Analysis, Boaz Okon, Yediot, December 8 2010 [front-page; Hebrew original here and at the bottom of this post]
In 1834, a clothes salesman in London refused to sell an article of clothing to a customer. The refusal stemmed from the fact that the buyer was “just a Jew.”The Jewish buyer sued the salesman, but the court in the Timothy case supported the salesman. It was not a just trial, but the judge employed a sacred principle, the freedom of contracts, according to which a person can choose with whom he wants to enter into a contract and whom he does not. This sanctity was a disgrace and a refuge for ugly prejudice. The court’s non-intervention only supplied ammunition to the strong and violent versus the human and the weak, and the usual outcome of giving “freedom to wolves,” as Prof. Isaiah Berlin put it, is “death for sheep.” Since then, the sanctity of the freedom of contracts has been made subject to the demand of good faith. It can no longer serve as a refuge for racists. In the Israeli ruling in the case of Naamne vs. Kibbutz Kalia, Judge Miriam Mizrahi ruled that one cannot rely on freedom of contracts to prevent Arabs from entering a water park.
Now Jewish clerics are using a different sanctity, the sanctity of the Torah, to cover their racist shame. They will find that the sanctity cannot legitimize the ugliness. Their prejudice will also be consigned to the dustbin of history, along with the ridiculous ritual that surrounds it.
The infamous Nuremberg Laws forbade, in 1935, mixed marriages between Jews and Germans, and barred Jews from employing German maids (under age 45) and laborers. This prohibition was intended to portray the Jews as a kind of pest, not quite human. They became a persecuted bloc on the basis of generalizations and slander. Gideon Hausner, the prosecutor at the Eichmann trial, would later say that in Israel, “we do not make ethnic distinctions.” But here, rabbis, who receive their pay from the state coffers, forbid people to rent apartments to Gentiles, to Arabs, because it “causes evil and makes the public commit the sin of intermarriage,” and because they have among them “enemies and people who persecute us to the point of endangering lives.”
The “Hebron” account at WeJew.com (a kind of Jewish YouTube wannabe) has just (July 5 2010) uploaded a video purportedly documenting a visit this month of an Australian Birthright group to the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. This site is the stated raison d’être of the extremist Jewish Settlement in the the West Bank city and its cultural center. Watch the video (if it’s been taken down, I’ve embedded a recording of the video playing on WeJew at the bottom of this post): At 01:46, “Daniel”, the apparent trip leader, is interviewed. He seems to know exactly what he’s doing.
What’s the problem?
Well, for starters, in its Safety and Security rules, Birthright makes an explicit commitment to participants, parents and, presumably, insurers:
Our tours do not travel to or through areas of the West Bank, Gaza or East Jerusalem, other than the Jewish Quarter of the Old City.
In addition, Birthright has been repeatedly criticized for providing young Jewish-Americans a skewed perception of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some of the most scathing criticism has come from within the Jewish-American community. For example, here is a remarkable piece of soul-searching from a Hillel campus organizer:
So what am I doing behind this Birthright table, trying to rally Jews and only Jews to go to Israel with a program whose agenda is to make them rabid, unquestioning supporters of its actions?
Birthright has a response to this kind of criticism, which is particularly interesting in the context of the Hebron visit video:
“The conflict bubbles up,” said Barry Chazan, a professor emeritus of education at Hebrew University and education director for Birthright Israel.
“But it’s not a seminar in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. … The fact that they don’t meet the head of the Palestinian Authority doesn’t mean they’re not experiencing issues of the conflict.”
On Friday, July 9, the Ministry of Justice and the Jewish Legal Heritage Society will present a two-day seminar on Jewish laws concerning the Land of Israel. [An invitation in Hebrew can be seen here and a translation is appended at the bottom of this post. H/T Dena Shunra.]
