Chosen Links – May 21, 2024

Articles, Threads, Videos and More about Israel and Antisemitism
May 22, 2024

There’s no great option. Not for me. Not for my family. If I turn to my left, I see gray-headed flaws. If I turn to my right I see orange ones. And wherever I look, my friends, family and followers seem to assume I’m OBVIOUSLY making the correct decision, and going their way. But, am I? What to do?!

I’m politically homeless. Always have been. But more than ever, I’m feeling it these days. Although we aren’t in sync with every political stance, my wife Adi feels the same way. We’re both feeling stuck in the middle. Although I used to just call myself a moderate, that’s never actually been accurate. It was the easy, lazy way to describe myself, since I don’t fit into the template of any political party. Let’s break a cardinal rule of “how to keep friends”, and be brutally honest with my politics.

I’m extremely socially liberal. I’m a product of my British parents, and especially influenced by my mother, who spoke about these things passionately. So I grew up with a bleeding heart, and to this day have not changed most of those attitudes:

-Abortion? Let the mother choose. Other than late-term, I’m about as pro-choice as it gets. A teenager made a dumb choice, and wants to end the pregnancy? I don’t have a problem with that.

-Vaccines? Wait, when did this become a political issue? Oh right, COVID. Well yeah, I’ve kind of gone on the record about this – if the scientific and/or medical community sign off on something, I’m all for it. I take the meds, the tests, the vaccines, the screenings. If it’s good enough for my own doctors to recommend, it’s good enough for me. Same goes with anything “science” based, so just add climate change and evolution to this mix. There are always exceptions and outliers to cherry pick from, but if the general consensus is one direction, I’m happy to oblige. And for the record, I have the luxury of working in a hospital, so when I do have questions, I have experts to ask in person, and have done so for years.

-Gay marriage? Do you KNOW how many friends we have from every letter on the LGBTQ+ acronym? I want everyone to be able to marry whom they choose, and enjoy every legal benefit that I’m afforded as a straight person. Look at our wedding party and you’ll already know this was rhetorical; there were several men and women who represent the letters of that acronym. Yes, we have several – yes several – near and dear trans friends. So we’re fiercely protective of the rights and feelings of our loved ones and their communities.

-Capital punishment? Nope, I would sooner allow the family to get revenge “Dirty Harry” style than have the system execute people. By the time we get around to the executions, these people are on average 23 years older, some have likely repented; and even if not, I don’t believe in a system that enforces the mob frothing at the mouth for “justice”. There is no justice for the victim of rape or murder. The person who committed those heinous acts absolutely deserves to die. And if they could have been killed to prevent it, I 100% find that to be common sense. Judaism backs it up certainly. But once that person has been captured, separated from society, and gone through the red tape, I just don’t feel right about us strapping them down for execution. I would rather them be separated from society for the rest of their life, and let the morality of what they did be sorted in whatever afterlife there may or may not be, depending on your spiritual beliefs. And although Judaism “believes” in capital punishment, there are famously so many guardrails to prevent it from actually happening, that its, umm, execution, was as rare as a Giant Panda on the streets of Beverly Hills.

-Gun control? I’ve seen how much less murder and accidental death occurs in England. No I can’t give you the stats, but it’s not even close. Sure there are stabbings, robbery, and murder. But it is so much easier, both physically and mentally, to pull a trigger, than kill someone another way – intentionally or not. And seeing countries where only a small percent of police carry guns (batons and pepper spray do the trick), so almost nobody else in the country does either – that’s always been my unrealistic dream for our gun-loving society, where it’s built into our very constitution. Or so I hear on repeat.

Those are the “big” social issues that come to mind. I have never had any formed attitudes nor opinions about inflation, taxes, or pretty much anything fiscal. And I’m all for capitalism rather than socialism or communism.

So why am I not an outright Democrat? What makes me politically homeless? The other half of me, will always be a proud Zionist. Shouldn’t matter, but sadly that doesn’t fit today’s liberal paradigm. Let’s look at my conservative side:

-Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI)? Maybe this was well-intentioned, I can’t know that answer, but the execution of it is simply anti-intellectual. We are taught to see the world with a critical eye, and things should be gray – not black & white. But yet DEI lumps everyone into either 1 or 2 worlds – oppressor or oppressed. This is how people are taught to see others. Long gone are the days where we were asked to stop stereotyping and categorizing others. Now you look at a color palette or Kinsey Scale to see one’s skin tone and sexuality, and we judge you as oppressor or oppressed. And Jews have, as usual, come up on the wrong end of the barometer. We are all white apparently. Let’s just ignore the inconvenient truth that more than half of Israel is non-white. Forget the fact that Jews are proportionally the top hate crime victims in America by a landslide – we fit into the category of oppressor. Ironically, the very same groups who are first to defend the rights and labels of the non-binary, see the world in this totally binary way.

-Iran? Have you ever noticed that the vast majority of Iranians/Persians who you’ll meet are fans of Israel? Obviously the Jewish ones, but also Christian and Muslim Iranians. They escaped for a reason, and pine for their country to return to what it was once upon a time. People often don’t get that our enemy is the Iranian government, and we are on the side of the Iranian citizenry. When I have patients who are Muslim, I will sometimes sense some hesitance, as they see my kippah. When I have Muslim patients from Iran, they often see my kippah and exclaim, “WE LOVE JEWISH PEOPLE, WE LOVE ISRAEL, SALAM ALEIKUM!”

The biggest global threat to Israel is consistently Iran. As mentioned, not the citizenry, but their government since the 1979 revolution. As a result, I was out there on the front lines protesting the Iran deal during the Obama era, with Adi and our friend Mike. And one of the guest speakers was Reza Farahan from “Shahs of Sunset”, a non-Jewish Iranian gay man, who said if he was still there, he would be hanging from a rope just for his sexuality. Why is Iran the BIGGEST global threat to Israel? Because most terrorist groups you see attacking it, are Iranian proxies.

