Saturday, July 30, 2016

D'Var Torah - Family Values

This D'var Torah was presented at Temple Israel of Natick, Massachusetts, July 30, 2016, by Alan Stein. During the summer, the D'vrai Torah are given by congregants.

Shabbat shalom.

Today's parshah, Pinchas, serves as a reminder that, as important as our sacred texts are, we need to interpret them using our own knowledge, understanding and morality.

God explains to Moses how he rewarded Pinchas, the son of Elazar and grandson of Aaron, for slaying Zimri, and his Midianite consort and thus halting a lethal plague.

Is the Torah really telling us that licentious behavior causes plagues? Is it really telling us we should slay people engaging in such behavior?

The parshah discusses a census of the people, including 601,730 males between the ages of twenty and sixty, used in conjunction with the allocation of the land of Israel among the tribes and families.

Is that figure reasonable?

That many adult males implies a total population of millions, all descended from the roughly 70 families that had gone down to Egypt with Jacob 400 years earlier.

David Ben-Gurion, that celebrated prime minister, noted scholar of the Bible and atheist, observed that in שמות, Exodus, the Hebrew text refers to שש מאות אלף. This is usually translated as 600,000, but The Old Man noted אלף can also mean "family" or "clan." Having 70 families grow to 600 families seems a lot more reasonable than growing to millions of Israelites.

The parshah also relates the story of the five daughters of Tzelafchad, who had no brothers when their father died. They beseeched Moses to allow them to inherit their father's land. God accepted their plea and the law was adapted, although it was still discriminatory against women.

Are we comfortable with this?

Parshat Pinchas brings to mind the importance of critical thinking, of questioning, of family, and of the centrality of Eretz Yisrael to us, the Jewish people.

I love that in Judaism we don't have a catechism, but we question and we disagree.

The first time I ever drove a car with a GPS was in Israel in 2006. Marsha and I were there for my cousin Hagit's wedding in Beersheva, staying at the Paradise Hotel. What a prime example of a hotel's name being as believable as Mahmoud Abbas.

The night before the wedding, we went to the Inbal Hotel, in the heart of Jerusalem, for the Bat Mitzvah of a friend's daughter. 

It was about midnight by the time we left, very dark - it must have been around Rosh Chodesh - and since I always make wrong turns driving out of Jerusalem, even in daylight, I decided to depend on our rental car's trusty GPS ...  until we found ourselves at a dead end, on a dirt road, in an unfamiliar area, in front of a large home with mosaic tiles and Arabic lettering, and I realized, just as we must interpret Torah using our own judgment, it was time to supplement the GPS with my own judgment.

We finally, successfully, got out of Jerusalem that dark night, started wintering in Israel four years later, and made aliyah four years after that.

The city in which we live, Netanya, is a sister city to Nice. 

Nice. The site of that massacre barely two weeks ago. 84 people murdered because a fanatic did not use independent judgment to temper the extreme theology of the radical Islamist clerics he followed.

The street on which we live, Nitza, is named after Nice. Apparently, if you transliterate Nice into Hebrew, and then transliterate the Hebrew into English, you come up with Nitza. That's Israel.

Ironically, Netanya has benefited from the terrorism and anti-Semitism in France. French Jews have been making aliyah in increasing numbers and Netanya is their favorite destination. Our Vaad's AGM, Annual General Meeting, is now conducted in both English and French, and occasionally a little Hebrew.

One of those olim, who had come to Israel after being a victim in the attack of the Charlie Hebdo terrorists on the Hyper Cacher kosher market in Paris, was also the victim of the one stabbing attack in Netanya during the time we were there last year. 

Our lives in Israel are very similar to our lives in the United States.

As in Natick, our Masorti synagogue is an important part of our lives, our substitute family. On Shabbat, we're usually at services, which are like services here except nobody kisses their tsitsit during the Shema and nobody wears a tie.

Home for lunch, we look out our window at what Marsha calls the "Shabbat parade," the large Orthodox families from Kiryat Sanz, Netanya's version of Mea Shearim, marching along the tayelet, boardwalk, still in their synagogue clothes. After lunch, we'll often join them or walk down to the beach. I find a Shabbat nap on the beach by the Mediterranean even more pleasant than one on our porch in Natick.

With our synagogue a six minute walk from our doorway and morning minyan starting not at 7 am but at a more civilized 8, I'm usually there on weekday mornings, too. We daven using Siddurim that previously got a lot of use in the chapel here, at Temple Israel of Natick.

We go to concerts and lectures. We shop in supermarkets, where I not infrequently need to make use of a Hebrew app on my phone. We shop at Netanya's wonderful shuk, around the corner from which, at a spot I walk by several times a week, the one terror attack in Netanya since we left took place. We visit with friends. We host friends from Natick and show them around Netanya.

