.

Without media support, and without media incitement, the Palestinian Authority is increasingly being left with an audience of one hand clapping.

One other question arises: Can France 2 can be accused of inciting war crimes against Israel?

Boston Bombers Wanted to Attack July 4th, but Couldn’t Wait

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

The Boston Marathon bombers had planned to stage a major attack on a crowded area of the city during July 4th Independence Day celebrations, but they struck on Patriots’ Day because they had assembled their pressure cooker bombs sooner than expected.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, whose brother Tamerlan was killed in  the massive manhunt for the perpetrators of the Marathon bombings, told the FBI that had planned grisly “fireworks” by attacking a large celebration along the city’s Charles River.

Having finished constructing the bombs in Tamerlan’s apartment ahead of schedule, they drove around Boston until they decided to strike at the finish line of the Marathon, where three people were killed. Many of the more than 260 who were wounded lost logs and arms.

One law enforcement official told The Washington Post that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s version may not be true because the bombs were so complex that it is not certain they could have built the bombs as quickly as they claim without outside help.

Both law enforcement officials expressed some skepticism about Tsarnaev’s account, saying that the complexity of the bombs made it unlikely that the brothers could have completed them as fast as he claimed.

“Maybe we will never know. This is the story that he is telling us,” the official said.

The younger Tsarnaev said he and his brother struck out of anger at the United States for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They also were influenced by radical Muslim clerics who incite their followers to kill and be glorified by Allah.

Regardless of whether the brothers acted alone, and regardless of the fine legal point distinguishing between “terrorists” and “murders,” there is a basic similarity between them and terrorist organizations, particularly  Al Qaeda, Hezbollah and Hamas.

All three of these terrorist groups are involved in Gaza, which Hamas controls but with increasing difficulty because of their rivals’ appetite for blood.

That is a common thread, or gene, that seems to connect terrorists and murderers.

Hamas has amassed thousands of tons of explosives and advanced weapons far beyond what most people imagine. Hezbollah in Lebanon has stockpiled so many missiles it has been described as having more  than any government in the world outside of the United States.

Like the Tsarnaev brothers, these terrorist groups live by a creed of  “attack or perish.”

There mission in life is to kill Jews, Westerners, Christians, homosexuals and even Muslims who are in anyway linked to one of the above.

That is why every senior Israeli military officer involved with Gaza and Lebanon has said that it is only a matter of time until the “next round” will come and with worse consequences than the previous.

That’s is why a “ceasefire” agreement is only a pause, and why the “Second Intifada” is not the last.

When Hamas first began attacking Israelis more than 20 years ago, it was with primitive Kassam rockets. With each round of violence, their missiles reached deeper into Israel.

Everyone knows they had longer-range missiles, but the government agreed with “ceasefires” to calm down the terrorists – until their need for rage could not be contained any more.

Before the IDF’s Operation Cast Lead counterterrorist campaign four years ago, Hamas struck Ashkelon and Ashdod.

Before and during the Pillar of Defense campaign last November, they struck Tel Aviv and  the outskirts of Jerusalem.

They have even more devastating weapons, such as anti-aircraft missiles than can down a commercial airline,. That is why military and civilians airlines have changed their landing and take-off patterns to steer clear of Gaza.

And that is why Dzhokhar and Tamerlan did not wait for the Fourth of July.

Unless terrorists and murders disarmed, they usually are driven buy their objective to use the rigger finger, and nothing usually stops them except bullets.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev no longer is around to attack more Americans in Boston, Times Square or anywhere else. Tamerlan probably die in jail if not executed.

No one knows if America is seething with a few, or dozens or hundreds or thousands of terrorist-in-the-making.

But wherever they are, like Hamas, Hezbollah and  Al Qaeda, they will attack as soon as they can – unless someone gets them first.

IDF to Phase Out Use of White Phosphorus

Monday, April 29th, 2013

The IDF said it will stop using shells containing white phosphorus, although the military’s controlled use of them is legal.

Phosphorus generally is used to set up smokescreens to hide troop movement and was used in the Operation Cast Lead campaign in the winter of 2008-2009.

The material can cause serious burns, but Hamas claimed that the military had used phosphorous bombs. International arms treaties forbid the use of incendiary weapons in civilian areas, but the chemical’s use in unpopulated areas to mask troop movements is not illegal under international law.

The IDF’s white phosphorus shells will be phased out over the next year and replaced with a gas.

