Friday, May 20

Whither the Zionist Camp Party and in with Yisrael Beitenu

After the Israeli General Elections of 15th March 2015, Yitzhak Herzog - the Leader of the Zionist Camp and the Opposition, stated unequivocally that he has no intention of joining the Netanyahu Coalition Government. Many people voted for the Zionist Camp because they wanted change. Yitzchak Herzog lacks the charisma to be very convincing as a Leader of the Opposition. His popularity is slipping in the polls as he began crawling with a squeak or two into the arms of the most right wing coalition government in Israel’s history. He has gone back on his word and is on a path of self-destruction politically.

It is amazing that the Labor Party has always managed to survive, despite all its failures and
Yitzhak "Buji" Herzog Leader of Zionist Camp Party
sell outs to previous Likud-led coalitions in the past. The left of center opposition to the right wing government is on a downhill course and the stalwarts of the Labor movement were kicked in the butt, as in the past by groveling into a right wing coalition. This time there was a twist, after the wily Netanyahu had twisted Yitzchak Herzog round his little finger, offering him nothing - in comes Avigdor Lieberman, Leader of Yisrael Beitenu, and he gets offered the Defense Ministry on a plate, leaving Herzog out in the cold, spitting and screaming, blaming the “ultra-left “in his party, citing Zionist Camp MK, Shelli Yacimovich, as an example. Herzog justifies his failure by attacking his fellow members as attack is the best form of defense.

Avigdor Lieberman - incoming Defense Minister
Yitzchak Herzog has proved to be a weak opposition leader. He is now out in the cold, with egg yolk all over his face. Netanyahu has turned him into a laughing stock. Even members of the Zionist Camp are turning against him. Herzog has proved once again that he is no match for Netanyahu and he has no chance of gaining popularity to replace him as prime minister in the next elections. He should make the correct decision and resign. Instead of admitting his own folly he blamed everybody else and is trying to wipe the egg off his face threatening to lead a fighting opposition which he never did over the past 14 months. He was never consistent and did his best to move to the right by stating that his party is not an Arab-lover’s party.

Netanyahu has become paranoid with power. He has fired Defense Minister, Moshe Ya’alon

Moshe Ya'alon - outgoing Defense Minister
, who has knowledge of the IDF having been Chief-of-Staff and a career officer. Avigdor Lieberman is a right wing, racist - demagogue with no military experience or understanding even according to Netanyahu’s own description of him as “the man who isn’t qualified to be a military analyst,” as he put it a few weeks ago. Why has Netanyahu made such a bizarre choice? Lieberman is a super-hawk who will lead Israel to disaster and will do much damage to the IDF that will take years to repair. Lieberman has made irresponsible statements in the past such as his desire to blow up the Aswan Dam in Egypt.

This disastrous appointment could not come at a worse time, when General Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil el-Sisi, President of Egypt, was making overtures towards Israel about peace and becoming more involved in peace negotiations with the Palestinians. Now this stands to be scuttled because of the Lieberman appointment. Windows of opportunity for improving Israel’s relationships with its Arab neighbours do not often occur, but when it does, Netanyahu must share the blame of closing the doors by making disastrous cabinet appointments. Even veteran Likud Member of the Knesset, Benny Begin, stated that Netanyahu’s choice of Lieberman as Defense Minister is a bad alternative to Moshe Ya’alon as well as being bizarre. Moshe Ya’alon also encouraged senior officers to speak their minds over moral issues and educate their soldiers to act in a moral and ethical way even if it goes against the grain of accepted discourse. Ya’alon did not venture into politics in his statements as Netanyahu claimed. However had Ya’alon and the Deputy Chief-of-Staff spoken positively about the morality of the settlements in the West Bank this would have been viewed favorably by Netanyahu and Ya’alon would not have been axed. Democracy in Israel is on the road to being compromised by the self-righteous Netanyahu-Bennett-Shaked, and the latest addition, Lieberman Axis

