Monday, October 13, 2014

Boston Globe Correction Saga Part V

Sent to Ms. Clegg and Mr. Bernstein October 13:

Dear Ms. Clegg and Mr. Bernstein: 

Since it's been two weeks since our last communication, I am assuming you are willing to neither issue a correction regarding the incorrect characterization of Israel's determination regarding the legal status of approximately 1,000 acres of land in the Gush Etzion area as a "seizure" nor provide a reference to a definition of "seize" which does not involve the taking of land from another owner. 

I am unwilling to write a letter correcting your error, since I believe it is your obligation to correct your errors. I would be interested in writing an op-ed describing the situation, the provisions for correcting errors according to various codes of ethics for journalists and our correspondence. (Obviously, this could not be done under the constraints of a letter to the editor.) Please let me know if you would be willing to give such an op-ed fair consideration. 

I have, however, composed the following letter about today's article, "Donors pledge $5.4b to Gaza Strip," and request that you consider it for publication. A suggested headline would be "Going back to the status quo in Gaza should not be an option."

Thank you. 


Alan Stein

The letter submitted will not be posted until either The Boston Globe publishes it or it's clear The Globe won't publish it.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Defending Israel

This is a High Holiday sermon by Rabbi Van Lanckton of Temple B'nai Shalom in Braintree, Massachusetts. It's also available on the Temple B'nai Shalom website.

Temple B’nai Shalom
Braintree, Massachusetts
Rosh Hashanah 1 Tishrei 5775 September 25, 2014
Rabbi Van Lanckton

