Thursday, June 22, 2017

From Ian:

Honest Reporting: How Reporting From Israel Changed My Worldview Forever
I was content to tell this story for my first few months in Israel, because I, too, believed it. As I wrote recently in The Jerusalem Report magazine, I had a deeply negative view of the Jewish state until I moved there. I grew up in a WASPy New England town where everyone is a liberal Democrat. For some reason, hostility towards Israel is a knee-jerk liberal opinion in the U.S. (and in much of Europe). As a product of my environment, I believed that Israel was a bully and the primary obstacle to peace in the Middle East.
But foreign affairs always look different when they become local, and nowhere is that more true than in Israel. I began to see that one sunny afternoon not long after I moved to Jerusalem. On that day, I went to cover a Palestinian protest at an Israeli-run prison near Ramallah. A reporter for The Independent and I drove out there and fell in with a group of about 100 Palestinian demonstrators as they marched towards the prison.
When they arrived, about a half dozen Israeli soldiers came out to meet them. The Palestinians quickly set up a roadblock of burning tires to prevent the Israelis from escaping. More and more protesters arrived – I don’t know from where – but I soon saw them swarming over the hills above the prison, clad in face masks and keffiyehs. It was like a scene from Game of Thrones. Some had knives in their belts. Others had brought ingredients for Molotov cocktails. They took up positions on the hills above the prison and began using powerful slingshots to hurl rocks and chunks of concrete at the six or so Israeli soldiers down below. The Israelis were so outnumbered that I couldn’t help but question the narrative that Israel was Goliath and the Palestinians were David, because here in front of me it looked like the exact opposite.
When I visited the Gaza Strip a few months later, I again saw the difference between how journalists portray a place and reality. Reading about Gaza in the news, you’d think the whole place was rubble, that it looks more or less like Homs or Aleppo. In fact Gaza is no different in appearance from anywhere else in the Arab World. During eight days in the Strip, I didn’t see a single war-damaged building until I specifically asked my fixer to show me one. In response, she drove me to Shujaya, a neighborhood of Gaza City that’s a known Hamas stronghold and is still visibly damaged from the 2014 war.
Was the destruction in Shujaya shocking? Yes. But it was very localized, and not at all indicative of the rest of Gaza. The rest of Gaza is not so different from many developing countries: people are poor but they manage to provide for themselves, and even to dress well and be happy most of the time. Actually, there are parts of the Strip that are quite nice. I went out to eat at restaurants where the tables are made from marble and the waiters wear vests and ties. I saw huge villas on the beach that wouldn’t be out of place in Malibu, and – right across the street from those villas – I visited a new, $4 million mosque.
BBC Discovers WWII Headlines In Archives (satire)
Richard Westin, a BBC reporter and historical archivist from West Hampstead recently discovered a slew of old headlines from WWII and onwards. What was thought to have been lost when the company began switching many of its historical news pieces to a digital format, Westin felt lucky to have stumbled onto the prized pieces of history.
“I was doing some research on how Israel withholds air from Palestinian areas and was lucky enough to stumble onto a great historical find.” Many of the headlines included classics like, “German Officer Catches Cold at Auschwitz” and “Twenty Year Old German Boy Killed By Jews In Warsaw Uprising.”
Speaking from West Hampstead, Mr. Westin also said he was fascinated how the BBC has historically been credible with its news and always concentrated just on the facts. “Upon further investigation, it was concluded that not only one, but many German officers caught colds at Auschwitz, as did many Ukrainian Guard. The BBC definitely had it right. Also, we contacted the family of the twenty-year-old boy who was killed in Warsaw, Hanz Baur, and the now elderly family speaking from Germany said Hanz’s death has left a huge hole difficult to fill for them. From photos, we can clearly see how Hanz was a strapping good looking blonde bo,y and who knows what he would have become had he not been killed?”
Other headlines dating back some years were also discovered. From 1973 a headline of “Secular Jews In Israel forego Services On Yom Kippur To Fire Guns” as well as a 1948 Headline, “Jews Abandon Western Wall”. While most of the authors who penned the headlines are no longer living, Mr. Westin feels that through this rare archival document find, he can remain connected to those BBC reporters who came before him.
HR's Daniel Pomerantz, BBC Headlines on i24


 Vic Rosenthal's Weekly Column



I have always thought that curiosity about oneself is self-indulgent. Nothing bored me more than people that wanted to tell me what they had discovered about themselves in psychotherapy. Just get on with it, was my motto. I don’t care about your childhood, and you shouldn’t either.

The same went for Jews who are always picking at the Holocaust. I didn’t want to hear about it. They tried to kill us, they only partially succeeded, let’s eat. I never visited Yad Vashem; I skipped the trip provided by the absorption center in 1979. I don’t go to Holocaust movies, and the last book I read about it was André Schwarz-Bart’s The Last of the Just, which I read in the early 1960s. Who needs this stuff, I thought? I had contempt for those who were seeking emotional titillation at a safe distance from the horrors of 75 years ago, while ignoring the Arabs and Iranians that want to murder us today.

I thought I was a “new Jew” that had dumped all of that baggage.

But there seems to be something about the aging process that compels reflection. There are things that you did that you wish you had done differently, and things that you wish you hadn’t done at all. And I think I’m beginning to understand why people investigate their genealogy, or take trips to the places their grandparents lived. What was it like to live under the Czar? My grandfather could have told me, but it’s almost 50 years too late to ask him. I didn’t care then, but today I want to know.

I was born in 1942 and I grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust. My parents were born in America and were invested in being Americans. They weren’t interested in religion, in speaking the Yiddish they understood from their childhoods, or in joining Jewish or Zionist organizations. None of that had anything for them. They understood that they were Jewish, almost all of their friends were Jewish too, but when they looked for a house in the suburbs in 1950, they chose a non-Jewish neighborhood. They never talked about the Holocaust, at least not that I heard. In 1948 I asked my father about disturbing things I was hearing on the radio. He explained that there was a war going on “between the Jews and the Arabs.” But they were different Jews, far away and not connected to us. 

