January 18, 2019

WATCH: Tamika Mallory Won’t Say If Israel Has Right to Exist

Screenshot from Twitter.

Women’s March co-president Tamika Mallory wouldn’t directly say if Israel has a right to exist when pressed on the matter on PBS’ “Firing Line.”

Mallory told program host Margaret Hoover that “the Palestinians are native to the land” because they’ve been there “for a very long time.” When Hoover asked if Mallory thought that Jews were native to the land, she replied, “I understand the history that, you know, that there are people who have a number of, sort of ideologies around why the Jewish people feel this should be their land.”

“I’m not Jewish, so for me to speak to that is not fair,” Mallory said.

Hoover pointed out that Mallory isn’t Palestinian either, prompting Mallory to reply, “I’m speaking of the people we know are being brutally oppressed in this moment.”

Hoover then asked Mallory if she thinks Israel has a right to exist.

“I have said many times that everyone has a right to exist,” Mallory said. “I feel everyone has a right to exist. I just don’t feel that anyone has a right to exist at the disposal of another group.”

“In your view, does that include Israelis in Israel?” Hoover asked.

“I believe that all people have a right to exist, and that Palestinians are also suffering with a great crisis,” Mallory replied. “And there are other Jewish scholars who will sit here and say the same.”

Mallory then said, “I’m done talking about this. You can move on.”

StandWithUs tweeted that Mallory’s statements in the interview were “insane.”

Muslim reformer Shireen Qudosi pointed out that Mallory had referred to “Jewish faith or identity” as “an ideology.”

Mallory’s remarks come on the heels of her refusing to condemn Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism on ABC’s “The View.” In an interview with Elle magazine published on Wednesday, Mallory said that while she doesn’t agree with everything Farrakhan says, “It does not make sense for me to throw away an organization—like the Nation of Islam—that has been very effective at reaching the hearts and minds of young black men to turning them away from violence.”

The Women’s March is set to take place on Saturday.

Zioness Teach-In Discusses Difficulty of Being a Progressive Zionist

Screenshot from Facebook.

The Zioness Movement held a teach-in at University Synagogue on the evening Jan. 13, where a panel discussed the difficulty of being progressive Zionists.

The event started with a speech from Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel (D-Van Nuys), expressing optimism about the Jewish caucus in the California state legislature.

“For as much as conversation as there is about Jews not being welcome in progressive spaces and as much as we’ve all recoiled from what we’ve read about the Women’s March, there’s so much good stuff happening in Sacramento,” Gabriel said, pointing to the Jewish caucus’ work on various progressive causes like immigrant rights and criminal justice reform.

“We are doing this in a way where we are being present and proud of our Jewish values, proud of our support for Israel, proud of who we are and our history as a people, and I think that at this moment in time when folks are trying to push Jews out of progressive spaces, and that is an intentional thing, that our response is not to leave those spaces, but really to double down,” Gabriel said, “and to double down on the work that we’re trying to do, which we know is so consistent with our Jewish values and to be really proud of who we are.”

Arya Marvazy, managing director of JQ (Jewish Queers) International then discussed how he, as a gay Persian Zionist, has dealt with the “anti-Zionist and anti-Israel space” in the LGBTQ community.

“One of the things that they purport is that Israel, as a nation, is using this concept called ‘pinkwashing’ to make the masses feel like Israel is this beacon of light and hope for LGBTQ people… and ignore any hardship the Palestinians might face or ignore the Israel-Palestinian conflict in its entirety,” Marvazy said. “I could talk for a long time how false I believe that narrative to be, and I am surprised that even still today, how present that belief exists in queer communities that I’m a part of.”

Marvazy then recalled when he was at a gay Latino punk club in Downtown Los Angeles and a guy he was talking to outside told him, “Everyone is welcome here, everyone but Trump supporters and Zionists.”

“I just was taken aback,” Marvazy said, adding that he works “on that conversation daily.”

Rabbi Denise Eger of Congregation Kol Ami, a Zioness board member, later said that “at the Women’s Marches there’s been an increasing anti-Semitic rhetoric that we’ve seen that often comes in the guise of anti-Zionism.”

“If you want to protest the policies of the state of Israel, that’s one thing,” Eger said. “But Zionism, when you say that you’re an anti-Zionist, you are bordering on anti-Semitism because Zionism is the national political expression of the ancient longing of the Jewish soul to return to the land of our people, a longing that we have had for thousands of years.”

Eger called on progressive Zionists to “claim our space” at the Women’s March.

“But we also have to stand there proudly as Jews,” Eger said.

Emiliana Guereca, the founder of Women’s March Los Angeles, distanced the local march from the national Women’s March leaders.

“As a Jewish woman, I have seen the rhetoric of Women’s March D.C… and I apologize to everyone and my children,” Guereca said.

She added that her children ask her why she continues to organize despite the rhetoric of the national Women’s March leaders, and what she tells them is she chooses to “confront” it because the “tough conversations need to continue.”

Joanna Mendelson, the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) senior investigative researcher at the Center for Extremism, told the audience that 2016-17 saw “the largest single year increase” in anti-Semitism since the ADL started collecting such data and pointed to the Charlottesville riots as a big reason for that.

“The obsession with Jews is part and parcel of white supremacist ideology,” Mendelson said, adding that white supremacists fear “being consumed by a rising tide of color… manipulated by the Jews.”

Mendelson pointed to the social media posts from Tree of Life synagogue shooter Robert Bowers that frequently used the words “Jews,” “k—“ and “immigrants” as an example of this.

She then highlighted Louis Farrakhan’s “most vitriolic and hateful anti-Semitic rhetoric” and lamented his “sizable influence.”

“It is so important that we partner, that we reach out, and that we collaborate on these various issues,” Mendelson said.

Later in the program, Zioness founder Amanda Berman, who moderated the panel, explained that the point of the Zioness Movement is to provide a political home for progressive Zionists who have had their “seats at the table” in the progressive movement “taken away from us.” If progressive Zionists can’t reclaim their seats, then “we will build a new table,” Berman said.

“Even when it’s hard, we have to show up,” Berman said.

Other panelists included Valley Beth Shalom Rabbi Noah Farkas, Jewish Center for Justice founder Rabbi Joel Simonds and McCarty Memorial Church Rev. Eddie Anderson.

The full event can be seen below:

Zioness Los Angeles Teach-In

Join our slate of progressive and diverse Los Angeles leaders for a conversation on showing up and speaking out ahead of the Women’s March next weekend.

Posted by Zioness Movement on Sunday, January 13, 2019

Angela Davis Says Human Rights Award Was Revoked Because of ‘Support of Justice for Palestine’

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Progressive activist Angela Davis is claiming that a civil rights award was rescinded from her because of her “support of justice for Palestine.”

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) announced on their website that they had chosen Davis in September to receive the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award at their February 2019 gala; however myriad “concerned individuals and organizations” prompted them to re-evaluate their choice.

“Upon closer examination of Ms. Davis’ statements and public record, we concluded that she unfortunately does not meet all of the criteria on which the award is based,” the statement read. “Therefore, on January 4, BCRI’s Board voted to rescind its invitation to Ms. Davis to honor her with the Shuttlesworth Award.”

They added, “We regret that this change is necessary, and apologize to our supporters, the community and Ms. Davis for the confusion we have caused. We will move forward with a keen focus on our mission: to enlighten each generation about civil and human rights by exploring our common past and working together in the present to build a better future.”

In a Facebook post, Davis claimed that it was her support for the Palestinians that caused her to lose the award.

“Although the BCRI refused my requests to reveal the substantive reasons for this action, I later learned that my long-term support of justice for Palestine was at issue,” Davis wrote. “This seemed particularly unfortunate, given that my own freedom was secured – and indeed my life was saved – by a vast international movement.”

Davis added that she supports “Palestinian political prisoners just as I support current political prisoners in the Basque Country, in Catalunya, in India, and in other parts of the world.”

“I have indeed expressed opposition to policies and practices of the state of Israel, as I express similar opposition to U.S. support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine and to other discriminatory U.S. policies,” Davis wrote. “Through my experiences at Elisabeth Irwin High School in New York City and at Brandeis University in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, and my subsequent time in graduate school in Frankfurt, Germany, I learned to be as passionate about opposition to anti-Semitism as to racism.”

Davis highlighted her work “with Jewish organizations and individuals” on numerous issues, which she said was key in “my growing consciousness regarding the importance of protesting the Israeli occupation of Palestine.”

The New York Times pointed to a December piece from Southern Jewish Life editor Larry Brook that was published around the same time as BCRI says they started hearing concerns from several people. Brook’s piece notes that Davis is a staunch supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and that she has referred to Israel as an “apartheid” state. Brook also points out that Davis has lavished praise on Rasmea Odeh, who was convicted of a 1969 Jerusalem supermarket bombing that killed two college students, and has called for the release of Marwan Barghouti, the Al-Alqsa Martyrs terrorist who has called for “a Third Intifada.”

Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz wrote in his 1991 book Chutzpah that when he urged Davis to denounce the Soviet Union’s imprisonment of Jews, Davis’ secretary told him that she wouldn’t do so because “they are all Zionist fascists and opponents of socialism.”

In 1970, a then-17-year-old named Jonathan Jackson conducted a courtroom shooting in an attempt to create a hostage situation that would result in his older brother, George, being freed. The shooting resulted in four dead, including a judge. At least two of the firearms that Jackson had brought with him were purchased by Davis, which resulted in her being indicted for being complicit in Jackson’s crime. Davis was eventually acquitted.