We replace broken appliances, always an experience. We needed a plumber when I tried to replace a faucet but, because of the corrosion from the sea, couldn't get the old one off. That cost me an extra 150 shekels, about $40. Not quite what a plumber costs here. And the plumbers here don't usually wear yarmulkes when they're fixing toilets.

At kiddush, our post-minyan coffee klatch, at AACI or ESRA - Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel or English Speaking Residents Association - or with friends, the conversation often turns to politics. We try to decide whose politics are more insane, America's or Israel's.

And people kept asking us what was going on with the Jewish community in the United States. Why all the public sniping at Israel, the patronizing op-eds in The New York Times by clueless self-appointed leaders criticizing Israel no matter what Israel does, ignoring the basic fact, obvious to everyone but the oblivious fringe in Israel, that the Palestinian Arabs and their leadership aren't willing to make peace with Israel, no matter what Israel offers?

Israelis remember Mahmoud Abbas, the "most moderate" leader the Palestinians have ever had - what a joke! - walked away after being offered the equivalent of all the disputed territory, plus a redivision of Jerusalem, in 2008 and has, for all practical purposes, ever since refused to negotiate. Last week, he announced plans to sue Great Britain for issuing the Balfour Declaration a century ago. My God! It's not even Purim.

What does Abu Mazen have to do before those critics, including, most incomprehensibly and discouragingly, Jewish critics, admit Israel can't force the Arabs to make peace, and has no alternative but to try to manage the conflict until Palestinian Arab society, and its leadership, undergoes a complete transformation?

I recently watched a few YouTube videos featuring Rabbi Avi Weiss being interviewed by Rabbi Mark Golub on JBS, the Jewish Broadcasting System. Rabbi Weiss said he viewed all of world Jewry, including Meir Kahane at one extreme and J Street at the other, not just as community, but as family.

In private, family members may argue bitterly with each other, but they usually know better than to argue publicly in the pages of The New York Times or the Boston Globe. Yes, I remember the Market Basket family feud between Arthur S. and Arthur T., but normal, loving families stand together in public, especially when they are under attack.

There is no shortage of vocal criticism of Israel, some justified but mostly unjustified, coming from anti-Semites, from anti-Zionists. Public criticism from Jews only adds fuel to the already flaming fire.

Especially now, we need to all act in the spirit of the banner in front of Temple Israel: "We Stand With Israel."

And not just because Israel needs our support. The world needs us to stand with Israel.

The words of our friend Charles Small, executive director of ISGAP, the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy, keep reverberating in my head: "It may start with the Jews, but it never ends with the Jews."

Today, it may start with Israel, but it never ends with Israel, the frontline state in the fight against radical Islamist terrorism.

The world is today reaping the dubious rewards of not standing with Israel.

Today, it's not just Israel that's under attack. America is under attack. The Western World is under attack.

Is there a type of terrorist attack that wasn't used against Israel before being used against America, or France, or England, or Germany?

Hijackings
Kidnappings
Stabbings
Firebombs
Suicide bombings
Trucks ramming into pedestrians
Planes ramming into buildings
Attacks on schools
Attacks on synagogues
Attacks on nightclubs, attacks on restaurants

They were all tried on Israel.

The world is silent when terrorists attack Israelis ... until Israel defends itself.

The United Nations adopted the infamous "Zionism is Racism" resolution, welcomed Yasser Arafat to contaminate the formerly august General Assembly while wearing a gun holster.

It repeatedly rewarded the PLO, the organization which effectively invented and popularized modern terrorism.

And thus sowed the seeds of today's plague of worldwide terrorism.

It may start with Israel, but it never ends with Israel.

Hillel said "If I am not for myself, who will be for me?"

If we are not solidly for Israel, who else can we expect to be with Israel?

Hillel also said, "If I am only for myself, who am I?"

In standing with Israel, we are not only for ourselves, but we are protecting the civilized world.

The scourge of terrorism facing the civilized world started with the rewarding of terror attacks on Israel. To turn the tide against the terrorists, the civilized world must reverse that original sin.

In Pinchas, God instructs Moses to appoint Joshua as his successor, with the responsibility of leading our people into the Promised Land.

Is it not now our responsibility to, by standing with our people in the Promised Land, do our part to help lead the world out of today's darkness into the shining light of peace?

Am Yisrael chai.


Shabbat shalom.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Peace in Israel, With Conviction

This letter was published in The New York Times on April 25, 2016. Uri Weltsch was not on any of the PRIMER email lists when he wrote this terrific letter, or when it was published, but he is now. I recommend paying attention to when he moved from Germany to Palestine. May he live to 120 and may he continue to be an inspiration to us all.

