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December 5, 2016 / 5 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘real’

BULLETPROOF – What’s the Real Reason World Leaders are Coming to Peres’ Funeral? [audio]

Friday, September 30th, 2016

What’s the real reason why world leaders, and even Mahmood Abbas are attending Peres’ funeral? It may not be why you think. Ari gives his take on the matter.

BULLETPROOF 29Sept2016 – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

Rosh Hashanah: The Real Election Day

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

We are living through unusually challenging times at the cusp of the year 5777. The manner in which secular society is evolving poses numerous challenges for us as Torah-observant Jews. In addition, the general political and social state of the world is one that engenders deep pessimism.

The decay of American society as we have known it for so long is deeply troubling. The institutions we have come to rely on to maintain an open, democratic society are crumbling before our very eyes. Government is less trusted now than ever before. The rule of law and the ability of law enforcement to do its job has been undermined by the elites of society, the press, and many elected officials. This has led to rioting and anarchy in several American inner cities. Rabble-rousers are waiting for the opportunity to inflame passions and light the powder keg of race riots with all that this entails.

It is not just America that has been affected. The world order as we know it is changing before our eyes. American power is not what it used to be. As America pulls back somewhat from the international stage, new actors fill the void. Regimes that have histories of repression and violence such as Russia and Iran are making pacts with each other.

A world from which America retreats is a dangerous world indeed.

To add to all of this, it appears the candidates running for the coveted office of president of the United States are the least popular to ever face the American voter. The qualifications, policies, temperaments, and ethics of the candidates leave much be desired – to the extent that many astute observers are truly afraid about the future of America and by extension the world.

These are the sobering thoughts that engulf us as we prepare for another Rosh Hashanah when Hashem will judge the world and seal the decree for the upcoming year.

So how can we strengthen ourselves? Is there a silver lining in the ominous clouds darkening the horizon? Most important, what can we do to invoke Divine Mercy on behalf of ourselves, our families, and all of the Jewish nation as we seek His favor and beg Him to inscribe us for a year of blessing and success?

* * * * *

Let us seek inspiration and insight from a fascinating pasuk in this week’s parshah. In the preceding parshah, the Torah enumerates the profound blessing we will receive for following Hashem’s commandments and conversely the terrible tochachah, punishment, we will undergo if we do not listen to His commandments. The pasuk in this week’s parshah continues by stating, “It will be when all these things come upon you – the blessings and the curse that I have presented before you – then you will return in your heart among all the nations where Hashem your God has dispersed you. And you will return to Hashem your God and listen to His voice… you and your children with all your heart and all your soul” (Devarim 30:1-2).

There are a number of words in this pasuk that require analysis. The pasuk states, “Vehasheivosa el levavech b’chol hagoyim – You will return in your heart among all the nations…” The simple understanding of this concept is that in the parshiyos of Ki Savo and Bechukosai Hashem enumerates the terrible curses and punishments that will befall the Jewish people if they stray from the proper path. The Torah is telling us that in order to stop the pain and suffering caused by the retribution or even to avoid it in the first place, Bnei Yisrael should engage in teshuvah and return to Hashem.

Certainly that is true, but we must still understand why the pasuk adds two seemingly extra words. The pasuk says, “Vehasheivosa el levavecha b’chol hagoyim – You will return in your heart among all the nations…” Where do the two words “bchol hagoyim” come into the picture? What is the connection between the nations of the world and the teshuvah that Klal Yisrael does after receiving the tochachah?

Perhaps we can suggest that there is an additional component that spurs bnei Yisrael to return to Hashem. When we engage in teshuvah, it is not solely because we wish to receive the infinite blessings of Hashem and avoid the terrible retribution heaped upon those who rebel against Him. There is another vitally important catalyst for returning to Hashem, and wanting to be part of the am Hashem, the nation of Hashem. This occurs when we come to the irrefutable realization that the nations surrounding us and in whose midst we live have nothing to offer us.

When looking at the host culture, we observe its modes of “recreation,” what people do for “fun,” and we realize they have little of lasting benefit to offer us. When we think about where society is headed, we realize that with all of the advancements and the tremendous strides – industrial, technological, medical – that humanity has made, the host culture is characterized by moral decadence combined with unbridled hedonism. Not only is it the diametric opposite of the way the Torah desires that we conduct our lives, but it also fails to bring the happiness and joy that is its purported purpose.

