Queen Elizabeth Knighted an Anti-Israel Officer

King Abdullah of Jordan (1882–1951) with John ...

King Abdullah of Jordan (1882–1951) with John Bagot Glubb (1897–1986), the British commander of the Arab Legion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reading through the 1948 account of Israeli forces battling the Arab Legion at Latrun, I was slightly peeved to find out that the Legion, widely considered the most potent force among the forces attacking Israel, was led by British officers, notably John Bagot Glubb (“Glubb Pasha.”) Not only was Glubb not censured for his actions against the UN mandate, which caused the British no small embarrassment internationally and was technically a violation of his British commission, he was allowed to continue his service leading the legion against Israel for eight years.

Worse, at the end of that time, when he lost his commission in a political struggle in Amman, Glubb went home to be created a Knight Commander of the Order of Bath by Queen Elizabeth II for his efforts.

After reading Anshel Pfeffer’s balanced 2012 Haaretz article, it is hard to see Elizabeth II or the Windsor family as anti-Semites, with the notable exception of the Queen’s uncle. The family’s opinion on Israel, however, is somewhat less clear. George VI had Lord Halifax advise Hitler that German Jews would not be permitted into Palestine as the tide of the Holocaust rose, and the Queen has in her six decades on the throne never visited Israel.

Knighting Glubb in 1956 may well have been the act of a young monarch acceding to the requests of Arabists in government or on her staff at the time. That record has never been clarified, though, and it compels British Jews and many of us in America and the Commonwealth to wonder whether succeeding generations of Windsors will continue to draw a line between Jews and Israel, or whether a different approach is in the offing.

China and the Palestinian Journalist

Photojournalist Stages News for Profit and Ideology | HonestReporting.

Why does the New China News Agency employ a Palestinian journalist who injects his personal biases into his reporting on Israeli issues. Could it be, perhaps, that Xinhua can’t tell the difference? Or does it even care?

Stanford Professor thinks Obama’s Israel Trip is a mistake

English: President Barack Obama talks with Isr...

English: President Barack Obama talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a phone call from the Oval Office, Monday, June 8, 2009. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Barack Obama’s Israel trip: Benjamin Netanyahu will learn that he can insult the president and fail to advance the peace process and still land a presidential visit from the White House. – Slate Magazine.

The author makes some fair points, and I have never been a huge cheerleader for either Mr. Netanyahu or Mr. Obama.

Nonetheless, Ms. Zacharia overlooks an important political truth. I suspect Obama is not going to Israel to praise Bibi, but to give heart to the growing and increasingly viable moderate middle in Israeli politics.

The government just formed in Jerusalem is perhaps one of the most interesting, intelligent, and hopeful administrations that Israel has seen in a decade or more. It finds itself less under the sway of nationalist fundamentalists and more under those who seek practical, intelligent ways forward.

Israel cannot slam the door on peace, nor can it continue to hive off large chunks of its real estate without concessions in return. The new administration collectively gets that. If Obama does not step in to show support now, he is by lack of action giving aid and comfort to extremists on both ends of the spectrum and on both sides of the Jewish-Arab divide.

It is disappointing that a former Jersualem bureau chief of the Washington Post completely misses this point.

PA May Be in Violation of the Oslo Accords

No More Tax Funds from Israel to PA
Israel National News

Israel will be withholding tax funds destined for the Palestinian Authority following the UN vote last week. The PA’s status as a de facto “sovereign state” not only calls into question the legal basis of returning those tax funds, it calls into question the entire legal nature of the relationship between Israel and the PA. To wit:

It [the UN declaration] also circumvented the mandate for final status negotiations with Israel as required by the internationally-recognized Oslo Accords signed by the PA and Israel in the 1990s. By abrogating that agreement, there now exists a legal question as to whether or not the entire document is null and void – including the Paris Protocols, the section delineating economic agreements between Israel and the PA.

Somebody in the PA either didn’t think this through, or didn’t care. Perhaps because they believe this is the beginning of the end for Israel. It is nothing of the kind, of course, but this wouldn’t be the first time the Palestinians have miscalculated badly, would it?

I’m Boycotting Musicians Who Boycott Israel

Via Aish.com, a disturbing revelation prior to the world’s festive season: Stevie Wonder cancels a commitment to appear at a benefit for wounded IDF soldiers and the widows and orphans of those killed in the line of duty. Apparently, Mr. Wonder doesn’t think this humanitarian enough.

