Where Gandhi Went Wrong

Since his assassination in 1948, Mohandas K. Gandhi has become something of a secular saint, recognized almost universally as a “great soul” who not only did much to liberate his own people, but who also changed the dialogue around violence and repression.

Gandhi lived by high principles that served him and the peoples of Greater India in the effort to cast off British rule. But Gandhi’s belief that his principles could withstand application to peoples and/or situations far different than those in which he lived was in many cases and unsupported conceit, and in other cases produced some convoluted thinking.

He believed that non-violence would have served India in the face of a Japanese occupation. He believed that the proper response of the Jews of Europe to Hitler’s Final Solution was to throw themselves upon the butcher knives of the SS death squads. And he believed that a State of Israel must wait until the Jews were invited back to their homeland.

Against the latter, Jewish philosopher Martin Buber penned an eloquent criticism. There is a complete text here, along with a broader overview of Gandhi’s relationship with Jews. At best, Gandhi was playing to the home crowd. At worst, he spoke from a willful lack of understanding of the true facts on the ground. Whatever the reason, little does more to tarnish the verity of Gandhi’s ethos than his offhanded treatment of questions around the Jews.

Probing Gandhi’s words on the subject, and contemplating the context in which he wrote them, it is little wonder that India has failed to sustain a Jewish community of any size. It also underscores that the time has come for a critical re-examination of his core beliefs, their roots, and their logical extensions.

A Pause

I have of late (and all too frequently) found myself drawn in this space into impassioned posts concerning Israeli politics, the international relations of the Middle East, and anti-Semitism.

While these are issues of profound import to me, I have discovered that they draw me away from the core purposes of this blog. Worse, the frustration they incite frequently drags me into the gutter of rage.

There have also been times where I have believed that my learning and wisdom are so insignificant that I have no business addressing matters of Torah, and that I am better off fighting the political battles to which I am better qualified to speak.

I will, therefore, try to avoid such discussions going forward. Teshuvah is the light I wish to follow here, not anger.

I pray to Hashem that this is the correct path.

What about Justice for Jewish Refugees?

Some 900,000 Jews from Arab countries have fled their homelands since 1948; they left behind an estimated $30 billion in property, including buildings in dozens of Jewish communities.

Source: No solution for Palestinian refugees without justice for Jewish ones – Israel Opinion, Ynetnews

Lest we forget – this gigantic injustice has been ignored and buried for six decades.

Equally important – this is the treatment the Jews and Christians of Israel could expect if the “Palestinians” achieve their ultimate aim.

BDS has become an Anti-Semitic Movement

JNS.org – Last month, in a breathtaking display of anti-Semitism reminiscent of Nazi Germany, members of the student government at South Africa’s Durban University of Technology (DUT) called for the expulsion of all Jewish students from their campus. The very next day, halfway around the world, the student government at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) engaged in a similar display of anti-Jewish bigotry, nearly denying a highly qualified young woman a position on the student judiciary board after four student representatives […]

Source: The BDS Movement’s Long Trail of Anti-Semitism | Jewish & Israel News Algemeiner.com

There may be quite well-intentioned people in the movement who are genuinely concerned about specific policies of the Netanyahu administration who hate neither Israel or Jews. But we cannot for their sake tolerate a movement that has become the vehicle for people who would see Israel destroyed and Jews made pariahs.

BDS has become a global vector of anti-Semitism. It is time for those in the movement who respect the right of Israel to exist and who are not anti-Semites to leave. Continuing to identify with this festering pustule of hatred is to become hatred itself.

There should always be a place in Eretz Yisrael for both the Haredim and for the secular socialists. But no group, however well-intentioned, should ever be able to hold hostage the entire nation. Such a situation places the Holy Land on a path to another fall, and another tear-filled journey to a new Babylon.

No More

I do not support the continued construction of settlements in the West Bank. I think they are a deliberate provocation, of questionable legality, and undermine the legitimacy of the State of Israel, of Zionism, and of the Yiddim of the Diaspora.