JVP Posts, Deletes Tweets Defending Palestinians’ ‘Right to Resist Military Occupation’

Screenshot from Facebook.

Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) tweeted out a defense of Palestinians’ “right to resist military occupation” and then proceeded to delete those tweets.

On Wednesday morning, JVP shared a piece of art from 1978 that showed a Jewish woman shaking hands with an armed Palestinian woman with text that read, “Being Jewish is not the same as being a Zionist!”

Several people pointed out that the fact there is an armed Palestinian woman in the picture, which does not promote peace, prompting JVP to respond numerous times that they support “the right to resist military occupation”:

The aforementioned tweets from JVP were later deleted without an explanation given on their Twitter page. JVP did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment as of publication time.

Roz Rothstein, co-founder and CEO StandWithUs, told the Journal in a statement via email, “Most Jews believe in Zionism and a better future for all people in the region – there is no contradiction.”

“JVP’s manipulative propaganda aside, one can support the rights of both Jews and Palestinians at the same time,” Rothstein said. “Furthermore, this is yet another example how JVP is not a voice for peace or the well-being of Jews. It is particularly outrageous that they would share an image supporting the PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization] in 1978 – the same year as the Coastal Road Massacre. 38 Israeli civilians, including 13 children, were murdered in that attack by the terrorists JVP is glorifying.”

Similarly, Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the Journal in an emailed statement, “Of the 14 million Jews in the world, the majority of them are Zionists.”

“In 1938, no country in the world, including Western democracies, were willing to save Europe’s Jews,” Hier said. “The State of Israel and Zionism are the only guarantee that that will never, ever happen again.”

For more on JVP’s anti-Zionism, read the Anti-Defamation League’s profile on them here.

Wording of Survey’s Questions Matters

new survey by Shibley Telhami of the University of Maryland shows that an increasing number of Americans support a one-state solution for Israel and the Palestinian territories. “When one considers that many Israelis and Palestinians, as well as many Middle East experts, already believe that a two-state solution is no longer possible, especially given the large expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank,” Telhami writes, “it’s not hard to see why more people would be drawn to a one-state solution.”

Is this new finding important? It is and it isn’t.

It’s important because it shows that Israel fails to communicate its position to American audiences, especially Democratic voters and younger voters (of which 42 percent support a one-state solution).

It’s not important because the one-state solution is still not a viable option, and thus not an option.

Telhami conducts his poll every year, and almost every time, I write critically about it. This is because his polls, conducted under the pretense of being impartial, in fact raise the suspicion that they are an act of advocacy for certain positions.

Take the question of the one-state solution. What it offers is a mirage. “A one-state solution: A single democratic state in which both Jews and Arabs are full and equal citizens, covering all of what is now Israel and the Palestinian Territories.”

Sounds good? It does. In fact, I see no reason why Americans wouldn’t support such solution to a nagging problem. But what would happen if the survey question were reworded to reflect a more plausible outcome: “A one-state solution: An attempt to establish a single state that is likely to result in Jews and Arabs constantly fighting for control and spilling even more blood than today.” Would Americans still support it?

Another choice offered to Americans is this: “Do you favor the Jewishness of Israel more than its democracy” or “Israel’s democracy more than its Jewishness”?

Presented with this false dichotomy, most Americans give the answer you’d expect. They favor democracy (one wonders: should non-Jewish Americans even worry about Israel’s Jewishness?)

Telhami argues (in the publication Foreign Policy) that “What many read as a rising anti-Israeli sentiment among Democrats is mischaracterized; it reflects anger toward Israeli policies and … the values projected by the current Israeli government.”

The semantics Telhami uses here (and he is not alone) are simple: Place the bar for being anti-Israel so high that it becomes almost impossible to reach. That’s convenient, especially for anti-Israel activists.

I know that in left-wing circles it’s becoming popular to argue that being anti-Israel is not akin to being anti-Semitic. But read this question and see if it makes you feel somewhat uneasy: “How much influence do you believe the Israeli government has on American politics and policies?”

The answer, of course, is that the Jews (and by this, we mean the Jews of Israel — not the good Jews of America) might have too much influence. Fifty-five percent of Democrats think they do; 44 percent of young Americans think they do. Would they also say that the governments of Russia, Saudi Arabia, Great Britain or China have too much influence on American politics? I bet many of them would — but Telhami didn’t ask.

Americans want fairness, and hence many of them expect their government to “lean toward neither side” when “mediating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

But how does one measure “leaning?” Here is an example: If the U.S. government says, “We would not tolerate Palestinian suicide bombers killing innocent people in Tel Aviv,” does this count as “leaning” toward Israel, because it’s critical of something that only Palestinians do? Another example: If the U.S. government says, “We believe that Palestinian insistence on a right of return imperils any prospect for a successful peace process,” does this count as “leaning” toward Israel, because an impartial position would be to say, “Let’s compromise on a right of return for half the people”?

In other words, what if the U.S. government doesn’t “lean” toward the Israeli position but rather toward a more reasonable position that tends to be the Israeli position? Would Americans want their government to lean toward an unreasonable position for the sake of being impartial?

A Missed Virtue Signal

The week after Michelle Goldberg decided to use her perch at The New York Times to write an inaccurate, morally incomprehensible screed headlined “Anti-Zionism Isn’t the Same as Anti-Semitism,” three Israelis — including a 3-day-old infant — were murdered, more than a dozen were wounded, and tunnels were found in northern Israel showing that Hezbollah was close to launching another psychotic war.

On Facebook, which I use as a mosh pit of current political insanity, I wrote what I always write when the NYT becomes more pro-jihadi than Electronic Intifada: “I don’t know how Bret Stephens stays.” 

One week later Stephens offered a devastatingly good answer: “When Anti-Zionism Tunnels Under Your House.” He didn’t call Goldberg out by name or even wonder how she had come to such a psychologically twisted place. Rather, he simply made mincemeat out of her argument: “Today, anti-Zionism is a call for the elimination of a state. … Anti-Zionism is ideologically unique in insisting that one state, and one state only, doesn’t have to change. It has to go. By a coincidence that its adherents insist is entirely innocent, this happens to be the Jewish state, making anti-Zionists either the most disingenuous of ideologues or the most obtuse.”

As for apologists like Goldberg, whose own deep hatred of Israel runs through her piece, Stephens doesn’t mince words: “When you find yourself on the same side as Hassan Nasrallah, Louis Farrakhan and David Duke on the question of a country’s right to exist, it’s time to re-examine every opinion you hold.”

The problem is, Goldberg and readers like her will ignore him. Why? For one, she has chosen to remain ignorant of Israel’s history. She appears to believe the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement’s myth that there once was a country called Palestine and then those nasty Jews “occupied” it. 

It was the Romans, of course, who slapped the word “Palestine” on the area to erase any Jewish connection to it. As Stephen M. Flatow — whose daughter, Alisa Flatow, was killed in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995 — wrote in The Algemeiner, Arabs living in the area never considered themselves Palestinian: “They had the same history, culture, religion, and language of the Arabs in neighboring Syria. They considered themselves ‘Southern Syrians.’ ”

Precisely because of this, they didn’t mind when the British sliced off 78 percent of the land and called it Jordan in 1922. Why don’t Goldberg and her BDS friends ever focus on Jordan, which routinely mistreats the “Palestinians”? Hmm, this is a tough one. Could it be because Jordan is Muslim?

Goldberg also believes that Israel is not central to Jewish identity. The fact that we’ve prayed for our return to Jerusalem for nearly 2,000 years, that most Jews feel such a profound connection to the land that even daily NYT gaslighting can never change it — none of this seems to have ever entered Goldberg’s Brooklyn bubble.

One could say that Goldberg doesn’t actually believe any of these things, that she’s just trying to stay politically on trend — virtue signaling, as we now say.

But the larger point is that these nonsensical screeds no longer matter. The Jew-hatred of anti-Zionism is now at our doorsteps. Just within the past few weeks: Mohamed Mohamed Abdi was arrested for attempting to run over two Jewish men in Los Angeles, allegedly shouting “F***ing Jews!”; Arab Muslims in Germany saluted Hitler; and perhaps most fitting of all, a “free-speech wall” at Pomona College in Claremont — on which the Pittsburgh tragedy was commemorated with the words “Anti-Semitism Exists. Acknowledge It.” — was vandalized with the words “Palestine exists. Acknowledge it.”

Not only is today’s anti-Zionism merely fashionable anti-Semitism, but since the 1960s the word “Palestine” has been used as a pseudonym for removing Jews from our ancestral homeland. Like Hitler, Yasser Arafat was evil but far from stupid. He knew the full-fledged myth that he had to fabricate, and he knew that if he did it well, the Michelle Goldbergs of the world would help him fulfill his goal. 

I’m sure he wasn’t counting on it being so easy.


Karen Lehrman Bloch is an author and cultural critic living in New York City.

These Jews Have Too Much Influence! 6 Comments on a New Survey

 

1.

A new survey by Shibley Telhami of the University of Maryland shows that an increasing number of Americans support a one-state solution for Israel and Palestine. “When one considers that many Israelis and Palestinians, as well as many Middle East experts, already believe that a two-state solution is no longer possible, especially given the large expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank”, writes Telhami, “it’s not hard to see why more people would be drawn to a one-state solution”.

