Guardian ‘forgets’ to mention Steven Salaita’s most hateful Tweets

Steven Salaita is a former Virginia Tech professor who accepted a tenure-track position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – an appointment which was later withdrawn by the university after a series of Tweets about Israel, Jews and antisemitism came to light.  The Guardian’s report on the row and Salaita’s recent efforts to get his appointment reinstated (Professor fired for Israel criticism urges University of Illinois to reinstate him, Mark Guarino, Sept. 9th) was compromised by serious omissions.

Continue reading

Mira Bar-Hillel falls for phony ‘IDF’ tweet ‘admitting’ to murdering children

For those unfamiliar with the British ‘journalist’ Mira Bar-Hillel (who contributes to the Independent), here are a few facts about her views on Jews and Israel:

  • She complained that Jews smear people unfairly with the charge of antisemitism to “gag into submission any critic of Israel”.
  • She evoked Nazi Germany in characterizing Israeli racism and IDF military actions in Gaza.
  • She accused British Jews (collectively) of ‘bombing Gaza’.
  • She bizarrely argued that British Jews don’t criticize Israeli actions in Gaza out of fear of being “ex-communicated” from the Jewish community. (She later admitted that she had no evidence to back this claim up.)
  • She has admitted to being “prejudiced against Jews”. (See her exact words)
  • She believes that “the message” of Jews controlling America is “entirely true” and “increasingly so”, and that Jewish lobbyists appear to be picking up some of the ideas from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and using them.

Now, the latest.

Here are two tweets from today by Bar-Hillel, which included a graphic purporting to represent an “IDF tweet”:

Here’s Bar-Hillel’s first tweet, with the “IDF tweet” attached.

154

And, then, 8 minutes later she asks a few more of her Zionist nemeses to justify the ‘IDF tweet':

202

We’re not sure if anyone out there, except Bar-Hillel and her motley crew of retweeters, could possibly believe in the authenticity of this “IDF” tweet “acknowledging” child murder, but, briefly:

It was clearly photoshopped from this real IDF tweet from Aug. 21:

And, the graphic was almost certainly taken from this IDF tweet

Mira Bar-Hillel wants so badly to believe that Israel murders children that she was willing to believe this absurd hoax tweet.

Tell us again why Bar-Hillel continues to pen op-eds for British newspapers (on the topics of Israel and antisemitism!) and lands interviews with the BBC and Sky News, on similar topics, as a ‘representative’ of the British Jewish community.

Buried by the Guardian: Hamas War Crimes

These videos include just a small fraction of the widely available evidence attesting to Hamas’s use of human shields, a topic we’ve posted about continually in the context of the Guardian’s near silence in the face of such egregious violations of international law by the Islamist terror group.

Compilation clip:

 

Longer clip of France24 broadcast seen in the first compilation video:

 

Longer NDTV clip seen in the first compilation video:

 

Gaza Bishop claims Hamas used church to fire rockets.

 

IDF evidence of Hamas firing from a Gazan school:

When you’ve lost the Guardian… @TricycleTheater #antisemitism

The shameful decision by Tricycle Theater to effectively boycott the UK Jewish Film Festival over its ties with Israel has united some diverse factions, including the Board of Deputies, Ha’aretz, and now…the Guardian – yes, the Guardian!

An official editorial on the Gaza war and the rise of antisemitism included the following:

The board of London’s Tricycle Theatre delivered an ultimatum to the organisers of the UK Jewish Film Festival, which it has hosted for the last eight years: either cut your ties with the Israeli embassy, which gives a £1,400 subsidy to the festival, or find another venue.

UK Jewish Film refused that instruction, along with the Tricycle’s offer to make up the financial shortfall, and is now looking for a new home. No doubt the Tricycle believed it was taking an admirably principled stand on the conflict between Israel and Hamas, which flared anew after the truce that had held for nearly 72 hours broke down. But the theatre has made a bad error of judgment.

Some have made the argument that, if receiving money from a state implies endorsement of that state’s policy, then the Tricycle ought to return the £725,000 it receives from the taxpayer-funded Arts Council, lest that be read as backing for, say, UK participation in the invasion of Iraq. Of course, few would see the Arts Council as an arm of the state in that way. And a similar mistake seems to be at work here. For the Israeli embassy in London is not merely an outpost of the Netanyahu government. It also represents Israel itself, its society and its people. It was this connection with Israel as a country that UK Jewish Film refused to give up. Hard though it may be for others to understand, that reflects something crucial about contemporary Jewish identity: that most, not all, Jews feel bound up with Israel, even if that relationship is one of doubt and anxiety. To demand that Jews surrender that connection is to tell Jews how they might – and how they might not – live as Jews. Such demands have an ugly history. They are not the proper business of any public institution, least of all a state-subsidised theatre

Anshel Pfeffer of Ha’aretz wrote about Tricycle Theater’s decision that he “certainly wouldn’t have thought it could happen in one of the most enlightened corners of London”, and we certainly wouldn’t have thought that such a strangely lucid denunciation of antisemitism could have been published at a London broadsheets known for its embrace of Judeophobic voices.

Moreover, we can only hope that this deeply troubling episode will provide a teachable moment about the allure of what Ben Cohen refers to as ‘bistro antisemitism‘ to some of the more sober commentators on the hard left, as well as the leadership of a theater which evidently prides itself on its commitment to ethnic and racial diversity.

Have pro-Hamas trolls taken over the Telegraph’s headline writing?

Here are the indisputable facts about what occurred today – a timeline of events that even the Guardian isn’t disputing.

Israel supported an extension of the 72 hour ceasefire that was in effect while both sides negotiated a long-term agreement in Cairo, and which was going to expire at 8AM this morning.

After warning that they wouldn’t agree to extend the ceasefire, Hamas carried though on the threat and, shortly after 8AM, began firing dozens of rockets at Israel.

Israel then responded to the Hamas rocket fire – which injured several Israelis – by targeting terror targets in Gaza.

Here’s how the Telegraph framed it:

telegraph

 

The headline isn’t just misleading. It’s a baldfaced lie.

Revealed: Emails undermine Mira Bar-Hillel’s smear of UK Jewish community

In an interview on BBC Radio 4 last month, Mira Bar-Hillel (journalist for the London Evening Standard and commentator for The Independent) claimed that British Jews don’t criticize Israeli actions in Gaza out of fear of being “ex-communicated” from the Jewish community, and specifically claimed that such dissenting Jews would be denied entry to synagogues and denied the right of Jewish burial.

She of course didn’t offer any proof to substantiate these wild accusations.

CiF Watch subsequently obtained an email exchange in which Ms. Bar-Hillel was challenged by Simon Hochhauser, former President of the UK’s largest synagogue body, the United Synagogue, to back up her assertions about the British Jewish community.  

(We’ve erased Mr. Hochhauser’s email from the exchanges)

SH

first

MBH

second

SH

third

MBH

fourth

SH

fifth

MBH

sixth

SH

seventh

click to enlarge

MBH 

(Red line emphasis below was added by CiF Watch)

eigth

SH

ninth

MBH:

10th

As we suspected, Mira Bar-Hillel’s shameful smear of the British Jewish community on BBC Radio was based on absolutely no evidence.

Notorious UK paper posts op-ed by failed US president defending racist extremists

 

Jimmy Carter embraces Khaled Mashal

Jimmy Carter embraces Khaled Mashal

Perhaps no phrase more accurately embodies the moral relativism which began capturing the zeitgeist during the 60s and 70s than ‘one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter‘.

If Cyrus Vance, Jimmy Carter’s Secretary of State, aptly echoed the political derivative of this principle when he asserted that U.S. and Soviet leaders “have similar dreams and aspirations about the most fundamental issues”, then his boss’s career after being rejected by the American electorate would come to embody the truism that dangerous ideas which begin on the intellectual margins can slowly become conventional wisdom among political leaders and the opinion elite. 

Indeed, Carter’s history of shilling for the terror group Hamas is perfectly consistent with his perverse empathy for dictators and tyrants around the globe in the name of ‘peace’ while, conversely, demonizing and smearing progressive democratic states like Israel.

Such an ideological persuasion of course makes him a perfect candidate to pen an op-ed at the home address in the UK for such moral inversions, The Guardian.

Gaza blockade must end“, by Carter and Mary Robinson (former UN high commissioner for human rights) begins with a premise which employs a tortured casuistry – suggesting that the blockade is the cause of the conflict between Israel and Hamas and not the consequence of Hamas violence –  that was, tellingly, endorsed recently by the Guardian’s Middle East editor, Ian Black.

After citing erroneous casualty figures for the war, presumably from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry, Carter and Robinson blame Israel for deliberately obstructing Hamas’s “promising move towards peace”, citing the reconciliation agreement among the Palestinian factions which, they claim, included the rejection of violence.

However, they fail to note that Hamas emphatically rejected this commitment to non-violence after the unity government was announced, and that that the group demonstrated this insistence upon retaining their ‘right of violent resistance’ by reportedly orchestrating the abduction and murder of three Israeli teens.

Carter and Robinson then insist that “there is no humane or legal justification” for how the IDF pulverized “large parts of Gaza, including thousands of homes, schools and hospitals”, which follows the dominant narrative among the far left of ignoring the undeniable, widespread evidence that such structures were targeted (in compliance with international law) because Hamas was illegally using them to house and fire weapons – consistent with the group’s human shield policy

Then they finally pivot to the issue they likely realized would galvanize fellow Hamas apologists, ‘recognition':

US and EU should recognize that Hamas is not just a military force but also a political one“.

It cannot be wished away, nor will it cooperate in its own demise. Only by recognising its legitimacy as a political actor – one that represents a substantial portion of the Palestinian people – can the west begin to provide the right incentives for Hamas to lay down its weapons. Ever since the internationally monitored 2006 elections that brought Hamas to power in Palestine, the west’s approach has manifestly contributed to the opposite result. 

Jimmy Carter believes that Hamas will lay down its arms with the right political concessions, demonstrating the capacity of self-styled humanitarians to blame the West for all Arab political failures, delude themselves into accepting the benign nature of even the most dangerous extremists, and whitewash the reactionary, racist principles which guide such movements.

In short:

Hamas will never lay down their weapons, because they are fundamentally committed to violent jihad as the only true path to ‘liberating Palestine’.

Hamas will never lay down their weapons, because they are fundamentally committed to the mass murder of Jews.

Hamas will never lay down their weapons, because they don’t share the same “dreams and aspirations” as we do.

And, the Guardian will never cease legitimizing voices which demonize the nation-state of the Jewish people and running interference for even the most loathsome and malevolent antisemitic movements.

Indy journo Mira Bar-Hillel Tweets about the Protocols of the Elders of Zion

To get up to speed on Mira Bar-Hillel – a journalist who contributes to the ‘progressive’ British newspaper, The Independent, and whose sage insight about Israel was recently solicited by The BBC and Sky News - and her well-documented antisemitism, read this and this.

After doing so, you can now better understand the following Tweets by Bar-Hillel.

It started with this Tweet from someone named Emma Isitt, “quoting” a fictitious Israeli who evidently ‘confirmed’ that antisemites have been right all along.

first

Spoiler: even antisemitic extremists know that this quote is a Pakistani hoax.

hoax

Then the Twitter exchange:

1st

“Hoax or not”, says the Indy columnist, “the message is entirely true, and increasingly so”.

Here are the next series of exchanges:

next

Does Bar-Hillel believe in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion?

“Look at the facts”, replied the Indy columnist, “and you will too”.

More Tweeters attempt to determine if the Indy columnist really is defending the Protocols.

next

Is she only joking?

next

So, to recap: Bar-Hillel believes that “the message” of Jews controlling America is “entirely true” and “increasingly so”, and that Jewish lobbyists appear to be picking up some of the ideas from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and using them.

Thanks for clarifying that for us, Mira.

Israel defeats Hamas – and other facts about the war the Guardian won’t report

For Israelis who work professionally to promote accurate reporting about Israel and the Middle East, one of the most vexing dynamics (beyond the false claims, distortions, and fabrications) is a media narrative about our their country which often has little if any resemblance to reality.

Indeed, we are all too accustomed to Guardian journalists imputing to Israel the absolute worst motives – a place Jonathan Spyer refers to as the “mythical Israel”, “a place of uninterrupted darkness and horror, in which every human interaction is ugly, crude, racist, brutal” – while evoking endless sympathy for the most malevolent actors in the region.

Such fantastical ideas about the Jewish State and its enemies has certainly colored coverage of the current war in Gaza, and this post represents a break from the fisking, criticism and analyses of their reporting that you’re accustomed to. Instead, we will merely provide a very brief account of the war and its outcome – intuitive takeaways from the month-long conflict that the Guardian won’t report.

Hamas’s war was defined by the widespread use of human shields, and countless other war crimes

Nearly all of the 3,360 rockets fired by terrorists in Gaza during the war were aimed at Israeli civilian communities – each launch representing an individual war crime.

You would never know it from reading the Guardian, but evidence of Hamas’s use of Palestinian civilians as human shields (another war crime) is at this point simply ubiquitous and irrefutable:

The IDF conducted itself in an ethical manner

Despite media claims (based on information from the Hamas run Gaza Health Ministry) that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians killed in the war were civilians, new reports and analyses now suggest that roughly half of the casualties were combatants from Hamas, Islamic Jihad or other terror groups.  Col. Richard Kemp has contextualized such a low (one-to-one) ratio of civilians to combatant deaths in past Israeli wars by noting there has been an average three-to-one ratio of civilian to combatant deaths (that’s three civilians for every one combatant killed) in NATO led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

IDF measures to limit the number of Palestinian casualties included text messages, phone calls and radio messages in Arabic warning occupants to leave, and air-dropped leaflets with maps showing safe areas. When warnings went unheeded, Israeli aircraft dropped non-lethal explosives (‘knock on the door‘ procedures) to warn that an attack is imminent.

In addition to the field hospital Israel set up on the northern Gaza border to treat injured Palestinians, during Operation Protective Edge 1800 trucks entered the crossings between Israel and Gaza, carrying food, medical equipment, clothing, water, and fuel.

In a post last month, we asked the following question to the media – or to anyone else who questions Israel’s conduct during the war:

Name one army in the world that goes to greater lengths than the IDF to protect civilians during war.

We’re still waiting for a response.

Israel fought a just and morally necessary war against an antisemitic extremist group.

To those in the media whose political ideology is inspired by vapid clichés about the futility of armed conflict, almost no war – especially those in which Israel is engaged – is morally justified, and neither facts nor logic can persuade them.

However, those who don’t identify with the Guardian Left, and understand the harsh lessons of the 20th century (and indeed of Jewish history), would see a very stark moral contrast: a battle between the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas (a homophobic, misogynist, antisemitic extremist group dedicated to the mass murder of Jews) and Israel, the democratic nation-state of the Jewish people.  

Hamas’s mission, as Jeffrey Goldberg succinctly put it, is not ‘narrowly’ to destroy Israel, but to “end Jewish history”.  Every rocket that is fired, every attempted tunnel infiltration into Israeli communities, and every effort to inculcate their citizens with the values of jihad is designed for this sole purpose.

Israel Defeats Hamas

Though we can expect Guardian analyses which obfuscate this painfully obvious fact, it’s difficult to understand how anyone who has followed events unfold in Gaza and Israel over the last month can avoid concluding that Israel emerged victorious over Hamas.

While much of the UK media has strangely framed the relatively low number of Israeli deaths (64 soldiers and 3 civilians) as an indictment on the disproportionate military response – itself inspired in part by a bizarre moral logic which “turns suffering into the only measure of justice” -
the job of any army is to minimize casualties on its own side, and the IDF quite capably carried out this task.

Though Hamas fired 3300 rockets at Israel, only 116 – due in large measure to interceptions by the Iron Dome – hit populated areas (3.45%). In contrast, 475 rockets fired by Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters reportedly landed within the Gaza Strip.

The IDF destroyed nearly every known terror tunnel in the Strip – tunnels, by the way, which cost hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, and thousands of tons of ‘humanitarian’ concrete and other construction materials.

The IDF also reportedly destroyed 1,678 rockets launching capabilities, 977 command and control centers, 237 ‘militant’ wing government faculties, 191 weapon storage and manufacturing facilities, 144 training and militant compounds, and 1,535 additional terror sites.

Finally, Channel 2′s diplomatic correspondent Udi Segal stressed that we should remember that Hamas rejected a ceasefire proposal before the Israeli ground invasion, when it still had its tunnel infrastructure, its rocket capacity was still largely intact, and it still had a large degree of political legitimacy with the international community as part of the Palestinian unity government. Today, Segal observed, as it meekly negotiates in Cairo for a long-term truce, it has none of that.

London Times rejects anti-Hamas advert for fear it could upset their readers

A full-page advert was recently published by Elie Wiesel (and purchased by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach through his organization, This World: The Values Network) titled “Jews rejected child sacrifice 3,500 years ago. Now it’s Hamas’s turn”.  The ad condemns the Islamist group for using children as human shields, and invokes the Sacrifice of Isaac to frame the war between Israel and Hamas.

Here’s part of the ad:

ad

(click here to see the full ad)

The ad will reportedly appear in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Miami Herald, but NOT in the London Times (aka, The Times).

A representative of The Times said: “In brief, [The Times] [feels] that the opinion being expressed is too strong and too forcefully made and will cause concern amongst a significant number of Times readers.”

Interestingly, The Sunday Times (sister publication of The Times) didn’t seem so concerned with the feelings of their readers when they published a cartoon Holocaust Memorial Day in 2013, depicting the bloody trowel wielding Israeli Prime Minister torturing innocent souls.

6a00d83451b71f69e2017ee830c527970d-400wi

Though The Sunday Times later apologized for the cartoon following heavy criticism, it was not retracted.

Additionally, The Sunday Times evidently saw nothing wrong with this advert by Save the Children that they published on July 25th, which all but accuses Israel of intentionally killing Palestinian children:

stc

The Sunday Times, Save the Children advert, July 25th, 2014

Finally, in their apology for the Scarfe cartoon, Sunday Times editors expressed concern that the cartoon offended many Jews, which begs the question concerning the decision to reject the Elie Wiesel advert:

Who were Times editors concerned would be offended? Hamas?

 

UK media headline fail: Telegraph’s five comically misleading words

Here’s an Aug. 3rd headline (left column) from the international news section of the British paper, The Telegraph, accompanying an article by their Jerusalem correspondent Robert Tait which is quite possibly the most misleading headline we’ve come across during the war.

telegraph

However, the online version of the article (which was accompanied by a different headline) demonstrates the print headline is especially misleading, as the article actually revolves around an announcement by Israel that the army had begun staging “its first withdrawal” from Gaza, after the IDF had nearly reached its goal of destroying Hamas’s terror tunnels.

The print headline was presumably based on a solitary passage in the over 800 word article in which the Israeli Prime Minister reportedly vowed that continuing Hamas rocket fire would be met with further Israeli strikes:

the Israeli prime minister said “all options” remained on the table and threatened to make Hamas “pay an intolerable price” if it continued firing rockets into Israel.

Of course, an accurate headline might have read:

Israel announces withdrawal from Gaza.

But, why should Telegraph editors be bothered with such messy journalistic principles as accuracy, fairness, and context when they can instead continue feeding their readers the desired UK media narrative about the conflict?

 

UK media headline fail: Do Times editors read their own articles?

A Times (of London) article about an Israeli attack on Islamic Jihad terrorists at a house in the Shati ‘refugee camp’ yesterday – which also tragically killed a Palestinian girl – was accompanied by the following headline.

headline

So, according to the headline, the Israelis admitted that the strike on jihadists represented a violation of the truce that had gone into effect at 10 AM that day.  However, there’s one problem: there’s nothing in the report by Gregg Carlstrom which even comes close to backing up this claim.

Here’s the full article (behind pay wall):

A Palestinian driving a digger attacked a bus in Jerusalem in an apparent backlash to the war in Gaza and an Israeli airstrike killed a young girl during yesterday’s seven-hour ceasefire that failed to silence the guns.

Aseel al-Bakri, eight, was killed when a missile struck her house in al-Shati ­refugee camp, according to the Gazan health ministry. Israel confirmed that it had carried out the attack.

Israel had promised to hold fire in most of the strip from 10am until 5pm, except around Rafah, where there has been heavy fighting for several days. Sami Abu Zuhri, the spokesman of the militant group Hamas, which runs ­Gaza, warned Palestinians “not [to] trust such a ceasefire”.

The brief truce, which was announced overnight, was partly in response to strong condemnation of Israel’s bombardment of a United Nations school on Sunday, military sources said. The school was being used as a shelter. At least nine people were killed, according to the UN .

Two people died in attacks in Jerusalem yesterday, apparently in revenge for the carnage in Gaza. In the first attack, shortly after noon, a man driving an excavator ran over a pedestrian and then flipped over a passenger bus. Police shot the driver dead.

The pedestrian died of his wounds, and at least five other people were injured. “Officers opened fire when it was clear that this was a terrorist attack,” said Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman, though he declined to ­provide evidence for that claim. Police officials have been worried about ­possible attacks inside Israel.

Witnesses said the driver was a Palestinian who lived in East Jerusalem and worked on a nearby construction site. Hundreds of Israelis gathered near the crumpled bus after the attack, many of them chanting: “Death to Arabs.”

Similar attacks have happened in the past. In 2008, for example, a Palestinian man killed three people with a bulldozer.

Hours after yesterday’s attack, a gunman on a motorcycle started shooting on Mount Scopus, close to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. One person, an Israeli soldier, was critically injured.

Despite such violent incidents, the ceasefire and the withdrawal of most Israeli troops from Gaza provided a bit of breathing room for negotiations in Cairo. Last night Egypt announced that both Israel and the Palestinians had agreed to a three-day ceasefire beginning at 6am today.

Palestinian officials already in the Egyptian capital said that they had agreed on a unified set of demands, including the withdrawal of all Israeli troops from Gaza and the lifting of the territory’s blockade.

Israel has not sent anyone to the talks but indicated last night that a delegation would be heading for Egypt in the next three days to work on a longer-term truce. The army-backed government in Cairo is hostile to Hamas and is unlikely to accept any terms that would be unpalatable to the Israelis.

“Egypt knows what Israel wants,” said Yitzhak Levanon, who was the Israeli ambassador in Cairo from 2009 to 2011. “We trust Egypt, because Egypt understands the difficulty Israel is ­facing with Hamas.”

Although there were fewer Israeli aistrikes and Hamas rocket attacks, there was no sign of an imminent end to the war, which has so far killed more than 1,800 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 66 Israelis, almost all of them soldiers. Israeli troops remain in a buffer zone in Gaza.

While Israel acknowledged that they carried out the attack, can anyone tell us which passage in the Times article backs up the claim in the headline that Israeli officials admitted that the attack represented a violation of the ceasefire?  

Further, as even the New York Times reported, “one Israeli official from the army agency that controls coordination with Gaza told Israel Radio that the strike took place just before the cease-fire began”. So, the timing of the IDF strike is, at the very least, disputed.

The Times got it wrong. 

The moral necessity of Jewish power

(I first wrote this essay about Tisha B’Av in 2011 and have revised it slightly each year. This year’s version takes on special relevance for me in light of Israel’s current war with Hamas, and the characteristic response it has elicited in the Western media and among the opinion elite. – Adam Levick)

“People resent the Jews for having emerged from their immemorial weakness and fearlessly resorted to force. They thereby betrayed the mission that history had assigned to them — being a people … that did not get tangled up in the obtuse narrowness of the nation-state.” – Pascal Bruckner, The Tyranny of Guilt

In Israel, it is now Tisha B’Av, a day of mourning to commemorate the many tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people throughout their history on the same date on the Hebrew calendar — the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av.

Tisha B’Av primarily commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples, but on this day we also reflect on the many other calamities which occurred on this date, from the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 to the mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto.

On this day, I tend to reflect on our painful collective recollection of past catastrophes in the context of the Jewish community’s often ambivalent relationship with power – ruminations only heightened by my still relatively new Israeli citizenship, a nation often forced to exercise power to prevent additional tragedies from befalling our people.

Israel’s very rebirth in 1948 can be seen as a direct response to these calamitous events — an attempt, through the various mechanisms of statecraft, to turn Jewish history around and act instead of being acted upon. Whether defending itself in war or aiding and rescuing endangered Jewish communities around the world, the Jewish collective has had at its disposal — for the first time in over 2000 years — a state apparatus with the means (politically, diplomatically, and militarily) to protect its interests as other nations have throughout history.

However, with this exercise of political strength comes a price, a unique moral burden that many Jews in the diaspora seem unwilling or unable to bear — as any exertion of power, or control over your own fate, inevitably carries with it the loss of innocence often projected upon people perceived to be victims and lacking in moral agency.

Israeli military power (exercised against terrorism, asymmetrical warfare and other small-scale regional threats, and in major wars against state actors) and the relative success and political power of Jewish communities in the West, seems to instill in many Jews a loss of identification with their community for fear of falling on the “wrong side” of the left-right political divide.

This chasm often finds expression in the need to identify in a way uniquely separate from such seemingly crude “ethnocentric” expressions of power which carry with them the necessity of physically defending a nation (one representing a very particular identity) in all the complexities and compromises that are invariably associated with even the most progressive national enterprises.

Before the birth of the modern Jewish state, German-Jewish philosopher Franz Rosenzweig in his pre-Holocaust book The Star of Redemption expressed his belief that a return to Israel would embroil the Jews into a worldly history they should shun. He viewed Judaism as a “supra-historical entity,” whose importance lies in the fact that it is not political but presents a “spiritual ideal” only. He saw the creation of a nation-state as a blow to the Jewish ideal of an apolitical spiritual life.

Indeed, from the revival of Mussar (and other movements which aspire to further individual Jewish ethical development) to the progressive mantra of “Tikkun Olam” (a misunderstood term which alludes to repairing the world spiritually but often employed to suggest that the pursuit of universal social justice represent the greatest expressions of Jewish devotion), this recurring tendency of Jews to pay greater attention to their own moral performance than to the nitty-gritty, messy, everyday necessities of collective survival is an inclination that writer Ruth Wisse characterizes as “moral solipsism.”

While personal spiritual improvement is indeed admirable, and the desire to tend to the needs of “the other” is certainly a noble impulse, it can also represent a political pathos — a moral escapism rooted in a blindness to the harsh political lessons of Jewish history.

Wisse, in her book Jews and Power, argues that, historically, Jews — in displaying the resilience necessary to survive in exile and not burdened by the weight of a military — believed they could pursue their mission as a “light unto the nations” on a “purely moral plane.” She demonstrates how, in fact, perpetual political weakness increased Jews’ vulnerability to scapegoating and violence as it unwittingly goaded power-seeking nations to cast them as perpetual targets.

Throughout their pre-state history, Jews inhabited a potentially precarious position, ever exposed to the whims and wishes of rulers and the resentment of the populace. Their trust in G-d as the absolute arbiter of history allowed them to endure unimaginable indignities, turning inward to concentrate on their own moral excellence. Wisse concludes that “Jews who endured the powerlessness of exile were in danger of mistaking it for a requirement of Jewish life or, worse, for a Jewish ideal.”

Indeed, some diaspora Jews express their disapproval of Israel or the Jewish community at large by lamenting this newly acquired agency, often fetishizing their people’s historic weakness, and thus fail to see the role that such powerlessness played in the suffering that has befallen the community through the ages.

