Bulgarian church nominated for Nobel Peace Prize for saving Jews – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Metropolitan Kirill (C), deputy chairman of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, blesses during a Christmas Eve mass in Alexander Nevski Cathedral in Sofia. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Bulgarian-Israeli lawyer Moshe Aloni is seeking support for a campaign to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the Bulgarian Independent Orthodox Church, for protecting the country’s Jewish minority during the Holocaust.

Aloni, head of the Committee for Friendship between the Israeli and Bulgarian Advocates, nominated the church in January for its “brave acts of heroism” including voting unanimously to condemn antisemitic laws during World War II and for going against planned deportation of the country’s 48,000 Jews to Nazi death camps in Europe.

In a letter sent to The Jerusalem Post last week, Aloni noted that while the campaign had garnered support from Europe and the US, he sought to gain awareness from the Israeli public.

A petition launched last year on Change.org in support of this cause had, as of Sunday, gained 740 signatures of a target of 1,000.

The petition notes that while the Bulgarian government was an ally of Nazi Germany, the church showed bravery and leadership by fighting against antisemitic laws. It makes specific mention of two clergymen: Metropolitan (Bishop) Stephan, the head of the Sofian Church, and the highest ranking Bulgarian Church official during the Holocaust, and Metropolitan Kiril, the head of the Church in the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv.

The pair was named as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem in 2001, for vigorously opposing the anti-Jewish policies of the Bulgarian regime, and taking active steps against its policy of deporting the Jews of Bulgaria and handing them over to the Germans.

Kiril is said to have saved the 1,500 Jews of the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv, who were set to be deported in March 1943. According to Yad Vashem, Kiril sent a personal telegram to the King begging for his mercy towards the Jews, and contacted the head of the local police, threatening to end his loyalty towards to Bulgaria and to act as he wished. Further testimony claims that he threatened to lie across the railway tracks in order to stop the deportation.

Due to the heroic acts of these two prominent leaders and their willingness to speak up and take action, the deportation of the Jews of Bulgaria was postponed again and again until it was finally cancelled with the end of the war, wrote Aloni in his letter to the Nobel Committee.

Aloni, who was himself born in Sofia, mentions that he and his family are among those are alive today thanks to the “heroism of the Bulgarian church and other brave citizens.”

“The nomination of the Bulgarian Church has most relevance in these days filled with hate and racism and modern day ethnic cleansing,” Aloni concludes.

The petition is sponsored by former minister General (R) Dr Ephraim Sneh and Haifa University law professor Moshe Keshet.

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Bulgarian church nominated for Nobel Peace Prize for saving Jews – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Jews and Christians must oppose Trump’s ‘Muslim ban.’ Again … – The Hill (blog)

When Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTHE MEMO: For Trump, an early test of leadership Trump tried to call NY attorney before firing him: report Fired U.S. attorney invokes shuttered New York corruption panel in tweet MORE last called for a Muslim ban as a presidential candidate, Jewish and Christian leaders across the United States immediately raised our voices and condemned his plan.

When Trump hastily issued an Executive Order, preventing citizens, travelers, and refugees from several Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, Jewish and Christian leaders across our own diverse theological traditions and denominations took to the streets, airwaves, and airports to stop the ban. We celebrated the justice won when courts across the country placed a stay on the order.

This new travel ban attempts to achieve the same exclusionary end. As White House policy adviser Stephen Miller told Fox News last month, it will have the same basic policy outcome.

That same basic policy outcome means discriminating against six Muslim-majority nations, establishing a policy that the current administrations own Department of Homeland Security deem unnecessary. Our refugee and visitor vetting systems are already very strong and effective.

That same basic policy outcome means Trump and his advisers want to create national security policy that appears to be based on religious discrimination and a culture of fear, instead of reason and evidence. Trumps rejection of the DHS report demonstrates he is more likely to accept beliefs that fit Steve Bannon and Stephen Millers world view that Islam is at war with the West.

“Trump’s travel ban legally sound, defensible all the way to SCOTUS” https://t.co/ilFCwt5HqD pic.twitter.com/nzFo5YG88U

That same basic policy outcome violates the principles established in the Constitution. Our nation was founded on the freedom of religion and we must protect that freedom for all Americans today.

According to our shared scriptures, God commands people of faith to love our neighbors. Not some of them, all of them. Our nations growing shame of profiling Muslims, anti-Semitism, the ongoing brutality against people of color, and renewed marginalization of transgender people reveal just a few ways we fail to fulfill justice for all. Generation after generation of Americans have sought to make our Founders ideals a lived reality in our country. The stakes are too high for us to lose ground on the liberty for which our ancestors fought.

While we welcome Trumps recent denunciation of anti-Semitism in his recent speech to Congress, we call upon him to demonstrate his commitment to religious freedom for all Americans. While we applaud Mike PenceMike (Michael) Richard PenceJews and Christians must oppose Trump’s ‘Muslim ban.’ Again. Pence takes GOP healthcare pitch on the road Ryan becomes face of GOP health plan MOREs helping clean up a vandalized Jewish cemetery, wed like to see all our elected officials do the same for desecrated mosques.

Jewish and Christian leaders must again rise to this occasion and stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters. This Muslim Ban 2.0 is the next in a series of actions by the administration that make Muslim Americans feel unwelcome in their own country. Each of our religious traditions, Islam included, regard hospitality to those different from us as a sign of faith and obedience to God.

“Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban 2.0′ is still the same flawed, un-American mess” https://t.co/zjVKFPqhIk pic.twitter.com/cY4S2x5R6H

Each of us must resist this order in our own way. For 20 of our rabbinic colleagues, that meant getting arrested after the first iteration of the ban. For an increasing number of churches, it means joining the Sanctuary Movement, declaring our sacred spaces a welcoming place for refugees and immigrants. For the two of us a European-American, straight, Jewish rabbi and an African-American, gay, Presbyterian minister it means building an honest, sometimes complicated friendship, yet standing shoulder to shoulder for what is right at this defining moment.

We hope you will join us. In whatever way possible, we must again and again send an unmistakable message to this White House: the Jewish and Christian communities in the United States will rise up and resist any attempt and any form of Muslim Ban enacted by Trump. The future of our nation and the integrity of our faithfulness to our God depends upon it.

Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky is the director of the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue at Jewish Theological Seminary.

Rev. Bertram Johnson is the Minister of Justice, Advocacy, and Change at the Riverside Church. They both reside in New York City.

The views of contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

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Jews and Christians must oppose Trump’s ‘Muslim ban.’ Again … – The Hill (blog)

The great anti-Semitism panic of 2017 – The Washington Post

Im not insensitive to anti-Semitism. Despite growing up in Jew-friendly New York City, I experienced my share of it kids throwing rocks at my Jewish Day School bus, anti-Semitic graffiti on our homes fence, among other incidents. And as Volokh Conspiracy readers know, Ive blogged quite a bit about anti-Semitism. Ive mostly written about anti-Semitism coming from the far left, but Im not at all naive about the existence and virulence of anti-Semitism on the far right.

Nevertheless, Ive been rather taken aback by the panic in the Jewish community over American anti-Semitism since Donald Trump won the election. The recent spate of hoax bombing threats to Jewish community centers and other Jewish institutions around the country has been a precipitating factor, but the fear is drastically out of proportion to the threat; no bombs have been found, and there are no indications that there is any real physical threat to Jews. By contrast, in the past decade or so there have been actual murdersat a JCC and a Jewish federation officewithout precipitating such panic.

It seems that much of the panic is in fact due to Trump, with the JCC threats seen as a potential first sign of the deteriorating status of American Jews. WhileJews are the most-liked religious group in the United Sates, some degree of trepidation is not unreasonable. AsAndrew Silow-Carroll points out,

Most Jews didnt vote for him, and regarded his campaign antics as particularly unsettling, from his appeal among white supremacists and ethno-nationalists to his willingness to exploit the countrys racial and ethnic divides.

In his embrace of a fiercely chauvinistic economic nationalism, White House strategist SteveBannon represents something unprecedented and inconceivable in the minds of many Jews. Until Trump, resurgent nationalism seemed a problem for Europe, where economic malaise, fear of immigrants and the ghosts of the 20thcentury have combined intoa particularly toxic brew on the right.

Yet, just looking at my Facebook feed, the origins of the fear bear only a tangential relationship to the actual Trump campaign. For example, Ive lost track of how many times Jewish friends and acquaintances in my Facebook feed have asserted, as a matter of settled fact, that Bannons website BreitbartNews is a white-supremacist, anti-Semitic site. I took the liberty of searching for every article published at Breitbart that has the words Jew, Jewish, Israel or anti-Semitism in it, and can vouch for the fact that the website is not only not anti-Semitic, but often criticizes anti-Semitism (though it is quite ideologically selective in which types of anti-Semitism it chooses to focus on). Ive invited Bannons Facebook critics to actually look at Breitbart and do a similar search on the site, and each has declined, generally suggesting that it would be beneath them to look at such a site, when they alreadyknow its anti-Semitic.

There is also a general sense among Jews, at least liberal Jews, that Trumps supporters are significantly more anti-Semitic than the public at large. I have many times asked for empirical evidence that supports this proposition, and have so far come up empty. I dont rule out the possibility that its true, but there doesnt seem to be any survey or other evidence supporting it. Given that American subgroups with the highest proportions of anti-Semites African Americans, first-generation Hispanic immigrants, Muslims and high school dropouts are strong Democratic constituencies (though the latter group appears to have gone narrowly for Trump this time), one certainly cant simply presume that Trump has a disproportionate number of anti-Semitic supporters.

Often living in a blue bubble, liberal Jews easily can panic when they dont know anyone who voted for the other sides candidate(s), and can assume the worst about the other sides supporters. Indeed, liberal Jews tend to panic whenever the right is doing well in American politics. Consider this Wall Street Journal headline from exactly 22years ago: Religious Fervor: Some Liberal Jews, To Their Own Surprise, See a Rise in Bigotry And, Unlike Many Orthodox, Theyre Concerned About The Rights New Power. The article elaborates:

These are anxious times for American Jews. Still reeling from the results of the November election, many liberal Jews are alarmed by the rise of the religious right. They are increasingly uncomfortable with verbal attacks by conservative commentators on the cultural elite and on Hollywood, both of which they believe are code words for Jews. And they are shaken by well-publicized reports of neo-Nazi groups and of anti-Semitic violence by teenage skinheads. Suddenly, secular Jews for whom anti-Semitism was always something remote are feeling a new vulnerability and wondering whether the political and religious tide is turning against them.

Remember the great anti-Semitic pogroms of 1995? Neither do I. To take another example, Im not sure what, if anything, Philip Roth was trying to say with his 2004 book The Plot Against America, but I know liberal Jewish reviewers welcomed it as a warning of the ever-present threat of anti-Semitic right-wing fascism looming over the United States in Republican-dominated America.

Meanwhile, Jewish defense groups, most prominently the Anti-Defamation League, have stoked the panic with wildly exaggerated rhetoric. Jonathan Greenblatt, a former Democratic politico who now runs the ADL, stated in November that the American Jewish community has not seen this level of anti-Semitism in mainstream political and public discourse since the 1930s.Among other omissions, Greenblatt must have slept through the George W. Bush administration, when mainstream experts, mostly on the left, were claiming that the small number of Jews in the Bush administration had somehow manipulated the Gentiles running the administration into leading the United States into a war against Iraq to benefit Israel. Unlike the current anti-Semitic rhetoric coming from the neo-Nazi fringes, these allegations were coming from places such as theHarvard University and the University of Chicago faculties.

The ADL, though, has a strong self-interest in such exaggerated complaints. When Greenblatt took over the ADL from the long-serving Abraham Foxman, he announced that the younger generation among ADLs primary constituency, liberal, secular Jews, was no longer terribly interested in the issue of anti-Semitism, and instead wanted the ADL to focus on oppression more generally. The enthusiasmand fund-raising dollars were in supporting Black Lives Matter and transgender rights, not worrying about anti-Semitism on college campuses. One strongly suspects that this is because the threat of anti-Semitism was seen primarily as coming from the anti-Israel left. Trump created a wonderful entrepreneurial opportunity for the ADL to focus on what is naturally its core issue, anti-Semitism (and also to ensure that the more conservative Simon Wiesenthal Center, whose director was invited to give the invocation at Trumps inauguration, doesnt steal its thunder), by focusing on the threat from the right. The ADLs reticent donors are no longer reticent in the age of Trump, with the media reporting that donations have been pouring in since Trumps victory. Its therefore hardly in the ADLs interest to objectively assess the threat from Trump and his supporters. Indeed, Im almost impressed that an ADL official managed just the other day to link the JCC bomb threats to emboldened white supremacists, even though the only suspect caught so far is an African American leftist. Meanwhile,Foxman has been a cooler head who has been telling people, cool it, cool it.

Another group that has had a strong incentive to exaggerate the present threat of right-wing anti-Semitism isJewish progressive activists. For the past decade or so, leftist Jews have increasingly found themselves excluded from progressive coalitions that not only take very harsh anti-Israel lines, but also have refused to take seriously anti-Semitism in their midst, suggesting that allegations of such anti-Semitism are mere covers for the privilege of white Zionists. So long as the problem of American anti-Semitism was largely associated with anti-Zionism and far-left politics more generally, Jews were not permitted to be part of a coalition of the marginalized.

Lo and behold, along comes Trump, and left-wing Jewish activists are portraying Jews as one of the many groups threatened by him. Trump, and, more specifically, exaggerating the threat of anti-Semitism from Trump and his supporters, gives these Jews an opportunity to, for example, stand side by side with Muslim activists in opposing various isms and phobias, rather than quarreling with them over Israel.

The irony of all this is that if you talk privately to those who work in the Jewish organization world, many will confide that the greatest threat to the security of the American Jewish community is changing demographics, which is a euphemism for a growing population of Arab migrants to the United States. Anti-Semitism is rife in the Arab world, with over 80 percent of the public holding strongly anti-Semitic views in many countries. The issue of whether and to what extent the United States should expand refugee admissions is a complex one, and a potential rise in (potentially violent) anti-Semitism, at least in the short term until refugees and their families assimilate, is hardly the only factor to be considered. But its surely a paradox that the groups and individuals who express the most public fear of potential anti-Semitism emanating from the Trump administration express little if any concern about the potential problems of admitting an untold number of refugees and immigrants from countries where extreme anti-Semitic sentiments are mundane.

