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September 30, 2016 / 27 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Time’

Time to Dismantle BDS-Hamas Linkages

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

It is heartening to learn the American Anthropological Association (AAA) has voted against a Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions.( http://www.americananthro.org/StayInformed/NewsDetail.aspx?ItemNumber=14768). It has commendably done so in the largest membership turnout of 51 per cent in its history.  I am particularly happy as only the other day I happened to co-author with famous British political scientist Raphael Cohen Almagor an article in a leading Indian newspaper (http://www.pressreader.com/india/the-sunday-guardian/20160605/281934542210825)  arguing there was no justification for a professional association to ban Israel. Any such decision would be unjust, unfair, and counter-productive.

We have asserted in the article the resolution amounts to the worst form of academic freedom denial designed to ban all schools of thought flowing out of Israel, a nation that has throughout history rendered somewhat unparalleled contribution to the development of knowledge in almost every field of human life . Whoever wishes to boycott Israel undercuts academic freedom and betrays values we all hold dear: Freedom of expression, tolerance, equality, justice and peace. A boycott of Israeli academics and institutions is contrary to the core principles of academic freedom and is antithetical to free exchange of ideas.

I hope this vote against the BDS resolution would help AAA advance  the cause it is believed to be committed to—“advancing scholarly knowledge, finding solutions to human and social problems, giving voice to the underserved.” (http://www.americananthro.org/StayInformed/NewsDetail.aspx?ItemNumber=14768). AAA must raise critical awareness of the dynamics of peace and conflict in the region, highlight the  sufferings of all its peoples—Israelis and Palestinians– and expand the space of dialogue for their appropriate solutions.

I would, however , caution AAA against developing any complacency on this issue. The strength of those in favour of the resolution in AAA was not negligible . It was rather substantial . Among the AAA eligible voters while 2,423 persons opposed the resolution,  2,384 voted to support it.  The backers of the resolution might invent ways to assert themselves in future.

AAA must see to it that the atmosphere created by the BDS resolution does not revisit and lead to any ugly incident in future. Reports are that in the recent past at San Francisco State University (SFSU) BDS supporters disrupted a speech by Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat. In another incident a BDS supporter publicly insulted former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and American diplomat Dennis Ross at Harvard Law School.  In early April this year Harvard law student Husam El-Qoulaq asked Livni at a public conference : “How is it that you are so smelly?  It’s regarding your odor—about the odor of Tzipi Livni, very smelly.”( http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-anti-israel-money-trail-1461624250).

I would also suggest  the larger American society must keep vigilance over anti-Semitism elements at home. There is a strong evidence of linkages between the BDS leadership and Hamas financiers . In his  recent testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittees on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade and on the Middle East and North Africa , researcher  Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies has revealed  leaders of organizations linked to Hamas have “gravitated to a new organization called American Muslims for Palestine (AMP)”. The AMP is “arguably the most important sponsor and organizer for the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which is the most visible arm of the BDS campaign in campuses in the United States.”

(http://docs.house.gov/meetings/FA/FA18/20160419/104817/HHRG-114-FA18-Wstate-SchanzerJ-20160419.pdf). Schanzer has added  “at least seven individuals who work for or on behalf of AMP have worked for or on behalf of organizations previously shut down or held civilly liable in the United States for providing financial support to Hamas: the Holy Land Foundation [HLF], the Islamic Association for Palestine [IAF], and Kind Hearts.”
Recently, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Bret Stephens, too, has written on the links between BDS leadership and Hamas financiers. He has said , “SJP’s self-declared goal is to end Israel’s ‘occupation and colonization of all Arab lands’ while ‘promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.’ That’s another way of saying destroying the Jewish state.” (http://www.theisraelproject.org/award-winning-columnist-highlights-ties-between-bds-movement-and-hamas-financiers/)

All such BDS-Hamas  linkages have to be dismantled . It is good that members of the U.S. House of Representatives from both parties have demonstrated their commitment to confront growing anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiment on college campuses. In its recent letter to  U.S. Education Secretary John King (http://teddeutch.house.gov/uploadedfiles/2016.4.18_bipartisan_task_force_for_combating_anti-semitism_-_letter_to_department_of_education.pdf),  the congressional Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism has asked what his department has been doing about these issues. The signatories to this letter said “anti-Semitic intimidation, harassment, and discrimination are manifested not only in easily recognizable anti-Semitic slurs but also in anti-Semitism masked as anti-Israel and anti-Zionist sentiment.” The taskforce expressed its alarm about the growth of anti-Israel programs and BDS campaigns on campuses.