Islamist Wordplay 101

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

The early months of 1948 did not bode well for the Yishuv. Arab marauders roved the countryside seeking out soft, isolated targets and attacked with ruthless barbarity. The situation was particularly acute in Jerusalem, where supply convoys on the roads leading to the ancient Jewish city were subjected to daily ambush.


As part of a wider effort to clear the roads leading to Jerusalem, the pre-state paramilitary forces of the Irgun and Lehi were charged with capturing the village of Deir Yassin, a strategic position that dominated the city’s western approaches.


By any measure, Deir Yassin was a hostile Arab village whose residents partook in the Battle of Kastel, exchanged daily fire with the Jewish neighborhood of Givat Shaul, provided refuge to Arab irregulars, and engaged in the almost ritualistic daily ambushes of Jewish vehicular traffic.


On April 9, 1948 Jewish forces attacked the village and advanced under withering fire from entrenched and well-armed Arab irregulars. Several hours later the village was secured. Four Israelis and approximately 110 Arabs, combatants as well as civilians, were killed. The very nature of close-quartered urban combat made civilian casualties inevitable. Moreover, Arab combatants had turned nearly every house into a fortification – with some actually disguising themselves as women. Arab propagandists soon swooped in and conjured up fantastic stories of rapes, baby killings, and wildly inflated civilian casualty figures.


Contemporary assessments of the battle have mostly debunked these spurious allegations. Yet today in Arab folklore, Deir Yassin is synonymous with “massacre,” and every Arab schoolboy is spoon-fed this lie from the moment he’s able to attain the most rudimentary form of comprehension.


The word “massacre,” when used as a verb, describes “the unnecessary and indiscriminate killing of a large number of persons.” However, for Islamists, the word carries an entirely different meaning and addresses every lawful attempt by Israel to defend its citizenry from aggression.


Deir Yassin is but one example of Islamist wordplay. More recent illustrations include the Battle of Jenin, Operation Cast Lead and the Israeli naval interception of the Mavi Marmara. During Israel’s Operation Defensive Shield in the spring of 2002, Israeli forces entered the city of Jenin in search of terrorists and their infrastructure. The Israelis could have just leveled the place with airstrikes but negated this option because the risk of collateral damage was deemed too great. Some 20 soldiers and 50 terrorists died in bitter close-quartered urban combat, but this minor detail did not prevent the PA’s Saeb Erekat from declaring that a “massacre” occurred and that 500 civilians were killed.


In December 2008, prompted by a surge of Hamas provocations, Israel launched Operation Cast Lead. The former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, Colonel Richard Kemp, noted the following of Israel’s actions during the war: “During Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Defense Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare. Israel did so while facing an enemy that deliberately positioned its military capability behind the human shield of the civilian population.”


But the Islamists, who provoked the war, saw it differently. Gaza chieftain Ismail Haniyah stated that, “Palestine has never witnessed an uglier massacre.” There’s that word again – massacre – rearing its ugly head over and over, and repeated ad nauseam.


Perhaps the most extreme example highlighting the absurdity of Islamist wordplay is evidenced by Turkey’s response to the Mavi Marmara incident. Video footage of the incident clearly demonstrates that the IDF resorted to deadly force only after its troops were violently attacked by Islamist mercenaries. Nine mercenaries with various extremist affiliations were killed. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey referred to the incident as a “massacre,” and compared it to the murder of the 3,000 victims of the 9/11 attacks. The offensiveness and ludicrousness of the comparison is readily apparent, and demonstrates the length to which Islamists have distorted the meaning of “massacre.”


But the Islamists have not limited their corruption of language to a single word. On the contrary, they have enlarged and expanded it. For instance, take the word “victory.” It is defined as “a success or triumph over an enemy in battle or war.” However, the Islamists attach an entirely different meaning to the word. To them, if you survive an Israeli assault with your capital intact, it’s considered a victory.


A stunning example of this absurdity is amply demonstrated by Israel’s Operation Cast Lead. During the course of the battle, the IDF quickly established military dominance, achieved a combat kill ratio of nearly 80 to 1 and sent the stalwart and proficient warriors of Hamas scurrying like frightened rabbits. Following the battle, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, speaking from the safety of his luxurious Damascus headquarters, almost comically said, “the resistance won the battle in Gaza, and the enemy failed in the field as it failed in politics.” That sentiment was echoed by various Gazan leaders who, after emerging from their basement hideout at Shifa Hospital, declared Hamas “victorious.”


