Good News Friday – Shabbat Chol Hamo’ed edition

It’s Shabbat Chol Hamo’ed tonight, the intermediate Shabbat of Sukkot, so I want to provide you with a slightly more inspiring edition than my usual Good News Friday posts.

My first item is from a couple of weeks ago but it is so heart-warming nonetheless. The link is in Hebrew, but here is a short summary:

Around 17,000 youngsters took part in a ceremony marking the completion of study of the Hilchot Sefer Ha-Mitzvot of the Rambam. In a ceremony within the celebration, a new Sefer Torah was dedicated in memory of the soldier Erez Orbach Hy’d from Alon Shvut who was murdered in a car-ramming attack on the Armon Hanatziv Promenade in Jerusalem in January 2017. Erez used to study the Rambam daily during his student years in the Neveh Shmuel High School in Efrat, the Hesder Yeshiva in Maalot, and in the IDF. His family took part in the ceremony as well as the Sefardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar and others.

The dedication of the Torah scroll in memory of Erez Orbach Hy’d

במהלך המעמד נערך אירוע הכנסת ספר תורה לזכר החייל ארז אורבך הי”ד מאלון שבות שנרצח בפיגוע דריסה בטיילת ארמון הנציב בירושלים בחודש טבת תשע”ז (ינואר 2017). ארז למד מידי יום את הרמב”ם היומי בתחנות חייו בישיבה התיכונית נווה שמואל באפרת, בישיבת ההסדר במעלות ובצבא. ברמב”ם היומי החליטו להכניס ספר תורה לזכרו. באירוע השתתפו בני משפחתו, הרב שלמה משה עמאר – הראשון לציון והרב הראשי הספרדי של ירושלים, הרב ד”ר אברהם ליפשיץ – ראש החמ”ד והרב אברהם גיסר – יו”ר מועצת החמ”ד.

What a beautiful and moving idea! And I am proud to say that two of my granddaughters, Noa and Hodaya, were amongst those 17,000 (!!) youngsters. Kol hakavod to every one of them who took part. May all our children continue in the path of Torah and good deeds.

Amongst those amazing youngsters who completed the Rambam was 14 year old Noa Aryeh. Noa is an exceptionally inspiring girl because she has overcome a huge handicap. She suffers from CP and yet persisted in her studies and completed the study cycle. Because of her courage and her strength, the Religious Education Authority (Hemed) decided to honour her at the ceremony and called her to the stage to receive a special prize.

Again, the link is in Hebrew but here is a short excerpt translated into English:

This is Noa Aryeh, a 14-year-old girl, a resident of the village of Revava in Samaria, who is a ninth grader at the Zvia Ulpan in the settlement where she lives. Noa, a charming girl, was born at a weight of 500 grams. As a result, she suffers from cerebral palsy, hearing impairment, epilepsy and complex learning disabilities.

Noa Aryeh, awarded a prize in the study of the Rambam (YouTube screenshot)

Orit, Noa’s mother, relates how she managed to reach the honorable status and receive the respect she received: “At the beginning of seventh grade at the Ulpana, Noa learned about the daily study of Hilchot Sefer Ha-Mitzvot of the Rambam.  This is a lesson which takes place during the morning recess and is given by the Rabbi of the Ulpana to the students who are interested in extra Torah studies.  In spite of Noa’s difficulties, she invested in her daily studies until her success at the end of her studies, and when asked what gives her the strength to persevere in learning and give up the break, she noted two main things: – belonging to our people, knowing that Jews from all over the world are learning the same thing together, and the second thing – the desire to give the Jewish people its Torah learning and to return to the people of Israel for everything it receives from it. “

There is a lovely video about Noa at the link, unfortunately only in Hebrew.

What an incredible, amazing and courageous young woman! And I am delighted to say that she is a good friend of my granddaughter Noa (who is also a good friend of Ayala Shapira, the victim of the firebomb attack). My granddaughter obviously knows how to pick the best girls for her friends!

May Noa Aryeh (and my Noa too) go on to ever greater things in spite of her challenges. Mazal tov to her on her well-deserved award!

And one last item before I close: yet another incredible archaeological discovery near the Kotel in Jerusalem – a rare Second Temple pillar was discovered underneath the Kotel plaza!

Dov Rabinowitz, Director of Education at the Western Wall, said the rare pillar had been discovered as part of an 1,800-year-old Roman wall.

“We found a stone that was more ancient than the wall. They reused it for the wall,” he explained. “It’s the first pillar, the top, the head of the pillar, from the time of the Second Temple.” He noted the intricate carving and design on the stone.

The pillar believed to come from the Second Temple. (Abra Forman/Breaking Israel News)

“These are pillars from the Temple Mount itself, that were reused over here.”

During a decade-long project to expand public facilities at the Western Wall, or Kotel, one of Jerusalem’s largest tourist attractions, workers drilled from the floor of the plaza, at ground level, down through 33 feet of Jerusalem history to the bedrock below.The unique project enabled workers to stabilize and construct a building over an active archaeological site. Over the course of the work, several valuable ancient artifacts were uncovered, the most exciting of which may have come from the Temple Mount when the Temple was still standing.

t is very rare to find artifacts from the Temple Mount, which was destroyed for the last time 2,000 years ago. The first-ever physical evidence of the site was found by the Temple Mount Sifting Project in 2016, when over 600 colored stone tile floor fragments from the courtyard of the Second Temple were reconstructed by archaeologists.

It is also very rare to find such artifacts because of the ongoing destruction of everything Jewish at the site by the Moslem Waqf in an act that would be condemned worldwide as criminal if the victims were not Jews.  This is what makes this such an incredible find. And with such perfect timing for the Jewish High Holidays and Sukkot.

Kol hakavod to all the archeologists and researchers who made the discovery and preserved it for posterity, continuing Jewish history at the center of our religion and nationhood.

And with these inspiring thoughts I wish you all Shabbat shalom and Mo’adim Le’simcha!

Posted in Culture, Arts & Sports, History, Judaism, Slice of Israeli life | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sukkot 5778 – Chag Same’ach!

חג סוכות שמח Happy Sukkot!

The festival of Sukkot, the most joyous festival in the Jewish calendar, begins tonight, lasting for 7 days (8 outside of Israel), running straight into the Simchat Torah festival on the 8th day (9th day outside Israel).

