Chosen Links – March 11, 2024

Articles, Threads, Videos and More about Israel and Antisemitism
March 13, 2024

It’s just…different. Normally you say your goodbyes, and all you have to think about is the next time you’ll visit one another. You recount the good times you just had during the visit, and you’re sad about how long it will be before the next one. And that’s the end of it. This time, it’s just…different. Ask anyone who lives in Israel, and has left the country for even a weekend away since October 7th. Ask them how it feels to return home and they’ll likely tell you it’s…different. It’s complicated. Emotions are mixed.

You miss Israel, you love Israel, you hate the government, you love the government (okay maybe that’s a stretch), you need the war, you hate the war, you are proud to fight, you are scared to fight, you hate the Palestinians, you mourn for the Palestinians. And yes, I’m likely projecting much of how I feel, living here in the Diaspora of the United States. I worry about Israel, and I worry about my family and friends who are there, while they also ironically worry about us here.

When Adi’s brother Adam came for a visit with his son Malachi, one of the first questions he asked us was if it was safe to wear a kippah in Disneyland. The guy just released from the Israeli Reserve duty, needed to know if his Judaism could be safely on display at the Happiest Place on Earth. We assured him that anything could happen, but that our experiences (including recently) at Disney was as warm and friendly (and expensive) as ever, and we had no negative experiences with ME wearing my kippah. In fact, when we visited California Adventure during this past Chanukah, they were playing Jewish holiday music in HEBREW on the loud speakers! And true to form, we had no ugly encounters. But that’s not to say it isn’t happening far more frequently on the streets and campuses, and they are seeing that in Israel, and feeling sorry for US.

At the same time, it’s scary watching Adam return, and his own feelings of safety and security have been heavily compromised. He lives in the North, in the gorgeous area near Tsfat. He’s a tour guide there, used to giving tours to happy visitors of all nationalities and religions. Birthright trips full of college kids hooking up with one another, while also learning about the land and history. But now instead of tourism, there are rockets being mostly intercepted by the Iron Dome. Instead of lullabyes, there are emergency sirens. Instead of warm beds, there are children sleeping on the floor of the master bedroom, as their sense of security and safety has been infiltrated. With every online message of support from abroad come two (sometimes) anonymous messsages of hatred.

Until now, the war has MOSTLY been in the South, where all we talk about is Gaza. But as things wind down there, and Hamas will hopefully be physically (if not ideologically) destroyed, there’s Iran’s proxy of Hezbollah in the North Israel has to worry about. They have more money, more backing, more of an organized infrastructure, more and better weapons, and some speculate an even more advanced terror tunnel system. That’s the north. That’s close to where Tsfat is. That’s where tons of rockets are already being fired. A day after he returned, 50 rockets landed in Meron, just a 10 minute drive away.

As Israel watches its allies in the USA and the rest of the world grow weary of the conflict, that war may be shifting from one region that wishes to kill Jews, to another. Apparently the world believes in self-defense, but only to a point. If any Western country was attacked incessantly, with a stated goal of eradicating that country of its citizens, few would say a word until that threat was eliminated. When the same happens to Israel, many turn the victim into the oppressor, and those who realize that Israel must defend itself, also insist it end as soon as their political leaders determine it is hurting their own cause. It may have taken 6 years to defeat Germany and Japan, but if it takes 6 months to defeat Hamas, we’ll say you’re using excessive force, and causing a humanitarian crisis. Apparently the allied powers of WWII didn’t cause a humanitarian crisis when they bombed the world into the ground to stop the Axis powers. All those farmers and civilians from occupied France to Germany itself, must have just loved being in a warzone, and losing their homes, and members of their family to “collateral damage”. Nobody ever looks back at WWII, and says we should have stopped fighting before we captured and destroyed the Nazis. But I digress…

Normally we say goodbye to our loved ones, as they fly back to their normal lives, but what is normal about the lives they fly back to at this moment in time? I pray for my friends and family in Israel, and I pray for a swift end to this war, but not before those trying to kill them, are no longer a threat to their safety.

Time for this week’s Chosen Links.


1a. Ahmad Israel has become a friend, and it was awesome having him speak at the large Orthodox shul Beth Jacob Congregation recently. He explains here that he continues to want to speak, but refuses to accept money for his Israel advocacy. Something’s gotta pay the bills, so I’m hoping people will find him other work in the process:

1b. “After my recent speaking engagement at Beth Jacob in LA (Yes a Palestinian spoke at a synagogue), I’ve come to realize the importance of sharing my story & experiences. Unfortunately, my own people have continued to turn their backs on me, unwilling to listen to reason. However, I am now more confident than ever that peace has always been possible with Jews. They have consistently extended their hands in good faith, & it’s my turn to return the favor.” I did that! So proud, and hope we can get him into more places to talk:

1c. Yoseph Haddad reports on the continued psychological terror inflicted by Hamas on the families of the hostages. “To this day, the absolute majority of the families of the 134 hostages do not know whether their loved ones are alive or not.”

