December 14, 2018

Why Israel?

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Last week, Syrian dictator Bashar Assad used chemical weapons on his own people. The government of Israel responded to that atrocity, as well as Iran’s use of Syria as a thoroughfare for weapons transfers to terrorist groups like Hamas, by bombing Syria’s T4 airbase. The media responded by castigating Israel: for example, the Associated Press headlined, “Tensions ratchet up as Israel blamed for Syria missile strike,” and accompanied that story with a photo of suffering Syrian children targeted by Assad, making it seem that Israel had targeted the children.

That media treatment was no surprise — the week before, the terrorist group Hamas used large-scale protests against Israel on the Gaza border as a cover for terrorist attacks on Israeli troops. When Israeli troops responded with force, the media falsely suggested that Israel had indiscriminately fired into the crowd. Meanwhile, reporters touted the story of a supposed photographer killed by Israeli forces; it turns out that the photographer was a known Hamas officer.

A few weeks earlier and some 2,000 miles away in France, 85-year-old Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll was stabbed 11 times and her body set on fire by a Muslim neighbor who knew her well, and had convictions for rape and sexual assault. In 2017, there were 92 violent anti-Semitic incidents in France, a 28 percent year-on-year increase.

Moving across the English Channel, Israel’s Labor Party finally was forced to cut ties completely with the leader of the U.K.’s Labor Party, Jeremy Corbyn, a longtime anti-Semite who has routinely made nice with terrorists and defended open Jew-hatred in public. And, of course, in the United States, the alt-right’s anti-Semitism continues to make public discourse more crude and the Women’s March continues to make nice with anti-Semites such as Louis Farrakhan.

In other words, there is a reason for Israel to exist.

Israel’s self-interest is good for the Jews, good for the West and good for the world.

That reason is biblical, of course: Israel is the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people and the wellspring of Jewish practice. God’s promise to the Jews is inextricably intertwined with the existence and future of the State of Israel.

But over the past few decades, too many Jews have forgotten about the practical need for the Jewish state. In the same way too many Jews ignored the Zionist movement, believing that assimilation into tolerant non-Jewish societies provided the best pathway to a decent life, too many Jews today see Israel as a remnant of a hackneyed and counterproductive ethnocentric worldview. That dislike for Israel’s very existence has led many Jews to demonstrate their “world citizen” bona fides by using every opportunity to criticize Israel.

But Israel’s existence is not about ethnocentrism. Israel is multiethnic and multicultural, of course: Judaism is a religion far more than an ethnicity, as Russian and Ethiopian Jews can attest. Israel’s existence, on a secular level, is about enshrining a state that is safe for Jews the world over — and that can defend Jews and Western values in the face of regional and international threats. When Israel stands up to Syrian atrocities, it is acting out of a Judaic commitment to prevent the degradation of human beings made in God’s image; when Israel offers a road for European Jews on the verge of extinction, it is acting not merely out of solidarity but out of decency. Israel is a decent country, because it was founded on a decent purpose — and because it was founded on the basis of a tradition of decency.

That doesn’t mean Israel’s government is mistake-free. Far from it. But Israel’s extraordinary treatment at the hands of the world community is a demonstration that Israel is an outlier — and that’s a good thing. The United Nations that condemns Israel is filled with repressive dictatorships and corrupt plutocracies; the supposed “family of nations” is more like a squabbling band of self-interested moral idiots.

When Syrian children, mostly Muslim, gasp from chlorine poisoning, it is Israeli jets that provide a possible respite. Israel doesn’t act out of the pure goodness of its heart; it acts from self-interest. But Israel’s self-interest is good for the Jews, good for the West and good for the world. Forgetting that means trusting that the better angels of others’ natures will persevere over their internal devils. Historically, that’s been a rotten bet.

Ben Shapiro is a best-selling author, editor-in-chief at The Daily Wire and host of the podcast “The Ben Shapiro Show.”

Jewish World Mourns Slain Holocaust Survivor

Photo by Moshik Gulst and courtesy of The Israeli Cartoon Projects.

Actor Jon Voight was among those who spoke at a memorial at the Beverly Hills Hotel for Mireille Knoll, the 85-year-old Holocaust survivor who was killed in her Paris home on March 23.

The killing, which French police said was motivated by anti-Semitism, sparked outrage around the world.

At the March 28 memorial, organized by the Beverly Hills Jewish community, Voight called her killing “an attack on God.”

Knoll, who fled the Nazi roundup of Jews in France at age 9, was killed after she allegedly was stabbed 11 times by her neighbor, who then burned down her apartment. Two men, ages 29 and 21, are in custody and under formal investigation on charges of murder. One of the suspects allegedly shouted “Allahu akbar” (“God is great” in Arabic) during the attack.

Speaking to attendees in the Beverly Hills Hotel’s Crystal Ballroom, Voight said, “If you wish to return to Sodom and Gomorrah, you have to go through the Jews.”

He called Knoll a hero and said her death left an indelible mark “because of the quality of this human being and the kindness of this human being, right to the last of hour of her life. And the shock will maybe help wake us all up and make the world a little better from this point.”

