About Varda Epstein

http://www.judeanrose.com/

A third-generation-born Pittsburgher and midlife mother of 12, Varda is a parenting expert at Kars4Kids and an advocate for fair media treatment of Israel.

Posts by Varda Epstein:

Scout

Scout’s Honor: 250,000 Scouts Follow Murderer’s Path

No sooner had I hit “publish” on my most recent blog on the response of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) regarding the Baha Alyan “leadership” training course than the promised update arrived at my inbox. Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) published a clip of a short segment of the closing ceremony of this course named for the Arab terrorist who killed three men on a Jerusalem bus in October.

From the PMW website:

Text on banner with picture of terrorist Baha Alyan:
“Palestinian Scouts and Guides Association (i.e., PSA)
Preparatory studies – Jerusalem
The Committee for Developing Leadership
Aug. 24-28, 2016
Martyr Baha Alyan Course”

Chairman of the Jerusalem Scout Commission Maher Muhaisen: “We thank our brothers in the Shabab Al-Eizariya Club for letting us use their clubhouse…”

Terrorist Baha Alyan’s father, Muhammad Alyan: “The scouts are the leaders of society, they are the leaders of the people, they are the symbol of giving, they are the symbol of sacrifice. I think – no, I am certain – that Baha, while it is true that he died as a Martyr (Shahid), there are thousands of Bahas in Baha’s place. Now Baha is a soul in Heaven, but his body is in a [morgue] refrigerator…”

Baha Alyan Course instructor, Muhammad Al-Dahdar: “Baha remains among us, he remains in our hearts, and emphasizes to you that 250,000 scouts and guides in the Palestinian Scout Association are Baha. And if Allah wills it, they are following Baha’s path. In the name of the Palestinian Scouts and Guides Association and the Jerusalem District Scouts and Guides Commission, I am happy [inaudible]…”

Terrorist’s father is given a scouts’ scarf

The audience shouts: “Ya Baha, ya Alyan! You are a symbol to the Martyrs (Shahids)! We salute you in the Jerusalem scouts! Palestine! Jerusalem! Ours, ours, ours!”

Baha Alyan Course instructor, Muhammad Al-Dahdar: “You (i.e., Baha’s parents) [are the ones] who gave birth to this good and living role model for the young people of Palestine, to whom [we] tip [our] hats… thanks to what they [the youth] gave for Palestine, and because they sacrificed the most precious thing to them of all – which is life. They hated [and gave up] life for Palestine. They hated [and gave up] life because they wanted freedom and independence. I am happy to be with you at this moment in order to together commemorate our heroic Martyr, brother Baha Alyan.”

PMW identifies for us some of the men standing in front of the banner at the ceremony:

Muhammad Alyan – father of terrorist murderer Baha Alyan
Maher Muhaisen – Chairman of the Jerusalem Scout Commission
Mufid Al-Barq, Muhammad Al-Dahdar, and Sa’id Atoun – Martyr Baha Alyan Course instructors
Ahmed Mashahreh – Author of article on the course published on PSA’s website on Aug. 25, 2016, and in the official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida on Aug. 27, 2016

The ceremony included both a symbolic wedding and a symbolic funeral for the “martyr” A/K/A murderer Baha Alyan. All under the auspices of the Palestinian Scout Association, so recently inducted as a member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement.

It is a terrible thing to watch adults exploit children, watch them tell children that terror is leadership, and listen to them heap glory on murderers. But it is simply repugnant to witness adults do all of these things under the banner of the Scout Movement.

Will the World Organization of the Scout Movement strip the Palestinian Scout Association of its membership, or will the WOSM turn a blind eye, make excuses, and effectively remain a co-sponsor of Arab terror?

The watching and waiting on this one?

It’s kind of hard to breathe right now.

WOSM: Lies, Damned Lies, and The Baha Alyan Leadership Course

WOSM, the World Organization of the Scout Movement, has been sold a pack of lies by the Palestinian Scout Association (PSA), regarding a “leadership training course” they held called  the Martyr – Leader Baha Alyan Course. The Palestinian Scout Movement was accepted as a full member of WOSM in April. Baha Alyan, as readers of this blog will recall, murdered peace activist and educator Richard Lakin and two other men on a Jerusalem bus in October.

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) Director Itamar Marcus, gathered information about the course and sent it to the WOSM, with a letter demanding that this body cancel the PSA’s membership.

I too, contacted the WOSM, via their Facebook page demanding they disassociate themselves from a troupe that glorifies terror against my people. I received no response. Friends and readers also wrote to various entities within the WOSM. One friend, for instance, wrote to Boy Scouts of America, telling them that if they did not do something about this, he would be turning in his Eagle badge, a cherished memento from childhood.

With the help of a parent from my son’s Israeli scout troop, I discovered that the Israeli Scout Movement, Tzofim, is only patterned after the Boy Scouts, and is not actually a member of the WOSM. Delegates of Tzofim, however, are sent to the States each year to receive training from the “real” Boy Scouts. The parent who helped me gather this intel thought it curious that the Arabs have been accepted as full members of the WOSM, while Tzofim remains on the outside margins of the movement. It is not clear to either of us if this is by choice, or by default (because Jews).

PMW had an update today on the story. WOSM responded by saying the troop that held the Baha Alyan “leadership course” had nothing to do with the Palestinian Scout Association and therefore nothing to do with WOSM.

