Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Sunday 21 February 2016

The Kind Face of Evil

It is an accomplishment of the leftist liberal media industry in North America and Europe that most people, when asked what political forces was the most murderous in history, will usually point to 20th century Fascism.  It's an accomplishment because while it is generally accepted, it's also untrue.
In fact, if you tally the numbers in terms of ruined lives and mass murders, communism and its softer face, socialism, far outperformed the Fascists in terms of scale of depravity and length of time as an influential force.  It is the never ending sympathy of the leftists who influence our cultural and historical awareness for those murderers that has created a society where the word "Nazi!" is an unforgiveable insult while "Soviet!" hardly raises a hair.
And so, enter Bernie Sanders.  The senator who would be president is an unrepentant socialist, full of ideas that have repeatedly sunk economies and ruined societies.  He swears allegiance to the political philosophy that, in its more extreme form, slaughtered tens of millions from the purges of the USSR to the Great Leap Forward in China and down to the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.    And for those who think that comparing him to some of the worst murderers in history is a bit extreme, then take a step back and try to remember why Greece was in the news so much.  Hint, it wasn't over tourism.
What is Bernie's secret?  Well first there's the endless soft indoctrination of the media.  Donald Trump is being touted as a soft fascist and this angle is used to constantly vilify him.  Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, is a soft communist and this makes him the people's hero.
There's also the legacy of the welfare state and its role in creating an entire underclass of people who think that they're entitled to a decent living simply by fact of having been born.  They have been raised on the "The rich are the source of all your problems" mantra and readily flock to anyone who promises them more entitlements.  Free college education!  Free healthcare!  Eat the rich to get the money for it!
And now Bernie, whose current religious affiliation is very much in question, is being called out for not being more "Jewish".  Despite being the first Jew in American politics to accomplish what he has, he isn't waving the tribe's flag and there are those who are getting concerned about this.
Well should this be a surprise?  After all, for the non-observant Judaism is very much an ethnic definition, possibly a religious one but not a national one by any means.  Bernie is an American first, and really an American socialist first.  His Jewishness might manifest in his eating borscht once or twice a year but not in a more meaningful way and if he is ever forced to mention it, it'll include some reference to social justice or another form of liberal bafflegab. 
All this is secondary to his open political antagonism to Israel.  Like a good liberal socialist, when given the choice between rooting for a democratic country where women and gays have full rights and a terrorist state where women are second class citizens and gays are illegal, he chooses the latter every time because according to socialists, you always support the perceived underdog even if that dog despises every liberal value you hold.
It should therefore not be a surprise that Bernie doesn't mention his Jewishness.  It's not a factor to him.  Only implementing the destruction of the American economy holds religious value for him.

Thursday 18 February 2016

Balancing Observance With Real Kindness

One of the ongoing criticisms of Torah observance is the pre-occupation many in the Orthodox community have with bein adam l'makom commandments which they perform often at the expense of proper observance of bein adam l'chaveiro.  The former Failed Messiah blog was able to provide daily examples of Jews who were otherwise exemplary in their upkeep of their relationship with the Creator while failing miserably with their fellow human beings.
One of ways used to approach these folks was to remind them that bein adam l'chaveiro has superiority because in addition to its main element there is also a part that is bein adam l'makom.  After all, God commanded it so by fulfilling it we're getting a twofer.
Interestingly, those who see it that way might be causing more problems that they realize, as this article eloquently points out:
I have Tourette syndrome, a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary movements and noises called “tics.” My Tourette’s is relatively mild at this point, but I went through a turbulent adolescence when Tourette’s was the most defining thing about me. Between the constant movements and the loud, uncontrollable noises, it was incredibly disruptive.

I now work in the Jewish community as an inclusion advocate, as well as in youth engagement. So I have this cool opportunity to see the Jewish community both as someone with a disability and as one who is supporting congregations and communities in creating more inclusive spaces for all people.

Sometimes I hear people talking about how much of a “mitzvah” they are doing by opening their doors to people with special needs in their community. Maybe they allowed a child with autism in their youth group or religious school, or hosted an “inclusion” service.

