Category Archives: Anti-semitism

How to be proud of Israel

Flag of Israel with the Mediterranean...Within the course of several days I read three interesting articles regarding Israel that I thought merited sharing. One of them bothered me very much;  I thought it deserved comment because it was rather unfortunate that an orthodox Jewish college student is taking up the mantra of left-wing anti-Semites; the other two, because they show Israel for what it is – a state built upon Jewish ethics and caring, and a land which has been waiting for Israel, it’s rightful owners, to return.

The “unfortunate” article appeared this past Sunday in the Jerusalem Post. It was an opinion piece by Atara Siegel  explaining “Why Israel is losing support from Jewish students on US college campuses“. (I still can’t figure out the Jerusalem Post’s weird choice of accompanying picture of a female student at Barnard College’s graduation ceremony who looks like an animal  about to pounce.) I expected this to either be enlightening or an article coming from a left-leaning anti-Israel student in one of the many liberal/secular colleges across the country.  Atara Siegel is, surprisingly, a student at Yeshiva University who felt the need  to explain to the world that although she loves Israel, studied here for a year, plans on working here in the summer, and making sure her education would be transferable to Israel she refuses to lobby Congress on behalf of Israel. Why? Because no matter how much good Israel does in the world it’s not enough since Israel is not a “perfect country” and the Israeli people are not perfect people. She writes:

… I wish I could ignore painful articles about price tag attacks and settlers shooting Palestinians, and simply write to American politicians and newspapers about Israel’s commitment to the security of its citizens, its medical and technological advances and aid to third world countries. But I can’t.

… Of course no country is perfect…

… But even one racist slur is a problem, even one unprovoked price tag attack damages Israel’s claim to have the moral high ground in its relations with Palestinians.

And when it is not just one racist slur, but many, not just marginal extremists involved in the melee, but Knesset ministers, it becomes harder, even for someone with a deep love for Israel, to advocate for Israel as the most democratic country and most stable American ally in the Middle East.

As someone who loves Israel deeply, this trend is extremely saddening. In addition to coming to visit, working in and studying in Israel, I want to be proud of Israel, too.

The next article  in Mishpacha Magazine’s January 9, 2013  issue, titled “Open Hearts in the War Zone” presents the perfect juxtaposition to Atara Siegel’s piece. It shows the true nature of the Jewish State and the Jewish people – and makes me really proud of Israel and her wonderful people!

Taking cover as Iron Dome swings into action.

The author, Rachel Ginsberg, relates the experiences of a team of American Hatzaloh volunteers who were called to Israel to assist during the recent Operation Amud Anan – Pillar of Defense. They had  previously trained in Israel so that they could come here and pitch-in during emergency situations. These fine people who came to help out their brothers, rather than castigate them,  exclaim about how amazing Israel really is:

[Mordechai] Soroka [of Brooklyn] says one of the most surprising things he witnessed was the similar care administered to Arab patients, in spite of the hostilities on the ground. …’We provided ventilation and medication and high-level care for over an hour,’ [Eliyahu] Feldman [of Miami] reported. ‘It’s impossible to convey our mixed feelings, except to say what the well-spoken IDF commander answered when asked why we render care to Palestinians: ‘Because we’re not them.’

And the next day…

it happened again.

The third article, Israel’s miraculous climate changepresents a rather interesting (and seldom heard) long view of history  by Joseph Farah, a pro-Israel Arab-American. It’s a great read and I hope you enjoy and appreciate it as much as I did:

JERUSALEM – Here I am in Israel, and what am I
thinking about?

Climate change.

Why climate change?

For 1,800 years it seemed unlikely that Israel would ever be reborn.

No nation in history had ever been regathered after such a lengthy period. Even the Hebrew language was lost in that time.

Meanwhile, the Promised Land became a barren wasteland – a desert no man could master.

Have you ever wondered why the Holy Land became a wasteland during the 1,800-year dispersion of the Jews that lasted until they returned in significant numbers beginning in the early 20th century?

1750 Homann Heirs Map of Israel - Palestine - ...

1750 Homann Heirs Map of Israel – Palestine – Holy Land (12 Tribes) – Geographicus – Palestina-homannheirs-1750 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you ever wondered why Mark Twain was so disappointed at what he found in his travels through the area in the 19th century?

