Chosen Links – April 1, 2024

Articles, Threads, Videos and More about Israel and Antisemitism
April 3, 2024

This weekend my family had the pleasure of going to my nephew Adin’s Bar Mitzvah. If you think this can’t possibly tie into my “Chosen Links” topic of Israel or antisemitism, wait until you hear about his incredible mother and aunt.

My sister-in-law Karin was planning her son’s Bar Mitzvah, while reeling from the recent events of October 7th. She felt strange planning a party, while so many friends and relatives were living in bomb shelters, or were called up to fight. She wanted her son Adin to feel ready for his Bar Mitzvah, while so much was happening in the world that he and most others were thinking about. He is a highly mature (now) 13-year-old, and is affected by this as the rest of us are.

She made some calls, and got on a Zoom chat with people in Israel, trying to see how they could do something meaningful, and helpful. She was told that the people who REALLY needed healing, were the survivors of the Nova music festival. Those people went to this multicultural, peaceful festival to rest their minds and souls, and instead they were at the epicenter of the biggest Jewish tragedy since the Holocaust. To say that those “lucky” enough to survive had PTSD, would be an understatement.

To most people in the world, that would be the end of the line. It’s too big of a mountain to climb, and perhaps you give a donation to a helpful cause. Karin has met uphill battles before. Years ago, she wanted a religious Jewish school for her children in Irvine, and was told she was crazy for trying to start her own. Almost a decade later, Irvine Hebrew Day School is thriving, Karin is co-founder, and her kids received exactly the sort of education she was hoping for.

She immediately called my OTHER sister-in law, Rikki, “We need to help the Nova survivors” Karin exclaimed. Rikki, one of the most wonderful do-gooders you’ll ever meet, a devoted mother of three, and a natural caregiver – if my parents need help, she might book a flight from NY to LA within minutes – immediately began to collaborate with Karin. They started to make calls and send emails to see what could be done, and who could help make it a reality.

They wanted to create a retreat, something safe and healing for those very survivors. Funding would be necessary, and also an unusual challenge. These survivors would need to be treated with kid gloves. The idea of them receiving publicity, which would sadly turn into people protesting and screaming at them in this upside-down world, would be awful for their psyche. So, Karin and Rikki realized they needed to find help, fundraise, get a location, and figure all of this out, while keeping it a secret from the general public.

At a certain point people would know that Nova survivors were having an event, but the names, location and dates would have to be kept under wraps – at least until the event was over, and the coast was clear. If you’ve ever been involved with fundraising, you’ll realize what a huge uphill battle this was. To this day, they are about $40,000 short of what they need to raise, to complete the crucial therapy they are providing after the event.

They needed a way for donations to come through, while being tax deductible, for an event coming up quickly (it happened in February). Craig Dershowitz from Artists 4 Israel (the organization that created the pro-Israel version of the “In This House” sign that sits on our lawn), offered himself as Orot’s “fiscal sponsor”, where donations could be sent. So, you’ll notice when you click the link, that you are (correctly) redirected to Artists 4 Israel, but the earmarked donation goes to the right place. I strongly encourage anyone reading this, to give a tax deductible donation to this incredible cause, before continuing my story:

Camp Ramah in Ojai stepped up, and became the wonderful location for the retreat. They had space for 120 survivors, and when the application process went live, Karin and Rikki had to close the website three hours later, because 500 had already applied. These wonder women got some incredible people to volunteer, most notably:

-Limor Ness, who was very involved in supporting Nova survivors since October 7th, and who has a wonderful place you can visit in LA called Kfar Saba Urban Farm.

-Adi Davis, an Israeli attorney who has done a lot of humanitarian work overseas, and since October 7th has been highly vocal after her best friend was taken hostage.

-Miriam Wolf is an LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) who specializes in the treatment of trauma victims of sexual assault.

-Nachum Peterseil, who was in charge of the wonderful music at the retreat. He brought the equipment, and the other musicians such as Shep Rosenman, and really took over that crucial role (music was so important for the event).

-Rabbi Yonah Bookstein who was the spiritual leader at Orot, and wrote this about it:

-Sepideh Makabi, a documentarian who volunteered her time to support filming at the retreat.

-Michael Mike Canon spent every day at Orot filming the event, and putting it together into a beautiful short film that we gathered to watch together with Karin and Rikki on Purim night. We couldn’t be prouder:

Orot’s week at Ramah happened beautifully. People cried, laughed, sang, danced, painted, talked, and plenty more healing still needs to occur. Most came as strangers, and many left as friends. While I did not have the pleasure of being there, I was and continue to be in awe of Karin and Rikki, who moved mountains to make this happen for 120 wonderful people. And I am extremely grateful to Kylie Ora Lobell for writing this huge story, and David Suissa for putting it on their cover:

On Shabbat, just before Purim started, my nephew Adin did a fantastic job with his Bar Mitzvah. The entrance of their shul continued its recent tradition of displaying place cards for the hostages, and he read the story of Amalek – one of many times in Jewish history where they attempted to eradicate us. Another instance of attempted genocide was Haman in the Purim story, which we listened to that night. Adin reminded us during his speech, that we have gone through hell and survived, and even thrived. We will do it again. It doesn’t hurt that his mother and aunt used his life event as a catalyst to move mountains, and help heal some shattered lives.

To donate – https://www.orot-healing.org/
Video of the experience – https://vimeo.com/926304003
JJ cover story – https://jewishjournal.com/cover_story/369434/the-nova-survivors-dance-again/

Time for this week’s “Chosen Links”…


1. If I publish an article, you can safely assume I will share it. Does that count as nepotism, when it’s me about myself? Nah, just narcissism.