And yes, let’s applaud New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo . He has signed an executive order directing divestment of public funds supporting any BDS campaign against Israel. ( https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-signs-first-nation-executive-order-directing-divestment-public-funds-supporting ).

Jagdish N. Singh

Naomi Returns To Bethlehem; Last Time Jew Does So Without Military Escort

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

{Originally posted to the humor website PreOccupied Territory)

Bethlehem, Judah, June 7 – The widow of the late tribal leader Elimelech came back to her hometown today after ten years in the land of Moab, marking the final time for about three millennia that a Jew will enter the city without need of an armed escort, local sources are reporting.

Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth, also widowed from Naomi’s son Mahlon, returned to Bethlehem this morning now that the famine that drove her and Elimelech away has subsided, and hunger no longer hovers over the land. The pair entered the town by themselves, causing a stir, both because the people were shocked to see how Naomi had aged and that they were witnessing the last time a Jew would be able to enter Bethlehem safely not in the company of several men carrying weapons to fend off Arab attackers, at least for three thousand years.

“Is that Naomi?” the townspeople were heard to exclaim, surmising that the withered old woman, once so vigorous and youthful, had decided to come back into the town while it was still possible to do so unaccompanied by soldiers. “Don’t call me Naomi,” she responded, according to witnesses.

“Call me embittered, for the LORD has made it exceedingly bitter for me,” presumably referring to her dire economic circumstances and the fact that for many centuries hence, a Jew would need serious protection upon entering her beloved hometown, lest he or she be attacked by hate-filled Palestinians bent on making Bethlehem judenrein again.

“She doesn’t look too good, she and that Moabite woman,” said a bystander who asked to remain nameless, but who described himself as a relative. “They’re going to have a tough time of it now. I imagine they’ll have to sell some of the family’s ancestral holdings, which will eventually be taken over by Arabs as if it had always been theirs, and then those Arabs will resort to violence to keep Jews from reestablishing their presence here. Also, that daughter-in-law of hers is from Moab, and that’s not such a popular thing around here. At least not with me.”

Other observers had a more favorable assessment. “That takes guts, coming back here under such embarrassing circumstances,” said an elder named Boaz. “I imagine that many, many years from now, the descendants of these fine women will similarly disregard the physical dangers of reestablishing their presence in their ancestral homeland. Of course, it can’t hurt to to have a few strong youths, like my field hands, for protection.”

PreOccupied Territory

Jerusalem Day: A Perception of Time and Space

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

Sunday was Jerusalem Day, the day we celebrate the miraculous salvation from the Arab threats of destruction that loomed over us by words and deeds, which was avoided by the stunning victories of the Six-Day War in 1967. That war also returned us to the heart of our homeland, Judea and Samaria, and – above all – brought about the reunification of Jerusalem.

When I meet people from Berlin I always ask them: “East Berlin or West Berlin?” The answer, always accompanied by a chuckle, is: “Well, it’s all just Berlin today”. I agree with them, but then I point out: “Berlin has been around a lot less than Jerusalem. Jerusalem has been the Jewish nation’s political and spiritual capital for over 3,000 years. Berlin was artificially divided into east and west as a result of military occupation at the end of WW II. It was divided for 44 years, and now that’s it’s been reunited you say it’s just all Berlin. Jerusalem was artificially divided into east and west as a result of the illegal, Jordanian military invasion and subsequent occupation of part of the city, causing the division of the city for 19 years. Now the city has been reunited for 49 years – and yet some people still insist on using the archaic terms ‘East Jerusalem’ and ‘West Jerusalem’! Do you see the absurd? Using those terms reveals either ignorance of history – or an anti-Semitic agenda to denigrate the Jewish connection to the Holy City.