-Egypt + Jordan? Many people forget this fact. Until the Abraham Accords, the only countries to have a “peace treaty” with Israel were these 2, which was ironically a direct result of their attacking Israel, and subsequent defeat. Yes, war with Israel led to its most successful peace treaties since 1948. Both countries are still hateful in their rhetoric towards Israel. They never miss a chance to snipe at the Jewish state in all of the ways these university encampments are doing, but they are still maintaining the peace. And that’s crucial. This leads us to…

-Israel? I love it. The way I love America. Flawed. Some governments worse than others. What would we Jews have done without its independence, 3 years after the horrors of the Holocaust? As I tell people who bother asking, do I like every administration there? No. Is it a true democracy? Yes it is. For some reason when people are mad at America, they target the wrath on that administration, and don’t start saying the country itself should be destroyed. But Israel is treated uniquely. When people don’t like what the government does, it’s suddenly a Nazi state, and should be dismantled. Long gone are the goals by peace-lovers around the world for a 2-state solution. Now it’s Intifada, and “From the river to the sea.” Peace for many means goodbye Jews, and a government that would act more like Iran than America. Which brings me back to the purpose of my essay.

In case it’s not obvious, I’ll spell it out for you like a sports matchup. I worry about my friends and family in Israel (winner: Republican), and I worry about the rights of my daughter to one day have the right to choose what happens to her if she becomes pregnant (winner: Democrat). I worry about Iran being given billions to build nukes at a slower pace (winner: Republican), and I worry about the atmosphere and world created for LGBTQ+ friends (winner: Democrat). I worry about the binary nature of DEI shoving Jews into the white oppressor camp (winner: Republican), and I worry about the world literally falling apart from climate change (winner: Democrat).

You could read that, and disagree with some or all. And you can find examples of Democrats who are extremely pro-Israel, and you can find Republicans who are extremely pro climate change prevention. But the general party system is undeniably gravitating towards its extremes. The base of both camps have historically been moderate. But recent years, and in part the indoctrination of social media as a news source, has altered the next generations of society. We were taught to strive to be intellectually curious, but instead are now radicalized in our ignorance. As such, the political parties that I never fully could get behind, have become even more polarizing. They try to appeal to the moderates, but also to the extremes. Good luck with that task.

If people who identify more as socialist than Democrat protest against Israel, they will be coddled by many Democrats, even if they burn American flags and vandalize property in the process. Oh sure, the heads of the schools will say that they shouldn’t be crossing the lines into illegal activity, but they will also say that their points are well taken. If people scream that the election was rigged, or that vaccines cause more harm than good, they will be coddled by many Republicans, even if they are vandalizing, and comparing doctors and scientists to Nazis. They will say their points are well taken.

Does every group with a loud enough opinion merit such coddling and validation? I know Republicans have no problem saying these anti-Israel protesters are horribly antisemitic and even anti-American, but why can’t Democrats? I know Democrats have no problem saying that election-deniers are dangerous conspiracy theorists, but why can’t Republicans?

I still think Biden has done far, far more good than harm for Israel. But he’s also done some pretty terrible things, such as allowing the UN resolution to pass (a page out of Obama’s handbook on his way out of office); refusing to send previously agreed upon weapons (have a disagreement in private with your allies, don’t embolden your mutual enemies); and for every incident and speech that brings up antisemitism, always needing to throw in Islamophobia, which is its own form of “all lives mattering” about us Jews.

I also still think that what Trump did with the Abraham Accords was monumental, creating a “normalization” peace with a whopping 4 countries (United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco), something that stalled as soon as he left office. But he’s also done some pretty terrible things, reinforcing a complete lack of sensitivity to people who are not only LGBTQ+, but really just anyone who disagrees with him. On more than one occasion, basically questioning the loyalty of any Jew who doesn’t vote for him. You shouldn’t have to feel bullied into voting for someone, you should just want to do so. An incredibly non-presidential quality.

So thus, my wife and I remain politically homeless. Well aware that we will cast our votes this November 5th, and as usual, it will be less about who we like, and more about which octogenarian pisses us off less.

wildpixel/Getty Images

And now a disclaimer before I give you this week’s “Chosen Links.” By prioritizing some time with my family, and not getting this out weekly like I was doing as a crazy person, I have even more material researched and ready to share. But there’s only so much I can fit in a given week. These digests cap out at about 10,000 words, and ask any journalist – THAT’S LONG! So this time around I’m sharing all of the things I’ve had saved OTHER than the articles (my largest section) for weeks. Tons of great material and causes, including my Spotlight of Jason Alexander, as seen in the accompanying fun photograph. On that note, read on, because these are all great links!


1. The invasion of personal property played out dramatically, at Erwin Chemerinsky, the Dean of UC Berkeley School of Law’s home. As a proud Iranian woman, Tabby Refael was just as offended by the disrespect it showed by a guest to their host. She’s also baffled by the brazenness of the act, and trying to imagine it happening the other way around. “Isn’t it amazing that…a group of other virulently anti-Israel students not only believed that their presence at the dinner would be allowed, but felt perfectly safe attending dressed in Palestinian keffiyehs as well? Let’s imagine that during a non-Ramadan period, whether a group of Jewish students who were known to be part of a Berkeley Law School pro-Israel group had attempted to register for a dinner at the home of a Muslim dean who, just last week, had been the victim of an Islamophobic caricature…it would have been extremely inappropriate for those hypothetical flag-wearing pro-Israel students to have attended a dinner in such a manner…Why did anti-Israel students feel safe and entitled enough to ruin a dinner at the dean’s home?”

2. Matthew Schultz brings up a great subject that I so appreciate – an analysis into what he calls the “As a Jew” members of our tribe. You know, the people who speak out against the injustices of Israel, chaining themselves to freeways blocking traffic, and saying they are Jews against Apartheid. Really warms the cockles of the rest of the Jewish nations’ hearts. “They are anti-Zionist. They accuse Israel of genocide and liken the IDF to Nazis. They oppose Israel’s right to exist and defend itself. And they want you to know that they do all this as Jews. When Jewish director Jonathan Glazer framed his condemnation of Israel as a matter of Jewish principle, he became the poster child for this new archetype. There’s also actress Cynthia Nixon (“as the mother of Jewish children …”); Chuck Schumer (“I speak as a member of a community of Jewish Americans …”); Wallace Shawn (“Jews say ceasefire now!”); and many others.”