Engaging in the unrestrained pleasure seeking that has become the norm in the host culture does not satisfy our soul. Rather, it is akin to a thirsty person drinking saltwater and wondering why he is even thirstier than he was before, after the passing of the momentary feeling of satisfaction he feels as the wet liquid touches his mouth.

The pasuk is thus teaching us that another motivation for “vehasheivosa el levavechafor returning to Hashem, refraining from aveiros, and performing His mitzvos – is “b’chol hagoyim,” by looking around and seeing how the moral conduct of a society such as the one that surrounds us cannot guide us. This is a culture to which we do not really belong.

Rav Dovid Hofstedter

How Some Muslim Nations are Forging a Real Peace with Israel

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

{Originally posted to the IPT website}

It was a customary political gesture, the welcoming of a foreign leader on Sept. 7 by local dignitaries in The Hague. Benjamin Netanyahu, on a two-day state visit to The Netherlands, was being introduced around the room, shaking hands with Dutch parliamentarians, when he reached Tunahan Kuzu, the Turkish-Dutch founder of the pro-immigration, pro-Islam Denk (“Think”) party. Directing his gaze straight at the Israeli president, Kuzu pointed to the Palestinian flag pin he sported on his lapel, and placed his hands pointedly behind his back.

Netanyahu nodded his understanding and moved on.

If Kuzu’s gesture was meant to insult the Israeli leader, it backfired. Instead, he came under fire from both fellow members of parliament and the press, who accused him of disrespect, lack of professionalism, and anti-Semitic behavior.

But his critics missed an even larger point: those like Kuzu, and gestures like the one he made, are becoming outdated. Rather, in the larger picture, even some of Israel’s most stalwart opponents are starting to change course, with some discouraging Western calls for economic sanctions (like the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction, or BDS, movement), and others even engaging in joint military exercises with the Jewish state.

Unsurprisingly, American politicians have taken the lead in this. Just days after the episode in The Hague, for instance, U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi put the kibosh on a planned BDS event scheduled for Sept. 16 on Capitol Hill. Several U.S. states have passed anti-BDS bills throughout the past year, and in signing the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 in February, President Obama declared, “I have directed my administration to strongly oppose boycotts, divestment campaigns, and sanctions targeting the State of Israel.”

But more unexpected have been the military cooperation exercises involving less Israel-friendly countries. In August, Pakistan and the UAE both joined Israel and the U.S. Air Force in exercises at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. Israel and Jordan also recently participated in joint exercises with the U.S..

Much of this new military cooperation results from concerns within the region of the growing threat of Iran, Commander Jennifer Dyer, a retired naval intelligence officer, explained in a recent e-mail exchange. “Obviously, the joint participation with Muslim countries is a step beyond participating with NATO. Politically, it’s new territory,” she observed. “The growing concern in Sunni nations about Iran is, of course, the big driving factor.”

As an example, she noted that the chief of staff of Pakistan’s army warned in January that “Pakistan would ‘wipe Iran off the map’ if Iran threatened Saudi Arabia,” and that Sudan cut ties with Iran at around the same time. (For its part, Israel has since begun a campaign encouraging the U.S. and other Western nations to repair relations with the African country.)

NATO has played a crucial role in this new cooperation, Dyer said.  “The common link through NATO allows Sunni nations and Israel to facilitate military cooperation without going very far in terms of overt political outreach” or “having to make high-profile political declarations first.”

“Overt” is probably the key word here. Where outreach in any Muslim country towards Israel could lead to public outcries and violence, collaborations such as these allow these countries to build relationships with Israel “behind closed doors,” a potential first step towards long-term normalization.

They also help create a more supportive climate for activists like Sheikh Abdullah Tamimi, who recently spoke at a seminar on Jewish and Arab relations in Israel.  As the Gatestone Institute noted in a report on the event, “Tamimi and his colleagues do not believe in boycotts and divestment. They are convinced that real peace can be achieved through dialogue between Palestinians and all Israelis.”

