Thursday, December 13, 2018

Americans Benefit From Israel's Expertise in Keeping People Safe

Many Americans are safer because their police departments have benefitted from training in Israel. Unfortunately, BDSers (shorthand for anti-Israel fanatics who are more interested in defaming and delegitimizing Israel than in the welfare of the Palestinian Arabs and even the safety of the American people) have managed to convince some police departments to back away from gaining valuable, life-saving knowledge.

Recently, the police chief of Wayland, a town adjacent to the one in which I live when I'm in the United States, resisted pressure from these haters and was publicly criticized for it in a letter published in the MetroWest Daily News. The following letter was sent in response, with the suggested title "Wayland residents will benefit from Israel's expertise."

To the editor:

A few days ago, Israel destroyed a tunnel Hezbollah had dug into Israel from Lebanon, a tunnel intended to be used to send hoards of well-armed Hezbollah fighters into Israel to terrorize the people living in the Galilee. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has more than 10,000 military personnel in southern Lebanon, with the mandate to make sure the area is free of other non-government forces, but they were unable to discover that tunnel, or the others Hezbollah has built. Yet Israel, without even having the on-site presence, was able to use its expertise and ingenuity to discover that tunnel and destroy it. Nor has UNIFIL been able to prevent Hezbollah, with generous financial assistance from Iran, much of it thanks to the nuclear deal (JCPOA), from installing an estimated 150,000 rockets and missiles in southern Lebanon. Yet Israel not only knows those missiles are there, but also knows where most of them are sited.

A few weeks ago, Hamas and other terror groups based in Gaza fired 460 rockets and missiles into Israel in the course of a single day. Thanks to the advanced defensive measures Israel has created, such as bomb shelters in every home and the innovative Iron Dome missile defense system, whose development and deployment has been helped by generous American financial assistance, only one person - ironically, a Palestinian Arab who lives in Hebron but defied BDS to obtain gainful employment in Israel - was killed.

The terror doesn't just come from Gaza and Lebanon; it also comes from the Palestinian Authority-controlled Areas A and B of the territory Jordan renamed the "West Bank" after capturing it militarily in 1948. More than 500 terror attacks have been thwarted in the past year.

Israel's expertise in defending against terror attacks is unequaled. This expertise comes out of necessity. Not only has Israel had to constantly defend against terror attacks since its reestablishment seven decades ago, but the Jews in what was then called Palestine were subject to incessant terror attacks for decades before that. Virtually ever new terror tactic is first used against Israeli Jews.

On December 3, the MetroWest Daily News reported that the Wayland police chief, Patrick Swanick, was traveling to Israel to take advantage of the hard-earned expertise of Israelis. I'm proud that my Israeli brethren are willing to share their lifesaving knowledge. I'm grateful that my American compatriots will also be able to benefit from that knowledge.

I thus strongly disagree with the opinions Mark Golden expressed in his December 6 letter, parroting the lies and distortions of those dedicated to the destruction of the world's only Jewish state, preferring to risk the safety of the people of Wayland rather than taking advantage of the knowledge gained by the only democracy in the Middle East.


Alan Stein
Netanya, Israel and Natick, Massachusetts

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Yale Zussman's Suggested Readings

Hi Folks,
Here is my latest collection of suggested readings.  You will note that the mood darkens as we move into the late fall.  The tea leaves point toward even worse to come with the arrival of winter.

Palestinians' Latest "Apartheid Fatwa"
by Bassam Tawil
July 17, 2018

Jerusalem Mufti bans sale of land to Jews because of waqfrequirements.
Israeli Officials Let Down Guard On Trump, Kotel

by Gary Rosenblatt
New York Jewish Week
Nov 7, 2018

Worth reading.

It's time to acknowledge that anti-Zionism is antisemitism, and that the antisemitism of the Left and of the Muslim World is a clearer danger to more Jews than the antisemitism of the American Right.

Case in point from London:
The Depths to Which the Oslo Process Has Driven Israel

Ephraim Karsh
Nov 20, 2018

Consequences of "Peace processing" for Israeli political parties and elections.
Jews Feel Safer in Europe's Conservative East Than Its Liberal West -- A pervasive false impression.

Based on survey data from interviews with Jewish leaders in various European countries.
For a State, Palestinians Would Cede "Right of Return" -- and More

David Pollock is the Bernstein Fellow at The Washington Institute
Fikra Forum
December 3, 2018

Read carefully. The data presented don't actually support the title. What Pollock reports is that there are somePalestinians ready to make these concessions, but nowhere near enough to make a solution workable.
Is Israel weighing strike options in Lebanon?

Another take on Israel vs. Hezbollah/Iran.
The mole inside the Hezbollah tunnel

Reviews the consequences of Israel's discovery and destruction of a Hezbollah tunnel into Israel. This incident likely foretells a very violent confrontation with Hezbollah, and possibly also with Iran.
Let me take this opportunity to wish Jewish readers a Happy Hanukkah, and if I don't send another package by then, a Merry Christmas to my Christian readers.  I'll risk waiting for the "Happy New Year" to follow.

-- Yale Zussman

The Miracle and the Light

This op-ed was published in the Danbury News-Times on December 2, 2018

The miracle and the light

By Cantor Deborah Katchko-Gray 

Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, celebrates the bravery of the Maccabees and the miracle of light. Overcoming the powerful Greek army and rejecting the Hellenistic life, a small band of Jews fought to keep our traditions and culture alive; and yes, we are still here! After three years, the Maccabean fighters were able to rededicate the Second Temple in Jerusalem and light one day's worth of oil, which then lasted for eight days, a miracle we remember and observe with the lighting of our menorah during the holiday.

The symbolism of light is a powerful metaphor. It represents freedom, hope and spirit. The battle against the powerful to retain our religious freedom has been a recurring historical theme, but one with a positive ending each time. Israel continues to overcome the hatred surrounding her.