Ahmad is sick and tired of watching the world hold Israel back from finishing off Hamas. “Israel has still not taken Rafah, still allows for Hamas to steal aid, while repeating the same mistakes. No more negotiations. No more aid if you can’t secure it for the people.
Take off the damn gloves and end this horror show.”

2. Bassem Eid writes this piece for Newsweek, where he takes his status as a Palestinian Human Rights activist, and details how awful Hamas has always been for the civilians. “The real victims of Hamas’s governance are the ordinary people of Gaza, who endure the consequences of their rulers’ bloodthirsty actions. The youth, facing unemployment rates that are among the highest in the world, see their futures evaporate in an economy stifled by mismanagement and artificially exacerbated conflict. The sick suffer from a health care system in disarray, with hospitals overwhelmed and under-resourced, in part due to the diversion of medical supplies to serve Hamas’s fighters and the repurposing of these healing spaces into military command centers.” He prays for Israel to free Palestine from Hamas, as do I:

3. Mira Fox writes about the new gorgeous blockbuster Dune 2. It was obviously written way back in the 60s, well before the existence of Hamas or the current war. However, she explains it is near impossible to watch this WITHOUT thinking of the current conflict.

“The parallel between Dune and the Israel-Hamas war is not, of course, perfect; after all, the book was written decades ago, inspired more by Lawrence of Arabia than anything in Israel. Unlike the Harkonnens, Israelis have deep historical and religious ties to the land. Unlike Hamas, the Fremen don’t bomb civilians, keeping to targeted strikes against mining machinery.” Hopefully, people watching this will realize those, and other important distinctions, but knowing how ignorant people are about the conflict, that’s likely wishful thinking:

4. Cindy Kaplan is not only a dear friend (and even related by marriage), she’s also a damn great writer. Talking about the depressing fact that it’s been 150 days since the October 7th massacre, she has the finger on the pulse of our despair and frustration. And regarding the many incidents worldwide of antisemitism, she describes how we are gaslit and told it isn’t that at all. “And the world tells us, no, this is not antisemitism. This is anti-Zionism, and we would punch Nazis for you, and by the way, we think you’re a Nazi which is why we can punch you, but actually, maybe the Holocaust didn’t happen, but can we still use the word Nazi because in the upside down logic of the last 150 days, nothing is real anyway except that Jews are bad.” Can you see why I adore her writing style?

5a. John Podhoretz wrote a great article a month ago that I missed, called “They’re Coming After Us”. If that title isn’t self-explanatory, that’s ok, because it covers an epic amount of information. He begins by discussing how Israelis have a different sense of insecurity, than all the years of attacks prior. Now it wasn’t “just” rockets and sporadic attacks, it was a boots on the ground invasion. “Israelis have the sense that, but for the slightest accident of timing and location, any of them might have been one of those hostages. And they hear the air-raid sirens, and they run to the shelters and do not do so in the almost lackadaisical way most of them did before October 7. The larger threat to Israel’s existence, and their own existences, has moved from the theoretical to the actual.”

He continues this thesis of an article, by discussing the spillover to us Jews who live “chutz la’aretz”, outside of Israel. On college campuses, in parades, on social media, everywhere we turn. “Put simply: Since October 7, Jews in America have found themselves targeted on college campuses, at the businesses they own and work at, at the shuls in which they pray, and in their homes and on the streets in a national onslaught that has no precedent in American history or American life. They’re coming after us.” Excellent:

5b. A month later Podhoretz writes a follow-up article, which serves as a bit of a post script, reminding everyone that the problems still lurk, and they are still coming after us. “And it therefore still behooves every American Jew to understand this tragic but undeniable fact: “Us” means all of us. No effort to separate yourself from the rising anti-Semitism will offer you a second’s protection when it’s you, or your children on campus, or your elderly parents who call the wrong Lyft driver. They’re still coming after us.”