More here:
The great anti-Semitism panic of 2017 – The Washington Post

In The Land Where Jews Are Welcome, Anti-Semitism Is On The Rise – Townhall

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Posted: Mar 13, 2017 12:01 AM

THIS WEEKEND, Jews the world over celebrate the festival of Purim, a highlight of which is the public reading of the biblical book of Esther. In 10 fast-moving chapters, it recounts the first recorded attempt at a Jewish genocide. The Persian emperor Ahasuerus (known to historians as Xerxes I) allows himself to be persuaded by Haman, a powerful courtier, that the Jews are a disloyal and disobedient minority who ought to be eradicated. The emperor signs an edict authorizing Haman and his followers “to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, women and children, in one day.” But the plot is foiled thanks to court intrigues involving Mordechai, the leader of the Jewish community in the imperial city of Shushan, and the courage and faith of Esther, the young Jewish heroine who becomes Ahasuerus’s queen.

On the Jewish calendar, Purim is a joyful day. Families distribute gifts of food, alms are lavished on the poor, children (and even adults!) wear costumes and at every mention of Haman’s name during the reading of Esther, the congregation breaks out in a raucous din of boos and noisemakers.

It’s easy to celebrate Purim with hilarity when Jews feel safe and welcome, and in modern times there is nowhere on Earth they have felt safer and more welcome than the United States.

Last month, the Pew Research Center released the results of a survey showing Jews to be the most warmly regarded religious group in America. It was Pew’s second such survey in three years, and both times the finding was the same. “We love our country, and America loves us right back,” wrote David Suissa, the publisher of the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, after the Pew numbers came out. Jews, who know only too well what it means to be a hunted minority, have been blessed to find in America a degree of benevolence, respect, and freedom unparalleled in their long and precarious history.

But Purim arrives this year amid an alarming surge in anti-Semitic menace.

Since January, Jewish community centers and organizations nationwide have been targeted with anonymous bomb threats at least 140 such threats to date. At Jewish cemeteries in Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Rochester, N.Y., hundreds of gravestones have been toppled or smashed. In Evansville, Ind., a gun was fired through the window of synagogue classroom.

During the recent election cycle, Internet trolls from the so-called alt-right unleashed repugnant attacks on Jewish journalists who questioned or criticized the rise of Donald Trump, often suggesting that they prepare to die in a new Holocaust. Equally horrific anti-Semitic eruptions have come from the left, especially on college campuses, where virulent hostility toward Israel often boils over into undisguised hatred of Jews.

Thus the paradox: In the nation where Jews are more welcomed than ever, animosity toward Jews is more palpable than ever.

To many on the left, the upwelling of anti-Semitic incidents and rhetoric is plainly connected with Republican politics. Trump’s strong appeal to white nationalists, the anti-Semitic memes and tropes that showed up in his ads and social media, and his seeming unwillingness until quite recently to explicitly condemn anti-Semitism while Trump may harbor no personal ill will toward Jews, he has too often enabled, and pandered to, those who do.

To many conservatives, meanwhile, it goes without saying that contemporary anti-Semitism is overwhelmingly a product of the hard left, which seethes with bitterness toward the Jewish state. The anti-Zionist boycott campaign, the Israel “apartheid” slander, the ominous atmosphere in academia all of it has had the effect of moving bigotry from the fever swamps on the fringe ever closer to the mainstream.

Both camps make a legitimate point. Jew-bashers can be found on the left and the right; often it is the only thing they have in common. In our hyperpolarized political atmosphere, it isn’t surprising that anti-Semitism has become one more excuse for partisans to point fingers at each other. But history’s oldest hatred has never been limited to one party or ideology or worldview.

Anti-Semitism is an intellectual sickness, a societal toxin that is endlessly adaptable. Jews have been tortured and tormented for not being Christian and for not being Muslim. They have been brutally persecuted for being capitalists, and just as brutally persecuted for being Communists. They have been hated for being weak and easily scapegoated and hated for being strong and influential. Jews have been killed for their faith, for their lifestyle, for their national identity, for their “race.”

A key teaching of the Book of Esther is that once the plague of Jew-hatred gets in the air, almost any environment can nourish it. Another is that Jew-hatred does not subside on its own. It must be confronted, denounced, and defeated.

“We love our country, and America loves us right back.” That has been manifestly, wonderfully true for decades, but will it continue to be? Elsewhere, the post-Holocaust taboo on overt Jew-hatred has long since shattered. Can that now be happening in the United States? Pray this Purim that the answer is No. For if America succumbs to the anti-Semitic derangement, it isn’t only Jews who will suffer.

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In The Land Where Jews Are Welcome, Anti-Semitism Is On The Rise – Townhall

We Hate Prejudice & Hatred, Just Don’t Mention Anti-Semitism, Intra-Muslim or LGBTQ Hatred – Jewish News (blog)

I have spent over 6 years of my life working on highlighting anti-Muslim hatred or Islamophobia, at points targeted by those who have sought to undermine the work since they dont want Muslims to be heard. I have also been targeted by those extreme anti-Muslim haters who have abused my colleagues and me for many years. Much of this targeting has been relentless, meaning that I have had to change my lifestyle and my daily routes and I have had to develop a sense of personal awareness around me on the streets. However, I will not allow extremist anti-Muslim bigots to intimidate me in my country. That will simply not happen.

Depressingly though, one of the most painful set of experiences for me has been how some campaigners and organisations who have been shouting loudly on tackling Islamophobia, have been the ones involved in the promotion of anti-Semitic discourse, driven by their obsessive focus on Israel and Palestine. So overwhelming has been their focus on Israel and Palestine, that common sense on ensuring anti-Semitic free discourse about Jewish communities has been lost. Mention Israel and Palestine and you see a sharp turn towards a zealotry that is pretty much the same as that which I see within anti-Muslim bigots. This is in the form a belief that they are right, that the other is the problem and in this case, that the problems in the Middle East can be resolved by Zionism being removed from the Middle East. Ask them what that means and the response becomes much more blurred and deeply worrying.

Additionally, take for example the fact that some of the campaigners speaking up to tackle Islamophobia, (a laudable and much needed initiative), have previously made comments about Jews being inextricable linked to Mossad, about work on tackling anti-Semitism by British Jews being used as a cover to protect Israel or even on occasion, implying the wholesale removal of Jews from Israel and their relocation to other countries, such as America.

Or take the fact that some of them have made open calls in mosques, placing the term Zionist on members of Jewish communities whom have hardly met and in front of audiences who simply came to pray and who do not want to get sucked into listening to discourse which divides communities. Or worst still, I have come across Islamophobia campaigners who have used Whatsapp to bypass any traces of their anti-Semitism as they rage against Zionists in the form of British Jews who have simply spoken up for Israels existence and with a complete disregard of the same people when they have spoken up for an end to the occupation in the West Bank. You see their actions, in all fairness, are pretty close if not identical to the tactics which anti-Muslim haters use to vilify Muslim communities. Yet, these individuals simply cannot see or fathom what they are doing.

It is these same campaigners who, when you scratch the surface, think that there are no such people as gay Muslims or that hate against LGBTQ communities should not even be mentioned, since it will irk the more Conservative elements within Muslim communities. It is these same campaigners who even fail to mention intra-Muslim hatred and intolerance towards members of Shia or Ahmaddiya communities, with the latter being regarded as heretics and persona non-grata by these tin-pot activists. You see, the roots of intolerance start with anti-Semitism, the age-old hatred, which is at the core of their intolerance. From there, the stem develops and branches out into a subtle acceptance of other forms of hatred. Yet, when you mention Islamophobia, the rage and campaigning zeal of these groups and individuals reaches a crescendo point that drowns out logic and reason. Thankfully, however, the actions of some of these campaigners are being called out.

Finally, it is sad that this even needs to be stating but it must be said. It is possible to support the Palestinian cause for a homeland and viable Palestinian State without resorting to anti-Semitism and Jew hatred. It is possible to stand with British Jewish communities and defend their safety and protection, whilst listening, reflecting and developing a strong bond and empathy with them, even when there are strong political differences on how Israeli governments are consolidating the occupation. It is possible to have strong positions on issues such as the curtailment of the Islamic call to prayer between certain times in Israel and value wholeheartedly the history and the campaigning work around freedom of religion that tens of millions of Jews have been part of in the last decade alone. It is also possible to just stop and listen to alternative views and to honour the person saying them by responding in a manner which maintains the dignity of those involved. This is what is achievable and is undertaken by many in our communities and in our country, yet we barely hear about these people. All we seem to hear from, are those who shout the loudest and in some circumstances, care little about others through their self-absorbed narcissism.

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We Hate Prejudice & Hatred, Just Don’t Mention Anti-Semitism, Intra-Muslim or LGBTQ Hatred – Jewish News (blog)

In the land where Jews feel welcome, anti-Semitism is on the rise – The Boston Globe

Jewish tombstones lay vandalized at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Philadelphia on February 27, 2017.

This weekend, Jews the world over celebrate the festival of Purim, a highlight of which is the public reading of the biblical book of Esther. In 10 fast-moving chapters, it recounts the first recorded attempt at a Jewish genocide. The Persian emperor Ahasuerus (known to historians as Xerxes I) allows himself to be persuaded by Haman, a powerful courtier, that the Jews are a disloyal and disobedient minority who ought to be eradicated. The emperor signs an edict authorizing Haman and his followers to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, women and children, in one day. But the plot is foiled thanks to court intrigues involving Mordechai, the leader of the Jewish community in the imperial city of Shushan, and the courage and faith of Esther, the young Jewish heroine who becomes Ahasueruss queen.

On the Jewish calendar, Purim is a joyful day. Families distribute gifts of food, alms are lavished on the poor, children (and even adults) wear costumes and at every mention of Hamans name during the reading of Esther, the congregation breaks out in a raucous din of boos and noisemakers.

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Its easy to celebrate Purim with hilarity when Jews feel safe and welcome, and in modern times there is nowhere on Earth they have felt safer and more welcome than the United States.

Last month, the Pew Research Center released the results of a survey showing Jews to be the most warmly regarded religious group in America. It was Pews second such survey in three years, and both times the finding was the same. We love our country, and America loves us right back, wrote David Suissa, the publisher of the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, after the Pew numbers came out. Jews, who know only too well what it means to be a hunted minority, have been blessed to find in America a degree of benevolence, respect, and freedom unparalleled in their long and precarious history.

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Our conservative columnist offers a weekly take on everything from politics to pet peeves.

But Purim arrives this year amid an alarming surge in anti-Semitic menace.

In the twenty-first century, criticism of Israel that is grounded in antisemitic thinking and aimed at Jews in general has become the dominant verbal form in which Judeophobic ideas are articulated and disseminated. Between 2002 and 2012, the Israeli Embassy in Berlin and the Central Council of Jews in Germany received over 14,000 emails, letters, postcards and faxes from all regions of Germany. Figuring that this material could provide us a window into the contemporary German mind vis–vis Israel, we conducted a study of these messages and found that the vast majority began with criticisms of Israels policies but immediately deteriorated into antisemitic assaults. We call this phenomenon the Israelization of Antisemitism.

Since January, Jewish community centers and organizations nationwide have been targeted with anonymous bomb threats at least 140 such threats to date. At Jewish cemeteries in Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Rochester, N.Y., hundreds of gravestones have been toppled or smashed. In Evansville, Ind., a gun was fired through the window of synagogue classroom.

During the recent election cycle, Internet trolls from the so-called alt-right unleashed repugnant attacks on Jewish journalists who questioned or criticized the rise of Donald Trump, often suggesting that they prepare to die in a new Holocaust. Equally horrific anti-Semitic eruptions have come from the left, especially on college campuses, where virulent hostility toward Israel often boils over into undisguised hatred of Jews.

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Thus the paradox: In the nation where Jews are more welcomed than ever, animosity toward Jews is more palpable than ever.

To many on the left, the upwelling of anti-Semitic incidents and rhetoric is plainly connected with Republican politics. Trumps strong appeal to white nationalists, the Jew-baiting memes and tropes that showed up in his ads and social media, and his seeming unwillingness until quite recently to explicitly condemn anti-Semitism while Trump may harbor no personal ill will toward Jews, he has too often enabled, and pandered to, those who do.

To many conservatives, meanwhile, it goes without saying that contemporary anti-Semitism is overwhelmingly a product of the hard left, which seethes with bitterness toward the Jewish state. The anti-Zionist boycott campaign, the Israel apartheid slander, the ominous atmosphere in academia all of it has had the effect of moving bigotry from the fever swamps on the fringe ever closer to the mainstream.

Both camps make a legitimate point. Jew-bashers can be found on the left and the right; often it is the only thing they have in common. In our hyperpolarized political atmosphere, it isnt surprising that anti-Semitism has become one more excuse for partisans to point fingers at each other. But historys oldest hatred has never been limited to one party or ideology or worldview.

Anti-Semitism is an intellectual sickness, a societal toxin that is endlessly adaptable. Jews have been tortured and tormented for not being Christian and for not being Muslim. They have been brutally persecuted for being capitalists, and just as brutally persecuted for being Communists. They have been hated for being weak and easily scapegoated and hated for being strong and influential. Jews have been killed for their faith, for their lifestyle, for their national identity, for their race.

A key teaching of the Book of Esther is that once the plague of Jew-hatred gets in the air, almost any environment can nourish it. Another is that Jew-hatred does not subside on its own. It must be confronted, denounced, and defeated.

We love our country, and America loves us right back. That has been manifestly, wonderfully true for decades, but will it continue to be? Elsewhere, the post-Holocaust taboo on overt Jew-hatred has long since crumbled. Can that now be happening in the United States? Pray this Purim that the answer is no. For if America succumbs to the anti-Semitic derangement, it isnt only Jews who will suffer.

Follow this link:
In the land where Jews feel welcome, anti-Semitism is on the rise – The Boston Globe

Tunisian authorities foil smuggling of 15th-century Torah scroll – Ynetnews

Tunisian authorities announced that they prevented a 15th-century Torah scroll from being smuggled out of the country. The scroll was written on bovine skin.

According to Tunisian authorities, a group of suspects were arrested following a tip that the Torah scroll was being transferred to a European country as part of an antiquities smuggling operation.

