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Chosen Links – January 7, 2024

Articles, Threads, Videos and More about Israel and Antisemitism
[additional-authors]
January 10, 2024

CRAZY PROLOGUE – While writing this week’s “Chosen Links”, a big car accident just happened in font of our home. Literally, at 1130pm. A young mother was driving her daughter home from a sleepover party, when her tire blew out and their car smashed into a parked car. I just spent the past hour in the cold midnight air offering my help, along with some great neighbors (thanks Kevin Feller!); and stayed until the fire department, police, and eventually the tow truck arrived. The daughter was hysterical, refusing snacks or any distraction, but the police had a wonderful idea that I encouraged, to have her sit in their car. I told her it would be like getting to visit the cockpit of a plane, and with her mom’s permission took her to their passenger seat where she immediately cheered up, and was chatty for the remaining hour. This child will always have a scary memory of her first car accident, but now she can also link it to her fun memory of exploring a cop car.

I then asked her mother if she wanted a hug, and she strongly nodded her head, embraced me, and cried. I then told her, scary things happen in life, and it’s okay to let it out and cry, while at the same time prioritizing wanting to protect your children. It’s not easy to see, but I promised they would be fine after this crisis.

I feel like there should be an obvious lesson to draw from this, somehow poetically connecting it to the mothers and daughters in Israel; but rather than manipulate this into the thread, I’ll let the story just speak for itself.

This week my intro will be a bit different, as I’m creating this after working shifts at the hospital all weekend (including Shabbat), with 3 more long shifts to go. Luckily, I write my commentary as I read/watch things during the week, so most of the work is already done for me when I post each weekend.

I will follow-up here about something that elicited varied reactions from last week’s post. If you recall, we excitedly found the “In This House We Believe” poster, updated by Artists 4 Israel to proudly include representation against antisemitism, plus a written support of Zionism. Some friends immediately ordered one, as I hoped would happen (I’m not a big fan of “virtue signaling”, but if it’s happening without us on the reg, let’s at least flood the neighborhood with these and replace the ones that ignore us). Many loved the idea. But some had pause, or even strong objection due to its inclusion of the slogan for the grossly antisemitic BLM movement, which has in some chapters even celebrated the October 7 massacre. As this was a reasonable objection, I asked the nonprofit why they made that choice, and here’s their answer – reprinted with their blessing:

“Hi Boaz,

Thank you for asking.

There are two answers:

First, our goal is to incorporate ourselves into the greater social justice narrative, to demonstrate that antisemitism and Zionism are part and parcel of modern, progressive movements. As such, we need to include all relevant movements and to keep the sign as similar to the original as possible. This leads to the second answer which is that like everything else on the sign, Black Lives Matter represent the concept, it does not represent the organization.

If someone saw the sign without that saying or with it altered, it would look like we were trying to co-opt the sign and would seem an insult to those who think of that sentence as a statement of fact and not a political movement. From experience, I can tell you that we as a community think far more about this divide than does anyone else looking at it. With this being the lead line and the one most famous to the sign, changing it would be immediately noticeable and curious to the average person we are trying to get on our side.

Hope that helps!”

They even publicly thanked me for helping bring the poster back – wow!

https://www.facebook.com/craig.dershowitz/posts/pfbid0V2LA2vZfryxfExHSEz11Gfi7JQmjKGdTbUyqbKaGVNSbHuXKTrvnPWaMaH7mxRJ6l

The photograph is from my family’s 2019 arrival in Israel, where the Hebrew words announce WELCOME, as you enter the only Jewish land on earth.

EPILOGUE – That brings us back to our regularly scheduled programming. I now present this week’s Chosen Links by…ME!

