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.

The Dueling Narratives of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

This is a letter submitted to The New York Times by Arthur Toporovsky in response to an article by Jodi Rudoren entitled "The Dueling Narratives of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict."

The old story of the blind men and the elephant serves to show us how, by focusing only on a certain part of a whole, each person can walk away from something with a completely different perception of what they have encountered.  However, while witnesses to the events may be prone to bias due to their nationality or other factors, that does not change the fact that there is potentially an objective reality to be had.  If we consider "The story of Shorouq" we might ask, "which pieces of evidence are verifiable?".  Where are the videos of her veils and cloak being torn at?  Can the Israeli police show the Facebook message? These are the "proof" that any critical thinker might ask for.  If nothing else, the fact that she did actually stab someone and was shot by that very person does mean something.  Of course, if one is predisposed to disbelieve anything that an Israeli says, doubt then becomes almost impossible to overcome.

Sadly, Ms. Rudoren's retelling of the shooting of Bassel Sidar at the Damascus Gate is full of questionable statements.  While the picture published by the Israeli police shows what is known as a "butterfly knife," which is often seen in martial arts films, she describes it as a pocketknife of the "kind Boyscouts use."  Of course this picture is not provided for the readers of the article.  She also quotes "many people" who insist that he was not carrying a knife, and that if there is one then the Israelis must have "planted it."  Ironically, this also occurred on live television as Ayman Moyhelin, of MSNBC, started broadcasting immediately after the shooting, and as the video that his crew had recorded played onscreen, assured the audience that he had seen that the Arab's hands had been empty.  At that moment, the anchorman, Jose Diaz-Balart interrupted Mr. Moyhelin to point out that the video he was broadcasting clearly showed that the Arab had items in both hands, and that the item in his right hand was clearly consistent with reports of a knife.  Mr. Moyhelin immediately and ineffectually tried to repackage his statement, but it was clear that he had been caught in a lie.

People under President Mahmoud Abbas have acknowledged that he knew that 13 year old Ahmad Manasra was not dead when he accused Israel of "executing him" and have tried to insist that the supposed mis-statement was due to a grammatical error.  Of course, they do not even attempt to address Saeb Erakat's statement that the video shows the boy being beaten by "settlers" while the police stand by.  It is worth noting that the very video that shows the boy on the ground, and which records a man's voice harassing him, also shows him getting up off the ground. Still, why should the obvious truth stand in the way of using a good visual image to promote more anti-Israel sentiment? Why shouldn't Ahmad be portrayed as an innocent victim?  Even though Prime Minister Netanyahu's assertion that Haj Amin al Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, was the primary force who prevented Nazi Germany from allowing the Jews to emigrate and inspired the genocide is incorrect, it is certainly more debatable than Pres. Abbas' or Mr. Erakat's comments.  Husseini did intervene to prevent Jewish emigration on multiple occasions, and letters show that he did specifically insist that the Jewish people in question be kept in areas where they would be killed.  Husseini personally witnessed the operating procedures of the death camps and was responsible for raising several divisions of Bosnian Muslim SS soldiers, who were responsible for killing 90% of Bosnia's Jewish community. While Husseini was not the "architect" of the genocide, he was far from a bystander, and surely has substantial blood on his hands.  By comparison, anyone looking at the video of Ahmad Manasra can see that he is not dead, nor was he being beaten by anyone, despite the accusations by Pres. Abbas and Mr. Erakat.

Ms. Rudoren reports that Hanan Ashrawi has twice "raised the possibility" that the Israelis were planting knives, but also that she has no proof at all.  One has to wonder, shouldn't the group eye-witness testimony reported at the Damascus Gate incident by Ms. Rudoren be proof?  Then again, one has to consider the shooting of Muhammad al Khasbeh, where multiple Arab eye-witnesses eagerly reported that he had been trying to climb the wall so as to get to the Al Aqsa Mosque for prayers.  Ironically, it was pro-Arab B'Tselem which obtained and released a video that clearly showed Mr. al Khasbeh hurling a rock into a windshield and then running away. One also has to consider events from Gaza, confirmed by Arab human rights group Al Mezan, where the Arabs consistently denied any casualty's combatant status, as they had been encouraged to do by Hamas.  This pattern of making accusations without evidence or basis is hardly something new.

