March 22, 2019

U.S. Officials Meet Disabled Israeli Soldiers

A group photo from the visit to the IDF airbase. Photo courtesy of Special in Uniform.

United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and former Chairman of the U.S. President’s Advisory Committee on People with Disabilities Chris Neeley, visited the Palmachim Air Force Base this week together with a delegation from the Jewish National Fund (JNF) Task Force on Disabilities.

They went to observe and learn how the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) incorporates 50 young men and women with assorted disabilities into military life through the program Special in Uniform. The long-term goal is to adapt the program for soldiers in the United States Armed Forces.

“A year ago, I read an article on the internet about Special in Uniform, and I’m overjoyed that I now have the opportunity to see it up close,” Neeley said in a statement. “It’s an incredible program by any estimation and we look forward to introducing a sister program back home in America.”

Special in Uniform focuses on ability, not disability, helping participants to find a role within the IDF that encourages them to contribute to Israel’s military and help keep their citizens safe. The program is funded through JNF through the organization Lend A Hand to a Special Child.

“It’s our moral obligation to ensure that each and every Israeli enjoys a life of dignity, belonging, and purpose,” JNF President Dr. Sol Lizerbram said in a statement.”

Currently 400 youth with special needs in 30 bases participate in Special in Uniform across Israel. According to the statement it was rare, if not impossible, to meet a soldier with autism or Down’s syndrome only a few years ago, but now they are incorporated in many bases in Israel and valued as integral members of the IDF with each soldier contributing his utmost to defend the country.

One of the soldiers Friedman and Neeley met was Roi Schiffman, who has cerebral palsy. Schiffman works in the Palmachim infirmary where he prints and issues documents.

“I’ve visiting many army bases and observed the arms and brain of the IDF. Today, I see the heart of the army,” Friedman said in a statement.

Chairman of Lend A Hand to a Special Child and one of the founders of Special in Uniform Lt. Col. (res.) Gabi Ophir shared through a statement that she joined the project 27 years ago when her daughter Ronit, who has William’s syndrome, was integrated into the Anatot Base.

“I was fortunate and blessed to observe the incredible changes that it made in her life, yet I never dreamed how far it would go or how it would transform the fabric of the IDF and nation itself,” Ophir said. “I’m proud of our military and Israel which is the world’s pioneer of inclusion.”

Israel is currently the only country that integrates citizens with special needs and disabilities into its military.

Thomas Friedman Gets AIPAC Wrong

Thomas Friedman; Photo from CNBC

Thomas Friedman, the venerable Middle East commentator, has a problem with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac), the pro-Israel lobby group whose mission is “to strengthen, protect and promote the U.S.-Israel relationship in ways that enhance the security of the United States and Israel.”

In his most recent column in the New York Times, Friedman accuses Aipac of being “a rubber stamp on the right-wing policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which has resulted in tens of thousands of Israeli settlers now ensconced in the heart of the West Bank, imperiling Israel as a democracy.”

When I read that, I thought: What is Friedman asking for, exactly? Would piling on the attacks on Netanyahu really help Aipac’s mission to strengthen, protect and promote the US—Israel relationship? Aipac is a lobby group, not a think tank. As a rule, it respects and honors the democratic choices of Israeli voters, whether they choose Labor leaders like Shimon Peres, Yitzchak Rabin and Ehud Barak, or Likud leaders like Netanyahu, Ehud Olmert and Ariel Sharon.

Friedman seems to blame Aipac for Israeli voters who have put their faith in more security-driven, right-wing coalitions over the past decade. And if anyone is to blame for Israel becoming a more partisan issue in Congress, which Friedman also attributes to Aipac, I would look first at the alarming anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist vibes arising out of new members like Ilan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. If anything, Aipac’s efforts are mitigating this trend.

Apparently, in Friedman’s fantasy world, there’s no end to Aipac’s power. If only Aipac had taken on Netanyahu, if only they had attacked his right-wing policies that have resulted in “tens of thousands of Israeli settlers now ensconced in the heart of the West Bank,” maybe the Palestinian leaders would have come to their senses and a two-state solution would have been more likely.

Never mind that there were already “tens of thousands of Israeli settlers” well before Netanyahu took office, and it was the Labor party not the Likud party that started the settlement enterprise in the first place.

And as much as people may hate Netanyahu, he was still the only Israeli prime minister who implemented a settlement freeze that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called “unprecedented.” And despite the constraints of his right-wing coalition, according to a January 2019 piece in the Jerusalem Post, “The growth rate in the settler population has slowed under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to its lowest point in over 23 years and possibly its lowest point ever.”

Never mind all that.

In full melodramatic mode, Friedman wants to put the weight of the highest Jewish ideals on Aipac’s back: “I don’t like Aipac,” he writes, “because I strongly believe in the right of the Jewish people to build a nation-state in their ancient homeland — a nation-state envisaged by its founders to reflect the best of Jewish and democratic values.”

Is he implying that Aipac doesn’t believe in all that?

It’s clear that by putting so much undue pressure on Aipac, Friedman is unfairly maligning the group. First, he should know better. He should know, for example, that it’s not Israeli policies—right wing or left wing—that have most stymied the peace process, but the pathological rejectionism of a Palestinian leadership that refuses to do anything that might be good for the Jews or even their own people. Israeli voters have figured that out. 

But by implying that Aipac could have done something about an epic failure to resolve an intractable conflict that has jeopardized “the best of Jewish and democratic values,” Friedman is doing more than unfairly maligning Aipac.

Unwittingly, he’s reinforcing the age-old canard of dark, all-powerful Jewish forces that control the levers of power and can get anything done.

No Israeli government, left or right, has succeeded in making peace with the Palestinians. By suggesting Aipac has the power to influence that, Friedman is treating the group the way anti-Semites treat any Jewish lobby group: Too powerful. 

 

Bibi’s Disgraceful Act Tarnishes All Jews

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opens the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Gali Tibbon/Pool/File Photo

I have a tip for Israeli prime ministers: When not even the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) can stomach your shtus, you have gone well off the rails.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, facing the possibility of political loss, has gambled — much like President Donald Trump — on currying the favor of the worst of his compatriots to help pull him through to victory. Netanyahu orchestrated the merger of a coalition partner, the pro-settlement Jewish Home party, with Otzma Yehudit, the racist, annexationist party of the Kahanist movement.

Netanyahu’s move to legitimize Otzma Yehudit was too much for AIPAC and the AJC, who tweeted their objections to the potential presence of what they called a “racist” and “reprehensible” party in the next Israeli government. This is an extraordinary development. Netanyahu has managed what J Street and other pro-peace groups could not do. He has extracted from AIPAC an unequivocal denunciation of an Israeli leader’s policies with regard to internal Israeli affairs and the government’s relationship with the Palestinian people.

Otzma Yehudit was formed in 2012 but has never won enough votes for a seat in the Knesset.  The party has been called Kahanist, due to its members’ adherence to the ideology of the late U.S.-born Rabbi Meir Kahane, who founded the Jewish Defense League in the U.S. in 1971 and served in the Israeli Knesset before being banned in 1988 on the grounds that he was a “racist” and “undemocratic.” Kahane was linked to violent attacks on Israeli Arabs and Palestinians before he was assassinated in a Manhattan hotel in 1990.

Otzma Yehudit leader Itamir Ben Gvir displays in his home a picture of Baruch Goldstein, the perpetrator of a mass murder of Palestinians at prayer in 1994; and his party advocates ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Israel, which they consider to encompass not only the occupied territories of the West Bank but also the entire biblical territory from the Euphrates River (in Iraq and Syria) to the Mediterranean Sea. Their platform also calls for the denial of reproductive rights to women and, interestingly, “Jewish capitalism.”

By bringing a party that celebrates murder and ethnic cleansing into the political mainstream, Netanyahu has committed a disgrace. The state of Israel is linked with the Jewish people, so we have all been tarnished. Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5 teaches a crucial meaning to be found in the story of God’s creation of the first human in the Divine image: “For peace among the created ones [human beings] so that a person will never say to their companion, “My father is greater than your father.” In other words, racism is not a Jewish value.

Surely, this development will finally exhaust the idea that American Jews may not criticize Israel for fear of accusations of internalized anti-Semitism. We don’t criticize President Trump because we hate the U.S. but because we love our country and object to its degradation. Why shouldn’t the same view apply to Israel? At this point, we have no choice, because failure to object to current events is to collude in an insult to the entire Jewish people.

Finally, it is long past time for American Jews to quit conflating their Jewish identity with the State of Israel and parking it overseas. Judaism is not an “identity,” it is a way of life that each of us needs to embody in ourselves, in community and in relationship with other Jews, HaShem and with all of creation. Perhaps this shanda, this outrage, will provoke a sense of insult in American Jews whose relationship with Judaism has been on the casual side. Perhaps this will impel more of us to find out more about this heritage that we have been assuming will take care of itself, to learn about our ethic of mutual interhuman obligation and take up our part in it.


Rabbi Robin Podolsky teaches at Cal State Long Beach, writes for Shondaland and blogs .

Serious Semite: Brexit Blues

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn leads his colleagues to the unveiling of the statue of suffragist Millicent Fawcett on Parliament Square, in London, Britain, April 24, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union (EU) on March 29 and could enter its worst period of economic turmoil in decades. As an English Jew, I’m very concerned. The Conservative government might be forced into a general election if Brexit plans fail; the opposition Labour Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn, could win power; and Britain could have its first prime minister who is regularly and openly accused of anti-Semitism. Seven members of Parliament (MP) made the bold move of leaving the parliamentary Labour Party, and one of those departing, Jewish MP Luciana Berger, said Labour has become “institutionally anti-Semitic.”