Netanyahu was angry with his Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon because he supported the deputy Chief-of Staff, Yair Golan, who made a speech comparing developments in Israel with pre-Nazi Germany. Ya’alon also condemned the shooting of a dying Palestinian terrorist by the soldier, Elor Azaria, who had gone against IDF protocol in his actions and committed a crime of murder that had been softened to an indictment of culpable homicide. Most of the right wing, including Avigdor Liberman, the incoming Defense Minister, believed that the soldier should be freed. This was the sounding bell for the axing of Ya’alon from the Defense Portfolio. Netanyahu viewed the IDF leadership as a potential threat to his power. Nothing could be further from the truth! There are no grounds for Netanyahu’s assumption, apart from a hidden paranoia, and fear of losing his grip. The senior officers in the IDF just wished to maintain the reputation of the IDF as being clean and fair. If this is a threat to Netanyahu’s hold on power resulting in the appointment of Liberman as Defense Minister, despite the bad blood between the two of them, then there is a severe problem. This appointment of Avigdor Liberman was the rabbit out of the hat, well concealed from Herzog during the antics of negotiations to bring the Zionist Camp into the Netanyahu Coalition.

Moshe Ya’alon is an honest man; he is in the same league as MK Benny Begin and President Reuven Rivlin, who believe in the importance of ethics and fairness as well as making responsible decisions for the benefit of the country. PM Netanyahu is NOT in that league and the dismissal of Moshe Ya’alon from the defense portfolio is proof of Netanyahu’s political whims and fancies that is negative for Israel. Netanyahu is a scheming politician, who will do anything to placate his extremist right wing flank in power.  He stuck a knife in Moshe Ya’alon’s back and Ya’alon paid the price for his ethical stand and judgment. Talk about the Palestinians not being a partner for peace negotiations - is Netanyahu any different? Is he a potential partner for peace talks? If Netanyahu pulls out dirty tricks from the cupboard against his own cabinet ministers, can he be viewed as being trustworthy and honest?

Moshe Ya’alon has resigned his seat in the Knesset and has decided to leave politics to the wolves for the time being. Israel has lost an excellent Defense Minister and time will expose the folly of Netanyahu’s bad decision. His place in the Knesset will be replaced by Rabbi Yehuda Glick, a strong rabble rouser for the right to pray on the Temple Mount. Glick has had a number of confrontations with the law enforcement authorities on this issue as well as being a victim of an assassination attempt.

Where do all these developments leave the Zionist Camp? Nowhere! As mentioned earlier in this article, the Zionist Camp has taken a bashing as it usually does. Israel needs a strong opposition that can offer a realistic alternative to the present Netanyahu Government. A realignment of the left is essential for this to occur. Many Zionist Camp members feel a sense of betrayal by their leader, Yitzhak “Buji” Herzog. The opposition should be all encompassing of left wing political parties wishing to bring an end to the Netanyahu Coalition rule and sharing a common platform in this effort. No party should be ruled out in this effort, including the Joint List. In fact, Ayman Odeh, is the leader of the largest opposition party in the Knesset. He should be the future opposition leader replacing Herzog, whose Zionist Camp is losing support as a result of Herzog’s attempt to enter the right wing government with the lame excuse that Netanyahu will change direction. Netanyahu, during his eight years of being prime minister, has not changed and will not change in the future. He pays lip service to a two-state solution but he does not support it under any circumstances in reality.

Tuesday, May 3

Anti-Semitism or Anti-Zionism in the British Labor Party or Both?

It is not customary for me to write about foreign political parties or get involved in their policies. However in the case of the British Labor Party some very worrying developments have occurred amongst some of its members that gives grave cause for concern. Individual members of this party have come out with statements that go beyond anti-Zionism and moving towards delegitimizing Israel.
Jeremy Corbyn

We must bear in mind that this phenomenon has been latent in the post-Tony Blair years especially. It has given expression in party members electing Jeremy Corbyn as their party leader by a sizeable majority. He has made some very problematic statements that point in a direction of affinity for Hamas and Hezbollah.