Have you ever wondered why, during that period of nearly two millennia, no other people successfully and permanently settled this land that is so much in dispute today?

It was all a fulfillment of prophecy. Little did Mark Twain know when he wrote about his trip to the Holy Land that he was fulfilling prophecy, but he was.

1 Kings 9:6-8 explains it all:

“But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them: Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people: And at this house, which is high, every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the Lord done thus unto this land, and to this house?”

It wasn’t just the children of Israel who suffered as a result of their disobedience and apostasy. So did the land itself.

In his book, “Prophecies for the Era of Muslim Terror,” Rabbi Menachem Kohen points out the land suffered an unprecedented, severe and inexplicable (by anything other than supernatural explanations) drought that lasted from the first century until the 20th – a period of 1,800 years coinciding with the forced dispersion of the Jews.

Kohen sees this as a miraculous fulfillment of prophecy found in the book of Deuteronomy – especially chapter 28:23-24:

“And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron.

“The LORD shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed.”

The climate in Israel dramatically changed during this 1,800-period – way before Al Gore discovered “global warming.”

Before the Jews entered Canaan, it was described in the Bible as a land flowing with milk and honey. If you read what Israel’s climate and natural landscape was like from the time Joshua crossed the Jordan right up until the time of Jesus, it sounds like a heavily forested land. There were amazing crops raised by the people who inhabited the land when the Jews arrived.

Once I wondered what happened to Israel to turn it into the dusty, arid land it was when the Jews came back in the 20th century. Until I read that prophecy in Deuteronomy, brought to my attention by Rabbi Kohen, I had no clue.

For 1,800 years, it hardly ever rained in Israel. This was the barren land discovered by Mark Twain. So-called “Palestine” was a wasteland – nobody lived there. There was no indigenous Arab population to speak of. It only came after the Jews came back.

Beginning in A.D. 70 and lasting until the early 1900s – about 660,000 days – no rain.

I decided to check this out as best I could and examined the rainfall data for 150 years in Israel beginning in the early 1800s and leading up to the 1960s. What I found was astonishing – increasing rainfall almost every single year – with the heaviest rainfall coming in and around 1948 and 1967. Is this just a coincidence?

I’ll be quite honest with you: I don’t think so.

Nor do I think Israel can continue today to make bad stewardship decisions regarding the land bequeathed to the Jews by God without consequences – serious consequences.

And that’s exactly what Israel is doing today – yielding to global pressure to trade “land for peace.” It won’t work. In fact, the prophet Daniel (Daniel 11:39) warns that this will eventually happen in the last days – and bring about the final conflagration known as “Armageddon.”

That’s why I believe in climate change. But it’s not the imaginary kind caused by carbon dioxide. It’s caused by the Creator of carbon dioxide – and everything else.

He’s still got a plan for this land of Israel. And He is absolutely intolerant of anyone or anything that interferes with it.

And considering the tremendous amount of rainfall we had here in Israel just this past week, I would say that G-d is still on our side (even if Atara isn’t).

I would just like to remind Atara of two things: (1) even our patriarchs, matriarchs, and greatest leaders like Moshe Rabeinu (Moses) and Dovid Hamelech (King David)  were not perfect and (2) of the sin of the spies’ (Numbers ch. 13-14) derogatory report about the land of Israel and the aftermath.

As for me,  I’m a proud Jew, proud of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel, and honored to be living in our land.


The Jewish People’s best friend

The political climate of the Middle East is changing so quickly these days that it’s hard to know what to expect. Don’t even begin to conjecture about whether or not the powers that be (or become) in Egypt will or won’t honor the (cold) peace treaty with Israel… how many protesters/citizens are going to be killed in Libya and Iran before the rest of the world takes action against the regimes… and what all the upheaval will mean for Israel and the Jewish people – if you’re right one day, then you’re wrong the next. Or, maybe not, because as Honest Reporting explains – some things never change:

Will the revolutions sweeping the Arab world signal the precursor to a reassessment of how Israel is treated by the media, non-governmental organizations, UN bodies and others? We are under no illusions. Recent events in the Mideast have exposed the hypocrisy and double standards applied to Israel.