To the Editor:

Re: Roger Cohen (“Bernie’s Israel Heresy,” April 19): While I do not support all of Mr. Nethanyahu’s policies, I share his deep conviction that we must face the intentions of Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas to eventually “wipe Israel off the map,” which they repeatedly proclaim to be their ultimate goal.

When Prime Minister Ariel Sharon voluntarily retreated from Israeli-held territories in the south of the country, Hamas moved in and hurled missiles at the civilian population. (When still a U.S. senator, Barack Obama referred to this on a visit to the south of the country in 2008).

I moved from Germany to Palestine with my family in 1933 at age 10, and I have lived there ever since. Perhaps it was Mr. Cohen’s and Mr. Sanders’s good fortunes that their families immigrated to the United States. They do not seem to share our concerns as to the safety of our grandchildren.

Despite the current upheavals in the Middle East, we should not rest but continue to achieve some understanding with the other side toward a permanent peace plan.

URI WELTSCH
Tel Aviv

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

UNESCO Resolution on Har Habayit

The following email about UNESCO's latest disgraceful anti-Israel resolution was sent to the following people: mp.roudil@unesco.org, i.bokova@unesco.org, USUNPolFax@state.gov, themission@angolaun.org, enaun@mrecic.gov.ar, new-york-ov@bmeia.gv.at, bangladesh@un.int, bdpmny@gmail.com, fsnypmbd@mofa.gov.bd, z.aynuzzaman@gmail.com, blzun@belizemission.com, blzun@aol.com, Distri.delbrasonu@itamaraty.gov.br, chinesemission@yahoo.com, cuba_onu@cubanmission.com, un.newyork@embassy.mzv.cz, drun@un.int, ecuador@un.int, elsalvador@un.int, mission.newyork@mfa.ee, ethiopia@un.int, france@franceonu.org, info@gabonmission.com, gambia_un@hotmail.com, info@new-york-un.diplo.de, india@un.int, info.italyun@esteri.it, archives.italyun@esteri.it, p-m-j@dn.mofa.go.jp, MalawiNewyork@aol.com, MalawiU@aol.com, mauritius@un.int, onuusr1@sre.gob.mx, UN.NewYork@mfa.gov.me, mozambique@un.int, namibia@un.int, nepal@un.int, nepalmissionusa@gmail.com, nyv@minbuza.nl, permny@nigeriaunmission.org, pngun@pngmission.org, press@russiaun.ru, sknmission@aol.com, Rep.nuevayorkonu@maec.es, sweden@un.int, thailand@un.int, newyork@mfa.gov.mk, togo@un.int, togo.mission@yahoo.fr, tto@un.int, turkmenistan@un.int, ugandaunny@un.int, uno_us@mfa.gov.ua, uk@un.int.

CAMERA's analysis of UNESCO's resolution may be found at http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=7&x_issue=4&x_article=3318.

Sent to the above list of people:

I find UNESCO's recent resolution on what it refers to as "al-Aksa Mosque/al-Haram al Sharif" is a disgraceful totally in conflict with the values for which UNESCO is supposed to stand as well as the basic values under which the United Nations was founded. It also blatantly conflicts with the words of your director-general:

"Jerusalem is a Holy Land of the three monotheistic religions, a place of dialogue for all Jewish, Christian and Muslim people, nothing should be undertaken to alter its integrity and authenticity. It is a mosaic of cultures and peoples, whose history has shaped the history of all humanity. Only respect and dialogue can build the trust we need to move forward -- this is the strength of UNESCO, for the benefit of all."

In its resolution, UNESCO completely ignores the connection of what was Har Habayit (the Temple Mount) for millennia before the Al Aksa Mosque was built over the ruins of The Temple. While Jerusalem has importance for Christians and Muslims, its importance to them pales compared to its centrality for the Jewish people.

Despite this, since Jerusalem was reunited in 1967 after Jordan attacked Israel, Israel has, perhaps foolishly, allowed Muslims to administer Judaism's holiest site. During this period, the Muslim Wakf has destroyed countless irreplaceable historical artifacts, while the leader of the Palestinian Authority has insisted he will not allow Jews to "defile" Judaism's holiest place with what he calls their "filthy feet." This irresponsible behavior should be condemned by UNESCO.

There is one positive element I found in UNESCO's resolution, the call for the status quo in effect prior to 2000 to be restored, although that request does not go far enough. Since the Arab terror offensive launched in 2000 after Yasser Arafat rejected the establishment of a Palestinian state, access to the Temple Mount has been severely restricted for Christians, Jews and other non-Muslims. There should be free, equal access for all peoples.