During Operation Protective Edge, Alice and I called our cousin Larry in Israel. Larry’s oldest son, Amit, served in Gaza as an IDF reservist. Larry told us the following story.
Hamas had built tunnels extending from Gaza deep under nearby Israeli communities. They stored tranquilizers and handcuffs in them. Hamas intended to raid Israel through the tunnels and capture and kill Israelis. 
To destroy the tunnels, the IDF needed troops on the ground. 
The IDF assigned Amit to enter Gaza with his unit to locate and destroy tunnels. 
The IDF would warn residents to leave an area. Amit and his unit would then investigate on foot. 
In one house they found fifteen Muslim women and children. Amit said to them. “What are you doing here? Did you not understand our warnings to evacuate?”
One of the women answered, “No. We knew nothing. We heard nothing. We did not know you were coming.”
She was lying.
The soldiers took the people out of the house. Then they investigated. The house concealed the entrance to a tunnel.
They led the people away to safety while the IDF prepared to destroy the tunnel. 
Then one of the women said to Amit, “We are hungry. They left us with nothing to eat.”
So Amit and his buddies dug into their own rations and provided food and drink to the women and children.
IDF soldiers like Amit must follow the IDF Code of Conduct. That code defines three core values for all IDF soldiers to follow. One of these mandates every soldier to protect human dignity. The Code states, “Every human being is of value regardless of his or her origin, religion, nationality, gender, status or position."
The section of the Code entitled “Purity of Arms” states:
The soldier shall make use of his weaponry and power only for the fulfillment of the mission and solely to the extent required; he will maintain his humanity even in combat. The soldier shall not employ his weaponry and power in order to harm non-combatants or prisoners of war, and shall do all he can to avoid harming their lives, body, honor and property.
No other army in the world known to me places ethical conduct at the heart of a soldier’s duty in this prominent fashion.
Israel started Operation Protective Edge in July to protect its citizens from the constant barrage of Hamas mortars and rockets. The response by Hamas was to launch more rockets. Hamas aimed them at civilian targets, including Jerusalem, Haifa and Tel Aviv. They tried to kill Israeli civilians. They did not care that many residents of the target cities were not Jews. They were trying to kill anyone they could. It did not matter whether the victims were Jews or Arabs. 
Because of Israel’s brilliance and diligence, Hamas failed. The Iron Dome succeeded. The system spotted rockets and their destinations as they were launched, ignored the ones that would fall in empty land, and destroyed more than 90% of the rest. Israel had created shelters for its citizens and installed sirens that warned them to run for cover. 
Israel soon discovered the second threat, the extensive network of tunnels reaching into Israel to kill or capture Israelis. That was when Israel expanded the war to send in troops, including our cousin Amit. Here too Israel succeeded. Israel persisted until it had neutralized the tunnels and destroyed the great majority of Hamas rockets and launching sites.
Hamas expected that Israel would be unable to bomb the rocket launching sites imbedded in civilian areas or destroy the tunnels concealed there because of the predicable deaths and injuries that civilians would suffer. Either that or Hamas wanted its own civilians to be killed in hopes that the world would blame Israel.
As the operation proceeded the headlines and stories focused attention on the deaths of civilians, just as Hamas had hoped. Israel’s detractors even accused Israel of genocide. 
Professor Asa Kasher led the effort to create the IDF code that I mentioned earlier. He held an endowed chair in ethics and philosophy at Tel Aviv University. 
Professor Kasher evaluated the performance of the IDF during Operation Protective Edge. He concluded that the IDF complied with its duties under the code. 
Israel’s detractors claimed that Israel killed civilians when doing so was not necessary and that Israel violated the requirement of proportionality. Professor Kasher found both claims to be false.
As Professor Kasher explains, Israel did not forfeit its ability to protect its citizens against attacks just because Hamas used human shields. Instead, Israel took extraordinary measures to limit civilian damage while insisting on its legitimate right to bomb rocket launchers in order to protect its own civilians. 
The IDF first issued clear warnings designed to remove non-combatants from the scene of battle. They distributed leaflets urging residents to leave. They made personal phone calls warning people an attack was imminent. Before an attack they even dropped non-explosive missiles on the roof. This “knock on the roof” served as the final warning before an attack.
Sometimes the IDF could not accomplish a mission without endangering the lives of civilians. In those cases, the IDF complied with the principle of proportionality. As Professor Kasher explained, under that principle an army can take actions that it knows may kill or injure civilians if the expected gain in military advantage is proportionate to the expected damage.
Professor Kasher concluded that Hamas, not Israel, is culpable for deaths of civilians in Gaza. Hamas in the first place sacrificed the well-being of Gazan civilians by building the tunnels. They did not use for peaceful purposes the concrete and other materials that went into those tunnels. They did not build homes and schools. They did not even build shelters to protect their own civilians.
Moreover, Hamas continued the war long after ceasefire offers were accepted by Israel and rejected by Hamas. The final terms Hamas accepted were the same as the earlier ones. By then, more than two thousand in Gaza were dead. 
Israel identified and reiterated sustainable quiet as the single goal of Operation Protective Edge. Israel achieved the goal of quiet with the present ceasefire. Israel must now ensure that the quiet continues and remains. Israel must work with other countries to destroy Hamas weapons and eliminate any tunnels that may remain. Israel must also prevent Hamas from regaining its ability to assemble weapons or dig tunnels.
Meanwhile, Israel needs our help to rebuild its economy and strengthen its defenses.
We should show our support in person by visiting Israel. Understand the situation in Israel first-hand by being there.
We can do more than just go for a short visit. We can arrange to visit for longer to serve as a volunteer. Among other programs we can assist at a military base for a period of one or two or three weeks with all our expenses during the week paid by the IDF. Israel welcomes volunteers of all ages and provides a simple application process.
And we can make aliyah, moving permanently to Israel.. 
In a dramatic show of support and a radical change to her life, one member of our congregation has done just that. Theresa Levine made aliyah this month. She sold belongings that she could not bring with her, such as her car, and gave away her beloved ice skates. She said good-bye to her family and friends. She investigated where to live and how to make a living in Israel.
After all that preparation she made the move. She is now living in Haifa. 
Theresa sent us an email this week. The subject was “Israel” with four exclamation points. Here is an excerpt:
You and the rest of B'nai Shalom have been in my thoughts. I miss my shul family in Braintree.  
It has been an amazing adventure so far. Everyone in Israel has been so kind to me. I'm using the busses and finding my way around; running errands like opening my Israel bank account and learning to shop for groceries. 
I am meeting with my new rabbi this afternoon. I'm nervous about so much, despite all the studying I did (under your guidance). I don't want to do the wrong thing (I want an Israeli Meryl and Mary Lou to guide my way!)
Thankfully most people here in Haifa speak English- but I'm starting to use Hebrew wherever I can in my conversations. 
All my love, 
Even if we don’t go to Israel, we must educate ourselves on the issues. We must be ready to counter anti-Israel claims.
I recommend subscribing to sources available on the web that provide reliable analysis of the truth about Israel. I will include links to the best sources when I send you my sermon by email:
Caroline Glick -  HYPERLINK ""    
Daily Alert -  HYPERLINK ""   
Daniel Gordis -  HYPERLINK ""  
Gatestone Institute -  HYPERLINK ""  
Honest Reporting -  HYPERLINK "" 
Please explore them, sign up to receive updates, and keep informed. Then you will be prepared to discuss Israel with friends and neighbors.
We can also help Israel by correcting erroneous claims in local media. I joined a group called PRIMER. I invite you to join as well and will also send you that information by email. HERE IT IS:  HYPERLINK ""  We alert each other when we find biased, misleading and factually false media reports. We send corrections and have enjoyed success in seeing them published.
Finally, we can help Israel today, right here, right now. We can buy Israel bonds.
Israel needs our financial help after this war. Operation Protective Edge will cost Israel as much as four billion dollars. 
Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke about Israel’s needs last week. He pointed to the Islamic State and other enemies of Israel that surround her. "We need a very strong defense,” he said. “We need a strong army and also a strong economy. Achieving a balance between them is one of the central goals before us. I intend to achieve both strong security and a strong economy.”
As just one example, we need to help Israel strengthen her defenses against rocket and other attacks. Not only by Hamas. Also by Hezbollah and Iran and the Islamic State terrorists.
Israel has the Iron Dome to protect it from attacks such as those from Gaza, fired from launchers a few miles away. Israel is developing two other levels of missile defense. They are called David’s Sling and the Arrow Theater System. David’s Sling will protect Israel from rockets fired 65 to 200 miles away. The Arrow system will protect against long-range and ballistic missiles. With all three systems in place, Israel can defend herself against rockets fired from nearby and far away.
All of these defenses are expensive. Each Iron Dome installation costs about 100 million dollars. Each Iron Dome missile costs about 50 thousand dollars. The Arrow and David’s Sling systems are even more expensive. 
Israel hoped to have these in full operation next year. But limited funds may force a delay. Our help can speed the development and deployment of these essential defenses.
Let us not be the generation that failed Israel in her hour of need. When future generations ask us what we did when we could have helped Israel, we must be able to respond that we answered the call.
Please now take out your pledge cards and look them over. If you don’t have one, the ushers will pass one to you. 
Take a look at the amounts listed. Find the amount you purchased last year, or better still the highest amount you can stretch to purchase this year. 
Got it? 
OK, now, please think again. Please buy a bond at the level just above that one. And remember: you are making an investment, with an excellent rate of return, while also helping Israel. 
Israel needs our help now. 