So thus before I start, I’ll share this essay that opened my “Chosen Links” a few issues ago. The intro was printed as a standalone article in the newest print edition, and is about Adi’s brother Adam returning back home to Tzfat, where the north is ramping up just as the south is trying to write its last chapter. Not exactly the best situation for a tour guide like him:

2. Seth Frantzman writes a really fantastic thread, giving a perspective that hadn’t occurred to me. Have you noticed that the countries that host terror groups often seem to get rewarded with international support and notoriety? Qatar is known to be housing and supporting, and using its media to talk up Hamas. Qatar hopes that America is pushing for a ceasefire. Frantzman explains how ironic, when you realize that they could have created a ceasefire in the weeks after the hostages were taken, before Israel even stepped foot into Gaza. Many countries supported Hamas, and many more support the countries that support Hamas. “People in Gaza have an impossible situation. They were sold to Hamas by basically the ENTIRE international community…more countries back Hamas controlling Gaza than back the Palestinian Authority. When extremists get all the backing and moderates don’t, then that is why there is terror and October 7.”

3. David Collier continues his master class in investigative journalism. This time he digs into a recent BBC Verify story that utilized three Arabic speaking journalists, and three people giving their testimony from inside Gaza. Want to know how many of these six he found proof of, with outright hatred of Jews and Israel? All of them. “These are the people the BBC rely on to create the BBC Verify reports. This is how the lies go mainstream and antisemitism spreads. We fund this!!” It’s crazy:

4. Gil Troy writes a fantastic letter to President Biden, imploring him to stop caving to those advising him to put the pressure on Israel, and continue to back them as he has been doing all along. He’s not just saying this because it’s what he wants, he’s saying it’s smart strategy for his own campaign and the United States.
“Let’s face it. Anyone who has already called you by that ugly libel, “Genocide Joe,” ain’t coming home. Stop thinking you can woo them back. Mobilize the Democratic base and the Jewish community to push back, to defend American values, and save your campaign from getting upstaged by a vicious, undemocratic, anti-American minority that nevertheless has found a home in today’s Democratic Party.”

He also thinks this turnaround against Israel will only help the chances of Trump winning, and Bibi to stay in power:

5a. Nachum Kaplan writes a very interesting article about the need to change the culture of hatred against Jews and Israel, if there is ever to be any sort of peace there. “History teaches us that political systems are as strong only as the culture that supports them…An acceptance of Israel, and a willingness to live peacefully with Jews, would make all sorts of constitutional arrangements possible. The world remains oddly fixated on a two-state solution, despite it having failed as an approach for decades, and despite Israelis and Palestinians not supporting it. Superior options exist.”

He gives a suggestion for something different to achieve, a confederacy between Israel and the Palestinians. He lays out the groundwork and pros and cons over a two-state solution, but he agrees none of this can happen without first changing the culture:

5b. “That is how Hamas has done it. It is a stunning, if somewhat dystopian, achievement.” Does that (spoiler alert) last line of Nachum’s article intrigue you? It should. Now go back to the start, and read up on how Hamas has nefariously, and yes cleverly have made the PR world their personal playground.

He gives plenty of background, and several examples, and then this. “They have used a pure inversion strategy. This involves telling lies that are the precise opposite of what is true. This allows Hamas to claim that Israel and (those shifty) Jews are lying about everything.” And then after this is my favorite part, where he lists each claim that they invert, explaining the lie versus the truth. Great piece:

5c. This made me want to go back and reread this incredible article from months ago, by Gary Wexler. It remains one of my all-time favorite articles I’ve read and shared since starting this. Nachum explains their tactics, but Gary tells you what happened on the ground floor, like an episode of Homeland, in which he was present. Just read this, trust me:

6. Benny Morris gives us a great analysis of a terrible NY Times Magazine article. “Indeed, the underlying narrative in…“The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and the Long Shadow of 1948,” is that the Palestinians have always lacked agency and have no responsibility for anything that has befallen them over the decades. This, plus a welter of factual errors and misleading judgments, has produced a seriously distorted description of the history of the first Arab–Israeli war and its origins.”

The article Benny breaks down, involves six voices discussing the history of the conflict. They should be six experts on the topic, right? Apparently not, he says. “The drift of the Times article is that the innocent Arabs of Palestine just sat back and watched, as suffering victims, as the Zionists, Israel, and some international actors, principally Great Britain, did their worst. This is pure nonsense.” He goes through the history of the conflict, tells you what was said, and explains what was factually incorrect. Nicely done:

7a. Rabbi Avi Weiss writes an article about Chuck Schumer speaking out, in a demand for Israeli elections. Tweeted by his grandson, who I’ve shared many times before, Eitan Fischberger helps give some juicy highlights, because the article has a paywall. “This is Schumer’s M.O. When voting with Israel, he looks to the right and left to make sure it’s the politically safe decision to make. His courage is often punctuated with cowardice.” Shots fired, he really lays into Schumer not for what he said recently, but for his years of being less than impressed by him it seems:

7b. Eitan Fischberger goes back to the well, where he managed to break open the UNRWA Telegram story, and he saw the breaking news about Israel arresting an Al Jazeera journalist. So, he did some digging, and found out that, yep, this guy was also bad news.

“The orchestrator of this psy-op invested considerable effort to conceal al-Ghoul’s connections to Hamas and his malevolent beliefs. They recognized the importance of meticulously shaping an image that aligns with the standards of “respected” news sources like Al Jazeera. Ultimately, they transformed a Hamas operative into an ostensibly “legitimate” journalist, yet whose primary goal is to disseminate Hamas propaganda and demonize the State of Israel, whether through his reporting or now, by elevating his status to that of a martyr following his arrest. Judging by the public response to al-Ghoul’s arrest, it’s evident that their strategy was wildly successful.” Evidence provided within the thread:

8. David Suissa discusses Chuck Schumer, the highest-level Jewish politician in America, pro-Israel, but saying what most Israelis are insulted to hear. Suissa explains that although Schumer did backpedal slightly since then, this is only bad for us Jews in America. “In any case, people will take away that Schumer pushed for Bibi to go, that he’s against the relentless war track and that he thinks Israel should start thinking of a peace track. All of that is fuel to Jew haters.” Anything that emboldens Jew hatred is bad news:

9a. “The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) ended early an official visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia after authorities required the USCIRF delegation to leave the Diriyah UNESCO World Heritage Site in Riyadh when the USCIRF Chair, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, refused their requests that he remove his religious head covering (kippah).” That’s right. A meeting in Saudi Arabia, where they invited a group that’s about religion, rejects the guest to practice freedom of religion. Rabbi Abraham Cooper turned around and left:

9b. Jacob Magid reports on the incident, with a response by Saudi Arabia blaming this incident on a “misunderstanding of internal protocols”. Phenomenal apology, can we be besties now?