These people think they’re doing “Tikun Olam”, but from the perspective of Zionists they are described a range of ways, from merely misguided, to ”kapos”, the nastiest of Jewish insults (basically a race traitor). He suggests the reason behind it by saying, “The as-a-Jew Jew pairs condemnations of Israel with references to Jewish identity because, for him or her, the two things are one and the same. To be a good Jew is to condemn Israel.” And he pulls it all together under the discussion of the Passover seder’s discussion of “The Four Sons”. Any prediction which son he thinks they are?

3. Kathleen Hayes writes a great piece, about the world using the Holocaust against us. “Another way of considering the issue of Holocaust guilt, by the way, is to see it as a source of never-ending hostility against the Jews — for burdening non-Jews with guilt over what was done to the Jewish people. As Howard Jacobson writes in a brilliant essay, “When Will Jews Be Forgiven the Holocaust?” the answer to his titular question is “Never.” “Those we harm, we blame,” he observes, “mobilizing dislike and even hatred in order to justify, after the event, the harm we did. From which it must follow that those we harm the most—we blame the most.” And while Germany is the most immediate bearer of this guilt, Jacobson suggests the feeling is universal. Jews prick the world’s conscience, and the world resents it. This includes the left, which nurtures itself on gratifying myths about its part in that seemingly Manichean era known as World War II. Our people were the bravest and best fighters against the Nazis, they say; how dare anyone say we have a problem with Jews?” Stop making us feel guilty for trying to exterminate you! Why do you use our trying to exterminate you against us? You’re so manipulative! You deserve whatever’s coming your way! It’s childhood logic, being used by scholars, politicians and journalists:

4. Hen Mazzig got into a news debate with an extremely anti-Israel journalist, Owen Jones. Among the allegations of genocide, and deliberate starvation, there was the aforementioned trope of Holocaust Guilt. “Setting aside the unethical weaponization of one of the worst atrocities in all of history, in other words, Owen Jones is saying: never mind that thousands of Jews were butchered, beheaded, burnt alive, slaughtered, raped, dismembered, shot, tortured, kidnapped and held in captivity for the last 6 months – those people don’t count as humans, those atrocities mean nothing, and any response to get back our hostages is completely illegitimate because Jews have no right to defend ourselves. Therefore, any support for this right—as well as the fight to dismantle the local arm of the biggest terrorist machine in the Middle East— can ONLY be explained by guilt over the last Nazi genocide.”

5. Sarah Tuttle-Singer asks a very simple hypothetical. She asks everyone protesting Israel to imagine what happens if they get their wish. If Israel disappears, and it becomes a single Palestinian state, what actually becomes of those Palestinians? The answer isn’t pretty. If you want to help the Palestinians, Hamas in charge is simply not your answer:

6a. Kylie Ora Lobell reports on Congresswoman Sydney Kamlager-Dove voting “no” on a resolution to condemn “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” as an antisemitic phrase. This is a politician who has visited Israel, who has a history of showing support to Israel, so this is not exactly a Squad member doing what they do. Her response to the article not only didn’t make me feel any better about her decision, it only frustrated me more so. “‘From the River to the Sea’ has a complex history and has been used by malign actors from the PLO and Hamas to Prime Minister Netanyahu and far-right Israeli ministers. When said in the context of denying self-determination to Jews or Palestinians, advocating for the dismantling of the state of Israel, or calling for the displacement or elimination of any people, it is wrong and must be forcefully condemned. While it is regrettable that many advocating for an independent, democratic Palestinian state living alongside Israel in peace and security employ this phrase without understanding the context, condemning these individuals as inherently antisemitic—as this resolution does—is wrong and only sows greater division between communities.”

Listen, I can use countless examples, but let’s go straight for the one that should make the point most clearly. Can the N-word be justified in some other context as not being a horribly racist word? Are there any people in the Black community who don’t find it racist 100% of the time? I don’t know, but I’m sure some would claim that. But we can generally agree that it IS a horribly racist word, that MOST Black people are offended by it, and that we just SHOULDN’T be saying/yelling/holding signs with that hateful word. NOT OKAY.

This is a phrase that originated with the intent to call for the extermination of Israelis. It continues to be used in that same context by countless groups and individuals. SOME claim that’s not what they actually mean when they scream it. Are we to just say it’s SOMETIMES OKAY? It DEPENDS ON THE CONTEXT AND INTENT? A call to kill all Jews is okay, if the people who are calling to kill all Jews, don’t actually UNDERSTAND that they’re calling to kill all Jews? Am I summing up the sentiment fairly? Sigh…

6b. Kylie Ora Lobell writes a really important piece, about how the Israel War Room group exposed a huge Telegram chat giving people a how-to for students all over the country. “How to what”, you are asking? Things like breaking windows, cameras, rioting, and tons of propaganda and places to boycott. It’s an extremely important reveal and story.

Eve Barlow, who is an incredible advocate, shared often in these pages, writes about it, “All of this is damning evidence, suggesting that the activities taking place on Ivy League and UC campuses in America in the last few weeks are not examples of innocent grassroots movements, but well-planned, well-funded, well-organized attempts to infiltrate elite institutions and undermine American values and American democracy.”

Is there anything left that could actually surprise us?

6c. Eve’s fabulous column in its entirety, always worth reading:

7a. This is “Gangs of New York”, if those brawls had broken out on the beautiful, green grounds of UCLA. There’s so much to criticize here I won’t even try to get to all of it. The school is at fault for claiming it had cleared the barricades, and supplied ample police. The police are at fault for not showing up when actually needed, during the brawl between the Jets and the Sharks. The protestors are at fault for literally everything they have done illegally from the get go – blocking Jewish students from entry, assault and battery on a Jewish student, and so much more. And yes the counter-protestors, who I want to rise above the muck and filth, are at fault when they appeared to snap and fight back.