As we look over these cards, please make a decision here and now. Please hand in your card after folding the tab of your choice. If we take the cards home with us, we are less likely to help Israel to the extent she needs. 
As we are considering our pledge cards and the ushers are collecting them, we will sing Am Yisroel Chai, led by our Cantor.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Church Israeli - Palestinian Resolution

This is an outline given by Arthur Seltzer to ministers and church delegate during a meeting in New Haven, Connecticut concerning the hateful UCC "Boycott and Sanction" resolution. Since it was prepared as an outline, it is in rough form but is still interesting, informative and useful.

A Discussion - September 2014

Arthur Seltzer, M.D.

PREMISE 1 - Israel's right to exist in secure and internationally recognized boundaries

Foundation of UN Security Council Resolution 242 - 1967

•Palestinian Right to Enjoy Sovereignty - This is supported by Israeli government and electorate, provided the Palestinian's agree to #1. Current Government of Israel Position presented when Netanyahu came into office at Bar Ilan University - support a 2 state solution - Jewish State of Israel and demilitarized Palestinian state. Any return of refugees and their descendants should go to the Palestinian Arab state

Background - 

1947 UN Resolution 181 - Partition - Arabs voted NO

Pre - 1967 Founding of PLO - there was no West Bank or Gaza Administration by Israel - its goal = elimination of Israel

Post 1967 War - Arab League - Khartoum - No recognition, No peace, no negotiations