Is this new finding important? It is and it isn’t.

It’s important because it shows that Israel fails to communicate its position to American audiences, especially Democratic voters and younger voters (of which 42% support a one-state solution).

It’s not important because the one-state solution is still not a viable option, and thus not an option.

 

2.

Telhami conducts his poll every year, and almost each time I write critically about it. This is because his polls, while pretending to be impartial, in fact raise the suspicion that they are an act of advocacy for certain positions.

Take the question of the one-state solution. What it offers is a mirage. “A one-state solution: A single democratic state in which both Jews and Arabs are full and equal citizens, covering all of what is now Israel and the Palestinian Territories.”

Sounds good? It does. In fact, I see no reason why Americans would not support such solution to a nagging problem. But what would happen had we told them the truth: “A one-state solution: An attempt to establish a single state that is likely to result in Jews and Arabs constantly fighting for control and spilling even more blood than today.” Would Americans still support it?

 

3.

Another choice offered to Americans is this: Do you favor the Jewishness of Israel more than its democracy” or “Israel’s democracy more than its Jewishness.”

Are you surprised to learn that, when presented with this false dichotomy, most Americans favor Israel’s democracy?

 

4.

Telhami argues (in Foreign Policy) that “What many read as a rising anti-Israeli sentiment among Democrats is mischaracterized; it reflects anger toward Israeli policies – and increasingly, with the values projected by the current Israeli government.”

I am not sure what this means. I am not sure what the difference is between “anti-Israel sentiment” and “anger towards… the values…” If someone is against the political choices of most Israelis, and against the values that most Israelis believe in, and against the policies most Israelis want – does it still not make him or her anti-Israel?

The trick Telhami uses here (and he is not alone in doing this), is placing the bar for being anti-Israel so high, that it becomes almost impossible to reach. In his book, only a person that calls for the elimination of Israel, or the destruction of it, is worthy of this title. That’s very convenient for people who want to vehemently oppose Israel without being tagged anti-Israel.

 

 

5.

I know that it’s becoming popular to argue, in left-wing circles, that being anti-Israel is not akin to being anti-Semitic.

But look at this question, and tell me if it doesn’t make you feel somewhat uneasy: “How much influence do you believe the Israeli government has on American politics and policies?”

The answer, of course, is that the Jews (and by this we mean the Jews of Israel – not the good Jews of America) might have too much influence. 55% of Democrats think they do. 44% of young Americans think they do. Would they also say that countries such as Russia, Saudi Arabia, Britain, or China have too much influence on American politics? I bet many of them would – but Telhami didn’t ask.

 

6.

Americans want fairness, and hence many of them expect their government to “lean toward neither side” when “mediating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

But how does one measure a “leaning?” Here is example: If the US government says “we would not tolerate Palestinian suicide bombers killing innocent people in Tel Aviv” – does this count as “leaning” towards Israel, because it’s critical of something that only Palestinians do? Another example: If the US government says, “we believe that Palestinian insistence on a right of return imperils any prospect for a successful peace process” – does this count as “leaning” towards Israel, because an impartial position would be to say “let’s compromise on a right of return for half the people”?

In other words: what if the US government does not “lean” towards the Israeli position but rather towards to more reasonable position that tends to be the Israeli position? Would Americans want their government to lean towards an unreasonable position for the sake of being impartial?

ADL Responds to CNN Commentator Calling for a ‘Free Palestine from the River to the Sea’

Screenshot from Twitter.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called CNN political commentator and Temple University Professor Marc Lamont Hill’s call for a “free Palestine from the river to sea” on Wednesday “divisive” and “destructive” in an email to the Journal.

According to Arutz Sheva, Hill accused Israel in a Wednesday speech at the United Nations of infringing upon “citizenship rights to Palestinians just because they are not Jewish” and denying “due process” to Palestinians.

Hill went on to endorse the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and said that while peace is the highest priority, “we must not romanticize or fetishize it.”

“We must promote non violence at every opportunity, but cannot endorse narrow politics that shames Palestinians for resisting, for refusing to do nothing in ethnic cleansing,” Hill said.

He added that he thinks that there needs to be “a Free Palestine from the River to the Sea.”

Sharon Nazarian, the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) senior vice president for international affairs, told the Journal in an email, “Those calling for ‘from the river to the sea’ are calling for an end to the State of Israel.”

“It is a shame that once again, this annual event at the United Nations does not promote constructive pathways to ‘Palestinian solidarity’ and a future of peace, but instead divisive and destructive action against Israel,” Nazarian said.

Similarly, Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper told the Journal in an email, “Justice requires a ‘Free Palestine from the River to the Sea’? Marc Lamont Hill is a confirmed anti-Zionist ideologue. His extremist, anti-peace views merit coverage on CNN, not as a paid pundit but as a supreme propagandist unfettered by facts.”

Cooper added, “By the way Marc, where will you put the nearly 9 million Israeli citizens, nearly 20% of whom are Arabs? Any Palestinian entity we’ve been told will be Judenrein—only place left is… Mediterranean Sea.”

Hill responded to some of the criticism he received from his remarks on Twitter:

Hill has not responded to the Journal’s request for comment as of publication time.

Killing Another Linkage

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a joint press conference REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/Pool

You might not remember the debate about whether the road to Middle East peace ran through Jerusalem or Baghdad. In the early 1990s, U.S. Secretary of State James Baker believed that peace between Israel and Palestine was the key to solving the main problems of the Middle East. During the second Bush administration, a reverse suggestion was made — and debated: that solving the problem of Baghad would hasten a peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Time proved both theories wrong, or at least premature. Peace was not achieved, and the Middle East still has problems. Very few people still believe in a so-called “linkage.” 

Of course, peace with the Palestinians has merit, but avoiding the linkage between achieving that goal and pursuing other Middle East advances removes some of the pressures on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. The Palestinians cannot hold all other Middle East advances hostage until their issue is resolved. The world no longer lives under the illusion that Israel-Palestine peace is the first priority (more important than, say, Iranian nuclear advances). Israel is no longer blamed — at least not by serious people — for causing trouble in other areas in the region. 

With that linkage basically put aside, Israel is now aiming for the jugular of the second linkage: whether it can be legitimized in the Arab Muslim world when its conflict with the Palestinians is still an open wound.

“Israel is now aiming for the jugular of the second linkage: whether it can be legitimized in the Arab Muslim world when its conflict with the Palestinians is still an open wound.”

Egypt was the first country to erode this linkage when it signed a peace agreement with Israel (with provisions aimed at advancing a solution for the Palestinians). Jordan likewise signed a peace agreement with Israel in the early 1990s, when Israel and the Palestinians seemed for a while as if they were moving toward resolution. 

The situation today is much changed. It is clear that Israelis and Palestinians are not moving toward peace. It is also clear that when Arab Muslim countries get closer to Israel that they are not doing it because of the Palestinian issue but rather in spite of it. They are doing it because they have other priorities — concerns about Iran; economic or technological needs Israel can satisfy; or political needs that can be addressed through Israel’s ties in Washington. 

Relations with Persian Gulf countries have improved. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently visited Oman, and there is now talk about an upcoming visit to Bahrain. Relations with Saudi Arabia are of great importance to both countries. And then there is Africa, where Israel is slowly edging toward renewing relations with more countries. 

On Nov. 25, the president of Chad, Idriss Déby, visited Israel. Chad is a poor, corrupt country in the middle of Africa that is plagued by political violence and ranked very high on the failed-state index. Déby has dealt with rebellions and coups d’état attempts since he first became president in 1990. Chad has little to contribute to Israel — except on the issue of linkage. It has a small Muslim majority, and in the early 1970s, it severed ties with Israel under pressure from Saudi Arabia, Libya and other Arab countries in an attempt by the Arab world to keep Israel illegitimate. (President Déby was highly influenced by former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.)

Now that the second linkage seems to be dying, or maybe is dead, the Palestinians are no doubt following this process with apprehension. It takes away one of the key tools they used in their battle with Israel: the power of the Arab Muslim world to put pressure on the Jewish State. For Israel, it’s a triumph. It carries the hope that the Palestinians will finally realize that time is not necessarily on their side. It also carries a certain risk: Israel might be tempted to forget the Palestinians. But while Chad is far away, the Palestinians, with or without the support of Arab Muslim countries, still live in Israel.


Shmuel Rosner is senior political editor. For more analysis of Israeli and international politics, visit Rosner’s Domain at jewishjournal.com/rosnersdomain.

Missile Strikes Expose Limited Options in Gaza

Photo by Suhaib Salem/Reuters

It’s Nov. 13 and all of Israel is focused on the Gaza Strip.

This morning, after a barrage of Hamas missile attacks, it appeared Israel had no choice but to up the ante. Its deterrence of Hamas wasn’t working. Its reluctance to go to war was being perceived as weakness. Its measured counterattacks following the massive bombings of Israeli cities looked like acts of hesitation.

The morning air felt heavy with the looming specter of death — mostly, but not only, from the impending deaths of Gazans. Would the “dead men walking” in Gaza’s streets be counted by the dozens, the hundreds or maybe the thousands? We braced ourselves for the next round of violence to erupt.

Now, this evening, a cease fire is suddenly on the horizon. Will it hold? (By the time you read this in the Journal, you’ll know. At this moment I write, I don’t.)