After Pittsburgh, we know that hate speech can lead to murder. Those who hide behind anti-Zionism reveal themselves as anti-Semitic. We know that love and light are stronger than hate. As we go forward, let us dedicate ourselves to bringing more light into our world - lighting our menorahs and remembering the bravery of the Maccabees, the Jewish Legion and the State of Israel. May the light banish the darkness of the anti-Semites and extremists on the left and the right.

Miracles and light, faith, joy and freedom - may these ideals move us forward into greater light and a more compassionate world.

Cantor Deborah Katchko-Gray is a resident of Ridgefield. 

Monday, November 26, 2018

Anti-Semitism didn't just crawl out from under its rock

The following letter was published in the MetroWest Daily News on November 25, 2018:

In her op-ed, "Anti-Semitism crawls out from under its rock," Cantor Jacqueline Breines well expresses the shock, heartbreak and anger unleashed by the recent terror attack and deaths of eleven people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. However, anti-Semitism in America didn't exactly just "crawl out from under its rock." It's been going mainstream for years, particularly in the thinly-disguised form of anti-Zionism, the movement which seeks to uniquely deny to the Jewish people the right to national sovereignty granted to other peoples.

Jews are harassed on college campuses for refusing to condemn the nation-state of the Jewish people. Speeches by Israelis are disrupted and cut short by violent protesters for whom the right to free speech does not extend to supporters of the only democracy in the Middle East; other speeches have been canceled because colleges decided they could not guarantee the safety of the students or the invited speakers.

Leaders of the Women's March are proud admirers of Louis Farrakhan, a blatant and unrepentant anti-Semite, and mainstream groups continue to work with them and even honor them.

The founders of the BDS movement have made clear their goal is the liquidation of world's only Jewish state, yet earlier this month several supporters of that inherently and irredeemably anti-Semitic movement were elected to Congress No, anti-Semitism didn't just "crawl out from under its rock" with the mass shooting in Pittsburgh; it's been rearing its ugly head for years, with murderous results not just in Israel, but in London, Paris, Mumbai, Buenos Aires and many other cities. The only novelty in Pittsburgh is that anti-Semitism again turned deadly in America.

Alan Stein

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Erev Rosh Hashana Shearim Newsletter

My Dear-Dear Friends,

A last minute communication. Apologies, but last week I underwent a surgical procedure in the hospital and couldn't pull myself together to sit down by the computer.

So, first of all, the year we are about to end was not the most pleasant for the State of Israel, with our borders on flame, or threatened by flames, both South and North. We fervently hope and pray that the New Year holds better prospects for us. We yearn for peace and quiet and cooperation for ourselves, our children and future generations. We did not return to our Land to fight, but to create a society that will contribute to the improvement of the human condition here and everywhere. First and most of all that's what we yearn for... And also for inner peace among ourselves. Though we were born of twelve tribes, that does not mean that we have to be endlessly split into twelve, or six, or three camps, rejecting each other. We COULD respect and embrace each other, though differing in opinion, ideology, taste and preference. If the seed of Jacob cannot attain peace within the family, how could we hope for peace with the seed of Ismael? And then with the Teutons and Slavs, with the Francs And Anglos, and more and more.

In a more intimate circle:

We are praying for health of our loved ones. We are praying for comfort and consolation of those of our friends who suffered Losses in the year and years gone by. May they find the healing balm that best suits their pain. We are praying for wisdom to enjoy each and every day, to see the beauty of the flowers, to accept the thorns that come with the roses, to learn to embrace the flowers and to shield ourselves as much as possible from the unavoidable thorns.

Dear Friends, I embrace you all with love, and ask for your forgiveness if I ever hurt you. Our Tradition tells us: "There is no Tzaddik who sins not". I do not think that I would want to hurt anyone deliberately, but I don't see myself as a Tzaddik, so please, keep no grudge against me.

A word about Shearim Netanya:

Its now thirty years to the founding of that organization. I hope it can continue into the forseable future - as long as Olim can benefit by it. I am asking for your support. Our financial donors dropped off. In our High Holiday prayers we state that TZEDAKAH helps us to overcome the hurtffullness of the decree. ("Utshuva, Utfila, Utzedakah --- Ma'avirim et ro'ah hagzerah") If you can afford it we would appreciate your help, with thanks and Deep gratitude. Checks can be made payable to SHEARIM NETANYA, POB 2695, Netanya 42126. (Note added by PRIMER: From the United States, tax deductible contributions may be made by sending them through Hands On Tzedakah (, 2901 Clint Moore Road #318, Boca Raton, FL 33496, and specifying the contribution should be directed to SHEARIM NETANYA.)

SHANA TOVA to you and all your loved ones. SHALOM to the whole People Of Israel, SHALOM to the State of Israel and all its loyal citizens.

With deep fondness,

Rabbi Ervin, Hadassa, Aiton, Liel and Daniel Birnbaum & their children

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Yale Zussman's Latest Recommendations

Here are a few items to keep you busy; the theme is looking to the future:

Does Israel have a strategy for Gaza?
Yossi Kuperwasser
Aug 19, 2018

Reviews Israel's goals and methods for attaining them. There is a strategy for the short- to medium-term only.
Abbas's Responsibility for Gaza Crisis

by Bassam Tawil
August 21, 2018

Tawil attributes Abbas's current strategy to concerns that Trump's "peace plan" will envision separating Gaza from the PA territories. It is my sense that this separation has always been the key to finding a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, so if that is part of the so-far unseen Trump plan, he is on the right track.
Jerusalem Post
AUGUST 30, 2018

Identifies the candidates for successor and what each might mean for the future.
The Last Days of Syria and the Non-Interventionist Catastrophe

Noah Rothman
Sep. 7, 2018

Recaps the errors that brought us to the current situation, then surveys where we might be headed: Not pretty.

Let me take this opportunity to wish my Jewish readers a Shanah Tovah.


