Btsalmo, a human rights organization based in Israel, has written to the editor of Sabado Magazine, demanding the dismissal of cartoonist Vasco Gargalo for his cartoon of a “Palestinian” Holocaust. The cartoon depicts Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shoving a PA flag-draped coffin into an oven bearing the infamous slogan from the gates of Auschwitz, Arbeit Macht Frei, “work will set you free.”
The letter to the executive editor of Sabado was copied, among others, to the Portuguese Prime Minister, the Ambassador of Portugal to Israel, Israel’s prime minister, and the Israeli Ambassador to Portugal. Btsalmo CEO Shai Glick, notes in the letter that the cartoon qualifies as both Holocaust denial and minimization according to the official International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.
The General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of America, to be held this coming week in Israel, has created a bit of a ruckus here in Israel. For one thing, the Tel Aviv venue is thought to betray an agenda. Important gatherings like this should be held in Jerusalem, in order to underscore the idea that the Holy City is the capital of the Jewish State. There’s a feeling that the choice of Tel Aviv over Jerusalem is meant to be “in your face” to President Trump, who moved the United States embassy in the opposite direction, something much desired by both Israeli and American Jewry up until now. Writer Caroline Glick believes the entire event is meant as an anti-Trump protest.
But there are other concerns. The GA has billed the event as “Israel and the Diaspora: We need to talk,” going on to describe what the organizers apparently see as a rift between Israeli Jews and American Jews. This rift, as they define it, seems to be about the liberal views of American Jews versus the conservative beliefs of most Israelis; the religious pluralism of American Jewry versus the Orthodox status quo in Israel; and finally, the desire of American Jewry for a two-state solution, something both Israelis and Arabs have rejected.
Do these issues really need discussion? If American Jews are liberal, believe in religious pluralism, and tolerance, why should there be any rift at all between the two communities? In a tolerant, liberal culture, is there not room for other beliefs, conservative or otherwise? And if not, is it really a tolerant, liberal culture that shuts out all other viewpoints?
If one believes in religious pluralism, shouldn’t that person believe that Israelis have a right to choose how they wish to run their religious affairs? If the shul that Israelis do not attend is Orthodox, is this something that liberal American Jews are unable to tolerate? Israel provided an egalitarian prayer space at American Jewry’s request/demand. The space is almost always empty of people. But the regular Western Wall Plaza, with its separate spaces for men and women, is packed, day and night, with prayerful Israeli Jews.
Would the organizers of the GA have us believe there is something wrong with Jews coming to the Wall in throngs, and praying according to Orthodox custom? We aren’t stopping them from praying as they wish. So why are they so bothered by our pervasive orthodoxy by choice? Do they wish us to be more religiously diverse? If so, is this not a form of coercion? Are we incapable of making our own religious choices that we need to be Big Brothered by American Jewry?
As for the two-state solution, none of the actors in the region want this. It’s an unworkable idea. Yet American Jews keep telling us we need to do this, as though we are incapable of formulating our own ideas about the things that directly affect our quality of life and security. It’s paternalistic. And simplistic. Because they are unable to even adequately explain why they demand we do this thing, since it makes no sense. Adherents of the two-state solution would seem to be ignorant of the fact that no one in the region wants this “solution.” And they just continue to repeat the idea wherever they are presented with a platform.
Why can’t the Federation come to Israel and appreciate that we have our own society and say vive la difference and live and let live? Are we not a sovereign nation to which they have pledged their support? And speaking of support, my personal bugaboo with the Federation is its refusal to fund projects in areas over the Green Line that Israel won in a defensive war in 1967.
Judea and Samaria are indigenous Jewish territory. Judea, where I live, takes its name from the Jewish people. The territories are our ancestral heritage. How can a major Jewish organization take the stance that Jews have no right to settle in their indigenous territory? It’s not only an affront to history and our biblical narrative, it’s the complete opposite of what it means to be a liberal.