Sukkot is the last of the Shalosh R’galim (three pilgrimage festivals). Like Passover and Shavu’ot, Sukkot has a dual significance: historical and agricultural. Historically, Sukkot commemorates the forty-year period during which the children of Israel were wandering in the desert, living in temporary shelters. Agriculturally, Sukkot is a harvest festival and is sometimes referred to as Chag Ha-Asif Chag Ha-Asif (in Hebrew), the Festival of Ingathering.

Inside our Sukkah

Inside our Sukkah

On this festival Jewish households build a sukkah (pl. sukkot), a booth-like structure, where all meals are eaten, and people (usually the menfolk but not solely) even sleep there. The flimsy roof consists of leaves or branches, widely enough spaced so that one can see the stars at night, but close enough to provide shade during the day. It is considered “hidur mitzvah” – glorifying the mitzvah – if the sukkah is beautifully decorated, so of course this provides much entertainment, not to mention arts-and-crafts time, for the children to beautify their sukkah.

The sukkah is a commemoration of the flimsy huts that the Children of Israel dwelt in during their 40 years of wandering in the desert, with only the ענן הכבוד, the Cloud of Glory, to protect them by day and the עמוד האש, the Pillar of Fire, by night.

By leaving our safe and warm (or cool) houses just when autumn and the rainy season starts and going to live in a fragile hut for a whole week, it is also meant to remind us how fragile is our existence on this earth, and it is only by the grace and protection of G-d that we survive.

Arba Minim – the Four Species

On Sukkot we also bundle together the Arba Minim – “The Four Species” consisting of a Lulav (branch of palm), branches of Hadass (myrtle), Aravot (weeping willow) and an Etrog (a citron, related to the citrus family) and during Shacharit (morning prayers) wave them together in all 6 directions to show G-d’s presence everywhere. Between Yom Kippur and Sukkot the streets of Israel are packed with markets and stalls selling the Arba Minim and sukka decorations. Many people take extra care when buying their lulav and etrog, examining them minutely as if they were buying a precious diamond.

The weekdays of Sukkot, as on Pesach, are called Chol Hamo’ed (lit. the weekdays of the festival) which are a semi-holiday in Israel. Schools are closed, and many places of work are either closed or work half day, giving families the chance to go on trips, hiking or visiting. On the intermediate Shabbat (Shabbat chol hamo’ed) of Sukkot, Megillat Kohelet (the book of Ecclesiastes) is read in shul. We will have the pleasure of hearing our son reading the megillah in his shul this year, as in previous years.

As mentioned above, In Israel (and in some Jewish communities abroad) Sukkot “markets” spring up in the streets immediately after Yom Kippur where they sell everything from Sukkah building kits (poles, sheets, s’chach roofing) to decorations, lulavim, and etrogim. Here are some pictures from a Jerusalem Sukkot market (h/t David Newman):

Jerusalem Sukkot market

Buying Arba Minim in a Jerusalem Sukkot market

And here is a video of a Sukkot market in Golders Green, London (which I never dreamed I would see when I grew up there!)

Since I mentioned the frailty of the sukkah, Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo has a thought-provoking piece on Sukkot as a state of mind:

In the emptiness and silence of the desert, an authentic inner voice can be heard while sitting in the sukkah, a hut that existentially gives protection but in no way physically shields. Its roof leaks and its walls fall apart the moment a wind blows. It is a place with no excuses. But it can only be experienced by a people of the wilderness; a people who are not rooted in a substance of physical limitations and borders; a people who are not entirely fixed by an earthly point, even while living in a homeland. Their spirit reaches far beyond restrictive borders. They are particularistic so as to be universalistic. They are never satisfied with their spiritual condition and are therefore always on the road, looking for more, even when they live in their homeland, which is nothing more than a feeble sukkah.

But a desert is even more. It is an area where nothing can be tangibly achieved. In a desert, people cannot prove themselves, at least not in the conventional sense. It doesn’t offer jobs that people can fight over and compete for. It has no factories, offices, or department stores. There are no bosses to order people around, and no fellow workers with whom to compete. It is ‘prestige deprived.’ In a desert, there is no kavod (honor) to be received. It doesn’t have cities, homes, or fences. If it had these, it would no longer be a desert. Human achievements would end its desert status and would undermine and destroy the grandeur of its might and beauty.

It has only a sukkah, a place that lacks all physical security. People can only “be,” but never “have” anything, in a desert. There is no food to be eaten but the manna, the soul food, and one can easily walk in the same shoes for 40 years, because authenticity does not wear out. People’s garments grow with them and don’t need changing or cleaning, because they are as pure as can be (See Rashi’s commentary on Devarim 8:4). And that which is pure continues to grow and stays clean.

The desert is therefore a state of mind. It removes the walls in our subconscious, and even in our conscious way of thinking. It is an out-of-the-box realm. In a desert one can think without limits. As such, one is open to the impossible and hears murmurs from another world, which can never be heard in the city or on a job. The desert allows for authentic thinking, without obstacles, and therefore is able to break through and remove from us any artificial thoughts that don’t identify with our deeper souls. Nothing spiritual gets lost, because the fences around our thoughts become neutralized and no longer bar the way to our inner lives. The desert is the ultimate liberty. It teaches us that openness doesn’t mean surrender to what is most “in” or powerful. The desert doesn’t consist of vulgar successes that have been made into major accomplishments.

And therefore it is a place of miracles.

Read it all. It is extremely interesting.

The Times of Israel provides us with a closer look at how the lulavim, the palm fronds which are part of the Arba Minim used on the festival, are harvested on Kibbutz Tirat Zvi. Their catchy punny headline is “Fronds in high places“:

In Tirat Zvi, Buddhists are the experts on kosher lulavs. The Thai agricultural workers who labor in the kibbutz’s date plantation are the first to separate the kosher palm fronds from the rest. The lulav forms the basis for the Four Species, a group of ritual plants used over the Sukkot holiday.

“They’re Buddhist, but they know and understand what makes it kosher,” Avner Rotem, the manager of the date plantation on the kibbutz, said as Somjit, a Thai worker who declined to give his last name, deftly maneuvered a yellow cherry picker to the top of one of the 13,000 palm trees used for growing lulavs.

The lulavs come from the baby palm fronds on the tops of trees, where the newest branches poke out. They must be harvested when they are about a meter in length, but before the fronds begin to split and open, rendering them unkosher.

