We wish all our friends and supporters a joyous season of Holidays with peace and good tidings.
Rael Jean Isaac, Ruth King, Rita Kramer
Famously erratic, Israel’s opinion polls, eight weeks before the election of its 20th Knesset and early into an anticipated flood of televised campaign advertisements, are less than a definitive indication of the nation’s electoral mood. The most recent Smith Research sampling of the latter found the joint-ticket engagement of the Likud and Israel Beiteynu parties […]
Christians and Jews Fund Bnai Menashe Aliya
In the New York Sun Israeli columnist Michael Freund–who has worked hard in Israel on their behalf– reports that 275 members of the Bnei Menashe community will be coming to Israel thanks to a unanimous decision (after five years of delay) by the Israeli government to permit their aliya. This means, writes Freund, that people like Avraham Kaokip, an information technology specialist, his wife and two small sons, will be united with Mr. Haokip’s parents and brother who came to Israel years ago.
Freund notes that the government will not be covering the costs. It is being covered by some Jewish leaders in the U.S. and Europe and by the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem which will cover most of the cost of the first flight of immigrants. Bridges for Peace, another Christian organization which in the past has made major contributions to the aliya of Soviet immigrants, has committed itself to assisting in the integration of the Bnei Menashe in Israel.
Veteran Generals Address Jewish Day School Students
The Los Angeles Jewish Journalreports that retired Lt. Gen. David Fridovich and retired Maj. Gen. Sidney Shachnow spoke to 350 fourth through eighth graders from Sinai Akiba and the Brawerman Elementary school in Los Angeles, introducing them to Jewish American heroes and spotlighting American patriotism and the armed forces. Shachnow, now 78, has an amazing background: born in Lithuania, imprisoned in a Nazi slave labor camp during World War II, he immigrated to the United States in 1950. Despite missing so many years of education, he rose in the army to become Commanding General of Army Special Forces (including the famed Green Berets). But Shachnow told the students that for him the highlight of his career was serving as a commanding general in Berlin, the Nazi capital. “I don’t think it ever occurred to them [the Nazis] that a Jew would be there doing that.” Fridovich, who served as a Green Beret, commanded Special Forces units and counterterrorism forces throughout the world. These tough commands had clearly not extinguished his sense of humor: Fridovich said the scariest thing he had done lately was speaking in front of a crowd of 13 and 14 year olds.
Recent polls suggest that in the coming January elections the Kadima Party will go from being the largest party in the Knesset (with 28 seats out of a total of 120) to what may well be the smallest, with a mere 2 seats. While this may seem like a revolutionary change in Israeli politics, it actually marks a return to “normal,” i.e. to the pattern familiar from Israel’s independence when three parties (or groups of parties) defined alternatives concerning the meaning and goals of the state. These parties, rooted in the pre-state period, included the Labor parties (for decades dominated by the Mapai Party), the Revisionist parties (first represented by Herut, now chiefly by the Likud) and the religious parties (with the National Religious Party initially the largest, now Shas, ethnically oriented to the Eastern community). Arab parties, challenging the very existence of Israel as a Jewish state, have in recent decades provided a fourth ideological alternative to voters
The vision of the Labor parties was described by David Ben Gurion. “My goal, long before I became Prime Minister, was the creation of a model society which could become, in the language of the Bible, ‘a light unto the nations.'” This vision involved a synthesis of Jewish nationalism with the socialist blueprints for a perfect society in vogue in nineteenth century Eastern and Central Europe. The Revisionist vision was of the Jewish state as a refuge for the Jews of the world. This was more revolutionary than it might appear for it required a transformation of traditional Jewish values. Jews had developed an aversion to power, transforming their own powerlessness into a moral principle. For the most part Revisionists hoped to create a state modeled on the pattern of the more advanced industrial and liberal Western democracies of the period. For the religious parties the ultimate goal was a Jewish community whose people lived in keeping with religious law, a State of Israel whose law was the Torah of Israel.
For the first three decades Labor was easily in the ascendant. In the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War, with its heavy casualties and ambiguous outcome, the Likud, led by Menachem Begin (who had earlier been at the helm of Herut) came to power and thereafter power moved back and forth between Labor and Likud, with one or more of the religious parties consistently serving as coalition partners–as they have from the first Knesset.
How few and far between they are, real heroes. In these dismal days it is a gift to be reminded of what some of our fellow human beings are capable of and be cheered and inspired by the lives they lived.
A new film titled Orchestra of Exiles is about such a man and the difference he made in his world and ours. Bronislaw Huberman, all but forgotten today, was one of the great musicians of his day, a peerless violinist recognized worldwide. With just a touch of irony, filmmaker Josh Aronson, who produced, wrote and directed Orchestra of Exiles, has called Huberman a Jewish Schindler because of the nearly thousand Jews he saved from extinction at the hands of the Nazis.
Huberman was born in the Polish town of Czestochowa in 1882. A violin prodigy, he toured throughout Europe as a child but received no schooling other than in music. At the height of his fame he was shattered by the carnage of the First World War. He cancelled his lucrative concert schedule and enrolled at the Sorbonne, where he studied political science. Throughout the 1920s he devoted his time and energies to the Pan Europe Movement, an organization meant to prevent future wars which attracted such other notables as Albert Einstein, Thomas Mann, and Sigmund Freud.
Huberman was among the few public figures whose prescience measured the threat that Hitler and the rise of the Nazi Party posed to the Jews of Germany and to the culture of the entire civilized world. And when Jewish musicians began being fired by the orchestras of Hitler’s Europe, an idea occurred to Huberman which was to dominate the remaining years of his life, rescue many leading musicians from extinction at the hands of the Nazis, and create one of the world’s great orchestras. It is the realization of that idea that is portrayed in Aronson’s fascinating and moving film.
Orchestra of Exiles shows Huberman’s search for potential members of what would become the Palestine Philharmonic and later the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. He traveled tirelessly throughout Europe to audition leading musicians, overcoming the odds against bringing them to Palestine, and using his influence to secure the permits necessary for them to stay. Along the way there are surprising–who knew?–moments and eminent historical figures portrayed in a seamless blend of documentary footage and the enactments that reproduce the characters and their milieux, faithful to their natures and their times. The actors chosen to represent Huberman and his various associates look much like their photographs, and their actions, for the most part voiceless, are filmed with a slightly veiled effect, with the result that one is drawn into the story with little awareness of where archival footage gives way to narrative film.
The ceasefire began the way that the war did; with a flight of rockets falling from the sky over Israel’s battered south where working class families wait to learn if they will have to spend the night in safe rooms and shelters.
There is no ceasefire, despite declarations from the international community to the contrary, just as there has been no peace for the past twenty years despite peace accords being signed.
In the language of diplomacy, ceasefire does not mean that the rockets will stop falling and peace does not mean an end to the violence. They mean only that Israel is not allowed to fight back when the rockets fall and the bombs go off. Peace does not mean an absence of killing; what it means is that the terrorists are the only ones allowed to kill.
The ceasefire means that diplomacy has succeeded and the goal of diplomacy in the Middle East is not to make it possible for Israeli children to sleep safely at night, but to pull back Israel from finishing a war.
Diplomacy salvaged Cairo and Damascus after their Arab Socialist regimes began and lost two wars. It saved Arafat in Lebanon and plenty of times afterward. Diplomacy has protected Hamas nearly as many times as it saved the greasy thug of Ramallah. And that same onslaught of diplomacy has made Israel’s existence perilous and unstable, as its armed forces gather to reply to an attack only to be pulled back when there is any danger of them actually winning.
Middle Eastern diplomacy is the pro leagues of international diplomacy. There are almost as many diplomats in the region as there are camels and both of them do nothing all day except waddle around consuming large quantities of water and spitting at everyone they don’t like. To be appointed a special mediator or titled peacemaker of some kind is the ultimate dove feather in the cap of every diplomat, professional or amateur, who then flies off on a first class ticket to find a way to convince the Israelis to stop shooting back when they are shot at. And the diplomats usually get their way.
The justly infamous term “show trial” was first coined back in the dark 1930s, when stage-managed pseudo-trials became a favorite ploy of Stalin’s purges in the USSR.
But this perversion of legal due process appears alive and thriving in Turkey, where the authorities opted to “try” four former IDF commanders, headlined by ex-Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, for the 2010 deaths of nine Turks on the Mavi Marmara, a vessel sent to Gaza in a provocative move to break Israel’s blockade of the Hamas stronghold.
The Turks thereby succeeded in combining two legal parodies in one courtroom sham – the aforementioned show trial along with the equally problem-fraught trial in absentia, where the defendant is not present to answer charges.
If any further underscoring of the circus-like atmosphere were needed, it was furnished by Muslim demonstrators, many wearing the iconic keffiyeh headscarf, outside the Istanbul courthouse. They hoisted Turkish and Palestinian flags, chanted invective against Israel and cheered the prosecution’s inventory of trumped-up charges, topped by “incitement to kill monstrously and by torture.”
The crowd’s mantra was: “Assassin Israel, get out of Palestine!” The banners equated Israel and Nazi Germany. Other slogans warned Israel that “the day of retribution is coming” and that “Israel will die.”
The roll call of absent Israeli defendants included, apart from Ashkenazi, former OC Navy Eliezer Marom, former OC Air Force Amos Yadlin and former head of Air Force Intelligence Avishay Levi.
Heaping absurdity on the farce, the prosecution proceeded to demand prison sentences amounting to an excess of 18,000 years per each defendant.
Muslim immigrants in a town near Copenhagen have forced the cancellation of traditional Christmas displays this year even while spending lavishly on the Islamic Eid celebration marking the end of Ramadan.
The controversy has escalated into an angry nationwide debate over the role of Islam in post-Christian Denmark, where a burgeoning Muslim population is becoming increasingly assertive in imposing its will on a wide range of social and civic issues.
The latest dust-up involves the Egedalsvænget housing complex in Kokkedal, a town situated some 30 kilometers (20 miles) north of Copenhagen where Arab and Turkish immigrants now comprise more than half the total population.
At a recent meeting of the Egedalsvænget tenants’ association, the Muslim majority on the Board of Directors refused to authorize spending 7,000 Danish kroner ($1,200) for the community’s annual Christmas event.
The vote came shortly after the same Board of Directors authorized spending 60,000 kroner ($10,000) on a large communal celebration of the Muslim holiday Eid. Five out of nine of the board members are Muslims.
A Muslim member of the board, Ismail Mestasi, defended the decision to cancel the Christmas tree and party, arguing that no one had offered to organize the celebration. “No one wanted to take on the responsibility. A vote was taken and it ended as it ended. I don’t celebrate Christmas, but I was asked to get the tree. And I didn’t want to.” But a non-Muslim board member, Karin Leegaard Hansen, refuted him, saying that she herself had offered to take on the responsibility, but that she was overruled by the Muslim board members.
Muslim Turks care about American Indians, and U.S. Protestants care about Muslim Palestinians—but no one cares about persecuted Christians
The world’s double standards concerning which peoples qualify as oppressed and deserving of help are staggering. Two recent stories illustrate this point:
First, a report exposed, in the words of the Turkish Coalition of America, “Turkey’s continued interest in expanding business and cultural ties with the American Indian community” and “Turkey’s interest in building bridges to Native American communities across the U.S.” Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., even introduced a bill that would give Turks special rights and privileges in Native American tribal areas, arguing that “[t]his bill is about helping American Indians,” and about “helping the original inhabitants of the new world, which is exactly what this legislation would do.”
The very idea that Turkey’s Islamist government is interested in “helping American Indians” is preposterous, both from a historical and contemporary point of view. In the 15th century, when Christian Europeans were discovering the Americas, Muslim Turks were conquering and killing Christians in Europe (which, of course, is why Europeans starting sailing west in the first place). If early European settlers fought and killed natives, only recently Turkey committed a mass genocide against Armenian Christians. And while the U.S. has made many reparations to its indigenous natives, Turkey not only denies the Armenian holocaust, but still abuses and persecutes its indigenous Christians.
In short, if Turkey is looking to help the marginalized and oppressed, it should start at home.
But of course, Turkey is only looking to help itself; the American Indians are mere tools of infiltration. One need not elaborate on the dangers involved in thousands of Muslim Turks settling in semi-autonomous areas in America and working closely with a minority group that holds a grudge against the United States.
It is alarming enough to witness the outright libel against Israel so prevalent in American media and academia. It is even more appalling when tenured academics in Israel are the genesis of these canards. Hebrew University is considered one of the world’s great institutions. How is it then that its administration and its thousands of generous supporters throughout the world sanction tenured professors who libel Israel and abet the goals of its enemies?
Exhibit A: Amiram Goldblum, tenured professor of pharmaceutical studies at Hebrew University.
It would be better to say his sub-specialty is pharmaceutical studies, since his primary agenda is demonizing Israel as an “apartheid regime” and filing “lawfare” harassment suits against those who criticize him and the far Left.
Goldblum set up and leads Peace Now’s “Tattletale” SWAT team, which feeds “information” to hostile foreign groups about Israel’s settlement activities, in order to trigger international pressures against Israel. He claims to have been present on the day in 1983 that Emil Grunzweig became a martyr, when a lone lunatic tossed a grenade into a Peace Now demonstration. Goldblum today claims that Grunzweig was in fact murdered by Likud leaders. This smear comes from the loudest whiner in the Israeli Left about how he himself is supposedly being targeted by a “smear” campaign.
Goldblum was behind the recent “Apartheid Survey” campaign against Israel. He himself had commissioned a blatantly manipulative “survey” of attitudes among Israeli Jews towards Arabs. It was financed by the “Yisraela Goldblum Foundation,” a far-leftist fund set up by Goldblum in memory of his dead wife, who had been a senior apparatchik in the New Israel Fund (on whose board Amiram continues to serve.) The “Foundation” commissioned a handful of far-leftists, including Alon Liel (a radical ex-diplomat who calls for boycotts against Israel) and Michael Sfard (an ultra-leftist lawyer-agitator) to write “survey questions” designed to elicit responses that Goldblum and his friends could misrepresent as indications that Israelis favor “apartheid.” (Naturally Goldblum and his cadre never bothered to solicit measures of Israeli Arab hatred towards Jews.)
As part of “surveygate”, Goldblum and his hit team insisted that if Israeli Jews favor separate roads in the West Bank for Jews and Arabs, because of the daily attempts by Arabs there to murder Jews, it shows that Jews are racists who favor an apartheid regime. The survey evidently used the term “hafrada” in Hebrew, meaning separation, a word that can also mean apartheid. So when many Israeli Jews indicated that they favor hafrada, Goldblum and his Smeartroopers had their headline: Israelis favor apartheid.
Other indicators of “Jewish support for apartheid” were found by the Goldblum team when many Israeli Jews favored affirmative action preferences in hiring in favor of Jews. Never mind that the entire Left in Israel has long lobbied for racist quotas in favor of Arabs!