It is fascinating that in an attempt to demonstrate parity between the two sides we once again see an article in which evidence of Arab dishonesty is matched, for the most part, by Arab accusations of Israeli dishonesty that "must" be happening.  Even when both sides have been shown wrong, such as with the video of Mr. al Khasbeh, it is only the Israeli statement, that he was shot as he was an immediate danger, that is publicly refuted, while the Arab statement, that he was totally innocent, is not mentioned at all.  In this case, the predominant evidence is that the Palestinian Arabs are lying, and there is no logical reason to try to depict both sides as being exactly the same.  The Arab insistence that any Arab who suddenly stabs an Israeli standing nearby is "resisting" instead of "attacking and that every Jewish man, woman or child is a valid target is surely a big part of this, but that is not something that the Western media wants to discuss.  Perhaps it needs to be.

Monday, November 9, 2015

No, There Won’t Be Another Krystallnacht, Not In Israel

No, There Won’t Be Another Krystallnacht, Not In Israel

By Rabbi Ervin Birnbaum

This message was sent by Rabbi Birnbaum to the Shearim mailing list. Shearim is the award-winning Russian outreach program Rabbi Birnbaum started in Netanya a quarter century ago. To learn more about Shearim, check the ESRA Magazine article, "She’arim Netanya Celebrates," which may be found at If you wish to make a contribution to Shearim, use the contact information at the end of that article.

Dear Friends,

Today is November 9, the anniversary of the night in 1938 when there were “spontaneous” outbreaks throughout Germany.

The violence was aimed against 300 Synagogues, all Jewish homes and property, and Jewish persons of whom 70,000 were sent to concentration camps and 36 killed. So much glass was broken in the process of fury, that the night was given an appropriate name, “Krystallnacht” (the Night of the Broken Glass). The violence was allegedly justified because of the murder of the third secretary of the German Embassy Ernst Von Rath in Paris by a Jewish lad Hershel Grynspan.

Proper historic perspective does not allow us to accept the excuse of Von Rath’s death as the reason for this first manifestation of unbridled violence against the Jews by the Nazis. We recall that in February 1936 a Jewish youth killed the Nazi Gauleiter of Switzerland, Willhelm Gustloff, without repercussions at the time. We are also cognizant of the fact that there were many anti- Jewish acts in Nazi Germany prior to Krystallnacht, such as the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, the economic boycotts of 1933 the book-burnings of the same year, and more. Therefore the reason for having reached this new stage of unprecedented physical violence needs to be traced to newly developed circumstances by November 1938.

Indeed, in July 1938 – in the wake of Austria’s Anschluss by Nazi Germany and the consequent utter public humiliation of the Jews of Vienna – 32 nations met in Evian, France, for the specific purpose of alleviating the plight of the Jews. Nine days they deliberated on the fate of the Jews. The Nazis voiced their readiness to permit the emigration of Jews at $200 per head. Only the Dominican Republic showed readiness to help. The others wiggled out of any obligation. Canada wanted only agricultural workers.

The Swiss delegate declared that “Switzerland has as little use for these Jews as has Germany”. The United States would not go beyond its annual German immigration quota of 25,900, with each immigrant requiring a police permit of good behavior, obviously unavailable to Jews. And so on. It became clear – as a result of this fatal conference intended to help the Jews – that the Jews are unwanted the world over.

Evian turned out to be a triumph to Germany. The world chose to live complacently and not pay attention to manifestations of Inhumanity. Hitler received a green light to move forward relentlessly toward a “Judenrein” Nazi empire, and eventually a “Judenrein” world. The unwillingness of the nations to rise in protest, or go beyond the clicking of tongues paved the road for the murder of Six Million Jews. Actually, instead of lifting a hand to help the helpless Jews, the civilized nations of the world In their silent acquiescence joined hands with Hitler in accomplishing his satanic goal.

Today we see a virtual repeat of the civilized world’s behavior in 1938. Israel is the one-and-only Jewish State. It is accused and condemned by the United Nations, by the European States and the other cultured and not-so-cultured nations for every step it takes to defend itself from the bestial attacks of adversaries whose main purpose is to erase it from the face of the globe. We are not asking for another Evian. We saw what happened to us when we lived among the nations and allowed our fate to be deliberated and determined by them. No, thank you. We do not want a repeat of the recent past still within human memory.

We blame not so much the Palestinians, and not so much the Arabs for their cruel distortion of history, as we blame first and most of all the cultured and civilized nations for not making the slightest effort to distinguish gross lies from evident truths, and historic justice from fanatic madness. One wonders which is more incredible – the degeneration of the mad “Al Akza defenders” or the depraved disinterest of the civilized and cultured world?

No, there won’t be another Krystallnacht, not in Israel. Even though we seem to stand today, as we did in 1938, against a substantial part of a barbaric civilized world, even though we are repeatedly seared and wounded, we are invincible. We may be exposed to storms and floods, but the sun of Israel shall not set anymore.