Lulav harvesting with a cherry picker on Kibbutz Tirat Zvi

For seven months a year, Somjit brings the cherry picker to the top of the trees and reaches beyond the tough outer leaves, which have already split open into the traditional palm shape, to pick out the newest branches. With two quick snips, he cuts off two meter-long lulavs, checks them for size, ensures the tips are not damaged, and places them carefully in a cardboard box, before moving to the next tree.

Tirat Zvi, a religious kibbutz that bakes in one of the hottest parts of Israel in the Beit She’an valley, is the largest producer of lulavs in Israel, shipping out 150,000 each year. Rotem estimates that Jews shake about 700,000 lulavs in Israel and 500,000 abroad during the festival.

At Tirat Zvi, lulavs are harvested from a type of palm tree called the Dery Palm. As the story goes, in 1985, Shabtai Kovin, a young rabbi from Safed, came to the Beit She’an area in search of the “perfect lulav.” (Date trees love heat, so the Beit She’an Valley is one of the most popular places for date trees.)

He met with growers from Tirat Zvi, examining all types of palm fronds that come from the kibbutz’s nine species of date trees. After careful scrutiny, he proclaimed that the Dery species produces the best lulav.

Today, approximately half of the kibbutz’s 25,000 date trees, spread out over 1,500 dunams (370 acres), are Dery. While dates are the kibbutz’s biggest agricultural product, lulavs account for about a third of its profits.

Tirat Zvi sells its lulavs wholesale, in boxes of 40, for approximately NIS 25 per lulav. They are considered high-end lulavs, and can sell on the market for NIS 100 for just the palm fronds (without the willow, myrtle and etrog). Rotem has seen Tirat Zvi lulavs for sale in New York for as much as NIS 350 ($100).

The high prices mean the kibbutz’s date trees are also a target for theft. Over the past few years, hundreds of lulavs have been stolen from shorter trees during Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur, when the fields are empty.

Tirat Zvi also exports lulavs to Australia, Panama and Argentina. Each lulav is individually packed in a plastic bag, stamped with the Tirat Zvi logo.

Originally, the kibbutz would begin harvesting lulavs in the summer, after Tisha B’Av. But in the 2000s, it began experimenting with an antifungal wash that allows the lulavs to be stored for up to six months.

These days, Rotem and his 25 workers begin harvesting lulavs for Sukkot when the kibbutz children pull out their Purim costumes in early spring. The lulav packaging house has seven refrigerators that can each store 20,000 lulavs throughout the blistering summer.

Seven months of harvesting means a mature date tree can produce around 14 lulavs per year. The palm frond shoots grow at a rate of about three centimeters per day and are trimmed when they are around a meter in length, meaning each tree is harvested about once a month. The advent of cold storage also means that Israelis, unlike Diaspora Jews, no longer need to import lulavs from Morocco and Egypt to meet their needs.

Engelen said working on the date plantation has increased his appreciation of the lulav. “Usually you only see it for a week and then you throw it out,” he said. “Here, we’re thinking of lulavs almost all year round. We spend a good portion of the year working on things that people shake seven times and then throw in the trash.”

People of all religions work at Tirat Zvi packaging lulavim

“We have several religions that work here,” said Rotem. “We have Muslim and Druze workers, Buddhist Thai workers; we also have a student from Nepal studying agriculture — all of them are working on our farm.”

He said one of the reason he likes working with the date trees is that every part of the tree has a use. “It’s written in the Talmud that there’s no trash from the date tree. You eat its fruit, you use its leaves; even the trunk we use to make benches.”

There’s even a second use for palm fronds over Sukkot, as schach, or covering, for the sukkahs (temporary huts) that families build.

What a lovely, fascinating article! Who knew there was so much to learn about lulavim and date trees? Kol hakavod to Kibbutz Tirat Zvi on their industry.

May this Sukkot be a festival of pure joy, and may we merit to celebrate it in the rebuilt Temple speedily in our days.

I wish all those celebrating a chag Sukkot same’ach!

!חג סוכות שמח

Posted in Judaism, Slice of Israeli life | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Hypocrisy: A state for the Palestinians but not for the Kurds or Catalonia

The Kurds are a nation scattered across the Middle East while their national territory was divided up by the ruling powers of a century ago and split amongst several nations, all in a manner similar to the fate of the Jews and Israel:

For decades, Kurdish politics have hinged on dreams of an independent Kurdish state. When colonial powers drew the map of the Middle East after World War I, the Kurds, who now number around 30 million, were divided among Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq.

Kurdish inhabited areas of the Middle East, crossing international borders

Since the Arab “spring” with its multiple civil wars broke out, the Kurds are the one nation that have managed to remain united and hold on tot their territory, retaking control and a semblance of independence after decades of repression by the Arab countries who previously controlled their territory. They have been amongst the prime fighters against ISIS and have stayed out of the Israeli-Arab conflict altogether.In fact Israel is very popular with the Kurds and as I have previously written, the Israeli flag is a common sight at Kurdish rallies.

The Israeli flag is flown at a rally for Kurdish independence held in Geneva, Switzerland

Last week the Kurds held a referendum amongst its people asking if they wanted independence. The answer of course was a resounding yes. However the answer from almost the entire world (the UN, the US, Iran, Iraq, Turkey) was a resounding “no”, or a hostile neutral silence. The only country that lent its solid support to the Kurdish nation was Israel.

Iraq threatened the Kurds with a flight ban if they do not hand over their airports to the Iraqi authorities:

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi issued his ultimatum a day after the landmark vote, which he said was a “historic and strategic mistake by the Kurdish leadership.”

“I will not give up on the unity of Iraq, that is my national and constitutional duty,” he said, adding that any ban would still allow for humanitarian and other “urgent” flights.

That’s rich coming from the leader of a country which is so fractured that it barely exists any more.

Masoud Barzani, the Kurdish regional president who spearheaded the referendum, called for “dialogue” with Baghdad. “Negotiations are the right path to solve the problems, not threats or the language of force,” he said in a televised address.

The US remained cool to downright cold, refusing to recognize “illegitimate referendum“:

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson referred to the recent referendum on the independence of Kurdistan as “unilateral,” saying the vote held on September 25 lacks legitimacy.

US Secretary of State Reg Tillerson

“The United States does not recognize the Kurdistan Regional Government’s unilateral referendum held on Monday,” Tillerson said in a written statement on Friday (September 29).