But wait, how can I criticize my own? Well yeah, sorry, but if the facts are as presented, then I just am not ok with us fighting. In self-defense of course, but it appears this was more a case of enough being enough, and the bullied student punching the bully when taunted. He’s still going to be told he was wrong, because you can never resort to violence, but it’s not to say you don’t empathize with him. You can’t condone it, you wish he was the bigger person, but part of you is also happy to see him stand up for himself.

What a mess this is. Truly:

7b. Aaron Bandler reports on the UCLA drama, and Chancellor Block’s statement. While it’s nice that they finally got fed up and called the police, did they really need to wait until it got to the point where the counter-protesters were behaving badly? And regarding the vandalism of Royce Hall, doesn’t that warrant a mention?

7c. This is an A+ update by Bandler, about what it was like for Jewish students during and after the encampments. 3 students: Kian Kohanteb, Alexi Aloni and an anonymous one, give some pretty emotionally brutal reports, on how unsafe, unwelcome and illegal the activities have been. Screamed at, threatened, blocked from going to their classes, and vandalism were just pieces of a horrible puzzle.

As I have, they do condemn the attack by the counter-protestors, and interestingly they recognized nobody and think they were outsiders. Likewise, most of the protestors themselves were reportedly not students, and after time were increasingly outside recruits. And as I have said, they wonder how the school could have waited until the apex of violence before finally putting a stop to everything. Remember, they had the luxury to watch other schools already deal with this, and chose to still wait until the point of no return:

7d. Yay, more awful things happening in my back yard. Occidental and Pomona colleges have both been so rife with antisemitism and harassment, that students at both schools are transferring and/or avoiding campus entirely. Approved posters are ripped off in plain sight, ribbons to commemorate October 7th were not approved by the school, and there’s no resistance to the anti-Israel vandalism. So many bad things, the ADL and Brandeis Center are filing legal complaints. Aaron Bandler reports:

7e. Aaron Bandler caught me off guard with this crazy story. Sonoma State University has recently capitulated to the demands of the student protesters, with the President of the school Mike Lee saying they will stop any foreign exchange with Israel, even removing photos of them on the pamphlets! Many more things stated:

7f. But this epilogue is even wilder. “On May 15…Lee was placed on leave “because of this insubordination and consequences it has brought upon the system,” and cut to a 2 days later, and, “Lee is retiring after he was placed on leave for announcing an agreement with a pro-Palestinian encampment that he was not authorized to make.” Now THAT was handled quickly:

8a. Aaron Bandler’s always worthy Campus Watch, April 25. Some of what I have written about in Columbia and Yale. Plus something I was unaware of in that Loyola Law School:

8b. Columbia, UCLA, northwestern, oh my! Campus Watch has never been this relevant. Sadly:

8c. Campus Watch, May 9:

8d. Campus Watch, May 15:

9. Hannah Brown writes a wonderful, highly personal article, on a heartbreaking topic. Her son Danny is on the spectrum of autism, a topic that hits close to home for me as well, as I have not 1 but 2 nephews who are as well.

They moved to Israel when he was young, and although the services there could improve, she explains that the lengths they go to for him in Israel far surpasses what he could receive in America. It hit her especially hard, when learning of the autistic 14 year old Harry Potter fan, who was confirmed murdered on October 7th. And a special thank you to JK Rowling, for her touching posts about this tragedy:

10. The Persian Jewess feeds us positive energy, showing how we can best counter the hate, by banding together with positive energy. A group of protesters were called into a Jewish neighborhood in New Jersey. So to drown out the voices, an even larger group of Jews gathered and sang and waved flags. A beautiful thing:


1. Orot is the festival that Karin and Rikki, my sisters-in-law, amazingly put together for 120 Nova music festival survivors. This is the video that Michael Mike Canon filmed and put together showing highlights. In it you’ll see Nachum Peterseil uplifting the room with his music, and a room full of people trying to manage their PTSD with song, dance, art, talking, hugging and crying. Toward the end of the video is where it hits me hardest, a montage of their art therapy, which ranges from beauty to bloodshed – understandably. And yes, the rainbow over the campsite in Ramah really happened; that’s not just convenient footage spliced in. QR code at the end of the video is if you are feeling inspired to help them catch up on what’s needed to cover expenses:

2. Rudy Rochman is awesome, and far more brave than I could stomach. In collaboration with Facts For Peace, he puts himself into the lion’s den, and invites people to ask him questions about Gaza, telling them he has been there for months. He gets verbally attacked by many, but he sits there and calmly educates them with first-hand accounts. I can’t know how many people this did not succeed with, and I cannot know how much the editing assisted with making this seem like glowing results. But it’s truly heartwarming to see a man stand up against the hate, and make a difference one person at a time. That’s what my efforts are for, but the safety of a keyboard takes far less bravery:

3. Dr. Phil gets to talk to one of the most captivating, high energy people we ever see interviewed, Mosab Hassan Yousef, aka “Son of Hamas”. He goes into his usual compelling reasons why all deaths are ultimately on Hamas, and why a ceasefire plays into their hands in a way we cannot afford. I didn’t love the next part when they brought out a pair of Muslim college students, who looked like deer in headlights getting beat up when they looked like naïve morons. Don’t get me wrong, they did look like ignorant radicals, and I don’t feel sorry for them in that respect, but it didn’t even look like a fair fight. Audience, guest & host, versus 2 college girls? Come on. But anyway, a decent watch:

4. Joel Pollak tried to enter the UCLA encampment. He tried to follow their arbitrary “rules” of wearing a mask, and not having any nuts or bananas on him, in spite of it being outdoors. Both as a member of the public and media, he was denied to walk through. He kept his cool the entire talk, didn’t raise his voice, and there are no cuts nor edits in the video. Thank you for sharing this WeAreTov. Insanity:

5a. Naftali Bennett talks to CNN, explaining why the move by Biden to a “partial embargo” is hurtful to Israel, and helpful to Hamas. When asked if they should go in full force to Rafah, he answers that they should have done it 4 months ago, and finished the 4 battalions off once and for all. And regarding the tweet by Ben Gvir saying “Biden ❤️ Hamas,” he says he won’t acknowledge every stupid, “infantile” thing an Israeli minister says. Oh how I wish he held on to his role as Prime Minister:

5b. In a very short video, Naftali Bennett explains how Hamas attacked the border crossing where food and supplies help civilians in Gaza. Yes, Hamas hurts their own, to promote their genocidal, human shield agenda:

6a. Daniel-Ryan Spaulding continues to be one of my favorite rockstars online. He shows clips of Susan Sarandon, Cynthia Nixon and Sara Ramirez giving their anti-Israel rants. He then does his thing, and explains things clearly, with his usual beautiful snark. Love him:

6b. Daniel-Ryan Spaulding sets the bar extremely high, as I love just about everything this out and proud gay Israel advocate does, but this is my favorite yet. It’s not just quippy, it’s not just heckling the idiocy, and it doesn’t just clap back at this Tik Tok influencer, who virtue signals so-called pro-Palestinian material online. He takes it to the most respectable step, and TEACHES her, and the rest of us. He explains some absolute basics, and you won’t find a second of it boring, nor superfluous. These are the countries that are our allies. This is what you’re saying versus what all allies say. This is who’s in charge of this group in the UN. It’s really damn good, and I want to meet this man:

7. This is one of the BEST takes on the events in Israel that I’ve seen by news anchors in months. I remember loving one by Anderson Cooper, another by Jake Tapper, and a surprisingly great one by Chris Cuomo. This latest one can be added to the list of A+ explanations. Joe Scarborough speaks on his show “Morning Joe”, and just puts it all together in a truly wonderful way. He is reporting on the new exhibition in New York, and in doing so, he echoes the sentiment, “why can’t we have both things?” He’s referring to empathy for the civilians caught and devastated by the war in Gaza, but also empathy for the brutally attacked country of Israel on October 7th.

He goes on to explain that although it’s sad that innocents are killed in the war, Israel is doing what literally every country on earth would have to do, if attacked the way Israel was. He reminds us that when America was bombed at Pearl Harbor, which was a LESS horrible tragedy for America than October 7th was for Israel (proportionally), our ensuing attack on Japan, well before Hiroshima and Nagasaki, was far more devastating than Israel in Gaza. And they didn’t have to worry about human shields. But countries do what they have to do to protect their population when attacked. Scooter Braun, who has partnered on the exhibition in the newscast, shares this post, and says “How do we just not acknowledge that day? How do we not call out for the hostages? Innocent music lovers like American citizen @bring.hersh.home who is still being held hostage.”

8a. Sheryl Sandberg brings us the 1 hour documentary, “Screams Before Silence.” Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally before watching. Don’t take it casually:

8b. David Suissa watched the documentary, and left us with this powerful, poetic response:

8c. Brian Fishbach writes about the documentary. ““It’s been an honor to do this,” Sandberg said. “This is the most important work of my life. And maybe everything I’ve done has led to this movement. You know, I’ve spent a lot of time in my life advocating for women and it felt like this was a moment where we needed to be really honest and direct about what happened. Rape is never acceptable. And in this moment since Oct. 7, I felt like we were sliding back. Sliding back to a place where we would start accepting the unacceptable and I can’t let that happen.”

The choice not to show anything too gruesome, was made by the director Anat Stalinsky. “There are a tremendous amount of images that for people who see them, it’s so shocking, and very strong proof [of sexual violence], I felt that showing the audience the images would make it unbearable to watch the film. Also, there is respect for the victims and the families. I decided that people will hear about it, but won’t see. And sometimes hearing and imagining is even harder than just seeing an image of a corpse.”


1. Matisyahu has a new single that’s all about what we discuss in these pages. “Ascent” takes him through the devastation of the kibbutzim. It surrounds him by posters of the hostages. He is in tunnels, and he finishes off by singing our Shir Ha’maalot, which is referred to in English as, yep, “Song of Ascents”. It’s a haunting song:

2a. Kosha Dillz, aka Rami Even-Esh, not only wrote and performed a new song about the war, but he braved the lion’s den just to film it. He went to the thick of the Gaza protests in NY, and wearing his bright yellow star of David kippah, he starts off by singing, “Jewish man is called an Aryan, by a 2023 Humanitarian”. He tries to connect with the protesters walking by, and sings, “some people get it right, some people get it wrong, including me including you.”

2b. Here he goes to a protest at Columbia, and inspires the counter-protesters with this song:

3a. Ari Lesser continues to impress me tremendously. In commemoration of the Holocaust, he teams up with StandWithUs, and sings a song that takes you through the horrific events from before, during, and through the end of the war. His refrain says that he can’t understand how some folks think it’s a hoax, so this song is ensuring we will never forget. His songs are not just topical, they are wonderful:

3b. Oh, snap! Ari Lesser drops this beat in response to Macklemore’s stance against Israel, and his antisemitic past. The makings of a good MC Battle have begun:

3c. I now return you to Kosha Dillz, who takes his great swipe at Macklemore, with tons of visual aids. Like I said, time to battle rap:

4. Ye, aka Kanye West with a really pro-Israel music video. What, you don’t believe me? Well, you’re smart. But it’s a clever use of AI to make a music video where it SEEMS like he’s repenting for his antisemitism. I would usually default to not liking an artist being mimicked like this, but how can I feel sorry for a guy who digs in his heels with his Jew hatred to his millions of viewers. I find this cool. Shared here by Maman Nonprofit and United Jewish Coalition (UJC), but the real people behind it gave me this explanation:

““Repent” was created by two Jewish friends who wanted to give something positive back to the Jewish people after seeing all the negativity and antisemitism that sprung up after October 7th. The duo, who prefers to remain anonymous, thought that with today’s technology they could create a song that all Jews (and beyond) would love to hear: Kanye “Ye” West apologizing for his antisemitic vitriol toward the Jewish community.