2000 - Camp David - Clinton/Barak/Arafat - proposal for withdrawal from 95 - 97% of West Bank, Settlement Blocks vs comparable land swaps from pre - 67 Israel, all Gaza, most Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem including in  the Old City - rejected by Palestinians; start of Intifada of Terror

Hamas and recent Gaza War - Hamas - Islamist group - no acceptance of Israel anywhere in the Land, terrorist activities since Oslo Accords 1990's, suicide bombings, thousands of missiles, terror tunnels, use of human shields, indiscriminate rockets to inflict harm on Israeli civilians, terrorized Christians in Gaza

PREMISE 2: Is Israeli "Occupation of Palestinian Land and Human Rights Abuses a Major source of Conflict?"

Until 1918 - "Palestinian Land" part of Ottoman Empire

1918 - 1948 - West Bank and Gaza under the British Mandate for Palestine

1920's - League of Nations - Support for "National Homeland for the Jewish People" as stated in the Balfour Declaration

1947 - UN Resolution for Partition of Palestine - opposed by Arabs; continuation of fight to destroy Israel

1948 - 1967 Jordan rules the West Bank; Jordan destroys synagogues in the Jewish Quarter; denies access of Jews or Israeli Christians to Holy Sites

1967 - Present - Israel Administers West Bank; Settlements in <3 bank="" land="" of="" p="" west="">
SETTLEMENT BLOCKS - need to remain part of Israel in any reasonable agreement


GUSH ETZION - Agricultural Villages on land purchased by Jews in the 1920's and 1930s

 - Over-run by the Arab Legion in 1948

 - Kibbutz Kfar Etzion - Jewish fighters surrendered May 1948, but 127 massacred by the Arab Legion

 - Settlements Re-established 1948, includes offspring of the original residents

 - 70,000 residents in the Gush Etzion Block

MAALEH ADUMIM - over 40,000 Israelis - settlement built on a barren hill just East of Jerusalem

ARIEL Block - built on a barren Samarian hill

 - Includes University with 12,000 students; 2000 students from abroad; 400 from Arabic speaking homes

Multiple Factories in Settlement Blocks; Thousands of Palestinian Arab jobs - respected employees - see PA Press

Major Source of Conflict - Acceptance of existence of a Jewish People - historical connection to the Land, with rights to sovereignty and self - determination in any part of the Land. Israel willing to compromise, withdraw....not willing to commit national suicide. Dangers on all borders - Islamist rejectionists - North, South, East, Islamic Republic of Iran and nuclear ambitions. Wherever Israel has withdrawn for the purpose of moving towards a peaceful resolution, the response to a "perceived weakness" was more terror and rockets.

Resolution Concerns Raised re Israeli Actions:

1.       Separation Barrier and Checkpoints - results of Terrorism and Suicide Bombings; 1000 Israelis killed 2001 - 2002 in acts of terror

2.       Water - Israeli fulfilled its commitments; Palestinians did not

3.       Travel Restrictions into Jerusalem - Security needs - perhaps too strict or extensive; not for us to judge - ask families who lost loved ones in acts of terror

4.       Segregated Roads - Danger is for Israeli Jewish citizens to travel on roads in Palestinian Authority Area A; signage marks danger for Israeli citizens to enter PA lands

5.       Arrests and Israeli Military - Actions are under the rule of Law; free press; extensive presence of media; vibrant democracy; Trials, Appeals; Contrast with Extra-Judicial Executions in Gaza


1.       Puts the onus and blame on one party - Israel

2.       Does not recognize decades of rejection by Palestinian Arabs of any Jewish State

3.       Does not reflect historical facts and security needs in light of geopolitical threats to Israel, prior terror, rockets, violence, Islamist threats - Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran

4.       The movement is against efforts at cooperation between moderate Israelis and Palestinians

a.       Trade Union Agreement between Israel Labor Groups and Palestinian Labor Group - opposed by BDS

b.      Groups to support Academic Cooperation between Hebrew U and AL Quds University - opposed by BDS

c.       Film Producer Agreement - opposed by BDS

5.       Supports Unlimited Right of Return - demographic destruction of the Jewish State

6.       Settles for Nothing short of elimination of Israel

BDS:  Makes Peace more Difficult to Achieve

Discourages Moderates to Compromise and Cooperate

Sanctions Firms on West Bank that employ Palestinians -

May deprive people from health benefits of Israeli discoveries - South Africa example

Hurts the Academicians Most Eager for a Resolution and Dialogue

Strengthens the Rejectionists

Christians are under distress in Syria, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, and Lebanon. Where is the outcry?