While I am not an expert on Jewish law, even a layman’s superficial examination of the itinerary reveals an extremely problematic agenda for a government. At best, this event serves as an official stamp of approval for the settlement movement; at worst, it provides legitimacy for extremist and hateful views. Here are the discussion topics:
- The centrality of the Land of Israel in Jewish and general law
- The commandment of settling the Land of Israel: “And you shall inherit it and you shall reside therein” (Nahmanides)
- Obligation to take risks to settle the Land of Israel
- The commandment of redeeming land in the Land of Israel
- “And the land shall not be sold in perpetuity” (Leviticus 25:23)
- “Show no mercy unto them” (Deuteronomy 20:16)
- “Every person has four cubits in the Land of Israel” (Ketubot 111a)
Rabbi Dov Lior, the Chief Rabbi of the settlement of Kiryat Arba, near Hebron, provides the most extreme example. At the New Jewish Congress in November 2007, Rabbi Lior called for a “return to real Zionism,” explaining that the Jewish People must settle and conquer the Land of Israel and that the latter commandment:
involves military force, with all the associated risks. For many years we did not have the ability to fulfill this Torah commandment, but now we can – and so we must! We must not fear the threats of the evil ones, but we must rather persist, and not allow the weakness of our government to become a ‘weeping for generations.’
There is no term in the Halacha that states one must consider innocents during war. Of course we must stop terrorists from shooting, even if the only way to do so includes harming civilians.
Even more remarkable is Rabbi Lior’s view of Baruch Goldstein’s terrorist attack in Hebron in 1994, when he murdered 29 Palestinian worshippers in the Cave of the Patriarchs and injured many more. When Goldstein’s coffin was brought to Rabbi Lior’s own settlement of Kiryat Arba for burial, Lior delivered a eulogy in which he praised Goldstein, saying that he:
was full of love for fellow human beings. He dedicated himself to helping others.
Another lecturer headlining the event will be former Israeli Deputy Attorney General Professor Nachum Rakover, President of the Jewish Legal Heritage Society. In an interview with BBC, Rakover posited that — when it comes to Israel — any State law that provides an obstacle to settling the Land of Israel in its entirety should be subverted. The quote reads:
Our right to the ‘Land of Israel’ is a very important precept, according to the Torah. There is a Hebrew idiom – the law of the land is the law – but there are laws between man and God which cannot be changed. This applies to giving up land because the settlement of Jews in the ‘Land of Israel’ is one of the most important precepts of the Torah. The Torah was given for the purpose that Jews will preserve the Torah in the ‘Land of Israel’ in its entirety.
UPDATE: A Facebook group for this campaign has opened, displaying images of some previous posters on the subject of POTUS. One is posted below, with the text “Barak Hussein Obama Anti-Semitic Jew-hater.”
Lag B’Omer is a secondary Jewish holiday dating to Talmudic times whose origins are obscure. In Israel, one of its most widespread manifestations is the lighting of bonfires on the holiday eve, which this year (2010) occurs on Saturday, May 1.
Some celebrate by burning symbols of enemies in the bonfires. When I was a child, notebooks from the classes of particularly hated teachers served that purpose. In recent years, right-wing groups have organized to encourage the burning of photos and effigies of national enemies.
On Thursday (April 22 2010), IDF Radio revealed that a Kahanist group was adding a new national enemy to the pantheon of effigies burned at bonfires and getting ready for a mass distribution of the materials required. One of the organizers told listeners:
Today the enemy of Israel, even though he does not pretend to be an enemy of Israel, is Barack Hussein Obama. Just like you said that you used to burn pictures of Israel’s enemies. That is how I remember that I too used to burn pictures of Arafat, Sheikh Yassin, Hussein. Today our enemy is Obama.
It will be interesting to see whether the Anti-Defamation League will weigh-in on this new development.
Ma Boer, IDF Radio, April 22 2010 10:24 [Click here to listen to original recording in Hebrew]
Rino Tzror: Hello to Guy Varon, our correspondent in the territories. So they started to distribute effigies and pictures of Obama?