The Arab-Israeli conflict is peppered with examples of Arab leaders proclaiming phantom victories that are divorced from reality. Arab reality is rooted in a convoluted mixture of lies and fantasy, and Arab linguistics merely reflect this skewed and deeply flawed perception.


Words carry with them powerful meanings and, if repeated often enough, begin to take root in our everyday vernacular. The modern city of Ariel, built on barren land untouched in over 1,000 years and which boasts a prestigious university and over 17,000 residents, is referred to as a “settlement” in the “occupied” territories. The word “settlement” conjures up images of colonialist takeover, while the term “occupied” completely negates the argument that these territories are in fact the subject of a bona fide dispute. Yet supposedly neutral media outlets – and even some Israelis – parrot these words simply because they’ve infected our everyday manner of speaking. The next time you hear someone speak of “massacre,” “occupation,” or “settlement,” take the time to correct them and politely inform them of the power and misuse of words.



E-mail Columbia University President Lee Bollinger at bollinger@Columbia.edu, and voice your outrage over Columbia’s continued sponsorship of Professor Rashid Khalidi, an outspoken terrorist sympathizer who is currently attempting to organize an American flotilla to Gaza.


            Yossi Cukier is co-founder of The Activist Network, along with Dina Kupfer and Ari Lieberman. Please note that all petitions, letters, phone numbers, etc., can be found at theactivistnetwork.wordpress.com. The group invites suggestions for pro-Israel and pro-Jewish projects and events.

The Cup Of Benjamin

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

When the sons of Jacob went to Egypt for food they became victims of a cruel ruse. As we recently read in the weekly Torah portion, when the provisions the brothers had acquired were loaded on horse and wagon for the return trip to Canaan, the Egyptian viceroy’s cup was stealthily planted into the sack of the youngest, Benjamin.

The Egyptians generously allowed the unsuspecting brothers to depart, then chased after them and, in the search that followed, apprehended the “thief.”

We can easily imagine the consternation of the brothers. The “thief” who “stole” the royal goblet turned out to be Benjamin, the darling of their elderly father, Jacob.

Benjamin – whose safety they guaranteed to Jacob; Benjamin – whom Jacob had not wished to release for the long journey from Canaan to Egypt; Benjamin – without whom Judah would not wish to return home.

The brothers were pained beyond endurance and in their mournful anguish “they rent their garments.” For the crime of theft Benjamin would conceivably be condemned to perpetual enslavement in Egypt – a tragic blow to Jacob and his family.

Regaining his composure, Judah proceeded to present a heartrendingly beautiful plea to the powerful Egyptian viceroy.

But anguish, sorrow, and regret were not the only reactions of the brothers. The Midrash Tanchuma tells us, hayu omdim umakim l’Binyamin – they slapped Benjamin in anger and frustration for the theft and the shame he brought upon them, accepting the Egyptian claim of their brother’s guilt.

After all, wasn’t he found with the incriminating evidence in hand (or in sack), proving incontrovertibly he was the thief?

None thought of questioning the Egyptian accusation. None thought of looking into Benjamin’s moves or motives while in the Egyptian capital – whether he had even a single moment alone when he could steal such a precious object from a palace guarded, no doubt, by a thousand pairs of watchful eyes.

None seemed to cry out, Wait! It is impossible! I know this young man for many years, and that is just not him! He is not a thief! His hands have been clean all these years! Wait! Check! See! Maybe it is a mistake.

There was no challenge, only acceptance. The stranger did it, said the Egyptian, and so it was.

The story of Benjamin has a happy ending, but that does not diminish from our consternation that the brothers were so ready to pounce upon him hand and fist – hayu omdim umakim l’Binyamin.

They were ready to act on the basis of Egyptian accusations and punish the alleged perpetrator, to finish the intended job of the Egyptians without giving their brother even the benefit of the doubt.


* * * * *

We Jews did it then, and we are still doing it now. As they did then, nearly 4,000 years ago, so today the nations accuse us – and we do not question. As a matter of sad fact we, like obedient children, listen to them – and we finish the job for them. We punish ourselves without mercy.

It is bad enough if the nations wish to believe all the accusations they have contrived and heaped upon us throughout history. But if we Jews join in the fray umakim l’Binyamin, slapping and hitting and bashing Benjamin – at our brothers, at ourselves – it not merely bad, it is monstrous.