10. Hillel Fuld just finished a trip back to see friends and family in America. His thoughts after, are that of a man who’s lived in Israel since childhood, wondering how bad things have to get in America before people will say they have to leave. He uses the story of Egypt as an example, where he says 80% chose to stay and not wander the desert (I hadn’t heard this previously).

“What has to happen? Meaning, if I put a gun to your head and said “You either get on a plane to Israel within the hour or you and your family are dead.”, clearly you’d be on that plane. Which means that you don’t think what’s happening today constitutes a gun.

So then what does?

Antisemites in congress?
Antisemitic pop stars?
Antisemitic NBA players?
Antisemitic actors at the Oscar’s?
Jews being beaten in the streets?
Jewish institutions being attacked and vandalized?
Jews being singled out and scapegoated?”

You see where he’s going with this impassioned post:

11. It’s good to see we Jews are finally getting some representation, considering these guilds so often “pass over” us (see what I did there?)

And I appreciate that this article acknowledges those many who disagree with DEI in the first place. Gregg Simon states, “Some Jewish DGA members were initially hesitant to come forward for fear of reprisal in the industry, as well as over skepticism about the purpose of a diversity committee. “There were many people who ultimately signed this petition who asked, What if we don’t think DEI is right? What if we prefer an industry that is more based on meritocracy and the values it used to be based on?” he says. “Our answer is, right now that’s not the world we’re living in. If you don’t have a seat at the table, you don’t have a voice. By being part of DEI right now, at least we have the power to work outward from within.” Unless DEI goes away, which I doubt will happen especially in the arts, I hope to see more places do this at the very least. Rebecca Sun reports for the Hollywood Reporter:

12a. Tatiana Siegel writes for Variety, reporting on the angry response from many Jewish members of Hollywood to the Glazer speech. Over a thousand had signed as of her writing this article. “After Glazer spoke, he received applause at the Dolby Theatre, some of it enthusiastic like from “Poor Things” star Mark Ruffalo. But the speech became a hot topic in the industry over the ensuing days, with many privately expressing outrage. But few were willing to publicly criticize Glazer’s words outside of Michael Rapaport (a signatory of the letter) and Mayim Bialik, who did so on social media.”

It also includes the letter that was signed, and the list of signatories. I’m always extra inclined to share articles by mainstream sources, or progressive outlets when they are helpful, as I don’t take positive media for granted:

12b. Brian Fishbach also discusses the story, and writing for a Jewish paper, I appreciate that he added the response by “The official X account of the Auschwitz Memorial in Poland”. That made me curious to read it directly, and see that they really didn’t want to take away from the powerful movie itself.

12c. Down the Rabbit Hole I went, reading this tweet from the Director of the Auschwitz Museum, which I refer to above, where he just doesn’t want to condemn nor get into it about the speech:

12d. And contrast that statement with this article by Richard Trank, “the principal writer/director of Moriah Films, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s film division”, in an article for the Hollywood Reporter.

“Upon hearing Glazer’s words, I thought about the assistant camera operator who has worked on three of my films, and whose 79-year-old father was kidnapped. This man had been spending his retirement years volunteering to drive Gazans needing medical care into Israel, care which Hamas could not provide for them despite billions in aid that has been sent to the area since the terrorist organization took control of it in 2006. I thought about the young people I have met in the last few weeks who survived the massacre at the Nova music festival. And then I reflected on this incredibly arrogant man who equated Israeli Jews to Nazis, and then left the Dolby Theatre with his statue when the awards show ended to party the night away.” I understand why each representative of their Holocaust memorial centers chose to speak the way they did, but I just don’t have the patience for politicking; and Trank’s essay better represented my own feelings:

13a. Thane Rosenbaum is sick and tired of members of our own tribe who are anything but our allies. We can be our own worst enemies, and that is simply the last thing that we need right now, when we feel more alone than ever. “Just over the past several weeks, Sen. Bernie Sanders has called for the halting of aid to Israel, and Sen. Chuck Schumer called upon the Israeli people to oust their premier. A noted economist at Columbia University charged the United States with complicity in genocide for arming Israel with aid. A film director receiving an Academy Award denounced Israel. Vice-President Kamala Harris’ stepdaughter raised money for UNWRA on Instagram.”

On the other hand, he explains that there have been amazing allies who have come from the non-Jewish sector, and we should appreciate people who are there for us. “Robert Downey Jr. is not Jewish, but he openly wears a chai. Paul McCartney, Jon Voight, James Woods and Bill Maher have long stood beside the State of Israel. Cindy Crawford, Amy Smart and other non-Jewish celebrities have recently taken to Instagram to proclaim their support for Jews and rejection of antisemitism. ”

13b. Thane Rosenbaum recounts the depressing tale of the Black community and Jewish community leaving its history of linking arms side by side with MLK, to what it is today. He gives several examples of prominent Black celebrities and leaders, who have been blatantly antisemitic with their words and actions. I appreciate him recognizing those who have been the exception, but it’s very depressing to know they are anything but the norm:

14. Brian Fishbach reports on a really cool story, not about the Oscars, but about how the pro-Israel community of Beverly Hills was able to do something immediately AFTER the show. The Vanity Fair party is always the number one stop for A-listers after the awards, and it was at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. Two producers wanted to make an impact, and so Matti Leshem and Lynn Harris (who are married), realized the building across the street was owned by another pro-Israel person, and got permission to display huge images about the hostages. My favorite part of it all was how impressive Beverly Hills and its former mayor Lili Bosse were in expediting the red tape.