But here is the thing: It is not a mitzvah to let me in the door. It’s not. Opening your door to those with disabilities is not enough. Because there is a critical difference between tolerance and full inclusion. If we are practicing full inclusion, our communities should be celebrating each person and what they bring to the community, not just what they demand of it.

Many times throughout my life, I have felt like I was the mitzvah project of the week, like the community didn’t really want me there, but knew including me was what they were supposed to do. I always felt like we were one step away from my face being on the community bulletin with a story reading something like “We did it! We included somebody with special needs! Be proud everyone. Be real proud.”  OK, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But feeling like my presence was another’s mitzvah made me feel even more like an outsider.

One of the hardest things to do, it seems, is to balance performing a mitzvah which involves another persons with the need to do it with a kindness that conceals that motivation.  Imagine returning a lost object but making it absolutely clear to the owner that you're only doing it because the Torah says you have to.  Imagine visiting a lonely person in hospital and opening the visit with the line, "Henini muchan u'mezuman la'asos mitzvas bikkur cholim".  How do you think the other person is going to feel?  Have you really fulfilled the chaveiro portion of the mitzvah?
Interestingly, this is something that the non-observant Jewish movements also stumble on, as the article makes clear.  It is just as easy to turn a person into an object used to satisfy your need for observance if you are or aren't religious.
This is perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of Judaism, isn't it.  It's easy to sit and shteig a Talmud all day long.  Putting on tefillin, throwing a few coins in the pushka, no sweat at all.  But interacting with your fellow Jew without making it seem like you're doing your duty, not being a decent human concerned with his well-being?  That's a lot trickier.
For example, there's an essential decency in visiting the sick, for example but it does gain extra value when it's done with the kavannah that a mitzvah is being performed.  How does one balance the performance with the decency of human interaction so that the person does not become an object but a partner?

Tuesday 16 February 2016

Another Step Towards Reform

Conservative Jews hate it when you point out that the movement today is essentially Reform with more ritual.  They try to point out that they observe a form of halacha, that they have principles and rules and are more than just fun-in-the-sun types and some of that might be true but not by much.
Once upon a time the Conservatives were actually a serious force within North American Judaism.  They combined a serious approach to tradition with what they felt were necessary compromises to secular culture in order to provide their members with a Jewish experience.  Over the decades, declining enthusiasm for that approach led to one compromise after another, one "adjustment" of the halacha after another, until today there is objectively little to distinguish them from the Reform other than with their commitment to some form of ritual.
One way to mark this descent is to observe the prayer books the movement has used over the years.  Back in the day it was the Sabbath and Festival Prayer Book, a decent siddur which, other than lacking the korbanos could actually function as a real siddur.  In the late 1980's it was replaced by Siddur Sim Shalom.  The prayer book began to openly reflect the movement's lack of interest in remembers our holy Temples (may they be speedily rebuilt).  The few mentions of the Temple were yanked out of the various parts of the liturgy they appeared in, including the "alternative" Mussaf service.  It did include the prayer for the State of Israel but only the first paragraph, reflecting the author's fears that a shortened attention span wouldn't last the entire recitation. 
Apparently this wasn't enough to entrance the movement's declining membership so now we have a new prayer book on offer, Lev Shalom.  As the linked article points out, the Conservatives are continuing to embrace the "we cater to you" form of secular religion prevalent in North America.  In addition to the usual confusion of claiming to be contemporary and traditional at the same time, there are additions to encourage those in relationships the Torah frowns upon or straight out prohibits to feel good about themselves.  And then there's this gem:
One of the most controversial additions was to include an optional line in the Sabbath service that seems to acknowledge mixed families by saying that Sabbath is a “gift for all,” not only a “gift for Jews,” said Feld. “There are people in our congregations who have not converted to Judaism. What does it mean to say: we haven’t given Shabbat to you?”