That position is shared by many, including hundreds of entrepreneurs collaborating in joint Palestinian-Israeli tech startups and other business ventures. And while Palestinians involved in those projects do not view them as a “substitute for a political solution,” Forbes‘ Richard Behar reported in 2013, they do view them as a way of “improving relations.”

Even Kuzu’s own Turkey made amends with Israel recently, ending a six-year conflict that began with an Israeli raid on a Turkish flotilla said to be carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza. The reconciliation between the two countries has already led to important cooperative ventures, including a major Turkey-Israel gas pipeline.

All of which combines to make efforts like the BDS movement and the token gestures of politicians like Kuzu the more ridiculous. They are the reasons why Netanyahu could demonstrate respect for Kuzu’s position and still so easily shrug him off. Because clearly, while some continue pounding out old arguments, repeating themselves into banal inconsequence, others are already busy building new solutions, based on new realities. The future of the Middle East depends most of all on them.

Abigail R. Esman

The Rabbi Who Knew the REAL Reasons for Arik Sharon’s Change in Heart

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

The death of the Chief Rabbi of Haifa, Rabbi She’ar-Yashuv Cohen, brings to mind the most stirring episodes of the history of the modern state of Israel.

Rav She’ar-Yashuv Cohen, wounded in the battle for the Old City in Jerusalem, was the last Jewish civilian who left the Old City as it fell, carried on a stretcher into captivity…And Rav She’ar-Yashuv Cohen, who served as the deputy Mayor of Jerusalem in 1967, was given the honor of being the first civilian allowed to enter the Old City in Jerusalem at the time of its liberation during the six day war.

Yet there is yet another mission to Jerusalem which went little reported.

In August, 2005, Rabbi She’ar-Yashuv Cohen traveled to Jerusalem to make a last minute plea with Arik Sharon to reconsider his plan to retreat from Gush Katif, which involved Israel’s obliteration of the 21 Jewish communities , including 325 thriving Jewish farms and 86 synagogues and Jewish study centers. Rav She’ar-Yashuv Cohen told me at the time that the chemistry remained between him and Arik Sharon had lasted since his days of captivity after the 1948 war and that Rav She’ar-Yashuv was the only Rabbi whom was ready to speak with him at the time.

Sharon gave a clear answer to Rabbi Cohen: “This is what the US is demanding that I do and I must do it.”

It does not matter that half of the 9,000 Jews who live in Gush Katif had nowhere to go, and that their relocation plans still left up in the air.

It did not matter that the Israeli government cannot offer more than two containers to each family to help them remove their possessions.

It did not seem to matter that the experts in Israel’s security establishment are warning that the result of Israel’s hasty retreat will be the creation of a new Islamic terror base.

Rav She’ar-Yashuv Cohen heard Sharon making it clear that he was under pressure from the US government and that is that, and that the myth of an autonomous Israeli policy in this regard had nothing to do with reality.

Indeed, one of the common assumptions was that the Sharon government’s plan to expel Jews from Gaza and northern Samaria, and unilaterally hand the area over to an independent Palestinian entity, had been an entirely autonomous Israeli decision.

US government was behind it all along.

In meetings with concerned American citizens, Danny Ayalon, Israeli ambassador to the US at the time, clearly stated that Sharon’s Retreat Plan was part of an overall Israeli-American agreement.

In late June, 2005, Ayalon met with representatives of the Orthodox Union, one of the largest contingents of American Orthodox Jews, and told them clearly that “Prime Minister Sharon is left with no choice. He is doing exactly what the US expects him to do.”

In an interview with the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, published on June 22nd, 2005, Ayalon reversed earlier Israeli government statements, saying that Israel does not expect the Palestinian Authority (PA) to dismantle terrorist infrastructure until after the planned expulsion. He mentioned that ending terrorism and anti-Israel incitement had been conditions Israel had demanded from the PA before carrying out the plan; however, Ayalon indicated that the agreement with the US was more important than an agreement with the PA.

The Israeli ambassador said, “Disengagement has to be viewed in the context of Israel-United States relations…. This pullout did not follow an agreement with the Palestinians, but it followed something which is much more important, an agreement with the United States. Disengagement is something that creates a common agenda between us and the United States.”