On March 29, Article 50 will be activated, allowing a member state to leave the EU. There will be severe implications if Britain fails to strike a deal and faces the “no -deal Brexit.” British voters, who approved the referendum to withdraw from the EU in June 2016, might have created the worst constitutional crisis in the U.K. for centuries.

Divorces are rarely easy. The EU has offered what it sees as the best terms, but some think that Europe is like a jilted lover, saying “Fine! You are leaving me. No, I won’t discuss who keeps the puppy, the vintage art we bought on vacation, or the Vitamix. Go on now, go! Walk out the door!”

Except we’re not discussing puppies, but borders, trade deals and workers.
What happens to the estimated 300,000 French people living in the U.K., or 153,000 Brits in France? How will Germany sell BMWs in Britain, or French winemakers get bottles to English markets? Today, I can get on a train from London to Paris on a visa-free U.K. passport, but what about tomorrow?

A no-deal Brexit would spark confusion. There would need to be some kind of customs border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, after 100 years of peace processes that removed walls between the two countries. Yet Northern Ireland is part of Great Britain, and the Republic of Ireland is part of the EU, so if there is no border, then the EU has a back door entry to Britain. This threatens British sovereignty on its own land. 

If Britain stops Brexit or calls another referendum, it undermines the U.K. democratic process because the voters already approved Brexit. There is also the strange situation where the prime minister, who voted to remain in the EU, is now responsible for engineering Britain’s exit from the EU. 

“The EU has offered what it sees as the best terms, but some think that Europe is like a jilted lover.”

What if Scotland holds another referendum to leave Great Britain and rejoin the EU? Will Braveheart’s descendants build a wall?

Corbyn is the problem for British Jews.In the past, I was reluctant to call Corbyn a raging anti-Semite, reasoning that he is an old-school Marxist who dislikes Israel because it is a nation state, and Marxists don’t like nation states.

Corbyn is reminiscent of the “I am not anti-Semitic because some of my best friends are Jews” approach. He represents the new strain of anti-Semitism, typified by the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement that has spawned sickening “apartheid walls” on California college campuses.

There is a difference between legitimate criticism of Israel and disproportionate criticism. One is fair, the other is anti-Semitic. Why not talk more about Syria, South Sudan, Eritrea, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Equatorial Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Sudan, the Central African Republic and Libya? I won’t play the “Jewish victim” card, but this is different. Enough is enough.

If May is ousted then Britain’s best new prime minister option might be Boris Johnson, a boisterous, says-what-he-thinks, womanizing politician with unkempt blond hair. Sound familiar? I look forward to the entertainment value of “The Trump and Johnson Variety Show.” Why not have a fun distraction while Rome burns?

It is possible that Anglo-Jewry will be safe from Corbyn. Brexit will take place a few weeks before Passover, and as Jews, we know that miracles can happen.


Marcus J Freed is a Los Angeles-based actor.

Why I’m Angry About Trump’s Speech

President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Jim Young

The president of the United States laced this year’s State of the Union with references to anti-Semitism. He invited a Holocaust survivor of Dachau and an American World War II veteran who liberated the camp to the address. He acknowledged last year’s horrific massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue, honoring a survivor and a first responder who was injured terribly in the attack. Good, right? Then why are so many Jews so very, very angry?

Because, in the context of this speech, to think about the Holocaust is to think about the St. Louis, the ship transporting hundreds of Jewish refugees in 1939, turned away from the United States and sent back to Europe, where many passengers eventually died in the Holocaust. It is to remember that Jewish refugees were slandered as invaders and cultural polluters by the politicians whose slogan was “America First.”

So when President Donald Trump pairs invocations of the Holocaust with calls to militarize our southern border against refugees who are fleeing horrendous violence in their own countries — the social breakdown of which is attributable directly to the lingering effects of American intervention on behalf of brutal dictatorships — Jews get angry. Because the same calumnies that Trump is aiming at immigrants of color were aimed at us.

Because, to honor the courage of Judah Samet, who survived the Holocaust and the Tree of Life massacre is to remember why that massacre was perpetrated. The suspected killer of 11 Jews in Pittsburgh made it clear in writing that he was especially incensed at HIAS, the Jewish agency that assists them, writing, “It’s the filthy EVIL Jews. Bringing the (sic) Filthy EVIL Muslims into the country!! Stop the kikes then Worry About the Muslims!” Yes, this killer was angry at Trump for not being racist enough — but woven throughout his rants are tropes derived from Trump.

As Pittsburgh’s Bend the Arc Moral Minyan put it, “We will not let you use the Holocaust, our most painful history, to distract us from the real dangers at hand — the dangers you yourself have nurtured with your racism and xenophobia …. There are refugees seeking safety in America today, just as our Jewish parents and grandparents did during the Holocaust, yet once again America is calling them dangerous .… There are internment camps at our southern border and thousands of children separated from their parents by your administration.”

Trump’s pre-emptive deployment of outrages visited on the Jewish people only served, for many of us, to bring into sharp focus the great danger that his movement represents. We have seen what happens when demagogues whose actual policies favor corporate wealth and lead to an ever-greater gap between rich and poor evoke the “working class” in order to divert the anger of struggling workers away from the wealthiest and aim it at the most vulnerable: at a racial and religious other.

As Stacey Abrams observed genuinely working class-friendly policies not only address such issues as health care, student loan debt and wages that don’t rise with the cost of living (not a mention in the president’s speech), they also speak to the different histories and cultures within the working class. They address embedded and systemic racial and gendered and religious inequality. They certainly do not seek to pit one group of workers against another.

In response to the SOTU, Abrams addressed the precariousness of all working people’s lives in the United States today and managed to do that while honoring the particular struggles of people who have to persevere against additional obstacles because of who they are. The contrast between those speeches and Trump’s performance demonstrates why “populism” is such a useless descriptor.

Trump has indulged in a coy flirtation with neo-fascism throughout his presidency. This is the person who was able to discern “fine people on both sides” of a clash between neo-Nazis and their opponents; who did not use the State of the Union address to issue a firm denunciation of white nationalism. Bend the Arc is right. Keep our people out of your mouth.


Rabbi Robin Podolsky teaches at Cal State Long Beach, writes for Shondaland. She serves as a Jewish Community Engagement Fellow at J Street. 

Palestinian-American Sent to Prison for Life by PA for Selling Land to Jews

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a news conference following the extraordinary meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul, Turkey, December 13, 2017. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

A Palestinian-American was sentenced to life in prison in the Palestinian territories for selling land to Jews.

The Jerusalem Post reports that the man, identified as 53-year-old Issam Akel, was found guilty on Monday by the Palestinian Grand Criminal Court of brokering a deal for the Jewish group Ateret Cohanim to purchase a house in Old City Jerusalem’s Muslim Quarter. Akel is an East Jerusalem resident, where he has an Israeli ID card that provides him immunity from the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Under PA law, selling land to Jews is a crime that could result in the death penalty.

Akel was reportedly in Ramallah when he was arrested in October; it’s not known if he was visiting the city or if he was kidnapped by the PA from East Jerusalem and taken to Ramallah for prosecution.

Akel’s father, Jalal, told the Times of Israel that he was “surprised” by the sentence and rejected the notion that his son had sold land to Jews.

“We knew there was a trial happening, but we didn’t know this would happen,” Jalal Akel said.

A United States official told the Times of Israel that they were “aware” of Akel’s sentencing.

“When a U.S. citizen is incarcerated abroad, the US government works to provide all appropriate consular assistance,” the official said.

Israel is investigating the matter and arrested two members of the PA in response, although they have both been released on bail.

A Shameful Jewish Silence at the U.N.

“Do not stand idly by” is a popular mantra of Jewish activists who fight injustice. Whether the injustice is genocide in Sudan or child migrants separated from their parents or Israel undermining its democracy, these activists know how to make themselves heard.

But last week, when it came time to condemn terrorism in a high-profile vote, Jewish activists fell largely silent.

There were no online petitions or demonstrations in front of the United Nations in support of a resolution to denounce the terrorist group Hamas. As expected, the General Assembly rejected a U.S.-sponsored resolution that called for an end to violence, encouraged intra-Palestinian reconciliation, and condemned terrorism.

“Over the years, the U.N. has voted to condemn Israel over 500 times . . . and not one single resolution condemning Hamas,” U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley said in response. “That, more than anything else, is a condemnation of the United Nations itself.”

“The United Nations’ sorry record on Israel and terrorism is an issue that should unite the Jews, as well as anyone who cares about justice.”

To add insult to injury, as David May wrote in National Review Online (NRO), “The U.N. indicated that Jews’ praying at the Western Wall is more worthy of condemnation than Hamas’s lobbing rockets indiscriminately at Israeli civilians,” as the General Assembly passed another resolution calling for “an end to ‘Israel’s occupation . . . including of East Jerusalem,’ the location of Judaism’s holiest shrine.”

The fact that the U.N. is a cesspool of anti-Israel sentiment, virtually immune to any activism, is no reason not to protest. When the cause is worth it, Jewish activists have no problem fighting against the odds.

We saw them do just that a few months ago when eight Jewish organizations — T’ruah (the rabbinic call for human rights), the New Israel Fund, J-Street, Ameinu, Americans for Peace Now, the National Council of Jewish Women, Partners for Progressive Israel and the Union for Reform Judaism — rose up to protest Israel’s new Nation-State law.

They published an online “pledge” encouraging people to confront those who voted for the law: “Sixty-two members of Knesset voted to approve the Nation-State Law, which denigrates minorities within Israel, as well as Jews outside of Israel,” the statement read. “Take the pledge to hold these MKs to account for their vote, which threatens democracy and equality in Israel, by demanding answers from them.”

The pledge, which followed months of active protests and public condemnation, provided a list of the MKs and suggested five tough questions for them to answer.

It makes you wonder: Why can’t these warriors of justice do the same against Hamas and the United Nations? If speaking truth to power makes sense for Israel, why doesn’t it make sense for the horribly biased U.N.?