Smacking of Reconstructionism, it reminds one and all that the Conservative movement has forgotten the core values of Judaism in its rush to shore up its leftward flank as that bleeds into Reform.  After all, it's a basic tenet of Judaism that Shabbos is only for us, that non-Jews are actually forbidden to have a strict Sabbath of their own based on a pasuk in parashas Noach.  What does it mean to say we haven't given Shabbos to non-Jews who attend services?  That there is something special about Jews and their relationship to the Creator.  It's not the same as the other peoples of the world.  It has elements unique to it.  To blur those out in order to appeal not just to the non-religious but to non-Jews seems quiet radical for a movement that has members that still delude themselves into thinking they're practising a form of Torah Judaism.
Within the Conservative movement there are basically two kinds of people.  The small minority is the group that really believes Conservativism is a valid form of Jewish practice.  They are sincere, decent people who try to balance chesed with other commitments and religious values with secular ones.  The other group is the one that thinks that to be a Conservative Jew all you need to do is have a membership in one of their synagogues.  While the former group may represent the ideal of the movement, the latter has its essence nailed: to be a Conservative Jew, your dues cheque has to clear, nothing more. 
This has always been one of the essential differences between Orthodoxy and Conservativism that non-religious folks don't seem to get.  A person can join an Orthodox congregation but remain non-Orthodox if he drives on Shabbos or doesn't keep kosher.  A person who joins a Conservative congregation is now Conservative, no questions asked lest ye be judgemental.
The other essential difference is the religious focus. For Orthodoxy it's about making oneself relevant to God.  For Reform and Conservativism it's about making God relevant to oneself.  The reason for this new prayer book is obvious - as North American society, non-Orthodox Jews very much included, descends further into self-centred liberalism God is expected to cater that much more to whatever His "followers" want.
Perhaps it won't be many years before we see the first joint Reform-Conservative prayer book.  A pity for a movement that once promised so much but an inevitable end to one that wants to stand for everything while actually providing nothing.

Sunday 14 February 2016

Does He Even Listen To Himself?

The Kingdom of Jordan has always been a peculiar entity.  It's ruled by a tribe, the Hashemites, who hail from Arabia and moved up to Israel's neighbourhood after World War I.  It's population is 75% so-called Palestinian yet until recently that group had little to say in how the country was run.  That's all changed as the current queen is a so-called Palestinian, yet no one suggests that Jordan is actually Palestine.
More importantly, it's a nearly landlocked country with minimal resources and, since the British left the region, a mediocre army.  It faces perennial hostility to its north from Syria and the east from Iraq.  In fact, its one secure border since 1967 has been its western one with Israel.  Israel has even stepped up to ensure that Jordan's borders were not violated by its brother Arab states over the years.  All this means that you'd think Jordan would be a friendlier place vis a vis Israel.
But no.  The current king of Jordan, Abdullah II, seems content to remind us from time to time that he blames Israel for all the region's problem as well as his own.  At a recent conference, like many times before, he used his opportunity at the microphone not to promote friendly relations between Israel and Jordan but rather to regurgitate the old Arab propaganda.  Any problem in the Middle East or North Africa is Israel's fault because it won't commit national suicide in order to create a new terrorist state on its eastern side.
It's almost comical at times, both because he says it and because others listen seriously.  Years ago when I was in undergraduate studies in university I came across an outdoor protest put on by an anti-Israel group, Canadians Concerned for the Middle East.  Feeling bold I began challenging them.  When they told me that all problems in the Middle East were due to Israel's "illegal occupation" I asked if the then-civil war raging in Yemen was because of Israel's occupation of its own land.  Was Saddam Hussein's (yes, it was that long ago) campaign of gassing the Kurds in northern Iraq related to Israel?  After raising another half dozen ongoing regional conflicts one of the protesters said "Hey man, you can set up a booth for the Kurds when we're done here".  To that I responded, "I'm not claiming to be concerned about the Middle East, you are but you don't seem to care about most of the region.  What's up with that?"
No one can really believe that ISIL, ISIS or whatever it's being called this month, is due to the Israeli-Arab conflict.  The Assad regime may have used Israel as an excuse to oppress its citizens but the collapse of Syria is entirely that government's fault.  No one connects the disintegration of Iraq to the Israeli-Arab conflict either.  Remember how that one started: with Iraq invading Kuwait many, many years ago.  Hard to see how Israel was to blame for that one. Perhaps Saddam was worried that we'd scoop up the Kuwaiti old fields and outflank him?
For those who hate Jews, no lie is stupid enough to be laughed at.  Perhaps that's the best response to these outrageous claims: not rebuttals, not facts, just laughter.