Unfortunately, Wonder is not alone. Fortunately, his misguided thinking is not shared universally in the music business.

One group called Creative Community for Peace says that although we “may not all share the same politics, we do agree that unfairly singling out Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, will not further peace.”

Yet musicians such as Elvis Costello, the Pixies, Jon Bon Jovi and Carlos Santana have all cravenly cancelled tour stops in Israel.

Appearing in Tel Aviv, pop icon Elton John took a swipe at the cowards: “Musicians spread love and peace, and bring people together. We don’t cherry-pick our conscience.”

via Stevie Wonder Scorns the IDF.

I’m pulling all music from these musicians out of my collection and locking them away. I’m also done buying their music.

Until they have a change of heart, that is.

Carter and Israel

“The World According to Carter”
Alan Dershowitz

The New York Sun
November 22, 2006

As we take stock of the events of the past month in the Mideast, it is worth remembering that even intelligent, well-meaning American statesmen are taken in by a Palestinian party line that ignores or alters facts in support of its own version of history. Jimmy Carter has done much good in his life, but his despicable revisionism about Israel has threatened to overshadow his contributions.

Dershowitz suggests that Carter is outright anti-Israel. I am not yet ready to make such an assertion. Nonetheless, this article reminds us why Carter and those who follow his line of thinking deserve no credibility in the debate over the future of the region.

 

Et tu, Maureen?

CDR Salamander: Maureen & the Subconscious Anti-Semite.

I try to stay out of politics on this blog. I spend enough time covering Chinese government and U.S. politics elsewhere that I try to leave this blog for musings on what it means to be Jewish.

But when one of the most prominent columnists in The New York Times, which has a history as a paper of record in the United States, begins to slide into rhetorical country that belies a subtle anti-Semitism, I have to raise the Chinese wall a bit.

I often find myself disagreeing with Maureen Dowd, but she has always been one of those voices I treasure because they she expresses herself so well. It was a disappointment, then, when naval blogger CDR Salamander caught Dowd apparently revealing an un-pretty bit of prejudice. The good CDR does an excellent job at explaining where the problem lies with Ms. Dowd’s rhetoric, especially when she appears to side with Israel’s enemies.

I respect Ms. Dowd for her opinions. I can only believe she must see the danger in overt Jew-baiting. I sincerely hope her rhetorical choices were meant as link-bait, and were not signs of a soul tainted with hatred of either Israel or Judaism.

One Step Closer to Being Pushed Into The Sea

“Palestinians Still Embrace Spirit of 1947”
Jonathan Tobin
Commentary Magazine

Jon Tobin and I don’t agree on everything, but even if you are the furthest thing from a neocon, you need to read this op/ed from yesterday.

The quote that everyone should have emblazoned on their consciousness is this one:

The main truth about this conflict has always been guided by one fact: neither the Palestinians nor their backers were willing then to acknowledge the rights of the Jews. It is only now after decades of intransigence that the Arabs say they want a state. But the common thread from 1947 to today’s debate is the willingness of much of the world to delegitimize Jewish rights and to bypass negotiations.

Even to a moderate like me who has never hesitated to lambaste Israel’s leadership (especially Bibi’s Likud) for the continuing idiocy around the settlements issue, it is becoming painfully clear that the Palestinian goals have never changed. A two-state solution increasingly appears to be a stepping-stone toward a single-state solution. For if it were not, the Palestinian Authority would have recognized Israel’s right to exist long ago.

The painful truth is that successive waves of Palestinian leaders – starting from the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in 1926 to Mahmoud Abbas and the leaders of Hamas, Hezbollah, et al – have talked themselves into a corner. Even if they wanted to recognize Israel, their legitimacy among their people now depends on their dedication to pushing the Jews into the sea.

That is sad. Because that makes this conflict less about a land agreement and more existential for both sides. And an existential conflict can never lead to peace.

Egyptian authorities reportedly seize 1.7 million documents proving Jewish ownership of assets in Cairo

Egyptian authorities reportedly seize 1.7 million documents proving Jewish ownership of assets in Cairo | The Times of Israel.

Nice. Between this and the Egyptian President’s trip to support Gaza, how long until Egypt abrogates the Camp David accords.