The following comes from The Guardian 13th August 2015:

“There is Corbyn’s apparent proximity to anti-Semitism. While I genuinely believe that Corbyn does not have an anti-Semitic bone in his body, he does have a proclivity for sharing platforms with individuals who do; and his excuses for doing so do not stand up.
Take the fact that Corbyn once described it as his “honour and pleasure” to host “our friends” from Hamas and Hezbollah in parliament. According to Corbyn, he extended his invitation to the aforementioned groups – and spoke of them glowingly – because all sides need to be involved in the peace process.
Ken Livingstone

So far, so reasonable. Yet negotiation is not on Hamas’s agenda, as Corbyn ought to know. In its charter Hamas states: “Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement… There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through jihad.”

Most of us in Israel are in favor of  negotiations with Hamas and Hezbollah in order to reach a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict in the widest possible terms. This unfortunately is not the case of Hamas and Hezbollah. They have closed every door to any possible negotiation with Israel on any form of solution to the conflict. Their actions of hostility and terror towards Israel over the years are proof of that. Describing these two terrorist organizations as “friends” of Jeremy Corbyn in his own words is cynical and raises many questions of the Labor leader’s understanding of the dynamics of irreversible hate for Israel. Gorbyn’s attitude towards Israel has many questions that remain unanswered. Much is left to interpretation by many of his own party members, who have taken it a step further towards anti-Israel statements that have also slipped towards an anti-Semitic direction.

Anti-Zionists have always existed amongst the Jewish People. They have given many academic arguments against Zionism. Some points that Jewish anti-Zionist philosophy academics have made are certainly not anti-Semitic even though the methodology that they have used in arriving to their conclusions is questionable, including their sources of information.  

However having said this, there is a trend within the Labor Party for anti-Semites to climb the band wagon of anti-Zionism for delegitimizing Israel for its so-called human rights abuses against Palestinians under occupation and settler expansion in the territories. Israel is by no means perfect and criticism of the Israeli Government attitude towards the occupation is legitimate and desirable. PM Netanyahu’s statement that Israel must be recognized as the nation state of the Jewish People rather than the state of all Israel’s citizens does add a question mark as to the status of the non-Jewish minorities and sounds very exclusive, rather than including them as an integral part of Israel. It does not mean that those who criticize Israel Government policy towards the Palestinians are anti-Semitic or even anti-Zionist and delegitimize Israel’s right to exist.

Jeremy Corbyn has opened the anti-Semitic Pandora Box within the Labor Party and the anti-Semitic genie has jumped out. He realizes that it will boomerang against the Labor Party. He is now applying a band-aid by suspending 50 Labor members suspected of anti-Semitism.

It boggles the mind how many Labor Party members are going down xenophobic street, punting for the Palestinians and making comments against Israel that have anti-Semitic overtones as well. A party that claims to fight racism seems to be going soft on anti-Semitism. How can the Labor Party support a Palestinian leadership that is enriching itself on the tragedies of the Palestinian People? Hamas wealth is well documented. The leader, Khaled Maashal is a multimillionaire; Ismail Hanniyeh and Musa Marzook are all in comfortable, luscious exile. They use their people in fighting wars and committing terrorist acts against Israel.

 During the Gaza War in July-August 2014, they were not in Gaza to be near their people. They were either in luxurious hotels in Qatar or in bunkers. The long suffering Palestinian People took the flack as their wealthy, despotic leadership led them to disaster. Their rhetoric during the war was conspicuous by its total absence. Only when the war was over did this cowardly enriched mob surface as if they were victorious over Israel with their hateful rhetoric and mantras based on nothing but their fantasies.

Is this the kind of despotic, undemocratic Palestinian regime that the Labor Party supports in order to get at Israel? Are these wealthy Hamas despots “friends” of Jeremy Corbyn? Are they going to lead the Palestinians to a democratic state where human rights exist? Many of these so-called double-standard left wing hypocritical, human rights activists will say that any truth written about Hamas, Hezbollah and their Islamist terrorist allies is nothing but Israeli and Zionist propaganda. It does not suit their ideology. They believe that if you tell a lie often enough it becomes a truth. In this, the “socialist” ideology of Labor resembles the Stalin-Hitler tactics of deception.