Thursday 11 February 2016

The Failed Giant

Many, many moons ago someone used a word in front of me I'd not heard before - "blog".  I asked her what it meant and she explained that people were basically starting up websites where they'd psot their thoughts, pictures, essays, all sorts of things to get exposure across the internet.  I thought it was a neat idea but didn't pay much attention after that.  Like many other things on the internet, I thought it was just another vehicle for self-aggrandizement.
Then one day, while in a foul mood for one reason or another, I typed "Lubavitch is bad" into Google and checked out the search results.  Top of the list was a site called Failed Messiah.  I clicked on it and, without even saying a shechechiyanu, my life was changed forever.  I read, eventually got the gumption to comment and finally decided to start my own blog. (No hyperlink, figure it out)
Over the years I continued to visit Failed Messiah on a regular basis as a source of news from the Jewish world, for entertainment and sometimes just to get into arguments with people.  (See the foul mood reference above)  More than once the blog served as a hat tip for a rant of my own.
I didn't get along with Scotty all the time.  He dismissed me as a troll more than once but I eventually figured out that he would use that insult when someone made a point he couldn't refute.  Sometimes I even agreed with him.  All in all, he changed my perspective of what had been a rose-coloured perception of the Orthodox world and made me feel that it was necessary for those of us who believe in the goodness of Torah Judaism to speak out against those who are perverting it.
And now he's gone.
Several days ago a post went up on his blog announcing his retirement.  Shortly after another post went up from a "Diversified Holdings" announcing that he/she/they were the new owners of the blog but that they would continue on posting about problems in the Orthodox world.
The identity of the new owners is unknown.  Some suspect it's a guy named Rechnitz from the States because, of all the Orthodox public figures Scotty attacked over the years, he is the only one that he backed down from after posting allegations against him.  The theory goes that either Rechnitz (if that's who it is) threatened to credibly sue him or gave him enough money to retire and help the poor like he always said he wanted to.
Either way, the blog is still posting but it's not the same.  It's bland, non-descript piece of news without any of the salaciousness that drew the crowds.  It's a terrible thing to behold.  What we're seeing is what Saks would look like if Wal-mart bought it.
As much as he was hated by some segments of the Orthodox community, he was a hero to other parts because he responded to a need.  Most Orthodox people who knew the stories understood that Rubashkin was a criminal, that pedophilia and abuse were rampant in our communities, that more and more Orthodox Jews were committing a variety of crimes while hiding behind a facade of piety.  We were tired of being assured by the Rav Avi Shafrans of the world that nothing was wrong, that all the allegations were baseless, that we didn't know as well as "the Gedolim".  Scotty spoke out against those attempts and even if his methods were, at times, crude and hateful, he was fueled more than anything else by the ammunition his opponents gave him.
He will be missed.