Sharing is a Two-Way Street

Is Israel’s left justified in suspecting that the diaspora leaders’ efforts to strengthen Jewish identity are coloured by the country’s rightist-religious Zeitgeist? If so, they will always exclude Jewish liberals. Worse, they will shore up an aggressive pro-Israel loyalism that denies the only feasible future for a Jewish, democratic Israel: sharing the land with a Palestinian state. Israel needs to recover its pragmatic Zionism. It cannot afford a governing ethos infused by a religious fundamentalism concerned chiefly with settlement, conquest and conflict.

via Looking ahead: A Jewish spring? | The Economist.

I’d feel a lot better about sharing the land with a Palestinian state if I could be sure that the Palestinians weren’t just going to use the two-state solution as a stepping stone to shoving us into the Mediterranean.

Washington blames Hamas for escalation

Washington defends Israel, blames Hamas for escalation | The Times of Israel.

Thanks, Mr. Obama.

Please Don’t Tell Me the NYT Possesses No Editorial Bias

The paper: NY Times. The dateline: Tel Aviv. The byline? Ethan Bronner — who looks at the Hamas weapons stockpile. I’m disappointed his lede starts out saying the conflict began when Israel assassinated Ahmad Jabari. Was the rocket fire leading up to it just chopped liver to Bronner?

via Live Blogging Israel’s Media War 11/18/2012 | HonestReporting.

And there is no media bias in the mainstream media against Israel? Or have the standards of journalism at the Gray Lady sunk so low that the facts no longer matter?

I’d say it’s a tossup.

Study Online: Rav Kook

 

A. I. Kook (d. 1935), Chief Rabbi of Palestine

A. I. Kook (d. 1935), Chief Rabbi of Palestine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rabbi Kook on Weekly Torah Portion (Parsha), Jewish Holidays and Psalms (Tehillim).

Rabbi Chanan Morrison’s superior site that offers commentary on the Torah, the Tehillim, and the events on the Jewish calendar based on the teachings of Rabbi Abraham Israel Kook, the first Chief Rabbi of Israel.

The site is a treasure trove and worth spending time – at least an hour a week – looking through what is on offer.

A Little History

August 15, 2005. The residents of the Israeli ...

August 15, 2005. The residents of the Israeli community Neve Dekalim are forcibly evacuated from their homes in Gaza. The evacuation of Neve Dekalim was part of the Gaza Disengagement, which occurred during the summer of 2005. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Disengagement – August 2005.

How Israel peacefully and unilaterally gave up the administration of Gaza, despite domestic opposition, in the fervent hope that it would be enough to begin a final peace process.

I had a talk with a friend the other day who was in the IDF at the time. He grew emotional explaining how it broke his heart to drag fellow Israelis out of Gaza in August 2005, but he did it because it was his duty, and because he hoped (like all of us) that it would mean progress toward peace.

It didn’t, and this should ever be an illustration that words like “hope” and “good faith” are increasingly hollow when dealing with the leaders of the PA and Hamas.

Beyond Denominations

The Economist, in its recent special report about the Jews, “Alive and Well,” offers us an interesting – and I think defensible – chart of the key points of belief and practice, delineating where the similarities as well as the differences lie among the four major denominations – HarediModern Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform. The guide offers some interesting insights into the faith, and it raises some others into each of us. After looking over the list and seeing how that made some sense, I then gave myself a test. Where do my own articles of faith lie?

  • On the Source of the Torah, I agree with both Orthodox denominations in that I believe that the Torah was dictated by G-d to Moses;
  • On the Authority of Halacha, I find myself between the Modern Orthodox and the Conservatives: life is regulated by halacha but that halacha can evolve to a degree;
  • Similarly, on Ritual and Practice, I’m with the Modern Orthodox in that they are regulated by halacha, but that there is room for evolution;
  • On Zionism and Israel, however, I am torn. I generally support Israel, but I am troubled by the State’s handling of the settlements issue.
  • On the Definition of Jewishness, I am between the Modern Orthodox and the Conservative position, but mostly out of selfishness – I want to be considered Jewish, but my mother did not convert according to halacha and I am not yet ready to take on the full scope of the Mitzvot.

But enough of this navel-gazing.

The article raises much more meaningful questions: are the differences between the denominations as great as we believe? Are they always a matter of choice, or are they a matter of upbringing? Do not each of the movements and denominations serve a purpose? Should we take a more holistic approach to our faith? Is it time for us to knock down the walls that divide the denominations?

Inter-denominational dissing is too prevalent, and we forget too easily that bBaseless hatred cast us out of Israel. Is it such a leap to think that it is,  the continuing presence of Jew-on-Jew strife that keeps Moshiach away?