Guy Varon: After we have seen right-wing activists burning pictures of Saddam, Nasrallah and Arafat in recent years on Lag B’Omer, this year there is a new star, US Pres. Barack Obama.
Rino Tzror: Did you see an effigy of Obama?Guy Varon: We saw the effigies and the pictures. I also want to add that we say Barack Obama. These right wing people really like to say Hussein Obama.
Rino Tzror: Right.
Guy Varon: Pictures and effigies of the superpower leader will be distributed this year ahead of Lag B’Omer by rightwing activists. They explained that as far as they are concerned he is an enemy of Israel. His behavior harms Israel more than anything. For them the message is that Obama is bad for the Jews.
Rino Tzror: And they’re going to burn him on bonfires, like they used to burn pictures of Hitler, of all kinds of enemies of Israel. Is that the way Obama is going to be treated this Lag B’Omer?
Guy Varon: That is definitely the intention of the people who are giving out the pictures and the effigies.
Rino Tzror: Stay with us. Now we are going to talk to Bentzy Gopstein. Good morning.
Bentzy Gopstein: Good morning Rino.
Rino Tzror: You are a follower of Kahane, right?
Bentzy Gopstein: Right.
Rino Tzror: Who started this project of Obama effigies?
Bentzy Gopstein: There are a few friends together. They decided that today the enemy of Israel, even though he does not pretend to be an enemy of Israel, is Barack Hussein Obama. Just like you said that you used to burn pictures of Israel’s enemies. That is how I remember that I too used to burn pictures of Arafat, Sheikh Yassin, Hussein. Today our enemy is Obama.
Rino Tzror: No, I never burned Hussein. We used to burn Hitler. We used to go for the real villains, not the ones who maybe were and maybe weren’t.
Likud power-broker: When Biden “or any other diseased leper” humiliates us, he sows the seeds of another Holocaust
Moshe Feiglin heads “Manhighut Yehudit — The Jewish Leadership Movement” an extremist theocon group, which in recent years has established a strong presence in the Likud. Feiglin-endorsed candidates performed strongly in the 2008 Likud primaries and make up a large part of the party’s current Knesset caucus. Vice Premier and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe (Bugi) Yaalon famously used the podium at a Manhigut Yehudit conference to call Peace Now “a virus”.
Writing in Maariv’s online edition ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day warned Israelis that the current geopolitical environment was leading to a second Holocaust (full translation at bottom):
There are two historical lessons that we should remember well from the Holocaust period:
One is that the armies of Czechoslovakia and France, which were much stronger before the war than the German army, went down before it like dominoes, because their leaderships failed to understand the nature of the conflict and based itself on peace processes.
The second lesson, which pertains directly to us as Jews, is that before physical destruction there is spiritual destruction. Before we are murdered, our dignity is murdered, and we are rendered illegitimate. Der Stuermer always precedes Auschwitz. When you agree to be humiliated, you have not forestalled your end, you have brought it closer. Jewish history is being written today in the State of Israel. The desire to destroy the state is the same desire to destroy the Jews — to fight against the good.
When the state’s leadership lets Biden or Erdogan or any other diseased leper humiliate us, it sows the hope and uncontrollable desire of destroying us. When Ahmadinejad started to talk about Israel’s destruction — it should have been clear that from Israel’s standpoint, he had lost his right to take a breath of air in this world. Since we did not eliminate him, he has been gaining strength, he and his ministers roam freely around the world, whereas Israel has become a pirate ship that has lost the legitimacy for its existence and its ministers are wanted for arrest in European capitals. We have returned to the days of the “Jewish question,” we are no longer in 2010, we are in nineteen thirty-something.
Whoever warns against a preemptive strike in Iran and prefers to let the world do its work, is behaving just like the Jewish community leaders who sharply attacked anyone who tried to go against the current of the German annihilation machine. It is clear that resistance had a heavy price. But the price of appeasement and cooperation was a thousand times more terrible.