Sunday 7 February 2016

Following Us Everywhere

The Western Wall is a controversial place in Judaism and not because of false Arab claims about the existence of the Temples (may one of them be speedily rebuilt).  When mentioned in news reports, the suffix "Judaism's holiest site" is often appended to "the Western Wall".  Thanks to efforts by the Women of the Wall and pushback from the Charedi community, what should be a place where all Jews can come and worship God has become a low-level battleground.
In this regard we should clear some important things up.  Firstly, the Western Wall is not Judaism's holiest site.  Saying it is both betrays a profound ignorance of history and validates false Arab claims that the har haBayis belongs to them.  The Western Wall isn't even part of the Temple but the last piece of the retaining wall which shored up the compound that surrounded the Temple and the har haBayis.  It contains the general holiness of the city of Yerushalayim but nothing more.  Over the millenia it has become a symbol of our national downfall and exile but when we see the Wall we should not think of it as a holy site but rather a reminder of what we are missing behind it up where the big golden dome currently sits. 
For centuries the Wall was a quiet site for Jewish prayer.  People came and poured out their hearts to the Creator.  Organized prayer was rare due to a lack of cooperation from ruling authorities over the ages as well as the Muslim propensity for using the small alleyway in front of it as a dump.  
All this changed after God miraculously returned the Old City to Israel in 1967.  As a reminder of the way things were we must remember that when the first Israeli soldiers reached it they had no idea what they'd found.  It was one side of a narrow, garbage-strewn alley and it was only after they found the actual har haBayis that the asimon dropped.
Today, of course, no one can miss the place with its open plaza and endless hordes of schnorrers intermingled with tourists and their cute little cone-shaped kippos.  Unfortunately, along with fame has come trouble.  
It is an inconvenient truth that when Jews of all kinds gather to pray and wish to be inclusive of all comers it is necessary for there to be a mechitzah and separation of men and women.  There is no rule in the non-observant "streams" of Judaism forbidding separate worship and there is a rule in Torah-observant Judaism demanding it.  Therefore, in order to serve as a place of worship inclusive of all Jews there must be a mechitzah at the Wall.  An egalitarian plaza would be a sign of a desire to exclude the Orthodox from participation or demanding that we abandon Orthodoxy as a prerequisite for joining the rest of the community.
This hasn't stopped a small group of malcontents from trying to upset the status quo.  The Women of the Wall has, for years, instigated riots through their desire to bring egalitarianism to the Wall.  Not satisfied with just that they have also waged legal battles to accomplish their ends.  And recently they scored a tremendous victory, or so it was portrayed, by having the Robinson's Arch section of the Wall declared an egalitarian plaza.
It hasn't taken long to fall apart.
First there was the usual protest from the UltraOrthodox community about the creation of a non-halachic section at the Wall.  This is, in my opinion, incorrect.  I will explain by way of a personal example.
I live in a small community, one in which the day school must accommodate observant and non-observant children in order to survive.  The compromise over the years has been for the school to provide a very watered-down limudei kodesh curriculum but to exclusively hire Orthodox rabbonim to teach it.  About 16 years ago or so a group of non-observant parents, not satisfied with this arrangement, began demanding that the Reform and Conservative rabbis in town be hired to teach in the school to provide their "perspective" in limudei kodesh.  After the leadership of the school refused these parents took their children and a chunk of funding from the local Jewish federation and started a private Jewish school all their own. 
At first this was seen as a terrible schism within the community.  We're a small one without any multimillionaires to keep us afloat.  (However we are currently accepting applications for one, please contact me at if interested and rich enough) Every dollar from every person counts.  There is barely enough money in the community's coffers for one school, let alone two.  Yet after a while we realized this split was a blessing in disguise.  The formation of this Reform school took much pressure off the main dayschool which could continue its hiring policy without any real parental opposition.
The Ultraorthodox community should see the creation of the new plaza in this light.  No matter how persuasive Rav Avi Shafran and his bagmen try to be, they are unlikely to convince the WoW to start davening in a proper, observant fashion.  The new plaza separates the two groups, reduces friction and allows each group to go about their religious business without interference.
The Ultraorthodox protest isn't why this deal will fall apart.
First of all, there's the Muslim factor.  The Waqf is well-known for supporting the destruction of archaeological remains under the har haBayis while hypocritically condemning any minor renovations at the Wall as an egregious violation of the so-called status quo.  They have already began to issue threats at this new renovation plan even though it doesn't affect them one whit.
More significantly, the Women of the Wall are going to ensure this fails.  Why?
There are two factions within the group, if you recall.  One group is non-observant and wants to bring egalitarian do-as-you-please worship to the Wall.  They are not interested in worshiping, per se, but in being seen worshiping.  Let one think this an unfair comment, consider that their leaders are already rejecting this new deal because they feel it excludes them from the Wall.  This is naturally completely contradictory to the facts on the ground.  The Wall at the edge of Robinson's Arch is the same Wall as at the Plaza.  If it's the Wall they want to pray at, there is it, but it's not.  It's the Plaza they want because of the attention to crave, the "here we are!" factor.  
The other group, the observant women who simply want to sing out loud without Chareidim screaming "kol ishah" at them aren't interested in an egalitarian prayer plaza.  The deal doesn't address them at all and rather implies they are secondary to the egalitarian group.
The biggest proof of their nefarious intentions is, however, found in the non-observant religious thinking.  Orthodox Jews pray thrive daily for the rebuilding of the Temple. Our davening is centred around recollections of its avodah.  We present ourselves to the Wall because of the Temple that used to stand behind it.  
The non-observant, however, are quite different in their approach.  Reform liturgy has never ascribed importance to the Temple or its rebuilding.  Conservative liturgy actively removed mentions of the rebuilding from its prayer books and even composed alternative amidah prayers to avoid mentioning the avodah at all.  You'd think that with such a lack of interest they wouldn't care much about the Wall and praying there.  yet they do.  Why?
Because we do. We, the Orthodox, have made a big deal out of the Wall, turned it from a place for private prayer into the world's largest outdoor shul.  Since the Plaza is national property, however, our treating it as our private place of worship others are invited to attend was bound to create acrimony. 
There is also jealousy, a driving factor in egalitarianism, protests against this idea to the contrary.  Let's be honest.  Yes, there are a small number of egalitarians who genuinely believe that they need to put on tefillin to properly connect to God but they are outnumbered by those who want to do it because  "the men get to do it".  On a large scale this is pushing the WoW in their agenda.  They don't want egalitarian prayers at the Wall.  If they did, they'd be already crowding Robinson's Arch.  they want to end orthodox prayer at the Plaza because it offends them.  They want the Plaza because the Orthodox have it.
One sometimes gets the felling that if the chief rabbis were to announce that all prayer at the Wall must immediately relocated to a nice felafel stand in the Armenian quarter that the WoW would follow us there and demand egalitarian worship while completely forgetting about the Wall.  Such superficial jealously should be pitied.