The same matter of perception can relate to the Golan Heights. In Syrian hands they served as a base for attacking Israel almost incessantly, shelling the Israeli villages below. Since the Golan was taken in 1967, the Israeli villages below know peace, as do the Israeli and Druze villages on the Golan – in stark contrast to the current events in Syria. On the Golan you find ruins of ancient Jewish towns and villages that have in them synagogues dating back over two thousand years. Only under Israeli rule have the Golan Heights become fruitful, prosperous, tranquil and an area of hiking and picnicing for an entire state. The Golan has been part of Israel for 49 years. If you go back 49 years from 1967 you come to 1918. There was no Syria, which didn’t even exist as an independent state until 1946! So the Golan has been in Israeli hands more than twice as long as it was in Syrian hands. Yet some insist on referring to the Golan as Syrian, even though it has been in Israeli hands longer, even though it was in Syrian hands only because of the infamous Sykes-Picot imperialist agreement.

On Jerusalem Day I guided some of my students on a walking tour on Mt. Zion, at the site of King David’s Tomb (or perhaps more properly the tombs of the latter kings from the House of David). As we arrived we met a group of Muslims from Turkey and a group of Christians from Russia, each group with their own guide. I thought to myself: this site is holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims. Yet from 1428 until 1948, the site was controlled by Muslims, and neither Jews nor Christians were allowed to visit freely, only Muslims. Since 1948, under Israeli control, the site of King David’s Tomb has been open to people of all nations and all religions.

As we entered Zion Gate into the Old City I recalled that during 19 years of Arab-Muslim rule between 1948 and 1967, – despite signed armistice agreements – Jews weren’t allowed to visit the Old City, its synagogues (which were all systematically destroyed) or the Western Wall. In contrast, for the last 49 years, under Israeli rule, all nations and all peoples can freely visit the Old City of Jerusalem.

Similarly, I recalled that in Hebron, up until 1967, under Muslim rule, Jews weren’t allowed to enter the Tomb of the patriarchs to pray at the site of our ancestors’ graves. Only since 1967, under Israeli rule, is their freedom of access and freedom of religion, except for one place: the Temple Mount. There, despite being in Jewish hands since 1967, out of Israeli high-minded tolerance the Temple Mount has been left to the supervision of Muslim officials, whose intolerance forbids non-Muslims to pray there. But besides that – I’m always proud to see that in the streets of Jerusalem, under Israeli sovereignty, people from every nation and every religion, can walk safely and happily.

It’s all a question of perception of time and space.

Dovid Ben-Meir

Time to Leave UNESCO – Again

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

{Originally posted to the Gatestone Institute website}

On April 11, 2016, the Executive Board of UNESCO adopted a resolution called “Occupied Palestine.” The title immediately exposes it as a biased document. That is not surprising. All the texts adopted by UNESCO concerning the Middle East are biased.

However, those who read it carefully can see that a further step was taken.

UNESCO’s resolution is not only biased: it is negationist. All traces of Jewish presence in Jerusalem and Judea in ancient times are eliminated at the stroke of a pen. The Temple Mount is never mentioned. It is only called by the name al-Aqsa Mosque / Haram al Sharif. The name “Western Wall” is placed between quotation marks, to indicate that it is an invalid name: Al Buraq Wall is used without quotation marks. The graves of Jewish cemeteries are described as “Jewish fake graves.”

It is a radical anti-Semitic resolution: denying historical fact, claiming that what exists does not, presenting the history of Judaism and the Jews as lies. Accusing Jews of “planting Jewish fake graves” is the lie. It is saying that Judaism is a sham and Jews are liars and falsifiers.