Besides UNESCO's resolution being a disgraceful capitulation to religious and ethnic hatred, it also sends a dangerous message at a time when the civilized world is being attacked by brutal terrorists who actually kill more of their fellow Muslims than anyone else. The current wave of Palestinian terrorism, which your resolution falsely refers to as a "cycle of violence," was instigated by inflammatory lies from leaders of the Palestinian Arabs, including Mahmoud Abbas. The UNESCO resolution effectively rewards both the liars and the terrorists.

One reason terrorism is such a problem today is that for many years the world, including the United Nations and UNESCO, have rewarded Palestinian terrorism, sending the message to all that terrorism pays. Your resolution continues that destructive tradition. Many innocent people have paid with their lives for those actions in the past and many more will certainly pay with their lives in the future.

For the good of the world, for truth, for the faceless but innocent people who otherwise will pay with their lives, the UNESCO resolution must be repealed and replaced by an honest and fair resolution which recognizes the history of Har Habayit and its place in the hearts of the Jewish people and the core of the Jewish religion.

Shalom - Salaam - Peace,

Alan H. Stein אלן שטיין

Monday, March 28, 2016

Terror attacks in Brussels should serve as eye-opener; time to demand U.S. government have a strategy to combat ISIS






Thanks to Chana Givon:

Dear everyone,

The very recent simultaneous terrorist acts in Brussels should serve as an eye-opener for Americans. It took more than 30 lives and injured at least 270 people - some still being identified. Not only are all of these casualties but their families and friends are deeply wounded as well. We weep for them and for all of the innocents who will in the future become victims. ISIS has since announced that it is releasing 400 more terrorists to wreak havoc all across Europe. This should serve as a serious warning for Americans as well.

It is time to demand that the U.S. government have a strategy to combat ISIS; there must be an organized international response to this and other terrorist organizations. They must first be identified as radical Islamists and war declared against them with the distinct purpose of destroying them - not containing them. While they may represent but a 'small' percentage of Muslims, they are recruiting and growing in numbers and are supported by those who may not be actively involved in the killing but champion their cause. 

Please - for your own understanding - watch the video made by Raheel Raza - the first link below. We live in critical times in world history; the world has shrunk and one cannot ignore what is happening elsewhere.

It is frightening to see the lack of real understanding of the enemies of Western civilization.  It is time to understand that the tragedy that has unfolded in the Middle East with the effort to ethnically cleanse Christians, Kurds, and Yazidis, also included attacks against Jews In Palestine during the last century.  Fortunately, Israel today stands as a haven for Jews who were expelled from Arab/ Muslims countries but today a nuclear Iran is a global threat.  It is important to understand that Israel is not the problem regardless of the enemy's propaganda; the country is a victim of the same terrorism that is now being visited upon Europe. 

There are approximately 22 Muslim enclaves in the U.S. - ( why not call them 'settlements') and no-go zones where there is no entry to anyone not belonging. Members are given military training.  Why?  Not difficult to understand when one knows that it has existed in Europe, too, and we know what has happened there.  No more need be said.

Chana




https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSPvnFDDQHk   ( This is a most important video by a Muslim woman who clearly articulates the truth about her religion; so educational in these confusing times)  Worthy of being forwarded to others.

https://www.clarionproject.org/analysis/exclusive-clarion-project-discovers-texas-terror-enclave
http://heritagefl.com/story/2014/04/18/opinions/islamic-enclaves-in-america/2562.html


Just a few choices regarding just a few of the  Muslim Brotherhood members in the U.S. government

http://www.investigativeproject.org/3869/egyptian-magazine-muslim-brotherhood-infiltrates#
http://www.theobamafile.com/_Islam/ObamasMuslims.htm

http://freedomoutpost.com/sharia-advisers-barack-obamas-muslim-appointees/

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Netanyahu's Lost Opportunities

The following was submitted as a letter to The New York Times in response to their editorial blaming Israel for missing opportunities to make peace with the recalcitrant Palestinian Arabs.

To the editor:

The assertion, in the editorial "Mr. Netanyahu's Lost Opportunities," that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "has never shown a serious willingness" to make progress towards peace would have been stronger if it contained a list of some of the ways Netanyahu has fallen short. Here's such a list.

Turning down a generous peace offer. Oops, Netanyahu hasn't been presented with even a realistic, no less a generous, peace offer. It was Mahmoud Abbas who walked away in 2008 when presented with an incredibly generous offer.

Refusing to negotiate. Oops, wrong again. Netanyahu has virtually begged the Palestinian Arabs to negotiate, going so far as freezing construction in Jewish communities in the disputed territories and releasing dozens of convicted terrorists, including mass murderers to bribe the Palestinians into negotiations. It's been Mahmoud Abbas who's essentially refused to negotiate since walking away in 2008 and it's the Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister who last month said the PA would never again negotiate directly with Israel.