I looked on the websites of the eight Jewish groups that protested the Nation-State law and couldn’t find one statement or press release in support of the anti-terror resolution. Why is that?

“If speaking truth to power makes sense for Israel, why doesn’t it make sense for the horribly biased U.N.?”

If their answer is, “It’s not our mission,” my response is, “Why not?”

After all, Jewish activists take special pride in standing up against discrimination and injustice. If the pathological anti-Israel bias at the U.N. doesn’t qualify as discrimination and injustice, nothing does.

And if the mission is the “search for peace,” anti-Israel bias undermines that goal.

As May writes, “By continuously condemning Israel and encouraging Palestinian maximalist demands, the U.N. harms prospects for peace. It only makes matters worse by giving terrorists such as Hamas a free pass. [The UNGA resolution] was a major test for the United Nations in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and it failed miserably.”

The U.N. does not deserve a free pass when it appeases terror groups while singling out Israel for special condemnation. If this injustice is a stain on the U.N., it’s also a stain on Jewish activists who stand idly by.

There are so many divisions in the Jewish community when it comes to Israel, we ought to pounce when we find an issue we can all agree on. The United Nations’ sorry record on Israel is an issue that should unite the Jews, as well as anyone who cares about justice.

So, here’s my simple question for Jewish activists who love to pounce on injustice: Why aren’t you pouncing on the U.N.?

UN Fails to Pass Resolution Condemning Hamas

United Nations General Assembly hall in New York City.

A resolution that would have condemned Hamas as a terror organization failed to pass in the United Nations, falling below the two-thirds threshold needed to pass.

The resolution, which was spearheaded by the United States, denounced Hamas for using rockets and tunnels to attack Israel and “inciting violence.” While the resolution received a plurality of the vote with 87 in favor, 57 against and 33 abstentions, a motion was passed prior to the vote that required a two-thirds threshold to pass a resolution.

Hillel Neuer of U.N. Watch has the breakdown:

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley excoriated the U.N. for failing to pass the resolution.

We can’t talk about peace in the Middle East until we can agree on a basic condemnation of Hamas and its terrorism,” Haley said. “The U.N. had a chance to do that today, and it failed.”

Similarly, Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon said, “Wait when you will have to deal with terrorism in your own countries. Your silence in the face of evil reveals your true colors.”

“It tells us what side you are really on: a side that does not care for the lives of innocent Israelis and innocent Palestinians who have fallen victim to the terrorists of Hamas,” Danon continued.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zhari tweeted that the resolution’s failure “represents a slap to the U.S. administration and confirmation of the legitimacy of the resistance.”

However, Danon did note in a tweet that “a record 87 countries condemned Hamas for its rocket fire & use of civilian infrastructure for military purposes against Israel.”

“I thank @nikkihaley for her hard work in forming an unprecedented coalition. We will continue to fight for the truth!” Danon wrote.

Germany’s Lesson for America

Twelve years ago, a young German Christian woman sought my assistance in converting to Judaism. As I listened to her reasons for wishing to become Jewish — her marriage to a Jewish man, her partnership in raising a Jewish daughter, her affection for the customs and traditions of Judaism — I could see tears welling in her eyes.

When I inquired about those tears, the dam burst, and she began to weep openly.

“My marriage and family are inspiring me to convert,” she told me, “but my history stands in my way. How can I ever become a Jew, after the horrors my people brought upon the Jews? How can I ever be forgiven? I can’t even forgive myself.”

“But you weren’t even born until two decades after World War II had ended. You hold no guilt for the Nazi atrocities,” I countered.

“But I feel such terrible guilt,” she lamented. “So many young Germans do. We carry the shame of being descendants of those crimes.”

I found her suffering to be at once heartbreaking and puzzling — until earlier this month, when I visited Berlin and Dresden with the North American Board of Rabbis at the invitation of the German government. We were welcomed for Germany’s national observance of the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the state-sponsored “Night of Broken Glass,” which ultimately led to the murders of 6 million Jews.

Days before the commemoration, we paid a visit to the Evangelisches Kreuzgymnasium in Dresden, where hundreds of Christian high schoolers packed an auditorium to hear our stories and share their statements of commitment to combat anti-Semitism. The sincerity in their presentations and the heart-heavy sense of duty in their questions moved us deeply. Clearly, these teenagers carry their own shame from being descendants of Nazi crimes — but also a robust resolve to write a different story for Germany’s future.

Their determination is going to be sorely needed as the incitement to violence against Jews, both among German nationalists and some segments of Germany’s Arab immigrant population, continues to ritse. German Chancellor Angela Merkel soberly noted in her remarks at Berlin’s beautiful Rykestrasse Synagogue, “There are two urgent questions that we need to answer. First, what did we really learn from the Shoah, this rupture of civilization? And second, to the first question: Are our democratic institutions sufficiently strong so that amid an increase of anti-Semitism, or even if a majority presents anti-Semitism, it can be prevented in the future?”

To be sure, Germany faces a daunting challenge, as the right-wing nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD) Party continues its political ascent, fomenting hatred directed at Jews and other minorities. Surely, however, Germany’s leaders and citizens will be strengthened in their effort to repel this darkness by their unequivocal national reckoning with their past. A nation that names and acknowledges its greatest moral failures must certainly be less likely to repeat them. When the seedlings of those same evil impulses are replanted generations later, a people guided by responsibility for its history is best poised to deny those seedlings any water or sunlight.

As a Jewish American blessed with freedoms and opportunities my family first discovered as Eastern European immigrants generations ago, I find myself wondering about the implications of what I observed in Germany for my own country. After all, Kristallnacht happened 80 years ago, and yet it remains a persistent subject in German schools, as well as a cause for national events of accountability, long after the perpetrators of its crimes have died.

How might the United States meet its moment of moral challenge today if our nation were to engage habitually in acts of collective responsibility for our past, as Germany does?

How might our national soul be impacted if our country’s brutal dispossession of Native Americans was regularly and solemnly commemorated?

How might our treatment of endangered immigrant populations be altered if we were consistently reminded of the moral degradation of the Japanese-American internment camps during World War II?

How might the plight of African-Americans on our streets and in our courts be aided by a sincere acknowledgment of accountability for the slave ships that brought the ancestors of many millions of our modern-day citizens to the United States in chains?

The still-piercing shame from the Holocaust felt by many in Germany today should be seen as neither heartbreaking nor puzzling. Rather, it is a badge of enduring conscience that just may save today’s German Jews from the same hatred that engulfed the Jews 80 years ago. Might we, as Americans, draw upon our shared history to steer clear of repeating our collective past sins?

The great 20th-century rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel famously taught: “Some are guilty. All are responsible.” There is nothing wrong with feeling the weight of responsibility for our national past. It is noble and just to feel responsible. It’s what enables us to become the best people we can be. It is also what enables us to become the best nation we can be.


Rabbi Ken Chasen is Senior Rabbi of Leo Baeck Temple and vice chair of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights.

Connecting to My Immigrant Grandmother

My grandmother was formidable, strong, built to last. After surviving the trauma of Auschwitz, she moved to the United States only to become a stranger in a strange land, struggling to make a decent living and learn a new language. In the face of all her challenges, she was indefatigable, unflappable.

At least that is the only way I saw her. During my entire childhood, I never glimpsed what was underneath all that strength, and while I grew up, it seemed as if there could only be more strength. For me, it took her death to really begin to understand who she was and what she meant to me.

Growing up as her deliberating, Americanized granddaughter, I felt as if we were on different wavelengths. I consistently second-guessed myself and got nervous about what to say when speaking with her because she always struck me as so serious, so sure of her opinions. There was not an indecisive bone in Grandma’s Hungarian body. She never deliberated or thought through things because that reflective process was unnecessary. Grandma possessed an innate sense of knowing that came from the old country and powered her through life. 

It was not that my grandmother had a handle on all knowledge. In fact, she wasn’t very worldly and didn’t care to know much about people and things that stood outside of her purview. But she had no questions or uncertainty when it came to things that were within her scope, her world. Lack of certainty would have been weakness. After conversations with her, I hoped that although I didn’t inherit her sense of sureness, maybe I could become more confident by osmosis.

My only real breakthroughs with my grandmother came from eating food she prepared. I think that is where she put most of the love she had for her grandchildren. She baked, fried, rolled, wrapped and stuffed it into her challah and kokosh and cheese danishes and nuckerlie and handmade pasta and tultott kaposta (stuffed cabbage). The vats of chicken fat we found in her freezer after her death were like finding a sacred storehouse, the secret ingredient that had held together our family for all these years. 

“She had no questions or uncertainty when it came to things that were within her scope, her world.”

Her stuffed cabbage was the Holy Grail and remains my favorite food to this day. She would often send my father home with portions just for me. On the one hand, she had this awkward habit of sending food to an individual person when there was an entire household of people who wanted to eat it. On the other hand, when it was my turn, and my father walked in the door with special stuffed cabbage just for me — well, those were the best days. Even after I moved away and got older, when I would come to visit, her first words were, “How you are? Vat you need? Stuffed cabbage, I made you. Go get it from the freezer.”

On some subconscious level, I may have chosen to live in Hungary with my husband for six months soon after we got married to work with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee just so that I could be closer to her. Not because the committee brought her and my father to the U.S., but so I could learn about these foods she made. I tried taking Hungarian cooking classes, but could not replicate my grandmother’s dishes (at the time, I was unaware of the secret chicken schmaltz). 

She died less than a year ago, and as I look at the few leftover portions of stuffed cabbage still sitting in her freezer, I still wonder what was underneath all of Grandma’s strength and gumption. I sometimes wonder if she even knew, or if she had puffed up herself with so much confidence over the years that even she forgot about the insecurities and bad memories simmering below the surface. Maybe as an immigrant and Holocaust survivor, she needed to forget in order to move forward with her life. 