ARTICLES/THREADS:

1. Sarah Tuttle-Singer writes a story that almost works like a modern day parable. It must be SO hard for people like this Arab taxi driver, who care about Israel, hate Hamas, worry about the soldiers… But have friends and family back in Gaza who are caught in the middle of the horrors of war. We need to fight this war, Hamas has given us no choice, but it’s important for our humanity’s sake that we not forget the lives that are affected outside of our own:

https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/almost-like-brothers/

2. “The truth remains the truth: Israel is acting as any other democracy would in impossible circumstances.” Jake Wallis Simons writes about how Hamas is manipulating the world into believing backwards logic:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/…/hamas-is-succeeding-at…/

3. Avi Ciment writes a letter to Lorne Michaels, giving him 6 million reasons to use his SNL platform to promote satire that supports the fight against antisemitism, or at the very least not feed into it:

https://www.jewishpress.com/…/dear-lorne/2023/12/21/

4. This is a great piece about how much in sync, or lack thereof, the other terror organizations backed by Iran were with Hamas prior to its October 7 attack. “Hezbollah, which had been planning a similar assault on Israel, was not pleased, the report claimed. “The cards they had been holding for a future attack against Israel had been shown by the Palestinians: penetrating inside Israel, airborne [assaults], the element of surprise,” said the Lebanese source, noting a “well-known plan by Hezbollah’s elite al-Radwan to infiltrate the Galilee.”

Uh oh, mom and dad are fighting again:

https://www.timesofisrael.com/report-details-ultra…/

5. Ana Diamond was a hostage in Iran from 2016-2018. CNN gives her a platform to use her experience and expertise to discuss not only how awful it must be for the Israeli hostages, but how gross it is that people try to claim they are being treated nicely, and look happy. “…the sensationalist commentators that make light of the ordeal of the hostages, or provide Hamas an equal platform for positive PR, are engaging in irresponsible behavior that could endanger those still being held.”:

https://www.cnn.com/…/israel-hamas-gaza…/index.html

6. “This ensures that the foundation can identify itself as a private organization, which enables Qatar to conceal its state funding as private donations…The State of Qatar contributes more funds to universities in the United States than any other country in the world…” A comprehensive report on money coming into American universities from Qatar, and the influence it creates:

https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/…/qatar-bought-ivy…

7. “You can’t say Black Lives Matter and then look at the two sides of this conflict and support the side who is killing Black people.” This article shines the spotlight on 6 Israeli people of color, trying to deflect the ignorant perception that Israel is a white country. They are each fighting, online and some also in the army, to speak up for the country they live in and love:

https://www.timesofisrael.com/israelis-of-color-push…/

8. One of the most beautiful things about Israel, and all true democracies, are the ways that people freely give their ideas and even dissent in how things are done. This is something truly lacking in the tyrannical Hamas-led government in Gaza, where speaking up can get you killed. Israel is full of protests, and 3 opinions for every 2 people. One thing that still has to be decided, is what what happens after the war? The question has often been asked, and Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson does not know of an easy answer, but he feels confident it has to happen with our ethics and morality uncompromised. He comes up with goals that he hopes we can achieve, and they may seem hard to swallow when we are in the midst of a war, but we need something idealistic to look forward to, if we are ever to start to dig ourselves out of this mess. It’s reasonable to hope for a goal that we may never succeed at, than give up and say it’s not worth the effort of trying:

https://jewishjournal.com/…/to-my-israeli-family-and…/

9. As much as I enjoy throwing a life preserver, with positive affirmations of what hopefully will happen next… It’s equally important to give a well informed, brutally honest speculation as to what happens next. It isn’t always what we want to hear, but there’s logic to seeing why time and time again Israel gets hurt when it opens the floodgates; as Fern Reiss says, is it a few bad apples, or is it a culture of bad apples:

https://fernmusing.substack.com/…/war-day-88-the…

10a. Here’s what it looks like on the other hand, when you live in a society WITHOUT free speech – Nizar Banat. May his memory be a blessing. A Palestinian political activist who spoke up against the Fatah PA. Very few are willing to take such a risk. He was imprisoned for it by the Palestinian Authority, and died in prison about 2 years ago: https://twitter.com/itsmichalll/status/1742160176721862825