At the same time, though, I do not believe that we should turn one more square centimeter of Israeli soil to any other political entity, whether a state or non-state actor. If the Gaza proved anything, it is that such gestures amount to little more than a piecemeal surrender. Each territorial handover does not imbue our foes with good faith: it only whets the appetite of the jackals who would devour Israel piece by piece until it is no more, with the last Jew in the land either dead, gone, or ghettoized.

Let us stop our provocation, yet let us at the same time stiffen our resolve: this far and not one inch farther. 

Jerusalem Moves a Bit Closer to Beijing

Yoram Evron notes in Y.Net:

“A renewed affair has been developing for the past three years between Israel and China. About 10 years after their relationship experienced a crisis following an American demand that Israel cut its security ties with China, Beijing has begun working to renew the close relations between the two countries.”

This should come as no surprise to anyone. When your natural ally appears to turn his back on you, you begin to search for less likely friends.

Consider this, though: Israel develops innovations but lacks the capability to industrialize and then commercialize them at scale. China is challenged in innovation but can bring someone else’s innovation to market and tweak it for special customer needs faster than anyone in the world. It will go from the Technion to a Tel Aviv startup to a Shanghai factory to your shelf – or to a Chinese airbase.

This is expedience rather than preference. The Chinese are historically the most fickle allies in the world with the possible exception of the Italians. The Israelis know that. But China is buying irrigation systems, water purification technology, commercial encryption technology, fruit, avionics, and tons of services from Israel, and paying cash, all for stuff the US doesn’t buy anyway. Plus, the more hooked Israel can get China on Israeli tech, the more it hopes to influence China on Iran and Mideast policy. It is Machiavellian, a tad desperate, and made absolutely necessary by the White House.

Israel has military technology the Chinese desperately need to upgrade the People’s Liberation Army. The only throttle on that flow has been the close ties between Israel and the US. Now? Hmm.

It is possible that Mr. Obama understands that in this regard his policies toward Israel – and Iran – constitute a significant own-goal. One can only hope that he understood this risk when he reached his hands out to the Mullahs in Iran.

On the Mideast and Betrayal

Iran Remains the Threat in the Middle East :: Middle East Forum.

A fascinating read generally by Professor Efraim Inbar of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. It is a short but poignant dip into understanding why focusing on ISIS as the main threat in the region may miss the real problem.

But apart from that, I read this passage with some fascination:

Moreover, many of the Arab states failed to modernize and deliver basic services, allowing for alternative Islamist structures to do a better job in providing education, medical and social work services to the impoverished masses.

If that sound familiar, the Palestinian Authority has been accused of the same. Inbar continues:

It is worth noting that the Muslim Brotherhood was established as early as 1928. Ever since, it has developed grassroots by trying to take care of the masses, while subverting the statist order in Muslim states with the goal of building a new Caliphate. Pan-Arabism – a popular ideological inclination among the Arab elites – also undermined the legitimacy of the statist order, reinforcing Pan-Islamist impulses.

All of this suggests something rather nefarious. It implies that there is an Arab elite that is cynically using the Arab refugees from Israel in an effort to drive the Jews out of the region, thus clearing the way for a Caliphate that includes Israeli territory. The Arab refugees (“Palestinians”) would get their own state for a brief moment, only to be absorbed into the new Caliphate, their rights forgotten.

That’s a nasty scenario, it borders on the aluminum-foil-yarmaluke-under-the-watch-cap paranoid, and I am not sure I buy it. But I will file it away, because it bears watching. As the region faces the triple threat of a resurgent Persian empire from Tehran, the scourge of ISIS, and the neo-Ataturkian ambitions of the Turks, I suspect fault lines long buried beneath a sea of anti-Zionism are about to rear their heads again.