This, of course, is a lie. One that was cooked up by the Palestinian Scout Association, who, when confronted by the WOSM said, “Oh, no. That wasn’t us. That was the Jerusalem Scout Commission. They have nothing to do with the Palestinian Scout Association. They’re a branch of the Palestinian Scouts AND GUIDES Association. An entirely different horse which has nothing to do the World Organization of the Scouts Movement.”

The lie was regurgitated by the WOSM in a press release:

The website on which the original article [about the Alyan course] was published belongs to a group which calls itself ‘The Palestinian Scout and Guide Association’ which is not recognised by WOSM. This is the Arabic heading used on the website. The recognised group in Palestine is the ‘Palestinian Scout Association.’… Our recognised group has not been able to secure a domain name in Palestine and therefore does not have a website, which adds to the confusion.

Spokesperson for the WOSM, Stephen Peck, in an email to PMW’s Itamar Marcus, added:

The website of the Palestine Scout and Guide Association uses our symbols and branding to give themselves credibility and to give credibility to their views. You will understand that in the current climate, there is little we can do about that… The spokesperson for the Palestine Scout Association is Tawfeeq Salem who is the Secretary General.

This too, is a lie, told to the WOSM by representatives of the Palestinian Scout Association. As PMW states clearly on its website:

Evidence:

  1. The Palestinian scouts have only one name in Arabic: The Palestinian Scouts and Guides Association.

WOSM’s spokesperson Stephen Peck was informed by the PSA that there are two different organizations with two different names, and this is not true. The WOSM-recognized PSA’s name in Arabic is literally “Palestinian Scouts and Guides Association” – the name that WOSM was told by the Palestinian scouts is a different organization. See for example “Director of the Scouts and Guides leader Tawfeeq Salem.” [Ma’an, independent Palestinian news agency, Feb. 29, 2016]  Tawfeeq Salem is the person WOSM recognizes as the legitimate PSA Secretary General. This name, “Palestinian Scouts and Guides Association,” appears on WOSM’s website, in official WOSM events, and in the Palestinian media.

There is only one name. There is only one organization.

I urge readers to go see the wealth of information at PMW, proving without a doubt that the Palestinian Scouts and Guides Association and the Palestinian Scouts Association are one and the same and that this troop definitely is a member of the WOSM in good standing, and under these auspices, held a “leadership training course” named for Baha Alyan, an Arab terrorist who murdered three Jews in October, one of them, the peace activist Richard Lakin.

I spoke to Itamar Marcus:

Judean Rose: What will be your next move regarding this matter? Is the WOSM paying attention to you? Are they going to take this matter seriously?

Itamar Marcus: They are taking this seriously. I am convinced they were misled and actually believed the Palestinian Scout Association. I expect that they will review this and take necessary steps. Their spokesperson has informed me that they will review this and reply to us.

***

I really hope so.

Meantime, I’m told PMW will be issuing a bombshell update on this matter later this evening (hint: think footage), so stay tuned to this space.

History, 9/11

History: Is 9/11 Doomed to Repeat?

“History is doomed to repeat itself.” The phrase was stuck in my head last night and I awoke to its refrain this morning, September 12. Which is nuts.

History may be doomed to repeat itself, but no one much thinks about September 11 on September 12.

Unless you’re someone like me, I guess.

Feeling Cleansed

If you’re someone like me, you try not to think about 9/11 on September 11. You don’t want to think about 9/11 because you don’t like having your emotions manipulated by the media. If you’re like me, you don’t want to think about 9/11 because you don’t wish to immerse yourself in a tragedy for a single day and then move on. You don’t want to feel cleansed.

For people like me, you see, 9/11 isn’t a one-day event.

People like me, well, we think about terror all the time. We have fear in our hearts. We are afraid of losing the immediacy: the sense of danger that terror can strike anyone at any time, without warning. People like us don’t believe in catch-phrases like “Never again.”

We dread being caught off-guard, caught frozen: the deer in the headlights thing.

The Scale

9/11 can happen again. Has happened again. 9/11 is Charlie Hebdo, Richard Lakin, and San Bernardino. Only the details are different and the scale. What changes is the location, the method, and the number of people directly affected.

The motive is absolutely the same.

And here is something interesting: “History is doomed to repeat itself” is not the actual quote. The actual quote is this: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana)

This means remembering that the motive behind 9/11 still exists, is still ever-present, still strong. We are not even close to eradicating radical Islamic terrorism from our world when so many of us cannot even say the phrase “radical Islamic terror.” And there is no mistaking the idea that radical Islamic terror is the force behind 9/11, its tears and fears, and the thing that threatens to repeat.

It is the day after 9/11 that we must be resolved to remain sober, sad, shocked, and in pain. September 12 is the day we must remember what bonds us as human beings and conversely, the thing that threatens to rips us apart at the seams, consuming all good, all kindness, all the things that makes us what we are.

It is precisely the day after all the media hype, after videos like this one go viral:

. . . that we must watch the videos and feel the feelings afresh, let them wash over us.

So that in remembering the past, we won’t be condemned by our forgetfulness.

Six years, Film Addict, 2016, showreel

WATCH: Six Years of Footage. All Israel, All the Time

“Six years of footage in three minutes? That sounds cool.”

It’s what I thought when my son Natan sent me his latest video. Of course, I’m biased, being that I’m his mom and all. But seriously, this clip is all kinds of awesomeness.