Israeli leaders, goes the cliché, have only two options in Gaza. They can conduct small wars and arrange for short-term ceasefires; or they can send the Israel Defense Forces to reoccupy Gaza and uproot the government of Hamas. But reoccupation of Gaza is not an option — it is madness. Luckily, Israel’s leaders, while not perfect, are not mad. 

What are the real options in Gaza? One is to fight Hamas until it accepts certain terms that result in peace and quiet for a while. The other one — an option heralded by some opposition leaders — is to help the Palestinian Authority take over Gaza. That is, to cooperate with Mahmoud Abbas against Hamas. 

Leaders who support the latter option suspect that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would not pursue it because he is averse to strengthening the Palestinian Authority’s leadership. Netanyahu, they argue, prefers to deal with two weakened Palestinian factions so he can claim to have no partner for a comprehensive peace deal that includes all Palestinians. Maybe. But there is an alternative explanation to such a strategy — which is no less sensible. Netanyahu does not believe that Abbas and his allies can control Gaza effectively. He does not want to waste Israeli resources — or lives — on a lost cause. 

Netanyahu has been very clear, possibly too clear, in expressing his reluctance to go to war in Gaza.

“Whatever one thinks about Israel’s long-term strategy toward Gaza, its short-term goal has been to avoid war, to even accept some humiliation in an effort to restore the peace.”

“I am doing everything I can to avoid an unnecessary war,” he declared in Paris before rushing back to Israel as a rain of rockets threatened to escalate into war. In the past couple of months, Netanyahu has negotiated (indirectly) with Hamas, has allowed Qatar to transfer money to Hamas, and has accepted the embarrassment of being criticized from right and left. Hamas has tested him time and again, sending hordes of demonstrators to harass the IDF near the Gaza fence, firing the occasional rocket, and burning fields on the Israeli side of the border. 

If or when war begins, Netanyahu will be portrayed by some international media as a bloodthirsty warmonger. But a sober assessment of his actions — including in this past week when many others were ready for heightened violence — would conclude that he might have been too hesitant, too accommodating, too eager for compromise. He was the one restraining the cabinet, reining in his gung-ho colleagues. Whatever one thinks about Israel’s long-term strategy toward Gaza, its short-term goal has been to avoid war, to even accept some humiliation in an effort to restore the peace.

The eruption of violence began when an Israeli elite unit was discovered and attacked in the Gaza Strip. The unit’s mission in Gaza has remained secret, but military professionals insist it was essential. When Hamas retaliated, Israel responded calmly, understanding the need of Hamas to blow off steam. Then Israel learned that Hamas’ definition of blowing steam was greater than expected. A bus was attacked by an antitank missile, and a soldier was badly wounded. Rockets were fired on Israeli cities and citizens. In Ashkelon, a man was killed. Ironically, he was a Palestinian worker — the only man Hamas was able to kill as of this morning. (The Middle East is filled with such unfortunate ironies.) 

Netanyahu still wanted to limit the scope of Israel’s response, to explore the possibility of a ceasefire. His logic was solid: A war will not change the basic realities that make Gaza a thorny problem for Israel.

Lewis Carroll wrote in “Alice Through the Looking Glass” that sometimes “it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.” Today, Netanyahu insisted that sitting is better than running, if all one wants is to keep in the same place.  

True, seeing a country sitting on its hands does not instill much awe or inspiration. But in Gaza, Israel doesn’t wish to inspire. It wishes to avoid disruption and violence. No more, no less.

American Student Barred From Israel for Alleged BDS Support

Screenshot from Twitter.

Lara Alqasem, a 22-year-old American student, is currently being detained in Ben Gurion Airport because the Israeli government has barred her from entering the Jewish state due to her support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Alqasem is enrolled to study human rights law for a year at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University. But the Israeli government has given her an ultimatum – renounce BDS or go back to the United States.

“If Lara Alqasem will tomorrow in her own voice, not through all kinds of lawyers or statements that can be misconstrued, say that support for BDS is not legitimate and she regrets what she did, we will certainly reconsider our position,” Israeli Public Security and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan told Israeli Army Radio.

Alqasem appealed the government’s actions, claiming before a tribunal that she is not a BDS supporter and won’t visit the Palestinian territories during her time in Israel. The tribunal denied her appeal, but gave her an extension.

“This is a 22-year-old who definitely cannot be in support of an academic boycott,” Leora Bechor, one of Alqasem’s Israeli lawyers, told The New York Times. “She wants to study here.”

Hebrew University has even weighed in and called for the Israeli government to let Alqasem study at their university.

“What’s being done regarding this student hurts our activities against BDS,” Hebrew University President Asher Cohen told Army Radio. “She wants to come here and learn … that activity of hers is against BDS.”

According to Canary Mission, Alqasem was a member of the University of Florida’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter, serving as the chapter’s president and vice-president at one point. The Canary Mission report on Alqasem states that while she was part of SJP, she participated in an event boycotting Sabra Hummus.

During the event, the then-president of UF’s SJP accused Israel of “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing.”

Also during Alqasem’s tenure with UF’s SJP, the chapter showed support for Rasmea Odeh, who was convicted by an Israeli court for being a key player in a 1969 Jerusalem supermarket bombing that killed two college students. They also showed support for Samer Issawi, who was sentenced to 26 years in prison by an Israeli court for shooting at Israelis and distributing pipe bombs, according to Canary Mission.

Erdan’s ministry has also reportedly said that they are suspicious of Alqasem scrubbing her social media accounts entirely.

In January, Israel blacklisted 20 pro-BDS organizations from entering the country, one of which was SJP.

At Least Three Palestinians Dead in Latest Gaza Riots

Screenshot from Twitter.

Hamas-led riots at the Israel-Gaza border on Friday resulted in at least three Palestinians dead and 124 injured, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

However, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced in a tweet that “10 armed terrorists” breached the border fence, but the IDF stopped them and then launched retaliatory strikes against Hamas:

According to the Times of Israel, one of the Palestinians that breached the fence threw a grenade, but no Israeli soldiers were injured in the riots.

Additionally, Ynet News reported that there were at least seven fires that were ignited from the incendiary balloons that were launched, but they all appear to have been doused out.

Twenty-thousand Palestinians participated in the riot.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman tweeted a warning to Hamas, who are believed to have been escalating the riots as talks of a long-term ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas have deteriorated.

“We got through the High Holy Days just as we had planned, without a war erupting and while exacting a heavy price from the rioters on the Gaza border,” Lieberman wrote. “But the holidays are now behind us, and I tell the heads of Hamas: ‘Take that into account.'”

Hamas responded by saying, “These are empty words against the Palestinian will to break the blockade on Gaza. The March of Return will intensify. Our people pay no attention to this broken record of the Zionist leadership”

Bluntness, Forgiveness, Better Conversations

Yossi Klein Halevi

A day before Yom Kippur, I asked Yossi Klein Halevi for forgiveness. He graciously granted it, and then we had a conversation about why I made him upset. It was a conversation worth repeating at the end of a holiday season and the beginning of the long slog of a new year.

Halevi is one of my favorite people and writers. I consider his book “Like Dreamers” to be a work of rare quality. But he was not quite happy with my review of his most recent book, “Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor.” He felt it was somewhat testy. And I must admit that he is right. “In the cynical world of politics,” I wrote about Halevi’s spiritual self-portrayal in the book, “such a posture can be a surprise maneuver that catches everyone off guard — or it can be a naïve posture that catches no one.”

He thought that I made him look naïve, and he is not naïve. In fact, there are very few things on which he and I do not agree. So what was the point of the testiness? I gave Halevi an answer that I will now share with you, not because I know it is a good answer but rather because I am still undecided. My answer is basically: Halevi’s tone in the book annoyed me. He says many right things, but his tone is considerate and understanding. Too soft for my taste.

It is worth having a conversation about the tone of articles and the level of understanding needed as one writes about Israelis and Palestinians. Halevi told me, by way of example, that he thought my tone in a story I wrote about Gaza for The New York Times was much too harsh. Indeed, it was. Purposefully so. I wrote that “I feel no need to engage in ingénue mourning” over the death of Gazans who attempt to infiltrate Israel. “Guarding the border was more important than avoiding killing, and guarding the border is what Israel did successfully.”

Do I lose control of my message when I write in a fashion that seems blunt? Does Halevi lose something when he wraps his own message in compassion?

Halevi said such tone might work with Israelis but will not get me to where I want with other important groups of readers, such as liberal American Jews or Palestinians. He believes that it is crucial to reach out to the Palestinians, despite all we know about their national movement. As he told me when I was writing this column, we need “to stretch our capacity for empathy without, crucially, giving up our narrative.”

So, this conversation is not just about tone. It is about sensibility. It is also about differences of culture, about the impact of writings on the readers, about the advantages and disadvantages of detached bluntness versus embracing empathy. It is worth asking: Do I lose control of my message when I write in a fashion that seems blunt? Does Halevi lose something when he wraps his own message in compassion? The answer to both questions is probably yes. The answer to both questions is probably that we need both the softer language and the harsher one in our conversation — certainly in the conversation about the never-ending Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I have no choice but to admit that Halevi has a much better way of communicating with crowds that I cannot reach. Crowds that will not even listen to me. When my story on Gaza was published, I received more than a few threats, was called a Nazi by dozens of readers, was caricatured as blood-thirsty, and my attitude was described as “barbaric.” Did I convince anybody? It is hard for me to tell. But maybe convincing people that Israel must do what it does in Gaza was not my intention. Maybe my intention was to convince the readers that Israel will keep doing what it does no matter what they think. 