6. Monica Osborne does it again, writing a compelling piece about the idol-worship of the anti-Israel crowd for Aaron Bushnell. We Jews consider suicide a sin, the USA calls it a legal crime, but those who already hate Israel call it a noble act of courage. “The irony is profound. Bushnell used fire and violence to protest the violence of a war that was started when Israeli families were burned alive by Hamas. But who remembers that inconvenient truth?” Monica quotes several groups and individuals who have been treating this man as the next coming of the Messiah. It’s pretty sad:

7a. The Persian Jewess has really impressed me with her ability to walk the line of both emotions and facts. I have learned fascinating history about Iran, and see how she feels about her safety as a Jew. With her worrying about her husband, a Jewish doctor, so soon after a Jewish doctor was attacked a few hours away, she asks if he will remove his Star of David necklace. His blunt response, “I’m keeping the necklace, and buying a gun.”

7b. She shares recently released details about the tragic murder of Dr. Benjamin Harouni. And while I don’t jump to conclusions about hate crimes, it certainly seems obvious that this needs to at least be investigated as one. My sincere condolences go to the family on this awful, and terrifying murder:

8. Rabbi Natan Slifkin writes about a heck of a cool and happy experience. Since it’s hard for IDF soldiers who were about to get married, but are now on duty, to still make the arrangements, a cool thing was arranged. A bunch of weddings at the same time side by side by side, in an airplane hanger. And Rabbi Slifkin was present for his nephew’s wedding, and reported it was awesome! “Held at Hangar 11 in Tel Aviv, it was a wedding like no other. At a line of check-in desks, guests’ names were carefully matched with the checklist, security bracelets were given out, the number for the relevant Chuppah was assigned, and color-coded kippot were handed out to all male guests. A thousand guests from the full spectrum of Israeli society were present – dati, secular, charedi, Ashkenazi, Sefardi, everyone. I don’t think that there has ever been a simcha with such diversity and unity…Entering the huge hall, there were ten Chuppah canopies lined up, each with 100 seats in front and an usher waving a giant board with a number on it.” Such a cool way to adapt to the craziness of life:

9. Rafael Medoff explains that Holocaust denial has not always claiming it didn’t happen, but can also rear its ugly head by saying it happened, but it was justified. Victim-blaming the Jews, such as happened recently by a senior member of Fatah, is something that Abbas himself has done. And it is something we see happening not just about the Holocaust, but ever since October 7th. “Abbas and other PA leaders have characterized October 7 as a “response to the occupation.” They have said the attack “did not happen in a vacuum.” They have portrayed Gaza as a “prison” from which Hamas was trying to “break free.” Every such justification is another way of saying that Israel’s own behavior was to blame for provoking the attack. In a sense, Abbas is being consistent: The Jews provoked the pogroms of the Middle Ages. The Jews provoked the Holocaust. And the Jews provoked the murders, gang-rapes and beheadings of October 7. That’s the common thread in all of his thinking on these subjects.” Very interesting analysis, and very hard to see how to move forward with people who actually believe such lies, and how to change those views:

10. Seth Mandel writes about how Joe Biden may not always be on the right side of his quarrels with Israel, but he might be the last old-school Democrat to unwaveringly be their ally, and not consider being anything but. “When Joe Biden retires, he will not be the last pro-Israel Democrat. But he may be the last of his kind of pro-Israel Democrat—the Catholic who proclaims himself a Zionist from the Oval Office and lectures his critics on the moral imperative of letting the Jewish people control their fate. Biden has spent decades, of course, getting into rows with Israeli leaders..It’s just that there seems to be one line that Biden cannot be pressured to cross, and that is forcing Israel to stop fighting when it cannot afford to.” However impressed I was with Biden at the start of this war, and disappointed I am at negative statements, as the war drags on, Mandel thinks he may be the last of his kind, letting Israel do what it needs to do:

11. Barak Ravid gives some blow by blow accounting of the new interview on MSNBC by President Biden. “Biden was asked if he has a red line in the Gaza war & whether an operation in Rafah would be such a red line. He replied that he has a red line, but emphasized he will not abandon Israel & will not stop the supply of weapons like Iron Dome so that Israel can’t defend itself.” The full video itself is provided in the comments of the thread, and my “Videos” section:

12a. Know the recent coverage on the people killed while trying to get humaniarian aid in Gaza? It turns out the main eyewitness used by the BBC is a known bad player. James Warrington writes for The Telegraph, “The BBC used an anti-Israel journalist bankrolled by Iran as a key source in its reporting on the Gaza conflict, it has emerged.
The report cited an eyewitness account from Mahmoud Awadeyah, who was described as a journalist on the scene. But it has emerged that Mr Awadeyah works for Tansim News Agency, an Iranian outlet with links to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which has vowed to destroy the Israeli state. In social media posts, the activist praised violence against Israelis and posted photos of himself dining with militant leaders.” Danny Cohen, previously the head of BBC Television, speaks out against their sloppy, anti-Israel journalism:

12b. David Collier did his investigative magic, and was the one who broke the aforementioned story. By that I mean, he did the digging, and found out the information on Awadeyah. “To blame Israel for the deaths the BBC Verify piece relies heavily on a Gazan journalist Mahmoud Awadeyah who tells the BBC that the Israelis fired at the civilians. But Awadeyah works for Tasnim News which is tied to the Iranian IRGC – Iran’s special armed forces.”