The friends then wrote the lyrics, composed the track, and rapped the vocals before using AI technology to change their voice to Ye’s. They then used AI text-to-video prompts to compose each individual clip/scene which totaled over 100. With antisemitism only gaining steam, the hope was that a video like this could cut through the noise and give a symbolic “win” for Jews around the world, and just maybe, have Ye and his loyal fans see a cool way to ease our pain: repent.”


1. We Are Tov and Shawn Couzens (of AbbaSez) are tired of how Columbia University has fostered an unsafe atmosphere for its Jewish students, and is apparently targeting Shai Daavidai. They thus created this petition to get the school to do 2 things:
“A. Drop the Investigation: We demand that Columbia University immediately drop its internal investigation against Professor Davidai.
B. Create a Safe Environment: Columbia’s leadership must take proactive steps to create a safer and more inclusive environment for Jewish students and faculty.”

2. Columbia graduating senior is pleading for the school to be given a graduation ceremony. It really does seem awful, and unfair, especially given that it’s due to the negligence of the school’s own leadership that any so-called safety concerns are preventing this. “We call upon Columbia University administration to honor seniors properly with an on-campus commencement for both Class Day and the University Commencement Day on May 15th. This would not only recognize our hard work but also fulfill our dreams of walking across that stage at our beloved university. In addition, the Commencement should NOT be led/given by the current President of Columbia (Minouche Shafik), as her actions (and inactions) have directly led to the current circumstances.” I certainly signed, and fittingly, Shai Davidai helped promote this:


1a. If you’re in NY, go see this exhibit for the rest of the month! “Now the Nova founders and Feingold…are bringing this large-scale remembrance installation to NYC. Together, they have created a sacred space echoing the weight of the victims’ and survivors’ memories, surrounded by remains salvaged from the festival grounds—scorched cars, bullet-riddled bathroom stalls, and personal belongings all left behind. Visitors will be invited to join a plea for the safe return of the 134 hostages who are still held in captivity by Hamas terrorists. Nova survivors of the brutal attack will be attending, to bear as witnesses to the tragedy they experienced that day.”

Just checked, and you can pay as little as 1 dollar to go to this installation, which should be required for all students to visit:

1b. Scott “Scooter” Braun stepped up as an American partner, and hyped it up last month. “People need to understand it could have been any of us, at any festival. Music must remain a safe place.”

1c. Doree Lewak reports on this new exhibit about the massacre at Nova. ““The Nova Music Festival Exhibition: October 7th 06:29am – The Moment Music Stood Still,” kicks off a month-long run Sunday at an event space at 35 Wall St., with an installation that pays painstaking tribute to the 370 attendees killed by Hamas.“

It doesn’t just show the aftermath, it also was designed to show and feel the happy before the attack. “Exhibit creator, director and writer Reut Feingold said she wanted to give people the experience of the festival before Hamas invaded.”

2a. I can vouch for Joel Leyden as legitimate, and a hero who has spent decades donating his time to Israel advocacy. He is currently in DIRE need of financial assistance, because all of his clientele for his day job have been drafted into the army. While this happens, he’s STILL doing advocacy and helping run websites to support Israel. At this point in time, he’s looking for the basic necessities, and we need to help someone who does SO much for us. I vetted and corroborated his story and fundraiser, and yes we donated. Here was his statement to me:

“I served in an IDF Anti-Terror unit, and the IDF Spokesperson’s Office. The war devastated my business, and due to my living in Israel for 25 years, now that I’m back in America I am ineligible for Social Security. I’m disappointed that the US Jewish organizations have not stepped up to assist with emergency housing, and hate that I have to ask for assistance, but I very much need it:

2b. Here is a website that shows more than enough of his tremendous accomplishments:

3. My friend Ahmad4ISRL is a complicated man, with a complicated, and also exciting past. His journey has taken him through various countries, hating Israel, then feeling awful for victims of terror, eventually loving Israel, and becoming one of its biggest advocates. In spite of my and other friends’ efforts, he has given himself a code of honor, to refuse any money for his advocacy, as he wants it to come from the heart, and never be something he does for payment. However, his family is in need, there are dire medical situations, and I know of this for certain. If we don’t fundraise for this man with a giant heart, things will actually deteriorate.

Since he’s finally allowing outside assistance, let’s give it to him, a true tzedakah. Help heal the sick in his immediate family, and alleviate some of Ahmad’s greatest stresses in life. Whether we ask him to or not, he will continue to help us, so the least we can do is assist his family. Yes we donated:


I adore Jason Alexander, and have a personal reason in this case. Not only did I love watching him basically play Larry David in “Seinfeld”, plus so many other roles over the years, but he’s been openly supportive of Israel for ages. How can I know this? Because my amazing, incredible, how the heck does she do it wife, Adi, used to be the Director of Development for (Friends of) Sheba Medical Center, the largest hospital in the Middle East.

In that role, she helped create some of the best galas I’ve seen. The person who agreed to host multiple times, and was A+ awesome at every one, was Jason Alexander. He would sing and dance; he would help write great material; he would work the room to not only have a great time, but donate to the great cause, which he would also contribute to. And if you ask Adi, he was an absolute joy to work with.

(By the way, that hospital has been at the forefront of taking care of so many since October 7th. For the years since Adi became a stay-at-home mom, we are still passionate about that cause.)

Here is a video he recorded making a plea on behalf of one of the children held hostage by Hamas:

Follow him on social media here:


1a. Emily Bowen Cohen is a talented artist/animator and friend of mine, who has written a wonderful, personal comic book. She is at the intersectional path, as both a member of the Muscogee Nation, and the Jewish tribe. Having lost her father at the far-too-young age of 9, and going from Native American surroundings in Oklahoma, to the Jewish area of New Jersey, Emily writes about what she wishes she had the opportunity to do as a child – go back on a journey of self-discovery, before she was an adult.