Granted, it may be understandable that Benjamin’s brothers did not suspect a ruse, a trick, a dirty game. For them it was a first. But we? We are old hands at it. We have been accused of every conceivable crime under the sun.

We were accused of crucifying Jesus at a time when the power of capital punishment wasn’t even in our hands but in those of the conquering Romans.

We were accused of bleeding and killing innocent Christian children to utilize by some black magic their red blood in preparing our white matzah.

We were accused of conspiring devilishly to gain control of all the power centers of humanity – described so vividly in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

We were accused of defiling virgin maidens, of cheating, of acting treacherously, of having turned into the embodiment of the formidable Satan himself.

We know – at least we should know – what the world has been saying about us, what it thinks of us. We certainly know – we should know – that the world has not been acting truthfully when it’s come to the Jewish people or the state of Israel.

Being hypocritical toward us, deceiving us, deliberately falsifying information about us, and, most recently, presenting masterfully contrived photo montages as “solid proof” against us – these are not considered dishonest and wrong in the universal vocabulary of nations.

In some countries people are tortured, starved and butchered without a voice being raised by the nations or NGOs. At the same time, Israel has been quite consistently condemned, virtually unanimously, by the UN and NGOs for allegedly maltreating its Arab minority without even the remotest reference to the vastly improved standard of life of the Arabs in Israel and their vastly improved longevity, by comparison even to the highest standards in Arab countries in the Middle East.

The world believes Israel mistreats its minorities – even as just last month 60,000 Christians were offered free bus transportation on the eve of Christmas from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, and Christians from Gaza were allowed free unhampered passage to Bethlehem through Israel.

(Forgive the comparison, but when the Kotel was in Arab hands no Jews could get to it. Neither could Jews get to the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, or to Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem.)

We cannot, of course, control the nations that wish to plant stolen cups in our bag. We have no defense against that. Having maligned us for ages, they instinctively seek out reason after flimsy reason, legend after legend, invention after invention, fantasy after fantasy.

Our concern should be with ourselves – our sisters and brothers who accept every accusation defaming Israel as if it were the Lord’s word from Sinai. Our dismay should be with those among us who are pathologically self-effacing, slapping mercilessly at their own blood, their own kin – makim l’Binyamin – for alleged crimes that have no basis in reality.

Our concern should be with the tendency among too many Jews to accept and internalize accusations hurled at us by parties who are more interested in burying us alive than in safeguarding justice.

Achad Ha’am wrote in one of his essays (“Chatzi Nechamah” or “Half a Consolation”) almost a century ago on the same theme. My coreligionists, he lamented, are trying to escape our religion and our people and believe all the terrible things the world is saying about us. Maybe it will help strengthen our backbone if we consider how totally false the widespread belief is of the use of Christian blood for our Jewish rituals.

(At this point it behooves us to interrupt Achad Ha’am for a moment to remind ourselves of only a few of the major blood libel accusations that Jews suffered through either during his lifetime or in the years just prior to his birth in 1856: Damascus 1840, Tisza-Eszlar 1882, Polna 1899, Kiev 1911.)

Achad Ha’am concluded his essay with the following memorable words we ought to engrave with an iron pen on the parchment of our mind:

“Is it possible that the whole world is guilty and the Jews are innocent? That the whole world is wrong and we are right? EFSHAR VE’EFSHAR. It is indeed possible. The blood libel proves it. On this the Jews are really as clean and pure as the heavenly angels. Jews and the use of Christian blood! Can there be a greater contrast than that? And yet VE’AF AL PI CHEN .”


* * * * *

And yet still today we are beating our brother Benjamin, and by extension ourselves, when it should be clear the cup has been planted in our bag by our adversaries. The ideologies and theologies of other nations can tolerate only a humiliated Jew who is crawling in the dust. Not necessarily destroyed, not necessarily maimed, but crawling in the dust of the earth, spat upon and humiliated.

Just look at what our brother Judge Goldstone, at what J Street, at what Jewish students on college campuses, at what Jewish NGOs abroad and in Israel have been doing to us in the wake of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza – declaring us guilty and outcast, condemning us for having broken the most elementary laws of human conduct.