What I do know is that she left a legacy of looking forward in life that has had a lasting impression on me. It is unlikely that I will ever fully inherit my grandmother’s level of certainty and willpower, but she has given me something to aspire to. And if all else fails, I think I have a decent shot at replicating her stuffed cabbage.


Na’amit Sturm Nagel teaches English literature at Shalhevet High School in Los Angeles.

After Pittsburgh, What Now for Jews?

Hate is not welcome here. Photo by Kelly Hartog

Anti-Semitism has been growing in the United States for years, and we have seen numerous signs of it, including the physical abuse and harassment of Jews wearing religious clothing, Jewish women accosted and insulted in their car and our youth endlessly discriminated against, intimidated and silenced on campuses all over the nation. There have been thousands of incidents, for years, and now a big explosion. We are not even sure if this is not the beginning of many more. As an Israeli French friend visiting recently said, now it is like in France and Europe. I have been expecting these developments with much concern and looking at our reactions.

I saw us being on high alert and unable of escaping the triggers of our Holocaust trauma. I have seen when we have overreacted, accusing the wrong people (such as the 400 hoax threats against Jewish Community Centers) and politicizing every incident. I have worried that each overreaction just inflamed the feelings against our community. I believe it will be crucially important that we do not react with our usual fears and patterns to every tragedy that hits us.

For political reasons, we have separated ourselves from parts of our people, from each other. We have unwittingly added to the polarization of our country as much as anyone else, and to the hostility in political discourse. We have demonized other Jews, the country’s political leaders and half of the population. We are unaware and self-righteous in our absolute certainty that we hold the moral ground and “the other” is either stupid or evil, or both.

At this historically tragic time, I invite each one of us who is absolutely convinced that only our side has access to the absolute truth on any particular issue, and that only we hold the moral compass better than anyone else, to just wake up and realize how we are unwittingly contributing to this extreme atmosphere of misunderstanding, distrust, hatred, and enmity that has taken over the country. Polarization is at its extreme, and it could not be if one side does not contribute to it.

We have lived in a topsy-turvy, upside down world for many years now, where words have lost their common meaning and where it has become unsafe just to speak. I have heard the voices of those who feel incredibly infuriated to be under the onslaught of blame and accusation, where any incivility goes and there is no more retinue from anyone, anywhere, and all is excused because “the other side is so evil”. When we adopt this kind of speech, are we not all contributing to this atmosphere of mistrust, hatred and condemnation?  We have to become aware of the consequences of our own actions. We cannot add fuel to the fire and then accuse someone else of arson.

It is time to stop all accusations and demonization of any one community, party and/or leader. We must understand that:

  • We are ALL responsible for the tone of the political discourse.
  • We must stop immediately.   Every word of ours that is blaming, accusatory, and attributing evil intentions, thoughts, and agendas to the other side (Jewish and non-Jewish) just poisons the discourse.
  • We must reach out to all communities, make peace with the existing leadership, even if we do not agree with them.  We must talk about unity and connection, and reassurance and safety for all, not just those with whom we most resonate.  
  • We must engage in a bipartisan way to resolve the issues dear to us, and stop with the generalizations, the immediate and distorted-by-hatred accusations, that further polarize, confuse and anger people.

We can only do that if we recognize the pattern and learn to release our feelings of fear and anger.

If we are able, right now, immediately, moved by this terrible tragedy fueled by a hatred that does not discriminate between different parties, politics, values among Jews, etc. to come together as Jews from the Right and the Left, from the secular and from the religious, from the Reform and from the Orthodox, from the United States and from Israel, we can fulfill the promise of our Torah destiny and be a light in the world.

If, for example, we chose two or three issues close to our heart and approached them Torah-like, simultaneously from gevurah (judgment and law) and chesed (all- encompassing compassion), looking at all the aspects, integrating the needs and issues that arise from all sides, without demonizing any, in a flash we would accomplish the most tikkun olam possible and achieve a balanced point-of-view for the most important issues of our times. We would demonstrate a process that could pull our people and the rest of the country out of the emotional and moral marasm we have allowed ourselves to dive into.

We would fulfill our full destiny. The world needs our unity and our wisdom. We must heal our traumas.


Gina Ross, MFCT, is founder/president of the International Trauma-Healing Institute in the United States (ITI-US) and its Israeli branch (ITI-Israel). She is the author of a series of books “Beyond the Trauma Vortex Into the Healing Vortex,” targeting 10 social sectors implicated in amplifying or healing trauma.  

Welcoming Refugees as Neighbors

Miry Whitehill (right) with two refugees she has helped. Photo courtesy of Miry Whitehill

Refugees usually arrive in a new country with little to their names, isolated because their language and customs are different. But some refugees who arrive in Los Angeles benefit from Miry’s List, an organization founded by Miry Whitehill, an Eagle Rock mother of two who knew that her local community could provide direct help to people who are strangers in a new land. 

In July 2016, Whitehill’s friend introduced her to a local Syrian refugee family, sponsored by her friend’s church. They went over to drop off baby supplies and discovered the family had no crib mattress and that the apartment was sparsely furnished. With two other local mothers and the family’s permission, Whitehill compiled a list of the family’s needs that included blankets and shoes, toys and school supplies, kitchen utensils and cleaning supplies. She posted her list on Facebook, and in two weeks, all the items had been collected.

“This was the original Miry’s List family,” Whitehill said. 

Today Miry’s List is a nonprofit with a team of 31 people, mostly in Southern California, with over 130 volunteer listmakers around the world using Amazon wishlists to send gifts directly to the door of needy refugee families in Los Angeles. “Personal shoppers on behalf of resettlement families,” Whitehill said.

This year, LA2050, an initiative driving and tracking progress toward a shared vision for the future of Los Angeles, chose Miry’s List’s “Welcome, Neighbor” program as one of five winners in the My LA2050 Activation Challenge.

Refugee resettlement in the United States is federally funded and managed by the State Department, Whitehill explained, with nine licensed agencies to resettle families and refugees. The agencies’ local affiliates oversee the first 90 days in the U.S., picking up families from airports, arranging culturally appropriate food and somewhere to stay. Resettlement agency funding is based on the number of cases; when the annual refugee cap goes down, so does funding. Last year, one partner scaled down the number of caseworkers from nine to just one. And while the federal government hasn’t stopped the refugee program, it has slowed the number of accepted refugees from Syria, Sudan and Afghanistan, predominantly Muslim countries that are “facing a very real ban by this federal government,” Whitehill said. 

Even in the best of scenarios, it’s hard for refugees to acclimate, she added. “There’s a mourning process. There’s grief because you’re missing people, but it’s more than that. It’s the acceptance of the reality that you are likely never going to see most of those people again. It really takes years to accept and come to terms with, if at all.”

According to Miry’s List’s annual report, over 53,000 refugees were resettled in the United States in 2017. Miry’s List programs benefited more than 1,500 people resettling in Southern California from Syria, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, and Miry’s List volunteers have organized more than 500 events, ranging from birthday parties to English lessons to doctors’ appointments for refugee families. Because many refugees go into debt to buy their airline tickets to the U.S., coming in 2018 is a “Fly Me Home” initiative, through which Miry’s List hopes to pay for the cost of travel loans for 500 newly arrived resettling families, totaling $2 million.

Miry’s List has three chronological pillars — Survive, Hive and Thrive — that help families after arrival. Survive provides temporary housing, food delivery and basic supplies to make families feel safe. After a family moves into a permanent home, Hive provides the wish lists and arranges for English tutoring, playdates, rides to appointments, employment mentoring and pregnancy support. Thrive is when families feel so safe and supported that they volunteer to help as other refugee families arrive. 

“Everyone of every political party and religion believes that families should have what they need to take care of themselves, the opportunity to feel safe, to feel normal.” — Miry Whitehill

The “Welcome, Neighbor” program will activate 100,000 Angelenos over the next two years to work through neighborhood councils to help resettle refugees while promoting volunteerism. The program began with a New Arrival Festival celebrating the city’s designation of June as New Arrival Month and featuring educational panels, music and food. Future stages include Neighborhood Councils voting on and adopting the Neighborhood Welcoming Resolution, written by Whitehill and adopted by the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council and the City of Los Angeles in 2017; forming welcoming committees to foster refugee and immigrant inclusivity; and leading Welcoming Actions like hosting a town hall meeting on refugee resettlement to educate neighbors.

Whitehill notes that the program also is easily replicable in other cities that want to become a home for new immigrants.

“We are trying to be great neighbors,” she said. 

She also named Westside spiritual community IKAR, which partnered on a refugee assembly in June, and the Cool Shul, a Westside emergent community, which partnered with Miry’s List for the High Holy Days. Still, not all Jewish community leaders are publicly supportive. 

“Some Jewish community leaders have said, ‘I personally support what you do but I’m not going to talk about it [from the pulpit],’ ” Whitehill said. “When congregations reach out to me and want it to be official on behalf of the synagogue, I really notice that. It’s one thing to personally align [with the issue], it’s another thing for the community to come together. But what we do is not controversial. Everyone of every political party and religion believes that families should have what they need to take care of themselves, the opportunity to feel safe, to feel normal.” 

Whitehill is originally from an Orthodox Jewish background, has lived in Israel and speaks Hebrew with her children but says, “We don’t come with any faith-based hat on. We come as neighbors.” 

The third family Miry’s List ever served were Palestinian refugees coming from Jordan. The mother revealed that she had never met an Israeli or a Jew who wasn’t a soldier. “I’m happy to be your first,” Whitehill told her. That was more than two years ago and the two have become close friends. 