Tillerson said his country supports a united, federal, democratic and prosperous Iraq.

He expressed concern over the possible “negative consequences” of the Kurdish referendum, adding the vote may hinder efforts to promote stability and prosperity for the people of the Kurdistan Region.

Tillerson said the U.S. asks all parties, including Iraq’s neighbors, to reject unilateral actions and the use of force.

“We urge calm and an end to vocal recriminations and threats of reciprocal actions. We urge Iraqi Kurdish authorities to respect the constitutionally-mandated role of the central government and we call upon the central government to reject threats or even allusion to possible use of force.”

But an interesting article in the New York Times of all places praised Israel’s endorsement of the Kurds’ bid for independence:

JERUSALEM — With a two-sentence statement supporting the Iraqi Kurds’ plan to hold a referendum on independence this Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put Israel at odds with nearly every other major player in the Middle East.

Mr. Netanyahu, who endorsed not only the referendum but also the establishment of a Kurdish state, had ample strategic reason: A breakaway Kurdistan could prove valuable to Israel against Iran, which has oppressed its own Kurdish population.

But given the interwoven history and shared emotion underlying his statement, present-day geopolitics can seem almost beside the point.

The Kurds and the Jews, it turns out, go way back.

Back past the Babylonian Captivity, in fact: The first Jews in Kurdistan, tradition holds, were among the last tribes of Israel, taken from their land in the eighth century B.C. They liked it there so much that when Cyrus the Great of Persia conquered the Babylonians and let the Jews go back home, many chose instead to stick around.

Sixteen centuries later, Saladin, a Kurd, treated the Jews humanely after he conquered Jerusalem, and notably hired a Jewish doctor, Maimonides, as his physician.

 In the modern era, Kurdish Jews departed en masse for Israel when the Jewish state was created in 1948, leaving Kurdish civil society so bereft that some recall its leaders still lamenting the Jewish exodus decades later.

Ties between the two have only grown warmer and more vital since the 1960s, as Israel and the Kurds — both minorities in an inhospitable region and ever in need of international allies — have repeatedly come to each other’s aid. The Kurds have long patterned their lobbying efforts in Washington on those of Israel’s supporters.

Israeli flags often appear at Kurdish rallies, like this one in Erbil, Iraq

And while Kurdish leaders have not publicly embraced Israel in the run-up to the referendum, for fear of antagonizing the Arab world, the Israeli flag can routinely be seen at Kurdish rallies in Erbil and across Europe.

The Kurds in turn have friends and supporters all across Israel, including some 200,000 Kurdish Jews. But 83-year-old Tzuri Sagi, a retired brigadier general, has more reason than most Israelis to root for Kurdish independence.

Read the rest of that fascinating article about the ties between Israel and the Kurds.

A Jerusalem Post article also agrees with the Israeli position of supporting the Kurds bid for independence:

In the wake of Iranian aggression across the Middle East, the most effective strategy Israel can adopt is to recognize an independent Kurdistan and fully support it.

Across the Middle East Israel faces a variety of security threats, from Hezbollah in Lebanon and Assad’s regime in Syria to Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Islamic State (ISIS) in the Sinai Peninsula. These already existing threats are exasperated by Iran seeking to establish a Shi’ite Crescent from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea.

To prop up Assad’s regime and Hezbollah, Iran needs territorial contiguity from Iran to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. This way, it can import supplies with ease to its proxies via land routes, for Israel has already demonstrated that it can infiltrate and stop Iranian sea or air shipments more easily. However, an independent Kurdistan in Syria and Iraq would territorially break up the Shi’ite Crescent, thus making it more difficult for Iran to carry out its terrorist activities across the Middle East. The Kurdistan region of Iraq led by President Masoud Barzani’s government will not permit Iranian shipments to terrorist groups to pass through its territory.

If Kurdistan becomes a full-fledged independent state in Northern Iraq and parts of Syria, the logistical obstacles for Iran will greatly increase.

It is not only for the purely practical geopolitical advantages that Israel should support the Kurds, but because it is morally right:

It is critical to note that Israel should support an independent Kurdistan because it is the moral thing to do. The Kurds were promised a country in the Treaty of Sevres but this promise was reneged on in the Treaty of Lausanne, leaving the Kurds as the largest nation on earth without a country, a reality that affects 40 million people. The Kurds have their own unique culture, history and language, which are distinct from those of their Turkish, Persian and Arab neighbors. Furthermore, in the past the Kurds had strong leaders who befriended the Jewish People, such as Saladin.

In addition, the Kurds ruled themselves in the past, under the Ayyubid dynasty and the Bohtan Emirate, to name a few. In fact, they were only absorbed by the Ottoman Empire in 1908. For this reason, the Kurds have a strong sense of nationalism.

The Kurds passionately believe that their culture, language and historic destiny can be best realized by granting them the same rights that other nations possess.

Israel’s former Ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor also praises the Kurds’ readiness for statehood (unlike, say, the Palestinians):

An independent Kurdish state would be a victory for democratic values, national self-determination and the rights of women and minorities. Is there a more iconic image of the fight against the Islamic State than that of female Kurdish peshmerga fighters doing battle on the front lines against jihadists who demand the subjugation of women? An independent Kurdish state would empower these warriors in a part of the world where women and girls are typically second-class citizens.

Kurdish Peshmerga women fighters

In addition to its commitment to gender equality, Kurdistan has also shown its commitment to minority rights. Over the past three years, Kurdistan, which is about the size of Maryland, has taken in nearly two million refugees, including Assyrians, Yazidis, Turkmen, Shabaks and Christians fleeing the Islamic State and sectarian violence in other parts of Iraq and in Syria.

Even without a formal state, the Kurds have built a society that meets many of the criteria of statehood. They are economically viable, with a well-developed energy industry. They have functioning institutions, including elections for Parliament and a relatively free media. And they’ve proved capable of defending themselves against the Islamic State without attacking others.

Kurdistan is already, in values and governance, a democratic nation in waiting. Is it a perfect Jeffersonian democracy? No. Does it have a long way to go? Yes. But in a region where tyranny is the norm, it’s on the right track.

We should all pray that Kurds are successful in their bid for independence and that there will be a peaceful solution to this brewing crisis. Israel should certainly give it as much support as it can. And shame on the world for denying this brave, big-hearted people their rightful claim to their own territory and self-determination.