By way of refreshing contrast, consider the words of the president of Sapir College in Sderot, Prof. Ze’ev Tzachor, a leading academic who happens to be an outspoken, self-described left-winger. On the first anniversary of Operation Cast Lead he wrote in Yediot Aharonot:

The eight years that preceded the Gaza Campaign seem like a nightmare . In the course of these years there were days when the number of siren warnings amounted to more than 30 . How does a class function in a setup when every few minutes a siren warning shakes up all present? How does one give a grade to students whose exam is interrupted by a kassam landing in the college courtyard and who right after the BOOM have to focus once again on their exam? And a minute later another warning, followed by dozens of alarmed parents and loved ones calling: Are there any wounded? Was it close?

But for the world the Gaza conflict doesn’t begin years ago, with thousands of kassams raining down on Jewish communities during that time, for that would justify Operation Cast Lead.

No, for the world the conflict begins when Israel attacks, and no consideration is given to the possibility that it was an attack in self-defense.

Conveniently, if the conflict began a year ago, it becomes a foregone conclusion that Israel must be the attacker, the aggressor, the guilty party. The cup is planted in our bag for the whole world to see.

Behold, the Jew is in his rightful place – crawling in the dust where he belongs according to the ideology and theology and folk wisdom of even the most advanced nations.

And our Jewish sisters and brothers worldwide swallow this bilge as if it were the waters of Eden. Perhaps it is time to heed Elie Wiesel’s declaration that sometimes the most rational response to evil is anger.

We all have a right to be angry with the nations in the midst of whom we dwell, with the organizations, the NGOs, the prominent individuals who are self-serving, who begin history at a point that proves their distorted stand, whose worldview is saturated with seething hatred rather than truth and justice.

Beyond anger, it is time to speak up for ourselves, recognizing full well that the so-called evidence proving Israel’s widespread lust for war, for blood, for vengeance – for willfully killing civilians – is so much hogwash, masterfully manipulated by interested parties.

It is time for our people everywhere to recognize that, with the exception of insignificant numbers, Jews in Israel crave genuine peace, whereas the other side genuinely craves only one overriding goal: the destruction of Israel.

Let us not be of those who makim l’Binyamin, who slap their brother because the nations present him in their own distorted light. Let us not fall into the trap of the nations that wish to plant a smelly rat in our bag.


* * * * *

We live in critical times. Look at the magnitude of the problems that beset us in Israel.

We are preoccupied with the heartrending problem of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit and the new Pandora’s box the solution of that problem may open. We face external existential threats emanating from Iran and are continually concerned with a renewed intifada (as witness the recent murder of Rav Meir Avshalom Chai).

And all the while we have to cope with a stream of virtually unanimous condemnations flooding us from abroad, as Israel is judged incapable of doing the right thing – and evidently always will be, short of committing national suicide by giving up secure borders in favor of its diehard enemies.

And yet, and yet…

As we drown in the above-mentioned concerns, we are liable to overlook the absolute miracle of which we are a part.

In Israel we open our eyes every morning and look upon a Jewish state our fathers could only dream about for 2,000 years. It is ours – proudly defended by our children and grandchildren. It is ours – vital and energetic and productive, like no other land on this globe.

If only Israel’s adversaries would finally cease and desist in their antagonism, in their relentless pressures, in wasting their energies on devising ingenious ways of planting new royal cups in Israel’s bag, the creative genius of the Jewish people in their own land would benefit all mankind in ways thus far unimagined.

We Jews are sustained by the realization that we have endured – and triumphed over – situations much worse than that in which we find ourselves today.

After the destruction of the First Temple our people were in the midst of the Babylonian exile when the Prophet Ezekiel projected a future that no people had ever experienced and could ever anticipate under similar conditions, with the God of Israel bringing them back to their ancient homeland where they and their offspring would dwell in peace and security.

As we sat captive on the riverbanks of Babylon, conditions were not exactly favorable for the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s words. Similarly, a present-day observer might find conditions less than favorable for the realization of modern Israel’s decades-long dream of peace and security.

But just as Ezekiel’s vision was realized just decades after the destruction of the Temple, there is no reason to doubt, despite all obstacles in the way, the ultimate triumph of Israel in attaining not just peace and security but also an exalted place among the family of nations.

Dr. Ervin Birnbaum is founder and director of Shearim Netanya, the first outreach program to Russian immigrants in Israel. He has taught at City University of New York, Haifa University and the University of Moscow; served as national superintendent of education of Youth Aliyah and as the first national superintendent of education for the Institute of Jewish Studies; and founded and directed the English Language College Preparatory School at Midreshet Sde Boker.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/the-cup-of-benjamin/2010/01/06/

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