Sunday, August 19, 2018

D'Var Torah - Shoftim

[My American synagogue, Temple Israel of Natick, has for years had congregants give the D'Var Torah during the summer months. I gave the following on the 7th of Elul, 5778 (August 18, 2018), Shoftim.]

דבר תורה - שפטים

Shabbat shalom. I would like to thank Rabbi Liben for offering me this opportunity and for not preempting what I was going to say.

In Shoftim, Moshe instructs the Children of Israel to appoint judges, to “judge the people with righteous judgement.” As Rabbi Liben mentions, he says

צדק צדק תרדף

Justice, justice you must pursue

It actually continues

למען תחיה ויָרַשתָ את הארץ אשר ה׳ אלהיך נֹתֵן לָך

that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

Does that mean the people of Israel will not live if we do not pursue justice? Does Moses mean we wouldn’t inherit the Land of Israel, or our children wouldn’t inherit the Land, if we didn’t pursue justice? Does it mean it doesn’t really matter whether we pursue justice outside Eretz Yisrael?

You won’t get an answer from me.
What about the last verse in Chapter 19?

ולא תָחוֹס אֵינֶך נפש בנפש עין בעין שֵן בשֵן יד ביד רגל ברגל

And thine eye shall not pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

That verse is often used to malign what the people who do so usually call the “Old Testament.” A former rabbi of Temple Israel, Arnold Miller, gave a different interpretation.

You probably don’t remember Rabbi Miller of Temple Israel. That’s because he wasn’t rabbi of Temple Israel of Natick; he was the rabbi of Temple Israel of Waterbury, Connecticut.

Rabbi Miller was a wonderful teacher who explained “an eye for an eye” wasn’t meant to be taken literally. Rather, the rabbis interpreted it to mean that punishment should be appropriate and not disproportionate to the crime, a revolutionary concept in more compassionate justice at the time.

Rabbi Miller said something else I’m still wondering about. That Temple Israel was a Reform Synagogue and someone in our study group once asked him why he didn’t keep kosher. His answer was “God didn’t want me to keep kosher.” It took me a while to realize that answer was ambiguous and I still don’t know whether he meant God wanted him to NOT keep kosher, or God just didn’t care.

I’ve long enjoyed playing with language. One of my favorite books growing up was “Hidden Persuaders” by Vance Packard. Perhaps coincidentally, it was reissued about the time Mad Men appeared on television. One can imagine it having a prominent place on Don Draper’s bookshelf. Today, you can read it on your Kindle.

We see lots of misuse of language when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

“Students for Justice in Palestine” have no interest in justice.

“Jewish Voice for Peace” has no interest in peace.

JStreet used to call itself “the pro-Israel, pro-peace lobby,” falsely implying the real pro-Israel organizations, like AIPAC, JFNA, ADL, AJC and ZOA weren’t pro-peace.

Last Shabbat, when Ann Green managed to find a way to sneak in talking about cats while discussing Re’eh the way I’m managing to use Shoftim to talk about the misuse of language - and Israel, of course - an Associated Press story, published in the Boston Globe and the MetroWest Daily News, contained the contradictory language “Violence erupted at the Gaza border Friday, although the territory's militant Islamic Hamas rulers and Israel appeared to be generally honoring a cease-fire.”

Hamas generally honored the cease-fire by tossing firebombs and hand grenades, attempting to breach the Gaza border and send terrorists into Israel, and set off numerous fires in Israel using kites, balloons and condoms.

Since last Shabbat, things have calmed down considerably, although there have been more incendiary kites and balloons and more fires. Of course, that didn’t get reported in the American press. But by Thursday, it was reported that Israel reopened the Kerem Shalom crossing, although Israel had continued to send food, medicine and other humanitarian assistance even when it was supposedly closed.

What other country sends humanitarian supplies to its enemies? And that didn’t stop Hamas from organizing more bloody riots yesterday.

The article in the Boston Globe closed with the number of Arabs who were killed. Casualty counts are rarely mentioned when reporting on other conflicts, but they’re almost always included when reporting on the Arab-Israeli conflict. The article also said most of those killed were unarmed.

I wonder how many people noticed no source was given? I wonder how many realized the source had to be Hamas, the terror group which is not known for its honesty or its veracity?

Not mentioned: The fact that when casualties have been analyzed, approximately 83 percent turned out to be affiliated with Hamas, Islamic Jihad or other terror groups. And one has to be rather naive to believe most of those terrorists were unarmed.

Words. Language. They’re important. And they’re used against us. We’ve let Israel’s enemies determine the termology. Even Israeli government officials fall into the trap of using inaccurate terms like


1967 borders,

Palestinian land,

East Jerusalem.

We need to take back control … of the border with Gaza and of the language being used.

Shoftim is also relevant to the decline in the character of the leadership in both Israel and the United States these days, a decline of which all parties, in both countries, are guilty. And in the last election in Israel, there were about 26 parties running.

When Harry Truman left the presidency, he went back to his modest family home in Independence, Missouri. That’s what ex-presidents used to do, but in a recent Washington Post column, Richard Cohen observed that “Gerald Ford changed everything by making money off his presidency.” That’s somewhat ironic, because Gerald Ford was probably one of the most decent men to ever become president, although he lost my vote because of his hostility to Israel and because he told my hometown to drop dead when it was facing bankruptcy. Who knew then that the guy I did vote for, the peanut farmer from Georgia, was such an anti-Semite and really hostile to Israel?

According to a recent article in Business Insider, Barack Obama today has a net worth 30 times what it was when he entered the White House … and he wasn’t poor going into the White House … and that’s before benefitting from his multimillion dollar Netflix deal.

Ben Gurion retired to Sde Boker, where he lived in a standard issue hut, far more spartan than the home of anyone in this room, and swept floors and milked cows like his fellow kibbutzniks. Menahem Begin retired quietly to his tiny apartment in Jerusalem.