10b. Here’s an article about him and his death for context. Though it does make me queasy sharing The Guardian, which casually refers to Israel as an occupation, glaringly without clarification. However, I don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater, and it’s otherwise a worthwhile read:

https://www.theguardian.com/…/nizar-banats-death…

11. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant gave a good status update about the war. Curiously though, the language as Seth Frantzman notes COULD be a moving of the goalposts of the war, or perhaps are merely a clarification:

https://x.com/sfrantzman/status/1742163600100225309

12. Here’s a strategy for potentially ending this war. “To simplify, the Biden admin can affect how Israel fights the war, but not whether they fight it. It’s also not realistic to move Palestinians out of Gaza.” He explains that what needs to happen next is finding Yahya Sinwar, likely in a bunker with hostages:

https://twitter.com/AGHamilton29/status/1741889690498699578

13. Did you realize that most airlines still have not resumed their flights to and from Israel? Tour guides are obviously taking a real hit. (Shout out to 2 such professional tour guides: dear friend Joel Haber and brother-in-law Adam Bodenstein!) This article nicely covers things:

https://jewishinsider.com/…/with-foreign-airlines…/

14a. There’s sad casualties of war, and then there’s evil, genocidal leaders of terrorist organizations who we can be relieved are gone. This is the latter. The comment under it saying that “per the Gaza Ministry of Health he was actually a 12 year old journalist” is gold:

https://x.com/HilzFuld/status/1742227391882166383

14b. The name of that “12 year old journalist”, Saleh al-Arouri, has a long history with Israel being a big bad wolf, and the go-between for Hamas and Iran, under the more recent auspices of Hezbollah in Lebanon. A great history, as recommended by the highly reliable David Makovsky:

https://x.com/DavidMakovsky/status/1742308401906843650

15. “And any group that is against Israel gets put on steroids…now that the Houthis agreed to be against Israel with their attacks in Red Sea, they will gain more wealth and power. Hezbollah bankrupted Lebanon the same way. Hamas grew more powerful.” Seth Frantzman explains more than just the history of Hamas; he spells out why they have so much international support.

This thread reads like a John Grisham conspiracy theory novel, where you wish it wasn’t actually real, but sadly Frantzman generally has his finger on the pulse of Middle East analysis:

https://twitter.com/sfrantzman/status/1742496008288813488

16. This man grew up in Gaza, and was almost killed along with friends from Israeli attacks years ago. And yet, amazingly, he fights today as a peace activist, for coexistence with Israel, against Hamas, and for the release of the hostages. Just incredible to be where so few are given his journey. Here he claps back angrily at this blood libel of a post about Jewish and Israeli doctors. Thank you Ahmed Fouad Alkhatib:

https://x.com/afalkhatib/status/1742390339095458169

17. As bad as the tunnel system in Gaza is for Hamas, intel from Israel demonstrates that Hezbollah may have a far more dangerous and massive tunnel network in Lebanon. “Digging tunnels in Lebanon was done from the start with the assistance of North Korea — as far back as the 1980s and especially toward the end of the 90s. There is evidence of this. North Korea has historic expertise in the digging of tunnels in mountainous and rocky areas.” A good read:

https://www.timesofisrael.com/expert-hezbollah-has-built…/

18. This is the sort of post we need to not take for granted. A gay Muslim, who speaks up and says it’s literally self-preservation for him to stand with Israel. “I stand with Jews today, not as an act of defiance against my culture, as some believe. But because, as a gay man, I know what it feels like to be hated and loathed for something that I did not choose.” The fact that most LGBTQ+ organizations are not on the same page as this man Luai Ahmed, is astounding. As Douglas Murray said, Queers For Palestine is like saying Chickens for KFC: https://twitter.com/JustLuai/status/1742519903511351326

19. Doron Katz Asher was interviewed by CNN about her experiences as a hostage. “She said the streets were lined with thousands of people – including children and the elderly – trying to hit the car and knock on its windows. Asher said she feared she would be lynched.” I appreciate when these interviews are done by mainstream media like this:

https://www.cnn.com/…/israel-hostage-doron…/index.html

20. Oy, this isn’t good. Schools often have partnerships of some sort with other organizations and countries. Usually it means they will have some of the intellectual rights gained in the research, but with this school it runs even deeper. “Because the Qatar Foundation owns the research of the Texas A&M campus in Doha, this frenemy is reaping a bounty in patents, blueprints, and other intellectual property created in part by professors at one of the crown jewels of American higher education.”