In the final interview given by Benyamin Netanyahu before his resignation from the Sharon government, to the Jerusalem Post on August 5th, 2005, he indicated that the current policy pursued by the government of Israel should be perceived as a threat to the security interests of the US and of all Western countries, since it created a terror base in Gaza, and since the Palestinian Authority incorporated the Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organizations instead of dismantling them.

Yet, the directive of the US State Department remained undaunted: Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had to must dismantle and withdraw any and all Israeli presence from every Jewish community in the Katif district of Gaza by mid-August.

When Israel did go ahead with the retreat of the IDF and the expulsion of the Jewish communities from Katif and the Northern Shomron, Rav She’ar-Yashuv Cohen told me that he wanted to tell the world that this policy was implemented as a the result of this clear US dictate to Arik Sharon issued by the government of the United States. This was not meant as rationalization for Sharon’s policy. Few people want to hear the warnings of Rav She’ar-Yashuv Cohen that Israeli policy is often dictated from Washington.

ariel sharon death

David Bedein

Joseph Wilf, Real Estate Developer And Supporter Of Jewish Causes, Passes Away At 91

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Joseph Wilf, a Holocaust survivor who created a building construction empire in the United States and was known for his Jewish philanthropy and support of Israel, passed away on Aug. 3 at his home in Hillside, New Jersey. He was 91.

Wilf was born in 1925 in Jaroslaw, Poland. Along with his parents, Oscar and Ella, and his brother, Harry, Wilf survived the Holocaust living in a Siberian labor camp. His sister, Bella, died in the Warsaw ghetto.

After the war, Wilf met his future wife, Elizabeth (“Suzie”). The two married in 1949, immigrated to the United States shortly thereafter and had three sons, Sidney, Zygi and Mark.

In the 1950s, Joe and his brother Harry started the Garden Homes construction firm, which built housing complexes, shopping centers, and more. It has become one of the largest real estate companies in the United States and Israel. Their commercial success led them to create, in 1964, the Wilf Family Foundation (there are now several different funds), which over the years has given away some $200 million.

Despite ample finances, “Joe Wilf lived a very simple life,” according to Rabbi Moshe Herson, director of Lubavitch of New Jersey and dean of the Rabbinical College of America in Morristown, N.J.

Herson, who knew known Wilf for 45 years, said “he did so much in terms of building – not just physical structures, but building Jewish institutions and communities.”

Among those institutions was the Rabbinical College of America, the New Jersey-based Chabad-Lubavitch center of higher learning for men studying for their rabbinical degree.

The Wilfs, both Joe and Harry, were not just philanthropic donors to the RCA, stressed Herson, but took an active role in the continued growth of the educational institution.

“They didn’t just write a check,” said Herson. Rather, they used their business acumen and life experiences “to guide us in the right direction and give us advice, whether it was on a building expansion or buying an additional piece of property for the school.”

He added that they were dedicated to Israel and invested heavily in projects there. The brothers were involved with Israel, said Herson, “not for the sake of making money, but for the sake of investing in Israel’s economy to help the country and create jobs.”

The rabbi said the Wilfs “wanted to make a difference in the lives of the Jewish people, and create something they never had the chance to do in Europe. And they succeeded to a great extent. They used their success for the benefit of others, to do good.”

Herson stated that “the passing of Joe Wilf is almost the end of an era that is unduplicated. The feeling the Wilfs had for Yiddishkeit, for Jews, and for Israel was very strong, just outstanding. Their legacy lives on because their children and grandchildren are fully following in his footsteps.”

Faygie Levy Holt

Erdogan Utilizing Turks’ Ingrained Conspiracy Theory Culture to Purge Foes, Real and Imagined

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

Devin Devlet (lit. giant state, col. deep state) is a Turkish word referring to the notion of there being a permanent government, existing through a shadowy network of civil servants, military officials and academics, who are the real decision makers. Every country on earth sports its own crowd of conspiracy theorists, who seem to proliferate following national disasters. But according to a growing number of respected voices in the media, Turkey, with its unique political history, may be the only democracy whose leader is the biggest believer in those conspiracy theories, which actually serve as the foundation of his policy and may have fashioned the ultimate conspiracy — a fake coups d’état.