During his first stint as prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin learned his wife had forgotten to close a small American bank account she had opened when he had served as ambassador to the United States. It was a minor, inadvertent violation of an obsolete law, but Rabin felt honor bound to resign.

What a contrast to the disgraced Ehud Olmert … and to Ehud Barak, who found his 8 million dollar apartment in Tel Aviv’s Akirov Towers too modest, so he sold it and moved to less spartan quarters.

In Shoftim. Moshe describes the selection, qualifications and duties of a king. Not just governing responsibilities, but moral responsibilities, such as “neither shall he multiply wives to himself” … that doesn’t seem to be a major problem today … and “neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.”

Shoftim also says that when the king “sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book … and it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life; that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep the words of this law and these statutes … that his heart not be lifted up above his brethren … .”
Harry Truman. Ben Gurion. Menachem Begin. Yitzhak Rabin. They led and lived and exemplified those values.

Israel just passed a controversial, albeit meaningless, new Basic Law. If you read Wednesday’s Jerusalem Post, you may have seen my letter about it. Maybe we - I’m speaking now as an Israeli citizen - need another Basic Law, requiring our leaders to adhere to the words of Shoftim.

And in America, perhaps we need an amendment to the Constitution, requiring the same of our leaders here, although since they probably won’t be able to understand it as dictated by God and written in the original Hebrew by the hand of Moshe, we might need to give them an English translation.

Shabbat shalom.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Congressional Letter Effectively Urging American Financial Support for Terrorists

Variations of the letter below have been sent to newspapers and some of the relevant Congressional representatives. I concentrated on those from Connecticut and Massachusetts as a former resident of the former state and current resident (when I'm not in Israel) of the latter.

To the editor:

It's not surprising that Hamas continued its bloody riots during a supposed "cease-fire." ("Violence erupts amid Gaza cease-fire, 2 Palestinians killed," August 11) During Hamas' well-planned riot on Friday, Palestinian Arabs tossed explosives, including molotov cocktails and hand grenades, burned tires, tried to cross the border into Israel in order to murder people in Sderot and other nearby communities, started numerous fires using incendiary devices attached to kites, balloons and condoms, and caused a power outage when one of its incendiary kites landed on a power line by a kibbutz.

What is surprising is that while Hamas and the other terror groups in Gaza are being so violent, no fewer than seven Congresspeople from Connecticut and Massachusetts (Michael Capuano, Katherine Clark, Joe Courtney, Rosa DeLauro, Elizabeth Esty, Jim McGovern and Niki Tsongas) have signed a letter ( calling our government to pour more money into Gaza, knowing full well that every dollar we spend in Gaza helps to strengthen the terrorists in charge.

Even worse, they want to pour some of the funding into UNRWA, the United Nations agency that has not only forced generations of Palestinian Arabs to live as if they were refugees, but has used its schools to indoctrinate children to hate while feigning surprise when others discovered Hamas stored rockets under its schools.

Months ago, we asked several members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation to look through a study, "Schoolbooks of the Palestinian Authority: The Attitude to the Jews, to Israel and to Peace," published last December by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. These schoolbooks are the ones used by UNRWA. Nobody who is interested in peace and the welfare of both Palestinians and Israelis as well as being familiar with the delegitimization and demonization of Israel and "indoctrination to violent struggle instead of peace" pulsing through the pages of the textbooks UNRWA uses would want to give additional funding to UNRWA.

The study was updated in June and is available on the web at I urge Congresspeople Capuano, Clark, Courtney, DeLauro, Esty, McGovern and Tsongas to read at least some of the examples and the executive summary. Gaining some understanding of the harm UNRWA has been doing may lead them to regret effectively pouring gasoline onto the fires by lending their signatures to that letter.


Alan Stein
Natick, Massachusetts and Netanya, Israel

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

On the Stanford Daily Op-Ed Supporting Physical Attacks on Zionists

A student at Stanford University, Hamzeh Daoud, used a Facebook post, which may be viewed in the JTA article Stanford student threatens to ‘physically fight’ against ‘Zionist students,’ to threaten to physically attack Zionists. Incredibly, he was supported in an op-ed (shown below) in the Stanford Daily newspaper. I have written to the Stanford Daily. This is the text of my letter:

To the editor:

I was astounded by the misinformation, disinformation and ignorance permeating Emily Wilder's defense of the indefensible, Hamzeh Daoud's threat of physical violence against supporters of the national liberation movement of the Jewish people.

I will refer to just a small subset of the absurdities in Wilder's op-ed, starting with what follows one of her few accurate statements, that the Israeli Knesset enacted a Basic Law (roughly equivalent to an article in the Constitution), called the "Nation-State Bill."

Contrary to Wilder's wild assertions, the new Basic Law is purely symbolic and basically meaningless. For the most part, it simply restates declarations from the Israeli Declaration of Independence and in practical terms changes nothing, including the status of minorities in Israel, who continue to have the same legal rights as the majority.

Wilder refers to Daoud's "unimaginable pain." I certainly can't imagine Daoud's pain, since there is absolutely no reason for him to feel any, given that the "Nation-State Bill" does him absolutely no harm.

Wilder refers to "Gaza's' kites" as if they were benign. Can she possibly be unaware of the thousands of acres of fields they have destroyed, the tremendous pollution they have crated, the thousands of animals they have killed, and the fact that it has only been a combination of effective Israeli firefighting and pure luck that has, so far, prevented massive human tragedy.

She refers to Palestinian Arab "demands for basic human rights," ignoring the fact that their basic demand is for the destruction of the only liberal democracy in the Middle East. The Arabs in Gaza have governed themselves for nearly a quarter century and Israel completely left Gaza more than a dozen years ago. If the Arabs in Gaza lack basic human rights, they should be directing their anger at their own government, not Israel. (Of course, I write that facetiously, since we all know that if they directed their anger where it belonged, at Hamas, there would be a bloodbath.)