The Beginning of the End in France

The new era of deadly anti-Semitism in France began with the January 2006 murder of 23-year-old Ilan Halimi. Shortly after a Shabbat meal with his mother, Halimi was lured to a Paris slum, where he was ambushed by a gang. They held him captive for 24 days, during which time he was beaten, stabbed, burned with acid, mutilated, lit on fire, and tortured to death. Halimi’s murderers were African and North African Muslim immigrants with ties to Islamic extremists. They called themselves the Gang of Barbarians. And they chose Halimi because he was a Jew.

“The Existential Necessity Of Zionism After Paris: A Commentary Editorial”
The Editors

Commentary Magazine
February 2015

Updated: Anti-Semitism and the Fool’s Errand of the European Left

The Anti-Zionism of Fools”
Richard Seymour

August 8, 2014

Jacobin, the Marxist quarterly that is far more likely to publish anti-Israel screeds than to say anything positive about Judaism, has held its nose and published an article acknowledging that France has an anti-Semitism problem.

I say “holds its nose” because while the article offers a reluctant acknowledgement that, yes, antisemitism is wrong and should be expunged from the anti-Israel dialogue, the author prefaces all of that with an overlong screed against Israel, as if anyone on the Left in Europe who dares speak against anti-Semitism must first establish beyond a doubt their Israel-hating chops.

The result is that the first half of the article is a fairly tedious display of what happens to Hamas propaganda when it is pushed through the gut of a radical Irish writer. But if you can manage to restrain your bile long enough, the last half of the article offers some interesting fodder on the anti-Semitism of the French far-right.

On the other hand, you may not want to. Richard Seymour is complicit in the kind of unquestioning support of Palestine, and the unequivocal condemnation of Israel as “a state which is, at its core, an institutionalized form of colonial ethnic cleansing,” that is aught less than demagoguery served hot. It also proves that he is on a fool’s errand.

Leave aside for the moment the fact that the past several years have provided an ample body of evidence that there are herds of anti-Semitic pond scum within the European Left, and that recent weeks have seen them scurrying for cover under the banner of protest against Israel. There is a fundamental linkage between Israel and the global body of Jews that must be considered before we spend our energies trying to weed out the “good” anti-Zionists from the “bad” anti-Zionists.

Because while there are those who can and do disaggregate a disapproval of Israeli government policy from their feelings about Jews in general, they are generally the kinds of people who would grant that Israel has a right to exist. But those who insist that Israel has no right to exist are ipso facto anti-Semites. By de-legitimizing Israel as a state, they are imposing a brutal sentence on every Jew: you, Jews, have no right to a homeland, and despite a long history of oppression and persecution in nearly every other land in which you have lived, I condemn you to an existence in which you will be forever a stranger in a strange land.

Is that not, at its essence, a profoundly anti-Semitic sentiment? Is it possible to argue for the destruction (or deconstruction) of Israel, the end of a land where any Jew has the right of abode, without being fundamentally anti-Semitic?

I commend Seymour for his call to the French left to disaggregate antisemitism with anti-Zionism. I castigate him for putting to print language that delegitimizes Israel and thus calls into question its right to exist. And I pity him for the belief that, in Europe especially, he will ever be able to divide those who hate Israel and those who simply hate Judaism.

It is sad to me when apparently otherwise intelligent people cannot get it through their heads that Israel is in a war for its existence. The fact that Israel’s enemies are using different, asymmetric means to try to achieve that goal does not change the end game: it merely alters the weapons and tactics.

Thomas Friedman Understands What is at Stake

Revelations in the Gaza War
Thomas L. Friedman
August 5, 2014

Whatever his other faults (we disagree constantly on China), Tom Friedman knows the Mideast and its conflicts from many sides, and has won two Pulitzer Prizes bringing clarity to those conflicts to those of us here in the US. It is in no small part because of this reporting that America’s friendship with Israel is no longer unconditional.

For these reasons, this story is of particular interest. It is the first of what I expect will be a growing number of reports from respected journalists who have found gaping holes in the Hamas narrative.