Liberals are supposed to fight for indigenous land rights, are they not? Instead, liberals tell Israeli Jews they are somehow in the wrong for building homes in these areas. They tell them that the area must remain Jew-free, because settling the area is a provocation to Arabs, or unhelpful to a nonexistent peace process with a declared enemy.
How does it conform to the liberal standards to tell any group of people that it is wrong for them to live in this place or that? Would you tell Baptists they have no right to live in Ohio? Or blacks that they have no right to live in Boro Park? These directives would be deemed politically incorrect, intolerant, illiberal. Yet the Federation has no trouble telling Jews that they have no right to live in Judea. That it is somehow evil for them to build homes and lives on land that belonged to their ancestors.
The truth is, there is no rift, and nothing to talk about. American Jews must realize that in order to be true to their liberal ideals, they must support Israel not just with money, but for its views in all spheres, especially those that are at variance with their own. This is the truest expression of liberal values: to appreciate that at 70 years old, Israel is quite capable of deciding its societal norms and beliefs.
We’ve grown up. And we’ve earned the right to live our truth.
Come to Tel Aviv instead of Jerusalem if you must. But note that Israel is in no need of a makeover. We ask you instead, to open your (liberal) hearts and minds to the reality and beauty that is Israel, and like us just the way we are.
Many people said that reading my Facebook posts cataloging my grief after the tragic murder of Ari Fuld, HY”D, helped them to process their own feelings of loss. The feelings slowly came out, and as they did, I had nowhere to put them but Facebook. It was a strong need to talk about the grief process.
I decided to gather these posts here together in one spot so that even people outside of Facebook might read them. (I am omitting some of the first angry posts that yell at Ari’s enemies, as I’m not sure these outbursts are helpful to anyone.)
The Friends of Judea and Samaria is a tiny lobby comprised of just 14 of the 715 members of the EU Parliament. The aims of this miniscule group are noble: they want the EU to stop funding Arab terror and to “abolish trade barriers of the European Union imposed on Jewish goods from the West Bank (Judea and Samaria).” But what on earth does any of this have to do with Mudar Zahran, the man who has duped the Jews into thinking he is the future ruler of Jordan?? And why did Zahran, after the fact, remove the Israeli flag and the sign that says Friends of Judea and Samaria from his own photos and video of the event?
Zahran’s name is nowhere to be found on the list of speakers for the event. Attendees instead, are vaguely told they will be addressed by Jewish and Arab businessman about their cooperation in Judea & Samaria.
Zahran is not a businessman and has no ties to Judea and Samaria. Mudar Zahran is a welfare recipient living in the UK.
Here is Mudar, claiming he spoke to the EU Parliament.
Our speech in the European Parliament – Foreign Relations Committee – 4 September 2018
“This is our last communication to the European Union, either stand with us and renounce the regime of Abdullah and Abbas, advocates of extremism and terrorism and anti-Semitism, otherwise you will go out
“We want peace and cooperation with Israel, the interest of our people and Israel is shared, and Israel is blessed only when we thrive and we thrive when Israel thrives.”
Fact check: Zahran didn’t speak to the EU or its Foreign Relations Committee. He only spoke to some 20 people, specific to the Friends of Judea and Samaria in the EU Parliament.
Here is a photo of him speaking at the conference in which you can clearly see the Israeli flag and the identity of his host: Friends of Judea and Samaria in the European Parliament.
Here is Mudar Zahran’s doctored photo in which the flag and all mention of the host organization is removed.
It is very sad that Jews continue to promote a fraud who doesn’t even acknowledge or appreciate their hosting him. That fraud now extends to members of the European Parliament, who have been exploited and lied about in this small man’s quest to gain legitimacy.
Perhaps the worst part of this is that now the Friends of Judea and Samaria in the European Parliament, this very small lobby of MEPs willing to work on behalf of Israel, now think that Mudar Zahran is a credible entity. One can only hope they will not fund his lifestyle.
Tawil Fadiha, was probably the late, lamented Latma’s most popular character. And that’s no small thing. For those of us in the trenches fighting the media bias against Israel, Latma was everything. It was our comic relief amidst the terrible frustration of not being heard, though we were telling the truth. We waited with eagerness for each new installment and we were downright crushed when the show lost its funding (in a really sneaky way).