One of the things that inspired me about Chabad was how the rabbis, while clearly Orthodox almost to the point of haredi, refused to classify themselves as such, and profess a point of view that says “all Jews are the same.” If they can do that, why can’t the rest of us?

Supporting Smarts Everywhere

“Israel to host ‘genius camp’ for aspiring scientists”
Size Doesn’t Matter
August 16, 2012

Israel will be bringing together 250 top young scientists from around Asia at the Asian Science Camp at the end of August.

Great to see Israel building these kinds of relationships, but more important it is great to see that somebody is doing all they can to prevent science in Asia from devolving into nationalist silos.

A Literary Giant Crosses a Line

Sad news today: Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker has forbidden her publishers from translating her book into Hebrew because of her opposition to Israel.

But, as Jonathan Tobin points out in Commentary, Walker has crossed the line from being “anti-Israel” to being anti-Semitic.

It is possible to criticize Israel without being an anti-Semite. But Walker has crossed the line from an already indefensible economic war against the Jewish state to a cultural war against Jewish identity. Such boycotts will not convince Israelis to give up their country or their right to defend themselves against the ongoing efforts of Palestinians to destroy it. But they do serve as a warning that Walker and others who support her efforts have already crossed the line between the demonization of Israel and open expressions of Jew-hatred.

via Alice Walker: The Color of Anti-Semitism « Commentary Magazine.

Ms. Walker is an intelligent person, but in this case she is either horribly misinformed, or we must conclude that she is channeling her closet Jew hatred. One hopes it is the former: at least that can be addressed.

Stephen Spielberg, are you reaching out to Ms. Walker on this?

Partners in Torah

Judaism, Torah, Jews | Partners in Torah.

This site promises you the opportunity to learn any Jewish subject with your own private teacher for 30-45 minutes a week over the phone.

Very cool…

Torah Thought of the Day

This one really got to me:

“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom
Let not the mighty man glory in his might
Let not the rich man glory in his riches
But one should only glory in this:
That he understands and knows Me,
that I am the Lord,
Who exercises mercy, justice, and righteousness on the earth.
For in these I delight, says the Lord.”

Yeremiachu 9:22-3

Amen, selah

Another Tribe Returns Home

Chinese Jews feel more at home in Israel – latimes.com.

Fantastic story in the L.A. Times describing the physical and spiritual journey of a small group Jews from Kaifeng to Israel.

I totally get their initial indignation to “convert” to Judaism after having been raised Jewish. In the face of that initial frustration, their persistence is admirable. And they won’t be the last, please G-d.

I wonder what the Rebbe would have thought.

Tisha B’Av: Celebrating Green Shoots

I was a superb conversation with a good friend about Tisha B’av on Twitter today, and we got around (as we normally do) to what we have been reading. He asked me if I had read a book that takes a dire view of assimilation among American Jews, suggesting that it portends the end of the Tribe.

I tire of the procession of modern-day Cassandras who see assimilation as the greatest problem facing Judaism today. There are surely others, not least of which are the way we often treat and speak of each other, that threaten our future more, that work against the will of Hashem, and that play a part in setting Jews onto the path of apostasy.

The highly pessimistic view of the faith with which many of us were raised, the view that also rejected out-of-hand the gifts of Rabbinic Judaism, is both incorrect and unnecessary. The Green Shoots of Judaism have in the past two decades begun to outnumber the wilted branches.

Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, known popularly as the Ba’al Shem Tov, was right about many things, but what he was most correct about was his imprecation to all of us to celebrate our faith, not mourn it. Tisha B’Av is a day to remind ourselves of the calamities in our past, but we must conclude it determined to build a better future.

Ethics and Tikkun Olam

Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Image by onBeing via Flickr

To Heal a Fractured World: The Ethics of Responsibility by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

By creating a work that implores not only Jews but people of all faiths to recognize our mutual responsibility to one another, Rabbi Sacks, the Chief Rabbi of Great Britain and the Commonwealth, proves once again why he has become one of the most eloquent and inspiring advocates of a life lived with meaning and purpose.

Ethics is always a tricky subject, but to his credit Rabbi Sacks is reasoned but unrepentant about his message: there can be ethics without religion and religion without ethics, but it is the joining of the two that deliver the far greater impact over time.

Religious skeptics need not bother: Sacks is not trying to make a case for religion here, but for ethics.

A must read for anyone wondering how to make a real difference in the world.