The downhill slide of the British Labor Party into an abyss of anti-Semitism bodes evil for the party and it does not dovetail with its socialist ideology that is against xenophobia in all its forms. Jeremy Corbyn must be held accountable for this negative development within the party. If the Labor members do not work to replace him, the anti-Semitic stain will remain in the party for many years and their chances of winning an election will be remote.

Friday, April 22

Relevance of Observing Pesach Today

The Passover (Pesach) Season is upon us. The celebration of the Israelites’ escape from bondage in Egypt led by Moses is here. Most observant Jews in Israel and in the Diaspora will be sitting down to the Pesach meal or Seder with all its symbolism of freedom from slavery in Egypt. The Haggadah, is read before the Seder meal. I feel that it is so archaic and lacking in relevance. The reading is rushed through rapidly as it becomes a tedious exercise in resilience.  

It should be a challenge to all of us as Jews to seek new meanings and learning new lessons as to how relevant Pesach remains today. It is not enough to celebrate the liberation of the Israelites, who to all intents and purposes, are our ancestors.

While very few even think of Pesach from a wider more modern spectrum and are so involved in out dated rituals as to what is Kosher for Pesach and what is not. The religious hair-splitting explanation over what is “kitniot” –“legumes” that are forbidden to be eaten by religious Ashkenazim.    

We should be giving more thought to those who are still not free in countries that deny their citizens basic human rights.

The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict still defies a solution. The occupation has taken on a different perspective. It is a moral dilemma. On the one hand, it is desirable that there should be a move to ending the occupation of the Palestinians by Israel so that the Palestinians do achieve an independent state with freedom coinciding with human dignity and democracy. On the other hand, even if Israel withdraws all the settlers from the occupied territories on the West Bank, there will be no desire on the Palestinian side to sign a peace treaty. The corrupt, wealthy Palestinian leadership have no desire to recognize Israel’s right to exist. It is their bread and butter.The terrorist activity coming from the Palestinian side is not conducive to any solution in ending the Israeli occupation.
The conflict does not appear to have any solution in sight. The moral idea of an independent Palestinian State alongside Israel is just not going to occur. It remains within the realm of the impossible. All we can do as Jews is to declare the desire for an independent, free, Palestinian State alongside Israel living in peace. It is a similar desire of “Next year in Rebuilt Jerusalem” at the end of the Haggadah reading which we know will also never occur.

Here is a thought that comes from Rabbi John Rosove,
J Street Rabbinic Cabinet, Co-Chair:

“As the festival of Passover approaches, we are all challenged, this year even more than most years, to reflect and act on the universal message it conveys -- especially in the light of very disturbing trends both in the United States and Israel.
The overriding message conveyed through the Haggadah is that it is our duty to experience the story of our liberation from Egypt as if it happened to us personally -- and not just a story that happened to our ancestors countless generations ago. As former slaves, our tradition teaches us to be sensitive to the plight of the oppressed throughout history and in our own time. Accepting our role as active participants in that drama, we realize that we have a hand in forging our own destiny and cannot allow ourselves to become mere bystanders.
"We’re taught as Jews despite cruelty leveled against us not to become cruel and hard-hearted ourselves. That is the key lesson of Pesach, and we ignore it at our moral and spiritual peril."
We are sensitive even to the pain of our enemies, taking a drop of wine out of our glasses for each of the ten plagues visited on the Egyptians, lessening our joy as we recall their suffering.
As our sages have noted, the one commandment in the Torah reiterated more than any other is to care for and love the stranger -- for we ourselves were strangers in Egypt. It is repeated no fewer than 36 times.
Perhaps the repetition is necessary because this commandment tells us to do something that is both counterintuitive and very hard to do. It goes against something that is very deep and fundamental within us. We’re hardwired to be loyal to our own tribe and to be suspicious of and hostile to “the other.” When we’re hurting or in distress, some of us blame strangers and pour out our rage on them. It’s happening again, right now, in Syria, Iraq and in sectors of America.
In the 2016 presidential campaign, some of the leading candidates have built their campaigns by exploiting the fears and anxieties of fellow Americans. They have cynically fomented an anti-immigrant, xenophobic, nativist feeling against Muslims, Hispanics and others.
In Israel, we see the same phenomenon in the very disturbing recent polls showing that a sizeable proportion of the Jewish population would favor depriving Arab Israelis of their democratic rights or even expelling them from the country. And tragically, Israelis and Palestinians have become strangers to each other, meeting in fewer and fewer places and not currently engaged around the negotiating table.
Yes, Israelis have been subjected to heinous terrorist attacks, rockets, missiles and constant psychological pressure -- and we must stand with them in upholding their right to defend themselves and our Jewish homeland -- but returning hatred with hatred is not the response our tradition teaches. We’re taught as Jews despite cruelty leveled against us not to become cruel and hard-hearted ourselves. That is the key lesson of Pesach, and we ignore it at our moral and spiritual peril.
This is not who we are as Jews -- nor who we can be and should be.
As individuals and collectively, working through organizations like J Street and its many American-Jewish, Israeli and Palestinian allies, we need to change this. We are called upon by tradition to pursue peace and justice and to love compassion. We must see that our neighbors are fellow humans with the same desires and aspirations as us -- and we must never abandon our goal of reaching a two-state solution to end the conflict.
That is the great challenge of our time and it is deserving of particular reflection this festival season.
As the former Chief Rabbi of Britain, Jonathan Sacks, has noted, “Judaism is God’s call to human responsibility. From this call you can’t hide, as Adam and Eve discovered when they tried, and you can’t escape, as Jonah learnt in the belly of a fish. The first humans lost paradise when they sought to hide from responsibility. We will only ever regain it if we accept responsibility and become a nation of leaders, each respecting and making space for those not like us.”
"WE ARE TROUBLED when we see fear and hatred toward “the other” in Israel. In our beloved Israel, it is sadly common to encounter fear and loathing of “the other” with whom we share the land. Even in times of turmoil and insecurity, we must strive to empathize with our neighbors and treat all with dignity. We must commit ourselves to working together with Israelis and with Palestinians to realize a future of freedom, justice and peace. LET US 
STRIVE TO LOVE THE STRANGER and journey toward our Promised Land. Tonight, as we reenact our enslavement and celebrate our freedom from oppression, let us work toward loving the stranger, treating all with dignity and equal protection. Only then can we truly inhabit our Promised Land and reach the future we wish to see. 
WE REMEMBER when we were strangers. Tonight, at our Seder, we remember when we were strangers. We recall the Exodus from bondage and reaffirm our memory that we were once the dispossessed, the immigrants, those who fled from the lash in the hopes of finding our way to our Promised Land. We remember countless times in the Jewish story when we were pushed away, wandering, vulnerable, even hated. Why do we tell this story year after year? 
WE SEEK TO KNOW the heart of the stranger. The Torah explains: “Know the heart/the feelings of the stranger, for you once were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 23:9). We tell the story so that we remember to empathize with “the other,” so that we will not do to others that which was hateful to us. “Love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Deut. 10:19). In this moment, we seek to know the heart and feelings of those who are treated as “the other” today and dwell on what it means to love them.  
WE ARE TROUBLED when we see fear and hatred toward “the other” here in America. In the United States, we sit down to our tables at a time of unprecedented anti-immigrant and xenophobic sentiment, Islamophobia and the stirring of hatred towards those who look different than us. We remember tonight that once we were proud to call ourselves a nation of immigrants."

This Passover supplement was created by Rabbi Burton Visotzky and Sarah Beller Possible discussion around the table: As you think about the current situation in America and in Israel ask yourself: Who today is being treated as “the stranger” or “the other” in the United States? Who is being treated as “the stranger” or “the other” in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza? Drawing on the Jewish historical experience of being strangers, what action can I take to help alleviate the challenges faced by those who are treated as “the other” today?   

Chag Pesach Sameach!                                                                                                                                                                  שמח!                   חג פסח                                               

Saturday, April 9

Racism in the Netanyahu Coalition

Flag of Kach and later Kahane Chai.
Flag of Kach and later Kahane Chai. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Racism is inherent in many segments of Israel’s society. This is reflected in voting patterns when there are General Elections for the Knesset. 