Another time, Whitehill sat with a family of Palestinian refugees, sharing stories from the Torah and the Quran. “All the big stories are recorded in both,” she said. “Moses at the burning bush, where a voice calls for Moses and he replies, ‘Here I am’ — hineni. Whether you call it God or a burning bush or a person asking for help, that’s the moment when you can step up and say, ‘I’m here for you,’ ” she said, ‘Ana Huna’ is our slogan. Its Arabic for ‘I’m Here.’ ”

Another family, the Alawads, came to the U.S. from Syria two years ago with five children. Last February, they named their sixth child Miry, after Whitehill, who regularly visits them in San Diego. 

“I feel so connected with them. It’s beyond helping one family,” Whitehill said. “It’s creating a new path for people to just help each other.” 

Why Trump Is Good for Israel

I know the risk I take when I say anything positive about President Donald Trump in today’s climate of self-congratulatory partisan idiocy. My friends in Washington, D.C., who dared weigh things on their merits, who wrote things like “regardless of what you think about him in general, on this one issue he may be right,” have been assaulted like a bad implant swarmed by antibodies. 

As an Israeli, I will be forgiven for caring less about newly minted Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, dog whistles, white supremacists and what happens at the U.S.-Mexico border than I do about foreign policy and, especially, Israel policy. 

And in that arena, Trump, in his brash style, his flouting of norms, his calling allies to order and enemies by name, his willingness to use power unpredictably to advance clearly defined interests, his intuitive and accurate grasp of regional and global power maps, and his rebuilding of American military might and sovereign will — he has not made America weak, and certainly has not made Israel weak. 

Very much the opposite.

When I was in high school in Boston in the 1980s, I was surrounded by teachers and friends who were convinced that Ronald Reagan was the worst president in American history, and that words and actions toward the mighty Soviet Union were “crazy” and going to result in “everybody dying in a thermonuclear war.” 

Nothing drove them more nuts than American victory in the Cold War. To this day, they scramble to attribute the fall of the Soviet Union to anything other than Reagan.

So write it on the balloons at your next gala dinner: Donald Trump is, so far at least, very good for Israel.

What does Israel really need? 

Well, what does any small country need when it’s trying to succeed in a volatile neighborhood? It needs geostrategic tailwinds from powerful allies. It needs enemies and friends alike to think the country should not be messed with. It needs help carving out a strategic “safe space” so it can navigate complicated and changing power constellations, and the room to let its economy grow. 

Yes, advanced weapons and money help. But more important is the clarity: the consistent, unambiguous public backing, in words and deeds, from the most powerful country on Earth. 

“What does Israel really need? Yes, advanced weapons and money help. But more important is the clarity: the consistent, unambiguous public backing, in words and deeds, from the most powerful country on Earth. In this, Trump is helping Israel more than his predecessor did.”

In this, Trump is helping Israel more than his predecessor did, and maybe even more than the ones before did. 

Former President Barack Obama was, at best, an unreliable ally. He never failed to remind Israelis that he kept up the aid money. But he knew and we knew that the actual importance of that $4 billion has shrunk dramatically when seen as a percentage of Israel’s budget or its GDP (now around 3 percent and 1 percent, respectively). Today the money is the least important component of the United States’ strategic support. The U.S. could cut it off tomorrow without much of a blip on Israel’s balance sheet, much less the instant holocaust that American Jews usually assume would follow.

Yet on the things that counted, Obama worked against Israel’s strategic needs. He cut a deal with Israel’s most dangerous enemy, Iran, that delayed its nuclear program (which it didn’t really need), but gave the regime instead what it desperately did need — billions of dollars and a U.S. commitment to turn them into a “very successful regional power” (Obama’s words). Obama waffled on Syria, fueling its instability and expanding Iran’s reach. And let’s not forget his unprecedented slam-the-door-behind-you abstention on the anti-Israel U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334 in December 2016, after the moving vans had arrived on the White House lawn. These were not the acts of a friend. 

Trump’s support has, by contrast, been unambiguous where it counts: The words and actions that tell everybody which way the winds are blowing. 

This is why moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem was so valuable, as were closing the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington, restoring sanctions on Iran, and main-taining intolerance for U.N. hostility and Palestinian pay-to-slay policies. Taken together, these actions have sent a clear signal to the world, one that makes my children safer. 

And we have seen the results. Did anybody notice how Russia entered into an uncomfortable alliance with Iran to prop up Syrian President Bashar Assad, and yet has been forced by the new reality to tolerate Israeli air strikes against Iranian military assets across the country? Did anybody notice that these airstrikes ramped up immediately after Trump’s cancellation of the Iran deal? I’d love to be in that room where the Russians are trying to explain to the Iranians why they keep letting Israel do that. 

That’s why I’m a lot less worried about a Trump peace plan than I was about the Oslo Accords and the other very bad ideas American diplomats have tried in the past. 

Things have changed. The Palestinians, whose cause went global in the 1960s because the Arab states and the Soviet Union needed a propaganda weapon against the West, now have lost both of their backers: The Soviets are gone, while Egypt and the Gulf States have understood the power of the Israel-U.S. alliance. For them, the Palestinian cause has outlived its usefulness.

Yes, you still have hordes of hung-over students shouting, “Apartheid!” and cheering on while Hamas sends fire balloons across the border. But in terms of real power, the Palestinians are today isolated, flat-footed, flailing for money, internally torn, rudderless, with leaders who do nothing to advance either their economic or national aspirations, who only perpetuate their misery. 

In such a context, we can imagine the impasse being broken. For in most conflicts, peace happens only when one side loses, or senses it’s about to. Most peace deals are little more than a resignation to prevent the indignity of a checkmate. It’s not likely in this case, but it’s far from impossible.

So, as much as you want to incorporate Israel into your narrative about how horrible Trump is for everything, in the case of Israel, it just sounds like a silly, desperate talking point. And it surely doesn’t help the prospects of peace.

READ MORE: “WHY TRUMP IS BAD FOR ISRAEL”


David Hazony is an author and executive director of The Israel Innovation Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting Israeli culture in the world.

The Light From Within Is Stronger Than Hate

On the afternoon of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation, Reese, our new Yemenite neighbor, was visiting our apartment, playing with my son Alexander. We’d had a Shabbat soiree the evening before, so the refrigerator was stacked, as my son would say.

“What would you like?” I asked Reese. He surveyed the fare and pointed to the chocolate wafer cubes. “Those are epic,” he said. I smiled and gave him a handful. He came back 15 minutes later asking for more. “Please,” he said, “where can my mom get these? I want her to get cartons.”

“In the Israel section,” Alexander piped up from the next room. Reese, 14, looked at me quizzically. “The market Morton Williams has an Israel section,” I explained. “All kinds of stuff that they import from Israel.” Nothing I said made Reese flinch. “OK, can you please tell my mom? And may I have some more?”

I told him I would give him more on one condition: that at some point I could explain to him why the store has a special Israel section, and the politics surrounding those delicious chocolate cubes. “Sure,” he said, popping another into his mouth. 

I later relayed the story to his mother, Waseif — Saya — who had been a child bride in Yemen and just completed a film on the subject. “Islam is a beautiful religion,” she said. “But the culture and politics of some countries are completely warped. I have never taught my children hate; they don’t know what it means to hate a group of people and never will.”

I nodded. “No one is born with hate in their heart.”

Meanwhile, the Kavanaugh confirmation was unloading on social media, and scathing hate toward groups of people — white men, white women, conservatives — was all over my newsfeed. Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine was being targeted as a “rape apologist” for voting to confirm the judge based on her thought process. In other words, for being a feminist. 

Linda Sarsour tweeted: “Senator Susan Collins is the mother & grandmother of white women in America who gave us a Donald Trump presidency. She is a disgrace & her legacy will be that she was a traitor to women and marginalized communities.” No one can ramp up a race and gender war like Sarsour. Still, I was shocked that she hadn’t found a way to blame it all on Jews. 

“Is there a point when hate has so hardened the heart that little can be done to let the light back in?”

I woke up the morning of Oct. 7 to the horrific news of another terrorist attack in Israel. Kim Levengrond Yehezkel, 29, a mother of an 18-month-old; and Ziv Hajbi, 35, a father of three, were shot at close range reportedly by a Palestinian co-worker at a factory in the West Bank where they all worked in the Barkan Industrial Park.

Is there a point when hate has so hardened the heart that little can be done to let the light back in?

How has the United States, through the vile hatred inherent in identity politics, come so close to this point, when even the nomination of a Supreme Court justice brings the country to the brink of a vitriolic civil war?

That evening we all got together for a Yemenite-Moroccan Columbus Day feast. Ahmed, a handsome Lebanese actor, joined us. Saya confessed to an attraction to Judaism. Ahmed confessed to an attraction to Israeli women. We talked about the lies people believe and the tribal hatred that keeps people apart. I told them about the terrorist attack that morning.

“That’s horrific,” Saya gasped, covering her mouth. Ahmed just shook his head, speechless.

Their reactions couldn’t have been more distinct from the reactions of my friends on the left, who offer up immediate political rationalizations for the random killing of Jews. Saya and Ahmed had been taught to hate Jews, but the hatred never stuck. The light within had always been stronger than the hatred and the lies.

I don’t know the road to peace in this country, let alone in Israel. But I can keep the light flowing between these two apartments, especially between Reese and Alexander. Perhaps one day these two “cousins,” a Muslim and a Jew, will expose the sham of identity politics. Perhaps one day they will be able to rewrite the stars because we never taught them to hate.  


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

Israel, the U.S. and Partisanship

There’s a trendy view these days that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has committed the grave sin of turning support of Israel partisan. This is the view of many on the Democratic left, who seem perturbed at Netanyahu’s close relationship with President Donald Trump. “Netanyahu refuses to even pretend that he cares what liberal American Jews think or feel about Israel,” sneers Eric Alterman of The Nation. 