“The logistics of the projection weren’t even complete until late Saturday night. The problem? A technicality in the Beverly Hills city code could have prevented the projection of the hostage images altogether. “We just had this issue with the Beverly Hills City Council because they really, on a technicality, couldn’t issue a permit to us,” Leshem said. “And I have to say that [Councilmember] Lili Bosse, who is just a champion for Israel, called a special meeting of the city council…I made my presentation to [the city council] and there was an hour-and-a-half worth of people calling in support of this project,” Leshem said. “It was incredible seeing democracy at work. And of course the city council unanimously approved the special permit. And so now on Oscar night, which is Hollywood’s most important night, the most important stars in the world are going to be pulling up right across the street. And they’re going to be reminded of our 134 hostages in Gaza, which is what this is about.” I love when good things come together:

15a. The Persian Jewess writes powerfully, as she always does, about her family’s life experiences living in, and eventually fleeing Iran. She is fed up with people who barely live Jewish lives, standing up and starting off proclamations with “As a Jew”, and then completely misrepresenting most Jews. In particular, “I have yet to see a Middle Eastern #AsAJew. That’s not a coincidence. Many “western” Jews have spent generations living in the comfort of tolerant democratic societies…We don’t need to “hijack the Holocaust” to justify the existence of Israel. Our own lived experiences are MORE THAN SUFFICIENT to justify the existence of Israel. And we know, without question, that the Jewish State is all that stands between a life as persecuted Dhimmis and a life as Free Jews.” Like I said, she always writes powerfully:

15b. Here she tells the story of how important Purim was to her. Other girls could be the usual queens and princesses from stories, but she never fit in, nor did she relate to those icons. “I’d put on my prettiest dress, let down my brown hair, plop a plastic crown on my head and OWN my role as one of the greatest female icons in history. “My family is from Persia, like Queen Esther,” I’d tell my Hebrew school class with pride. And for once, I wasn’t on the outside looking in.” This goes further than storytelling though, as she relates it to the Hamans of this past century, with the Nazis and then Radical Islam taking the role of our greatest antagonists:

16. Hannah Brown gets to profile Daniel-Ryan Spaulding, and it’s so great to get this behind-the-scenes look at one of my favorite Israencers (if Mark Twain had combined “Israel Influencers” into one word like that, you’d call him brilliant, but when I do it, it’s just lame!)

Daniel discusses his purple-haired girl videos, where he deliberately created a character who needs to have things explained to her by a Mister Rogers type. And he has loved the opportunities it has created to meet the families of hostages, and other amazing Israel spokespeople:

17. David Litman does an incredible deep dive for CAMERA, dissecting an article by CNN. With great detail, he breaks down the topography, the violence, the laws for engagement. What he finds, is that their single worded condemnation, lacks any journalistic integrity.

“Consider what the authors had to do to reach the conclusion they did: that the IDF “indiscriminately” bombed the warehouse, committing an “atrocity.”

The authors needed to disregard the IDF’s statement in its entirety. They also needed to disregard several statements by their own witness, al-Hinnawi. They similarly needed to disregard the abundant evidence of Palestinian terrorists operating in the vicinity around the time of the incident. They needed to assume that even though the warehouse was built in the middle of one of Hamas’s most important strategic sites, the terrorist organization was not operating in the vicinity. Meanwhile, the authors needed to assume everything that Sumaya Abu Jibba said was entirely accurate.”

CAMERA is the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis, and I thank them for their important and exemplary efforts:

18a. Brianna Wu continues her fascinating analysis of antisemitism, and geopolitics, all from the perspective of an intellectually honest Progressive, who feels disgusted by so much of what she sees from Progressives. Here she discusses scary things that have come to light since October 7th. “It showed that a terrifying number of leftist Americans will support literal terrorists if they target Jews.
And it showed that while will never agree with Republicans on deeply divisive cultural issues, their moderates are more committed to democracy than our extremists. So maybe we should try talking to them more.” She’s desperate to find people who are willing to just be reasonable:

18b. Here Brianna goes through the times that Israel was willing to make a formal peace with the Palestinians, giving their own state. “The constant theme through all of this is a rejection of an autonomous state is the fever dream of Israel stopping existing and Palestinians taking it back. The most fundamental tenet of peace is both sides have to desire it. Israel is willing to come to the table. Why won’t the Palestinians?”

19. This might be my favorite essay yet by Rafael Medoff, and that’s a high bar. “In the 1930s, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union both violently persecuted their Jewish citizens, even as the two regimes went back and forth between being enemies and being allies. The Germans oppressed Jews and Judaism in the name of Aryan racial purity, the Soviets oppressed them in the name of working-class solidarity. Even when Hitler and Stalin hated each other, they never stopped hating Jews.”

No this isn’t a WWII history lesson, it’s about today. Medoff gives us three examples of blatant antisemitism from the right and left, and challenges you to deduce who said what. It goes to show that we are getting it from all sides, and hating us is the one topic they can often agree on!

20. Kylie Ora Lobell updates us about the recent Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) survey, which interestingly shows both fear and pride increasing on college campuses. “73% of them feel they are “less safe” on campus. It also showed that 81% say it’s important that they use their voices to stand with the Jewish community on campus.”