During a press conference, Tunisian National Guard spokesman Khalifa al-Shibani presented the rare Torah scroll, which measures 37m long and 47cm wide.

According to al-Shibani, unidentified foreign elements attempted to buy the scroll, which he described as “a unique historical item for the world.”

Tunisian press conference of ancient Torah

Later in the press conference, al-Shibani said, “Experts at the National Heritage Institute have confirmed that the Torah scroll is an extremely rare, historical and invaluable item that is from the 15th century.”

The scroll seems to contain all parts of the Torah, yet Hebrew language experts argue that this scroll was written before the various books of the Torah were organized into their present order.

Tunisia’s Jewish community has shrunk dramatically since the establishment of the State of Israel, yet there is still a Jewish presence on the island of Djerba, which attracts Jewish tourists every year for the holiday of Lag BaOmer.

Read the rest here:
Tunisian authorities foil smuggling of 15th-century Torah scroll – Ynetnews

The great anti-Semitism panic of 2017: A response to Rob Eshman – Washington Post

Writing in the Jewish Journal, editor-in-chief Rob Eshman accuses me of being an apologist for anti-Semitismbecause of the piece I wrote about Jewish panic over Trump. Lets go through his critique, shall we?

First, Eshman claims that American Jews arent panicking because they havent closed Jewish schools, turned Jewish institutions into armed camps or turned in their kippahs. True, but there are levels of panic. Many Jews have withdrawn their children from Jewish Community Center preschools, so much so that some JCCs are undertaking emergency fundraising campaignsto make up for the lost revenue. More generally and you can see several examples in the comments to my original piece its commonplace for Jewish liberals to analogize the current situation to 1933. Thats completely paranoid and insane, and a sign of panic.

Eshman continues, True, some Jewish leaders assertedthatanti-Semitic acts are at a level not seen in America since the 1930s, which is highly debatable. Thats not highly debatable, its obviously false and absurd, and the fact that Eshman considers it highly debatable is itself a sign of panic.

Next, Eshman contends that I attacka fakeJewish response in order to defend thereal Donald Trump. As regular readers know, I have long been a never-Trumper. My views on Trump havent changed. That doesnt mean I have lost my ability to spot a panic.

In my article, I pointed out that routine claims that Stephen K. Bannons Breitbart News is a white supremacist anti-Semitic site is belied by the articles Breitbart actually publishes about Jews, anti-Semitism and Israel. Eshman retorts that his own concerns about Breitbart had nothing to do with individual articles. Indeed, some of Breitbart.coms best friends and editors are Jewish. Rather, his concern is that Breitbart has fomented and reaffirmed through its coverage and commentsa deep antagonism toward Jews. No, it hasnt done so through its coverage; Eshman just acknowledged that Breitbarts articles are not anti-Jewish, and the articles more generally reflect mainstream conservative views.

The comments section, by contrast, is an unmoderated sewer that does contain a great deal of anti-Semitism. Is that a matter of concern? Sure. I more generally find Bannons ethno-nationalism and no enemies on the right mentality troubling, and not just because of how it might legitimize anti-Semitism. But none of that makes Bannon himself, or Breitbart News, anti-Semitic. Eshman invokes the authority of Ben Shapiro, so allow me to quote Mr. Shapiro:

Ive been as critical of Steve Bannon as anybody in the media. I was the first critic of Bannon because when I left Breitbart in March, I specifically named Bannon as a nefarious influence at Breitbart, by name. And yet, I was forced last week to defend Steve Bannon. I think that hes a terrible person. But because the left cant just say, This is a guy who made way for the alt-right, which is quite terrible, and hes doing a real disservice to the nature of the country by doing so. The left had to accuse him personally of racism and anti-Semitism, and they had to overstep. This is the big mistake.

You want to empower the alt-right? Keep overstepping. Again, its the overstepping by the left thats driving people into this almost white tribalism. Its really negative. I hate tribalism on all sidesI hate it on the left and I hate it on the rightand what Im seeing is that increase across the board.

Eshman acknowledges, as I noted, that there is no available data suggesting that Trumps supporters are more anti-Semitic than the voting public as a whole. His response? Data would be great, we all love data. In the meantime, the lack of numbers doesnt negate well-documented racist and anti-semitic acts perpetrated as Donald Trump ascended to nominee and then president. Yeah, but without data we have no idea how many of those acts were perpetrated by Trump supporters, or whether they represent a meaningful if any increase from the thousands of anti-Semitic acts perpetrated in the Unite States while Barack Obama was president.

Eshman next quotesa left-wing hate group, the Southern Poverty Law Center, for the proposition that Trump unleashed a wave of hatred against a wide variety of groups, including Jews. I dont take anything the SPLC says seriously, but in any event none of the specific acts listed have anything to do with Jews. Eshman asks, Is all this anti-Semitism? He answers: Not always. Actually, not at all. And I agree with Eshman, as I stated right at the beginning of my piece, that Jews are understandably concerned when ethno-nationalism rears its ugly head in general. But understandably concerned is a far cry from believing its 1933 all over again.

Eshman also rejects my criticism of Anti-Defamation League president Jonathan Greenblatt, challenging me to provide an example of when Greenblatt has been unduly partisan. My actual criticism of Greenblatt is that he has stirred panic about right-wing anti-Semitism through exaggerated rhetoric, such as the aforementioned claim that the level of anti-Semitic discourse in the United States today is the greatest since the 1930s. But since Eshman asked, one could write a whole paper about Greenblatts partisanship,starting with his announcement last March that the ADL was redirecting the money Donald Trump had donated over the years to the organization to specifically into anti-bias education programs that address exactly the kind of stereotyping and scapegoating he has injected into this political season.

Finally, Eshman claims that no one is the Jewish organizational world is concerned over the relatively minute amounts of Arab immigrants coming to America. (Bernstein uses Arab to mean Muslim, though of course not all Arabs are Muslims).

First, no, I meant Arab, and I linked to data about anti-Semitism in Arab countries. I dont know of any data that suggests that Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian Christians are any less anti-Semitic than are their Muslim compatriots. Muslim extremism is a separate, though intertwined, topic.

Second, of course people in the Jewish organizational world are (privately) concerned about this. They would have to be fools not to be, given (a) that Arab migrants and their descendants in Western Europe are responsible for an overwhelming percentage of anti-Semitic violence there, including murders at Jewish schools and stores, and attacks on Jews on the street; (b) that many violent incidents against Jews in the United States have been undertaken by Arab immigrants, including the assassination of Rabbi Meir Kahane in 1990, the murder of a Hasidic boy on the Brooklyn Bridge in 1994, a shooting at the El Al terminal at LAX in 2002, and a plot to attack New York synagogues in 2011; and (c) the role that Students for Justice in Palestine, dominated by Arab students, has played in fomenting anti-Semitism on American college campuses. And the phrase changing demographics is used to refer to the threat of Arab (and Muslim) anti-Semitism, including by ADL director Abe Foxman here, and in a report by the American Jewish Congress in 2008, in which it notes that opponents of anti-Semitism in the United Stateswill have to deal with demographic changes, includingthe shrinkage of the American Jewish population and the growth of other groups (including Muslims and Arabs).

Eshman adds that various Jewish organizations are reaching out to Muslim organizations to cooperate on issues of mutual interest and create mutual goodwill. Thats great, I support such efforts and hope they are successful. I have nothing against either Arabs or Muslims and would like nothing better than for the Jewish American and Arab American communities to coexist in harmony. But its ridiculous to pretend that if one is concerned about anti-Semitism in the United States, one shouldnt beconcernedabout large-scale immigration to the United States from places where virulent anti-Semitism is nearly universal. Maybe that means that its Eshman who is the actual anti-Semitism apologist?

UPDATE: In a lovely irony, it turns out that Eshmans own Jewish Journal ran a piece just ten days ago with the headline Concern, Not Panic. The author wrote, Obviously, simply the fact that Jewish cemeteries and centers are the targets of threats and vandalism is, in itself, troubling. What is not clear is whether they reflect an increase in anti-Semitic sentiment in the body politic or isolated acts of some of societys losers. Bad acts and occasional reversals can and will happen, even if the flow of history is favorable. The thugs and vandals are not todays most serious problem. I guess that by Eshmans own lights his own Jewish Journal is an organ of apology for anti-Semitism.

Go here to read the rest:
The great anti-Semitism panic of 2017: A response to Rob Eshman – Washington Post

The Resurgence of Antisemitism and Hate – The Gateway

A sign outside the entrance to the David Posnack Jewish Community Center after people were evacuated because of a bomb threat, Monday, Feb. 27, 2017, in Davie, Fla. Photo Courtesy of salon.com

James Hill CONTRIBUTOR

Animosity toward Jewish people and immigrants have skyrocketed as of late.

In the last two months, there has been 100 bomb threats sent to Jewish community centers and schools. Around 100 gravestones were vandalized in Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis and Philadelphia in the same week. Two Indian men, who were mistaken to be Iranian, were attacked in Kansas City by an assailant who reportedly shouted, Get out of my country!

Parents are beginning to pull their children from schools due to the frequency of these threats. 50 students that attend a Jewish Community Center (JCC) in Orlando, Florida have withdrawn and 12 families removed their children from a center in Albany, New York.

These events are stirring up memories from those who have already suffered far more than any human should.

My fathers a Holocaust survivor, and I just called him up, and hes crying on the phone, Dr. Jamie Husyman said to CNN affiliate WSVN. Huysman also has a child in a JCC that received a bomb threat.

President Trump addressed these hate-fueled acts during his address to Congress on Feb. 28.

Recent threats targeting Jewish community centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last weeks shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all of its very ugly forms, Trump said.

Trump condemning these acts is meaningless considering he only added fuel to the embers of hate during his campaign.

He generalized Mexican immigrants as murders and rapists. Trumps immigration ban originally was for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States. On CNN, Trump said he thinks the entirety of Islam hates us and not just radical Muslims, who hate everyone including other Muslims.

Trump might not have said anything ill toward the Jewish community, but he did not need to. His biggest fans, the alt-right, have that covered.

The alt-right is a movement centered on white nationalism. This group has been accused of whitewashing clear racism, white supremacism and neo-Nazism. The man who coined this phrase, Richard Spencer, is a white supremacist. Spencer repeatedly quotes Nazi propaganda and has openly been critical of Jews.

One wonders if these people are people at all, or instead soulless golem, Spencer said about Jewish people in a speech in Washington.

During the same speech, he said that America belongs to the whites. A major idea among alt-righters is an all-white country would be a utopia.

America was, until this last generation, a white country, designed for ourselves and our posterity, Spencer said. It is our creation and our inheritance, and it belongs to us.

President Trump, whose daughter practices Orthodox Judaism, can never fully separate himself from the alt-right and their backwards beliefs since he hired Steve Bannon, who was the head of the alt-right Breitbart News, as chief White House strategist.

Bannon says that he is not racist or anti-Semitic but he is happy to pander to those people and make common cause with them in order to transform conservatism into European far-right nationalist populism.

Bannon had some disturbing remarks to criticisms from the media toward him.

Darkness is good: Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. Thats power. It only helps us when they get it wrong. When theyre blind to who we are and what were doing, Bannon said.

In an interview with The New York Times, Trump said he would not even considered hiring Bannon if he thought Bannon was a racist.

President Trump may have thought he was tapping into the silent, rural communities that are angry over the lack of blue collar jobs, being unable to speak without offending someone, being called homophobic just because they are Christian and just wanting the government to leave them alone. Trump may have believed that speaking negatively toward Mexicans, Muslims and saying how it is would be just the thing these people wanted to hear. In doing so, Trump unknowingly made it socially acceptable to hate again.

The only redeeming factor of the alt-right is hating political correctness. As liberal from a tiny, rural Iowa community filled by deep red conservatives, the only way to win a discussion about social issues or politics is to speak your mind without a filter. When you speak honestly without worrying about upsetting someone, it makes you seem genuine.

So, if you are a firm believer in the alt-right and all of their crazy ideas about how American society should be, your way of thinking is obsolete. If you believe Jews, blacks and Muslims are lesser than you, I do not consider you American. You are not welcome here.

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The Resurgence of Antisemitism and Hate – The Gateway

Once again, Israel’s critics are being hypocritical – LA Times

To the editor: Its hypocritical that the issue of human rights violations by Israel rears its head again in this discussion of the law recently passed by Israels Knesset. A country wanting to maintain calm within its borders by banning outside agitators violates the rights of agitators trying to enter the country? Really? (Israel passes a travel ban targeting boycott supporters, March 6)

Palestinian society fails to act against so-called honor killings, fails to acknowledge the rights of gays and fails to promote gender equality. It arbitrarily arrests and uses torture against detainees, illegally executes prisoners, suppresses free speech, does not allow a free press and does not tolerate minorities. It also ignores violence against Jews and glorifies those who kill Israelis.

That, it seems to me, constitutes far more egregious violations of human rights. Why doesnt the international community inveigh against Palestinian human rights violations?

Emanuel R. Baker, Los Angeles

..

To the editor: I am an American Jew, born and raised in Southern California.

I have long been disconcerted about Israels policies and the undemocratic treatment of the native Palestinians. Consequently, because I believe in fairness and justice for all peoples, I have supported the international boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Israel is the homeland of all Jews and has encouraged them to live in that country. However, now that Israels parliament has banned my entry into Israel, I assume I am no longer welcome.

That is OK, as the United States is my homeland.

Jared Sloan, Los Angeles

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion and Facebook

See the original post here:
Once again, Israel’s critics are being hypocritical – LA Times

Lox to advance: How Israel’s WBC team engineered the greatest …

Theyre not Jewish for the jokes. Just for the baseball.

On this team I can say the most random Seinfeld reference and everyone laughs and quotes the next line. Its the only baseball team in the world that can do that, says Cody Decker, one of the 28 players representing the early darlings of the World Baseball Classic: Team Israel, a cobbled-together, schmatta-tag bunch that would love to turn the leaflet of famous Jewish sports legends into, at the very least, a pamphlet.

With a pair of victories in its first two WBC games, Team Israel clinched a berth in the second round of the tournament, which was designed to grow international baseball in places like Israel, where the sport barely exists. Only one of its players carries an Israeli passport. Another pitches competitively in the Israel Association of Baseball. The rest are Americans whose Jewish ancestry allows them to adhere to tournament rules and play for the team, even if they havent seen a synagogue in years.