My maternal grandparents, with whom we lived, were another story. They had emigrated (from here) in what is now Ukraine, before the revolution. They had relatives who had stayed behind in Europe, whom they kept in touch with until the war. Toward the end of it, they somehow found out that none of them had survived. I overheard conversations that I only partly understood, but I was aware that something terrible had happened.

My grandmother was one of the toughest and hardest-working women I’ve known, although she had a soft spot in her heart for her (then) only grandchild. She came to America at the age of 17 not knowing how to read or write, but already a dressmaker by profession. My grandparents both worked as sewing machine operators in the Manhattan garment district; someone told me that my grandfather, who was blind in one eye, had a job because they had to hire him to get her. I inherited my cynical, even slightly paranoid, attitude from her.

Their approach to life, far different from my “American” parents, was that of Jews who were always looking over their shoulders. The Holocaust was always present, as well as the pogroms of pre-revolutionary Russia. They were the kind of Jews that, at least figuratively, always had their suitcases packed. At one point when I was in college in the 1960s, I told my grandfather that I was thinking about making aliyah. He smiled and patted me on the back, and said “to help the Jewish people.” I was surprised. I doubt that my parents would have used the expression “the Jewish people” in any context.

I didn’t make aliyah until much later, but there’s no doubt that my connection to the Jewish people goes through my grandparents (but probably not my Judaism: the constitution of the Landsmannschaft to which he belonged contains a note that “the question of affiliation with a synagogue is never to be raised.” Not my conservatism either: he was a regular reader of the Yiddish Daily Forward and once even elected Secretary of his ILGWU local).

The Holocaust, the pogroms of Europe, and the anti-Jewish riots and massacres in the Middle East and North Africa are unfortunately part of the Jewish people’s collective soul. So are the thousands of years of discrimination and ghettoization. There’s no escaping them, even if we pretend to be “new Jews” for whom history started in the 19th century here in Israel with the arrival of the first Zionists.

And that’s not bad. My grandmother could spot a con a mile away. She was suspicious, but in her world, you had to be. She wouldn’t trust Mahmoud Abbas or Tzipi Livni as far as she could throw them. She understood that the world was a dangerous place for Jews, and you had to always watch your back. I completely understand her. I still look over my shoulder. It’s in my DNA. But there are some ways in which things have finally changed.

In Israel today, we face some very serious threats. We need to look over our shoulders, to Tehran, Gaza, Damascus, Beirut and Ramallah. But after several thousand years, our suitcases are finally unpacked.




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From Ian:

The Ongoing Drama of Palestinian Lies
The current policy of the PA leadership is to avoid alienating the Trump administration by continuing to pretend that Abbas and his cronies are serious about achieving peace with Israel. This is why Abbas's representatives are careful not to criticize Trump or his envoys.
When Israel does not comply with their list of demands, the Palestinians will accuse it of "destroying" the peace process. Worse still, the Palestinians will use this charge as an excuse to redouble their terror against Israelis. The Palestinian claim, as always, will be that they are being forced to resort to terrorism in light of the failure of yet another US-sponsored peace process.
No doubt, Abbas cannot find it within himself to clarify to the American envoys that he lacks a mandate from his people to make any step toward peace with Israel. Abbas knows, even if the American representatives do not, that any move in that direction would end his career, and very possibly his life. Abbas also does not wish to go down in Palestinian history as the treacherous leader who "sold out to the Jews." Moreover, someone can come along later and say, quite correctly, that as Abbas has exceeded his legitimate term in office, any deal he makes is illegal and illegitimate.
Saudi power realignment may favor Israel
Riyadh and Jerusalem were reported last year as having effectively worked together - despite officially having no diplomatic ties - to try to stop the US agreeing a nuclear deal with Iran.
Representatives of the two countries have shared public platforms, such as at the Council on Foreign Relations in June 2015, when retired Saudi general Anwar Eshki spoke alongside Israeli official Dore Gold.
Saudi-Israeli relations are a sensitive topic due to overwhelmingly sympathetic public opinion in the kingdom on the Palestinian cause for statehood.
Christopher Davidson, author of After the Sheikhs: The Coming Collapse of the Gulf Monarchies, said, "Traditionally, Arab clients of the United States have often tried to curry favour with the Americans by being seen to at least cosy up to the state that they feel is America’s number one friend in the region – Israel”.
One of the Saudi sources said Washington could be swayed into supporting Bin Salman's bid to be king if he could achieve good communication with Israel, even if the Americans like Bin Nayef.
David Hearst, editor-in-chief of Middle East Eye, sums up: "The Arab people from the Atlantic to the Gulf have changed. They have shed blood, lost homes, families, jobs, and their liberty. Thousands are in jail. Thousands more have drowned in the Mediterranean. Millions have been displaced. They are no longer awe struck by their absolute rulers with their absolute privilege and absolute wealth. And they are prepared to fight for basic human rights.
"The House of Saud with all its court intrigues, with Abdullah merging into Salman and then Mohammed, has not changed. Access to power depends on the family tree. It makes a difference whether you are a brother or half-brother.
"Ministerial portfolios are still handed down from father to son like goods and chattel. Professionals are still replaced with placemen. The family puts enormous power in the hands of one man. It makes gigantic mistakes in Yemen and Syria. And it is still, with its unimaginable wealth, a house of cards."
Unlikely allies: Israel and the Saudis
Israel’s Channel 2 news station improbably made history last week by airing a brief interview with an obscure policy wonk named Abed al-Hamid Hakim. The subject was the blockade of Qatar imposed by the Saudis and a couple of other despotic Sunni Arab rulers to punish the country for its ties to Iran, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. It obviously wasn’t what Hakim had to say — religion should not be used to justify violence and extremism; we should all try to live in peace and harmony — that aroused interest. Rather, it was where he was sitting when he said it: Jeddah, the commercial capital of Saudi Arabia. For the first time ever, here was a Saudi national being interviewed live on Israeli TV, complete with Hebrew subtitles. Perhaps more extraordinary, though, was that after word got out in Saudi Arabia about their little chit-chat there was no serious backlash.
Having worked for a number of years in the heart of the government-controlled media in Jeddah, I know that such an interview could never have taken place without the go-ahead from the very highest levels of the Saudi regime. A few days later, in fact, it appeared to have been just the opening salvo of an orchestrated, pro-Israel propaganda campaign. An equally unprecedented column about the Jewish state duly appeared in the widely read Saudi daily Al Riyadh, which, like all newspapers in the kingdom, is closely guided and monitored by the government. Written by a certain Musaid al-Asimi, it hardly heaped praise on Israel; but it did emphasise that — in odd phrasing that perhaps reflected the awkwardness of the moment — there was no reason for Arabs to ‘unjustifiably demonise’ the country. After praising the peace accords Israel has signed with Egypt and Jordan (another break with protocol), al-Asimi left his readers in no doubt about what his princely overlords want them to believe. Iran, not Israel, he boldly concluded, must henceforth be considered Saudi Arabia’s regional enemy.
Neither the TV pundit nor the newspaper columnist have been censured by the Saudi regime, which imposes a decade-long sentence for the flimsiest criticism of government policy. Compare their happy lot with that of Jamal Khashoggi, among the kingdom’s most famous and prolific journalists. The world hasn’t heard a tweet from him since last year. His crime? In a speech at a pro-Israel think tank in Washington in the run-up to the US Presidential elections, he suggested that the next incumbent in the White House might not see eye-to-eye with Saudi Arabia about how a potentially nuclear-armed Iran may be contained. For that, Khashoggi has been indefinitely banned from writing on, or commenting about, anything, either in Saudi Arabia or the outside world. By promoting some voices while preventing others from being heard, the royal court is testing the Saudi public’s reaction to a possible future announcement that the enemy (Israel) of my enemy (Iran) is my friend (Wahhabi-Zionist alliance). (h/t Zvi)