Thursday 4 February 2016

Selective Freedom Of Speech

One of the great hypocrisies of the Left is its selective approach to freedom of speech.  When a subject arises that they're in favour of, they are the first to scream if disputed or argued with.  They demand their right to speak, nay, shout their opinions and Heaven help the person who disagrees.
When it's a subject that they're against, however, they quickly change their tune.  From "I can say what I want!" and "You can't oppress my speaking out!" they move to "Your attitude is creating a toxic atmosphere" and "I feel oppressed!"  Ask any pro-life university students about freedom of speech when it comes to presenting an anti-abortion perspective on Western campuses.  Ask any proponents of traditional marriage about their experiences when they try to express their opinion.  The Left is quite clear - free speech for me, not thee.
That's what makes York University such an odious place these days.  For those not following the news, a large mural (shown above) currently hangs in one of the public spaces on campus.  This mural, created by an Arab student, shows the usual anti-Israel tripe we've come to expect from the Jew-hating lobby.  There's a noble so-called Palestinian armed with nothing but rocks, wearing his keffiyah and a backwards necktie adorned with a map of "Palestine" which naturally does not include Israel. (Syrians will be happy to note it doesn't unclude Golan either, but I digress).  He's watching a bulldozer, presumably driven by those nassssssty Israelis, about to uproot a beloved olive tree, the goal being to put a Jewish settlement in its place.
The reaction from Jewish students at York has been reportedly negative.  They mostly don't like it, some even feel intimidated by it but nothing has been done.  The biggest Jewish group on campus won't do anything to formally protest it either.  Keep in mind that York has a large Jewish community, one of the largest university Jewish communities in Canada, so large that York used to cancel the first two days of school in September if they coincide with Rosh HaShanah.  It also has a distinction of having had a few pogroms occur on its grounds.
But while the student leadership has remained docile, outside Jewish donors haven't, principle amongst them Paul Bronfman, a major donor to the university.  In the wake of discovering that this mural exists and that the university doesn't care about the offence it causes a significant proportion of its student population he has pulled his funding and donated equipment after contacting York President Mamdouh Shoukri (hmmmm......) and getting a milquetoast response.
The justification for leaving the mural in place is, naturally, freedom of speech and expression.  There is promise of a committee to study "inclusiveness" and "respect" and a statement from another flunky denying that the mural is a form of Jew-hatred at all! (Much like Der Strumer was a pretty ordinary broadsheet that just happened to report on legitimate criticism of International Jewry, nothing to see here folks)
Stop and consider for a moment.  Let's say a group of students approach the university with a different picture, one of a heterosexual couple standing happily in sunlight while an anonymous, obviously gay couple stare malevolently at them from the shadows behind.  Or perhaps it's a pro-life group with an obviously anti-abortion painting.  What about the trump card?  What if a Jewish artist produces a picture of the Temple Mount with the Temple standing on the ruins of the Dome of the Rock, the flag of Israel fluttering proudly above it and claims that it's not anti-Islam but merely critical of Muslim occupation of Judaism's holiest site?  Do you think for a moment that any of these paintings would be hung?  And even if, by some miracle they were, how long before they were either taken down or destroyed by "activists" in the name of inclusiveness and respect?
At York, like elsewhere, Jew hatred is freedom of speech.  Protecting Israel is not.  Rich Jewish donors should remember that before cutting their next alumnus cheque.

Tuesday 2 February 2016

One Wedding

Recently everyone seemed to be enthralled with the story of a wedding in Israel in which celebrants shouted "Death to the Arabs" while brandishing weapons.  Much anguish was aired across the press, both print and electronic, about this occurence.  As is common in the right wing National Religious community, there was much chest thumping and declarations of guilt. How could this have happened?  Isn't it terrible?  Isn't the National Religious community terrible by association?  The outrage was so strong that Rav Avi Shafran wrote a hack piece assuring us that, in fact, the Chareidi community had no connection to any terrorism or violence within the Jewish religous world.  (Pause for laughter)
While I certainly do not condone the actions of the celebrants or share their desire for open hatred of the Arabs in Israel, I would like to note something amidst all the wailing.
Yosef Trumpeldor was killed when he was 40 years old by Arabs back in 1920.  Ninetyfive years ago Arabs decided to kill a Jew not because he was occupying their supposed homeland because at that time Israel was occuped and ruled by the British and before them the Turks.  He was killed because he was a Jew that wished to live in the land of Israel and for the Arab community that was unacceptable.  No Israel, no occupation, just a small number of Jews trying to build a community and that was enough to invite death.  Ninetyfive years ago.
Since then it is impossible to count the number of attacks against Jews committed by Arabs in Israel.  How many people killed while riding the bus or walking on the street?  How many infants and children?  How many elderly?  How many gunned down while observing Jewish rituals?
And each time, if Israel, or its pre-State equivalent, dared to respond to remind the Arabs that Jewish blood isn't cheap, how many calls of condemnation or accusations of disproportionate response and war crimes?
Today in the so-called Palestinian Authority along with its sidekick Hamastan in 'Aza we are treated to daily calls by various political and religious officials to kill the Jews and wipe out Israel.  A major national or religious gathering isn't complete without the requisite Itbach al Yahud!.  (Kind of makes Lubavitcher meshichistim seem so benign, yes?)  But one wedding where Jews do the same and suddenly we are facing demands for a cheshbon hanefesh!  Our community is out of control!
One wedding against thousands (if not more) of similar acts on the other side.  We consign such views to the extremist fringe while they make them mainstream and extol their virtue.  Is there any comparison between us and them?
We have a further enemy within, happy to make unbalanced biased films in which a small group of settlers with a violent agenda are portrayed as the influential guides of the entire Jewish community of Shomron and Yehudah with the Arabs as innocent victims.  In the finest style of German World War 2 propaganda we are shown the ugly Jew and his insatiable appetite for causing the suffering of others.
We are accused of occupying Yehudah and Shomron as if there was no Jewish presence there until 1948 when the invading Arab Legion of Transjordan ethnically cleansed the area.  We are accused of wanting to regain possession of our holiest site of worship from squatters who act as if we have no connection to it.  These are the crimes we are accused of.
So let me say that yes: we are guilty of those charge.  I don't call for violence against the Arabs of Israel.  I don't want people going out and shooting innocents, adults or children.  Don't burn their olive tree groves or vandalize their mosques.  Such acts are not those of civilized people and if we truly embrace God's Torah then we must be civilized people.  Is it frustrating?  Yes.  Is it fair?  No.  But until Moshiach Tzidkeinu arrives and properly reapportions the land, removing the foreign element, it is a suffering that we must endure as galus ends.
We do not need to be suckers or helpless victims but the Torah demands of us that we remember our holiness and not let our zeal degrade our piety into fanatic barbarism.