Wilder does give a clue as to why the Arab-Israeli conflict persists with her reference to Daoud as "a third-generation Palestinian refugee." Let's ignore the fact that the actual refugees didn't consider themselves Palestinian, an identity that was adopted only decades later, almost all of them left of their own volition and none of them would have lost their homes had the Arabs joined the Jews in accepting the United Nations Partition Plan, a plan heavily favoring the Arabs, who then already had nearly 4/5 of Palestinian in the form of what was then called Transjordan.

If Daoud is a "third-generation Palestinian refugee," then I'm a "third-generation Russian refugee." Unlike Daoud's grandparents, my grandfather was forced to flee Russia, alone, as a child. When quotas kept my father out of medical school, he didn't launch explosive-laden condoms to set fields in the Bronx on fire; he found another profession and built a life for himself and his family. And unlike Daoud, there is no way this "third-generation Russian refugee" is going to threaten anyone with physical (or intellectual) violence.

It's long past time for the Palestinian Arabs to get over their almost entirely self-inflicted "Nakba" and start building a functioning society and lives for their families. I have one last recommendation, to live by a slogan popular when I was a college student: make love, not war.


Alan Stein
Netanya, Israel
Professor Emeritus, University of Connecticut
Founder, PRIMER-Israel (Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting)

If you also wish to write to the Stanford Daily, your letter may be emailed to When I sent the letter, I was not aware that Daoud is an RA (Resident Assistant) at Stanford, thus responsible for the welfare of students! So Stanford is employing an RA who is threatening some of the very students he is being paid to take care of! Obviously, he should be fired. It will be interesting to see whether Stanford University acts responsibly.

Here's the op-ed defending violence against students who are Zionists. It may also be read on the Stanford Daily website at

Op Ed: A defense of Palestinian pain on campus

July 23, 2018

My best friend, Hamzeh Daoud, is used to the Stanford College Republicans’ campaigns against him. So I am writing in his defense, to contextualize this latest ordeal and implore the Stanford administration to have a just and even hand when determining how to respond.

Last week, the Israeli parliament passed the “nation-state bill,”declaring Israel to be “the historic homeland of the Jewish people” and enacting measures to maintain this Jewish-only character.

Hamzeh, a third-generation Palestinian refugee, understood that although apartheid has effectively been the Israeli norm since his grandparents were expelled decades ago, this law explicitly and unapologetically makes Palestinians second-class citizens. In an instant, he posted his reaction online.

While threats of physical violence should be taken seriously, Hamzeh’s Facebook post was a response to unimaginable pain – evoked by the erasure of his entire existence, by ethnic apartheid, by the justification for his family’s oppression and expulsion. It should not be understated the immense moral and intellectual stature it took for Hamzeh to criticize this reaction himself and change his language to describe this pain in an edited Facebook post only a couple hours later. The State of Israel and Zionists who unequivocally support it certainly do not possess such morality as they continue to indiscriminately and extrajudicially murder Palestinians en masse in Gaza.

Hamzeh’s growth is evident not only in his near-immediate edit, but also his note explaining this change his language and his decision to keep both posts up as a record of this process. At Stanford University, the responsibility represented by this self-reflection and self-criticism should be viewed as the ultimate testament to a student’s worthiness and intellectual vitality.

I have one more request for the Stanford community: to recognize and actively scrutinize the assymetrical and disproportionate force with which establishments crack down on marginalized students’ reactions to oppression. Although this comparison is of course reductive, just as Gazans’ kites and demands for basic human rights are met with bombs and exploding bullets, Palestinian student activists are subjected to immediate and unforgiving institutional punishment while organizations like SCR, for example, are permitted to repeatedly slander them with baseless claims of terrorist affiliation or invite guest speakers who subject them to death threats and harassment. This is true across the world and throughout Stanford’s history of activism, but now is an opportunity for this institution to intervene.

— Emily Wilder ’20

Contact Emily Wilder at

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Yale Zussman's July Recommendations

Hi Folks,
Here are my latest recommendations.  They range across a lot of issues:

Bishop Graham Tomlin and the Demonization of Israel
by Denis MacEoin
June 24, 2018

Useful background data on religious persecution in the Middle East.
Palestinians: The Only Acceptable Peace Plan
by Bassam Tawil
June 25, 2018

Unfortunately, Mr. Tawil is right.
Arab states not waiting for the Palestinians

Reviews evidence the Arab World is prepared to support Trump's "Deal of the Century".
JULY 7, 2018

Focuses on role external supporters have had in preventing Palestinian recognition of the options actually available to them, and thus prolonging the conflict.
After Hamas: Why Israel Fears A Power Vacuum in Gaza

Here is the text of a letter I sent to The Jerusalem Post on this matter a month ago:
Changing the Gaza Paradigm
Dear Sir or Madame:

Solving the domestic issues of Gaza may not be possible until there is a resolution of its ultimate fate.  There are only four possibilities here, and consideration of them points directly to what must happen next:

1) Hamas remains in control of Gaza--  If this turns out to be case, the fate of Gazans is sealed: their lives will continue to deteriorate as their rulers focus on using the territory as a base for an ongoing war against the Jews.  More death and destruction lie ahead and there is little point addressing civilian needs.

2) Gaza is reunited with the West Bank--  This is the "Palestinian State" scenario, but there is no way to know whether it would mean Gaza coming under the control of the PA or the West Bank coming under the control of Hamas, leading to the same outcome there we have seen in Gaza.  With the PA heading toward internal problems of its own, this is a non-starter.

3) Israel reasserts control in Gaza--  Doing so would require a lengthy urban war that would result in massive casualties and near-universal condemnation of Israel.  Presumably a return to focusing on civilian needs would follow it, but by then the damage would likely be overwhelming.  This is also not in the cards.

