Israel

The Oldest Bigotry


Anti-Semitism is the world’s oldest bigotry. Go ahead – see if you can come up with an example that’s older than thousands of years. It rises and falls in frequency and in severity, but it always shows up.

Here’s a dramatically condensed version of history to put this in context, a story which you might recall from Sunday School and your history text books.

Jews started in Ur – that’s part of what is now southern Iraq and it’s where Abraham came from. He settled in what eventually became Israel. Then the Babylonians came, destroyed the first temple and dragged the people away into slavery. Then the people returned, only to be banished by the Romans, who sacked the second temple.

That’s when Jews became the diaspora, wanderers looking for a safe place to live. But eventually every place Jews settled became dangerous or deadly. There was an Inquisition, pogroms (those brought my ancestors to the U.S.) and a Holocaust, so each time we wandered yet again looking for a safe place to live.

Jews have always been accused of being evil, of being dishonest. The most heinous of those accusations was the nineteen hundred years of the Catholic Church declaring unequivocally that Jews killed Jesus. I was called a Christ killer many times while growing up, although I know for a fact that I wasn’t around 2000 years ago, so I really couldn’t have had a hand in anything that took place back then. Near the end of the Second Vatican Council in 1964 I was absolved by the Vatican of personal responsibility for the crucifixion. It was a shame that a lot of the bad guys in high school didn’t get the message.

Overall, though, life in the United States for Jews has been pretty good and has seemed pretty safe, if at times limited and sometimes threatening. But violence against Jews has taken a terrible turn for the worse in recent years. The frequency of anti-Semitic acts is increasing, as is the severity of its violence.

The Anti-Defamation League reports that, “In 2020 and 2021, there were 7,528 incidents of extremism or anti-Semitism in the United States.” That’s over 14 per day and the rate is increasing. Take a look at the ADL tracker – filter for your state and look at just the recent incidents near you.

“Incidents” is a strange word to use for anti-Semitic violence. If you were the rabbi just walking down the sidewalk and you got pushed to the ground and kicked repeatedly by a couple of toughs,* you might use a different word.

You’d surely use a different word if you had been at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh that awful October morning in 2018 or at the Chabad in Poway, CA in April 2019 or in that kosher deli in Brooklyn in December 2019. You would have had a different word, all right, if you had somehow survived the shootings.

Here’s the point: Hate is on the rise in America. I usually write about the anti-democracy hate and racial cruelty of far right extremists, but it’s concurrent with the dramatic rise in anti-Semitic hatred in our country. And there is a difference.

If attacks like the ones listed above had been against Blacks there would have been BLM marches across the country and perhaps around the world, as there were following the murder of George Floyd, and rightly so. But these attacks were against Jews. There were and are no marches for Jews. Nobody comes to the rescue. It has always been this way. That’s just how it is in the world’s oldest bigotry. Refer to the videos below.

The hate of angry Palestinians is rising in London following the May hostilities between Gaza and Israel. Have a look at the short videos below to get a feel for reactions to what is happening. As you watch, keep in mind how the public is reacting to this violence.

.

.Many thanks to Mel Zahn for sending the videos.

Note: I’ll appreciate it if you can identify the woman in the first video or provide a link.

The public isn’t reacting to this violence at all, just as these videos report. No help. No support. Crickets.

The violence in Israel and Gaza last month has been reported mostly in an irresponsibly simplistic way, as though this isn’t an enormously complex problem. Castigation of Israel has been the main theme, based primarily on the fact that there were many more Gazans killed and injured than Israelis.

Using John Oliver as a placeholder for all the grand pontificators who have dumped myopic criticisms on those events, he managed to mangle the logic of that casualty disparity. He specifically said it wasn’t a fair fight because Israel has Iron Dome and Hamas Gazans don’t. I haven’t a clue why he thinks fairness is an issue in this violence. I’m thinking survival should be the issue, like surviving rocket attacks. The way Oliver presented the issue sounds as if he would label it a fair fight if more Israelis had been killed. I’m not sorry to disappoint him.

Be clear that nobody lobbed 4,360 rockets at John Oliver, so he’s fully ignorant and missing the point. So did much of the world’s reporting of those dreadful days. This video and this one will explain that for you.

Key point: If you had been on the receiving end of those rockets, you wouldn’t have focused on playing fair. You would have done whatever it took to stop more rockets from being fired at you and your loved ones.

The leaders of Hamas knew in advance the likely response if they fired rockets into Israel. They’ve seen that movie before. Still, they fired rockets at Israeli civilians. They did it from Gaza apartment buildings and hospitals and office buildings, knowing that Israel would attack to stop yet more rockets from being fired. They knew that Israel silencing the rocket launchers would cause the death of a lot of Palestinians. Indeed, that was made worse because Hamas forced Palestinian civilians to remain in those buildings even after they were explicitly warned by Israel of coming attacks.

If there’s one thing Hamas leadership is good at it’s creating dead Palestinians so they can claim victimhood, gain world sympathy and make Israelis look like monsters. Where’s the fairness in that, especially for Palestinians?

Anger, hate and violence are always present or about to show up wherever Jews have gone. It’s the continuation of the world’s oldest bigotry and it is part of the reason why Israel exists and why Never Again means exactly that. The cavalry is never going to come over the hill for Jews, not in Israel, not in the United State and not in London (although the police did detain 4 suspects after the current anti-Semitic hate fest).

Jews have to take care of ourselves, regardless of whether John Oliver or anyone else thinks violence is a playground game with fairness rules. If the world doesn’t understand Never Again after the murder of the 6 million and Israel being repeatedly attacked by neighbors, there’s nothing I or anyone else can do to clarify it for them.

Palestinians are convoying through the streets of London yelling, “Fuck the Jews! Rape their daughters!” and the world’s condemnation of that vile hatred is  .  .  .  inaudible. It’s the same old crickets of the world’s oldest bigotry.

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  • * Google “rabbi attacked” and you’ll find links to stories of this happening in other countries, too.

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The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
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Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Still Looking For the Up-Side


Reading time – 1:41; Viewing time – 2:38  .  .  .

President Trump has made good on yet another brain dead campaign promise, this time by moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. There was a formal ceremony to recognize the change and it included words from a pastor who has publicly announced that all Jews are going to hell, comments from know-nothing, double-dealing Jared Kushner and self-satisfied chest thumping from hard line Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as Donald Trump on video.

After decades of U.S. Presidents having the good sense to avoid a declaration of Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel (check out this post), Donald Trump has once again trashed well thought out policy in favor of smashing and breaking everything in sight and in the process has managed to jump into a smoldering pile of terrible.

Even as the lovely embassy ceremonies were proceeding, Gazans were conducting a massive protest just a few miles away, where dozens of Gazans were killed and thousands wounded by Israeli forces. It won’t stop – there will be more violence triggered by the U.S. embassy move, because it is seen in the Palestinian and entire Arab world as the full embracing of Israel by the U.S. and the total abandonment of Palestinians. Indeed, Turkey has recalled its ambassador to the U.S. in protest. The obvious dissing of Palestinians is exactly why Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama exercised the escape clause of the Oslo Accords and did not move our embassy.

Once again, though, Donald Trump has made clear that all he cares about is making transactional deals and that he has no concept of strategy or consequences. He’s actually ignorant enough to believe that he’s just achieved something worthwhile.

Instead, Trump has told the Palestinians that the U.S. is no longer an honest broker for peace, leaving them without hope, so they have nothing to lose by being violent. It is what all people without hope eventually do.

When Trump first announced in December, 2017 his intention to move the U.S. embassy, I asked for help to understand the up-side to the U.S. of such a move, because I couldn’t see a thing of value. Nobody offered anything. Crickets.

So, once again I invite you to offer the up-side of this for the United States. Please put your notions in the Comments section below.

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Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Duplicity


Reading time – 2:56; Viewing time – 4:27 .  .  .

The congressional act that followed the 1995 Oslo Accords called for the U.S. to recognize Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel, as well as move the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv. There was an escape clause in the act that allowed the President to delay recognition and the move by 6 months. That escape clause has been exercised twice a year ever since – until now. There are at least two noteworthy observations to make about these events.

When Bill Clinton first exercised the escape clause in 1996 he was viciously attacked by Republicans, notably by Senator John Kyle (R-AZ) and Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS, now the bankrupting governor of his state), claiming that Clinton was in contempt of Congress. You may recall that this was during the Newt Gingrich, Contract With America era, when the Republicans in Congress made it clear that they had the sole objective of opposing anything Clinton.

What was so very odd is that each time George W. Bush signed that same escape clause, which he did 16 times, neither Kyle nor Brownback nor any other Republican seemed to have a problem with that. And that same kind of duplicity on every issue is exactly what happened in the Obama era, those heady Republican days when Mitch McConnell reminded us that job one for Republicans was ensuring that Obama would be a one-term President. Let’s look at this type of behavior in another context.

During the Clinton presidency Gingrich and his howlers appointed Ken Starr to be Independent Counsel to investigate Clinton’s dealings in the failed real estate deal known as Whitewater. Finding nothing legally actionable there, Starr proceeded to investigate every nuance of both Clintons for five years and continued to find nothing actionable until the the Monica Lewinsky affair at last allowed them to smear the President publicly. There were no Republicans then claiming that Starr’s wandering investigation was a witch hunt. There were no objections to partisan digging for dirt, no attacks on the Department of Justice, no wailing of improper actions on the part of the Independent Counsel.

Now, though, there is a chorus of Republicans in Congress with abhorrent accusations against both the FBI and Robert Mueller, as he conducts his investigation into Trump campaign collusion with the Russians. It’s the same kind of duplicity as for the Jerusalem issue. That leads to the second point.

I’ve scoured sources looking for an upside to the U.S. of Trump’s declaration of formally recognizing Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel. That’s something that most nations have not done, this in an effort to avoid becoming an obstacle to a peaceful solution to the strife in the region. What is the possible good that will come of recognizing Jerusalem as the capitol and of moving the embassy?

Trump’s declaration has surely been good for militant Palestinians and Muslims around the world, as they have already reacted with demonstrations and violence. Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli hardliners like the in-your-face value that comes of Trump’s declaration, but what about value for the U.S.?

All I can find of value here is the pleasure that so-called Evangelicals derive from some self-satisfying biblical notions they hold, as well as the glee of hard-core Trump supporters for his sticking it to somebody. That might garner more votes for Roy Moore to become Senator Pedophile and keep that Alabama Senate seat Republican. That, in turn, may help Trump to further destroy American culture and values. Truly, I have not found a single benefit to the United States beyond that, if you can truly call those benefits.

Meanwhile, connect the dots to congressional Republicans. Where is their outrage over Trump sabotaging the possibility for peace in the Middle East? What happened to conservative calls for what serves this country?

This isn’t my father’s Republican Party and we are the worse for that.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we’re on a path to continually fail to make things better. It’s my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That’s the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!) and engage.  Thanks!

Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Friends – Or Not


Reading time – 2:50; Viewing time – 4:56  .  .  .

A key reason that many divorces are so bitter, so vitriolic and often find people doing self-destructive things only because doing so will harm the other person, too, is a profound sense of betrayal. It’s the same reason that we treat traitors far more harshly than we treat criminals. A betrayal by someone we trusted is, indeed, a bitter thing and their saying “I’m sorry” doesn’t magically restore trust. That has consequences on the world stage.

Imagine you’re an Israeli Mossad counter-terrorism operative and you’ve spent years building relationships that have put you in a vital position with key ISIS people where you can collect critical information about ISIS terror campaigns. You listen, you learn, and then when you can manage to get word to your superiors, you tell them of ISIS plans for attacks on the west. You constantly guard against even a whiff of suspicion about your double agent status among ISIS sympathizers, because that suspicion alone would likely result in your death.

And then, on an otherwise ordinary day and in one blistering moment of betrayal, the President of the United States blows your cover.

If you’re lucky, you find a way to disappear before ISIS thugs can grab you. If not, you’re already dead.

That’s the likely short version of the current experience of one Mossad agent and that story reverberates throughout the Israeli intelligence community, as they have lost a critical source of information for the safety of their country and perhaps lost a colleague and friend as well. How do you suppose those folks feel right now about sharing intelligence with the United States?

“‘We will think twice before conveying very sensitive information,” said Danny Yatom, Israel’s former head of Mossad.

Further, Yatom said, “If Monday night’s Washington Post report that US President Donald Trump recently revealed classified information to Russia is true, it would be a grave violation of intelligence sharing protocol and could lead to harm to the source  .  .  .” [i.e. the Mossad agent].

But that’s just one Israeli talking, right? Turns out there are many more people with something to say about this:

In an interview with ABC News, Dan Shapiro, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel called the president and his team “careless,” saying that the reported disclosures demonstrate a “poor understanding of how to guard sensitive information.”

“The real risk is not just this source,” said Matt Olsen, the former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center .  .  . “but future sources of information about plots against us.”

The immediate danger due to President Trump’s breathtakingly hazardous revelation to the Russians is the life of a Mossad agent. The long term and potentially far more destructive danger is the future lack of intelligence cooperation we can expect, not just from Israel, but from other allies as well, as they focus on the needs of their own countries, realizing that they cannot trust the United States of America to consistently act with their welfare in mind. Such is the peril brought about by President Trump’s betrayal of a close ally without any concern for consequences.

Following a betrayal – especially one as public as this – it’s very difficult to restore trust. Think about the president who made that happen the next time you board an airplane for an international flight home, or go to a nightclub anywhere or just send your kids to school, knowing that our allies are not helping to keep you and your loved ones safe.

Friends don’t betray friends.

Finally,

James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” tweeted President Trump on May 12 regarding their meeting on January 27, when the president is said to have asked for Comey’s loyalty to him and Comey reportedly pledged only his honesty.

“Tapes” is an archaic term now, as nearly all recording is digital. Sadly, even those calling for the release of recordings of Trump’s Oval Office conversations are using the word “tapes”. I can easily imagine Trump weaseling around a demand for voice recordings if he has them, because he can truthfully say that there are no tapes.

Memo to everyone: Stop using the word “tapes”. A catchall like “audio recordings” will be much more useful and far less likely to invite intentional misleading.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe and engage.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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