21a. Dan Schnur continues his great analysis of Israel’s politics through the American lens. This time about Chuck Schumer, who clearly has his reasons for taking a huge swing at Netanyahu from his position as an American politician. He explains that this only created more support for Netanyahu within Israel, even from those who dislike him. And it certainly created a new reason for Republicans to jump down his throat. But Schnur explains that he would have realized all of this, and still took a calculated gamble in doing this. “Schumer is smart enough to have anticipated precisely this reaction. His dissatisfaction with Netanyahu is genuine, heartfelt and wrenching: His objective was certainly not trying to throw Bibi a political life preserver. But he did it anyway, recognizing that a short-term gain for the Israeli leader was a worthwhile tradeoff to lay the groundwork for more lasting change in the Middle East.” The question remains, if Schnur is correct in his reasoning, whether this will pay off in the long-term in any way. Certainly most of us Zionists were quite upset when Schumer said what he did:

21b. Dan Schnur discusses how much more of an uphill battle we have with social media spreading the news, versus the old days of traditional media. “The traditional political and media gatekeepers, while not always consistent in their support for the Jewish state, usually provided some level of protection against the angriest and most deceitful critics of Israel. But those gatekeepers no longer possess the power they once held, so the ugliest verbal attacks can now move rapidly into the public conversation.”

One of my favorite things about connecting with most of those I have been sharing, is that when they start to write about each other, I feel like I’m reading about my friends. “There are some — Zioness on the left and Bari Weiss’ The Free Press on the right, newly emerging voices such as We Are Tov and others — who possess the courage and savvy to confront these challenges on the digital battlefield.” I’ve connected with the people behind Zioness and @WeAreTov, and have been dying to finally talk to Bari Weiss. They have each been doing their parts, as does Dan Schnur, as do I. All we can do is try:

22a. Eve Barlow finishes with this distraught tweet, “Via the lens of the last five months I have come to understand that the loudest progressives have become completely incapable of employing big picture thinking due to an inability to separate reason from emotion, and that the emotion at that is extremely shallow. There’s no capacity for exploration of ideas, just performative empathy.” Her reason for doing so, is not solely because of feeling let down and betrayed by an entire swath of movement, but she is trying to proactively show how great progressive voices CAN be, when there IS an exploration of ideas, when the reason IS separated from emotion. She highlights the wonderful Brianna Wu, “who truly understands online disinformation and smear campaigns”, as well as Dr. Einat Wilf, who consistently disseminates excellently analyzed information:

22b. Here Eve pleads with the multitude of people who are doing exactly what Hamas, and Iran as the puppeteer behind them, are trying to get them to do. “Non-Jews, you may not think you support Hamas, but your actions benefit Hamas…Criticism of Israel is not the same thing as holding Israel to a double standard in this war and de-contextualizing the toughest things you’re seeing that are being fed to you to make you do exactly what you’re doing.” Sadly, this double standard against Israel and Jews has always existed, and now rears its ugly head more brazenly than we have seen in our lifetimes:

23a. Salo Aizenberg uses his expertise at Honest Reporting to show that reports of starvation being rampant in Gaza have been manipulated, and exaggerated. Some reports show it as already being widespread starvation, others seem to be speculating that starvation will become an issue this summer. Like so many other things this war, the reports and numbers do not add up. “Since the beginning of the war Israel has facilitated the entry of 222,580 tons of food into Gaza – that means 1.22 lb/0.55 kg of food per person per day for 165 days of war for every person Gaza. Yet the blood libel of intentional starvation persists…There has been no evidence of children dying from hunger. Only “source” is Hamas “Ministry of Health” who claims 27 children died of hunger with zero evidence. The only tragic photo shown of “starving child” actually died from disease, not literal lack of food as claimed.”

The one thing I could not find within his excellent post is the fact that Hamas has been consistently stealing the food brought in as humanitarian aid. I can see in the math how reports of starvation are wildly inconsistent. I can see how the numbers being relied upon, like the death tolls, are coming from Hamas itself, and thus taken with a grain of salt. I can also see that Israel is actively attempting to provide aid in good faith. But it’s crucial to point out that what happens with the food brought in has been hijacked by the very organization that utilizes these civilians as human shields. Thus, missing from the equation, are how many people are actually receiving this food from the self-serving hand of the Hamas leadership. Excellent and important post as usual though:

23b. Here Aizenberg lists “key aspects of strategy which forces IDF to act with destructive force”. In other words, things Hamas strategically are doing to ENSURE maximum civilian casualty to the Palestinians they are supposedly fighting for. Just one of many key examples, “Important buildings constructed over the years were planned in advance, meaning in original construction drawings, to have tunnels & shafts underneath, including new wings at Shifa Hospital, Indonesian Hospital & UNRWA headquarters. These were not simply all built afterwards.” The magnitude of that statement should speak for itself. They BUILT the hospitals to attack from them.

And on a smaller, but still significant scale, “Hamas gunman did not just choose any apartment to fire at IDF forces, of course not. Turns out a mother and children were in adjacent room – human shields. Gunman was killed and civilians were taken out safely by IDF forces.” At least that one case no harm was done to the civilians, but that obviously isn’t always the case:

24. Jeff Lax is a professor in the CUNY system, and has been dealing with them trying to make his life miserable, while he exposes their antisemitism. They started an investigation against him, and didn’t even inform him for MONTHS that he had been totally exonerated. I can’t even imagine being a proud Jew, no less Zionist within a liberal college system these days:

25. Matthew Schultz uses Instagram to nicely show how “all eyes on Rafah” has really been a way to dangle some shiny keys, so that the world would watch Israel instead of Hamas. A massive amount of Hamas is there. Much of their leadership is there. And it’s no coincidence that they have done this under the cover of civilians:

26. Dave Harden writes a fascinating analysis, about if the new Palestinian head Mohammad Mustafa can actually be effective. The overall answer is no, he’s too close to Abbas, and so many other reasons. But rather than just write him off, Harden comes up with things that Mustafa CAN do, as an unlikely roadmap to success. “To demonstrate seriousness now, Mohammad Mustafa can: Appoint a well respected minister of finance; Launch a community policing initiative; Improve the ease of doing business; Focus on basic reading, math and critical thinking skills in PA schools.” In particular, the finance minister must be unconnected from Abbas, whose stench follows him wherever he goes:

27a. AP recently awarded a first place award to a freelance journalist who photographed Shani Louk’s defiled, naked body being paraded around like a trophy. Most have found rewarding such a thing to be reprehensible, and certainly questioning how complicit this journalist likely was, to be present at this barbaric scene.