4) Gaza is turned over to Egypt-- This would be a reversion to the status quo ante 1967.  It would enable Egypt to root out the Muslim Brotherhood and other enemies of Egypt based in Gaza and likely help Egypt suppress Islamic State activities in Sinai.  Since the world generally doesn't care when Arabs kill Arabs, whatever devastation resulted from asserting Egyptian authority would likely be ignored. Having Gaza under Egyptian rule might be sufficient for the Saudis and Emiratis to underwrite reconstruction, a process that would require extensive construction and produce a large number of jobs in a place where unemployment runs rife.  It might offer hope to Gaza's young and thus reduce the anger that hopelessness has caused.

Resolving the fate of Gaza would also impact the PA and the West Bank.  Since there would no longer be any basis for a "Palestinian State" encompassing both territories, the people of the West Bank would then have to focus on their own fate.  That might create the basis for peace on that front as well.

Yale Zussman
Why Russia Needs Israel

Prof. Hillel Frisch
July 16, 2018
BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 895

Useful for understanding Russia's/Putin's (not necessarily the same) approach to the region. The article doesn't address how Russia would square the circle of aligning with both Israel and the Shi'ites.
“Recognizing Israeli Sovereignty on the Golan Heights”

Tuesday, July 17, 2018, 10:00 a.m.
Rayburn Hearing Room 2154, Washington, DC
Ambassador Dore Gold
Testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Governance Reform, Subcommittee on National Security

The case for recognizing Israeli annexation of the Golan.

Not beach reading, I know, but I hope it keeps you busy during these lazy days of summer.

Until next time,


Monday, May 28, 2018

Quantification Biased The New York Times Coverage of Gaza Riots

[After hearing complaints about biased coverage by The New York Times (no surprise) about the Hamas-orchestrated riots on the Gaza border, I decided to check it out myself and see whether I could quantify some of the bias. I looked for all the articles about Gaza over a 30-day period and checked references to certain words, related to the words protest, riot, violence and terror. It turned out to be worse than even I would have expected. On Saturday, May 26, I wrote the following to several editors at The New York Times. I await a reply. - Alan Stein]

I have long been distressed at what I felt was a deterioration in the objectivity of The New York Times, the paper I grew up reading and looked at as the standard to which other newspapers should strive. Long ago, I realized The Times had seemed to abandon objectivity in its news articles; in fact, as far back as 2004 the Hartford Courant published an op-ed I wrote describing the bias inserted into news articles even on the front page of The New York Times.

Being particularly interested in reporting on the Arab-Israeli conflict, I was also particularly concerned with what seemed to be a clear anti-Israel bias, but for years I still defended it, telling others that even though the articles were biased, one could usually read between the lines and figure out the truth. Unfortunately, even that no longer seems to be the case.

With all the biased reporting, not just in The New York Times, about the series of riots organized by Gaza on its border with Israel, and the apparent reluctance of various media to accurately describe them as such, I decided to check for myself.

I looked for all recent articles in The New York Times referring to the Gaza riots and within those articles looked for the use of terms relating to protests, riots and violence along with their context and blame either clearly attributed or implied. Although my research was done quickly and was somewhat ad hoc, so a more careful study might come up with slightly different counts, the statistics are overwhelming in showing a clear bias and blatant misleading of the readership regarding the nature of the events in Gaza.

This is what I found.

Over the last 30 days, I found 37 articles relating to the Gaza riots. In those 37 articles, variations of the word "protest" (protest, protests, protesters, ... ) appeared 154 times, while variations of the word "riot" were used only 4 times, and each of those times they came from quotes or paraphrases of Israeli sources or - once - in a letter from a supporter of Israel.

Although the "protests" were far from peaceful, the words "violent" or "violence" were used in relation to the riots only 32 times, 6 of which came from Israeli sources.

Most damning, of those 26 remaining occurrences, blame was either explicitly or implicitly attributed to either Israel or America 14 times, with the term being used fairly neutrally 4 times, leaving only 8 times that blame was either explicitly or implicitly attributed to the Palestinian Arabs, despite the fact that all the violence was initiated by the Palestinian Arabs!

I also find it amazing that variations of the word "terror" (terror, terrorism, terrorist) were used only 15 times, despite the fact that Hamas, the main party orchestrating the riots, is a terrorist group so recognized by the United States, Israel and just about every other country that's not afraid it will be targeted if it dares to accurately describe Hamas.

I can find no reasonable rationalization for such biased and misleading news coverage, especially from "the newspaper of record" in the United States. Your newspaper is doing a gross disservice to its readers, to the country and, indeed, to the entire world.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Letter sent to the Greenwich Time: Misunderstanding Gaza

To the editor:

In her May 20 op-ed, "A painful week," Alma Rutgers once again demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of the Palestinian Arab crusade against Israel.

This time, she railed against Israel for celebrating the belated, by 69 years, relocation of the American embassy to Israel's capital while split screens on televisions were contrasting the ceremony in Jerusalem to the events in Gaza, where Hamas was doing its best to get as many Arabs as possible killed. She has apparently never noticed that Palestinians ramp up their violent attacks during every Jewish holiday and every time Israelis have something to celebrate.

Speaking as an Israeli, if we stopped celebrating every time the Palestinians were making sure blood was spilled, we would never celebrate anything. We've learned that we have no alternative if we are to have any chance to enjoy life; we have to accept the reality of our brutal neighbors and cope with them. Thus, for example, when they murder families at a cafe, within hours, the bodies are removed, the blood is wiped away, the cafe is reopened and filled with other families.

We are proud of the young men and women who not only protect us but do an amazing job in minimizing harm to the very people trying to slaughter us. Even though 53 of the 62 Palestinian Arab rioters allegedly killed that day have been claimed by the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups as their own members, we get no joy from their deaths.

We refuse to let the terrorists win. We refuse to allow them to destroy our humanity, our hopes, our dreams, our joy or our lives.