Andrew Esensten interviews her, and I love that she has people reaching out to her as a result of the wonderful read. “Besides my sisters, there’s not a Native American Jewish community right at my fingertips. I’m part of a Facebook group with about 30 members all over the country. I’ve been shocked since “Two Tribes” came out, Jewish Native Americans have been reaching out to me, like, “Hey, I’m out here.” Lots of them are in Oklahoma.” Maybe, just maybe this helps Emily’s intersectional identity feel less alone:

1b. I bought my copy, you can too!

2. Brian Fishbach writes about an amazing woman, who my family is fortunate to call a friend. Sonia Levitin, like my father, got the hell out of Germany in 1938. Whereas my father’s family emigrated to England, hers brought her to America. She became a successful novelist and playwright, and has just released her third play! A reading was recently performed at the Museum of Tolerance.

“She may be best known for her 1970 novel “Journey to America,” part of a trilogy of books based on her family’s escape from Nazi Germany in the late 1930s, and their early years in America. It is one of the most prominent young adult novels about the Holocaust from a youth’s perspective. The series led to speaking engagements worldwide, covering topics like slavery, genocide, the Holocaust, and promoting creativity and literature. “Chained,” her third play, returns to Levitin’s familiar themes.”

3a. Nepotism? What’s that?! My mother Linda Hepner writes a damn great children’s book, called “The Adventures of Goldilocks and Baby Bear: What Happened Next?” Ric Bratton interviews her on “This Week in America”, and gives her such a wonderful compliment, that she has a knack of writing from the point of view of a child. And she knocks it out of the park throughout the interview. The illustrations are by renowned artist Barbara Mendes. I’m so proud of this whole endeavor:

3b. She’s interviewed at a book fair, with her grandson (my nephew Amitai) as the one who inspired the stories. Shorter but honestly not nearly as good of an interview:

3b. It’s a terrible plug if you don’t have the link for purchase:

4a. Ari Frenkel and Amy DePaola Schwartz have teamed up to create an extremely unusual and creative romantic comedy, that takes place in the world of a man grieving for his father. Yes, you read that correctly. “Noah struggles with his identity, both professionally and spiritually. He turns to his Rabbi, a stoic man who wants to help his new secular pupil reconnect with his Judaism while respecting the boundaries Noah seems to blur. The Rabbi tells Noah that it takes a year to properly grieve a loss and that in the interim, Noah can say the Kaddish prayer to help his father’s soul get to the Garden of Eden. This will also coincide with a planned burial in his father’s home country of Israel at the year’s end.” And yes, it’s a rom-com. Ari Frenkel is highly talented, and you can read more about his Jewish project here. Donations to help this come to fruition are tax-deductible:

4b. If you missed it, here’s Ari’s recent funny, topical short, “The Jews!”


1a. Bwahaha, Lyle Culpepper makes a plea for Israel to stop shooting down the “innocent Iranian
drones…40% of them are children!” L.E. Staiman’s alter ego is so ridiculous, it’s genius:

1b. Here Lyle video-bombs an Israeli soldier talking to the camera for Yom Ha’Atzmaut:

1c. “Intifada in the USA” works REALLY well as a parody. Apologies to Miley Cyrus, but it just does:

1d. L.E. Staiman, I mean Lyle Culpepper, reminding us about how hard his protesters at Columbia really had it. Poor antisemites:

1e. “No one’s free until we’re all gluten free…” Mwahaha

2a. Yes! The Daily Brine has crossed into “story” territory, and I love it. “I lost my job because I missed a flight to pitch for an important contract, so naturally it was straight to the Keffiyeh store for me! They are just expressing their frustrations in such an effective way” said one elated driver.”

2b. Hehe, an AOC icebreaker, courtesy of The Daily Brine:

2c. OMG this is SO funny. Takes a minute to get what’s happening here. Clearly an offensive anti-Israel seder plate. But…..come on, don’t make me ruin the joke for you, you’ll see how dumb these so-called Jews are if you keep looking:

2d. Not the craziest thing they would have done:

2e. Next week’s prediction might be more accurate than the usual one, based on what’s actually happened:

2f. It was worth a shot; maybe Israel will be drunk and say yes!

2g. “Should have said ‘alleged rapper’ is the comment that brings this home:

3. Is it totally weird to include a tweet by Hillel Neuer in this comedy section? Absolutely. But is this a clip of Elon Goldintroducing him, in a meaningful but also funny way (including a good Trump impression)? Yes it is:

4. Very funny clip about Jesus, using an office workplace analogy. Courtesy of comedian Noah Gardenswartz:

5a. Babylon Bee for the win, with this side by side reminder of then and now:

5b. I mean, is it really THAT far off what could happen?

6. So damn funny. We want Moshiach now, and we don’t want to wait! I remember that song and chant over the years from the Lubavitch community. Now the guy in the news gets to be utterly confused, which is a comedy goldmine:

7. Tabby Refael writes this witty satire called, “Tapas and Tents”, where she describes incidents around the country encampment protests, which I wish actually happened. Protestors having sex illegally on the campus lawn? “The activity led this author to believe that an adorable antisemite was conceived on Columbia’s West Lawn last week.”

And the snark of this comment is comedy gold, “Two Columbia University students who visited the NYU campus in solidarity with pro-Palestinian students at that school told reporters that they were “not completely sure how NYU was complicit in genocide,” but that it was a good opportunity “to be around a bunch of NYU people and remember that we got into Columbia.”

8. Modi Rosenfeld makes me laugh with his commentary on Jewish names given to Ashkenazi babies. Sephardic people to be fair do the same thing, but it’s LIVING people who’ve had horrible lives instead:


1. The Telos-Paul Piccone Institute hosted one of the best webinars I’ve seen, and shared on these pages. They are preparing to create a conference for later this year, and are inviting submissions for 15 minutes presentations, addressing the questions of, “how have theories critical of symbolic violence turned into justifications for actual violence? And how is it that this “legitimation” of violence, of radical change “by any means necessary,” has emancipated so many—on campus and off—from any visible ethical constraint? And how do macro-level geopolitical concerns provide a larger context for understanding the place of critical theory in the response to October 7?”