The document is absolutely anti-historical, anti-fact and “anti-Zionist”: it tries unambiguously to “prove” that Israel was founded on an imposture and has no reason to exist. The document constantly describes Israel as the “occupying power” and presents it as a predatory and arbitrary country.

Voting for such a text means would endorsing historical negationism, radical anti-Semitism, and absolute “anti-Zionism”.

Correctly deciphering the meaning of the resolution and its implications, the representatives of six Western countries — the United States, Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom — voted no.

Representatives of other Western countries — France, Spain, Sweden, Slovenia — accepted the text and voted yes.

The resolution was presented with the support of several Muslim countries — some often described as “moderate”: Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco.

The text was written by Palestinian Authority (PA) “experts.” Since 2011, the Palestinian Authority has had a seat at UNESCO under the name “State of Palestine.”

The Israeli government immediately expressed its anger. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “anyone, let alone an organization tasked with preserving history, could deny this link which spans thousands of years.”

A petition was circulated by Stand With Us and the International Legal Forum, demanding that UNESCO change its attitude and remains “true to its founding principles.”

The anger of Israel’s government and indignation of others other is legitimate. The petition is fully justified.

However, expecting that UNESCO will change its attitude is illusory. Expecting that UNESCO will remain true to its founding principles is hoping for something that will not happen. UNESCO long ago abandoned its founding principles.

UNESCO is a branch of the United Nations, and the UN is an organization where democracies are in the minority, surrounded by a huge majority of dictatorships and authoritarian regimes imbued with hatred toward the West.[1] Israel is virtually the only country designated as guilty of violating human rights by the so-called Human Rights Council, and where, in 2009, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was welcomed as a hero.

In October, 2015, UNESCO had already started down path it follows today. It defined Rachel’s Tomb as the Bilal bin Rabah Mosque and the Cave of the Patriarchs as the Ibrahimi Mosque, and declared them “Palestinian sites.”

What is worrisome is that only six Western countries were ready to reject a totally poisonous, fraudulent resolution.

The Western countries that voted for the resolution evidently approve of its contents. These countries have lost all legitimacy to claim they want peace in the Middle East. By approving the resolution, they show they are at war: against Judaism, Jews and Israel. One of them, France, claims it will hold a meeting to revive the “peace process”: in this context, the claim is grotesque.

The fact that a group of Muslim countries, often described as “moderate,” supported the resolution can only lead to the question: How can a country that supports such a document be described as “moderate?”

That Palestinian Authority “experts” have written such a resolution should be sufficient to show that the PA is not “moderate.” It clearly has no intention at all of creating a State alongside Israel; instead, as its leaders often openly admit, its plan is that Israel has to be demonized, crushed and replaced.

The underlying problem is that this negationism, anti-Semitism and “anti-Zionism” are deeply rooted in both Europe and Islam.

The Quran says Jews and Christians (“Crusaders”) have falsified their sacred books, and the history of Judaism and the Jewish people is false. Muslim tradition says that Muhammad ascended to heaven from al Aqsa, and that the Al Buraq Wall is the wall where he attached the winged creature on which he flew to heaven. No room is left for the Temple Mount or the Western Wall, even though they were there, with countless archeological artifacts, for more than a thousand years before Muhammad was even born.

Muslim tradition also says that Jews, as disbelievers, are condemned to the humiliating status of dhimmi,[2] and that all territories conquered by Islam have to remain Muslim forever.[3] Muslim tradition cannot accept a country ruled by Jews or Christians on land that was once conquered by Islam — whether Israel, formerly part of the Ottoman Empire, or large swaths of Portugal and Spain.

The resolution adopted by the Executive Board of UNESCO on April 11 is “Islamically correct.” “Moderate” Muslim countries cannot contradict the Quran and Muslim tradition without risking being accused of irtidad (apostasy).[4] Palestinian Authority “experts” are being true to the Quran and to Muslim tradition.

Western countries that approved the resolution showed their submission and dhimmitude to “Islamic correctness.” Dhimmis, in Islamic history, are second class, “tolerated” citizens, who are subjected to special laws which remind them of their inferiority as well as a tax, the jizya, to purchase “protection” for their homes, possessions and lives.[5]

Countries that rejected the resolution would be considered insubordinate.