Friedman offers both context and content. He lays out, simply and clearly, the Hamas strategy to isolate and then destroy Israel. That it is not working is less credit to the Obama administration or western media than to a willingness by Israel to risk international censure to ensure its survival.

A very good read.

Bolivia Becomes a Flyover Country

Bolivia declares Israel a ‘terrorist state’ ”
Via AP

The Times of Israel
July 31, 2014

I have a little list of places in the world to which I will not go. The primary basis of that list is the way Jews are treated in that country, or the way Israel is treated. The list includes places you would expect, like Iran, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, and a few that you might not, including Malaysia and Brunei.

It was bad enough when President Evo Morales cut off diplomatic relations with Israel in 2009. By branding Israel a “terrorist state,” Morales only succeeds in proving that he is more interested in aligning himself with a leftist cause than he is pursuing a realistic, fact-based foreign policy.

That is not the sort of government into whose hands I am prepared to pass responsibility for my safety as a Jew, and I will offer a special prayer for our brethren who are there now, or whose duties carry them there.

Saudi King: Hamas Actions “Shameful”

Saudi King Publicly Blames Hamas for Gaza War
Thomas Rose
August 2, 2014

For anyone still under the impression that the entire Muslim world is lined up behind Hamas because of the “justness” of its cause; or for anyone who believes that Israel is at fault in this fight, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia would like to set the record straight.

In the harshest words ever used by a Saudi King to condemn any Palestinian “resistance” to what is routinely called “Zionist aggression,” King Abdullah’s statement said, “It is shameful and disgraceful that these terrorists are doing this in the name of religion, killing the people whose killing Allah has forbidden, and mutilating their bodies and feeling proud in publishing this.” 

The king went on to say of Hamas’ war against Israel, “They have distorted the image of Islam with its purity and humanity and smeared it with all sorts of bad qualities by their actions, injustice and crimes.”

Keep in mind two important facts: first, if Saudi Arabia had a dog in this fight, it was Hamas, not Israel, for all kinds of historic, religious, political and economic reasons. And yet King Abdullah apparently felt honor-bound to denounce Hamas publicly and unequivocally.

Second, King Abdullah did this at considerable risk to his person and his kingdom. The Islamist sharks have been circling in Saudi Arabia for a very long time, and this will undoubtedly add recruits to the ranks of the King’s foes. Ultimately, it may become a factor in the Kingdom’s downfall and its replacement by a fundamental Islamist regime.

Yet in a moment of clarity, the keeper of Islam’s holiest places felt compelled to risk it all – he felt doing so was that important. He felt that drawing a line between the true spirit of Islam and the dirty war Hamas was fighting – using its own children ass human shields, and placing their petty Jihad above the welfare of their own people –  was more important than his kingdom and his crown.

Let Hamas’ misguided supporters in the west consider that, and have a think on the meaning of “honor.”

Head of UNHRA attacks US for not providing Hamas with an Iron Dome

U.N. Human Rights Chief Attacks U.S. For Not Providing Hamas With Anti-Rocket System Like Israel’s Iron Dome… | Weasel Zippers.

The naiveté of UN officials in this case would be laughable if it were did not border on incompetence. Any impartial student of the region could tell you that if the US were to give Hamas their own Iron Dome, the launchers would be placed in mosques, and Hamas would use the missiles to shoot down El Al Airliners, not defend their own people.

One has to wonder whether this credulity about the situation in Gaza is genuine, or whether there is an ulterior motive behind it. If the former, this individual is in no position to make broad statements about the region. If the latter, she should be sacked.


Anyone Boycotting Israel Needs to Prepare for a Major Life Change

So You Want to Boycott Israel? Here’s A List of Products and Services You Need to Start With…
Glenn Rhee

Prepper Chimp
July 22, 2014

The next time you talk to someone who suggests boycotting Israel, ask him or her what they think that would mean for them. Then email them a link to Glenn Rhee’s article, and let them know that they are in for significant alteration of their lifestyle.