As I already hinted, a lot of it is about temper and about having patience. Halevi seems to still believe that with a message crafted in the right way, he can win over Israel skeptics and possibly even Palestinians (even though some Palestinians responded dismissively). I did not lose hope as much as I lost patience. Do I really need to be more understanding of Palestinians’ sentiments as I argue that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is the right move? Do I really want to be more understanding as I speak about the charade of Palestinian “right of return”? Yes, Halevi said. You must do this to be effective. You must do this to re-engage with both Palestinians and most readers of his book — that is, American Jews. 

What’s the bottom line? I admitted that I am not sure. For now, I will make it easy for myself and argue that both gentleness and bluntness are needed. Gentleness — for Halevi for to get the message through. Bluntness — for me to make sure that Halevi’s gentle message isn’t misunderstood.  


Shmuel Rosner is senior political editor. For more analysis of Israeli and international politics, visit Rosner’s Domain at jewishjournal.com/rosnersdomain.

Six Palestinians Dead in Latest Gaza Riots

A Palestinian hurls stones at Israeli troops during a protest calling for lifting the Israeli blockade on Gaza and demanding the right to return to their homeland, at the Israel-Gaza border fence east of Gaza City September 28, 2018. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

At least six Palestinians died, and more than 500 were injured, during Friday’s Hamas-led riots at the Gaza border, including a 14-year-old and a 15-year-old, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

The Israel Defense Force (IDF) has stated that there were 20,000 Palestinians at the riots, many of whom threw rocks, burning tires and explosives at IDF soldiers. No IDF injuries were reported.

Additionally, the IDF said that there were Palestinians who breached the border fence, but retreated to the Gaza side of the border.

The 20,000 rioters were an increase from the more than 10,000 rioters in the week prior, as Hamas called for more Palestinians to riot at the border. Israel has stated that the increase stems from deteriorating ceasefire negotiations with Hamas.

Trump Backs Two-State Solution in Press Conference With Netanyahu

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a bilateral meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 26, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

President Trump voiced his support for a two-state solution in the Israel-Palestinian conflict in a Wednesday press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations General Assembly.

Trump was asked by a reporter if his peace plan would involve a two-state solution, prompting Trump to respond, “I like two-state solution.”

“That’s what I think works best,” Trump said. “I don’t even have to speak to anybody, that’s my feeling. Now, you may have a different feeling — I don’t think so — but I think two-state solution works best.”

Trump later added that his peace plan would be presented in two-to-four months and that he hoped to accomplish a deal between the two sides before the end of his first term as president.

The president also said during the press conference that he was confident that the Palestinians would come back to the negotiating table, pointing out that the United States has leverage by zeroing out funding to the Palestinians and that the biggest roadblock to a deal, Jerusalem, has now been taken off the table.

“By taking off the table the embassy moving to Jerusalem, that was always the primary ingredient as to why deals couldn’t get done,” Trump said. “I spoke to many of the negotiating teams, and they said they could never get past the embassy moving into Jerusalem and all of what that meant, which you know what that meant. That meant everything. And now, that’s off the table.”

Netanyahu later told reporters that any deal would allow Israel to maintain its “security control from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea,” according to the Times of Israel.

“Make no mistake: Israel will not give up on security control west of the Jordan as long as I am prime minister,” Netanyahu said. “I think the Americans accept that principle.”

I’m a Teenager Who Craves Conversation

Photo from Pinterest

Before Americans became divided, people turned to advice columns or blog posts for conversation starters. These days, people seem to be looking for conversation stoppers. Expressions such as “bias” and “offense” infiltrate our conversations as vague statements that serve to dissuade discourse.

At a summer program on international relations, I asked a Lebanese participant about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I was caught off guard when he told me that my argument was shaped by “media bias.”

The conversation shifted away from what was going on in the region and into an argument about whether Western media favors Israel. He used millennials’ hyperawareness of “media bias” to evade uncomfortable dialogue.

He continued arguing that Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians and others, including “his people.” He also called the conflict a “tragedy of white supremacy.” 

White supremacy? That’s a real conversation stopper. King Leopold of Belgium was seen as an example of white supremacy during the “Scramble for Africa.” He monopolized the Congo and ordered his men to tie natives to trees and slash them so that they bled to death in front of their children. Recently, violent white nationalists protesting in Charlottesville, Va., displayed a horrid modern-day example of white supremacy. 

But a democracy trying to survive in a region surrounded by oppressive governments? I don’t think so. 

Nuance hardly seems to matter anymore. Instead, it is OK to trivialize terms with profound significance if it means halting uncomfortable dialogue. 

One example is the misuse of words such as “misogynist” and “sexist.” Sexism describes discrimination based on gender. Misogyny is contempt for women, and the attempt to prevent them from succeeding in roles traditionally attributed to men. 

Journal columnist Karen Lehrman Bloch addressed this issue in her Aug. 17 column, “Dear Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.” In response to Ben Shapiro’s request for a debate, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, “Just like catcalling, I don’t owe a response to unsolicited requests from men with bad intentions.”

Bloch wrote, “You and your millennial cohort were never taught real feminism. … You were taught to see anything you don’t like as sexist.”

I see no similarity between a man calling after my friends and me and a political pundit seeking to hear ideas from all parts of the political spectrum. Shapiro complimented her as the “future of the Democratic Party.” A man giving credit to a female minority candidate and suggesting a debate is not the same thing as a man hollering objectifying catcalls at women. 

Clearly, Ocasio-Cortez has ideological disagreements with Shapiro. But rather than expressing those disagreements, she halted the conversation by accusing him of sexist catcalling.

As a feminist, I am humiliated on behalf of the feminist movement. We were given the opportunity to engage and be heard by those with different views. Our response? The distorted use of the word “sexist” that exploits its validity. 

Here’s a potential conversation stopper: If a man says something to me such as, “Don’t wear that, you’ll distract boys,” I could raise my voice and call him sexist. If I want him to understand why I should be able to dress how I want without comment, I would formulate sentences in a calm manner and express my views. 

I adore my generation. Some of the most passionate people I’ve met are teens fighting for causes they believe in. I hope our interest in global politics emboldens us to seek a deeper understanding of what we argue. I hope we avoid using ambiguous terms as arguments. If we want to articulate our opinions, I hope we will learn to justify the narratives we use and modify our approach to create productive discourse.

Our beliefs and views should be used as conversation starters, not conversation stoppers.


Charlotte Kramon was a Jewish Journal intern this past summer.

Texas High School Curriculum Blames Arab World for Israel-Palestinian Conflict

Photo from PxHere.

The Texas State Board of Education voted on several changes on Friday to the high school curriculum in the state, including teaching students that the Arab world is to blame for the ongoing Israel-Palestinian conflict.

The Dallas Morning News reports that “Arab rejection of the State of Israel has led to ongoing conflict” has be re-inserted into the Texas high school curriculum; students will have to explain why the “Arab rejection of the State of Israel” is to blame for the current Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Additionally, Texas high school students will be taught that Moses was an influential figure on the American founding, as were Judeo-Christian principles.

Hillary Clinton and Helen Keller were among the notable figures who were taken out of Texas curriculum.

The vote is preliminary; a final vote will be held in November.

The Jerusalem Post notes that Texas “leads the textbook industry in approving content, curriculum standards and supplemental materials for public schools.”

According to Jewish Virtual Library, the Arabs rejected the Peel Commission’s 1937 proposal to establish a Jewish state and an Arab state and rejected the United Nations partition plan to establish two states. In 2014, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that the Palestinians “will never recognize the Jewishness of the state of Israel.”

Trump Touts Jerusalem Embassy, Nixing Iran Deal in Rosh Hashanah Call

REUTERS/Leah Millis

President Trump addressed American Jewish leaders in a Rosh Hashanah conference call on Thursday, where he touted his decision to move the United States embassy to Jerusalem as well as to exit from the Iran nuclear deal.

According to a transcript of the call provided by the Times of Israel, Trump said that he has a “personal” connection to the Jewish faith.

“I am the very proud father of a Jewish daughter, Ivanka, and my son-in-law, who I’m very proud of also — I will say that very loudly — Jared [Kushner], and my several Jewish grandchildren, namely three beautiful Jewish grandchildren that I love,” Trump said.

Trump then rattled off moves his administration has made as accomplishments: the Jerusalem embassy, leaving the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and deporting a former Nazi concentration camp guard.

“We’re also deeply honored to be joined by several Holocaust survivors. It is a true privilege to be graced by your presence,” Trump said. “And it marks the 5,779th in the Jewish calendar, so we renew our pledge to confront anti-Semitism and hatred in all of its forms.”

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman then provided a brief update on the Jerusalem embassy, highlighting that the second phase of construction would be completed by June 2019 and that the embassy has already become “a major tourist site.”

“I’m there almost every day, and people just pull up their cars to the front of the embassy, they get out, they take pictures,” Friedman said. “I’ve seen some people praying there. I’ve actually seen many people crying there. Many Cabinet members have come to visit. Many members of Congress have come to visit. I urge all of you to please come to visit.”

Legal scholar Alan Dershowitz then asked Trump if he was “optimistic” about forging a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Trump said he was, pointing out that the embassy move has now been taken off the table and that zeroing out funding to Palestinian leaders has given the U.S. leverage in a deal.

“I really do believe we’re going to make a deal, Alan,” Trump said. “I hope so. It would be a great thing to do.”