Inciting his people against the Palestinian Arabs, even insisting he won't allow Arabs to desecrate the Temple Mount with their "dirty feet." Oops, wrong again. It's Abbas who said he wouldn't allow Jews to desecrate their holiest site with their "dirty feet" and who saying any blood spilled in defending the Temple Mount against those "dirty feet" was "pure."

Glorifying the murder not only of Arabs, but of Americans. Oops, wrong again. It's the terror group - er, political party - Fatah headed by Abbas which praised the murderer of American tourist Taylor Force as a "heroic Martyr," and Abbas' Palestinian Authority which actually referred to the murdered American as a "settler."

Violating the commitment under the Oslo Agreements to not attempt to unilaterally change the status of the disputed territories outside a negotiated agreement between the parties. Oops, wrong again. It's Abbas who unilaterally went to the United Nations to get "Palestine" recognized as a state.

Rejected the essence of a two-state solution, an Arab state for the Palestinian people and Israel for the Jewish people. Oops, wrong again. It's Mahmoud Abbas who has repeatedly insisted he will never accept Israel as the Jewish state.

Oops. I guess it's not very easy to construct a list of ways Netanyahu has failed to show "a serious willingness" to make progress towards peace. No wonder The New York Times didn't include such a list in its editorial.

Sincerely,

Alan Stein

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Latest SLANT on Anti-Semitism and the Middle East

Get the latest SLANT from Nathan Salant by following him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009026229721.


The decision by the United Methodist Church's Pension Board to divest from the five largest Israeli banks and one Israeli company is something we need to stand up and challenge.  I do not believe that the majority of Methodists support this move at all, and I've posted what's below on the Church's web site.


UNITED METHODIST CHURCH'S PENSION BOARD SHOULD RECONSIDER BOYCOTT OF ISRAELI BANKS
It is very sad to read that the United Methodist Church's Pension Board has included five Israeli banks among the 39 it is blacklisting.
This lumps Israel in with countries like Sudan, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Syria - a designation that makes no sense whatsoever.
The reason behind the decision is that these five banks invest in and support what the Church views as illegal construction of, support for and financial assistance to settlements in Judea, Samaria and the West Bank, according to its public statements.
Strangely enough, the Palestinian Authority Banks and those controlled by Hamas in Gaza are not listed, despite the fact that the PA Charter requires that no Jews be allowed to live in any emergent Palestinian State, while Hamas not only prohibits them, but calls for killing all Jews and their supporters worldwide.
And of even more interest, there is no blacklisting of banks in places like China (which has occupied Tibet since the early 1950s), Morocco (which has occupied the Spanish Sahara - once an independent country - for more than 20 years), Russia (which invaded and seized 20% of the Ukraine last year), Armenia (which seized 20% of Azerbijian more than 20 years ago and ethnically cleansed it), Lebanon (where the terrorist group Hezbollah has undermined the government, militarily supports the Bashar Asad regime in neighboring Syria and blew up the US Marines Barracks as one of its countless documented terrorist attacks, while also calling for the elimination of Israel), etc.
Egypt, which has closed its border with Gaza and razed 1,100 yards of land adjoining that border and is flooding the smugglers' tunnels that run under that border, gets a free pass...so does Venezuela, which has done more to undermine democracy in South America than any other country save, perhaps, Cuba (which also gets a free pass, despite its history of persecution).
Another question to be raised is: if the issue is financial activity in Judea and Samaria, exactly what boundaries is Israel supposed to exist within? According to every site I've checked, Judea included everything from the Tel Aviv area to ALL OF JERUSALEM, and south well past Beersheva. It also included Shiloh, Shechem (now known as Nablus), Jericho and a host of other familiar names that the Palestinians claim as their own.
So, if construction inside Judea is illegal - and if you check the map, you'll see that biblical Samaria also included the rest of modern Israel - exactly where is the Methodist Church setting Israel's boundaries?? Or, has it constructively called for the abolishment of the Jewish Homeland?
Furthermore, under international law, the West Bank was illegally occupied by Jordan from 1948-67 (where was the United Methodist Church during those days?) and Gaza was illegally occupied by Egypt during the same period. However, Israel is not an "occupier" because there was NEVER a country of "Palestine," and there is no centuries-old history or holidays, unique language or customs, etc., for this Arafat-created entity.
It is also shocking that the United Methodist Church closes its eyes to the persecution of Christians in every other country in the Middle East; in fact, by condemning Israel's banks and others, it gives what I hope is unintended tacit support to those other nations in which there is no religious freedom, in which churches are being burnt, in which no one can publicly wear a cross or display a bible, and in which conversion to Christianity is punishable by death.
This is a terrible decision and needs to be rescinded immediately.
Map of the Territory of Judah and Judea in Ancient Israel. Judea and the surrounding territories (Southern Israel). The locations that have an underline…
BIBLE-HISTORY.COM

Monday, January 11, 2016

Letter to PBS Frontline About "Netanyahu at War"

This insightful critique was sent to PBS by Daniel H. Trigoboff and is posted here with the permission of the author.