MK Bezalel Smotrich, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset
Today the Israeli Coalition is right of center and composed of two non-Zionist ultra-Orthodox Parties (Shas and Torah Judaism Parties), Jewish Home Party (a macabre mix of religious Zionists, Kach Party (an illegal Kahanist, pseudo fascist racist party that has integrated into the Jewish Home Party)  and settler oriented groups), Kulanu (the closer to centre and more liberal)) and the Likud that is the main component. It is important to note that the Kahanists (Kach Party) is well represented by the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, kippa-cladded, tzitzit-dangling, Bezalel Smotrich of the Jewish Home Party. Highlight of his statements: "My wife is not racist, but after giving birth she wants to rest, not suffer through the parties customarily held by Arab families," he tweeted. Several additional tweets explained: "This isn't just about convenience. Jews and Arabs have been fighting over this country for a hundred years. It's only natural that my wife doesn't want to be in a bed next to someone who just had a baby that 20 years from now, might want to kill her baby."

Had this racist not been a Knesset Member, we could view him as an insignificant, racist on the fringes (perhaps the tzizit fringes) of little significance. He is basically soft-serve Price Tag with views similar to the Hilltop Youth scum that vandalises Palestinian property in the territories.
Bezalel Smotrich dared to utter racist anti-Arab statements that are so shocking and deserve nation-wide condemnation. Even the leader of this extremist right wing Jewish Home Party, Naftali Bennett, the Minister of Education, condemned the Smotrich racist statements. It is unfortunate that he did not go far enough. He should have demanded the resignation of Smotrich. Smotrich represents all that is ugly in Jewish Home Party ideology. He is a reprehensible character in the Knesset. It is unfortunate that there is no shortage of them that is dragging Israel’s reputation into disrepute and serving the agenda of BDS and anf anti-Israel groups. What more does one need to give grist to the mill of those double standard, self-styled “progressive” humanists, who never miss an opportunity to accuse Israel of practising South African-style apartheid? Smotrich has achieved this.
There is another way in the settler way of thinking and this is well illustrated by Hadassah Froman, wife of the late Rabbi Menachem Froman of Tekoah. The following is her response to Bezalel Smotrich:
Hello, Bezalel,
I may not know you personally, but I know your parents. On a certain level, one could say that you represent the second generation of the Gush Emunim settlement movement, among whose founders were your parents and me. Recent events – the fire bombing in Duma; the soldier who shot a disarmed attacker in Hebron; your comments this week – and the polemic they engendered have reawakened the need to bring into focus the profound meaning of our presence in this land.
The settlement movement that issued forth from the teachings of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook bore with it a spiritual vision of the return to the land. In his book “Orot,” Rabbi Kook repeatedly describes the Jewish people’s mission to bear the torch of the light of God, of justice, morality, love and kindness, in the world. Notably, he portrays this mission in universal terms. That is the purpose of our return to the land, that is the true Jewish courage, and that is what we must actualize here.
Let me tell you, Bezalel, that his son, Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook, said on multiple occasions, “We have nothing against Ahmad or Mustafa. We do not fight the Arab man because he is Arab.” Or, as the elder Rabbi Kook put it, Jewish nationalism must remain untainted by the impurity of racism, for otherwise it has no right to exist. Rabbi Kook, like other early Zionist thinkers, saw the Zionist idea as a spiritual message that would imbue the world with the light of justice and morality, with love of man and his holiness, and that would realize its message in the land we’ve always yearned for.
That is our message, and it is with that grand spirit that we established a state. That is the historic, divine process that reconnected us to this land, and that is our mission in the world.
Within this process, we must bear in mind that the Palestinian people that dwells in this land is not a mistake of the divine plan. It is here so that we can learn to establish ourselves in the land while broadening our perspective on reality. This is a word of God that we must internalize: how to live here by building dialogue with another people, another culture, another religion. Indeed, it is a difficult task, one that we must carry out by way of the structures with which we conduct our lives: the institutions of government, culture and welfare; civil society and the military; and the education system.
The issue goes way beyond the question of where to build a settlement and how to protect it; it is at the core of our very existence, and if we will fail to internalize that fact, we will not remain here. The Jewish people, consciously or not, is the bearer of a profound spiritual message for the world, and it will not allow you to lead it if you are guided by a racist outlook that denies the other’s existence.
If you see the other in a negative light, if you can’t relate to his celebrations, or if you consider his child a potential murderer, then you do not comprehend, and you are unfit to lead, because you are narrow-minded and controlled by your existential fear. Your outlook pulls the ground out from under our very existence in this land. That is not the purpose of our arrival here – to dominate, to expel the other, or to deny his right to exist.
The idea that one can embody holiness, purity and a deep connection to the land through the denial of another’s existence is not only unrealistic; it is evident of a profound spiritual miscomprehension. Sadly, your words lead our entire national religious community to the brink of a chasm that undermines and threatens our very existence.
Both you and your wife, who was quoted in the media, and we, as a community that seeks to blaze the path of our return to the land, must search our souls and realize that we will lose our way if we give in to fear, segregation and hatred.
You, Bezalel, have lost your way. Take back what you said before it is too late and everything will crumble into the abyss. I call upon you, and upon the community of which you are a leader, to internalize a turn of phrase coined by my late husband, Rabbi Menachem Froman: “The settlements are fingers extended in peace.” Only through a deep connection to the land, and to the word of God, can we truly succeed in bringing the Palestinian people closer to the love, peace and holiness inherent in it.”