If you think you can contribute to these topics, it is a wonderful organization to be a part of:

2. This is so freaking cool. My amazing brother-in-law Adam Bodenstein, recently gave a tour to none other than Michael Rapaport and his wife Kebe Dunn. Tourism isn’t exactly booming in the midst of the war, so this was quite the ringing endorsement!

3. My dear friends Arnon & Talia Shorr share quite a bit of my values and priorities. Liberal at the core, and fervently Zionist at the foundation. Oh, and movie-lovers, let’s not forget that crucial detail.

Remember when Artists 4 Israel credited me with bringing their pro-Zionist and Judaism lawn signs back to market? We still have it proudly on our front lawn, as do other friends who were inspired to purchase. However, Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson told me weeks ago, that his was rudely stolen from his lawn. And now Arnon had the same experience, in this disappointed post:

4. Kaveh Shahrooz draws a stark contrast between those supporting Iran in the West, versus actual Iranians. I’ll let the tweet, and its visuals speak for itself:

“The Western “anti war” left is so far removed from the people it pretends to speak for:
L – American leftists chanting “Death to America/Israel” in Persian in “solidarity” with Iran
R: Actual Iranians refusing to follow regime orders to walk on US/Israeli flags”

5a. Hen Mazzig shared an important fact, that the banner on the top of Arabic language Wikipedia is full of hateful bias against Israel, including calling the war in Gaza a genocide.

5b. Why am I especially proud of this one? Because I helped break the story! If you recall, my friend Itay found it, and asked me to help make the information public. My nephew Darius then made a few calls, and it was on the web almost immediately:

6. This is beautiful. Moshe Taragin is proud of a student from the Yeshiva Gush Har Etzion, wearing his kippah, and handing out dates to people celebrating Ramadan in the Old City. Assuming this is accurate, seeing something like this gives a modicum of hope. As originally reported and shared by Ihab Hassan, who wrote, “A small yet profoundly meaningful gesture in a time dominated by hatred, dehumanization, and calls for revenge from both sides.” Amen brother:

7. From the beauty of the previous post, to the depths of hell for this one. Ari Lamm shares an awful tweet from Amnesty International, which said, “The death in custody of Walid Daqqa, a 62-year-old Palestinian writer who was the longest-serving Palestinian prisoner in Israeli jails after 38 years of imprisonment, is a cruel reminder of Israel’s disregard for Palestinians’ right to life.” What made this especially egregious, was that Daqqa wasn’t just a Palestinian “writer”, he was a barbaric murderer. “This monster kidnapped and tortured a Jewish teenager—gouging out his eyes, castrating him, and then shooting him point blank in the chest.” Awful. And the only thing that Amnesty International did here, was add tremendous insult, to egregious injury:

8. Emanuel Fabian is a Times of Israel journalist, showing us something that would prove to be prescient. “Surveillance camera footage shows interceptor missiles being launched from an Israeli Navy Sa’ar 6-class corvette in the Eilat Bay this evening, at a suspected drone. It marks the first operational interception by the ship-mounted Iron Dome system, known as C-Dome.” Feel free to peruse the footage he includes. What should this remind you of? The defense against the Iranian attack, which would happen just 5 days later:

9a. Wow. Brianna Wu deflects some of our appreciation for her standing up for us, by telling us how ashamed she is for not seeing it sooner. “The Women’s March leadership was saying wildly antisemitic stuff five years ago, and I did nothing. I’ve heard antisemitic beliefs in activist circles for the last decade and I looked the other way, thinking it was a fringe belief.” It takes a special kind of person…

9b. She’s unrelenting. She feels betrayed by her own party, as so many of us do. But even more, because she considers herself a Progressive within the party, so the betrayal cuts even deeper. How are they not giving unadulterated denunciations of the calls to end Israel? “Speaking plainly. A Democratic Party that cannot denounce open calls for genociding Jews and glorifies terrorism is a leftist movement that has zero credibility.” Yup:

10. David Collier shows a pretty sick example of media bias. “Meet the BBC’s Fleur Gooch who likes to sport Palestinian insignia on her sleeve. So much so that she wears it at work at BBC HQ.” And yes, there are photos:

11. Ido Halbany does something that cracks me up! He admits that for a month he was selling pro-Palestinian merchandise to the protesters. And just took all of the money from sales and donated it to the IDF! Such a Jewish wise-ass story, I love it:

12. Eden Golan performed at Eurovision, and according to my dear friend and Eurovision fanatic Patrick Vukovich, she knocked it out of the park. AND got far more cheering than booing. That being said, what protesters did outside of her hotel is despicable, and thank you to Hen Mazzig, Five For Fighting, and Daniel Negreanu among others, for calling the despicable nature of it out:

13. “Denying that Hamas is hurricanic,
inflicting on Jews more than wetness pain,
in an October pogrom that was manic,
an inhumane, Hamanic Hurricane.”

That’s a portion of a poem written by none other than my talented father, Gershon Hepner. It’s referring to the wonderful Eden Golan performance at Eurovision. Hillel Halkin had written an article for Mosaic, where he says, “Banish the rain and you’ll get the hurricane: such is the moral of the 2024 Eurovision song competition.” And regarding the competition nixing the previous version of the song for being too political, he argues, “There wasn’t a line expressing a political opinion or point of view in the entire song, which was about a national trauma, not the politics surrounding it. If anyone was being political, it could be argued, it was the EBU, which was trying to censor an Israeli cry of pain for no other reason than that it was Israeli.”


My last week of Paternity Leave! No we didn’t JUST have a baby, but you have 1 year to use it, and mine comes to an end this weekend. I made it count, with some of my favorite things: movies, a hike for the wife, casino trips, one of the 3 big panels I’ve created (stay tuned to watch me interview Tiffany Haddish, Judy Gold, Avi Liberman, L.E. Staiman, Shawn Eni and The Daily Brine!), and maybe a little sleep somewhere in between!

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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