Photographer Abbie Sophia creates something beautiful out of something horrific. She creates a series of awards to six different photographers who captured images from the festival and attack, minus the exploitation. Included was Roee Idan, who was murdered that fateful day:

27b. Fascinatingly, the father of Shani Louk defends the decision to award this photo, because he wants the memory of what happened to her to never be forgotten. He wants this photo to be something that is remembered for generations. And if you think I’m going to voice disagreement with the grieving father of this beautiful German-Israeli victim, you’re out of your mind:

28a. Ayala Or-el writes about my friend Roman Sandler’s book that he wrote for his daughter Shira. He wanted a way to be able to discuss what’s on all of our minds, without it being in hushed whispers. And his daughter and many others have appreciated being included. It was promoted online by none other than Mayim Bialik, and that helped get unexpected sales, and also unexpected hatred. “While many purchased the book, which was also translated into Hebrew, others seized the opportunity to label it as Jewish propaganda. The level of animosity, Sandler said, caught him off guard and left him feeling overwhelmed. Here he was, endeavoring to explain the situation to his daughter and other children, and some sought to distort its message. ‘It’s very painful for me that a book I wrote for Jews of all backgrounds turned into a political thing and to hate.’”

28b. Considering people have been trying to cancel Roman and his book, I encourage anyone who buys it to also leave a review to counter the negativity:

29a. Aaron Bandler with his weekly important Campus Watch, for the Jewish Journal. It’s always a bunch of quick hits from around university campuses worldwide:

29b. Campus Watch for March 28th:

29b. Oh heck yeah. The socially liberal part of me may take issue with many things about Texas, but I love that the governor is enforcing far stricter safeguards on Jew Hatred on its college campuses. An executive order for each university to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism, is seemingly huge. Instantly affects some of these pro-Hamas student groups that cause so many of the problems for Jews in these schools. What I really hope is that this will be copied by all the rest of the Red States, with some Blue ones to follow. But maybe that’s wishful thinking:

30. Shmuel Rosner explains the two things happening at the same time that are somewhat at odds with each other. America needing Israel to not create a larger humanitarian crisis, with more deaths. Something inevitable if they enter Rafah. And Israel needing to finish off Hamas, removing them from power, something that can’t happen without entering Rafah. Thus, the two countries are on a collision course. “Because right now Israel has a problem. Its ability to deter its very real enemies is built on several pillars, two of which are at risk. One is its ability to decisively defeat an enemy – and this ability is currently limited by the US. The other is its alliance with the world’s most powerful country – and this alliance currently seems more fragile than it used to be. In other words: If Israel can win the war without the U.S., this might be enough. If Israel can keep a strong alliance with a formidable U.S., this also might be enough. Losing both is the worst option.”

31. Cindy Kaplan discusses the Jewish holiday of Purim, where the miracle was that we overcame our genocidal enemies. But she challenges the idea that that was the miracle. Instead, she explains the special nature of being allowed to be Jewish. Being recognized and seen and given respect as Jews. Something we can identify with today as lacking. Wouldn’t it feel miraculous right now to be believed when we say we are attacked? Wouldn’t it be a miracle to be given the same latitude as every other nation under attack?

“What I wouldn’t give for a miracle like in the days of Purim! A decree that says, “You know what, if someone tries to kill you because you are Jewish, you have the right to fight back.”…The world letting Jews be empowered to fight back against those who wish to eradicate us feels like such a far-fetched idea right now. An impossibility…The miracle of Purim is that we were given official permission to exist.”

32. Shaiel Ben-Ephraim analyzes things carefully, and gives intelligent insight into the strategy of war and peace. He pisses off many on this thread by saying that Israel and Netanyahu have screwed up during this war. But that just makes it all the more interesting to me, as I learn nothing from an echo chamber and thus delve into interesting, reasonable spaces.

He explains that Biden is pushing very hard for a ceasefire and 2 state solution, and ultimately this is his takeaway. “Israel should use this opportunity to get permission to go into Rafah and destroy Hamas in return for willingness to end the conflict right after, and enter a process towards a two-state solution and normalization with Saudi Arabia.”

33a. Fern gives her immaculate Sunday Round Up, for Day 163, with tons of quick hits full of sources. Imagine my post, but without all of my word vomit:

33b. Fern loudly calls out the hypocrisy of the protestors around the world who have been focusing on the grey area of Israel/Palestine, while not saying much of anything about the clear cut atrocities happening elsewhere.

“Sudan is not the only example. There are 7 million displaced in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), 6 million displaced or fled from Afghanistan. 50,000 Christians butchered in Nigeria. 700,000 murdered in Syria. 1.2 million dissidents executed in North Korea. Half a million Yemenite civilians murdered by Iranian-axis Houthis. 2+ million Muslims in Chinese internment camps, tens of thousands forcibly sterilized. And that’s not even counting women murdered for not wearing hijab in Iran. There are tragedies happening worldwide, for years. And you’ve been protesting! No?” Nope, they haven’t, and they won’t. Only Israel deserves their wrath:

33c. This is lovely. Somehow, even after the massacre, Israel is still ranked as one of the top happiest places to live in the world. Their resilience is something to admire, though to be totally transparent, it’s based on a 3 year average so each of the next 2 years will tell a truer tale:

33d. Fern’s next Sunday Round Up, which is so full of events you will have overload from the helpful info. Day 170:

33e. Fern is frustrated by the United States abstaining the UN ceasefire resolution, and so am I. “And how do you think Hamas is going to understand the message you sent them? Since you don’t seem to have anyone there who can tell you, I’ll take the liberty. Hamas just heard you say: “Israel must engage in an immediate ceasefire. And golly gee whiz, we sure hope those hostages will be ok.” (Hamas publicly welcomed the UN decision.)”