And now that I’ve got my own domain, I am most certainly going to use this space to brag about my son, the videographer. Why not?

After all, six years of footage is some kind of accomplishment, right?

Natan sent the video with the following description:

My 2016 showreel. (This is footage shot over 6 years. Here’s to many more.)

תיק עבודות לשנת 2016 חומרים שצילמתי לאורך 6 שנים, מקווה לעוד שנים רבות.

The truth is, I’m pretty critical. And I don’t hold back. If Natan sent me something I didn’t like, I’d tell him so.

But this one? It’s just sucked me in and had me RIGHT THERE in the palm of its hand (does footage have hands??) for the entire 3 minutes.

I watched the clip, just frozen in place, breathless, and I was like “WOW.”

So here’s why I like, no LOVE, this clip: it really gives you a sense of Israeliness, a big taste of Israeli culture; it goes all over the place but somehow manages to hold together well–it GELS; the footage itself is really cool (check out the dancing at 2:47 that looks like a black and white snake weaving around a giant ballroom); and finally, the way Natan put it all together so seamlessly. I mean: can you spell s-m-o-o-t-h?

Genius.

Of course, he IS my son.

But it’s good, right? (Of course, right!)

Check out Natan’s Facebook page. (Nu. So maybe you’ll hire him for your next bar mitzvah, or a wedding, or whatever? Use your imagination. But definitely use him.)

Richard Lakin and the Baha Alyan Leadership Course

Richard Lakin was murdered in October. By June he was no longer in the news. That’s when I went to a wonderful conference put together by Shurat HaDin, the Israel Law Center.

The conference was two days of pure pleasure. It was all about politics, all about Israel, the country I love with all my heart, and how the battle for her honor is being fought in the court of public opinion as well as in the real courts, namely the International Criminal Court (ICC).

You go to something like this and you hear a lot of famous people speak. Members of Knesset like Yair Lapid, Tsipi Livni, and Naftali Bennett. You hear people like Ambassador John Bolton. And you may even get a photo of someone you thought you’d never have the privilege to see.

Ambassador John Bolton

A post shared by Varda Epstein (@epavard) on

But you come with preconceptions. You think you know the good guys from the bad guys, whom to cheer and whom to boo. You think you know right from left.

And sometimes you’re right.

When Tsipi Livni spoke, for instance, I stayed, thinking maybe I should at least hear her out, while others left before she could begin. And I had to leave in the middle of her speech in protest of the way she demonized Elor Azaria, the soldier who, like Israel, is being tried in the court of public opinion as well as before a jury of his peers (or what passes for that in Israel)* for shooting a terrorist who was already down. That boy could be my son. Anyone’s son. And I was disgusted at the suggestion that we should not support him.

Just a boy. Put in an impossible situation. A stressful situation.

It made me want to cry, just thinking about it. Still does.

And then at some point, Richard Lakin’s son spoke. Micah Lakin Avni. I steeled myself to listen to him with kindness. His father had been murdered not that long ago, the year of mourning, not yet complete.

Why did I need to steel myself? Not because it would be difficult to hear his pain, it would be of course, but I steeled myself only because I knew the family, including Richard (HY”D), himself lately murdered by Arab terrorists, leaned to the left politically.

It is very difficult to listen quietly when people talk about giving up Jewish land for peace, when one doesn’t believe this a sound or advisable idea—when one does not believe this will bring the desired result. It is very difficult to listen quietly when left-leaning people pay homage to the idea of symmetry and balance when all I see is an Arab war against the Jews. But I had no intention of not giving Micah Lakin Avni my fullest attention. He deserved to be heard, as the son of a terror victim, as a fellow Jew, as someone who had suffered pain no one should be made to suffer.

And what I found was that he was quite reasonable, Micah Lakin Avni. He was straight-talking. From start to finish. He said not one thing with which I disagreed politically or on any other level. He spoke about the disbelieving Arab nurse in ICU who cared for his father as he lingered in a coma, on the edge of death. Only one week before, her two sons had been in Richard Lakin’s home. He was their teacher, their tutor. His home had always open to them. He was kindness itself. It was impossible for her to believe that something like this could happen to him.

Richard Lakin, (HY"D)

Richard Lakin, (HY”D)

It was so sad.

But the main thrust of what Micah Lakin Avni spoke about was how social media was being used to facilitate and feed the terror pipeline. He spoke of how it felt when only a few days after his father’s murder, the Hamas Student Union aired a video reenactment of the murder on Facebook and Twitter. When Micah could barely deal with the torrent of emotions, he was confronted with something so cruel and ugly.

He called it “open-source Jihad”  and talked about how it grows itself. And he talked about how he wrote an op-ed in the New York Times called The Facebook Intifada. Precisely because he was left-leaning, and precisely because of what he had personally suffered, moreover, his op-ed went viral.

And that’s important.

It’s important any time we can get the mainstream media to hear the truth about terror, the truth about Israel and what is happening here. It is important when the mainstream media allows our voices to be heard. For soldiering on and making his voice heard, Micah Lakin Avni is only to be praised.

But even more so for what he then said at the conference I attended. He dared to say that open-source Jihad is the new Nazism. And he said that in order to deal with this new Nazism, we will have to revisit our rights. Things like freedom of speech and the presumption of innocence which is at the very core of our society.