Refusing such a resolution is not enough. It is about time to ask the Muslim world to leave behind its heavy load of noxious traditions, blackmail threats and violence.

It is also time to do more.

Under the presidency of Ronald Reagan, the United States left UNESCO in 1984, because UNESCO was obviously subservient to the Soviet Union, and was serving interests contrary to those of freedom, liberty and Western values.

The United States returned to UNESCO in 2003. In 2011, when the Palestinian Authority was admitted to UNESCO, the U.S. froze its financial contribution.

The United States badly needs to leave UNESCO again. UNESCO is obviously subservient to “Islamic correctness,” and serving interests contrary to those of freedom, liberty and Western values. Eighty years ago, negationism and anti-Semitism led to the Holocaust. It is urgent to say, “Enough.”

[1] Dore Gold, Tower of Babble: How the United Nations Has Fueled Global Chaos, Crown Forum, 2005.

[2] Bat Ye’or, Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2001.

[3] Robert Spencer, Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions about the World’s Fastest-Growing Faith, Encounter Books, 2003.

[4] Yohanan Friedmann, Tolerance and Coercion in Islam: Interfaith Relations in the Muslim Tradition, Cambridge University Press, 2006.

[5] Bat Ye’or, op. cit.


Guy Millière

Redeeming Relevance: Parshat Emor II: No Time to Think

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

The episode of the Israelite woman’s cursing son (Vayikra 24:10-23) seems to come out of nowhere. Linguistically, we are reminded of Amalek’s sudden approach – in both cases, the Torah tells us that the antagonist went out, without telling us from where he went out. Though several commentators suggest that this phrase just means that they set out upon the field of action, its usage in rather similar situations suggests more than that.

In a tie-in with a third story that comes out of nowhere, we are not told the name of the man that curses; only that his mother was an Israelite and that his father was an Egyptian. We eventually find out his mother’s name, Shlomit bat Divri – a strange name at that – but only after the event. Hence, we are reminded of the story of Zimri and Kozbi, the infamous pair summarily executed by Pinchas for trying to lead the Jewish people astray. There too, we only find out the name of the Jewish antagonist and his tribal affiliation after the fact. Until that time, both antagonists are described in general terms, only revealing their nationalities. In fact, the term, eesh Yisrael, is used to describe Zimri three times (twice in in 25:8 and once in 25:14), parallel to the mother of the curser who is described as eesha Yisraelit (Vayikra 24:10).

Finally there is a story so similar to ours that they are often confused. That story is found much later in Bemidbar (15:32-36). There we read about an anonymous violator of the Shabbat. Like our curser, he is brought to Moshe to get a decision on what should be done, which Moshe apparently doesn’t immediately know (the latter reminding us of what occurred with Zimri as well). In both cases, they are placed in some sort of jail called a mishmar. Once safely out of the way, the law is Divinely revealed and the violators executed.

If we look at these stories as a group, they all move in a similar direction: We read about a sudden destabilizing threat that the Jews were not prepared to handle. The action in each story moves quickly, something which gives us an actual feel of these situations. And this is the reason why names are not given until the end of the story – there is a need to rush through it, and names will only get in the way. Once the emergency is over, we can go back to such details.

In all of these situations, the most important thing is to act right away. That means improvisation and alacrity, so as to contain something that would otherwise inflict serious – perhaps even disfiguring – damage onto the psyche of the Jewish people. True, Moshe was able to go to God to ultimately find out what to do in some of these stories. But that is only because his deputies immediately took control of the situation, by quarantining the problematic individual.

The Torah is telling us something here: Though we may sometimes act too rashly, there are times when rash action is the only way to prevent a complete catastrophe.

Given the Torah’s focus on living an ideal, thought-out life of ethics and spirituality, it needs to make sure we don’t get carried away with thinking. It is clear from the Torah’s interest in real life that there is a time for action as well as a time for thought. But that is not enough. What these stories drive home is that sometimes there is no time whatsoever for “better” solutions.