So it’s a big deal that our beloved Tawil Fadiha, Palestinian Minister of Uncontrollable Lies is back with a new song on behalf of the Legal Grounds Campaign organization, an Israel advocacy group. Could this be the beginning of a serious Latma comeback? Doesn’t seem so, but let’s just enjoy this rare gem for what it is–a delightful takedown of the fake Arab narrative. (When is the last time you heard satire reference the San Remo Conference or the Temple Mount?)
Wish you could see some more Latma? “We Con the World” was the Latma clip that went seriously viral, satirizing the Mavi Marmara incident and garnering some 6 million views. Youtube took it down for copyright violation, even though there is no copyright issue in borrowing songs for satire. Caroline Glick, the journalist who founded Latma (and appears in the clip), fought like a lioness until they put it back up.
After a terror attack, the connections come out. Israel is a small country. You almost always have some sort of connection to the victims.
With the Salomon family of Halamish, a friend I think of as a brother informed me that the young soldier who neutralized the terrorist through the kitchen window, a hero by all accounts, was his wife’s cousin, as is the young hero’s mother.
That was a nice connection, so to speak. One to make me feel pride by association. A comfort in the midst of grave horror.
But then a friend messaged me on Facebook. She wrote:
“Varda. Friday night, after we finished our Shabbat meal, some kids came to pick up our 12-year-old son Micha on their way to the youth gathering. One of those kids was Nitzan Davidi*, the niece of Michal Salomon. The Davidi* family lives not far from us.
“Later we heard there had been a pigua, a terror attack, but there were no details yet. Not until after Shabbat, when my husband came home from the synagogue and announced, “The Davidis have a new widow and her children in their home.”
“Nitzan’s mother is the sister of Michal Salomon.
“I was sick to my stomach, hunched over with terrible stomach cramps all that night. I know it’s not about me but—it came so close. Nitzan in our home while her uncle was being slaughtered.
“I went for a walk with my husband Saturday night, the night after the slaughter, to get some fresh air. We passed the Davidi home. People were milling about. Like a house of mourning. Then I saw the double stroller. I don’t know why that stood out for me, the stroller, but I was thinking: ‘Why a double stroller? Who, in the Davidi family, needs one of THOSE.’
“Later that night I read that the Salomons had one-year-old twins. One-year-old twins! What kind of monster kills a father! Sick. Just SICK.
“The whole thing was just so very close to home. I was consumed with the thought that Nitzan was in our home at the time of the slaughter, completely unaware. Just a normal kid on a Friday night, picking up her friends for a get together.
“I kept imagining Nitzan coming home happy and tired, going to sleep, and then waking up to the phone call and the keening.”
We both contemplated that for a minute. A young girl being woken from her Shabbat sleep with the worst possible news. Her home transformed to one of deep mourning.
My friend’s experience seemed to touch me by association. The murders in Halamish, the plight of the young widow and her children were more real than ever. I began to imagine the kids hearing their father, grandfather, and aunt being slaughtered, the screams. How would they ever be normal?
It was setting in, the horror, in a new way. There was a new association now. I felt like I knew the family. I could picture the Davidi family. The house. The stroller.
On Tuesday my friend had more to tell me. She eased into it with small talk about diet, mine and hers, working her way around to the terror attack.
“Nitzan’s father, the brother in-law of Michal Salomon? We were chatting and got to talking about the massacre, of course. It’s hard to think about anything else. Yaron* said that terrorists dope themselves up with drugs before they do their thing. They have to be high to do it.”
I shrugged, “Everyone knows that.”
“Well, I didn’t,” she said.
“Anyway, Yaron described the attack to me! He said that Elad [Salomon, Michal’s husband] had the terrorist in a bear hug as the terrorist was stabbing him. Thirty times the terrorist stabbed him in the back. Then he went to work on his face.
“I managed to ask Yaron about Nitzan. ‘When did she know?’
“‘Oh, she was already in bed and sound asleep when we got the call,’ he said.”