Death to Israel

Lakin Avni did not suggest we discard this presumption, only revisit and perhaps reconsider or revise. Because when you have terrorists airing reenactments of murder on social media, you have to think hard about the effect of this on society and whether the freedom to create and share a clip like this, that incites to murder, is more valuable than peace.

(Think of Hitler’s speeches—what if they had been suppressed because of the danger? This was a danger we now know was too high a price to pay for freedom of speech.)

The frustrating thing here, for Lakin Avni, and for all of us, is that Facebook has no face. There is no address for these concerns, no address to deal with incitement on social media, this open-source Jihad. Facebook couches its “Community Standards” in words that preclude any complaint. Facebook decries “acts of violence” and not incitement to terror. The monolith says its concern must be for the safety of the people on Facebook (and not people on buses, people like Richard Lakin, for instance). There is no face to sue.

Open-Source Jihad, community standards, Facebook

Meanwhile, said Lakin Avni, incitement to terror is rampant on Arabic and Muslim pages on Facebook and Facebook simply closes its eyes to the phenomenon. Lakin Avni dares them to refute this fact: that incitement is rampant on Arabic and Muslim Facebook pages.

His dare goes unanswered. Will go unanswered. And the result of this silence is and will be bloodshed.

Well, I am now at over 1,000 words and have not yet gotten to the meat of my piece, the reason I am suddenly writing about a conference that took place over one month ago. It is this: six months ago, the World Organization of the Scout Movement accepted as a full member, the Palestinian Scout Association. And now, this very same Palestinian Scout Association is running a “leadership training course” called the Martyr – Leader Baha Alyan Course.

This “leadership course” which incites children to die in the act of killing Jewish Israelis is named after the murderer of peace activist Richard Lakin: Baha Alyan.

Now my son is a boy scout. He is big into Scouts. He eats, sleeps, and dreams Scouts. He tries hard to be a leader and a good example to the boys he has charge of, as a patrol leader. It is difficult to imagine the disparity between my son’s experience of being a scout, which means things like being trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent, and what these Arab children are being taught in the name of “leadership.” Namely: to go out and kill the Jews.

It’s open-source Jihad writ large. It’s incitement to kill. It’s extreme xenophobia, and yes. It’s CHILD ABUSE.

The story of these boy scouts for Jihad was broken by Palestinian Media Watch with a quote from the official Palestinian Authority daily, Al-Jadida:

“Yesterday the practical studies for the [scout] deputy unit leaders (preparation for the wood badge) – Martyr (Shahid) Leader Baha Alyan Course began at the Shabab Al-Eizariya Club in the Jerusalem district (Note: Alyan was terrorist who murdered 3, Ed.). [The course] was organized by the Committee for Training and Developing Leadership of the Palestinian Scout Association, in cooperation with the scout commission in the Jerusalem district.

The training staff is composed of several members of the Committee for Training and Developing Leadership: Preparatory studies [course] leader and Jerusalem commissioner Sa’id Atoun, [scout] leader Muhammad Al-Dahdar, and [scout] leader Mufid Al-Barq.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 27, 2016]

In response, PMW’s Itamar Marcus wrote to the World Organization of the Scout Movement:

From: Palestinian Media Watch <pmw@palwatch.org>

To: worldbureau@scout.org

Date: Aug. 28, 2016

Subject: Palestinian Scout Association terror promotion

Dear World Organization of the Scout Movement,
We would like to bring to your attention that the Palestinian Scout Association (PSA), which six months ago was accepted as a full member in the World Organization of the Scout Movement, is training its scout leaders to see a cold-blooded terrorist murderer as their role model. The PSA leadership training course that started last week is named the “Martyr – Leader Baha Alyan Course,” after terrorist Alyan, who boarded a bus in Jerusalem last October and murdered three Israeli passengers on the bus: Alon Govberg (51), Haviv Haim (78) and Richard Lakin (76).

We ask that you take steps to guarantee that the distinguished World Organization of the Scout Movement will have no part in training future scout leaders to see terrorist murderers as role models, by immediately canceling the PSA’s membership. There is no greater impediment to peace than bringing up children to see murderers of innocent civilians as heroic role models. Should you allow the Palestinian Scout Association to keep its membership in the World Organization of the Scout Movement at the same time as they are presenting a murderer as a role model for future scout leaders, then your organization is effectively a co-sponsor of this terror promoting course.

We thank you and are waiting to hear what actions you have taken to distance yourselves from the terror-promoting Palestinian Scout Association.

Sincerely,

Itamar Marcus,

Director Palestinian Media Watch

I am absolutely biting my nails to hear what, if any answer, Marcus will receive.

Will the World Organization of the Scout Movement, like Facebook and Twitter before it, turn a blind eye to open-source Jihad, to the incitement of children to kill my people, as long as someone calls it “leadership training?”

Will the Scouts movement refuse to disassociate from these evil people with their extreme hatred and xenophobia?

Will Scouts become a place where I cannot in good conscience allow my son to continue to serve in a leadership role?

Will Scouts become a place where “terror” is called “leadership,” and “Jew-killing,” “resistance?”

And what will be the response of the Israeli branch of the Scout movement??

I probably need to have a talk with my son.

It is a talk I am dreading.