Imagine that every conspiracy theory you’ve heard, from the Communists taking over America, to Obama conspiring with the deans of Al Azhar University to bring Islam to the US, to the CIA blowing up the World Trade Center, “was, if not true, at least plausible, and you have some idea of what the deep background of Turkish politics looks like,” James Palmer wrote this week in Vox. Palmer described the twentieth century in Turkey as a violent streaks of democratic government interlaced with military coups, resulting in an inevitable sense that someone in there is the puppeteer of this show, pulling the strings to fit his needs.

The Devin Devlet notion provided a reasonable explanation of their reality to generations of Turks living through perpetual instability: “To Islamists, its fundamental purpose is to crush religion; for liberals, it’s anti-democratic; for Kurds, it’s fanatically nationalist and anti-Kurdish; for nationalists, it’s secretly in league with the US; for anti-Semites, it’s an Israeli-backed scheme,” Palmer pointed out.

Roger Cohen, writing for the NY Times (Turkey’s Coup That Wasn’t) joined the growing voices suspicious of the Erdogan version of reality. “As coups go, the Turkish effort was a study in ineptitude: no serious attempt to capture or muzzle the political leadership, no leader ready to step in, no communication strategy (or even awareness of social media), no ability to mobilize a critical mass within either the armed forces or society. In their place a platoon of hapless soldiers on a bridge in Istanbul and the apparently uncoordinated targeting of a few government buildings in Ankara.”

Cohen is convinced that not only was the coup produced by the Erdogan regime, but that it was done with the tacit approval of the Obama Administration. He quoted a former special assistant to Obama on the Middle East, Philip Gordon, who said: “Rather than use this as an opportunity to heal divisions, Erdogan may well do the opposite: go after adversaries, limit press and other freedoms further, and accumulate even more power.”

Indeed, in a few hours more than 2,800 military personnel were detained and 2,745 judges were removed from duty, Cohen noted, adding that what’s coming next is “a prolonged crackdown on so-called ‘Gulenists,’ whoever Erdogan deems them to be, and the … ‘deep state.’ . . . An already divided society will grow more fissured. Secular Turkey will not quickly forget the cries of ‘Allahu akbar’ echoing from some mosques and from crowds in the streets.”

The speed with which the coup rose and crumbled continues to intrigue the western media. Mehul Srivastava and Laura Pitel, reporting from Turkey for the Financial Times, have suggested that “among the mysteries yet to be unraveled from the failed Turkish coup was this: the attack on Saturday morning by helicopter-borne commandos against a resort hotel in Marmaris. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was meant to be staying there. But the attack took place nearly an hour after every news channel in Turkey beamed images of Mr Erdogan addressing the nation from the airport in Istanbul, some 750 km away.”

“That episode is one of many inconsistencies and strange occurrences in a coup whose amateurish — almost kamikaze — nature preordained its failure and is now providing rich fodder for conspiracy theories,” Srivastava and Pitel wrote.

Kristin Fabbe and Kimberly Guiler, writing for the Washington Post, noted that the war of words in Turkey is being waged by two armies of conspiracy theorists. “On one side, government detractors are speculating that the attempted coup was a masterful, state-managed scheme to consolidate Erdogan’s power. On the other side, the AKP government is placing the blame for the coup attempt on perpetrators — real and imagined. The government’s list of villains ranges from bitter Erdogan rival Fethullah Gulen, a cleric who now lives in the United States, and other shadowy foreign ‘invaders’ to supporters of Turkey’s Ataturkist secular establishment and even the U.S. government. The skeptics are painting Erdogan as a megalomaniac tyrant bent on elected dictatorship; the believers are portraying him as a savior and victim.”

It is highly doubtful that the coup was initiated by Gulen, not because such action is necessarily beneath him, but because at the time Gulen immigrated to the US, his followers were estimated to number between 5 and 9 million, and had he launched the coup, it would not have collapsed overnight.

In June 1999, after Gulen had left Turkey, Turkish TV ran a video in which he said, “The existing system is still in power. Our friends who have positions in legislative and administrative bodies should learn its details and be vigilant all the time so that they can transform it and be more fruitful on behalf of Islam in order to carry out a nationwide restoration. However, they should wait until the conditions become more favorable. In other words, they should not come out too early.”