But what, precisely, is Netanyahu supposed to do in the face of the left’s gradual move against Israel over the past two decades? Alterman, for all his sneering, is a harsh anti-Israel critic — he says that Israel is either practicing apartheid today or on the verge of doing so, and has endorsed the idea behind boycott, divestment, and sanctions of Israel on the international stage. Can that be attributed to Netanyahu?

The left’s anti-Israel move has been brewing for decades. Republicans have been somewhat more pro-Israel than Democrats since the Six-Day War — Israel’s victory in that war led to an onslaught of Soviet propaganda against the Jewish state as the Soviets attempted to consolidate the support of Muslim states. Still, until 2001, the two parties remained largely pro-Israel; in 2001, 38 percent of Democrats supported Israel against the Palestinians, with 50 percent of Republicans doing so.

Then 9/11 hit. Suddenly Republican support for Israel began to climb and Democratic support for Israel began to drop. That drop was exacerbated by the advent of former President Barack Obama’s administration, which took the line that Israel’s failure to achieve peace with the Palestinians lay at the heart of broader conflicts in the region. The American left began to parrot the line of the European left that Israel’s intransigence represented the root of imperialistic Western power politics. 

After 9/11, Republican support for Israel began to climb and Democratic support for Israel began to drop.

I attended the Democratic National Convention in 2012, where constituents booed Jerusalem in the Democratic National Committee platform; there was no doubt in the room which way the Democratic Party was moving. The Obama administration established a “daylight with Israel” policy and ran roughshod over Israel’s concerns about Iranian terrorism in promotion of a hollow Iranian nuclear deal. Today, just 27 percent of Democrats say they support Israel as opposed to the Palestinians — even though the Palestinians are governed by a three-headed terrorist monster in the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Islamic Jihad — as compared with 25 percent who support the Palestinians. Controversial Louis Farrakhan acolyte Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) nearly became the head of the DNC last year with the support of supposed pro-Israel advocate Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). 

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader in Britain, is openly anti-Semitic. He took tea with Raed Salah, a man he called an “honoured citizen” despite Salah’s use of the actual Blood Libel; he wrote a letter defending Stephen Sizer, a now-retired vicar who blamed Israel for the 9/11 attacks; and he hosted “his friends” from Hamas and Hezbollah in parliament. Now, Corbyn has attempted to cover his tracks. But he’s fooling no one.

Meanwhile, the American right continues to embrace Israel at record rates. Republicans favor the Israelis over the Palestinians at a rate of 79 percent to 6 percent. Contrary to self-flattering left-wing opinion, that isn’t because of Christian millenarianism — it’s not because Christians think that support for Israel will immanentize the eschaton. It’s because religious Christians in the United States truly believe that those who bless Israel will be blessed and those who curse Israel will be cursed; they see Israel as a representative of Western ideals in a brutal region of the world; they recognize in Israel ideological allies and religious kin. Even those on the right who aren’t particularly religious support Israel because they recognize that Israel represents the canary in the coal mine for the West; Israel’s battle against Islamic terror is part of a broader battle the West must fight.

That’s not Netanyahu’s fault. Perhaps those on the left who remain pro-Israel ought to consider that the problem isn’t Israel or Netanyahu: It’s a left wing that has lost touch with reality in favor of multicultural utopianism and flattered itself into believing that sympathizing with some of the world’s worst regimes represents standing up for human rights.


Ben Shapiro is a best-selling author and editor-in-chief at The Daily Wire.

PA Doubles Down on Terror Payments

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stands before his address to the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 27, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

The Palestinian Authority (PA) will not abandon their policy of providing payments to terrorists and their families, according to a translation of PA leaders’ recent speeches by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW).

PMW highlighted a Sept. 21 quote from the PA’s daily newspaper, Al-Hayat al-Jadidia, where Qadri Abu Bakr, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Director of Commission of Prisoners and Released Prisoners’ Affairs, stating that PA President Mahmoud Abbas and other PA leadership “will not succumb to the Israeli and American pressures calling to stop the Martyrs’ (Shahids) and prisoners’ salaries (rawatib) and allowances.”

The PMW report also pointed to Abbas stating on Palestinian Authority TV on July 24 that “even if we have only a penny left, it will only be spent on the families of the Martyrs and the prisoners, and only afterwards will it be spent on the rest of the people,” adding that the “Martyrs” and “prisoners” are “stars in the sky of the Palestinian people and the sky of the Palestinian people’s struggle.”

Both the United States and Israel have passed laws in attempts to end what has been called the PA’s “pay-to-slay” policy. President Trump signed the Taylor Force Act into law on March 23, which zeroes out payments to the PA until they end the “pay-to-slay” policy. The Israeli Knesset passed a law in July that freezes their funding to the PA.

As the Journal has reported, Palestinian terrorists can receive up to $3,400 per month from the PA if they murder Jews; by contrast, the average Palestinian earns $150 per month. The PA spent $355 million on such terror payments in 2017.

H/T: Investigative Project for Terrorism

Iran Launches Missiles Against ISIS in Syria While Threatening U.S. and Israel

FILE PHOTO: Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attends a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Foreign Ministers Council in Istanbul, Turkey, December 13, 2017. REUTERS/Arif Hudaverdi Yaman/Pool/File Photo

Iran launched six medium-range ballistic missiles into Syria on Oct. 1 at ISIS targets in what it said was retaliation for their role in a recent attack at a military parade last month in Iran. The missile attack reportedly killed and wounded several militants.

Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, who heads the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s aerospace division, told an Iranian news agency, “Terrorists used bullets in Ahvaz. We answered them with missiles.”

The United States said that no members of the U.S.-backed coalition in Syria was harmed in the missile strikes. The missiles were emblazoned with the slogans “Down with USA,” “Down with Israel,” and “Down with House of Saud [Saudi Arabia].”

On Sept. 22, four gunmen opened fire on an Iranian military parade in Ahvaz, resulted in at least 25 dead, eight of whom were members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Both ISIS and the Ahvaz National Resistance, an anti-government militia, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Iran blamed the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia for the military parade attack. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the Oct. 1 missile strikes showed that it was “ridiculous” for Iran to think that Israel was behind the attack.

“The fact that ‘Death to Israel’ was written on the missiles launched at Syria proves everything,” Netanyahu said.

Trump Speaks to U.N., Slams Iran for Creating ‘Chaos, Death and Disruption’

U.S. President Donald Trump sips Diet Coke from his wine glass after a toast as he sits beside Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte during a luncheon for world leaders at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 25, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

President Trump slammed the Iranian regime for creating “chaos, death and disruption” in his Tuesday speech before the United Nations General Assembly.

Trump began the speech by stating that his “administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country,” prompting laughter from the assembly.

“I did not expect that reaction,” Trump responded. “That is OK.”

Trump proceeded to tout his administration’s efforts to stand up “for America and the American people, and we are also standing up for the world”:

We are also standing up for our citizens and for peace- loving people everywhere. We believe that when nations respect the rights of their neighbors and defend the interests of their people, they can better work together to secure the blessings of safety, prosperity, and peace. Each of us here today is the emissary of a distinct culture, a rich history, and a people bound together by ties of memory, tradition, and the values that make our homelands like nowhere else on Earth.

That is why America will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, and I honor the right of every nation in this room to pursue its own customs, beliefs and traditions. The United States will not tell you how to live, work, or worship. We only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return.

On North Korea, Trump highlighted the dismantling of facilities, releasing of hostages and return of the deceased soldiers as progress, but added that sanctions on North Korea would remain until full denuclearization occurs.

Trump eventually turned to Iran:

Iran’s leaders sew chaos, death and disruption. They do not respect their neighbors, borders, or the sovereign rights of nations. Instead, they plunder the nation’s resources to enrich themselves and to spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond. The Iranian people are rightly outraged that their leaders have embezzled billions of dollars from the treasury, seized valuable portions and looted the religious endowments to line their own pockets and to send their proxies to wage war. Iran’s neighbors have paid a heavy toll for the agenda of aggression and expansion.

Trump added that this was why he decided to exit from the Iran nuclear deal and re-impose sanctions on Iran.

We cannot allow the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism to possess the planet’s most dangerous weapons. We cannot allow a regime that chants “Death to America” and threatens Israel with annihilation,” Trumps said. “They cannot possess the means to deliver a nuclear warhead to any city on Earth, we just cannot do it. We ask all nations to isolate Iran’s regime as long as its aggression continues and we ask all nations to support Iran’s people as they struggle to reclaim their religious and righteous destiny.”

Trump also touted the Jerusalem embassy move and leaving the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

“I spoke before this body last year and warned that the UN’s Human Rights Council had become a grave embarrassment to this institution,” Trump said. “Shielding egregious human rights abusers while bashing America and its many friends.”

Trump added that the UNHRC had made no effort to reform itself, prompting the United States’ exit from the council until reform occurs.

The president also said that the United States would be holding the U.N. accountable by refusing to “pay more than 25 percent of the U.N. peacekeeping budget.”

Read the full transcript of the speech here.

Iran Blames U.S., Israel for Attack on Military Parade

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani departs after speaking at the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit during the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 24, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

The Iranian regime is blaming the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia for an attack on a military parade over the weekend.

On Saturday, four gunmen opened fire on a military parade in Ahvaz, a city in southwest Iran, killing 25 people. At least eight of the deceased were members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, others included a disabled war veteran and a 4-year-old girl, according to the BBC.

Iran’s intelligence ministry announced on Monday that 22 people were arrested in connection to Saturday’s attack; Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday that the attack was levied by a group supported by a Gulf Arab state that is allied with the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

“The small puppet countries in the region are backed by America, and the U.S. is provoking them and giving them the necessary capabilities,” Rouhani said.

Gen. Hossein Salami, the acting commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, said at the funeral for the deceased that the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia “will face the repercussions.”

We warn all of those behind the story, we will take revenge,” Salami said.