Readers abroad who are amazed that the mainstream Israel media provides a platform for this kind of messaging should take a look at this ad, which ran on the front-page of the Jerusalem Post on April 7 2010.
Op-ed, Moshe Feiglin, NRG [Maariv online], April 11 2010 [Hebrew original here]
I am very ashamed of the Holocaust. How my people were taken, stripped, humiliated, tortured and led—before the eyes of the joyous Poles, Ukrainians, French and other offspring of Christian enlightenment, how newborn babies were impaled on pitchforks on the way to the death pits, how millions were led to the factories of death, and suffocated and burned, fertilizing with our people’s ashes the fields of Poland and Europe—and all with almost no resistance.
I am very proud of the Holocaust. If the German Asmodeus, the essence of absolute evil in the sharpest and clearest manner ever revealed in history, if it sees me, the Jew, as its ultimate enemy, then that means that I am on the other end of the scale—in other words, there is something very good about my people. If it represents absolute evil, then it is very afraid of the absolute good — God — that I represent.
There is no way to explain the Holocaust. I know survivors who are not on speaking terms with God. I know many who are the opposite. I have no right to go there — nor do I have either the ability or the desire to do so. But irrespective of the theological questions surrounding the Holocaust, one clear thing occurred in its wake: Jewish history stopped being written in exile and started to be written in the Land of Israel.
Very soon, the Jewish people is going to become, for the first time since the First Temple period (!), a people the majority of which live in the Holy Land. This fact constitutes a spiritual critical mass. Jewish law changes in several realms following the demographic fact that “most of its sons are on [the land].” The absolute number that we are talking about, the absolute number that we are approaching in the Land of Israel—is chilling. Six million.
A lamb among 70 wolves may be devoured
In the days after Passover, I though to myself that we may have become enamored with the act of walking on dry land within the sea, with the water like a wall to the right and to the left of us. I think Ephraim Kishon once wrote that with us, miracles are part of policy or something of the sort—I would be glad for someone to remind me of the exact wording.
On February 14 2010, Israel Hayom published an article by Efrat Porsher suggesting that the Jewish Defense League (JDL) is reorganizing to defend Israeli speakers on campuses in the US and UK and to “prevent diplomats from enemy countries or from countries that are hostile toward Israel from speaking at university venues.” Due to the violent history of this organization — such an endeavor should worry the US as it attempts to prevent domestic terrorist attacks.
The JDL was founded in 1968 by Rabbi Meir Kahane, who then immigrated to Israel and established the Kach political party with similar ideological roots. In 1988, Kach was outlawed under the revised Knesset Elections Law for inciting racism, having advocated for the cleansing of Arabs from Biblical Israel. Kach and its offshoot, Kahane Chai (“Kahane Lives”) are listed by the State Department as foreign terrorist organizations. In recent months, Knesset Member Michael Ben-Ari has asked to hold a discussion in the Knesset in commemoration of Kahane, which Israel Radio commentator Moshe Negbi compared to a memorial session for a Hamas terrorist. In 1989, in response to the murder of Ziva Goldovsky “for nationalist reasons” by an Arab man during the First Intifada, Kahane wrote:
Let every Jewish parent remember the tragedy of this 18 year old Jewish child and look to their own. Those who love their children- know what the Arabs would do to them! See what the Arabs did to Ziva Goldovsky and know that this is what awaits our own. And look what the Jewish Left did to an 18 year old child, and make an oath never to let it happen to our own. Mapam Youth, Hashomer HaTzair, Ratz Youth, Habonim, Dror. These are the youth groups of the Left that destroy the Jewish soul on their way to murdering the Jewish body.