Meanwhile over in Spain, Catalonians held a referendum today asking their people if they wanted independence. The answer was not clear. Nevertheless the Spanish rejected the referendum, calling it illegal, and sent in the riot police which violently repressed the independence rallies, injuring almost 500 people:

Nearly 500 people were injured Sunday as Spanish security forces attempted to shut down a referendum vote on the future of the northeastern Spanish province of Spain.

Spanish police break into a Catalonian voting booth

Catalonia, a semi-autonomous province with its own official language, held the controversial vote Sunday on whether to remain a part of the Kingdom of Spain, or to seek independence.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, who supports a Catalan separation from Spain, said earlier that if the referendum saw a majority of “yes” votes, he would declare an independent Catalonia within 48 hours.

While polls show some 60% of locals oppose independence from Spain, a wide majority back the plebiscite.

Girls stroll through the center of Figueras with the Spanish and a pro-independence ‘Estelada’ Catalan flag

The Spanish government, however, has declared the referendum illegal and ordered security forces to bar voters from entering polling stations.

“There has not been a referendum or anything remotely similar,” Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría said.

In polling places across Catalonia, including the local capital, Barcelona, police clashed with crowds of voters as they attempted to enter voting stations.

During the clashes, officers opened fire with rubber bullets, hitting dozens of protesters.

According to The Independent, local firefighters formed human shields around voters to protect voters from police.

Catalan officials say police managed to shut down 319 voting stations across Catalonia.

“What the police are doing is a real scandal, a savagery,” said Catalan spokesperson Jordi Turull.

“The Spanish state is in a very difficult situation before the world… What the police is doing is truly an international embarrassment.”

Yet it seems that what is sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander. Or maybe that statement should be reversed. The very independence that is rejected by the world for their own minorities is enthusiastically advanced for the Palestinians.  The Kurds do not seek to replace anyone or to kill them. They simply want their own indigenous territory back in their hands and under their control. But the world rejects their bid.

The Catalonians want to run their own affairs outside of Spanish jurisdiction. Here too their bid for self-determination is rejected by the world.

But somehow, the Palestinians, who already have independence from Israel, and who run their own affairs, are considered perfectly legitimate when they demand not only independence, but an end to the State of Israel. They demand this loudly and clearly and can be heard in demonstrations across the world: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”.  This is no less than an Arabic “final solution” for the Jews. In case you haven’t looked at a map lately, the space between the river  (Jordan) to the (Mediterranean) Sea is occupied, for want of a better word, by Israel with over 6 million Jews as well as another 2 million Muslims, Christians and other minorities.

“From the river to the sea Palestine will be free” – of Jews and of Israel. This is an Arab Final Solution

The inherent hypocrisy in this stance was called out today by Eli Dahan, Israel’s Deputy Defence Minister:

Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan (Jewish Home) blasted the Spanish government’s crackdown against a regional referendum in the province of Catalonia Sunday, which left nearly 500 people injured, most of them pro-independence demonstrators.

Deputy Minister Ben-Dahan slammed Madrid’s crackdown on the referendum, noting Spain’s decades-long support for Palestinian statehood.

“For many years, Spain lectured us about how we need to give [national] rights to the Palestinian Arabs,” wrote Ben-Dahan on Twitter. “Today we see their hypocrisy, as [Spain] doesn’t even allow the Catalans to hold a referendum on independence.”

I found this Facebook post by Tsuriel Rashi, a lecturer at Bar Ilan University, to be particularly apt:


He writes:

Two states for two people
Spain and Catalonia
Kurdistan and Turkey
“They are there and we are here”.
Or is this a solution limited to a particular region?

Indeed Dr. Rashi has pointed out the world’s hypocrisy in one short pithy paragraph. “Do as I say, not do as I do” is what the world tells Israel.

It’s about time Israel told the world where to get off.

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Yom Kippur 5778 – Gmar Hatima Tova!

Gmar Hatima Tova May you be inscribed in the Book of Life

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is upon us once again, beginning in a few hours time here in Israel, when we will be entering a 25-hour fast with day-long prayer services, composed of beautiful, spiritual and emotional prayers and songs, being held in shuls and community centers throughout the Jewish world. It is a day when we must ask forgiveness from our fellow man if we have wronged them, forgive those who have wronged us if they ask to be forgiven, and pray that Hashem will seal us in the Book of Life.

In Israel, traffic comes to a complete halt throughout the country, even in the most secular towns, and a serene and holy calmness pervades throughout the land. Even the international airport and public transport close down for the day, starting from a few hours before the fast until an hour or so after the fast ends.

You can read more about Yom Kippur at who have a great Yom Kippur info-graphic.

In time for Yom Kippur, Yad Vashem showcased a handmade Yom Kippur prayer book that survived the Shoah:

Ahead of the Day of Atonement, Israel’s Holocaust remembrance center is showcasing pages of a mimeographed copy of a Yom Kippur liturgy, handwritten by a prisoner of the Saint Cyprien internment camp in France in 1940.

A page from the Yom Kippur prayers, hand-written in a concentration camp (photo credit: COURTESY OF YAD VASHEM ARTIFACTS COLLECTION)

The two pages of prayers, which were uploaded to Yad Vashem’s online exhibition in recent days, were donated to its Artifacts Collection in 1973 by Martin Friedman, the son of Ludwig Friedmann – one of the group of Jews who prayed from the liturgy.

Friedmann was a German refugee who had escaped to Belgium shortly before the outbreak of World War II. In May 1940, as the Germans were invading Belgium, Belgian authorities rounded up German and Austrian citizens, most of them Jews, and deported them to southern France in a train bearing signs that announced they were a “Fifth Column.”

Martin Friedmann escaped the Holocaust on a kindertransport to Switzerland and today lives in the UK. When he donated the pages to Yad Vashem, little was known about the sender or the prayer book.

But more than a decade of research has revealed many more details about the circumstances and people connected to the prayer book, Sara Shore, manager of the Artifacts Collection of Yad Vashem Museum, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

All the information we had was that his father [Ludwig Friedmann] had been a German-born refugee who had been sent to a detention camp in France, and that it [the prayer book] was from Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur at the end of 1940,” said Shore, who spearheaded the research.

“But while we were computerizing the collection we went through each artifact, and I noticed a similarity between this and a Pesach Haggada we have which was in the same kind of format,” Shore explained.