The United States has denied that they were behind the attack.

He [Rouhani] can blame us all he wants,” United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley said on CNN. “The thing he’s got to do is look in the mirror.”

Two groups have claimed responsibility for the attack: ISIS and the Ahvaz National Resistance, an anti-government organization that is aiming for Iran’s Khuzestan province to be its own state.

United States to Shut Down PLO’s D.C. Office

REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

The Trump administration announced on Tuesday that they would be shutting down the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)’s office in Washington, D.C., the latest in a series of steps taken by the administration to crack down on the Palestinian Authority.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said they were making this move because “ the PLO has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.”

“To the contrary, PLO leadership has condemned a US peace plan they have not yet seen and refused to engage with the US government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise,” Nauert said. “As such, and reflecting congressional concerns, the administration has decided that the PLO office in Washington will close at this point.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu applauded the move in a statement.

“Israel supports these actions that are meant to make it clear to the Palestinians that refusing to negotiate and attacking Israel in international forums will not bring about peace,” Netanyahu said.

According to the Times of Israel, Abbas is furious with the decision and will say “some very undiplomatic things” against Trump at the United Nations General Assembly.

Palestinian Authority officials told Israel’s Channel 10 that Trump is “an enemy of the Palestinian people and an enemy of peace.”

“The American president is encouraging terror and extremism with his policies that could lead to violence in the region, which will explode in the faces of Israel and the US,” the officials said.

According to Jewish Virtual Library, the PLO was initially formed in 1964 with the stated goal of the destruction of Israel and Zionism through violent means. The group has committed numerous acts of terror, including the hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship in 1985. The terrorists murdered a Jewish man, Leon Klinghoffer, who was confined to a wheelchair during the hijacking.

Even though the PLO renounced terrorism in 1993, former PLO chairman Yasser Arafat incited intifadas against Israelis, as has Abbas, Arafat’s successor.

Richard Greene: How One or Two Words Can Change Your Life

One of the world’s leading experts on public speaking, Richard Greene, explains why people fear public speaking more than death, and discusses the abuse of language in the era of Trump. Visit his website.

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Howard Rosenman: Award-Winning Producer Opens Up

What’s it like to be a gay Israel lover in Hollywood? To act with Sean Penn? To be on top of your game at 74? Hollywood wunderkind Howard Rosenman shares his life’s scoops.

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Rob Long: Hollywood Writer Talks Trump

Award-winning Hollywood showrunner Rob Long talks about happiness, craziness and, of course, Donald Trump.

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Lawfare Project Threatens to File Lawsuit Against Irish BDS Bill If It Becomes Law

Photo from Flickr.

The Lawfare Project has threatened to file lawsuit against the Irish government if they a recently passed Senate Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) bill becomes law.

On July 11, the Irish Senate passed a bill that would criminalize the importation and sale of goods from Israeli settlements by a margin of 25 lawmakers in favor, 20 against and 14 abstaining. Those in violation would have to pay a fine or serve up to five years in prison.

The Lawfare Project explained in a press release that such a law would have detrimental ramifications on several American businesses in Ireland – Apple being among them – and would therefore violate American boycott laws.

“We are determined to expose the illegality of the Irish boycott bill under European law, as well as the unnecessary damage that it will inflict on U.S. companies operating in Ireland,” Lawfare Project Executive Director Brooke Goldstein said. “Commercial discrimination on the basis of nationality is shameful in any form, but it is particularly frightening when it emanates from the halls of government—from the same lawmakers who were elected to protect the legal rights of their constituents. We will do everything in our power to prevent this unprecedented state-sanctioned discrimination from becoming law in Ireland.”

The Israeli Foreign Ministry has also issued a statement slamming the bill.

“The absurdity in the course of the Irish Senate is that the boycott will harm the livelihood of many Palestinians working in the Israeli industrial zones affected by the boycott, and Israel will consider its steps in accordance with the developments in this legislation,” the statement read.

Strikeout Over Syria?

The U.S. Navy guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey fires a Tomahawk land attack missile April 14, 2018. U.S. Navy/Lt. j.g Matthew Daniels/Handout via REUTERS.

The United States, Great Britain and France on April 13 launched a coordinated military strike targeting three chemical weapons facilities in Syria, in response to the reported use of such weapons by the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad the previous week in Douma. The Western intervention — the most significant during the seven-year Syrian civil war, with some 100 missiles having been fired — received mixed reviews in Washington, London and Paris, with some praising the resolve of leaders to uphold the longstanding international norm of preventing the use of nonconventional weapons, whereas others maintained that Assad got off too easy or altogether denounced the West’s interjection of itself into another war abroad.

Where the Middle East is concerned, much of the public, as well as some governments, are perennially weary of any Western involvement in regional conflicts, especially in the wake of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq and the 2011 NATO operation that removed from power longtime Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi. Given that coalition forces did not uncover stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Libya (in fact, there is evidence that Saddam Hussein transferred them to Syria), and taking into account that Tripoli had voluntarily ended its nuclear program in exchange for better relations with the West, many are skeptical that the latest attack was, in fact, geared toward preventing Assad’s use of chemical arms rather than advancing Western interests.

There is a divide largely along political and religious lines, with Shiite-ruled countries aligned with Iran, Assad’s main backer along with Russia, having denounced the attack. For instance, the defense minister of Lebanon — controlled by Tehran’s Hezbollah proxy, which itself is heavily involved in the fighting in Syria — described the mission as “a flagrant violation of international law.” Iraq, which is increasingly being pulled into the Islamic Republic’s orbit, warned that such action “threatens the security and stability of the region and gives terrorism another opportunity to expand.”

By contrast, Sunni Muslim states, led by Saudi Arabia, expressed support for the Western strikes, with the Arab League having called for an international probe into the “criminal” use of chemical weapons. Nonetheless, some analysts deemed the reaction relatively muted, perhaps a reflection of the concern on the part of Persian Gulf states that the U.S. could use the mission as a pretext to pull American troops out of Syria.

The destroyed Scientific Research Centre is seen in Damascus, Syria April 14, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

“[The Western attack on Syria] was very limited, as it was designed to show Assad that there will be consequences any time he uses chemical weapons against his people, but at the same time not to make the Russians mad.” — Gad Shimron

Sulaiman Al-Akeily, a Saudi political analyst, said that, given its limited scope, the attack did not achieve its intended effect — a position shared by many in Riyadh, which may explain why King Salman made no mention of it during a high-profile summit the next day.

“The strikes served only to give Assad legitimacy because [they] did not reduce his military power and his position on the ground was not weakened,” Al-Akeil said. “Moreover, the operation did not cover enough locations in Syria, especially strategic military bases, which are the most important things to be destroyed. It also did not target any Iranian assets.”

Instead, Al-Akeily contended that the West’s motivation was “to wash away the guilt” of having done relatively little to prevent Assad’s massacres. But even this, he explained, was largely a show, given that “the Syrian regime was threatened for a whole week, which gave it time to transfer chemical weapons to Russian warehouses.”

Eran Singer, an Israeli political analyst specializing in the Arab world, agreed that the Western assault had little effect on the overall dynamics of the war, an assessment reinforced by former Mossad agent Gad Shimron. “It achieved the goal of putting restrictions on Assad’s regime,” Singer said. “The Syrian government is still winning many battles around the country, and this will not change.”

Shimron, while describing the strikes as moderately successful, stressed that the operation should have been broader in scope: “It was very limited, as it was designed to show Assad that there will be consequences any time he uses chemical weapons against his people, but at the same time not to make the Russians mad.”

Hanna Issa, a Palestinian law professor, slammed the Western “aggression,” which he argued contravened international law. “It is totally unacceptable for three countries that are members of the [United Nations] Security Council to behave like that,” he said. Furthermore, he noted that the attack occurred before international inspectors arrived in Douma to investigate whether chemical weapons had indeed been used.

Despite the criticism, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley asserted that the strikes were “justified, legitimate and proportionate,” adding that U.S. military forces remained “locked and loaded” in the event Assad were to use nonconventional arms in the future.

We Need a New U.N.

Photo from Flickr.

Another week, another Israel bashing session at the United Nations.

Following the Hamas-led riots at the Israel-Gaza border on Friday that resulted in at least 16 dead, the U.N. Security Council responded by drafting a resolution calling for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to be investigated for the various Palestinian deaths. The resolution was vetoed by the United States, but the fact that the U.N. yet again put the blame on Israel instead of on the terror group Hamas, who are using civilians as human shields in an attempt to wage a war with Israel, is disgraceful.

This is par for the course for the Israel-hating U.N. On March 23, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) passed a resolution calling for an arms embargo against Israel due to the Jewish state’s so-called “occupation” of East Jerusalem. The UNHRC has a bad habit of denouncing Israel at least once a week, the same UNHRC that consists of countries like Venezuela, China and Cuba, which aren’t exactly halcyons of human rights.

Then there are the reported anti-Semitic Facebook posts from United Nations Refugee and Works Agency (UNRWA) teachers, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declaring the Jewish holy sites in Jerusalem and Hebron as belonging to the Palestinians… the list goes on and on.

The statistics prove it too: CNN’s Jake Tapper pointed out in December that the U.N. General Assembly adopted 97 resolutions that singled out a specific country from 2012-15. The number that singled out Israel: 83.

“Considering the genocide of the Rohingya people in Myanmar, the lack of basic human rights in North Korea, the children starving in the streets of Venezuela, the citizens of Syria targeted for murder by their own leader using the most grotesque and painful weapons, you have to ask, is Israel deserving of 86% of the world’s condemnation?” Tapper said.

I would go a bit further: what does the U.N. do well, exactly?

It certainly doesn’t do well addressing actual human rights abuses, like the ones Tapper cited. Former U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has admitted that the international body “could have done much more” to stop the Rwanda genocide.