There is no Sandy Koufax among this tribe. There might not even be a Moe Berg. Considering invitations were turned down by the best Jewish players in the world Ryan Braun, Joc Pederson, Ian Kinsler, Kevin Pillar and Alex Bregman would have made for a mighty lineup one very well could call this the greatest miracle for Jews since the oil burned for eight days.

Team Israel sees something else. In 2009, a team from the Netherlands, where the sport is called honkbal, twice stunned the Dominican Republic. Four years later, Team Italy, comprised mostly of Americans, upset Mexico and Canada to advance. Now, in its first WBC, Israel has played spoiler. And with its final game in pool play at 4:30 a.m. ET Thursday against the Dutch team to determine which will emerge with the top seed before the second round begins in Tokyo on Sunday, Israeli baseball gets to show the world why its more than an oxymoron.

Its a large group of really talented ballplayers who all have been kicked around a lot in their career, Decker says. We dont have a single star on this team. Its all the role players who made the stars look good. Everyone on this team has been passed over no pun intended on that one.

Cody Decker has brought personality to Team Israel. (AP)

During his down time as a scout for the Houston Astros, Alex Jacobs would play a guessing game: Jew or not a Jew? As the director of player personnel for Team Israel, Jacobs was in charge of filling out the teams roster with the best available players. That meant starting with the obvious I would look for names that sounded like they could be Jewish, Jacobs says and graduating to more unconventional methods.

He scoured for players who married Jewish women. He called temples in the Dominican Republic and Colombia to inquire about Jewish congregants. He found out one Panamanian player wears a Star of David and considered reaching out to him. He trawled websites with pictures of gravestones. He sought certificates verifying bar mitzvah dates and Hebrew school report cards.

The standard for a non-national joining a WBC team is the ability to become a citizen, and Israel happens to have extremely lax laws when it comes to those with a Jewish connection. Married to a Jew, like Kansas City third baseman Mike Moustakas? You can get Israeli citizenship and play for Team Israel. (Moustakas, coming off a torn ACL, couldnt get insured.) Was one of your grandparents Jewish? Good enough, so long as theres proof like the gravestones. Are you more cultural Jew than religious? Cool. That covers pretty much the entire roster.

There arent a whole lot of us in baseball, Decker says. Even if you arent very religious, youre still a minority, and in the baseball world youre practically a minority of a minority of a minority if youre Jewish. Its such a small percentage, it doesnt calculate to a percent.

Read More

Decker is right. According to a tally on Jewish Baseball News a real website and not a subsidiary of The Onion there are only eight Jews among 1,200 on teams 40-man rosters. About 60 populate the minor leagues, where there are around 6,000 players a year.

Jacobs got so desperate he started mining names of childhood friends for inspiration. He remembered one with the last name of Walsh, which prompted him to reach out via Facebook to Colin Walsh, a utilityman in the Atlanta Braves organization. Walsh, Jacobs said, was grateful for the contact and appreciated the opportunity. There was one problem.

Im all Irish, Walsh said.

Jacobs roster, it turns out, was plenty serviceable. Eight players have spent time in the major leagues, including 15-year veteran Jason Marquis, the teams top starter, and Decker, who has played Max Patkin to his teammates. On the ride to Brooklyn, where Israel needed to win a September qualifier to gain entry into the tournament, Decker started a trivia contest. He is the king of kibitzing, a one-liner here, a crack there, a pat on the back when needed. For good luck, he brought a Mensch on a Bench doll, the Jewish answer to the Elf on a Shelf. And unlike 2013, when Israel failed to advance despite owning the same record as the eventual qualifier, Spain, 2017 was a breeze: three wins by a combined score of 15-3.

The team was rewarded with more than a spot in the tournament. In early January, players flew to Israel, where they climbed Masada, toured Jerusalem and placed messages in the Western Wall. They went to the best field in the country, at a place called Baptist Village because of course the best field in Israel is at a place called Baptist Village and met with groups of children. The players maintained a text chain throughout the winter, the anticipation of the tournament building, the excitement overwhelming.

Team Israels Ike Davis, left, and teammate Cody Decker chat during practice at the Baptist Village sport complex in Israel. (AP)

Decker, who signed a minor league deal with the Milwaukee Brewers in the offseason, reached out to a friend who runs a T-shirt-printing company and asked if he could do a play on the Brew Crew nickname of his new team. Three days later, the prototype was better than Decker couldve imagined: a smiling man, wearing a beard, a tallis and high socks, swinging a bat, with one word above his hat and the other beneath his shoes: JEW CREW.

This is the first time in my life, besides playing for the JCC when I was 14 years old in a basketball tournament, where youre in a locker room full of players and coaches and trainers and theyre all Jewish, pitcher Josh Zeid says. You go in the lobby of the hotel, and everyones mothers are there, and theyre all talking to each other.

Their cocktail of exhilaration and fear and elation and nerves boiled over during the first game of the tournament Monday at Gocheok Sky Dome. Israel scored a run in the second inning. Korea evened the game in the fifth. On it went, until the 10th, the same inning Zeid yielded a walk, hit a batter and surrendered a two-run single four years earlier in the loss that ended Israels tournament hopes. A two-out, two-strike infield single from Scott Burcham drove in the go-ahead run Monday, and Zeid came out for his third inning of work.

After spending two years with the Houston Astros, he had bounced around the last two seasons, even spending time in the independent Atlantic League. Nobody signed him this offseason. This, Zeid figured, might be his last shot. Which is why when Dae-ho Lee, who slugged 14 home runs in the major leagues last year, swung through a 97-mph fastball to end the game, Zeid yelled and pumped his fist and hugged his catcher and lost himself in this tournament that still lacks traction in the United States but is replete with meaning to so many others.

Ive been lucky enough to play in the major leagues, Zeid says. But that was the single biggest, most exciting moment of my baseball career.

Josh Zeid was pumped after getting the last out against Korea on Monday. (Getty Images)

You gonna do it? Nate Freiman said.

You bet your ass Im gonna do it, Decker said.

Freiman was Deckers teammate in the minor leagues, so he knows the idiosyncrasies, the hilarities and the tendencies down pat. Which meant he understood every time his team gets a hit for the first time in a game, Decker unleashes a catchphrase that somehow manages not to get old. The first eight words are always the same. The last changes depending on the team, and Freiman wanted to know if Team Israel would get the pleasure of hearing it. Decker made sure, loud and clear:

Nobody, and I mean nobody, no-hits the Jews!

He did it when they beat Korea. He did it when they beat Taiwan, 15-7, in their second game. Hell do it against the Netherlands, provided the WBC doesnt see its first no-hitter. And hell do it in Japan, where Decker hopes another tradition for every run scored, the players clap twice and let out a Ric Flair-style Wooooo! will be bountiful.

Rooting them on wont just be Jews across the world but those in the homeland as well. In a tweet Tuesday, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote in Hebrew: We are all with you!

So are the 800 or so kids in Israel signed up to play baseball regularly, and the hundreds in Beit Shemesh, a city west of Jerusalem, who were wearing Yankees and Red Sox and Mets jerseys but dont have a viable field on which to play.

That, too, could change soon. If Israel wins the pool, it will receive $1 million in prize money, half of which goes to the players and the other half to the countrys federation. A second-place finish means $700,000. The more Israel wins, the more fields it can build. And the more fields it builds, the likelier the sport is to catch on.

The goal is to not have to rely on the American Jews to play in the tournament, Zeid says. Its a great rule for us to be allowed to do this, but we want the game to grow so large that the kids there are the guys.

For now, the American Jews are happy to bask in the success. Scouts were buzzing about Zeids fastball velocity, and he and Freiman, among others, could parlay their WBC success into jobs with organizations once they return to the states. On Wednesday morning, as the team readied to go to a light workout, an elevator car filled up with players. By the sixth floor, it had exceeded maximum weight capacity. Jacobs volunteered to get off. No, said a man riding the elevator. He was happy to let Jacobs back in. Jacobs thanked Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven, the Dutch pitching coach, for the kindness and stepped right on.

The door closed. Everyone in the elevator side-eyed Jacobs.

Who the [expletive] do you think you are, Alex? joked Barry Weinberg, the teams trainer.

Pulling rank for Team Israel, Jacobs said.

Its easy to get caught up in the thrill. The underdogs are winning. The Mensch on a Bench has been upgraded to life-sized. The JEW CREW T-shirt is for sale, with Decker planning on donating all proceeds to the Jewish National Fund. As a wave of anti-Semitism frightens Jews across the United States and around the world, this tiny sliver of respite this game that serves as equalizer and uniter could last even longer than eight days.

Were out here playing for a nation of people who have fought and battled to be as great as they are, Zeid says. And we want them to believe we represent them the right way. I hope were doing that.

No joke: Theyre doing that and much more.

More on Yahoo Sports: Dirk Nowitzki becomes 6th player to reach elite NBA milestone The 10 best NBA prospects well see in the NCAA tournament Tim Brown: Meet the man with the worst job in sports Amazing 360 video of the Chicago Cubs at spring training

Read more:
Lox to advance: How Israel’s WBC team engineered the greatest …

Israel wants Arab neighbors to turn down volume on call to …

March 9, 2017 A draft bill that would force mosques to lower the volume of their call to prayer passed in Israels parliament on Wednesday, rousing indignation from Arab lawmakers who see it as an affront to Muslim Israelis.

One version of the bill would prohibit all places of religious worship from using loudspeakers between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., reported the BBC, while an alternative version would enact a round-the-clock ban on loudspeakers considered”unreasonably loud and likely to cause disturbance.” Both versions passed the Knesset, but the bill will have to go through further readings before becoming law.

Some Arab-Israeli parliament members tore up copies of the proposal during debate, with one of them, Joint List party leader Ayman Odeh, ejected from the chamber after doing so.

The bills come during a potentially transformational time in Israel, when the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state seems less likely than ever, as The Christian Science Monitors Christa Case Bryant reported in January, as international leaders met in Paris to discuss a last-ditch effort to save the two-state solution:

But even as the conference’s closing statement urged Israelis and Palestinians “to officially restate their commitment to the two-state solution,” 2 in 3 Palestinians say that modelis no longer viable, according to a recent poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) in Ramallah.

We want a one-state solution where we return to our lands, says Nashat Salhieh, a refugee who lives in Al-Amari refugee camp, a few miles from Mr. Abbass headquarters in Ramallah. I want to go back to my country. I dont care who will rule me. There will be elections, I will have a vote.

After years of fruitless negotiations, 36 percent of Palestinians now support a single state. Among those, some even say they would be willingto live under Jewish rule, saying they lived better before the PA came, and that Israeli bosses treated them better and paid them on time.

Arabs make up one-fifth of Israels citizens, and about 80 percent of them are Muslim. (The 1.6 million Arab-Israeli citizens are distinct from the approximately 4.5 million Palestinians who are not citizens of Israel.)

Devout Muslims pray five times a day, beginning just before dawn, when the call to prayer can be loud enough to wake up residents in nearby Jewish neighborhoods.

The present bill was proposed in November by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who described it as a noise-ordinance issue when his ministers sent it to Parliament for consideration, according to The New York Times.

“There is no wish to hurt the believers of any faith,” said Jewish Home party member and bill co-sponsorMotti Yogev, adding that it was “first and foremost a piece of social legislation which will allow people to relax during rest hours, Arabs and Jews alike,” according to the BBC.

Many Muslim religious authorities see it differently. In November, a former grand mufti of Jerusalem Ekrima Sabri called it”one of the most racist and discriminatory laws”ever proposed in Israel, according to Britain’s The New Arab.

“Palestinians in Jerusalem and Muslims across the whole country will oppose [the bill] and the call to prayer will be remain, deafening the ears of the racist fascists who hate it. The call to pray is one of the rites of Islam that has been part of this religion for more than 1,400 years,” Mr. Sabri said at the time.

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

View post:
Israel wants Arab neighbors to turn down volume on call to …

For Los Angeles Jews, Trump is a rallying cry the community hasn’t seen in decades – Los Angeles Times

The rise of President Trump has sparked a new streak of activism in Los Angeles Jewish community that many veteran leaders say they havent seem in decades.

Jewish leaders in the religious, political and cultural worlds have formed a coalition aimed at denouncing what they perceive to be threats to religious tolerance, democratic values, equal rights and a free press.

Trumps rhetoric and actions toward Muslim immigrants were the impetus for the coalition, known as Jews United for Democracy and Justice, said Rabbi Ken Chasen.

There a uniqueness to this moment, said Chasen, senior rabbi at Leo Baeck Temple in Bel-Air. Jews understand that an attack on any one of us is an attack on all of us. People who are at risk particularly immigrants that is a clarion call to Jews. Our concerns about the treatment of immigrants are not partisan or political, theyre Jewish. The single most frequently repeated command in the Torah is to care for the stranger, because Jews know what its like to be the stranger.

Not since the 1960s, when Jewish leaders embraced the civil rights movement and denounced the Vietnam War, has there been such a galvanizing issue as this one, Chasen said.

Jews United for Democracy and Justice has garnered the support of more than 2,000 Jewish people including prominent rabbis and elected leaders such as L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Atty. Mike Feuer who signed the groups organizing statement.

Jewish groups across the country have interpreted Trumps travel bans targeting migrants from Muslim-majority countries as a call to action. For many people, the policies have evoked painful memories of the countries that turned Jews away when they tried to flee Nazi persecution.

Some in the Jewish community fear Americas reputation as a welcoming place for refugees is being irreparably damaged as Trump has ordered a temporary ban on refugees from around the world.

The Iran-Iraq War forced Sam Yebris family to flee Iran and into exile in the United States when he was a child in the early 1980s.

Yebri, now a lawyer and president of 30 Years After, an Iranian Jewish nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles, said he understands that Americans are concerned over the Syrian refugee crisis. people seeking asylum in the U.S. should be vetted, but that doesnt warrant Trumps hard-line policies, he said.

It betrays our history and values as a country to shut our doors when there are innocent people who are being persecuted, Yebri said. I hope the administration will strive to find the right middle ground as opposed to closing our doors and closing our hearts to folks like my family just a generation ago.