The description of the Rosh Hashana prayers in the camp is chilling yet inspiring:

A testimony by Ansbacher, a German refugee deported from Belgium to the camp, relates how they put together a Passover Haggada. He also describes the prayers held in the camp for the New Year:

“There on the earth of St. Cyprien, what stands out as unforgettable was Rosh Hashana [the Jewish New Year 5701 – on the 3rd and 4th of October, 1940]. On that holiday morning we stood under a clear sky, thousands of people sharing a single fate, a simple choir led the congregation, then the ‘sermon.’ At that moment we all prayed as if from one soul, one voice rose to God from a thousand hearts. Those that took part thought of that and much more on that morning in October.”

Read the rest of the article to see how the Haggada and the Machzor were finally connected. And there is a happy end to the story, with the great-grandchildren of two of the survivors married each other.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the preeminent philosopher and thinker of the Jewish people in these days, has written a beautiful article on Yom Kippur Thoughts. Here is just a sample, where he talks about Kol Nidre:

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the supreme moment of Jewish time, a day of fasting and prayer, introspection and self-judgment. At no other time are we so sharply conscious of standing before God, of being known by Him. But it begins in the strangest of ways.

Kol Nidre, the prayer that heralds the evening service and the beginning of the sanctity of the day, is the key that unlocks the Jewish heart. Its melody is haunting. As the cantor sings, we hear in that ancient tune the deepest music of the Jewish soul, elegiac yet striving, pained but resolute, the song of those who knew that to believe is to suffer and still to hope, the music of our ancestors that stretches out to us from the past and enfolds us in its cadences, making us and them one. The music is sublime. Tolstoy called it a melody that “echoes the story of the great martyrdom of a grief-stricken nation.” Beethoven came close to it in the most otherworldly and austere of his compositions, the sixth movement of the C Sharp Minor Quartet, opus 131. The music is pure poetry but the words are prosaic prose.

Kol Nidre means “all vows.” The passage itself is not a prayer at all, but a dry legal formula annulling in advance all vows, oaths and promises between us and God in the coming year. Nothing could be more incongruous, less apparently in keeping with the solemnity of the day. Indeed, for more than a thousand years there have been attempts to remove it from the liturgy. Why annul vows? Better, as the Hebrew Bible and the rabbis argued, not to make them in the first place if they could not be kept. Besides, though Jewish law admits the possibility of annulment, it does so only after patient examination of individual cases. To do so globally for the whole community was difficult to justify.

From the eighth century onwards we read of gaonim, rabbinic leaders, who condemned the prayer and sought to have it abolished. Five centuries later a new note of concern was added. In the Christian-Jewish disputation in Paris in 1240, the Christian protagonist Nicholas Donin attacked Kol Nidre as evidence that Jews did not feel themselves bound by their word, a claim later repeated by anti-Semitic writers. In vain, Jews explained that the prayer had nothing to do with promises between man and man. It referred only to private commitments between man and God. All in all, it was and is a strange way to begin the holiest of days.

Yet the prayer survived all attempts to have it dislodged. One theory, advanced by Joseph Bloch in I917 and adopted by Chief Rabbi J.H. Hertz, is that it had its origins in the forced conversion of Spanish Jews to Christianity under the Visigoths in the seventh century. These Jews, the first Marranos, publicly abandoned their faith rather than face torture and death, but they remained Jews in secret. On the Day of Atonement they made their way back to the synagogue and prayed to have their vow of conversion annulled. Certainly some such reason lies behind the declaration immediately prior to Kol Nidre in which the leaders of prayer solemnly grant permission “by the authority of the heavenly and earthly court” for “transgressors” to join the congregation in prayer. This was a lifting of the ban of excommunication against Jews who, during the year, had been declared to have placed themselves outside the community. That, surely, is the significance of Kol Nidre in the Jewish imagination. It is the moment when the doors of belonging are opened, and when those who have been estranged return.

The Hebrew word teshuvah, usually translated as “penitence,” in fact means something else: returning, retracing our steps, coming home. It belongs to the biblical vision in which sin means dislocation, and punishment is exile: Adam and Eve’s exile from Eden, Israel’s exile from its land. A sin is an act that does not belong, one that transgresses the moral boundaries of the world. One who acts in ways that do not belong eventually finds that he does not belong. Increasingly he places himself outside the relationships – of family, community and of being at one with history – that make him who he is. The most characteristic sense of sin is less one of guilt than of being lost. Teshuvah means finding your way back home again.

That, on this night of nights, is what Jews do. The synagogue is full of the faces of those who rarely visit it. During the year – albeit less dramatically than their medieval predecessors – they may have been Marranos, hidden Jews. They have worn other masks, carried different identities. But on Yom Kippur night the music of Kol Nidre has spoken to them and they have said: here is where I belong. Among my people and its faith. I am a Jew.

Rabbi Sacks also addresses the issues of repentance, confession and more. Go and read it all. You will be inspired. He concludes with these beautiful words:

Yom Kippur is a day of awe. Yet the Talmud calls it one of the most joyous days of the year. Rightly so, for its message is that as long as we breathe, there is no final verdict on our lives. “Prayer, penitence and charity have the power to turn aside the evil decree.” God has given us free will and thus the strength to turn from bad to good. He has granted us a Day of Atonement, and thus the chance to unwrite our wrongs and find forgiveness. There is no equivalent in Judaism to the Greek ideas of fate and tragedy, the decree that cannot be averted and the futility of our attempts to escape it. Those concepts are utterly alien to the Jewish mind along with all theories that see our behavior as determined by causes outside ourselves. Instead, we believe that there is always a chance to begin again. For though we may lose faith in God, God never loses faith in us. On this day of days we hear His voice, gently calling us to come home.

In the spirit of the day, I would like to ask forgiveness from anyone whom I might have offended or hurt.

To those who are fasting I wish an easy and meaningful fast.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish my family, friends and readers Gmar Hatima Tova – May we all be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life.

גמר חתימה טובה

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An epic moment at the UN as former Hamas member speaks up for Israel

This has to be one of the most epic and stunning moments in the history of the UN.  Once more the UN Human Rights Wrongs Council was holding a debate on “the human rights situation in Palestine”. All the usual anti-Israel suspects had their say, spouting lies, slander, blood libels and epithets at the one and only free, civilized and democratic country in the Middle East. How the likes of Pakistan, North Korea, Venezuela, Syria and other like dictatorships, who between them have killed millions and imprisoned even more – how they can sit there with straight faces while they accuse Israel of the very crimes of which they are guilty, is a subject for a psychologist to deal with.