The Jewish Home has strayed from what Judaism is supposed to mean. It has become more extreme and less tolerant of non-Jewish Israelis.
While Smotrich remains in the Knesset and is not made to resign, despite the opposition to his racism, we can assume that he still represents the views of many members in the Jewish Home Party towards 20% of Israel’s non-Jewish citizens. Smotrich must go!!

Monday, March 28

Guilty or Not Guilty of Murder?

The shooting of a Palestinian terrorist in a prone position lying on the ground poses a great moral issue. It has aroused the ire of the Coalition Government, including PM Benjamin Netanyahu, (who later backtracked according to reports) and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. On the other hand, Naftali Bennett, Education Minister supports the soldier who shot the prone terrorist.

Clip showing the soldier shaking hands with Kahanist Baruch Marzel after shooting
A Betzelem (the Human Rights Group) observer had filmed the incident which was broadcast on all Israel’s TV Channels and publicized on the social media and beyond. Had Betzelem not filmed this incident, it is doubtful if the soldier, who had shot the Palestinian terrorist after he had been rendered harmless, probably dying in the street would have created a stir in the media. The IDF would have investigated the incident and the soldier involved may have been let off the hook with cautionary warning. 

Contrary to what many Israelis think, Betzelem did a service to Israel and the IDF by filming the incident. It will give a clue as to what really happened as legal experts will use this vital information to see whether there is room for indictment of the soldier involved. The moment that evidence is hidden when it is available in order to “whitewash” a possible crime is in itself criminal.

The IDF protocol on using a weapon in order to kill is clear and acceptable by any standard. It prohibits soldiers from firing indiscriminately at an enemy when he/she does not endanger life.  We have no right to question or doubt IDF decisions on this issue. We have every right to support the IDF in carrying out its duty to protect Israel’s citizens from Palestinian terror. We have no right to support the soldier’s shooting a Palestinian terrorist, who has been rendered harmless by the IDF. The right wing politicians in the Israeli Coalition Government and even some rabbis have behaved irresponsibly in a case that is sub judice, in praising the soldier for carrying out an “act of heroism” which, according to the Betzelem film clip, does not appear to be the case.  Shooting a terrorist or murderous criminal who is unarmed and rendered harmless because of a whim whatever that may be is criminal.

Polls have been taken using samples of the Israeli electorate which show an overwhelming support for the soldier’s act. This is rather disappointing and is really indicative of the public’s support of vigilante actions against a Palestinian terrorist who is lying in a prone position on the ground.

One thing is certain and that is the Palestinian terrorist was no danger to anybody’s life when he was fatally shot by a soldier who was not authorized to do so. This is how the Betzelem film portrayed the situation. Betzelem had performed a positive service in this case in order that justice is done.