Speaking as an American, it's about time our government ended the perverse situation in which there was just one place in the world, in the world's only Jewish state, where our embassy was not located in the host country's capital. Finally, this year, it's in Jerusalem!


Alan Stein
Netanya, Israel and Natick, Massachusetts
The writer, a former resident of Stamford and a longtime resident of Waterbury, is President Emeritus of PRIMER-Connecticut, Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting. He now splits his time between the United States and Israel. The evening before Hamas tried to spoil the celebration of the opening of the American embassy in Jerusalem, he joined with hundreds of others in Kikar Ha'Atzmaut, Independence Square, in Netanya, to conclude Yom Yerushalayim, commemorating the 51st anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, by singing Yerushalayim Shel Zahav, Jerusalem of Gold.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Lauder uses wrong venue for mostly misguided remarks

The following was submitted as a letter to the Jerusalem Post but was not published because I had another letter published shortly before. Let me emphasize that, though I disagree with most of Lauder's criticisms, I believe he has an obligation to express them, but in the proper forum, directly to Israeli Jews and Israeli government officials. The New York Times is not a proper forum; it both discredits him in the eyes of most Israelis, thus actually diminishing our willingness to listen to him, and provides the enemies of Israel and the Jewish people with ammunition to use against us. 

To the editor:

Of everything about Ronald S. Lauder's op-ed "Grave threats to Israel as a Jewish democratic state" with which I disagree, I disagree most with the attribution "This article first appeared in the New York Times."

If someone has advice for a friend or relative, the appropriate way to give that advice is to speak with or write to that person. One doesn't send an op-ed with that advice to the New York Times and hope it's read.

By publishing a critical op-ed in the New York Times, Lauder behaved, a la J Street, like an adversary rather than like a loving member of the Jewish people and thus forfeited any ability to be taken seriously by Israelis.

In terms of his critique, Lauder wrote as if the only alternative to the so-called "two-state solution," one the Palestinian Arabs have repeatedly rejected and which Mahmoud Abbas has emphatically said he would never accept, is a "one-state solution." However, there's absolutely no chance of a "one-state solution." We long ago turned over governance of almost all the Arabs in the disputed territory to their own government and we're not going to take that over. We'll just persevere until the Palestinian Arabs are willing to live in peace, at which point we'll come up with some arrangement.

It's instructive that the bias against Israel that permeates the media and the demonization Israel that permeates college campuses has had far more effect on the American Jewish community than on the non-Jews, whose support for Israel is at record highs. This indicates a potentially disastrous failure of the leadership of the American Jewish community.

The one kernel of a real problem Lauder mentioned was the stranglehold of the ultra-Orthodox rabbinate on government actions relating to Judaism here. However, despite Lauder's blaming that for alienation of American Jews, it's basically a domestic issue, one that we will resolve, and it has virtually no practical effect on Jews in the United States. I can give that assurance from personal knowledge, as someone who was born, raised and spent his entire working life in the United States and still spends nearly half of each year there.

American Jewish leaders, like Ron Lauder, need to figure out what they need to do to reverse the decline of their community, of which I am still a part, part-time. And if they believe Israel should be doing some things differently, they need to convey their opinions appropriately, not broadcast them in the New York Times.


Alan Stein

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Purim pondering: Persia, then and now

Purim ponderings: Persia, then and now

By Alan Stein
Alan Stein, the founder of PRIMER–Israel and PRIMER– Massachusetts, splits his time between Natick and Netanya, Israel.

Published in the Jewish Advocate, March 9, 2018

Iwrite this from Netanya, Israel, the day before Purim. Tomorrow evening, I’ll go to my Masorti synagogue, Bet Israel, for the reading of the Megillah, followed by a party including a Purim shpiel in which I’ll be playing Mordechai. (I seem to have been typecast.)

A Yom Haatzma’ut banner hanging outside an elementary
          school PHOTO: ALAN STEIN
A Yom Haatzma’ut banner hanging outside an elementary school PHOTO: ALAN STEIN
I The following morning, following my weekly Hebrew class – I’ve improved my Hebrew to the point where I occasionally have some idea about what people are saying if they speak very slowly – my wife and I will walk to Kikar Haatzma’ut, Independence Square, just under a kilometer from our apartment, where the Netanya municipality has scheduled a daylong program of festivities.
Purim is a joyous holiday here. For days, people have been walking in the streets wearing costumes. But for all the fun, the Purim story, whether based on actual events or not, is a serious one which has had echoes throughout our collective history as a people and, given its setting in Persia, which is now called Iran, has particular relevance today.
Unfortunately, most of the world is ignoring the relevance as the clock ticks down and the situation gets more explosive.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, supreme leader of today’s Persia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, has not only pledged to do what Haman, his predecessor, tried and failed, but has been adept at putting his pieces into play.
Alan Stein, the founder of PRIMER–Israel and PRIMER–
          Massachusetts, splits his time between Natick and Netanya,
          Israel.Iran has long had control over Lebanon (through its Hezbollah proxy) and Gaza (through its Hamas and Islamic Jihad proxies). It is now probably the strongest power in Iraq and has a strong and growing presence in Syria. It was from Syria that it recently sent a drone into Israeli airspace, precipitating a confrontation in which an Israeli plane was shot down for the first time since Ron Arad’s plane during the 1982 Lebanese war.
In Israel, most people feel another war with Iran’s proxies in the north, or with Iran itself, is inevitable; the winding down of the Syrian civil war brings that war closer. Unless a miracle happens, that war will come and it will be far more damaging, to all sides, than any war since the War of Independence.
The last war with Hezbollah, in 2006, was traumatic for those in northern Israel, with many coming south for safety. That won’t be an option the next time. Whereas in 2006, Hezbollah only had a few thousand missiles, mostly inaccurate and with a short-range, it now has an estimated 150,000 missiles, able to reach everywhere in Israel, with more accuracy and with heavier and more lethal payloads. As sophisticated as Israel’s missile defenses are, including Iron Dome, David’s Sling and the Arrow, it’s impossible to defend against 150,000 missiles, with thousands being launched daily.
When Khamenei decides to strike, people will be killed. Critical infrastructure will be hit. We will have no option but to play offense rather than defense, as we have since the War of Attrition in the years after 1967. We will have to destroy Hezbollah and its missiles in days, not weeks or months. Ayn breira – there will be no alternative. This will make the consequences for Lebanon devastating; especially since almost all those missiles are in civilian areas: in homes, schools, mosques, hospitals.
Is there any hope?
Maybe the United Nations will start doing its job. Maybe the Iranian people will finally overthrow their fanatical rulers. Maybe the people in Lebanon will retake their country.
Objectively, none of those possibilities seems reasonable, but as long as the war hasn’t started, we can’t give up all hope. Maybe, just maybe, there will be a miracle. Didn’t Ben Gurion say “in Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles?”
In the meantime, in Israel we still celebrate Purim joyfully and are looking forward to April 19, the 4th of Iyar, when Yom Haatzma’ut, Independence Day, will mark 70 years since the formation of our third Jewish commonwealth. The elementary school a block from our apartment already sports a banner proclaiming those 70 years. (Of course, in a sign of the alertness Israelis must practice, when I stopped in front of the school yesterday to take a picture of the banner, the school’s armed guard looked at me very suspiciously, even though he must have recognized me since I pass by him almost every day on the way to morning minyan.)