  • Thursday, June 22, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon
In the past 24 hours, according to Arab media, 38 Jews visited the Temple Mount.


This is, of course, terrible. How can Jews peacefully visit their holiest site? Clearly it is a violation of Muslim rights.

Also in the past 24 hours, according to the same Islamic Waqf that zealously counts every Jew, some 300,000 Muslims visited the same site.


Yet the Muslims complain about restrictions to their freedom of religion.




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  • Thursday, June 22, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon
David Hazony wrote an excellent and in-depth essay for The Tower called "Israeli Identity and the Future of American Jewry."

Please read the whole thing, I would not do it justice in this brief summary.

Hazony's thesis is that the best way to counter rampant assimilation of American Jews is to introduce them to Judaism through the prism of Israeliness.

Israeliness is now a “thing,” as the kids say. More precisely, it is its own culture, its own way of approaching the world, its own habits of eating and socializing and innovating and building and raising children. It is distinctly Jewish, having been forged in a collective Hebrew experience, drawing from millennia of Jewish texts and experience, and clearly delineated from the American forms of Judaism, and it now has a century of development behind it and many millions engaged in it. It has its own powerful engines of capital. In some industries and arts, Israelis are among the dominant players—from defense and cyber to agriculture and water tech and autonomous vehicles to electronic music and original TV dramas and jazz and culinary arts. As Israel’s economy and population grow, its influence will only increase—not because every growing economy is culturally influential, but because of the unfathomable creative-intellectual disquiet that has always burned hard in the Jewish soul and continues to drive Israeli creativity.
The point of my whole argument, however, is not about how cool Israel is, because how cool it is has already begun to be discovered by an America forever looking for cool things. The point is that American Jews as a community risk missing a tremendous opportunity to fend off oblivion if they cannot see that Israeliness is not just interesting in its own right but specifically as a form of Jewish identity, exactly when a new form of Jewish identity is the only thing that can save them.

Hazony is saying that Israeliness is Jewish-infused culture that is bold, cool, unapologetic and that can be made attractive to American Jews, which could in turn help stem the tide of assimilation (as well as help Israel's reputation, especially among young people.)

Hazony makes a strong case, but I'm not so certain that it is a long-term solution. It might be good for a number of decades, which means it is worth pursuing, but I don't think it is a strategy for a religion that spans millennia. 

Hazony makes the very valid point that Judaism is more than a religion - it is a culture, a peoplehood and more. But his proofs of that, I think, undermine his argument for Israeliness being a long-term solution:

Can “Israeliness” really be considered a form of Judaism? 
It can, if we properly understand the forms Judaism has taken in the past. While in America we speak in terms of religion, religion itself is a category that has been imposed from without: Whenever we see a combination of theology, ritual, and houses of worship, we call it a religion.
Judaism never really saw itself this way, however. It had these, but it also had other things—a collective narrative and sense of “peoplehood”; an ethnic component; a metaphysical, spiritual path; a textual tradition and the practice of study; “secular” communal institutions alongside and intertwined with “religious” ones; a political worldview. It was a comprehensive way of life, centered not just in the synagogue but, no less so, in the home and the study house; and not just for the individual but for a self-defining collective, a “people,” as well. In biblical times, it included prophets and kings as well as the priests of the Temple. Throughout centuries of exile, a concept of halacha, the “way,” included not only ritual practice but everything from civil and criminal law to cosmology to medical advice. In most times and places across history, “Judaism” comprised many of the core institutions of government.
Fast forward to the nineteenth century. Enlightenment and Reform combined with rise of democratic nations to offer Jews of central and western Europe new ways of being Jewish that turned less on ritual, authority and faith, and more on autonomy and citizenship. To the East, socialism and Marxism offered a secular universal struggle, yet Jewish socialists continued to write and create in Yiddish, live as communities, and form their own labor unions—a culture that would later thrive for decades in the United States after waves of immigrants arrived in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. Jewish publications like Forward and Algemeiner Journal were secular-facing, Yiddish-language newspapers for decades before launching English-language and online editions. (You can still read Forward online in Yiddish here.) Alongside Reform and Conservative Judaism, religious movements built around rabbis and congregations, a secular Jewish culture emerged that for many decades was thick with its own habits, food, music, and modes of living that mixed political activism (think workers’ rights, racial equality, Soviet Jewry) with a strong sense of “being Jewish” and, for a time, continued teaching its kids in Yiddish-language schools. Another stream, Reconstructionism, was promulgated by the thinker Mordecai Kaplan who envisioned Judaism not so much as observance and worship but as a “civilization,” a modern comprehensive approach to life. Communal institutions like the YMHA/YWHA (which lives on today, for example, in New York’s 92d Street Y) and Jewish Community Centers emerged to add further angles on delivering identity to the next generation of Jews in frameworks separate from religion.
In other words, the division of American Judaism into denominations, and the use of the word “Judaism” to describe only religious streams, has always been incomplete and even misleading. Judaism has many forms, and only some of them have anything to do with Sabbath or kashrut or prayer.
But what has happened to Yiddish culture in America? What has happened to Reform Judaism, and what is happening now to Conservative Judaism? What happened to the delis and the bialys and the labor unions? Why are the JCCs opening up to non-Jews in order to stay in business?

The Jewish culture that Hazony describes is a mere, fading shadow of Judaism.

Whether we like it or not, Jewish culture is not what keeps Judaism alive. Each example of Jewish culture Hazony mentions lasts a couple of generations and then disappears.

And, unfortunately, so would Israeliness.

There is value in Jewish culture, don't get me wrong. And there is great value in changing diaspora Jewish culture to be more in line with Israeli culture. But it is not the key to Jewish survival.

What is?

Hazony notes:
Oblivion knocks. The two obvious alternatives—aliya and Orthodoxy—require so radical a change in one’s lifestyle that they’re non-starters for most American Jews. If those were the only options, most would choose oblivion.
But I think that there is a possibility for the future of non-Orthodox to not only survive but to thrive. And a facet of that can be seen from Hazony's own brother Yoram, who wrote The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture. I haven't read it yet (should arrive by Shabbat) , but it is an examination of the Tanach from the prism of philosophy - and from a secular perspective.

Judaism is a culture, sure. But since the destruction of the Temple,  the culture has been based on the twin pillars of ritual and the study of Jewish texts above all.

These are not the exclusive domain of the Orthodox. The vast corpus of Jewish literature - that spans law, history, parables, philosophy, poetry, ethics - is available to all. And any Jew can participate in Jewish rituals.

The reason non-Orthodox American Jews are disappearing is because they have abandoned these two basic tenets. How many Reform Jews build a sukkah every fall? What kind of impact would eating and camping out in a sukkah have on their children? Especially if they explain it in terms of Jewish texts, not watered-down "universal" values.

Yiddish culture in America was not a means to preserve Judaism, but a waystation towards abandoning it. Studying Yiddish culture today may be interesting but it has little to do with Judaism, no matter how much it is infused with Jewish ideas.

Israeliness would be the same thing. There is value in Israeli culture, and Israeliness can provide a welcome sense of pride and self-confidence that non-Orthodox American Jews lack. But the values of Israeliness are second-hand compared to the original values of Judaism, and the embrace of it as means of protecting Jewish culture is not hitting the bullseye. We should unapologetically push Jewish ideas and rituals as the means to preserve Judaism.

However, there is one very important lesson that American Jews do need to learn from Israel.

Practically all of the innovations in Jewish learning over the past few decades have come from Israel. Religious education in America has not fundamentally changed in a century - Israel is where the interesting and modern twists on Jewish learning are happening.

Non-religious Israelis (not enough, but a core) get together to study the ancient texts and to find modern meanings in them. Within and without the haredi and dati communities are multiple streams of educational theories and practices that are different than in the past. There are secular "yeshivas." David Hazony's own The Tower has covered the renaissance of Jewish study among secular Israelis.

Yoram Hazony has gone beyond the book I mentioned and has been championing work on a Jewish counterpart to the analytical (Christian) theology being taught in universities today. Why should St Thomas of Aquinas be studied but not Maimonides? This is the sort of innovation than needs to be done to revolutionize Jewish studies in America.

Jews have a hunger to learn. But they don't always have the appropriate tools. Israel is where these tools are being built, and those tools need to come to America and the rest of the Diaspora, along with the Hebrew knowledge that Hazony rightly advocates as a cornerstone of a revival of American Judaism.

I am not an expert on all the new streams of study happening in Israel but I know they are there. Israeliness as a culture will not be a long-term solution for American Jews, but Israel can lead the way in new methods of study and practice, way beyond the meaningless two-word mantra "Tikun Olam" that secular American Jews believe encompasses all of Judaism.

Every important ethical or moral issue of the day can be viewed through the lens of Jewish texts and thought and ritual. This is what young Jews must be taught. You can be liberal or you can be conservative - but derive your worldview based on your own people's rich heritage of ethics and study and practice, rather than shoe-horn your Judaism into a preconceived political or social consciousness bucket.

Jews who work at studying Judaism, who can appreciate the richness in real Jewish source texts, and especially who experience Judaism firsthand, are the ones whose children have the best chance to remain Jewish. "Israeliness" won't solve the problem - but Israeli genius at revamping how to teach Judaism can.





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  • Thursday, June 22, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon
He's smiling! That means he's moderate!

"Today, the Zionists' overt and covert intervention can be seen in nearly every dispute among countries of the region", the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said ahead of al-Quds Day, the fake holiday Iran created in the 1970s.