Path to peace - Support of Israel as a Jewish , Democratic State and Model of Freedom and Western Democratic Ideals; Encourage Palestinians to Negotiate Directly with Israel; Support demilitarization of Gaza and Hamas; Support the concept of a Jewish State next to a demilitarized Palestinian State; Recognize the incredible security risks for Israel in a volatile Middle East.

BDS is not the path to peace.

The BDS anti-Zionists want the elimination of the Jewish State.

A view of JStreet

This article was written by Brian Grodman and published in the Jewish Reporter in New Hampshire. It is posted here with the permission of the author.

On September 21st, JStreet had a presentation at Temple Israel in Portsmouth.  I was disappointed not to attend.  I was observing the unveiling of my mother’s gravestone with my three millennial children, Adam, Jesse & Talia, along with my girlfriend, Charlotte Crockett.  My sons have been outspoken supporters of Israel with a combined count of almost twenty trips to Israel and numerous pro-Israel activities while in college and graduate school.  Adam and Jesse understand, and have expressed, the danger that JStreet poses to their peer group.

JStreet has been contrasted with AIPAC.  However, a review of numerous AIPAC accomplishments illustrates complete bipartisan congressional participation.  Both Democrats and Republicans provide sponsorship for every AIPAC supported bill.  As I have written on these pages, I have attended many AIPAC Summits, Washington Policy Conferences and New England dinners.  At each of these impressive gatherings, both sides of the aisle are greatly represented.  Conversely, JStreetPAC endorses approximately 100 candidates and incumbents for Congress.  Without exception, each one is a Democrat.  Does this make sense?  Are Democrats the only ones who support Israel and Israeli values?  The American support of the Jewish State of Israel should not be limited to one religion, one ethnicity or one political party.  It should always be bipartisan.  The obvious conclusion is that the PAC for JStreet is actually a PAC supporting the Democratic Party and not Israel.

In 2008, I was at Harvard listening to Professor Alan Dershowitz explain why he was supporting Barack Obama for president.  Professor Dershowitz has been a well known supporter of liberal candidates for much of his career.  However, even this esteemed liberally-bent figure wrote in the Jerusalem Post (10/7/2013) “J Street’s approach is arrogant and paternalistic.  Its leaders have the chutzpah to claim that they know better than Israelis what is good for Israel.”  JStreet continually encourages President Obama to take action that is contrary to the policy of the government of Israel.  Why does an American organization believe it knows more, and has the right, to dictate how the leadership in Jerusalem should act?

During the past two conflicts involving Israel (Cast Lead and Protective Edge), JStreet admonished Israel for “disproportionate response.”  Any response that was of equal nature would not have ended the conflict.  Was Israel supposed to use homemade rockets to fire back?  What gives someone in the relatively safe haven of the United States the right to state how Israel responds to a threat emanating from dozens of tunnels, hundreds of Jihadists, and thousands of rockets, all seconds and minutes away from schools and hospitals?

Over one hundred Boston area entities sponsored the Rally for Israel on August 7th.  This rally was attended by thousands of people at City Hall Plaza.  The lead sponsorship included CJP, AIPAC, ADL, and JCRC, among others.  Over fifty area synagogues, from Reform to Orthodox, were sponsors and provided transportation.  However, JStreet removed their endorsement of the event.  This rally was purely to show solidarity with our Jewish homeland.  Why would politics get in the way of an event of this magnitude?

JStreet states they seek an “open tent” policy, where all views are shared.  However, their conventions do not allow speakers with alternative viewpoints, while including BDS (boycott, divestment & sanctions) supporters.  It is well known that virtually the entire population of Israel is against the BDS movement.  This strategy economically harms her citizenry.  Why would JStreet include presenters with this narrative?

Finally, as a committed Jew, I am a proud Zionist and concerned for our Jewish people in the Diaspora.  If younger people become attracted to the misinformation that JStreet presents, they will surely turn their backs on Judaism.  After 3,000 years, that would be devastating.