Gulen later complained that his words were taken out of context, and his supporters said the tape had been “manipulated.” Gulen was subsequently tried in absentia, and acquitted in 2008 under the new Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But the ideas Gulen, or his manipulated recording, espoused, were just the kind of nourishment the Turkish conspiracy theorists everywhere needed to confirm their worst fears or highest aspirations, take your pick.

At the moment, President Erdogan is riding high on his conspiracy accusations: he has just suspended democracy in Turkey for three months (he could go three more, according to Turkish emergency laws), and his henchmen are busy weeding out pockets of resistance across Turkish society, regardless of their connection to the coup or obvious lack thereof. Many thousands of people have been sacked or arrested following the failed coup. According to a BBC report, Thousands of soldiers, including high-ranking generals, have been arrested, along with members of the judiciary. More than 50,000 state employees have also been rounded up, sacked or suspended and 600 schools closed. Academics have been banned from foreign travel and university heads have been forced to resign. The government has revoked the press credentials of 34 journalists.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn on Thursday urged Turkey to respect the rule of law, rights and freedoms. The EU is “concerned” about developments after Turkey imposed its emergency rule, and about the measures taken so far in the fields of education, judiciary and media, which are “unacceptable,” Mogherini and Hahn said in a statement.

But it is doubtful Erdogan is going to interrupt his sacred mission of ridding Turkey of its clandestine Devin Devlet, real or imagined. And what if anything of the secular Turkish state will remain standing come September 2016, by the end of Erdogan’s own coup against his country’s democratic institutions, is anyone’s guess.

JNi.Media

INTO THE FRAY: Israel and American Liberal Jewry: The REAL Reasons for the Rift

Sunday, July 17th, 2016

Israel’s accomplishments have been remarkable.  Israel has created a thriving economy, and has been a refuge for hundreds of thousands of the displaced and the needy. Israel has generated a rich and diverse cultural life and its scientific and educational achievements have been exemplary.  In spite of these achievements, however, Israel in my view has gone astray…sadly, after a life and career devoted to Jewish community and Israel, I conclude that in every important way Israel has failed to realize its promise for me. A noble experiment, but a failure.

– Rabbi David M. Gordis, Reflections on Israel 2016, Tikkun, February 22, 2016

 

Like the United States of America, the modern state of Israel is a country born from the aspiration for freedom, and standing out among the nations as a beacon of democracy and humanity. Israel is…an exceptional country that shares our most essential values. It is the only country in the Middle East where freedom of speech and freedom of religion are found. Therefore, support for Israel is an expression of our Americanism

–  Republican Party’s 2016 Platform

 

‘Name a single country in the history of the world faced with internal and external threats comparable to those faced by Israel that has ever had a better record in human rights; a better record with compliance of the rule of law; a better record of concern for civilians?’ I have been asking that question now for 20 years probably to a million people around the world, and I’ve never gotten a single person even to stand up and name a country, because you can’t do it.

– Alan Dershowitz, a longstanding supporter of Democratic Party, Jerusalem, June 9, 2015

 

In recent years there have been frequent reports of a growing rift between liberal Jewry in the US and Israel, and of the increasing difficulty liberal American Jews—particularly the younger generation—have in identifying with the Jewish state.

Neither inevitable nor irreversible

This is of course an entirely absurd state of affairs.

After all, if logic, common sense and truth had any significant role to play in determining the “liberal” discourse on Israel or “liberal” attitudes toward it, Israel would be enthusiastically embraced by all who purport to cherish liberal values, such as civil liberties, socio-cultural diversity and religious tolerance. Indeed, Israel would be held up as source of pride, celebrated as a shining example of how such values can be sustained in the most inclement of circumstances, which in many other places might well have been considered justification for considerably more authoritarian governance (see Dershowitz’s quote above).

Various profound explanations have been proposed to account for the emerging disconnect between the “liberal” Jews in the US and Israel, ranging from philosophical differences to divergent societal shifts in both countries. But while there might be some measure of validity to these claims, to my mind, they largely miss the point and the dominant reason for the rift is far more mundane.

Accordingly, this alleged “animus” is neither inherently inevitable, as several pundits appear to have to resigned themselves to, nor is it inherently irreversible—other than by some far-reaching transformation of Israeli society.

Narcissistic hypocrisy vs indolent incompetence

At the root of the “liberal” Jews disaffection with the Jewish nation-state lies a dual fault—the one of “liberal” Jewry, the other of the Jewish nation state itself.