"Today, roots of troubles, violence and insecurities in the Muslim world, as well as the whole world, can be traced in the fake and brutal Zionist regime and the United States as its main sponsor," the allegedly moderate Iranian leader said.

Awesome!

Iran's Foreign Ministry, under another "moderate" Iranian leader Mohammad Javad Zarif, said:

The International Quds Day reminds us of this undeniable historical fact that the occupying regime of Israel is the main cause behind the current crises and tensions in the West Asian region.
Today, the Muslim and Arab nations of the west Asia need to preserve their unity against the anti-human regime of Israel and discern their common enemy with profound insight. On the other hand, they have to stay extremely vigilant against any plots hatched by the Zionists and their international sponsors to deviate them from the path of resistance and restoration of the rights of the oppressed Palestinians. The Zionists make divisions in the Muslim world to achieve their goals.
Well, that's what the Protocols instruct us to do, isn't it?



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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

From Ian:

Richard Millett: Physically attacked at SOAS after anti-Israel event with Roger Waters.
Jonathan Hoffman asked a question and he also interjected when SOAS lecturer Matar claimed outrageously that “anyone who is pro-Palestinian is instantly labelled anti-Semitic”.
When the event finished I met up with Jonathan inside the auditorium and he was being quickly surrounded by those wanting to speak to him. I jokingly castigated him for asking an “unbiased question”.
A male next to Jonathan then turned to me and asked if I was with him (Jonathan) and I said “yes” presuming he wanted to chat about the film. But he was immediately face-to-face with me and I noticed he was totally drunk. He was a white male, much taller than me and much younger, probably in his mid to late twenties.
I tried to get away but had nowhere to go as the room was very crowded. There was no security around whatsoever. He was facing me very close telling me I was going to be “f#*king mugged off”. I asked him to calm down and back off or I’d call the police and that I just wanted a relaxing evening to which he responded (here’s the audio):
“I’ll give you a relaxing exit. Would you like a relaxing exit? I’ll tell you what, you’ll get a f#*king pasting. You’ll get a f#*king pasting.”
I dialled 999 but he had walked away so I stopped. However, he then immediately returned, tried to slam my phone out of my hand and also punched me on the side of my head.
I had never seen the attacker before at any event. All he knew about me was that I was connected to Jonathan who had, during the Q&A, tried to put forward Israel’s narrative. This attacker, who had just watched a film with multiple scenes of dead and mutilated men, women and children wanted to find someone to take it out on.
Why Have Jewish Organizations Been Silent About Otto Warmbier’s Death?
Otto Warmbier, an American student at the University of Virginia—who was active in Hillel and who went on Birthright, where he received a Hebrew name—died yesterday after being arrested and tortured by North Korea. You’d think that the cluster of handsomely funded Jewish organizations that fly the banner of promoting and protecting Jewish life in America and abroad would notice and acknowledge Warmbier’s murder. So far, though, American Jewish officialdom has been deafeningly silent.
The odious Anne Frank Center, whose disingenuous mission statement blathers on about a kinder and fairer world where Jewish children are safe from the death camps of tyrannical regimes, didn’t bother taking a break from bashing Donald Trump to lament a young Jew put to death by the world’s worst offender of human rights. Nor did the ADL, an organization quick to stand up with Linda Sarsour as she denied Jews their right to self-determination but not so swift when the victim was a young Jewish man whose crime was pulling a silly prank at his hotel while on a college tour of a nation that routinely starves, imprisons, and executes hundreds of thousands of its own citizens. Everywhere you turn today, you hear no one demanding justice for Otto Warmbier.
What you do hear are the howls of the social justice brigades, for whom Warmbier, being white and a man, is mostly to blame for his own murder. When the young college student was arrested last year, the regressive left’s flagships, from Salon to the blessedly defunct Nightly Show, gleefully mocked Warmbier, arguing that white privilege was the real reason for his predicament and suggesting that when it came to oppression, there was really no difference between Portland and Pyongyang. “The hopeless fear Warmbier is now experiencing,” opined a young blogger on the Huffington Post, “is my daily reality living in a country where white men like him are willfully oblivious to my suffering even as they are complicit in maintaining the power structures which ensure their supremacy at my expense.”
This sort of bigoted nonsense is toxic to all Americans, but it’s particularly hazardous to Jews, whose suffering is too often explained away these days as an acceptable byproduct of excessive power and influence. It’s precisely the kind of anti-Semitic bile Jewish organizations were founded to combat. Their silence throughout Warmbier’s ordeal and murder is shameful.
The West should listen to musical giant Yevgeny Kissin
But Kissin is different from other contemporary musicians, musical giants but moral dwarves, like Daniel Barenboim and Gustavo Dudamel. Kissin is publishing a book this week, “Memoirs and Reflections”, edited by Marina Arshinova. “I am a stunch supporter of Western values”, he told the Spectator, “but in recent years I have realized that the Western establishment has often betrayed those same values. And one of the manifestations of this betrayal is the stance against Israel."
This is the diametric opposite of what another music virtuoso has done, Daniel Barenboim, who, in the newspaper Haaretz has just explained that Israel was “given” to the Jewish people by a world with the sense of guilt after the Holocaust, making the Palestinian Arabs pay the price. “Memoirs and reflections” is an act of love for the third country adopted by Kissin, who defines himself as “a citizen of Russia, the West and Israel”. He writes of feeling “like an Israeli soldier in the international arena.”
Never mention Jeremy Corbyn's name in Kissin's presence. “My late uncle, Lord Kissin, must be turning in his grave.” He is referring to his uncle Harry Kissin, a Labout militant who fled Nazism.
Words no less harsh are those Kissin reserves for the European Union. “I certainly don’t like what has become of it,’ he says. ‘Having grown up in the former Soviet Union I am for the independence of states. A common market is one thing but political centralisation is something completely different which I do not like.”
When in London, at the Royal Albert Hall, when anti-Zionists interrupted Zubin Mehta's conducting of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, Kissin told them: “When Israel’s enemies try to disrupt concerts of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra or the Jerusalem Quartet, I want them to come and make trouble at my concerts, too, because Israel’s case is my case, Israel’s enemies are my enemies, and I do not want to be spared the troubles which Israeli musicians encounter when they represent the Jewish state beyond its borders.”
Kissin attacked “the anti-Israel hysteria.” Bis, maestro! The Western establishment should go to his concerts and learn how to speak the truth.