While we may be scratching our heads over the double standards applied to this small country whose “few square kilometers, … is equivalent to less than one seven-hundredth of the Arab world”, I think the most mind-boggling of all is the fact that Israel’s leaders don’t get it , either. The Israel Project brings this to the forefront in its recent article, Netanyahu: Israel Should not Push for New Settlement Construction:

The fact is that there is a new reality in the world…Israel needs to make policies that fit with that reality,….

[Deputy Prime Minister Dan] Meridor was discussing Netanyau’s [sic] comments on settlements, saying that if Israel can create policies that fit with the world’s expectations, it will be better able implement practical solutions.

“We have to find a solution to the conflict,” he added.

The article  continues:

Israel’s construction policies in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, which have been controlled by Israel since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, are cited as the reason the Palestinian Authority (PA) left the peace talks in September 2010.

Personally, I think that after all these years and failed attempts at placating everyone, including destroying Gush Katif which left thousands of Jewish citizens homeless and Hamas in control of the area, and the recent construction freeze (which included porches and fences added to existing homes) in Yehuda and Shomron (Judea and Samaria), if Netanyahu actually believes there’s anything the Jewish people can do, short of self-destructing, that will make anyone happy, he’s been smoking something stronger than tobacco. And, as the turmoil in Egypt teaches us, there are no guarantees that peace treaties in the Middle East will be upheld by successive governments (but you can be sure that they will not give us back our pieces of land).

Yup, the more things change, the more they stay the same. So, why fret?  It’s much better to concentrate on the pleasant aspects of life in Israel.

One of the nicest surprises that we had shortly after making aliyah was viewing the Jerusalem March, an annual parade which, this past year, marched along Rechov Yaffo, during one of the warm and beautiful  intermediary days of Sukkot.

Invitation for Public to Eat in Private Sukkah

Sukkot Hospitality Israeli Style. Photo courtesy of my daughter, Tova Lipson.

In Israel, Sukkot is everywhere – not just on your balcony, or behind the local kosher restaurant that puts up a booth for its patrons. Most of the country is on vacation during the holiday, sukkahs are found everywhere for everyone’s eating convenience, and family-oriented activities abound. We were on our way to a  fair at the Mamilla Mall not far from the Kotel (Western Wall) when the bus we were on got caught in the jam of detoured parade traffic. Since we were going nowhere slowly, we got off the bus and started walking to our destination, which took us along the parade route.  We never made it to the Mall  as we we were so taken by the some of the marchers in the parade. It wasn’t the people from one of the health funds who were walking or the employees of Discount Bank wearing green t-shirts that thrilled us; it was the multitudes of people from numerous countries who were waving their national flags and carrying their organizations’ banners while marching in support of Israel which astonished and delighted us.

Jerusalem March

Marchers Waving their Country flags. Photo courtesy of my daughter, Tova Lipson.

There were people from countries which we wouldn’t have expected to see represented, including Germany, Austria, Brazil, Japan, Korea, Croatia, Norway and others. With international sentiment toward Israel being what it is, it was heartwarming to know that the country has so many well-wishers.

One interesting contingent of marchers was blowing very long, curvy shofars to show their solidarity with us, not the kind I usually see blown in the synagogue. At the same time as we were listening to the trumpeting of the shofars, we found ourselves next to a French-Jewish bookstore. Andy speaks French, so we went in.  Well, what do you know? The shopkeeper had the same long, curvy shofars in his store! He and Andy each took a shofar and went outside to blow along with the marchers.

Jerusalem March - Sukkot 2010

Blowing the Shofar at the Jerusalem March in Solidarity with Israel and the Jewish People. Photo courtesy of my daughter, Tova Lipson.

I’m sure that if we had gotten to the fair we would have had an enjoyable afternoon, but I’m glad we didn’t. The parade gives me something positive to hang on to – when all the world seems poised against the Jewish  people and the Jewish State, I remember that we have friends in many places.

And, most importantly, I remember that the Master of the Universe is our Best Friend of all.

No matter what the political climate, in Israel it’s a nice day.


Anti-Semitism in the United States?

Is there anti-semitism in the United States? The assumed answer is no, but one should never rely on assumptions. Paying attention to the trends around the world and to what’s transpiring in the U.S.,  I see the writing on the wall.