Qatar, which sponsors, gives a platform to, and protects Hamas leadership, is the benefactor of Texas A&M University. As a result, they have rights to nuclear reactors in Texas, and research that could have military applications; not to mention obvious political bias siphoned into the school. We know this isn’t the only American college with Qatar money, but this is a really strong example of what we need to worry about. Eli Lake writes:

https://www.thefp.com/…/texas-a-and-m-qatar-deal-iran-u…

21. Stanislav Pavlovschi is a former judge of the European Court of Human Rights, and Arsen Ostrovsky is an Israeli Human Rights attorney. They write a good article for The Hill about the kangaroo court that South Africa is planning to convene, in their false charge that Israel is commiting genocide. They explain not only the USA staunch defense of this allegation, but that they should be bringing this charge against Hamas, who actually admit to their attempts of genocide. Such hypocrisy never ceases to amaze:

https://thehill.com/…/4388533-israel-is-not-committing…/

22. A great thread by Shai Davidai who teaches at Columbia. He connects some very crystal clear dots about Students For Justice in Palestine (SJP), rebranded in NY in 2018 as Within Our Lifetime (WOL), and their glorification of Hamas. All the while, these groups are supported by Columbia organizations. Sources and evidence are provided throughout his thread:

https://x.com/ShaiDavidai/status/1742780543618478330

23. Follow the bouncing ball. From the minute an explosion in Iran went off, killing dozens, and a statement was quickly released by Iran blaming Israel. Watch and learn how little things changed, once ISIS took responsibility – explained nicely by Fern:

https://fernmusing.substack.com/…/war-day-91-if-you…

24. Ali Adi, an Israeli Arab political activist, addresses head on many of the things people tend to defend about the October 7 attack. Is this an expected act of resistance, a reasonable way to treat prisoners of war, and more. A short thread, but a helpful voice in the Twitterverse:

https://twitter.com/AliAdiOK/status/1743289548270878905

25. Lt Colonel Richard Hecht gives a solid update about the hostages, and the IDF efforts in Gaza. Of note, I appreciated learning about Unit 669, their emergency and rescue unit. Unbelievable heroes on the front lines: https://idfspokesperson.substack.com/…/updating-the…

26. Dr. Einat Wilf gives a really helpful explanation about Arab rejection of Zionism. It addresses a huge fallacy of logic.

“The idea that Arabs oppose Zionism because it displaced them is a a historical argument that reverses cause and effect…Arab displacement was not the cause of Arab Anti-Zionism – it was its tragic outcome.” Such a great logic puzzle to read:

https://www.instagram.com/p/C1xie2KNaAX/

27. The history of antisemitism, including the word itself. “And so, in the late 1870s people like Wilhelm Marr in Germany and Eduard Drumont in France developed a new philosophy. It was Marr who coined a new term: “Antisemitismus.” Pretty good refresher:

https://www.jpost.com/opinion/article-780346

28. It’s incredibly hard to imagine myself being on a college campus these days. Last week I visited Adi’s alma mater, UCSD, and as lovely as it was to see their campus, one look at the latest issue of their newspaper made me instantly upset. The cover story was something along the lines of casually referring to Israel as both an apartheid and committing genocide. And you wonder how there’s such a high percentage of our youth who are anti-Israel these days.

Gil Troy writes a love letter to Jewish students, and gives them great advice to help navigate that frequently hostile environment:

https://jewishjournal.com/…/open-letter-to-jewish…/

29. I continue to wish TikTok would just erased from most screens, because the multitude of dangerous content on there is unparalleled. Matthew Schultz covers many of the popular, dangerous examples:

https://jewishjournal.com/…/peeking-inside-tiktoks…/

30. Sam Abrams gets into the hotly debated topic of DEI, the movement of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. He explains how it has bred a new generation full of hatred of Jews, who feel righteous in their stance:

https://www.aei.org/…/fueled-by-dei-a-dangerous…/

31. This is such a great piece by Shmuel Rosner. He explains the bind that Israel finds itself in with Lebanon. He breaks down all of the options for what Israel could or should do, which range from going to war, to making all of the area near the border no-man’s land. Really is an important analysis:

https://jewishjournal.com/…/rosners-domain-the…/

32. It’s a very scary world we live in so Karen Lehrman Bloch sets out to answer the question, Is America still safe for the Jews?” As seen in this week’s JJ cover story:

https://jewishjournal.com/…/can-things-get-even-worse…/

VIDEOS:

1. As I’ve explained in my “Know Your Sources” article, it’s so important to not be sharing incorrect info online, but it’s also quite difficult to avoid. PBS interviews Shayan Sardarizadeh and Valerie Wirtschafter about this. As they explain, just because something has gone viral, or the person posting has millions of followers, that’s not enough of a reason to trust it. And if you aren’t sure, just don’t share it! This is true of info that’s both anti and pro Israel btw:

https://www.pbs.org/…/the-online-information-war-over…

2a. Lilaq Logan is providing wonderful Israel content, as a woman of color defending the nation as an IDF commander. This one is about the safety of Jews in the world, and the dangers posed by the so-called Pro-Palestinian protests:

https://www.instagram.com/reel/CzjVbPYsqsg/

2b. Here Lilaq breaks down the fallacy of the word “genocide” as being used against Israel, versus “casualties of war”:

https://www.instagram.com/reel/C1UavzpMR2Q/

3. Hersch Goldberg-Polin is one of the hostages taken from the music festival. His mother Rachel is here talking with Scooter Braun, and they are making the most basic ask: please speak up about the violence at the music festival NOT being acceptable. The murders, the rapes, the hostages, not okay at a peaceful music festival. Obvious? They thought so; but so few in the music industry are willing to speak up, so this is them making that basic ask:

https://www.instagram.com/reel/C1KGrqRrOdB/

4. Think of The Quad as an Israeli version of The View, and it’s both incredibly watchable, and really gets into the issues. The hosts are a panel of 4 highly accomplished women:

Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, deputy mayor of Jerusalem.

Emily Schrader, activist and journalist.

• Ashira Solomon, political moderator.

• Vivian Bercovici, former Canadian ambassador to Israel.

This episode starts by discussing what to expect from other terror groups. Then they interview Brett Gelman and his fiancée Ari Dayan, and hear about his journey to passionately caring about Israel. Then they finish off with the panel explaining who they each choose as their “scumbag and hero of the week”. I thought this hour of TV was extremely illuminating:

https://youtu.be/8PSmNsIF65I

5. I cried watching this video. There’s no graphic content, it’s a powerful interview with Sharon Aloni-Kunyo, who was taken hostage with her children and husband, and whose husband David is still there. She doesn’t talk about the war; she just one way or another wants and needs her husband and the rest of the hostages to be released ASAP. I don’t want to tell you snippets, just watch it; produced with photos and videos interspersed:

https://youtu.be/1MxEngtD5xc

6. My friend Nathan Brooks is one of a bunch of Americans who flew to Israel to help farm vegetables. This both helps the crops that are severely understaffed, and helps provide care packages directly for the soldiers. This piece is narrated in Hebrew, but all of the people talk in English so you will have no trouble following it all. I’m really proud of you Nathan, as well as Alisa Brooks who had to hold down the home front:

https://www.kan.org.il/…/kan/kan-actual/p-591147/666539/

7. Dan Abrams gives an A+ talk on NewsNation. “Israel’s response by any other nation would be considered perilous, but righteous. Because it’s Israel, they’re immediately the aggressors, they’re the bad guys and have been from the moment of the attack on them…Yes, there’s definitely anti-Semitism around the world. It’s a factor. But a lot of it here in the United States is just ignorance and a complete unwillingness or inability to answer the question: “What else do you think Israel should have done? What would you do if this happened to your country, to your citizens?”

He hits so many of the crucial points that are often missed. The numbers being not only untrustworthy, but no number being satisfactory within public opinion. The double standard of the international response to Israel versus all other countries. The fact that this plays directly into the hands of Hamas. A great 10 minutes of your time:

https://youtu.be/ys1Em_XxnxY

SPOTLIGHT:

You may know Mayim Bialik from Blossom, or maybe the Big Bang Theory. You could also know her as a recent host of Jeopardy.

I know her as a talented PhD student back when I was studying at UCLA, and her leading the Jewish a capella group Shir Bruin on campus. Her pride as a Jewish woman has never wavered.

Now I’m so proud to see Mayim continue to put up with the hateful trolls on social media, and show us her love for Judaism and Israel. Follow her here:

https://www.facebook.com/MissMayim

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION:

This week I turned to some of my closest family in Israel, Adi’s brother Adam Bodenstein, and sister-in-law Tamar Bodenstein. Tamar is working hard at the hospital, and raising their nest of awesome kids right near the gorgeous, and historic city of Tzfat. Adam is usually leading Birthright and other tours, but has instead mostly been in the Army Reserve, driving trucks to help supply the IDF.

I asked them what they most care about and need, if I was going to recommend one charitable cause this week. This was their thoughtful response that I hope you’ll consider:

Dear friends and family,

After 3 months of our lives turning into something no one could have imagine, please help us give back to our wonderful soldiers who are doing the best they can in keeping us all safe.

Since the beginning of the war, we at One Front-Koach Tzfat have been providing over 500 meals a day and over 2600 meals on Shabbat for soldiers.

Unfortunately, as the war drags on the donations dwindle, and we are close to having to stop helping. It would be wonderful if you would join us as an “ambassador”, and help us raise donations so that we can continue to provide the soldiers with food and warm equipment that they so badly need….

Donate to this link, and you can create a “team” that you send to friends, just have them mention your name in the dedication:

https://www.jgive.com/new/en/ils/donation-targets/110056

ON A LIGHTER NOTE:

1. It’s been a while since I shared anything from this account that satirizes the so-called Gaza Ministry of Health, and this one cracked me up:

https://twitter.com/GazaHealth/status/1741968301163491643

2. A social media Talmud joke that many of us can get behind:

https://twitter.com/ModernTalmud/status/1742898413786509572

3. This might be over a month old, but it’s still bitingly (and sadly) funny, with a killer final line:

https://babylonbee.com/…/hamas-offers-to-release…

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

1. Dr. Alex Grobman, PhD is a member of the Council of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. He has done something that you KNOW I adore, which is gathering links!

These are 8 organizations, WhatsApp/Telegraph groups, and digests that he recommends will help provide a more balanced view:

https://jewishlink.news/reliable-sources-of-information…/

2. A targeted protest that makes sense! Everyone talks to Qatar as if they are neutral goodwill ambassadors, trying to make the peace. In reality, it’s their nation that houses and protects some of the biggest and richest villains in the world, the leaders of Hamas. It’s Qatar that indoctrinates much of the world with pro-Hamas news on a daily basis, with Al Jazeera. I’m proud of the JCRC of Greater Washington for calling for a peaceful protest in front of the DC Qatari Embassy on January 10. As Lahav Harkov tweeted about this, “it should be the people who actually have the leverage on Hamas to get the hostages out of Gaza; enough treating Qatar with kid gloves.” Well said:

https://www.jcouncil.org/events/qatar-embassy-gathering

WHAT I’M ENJOYING THIS WEEK:

Season 5 of Fargo. This show is almost an anthology, as each season tells a different story, with different actors. But the more you watch, the more it provides fun links and Easter Eggs, connecting it and reminding you of other seasons and the Coen Brothers movie. (I’m helped majorly by close friend Mike Burgher, whose ironclad memory spurs him to message me every detail I’m likely forgetting). Although I’ve enjoyed each season, the last one was the most experimental, and the least easy to get hooked on. This gets back on track, and you’re hooked from the get-go.

My family’s 2019 arrival in Israel, where the Hebrew words announce WELCOME, as you enter the only Jewish land on earth.

Boaz Hepner works as a Registered Nurse in Saint John’s Health Center. He moonlights as a columnist, where his focuses are on health, and Israel, including his Chosen Links section of the Journal. He is a Pico/Robertson native, and lives here with his wife Adi, and children Natalia and Liam. He can be found with his family enjoying his passions: his multitude of friends, movies, poker and traveling.

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