Former Sen. Norm Coleman then asked the president on what the next steps are in regards to Iran after exiting the nuclear deal. Trump responded by saying that exiting the deal has “had a tremendously positive impact”:

I will tell you that if you look at Iran now, when I — if you go a day before I took over — I don’t want to say the same day — the day before I took over as President, Iran — it was not a question of how big and how strong they were; it was a question of when will they take over the entire Middle East. And that probably includes Israel, in the mind of a lot of people.

And if you look at them today, they’re not looking at the Mediterranean any longer. They’re not looking at places that they were going to routinely take over. And I think Israel feels a lot safer than they’ve felt in many, many years.

Iran is fighting for their own survival. They’ve got demonstrations in every city. This is far worse than it was years ago when President Obama could’ve maybe crushed Iran if all they needed was a positive statement — the people that were demonstrating. Well, these demonstrations are larger, but they’re more widespread. They’re all over the country.

So Iran is no longer the same country. I would imagine that they’ll be calling in the not-too-distant future to try and make a deal. If we can make a real deal, we’ll do it. If they don’t call, that’s okay too. Eventually, they’re going to have no choice. But we’ll see what happens.

Read the full transcript of the call here.

U.S. to End UNRWA Funding, Reduce Refugee Status of Palestinians

REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

The Trump administration plans on ending all funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and advocating for the number of Palestinians designated as refugees substantially, according to The Washington Post.

Within the next few weeks, the administration will officially make the aforementioned announcement and state they are ceasing funding to UNRWA until the agency is reformed. The U.S. had been providing about a third of UNRWA’s $1.1 billion budget.

United States Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley explained at an August 28 Foundation for Defense Democracies (FDD) event that the Palestinian Authority (PA) teaches “anti-Israeli and anti-American things in their textbook,” which was a factor in the Trump administration’s decision to cut UNRWA’s funding from $130 million to $65 million earlier in the year.

“UNRWA had them [the Palestinians] protest in the streets that we didn’t give more,” Haley said.

Haley added that Arab countries need to step up their funding to UNRWA instead.

The Trump administration will call for the number of Palestinians designated as refugees to decline from 5.3 million to less than 500,000, limiting the refugee status to those who were alive at the time the agency was established in 1949.

Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), accused the U.S. of “violating international law” by ending funding to UNRWA.

“There is an international obligation to assist and support it until all the problems of the Palestinian refugees are solved,” Erekat said.

Germany is reportedly preparing to increase their funding to UNRWA in light of the reported U.S. decision to end such funding, according to Haaretz.

Those that support UNRWA argue that it’s necessary to provide aid to displaced Palestinians and help prevent further violence; critics argue that the agency is nothing more than a welfare program for terrorism.

Columbia Professor Says It’s Anti-Semitic to Call Israel ‘the Jewish State’

Screenshot from Twitter.

Columbia Professor Joseph Massad, who has a history of criticizing Israel, wrote on an anti-Zionist website that it’s anti-Semitic to refer to Israel as “the Jewish state.”

In an August 24 Electronic Intifada piece titled “Anti-Semitism vs. anti-colonialism,” Massad argued that the ongoing anti-Semitic controversies involving Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party was predicated on Zionists equating criticisms of the Israeli government to anti-Semitism.

“In naming its state ‘the Jewish people,’ the Zionist movement conflated and conflates its colonial project with all Jews, even when the majority of world Jewry did not support the movement and continues to refuse to live in, and become citizens of, Israel,” Massad wrote. “Therefore, it is imperative to emphasize that it is Israel and its supporters who conflate Israel with all Jews, and then claim that condemning Israel, its laws, policies, actions and ideology amounts to condemning the Jewish people.”

Massad added that Palestinians are simply resisting Israel’s “racist and colonial nature.”

“If there should be a definition of anti-Semitism to be adopted by the Labour Party (or any other political party or institution) in Britain today, it should include the condemnation of anti-Semitic and colonial expressions such as: ‘Israel is the Jewish state,’ or ‘Israel is the state of the Jewish people’ or Israel ‘speaks for Jews,’ or colonizing the land of the Palestinians is a ‘Jewish value,’” Massad wrote.

Massad has written similar statements in the past, such as in 2003, when he wrote that Israel has turned “the Jew into the anti-Semite, and the Palestinian into the Jew.”

Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper told the Journal in a phone interview that Massad is “a denier of reality.”

“This professor at Columbia University is going to teach us who is a Jew, what is anti-Semitism, and he has to come up with a construct that makes him feel comfortable,” Cooper said, “and along the way, by constructing it his way, he gets to blame the victim.”

Cooper added that the “blame the victim” tactic has been used by anti-Semites for years, stating that it goes as far back as “the church in the Middle Ages,” when they said that bad things happened to the Jews because they wouldn’t convert to Christianity.

“Now, it’s real simple: ‘Oh, if only the Jews would walk away from the largest Jewish community in the world, there would be no more anti-Semitism,’” Cooper said. “It’s an old tactic dressed up in the most fancy, post-modern lexicon, but it still comes down to old-fashioned Jew hatred.”

According to the Canary Mission website, Massad has previously stated that “the Jewish state is a racist state that does not have the right to exist” and that Zionists were allied with the Nazis.

A student who took Massad’s class on Palestinian and Israeli Politics wrote in an August 2017 post on an anonymous student review site of Columbia professors:

He really blurs the line between facts and opinions, which gets on everyone’s nerves. 
Massad treats a lot of his course like a media appearance advocating for one side and berating the other. I can’t say he is as intense as some of his fans in the course who think everyone criticizing him is just trying to paint him as an anti-Semite, but Massad can be frustrating to work with. 

He brings a lot of analysis to the course but much of that is skewed, something that wasn’t obvious to classmates of mine who were less familiar with the course material than I was.

H/T: Columbia University Monitor

New York Times Publishes a Rejection of Yossi Klein Halevi’s Plea for Reconciliation

Yossi Klein Halevi

If you want to better understand why peace between Israel and the Palestinians is a hopeless illusion, read Raja Shehadeh’s response in The New York Times this week to Yossi Klein Halevi’s soulful and conciliatory “Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor.”

Instead of responding in kind, Shehadeh falls back on the tired trope of chronic victimhood that has served only to perpetuate Palestinian misery. In this narrow view, every Palestinian woe is Israel’s fault; and Palestinians are a weak people with no agency just waiting for big, bad Israel to “withdraw from the territories it has occupied and leave us to go on with our lives.”

Shehadeh, who’s an author and an intellectual, knows better than to simplify such a bedeviling conflict whose complexity Halevi tried to honor. He knows, for example, that on the very day the IDF would abandon the territories, terror groups like Hamas and ISIS would jump to try to fill the vacuum and massacre Palestinians, just like Hamas did in Gaza.

But such complexity plays no role in Shehadeh’s takedown of Halevi’s offer to embark “on a journey of listening to each other.”

Shehadeh acknowledges that Halevi recognizes the importance of a Palestinian “counterstory,” one of “invasion, occupation and expulsion,” a history of “dislocation” and “humiliating defeats.” But how does he respond to such humility and contrition? By blasting Halevi for being “condescending” and for focusing so much of his book on trying to help Palestinians understand the Zionist story that is ingrained in Halevi’s soul.

Shehadeh also knows better than to casually dismiss Israeli offers of peace rejected by Palestinians as “old and discredited narratives.” He can’t even bring himself to admit that Palestinians are partly responsible for the absence of peace. The furthest he will go is to say, “I was involved in the Oslo negotiations and I can tell you that Israel shares plenty of responsibility for their failure.”

Everything else in his piece is a hodgepodge of polite aggression disguised as sophisticated lamentations. He claims that, “To make peace possible the Palestinians are not required to become Zionists,” as if Halevi ever asked for that. Betraying his intent to undermine Halevi’s book, he twists a plea to “understand us” into a demand to “become Zionist.”

Perhaps the deepest sign of his bad faith is when he admits to having zero interest in Israelis understanding his narrative: “Unlike you,” he writes triumphantly, “I will not demand that you see the Nakba, the catastrophe that Israel’s founding caused for my people, in the same way as I see it.”

Why? Because “You couldn’t.” Shehadeh is so drenched in smug victimhood that he can’t possibly imagine a Jewish neighbor being able to understand his narrative—not even a neighbor who has already made a genuine effort to do precisely that.

What he wants is that Israel recognizes its responsibility and “put a recognition of that culpability on the agenda for negotiations when the time comes for arriving at a settlement between us.”

But that time will never come if the Shehadehs of the Palestinian world continue to treat Palestinians as hopeless victims who are too weak to ever understand the authentic longings of their Jewish neighbors.

Palestinian Girl Who Slapped Israeli Soldier ‘Proud’ of Hezbollah Leader’s Praise

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Sixteen-year-old Ahed Tamimi, the Palestinian girl who has made headlines after being imprisoned for eight months for slapping an Israeli soldier, said she is “proud” of being praised by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

A clip from Lebanese television and translated by MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute) begins with Nasrallah saying that Tamimi was “brave and courageous.”

“This is a girl that confronts Israeli soldiers and slaps them,” Nasrallah said before a crowd.

The clip then turns to Tamimi, who called Nasrallah “honorable” and thanked him for his support.

“His words boosted our morale – not just my morale but the morale of many people, because I represent the people,” Tamimi said, adding that Nasrallah’s words provided “support of the entire Palestinian people.”