Also on March 28, a march was held in Paris to honor Knoll. Thousands of people turned out for the event. Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions Executive Director Robert Ejnes told The Jerusalem Post that Knoll’s murder “created a sort of solidarity that we did not experience here before.”

“Suddenly, people realized that she was not the first Jewish person attacked and killed in her own home,” Ejnes said. “Suddenly, people realized that Sarah Halimi, too, was attacked [in Paris in April 2017] inside her apartment and killed only because she was Jewish. And there were others, as well, like the Jewish couple attacked in the Paris suburb of Creteil in 2014. In fact, 11 Jews were murdered in anti-Semitic acts since 2006.”

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) memorialized Knoll on March 29 at its New York headquarters.

“The world’s oldest hatred, anti-Semitism, is metastasizing in ways that threaten not only France’s Jews, but French society,” AJC CEO David Harris said in an official statement. “The viciousness of her murder is especially sickening. Insufficient response to date to the pattern of attacks on Jews continues to be most worrisome. Will the Mireille Knoll tragedy be the last one?”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry released a statement that said, “Israel is appalled at the heinous murder of Mireille Knoll in Paris. The murder of the 85-year-old Holocaust survivor, prompted by anti-Semitism and blind hatred, underlines the need to continue combating anti-Semitism in all its variations.”

Knoll being killed highlights the rise of anti-Semitism in France. In 2017, there was a 26 percent spike in anti-Semitic violence and a 22 percent increase in vandalism of Jewish gravesites and synagogues, according to the Associated Press. In 2014, 51 percent of racist attacks in France were levied against Jews, despite them consisting of less than 1 percent of the French population, according to New York Times columnist Bari Weiss

Guy Millière of the University of Paris, in an article for the Gatestone Institute, noted how the Jewish population in France has plunged from 500,000 in the year 2000 to under 400,000 today. Millière blamed political correctness for hamstringing French leaders from calling out anti-Semitic propaganda promulgated by Islamists throughout the country.

“French politicians, right or left, know that political correctness reigns, and that transgressing its unwritten rules leads to being excluded from the media and effectively ostracized,” Millière wrote.

Knoll was described by her family as a truly kind individual who lived life vivaciously even as she got older.

“She was going to restaurants, to theaters, to cinemas to see movies,” Knoll’s son, Daniel Knoll said.

Knoll reportedly had known the 29-year-old suspected killer since he was 7 years old and continually hosted him at her apartment, despite her family members warning her not to. She did recently call the police on the suspect for allegedly threatening to kill her.

On hearing of his mother’s murder, Daniel said, “I thought I was going to die on the spot. I cried all the tears in my body and I thought of her. She didn’t deserve this.”  

85-Year-Old Holocaust Survivor in Paris Murdered in Anti-Semitic Hate Crime

Red tape police seals and a photograph are seen on the front door of the appartment of Mireille Knoll in Paris, France, March 27, 2018. Mireille Knoll, 85, was found dead on Friday at her apartment in Paris's central 11th district. She had been stabbed multiple times and her flat set alight. REUTERS/Clotaire Achi

The life of 85-year-old Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll came to an end on the evening of Mar. 23 when she was stabbed to death.

Knoll was reportedly stabbed 11 times before her Paris apartment was set on fire. Two suspects are currently in custody for the murder, one of whom was a neighbor of Knoll. She had known him since he was seven and she had frequently invited him over to her apartment despite her family warning her not to.

“My mother had a thirst for knowledge and meeting new people and talking to them and that’s what killed her,” Daniel Knoll, Knoll’s son, told the Associated Press.

However, Knoll did recently call the police on the neighbor because he had threatened to kill her.

French prosecutors are looking to charge the suspects for murdering Knoll simply because she was Jewish.

“Until now, I haven’t felt anti-Semitism in France,” Knoll told Army Radio. “Of course there were dangerous Muslim extremists, but until today I didn’t feel in danger. I work with people from all walks of French society; many are afraid of Muslim extremists, but I didn’t feel that until now.”

Jessica Knoll, Mireille Knoll’s granddaughter, told the AP, “Today it is my grandmother and tomorrow it will be a grandmother, a grandchild, someone else’s father.”

Mireille Knoll was able to flee to Canada as a child when the Nazis were rounding up Jews in Paris to Auschwitz in 1942.

Knoll’s murder comes a year after 65-year-old Jewish woman Sarah Halimi was murdered in what was deemed as an anti-Semitic act. As the AP report notes, “anti-Semitic violence increased by 26 percent, and criminal damage to Jewish places of worship and burial by 22 percent” in 2017.

In 2015, The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg wrote that it might be time for Jews to leave Europe as anti-Semitism is once again on the rise in the continent.

“I am predisposed to believe that there is no great future for the Jews in Europe, because evidence to support this belief is accumulating so quickly,” Goldberg wrote. “But I am also predisposed to think this because I am an American Jew—which is to say, a person who exists because his ancestors made a run for it when they could.”