The other day a friend posted a Hananya Naftali video on her Facebook page. Knowing she'd never knowingly post anything from a Messianic Christian missionary, I sent her a message telling her my suspicions about Naftali. But I didn't want to be spreading false rumors, so I decided to check with my new friend Shannon Nuszen to make sure I was being accurate.

Why Shannon? Because Shannon, once upon a time, was an evangelical missionary. Now she is 100% Orthodox Jewish, and living in Gush Etzion, not far from where I live. A board member of JewishIsrael, Shannon's about page says she "has spent her entire life studying and analyzing Christian scriptural arguments."

The page continues: "Shannon was immersed into the field of religious apologetics as a child by her father, a former 'Assemblies of God' minister. Traveling as an evangelist with her father, she learned the inner workings of the evangelical movement, and was exposed to the behind the scenes manipulation and many money making stage-show tactics. In the year 2000, Shannon engrossed herself into studying the Christian messianic movement, and was affiliated with some of the most deceptive missionary organizations that have unfortunately penetrated the Jewish world. Her background and history provide Shannon with an intimate knowledge of the Christian missionary agenda and the dangers it poses to the Jewish communities in Israel and the Diaspora."


Yup. Shannon was definitely the one to ask. And so I asked her, "Shannon, have you heard of Hananya Naftali? I'm fairly certain he's an undercover Christian missionary."

Shannon corrected me: "He's not undercover. He flat out admits as much," she said.

Oh, wow! I thanked her and rushed to tell my friend. She said, "Oy vey!" and hastened to remove the video from her Facebook page.

She sent me a report she'd written on Hananya Naftali and a video he created that leaves no doubt about his intentions. Featuring this clip on the JewishIsrael site led to Hananya Naftali reporting the organization for copyright violation to YouTube. Happily, Shannon and JewishIsrael won.

The original clip had a banner splashed across the screen which said: "IDF VS Christians."



Here's the description accompanying the clip: "Messianic Israeli YouTuber Hananya Naftali explores opposition and attitudes to jesus among his Jewish comrades in the IDF, and seeks the best way to share jesus with fellow soldiers."

I was really irked that I'd had suspicions about the guy for two years now and here people are still treating him as though he were a legit Jewish Israeli Zionist. People are still sharing his darned videos. They have no clue.

Why are they sharing his stuff? Because Hananya Naftali masquerades as a loyal Zionist Christian serving in the IDF. Which he is not. He's a missionary serving in the IDF, poisoning the minds of the Israeli youth stuck in tanks with the guy.

His fake out clips and blogs are all over the place. Like this one, that doesn't mention Jesus at all.



Sneaky. Which is what people have to do to trick you into joining their cults.

But his stuff is everywhere. While researching the topic to gather info for this column, in fact, I found a blog of Naftali's on the website of a pro-Israel foundation where I myself have blogged from time to time. I have a relationship with the founder of the organization so I asked her if she knew that Hananya Naftali is a missionary. She wrote back to thank me. She knew. She thought she'd removed every trace of his work from the website but had apparently missed that one.

Hananya Naftali: Raising Awareness

Raising awareness of this issue seems crucial

 Shannon said, "I tell every leader dealing with missionaries who say 'they're ok,' it should be a concern that their fundamental belief that Jews must be converted to Christianity (and by that, I mean accept Jesus as messiah—because they play with words on this subject). Any Christian who states they do not believe in proselytizing, should be required to publicly state that and vow not to do it. Seems simple, but the Christian generally will not do it, and if they do, they will quickly apologize, retract, and explain to their Christian supporters that they did not mean it."

Israel Today, a website geared to Christian missionaries didn't mince words in explaining that IDF vs. Christians video: "Naftali repeatedly uses the word 'Christian' for what most of our readers might consider a 'Messianic Jew,' but the fact is that the words are interchangeable linguistically, especially to a Hebrew-speaking audience.

"One solid point made by Naftali is that in Israel it is often best to be a witness first in deed, and only then in word. Most Jews have already been told about Jesus, but very few have actually seen his love demonstrated in the actions of the Church."

Um, yeah. We were too busy burying our dead. Like during the Crusades. Not to mention the pogroms.

The Church is, historically, the gift that keeps on giving it to the Jews.

Beware of Hananya Naftali. Tell everyone you know. See a clip of his on social media? Put a link to this blog piece in the comments.


He's as much a threat to our people as Arab terror.
-------------------




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Credit: Hossein Velayati via Wikimedia Commons
Credit: Hossein Velayati via Wikimedia Commons
Tehran, June 21 - The Islamic Republic of Iran has modified its anti-Israel rhetoric in the last two days to reflect the poor performance of the country's ballistic missiles, media monitors are reporting.

Iranian forces launched seven ground-to-ground missiles at targets of the Islamic State Group in Syria on Monday, declaring the move a retaliatory strike for bombing and shooting attacks that place in the Iranian capital two weeks ago, and for which the Islamic State claimed responsibility. The impressive sights and sounds of the launchings, however, gave way to dismal performance statistics: only one rocket of the salvo hit the target; the other six misfired, fell short in Iraq, or hit places unknown. The poor showing prompted the mullah to alter its threats to target Israel with nuclear-tipped rockets to declare instead that Iran will aim for Palestinian areas, making it more likely that Israel will be hit.

