“The central mitzvah or commandment for our era is the mitzvah of Tikkun Olam. It is the defining mission of Jews to strive for the repair of the world by making society more just, fair, egalitarian, and sensitive. Judaism demands that we repair the world by striving for social justice. It is the mission of Jews in the Divine Plan for the universe to repair the world by repairing man, by improving and advancing mankind.”
The above paragraph is a fair representation of what has become the defining raison d’etre of Judaism as conveyed by non-Orthodox liberal Jewish organizations and synagogues in America. It is not a direct citation from any of them, but is an accurate paraphrase of what has become the canon of non-Orthodox Jewish liberalism in our time.
It is the “modernized” and contemporary “reinterpretation” of “Jewish ethics” as defined and inculcated by much of the Reform and Conservative movements. It is also the “theology” of Jewish radical leftist groups operating at the fringes of the Jewish community, including the “Renewal/ALEPH” movement, the “Eco-Judaism” groups, the “Tikkun community” of people and groups that are satellites to the magazine by that same name published by tikkun-activist Michael Lerner, and what remains of the “Reconstructionists.” Lerner, it should be added, discovers “repair of the world” even in LSD consumption.
What are we to make of “Tikkun Olam” proclamations?
The most important thing that must be understood about the Tikkun Olam catechism in the United States is that each and every sentence in the above proclamation is false.
First of all, there is no such thing as a mitzvah or commandment of “Tikkun Olam.” Jews are nowhere commanded to “repair the world.” In all the authoritative or traditional compilations of the commandments of Judaism, none list “Tikkun Olam”. The expression itself does not appear anywhere in the Torah or in the entire Bible.
Those assimilationist liberals who insist that the entire “ethics of the Prophets” can be reduced to the pursuit of “Tikkun Olam” have to explain why none of the Books of the Prophets use the term. “Tikkun Olam” is used sporadically in the Talmud, but as a technical term for resolution of certain judicial problems that arise before rabbinic courts.
The only place the expression appears in Jewish prayer is in the “Aleinu” and there it clearly has nothing at all to do with social justice. In the “Aleinu,” Tikkun Olam is explicitly explained in the prayer text itself as the quest to eliminate pagan superstition and to see God’s rule of the universe implemented. It is a theological concept, not a social, political or environmental one.
In Judaism, the world does not get repaired by redistribution of income and wealth nor by cutting carbon emissions, but by humans subordinating themselves to God’s will.
Secondly, “Tikkun Olam” does not mean that Jews are obligated to strive to make the earth a more just, clean, fair and equal place. Nowhere in Judaism are Jews commanded to restructure or re-engineer the societies of nations. Jews have a certain obligation to participate in the Jewish community and to assist other Jews, especially Jews living in hardship, including through charity. Even within the Jewish community, there is no religious imperative or justification for coerced schemes of income or wealth redistribution, aside from payments to the Levites and priests. And while there is no prohibition against Jews using their resources to assist the downtrodden among the non-Jewish nations, there is also no Judaic imperative to do so.
The Torah and the Prophets do speak out about the plight of Jewish widows, orphans, and converts, but in every single case where the matter is brought up, the concern is for protecting the rights of these weaker groups in the courts, assuring they do not face judicial discrimination. There is no official obligation to transfer resources to these disadvantaged groups except for the “tithe for the poor” collected out of agricultural produce in two years out of seven. (If you do the math, it averages out to about 3% of farm resources per year.)
The idea that it is somehow the religious duty of Jews to “repair mankind” is not only unfounded, it is a manifestation of the ignorance of assimilationist Jewish liberals. The simple fact of the matter is that in actual Judaism, it is none of the business of Jews to fix or repair humanity. More generally, in Judaism it is the job of Jews to repair the Jews–a not inconsiderable task–not to repair the world.
Non-Jews are not in need of being “repaired” by Jews, at least as long as they observe the seven “Noahide Commandments,” the rules of living that Jews interpret to be conferred upon all humans, all descendants of Noah, by God. Beyond that, what the gentiles do and how they do it is none of the business of Jews, and Jews simply have no religious standing to interfere.
It is certainly not the job of Jews to instruct non-Jews about matters such as income and wealth distribution, abortion, environmentalism, health care provision, or discrimination. Only in matters of cruelty that negate the Noahide Laws are Jews commanded to interfere.
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Extraordinary! The British government has started making bold and good moves. No fewer than two such sets of developments have been spotted in as many days.