Dear Frontline Staff:

I am writing to express both a modicum of praise and some important concerns regarding the Frontline Episode "Netanyahu At War" which was aired on WNED-TV Public TV on 1/5/16 at 9PM in Buffalo, New York. It is commendable that at times comments from interviewees across the political spectrum in Israel and in the United States were presented, and that at times Mr. Netanyahu's perspectives were somewhat articulated.

Nonetheless I came away from this program with some strong concerns and objections. These were related to frequent bias against the Prime Minister, embodied both in some aspects of format and also in the content of many of the narrator's and interviewees' comments.

With regard to format, it was notable that many of Netanyahu's perspectives, views, and experiences were immediately followed by comments from a plethora of anti-Israel and anti-Netanyahu sources, and then the show would move on to a different issue or topic. Journalists know well that the final comment on a news story or political matter is often the one that stays with the public, and therefore this positioning of the negative comments reflected implicit bias in the broadcast format. A fairer rendition would have had a much more even split between anti-Netanyahu and pro-Netanyahu final comments.

This was particularly evident with regard to the narrator, whose voice often intoned "the truth" after the presentation of some statement or action of Netanyahu's, which was far more often than not contradictory to the Prime Minister's positions or actions. Also global negative statements were often permitted about Netanyahu, such as "...people like Netanyahu, you don't get a second chance..." by Ari Shavit, a well known extreme leftist author, but no similarly generalized positive comments were in evidence. Another example was interviewee Martin Kalb's statements that "...he doesn't and didn't want to have a deal with them (Palestinians)," as though Kalb was telepathic, or as though Netanyahu's many concessions to Palestinians - releasing dozens of convicted Palestinian murderers from jail, offering to negotiate with no preconditions, remaining supportive of a Palestinian State despite ongoing Palestinian terrorism and conduct expressive of their wish to destroy Israel, pulling Israeli troops out of Hebron and signing a treaty advancing the Oslo process - were of no value. Furthermore after detailing some of these concessions, the documentary implausibly proceeded to focus on "how difficult Bibi was making it."

A particularly odious example of this documentary permitting an interviewee to claim anti-Netanyahu telepathy was the statement, referring to Rabin's assassination, that Netanyahu "...knew what was coming and accepted it." Furthermore the documentary often returned to interviewees making obviously hostile telepathic statements about Netanyahu's inner workings like Marvin Kalb, who stated "what kind of objectivity could this man (Netanyahu) bring." Like Shavit, who alleged that Netanyahu has a "fortress mentality" about Israel, and who compared Barak Obama to sanctified political figures like Nelson Mandela, but who, in discussing Netanyahu's alleged "pessimism" couldn't bring himself to compare Netanyahu to any similarly commendable illustrative historical figure, for example Winston Churchill.

There were also numerous specific problems with content. To begin with, "Palestinians" were not displaced by the 1967 war, as the disputed territories were then controlled by Jordan and Egypt. There was no country of Palestine then, nor has there ever been such a country. In fact up until 1964 the Arabs steadfastly insisted that there was no such entity as "Palestine," and that the Arab residents of Judea and Samaria were indistinguishable from the Arabs of the surrounding Arab countries.

Furthermore, Saeb Erekat was allowed to claim disingenuously that prior to Oslo both sides "knew nothing but to shoot." The documentary did not point out that in 1967, Israel offered to withdraw from Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip in return for peace, an offer which was spurned by the Arabs in favor of continuing violent efforts to destroy Israel. So it wasn't both sides that knew nothing but to shoot, it was one side, and that side continues to this day to engage in endless violence against Israeli civilians.

Martin Indyk was permitted to lie by claiming he sat next to Netanyahu at Rabin's funeral, and that Netanyahu's primary focus at that event supposedly was his own political fortunes. Yet photographs of that funeral circulating today make it clear that Indyk was not sitting anywhere near Netanyahu, and therefore could not possibly have overheard anything Netanyahu said.

Ari Shavit was permitted to lie about the outbreak of the Second Intifada by falsely claiming "...Boom! It exploded...", when in fact subsequent interviews with several of Arafat's minions revealed that this round of violence was planned months in advance by Arafat, who wished to torpedo any peaceful process or resolution of the conflict.