13a. Aaron Bandler reports on a bipartisan gathering, hosted by the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Several students from top colleges discussed their experiences with antisemitism. Furthermore, they focused heavily on incidents since the public humiliations of the Harvard, UPenn and MIT presidents now-infamously saying that genocide’s acceptability “depends on the context”. Columbia student Eden Yadegar says, “‘At Columbia University, the Jewish community is alone…We are ostracized, mocked, harassed, assaulted and scapegoated, simply because of our identities. Students have removed their kippot and Jewish star necklaces for fear of becoming a target on campus. We cautiously map the routes we take to class to avoid being yelled at, spit on, accused of committing genocide, or threatened by calls for genocide. We have received no support from our administration, and minimal from our non-Jewish professors and the majority of our non-Jewish peers.'” Good on them for speaking up, and for navigating through this hostility every day:

13b. Have I ever shared Bandler’s “Campus Watch” column he does regularly for the Jewish Journal? I really should each week; it’s such a great (but generally sad) window into the goings on with our college campuses. In short bursts, unlike my long winded, and likely exhausting column!

In this latest one, Dan Mogulof, last week shared in an interview with Phyllis Zimbler Miller, states that UC Berkeley is investigating the recent assault and battery that ensued, when a speaker who had once served in the IDF was prevented from ever giving his talk:

13c. John Ondrasik recently spoke at a StandWithUs event, and continues to be a champion for the Jewish community. He is extremely frustrated by the lack of more artists stepping up. “Ondrasik recalled the 2001 concert organized by former Beatle Paul McCartney at Madison Square Garden in which “every living icon in the music business was there to stand with New York and condemn Osama bin Laden … Where the hell are those people?” he asked. “They’re not 25 being brainwashed on TikTok. So the silence of so many of those — many of them who are Jewish —that was depressing.” He’s creating something that he hopes will bring some of these artists out from their shadows:

13d. My own interview with John, as it fits perfectly after Bandler’s wonderful article:

14. Shmuel Rosner speaks my love language in his homework assignment he completes in front of us. He takes Kamala Harris’s recent speech, and breaks it down line by line, to analyze the takeaways. ““Hamas cannot control Gaza, and the threat Hamas poses to the people of Israel must be eliminated.” This is a strong statement. It means that the U.S., at its core, still supports Israel’s stated aim of the war: eliminate Hamas rule. But how does one eliminate Hamas rule? By waging war. And what happens in such a war? People suffer…But here’s a question Harris does not answer: What would be the trade-off? I see three options. One – she believes that there can be less human suffering at no cost…Two – she believes that Israel can take more risks to its own soldiers, as it attempts to ease the suffering of Gazans. If that’s the case, Israelis beg to disagree…Three – she is willing to risk Israel’s ability to come out victorious from the war. In such a case, her “Hamas cannot control Gaza” part of the speech is less than genuine.” Great piece, and like Rosner, I have no idea how she or anyone expects them to basically win a bloodless war:

15. Abraham Wyner is a Professor in Statistics and Data Science at Wharton, and does something fascinating. He takes the numbers provided by Hamas on the Palestinian death toll (from their Gaza Ministry of Health), and actually does a mathematical analysis on how it can be even slightly accurate. Spoiler alert: He doesn’t see much of a way that it can be, and thus it’s all the more frustrating that everyone from news organizations to our own White House, continues to report as if they are:

16. Dan Schnur acknowledges that polls are flawed and ever-changing, but nonetheless they are telling when you observe a trend. And that pattern is not a good one right now, regarding American support of Israel’s action in Gaza. Not to mention their waning support of Biden during the war. “Biden might beat Trump this fall, but he will need to motivate young people, minority voters and other progressives to turn out for him…Most of these audiences have only been hearing one side of the argument for many years, because most of us in the pro-Israel community have been content to talk only to each other. It’s time to broaden our outreach to communicate with those who don’t already agree with us – a much less pleasant task, but a much more productive one.”