*UPDATE: I knew the military court was likely different than the American court system, but didn’t quite know how. Reader Shabtai wrote and explained as follows: “There is no jury at all. If there were,  [Elor Azaria] would be tried in front of 6 of his peers – other לוחמים [fighters]. Instead, he is tried in front of a panel of military judges – who depend, in a large measure on the Ramat Kal [Chief of Staff], who has already condemned Azaria, for their next promotion. Ever hear the term ‘show trial’? I think that this is a critical point, and not enough folks in blogosphere (as far as I can see) are making it.”

What Makes Yahoo the Most Racist Website in the World?

What Makes Yahoo the Most Racist Website in the World?

Don’t let the title fool you. Yahoo is not the most racist website in the world. But I bet that linkbait title got you to click it open, mighty fast.

So here’s the deal: this morning, my husband brought my attention to the fact that Yahoo had published a “listicle” of the ten most racist countries. Guess who came in at #10?

If you guessed Israel, you’re right.

Israel: Most Racist Country (According to Yahoo)

Of Israel, the unknown Yahoo staff writer wrote:

“Despite repeated endeavors by United Nations and other countries, the eternal hate among Palestinians, Israelis, and Israeli Arabs sees no hope of coming to a closure anytime soon. The environment is inflammable instigating frequent riots, the population of refugees is huge and the fleeting cease fires couldn’t solve anything.”

Yahoo Screenshot2

This is a bold lie.

For one thing, as my husband noted, while Arabs mix freely with Jews in Israeli towns and cities, there is a policy of “no Jews allowed” in any Arab area autonomous to the Palestinian Authority. There are signs posted to this effect at the entrance to every Arab village and town.

Here is one such sign.

Sign Entry Forbidden

Note that the sign doesn’t say, “No Jews allowed.” Instead the sign says, “No Israeli citizens allowed.” But they don’t mean Israeli citizens, because that would mean Israeli Arabs are not allowed entry, which is not the case.

Arabs have a prejudice against Jews to the point that they insist their towns and cities be “Judenrein.” This hatred and exclusion IS NOT reciprocated by Jewish Israelis toward Arabs, and Arabs are full members of Israeli society.

The article references “frequent riots.” You would think from this description that you have two sides throwing things (boulders, firebombs) at each other, screaming at each other, and so forth. But this too, is not the case. You have Arabs rioting and throwing things at IDF soldiers, buses, private cars, and the light rail train. What do you not have? Jews rioting and throwing things at Arabs or Arab vehicles.

Racist? Jews Hate Terror

The article mentions “hate among Israelis, Palestinians, and Israeli Arabs,” but this too, is not the case. I personally don’t hate Arabs. I do hate terrorism and terrorists, most assuredly. And I think that is true of most people.

The article speaks of the environment being “inflammable” and this is another lie. The environment is not inflammable. That’s an excuse people give to Arab terrorists to kill people. The environment is inflammable? Well, it must be something set off that terrorist! It’s the kind of thing your mother says when she doesn’t want to deal with the bully who is making your life miserable: “Well, you must have done something to make him do that to you!”

Actually, in the case of Arab terrorism, it’s true. We Jews definitely do something that makes Arabs kill us. We insist on being Jewish and living in our homeland. That makes them crazy.

Is the answer: “Well, then, you should convert to Islam! You should leave Israel! Because it makes them very, very angry that you are Jewish and living in your land!”

No. The answer is the world has to stop making excuses for terror. There is NO VALID REASON FOR TERROR.

“Repeated Endeavors”

The repeated endeavors of the United Nations and other countries? Those endeavors are about demonizing Israel. “Bad Israel. How dare you build homes where Arabs don’t want you to live?”

The “endeavors” are the lies phrased as UN resolutions about all the ways Jews torture and oppress Arabs, which is something that does not happen, something I have not seen in my 37 years of living in this country. In my local Rami Levy supermarket, for instance, Arabs shop alongside Jews. They sometimes ask our help reading the Hebrew labels or locating a product. We help them and are polite and kind.

The same is true everywhere we encounter Arabs: in our hospitals and buses and stores.

Not Racist: Prudent

Are we sometimes nervous to be in close quarters with Arabs? Well then. That is what is wrought by Arab terror against Jews. It is called “being prudent.”

The world thinks they can paint this thing–this Arab hatred–as something balanced, as a conflict between two peoples. But this is not the case. There is no symmetry, no balance. There is no “conflict.” There is an Arab war against the Jews. It is unasked for and undeserved. Israel has always been ready to coexist with and have a true peace with the Arabs.


Watch on TorahCafé.com!

The racism is not Israel’s. The racism belongs to one minority living in Israel, the Muslim Arabs. It is unfair and wrong to attribute the xenophobia of a single minority to a democratic country: the only one in the Middle East where Jews and Arabs can mix freely. Israel is a model of coexistence, and a light unto the nations. (You sure won’t see Jews in Iran’s government, or Saudi Arabia’s government, for instance. But it would be nice if they’d follow Israel’s example, now wouldn’t it?)

I guess it’s no surprise that Yahoo took down the article before I could get a look at this extreme example of media bias against Israel. I found a cached version and my talented son Natan clicked “next” on the cached link really quickly ten times and managed to catch a screenshot of what Yahoo belatedly decided to delete from its website, lest anyone think that the racist entity is not Israel, but, um, YAHOO.