Rabbi Francis Nataf

Settling The Land, One Century At A Time

Monday, May 16th, 2016

When we think of aliyah to Eretz Yisrael, most of us think of a movement that began in the late 1800s and continues until today. Yet over 800 years ago a group of 300 rabbanim from England and France left their homes to settle the land of Eretz Yisrael, and during the centuries that followed other groups would try to do the same. What motivated these early “pioneers”? And what became of them and their efforts? It’s a fascinating story that deserves to be more widely known.


A World Overturned

Astiare-051316-SafedThe news must have spread like wildfire. In the year 1187, a Muslim army led by Saladin conquered Jerusalem, thereby ending Crusader rule over the holy city. The large and golden Christian cross that the Crusaders had put on top of the Dome of the Rock was pulled down, and the Christians were escorted out of the city, after paying a ransom.

The Christians looked upon their defeat with despair, but the Jews had reason to rejoice. They had been barred from settling in Jerusalem while the Crusaders were in power. The new Muslim rulers, on the other hand, encouraged the Jews to return. Is it any wonder, then, there were those who looked upon this shift of power as a precursor to the messianic era?

This belief that there were even greater things still to come was strengthened by a “prophecy” in circulation at the time that the year 4986 (1226) would bring with it the arrival of Elijah the Prophet and the start of the ingathering of the exiles. In 4993 (1233), or at least by the year 5000 (1240), Mashiach ben David would arrive.

Although the majority of Jews living in Europe merely talked about the return of the Jews to Jerusalem and Eretz Yisrael, small groups began to take action. In 1211, a group of Torah scholars from England and France made the long trek to Eretz Yisrael in what is today known as “the aliyah of the 300 rabbis.” Included in the group were Rav Shimson of Shantz, one of France’s leading scholars, and Provence’s Rav Yonatan HaKohen of Lunel.

Other groups arrived from Europe, North Africa and Egypt. We don’t know much about this early attempt at an organized aliyah, but it’s presumed that many of the newcomers settled in Jerusalem. However, they weren’t allowed to live there for long. During the Sixth Crusade, which began in 1228, the Muslims and Christians worked out an agreement whereby they shared Jerusalem between them. Under the terms of the agreement Jews were forbidden to live in the city.

Many Jews settled in Christian-held Acre, but here as well war and hardship took its toll. When the Muslims captured Acre in 1291, the Jewish community was destroyed.


Let Us Go Up To The Land

During the 1400s, world events, both real and imagined, once again made it seem as though the messianic era was just around the corner. Spain’s thousand-year-old Jewish community had been nearly destroyed by a series of violent attacks that took place in 1391, and the survivors never fully recovered their previous positions of wealth and prestige. The late 1300s and early 1400s were also a time of pogroms and expulsion for several other European communities, including kehillos in France and Austria. When the Ottomans captured Constantinople, the capital of the Christian Eastern Roman Empire, in 1453, it roused hopes among many Jews that the era of Christian dominance would come to an end—and that the triumph of Judaism as the true religion wouldn’t be far behind.

A rumor that the Ten Lost Tribes had finally been found added fuel to these messianic hopes. During this age of exploration, there were many rumors about the distant and exotic lands of China and India. When so much else was strange, it didn’t seem at all impossible that the Ten Lost Tribes would have been living in one of those faraway lands, as oblivious of the existence of their brethren in Europe as European Jews were of them.

Libi Astaire

A Great Time To Be Jewish

Sunday, May 8th, 2016

Paris, Jerusalem, Copenhagen – attacks on Jews seem ubiquitous these days. Shootings, stabbings, beatings, mob attacks. The UN is consistently, flagrantly, and unfairly anti-Israel. The BDS movement promulgates malicious lies about Israel and tries to upend Jewish students and professors on college campuses everywhere. If you wear a yarmulke in certain cities around the world it’s like painting a neon target on your body.