On Sunday, at the Paris conference called to get the Middle East peace process back on track and stick the knife into Israel good and proper before Obama leaves the White House, Theresa May’s government refused to sign its closing statement. “There are risks,” said the UK Foreign Office, “that this conference hardens positions at a time when we need to be encouraging the conditions for peace. We have particular reservations about an international conference intended to advance peace between the parties that does not involve them – indeed which is taking place against the wishes of the Israelis.”
You don’t say.
Not content with that, according to Ha’aretz the UK the next day used its veto to prevent the EU Foreign Affairs Council from passing a French resolution adopting the Paris conference conclusions.
Can this really be the same British government that just three weeks earlier not only voted for the infamous Israel-bashing UN Security Council resolution 2334 but helped draft it and push it through? No wonder Ha’aretz called the move “highly irregular”.
It would be thoroughly uncharitable to suggest that Britain’s stance at Paris, like Mrs. May’s onslaught on US Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech attacking Israel a few days after resolution 2334, happened because she suddenly became aware that it might not be the most brilliant strategy to thoroughly cheese off the incoming, pro-Israel US President. So I won’t.
It would be even more uncharitable to suggest that because President-elect Donald Trump stated in his interview with The Times of London that “the UK may have another chance to veto if what I’m hearing is true, because you know you have a meeting as you know, this weekend”, Mrs May promptly fell into line. So I won’t suggest that either.
I will merely observe that the Foreign Office statement did specifically add that the Paris conference was taking place “just days before the transition to a new American President when the US will be the ultimate guarantor of any agreement.”
And I will also observe that Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has exulted that Britain is negotiating a post-Brexit trade deal with Trump, who has been saying in turn what a brilliant move Brexit was. It is hard to overstate the importance for the UK of such a trade deal with America which would enormously strengthen Britain’s hand in negotiating its departure from the EU.
This relates to the second positive development. After months of failing to respond robustly to EU threats to damage Britain as much as possible over Brexit; after allowing the impression to be created that Britain was a powerless supplicant at the EU table; and after doing nothing to quell the wailing from British “Remainers” opposed to Brexit that the UK was in danger of falling out of the EU through a “hard Brexit” of punishing tariffs that would undoubtedly bring about the economic apocalypse Remainers had been predicting since the referendum campaign, suddenly the May government has started stating the obvious: that although Britain wants a mutually beneficial Brexit deal, if push comes to shove the UK can hurt the EU far more that the EU can hurt the UK.
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This past November, the student newspaper at McGill University in Montreal responded to accusations that it had been providing a platform for anti-Semitism. While denying the specific charge, the editors emphatically reasserted their core position—namely, that the student paper “maintains an editorial line of not publishing pieces which promote a Zionist worldview, or any other ideology which we consider oppressive.”
This blunt statement is a reminder that hatred of the Jewish state is rapidly becoming the default position on many college campuses. Meanwhile, Israel’s friends, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, are left to ask what, if anything, can be done to stem the rising tide of anti-Israel venom.
In more than five years of involvement in advocacy for Israel, both as a college student and in a professional capacity, I’ve spoken at hundreds of events, worked with dozens of organizations, designed campus programs and social-media campaigns, and advised members of Congress, donors, and even Israeli government officials on how best to advance the cause of the Jewish state. As a member of the “millennial” generation, I have also been privy to the frustrations and complaints of my activist, pro-Israel peers whose own enchantment with the Jewish state is a driving force in their lives and who believe that too much institutional support is going to forms of advocacy that have outlived their usefulness.
Partially in response to these frustrations, I conducted a year-long study of how pro-Israel groups engage millennials. What works? What doesn’t? How to improve? In addressing those questions, I compared the available survey data about the attitudes of young Americans toward the Jewish state with what pro-Israel groups are currently doing to reach them, and conducted hundreds of interviews with students, professors, essayists, and professional activists.
The conclusion I eventually arrived at, presented below in severely boiled-down form, is that some kinds of Israel advocacy are at best of limited effectiveness and at worst can do more harm than good. Yet I also found some approaches that promise significantly greater success.