33f. Fern’s latest amazing Round-Up, Day 177:

34. We spend so much time talking about the Gaza Ministry of Health, but don’t worry, their Ministry of the Economy is equally disgusting. They are the ones who organize the food distribution to the Gazans, aka they are the ones who steal the food from the Gazans. “That’s why Hamas claiming that an Israeli hostage died due to the lack of food and medicine is such gross propaganda because Sinwar & Hamas’s fat cats are certainly not starving in their tunnels & hideouts. If Hamas wanted to take care of Israeli hostages, they absolutely could.” Ahmed Fouad Alkhatib explains:

35a. Sarah Tuttle-Singer does what Sarah Tuttle-Singer does so damn well, and makes us feel her words. She’s sick and tired of the war. She hates Netanyahu. And let me remind you she’s very left-wing. And yet that doesn’t add up to the same conclusion that every left-wing person OUTSIDE of Israel seems to come up with. If that equation added up to a ceasefire, an end right now to the war, then you are probably not living in the Jewish homeland. Because most who live there, come up with an entirely different conclusion.

When someone who’s proven to be capable of murder and rape TELLS you they will murder and rape again and again, the potential victims tend to believe the threats. As Sarah says, if there was a reality where stopping the fight meant stopping the actual attempted genocide, she would be all in. But instead, she and all peace loving Israelis are left with the wish for this damn war to end, but the need for it to continue:

35b. She reacts as any sane human would to the world not believing the sexual assault of Jews, and then giving accolades to one who photographed the celebration of it happening:


1. Bari Weiss finishes her media tour of Israel with this fantastic interview with Haviv Rettig Gur. “We’re strong, and we’re taking care of our own, but imagine the scale of cruelty that you would need for the strategy to build hundreds of kilometers of tunnels, creating a city of tunnels 60-70% larger than the entire London tube system under Gaza. They did this so that if we ever come for them, we will have to cut through the civilian population… The crime of Hamas against the Palestinian people is an order of magnitude larger than that against us.” Strong stuff:

2. Ari Lesser just released this new music video for Purim, and it’s great. The main chorus is cute, “hamantaschen look like hats, that’s why we eat them”, but before you think it’s just a cute kiddie song, think again. While watching him dance in the desert with friends, he uses the story of Haman trying to eradicate the Jews, to sing about the history of those many who TRIED to wipe us off the map, and we’re still standing. So Hamas…ain’t gonna succeed either. Thank for shining some educational beats our way, Ari:

3. Ritchie Torres, who I’m excited to talk to next month, was interviewed by Marcia Kramer, and was asked to comment on Chuck Schumer calling for a new election in Israel. He gives a very interesting response. Because Schumer is a Diaspora Jew, that brings up the larger question of whether Diaspora Jews have a right to publicly weigh in on the domestic politics of Israel. And he says this is an ongoing debate within the Jewish community. Judging by the response, this debate has not abated. Shared by Jacob Kornbluh:

4. This is fantastic. It will offend some people who are pro-Israel. It will offend some people who are pro-Palestinian. It will offend ALL people who are pro-Hamas. Ahmed Found Alkhatib has become one of my most unexpected, wonderful, personal contacts. Since finding him and sharing his words on X, we have had great conversations offline, and I value sharing his insight. As I’ve discussed with him, there are those I share on the right, and those I share on the left, and most that I share somewhere in-between. He is one I share who is highly critical of Israel, but it’s actually his honest criticism of EVERYONE that make him so compelling. This is a Palestinian man who not only has family in Gaza, but MANY have been killed in the war. Rather than just blame Israel as most would certainly do in his tragic shoes, he assigns tons of blame on Hamas as well. Rather than simply call for an end to the violence, he calls for the hostages to be released. Rather than thank their allies in the ceasefire marches, he breaks down why so much of the Western pro-Palestine movement is actually either naive or self-serving, and actually functions AGAINST Palestinian interests.

He has an incredible interview with Yasmine Mohammed, both of them non-religious Muslims, both of them in sync with their disgust of Hamas, as well as the current PA regime. Both of them striving with great self-sacrifice, to build bridges with not only Jews but even Israelis and the rest of the world to find common ground, and work towards a common peace. He does not think a right to return is realistic or helpful. He is a huge proponent of air drops to aid Gaza, and avoid the greedy hands of Hamas. And yes, he considers the settlements in the West Bank to be highly problematic, and a massive obstacle to peace. But if you throw him out because you disagree with one detail, then you are not interested in finding common ground. Because there’s so much already there to be found, against all odds. And the only time he even said the word “apartheid” was in reference to how the Palestinians are treated in LEBANON, not Israel. So again, this is nuanced thought and reasoning, and I strongly recommend this interview. The first hour is between the two of them, and the rest is him answering questions to the listeners on Zoom, which is also worth hearing. He’s providing hope to many of us that there may be a path forward, through the rubble:

5. Hillel Neuer does a really good interview on the news about UNRWA. He explains that their main goal is to keep the Palestinians as refugees, and his organization UN Watch has a primary goal of monitoring the UN, and bringing these awful actions and inactions to light:


1. In another case of my worlds colliding, Ariel Jalali is my brother’s friend from high school, and I’ve known him, his mom and sister for decades and decades. He has become one of the most well-spoken authorities on AI, and has been speaking up since October 7th when he sees the technology being utilized to assist or counter propaganda. He also is the one who gets credit for connecting me with my now-friend Ahmad4ISRL. During a trip to Israel, he joined Amy Sapanand Dor Komet on their “October 7” podcast, which I’ve shared a few times before. A wonderful conversation about humanity and AI ensues. They are both extremely well spoken, and the conversation flows wonderfully, even just discussing if Amy and Dor should continue making more episodes of the podcast:

2. Ailsa Chang hosts “All Things Considered” on NPR, and talks to Avidor Schwartzman and Daniel Estrin. I listened to this on my drive home and it’s only 5 minutes but well worth the listen.