"The Zionists' days are numbered," pronounced Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in a radio address. "We are close to the day when we can place an atomic warhead atop our missiles, at which point we will program the weapons to hit Palestinian cities such as Qalqiliya, Jenin, Gaza, Jericho, and Tulkarem, thus making them more likely to hit Tel Aviv."

"Or we will target the Mediterranean Sea, or perhaps Lebanon," added Khamenei. "The Zionists will cower in fear before they are obliterated, maybe, knowing that our weapons can land almost anywhere. No one will knw where until it happens!" He also threatened to target Israel's offshore gas fields in the Mediterranean by aiming the weapons for Cyprus or Egypt.

Palestinian leaders have remained muted in their response. "We appreciate the sentiment behind the statements," offered Fatah official Saeb Erekat, formerly a negotiator with Israel. "The solidarity with our movement to rid the land of the Zionist occupier is moving indeed. We do think that we Palestinians are quite capable of our own self-destructive behavior aimed at harming Israel, and that while Iran's offer of help is a welcome gesture, it is not Iran's place to sacrifice us in order to destroy Israel. That is our job." He suggested that Iran instead provide the weapons to the Palestinians so the latter may launch them against Israel in the manner that Hamas have done with Iran-supplied rockets in the Gaza Strip.

"Of course we would rather Iran not supply anything at all if it means Hamas gets to use it," added Erekat. The fight against Israel is much too important to be left to anyone who would deny Fatah and Mahmoud Abbas the exclusive glory of conducting it."



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From Ian:

Haley Calls for UN to Designate Hamas as Terrorist Organization
U.S. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley told the Security Council on Tuesday:
"Hamas is one of these forces of terror that yet again showed its true colors to the world earlier this month. It is a terrorist organization so ruthless that it will not hesitate to put the lives of innocent children on the line. A few weeks ago, UN officials discovered a tunnel underneath two schools run by the UN in Gaza. It was the exact type of tunnel that Hamas has used for years. These tunnels are what Hamas uses to smuggle in the materials they need to make rockets. Or to sneak into Israel to attack civilians or kidnap them in the dead of night."
"What is happening to the people of Gaza is heartbreaking. And it is so preventable. Gaza is prime real estate on the Mediterranean Sea. It has enormous potential. But the potential is being squandered by the terrorists who govern it."
"Make no mistake, Israel did not cause the problems in Gaza, even though it is often the usual suspect around here. Ten years ago, every Israeli soldier was withdrawn from Gaza, and for the last 10 years, there has not been a single Israeli settler in Gaza....We should never forget the responsibility for this humanitarian crisis rests squarely with the one group that actually controls Gaza: Hamas."
"I saw how this works firsthand. I walked through one of the terrorist tunnels coming out of the Gaza Strip, which Israel discovered and since secured. The top and sides of this tunnel were lined with solid, sturdy concrete. We know how badly Palestinians in Gaza need concrete to rebuild their homes. But here, in this tunnel, we see how Hamas uses the concrete Gaza receives - not to help the people, but to fortify its terrorist infrastructure."
"This Security Council must stand up to condemn Hamas' terror....We should condemn Hamas in this Council's resolutions and statements. We should name Hamas as the group responsible when rockets are fired from Gaza, or when fresh tunnels are discovered. And we should designate Hamas as a terrorist organization in a resolution, with consequences for anyone who continues to support it. That is how we can help build a more peaceful Middle East."
US Spokesperson Rebukes Veteran Arab Diplomat Over Remark to UN Security Council Comparing Gaza to ‘Concentration Camp’
A veteran Arab diplomat’s remark comparing the Gaza Strip with a “concentration camp” at a Security Council briefing drew a sharp rebuke from the US mission to the United Nations on Tuesday.
“Indecent and irresponsible remarks such as these are another example of the anti-Israel bias at the UN that has to end,” a spokesperson for the US mission to the UN told The Algemeiner following the speech at a Security Council meeting on “the Middle East, including the Palestinian question” given by Lakhdar Brahimi, a former Algerian foreign minister and UN envoy to Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
During his address, Brahimi — who spoke as a member “The Elders,” a body of global influencers gathered under the auspices of former US President Jimmy Carter — sympathetically quoted a Palestinian woman in Gaza who told him, “Israel has put us in a concentration camp.”
Gaza has been under a joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade since the violent seizure of power by the Islamist terror organization Hamas in 2007. The Egyptians eased some crossing restrictions with Gaza in December 2016, while Israel enables the constant resupply of civilian and humanitarian goods into the coastal enclave. The UN’s own figures show that between 8,000-12,000 truckloads of goods cross from Israel into Gaza each month, including construction materials, medical supplies, IT hardware, foodstuffs and hygiene products.
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, slammed Brahimi for having made “no mention of Israel’s legitimate right to defend its citizens.” Israel has faced three wars launched by Hamas from Gaza in the previous decade.
“The Security Council has provided a platform to antisemitic comments and a malicious blood libel,” Danon declared in a statement. “This one-sided obsession with Israel is beyond the pale. To accuse the Jewish state of using concentration camps is not only despicable, but it degrades the Security Council and the UN as a whole. We demand that the Security Council renounce Brahimi’s statement immediately.”
Iran’s Real Missile Target Wasn’t Syria
Former Secretary of State John Kerry has recently been making the rounds lobbying for a Nobel Peace Prize. Last week, for example, he traveled to Norway where he sat on a podium with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. There, both criticized the Gulf Arab state and the current U.S. administration. In Kerry’s quest for the prize, he either lied about U.S. allies or leaked highly classified intelligence by detailing the (still-classified) contents of conversations. Either way, he sought to depict himself as a peacemaker when, in reality, he emboldened and resourced the main source of instability in the region. In his quest to secure an accord and to cement his own personal legacy at any strategic cost, he watered down language about Iran’s ballistic missile program. This provided Iran with cover, or at least enough legal ambiguity, to pursue its ballistic missile program.
Kerry and his team knew Iran’s aggressive intent but did not care. Numerous Iranian officials—including those surrounding Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei—have pledged to develop and even use nuclear weapons. It was Hassan Rouhani, as secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, who managed, resourced, and oversaw Iran’s covert nuclear program to develop such weaponry. Indeed, he subsequently bragged about it.
Despite Iran lobbyists’ efforts to suggest that former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad never said that Israel’s should be wiped off the map, pictures from Tehran and Iran’s own official translations tell another story. When Major-General Hassan Moghadam died in an explosion at a missile laboratory and test facility in 2011, the Iranian press reported that his last will and testament asked that his epitaph read, “The man who enabled Israel’s destruction.” A year ago, Iran tested to ballistic missiles inscribed in Hebrew with calls for Israel’s destruction.
Iran’s immediate target might have been the Islamic State, but its ideological goal remains eradication of Israel. That the former commander of the Revolutionary Guards tweeted acknowledgment of such goal should not be as easily erased as his tweet. After all, Iran deal or not, it is the Revolutionary Guards and not Zarif who are in charge of the military applications of Iran’s nuclear program.