Tamimi then said she “salutes” Nasrallah.

“We all support him and are proud of him,” Tamimi said.

Nasrallah has a record of anti-Semitic invectives, which includes him saying, “If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak and feeble in psyche, mind, ideology and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew.” He has also said, “If they (Jews) all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.”

According to Jewish Virtual Library, Nasrallah has taken Hezbollah into “a more extremist line against Israel and the US” since he took over the terror group in 1991, pointing to his decision to have Hezbollah kidnap Israeli soldiers and then launch rockets into Israel in 2006, which resulted in the Second Israel-Lebanon War.

H/T: Times of Israel

UCLA Unsure About Hosting Anti-Zionist Conference in November

Photo from Public Domain Pictures.

National Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) announced on their website that UCLA’s SJP chapter will be hosting the national SJP conference in November. However, when the Jewish Journal contacted UCLA, they had not yet confirmed that the conference would be happening on campus.

Algemeiner first reported that UCLA would be hosting the conference, linking to National SJP’s announcement, which states: “Students for Justice in Palestine at UCLA will be hosting the 8th annual National Students for Justice in Palestine Conference on November 16-18, 2018 in Los Angeles, CA.”

 But Ricardo Vazquez, UCLA’s associate director of media relations, told the Journal in an email that UCLA had first learned about the conference in a Facebook post on August 21.

“We [are] working to verify the information in the Facebook post,” Vazquez wrote. “SJP is a student group, and most students are still away from campus until we start the fall quarter in late September. To clarify again: This would be an SJP-sponsored event that the organization plans to host on campus.”

UCLA’s SJP and National SJP decried Zionism in the announcement as “perverse in all aspects of Palestinian life and aims to destroy Palestinian existence and culture.”

“With the Nakba and the Naksa, relentless attacks on Gaza, cementing apartheid into law, and the everyday oppression of Palestinians at all levels of life, it may seem at times like all hope of seeing a free Palestine has been diminished,” SJP UCLA and National SJP wrote on the National SJP website. “And yet, Palestinians have persevered through the generations by means of their resistance and resilience.”

They also referred to Zionism as “ethnic cleansing, destruction, mass expulsion, apartheid, and death” and that it “can be destroyed” and said that they would discuss divestment campaigns as one of the ways they can be active on college campuses.

UCLA’s Students Supporting Israel (SSI) chapter called on UCLA to deny SJP from being allowed to host their conference on campus in light of the May 17 disruption of an SSI event.

“SJP clearly aimed for the destruction of our event, the denial of our free speech, and the negation of the academic freedoms which our university stands for, a similar pattern of action used by them on US campuses time after time,” UCLA SSI wrote on Facebook. “While for some the events of May 17th are well in the past or act as merely a reminder of the growing prevalence of anti-Semitism Zionophobia across university campuses, for us, SJP across the country serves as an organization that denies freedom of speech and uses violent methods to silence their opponents, methods that lead to bullying and violence.”

They added that the SJP conference aims “to further subject our university to their racist, hateful, and Zionophobic tactics and messages.”

“Zionism is the national movement of the Jewish people that called for Jewish sovereignty and led to the establishment of the state of Israel,” UCLA’s SSI wrote. “Zionists believe in the return of an ancient and indigenous people into their homeland after a millennia, and the right of the Jewish people to finally become masters of their own destiny. Today, decades after the Jewish people have returned to their homeland to established a Jewish, indigenous, and democratic state, those who support the existence of Israel face anti-Semitism and Zionophobic attacks and disruptions against them on college campuses, and those efforts are greatly led by SJP.”

The post concluded with the call for the UCLA administration to “take the appropriate actions in not allowing a well-known hate group like SJP to host their national conference on our campus.”

“In doing so, the administration will set a national example that denial of free speech, disruption, intimidation of students, and violence will not be tolerated in the academic community,” UCLA’s SSI wrote.

UCLA professor Judea Pearl had a similar reaction.

“My students and colleagues at UCLA express revulsion and indignation at the idea that our campus will be hosting a racist Zionophobic conference aimed at the destruction of the Jewish homeland,” Pearl said in a statement sent to the Journal. “Israel is a cherished symbol of identity to thousands of students on this campus, and sponsoring a blunt Zionophobic conference at their face is telling them they are not welcome at the University of California. Zionophobic racism is still racism.”

“We plead with the Chancellor to react to this proposed conference the same way he would react to any racist conference, be it Islamophobic or white-supremacist.”

When asked about how UCLA would address concerns of pro-Israel students about the SJP conference, Vazquez responded:

UCLA is bound by the First Amendment, which protects everyone’s right to express their ideas, even those that are controversial or unpopular. UCLA officials condemned the disruption of the ‘Indigenous Peoples Unite’ event on May 17, activating UCLA’s student conduct process and forwarding complaints filed by students to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, which is now reviewing the matter. UCLA remains committed to protecting all of our students, regardless of their religious or ethnic identities or political beliefs. We will hold everyone to the same standards and continue to work to foster an environment where everyone’s rights are protected. Today we are proud that UCLA has many intellectual and cultural links to Jewish and Israeli institutions. Many UCLA schools, departments, and institutes have active student and faculty exchange programs with Israel and we have study abroad programs at the Hebrew University, the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the Technion.”

As of publication time, neither UCLA’s SJP nor National SJP had responded to the Journal’s request for comment.

Gaza Judge Says That ‘Jihad’ Against Israel Is an ‘Individual Duty’

Screenshot from Twitter.

Gaza Judge Omar Nofal, who serves on Gaza’s Sharia court, said on Hamas TV on August 8 that “jihad” against Israel is an individual duty.

Nofal’s interview on Hamas TV, translated by MEMRI, begins with Nofal hyping the “72 Virgins of Paradise” as well as “the crown of honor” that martyrs earn in the afterlife.

“How can anyone cling to this world after hearing all of these great rewards?” Nofal said. “You can see that our young people have renounced life in this world, and hastened (to become martyrs).”

Nofal claimed that this is one of the reasons why “the Palestinian people have emerged victorious in all battles.”

“You can see that when the rockets are raining down, our young people march toward martyrdom,” Nofal said. “On the other hand, as soon as our enemies hear the siren – I’m talking about sirens and balloons, not rockets – when they hear the sirens, all of them – the police, the civil defense and, the soldiers – throw themselves to the ground and have a panic attack.”

Toward the end of the clip, Nofal states, “Regarding the situation in Palestine, I say that jihad is an individual duty incumbent upon the entire nation. Nobody is allowed to forsake this jihad.”

Nofal’s comments come amidst Hamas shooting rockets and fiery kites and balloons into Israel. Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon is calling on the U.N. to put the full responsibility on the escalation in violence on Hamas.

“Alarms have once again shattered the hope of the children of southern Israel for a quiet summer vacation – no country would tolerate such a situation,” Danon said. “The international community must condemn Hamas and place the responsibility for this unacceptable onslaught on the terrorist organization”

It’s Not Us — It’s Them

The Forward recently ran an open letter by Rabbi Philip Graubart headlined “ ‘Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor’ Is Not the Book We Need Right Now.”

Seeing the headline only, I thought, because most Palestinian leaders engage in blatant Holocaust denial, promote anti-Semitic canards such as Jews poison water wells, deny any Jewish connection to the land of Israel, and endorse the murder of Jews, that this open letter would argue Jews need to wait for a Palestinian sea change before Yossi Klein Halevy’s “Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor” could advance peace.

Instead, this open letter accused Halevy of being too stuck in the Jewish “narrative.”

Imagining a theoretical “Palestinian moderate,” Graubart posited that after reading Halevy’s book, this moderate might say, “Why waste time in dialogue with you? … We already agree on the basics.”

Query: What “basics” does Graubart think Palestinian “moderates” and Halevy agree on? Based on Halevy’s scholarship, he believes Jews have a deep connection to the land of Israel. The “moderate” Palestinian leaders don’t believe Jews are even a people, let alone a people with a 3,300-year-old love affair with the land of Israel. 

Graubart asserts his issue with Halevy’s book is that it makes allegations about Halevy’s “loving embrace of religious, biblical narrative” that “no Palestinian could accept” and that the “biblical impulse to build settlements in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] is precisely what’s sabotaged an agreement.”

So, according to Graubart, it isn’t rabid anti-Semitism, rejection of any Jewish connection to Israel or even the rejection of offer after offer to have an independent Arab state in Judea and Samaria and Gaza, which is to blame. It is the Jews’ “biblical impulse” to live in Judea.

There are so many problems with this perspective. The most obvious is that it implies the Palestinians bear no responsibility for their actions. 

Graubart’s piece, however, does a great job of capturing the growing divide between many Jews in the U.S. and the overwhelming majority of Jews in Israel. 

This divide is represented strikingly in Graubart’s letter, where he writes, “if your book taught me anything, it’s that we must begin the admittedly difficult process of privileging basic values over national, religious narratives.” Graubart adds that for peace, Jews need to be “a people who value[d] peace … over historical/religious narrative. … People who loved peace more than they loved the ancient stories of their people.”

Thankfully, our ancestors didn’t think abdicating our faith was the way to go.

Plainly, many American Jews have not internalized the lessons most Jews in Israel have over the past 100 years. 

Also, if we just “privileged basic values over national, religious narratives,” then why drain swamps, irrigate deserts, revive Hebrew as our national language, or even fight for our independence against five Arab armies and numerous Arab militias sworn to destroy us?