Mahmoud Darwish The Poetry and Lies of the Left

Mahmoud Darwish: The Poetry and Lies of the Left

Mahmoud Darwish 1941-2008, used poetry to spread a false anti-Israel narrative among the Arab people, a false narrative in which the Jews are the usurpers and occupiers of the Holy Land, in which Jews have no right to Jewish indigenous territory. And words are only words, except when they are used to incite the masses to violence.

Such as when Mahmoud Darwish, the “‘Palestinian’ national poet,” wrote things like,

The usurper’s flesh will be my food

Beware – beware – of my hunger

and my anger!

These words were meant to fill Arabs with rage. So full of rage, that they would murder Jewish Israelis. As such, Darwish’s poetry was neither beautiful, nor innocent, but evil. His poems were filled with lies. His words were meant to the twist minds and hearts of Arabs against their fellow man and to commit violence against them, against the Jews.

But Darwish was a darling of the left. Because the left cares not about substance, but about feeling. And it’s all selective.

Mahmoud Darwish The Poetry and Lies of the Left

Mahmoud Darwish flanked by murderers Arafat (left) and George Habash (right).

You won’t see the left quoting  Darwish when he talks about eating Jewish flesh:

 I will eat my oppressor’s flesh

Beware, beware of my starving

 And my rage

But you will see them quoting Darwish when he lies about the Arab connection to and longing for Jewish land:

I come from there and I have memories 
Born as mortals are, I have a mother 
And a house with many windows, 
I have brothers, friends, 
And a prison cell with a cold window. 
Mine is the wave, snatched by sea-gulls, 
I have my own view, 
And an extra blade of grass. 
Mine is the moon at the far edge of the words, 
And the bounty of birds, 
And the immortal olive tree. 
I walked this land before the swords 
Turned its living body into a laden table. 
I come from there. I render the sky unto her mother 
When the sky weeps for her mother. 
And I weep to make myself known 
To a returning cloud. 
I learnt all the words worthy of the court of blood 
So that I could break the rule. 
I learnt all the words and broke them up 
To make a single word: Homeland… 

Mahmoud Darwish: Feelings, Not Truth

No one cares if Darwish’s words are true. They point to them and say, “See! He feels—they feel—as strongly as the Jews feel about the land.”

As if it matters.

As if they really feel that way.

As if they really feel a longing for Jewish land and feel that it is theirs.

It’s a BIG. FAT. LIE.

They DON’T feel it’s theirs, the land.

They know better.

Mahmoud Darwish: Bani Isra’il

The Arabs know that Israel is Jewish land, because their holy book, the Quran, is shot through with references to Israel as the land that belongs to the Jewish people, the Bani Isra’il, Arabic for, “Children of Israel.”

Moreover, the Arabic word for Jews is “Yahud.”  Yahud is a reference to the tribe of Judah, and the land this tribe inherited: Judea. Judea is JEWISH LAND. It’s the place that Jews come from. Their own Arabic language contains this very pertinent fact. And no flowery poem can negate this very pertinent fact.

When the left tells you the Arab yearning for the land is no different from the Jewish yearning for the land, this too, is a lie. It’s a lie designed to bring balance to a story of imbalance.Darwish

The fact is that the Jewish people were exiled from their land on this very day, two thousand years ago. The Jews were exiled by usurpers and occupiers. There were many of them through the ages.

The Arabs now occupying Jewish land are just the most recent incarnation of the many usurpers and occupiers of Jewish land.

And people who give weight to Arab pretensions to yearning for a land that was never theirs, are enablers and inciters of terrorism. They enable Arab violence against Jews by pretending that anything Arabs feel is as valid as actual historic and legal rights. They enable Arab violence against Jews by pretending that what Arabs claim they feel is what they actually feel and think. They enable Arab violence against Jews by attempting to understand why Arabs commit violence against Jewish people.

They enable Arab violence against Jews by pretending that a two-state solution will stop the violence of the Arab people against the Jews. They enable Arab violence against Jews by boycotting products made in the heartland of Jewish indigenous territory, such as Yehuda, Judea, the place from whence even the Arabs know, the Yahud hail.

A Jew who tries so hard to understand the Arab terrorists that he or she undermines Jewish rights to Jewish territory must be filled with self-doubt, self-hatred. And those who listen to them and are swayed by them, endanger themselves and their own people.

Without a doubt.

Do not let that be you.

Mahmoud Darwish: Pretty Little Lies

Especially not on Tisha B’Av, the day Jews mark the destruction of  the Jewish Temples, in the heart of Jewish Jerusalem, which led to two thousand years of a longing to return, in a time long before there was an Arab people, or a man named Mohammed/Mahmoud.

Francesco_Hayez_017

Tikkun Olam: What’s God Got to Do with it?

Tikkun Olam. It’s an obscure Jewish concept which translates to “repairing the world” and is often bandied about by liberal Jews to mean something it doesn’t.

What it means: perfecting one’s observance of the commandments.

What it doesn’t mean: you see things that bother you and try to make them right according to your personal compass.

Nope. Doesn’t mean that. It means every Jew doing his share to repair the world by doing his best to do the commandments as prescribed by God as set forth in the Torah.

It means: not turning lights on and off on Shabbos.

It means: not eating pork and shellfish or meat and milk.

For instance.

And now I’m going to say a bunch of things you won’t like. When liberals twist Jewish concepts to support a personal agenda, religion has nothing to do with it. They’ve taken something created by God and recreated it in their own image. Which makes no sense.