17. Tabby Refael writes an article about 4 amazing women, who advocate for Israel at this time. First she interviews Mandana Dayani, who she’s known since childhood. “The violence and targeting of Jews today is not activism. It is a witch hunt fueled by bots, propaganda, and an alarming mental health crisis around the world.”

She also talks to actress Debra Messing, one of the highest profile actors to continuously risk her reputation, to help support Israel. “I was taught that Israel is precious. I am a proud Jew and it is impossible for me to see the massacre of our people by a terrorist group and not scream out that it is wrong.”

Then there’s Noa Tishby, who moved from Israel to America, grew up a secular Jew, and has now become one of Israel and Judaism’s biggest advocates. “When people ask me how I’m such a strong woman, I literally brush them off and send them to my mother because she is the fiercest woman I have ever met. She’s never met a fight that she didn’t want to take on and it’s always for what she thought was right.”

Think my count of 4 was an error? It wasn’t. The fourth refers to none other than the journalist herself, Tabby Refael. “But day in and day out, women like Dayani, Messing and Tishby are battling antisemites and putting much on the line in defense of Israel and the Jewish people.” Yes they are, but so are you Tabby, with your constant columns written to help give voice to exactly this:

18. Aviva Klompas writes a powerful opinion piece for Newsweek, about the oft-discussed UNRWA, and how it needs to be dismantled. They don’t attempt to remove someone’s refugee status, in fact those numbers only grow over the years. They have helped Hamas as both sympathizers and operatives, in ways we have ample evidence of (thanks largely to Hillel Neuer and Eitan Fischberger). “For all their vitriol toward Israel over its treatment of Palestinians, the surrounding Arab nations have closed their borders to Palestinian refugees and refused to grant citizenship to the ones living within their borders. These include a half-million each in Syria and Lebanon, where they are not allowed to work most jobs and can’t receive any public assistance. Instead, these governments relegate their Palestinian cousins to refugee camps for generations on end. They shrug off responsibility by pointing to UNRWA, believing that by trapping families in perpetual refugee status, they can provoke global anger toward Israel. The notion that a different set of rules applies to only one people in the world is absurd. But that’s how UNRWA keeps its mission alive, its 30,000 workers on the job, and its billions of dollars flowing in from foreign governments.”

19. Shai Davidai continues to fight the lonely fight against his employer Columbia, where they seemingly continue to host antisemites and ignore their own Jewish students. “THIS is what I talk about when I call out the deeply institutionalized antisemitism at Columbia. A professor who signs a letter in support of a terror organization whose stated mission is to kill all Jews in Israel hosting an antisemite who compares Jews to cockroaches.” She’s fired from one school for it, but Columbia rolls the red carpet:

20. Matthew Schultz takes two steps back and sees something interesting. If the Palestinians were to get their own state, as the world insists, it would actually be terrible for Hamas. “Hamas has said this plainly, to the New York Times no less. Their goal is that “that the state of war with Israel will become permanent.” Statehood would be a disaster for Hamas’ cause. If the Palestinians had their own sovereign state, the world would have much less patience for their belligerence against Israel. They might still have allies among the radical campus left, who would agree that Israeli Jews must be cleansed from all the land “from the river to the sea,” but most people would see Palestinian statehood as the end of this long bloody story and would hope to never hear of it again…Hamas knows this. So long as there is no Palestinian state, their case against Israel remains open. Once there is a Palestinian state, it’s closed. For good.” Fascinating angle. No their actions do not deserve to be rewarded. But au contraire, making that concession would actually hurt them irreperably:

21. Bret Stephens wrote a powerful article for the NY Times, and since those have paywalls, this is a great way to share it, thanks to @wearetov. Essentially, it’s about the gross denialism of rape, depending on who the victim is. As he states in this article, without any doubt if the right wing Proud Boys group marched into a city and raped and murdered, there would be no progressives trying to poke holes in the logic or credibility of the story. The only difference here for those denying the facts, are the victims being ones they do not wish to defend:

22. Kathleen Hayes has a fascinating backstory. She was not only on the very left, but she used to angrily rally against Israel. Her life experiences have changed that greatly. Here she discusses the suicidal self-immolation of Aaron Bushnell. “This is a death cult, paralleling that of Hamas itself. And just as Hamas’ death-worship is both suicidal and homicidal, so this Western version threatens not only its followers but, most immediately, Jews.”