What about Russian and Chinese aggression? The U.N. tribunal’s 2016 ruling that China has no sovereign claim over the entirety of the South China sea has done nothing to stop Beijing from ramping up military exercises in the area. Similarly, the U.N. has done little to curb Vladimir Putin’s intervention into the Crimea.

Reminder: Russia and China wield veto power on the U.N. Security Council, preventing any real action to be taken on Syria, North Korea and Iran.

What about global poverty? A 2012 study conducted by New York University’s William Easterly and Mississippi State University’s Claudia Williamson concluded that the U.N.’s aid practices are toward the bottom among aid agencies worldwide. And as Chelsea Follett of HumanProgress noted, the U.N. is touting top-down, centralized government programs as the source for the decline in global poverty when in actuality it is economic freedom that has caused the dramatic decline in poverty.

The environment? A 2017 New York Times article detailed how the U.N.’s Green Climate Fund was established to help impoverished countries deal with climate changes, yet the money raised by the fund have gone toward questionable private sector projects instead of those countries. And the U.N.’s prized Paris Climate Accords’ impact on the climate would be negligible while harming the U.S. economy.

Peacekeeping? How can the U.N. be trusted in this area when their peacekeepers have been accused of sexually abusing women and girls in various countries and have been cited as the cause of the 2010 cholera outbreak in Haiti?

With all this mind, is the U.N. really worth the nearly $8 billion that the U.S. allocates toward the international body?

The unfortunate truth is that the U.N. is a far cry from the bastion of freedom that the Allied powers intended when they first formed the international body in 1942 to fight the Axis powers. Freedom-loving countries like the U.S. and Israel are the minority in the U.N.; so long as that is the case, no reforms will solve the structurally flawed nature of the incompetent and immoral U.N.

 

This is what I’d love to see on the Global to-do list: Creating a new world body that will do justice to the ideals of the United Nations, an organization that has dishonored its very mission.

PA Continuing Payments to Terrorists Despite Taylor Force Act

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas looks on during a reception ceremony for Bulgarian President Rumen Radev in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, March 22, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

The Palestinian Authority (PA) is reportedly continuing their practice of funneling money to terrorists and their families despite the recent passage of the Taylor Force Act, which states that the United States will cut off funding to the PA if they continue to pay terrorists.

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reported that shortly after the Taylor Force Act’s passage, a PA spokesman declared that they would be defying the law, stating, “In the eyes of our people, our nation, and our cause, the martyrs and prisoners are sacred symbols of freedom, struggle, protecting human dignity, and resistance to submission and humiliation. They constitute a right that is guaranteed to all people, and they cannot be bought and sold for all the money in the world.”

Furthermore, according to PMW, almost 8% of the PA’s 2018 budget uses money toward their fund to pay terrorists and their families.

Legislators in Israel and the United States are irate that the PA’s policy is still ongoing, with Knesset Member Oren Forer telling the Washington Free Beacon that any peace deal reached between Israel and the PA should ensure that such payments end.

“It is impossible that our so-called peace partners are paying and incentivizing murder, while pretending to talk peace,” Forer said.

The Taylor Force Act was signed into law on Mar. 23 as part of an omnibus spending bill. It was named after a U.S. veteran who was murdered at the hands of a Palestinian terrorist in March 2016. The terrorist, 22-year-old Bashar Masalha, is being paid $400 a month by the PA.

The PA paid Palestinian terrorists and their families $347 million overall in 2017. The PA received $357 million from the U.S. in 2016.

Report: Trump Admin Bans Polish President, Prime Minister from WH Over Holocaust Law

U.S. President Donald Trump holds a joint news conference with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven in the White House East Room in Washington, U.S. March 6, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

A report from a Polish media outlet is claiming that the Trump administration will not meet with Poland’s president or prime minister unless the recently passed Holocaust law is rescinded.

The Onet website is reporting that a memo from U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell to the Polish government condemned the law and stated that “no high-level bilateral contacts between countries” would occur unless the law is repealed. Mitchell also gave Poland an ultimatum that Congress would zero out funding to joint military projects in Poland if the law remains intact and the U.S. would severely retaliate if any American faces criminal punishment under the law.

Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Bartosz Cichocki told the Associated Press that the report was not true, although he admitted that the White House was not pleased with the law.

The Polish Foreign Ministry told The Hill in a statement, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs received signals that the American administration is concerned about the implementation of the amendment to the Act on the Institute of National Remembrance. However, since then, Polish diplomats have conducted a series of meetings, in which it was thoroughly explained to our partners, not only American, the scope of the proposed changes in Polish law and the essence of the legislative process in Poland.”

Under the law, those who claim that Poland was complicit in the Nazis’ atrocities toward Jews during the Holocaust face a maximum of three years in prison.

The law has caused a rift between Israel and Poland. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has excoriated Poland for the law, stating, “There is a problem here of an inability to understand history and a lack of sensitivity to the tragedy of our people.”

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki is attempting to ease the tension between the countries.

“Amid the rising wave of antisemitism in Europe, our country is again the safe haven for the Jewish community – as it was throughout the eight centuries before World War II,” Morawiecki wrote in a letter to Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. “I would like to assure you that I will do my best to improve our relations and put importance on our common history of living and, unfortunately, enormous suffering, on Polish soil. Both Poland and Israel have the moral obligation to be the guardians of the truth of Holocaust because of their history.”

DOJ Announces Indictments of Israeli-American Over Alleged Bomb Threats of Jewish Organizations

Screenshot from YouTube.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on Feb. 28 that 19-year-old dual Israeli-American citizen Michael Ron David Kadar has been hit with multiple indictments for allegedly issuing bomb threats toward various Jewish organizations.

The indictments charge Kadar of sending bomb threats to both the Israeli embassy and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in Washington, D.C. Kadar also faces up to 32 counts of issuing 245 bomb and shooting threats numerous Jewish organizations in Florida, including numerous Jewish Community Centers, Chabads, schools and even Orlando International Airport. The third indictment charges Kadar of providing false information to the police about a hostage situation in Georgia.

Kadar’s alleged threats resulted in “resulted in the temporary closure and evacuation or lockdown of the targeted facilities, and required law enforcement and emergency personnel to respond to and clear the area,” according to the DOJ. Additionally, the threats “caused fighter jets to scramble, planes to dump fuel and make emergency landings, large numbers of schools to evacuate, and numerous other chaotic consequences,” per the Times of Israel.

“When individuals target victims of their crimes based on who they are, what they believe, or how they worship, they target the bedrock principles on which our nation was founded,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “These alleged threats of violence instilled fear in the Jewish community and other communities across the country, and it is the Justice Department’s duty to make sure all Americans can live their lives without this type of fear.”

Kadar’s threats toward Jewish organizations are being treated as a hate crime and could face up to 20 years in prison for each one. He also faces up to 10 years in prison for each bomb threat and five years for the false information he provided to police in Georgia.

“Make no mistake, these threats were acts of anti-Semitism and deserve to be treated as a hate crime,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “They targeted Jewish institutions in order to stoke fear and anxiety, and put the entire Jewish community on high alert.”

In August 2017, an FBI affidavit reportedly accused Kadar using a platform called AlphaBay where he sold his services of issuing bomb threats.

“I email bomb threats to schools on your requests,” Kadar allegedly wrote on the site. “If you feel you need someone to do this job for you then this service is for you.”

His price ranged anywhere from $30 to $500, per the affidavit.

Kadar is currently being held in custody in Israel, where he faces 1,000 counts of various charges from a Tel Aviv District Court. His attorney has argued that Kadar was dealing with “a brain tumor” at the time he made the alleged threats and that he “is on the autistic spectrum,” per the Times of Israel.

Haley: We ‘Need to Take Action on our Own’ on Iran

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley looks on after arriving to watch a training of the COBRAS, Honduras National Police Special Forces, at their base in Tegucigalpa, Honduras February 27, 2018. REUTERS/Jorge Cabrera

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called out Russia for vetoing a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have condemned Iran for arming the Houthi rebels in Yemen and suggested that the U.S. could put matters into its own hands.

“If Russia is going to continue to cover for Iran then the US and our partners need to take action on our own,” Haley said. “If we’re not going to get action on the council then we have to take our own actions.”

According to Reuters and Algemeiner, the drafted resolution first stated that Iran violated an embargo on supplying weapons to the Houthis based on a report from U.N. experts but was later watered down to only express “particular concern” about Iran’s violations to appease Russia. And yet, Russia still vetoed the condemnation, as they were reportedly skeptical of the experts’ conclusions.

Haley’s statement comes as the Trump administration is considering nixing the Iran nuclear deal unless substantial changes are made, and Haley said that the Security Council “doesn’t help” proponents of the deal.

“That just validated a lot of what we already thought, which is Iran gets a pass for its dangerous and illegal behavior,” Haley said.

Iran claimed that the U.S. and Britain were simply scapegoating them for the carnage in Yemen. Tehran has denied accusations that they are arming the Houthis, although their denials are belied by various reports to the contrary. It’s unsurprising that Russia would provide cover to Iran given the two countries have been allies for years due to their shared hatred toward the West.

As the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) points out, Iran and the Houthis share differing beliefs in Shia Islam but they are aligned by geopolitics since “Iran seeks to challenge Saudi and U.S. dominance of the region, and the Houthis are the primary opposition to [interim President Abed Rabbo Mansour al-] Hadi’s Saudi- and U.S.-backed government in Sana’a.”

The Houthis ignited the three-year civil war in Yemen when they wrestled power from Hadi, prompting Saudi Arabia to intervene in the conflict and fight the Houthis in an attempt to curb Iran’s influence in the region and reinstate Hadi’s power. The U.S. is backing the Saudis in the conflict.

The civil war has been devastating on the civilians, as thousands have been killed and millions more are in dire need of aid.