With national sovereignty there’s a price to be paid in terms of responsibility for the occasional infliction of human suffering (even if unintentional) that invariably occurs as the result of even the most judicious use of national power. But in the lives of individual adults, as in the lives of nations, rarely are we afforded the luxury of making choices that will allow one to live a life of innocence, nor one which offers decisions which will result in perfect justice for all concerned.

Rather, with every serious decision in front of her, Israel must carefully weigh the costs and benefits of various policies and try to make the decision likely to result in the most positive outcome, while also taking into account how such actions will affect the safety and well-being of future generations of Israelis and the broader Jewish community.

Israel has a profound responsibility in carrying out the arduous, thankless, but morally necessary task of collective self-defense (a national vision Theodore Herzl referred to as “The Guardian of the Jews”). For Israel, in an era replete with concrete military threats and delegitimization campaigns by loosely connected political networks, an unapologetic and fiercely determined self-defense is an ethical imperative.

Protecting yourself, your family, your community, and your nation from harm should never be misconstrued as inconsistent with the highest Jewish ethical aspirations — an idea the broader Jewish community would be wise to take seriously while lamenting the suffering of so many throughout our history on Tisha B’Av.

Economist curiously omits key reason for MK Zoabi’s Knesset suspension

Claims regarding the putative ‘erosion of Israel’s democracy‘ have long been a favorite among the anti-Israel UK media elite, and the mere absence of any evidence attesting to this descent into political darkness hasn’t weakened their appetite for this narrative.

To boot, an Economist article titled ‘Us and Them‘, Aug. 2, included a few factually-challenged claims on alleged attacks on the civil rights of Israel’s minorities. 

Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, has warned the country’s civil-rights groups that they could be branded as delegitimisers if they insist on promoting rights for Israel’s Arab minority and oppose the definition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jews. 

First, addressing the first part of the passage, the Knesset did not warn the country’s civil-rights groups that they could be branded as delegitimisers for merely “promoting rights for Israel’s Arab minority”. In fact it’s hard to know where precisely where the Economist even found such an absurd claim.  Further, the second part of the passage, regarding the alleged consequences for ‘opposing the definition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jews’, again is not accurate.

They may be alluding to a proposed change in the Basic Law that would formally recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jews’, but the rights of non-Jews would not be affected, and there’s certainly nothing in the proposal which would, as the Economist claims, brand civil rights groups as ‘delegitimizers for doing so.

The Economist then adds the following:

This week the Knesset banned an Arab member, Haneen Zoabi, for six months for “aggressive behaviour” in anti-war demonstrations.

However, this also is an inaccurate statement as it omits key information about the suspension.

MK Zoabi, according to multiple news reports (and the official press release from the Knesset regarding the suspension), was suspended for six months from the Knesset (while still maintaining her voting rights in the Israeli legislative body) for two reasons – one of which the Economist completely omitted. 

While Zoabi’s suspension was in part due to an incident with a police officer at a protest rally (as they noted), the main reason was related to her assertion, in mid June, that the kidnappers of three Jewish teens in the West Bank were not terrorists. 

“They’re people who don’t see any way to change their reality and they are forced to use these means until Israel will wake up a little, until Israeli citizens and society will wake up and feel the suffering of the other,” Zoabi said in an interview on Radio Tel Aviv, adding that the kidnappers live under occupation.

Of course, two weeks after Zoabi’s statements, the teens – Naftali Frankel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach – were found dead, having been murdered by the kidnappers she had earlier defended. 

The Knesset statement on the suspension noted that Zoabi’s offense centered on these comments, which many believed represented incitement, as it showed support for terrorist organizations and encouraged “acts of terror against the state and its citizens”.

To recap: both examples cited by the Economist – presumably to demonstrate an erosion of civil rights in Israel for its non-Jewish minority – are erroneous or, at best, extremely misleading. 

Finally, it’s interesting to note that a site called The Angry Arab News Service cited the Economist’s claim about the cause of Zoabi’s suspension under the heading: This Does Not Get Reported In The US Media.

Of course, it’s likely that such “news” hasn’t been reported in the US media because, as few Google clicks would have indicated, it’s not accurate.