Religion is theist. It’s God-centric. If you can make it into anything you want, then it is no longer created by God, no longer divine. It’s man made.

Now Jews are allowed to interpret God’s word, as set forth in the Torah. But not everyone is allowed to do that. Only the people who received the tradition in an unbroken chain from Moses at Sinai and onward get to decide things for the rest of us peons. They get to decide, for instance, what foods we can and cannot eat.

The reason they get to decide these things is that they are the closest thing to God when it comes to understanding what God meant when He transmitted the Torah and made the Jews the beneficiaries of His word. What’s important here, you see, is carrying out the commandments the way God intended and not as we’d like them to be.

So, I might really like cheeseburgers, but I don’t get to decide it’s okay for me to eat them and that the really important thing is gun control. These are not the kinds of decisions that are in our hands as Jews.

Face the facts: I am never going to be allowed to have that cheeseburger. It is not ever going to be in man’s hands to say that the cheeseburger thing isn’t as important as how we, for instance, treat gay people or black people or Arabs.

See what I mean? You’re really not going to like what I’m saying here.

Tough. This blog is going to be truthful. Painfully truthful at times. And here is the truth:

The reason we were given the commandments, as Jews, was to make us “holy.” But “holy” is a poor descriptor for the Hebrew word, “Kadosh.” Kadosh doesn’t really mean “holy.” It means “separate.” When we do the commandments as set forth in the Torah, we Jews separate ourselves from the other nations of the world.

We wall ourselves off by, for instance, not eating cheeseburgers.

That is what makes us different from other people. And it is this difference, understand it or not, that we strive for in our observance. Not to be more like other people, more diverse, more tolerant, more open, more gender fluid. No.

We are striving to be separate from society, separated out of society by dint of observing the mitzvot, the commandments. It is what has preserved us as a people. It is what made us outlive all our enemies, Philistines, Canaanites, Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, Babylonians, and so forth, down through the ages.

Think of us as being in a bubble, one big Bubble Boy. And when we’re exposed to stuff, we get contaminated and die.It is being separate that has kept us Jewish.It’s what makes us God-centric, rather than me-centric, or Western norms-centric. And it means marrying Jews and having Jewish children if we are so blessed.

It means continuity.

Because the word of God is immutable. And I will never taste a cheeseburger or a lobster.

Like diamonds, these things are forever.

They ain’t never gonna change.

Because some things cannot be interpreted to mean anything else, cannot be twisted to suit. Not even by liberal Jews.

They just are. Because God made them that way. The commandments, that is.

Now here’s another phrase I’ve seen/heard tossed around by at least one prominent liberal: sinat chinamwhich translates to “baseless hatred.” The Temples were destroyed because of “sinat chinam.” The three weeks that lead up to the 9th of Av when it all went down are sad and bitter and we try to do our “tikkun” by being gentler with others and working on ourselves as people. That time is now.

So we avoid gossip and speaking ill of others. We try to avoid indulging in Sinat Chinam.

But Sinat Chinam, like Tikkun Olam, means something specific. It does not mean hating people for the color of their skin, or their religion, for instance. It doesn’t mean hating people because of the way they look or because of their sexual orientation. It means hating them for no reason at all.

We hate them baselessly. Needlessly. It’s hatred for the sake of hate.

If I say, “I hate gay people,” or, “I hate blondes,” that is the opposite of baseless hatred. The opposite of Sinat Chinam, because I have described a reason for my hate. I hate someone because that someone is gay, or blonde, or whatever descriptor I have chosen.

Again, we don’t get to just make stuff up and stick it onto the Torah. The Torah IS NOT A STICKER ALBUM. Baseless hatred is hating someone for no reason.

It isn’t whatever you decide it is. It is whatever God decided it is, as interpreted by the people He decided could make that interpretation. Sinat Chinam is about indulging in hatred for hatred’s sake. It is about forgetting our higher purpose as human beings, about forgetting the commandments.

It’s about forgetting to do Tikkun Olam.

And Tikkun Olam, applied, means that when I wake up in the morning, I’m going to wash my hands a certain way and say a bunch of blessings. Because the Torah says so and I’m a Jew. And I’m going to do those things meticulously, and with love. Because it is what will keep my children and my children’s children, Jewish.

Tikkun Olam means I’m going to do my share to fix the world by keeping kosher and not cooking food on Shabbos (as opposed to fighting for gay marriage, abortion, civil rights, gun control, and whatever social justice issue floats your boat). Because these social justice issues have nothing to do with Tikkun Olam just as hating blondes has nothing to do with Sinat Chinam.

It is our personal observance of the commandments, refraining from ingesting pork or not touching a scissors on Shabbos, that makes us holy and separate. Along with the fun stuff like giving charity and cooking a meal for your neighbor when she’s just had a baby.

But when we twist concepts like Tikkun Olam and Sinat Chinam into unrecognizable pretzels, trying to make them fit particular social justice issues and situations, we have completely removed God and Judaism from the equation. And that is a wasted effort. It’s about trying to squish God into our own very limited human construct. And in so doing, we’re no longer doing God’s will and separating ourselves out from the nations of the world. We’re no longer kodesh, holy.