23. Simon Sebag Montefiore is a world renowned historian, who calls out the widespread ignorance of activists and journalists, when they claim Gaza’s death and destruction are unprecedented. In particular, he calls out an article by The Guardian, and says that we have seen examples of this happening in the Sudan, the Congo, and Darfur. Screenshots of his writing are shared by none other than Amy Schumer:

24. Kylie Ora Lobell writes the cover story for the Jewish Journal this week, and it’s about a man many of us have known for years in this community, Saul Blinkoff. He has worked on an incredible number of high profile movies and shows, as producer, director and animator. As a young man in his 20s, already with a successful career in animation, he became interested in his Judaism. He has never looked back, and continues to promote the positives of the religion, and inspire others to not hide it. He has even snuck in Jewish imagery to some of his major work.

He’s disgusted by the lack of public response by Hollywood since October 7th. “Along with fighting stereotypes, in the wake of Oct. 7, he’s been decrying Hollywood’s silence on Israel. “They always speak up if women aren’t paid as much as men, but they aren’t speaking up that women were savagely raped or murdered, or mutilated or raped as hostages. They pick and choose which causes to support.” What makes it even worse is when Jews in Hollywood don’t say anything. “I do think it’s disgraceful where Jews don’t speak up,” he said. “We just had the Golden Globes and not one actor, writer, producer, presenter or any of them said anything about the hostages in Israel. Nothing”:

25. Brett Gelman has gone from being a funny character actor, to Murray Bauman on the watercolor show “Stranger Things”, to being a one of the biggest and best celebrity voices in persistent support of Israel. As such, the backlash trickles and pours in. He recently published a book, and his book signing was cancelled here in L.A> for “safety reasons”.

He says, “It kills me that as a Jew, I’m conditioned to think that I need to apologize for being a Jew, for advocating for my people’s rights for my people’s humanity…We’re being dehumanized. We’re being scapegoated on all sides. We are the most gaslit people of all time.” Thank you for continuing to stand up for us, Brett!

26. Keren Setton reports on the frequently reported story of horrifying rapes on October 7th, and the response by the UN that makes snails and tortoises look quick. ““The fact that the Israeli government had to invite the UN to issue such a report, to combat such denialism, is egregious,” Herzberg told The Media Line. “It points to the lack of coverage of this issue by groups like Amnesty International Human Rights Watch and other women’s rights organizations. These groups should have been chanting this cause, which should not have been left solely to Jewish groups and celebrities.” It shouldn’t have been, but yet it was. Now we can just pray that the report actually makes a difference:

27. Hamza helps us understand that many protests of Hamas have come from within Gaza, but Al Jazeera being the mouthpiece of Hamas, completely ignores that key fact:

28. Rabbi David Wolpe writes a wonderful piece about the always-popular sport of Jew Hatred. “People hate Jews because they are communists, capitalists, foreigners, residents, immigrants, elitists, have strange ways, are unassimilated, too assimilated, bankroll the left (like George Soros) or bankroll the right (like Sheldon Adelson). People hate Jews because they are weak and stateless, or because they are Zionists and defend Israel.” It really doesn’t make sense for us to adjust for others, because if we pivot, they’ll simply adjust their complaints. He works at the Harvard Divinity School, and truly hopes things can turn back into civil debate, and away from the hate-filled attacks:

29. Lahav Harkov interviewed Ari Harow, who used to be Netanyahu’s Chief of Staff. It’s a fascinating interview with a man with a complicated past, who certainly has the means for great insight. When discussing the accusation that Netanyahu doesn’t care about the hostages, he says, “The only question that separates anyone on the hostage issue is the price they’re willing to pay. If Hamas said we will give you back all the hostages, but in return you have to abandon Sderot, nobody in Israel would agree to that. We wouldn’t give away land. We wouldn’t give away army bases. We all agree that there are red lines. Now it’s just a matter of what are your red lines. Netanyahu has zero political interest in the hostages not being brought home. He has every interest in bringing them home. I just don’t accept that premise.” He’s both critical and complimentary of the Prime Minister. He’s thankful and also disappointed by the international support that’s waning. A very insightful interview:

30a. Let’s get to another handful of great content by Fern. “They want us to think Hamas is fighting a war legally and morally, the way they expect Israel to fight, but they’re closing their ears to Hamas tactics, which include using recorded voices of hostages to lure Israeli troops into traps. (Normal countries protect their civilians by hiding them behind their weapons. Hamas protects its weapons by hiding them behind their civilians.)” Everything is backwards:

30b. I’ve shared her Sunday Round Up before, and I’ll share it again. Here’s a ton of short bursts of news, with sources:

31. Eitan Fischberger does a great job investigating a handful of people The Guardian has used for op-eds. Spoiler alert: they are ranking members of Hamas. Why are people being radicalized? For one reason, because mainstream media is taking hate groups like Hamas, and normalizing them; so you don’t even know you’ve been radicalized:

32. Benny Gantz met with Kamala Harris and Jake Sullivan, and it appears that the recent alleged deaths during delivery of humanitarian aid, was what pushed the White House past the point of support. “The official said Gantz wasn’t only surprised by the strength of criticism about the humanitarian crisis but also about how far apart Israel and the U.S. are when it comes to a possible operation in Rafah.” Barak Ravid reports:

33. Salo Aizenberg discusses an article making offensive claims that Israel is committing war crimes in Gaza. “Author actually admits IDF assesses each attack for proportionality contradicting its entire thesis! So where is the war crime? Author now fakes int’l law demanding perfection. So Israel is in fact following Geneva but not perfectly enough, as shown next.” He explains how this article is based purely on lies and errors:

34. A frustrating and anger-inducing story, that becomes cathartic by the end. Two high level comedians in Israel had their booked venues in Australia cancel on them after October 7th. Disgusting. But then this happened to Yohay Sponderand Shahar hason. “Sponder and Hason told the audience about the cancelations from Australia, and jokingly asked the crowd if anyone has a venue in Sydney or Brisbane. In a wild turn of events, an owner of a theater called Ritz Cinemas was actually in the audience and offered his venue to the comedians at a discount.” Reported by Etana Hecht.

35. David Suissa watched the Oscars, and like many of us, was saddened, frustrated, and angered by the acceptance speech by Jonathan Glazer. It only adds insult to injury, that he’s a Jewish man throwing Israel under the bus, with the wretched “occupy” word thrown in for good measure. To play the devil’s advocate, I don’t actually believe he was saying he “refutes his Jewishness”, I think it was modified by the next part of the phrase, which was the “Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation”. Regardless, the statement offends most of us Jews who do not see it as an “occupation”, who do not see us as “hijacking the Holocaust”, and who not appreciate being criticized for defending ourselves. A strong point that Suissa makes is about the passive versus active terminology used. “Notice that when he refers to the 1200 Israelis who were murdered, mutilated, raped and burned alive, he only uses the lame and passive phrase, “the victims.” But when he refers to Israel’s forced retaliation to prevent another Oct. 7, suddenly it’s an ATTACK.”


1. Hen Mazzig shares an audio recording, of a phone call between an UNRWA teacher and his friend on October 7th, bragging about bringing back a female hostage. What a wonderful UN organization:

2. Joe Biden was interviewed on MSNBC by Jonathan Capehart. There’s good, bad, and ugly here. The ugly is that he misspoke and confused Iraq and Afghanistan with the Ukraine. Brain fart, okay. The bad is that he does have a red line, and invading Rafah is on that list. There is certainly good though. He will not stop giving support for the iron dome, he will not stop supporting the idea that Israel needs to defend itself, and that Hamas needs to be stopped, and that the hostages need to be released. The rub is, connecting the dots between getting to those goals, but also doing it in a way that Israel actually sees as practical and realistic. I was amused by his refusal to answer whether he’s in discussion to talk to Israel’s Knesset. I’m not naive, and I’ve always been aware that he cannot given unwavering support indefinitely, as it could lead to a direct evicition from his White House, but it’s still depressing and worrisome to watch the consequences play out:

3. Elise Stefanik shared a video of her talking to students experiencing antisemitism at prominent universities. Here we hear from Shabbos Kestenbaum talking about his experiences in Harvard in the aftermath of Claudine Gay leaving, and Talia Khan describes being gaslit at MIT when support was given to her school’s president:


1. Amy Sapan talks to Matthew Schultz on her “October 7” podcast. To be honest, it was really cool to hear someone I share the articles of so often (Matthew), being interviewed by someone I’ve recently enjoyed talking to (Amy). Speaking of worlds somewhat colliding, this creatively named episode, “Quantum Zionism”, touches on the Jewish multiverse, towards the end of the episode. Overall, they just talk, and go through dozens of topics, and as I’ve recommended before, this is a good podcast to add to your list:

2. Phyllis Zimbler Miller interviews the parents of the tragically killed Israeli soldier, Ori Shani. I recently quoted the words of his cousin, my friend Daniella Platt, about how they are hoping to raise the money to build a library in his memory. Here you get to see and hear from Ori’s parents, learn more about him and his story on October 7th. It is a beautiful thing that they will get joy from others reading books about history and science, to help make the world a less ignorant, and better place:


Tiffany Haddish is far and away one of the biggest stars to be sticking her neck out for Israel. A lead actress in movies, a woman of color, and going to visit Israel recently, with all of the pressure of the world against her doing so. People in Israel were thrilled to have her. She took photos wherever she went, and whether or not it affects her career, time will tell, but our esteem for her as a human, and someone who deserves to be thanked, is not in question. Thank you to the hilarious, and thoughtful Tiffany.