After all, if we value “peace” above everything else, we could all just give up on our indigenous faith, stop being “stiff-necked” Jews, and convert. Plainly, that would have made the Jew-haters much happier and much more “peaceful” toward us.

Thankfully, our ancestors didn’t think abdicating our faith and our “religious longings” to live in Zion was the way to go.

By Graubart’s definition, the Maccabees would also be disparaged as “willing to sabotage future peace negotiations by giving in to religious longings.” As unwilling to “love peace more than they loved the ancient stories of their people.” 

Most Palestinians, however, reject that there were ever Maccabees. And this is where Graubart is the most mistaken. Graubart assumes the obstacle to peace is Jewish love of our “historical/religious narrative.” But it is the Arab rejection of Jewish history that is the obstacle to peace. 

This is the ultimate message of Halevy’s book. In order for there to be peace, the Palestinians are going to have to meet us halfway and stop asking us to accept that their new Palestinian identity deserves two Arab states — all while they reject history and Jewish sovereignty anywhere in the land of Israel.


Micha Danzig is a practicing attorney in San Diego and board member of T.E.A.M. (Training & Education About the Middle East).

Palestinian Ambassador Accuses Haley of Being ‘More Israeli Than the Israelis Themselves’

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, lashed out at United States U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley on Wednesday by accusing her of being “more Israeli than the Israelis themselves.”

Mansour was irked that Haley chided Arab nations of political grandstanding with their speeches against Israel, yet do little to actually help the Palestinian people. Mansour claimed that Haley’s speech was nothing more than “an unconditional defense Israel” and criticized her for the Trump administration’s decision to drastically cut funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

Additionally, Mansour declared that the Trump administration’s peace proposal would not be considered by the Palestinian Authority.

As the Journal reported on July 24, Haley challenged Arab nations to take steps to help the Palestinian people instead of simply giving speeches that criticize Israel.

“If those words were useful in the schools, the hospitals and the streets of their communities, the Palestinian people would not be facing the desperate conditions we are discussing here today,” Haley said. “Talk is cheap.”

Some teachers at UNRWA schools have reportedly issued anti-Semitic Facebook posts. Richard Goldberg, a senior adviser to the Foundation of Defense Democracies, has argued that the UNRWA keeps Palestinians “in a permanent state of dependency and poverty.”

Haley Slams Arab Countries for Not Helping Palestinian People: ‘Talk Is Cheap’

REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, challenged Arab nations that frequently criticize Israel at the United Nations to help the Palestinian people.

In a July 24 U.N. Security Council session, Haley began her remarks by defending Israel’s strikes against Hamas in Gaza, pointing out that the size of damage caused by Hamas’ incendiary kites and balloons is equivalent to the size of Connecticut.

“While the international media pays very careful attention to every step Israel takes in self-defense, we must not lose sight of very real damage that is being done to Israel from terrorist attacks coming from Gaza,” Haley said.

Haley then noted how various countries – particularly Arab countries – claim to stand with the Palestinian people in their various speeches in the U.N.

“If those words were useful in the schools, the hospitals and the streets of their communities, the Palestinian people would not be facing the desperate conditions we are discussing here today,” Haley said. “Talk is cheap.”

Haley added that such talk only gets “the international community riled up.”

The U.S. ambassador highlighted funding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), pointing out that countries like Iran, Algeria and Tunisia haven’t put a single penny into UNRWA. Other countries like Pakistan and Egypt contribute thousands of dollars to UNRWA –– by comparison, the United States gave $364 million the U.S. gave to UNRWA in 2017.

“Words at the United Nations or actions on the streets and in the schools of Palestinian communities: which matters more?” Haley asked. “Judging by the vitriol that is directed toward the United States from the Palestinian representatives – including the one here today – and from some of their allies, one might fairly conclude that our support is unappreciated or unwelcomed.”

Haley added, “We continue to seek out ways to help the Palestinian people, whose plight is of genuine concern to us. But we’re not fools. If we extend a hand in friendship and generosity, we do not expect our hand to be bitten. And as we extend our hand, we expect others to extend their hands as well.”

Haley then asked why Arab countries don’t condemn Hamas for their terrorist activities or seek to reconcile warring Palestinian factions.

“The Palestinian leadership has been allowed to live a false reality for too long because Arab leaders are afraid to tell them the truth,” Haley said. “The United States is telling the truth because we do care about the Palestinian people.”

Her full speech can be seen below:

Poll Shows Palestinians Want Convicted Terrorist to Succeed Abbas

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Those hoping that the Palestinians’ eroding support for Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas could be a stepping stone will be disappointed in a new poll showing that Palestinians support a convicted terrorist to succeed Abbas.

A July 4 poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research Center (PCPSR) found that a plurality of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip support Marwan Barghouti, who is currently serving five life sentences in an Israeli prison over terrorism charges, at 30 percent. The runner-up is Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh at 23 percent.

Sixty-one percent of respondents also believed that Abbas needs to step down from his position as PA president, while 33 percent don’t.

Barghouti has become a bit of cause celebre among pro-Palestinian activists, as they have called for him to be freed from prison based on “the constant violations of international agreements and of Palestinians’ human rights perpetrated by the Israeli state.”

Barghouti’s record consists of him leading the terror groups Tanzim and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, both of which are the military arm of Fatah. Under Barghouti’s reign, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades launched several terror attacks against Israel, including multiple suicide bombings that killed more than 30 people combined.

In 2004, an Israeli court convicted Barghouti for three terror attacks that killed five people combined. Barghouti declared that peace could only be achieved when the Palestinians have their own state.

“The five people who were killed in these attacks that he ordered will not return to life,” then-Foreign Ministry spokesperson Silvan Shalom said at the time. “The widows and orphans will not get their loved ones back. But at least justice was done.”

As to why a plurality of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza would support a convicted terrorist to replace Abbas, consider the fact that a 2015 Anti-Defamation League (ADL) poll found that 93 percent of Palestinians tend to be anti-Semitic and 82 percent engage in Holocaust denialism.

Palestinians’ Latest Method of Terror: Burning Condoms!

Screenshot from Twitter.

The Hamas-led riots at the Israel-Gaza border that have occurred at least once a week since March have featured Palestinians launching fiery kites and balloons laced with explosives as a means to terrorize southern Israel. Now they have found a new weapon: condoms.

Yes, you read that correctly. No, it is not a joke.

On June 21, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) shared part a Palestinian video on Twitter that a provided a how-to guide on how to create an explosive condom balloon:

Even though it’s incredibly juvenile, it’s no laughing matter.

According to a June 20 Times of Israel (TOI) report, the use of kites, balloons and condoms as weapons are “dead simple and dirt cheap methods” to cause terror, citing one instance where an explosive balloon emblazoned “I <3 YOU” landed on Israeli highway, forcing that section of the highway to be shut down until the police were able to conduct a controlled detonation of the balloon.

Another instance involved a group of balloons that had an explosive on them landing onto a trampoline in an Eshkol backyard.

Meirav Vidal, who lives in the home where this occurred, told TOI, “Balloons on a trampoline in the backyard — that’s a decorative play area and beckons the most innocent ones, and yet our children have lost their innocence because of this phenomenon.”

In the case of the kites, Israeli farmers have been particularly burdened by them since their fields have been wiped out by the fiery kites.

Israel has responded to these actions of terrors by firing warning shots at the encampments launching them as well as launching strikes against Hamas.

The Globalist Strikes Again – A Poem for Haftarah Chukat by Rick Lupert

In the midst of the troubled centuries
After we arrived in the promised land
Before a king arose to organize us all

We were still figuring out our borders
Using our theological claims to orchestrate
the ongoing holy land-grab.

Our God, the One God is better than
your god, the no-god. I can’t imagine
telling my Van Nuys neighbor

I’ll be taking your house now.
Leave the door unlocked, and try not
to mess up the lawn on your way out.

Wasn’t it enough we were taken out of
slavery? Isn’t freedom enough of a gift?
Why do we need what’s theirs?

And now, thousands of years later
I’m thinking of of Jephthah – The man
with too many h’s in his name.

The man who you don’t want to set loose
in a Palestinian neighborhood, lest he
return with the keys to their homes

and an airspace filled with flying rocks.
Nothing is simple about the details.
Except the one in which we are all

flesh and blood, no matter which side
of the human-drawn lines we are on.
I think of this as I fly over the

vast empty spaces of the world and
watch the news about how people
still can’t get along.

I’m sorry your family didn’t want you
Jephthah. Every little boy deserves
to be nurtured.

The globalist in me prays for
an atlas without country names.
A world without passports.

The primary human interaction
holding hands…everyone given
all they need.


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos Angeles poet Rick Lupert created the Poetry Super Highway (an online publication and resource for poets), and hosted the Cobalt Cafe weekly poetry reading for almost 21 years. He’s authored 22 collections of poetry, including “God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion“, “I’m a Jew, Are You” (Jewish themed poems) and “Feeding Holy Cats” (Poetry written while a staff member on the first Birthright Israel trip), and most recently “Beautiful Mistakes” (Rothco Press, May 2018) and edited the anthologies “A Poet’s Siddur: Shabbat Evening“,  “Ekphrastia Gone Wild”, “A Poet’s Haggadah”, and “The Night Goes on All Night.” He writes the daily web comic “Cat and Banana” with fellow Los Angeles poet Brendan Constantine. He’s widely published and reads his poetry wherever they let him.