On the one hand, liberal Jewry in the US has been gravely afflicted by a narcissistic hypocrisy, which sets unattainable standards for the Jewish state to avoid being the target of its disapproval. On the other hand, Israel, as the nation-state of the Jews, has been deplorably derelict in presenting its case to the world in general and to US Jewry in particular. This has left them gravely misinformed, allowing disapproval of its policy and disinformation as to its nature to go unchallenged—and hence to flourish.

Indeed, much of the disappointment expressed by liberal Jewry is rooted in a misperception of what Israel once was, and what it has become today.

In order to illustrate this, the moronic—and often self-contradictory—lament by David Gordis (not to be confused with his nephew Daniel Gordis) as to Israel’s alleged moral degradation, is perhaps a good place to start (see introductory excerpt).

After summarily dismissing Israel’s “remarkable accomplishments” in creating “a thriving economy”, providing “refuge for hundreds of thousands of the displaced and the needy” and generating “a rich and diverse cultural life and…scientific and educational achievements [that] have been exemplary”, Gordis perversely declares Israel a failed experiment—despite its staggering successes.

Totally detached from fact & reason

Gordis then goes on to elaborate on his abstruse indictment of Israel today:“Jewish life and thought have successfully navigated between three pairs of values that are in tension with one another. First, the Jewish experience has balanced the rational with the affective, the assertion with the question…Second, it has embraced both particularism with universalism, probing Jewish interiorities but looking out to the larger world, recognizing the common humanity of all people. Third, it has shaped positions which looked to the past for sources and inspiration but at the same time projected a vision for a world transformed in the future into something better than its current reality.”

Then in a wild diatribe, totally divorced from any semblance of reality, he blares:

“Present day Israel has discarded the rational, the universal and the visionary. These values have been subordinated to a cruel and oppressive occupation, an emphatic materialism, severe inequalities rivaling the worst in the western world and distorted by a fanatic, obscurantist and fundamentalist religion which encourages the worst behaviors rather than the best”.

In reality, “present day Israel” is—demonstrably—far closer to the model of Gordis’s ideal than it ever was, certainly far more than it was back in the days for which he allegedly yearns.

Wrong on every count

Today Israeli society is driven far less by ideological zeal; it far less ideologically monolithic, far less under the sway of a doctrinaire socialistic hegemony, for which Gordis waxes nostalgic. How does that make it less rational?

Israel has been in the forefront in extending aid to “the other” whenever disaster has struck: In Nepal, in Haiti and even in providing life-saving medical treatment to the victims of the Syrian civil war–to name but a few of present day Israel’s humanitarian initiatives. How is that indicative of “the worst behaviors rather than the best”?

Israeli innovation and inventiveness in medicine, agriculture, water conservation is saving/improving the lives of multitudes across the globe? How is that indicative of Israel discarding the “universal?”

And Israel’s cutting edge activities in the field of space research and exploration have put it in the world’s top five countries in this sphere of human endeavor. So has Israel really discarded the visionary?

This is merely a small sampling of how intellectually dishonest the derogatory drivel of Israel’s “liberal” detractors has become.

This narcissistic hypocrisy was aptly exposed in a perceptive piece in a Washington Post blog by David Bernstein, professor of Law at George Mason University. He wrote: “Israeli Arabs have never been more integrated into Israeli society, or made more rapid economic and social progress, than…under Netanyahu… surrounded by hostile enemies, absorbing about four times its original population in refugees, very few of whom came from countries with a longstanding liberal or democratic traditions, expecting a progressive utopia to emerge was ridiculous. Creating a reasonably liberal, multiethnic, democratic state with religious freedom in a region where there aren’t any others should be more than enough to satisfy all but the most starry-eyed idealists.”

Indeed, it should.

Beneath the disingenuous gobbledygook

Of course, denigrating Israel because it fails to meet some unattainable criteria of human behavior, conjured up by disenchanted “liberal” Jews, serves no useful purpose other than to expose their self-centered insincerity—especially when they refrain from applying the same stringent standards to any other country, including their own.