She posts lots of Jewish content on her Twitter/X feed, showing how proud she is to be a Member of the Tribe. Look how excited she was to announce she was going to Israel:

Follow her here:


Zaka is an organization that I hear my Israeli friends and family refer to, with awe and respect. They perform among other things, search and rescue, emergency response unit, and “Chesed shel emes”, which is the unit discussed heavily since October 7th. They carefully help clean up and collect the dead bodies, with the utmost dignity. “For over twenty years, ZAKA Tel-Aviv has been the elite emergency response unit of central Israel, serving in over 21 cities across the country with thousands of volunteers, and is recognized as a civil extension of Israel’s emergency services and the only emergency response unit authorized to operate in central Israel.” Read more about them, and donate here:


1a. They love me! They really… Wait, nevermind. Thanks The Daily Brine: https://www.instagram.com/p/C4Ek9WnNT0r/

1b. Oh that’s clever. And the UN deserves all the mockery coming its way and more:

1c. This would be a creative way to protest us:

1d. It’s dark, and I like it:

2. L.E. Staiman’s alter ego Lyle, will “help” debunk the idea that gays are unwelcome in Gaza. Enjoy!

3. Shawn Eni strikes again, with his fantastic Unofficial: The Mossad IL account. Did you know that the IDF has been scrambling GPS networks, to help defend against the missiles from Lebanon? Look at the hilarious side effect:


1. Would any other country on the planet be expected not to use force when rockets are fired at their citizens like this? No, Israel is special, and apparently is supposed to just let this happen. Post with short videos of the amazing Iron Dome system thanks to Eylon Levy:

2a. Matisyahu had yet another concert canceled this week due to protests and pressure, with the BS excuse of safety. I’m highly impressed by 2 notable musicians in particular, who I’ve highlighted in past weeks for their standing up for Israel. Disturbed’s David Draiman, who wants Jews everyone to speak up:

2b. There’s Five For Fighting’s John Ondrasik, who refuses to play at this venue in the future, and encourages the same from others:

2c. I’m going to share this interview I did with John yet again, because it’s so damn good. HE’S so damn good:

3. You just had to know that the Oscars would involve some disappointing politics. It pretty much always does, and in a year as divided about the Middle East, what did you expect? Aside from the Jewish filmmaker who referred to the “occupation”, though at least he did also acknowledge October 7th, many were wearing Ceasefire red pins. It appears that the story BEHIND the red hands is less peaceful than you’d hope. Explained here by @wearetov on Instagram; it’s quite bloody in fact:

4a. Your weekly reminder not to get used to the Hamas-provided death toll as a holy number. Aside from it being proven to be full of lies, it doesn’t separate civilians from intended Hamas fighters. And if we want to believe Hamas tells the truth, let’s also believe that Israel tells the truth, in which case almost half of the deaths are Hamas soldiers. However you spin it, it’s important to understand more clearly:

4b. Uri Kurlianchik shows a recorded interview, where the Hamas official says it’s nearly impossible to count the deaths in Gaza during the fog of war. And yet they do somehow anyway. Hmm:

5. Let’s open a Holocaust Museum in Amsterdam. And then instead of a ribbon cutting ceremony, we’ll have a Pro-Palestinian mob out front. Sounds like a plan:

You know what movie I saw that was great…
Just kidding. If you follow my updates at all, you’ll know something absolutely wonderful happened. My unit called a “Code Blue”, and on our floor, that often means a false alarm, since thankfully we are not the ICU nor ER. However, it was immediately evident that this was a real code, as people were grabbing the “crash cart” and running to the room. I entered to find the charge nurse doing chest compressions to a patient, and I immediately offered to take over so she could help ensure the right people were there, in her managerial capacity. I then continued the CPR, giving chest compressions until the “code team” entered the room, at which point I remained to assist.

My first time doing CPR in 11 years as an RN, and the best part was, he survived, and I got to speak with him. There’s no competing with that this week.

Adam saying goodbye to Liam
Adam saying goodbye to Natalia
Adi taking Adam and Malachi to the airport, for their journey home


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.

Did you enjoy this article?
You'll love our roundtable.

Editor's Picks

Latest Articles

Defining Terms in the Middle East

The reckless violence in the Middle East is deeply disturbing on all sides, but the fog of inflammatory rhetoric only obscures any path to a resolution.  A few definitions may help.

More news and opinions than at a
Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.