The Jewish coalition gathered signatures recently from more than 110 clergy members, L.A. Countys entire Jewish state legislative delegation, seven current and former members of Congress, and 60 current and former elected and appointed officials, according to the coalition.

The group is focused on three guiding principles: The U.S. is a nation of laws, a nation of immigrants and aspires to equality, respect and justice for all people.

Zev Yaroslavsky, a former L.A. County supervisor and a member of the groups organizing committee, said he was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for the coalition. He said the group will stand by refugees fleeing oppression as well as immigrants in the United States who tonight as they go to sleep fear a knock on the door.

This is something the Jewish community wants to speak out on, Yaroslavsky said. It speaks to a thirst in our community to stand up and not be silent. We know what the costs are of remaining silent.

The vandalism of Jewish cemeteries and recent bomb threats to Jewish centers in L.A. and other cities have heightened anxieties in the faith community, said David Myers, professor of Jewish history and former chairman of the UCLA history department.

He said he fears the election of Trump has ushered in a wave of xenophobic populism not seen in decades.

Weve had that ilk before as candidates and prominent politicians, but not as president, said Myers, a member of the coalitions organizing committee. Its not just thats his rhetoric; a good number of the first actions taken seem to operationalize some of this exclusionary ethos of Trumps populism.

Trumps opening condemnation of anti-Semitic threats and hate crimes during his first address to a joint session of Congress in late February was welcomed, but long overdue, Rabbi Chasen said.

Its appreciated, he said. The reality, though, is that there is a mounting spate of threats to Jewish institutions all across the United States. The president needs to go beyond simply denouncing and demonstrate the desire to take action steps and send an absolute clarity of message to those who are doing this: Not in our America.

ben.poston@latimes.com

Follow @bposton on Twitter.

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For Los Angeles Jews, Trump is a rallying cry the community hasn’t seen in decades – Los Angeles Times

Some Jews support BDS ‘from a place of love’ for Israel, says AJC official – Mondoweiss

On Wednesday night in Brooklyn, Congregation Mount Sinai had a panel on the new anti-Semitism, featuring speakers from the American Jewish Committee, the Anti Defamation League and the New York Times.The speakers from the two Jewish organizations generally equated the BDS movement against Israel with anti-Semitism. The reporter for the New York Times was careful not to say a word about Israel.

Here are several interesting statements from the panel. The last one is the one in my headline.

Seffi Kogen, an official of the American Jewish Committee, said that college campuses have been hijacked by the alt left.

I wrote an op-ed forHaaretzabout five or six months ago. The title they slapped on it was, The Alt-right Promotes Hatred of Jews. The Alt-left: Hatred of Israel. I think we have seen that problem become increasingly prevalent on college campuses. Whereas the alt right has been finding political avatars, they would say in the form of Donald Trump, Geert Wilders, Marine Le Pen, and others in Europe and elsewhere, the alt left does not have those same political avatars. But they do have academic avatars. There are professors on campuses around the country whole departments in fact, sociology, anthropology, womens studies that will be hijacked by this alt left, in a way that wed never allow the alt right to hijack an academic discipline.

And of course theres very little we can do about it within the bounds of academic freedom. But where we can address it is insure that the students that those people could teach, and who they could implicate into this deeply-problematic hatred of Israel we can reach those students. So thats what I primarily focus on.

Here are two efforts Kogen has undertaken to counter criticism of Israel:

Over winter break in December, I led a group of 17non-Jewish student leaders from Brown University to Israel. All of them came in with the basic paradigm with regard to the Israel Palestinian conflict, that Israel is the villain, Palestinians are the victim. After a week they all realized, that thats simply not true, there is far more nuance and far more complexity to the conflict than that and now were working with them to spread that knowledge around Brown Universitys campus

Just this last weekend, I was in Coral Gables, at the University of Miami, with a group of 30 students, Jewish students and Latino students, from 10 different campuses around the country. And we were there because we wanted to create a space where the students could learn one anothers stories and learn how to support one anothers advocacy. So when they return to campus the Jewish students are better equipped to stand up and speak out against immigration bans, against the Mexican wall, whatever they might be moved to align themselves with. And the Latino students are better equipped to speak out against anti-semitism and hatred of Israel.

Joseph Goldstein, reporter for the New York Times, on the alt-rights view of Jews:

In terms of understanding how the alt right thinks about Jews, or why they think about Jews I was at the notorious Richard Spencer conference last November. And some of the speakers were citing the Frankfurt school in their speeches. It was probably the first mention I had heard of the Frankfurt school since college. The alt right is quite literate and they have sort of, I mean you can call it a conspiracy theory or an alternative view of history, but they have sort of spun a narrative of how America got to this present moment in time, in which Jews play an outsized role.

And the alt right is obsessed with the notion that at some point in the not too distant future, America will not be a majority white country. I think there was a census estimate that it would happen 40 years from now. Thats a figure that gets cited an awful lot. And immigration is without question the number one issue for the alt right.

And understanding why we have open borders in the view of the alt right, and understanding American immigration history, they sort of look at the Ellis Island myth as they put it of America as a welcoming country as something that Jewish policies and Jewish influence have brought about. That if you take a look back, that the only ethnic group that has been seeking open borders and seeking a liberal immigration policy for a century now are the Jews.

I was somewhat stunned by just listening to various alt right speakers. They trace the rise of multiculturalism and the rise of and just the population shifts in America, as the result of a Jewish conspiracy to make America less white and Anglo-Saxon. And so that is one reason why the Jews do play a large role in sort of the alt rights world view, is they sort of need the Jews and the antisemitism in order to make sense of what America looks like today.

Interestingly, Goldstein did not get the opportunity to express these ideas in his article at the time.

Evan Bernstein, New York regional director of the Anti Defamation League, says anti-Semitism is the oldest form of hatred known to man, but the U.S. today is the best place ever for Jews:

I spoke at a press conference on the arrest of Juan Thompson, and I said,Anti-semitism is the oldest form of hatred really known to man. There hasnt been any kind of cure for it. Its been in every single major society really since societies have been around. Jews have started in these communities and then thrived and been driven out, as quickly as they have thrived.

We have always, for whatever reasonwere here in a synagogue if you want to make it biblical, if you want to make it sociological, whatever it is Jews are always the lightning rod for some form of hate in whatever society weve been able to be in

Europe is a much less rosy picture. But in America, Im very clear to say, this is still the best place ever to be a Jew in history. When I sat next to Governor Cuomo my grandparents were first generation off-the-boat Russians. If they ever thought in two generations their grandson would be sitting next to the governor of New York talking about how the governor would be protecting the Jewish people and investing a lot of money

Despite everything we see right now, this is a time where Jews are able to thrive financially, they are able to get educated at the best universities two generations ago that was not the case. Maybe country clubs are still the one area where we are not the best in getting into.. But in general there is a freedom of movement and a freedom of religion that two generations ago we could only dream about.

We have to be very cognizant of that, but keep our eyes open to what is taking place and the trends in front of us.

Seffi Kogen says that some Jews he knows support BDS out of love for Israel:

We often fall into this trap of assuming that students who support BDS, the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction the state of Israel in an effort supposedly to end Israels occupation they never of course say whether theyre referring to an occupation after the Six Day War, that is the West Bank and Gaza, or whether theyre referring to Israels very existence we fall into this trap where we think that Jewish students who support BDS do so out of ignorance. I think that some do. I think that some simply dont know that there is a case for Israel.

I also think that there are some, in fact, I know that there are some, anecdotally, who do soand I think they are misguided but who do so from a place of love. They were my classmates in day school, and my bunkmates at Jewish camp. They were on the year-program that I spent in between high school and college in Israel. These are people who dont hate Israel. You would be hard pressed to pin a charge of antisemitism on them that would actually stick. And so when we create this kind of caricature of them, I think it prevents us from accurately dealing with the problem that actually exists on campus.

Yesterday I tweeted Kogen a sincere question. Dont some of your former bunkmates who support BDS object to the very issue in Israel that Joseph Goldstein finds justly objectionable in the alt-right: endless rhetoric of losing a racial majority. Kogen did not answer my question.

See the article here:
Some Jews support BDS ‘from a place of love’ for Israel, says AJC official – Mondoweiss

Barbara Bedell: Jewish Federation seeks Holocaust education – Times Herald-Record

The Jewish Federation of Greater Orange County is working to bring Holocaust education into the local public schools. On a recent day with help from Dr. David Leach and Gene Burns of the Warwick School District, Holocaust survivor Aviva Cohensat before an audience of students from the Warwick High School Leadership Academy. She narrated her experiences as a hidden child. The room was silent.

Her father was wanted by the Nazis for his activism and forced to leave his family and go into hiding. Aviva, along with her mother and grandmother, were sent to live in the Katowice ghetto. Aviva, then called Ada, was born with blond hair and blue eyes. She was smuggled out of the ghetto registered as a Catholic and protected by a Polish family until the end of World War II. Eventually, all the residents of the Katowice ghetto were sent to Auschwitz, including Avivas mother and grandmother, who didnt survive.

The Holocaust is an excellent prism through which schools can examine moral issues, said Dr. Leslie Green, president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orange County. In light of increasing anti-Semitic incidents across the country, it is important for students to understand that silence and indifference to the infringements of individuals civil rights and suffering is tantamount to acquiescence.

The Jewish Federation conducts a yearly essay contest with cash prizes for grades 7-12. This years contest focuses on the issues of refugee immigration during World War II and today. It is open to all students. Information on the Stop Hate Essay Contest is available at jewishorangeny.org. Essays are due April 17. For additional information, call Suzanne Leon, executive director, at the Federation office, 562-7860.

Recently the Federation hosted its annual fundraising Super Sunday. The weather was cold that day and volunteers only worked a half-day. While money is still coming in for the nonprofits many outreach programs, including Stop Hate, $38,000 was pledged, which authorities thought was very good.

Coming up

** The annual Garden Day hosted by the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster Countys Master Gardeners will be April 8, and already close to half the tickets available have been sold. For the past two years, the event has been a sell-out by the end of March, said Liz Herman, a Master Gardener volunteer. The event will be from 8:30 a.m.- 4:15 p.m. on the SUNY Ulster Community College campus in Stone Ridge. This years theme is Style and Practical Matters. It features 16 classes and a keynote address by Marie Iannotti, author of four gardening books, including A Gardeners Tour of the Hudson Valley. Tickets are $40 in advance; $45 at the door, if there is room. A catered lunch is available and must be purchased upon registering, or you can bring your own. For information, contact Dona Crawford at 340-3990, ext. 335, or email dm282@cornell.edu.

** Artist Angelo Marcialis will be the guest in the March 26 Meet the Artist reception from 5-7 p.m. at Caffe a la Mode at 1 Oakland Ave. in Warwick. The artist, who will have an exhibit on view, retired in 2014 from an award-winning career as both a music educator and an accomplished jazz musician. Retirement offers more creative time for his photographic interests as well as hiking, biking and living in the Hudson Valley. He can be reached at his website, angelomarcialis.pixels.com, or by email: AMarcialisPhotography@gmail.com.

This and that

** Mount Saint Mary Colleges Collaborative for Equity in Literacy Learning (CELL) will present a two-session seminar for educators this summer, detailing the Image-Making and the Picturing Writing literacy methods. The cost per session is $800. The sessions are Aug. 7-11 and Aug. 14-18. Art experience is not necessary. Price includes workshop materials, teachers manuals, and poster. For the first session, graduate credit is available for an additional fee. Register by visiting cell.msmc.edu and clicking the Picturing Writing tab on the left. For more information, call 569-3431 or email cell@msmc.edu.

Barbara Bedells column appears daily. She can be reached at 346-3125 or by email: bbedell@th-record.com.

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Barbara Bedell: Jewish Federation seeks Holocaust education – Times Herald-Record

Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA – Heritage Florida Jewish News

Palestinian man alleged to be part of terror cell killed in shootout with Israeli troops

JERUSALEM (JTA)A Palestinian man who allegedly was part of a terror cell planning attack on Israeli targets was killed in a gunfight with Israeli troops in the West Bank.

Basel al-Aaraj was killed overnight Monday during an IDF arrest raid in Ramallah in the northern West Bank.

Al-Aaraj, 31, was shot and killed by Israeli troops after they surrounded the house where he was holed up in order to arrest him. He opened fire on the troops, according to the IDF.

Al-Aaraj was alleged to be part of a terrorist cell planning to carry out attacks on Israeli targets and allegedly was responsible for procuring weapons. An M-16 rifle and an improvised Carlo-style submachine gun were found inside the home, the IDF said.

Al-Araj was detained without charges or explanation by Palestinian security forces in April last year, the Palestinian Maan news agency reported. He was released in September after mounting a hunger strike in prison amid reports of torture and mistreatment.

On Sunday, two Palestinian men from Nablus were arrested at the Tapuah Junction in the northern West Bank on suspicion that they were planning to carry out a stabbing attack there. One of the men was carrying a large knife.

Annexing West Bank will lead to crisis with Trump administration, Liberman warns

JERUSALEM (JTA)Annexing the West Bank will lead to a crisis with the Trump administration, Israels Defense Minister warned.

I am saying it as clearly as possible: We received a direct message from the United States saying that Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank would mean an immediate crisis with the new administration, Avigdor Liberman said Monday during an appearance before the Knessets Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Liberman called on the ruling government coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to clarify very clearly, there is no intention to impose Israeli sovereignty. Liberman is due to meet with top U.S. administration officials this week in Washington.

The warning came in response to an interview over the weekend with Likud lawmaker Miki Zohar, who told the Israeli news channel i24 News that a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is no longer possible.

The two-state solution is dead, Zohar said. What is left is a one-state solution with the Arabs here as, not as full citizenship, because full citizenship can let them to vote to the Knesset. They will get all of the rights like every citizen except voting for the Knesset.

Liberman said the interview raised red flags around the world. Im getting calls from all of the world wanting to know if this is the position of the coalition, he told the Knesset committee. As far as my opinion is concerned, we need to separate from the Palestinians and not to integrate them. The decision to annex Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) would mean the integration of 2.7 million Palestinians in Israel.

U.S. President Donald Trump has not called specifically for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. When asked about the topic last month during a news conference in Washington with Netanyahu, Trump said: I like the one the two parties like… I can live with either one.