  • Wednesday, June 21, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon
On the Fatah Facebook page it was announced that "activists" started their own hashtag supporting Mahmoud Abbas, "With the President" # :مع_الرئيس


But that hashtag was actually launched on the Fatah Facebook page hours earlier,  to hype Abbas' visiting people in his Ramallah stronghold during their iftar meals. No one used it until then (besides it being used years ago in Egypt):


So Abbas, under fire for his handling of Gaza and his censorship of the media, started his own clumsy social media campaign to make it look like he has widespread support.

This hashtag shows the exact opposite of its intent. It shows that Abbas is not nearly as popular as people pretend and that he has to engage in bizarre social media plots to make it appear otherwise.

On Twitter, the hashtag was used by maybe a couple of dozen people.



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  • Wednesday, June 21, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon


I stumbled onto this 2015 article in Slate about 3000 descendants of Palestinian Arabs who fled in 1948 to Egypt.

It shows exactly how much the Arab world really cares about Palestinians.

Excerpts:

Ghafra, now an 80-year-old grandmother, is one of 40 members of the Abu Hussun tribe who fled Beersheba, an oasis in the Negev desert in what is now Israel, in 1948. They journeyed 13 days on camelback across the Rafah border, along the Mediterranean coastline of the Sinai, and southwest to the Nile Delta governorate of Sharqeya. There, they settled on a piece of land they called Jeziret el Fadl—“Island of Favor.” Nearly seven decades later, 3,000 Palestinians remain marooned on the figurative and largely forgotten island.

Under President Abdel Nasser, we were granted equal status with Egyptians, so nobody set up specific services for us,” says Said el Namudi, the community leader. “But now, they classify us as foreigners and nobody knows about us. International charities don’t know about us.”

Even neighboring Egyptians don’t know about Jeziret el Fadl. The village is invisible from the road, surrounded by a 9-foot wall of mud and brick. Inside the wall is a maze of one-story houses and dirt paths lined by children. Their distinctive light eyes, dulled by malnutrition, watch me with lethargic indifference as I pass by. These children make up 75 percent of the village’s population today, the result of three generations of relentless reproduction aimed at increasing Palestine’s future population, Namudi explains to me.

“Egypt has been a gracious host to us,” he says, speaking in slow, elegant Arabic. “All we want from the Egyptian government is for someone who lives in Egypt and was born in Egypt to be treated like an Egyptian. … Today, our poor pay the prices of Egypt’s wealthiest. All we want is for our poor to be treated as the Egyptian poor.” As foreigners, the Palestinians don’t have access to the state subsidies provided to poor Egyptians.

Sixty-year-old Maliha remembers well the days when she could pick up bread, sugar, oil, and rice for mere pennies. Growing up, she never worried about having the right papers—why should she? She was born in Egypt and had never thought to question whether she had the right to be there. But suddenly, about 30 years ago, something changed, she tells me as she swings her scythe at knee-high clovers with gusto disproportionate to her age and frame.

God knows why, but suddenly, we had to pay for everything,” she tells me. “Everything costs money now.”

What Maliha doesn’t know is that 37 years ago, after extended discussions in a place called Camp David, her host country signed a treaty that began U.S. military aid to Egypt—and the end of equal status for Palestinians. With the swish of a pen, the state’s allegiances shifted toward the power and wealth of the West and away from the stateless Palestinians, who had become a political nuisance and a drain on the country’s resources.
Salon may be trying to pin the blame here, obliquely, on the US and Israel. However, an Al Monitor article on this topic says that Egypt started giving Palestinians "foreign" status after Nasser's death, years earlier. Egyptians hated the Palestinians from the start but Nasser liked them.

The situation had already been gradually getting worse throughout the 1970s, but the nail in the coffin came with Camp David and then later that year when a Palestinian assassinated the Egyptian culture minister, Yusuf Sibai, according to Oroub el Abed, a post-doctoral research fellow at the British Institute of Amman. “They started changing laws. During the days of Abdel Nasser, the laws used to say things like, ‘Education is to be free for all citizens, including Palestinians,’ ” Abed says. “But after the killing of [the minister], the words changed to ‘except for Palestinians.’ ”

As these laws began to be implemented in the ’80s under President Hosni Mubarak, people like Maliha gradually lost access to food subsidies, free education, and free health care—and they were then required to obtain and maintain legal residency as foreigners. Failure to do so could mean fines or even jail time, Abed says.

They live in prison, literally,” Abed says. “Often, the state turns a blind eye because they know they cannot run after everyone. But when they do catch them without the right permits, what do they do? Deport them where? Nowhere. They cannot deport them. They simply put them in prison.”
I follow the region pretty closely, and I had no idea about this. No one wants to notice the facts: Arab states and NGOs claim to care about Palestinians, but in the end the only ones they care about are the ones that can be used as cannon fodder against Israel.




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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 12 years and over 25,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.

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