The myth of spontaneous Palestinian violence was further intoned by Diana Buttu, the former PLO negotiator, when even cursory examination of Palestinian media and leadership statements on a daily basis reveals violent incitement and murderous antisemitic slurs that would be completely at home in Nazi Germany. The documentary failed to mention this incitement or examine its role in fomenting violence.

The documentary opened its discussion of Israel's legitimate war of self defense in Gaza in 2008-9 by completely failing to reference the cause of the war, to wit, unceasing attacks by Hamas. Instead the only exploration of that event was a discussion of Israeli "...targeting..." of Palestinians, and the only pictures shown were of horrified or grieving Palestinians. Where were, for example, any pictures of terrified residents of southern Israel in shelters, under attack by Hamas terrorists?

The documentary focused on the allegedly "outrageous" behavior of Netanyahu in lecturing Obama in the Oval Office in 2011, while giving relatively short shrift to the truly offensive conduct of the Obama Administration in springing an important policy change detrimental to Israel's national interests - advocating a return to the 1967 Armistice Lines as a starting point for negotiations, instead of maintaining the decades long American and Israeli positions that borders will arise out of negotiations, not precede them - on Netanyahu the day before he was to arrive in Washington for a scheduled visit. Unfortunately the documentary didn't cover this diplomatic history, which made this Obama Administration pronouncement so problematic.

The documentary focused on what it mistakenly represented as an exaggerated, overblown response by Netanyahu to the egregiously flawed deal with Iran, while papering over the actual problems with this deal which justified Netanyahu's anguish. The documentary went so far as to permit Martin Indyk to state in hyperbolic fashion that Netanyahu was "no longer rational" in his attempts to articulate the problems with the flawed Iran deal.

Yet these problems are now becoming all too evident as Iran flouts the international community by testing prohibited missiles, while threatening to terminate this deal every time it is called to account for its aggressive behavior, which recently included firing missiles near American Navy ships. And permitting Indyk to sling mud in this fashion, without permitting an opposing view to be voiced - i.e., it wasn't Netanyahu who was being irrational in opposing the deal, it was the Obama Administration's irrationality, short sightedness, and over focus on the President's legacy that led it to conclude a deal that was basically a surrender to Iran - was hardly responsible journalism.

The documentary concluded with the narrator stating that the "violence returned to Israel," without mentioning the cause, as though somehow "the violence" had been away somewhere on vacation. In fact what happened was that Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian propagandists launched a series of dangerous anti-Semitic libels and slanders about Israel and Jews "threatening Al Aksa Mosque," glorifying stabbing and other attacks against Jews, and continue to do so to this very day. They are directly responsible for precipitating the current wave of violence against innocent Israeli civilians, which didn't just "return" despite the failure of the documentary to include these important facts.

So although this documentary did include a modicum of balance at times, a lack of objectivity and a clear bias against PM Netanyahu were in evidence all too often. Frontline should broadcast some corrections of the errors in this documentary, and redouble efforts to cover events in the Middle East or in Israel with a higher degree of objectivity.

Daniel H. Trigoboff, Ph.D.
Williamsville, New York

Friday, December 18, 2015

Sick Irony Behind Terror-Fighting Bloc

This letter was published in the Waterbury Republican-American on Friday, December 18, 2015.

Reading how Saudi Arabia has created an Islamic bloc to fight terror groups, I couldn't help but think of the sick irony that one of the bloc's members is the Palestinian Authority.

The Palestinian Authority is led by Mahmoud Abbas, who also is the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization and Fatah, the terror groups which, under the leadership of Yasser Arafat, effectively invented modern terrorism and continue to invent new terror strategies. Abbas himself was instrumental in setting off the latest wave of Palestinian terror attacks, which in the last few months, has seen hundreds of knife attacks and motor-vehicle-ramming attacks against Jews in Israel, the disputed territories and elsewhere.

The terror tactics the Palestinians originate for use against Jews never stop with the Jews. Their knifing-attack tactic already has spread to London and Paris.

One wonders whether Abbas considers his recent spirited declaration, "We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem," an integral part of his fight against terror groups. One also wonders whether that fight will include the terror groups he heads.

Alan Stein
Natick, Mass.
The writer, a former Waterbury resident, is president emeritus of PRIMER-Connecticut (Promoting Responsibility In Middle East Reporting) and founder of PRIMER organizations in Massachusetts and Israel.

Monday, November 30, 2015

A Dream to Be Fulfilled


The following was written by Rabbi Ervin Birnbaum as part of the Shearim newsletter. Shearim is an award-winning Russian outreach program in Netanya founded by Rabbi Birnbaum a quarter century ago. Rabbi Birnbaum continues to lead Shearim and to serve as rabbi emeritus of Bet Israel Masorti Congregation in Netanya.

Dear Friend,

68 years ago 640 thousand Jewish residents of Israel and tens of thousands throughout the globe were glued to the radio anxiously waiting for the results of the United Nations vote that could bring an end to two thousand years of homelessness of the Jewish People. On November 29, 1947, the General Assembly of the United Nations voted for the Partition of the Land of Israel into a Jewish State and an Arab State in an attempt to rectify a historic injustice inflicted upon our People. Two-thirds of the world’s nations at the time understood that the Jews have an inalienable right to return to their ancestral Homeland where King David ruled, where King Solomon built the Temple, where the prophets chastised the people in unforgettable dramatic accents, from which they were driven by the Romans, to which they never stopped turning in their prayers, which became their portable Homeland irrespective of where their fate and foes drove them for temporary refuge. This was 68 years ago today.

And today, 68 years later, the United Nations has the temerity to wind up the year by passing 23 condemning resolutions, of which no less than 20 are chastising and censuring Israel for aggression in its glaringly evident attempt to merely safeguard the sovereignty granted to it 68 years ago by that august assembly. No less than 20 resolutions censuring Israel, and only 3 resolutions reserved for Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Mali, Tibet, Algeria, Sudan and other nations combined, involved in cruel fratricidal wars and acts of unspeakable terror. Which United Nations made sense and spoke in the name of truth and justice? Which United Nations is driving humanity toward self-destruction and oblivion?

Where is this world heading for? Could it still stop in its tracks, tear off its blindfolds, and readjust its compass? I fervently hope so. We are now precisely a week before Chanukah with its promise of light breaking through the darkness. It is but a tiny light, yet it  manages to dispel tons of darkness. Does it hold out a glimpse of promise that mankind too shall yet be able to clamber out of the hole it dug for itself and reach out for the sun, for the stars?

I am quite certain, my friends, that all of you are joining me in the fervent prayer that man will yet regain his balance and learn to bask once again in the glorious light of justice and freedom. I trust in the promise of our tiny Chanukah lights that speak about miracles of yore – and miracles of today.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

France Must Offer Land for Peace

France Must Offer Land for Peace

By Steven Plaut

This may also be viewed where Steven Plaut originally posted it, on his Zionist Conspiracy blog.

In the aftermath of the series of protests in Paris against occupation by activists and militants, who have grievances, we bring you the French plan for peace, based on France's Mideast policies.  It is the only way to solve the problem of ISIS activism in Paris.

First, we all agree that territory must not be annexed by force. Therefore, we can also agree that Germany has a moral right to demand the return of Alsace-Lorraine, for the French aggression in 1945 and its consequent occupation must not be rewarded. "A full withdrawal for full peace" should operate here. Further, France must agree to the return and rehabilitation of all ethnic Germans expelled from Alsace-Lorraine after World Wars I and II, as well as all those they define as their descendents.

But this, of course, is just the first step toward a solution, as no aggression can be rewarded—and France has much other stolen territory to return. It took Corsica from Genoa, Nice and Savoy from Piedmont; as the successor state, Italy must get back all these lands. By similar token, territories grabbed from the Habsburgs go back to Austria, including Franche-Comté, Artois, and historic Burgundy. The Roussillon area (along the Pyrenées) must be returned to Spain, its rightful owner. And Normandy, Anjou, Aquitaine, and Gascony must be returned to their rightful owners, the British royal family.

Not even this not enough for the sake of peace. Brittany and Languedoc must be granted autonomy at once, recognizing the Breton and Occitan Liberation organizations as their legal rulers. This leaves the French government in control over the Île de France (the area around Paris).

That, however, still does not solve the problem of the Holy City of Paris, sacred to artists, gourmets, and adulterers. The Corsicans obviously have a historic claim to the Tomb of the Emperor Napoleon, their famed son, as well as the Invalides complex and beyond. For the sake of peace, is it not too much to ask that Paris be the capital for two peoples? The French authorities must agree to prevent French Parisians from even entering the sacred tomb area, lest this upset the Corsicans. Let the Eiffel Tower be converted into a mosque.


The Saint Chapelle and the Church of Notre Dame of course will be internationalized, under joint Vatican-art historical auspices. Indeed, the French should consider it a compliment of the highest order that so many people see Paris as an international city.

The French have nothing to complain of. They will enjoy the benefits of peace and retain control of the Champs Elysées.

Actually, come to think of it, even the Champs Elysées may be too much. Recalling the French position that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel, perhaps the true French capital is not Paris at all, but Vichy.