For, once one strips away all the disingenuous gobbledygook, one comes to the core reason for “liberal” chagrin with Israel. This has nothing to do with how diverse or tolerant Israeli society has become, or the level of humanitarian relief it may extend to others, or how Israeli enterprise contributes to the betterment of mankind at large. It has to do with one – and only one—politically partisan issue—Israel’s interaction with the Palestinian-Arabs across the pre-1967 Green Line (a.k.a. the “Occupation”). The only remedial measure that “liberals” advance to deal with the “undemocratic blight” is to implement a “two-state-solution”.

Incredibly therefore, according to Israel’s “liberal” detractors, the only panacea for Israel’s “democracy deficit” is to facilitate the establishment of yet another Muslim-majority tyranny, whose hallmarks will be homophobic persecution of homosexuals, misogynistic discrimination against women and girls, intolerance of religious diversity, and repression of political dissent.

But this is not only wildly irrational in terms of its internal logic, it is equally imprudent in terms of its operational implications. After all, every time Israel has transferred territory to Arab control, it has sooner or later, become a platform to launch deadly attacks against it. Yet with unswerving doctrinaire zeal “liberals” cling to the perilous prescription of touting tyranny and bringing hundreds of kindergartens within the range of rockets and mortars along Israel’s eastern flank.

Down to the last Israeli

It would thus seem that much of US Jewry is so blinded by its obsessive attachment to the failed formula of two-states-for-two- people that they are prepared to defend it—paradoxically under the banner of liberal political philosophy – down to the last Israeli. Indeed, in its mindless subscription to the two-state notion as the touchstone of Israeli democracy, “liberal” Jewry disregards Israel’s many merits and highlights its inevitable defects—thus greatly contributing to its international de-legitimization across the globe. After all, who better for the Judeophobes to cite than the Jews themselves?

But beyond disregard for Israel’s virtues, US liberal Jews seem to be blind to the nature of its adversaries. Despite ample evidence, they refuse to acknowledge that Arab (including Palestinian Arab) animosity is not rooted in anything the Israel does—or does not do; but in what Israel is: Jewish. Concessions will not satiate Arab appetites, only whet them.

But if US “liberal” Jews frown upon the coercive measures that Israel is compelled to use against the Palestinian-Arabs, were they to apply the same criteria to their own country, they would have good reason to feel even more disenchanted. For when faced with threats far less severe than those faced by Israel, the US has responded far more vigorously and less discriminately than Israel, whether in the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan and even Yemen, with “collateral” civilian casualties dwarfing anything Israel has been accused of.

Yet strangely, few if any, embittered Jewish liberals have distanced themselves from the USA because they have been disappointed by American brutality and its failure to live up to their immaculate standards of state behavior.

Expose and inform

Given the facts on the ground, Israel should in fact be the proverbial “apple of the eye” of US liberal Jewry, an object of pride it is eager to be identified with—especially in light of the harrowing circumstances under which it is forced to exist.

Sadly, Israel has done inexcusably little to harness the facts to rebuff the attacks on its democratic credentials and has allowed imperative coercive actions to ensure the security of its civilians against an implacable foe, to be portrayed as racist brutality.

Thus, Israel is losing the support of the US diaspora by default. By spending a pittance on public diplomacy, it is by its own incompetence and impotence fostering the narratives of its adversaries.

The Spring 2016 edition of the Columbia University journal, “Current”, ran an interesting piece entitled “Reclaiming Alienated Liberals: Israel’s Imperative for Diaspora Jews” by Benjamin Davidoff, self-professed pro-Israel advocate. There are many things I disagree with in the article -such as the need for a Palestinian state and the call for Israel to empower J-Street, but on one matter Davidoff was spot on. He conveyed the feeling that pro-Israel advocates had been abandoned by Israel. He aptly notes: “Israel has an obligation to aid in pro-Israel advocacy on university campuses. Israel has largely ignored those fighting for Israel on campus and has failed to offer any true support for diaspora Jews… this issue directly affects the viability of the Israeli state in the future and should be of primary concern for Israel.”

On this he is quite right – and Israeli officialdom will ignore this obligation at the nation’s peril.

Dr. Martin Sherman

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/into-the-fray-martin-sherman/into-the-fray-israel-and-american-liberal-jewry-the-real-reasons-for-the-rift/2016/07/17/

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