And then it was UN Watch‘s turn. We have already seen Hillel Neuer speak at the UN many times, and his is superb. But Mosab Hassan Yousef (aka The Green Prince) was in a class of his own, not only for what he said, but for who he is.

Just watch the faces of the Palestinian delegation and enjoy a bit of schadenfreude from the UN for a change.


The funniest reaction was the face of this Palestinian delegate:

Shock horror at the UN as Palestinian speaks up for Israel

This speech was a master-stroke by UN Watch.

Kol hakavod on their persistence and devotion to the cause of Israel’s defence.

Posted in Antisemitism, Incitement, International relations, Lawfare and Delegitimization | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

The Nasty Party: Labour doubles down on antisemitism

The Labour Party’s annual conference in Brighton

Britain’s Labour Party is holding its annual conference in Brighton, and besides the main event, a fringe event was held, ostensibly on “Free Speech on Israel”,  which in practice was an opportunity to rant about Israel, comparing it to Nazis, and complaining when such epithets caused the speakers to be called antisemites.

Melanie Phillips explains what happened to make The Labour Party – a new safe space for hate:

A fringe meeting hosted a call for Labour to debate whether the Holocaust actually happened, the libelling of Israel as a racist, Nazi, apartheid and colonialist state and a demand that Jews who supported Israel should be kicked out of the Labour party.

What was so chilling was not just that the meeting, called Free Speech on Israel (aka Safe Space for Hate) provided bigots with the opportunity to spew their bile. It cheered and applauded them.

Israeli-American author Miko Peled told it Labour members should support the freedom to “discuss every issue, whether it’s the Holocaust, yes or no, whether it’s Palestine liberation – the entire spectrum. There should be no limits on the discussion.”

Michael Kalmanovitz, a member of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, called for two pro-Israeli groups to be expelled from the party. He said: “The thing is, if you support Israel, you support apartheid. So what is the JLM (Jewish Labour Movement) and Labour Friends of Israel doing in our party? Kick them out.” The Mirror reported: “Loud cheers, applause and calls of ‘throw them out’ erupted in the room of around a hundred activists in response.”

Fringe meetings are not run by the party and Labour says it isn’t responsible for their content. Nevertheless, the event was advertised in official conference literature. It was chaired by an individual called Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi. Watch this clip of her addressing the conference plenary session to see just what a piece of work she is. [This woman, an “As-A-Jew”, is the co-founder of the group Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods. Vomit-warning ahead -Ed.]

She was opposing the proposed rule change to make it easier to expel antisemites. In addition to ranting and raving about Israel with a breathtaking stream of defamatory falsehoods, distortions and smears – including a swipe at the Balfour Declaration – she was actually booed by journalists when she claimed that Jewish groups behind the rule change had been briefing certain newspapers. She then received a ecstatic standing ovation when she stated: “I am not an antisemite. This party does not have a problem with Jews”.

Ah, how the conference loved that. Look at their faces on the clip. They are beside themselves with joy that they are being given permission by a Jew to hate the collective Jew in the State of Israel.

Like the venomously anti-Israel Israeli professor Avi Shlaim, who was speaking at the launch of yet another groupuscule Jewish Voices for Labour, Kalmanovitz said the claims of antisemitism in the party were part of a right-wing effort to undermine Jeremy Corbyn and the left. But people like him ensured we could all see for ourselves this could not be the case. For antisemitism was on rank display at those Corbynista meetings.

Yet elsewhere, one Jewish Labour activist reported that leaflets were being passed around the conference floor demanding the expulsion of the Jewish Labour Movement from the Party; and Izzy Lenga, the Vice-President of the National Union of Students tweeted: “I didn’t think it was possible, but I feel a whole lot more unsafe, uncomfortable and upset as a Jew on [the Labour Party Conference] floor right now than I do at NUS”.

Today, the party passed the rule change making antisemitic abuse and harassment by Labour members a punishable offence. The Guardian reported:

“The rule change proposed by the Jewish Labour Movement, which has been backed by the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn and the party’s national executive committee, will tighten explicitly the party’s stance towards members who are antisemitic or use other forms of hate speech, including racism, Islamophobia, sexism and homophobia.”

Yet this change is worse than meaningless. Yes, it enables the party to expel antisemites. But crucially, it leaves unresolved the definition of what antisemitism actually is. And you can bet your bottom dollar that Labour will never, ever accept that demonisation and delegitimisation of Israel is the contemporary form of the oldest hatred.

How could it accept that? Its members overwhelmingly subscribe to it – even though many of them haven’t the faintest clue that what they believe to be the truth about the Arab-Israel conflict is in fact a pack of lies from start to finish.

In maintaining this fictitious distinction, Labour wields what it believes to be the ultimate weapon: the anti-Zionist Jews who offer themselves as human shields to protect those who they hope will destroy the State of Israel through demonisation and delegitimisation.

The assumption is that no Jew can be an antisemite; so if Jews say Israel is a Nazi apartheid racist murderous colonialist state committing unspeakabke atrocities, that cannot be antisemitism.

Melanie Phillips’ observations here about Jewish antisemites can be seen clearly in the comments to the Guardian article linked above. I would personally advise you all not to  read the comments. They are absolutely vile, sickeningly antisemitic in many places. But as Melanie noted, the commenters seem to have trouble understanding that indeed yes, a Jew can be an antisemite. In fact some of the worst antisemites in history have been Jews. These supporters of Labour, or simply your common-or-garden opponents of Israel assert that because Miko Peled and Gilad Atzmon are Jews, Israelis even, they can’t possibly be antisemitic, and in fact their opinions should count more. The truth of course is the exact opposite. They are the rare exceptions which prove the rule that someone who hates Israel “more than is absolutely necessary”, someone who approves of national statehood for all except for the Jews, is an antisemite.

Marcus Dysch, a Jewish journalist and one of the participants at the Labour Conference and the fringe event, sent in the following horrifying report to the Jewish Chronicle:  Those tackling hatred and antisemitism are under attack:

Jews attacking Jews. Israel hated at every turn. Age-old tropes spewed from the podium.