There was a pause while my friend let that sink in for me. Observant Jews don’t use the phone on Shabbat. There is only one reason a phone rings like that. It was Michal calling, telling them what had happened.
It’s good that Nitzan was able to sleep through that night, I thought. One more night of childhood innocence before learning of the evil that had hit her aunt and uncle, HY”D, may Hashem avenge the blood of the Salomons.
I know that all Jews are related to each other multiple times. We’re a small nation that was forced to marry cousins in the Diaspora. So I knew in theory that I was related to Michal Salomon, to her husband Elad, his father and sister, and to NItzan and Yaron, too.
Now I felt it, as well.
These are the details you don’t see in the news. These are the quiet, intimate, awful details that are whispered, that almost aren’t whispered, so painful are they to speak of.
Most of us have been thinking about the brave soldier, thinking of Michal Salomon, her courage and strength in taking her children upstairs to the bedroom, locking the door, calling the police.
But now I am thinking of something else: there’s a different picture in my mind, the one that explains all that blood on the floor that we saw in the photos. I’m thinking of Elad, holding the terrorist in a bear hug with all his might, trying to keep him from hurting anyone else, taking all that pain, being stabbed thirty times in the back, and then finally, as his strength ebbs away, being stabbed repeatedly in the face, his final memory one of a knife coming much too close, so close, so many times.
And we don’t even know how it went with Elad’s father and sister.
It’s personal, you see. This massacre of a Jewish family. It hurts.
This is my family, even if I never knew them. This terrorist that came to hurt this beautiful family? He acted out of pure evil. His soul is black as tar. A monster, not a human being.
And now there is a new widow who must try to heal children who heard their father, grandfather, and aunt being slaughtered. Michal must try to make their nightmares go away while mourning the love of her life. But the nightmares will never disappear.
That is who they will always be, the Salomon children, from here on in. They and their mother: they will always be those nightmares. The massacre of Halamish.
A German reporter presses an Arab woman, Maria Abunismeh, in order to understand the Arab objection to enhanced security measures on the Temple Mount, in the clip below. He asks: “So many people in Germany don’t really understand. They say, you know there was a terror attack, two policemen were killed by weapons that were inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. They came out, shot the policemen, and went inside. Why don’t you want these security metal gates, at the entrance?”
“No, no. What they say it’s not true. Do you believe them? They say everything. Many stories say. But this is our Aqsa, this holy place. This is all Muslim.”
The German reporter responds, “So which part don’t you believe? That the policemen weren’t killed?” and this goes on and on, with Maria spinning her wheels weaving a nonsensical story, the German reporter trying to understand exactly what it is she believes.
The money quote? Maria, explaining that the official story about the terror attack and the need for heightened security are bogus, says, “Yahud always lie.”
Get that? Not “Israelis.” But “Jews.”
“Yahud” being Arabic for “Jews.”
But watch for yourselves. See how Maria weaves her story to an (illogical) conclusion: The dead policemen shot themselves!!!
Now that I’ve seen Wonder Woman I know exactly why Lebanon, Tunisia, and Algeria have banned the movie (and Jordan wanted to but couldn’t figure out how to legally do so). Gal Gadot is STUNNING and JEWISH and ISRAELI and her character Wonder Woman is STRONG and BRAVE and GOOD.
Just like the IDF.
The Arab world that slanders and hates us simply can’t take it that instead of being the evil thing they say we are, this movie, as embodied by Gal Gadot, portrays us as the good guy, the righteous ones. The ones who don’t like to fight but who are not going to shy away from making things right in the world. And if that means killing bad guy jihadists then we’re going to go full on CRAZY on them until they are DEAD and the world is SAFE.
Because that’s who we are. We’re JEWS.
The Jews brought morality to the world with our God-given Torah. Before the Torah, there was no concept that stealing or murder or sleeping around was wrong. We brought all that to the world.
The world? They can try to smear Israel and the IDF all they want, but we know who we are and Gal is a symbol of that, a symbol of morality.
We treat minorities in our country with utmost respect and tolerance.