Trumps position diverges with that of previous U.S. presidents, who said two states was the only viable solution for resolving the conflict.

Israeli decries Womens Strike organizer convicted in bombing that killed her uncle

(JTA)The niece of an Israeli killed in a terrorist attack nearly 50 years ago criticized the planned International Womens Strike for allowing one of the convicted terrorists in a leadership position.

In an op-ed published last week on the Huffington Post website, Terry Joffe Benaryeh said she commends the goal of the strike, a push for womens equality. The strike is planned for March 8, the official observance of International Womens Day

But, explain how my family is supposed to reconcile the reality that the woman who stripped my uncle of his life is now deemed a hero by many of my fellow Americans. What justification is there for Rasmea Odeh, a woman who killed two people (with the intention of killing more!) to lead a peaceful fight for human rights? Benaryeh wrote.

Eddie Joffe and Leon Kanner were killed at the Supersol market in Jerusalem on Feb. 21. 1969, when a bomb set by Odeh and an accomplice exploded in the crowded store. Nine people were injured in the blast.

Odeh was arrested in March 1969. She was convicted and sentenced by an Israeli military court in 1970 to life in prison for two bombing attacks on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. She spent 10 years in an Israeli prison before being released in a prisoner exchange with the PFLP in 1980.

Odeh confessed to planting the bomb, though in recent years has claimed that the confession was given under torture, which is disputed by Israeli officials.

Explain to me how Odeh, who was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a U.S.-designated terrorist group, was chosen to represent American feminists who seek to peacefully stand up for womens rights, Benaryeh wrote. The Womens Strike lists as its Principle #1 that Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people. It is a positive force confronting the forces of injustice and utilizes the righteous indignation and spiritual, emotional, and intellectual capabilities of people as the vital force for change and reconciliation. Rasmea Odeh signed her name to this movement. And she did so with blood on her hands.

Odeh, an associate director at the Arab American Action Network, was found guilty in November 2014 of lying on her application for citizenship to the United States by covering up her conviction and imprisonment for the bombing attacks when she entered the United States in 1995. She applied for citizenship in 2004.

In December 2016, a federal judge ordered a new trial, in which Odeh reportedly will be allowed to show she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder when she was interviewed in Detroit during the citizenship process, a claim that was not introduced in her first trial.

U.S. lawmakers visit potential sites for embassy move to Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (JTA)A delegation from the U.S. House of Representatives visited Israel for one day, during which they were to visit possible sites in Jerusalem for the American Embassy.

The delegation of lawmakers was from the House Subcommittee for National Security, part of the House Oversight Committee. The lawmakers reportedly met Sunday morning with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials. They also reportedly had a briefing at the US. Embassy in Tel Aviv, and visited U.S. government properties in Jerusalem.

The delegation was led by subcommittee chairman Rep. Ron DeSantis, R- Fla. DeSantis told reporters Sunday evening that U.S. President Donald Trump intends to honor his campaign pledge to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

DeSantis told Breitbart News in an interview on Sunday that he thought the U.S. consulate in the upscale Arnona neighborhood of southern Jerusalem would be a good place to house a U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.

Great security, very big and nice facility, DeSantis told Breitbart. So, that is something that could potentially be a plug-and-play. Where you are literally just changing the sign to the U.S. Embassy. And that obviously depends on what the president wants to do. So, he could potentially do that.

Cuomo at Yad Vashem: No tolerance for acts of anti-Semitism

JERUSALEM (JTA)There will be no tolerance for these acts of anti-Semitism, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a weekend visit to Israel.

We must live by the rules that an abuse to one, an affront to one, is an affront to all, and that large fires start as small fires, and we will have zero tolerance for any abuse or discrimination of any fellow human being, Cuomo said Sunday during a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. In the United States now we have had a rash of anti-Semitism, over 100 acts of anti-Semitism, and I am sad to say also in my state, the state of New York. It is disgusting, it is reprehensible, it violates every tenet of the New York State tradition.

He added: To the people of Israel, I say that these acts of anti-Semitism will not be tolerated.

Cuomo continued: This trip has two purposes; number one, while some would weaken the relationship between the people of the State of New York and our Jewish brothers and sisters, the purpose of this trip is to strengthen those relationships through cultural exchange, through economic development partnerships, and well be working on them. The second purpose of this trip is Hineini, I am here, I have been here before, and I will be here again.

Cuomo last visited Israel in the wake of the 2014 Gaza War, also on a whirlwind 24-hour trip.

Rivlin thanked Cuomo for his visit and said, Your arrival to Israel at this time is an extremely important signal that the U.S. people and government will not let anti-Semitism win. On behalf of the State of Israel, I would like to express our appreciation for your visit and for the clear and powerful message you have sent.

Rivlin added: The same appreciation goes to President Trump, who condemned the recent attacks. And we are deeply touched by Vice President Pence who went and gave a handand a voicein fixing the broken gravestone. The fact that so many Christians and Muslims, came to aid the Jewish communities sends the clearest message against racism and hatred. It is a sign of great hope and civil courage.

Last month, Pence visited a vandalized Jewish cemetery in St. Louis and helped volunteers clean up the area.

Cuomo was scheduled to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later on Sunday. The visit also was meant to bolster economic ties between Israel and New York State.

Israel upsets Korea in first game of World Baseball Classic

JERUSALEM (JTA)Team Israel defeated Korea in the first game of the World Baseball Classic.

Israel topped Korea 2-1 in the 10th inning on Monday in Seoul. Team Israel had 8 hits to Koreas 7 in the hard-fought game.

The Israeli team is scheduled to play the team from Chinese Taipei later on Monday, and the Netherlands on Wednesday.

This is the first year that the Israeli team has qualified for the quadrennial baseball tournament, in which 16 countries are represented. In 2012, Israels inaugural WBC team narrowly missed making the tournament.

The game marks the first time that American Jewish baseball players, including several current and former Major League Baseball players, are representing Israel in a world championship. World Baseball Classic rules state that players who are eligible for citizenship of a country may play on that countrys team.

Israel is the only participant in this years tournament not currently among the top 20 in the world rankings. Israel is ranked 41st in the world.

The game was not broadcast on any of Israels major television channels or sports channels.

Ten current and former Jewish major leaguers representing Israel in the World Baseball Classic visited Israel in December.

In an article published on Sunday, ESPN described the Israeli team as the Jamaican bobsled team of the WBC.

Aleppo family claims to be Jewish, calls on Israel to help them

JERUSALEM (JTA)Members of a family in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo have called on Israel to help them leave the country, claiming Jewish heritage.

A recording of a woman calling for the assistance was broadcast Sunday morning on Army Radio.

The younger brother of the woman on the recording, who himself escaped over a year ago to London and identified as Salah, told Army Radio that his mother is Jewish and his father Muslim, and that he and his siblings had considered themselves Jewish growing up.

There is nobody who can help us to get out of this place, said his sister, 30, on the recording, where she is identified as Razan, though that is not her real name. We are asking that the Israeli government does not abandon us, but helps us get out of here to another country. I ask that the government demands from the entire world to do this. All my love and loyalty is to this religion (Judaism).

The Jewish Agency told Israeli media outlets that it was looking into the matter and would work to rescue the family if it is proven they are Jewish. Meanwhile, officials at the Jewish Agency told Army Radio that they had doubts about the familys Jewishness because people in similar positions have hidden their Jewish identity to avoid putting themselves in more danger.

Aleppos last remaining Jews were believed to have left the country with the help of the Jewish Agency in 2015.

Former U.S. envoy to Israel, Dan Shapiro, to join Israeli think tank

JERUSALEM (JTA)Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro will join a Tel Aviv-based think tank as a visiting fellow.

The Institute for National Security Studies announced the appointment on its website on Sunday.

Shapiro will participate in several of the institutes research programs, including those on Israel-U.S. relations, Israeli-Palestinian relations, the Arab world, and Israeli society and public opinion, according to the announcement. According to the think tank, he will study opportunities and make policy recommendations to strengthen the U.S.-Israel strategic, economic and societal partnership, and to preserve, expand and strengthen the common interests between the two states.

INSS Director Amos Yadlin said that Shapiro possesses keen insight, deep experience, and a broad network of relationships in Israel, the United States, and the Middle East.

Shapiro was appointed to his post by former President Barack Obama in July 2011. He resigned on Jan. 20, vacating the position for President Donald Trumps appointee, David Friedman.

Shapiro reportedly took the unusual step of asking the State Department for permission to stay in Israel as a private citizen so that his daughter could complete the school year. His daughter is in the 11th grade, a year that is heavy with Israeli matriculation exams

At the end of January, Shapiro wrote an article for Foreign Policy, in which he laid out a path for moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, a stated goal of the Trump administration.

Trump, Netanyahu discuss dangers of Iran deal in phone call

WASHINGTON (JTA)President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke about the Iran nuclear deal in a phone call.

Trump called Netanyahu on Monday and the two leaders discussed the dangers posed by the nuclear deal with Iran, according to a statement from Netanyahus office.

The two leaders spoke at length about the dangers posed by the nuclear deal with Iran and by Irans malevolent behavior in the region and about the need to work together to counter those dangers, read the statement.

Netanyahu and Trump have both denounced the deal, which exchanges sanctions relief for a rollback of Irans nuclear program. But the U.S. president and other top officials have wavered in their commitment to undoing the agreement.

During the phone call, Netanyahu also thanked Trump for the warm hospitality during his visit to Washington last month and for condemning anti-Semitism during a joint address to Congress, according to the statement.

The White House statement reporting the call described the conversation in more general terms.

The two leaders discussed the need to counter continuing threats and challenges facing the Middle East region, it said. The Prime Minister thanked the President for his comments at the beginning of his speech before the Joint Session of Congress condemning anti-Semitism

Last Tuesday, Trump noted recent bomb threats on Jewish institutions and vandalism of cemeteries in his first address to a joint meeting of Congress.

Recent threats targeting Jewish community centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last weeks shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms, Trump said.

Nearly 100 Jewish institutions have been targeted with bomb threats since the beginning of the year. The Kansas shooting occurred when a patron who was ejected from a bar after hurling racial epithets at two workers from India allegedly returned with a gun, killing one of the men and wounding the other.

Trump has come under fire for his delayed responses to the threats against Jewish institutions, deflecting questions about it before finally issuing a denunciation. The White House did not address the Kansas shooting until Tuesday, six days after the attack.

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Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA – Heritage Florida Jewish News

Shore communities stoic as bomb threats rattle JCCs – Daily Record

Alex N. Gecan, @GeeksterTweets 11:04 a.m. ET March 10, 2017

People clap as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delivers remarks at the Kaplen Jewish Community Center on the Palisades during a rally against recent bomb threats made to jewish centers, Friday, March 3, 2017, in Tenafly, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)(Photo: AP)

Bomb threats. Evacuations. Religious vandalism.

Since January, scores of Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) and day schools in at least 30 states have received over 100 bomb threats. In New Jersey, 19 incidents at religious facilities throughout New Jersey have been reported; eight were bomb threats targeting six JCCs

No explosive devices were found at any of the centers, but the sudden spike in threats has shaken communities and, so far, raised more questions than answers, including who is behind them, why they are doing it and why they are doing it right now.

HATE AND PREJUDICE: Blame Trump? Shoreline says ‘No’

“This is nothing that we’ve seen before,” Joshua Cohen, director of the Anti-Defamation League’s New Jersey office, told the Asbury Park Press. “They’ve been coming in waves since the beginning of the year. There were bomb threats that were called into Jewish institutions last year, and these happened from time to time, but nothing like this wave.”

JCCs: Bomb threats raise old fears

He said that the purposes of bomb threats are twofold – “to disrupt operations and to create fear and panic in the community. This wave of bomb threats, while credible, has created fear and panic in the community.”

When asked what he attributed the increase in bomb threats to, Cohen said the recent political climate – a contentious presidential election, the emergence of the so-called “alt-right” – could be a factor.

“Individuals are feeling empowered and emboldened to act out, speak out, commit acts of anti-Semitism in an environment where they may not have felt comfortable to do so,” he said.

While the most recent bomb threats represent a sudden spike in anti-Semitic incidents, hate crimes targeting Jews and Muslims were already trending upward in the state even as total bias incidents have begun to decline, an Asbury Park Press analysis of state police data found in 2016.

Crimes against both Jewish and Muslim New Jerseyans spiked in 2015. Religiously motivated hate crimes had been in decline until rising 10 percent in 2015.

Of the victims of religiously motivated bias crimes, Jews were the most common targets with 113 reported incidents in 2015. There were 14 reported Muslim victims and only six targets of other religions.

According to the Pew Research Center, Muslims comprise only three percent of adults in New Jersey, and six percent are Jewish.

Old sickness, new symptoms

“To be honest, I think this has always been our reality, and I think this nation has some unfinished business around race religions,” said Elizabeth Williams-Riley, president of the American Conference on Diversity. “It’s always been a part of the fabric of our nation, it’s why we exist as an organization. So what has happened is the platform has been given to, in a very bold way, folks who can now see their own attitudes and behaviors as being right, or being reinforced, or being celebrated.”

Williams-Riley recalled a surge in reported hate crimes following the 2016 Presidential election.

“It was occurring in K through twelfth grades most frequently, which is a tremendous ‘ah-ha’ for us,” she said, referring to reports of students hurling Islamophobic, racist and otherwise discriminatory remarks after the 2016 election. “I’ve also heard a lot about students feeling more open to say things about LGBTQ students and saying things about them not belonging, and they need to get themselves together.”

‘NO HATE’: Kean University, American Conference on Diversity hold town hall

American with disabilities have also faced increased harassment under the new administration, she said, because “one of the first things that Trump did was mock someone with a disability,” in reference to then-candidate Donald Trump’s apparent mocking criticism in November 2015 of New York Times investigative reporter Serge Kovaleski, who lives with arthrogryposis.

Racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, vitriol towards those seen as foreign – none of these are new sentiments. Williams-Riley suggests that kids learn biases at home, in their families. But now that Americans have seen groups like the so-called alt-right eating up airtime and a presidential candidate-cum-president stoke nationalist ire, they have become confident enough to act out on those beliefs. “In this instance, the notion to be openly bigoted or openly biased, to express yourselves about certain things, has been violated,” she said.

Politicking in response

Whatever the ideological motivation for the threats, if there even is one, other experts say that the reaction has been extremely political.