Chag sameach.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Peace in the Middle East is Not on the Horizon

Published in the Connecticut Jewish Ledger, March 2, 2018

Peace in the Middle East is Not on the Horizon

Reading the “Point/Counterpoint: Two State | One State | No State; Which solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict works best … or works at all?” commentaries (Ledger, Feb. 9, 2018), a few thoughts come to mind.
It should be obvious to all that every attempt to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs (a conflict which is a part of and a result of the broader Arab-Israeli conflict) has made things worse. Whereas there seemed to be some likelihood of peace at the start of the failed Oslo process, there is no reasonable chance of peace in the foreseeable future, certainly not until there’s a profound change in Palestinian society and its leadership.
The best thing anyone can do to bring peace closer, and save lives, is to give it a break.
When people talk about a “two-state solution,” they’re really talking about a four-state solution: Israel, Jordan (which comprises more than 3/4 of the territory of the Palestine Mandate), the West Bank (the name given to Judea and Samaria by Transjordan after capturing that territory during the 1948 war) and Gaza.
When we talk about a “two-state solution,” we mean two states for two peoples (or three, four or more), but that’s something Mahmoud Abbas has insisted he will never accept.
It’s not up to us to decide what the Palestinian Arabs do with whatever territory we give them in any hypothetical peace agreement; that’s up to them, as long as they finally let us live in peace. Many people have proposed alternatives to the so-called “two-state solution.” They’re usually disparaged, certainly by those who close-mindedly insist there’s no alternative to a two-state solution. Yet, given how harmful the fanatical pursuit of a two-state solution has been, it’s hard to see how they could be less feasible. Still, that’s not up to any of us.
Ultimately, the goal is peace. The creation of additional Arab states is a possible outcome, but treating the so-called “two-state solution” as a goal is misguided, counterproductive and downright harmful.
Alan Stein
Netanya, Israel
Natick, Massachusetts

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Yale Zussman's Recommendations for the New Year

Hi Folks,

Here are my first recommendations for the new year.  I hope you have all had a joyous holiday season, and are again in the mood to deal with the reality on the ground in much of the Middle East:

Saudi Academic: Arabs Should Accept Israel’s Historic Right to Jerusalem

Oh. the times they are a changing...
One sin I won't be striking my chest for this Yom Kippur
Gerald A. Honigman
December 28, 2017
Appears to be a sermon from the High Holidays but is nevertheless timeless.
This Time It's Serious
Menashe Amir
Jan 2, 2018
Israel Hayom
The current protests in Iran may be the beginning of the end of the Iranian Revolution.
Diplomacy or Driving a Hard Bargain? Lessons from the Negotiation that Led to the Iran Nuclear Deal
Emily B. Landau, Gilead Sher
INSS Insight No. 1004
January 2, 2018
The real problem with the Iran deal has always been the motivations of the two sides. For Iran, the deal's objective was to end the sanctions regime while enabling Iran to become a nuclear power. For Obama, the deal's objective was to demonstrate that he was smarter than his two predecessors because while they tried to deal with this matter, they couldn't reach an agreement, and he could. It's too bad no-one ever pointed out that had he been willing to capitulate to Iranian demands, even George Bush could have had a deal like the one Obama got.
Palestinians: Always on the Wrong Side
by Bassam Tawil
January 3, 2018
The real significance of this depends on what India does now. If India also recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital, other Third World countries may follow. Actually moving its embassy to Jerusalem would take some time, and by then, it might set off a land-rush for places to put embassies.
What the Iran Protests Have Already Achieved
Sohrab Ahmari
Jan. 8, 2018
The faded Palestinian issue
Victor Davis Hanson
January 12, 2018
Another sign that the Palestinian jig is up.
The Quran Says Jerusalem Belongs to the Jews
by Saied Shoaaib
January 15, 2018
There's a religious catch to this, but the politics are clear: Trump's acknowledgement of Jerusalem as Israel's capital doesn't contradict any Islamic beliefs.
The Trump Peace Plan
Maj. Gen. (ret.) Gershon Hacohen
Jan. 15, 2018
Read between the lines and Gen. Hacohen is advocating that the current state of affairs is the best conceivable for the indefinite future.
Does the First Amendment Protect Warrior Religions?
William Kilpatrick
January 15, 2018
Addresses the conceptual question of whether the Constitution can be used to undermine it.

Until next time,