There is some hyperbole here, but Rhee’s main point is valid: it would be brutally difficult to boycott any nation that is deeply integrated into the global economy, and boycotting Israel would be nearly as impractical as boycotting China, Germany, or the United States.

Rhee’s other point is axiomatic: Israel has made profound contributions to the world, contributions that too much of the planet finds it convenient to overlook.

CNN Taken to Task

Israeli Ambassador REAMS OUT CNN for not reporting UN statement that says Hamas makes UN schools a target”
The Right Scoop
July 24, 2014

This sort of dressing-down is overdue.

I respect CNN’s efforts to demonstrate equitability in its coverage of a situation that is charged with emotion. The network has bent over backwards to avoid taking any stance that could be construed as pro-Israel.

But when the UN – an organization known to be ambivalent about Israel at best – makes a statement like this, it IS newsworthy, and failing to report it does hint at the possibility of latent bias toward Hamas, or at least against Israel.

If CNN is determined to fight Al-Jazeera English for ratings in Muslim countries, that’s a commercial decision, and I respect that. But it should not expect to do so and maintain a veil of objectivity on the Middle East.

China and the Israel-Palestine Conflict

Why China Must Pay Attention to the Israel-Palestine Conflict
Mu Chunsan

The Diplomat
July 19, 2014

Mu Chunsan makes a fair point: the Beijing cannot ignore for long a foreign policy issue that is engrossing – and dividing – a growing percentage of the Chinese people.

What Mu misses, though, is that despite the growing influence of popular politics on Chinese foreign policy, there are other factors that weigh upon China’s decision to remain aloof from the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian terrorists. China has a complex relationship with Israel (see my article here), one that is disproportionate with the latter’s size. China has defense ties with Jerusalem, depends on a flow of innovations from Israel’s booming labs, and needs Israel’s support in its stance against the growing specter of  Islamo-fascism.

Yet China cannot directly incite its Muslim population, nor thumb its nose at the Islamist countries that are a growing part of its international influence and energy supply. Closer examination suggests that Beijing has managed to strike a delicate balance with Israel that has eluded other powers. A more explicit policy on the Mideast, no matter how it might calm a domestic argument, could undermine that balance to the benefit of no one.

Why there is no Palestine”, by Rachel Bresinger, The Jerusalem Post, May 26, 2014. If you are looking for a good debunking of the lies behind the Hamas propaganda campaign, this article is a superb place to start.

Taking Moral Responsibility

Moral clarity in Gaza
Charles Krauthammer,
The Washington Post,
July 17, 2014.

In an incisive op/ed in the WaPo, Krauthammer hits the nail on the head. You don’t have to buy into everything Bibi Netanyahu has done (I have real issues with the West Bank settlements,) but you must recognize that there is no moral equivalence in Gaza: Israel is fighting for its life here.

The Arab nations, if not much of global Islam, has chosen to play the role of Amalek and eradicate Israel, and then the Jews. They have chosen to do so by proxy because doing so with tanks, bombs, and infantry was not only spectacularly unsuccessful, it made them all look foolish AND it surrendered the moral high ground from 1947 to 1983.

In so doing, they have made the people of Gaza the cannon fodder in a worldwide propaganda war. If you want a bad guy in the deaths of Palestinian civilians, don’t look to Jerusalem: look to the cynical leaders of Hamas, of the Palestinian Authority, and of those national leaders who smile at Israel’s leaders for the cameras while they secretly write checks for Israel’s demise, and write off the people of Gaza as martyrs to a selfish cause.

The game has been the same since the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem called for the eradication of the Jews in 1926. All that has changed is the tactics.

I stand with Israel. I will bear the pain of its wrongs and fight to minimize them as I enjoy the triumphs of the good that it does and work to maximize them, because on the balance I know the scales tip heavily toward the good.

All I ask in return is that anyone who buys into Hamas propaganda, who stands with terrorists, similarly bears the moral responsibility for their actions, goals, and atrocities.


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