“I think the issue here, the reason this has become a bigger political issue, is because for many … President Trump’s response was slow in coming, to the point where we now have all 100 U.S. senators demanding action in response to these anti-Semitic incidents from the White House,” said Ben Dworkin, director of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rider University. “That kind of unanimity almost never happens these days, and therefore an issue that might not be political has become political.”

TRUMP: “Anti-Semitism is horrible, and it’s going to stop and it has to stop.”

President Trump spoke out against the threats and vandalism at Jewish centers during his speech to a joint session of Congress on Feb. 28: “Recent threats targeting Jewish Community Centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a Nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.”

To his critics, the denunciation – like his repudiation of former Ku Klux Klan Imperial Wizard David Duke – was too little, too late.

CPAC: White nationalist Richard Spencer ousted

Dworkin urged against ascribing a political motive to the bomb threats.

“That’s plausible, but until we capture somebody or until we find an email that says ‘somebody is planning this and doing it,’ it is simply a plausible reason,” he said.

BOMB THREATS: Morris reps call for probe

In the 2016 presidential election, exit polls showed that 71 percent of Jewish voters cast ballots for Hillary Clinton, according to the Pew Research Center. However, Orthodox voters were more inclined to vote for Donald Trump: A September 2016 poll conducted by the American Jewish Committee found that approximately 50 percent of Orthodox voters favored Trump while 21 percent supported Clinton. Fifteen percent said they would not vote.

The president’s own daughter, Ivanka, converted to Judaism before marrying Jared Kushner, who is Orthodox, in 2009.

The Anti-Defamation League has compiled a list of bomb threats against Jewish day schools, community centers and other facilities. They counted 121 total threats in five waves between Jan. 4 and Feb. 27 nationwide – and at least another eight in a sixth wave on March 7.

The fifth wave, comprising only the day of Feb. 27, accounted for 40 bomb threats.

Federal agents have made one arrest so far in the wave of bomb threats.

Juan Thompson, 31, of Missouri is charged with sending threats to eight Jewish organizations as part of a bizarre plot to harass and discredit a former lover.

Thompson is, apparently, no stranger to the untrue. In 2016 online news agency The Intercept fired him after it “discovered that he had fabricated sources and quotes in his articles,” according to a statement from the publication.

Garden State threats

In New Jersey, the League counted seven specific bomb threats – three at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly on Jan. 9 and 31 and Feb. 27 and one each at the Jewish Community Center of Central Jersey in Scotch Plains and the Middlesex Jewish Community Center in Edison on Jan. 18, the Jewish Community Center of Metrowest New Jersey in West Orange on Jan. 31 and at the Betty and Milton Katz Jewish Community Center in Cherry Hill on Feb. 27.

On Feb. 27 the state Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness reported “19 incidents at religious facilities throughout New Jersey,” including eight bomb threats spread over six JCCs, but officials would not specify where each “incident” took place.

WATCH: Unity rally at Cherry Hill JCC

Asked for a list of the incidents, Special Agent Michael Whitaker, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Investigations’ Newark field office replied, “The FBI and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division are investigating possible civil rights violations in connection with threats to Jewish Community Centers across the country. The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence, and will ensure this matters is investigated in a fair, thorough and impartial manner. As this matter is ongoing, we are not able to comment further at this time.”

CENTRAL JERSEY: JCCs receive bomb threats

Police evacuated the Jewish Community Center of Central Jersey in Scotch Plains after the Jan. 18 bomb threat but staff and members were allowed back inside the same day. Still, Sandra Kenoff, director of marketing for JCC of Central Jersey, said it was a worrisome event.

“I think our community was very appreciative of the fact that we were pretty vigilant about our safety practice and protocol,” Kenoff said. “Certainly, it’s a concerning event to happen to the organization.”

The fallout from the threats has brought politicians of different stripes into agreement.

“Just a few days ago you had Senators (Bob) Menendez and (Cory) Booker side-by-side with (Gov.) Chris Christie up in Tenafly, New Jersey, at a rally denouncing … these incidents,” Dworkin said. “In New Jersey we have not seen that kind of politicized response.”

Shoreline connection

While the threats have certainly disrupted operations where they have forced evacuations, Jewish community organizations along the Jersey Shore have, at least for now, been insulated from much of the fear and panic.

“It hasn’t affected us really in any way practically, though we are more careful about our surroundings,” said Rabbi Shmuel Naparstek, who leads Chabad of Jackson. A newer organization, the Chabad hosts 30 to 50 people at its time in its various programs, Naparstek said.

“It has not been a factor in any of our programs or operations,” Naparstek said. I can’t speak for other organizations but personally it has not affected us.

Elsewhere in Jackson, opponents of an ordinance that would ban dormitories have denounced it as anti-Semitic. They say the ordinance directly targets the township’s Orthodox Jewish community, a specific subset of Jackson’s larger Jewish population.

“I personally have not encountered any of that animosity, and I really don’t see that as being any factor,” Naparstek said when asked if there may be escalating anti-Semitic sentiment in Jackson.

JACKSON: Swaskita, ‘white power’ graffiti appear

In Freehold Borough the Freehold Jewish Center reached out to local police, just to be on the safe side.

“I cannot tell you how good they’ve been,” Executive Director Marvin Krakower said of police in the borough and township.

“Thank God, we haven’t seen anything yet, but there’s been additional swastikas and threats,” Krakower said. “It’s just bringing out the worst right now – but most people in this country are good.”

LAKEWOOD: Cops arrest juvenile swastika suspects

Krakower applauded President Trump and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recent denunciations of anti-Semitism, and that more politicians should “step up to the plate.”

Meanwhile, Cohen of the Anti-Defamation League’s New Jersey office said it is imperative to investigate any such threats when they come in.

“We take these incidents very seriously, and we continue to work with our federal and local law enforcement partners, in addition with our local law enforcement partners,” Cohen said.

Alex N. Gecan: 732-643-4043; agecan@gannettnj.com

The USA Today Network contributed to this report.

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Shore communities stoic as bomb threats rattle JCCs – Daily Record

Perspectives: Opposing anti-Semitism with repentance, prayer … – Greenwich Time

updated 2017 photo of the rabbi Mitchell Hurvitz.

updated 2017 photo of the rabbi Mitchell Hurvitz.

Perspectives: Opposing anti-Semitism with repentance, prayer, charity

On the High Holidays, we sing a prayer titled U’netaneh Tokef:

On Rosh Hashanah it is written, and on Yom Kippur it is sealed. How many will pass and how many will be created? Who will live and who will die? Who in their time, and who not their time? Who by fire and who by water?……. Who will rest and who will wander? Who will be safe and who will be torn? Who will be calm and who will be tormented?…… But, repentance, prayer and charity will deflect the evil of the decree.

According to Jewish tradition, U’netaneh Tokef was written by rabbi Amnon of Mainz, Germany. The story is told that this 11th century rabbi was coerced by the local archbishop to convert to Catholicism or be killed.

Rabbi Amnon asked for three days by which he could reflect on his options.

When the days passed, he was brought before the church’s authorities and then he declared that they should please cut off his tongue so that he might atone for his sin of even considering conversion.

Infuriated, the archbishop ordered that more than his tongue, rabbi Amnon’s arms and legs were to be amputated limb by limb until he relented and agreed to conversion.

While dying under this torture, the legend tells us that rabbi Amnon composed and recited the U’netaneh Tokef prayer with his last dying breaths. After which, rabbi Amnon’s spirit appeared before one of his rabbinical colleagues and he then recorded this somber prayer and fixed it to our High Holiday liturgy.

Regardless of factual historic detail to the origin of this prayer, U’netaneh Tokef accurately reflects our collective Jewish experience of being vulnerable to seemingly uncontrollable variables that have confronted our Jewish lives.

“Who shall live and who shall die?” wasn’t simply a universal mortal reflection. Rather it was how Jews understood the real constant threat that targeted their existence because they were Jews.

The Middle Ages was certainly a dark period of Jewish persecutions. But anti-Semitism has been rearing its ugly head from the very beginnings of Jewish history until present times.

There have been pockets of time and places that have been safe harbors for the Jews. And with the re-creation of our Jewish State in 1948, we are not wholly dependent on others to defend our lives.

European anti-Semitism is well chronicled and most understand the Holocaust as the evolution of the hatreds and violence that have historically tormented the Jews. Less well known to us is the vestiges of anti-Semitism that has existed, and still exists, within our own country.

We might be aware that Peter Stuyvesant led the effort to keep Jews out of New Amsterdam at the beginnings of Colonial America, and during the Civil War, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant ordered all of the Jews to be expelled from his war zone. But many more significant cases of American anti-Semitism have been well documented.

Jews were commonly denigrated in American periodicals. There was wholesale exclusion of Jews from society and significant incidents of organized violence that targeted American Jews. Jews in many of the states were denied a myriad of political rights until the mid 19th century.

In the first half of the 20th century, there was common discrimination against Jews in the work force, in purchasing of residential properties, membership in private clubs, etc… Quotas against Jews were commonplace in the university world both for students and faculty.

There has always been significant leadership in both the American Jewish and non-Jewish world that helped to effectively combat organized anti-Semitism. And many American Jews of the 21st century have felt secure that significant anti-Semitic challenges in our country have become rare and isolated incidents.

However, with the rise of the anti-Semitic “Alt-Right” political groups, numerous bomb threats to American Jewish Community Centers and desecration of Jewish cemeteries, the haunting words of Unataneh Tokef needs to come more quickly to mind.

The genre of questions of “who shall live and who shall die” is not in isolation; the questions are responded to with the declaration: “repentance, prayer and charity will deflect the evil of the decree.”

“Repentance” is to recognize what we are doing that is wrong and then changing our behavior so that the positive actions can diminish or even eliminate the existence of that which is wrong. “Prayer” is first and foremost an act of self-examination. Are we truly repenting? And if not, how do we do a better job at what needs to be done? “Charity” is the act of giving meaningfully with both time and resources. Our repentance coupled with honest prayerful reflection must prompt the appropriate allocation of our time and our money.

The question of “who shall live and who shall die” as applied to the Jewish community has been a historical reality that we have confronted effectively over the centuries.

As we live with the blessings of the 21st century, we cannot wear a blindfold to the significant challenges that still exist and confront our people. The present political climate has increased hateful rhetoric and energized individuals and groups who wish to do harm.

We have a collective responsibility to combat anti-Semitism and all forms of hatred that targets any ethnic, cultural, racial and/or religious group. Living in denial will only hasten the problems and make the stern decree of consequences more painfully possible.

Let’s all do everything we are able to mitigate the possibility of the stern decree.

Rabbi Mitchell M. Hurvitz is Senior Rabbi Temple Sholom of Greenwich, co-founder of the Sholom Center for Interfaith Learning and Fellowship and a past president of the Greenwich Fellowship of Clergy For an archive of past Greenwich Citizen columns, please visit http://www.templesholom.com

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Perspectives: Opposing anti-Semitism with repentance, prayer … – Greenwich Time

The Imperative of Integrated Israeli Power – War on the Rocks

Any defense doctrine must start with one basic question: what is the objective?

On this there was rare agreement between two of Zionisms founding fathers, David Ben-Gurion and Zeev Jabotinsky. Ben-Gurion based the defense strategy document that he submitted to the government in 1953 on Jabotinskys well-known Iron Wall essay from 1923. They both stated the basic principle that remains the cornerstone of Israeli strategy: Israel must be so strong that its enemies know in advance that they will lose any war against it.

Israels strength must be disproportionate to the challenges it faces, and its enemies need to understand this so that they are sufficiently deterred. Any other situation will encourage our enemies whether state actors or terrorist organizations to test Israels strength. If foes try to test that strength, Israel must be strong enough to win any war or military operation, within a reasonable timeframe, while demonstrating complete superiority.

And if Israel hopes for comity and cooperation with its neighbors, that too requires superior strength. Israels military superiority must be even more pronounced if it aspires for a lasting agreement with its neighbors. Even if someone believes that an agreement with the Palestinians is the solution to all of Israels security problems, it is worth remembering the sober warning of the former head of Israels National Security Council, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror from July 2015 when he wrote for the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies:

No agreement Israel reaches and signs will have any practical significance for the world being established in the Middle East unless Israel has in its hands the power to defend and enforce it.

Only such strength decisive, intimidating strength, along with the will to use it will bring us to the point where Israel will not have to use it, in other words, to the point where my country can secure its future without having to fight.

In order to sustain this strength, we must understand its components. A strong Israel is not just a military concept. Military power is part of Israels strength, but it is not enough to achieve the objective. As Ben-Gurion stated, Our security is not dependent only on the army non-military factors will be decisive, no less than military factors. A strong Israel is one that thrives economically, enjoys social cohesion and a shared ethos, is bolstered by undisputed strategic alliances and international backing, and boasts a decisive qualitative and technological edge. These are the basic conditions. Without them Israel will not be able to be strong enough to prevent wars, win them if they break out, or secure peace.

As such, the Israeli prime minister should connect three forces: Israels military strength, its socio-economic strength, and its political strength. Indeed, creating this integrated power is the central role of the prime minister of Israel. The same goes for any national leader that is, like Israel, democratic and Western. The pressures of being a modern island in the heart of a faltering, turbulent Middle East make this task only more urgent.

Developing integrated power is not a simple task. The need to control the different forces driving the state requires judicious composure, a deep sense of responsibility, a broad view of the current geopolitical map, and effective governance that is able to devise and promote policy.

The Elements of Integrated Power

In order to clarify the importance of integrated power in managing the country and in strengthening security, a micro to macro perspective is in order, from one specific defense procurement to its consequences for Israels overall strength. Consider the following:

In June 2016, the unveiling ceremony for the Israeli Air Forces first Adir aircraft was held at Lockheed Martins factory in Texas. The Adir known to most others as the F-35 is a multirole stealth plane that can reach any location in the Middle East from Israel. Aside from its stealth capabilities, its human-machine interface is the first and only of its kind. The Adir represents a technological leap forward. Even though the aircraft is American, the F-35 is also a source of Israeli pride, as some of its parts were developed and built in Israel. For example, the smart helmet used by the pilots was developed by the Israeli company Elbit. Israel Aerospace Industries produces the wings for some of the planes.

This plane, and especially the way it came to be in Israels hands, sums up not only Israels military and technological capabilities, but also the three-pronged model of integrated power.

First, behind the acquisition stands the strong, consistent doctrine dating back to the modern origins of Israel and Israels first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion on developing disproportionate strategic power and making clear to its enemies that it will not tolerate existential threats. The corollary to this doctrine is that because Israel is geographically small, it needs to maintain the ability to take the campaign far beyond its borders. This doctrine has dictated the development of the Israeli Air Force and in recent years has also dictated the upgrading of Israels naval power. This doctrine has led Israels air and naval forces to become the strongest in the region.

Second, Israels economic strength enabled it to purchase 33 F-35 aircraft, at a cost of $5.25 billion, as part of a comprehensive deal in which Israel will eventually acquire 50 planes. In order for Israel to continue to sustain its qualitative edge, it must maintain a strong export-oriented economy, based on technology. This requires investments in education and infrastructure, and responsible management of the Israeli economy.

In this context, Israeli civil society must believe that the government has the right motivations and makes decisions in a thorough, judicious manner. Otherwise, such enormous expenses would be hard to justify to citizens who would ask if there are more important investments to make in education and healthcare. The fact that the acquisition of the planes is such a high national priority signifies a sacrifice on the part of the public. Israeli society is willing to make this sacrifice because it trusts that the government understands the ramifications. The trust in government and the existence of a shared ethos are the foundation of civil strength. A divided, conflicted society that lacks agreement on rules and values will not be able to meet the challenges of national security.

Third, Israels international standing and the fact that it is considered a responsible and legitimate country enables the purchase of the planes. Israel and Turkey are the only countries in the region that were allowed to purchase the F-35. Despite significant pressure from the American defense industry, the United States refused to sell the aircraft to other countries in the Middle East. The United States trusts that Israel will be a responsible owner and operator of these advanced weapons. This includes avoiding unnecessary military adventures, advance notification of major operations, respect for international law, and adherence to Western norms in military affairs.

Legitimacy and Political Strength

As with military strength and economic strength, Israels political strength comprises several elements: political, intelligence, and diplomatic ties; standing in international institutions (the United Nations, the European Union, the World Bank, NATO, and others); stature in international legal institutions; its image in the media, in social media, in academia, and in public opinion; and personal connections between leaders.

Of all of the arenas tied to Israels political standing, the United States is the most important. It is therefore crucial that Israel prevents and avoids fissures in this alliance and maintains its bipartisan standing in Congress. The change of administration in the United States should not make Israelis complacent. Israels standing in Washington has suffered in recent years, and this trend must not continue.

This is also the reason that Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot saw fit to define the securing and preservation of Israels legitimacy as one of the defense establishments top strategic objectives. He understands that Israels legitimacy is inextricably linked to its security

Legitimacy is the defense establishments main means of persuasion when it, as discussed, seeks to acquire the F-35s (or to convince the United States not to sell them to certain other countries in the region).

Comprehensive Integration

In order to develop and maintain the strength we need, military, socio-economic, and political power must operate together, based on an integrated outlook. This is the difference between a security doctrine (which is the role of the military) and a true national security policy, which is currently lacking. A senior Knesset Member from Yesh Atid, the party I lead, Ofer Shelah wrote in his book, The Courage to Win:

From the political leadership to the IDFs [Israel Defense Forces] top brass, Israel has difficulty formulating comprehensive definitions, and has even more difficulty acting on them therefore it prefers not to formulate them at all.

This phenomenon was especially prominent in the summer of 2014, when Israel launched Operation Protective Edge without defining the result it wanted to achieve, the exit strategy, or the timeframe. The decision-makers knew that Hamas was embracing what Gabi Siboni called the victim doctrine against Israel, meaning that it was interested in drawing out the operation as much as possible in order to place international pressure on Israel and harm its political and economic standing. Nonetheless, those managing the operation, led by the prime minister did not think that they needed to provide the army with a timeframe or a required objective. In their outdated view, while the cannons roar there is no room for economic or political considerations. During the operation, on August 2, the prime minister publicly declared:

Operation Protective Edgeis continuing.The IDFis continuing to operate with full strength in order to complete the goals of the operation: The restoration of quiet and the restoration of security for a lengthy period for the citizens of Israel while inflicting significant damage on the terrorist infrastructures.

This decision to let the campaign continue without a set timeframe was not based on professional deliberation. Rather, the working assumption was that a security event can be isolated from its economic and political consequences. This is a mistake. There is no such separation.

Harming Israels economy and political standing harms Israels security. At the same time, the converse is also true: a strong economy is a basis for security. A technologically advanced defense system cannot exist over time in a country that lags technologically. Without an advanced economy and society, Israel will not have an advanced army.

Is the prime minister the only person who can set in motion the kind of strategic processes that I have described here? The answer is no, but the systems of government cannot operate without leadership that has direction. What does the prime minister need to fulfill Israels national missions and overarching objectives and to defend Israeli security from various threats? First of all, the prime minister must have a large staff of talented, committed, and opinionated people who will provide him with the information, analysis, and meticulous staff work that will enable Israel to advance, prosper, and be secure.

The establishment around him must be built in such a way that the set of considerations brought before him is as broad as possible. The key body is the National Security Council. The role of this body is to coordinate the information, input, and staff work for the prime minister and for the cabinet.

Even under optimal conditions, properly analyzing and determining policy in the Middle East is an incomparably complex task. The political and military environment has changed decisively in recent years. We are living in a completely different reality from any of the first six decades of Israels existence: Israels enemies are no longer hostile states or conventional armies. Instead, we are faced with an age of civil wars and coups, terrorist organizations that are growing more sophisticated while gaining political recognition, cyber warfare and nuclear ambitions of more than one country. Alongside that there is an international campaign to delegitimize Israel through hostile media outlets and radical human rights organizations. In todays world, there is no longer a clear separation between times of peace and times of war.

Second, the prime minister needs to create a work environment in which the various arms of Israeli defense, security, foreign policy, and the security cabinet are synchronized and complement one another, with economic and social professionals serving crucial roles. For example, the ongoing struggle against sources of funding for Hizballah and Hamas involves the international banking system and agents who specialize in financial crime. The banking systems series of successes in identifying sources of funding for terrorism and international partnerships, have enabled the filing of lawsuits against terrorist organizations and companies that fund them, through U.S. law. This created significant difficulties for terrorist organizations and forced them to look for complicated sources of funding that do not use banks, which expose them to being tracked. This struggle is far from being over, but this is additional proof that the economy, foreign policy, and law are not separate worlds from the world of security. It is a single complex reality.

Over the course of almost 70 years, Israels leaders spoke in terms of an existential threat. The great fear was of an army or armies racing toward its borders in order to conquer Israel. No one in the professional echelons uses this terminology today. In the past year alone, those who served most recently as head of the Mossad, IDF chief of staff, and minister of defense strongly emphasized that today Israel does not face an existential threat. Instead, there are increasingly large sets of threats from terrorism, the collapsed states in the region, and an escalating delegitimization campaign against Israel. National decision-making has not succeeded in adapting itself to this change. For example, if $10 million a year were invested wisely in Israeli public relations, this could potentially have a major impact among ordinary Egyptians who are hostile toward Israel even after 40 years of peace. $10 million is about 0.0001 percent of Israels budget, but in a country like Egypt, it could make a decisive difference.

Conclusion

If the preservation and strengthening of integrated power is the Israeli prime ministers top priority, he or she must ensure that other interests less important but more urgent do not harm Israels security. The test of leadership is not just the willingness to provide citizens with what they want, but also the ability to demand responsibility from them. In order for leadership to be able to demand this, it must itself demonstrate responsibility.

The security of Israel five years from now will depend on an entire range of elements uniting as a single force. These factors economic, social, diplomatic can interfere with and contradict one another or become force multipliers that enhance our national strength and resilience. The role of the prime minister is to prevent the contradictions and to create the force multipliers. In order to be able to do this and to place Israel in a better situation, integrated power should be at the center of Israels national security policy.

Using the integrated power model, we can harness the power of the IDF, the Mossad, and the Shin Bet, along with Israels economic and political strength and the energy and vision of its citizens, so that Israel can fulfill the overarching goal that has served it since its establishment: to be so strong that its enemies know in advance that they will lose any war against it.

MK Yair Lapid, a member of the Israeli security cabinet during 2013-2014, is a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and the Subcommittee for Intelligence and Secret Services.

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The Imperative of Integrated Israeli Power – War on the Rocks

Former Wellington standout Tyler Herron playing for Israel in WBC – Palm Beach Post

Tyler Herron has pitched for the State College Spikes, the Honolulu Sharks, the Kalamazoo Kings, and Cardinals of the Johnson City, Springfield and Palm Beach varieties.

Now hes wearing a baseball cap hes most proud of. One with a Star of David on the front.

The 30-year-old former Wellington High ace, who has spent the past 12 seasons bouncing around the minor leagues after the St. Louis Cardinals selected him 46th overall in 2005, is pitching out of the bullpen for the upstart Israeli national baseball team at the World Baseball Classic. Israel, which entered the tournament ranked 41st in the world by the World Baseball Softball Confederdation, shocked the baseball world by winning its first-round pool and sweeping its first three games.

It definitely is a crazy experience, said Herron, who as a senior at Wellington in 2005 had a 0.25 ERA and struck out 81 batters in 57 innings. Nothing like Ive ever experienced in baseball.

Baseball is not a popular sport in the country Herron is representing, with reportedly fewer than 1,000 Israelis registered to play the sport, according to the New York Times. To make up for the dearth of homegrown Israeli talent, the director of player personnel for Team Israel, Houston Astros scout Alex Jacobs, scoured American baseball for Jewish players who would qualify for Israeli citizenship and were therefore qualified to play for Israel. The hope is that if players wearing Israeli uniforms perform well, it will grow the game in that country.

Whats cool about the World Baseball Classic (is) everything is to build the game around the world, Herron said. Obviously, the game is not big in Israel, and thats kind of our reason for playing. Everythings kind of geared up toward that, to make baseball bigger over there.

The top American Jewish baseball players, like the Los Angeles Dodgers Joc Pederson, the Detroit Tigers Ian Kinsler and the Houston Astros Alex Bregmen, reportedly turned Israel down. The latter two chose to play for the United States. So Jacobs enlisted a bevy of players whose major league time is largely behind them, like ace Jason Marquis and slugger Ike Davis, and many players who have never made the big leagues,

In a pool with the No. 9 Netherlands, who boast several star major leaguers like the Boston Red Soxs Xander Bogaerts and the New York Yankees Didi Gregorius, No. 3 South Korea and No. 4 Chinese Taipei, the relatively unknown Israeli team were the clear underdogs.

Unlike the most prominent teams in the tournament, like the United States, which automatically received bids into the World Baseball Classic based on past performance, Israel had not qualified for any of the Classics three previous incarnations. They had to win their way in. The Americans-turned-Israeli-representatives traveled to Brooklyn to play teams from Great Britain and Israel, and they won the pool to qualify for this months tournament. Herron did not pitch.

The team traveled to Seoul, South Korea, for the first round of pool play, which started on March 6. They got to South Korea a week early and played scrimmage games against the South Korean Army team and a team made up of firefighters. Between playing together in the qualifiying round and before the tournament started, Herron said his team may have gained an advantage over the rest of the field.

We had a week to kind of mesh together, he said. A lot of my friends are on Puerto Rico or USA, Im seeing how theyre just now coming together. I feel like we kind of have the advantage in that aspect.

Israels first game was against the hometown team, South Korea. With Korean fans crowding the 17,000-seat Gocheok Sky Dome, Israel pulled off an extra-inning upset, beating South Korea 2-1 in extra innings though it wasnt much of a surprise to the players.

I feel like its crazy that anybody would overlook us because we have a really, really good team, Herron said. Its almost good for us that that is the case because guys are kind of taking us lightly, and were going to beat them up.

The game against South Korea started at about 6:30 p.m. local time and lasted more than four hours, but Herron and his team had no time to rest. Their next game, against fourth-ranked Chinese Taipei, started at noon the next day.

It was in that game that Herron saw his first time on the field in what he described as the biggest moment of his career.

Team Israel went up 6-0 early in the game, but Chinese Taipei started to claw its way back. Reliever R.C. Orlan gave up a hit and a walk and an error loaded the bases. Manager Jerry Weinstein turned to a pumped-up Herron to keep the Taiwanese from tying the game.

Their bullpens are underground at the field were playing at, so when they called down and said Im going in, I have to go up about a story-and-a-half of stairs, Herron said. So Im trying to do it slowly because Im already jacked.

Herron struggled when he came in, giving up a two-run double and a sacrifice fly as Chinese Taipei narrowed Israels lead to three, but he struck out the final batter he faced to end the threat. Israels offense exploded again, and it won the game 15-7.

Its nothing like Ive ever been a part of, Herron said. Its just fun, and I feel like even if were down in the game, were going to come back.

With that win all but assuring Israel a spot in the second round of the tournament, the team became one of the biggest stories in baseball. The most interesting aspect: the teams mascot, a 5-foot-tall Mensch on a Bench, the Jewish answer to the popular Elf on a Shelf.

Israel infielder Cody Decker brought a small Mensch on a Bench to the teams qualifiers in Brooklyn, and when the company who makes the Mensch saw, they sent him a life-size version.

The team swears by the Mensch on the Bench, giving him a spot in the dugout and pregame offerings of Manischewitz wine, Chanukah gelt and gefilte fish, according to ESPN.

Hes obviously our team leader, Herron said of the Mensch.

Whatever magic the Mensch is using, its working. Israel finished pool play by beating the Netherlands, coming out of the first round as the top seed. Israel plays Cuba in second-round play in Tokyo at 10 p.m. Saturday.

Since the Mensch on the Bench has been on the bench, weve won every game, Herron said.

Herron does not know where he will play when the World Baseball Classic ends. He hopes his time with Team Israel will give him a leg up when it comes to signing a new contract.

Its the biggest stage, so Im definitely hoping it lands me a job or helps me with MLB or even internationally, he said. Im just grateful that I still have a jersey and get to play every day.

Whoever Im playing for the season, I feel like this is starting my season, and it cant get any better than this.

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Former Wellington standout Tyler Herron playing for Israel in WBC – Palm Beach Post