As Jews we are supposed to believe that the Torah, which represents God’s word, can be used to understand any and every situation we encounter throughout time. At the same time, we are supposed to acknowledge that the Torah is immutable. We don’t get to bend or twist it to suit a personal agenda. Because that would make it man-made and rob us of the possibility of striving for the divine, of striving to be godly.

And robbing ourselves of that would rob us of all purpose and make our lives, here on this earth, utterly pointless.

WATCH: Tamir Goodman Gave Back a Full College Scholarship

WATCH: Tamir Goodman Gave Back a Full Scholarship

The University of Maryland gave star basketball player Tamir Goodman an ultimatum: play on Shabbos or you’re out.

An orthodox Jew, Tamir didn’t have to think twice. He gave back a full, four-year athletic scholarship to the school that played host to the top-ranked basketball team in the nation. But let him tell you the story in his own words.

Tamir Goodman is aptly (sur)named. At least in my book.

Actually, Tamir Goodman reminds me of another principled athlete (you saw this coming a mile away).

h/t Natan Epstein

Dubya Deflection

The Dubya Deflection: They Always Bring Up Bush

The Dubya Deflection is the cute little thrust, parry, and feint that liberals engage in when they have no answer to your fact-based criticism of their guy. If you mention, for instance, that Obamacare sucks, Obama voters will say, “Was it better under Bush when millions of Americans were uninsured?”

The implication here is that if you criticize O, it means you love the other guy, even though that makes absolutely no sense. This is not an if/then kind of situation. There is actually no link between hating the ACA and liking Bush. You can hate Bush and the ACA. You can even love Obama and hate the ACA.

Do you feel me?

The Dubya Deflection: When You’ve Got Nothing

I was reminded of this feint, this kind of weaseling out of a trap because you know the other guy is right and you’ve got nothing, this morning, when my attention was drawn to the following exposé of UNRWA schools in Gaza and “East” Jerusalem, where schoolchildren are being taught to kill Jews.

We see sample UNRWA school lessons. An UNRWA teacher tells the kids that life was dandy, your parents hung out on the beach and had a barbecue, then the wolf appeared. Who’s the wolf?

The Jews!

The UNRWA teacher tells the kids all sorts of lies. For instance that the Jews (note that said teacher says “Jews” and not “Israelis”) expelled and deported Arabs. Which is not true. The Arabs left of their own accord.

Which means there are no refugees, by the way. But you know. Jews. So the Arabs who left of their own volition remain “refugees” even unto the second and third generation, a right that is accorded no other people. Necessitating the creation of a special UN body to deal with them, you guessed it: UNRWA.

Shannon Bream, Brooke Goldstein

Shannon Bream, Brooke Goldstein

After the videotaped UNRWA school lesson, we get to hear the amazing Brooke Goldstein of the Lawfare Project. She makes me so proud. She’s a lioness like Nitsana Darshan Leitner, another lady lawyer Jewish heroine.

Goldstein rips UNRWA a new one, telling viewers that while Canada divested from UNRWA programs like this, after learning about the incitement and indoctrination, U.S. taxpayers continue to fund the daily Jew-hate lessons to the tune of 130 million smackeroos.

Chris Gunness

Chris Gunness

Then Chris Gunness gets a turn. He is the spokesperson of UNRWA. If we ever solve the “refugee” problem, he’s out of a job. So he’s got to spin this however he can.

And it’s bad.

Since ole Chris has no way to refute the allegations (because, hey, videotape is darned hard to refute), he deflects using the (you guessed it), Dubya Deflection. If UNRWA schools are so bad, how come Bush gave them even more money than Obama?

*rolls eyes*

Shannon Bream was good. She essentially said, “Facts come OUT,” something like Chris himself.

Chris took out his earpiece so he couldn’t hear her and like a parrot kept saying, “So how come Bush. So how come Bush. So how come Bush,” about a hundred times.

Dubya

BUSH, Bush, Bush, Bush. When they’ve got nothing.

He also said that the same curriculum is being taught in Arab schools in Jerusalem. Which I’ve no doubt is true. WHICH ALSO DOES NOT MAKE IT OKAY THAT AN OFFICIAL UN BODY IS PAYING TEACHERS TO TEACH SMALL CHILDREN TO KILL JEWS.

Sorry. I lost it for a moment there. (And by the way, is it absolutely necessary for Gunness to mispronounce Brooke’s surname???)

But look, it also doesn’t make it right that U.S. taxpayers are paying for Jihad lessons. It doesn’t matter whose administration is at the helm. It’s wrong. And if the administration is made aware of this curriculum and continues to fund these lessons, I see the administration as an accomplice to indoctrination, incitement, and terror. I see the administration as an accomplice to the ongoing murder of my people—people like the Fogels, the Henkins, the Litmans, Dafna Meir, Hallel Yaffa Ariel, and Rabbi Mickey Mark. And that’s an oh-so-shortlist.

The Dubya Deflection: It Makes No Difference

The administration, whether it is the Bush administration or the Obama administration, should know the nature of what this money funds. The administration, whether it is the Bush administration or the Obama administration, has no right to pressure Israel to make concessions to terrorist regimes while they underwrite future terrorists. It makes their motives suspect.

I don’t care who it is, Bush or Obama. I care what they do. And one does not make the other okay.

And it won’t be okay if Trump funds it. And it won’t be okay if Hillary funds it.

Bad is bad.

And evil is evil.

h/t Aharon Epstein for the news piece that inspired this post.