We are the good guys.
And they just can’t handle that.
They don’t want their people to see that on a screen. Jews good? Can’t allow our people to see or know that. Even if it’s just a fantasy, just stunts and trick photography.
Because that film sums up the struggle of Israel and the Jewish people as a force for good in the world.
And Gal was chosen out of all women to play that role.
Because she is absolutely perfect.
Because she is who she is.
A strong, Jewish woman. Kind and good.
Thank you Sharon Katz for bringing 125 women together to cheer for Gal at Cinema City in the heart of the holy Jewish city, Jerusalem.
This disturbing sign labeling Israel “Apartheid” was spotted by my eyes on the ground in South Africa, Gillian Hirschfield Lawrenz. She wrote: “Seen today outside Oliver Tambo International airport in Johannesburg.”
It remains mind boggling to me that anyone in South Africa could compare the state of Arab Jewish relations in Israel with that of South Africa during the Apartheid era. In Israel, Arabs are treated in the same hospitals as Jews and even share rooms. Arabs shop alongside Jews in supermarkets and malls. Arabs ride alongside Jews on our trains and buses. We have Arab justices in the Israeli supreme court, and Arab members of Knesset.
Did you have all that in South Africa during Apartheid? Black judges in your high courts? Blacks shopping alongside whites? Blacks sharing hospital rooms with whites? Could blacks ride on buses with whites, sharing a seat perhaps?
Of course not. In the South Africa of the Apartheid era, whites looked down on black people. Black people were forbidden to mix with whites. And there isn’t anyone alive in South Africa who does not know this.
But you know where there is Apartheid in Israel? Wherever Arabs live, play, and work. Jews dare not ride Arab buses or enter Arab villages, or they’ll be LYNCHED. That’s not just talk. It has actually happened.
It is, by the way, against the law for Jews to enter PA territory. There are warning signs outside of every Arab village.
Note that the sign references “Israeli citizens.” Here’s a newsflash for you: no one is going to arrest an Israeli Arab for visiting his cousins. Where you see “Israeli citizens” read “Jew.”
Note also that the reason Abbas doesn’t want Jews to build settlements is because he not only wants Jewish territory, but wants it Jew free, or as they said in Nazi Germany, judenrein. Which is ironic, considering that Israel, on attaining statehood, didn’t expel its Arab populace. That’s right. All those supposed Arab “refugees” are those who left (and their children and children’s children) at the behest of the Arab states that attacked the new State of Israel. They said, in essence, “Get out of the way. We’re going to whup Jewish butt and then you can return home.”
Those Arab “refugees” left of their own volition. No Jew made them leave. That’s not how we roll.
Apartheid? They keep using that word. And in South Africa they know exactly what it means. Which means they’re simply LYING Sons of You Know Whatsies.
You’re about to read the most amazing thank you note ever. But first some background:
For the past half a year, I’ve been involved in the most amazing theater project. A brand new theater company, the Women’s Performance Community of Jerusalem, put on Count the Stars, an original musical by and for women. The musical is based on the journey of Abraham and Sarah, the Jewish patriarch and matriarch. We women of Jerusalem and Greater Jerusalem, rehearsed twice a week, week in and week out, for six months at the OU Israel Center.
During this time, the cast, comprised of women and girls of all ages, forged a powerful bond. Most of us had performed in a variety of shows through the years, but never did we experience such unity as we did this time around. There was just something special here. Something remarkable.
Some Count the Stars backstage fun
One cast member thought it was about the lack of ego among the performers. I thought it was about the dynamism of one of the founders of the performance company, Sharon Katz. Or perhaps it was about the fact that we were doing something totally new in theater, something new and Jewish, and doing it in the heart of the holy city of Jerusalem.
Whatever it was, that special something, and whatever the reason for it, it continues. We had our four performances at the Gerard Behar Theater. We had our cast party at the OU Center. And still, we’re just not ready or willing to say goodbye. That’s why we have a Chanukah party scheduled. We don’t want to see the holy atmosphere, the Jewish sisterhood we found here in Jerusalem, to dissipate.