With such roots, it is not surprising that although — explicitly — the JDL renounces terrorism and felonious acts (along with racism), numerous arrests of their leaders and members strongly suggest otherwise.One such arrest clearly indicates their status as a terrorist organization: In December 2001, JDL Chairman Irv Rubin, 56, and member Earl Krugel, 59 were arrested for planning the bombing of the King Fahd Mosque in Los Angeles and the San Clemente office of freshman Congressional Representative Darrell Issa, R-California. The two plotters met repeatedly during October of that year to plan the attacks, and during one secretly audiotaped meeting, Krugel allegedly said that Arabs “need a wakeup call” and the JDL needed to do something to one of their “filthy” mosques. In 2002, Rubin – who had served as Chairman of the JDL since 1985 and had been arrested 40 times by his own count – committed suicide while in custody and in 2005, Krugel was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment.
In a 2004 Congressional testimony on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, John S. Pistole, Executive Assistant Director of the Counterterrorism/Counterintelligence unit of the FBI, listed the thwarted terrorist attack as one of the successes of his unit. This planned bombing was also described in a different FBI report, which called the JDL a “violent extremist Jewish organization.” Other FBI documents have simply labeled the JDL “a proscribed terrorist group.”
With such a track record, US counterterrorism authorities should be on high alert for an attempt by the JDL to become active on campuses and other public venues where their enemies may express unacceptable views. It would be extremely irresponsible and reckless for the US to ignore the possibility that JDL members will use violence or terror, as they have in the past. In Israel, Yigal Amir was publicly applauded by Kahane supporters for assassinating Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Israel has paid a high price for allowing these elements to grow in influence and numbers. Hopefully, official US silence on this issue is not a sign of complacency. If it is, Americans may soon pay its price.
Throughout the scandal over Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon’s “boycott” of the J Street sponsored congressional delegation to Israel (a good wrap here,) not one Israeli official, politician or public opinion maker came out in public support of Ayalon. Except that is, MK Michael Ben Ari, a self-proclaimed Kahanist with connections to the JDL, who was recently denied entry into the US. This short interview with the settler news service Arutz 7, is worth reading in full for an understanding of some of the forces supporting Israel’s current foreign policy.
MK Dr. Michael Ben Ari praises the deputy foreign minister’s treatment of the US congressmen from the left wing J Street
Benny Tucker, inn, February 18
MK Michael Ben Ari (National Union) tells Arutz 7 that Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon did well to refuse to meet the American Congress people who came here on behalf of the left-wing organization J Street. “Those people do not represent the US administration. They came here on behalf of a hostile organization, J Street, an organization connected to the anti-Zionist left. Yossi Beilin is one of the moderate members of that group. These are people who are connected to the Goldstone report.”
He rejects the Congress people’s claim that they supported Israeli governments through the ages. “They are liars and frauds, as opposed to the AIPAC lobby that really does support all Israeli governments. J Street only supports Israel when it capitulates. The rest of the time they incite against us and it is good that Ayalon showed them we will not be their punching bags and we will know how to defend our honor.”
MK Ben Ari claims that J Street makes cynical use of the Congressmen to restore its status and image. “They want international legitimacy, but everybody knows they are an anti-Semitic lobby that acts against Israel. They are dangerous people and they use the Congress people in order to try to receive legitimacy.”
He doesn’t understand why they are surprised that the deputy foreign minister wouldn’t meet them. “The deputy foreign minister is supposed to meet somebody at his level, like the deputy of Hillary Clinton. Why do they have to meet Congressmen? Can I, MK Michael Ben Ari, meet Hillary Clinton? Of course not, so I don’t understand why they are so surprised. I suggest that people like MK Shlomo Mula, or MK Meir Shetreet and MK Orit Zuaretz go meet them because they support them.”
He says to this day the US refuses to give him an entrance visa and he is not sorry about that. “I received a message from Congressmen that Mitchell told them they do not want people like me to enter the US. Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin does not want to send me to the US either. He prefers to send people like Barake and Tibi to represent Israel there.”