It goes through some human-interest stories, from people in Israel who are affected in ways you don’t often read about. For example, a survivor who’s living out of his temporary place, still not settled nor home. And it goes through the ways Israel has changed since October 7th, including the unification of the right and the left in their common goal:


Jennifer Jason Leigh was in “Fargo” this past amazing season, as a woman you do not want to cross. She was the mother of an autistic teenager in the Netflix show “Atypical”, where Israel’s biggest loudmouth defender Michael Rapaport played her husband. And she suddenly joined the toxic world of social media, on Instagram specifically. Why? Because she felt the need to stand up for Israel. Whoa.

This is an amazing actress since the 1980s, still highly relevant and active today, who values her privacy. She isn’t posting red carpet photos, or pics of her latest foodie night with rich friends. But she couldn’t be quiet any longer, as a Jewish woman witnessing the world tear down Israel, and Jews, not to mention posters of hostages.

She signed the letter against Glazer’s speech, she speaks up to bring the hostages home, and I thank her and encourage everyone to start following her new official profile, which as of now has less followers than some of you. So it WILL make a dent:


My friend who goes by the stage name Exodus will be one of many performers, at this fun, meaningful and informative night. This event will spotlight musicians performing about Israel and antisemitism, using their musical talents for a great cause. Use this link to RSVP, and if you so desire even sign up to join the open mic portion, men and women alike. Hosted by Erez ‘diwon’ Safar:


This section is an offshoot I’m creating of the “For Your Consideration” section. That’s usually charities, and ways to help that take time and money. This is a really easy section, where you can take less than a minute to actually be helpful. So do it:

1. The Orthodox Union is planning to hand deliver 180,000 letters on April 3rd, to commemorate the 180 days since the hostages were kidnapped. So click the link and sign this letter to President Biden, and try not to think about how many trees will be chopped down to print them:

2. This is brought to my attention by an extremely close friend, Marni DeWitt. There’s a grassroots group, a general “Voice of the California Jewish Community” who she has assisted in creating an important petition to send CA Governor Gavin Newsom. If you have been reading the news, he released a strongly worded proclamation of support to the Muslim community recently, and this petition is highly respectful of that, but requesting certain key measures be taken ASAP to protect the Jewish community.

I particularly like that they really covered their bases here, recommending the IHRA definition of antisemitism, and imploring a change to the disgustingly anti-Israel new school curriculum. As with any petition, numbers matter if we want it to be taken seriously, so let’s get it done:

3. Nikon is the main sponsor of the photography award, that went to the freelance photographer, who was there as they paraded Shani Louk’s defiled corpse. How about we sign this petition to make Nikon speak up, hmm?


1. Tabby Refael cracks me up with her latest piece, this one a highly sarcastic tutorial about how to “plant seeds of hate this spring”. Full of bon mots like, “For more information on how to order limited-edition seed packets, please call the Gaza Ministry of Ballistic Missiles and Horticulture at 011-970-8-YAY-HAMAS” and also, “we feel obligated to remind readers that despite our multiple efforts, the following materials were not found to be compostable: ripped-down posters of missing Israeli hostages (the paper was too glossy); American flags of all sizes”. The Jewish Journal is seriously lucky to have her on staff, she’s a really damn good writer:

2a. Wait, don’t just read that recipe, understand that Israel is evil so you know context or something. Another good piece of satire by The Daily Brine:

2b. And a happy St Patrick’s Day to you, too!

2c. Oh, snap! Absolutely true:

3a. This is so on point by Shawn Eni’s Gaza Ministry of Health parody account. A real poster, for an Arizona drag show for Palestine. Like chickens for KFC, my goodness:

3b. Great answer from them, to the already funny post by Open Source Intel:


1. Hell yeah! My new friend Ahmad has spent a few different visits with me in LA, and this most recent one he started with me in one place of worship, and finished his trip in another. “The first Saturday, I ushered in a new week ending Shabbat in prayer. Then, the following Saturday, I felt a spiritual awakening while praying at B’nai David Judea Congregation, followed by a Shabbat lunch with amazing people. As always, @boazhepner has been a constant source of goodness in my life, a guardian angel.” I’m honored to be making a helpful impact on my new buddy:

2. David Makovsky gives us an important update about Ramadan. “The good news often going unreported — 120,000 Muslims worship at Al-Aqsa today as 2nd Friday Ramadan prayers in a row pass peacefully.” He shares a Times of Israel staff article that expands on the update. “Police said there were “no unusual disturbances,” however, they noted that there had been attempts to “spread fake news and false stories on Arabic social media” in an attempt to incite violence.” So there continues to be deliberate attempts at disinformation.

3. Ahmed Fouad Alkhatib explains that Russia and China vetoing the US resolution is not about their subtle disagreements, or actual integrity. “It is a cynical & manipulative attempt to use the Gaza issue for Great Powers’ competition & score settling at the expense of a pragmatic approach to stop the war and release the hostages.” So don’t be so impressed:


This one is pretty darn obvious. Celebrating my nephew’s Bar Mitzvah with all of my siblings and in-laws, most of their kids (missing Max, Darius and Judah), delicious food made by family member Carina Campos who refused to let this be catered, welcomed by the warm and lovely community of Beth Jacob Congregation of Irvine, and getting to watch the Orot video with my wonderful family.

Sitting with Rikki and Karin, aka Rosie the Riveter, Purim night.
Karin and Rikki showing us a cut of the Orot video that Michael Canon created.
The “name card” display at the back of their shul, honoring the hostages
From right to left – Karin, Rikki, Limor Ness and Adi Davis, being serenaded on the last day of the retreat.

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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