This is something that must be nurtured, treasured, and indulged.
Now I’d like to say that even though I have a full time job, I felt pretty free to pick up and leave for rehearsals at the end of a work day. My kids are older. They can fend for themselves. I don’t know if I could have managed if they were younger. It was a big sacrifice for the women in our cast who are still raising young children. Or rather, it was a big sacrifice for their husbands.
Just how big a sacrifice became clear at our cast party, when our director, Shifra Penkower, read us a letter from the husband of one of our cast members. It seems that Betsalel Steinhart, a licensed tour guide and Jewish educator, sent this letter to the production crew with the specific intent that it be read aloud to the cast. He meant to surprise his wife Shoshana, a petite dancer who in real life, is an occupational therapist at Alyn Hospital Pediatric & Adolescent Rehabilitation Center.
The Steinhart Family
He certainly succeeded. I watched her out of the corner of my eye as the letter was read. She was moved to the core. She was actually shaking with emotion.
Here is the letter:
Tuesday December 6th. BS’D.
To the wonderful women of Count the Stars, from the long lost men in your lives…
I think I am speaking on behalf of all the Count the Stars men when I write these words. True, I have never met them, your husbands, boyfriends, fathers and sons, and can only see my wife, Shoshana, as she went through the last six months, but I am hazarding a guess that this applies to us all.
I am sitting in my quiet house, as a few miles from here the last performance is winding down. My kids are sleeping or reading, and my wife, as usual, is not here.
I have two words for you all, the two words that have defined our nation since our matriarch Leah in this week’s Parsha named her fourth son Yehuda-Judah, meaning I will thank G-d, and eventually became the name of our people, Yehudim.
Thank you to Hashem for giving you the strength and ability to do what you did.
Thank you for your dedicated, hard work. Especially to the team of Shifra, Sharon, Bati, Judy, Ellen & Avital, but to you all.
Thank you for putting on such a beautiful show that inspired so many.
Thank you for raising the lives of the women in our lives who mean so much to us, despite the price we have paid (Laundry-help!-What are delicates??? What should I make for dinner??? Is there a limit to how many times I can order pizza??? Which kid wears what size and which clothes?? Where is the cleaning fluid?? Ahhhhhh!!!)
Thank you for fanning that spark of creativity that burns within the women in our lives, that sent them to the tryouts for Count the Stars so long ago, and enabling that spark to become a burning flame of intense exuberance.
Thank you for the satisfied exhaustion that was on the faces of our women, when returning home late after yet another crazy practice, with the tiredness that only comes from doing something so fulfilling.
Thank you for giving them the opportunity to glow, to shine, to sing, to act, to dance, to radiate joy and happiness, to release all their tensions on stage as they gave their all, and to become the parts that they played with all that entails.
Thank you for giving expression to the confident, radiant smile that my wife only wears when she is in dance mode. One is only really in full flower when one is expressing their creative essence, and you gave them this chance to do so.
Thank you for caring about each other.
Thank you for building a kehilla, which by nature of its existence and the shared values that its members embody, brings forth a greater meaning and a more permanent sense of connectivity: you will never forget this, in essence.
Thank you for giving the religious women, who yearn for the opportunity to do the dances and sing the songs that maybe they wouldn’t feel comfortable doing in front of men, that opportunity to do so.
Thank you for returning our women to us, each invigorated and inspired in her own way.
Our one complaint? We just wish we could have been there to see you…and in that, I definitely speak on behalf of all the men.
May Hashem grant you all the strength to continue and to perform again and again,
We love you all, and welcome you back with open arms,
It was such a beautiful letter that I felt the need to share it with the world, here in this space. It is not too many men that
could or would write such a letter.
Which proves the point I’m trying to make.
We did something special here with this show. Something that is difficult to put into words. Something that I feel could only have happened in the Holy City between Jewish sisters.
And we should definitely keep it going somehow, do more shows, create more magic, make the bible come to life on the stage, make it enjoyable, and do it all with a whole heart, in happiness and love and sisterhood.