Let’s start by looking quickly at current attitudes among all Americans between the ages of eighteen and thirty. According to several polls taken in the past few decades, most members of this age cohort, while nominally pro-Israel, are largely indifferent to the Jewish state or have no interest at all in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. If asked whether they are more sympathetic to Israel or to the Palestinians, a great many will answer “Israel”—according to a Gallup poll conducted last February. Americans in this age range favor Israel over the Palestinians by a margin of 54 to 18 percent—but, when, pressed they make clear their lack of much knowledge about, or devotion to, either side. Evidence suggests, moreover, that this neutral group is the fastest-growing sector of the youth population. Indeed, a survey of California university campuses found that 75 to 95 percent of students fall in this “soft middle.”
These ranks of the unaffiliated and ambivalent are unlikely to be engaged by traditional methods of advocacy; they won’t come to hear a pro-Israel speaker or read a pamphlet about how the peace process is being held back by Palestinian, not Israeli, leaders, or about Hamas’s hate-filled intentions and ideology. Indeed, there’s reason to believe that, among those not already interested in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, discussion of it tends less to inspire curiosity than to induce apathy. To these onlookers, the situation appears too messy and too complicated to lend itself to any obvious solution; the good guys and bad guys aren’t easily identifiable; and meanwhile the rhetoric of partisans on both sides seems angry, obsessive, and overheated.
Not even the most carefully crafted and well-articulated pro-Israel arguments can dispel these impressions. Indeed, among young Jews in particular, the sociologist Theodore Sasson has observed that, when it comes to Israel, they tend to be positively turned off by the compulsive fixation on “the conflict” displayed by most American Jewish institutions.
And yet herein, precisely, lies the challenge: how to encourage support for Israel among those who may tell pollsters they are already pro-Israel but are generally apathetic, and among those who are entirely without an opinion. How to reach them? What, in particular, have Israel-advocacy groups been doing in this regard? Is any of it effective?
For purposes of this brief essay, I’ve divided these pro-Israel groups into two types—builders and defenders—and I’ll cite two or three exemplars of each type.
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Fact-checking season is in full swing. Whether the conversation is about “fake news,” “alternative facts,” or any other euphemism for false information, there’s a renewed media focus on examining the veracity of claims.
The New York Times is trying to capitalize on public concerns about accuracy with an online advertisement that states, “In a world of fake news, independent, fact-based journalism stands apart.” Then, in large font, is the hard sell: “Truth. It comes at a cost.”
The ad campaign comes in the face of a particularly costly truth: Among Democrats, Independents, and Republicans, confidence in the mass media has plummeted to all-time lows. Most Americans just don’t trust that the media will report the news fully, accurately, and fairly.
The New York Times certainly hasn’t been immune to those trends. So the advertisement’s focus on “facts” and “truth” may be an attempt to reverse its own falling fortunes, first by branding the newspaper as a reliable and accurate source of information, and second by refocusing the public’s distrust onto political discourse, and by positioning itself as a foil to perceived dishonesty in politics.
But readers, regardless of how much they trust or distrust government, should be skeptical of the newspaper’s repeated assurances that it can be relied on for accurate and impartial reporting. In fact, as measured by its reporting on one particular hot-button issue, the Arab-Israeli conflict, The New York Times has if anything shown an increasing tendency to circulate fake news and alternative facts of its own.
Falsehood: The Palestinian Authority Supports “Two States for Two Peoples”
The falsehoods in recent weeks have been fast and flagrant. In late December, Times journalist Max Fisher told readers that the Palestinian Authority supports “two states for two peoples” — the idea that the conflict should be resolved with a Jewish state and a Palestinian state living side by side in peace. It’s an egregious falsehood. The formula is “unacceptable,” says Palestinian official Nabil Shaath. “The story of ‘two states for two peoples’ means that there will be a Jewish people over there and a Palestinian people here. We will never accept this.”
His boss, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, has been equally clear. “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I will never recognize the Jewishness of the state, or a ‘Jewish state.'”
New York Times editors have refused to set readers straight with a correction — despite repeated requests from CAMERA that they do so.
Falsehood: Donald Trump “Vowed to Support Israel No Matter What”
An article published in January opens with the claim that Donald Trump “has vowed to support Israel no matter what.” When asked about the provenance of this claim, editors admitted the article was not referencing any specific statement by Trump. Instead, they insisted, the “vow” is a sort of composite of his collective statements. In other words, reporters told readers of a vow that did not really exist.
The newspaper has refused to correct the misinformation.
Falsehood: A Paris Communiqué Called for “A Return to the 1967 Boundaries”
In that same news story, readers were told that, at the end of an international meeting in Paris about the two-state solution, “countries issued a joint communiqué that reaffirmed support for…a return to the 1967 boundaries between the Israelis and Palestinians, including the removal of Israeli settlements from the West Bank.”
In fact, the communiqué says nothing at all about a return to specific boundaries, nor does it reference the removal of settlements.
Editors insisted no correction is warranted.
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Recently a friend lamented that the academic elite in prewar Germany ignored the Nuremberg Laws, Kristallnacht and the impending genocide. They were indifferent—in some cases rejoiced—as Jewish colleagues were stripped of their faculty positions and Jewish students lost their rights to pursue degrees in the professions.
Another participant in the group mentioned that at the same time, here in America, major universities had quotas for Jewish faculty and students, a practice which continued for years after World War II.
All this elicits opprobrium from academic elites today.
But where is the outrage among academic elites over the thinly veiled anti-Semitism in virtually every college and university which is manifested in the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement, Students for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace, American Muslims for Palestine, U.S. Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, to name only a handful.
A few academic groups have spoken up. Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) has confronted campus anti-Semitism strongly. The National Association of Scholars (NAS) has sharply criticized the BDS movement “because it violates core principles of academic freedom…attempts to limit the free expression of ideas…attempts to use instruments of coercion to advance a point of view and…attempts to politicize the content of education and research.” Fordham University has now balked at fostering the BDS movement by refusing an application from Students for Justice in Palestine to form a chapter on campus.
But where is the outrage of professors rushing to their classes through quads peppered with anti-Semitic posters and students?
Where is their concern about the Middle Eastern Departments in their own schools which have been taken over by radical leftists, disciples of Edward Said and Rashid Kahlidi, who pervert history and apologize for Arab/Moslem terror? Most of these pseudo-scholars belong to the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) which bills itself as “a non-political association that fosters the study of the Middle East [and] promotes high standards of scholarship and teaching.” It does nothing of the sort. In fact the group actively promotes Israel bashing among its 3,000 members.
In 2015 MESA members approved a resolution affirming “the right of MESA members to engage in open and transparent discussion of the boycott of Israeli academic institutions in the context of the annual meeting and other forums.” In November of that year a discussion was held on whether MESA should take a collective position regarding BDS. Jens Hanssen, of the University of Toronto, a strong proponent of BDS, deflected the suggestion that MESA refrain from taking an overtly political position which could impact their mandate. He stated: “We have no choice. We are political by being nonpolitical. And we are political by being political. That is the quandary we are facing.” Huh?
Thus MESA, even without a collective resolution of organizational support for BDS, is responsible for trickle down anti-Semitism by their member professors who teach and promote the racist ideology that the Jewish people have no right to dwell in their ancient homeland, that by doing so they violate the rights of local Arabs, who, incidentally, have more rights under Israeli jurisdiction than in any Arab country.
So why are “scholars” silent about an epidemic of Jew hatred that is infecting academia? Where are the myriad “counselors” and department heads and the “progressive” professors who feel everyone’s pain but that of increasingly isolated Jewish students who defend Israel?
These academics hold themselves in high regard for their supposed celebration of “diversity,” but they are hypocrites, cowards and traitors to the cause of education and truth.
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Editor: Rael Jean Isaac
Editorial Board: Ruth King, Rita Kramer
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“Jabotinsky Part 4: Lone Wolf” is now available. You can see it via the following link: http://zionism101.org/NewestVideoVimeo.aspx
Or log in at www.zionism101.org. In “Jabotinsky Part 4: Lone Wolf,” Jabotinsky warns the Jews of Europe to flee in the face of growing anti-Semitism. He develops a 10 year plan for their evacuation and encourages illegal immigration efforts to Palestine. With the outbreak of war, Jabotinsky turns his attention to establishing a Jewish Legion as he had done in World War I, but a heart ailment catches up with him, leading to his untimely death in Hunter, New York.
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The second and decisive third Knesset readings of the “Settlement Regulation Bill” (SRB) calling for the retroactive legalization of some 4,000 Israeli homes and apartment units on allegedly “private Palestinian land” in Judea and Samaria have been put off until after the January 20th inauguration of Donald Trump as America’s 45th president. The immediate objective of the delay was to avoid dumping a diplomatic hot potato in the President-Elect’s lap before he takes command of the White House.
The more immediate objective was to disarm President Barack Obama of a pretext for withholding America’s veto or exercising its abstention prerogative on an anticipated UN Security Council resolution that, inter alia, would mandate an Israeli retreat to the 1949 War of Independence cease-fire lines and the repartition of Jerusalem as the contextual framework for a “two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian impasse. In the event, Mr. Obama decided he didn’t need a pretext to trash a 49 year U.S.-Israel alliance. By ordering an American abstention on a 14-0 December 23rd Security Council vote branding all Israeli communities in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem intrinsically “illegal,” his decision, as described by one veteran diplomat, “has provided a tailwind for terrorism and a fading BDS movement, while effectively turning even the Western Wall into ‘occupied Palestinian territory.’”
All that said and done, It would seem ironical–other than in the Middle East, where irony has been platitutinized beyond recognition–that Amona, the Samarian hilltop outpost whose Supreme Court-ordered demolition inspired SRB’s enactment, was confronted with a “No Entry” sign pinned to the bill’s protective tent. That’s because Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, whose Kulanu party is a member of Likud’s governing coalition, reluctantly cast his party’s 10 votes in favor of the measure only on condition that it not interdict the Supreme Court’s demand for Amona’s evacuation. Erected in 1995 with a 2.1 million shekel grant from Israel’s Housing and Construction Ministry, the community and its 40 families were scheduled be gone on or before a December 25th. Deadline. They’ve since received a 45-day High Court extension. Twenty four of the families will be leaving voluntarily to an adjacent parcel of land designated as ”absentee property” in a zero-hour deal hammered out with representatives of a Likud coalition with its back to the wall. The remaining 16 will be temporarily moved down the hill to the nearby settlement of Ofra. Each of the 40 families will receive government compensation of one million shekels and all have been promised a speedy transition to permanent housing. The estimated 140 million shekel cost (compensation plus new housing) will be borne by budget cuts to all of the government’s ministries.
The Amona saga has ended but its implications will linger. Introduced by a quartet of Coalition members–two from Likud, two from Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home party–SRB would sanction Israel’s appropriation of “private” Palestinian land in the exercise of “eminent domain.” If the alleged owners of the land, presently unclear, were to come forward, they would be eligible for yearly damages amounting to 125 percent of the value of leasing the land or a larger financial package valued at 20 years’ worth of leasing the plots. “In many cases,” the bill lamely concedes, “settlements built in agreed upon areas were encouraged or built in coordination with the State or in good faith by the Israeli residents, who were unaware this was privately owned land. Leaving the situation as is in these settlements or their destruction, is liable to unjustifiably harm those who have lived there for many years. Therefore the regulation of the settlements is necessary.”
First of all, avers Rafael Ahren in an analysis for The Times of Israel, even stripped of an original clause that would have overridden the Supreme Court’s Amona evacuation order, SRB’s chances of avoiding nullification by the Court are slim to none. And even if it did manage to pass Supreme Court muster, that would not obviate the near certainty of UN-EU condemnation or the danger, “recently invoked by Prime Minister Netanyahu himself,” Ahren submits, of war crimes charges being filed against the Jewish State and its leaders by the International Criminal Court. To non-member Israel’s claim that the Hague has no jurisdiction over the area, Ahren points out that the “State of Palestine” has been “admitted as a full member of the Court” and can petition its prosecutor to investigate “‘Israeli crimes’ committed on its [Palestinian] territory].”
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A Modern Antiochus
On his way out, Obama has wielded a major blow at Israel. In this case, because it is at the UN, it is not subject, as executive decrees are, to being undone by the next President. Obama did not merely permit the anti-resolution to pass. The Israeli government reports that it has “ironclad” evidence that Obama colluded behind the scenes in planning, formulating and pushing it through. Elliot Abrams outlines the implications: It turns both settlers (including those who live in East Jerusalem or such major blocs as Maalei Adumim) and Israeli officials who venture abroad into criminals. In some countries they will be subject to prosecution in their own courts or in the International Criminal Court. As Abrams notes, the resolution calls upon all states “to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.” This gives the UN imprimatur to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, with the UN now in practice calling for the boycott of products from the Golan and Judea and Samaria, including East Jerusalem.
It should be noted that every single other member of the Security Council voted for the resolution, including France and Britain (each of which could have vetoed it). Melanie Phillips is especially scathing concerning Britain. “Since she came to power last July the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, has gone out of her way to express her warm affection for the Jewish people and her strong support for the State of Israel. Her words now stick in the throat. If Obama has committed a foul and final act of malice towards Israel, Mrs. May has done something just as bad, if not worse: presented herself as the friend upon whom the Jewish people can rely while her government stuck the knife not into Israel’s back, as did Obama, but its front.” It’s even worse than Phillips initially realized. According to Haaretz the British secretly urged New Zealand to bring forward the resolution (after Egypt had withdrawn it under pressure from President-elect Trump).
As for the UN, in which such high hopes were placed at its inception, it has become, in Phillips’ words a “reservoir of evil,” “one swamp that most urgently needs to be drained.”
Will Merkel Learn?
Angela Merkel has called “despicable” the possibility that someone claiming refugee status would abuse German hospitality by mowing down shoppers at a Christmas market. Her open door policy illustrates the hoary maxim that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. But it’s questionable that she will learn the real lessons from her policy of letting in massive waves of refugees coming from an alien, in their own mind superior, and yes, hostile religious culture.
As the shock wears off, she is likely to emphasize, as The Wall Street Journal reports shoppers returning to that same Christmas market promptly did, how rare such incidents are.
But as Andrew McCarthy rightly points out, this misses the point. “The main threat posed by the West’s mass acceptance of immigrant populations from sharia cultures is not that some percentage of the migrants will be trained terrorists. It is that a much larger percentage of these populations is stubbornly resistant to assimilation. They are thus fortifying sharia enclaves throughout Europe.” It is these enclaves that “become safe havens for jihadist recruitment, training, fund-raising and harboring.” McCarthy quotes the president of the German Police Union, Rainer Wendt, who years ago, even before the current huge Muslim invasion, told Spiegel Online: “In Berlin or in the north of Duisburg there are neighborhoods where colleagues hardly dare to stop a car–because they know that they’ll be surrounded by 40 or 50 men.” Wendt called these attacks a “deliberate challenge to the authority of the state–attacks in which the perpetrators are expressing their contempt for our society.”
In other words, just as the German police had ample warning about the terrorist proclivities of Anis Amri, so Angela Merkel had ample warning concerning the inevitable result of welcoming vast additional numbers of Muslims.
A Chanukah Party in Washington
In what seemed like a Jewish public relations coup, the embassy of Azerbaijan, a Muslim country, to coincide with a visit Prime Minister Netanyahu was making to that country, decided to co-host an early (Dec. 14) Chanukah party with the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. The coup turned into a public relations embarrassment as the hate-Israel left (If Not Now and Jewish Voices for Peace) demonstrated outside and a parade of more establishment Jewish outfits including the Union for Reform Judaism, Women of Reform Judaism, the National Council of Jewish Women, the Workmen’s Circle, plus Ameinu and Peace Now boycotted the event. Why? Because the Azerbaijani Embassy had scheduled the event at the Trump International Hotel. As Daniel Greenfield points out, “to make the outrage even more ridiculous, the Azerbaijani embassy only picked the Trump International Hotel because of its proximity to the White House so that some of the same left-wing leaders boycotting the party could attend Obama’s Chanukah party and their party on the same night.”
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The Obama administration is receiving a well-deserved hammering for orchestrating the UN’s fresh assault on Israel. Most refreshing is a good deal of that hammering is being delivered by an infuriated Israel, whose representatives haven’t flinched in slamming the U.S. for its betrayal. They are learning for the first time, or perhaps re-learning for the umpteenth time, a doctrine taught by Revisionist leader Vladimir Jabotinsky: the principle of resistance.
The Likud Party which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads purports to draw inspiration from Jabotinsky and to faithfully follow his teachings. Banners depicting Jabotinsky fly at every Likud event. Yet, in his many years in office, Netanyahu has seemed less a devotee of Jabotinsky than a disciple of Dale Carnegie, who famously said, “You can’t win an argument.” Netanyahu and his government haven’t won any arguments when it comes to Jewish rights in Israel’s heartland. Indeed, they haven’t tried. Instead, they’ve chosen to manage the problem. We see the fruits of that strategy: Resolution 2334.
Ironically, it was the Prime Minister’s father, Prof. Ben-Zion Netanyahu, who offered one of the best analyses of Jabotinsky’s thinking in a 1981 essay that was reprinted in his last book, The Founding Fathers of Zionism. Ben-Zion points out that Jabotinsky’s greatest contribution to Jewish thinking was this: “He taught the doctrine of resistance to a people who had not known what resistance meant for hundreds of years.”
What did this mean in political terms? “Vigorous resistance to any concession of any right whatsoever.” Ben-Zion Netanyahu writes: “After all, if you have a right, and concede that right, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, even if out of supposedly ‘pragmatic calculations,’ then what is taken away from you is, simply, theft. Hence, you have fundamentally surrendered to robbery, even if you pretend to having been magnanimous.”
Think of the prime minister’s approach in light of the above. When facing election, he speaks out against a two-state solution as he did in 2008 and in 2015. Afterwards, he hastily backs down under U.S. and international pressure, reaffirming his support for two states. Instead of vigorous resistance, Netanyahu chooses the path of least resistance.
Although describing himself as a disciple of Jabotinsky, Netanyahu acts more like Jabotinsky’s nemesis, Chaim Weizmann. The strategy of Weizmann and the Laborites was “a dunam and a cow, and then another dunam and another cow”––a dunam being an area of land (4 equaling 1 acre). The idea was to avoid tipping off the Arabs while creating facts on the ground that would make a Jewish state inevitable. Weizmann even denied he wanted a Jewish state. The strategy was disingenuous, fooled no one and cost the Jews dearly politically, as the British, who favored the Arabs from the start, gradually stripped away Jewish rights.
Instead of a dunam and a cow, Netanyahu and the Likud Party build a settlement and another settlement, this while broadcasting their support for a two-state solution which grants Arabs political rights to the land the Jews are building on. It’s a crazy contradiction. Jabotinsky offers a way out. Resist efforts to strip away Jewish rights. Boldly defend Judea and Samaria as Jewish land. Declare that there will never be an Arab state in Israel’s ancient home. The real problem is that Israel’s leaders are too clever by half. If they can’t speak candidly, they should pull down those Jabotinsky pictures at Likud meetings. It’s not his image that’s important but his teachings, and without the one what’s the point of the other? Put up supermodel Bar Rafaeli. Her image will have the same impact on policy—that is to say, none—but she at least is easier on the eyes.
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The vicious condemnation of Israel at the UN Security Council on December 23, 2016 is a watershed moment in U.S.-UN relations––albeit not as President Obama hoped. Following the vote of fourteen in favor and one American abstention, Palestinian representative Riyadh Mansour and American Ambassador Samantha Power exchanged a telling handshake. Evidently, President Obama believes that he has put one over on Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu and the incoming Trump administration. But here’s another possibility: treachery at the UN will not be cost free.
Let’s be absolutely clear about what has just happened. The Palestinians have completed the hijacking of every major UN institution. The 2016 General Assembly has adopted nineteen resolutions condemning Israel and nine critical of all other UN states combined. The 2016 Commission on the Status of Women adopted one resolution condemning Israel and zero on any other state. The 2016 UN Human Rights Council celebrated ten years of adopting more resolutions and decisions condemning Israel than any other place on earth. And now––to the applause of the assembled––the Palestinians can add the UN Security Council to their list.
Resolution sponsors Malaysia and New Zealand explained UN-think to the Council this way: Israeli settlements are “the single biggest threat to peace” and the “primary threat to the viability of the two-state solution.” Not seven decades of unremitting Arab terror and violent rejection of Jewish self-determination in the historic homeland of the Jewish people.
This is not just any lie. This is the big lie of modern antisemitism. This is the lie that drove a Palestinian teenager in June of this year to creep into the home of 13-year old Hallel Ariel and butcher her with a knife in the back as she slept in her bed.
The bed was located in the “settlement” of Kiryat Arba, on Arab-claimed territory whose ownership–by agreement–is subject to final status negotiations instead of back-stabbing UN resolutions. So to skip the UN-eze, today’s hate fest was diplomatic terrorism.
Obama’s failure to veto the resolution is at odds with long-standing American foreign policy that has insisted on peace through negotiations, and not UN-fiat, as the only way to ensure genuine and long-lasting recognition and cooperation. His excuse for throwing bipartisan wisdom overboard was delivered by Ambassador Power, in one of the most disingenuous statements in the history of American diplomacy.
Power began by likening Obama’s deed to Ronald Reagan’s treatment of Israel. She repeatedly claimed that the move was nothing new and “in line” with the past, though “historic” is how speaker-after-speaker and the President of the Council himself described it. She noted “Israel has been treated differently than other nations at the United Nations” and then doubled-down on more of the same. She complained that Council “members suddenly summon the will to act” when it comes to Israel, after the White House had actively pushed the frantic adoption of the resolution with less than 48 hours’ notice.
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