Extreme right-wing anti-Jewish political parties have risen in Hungary, France, Greece, and other countries. Even in America there are deadly attacks on Jewish institutions. Some say anti-Semitism is more robust and virulent today than at any time since the Holocaust.

And yet this is still be one of the best times ever to be Jewish. Here are ten reasons why:

  1. The Jewish homeland is stronger than ever. Not only is there a Jewish nation that welcomes all Jews, it is a powerhouse on the world scene. Israel has one of the best-trained armed forces, is a technological innovator and leader, and finds itself constantly strengthened and made more vibrant by Jews from all over the world who make aliyah or who take refuge there. And despite threats of attack from its neighbors and nuclear annihilation from Iran, Israel knows how to defend itself.
  2. There is a universal feeling among Jews that we are one people. Camaraderie may have always existed between Jews, but today, with international travel affordable and Jews traveling all over, being embraced as a landsman by other Jews is as important as ever. If you visit a foreign country and meet a fellow Jew, an immediate bond likely will develop and you may even be invited to a nice Shabbat dinner or holiday meal. Just don’t discuss politics or religious beliefs.
  3. It’s never been easier to be Jewish. From the array of kosher foods available to synagogues in almost every country (thanks in large part to Chabad), practicing Judaism and living like a Jew can be done virtually anywhere. Of course it may be harder to practice Judaism in Odessa than in Brooklyn, but thanks to technology, the availability of Jewish products, services, and synagogues can (depending on where one lives) be just a click or two away.
  4. Jewish organizations that provide social services are everywhere. Jewish agencies that offer succor are nothing new – they’ve been around in the U.S. since the 1800s to provide relief for needy Jewish immigrants – but today there are Jewish organizations of all sorts everywhere that serve to help people not just financially but in all manner of ways.
  5. There is more Jewish information available today than ever before. Would you like to know if a particular food is kosher? What time Shabbos or Yom Tov begins and ends? What restaurants are kosher in a city you are visiting? Do you have a question about Jewish history? Jewish ritual? There are websites that provide answers to any imaginable Jewish question. With the Internet, anyone can have instant access to Jewish information.
  6. Jewish culture is flourishing. You can find Jewish themes everywhere – in art, theater, movies, television, music, literature, and more. There is a renaissance of Yiddish language and klezmer music. Indeed, Jewish culture is so pervasive that one doesn’t have to play the soundtrack to “Fiddler On the Roof” (even though it’s back on Broadway) yet again.
  7. Orthodox Judaism is in the ascendance. According to the Pew Research Center, of all Jewish groupings in America, only the Orthodox are growing – quickly and by a lot. And what could be better news than that? Orthodoxy is the historical pillar of Judaism, and more Orthodox Jews will help ensure the spread and strengthening of Torah observance.
  8. Jews are more accepted today than ever before in the U.S. Sure, there are pockets and incidents of anti-Semitism, but what else is new? Once upon a time many colleges had quotas limiting the enrollment of Jewish students and entire fields of endeavor – banking, law, etc. – were severely restricted to Jews. Today a Jew can sit on the Supreme Court or be a senator or governor or even run for president of the United States.
  9. Jewish life is being revitalized in a number of countries. Poland, Russia, and Germany are just a few that are witnessing the rebuilding of Jewish communities. In these countries, where Jews were once persecuted or worse, Jewish populations are stabilizing or growing, synagogues and Jewish schools are increasing, and kosher restaurants and supermarkets are opening.
  10. You can hold your head up high as a Jew. Jews have made spectacular contributions to the world in every endeavor known to man, and well out of proportion to their miniscule numbers. A Jew should always feel proud to be a Jew.

While we need to continue being vigilant and circumspect, we should also look on the bright side and appreciate why these are great times for Jews. Of course, there is much work to be done, and Jews will be right there to do that. Indeed, Jews will always be trying to make the world a better place – for Jews and non-Jews alike.

Harvey Rachlin

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/a-great-time-to-be-jewish/2016/05/08/

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