The topic of anti-semitism in the United States came up in a  conversation I had yesterday with Noa, a secular Israeli. At the conclusion of our meeting to discuss the possible assistance her organization can provide for the business I am developing ( check out my new blog Business Confab) she asked me why we made aliyah. She could understand the toshav chozer – the Israeli ex-patriate who moves back to Israel, and she could understand people who move to Israel from countries where there is anti-semitism or lack of freedom, but from the United States?

The topic of anti-semitism has been on my radar since well before we made aliyah, as I saw it rearing its ugly head again in Europe. In March of 2009, I watched a video which has been posted on many sites, including Israel Matzav under the heading “Where are the police?” ( click here  to view). The video shows people ransacking a French supermarket, wearing green t-shirts with the words Boycott Israel on them, removing all Israeli goods from the shelves. Not one person — not the store managers, not the other shoppers, no one — dared to stop them.  People just stood and watched. Perhaps they thought there were too many of them to fight… but, apparently, no one thought to call the police, either.

Naomi Ragen’s recent email newsletter where she copied an article by David J. Rusin of entitled The Slow-Motion Exodus of European Jews  also highlights the terrible situation which is again rising in Europe. Rusin starts off with the opinion of Dutch politician and former EU commissioner Frits Bolkestein regarding Orthodox Jews in his country [can the same situation for non-religious Jews be far behind? – c.l.] who believes that

there is no future for this group in the Netherlands because of the “anti-Semitism among Dutchmen of Moroccan descent, whose numbers keep growing.”

The author then goes on to describe the situations in  a number of other European countries from which Jews are exiting and/or encountering anti-semitism on a regular basis. Among them are  Sweden, France, UK, Norway, Denmark, Germany and Austria.

Echoing this same sentiment about Dutch Jews is Guilio Meotti in his January 17, 2011, opinion piece on Israel National News entitled Jews Must Flee Holland in 2011. He cites the failure of  Dutch multi-culturalism for the rising tide of anti-semitism. Perhaps the scariest part is in his second paragraph :

…to highlight the complaint of a Dutch journalist, Paul Andersson Toussaint: “Antisemitism in Holland is again salonfähig”. This word means socially acceptable. 

 Post-Holocaust Europe is no more; the anti-semitism that we thought had disappeared was really simmering below. The argument generally made is that it’s really the large Muslim population dominating many European countries that is responsible for the situation. But a country and people that allows this to happen is responsible just the same.

So why did we make aliyah? Noa thought that perhaps it’s the U.S. economy which is motivation for many to leave… Mostly, however, we didn’t leave the U.S. per se – we made aliyah so that we could  live in our land and fulfill our Jewish destiny as I discussed in my first blog post A Jew in Context.

But, despite the fact that most Americans probably are not anti-semitic and  would be revolted by it, there have been increasing anti-semitic incidents in the United States (and in Canada) as well as rising anti-semitism on college campuses; Jews have generally been afraid to “make waves” even in the U.S. so as not to engender anti-semitism. So what about anti-semitism in “the land of the free and the home of the brave”, in this medina shel chesed – this nation of kindness –  as Orthodox Jews in the U.S. often refer to it? I referred her to Caroline Glick’s website and her most recent column, which was originally published in the Jerusalem Post, Israel as the banana republic. She discusses two documents which she says “…  indicate that in certain quarters of the American government Israel is viewed as at best a banana republic and at worst an enemy of the US. ”  The first, published last Wednesday in The Washington Times,  is the 2004 FBI  27-page search warrant affidavit used to target then-senior AIPAC lobbyist Steve Rosen. The second, from Wikileaks, is a 2008 cable signed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, under the Bush administration, directing US officials to spy on Israel. The FBI affidavit, you might be surprised to discover, makes it clear that they had no reason to suspect Steve Rosen of any wrongdoing, yet they followed him for five years and indicted him, destroying his career, his reputation and that of his collegue Keith Weissman, the reputation of AIPAC, the State of Israel, and its American Jewish supporters. Of the Wikileaks document Caroline says:

Just days before the 2008 presidential elections, the secretary of state instructed US diplomats in Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia as well as the Defense Intelligence Agency and the CIA to conduct a massive espionage operation against Israel.

Anti-semitism in the United States?  Take an honest  look before you decide.