How the antisemites must be loving this Labour conference.

Tuesday morning’s row on the conference floor over how Labour will challenge and punish Jew-hatred was in equal parts shambolic and frightening.

The proposed change, backed by Jeremy Corbyn and the national executive committee, was supposed to be quickly debated and voted through.

But activist after activist – many of them anti-Zionist Jews – took to the microphone to denounce the Jews behind the plan and Israel in general.

On and on it went – for so long, in fact, that the vote had to be deferred. Surely now it is beyond doubt who is really running Labour, who has the momentum, in every sense. The mainstream has been blown away and the hard-left is now extending its grip on the party’s soul.

Ken Livingstone is back on the airwaves; Ken Loach is on the television saying history is there to be “discussed” when asked about those questioning the Holocaust; and Jeremy Corbyn sits amid it all, on the dais, watching silently.

The situation was bad enough yesterday – when Israel was compared to the Nazis and activists argued that Jewish groups should be thrown out of the party – that a number of young Jews have stayed away today.

A year ago I visited the hard-left Momentum group’s pseudo conference held on the sidelines. This year there is no need to go back – the fringe has become mainstream. Much of the debate, comment and activity in the main hall this week has been in line with the hard-left’s worldview.

Irrespective of what happens in the final 24 hours of the political jamboree here in Brighton, the die has been cast.

Labour has not turned a corner – it has gone over a cliff-edge. British Jews – traditional Labour voters or otherwise – will observe  what has happened here and make up their own minds.

That old standby Ken Livingstone, suspended from the Labour Party multiple times for antisemitic comments, just can’t help himself. Here is his latest bigoted idiocy:

Read also Guido Fawkes blog about the fringe Labour event with its calls to expel Jewish members.

Harry’s Place also has two posts on Miko Peled and Ken Loach if you have the stomach for it.

Labour’s woes (which they did not realise were woes until the mainstream media shone a spotlight on them) were irresistible click-bait for the media. The Sun reported on the execrable Naomi Wimbourne-Idrissi’s interview on LBC Radio.  The Sun’s headline read “You’re making it worse!” while their strap-line noted that Wimbourne-Idrissi claimed Labour had no problem with antisemitism while at the same time accusing Israel of exploiting the Holocaust:

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi appeared on LBC Radio and said the issue of anti-Semitism within Labour has “been blown out of all proportion”.

But during the interview on Nick Ferrari’s show, Ms Wimborne-Idrissi, who is the co-founder of the group Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods, claimed Israel has “inflicted” the Holocaust on other people.

She said: “When it comes to the Holocaust, of course, there must never be any minimisation of that horror.

“It’s inflicted on other people in the sense that apologists for Israel use the suffering of Jews to excuse the suffering of Palestinians.

What an utterly disgusting woman. If she is the acceptable face of Labour then Labour should not be acceptable in polite society.

The depth of the bigotry to which the Labour Party has sunk is so shocking that the UK Equality and Human Rights Commissioner stepped in to demand that Labour now prove it is not racist – and by that she meant antisemitic as well (not a given by Labour’s warped definitions):

In an astonishing intervention, the CEO of the United Kingdom’s Equality and Human Rights Commission, Rebecca Hilsenrath, has demanded that the Labour Party prove “that it is not a racist party”.

UK Equality and Human Rights Commission CEO Rebecca Hilsenrath

The Equality and Human Rights Commission, whose role was established by the Equality Act 2006, is independent of the Government and is responsible for “safeguarding and enforcing the laws that protect people’s rights to fairness, dignity and respect.”

Ms Hilsenrath was responding to a Labour Party Conference fringe event that was advertised in official literature, speakers demanded the right to deny the Holocaust to loud cheering, and called for the Jewish grouping within the Labour Party to be expelled, prompting spontaneous calls of “throw them out”.

In a statement, Ms Hilsenrath said: “Antisemitism is racism and the Labour party needs to do more to establish that it is not a racist party. A zero-tolerance approach to antisemitism should mean just that. When senior party figures are saying there’s a problem, then the leadership should take swift action. It is simply not acceptable to say they oppose these views. These comments by party members show more needs to be done to root out antisemitic views that clearly exist in the party. Any suggestion of kicking people out of any political party on the grounds of race or religion should be condemned.”

Kol hakavod to Ms. Hilsenrath for noticing the bigotry and taking such a courageously principled stand against the politically-correct “social justice warriors”.

Another response also displays the shock with which decent Brits received Labour’s antisemitism. A Labour council leader of Brighton  – yes! He is a member of Labour! – said he will need assurances from Labour in the future before he will allow another such conference to take place in his city – and it must be noted that Labour’s conferences have traditionally always taken place in Brighton:

Brighton and Hove’s Labour council leader Warren Morgan said he was very concerned at “the anti-Semitism being aired publicly in fringe meetings and on the floor of conference”.

In a letter to Labour Party general secretary Iain McNicol, Mr Morgan said: “As the Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, I will undoubtedly face questions as to why we allow any event where anti-Semitic views are freely expressed to happen in the city, particularly on council premises.

“As a Labour Party member, I expect the inquiry announced today to take firm action; as leader I will need reassurances that there will be no repeat of the behaviour and actions we have seen this week before any further bookings from the party are taken.”

Kudos to Mr. Morgan on his very brave stance against antisemitism and racism. Here too, this should not be taken for granted in this day and age when antisemitism disguised as anti-Zionism is fashionable again.

Although the situation of the British Jewish community is still pretty solid and stable, they cannot rest easy as long as a bigot like Jeremy Corbyn is the leader of the opposition. As Caroline Glick notes in the Jerusalem Post,

Since 2015, Britain has been one election away from having an antisemitic prime minister backed by antisemitic voters.

Corbyn is an antisemite. He refers to Hezbollah and Hamas – two terrorist groups that openly support the genocide of world Jewry and the annihilation of the Jewish state – as “our friends.” He has shared stages with Hamas terrorists and Holocaust- deniers. Since his ascension to leadership of the Labor Party, he has overseen the mainstreaming of antisemitic actions and rhetoric by his party members and supporters.

I wonder if the mainstream Labour members, those decent “sane left” Brits, will ever manage to oust Corbyn and shove him back onto the back benches where he belongs.

Posted in Antisemitism, Boycotts and BDS, Incitement, International relations | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments