To understand it, recall the famous remark of Sherlock Holmes. “I draw your attention,” he said to Dr Watson, “to the curious incident of the dog at night.” “But the dog did nothing at night,” said Watson. “That,” said Holmes, “is the curious incident.” Sometimes to know what a book is about you need to focus on what it does not say, not just on what it does.
What is missing from the Torah, almost inexplicably so given the background against which it is set, is a fixation with death. The ancient Egyptians were obsessed with death. Their monumental buildings were an attempt to defy death. The pyramids were giant mausoleums. More precisely, they were portals through which the soul of a deceased pharaoh could ascend to heaven and join the immortals. The most famous Egyptian text that has come down to us is The Book of the Dead. Only the afterlife is real: life is a preparation for death.
There is nothing of this in the Torah, at least not explicitly. Jews believed in olam haba, the world to come, life after death. They believed in techiyat hametim, the resurrection of the dead. There are six references to it in the second paragraph of the Amidah alone. But not only are these ideas almost completely absent from Tanakh. They are absent at the very points where we would expect them.
The book of Kohelet/Ecclesiastes is an extended lament at human mortality. Havel havalim hakol havel: Everything is worthless because life is a mere fleeting breath. Why did the author of Ecclesiastes not mention the world to come and life-after-death? The book of Job is a sustained protest against the apparent injustice of the world. Why did no one answer Job: “You and other innocent people who suffer will be rewarded in the afterlife”? We believe in the afterlife. Why then is it not mentioned – merely hinted at – in the Torah? That is the curious incident.
The simple answer is that obsession with death ultimately devalues life. Why fight against the evils and injustices of the world if this life is only a preparation for the world to come? Ernest Becker in his classic The Denial of Death argues that fear of our own mortality has been one of the driving forces of civilization. It is what led the ancient world to enslave the masses, turning them into giant labour forces to build monumental buildings that would stand as long as time itself. It led to the ancient cult of the hero, the man who becomes immortal by doing daring deeds on the field of battle. We fear death; we have a love-hate relationship with it. Freud called thisthanatos, the death instinct, and said it was one of the two driving forces of life, the other being eros.
Judaism is a sustained protest against this world-view. That is why “No one knows where Moses is buried” (Deut. 34: 6) so that his tomb should never become a place of pilgrimage and worship. That is why in place of a pyramid or a temple such as Ramses II built at Abu Simbel, all the Israelites had for almost five centuries until the days of Solomon was the mishkan, a portable sanctuary, more like a tent than a temple. That is why, in Judaism, death defiles and why the rite of the Red Heifer was necessary to purify people from contact with it. That is why the holier you are – if you are a cohen, more so if you are the High Priest – the less you can be in contact or under the same roof as a dead person. God is not in death but in life.
Only against this Egyptian background can we fully sense the drama behind words that have become so familiar to us that we are no longer surprised by them, the great words in which Moses frames the choice for all time:
See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil … I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse; therefore choose life, that you and your children may live. (Deut. 30: 15, 19)
Life is good, death is bad. Life is a blessing, death is a curse. These are truisms for us. Why even mention them? Because they were not common ideas in the ancient world. They were revolutionary. They still are.
How then do you defeat death? Yes there is an afterlife. Yes there is techiyat hametim, resurrection. But Moses does not focus on these obvious ideas. He tells us something different altogether. You achieve immortality by being part of a covenant – a covenant with eternity itself, that is to say, a covenant with God.
When you live your life within a covenant something extraordinary happens. Your parents and grandparents live on in you. You live on in your children and grandchildren. They are part of your life. You are part of theirs. That is what Moses meant when he said, near the beginning of this week’s parsha:
It is not with you alone that I am making this covenant and oath, but with whoever stands with us here today before the Lord our God as well as those not with us here today. (Deut. 29: 13-14)
In Moses’ day that last phrase meant “your children not yet born.” He did not need to include “your parents, no longer alive” because their parents had themselves made a covenant with God forty years before at Mount Sinai. But what Moses meant in a larger sense is that when we renew the covenant, when we dedicate our lives to the faith and way of life of our ancestors, they become immortal in us, as we become immortal in our children.
It is precisely because Judaism focuses on this world, not the next, that it is the most child-centred of all the great religions. They are our immortality. That is what Rachel meant when she said, “Give me children, or else I am like one dead” (Gen. 30: 1). It is what Abraham meant when he said, “Lord, God, what will you give me if I remain childless?” (Gen. 15: 2). We are not all destined to have children. The rabbis said that the good we do constitutes our toledot, our posterity. But by honouring the memory of our parents and bringing up children to continue the Jewish story we achieve the one form of immortality that lies this side of the grave, in this world that God pronounced good.
When Islamist sociopaths in the Sydney ‘burbs threaten to murder and/or behead Australians, that’s terror, and the people doing it are terrorists. But when they or their cousins in their Middle East villages threaten the very same to Israelis or to Arabs who pray in a different direction or whose view of their shared religion is different in some big or small way, why are they then called militants or activists?
The head of Reuters in the days right after 9/11 said the reason is “that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter" [Sydney Morning Herald, 2004]. But we, and that includes the media, have to get this right. There is a way to know terror, to define terror, to classify certain actions and people as terrorist. Getting this wrong has huge life-and-death consequences. The senior people at the BBC don’t agree, and say instead that using the word “terrorist” “can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding”:
…we don’t change the word “terrorist” when quoting other people, but we try to avoid the word ourselves; not because we are morally neutral towards terrorism, nor because we have any sympathy for the perpetrators of the inhuman atrocities which all too often we have to report, but because terrorism is a difficult and emotive subject with significant political overtones. [BBC: Language when Reporting Terrorism]
That’s one of the reasons people who think the way we do have for years tried to publicly shame the BBC’s policy guidelines [full text online here] on how and when to use “terror”.
If Australian news reports this evening referred to the people who threaten to behead other Australians by calling them militants or activists, most members of their Australian audience would be outraged.
But as Israelis, we have gotten used to the reality of reporters and their editors engaging in walking-on-eggshells terminological acrobatics in order to disgracefully avoid using the one accurate descriptor: terrorist.
Same protest, same Sydney public park, even younger supporter of beheading for the sake of Islam [Image Source]
George Carlin, the great and late, joked that people once used to get old and die but not any more. Nowadays they become pre-elderly; then turn into senior citizens; then pass away in a terminal episode or following a negative patient care outcome or in response to a therapeutic misadventure. The world is poorer with him gone. But with the greatest of respect (non-euphemistically, that would be: recognizing the utter foolishness of what people routinely do), it’s not at all humorous when the authorities hijack our language in order to advance policies which, if they had to explain them, would be offensive, repugnant and unacceptable.
The terrorists are a serious threat to just about everyone, and it’s ludicrous to think “we" have "them" on the run. The terrorists can do immense harm, turn people’s lives upside down, inflict huge pain and destruction. But unless we let them, they cannot change the shape of society. Those euphemisms and the fuzzy, agenda-driven thinking behind them, however, can do immense harm to the ability of civilized countries to keep their people and their achievements safe. What we do with words really does make a difference.
Every Shabbat is special. However, this Shabbat is the last Shabbat of the year as well as the 25th day of Elul which commemorates the first of the six days of creation.
Adam and Chava were created on the sixth day of creation, Rosh Hashanah, and thus the first day was 25 Elul. On this day, Hashem brought a special “light of kindness” into existence, and this is thus a very auspicious and significant occasion. It is therefore proper to treat this day with special sanctity.
Although the entirety of the month of Elul is an especially auspicious time for repentance and Kedusha, there is unique significance to the final week, when we commemorate the world’s creation. This is a time of special divine kindness, and we must take advantage of this unique opportunity by observing certain customs, to the best of our ability, and, more generally, enhancing our devotion to Torah and Misvot.
On the 25th and on one must take extra measure to avoid anger. One should recite the grace after meals with extra concentration. We give charity, and if possible one should try and get an Aliyah in the Synagogue this Shabbat.
Each day from 25 Elul through Rosh Hashanah, one should read the verses in the Torah that speak about that day’s creation. On 25 Elul, one reads the verses that tell of the first day, on 26 Elul one reads about the second day, and so on,
Being that this year the 25th of Elul falls on this coming Shabbat, it will be even easier to focus our attention on matters of sanctity on this special day.
“If Hamas does not like you for any reason all they have to do now is say you are a Mossad agent and kill you.” — A., a Fatah member in Gaza.
“Hamas wanted us butchered so it could win the media war against Israel showing our dead children on TV and then get money from Qatar.” — T., former Hamas Ministry officer.
“They would fire rockets and then run away quickly, leaving us to face Israeli bombs for what they did.” — D., Gazan journalist.
“Hamas imposed a curfew: anyone walking out in the street was shot. That way peoplehad to stay in their homes, even if they were about to get bombed. Hamas held the whole Gazan population as a human shield.” — K., graduate student
“The Israeli army allows supplies to come in and Hamas steals them. It seems even the Israelis care for us more than Hamas.” — E., first-aid volunteer.
“We are under Hamas occupation, and if you ask most of us, we would rather be under Israeli occupation… We miss the days when we were able to work inside Israel and make good money. We miss the security and calm Israel provided when it was here.” — S., graduate of an American university, former Hamas sympathizer.
While the world’s media has been blaming Israel for the death of Gazan civilians during Operation Protective Edge, this correspondent decided to speak with Gazans themselves to hear what they had to say.
This weeks parsha is a double parsha. Nitzavim and Vayelech. In Nitzavim, it says:
ושב ה’ אלקיך את שבותך ורחמך ושב ןקבצך מכל העמים אשר הפיצך ה’ אלקיך שמה. אם יהיה נדחך בקצה השמים משם יקבצך ה’ אלקיך ומשם יקחך. והביאך ה’ אלקיך אל הארץ אשר ירשו אבתיך וירשתה והיטבך והרבך מאבתיך.
The Lord your G-d will return your captivity and have mercy on you, and he will return and gather you from all the nations where the Lord your G-d has scattered you. If your dispersed will be at the ends of the heavens, from there the Lord your G-d will gather you and from there he will take you. And the Lord your G-d will bring you to the land… (30:3-5)
These verses are the Torahs clearest reference to the ingathering of the exiles. It is therefore fitting for us, the generation privileged to witness this promise, to study them in depth.
Two major questions arise from the opening of the first verse. The verb “He will return” seems grammatically incorrect. It implies that G-d himself will return from exile. The Torah should’ve used what we call the hifil (causative) form of the word, “He will cause to return” or “He will bring back”. And why is the word “He will return” mentioned twice in the verse?
Rashi gives two different answers to the first question. When the Jewish people go into exile, G-d himself accompanies them and “suffers” with them. Therefore, when they return to the land, G-d will return with them. The other answer is that the day of the ingathering of the exiles is such an event that G-d himself will have to seize each man from his place.
The first answer gives us another reason to make Aliyah. Not only is it good for us, it’s good for Hashem. When a Jew returns to his homeland, he brings the shechinah (divine presence) back home as well. This, therefore, is a responsibility that no Jew should pass up.
Rabbi Meir Simchah Hakohen of Dvinsk gives and answer to the second question. “G-d will first return the Jews in captivity who yearn for Israel and want to flee the diaspora. ‘And he will gather all the nations’ refers to the Jews who are comfortable in their foreign lands and have lost desire for Israel. Hashem will gather them up too and return them afterwards.”
In other words, there are two types of exiles, oppressive and comfortable. Jews who live in the first type will be redeemed first and Jews who live in the second type will be redeemed last.
It is amazing how consistent this prophecy is with world events. No Jews live in oppressive exile anymore. They have been brought back. The question is, when will the other Jews be brought back. Will they wait for moshiach to miraculously bring them back himself? and who says they’ll go with him? The verse “if your dispersed will be at the ends of the heavens, from there the Lord your G-d will gather you…” is the 5708th verse in the Torah. The year 5708 corresponds to year 1948 in the secular calendar. The year that G-d restored sovereignty of Israel to the Jews allowing the ingathering of exiles after 2000 years of persecution. How much longer will it take for world Jewry to wake up and seize this historic opportunity?
Written for Shabbat Parashat Nitzavim-Vayeilech, כה באלול תשע”ד:
Towards the end of Nitzavim, the first of the two Parshiyot for this week, we have the well-known dictum of Moshe Rabbeinu (30:19): “I have placed life and death before you, blessing and curse, and you shall choose life”. Moshe Rabbeinu is quite explicit in his exhortations that straying from God is the path of death, whereas cleaving to Hashem and his Mitzvot is the path of life.
I’ve heard many times people who like to say that we are dying from the day we are born, since every day we are one day closer to death. This attitude is no joke, but rather is usually indicative of a cynical outlook, in contrast to the teachings of Chazal. In truth, this is not the view of Judaism. Chazal teach us that we are our souls, and that our bodies, our physical selves, are merely vessels to carry that soul. Yes it has great significance, but the essence of a person is his soul, not his body. When a body perishes, the soul lives on… or at least, that’s the plan, and that is the key to lesson that Moshe is teaching us here.
Following in the ways of Hashem is the key to life. As Moshe says, “life and the good” (30:15), that which is good in the eyes of Hashem is synonymous with life.
On the other hand, Moshe also warns us about “the death and the evil” (ibid.), straying from the ways of Hashem is synonymous with death. Therefore, so long as a person is striving to connect himself with Hashem by learning Torah, performing Mitzvot faithfully, and working constantly to improve his traits, he is one who is alive. When such a person reaches the end of their physical existence, what waits for them is not death, for they have Torah in their hands, and that grants them life eternal. On the other hand, people who spend their lives on frivolity, who pursue material wealth and physical pleasures, the people that modern society claim are “alive”, they are the ones who are dead. With no connection to Hashem, a person severs himself from the source of life, and even before his physical body perishes, he is already dead.
Though I myself certainly am not perfect in this area, but something important to think about in all our actions in life is, “How does Hashem view this?” We must remember that when our time in the physical world ends, we must give an accounting for all of our deeds in this world. That means that when we do something we know is wrong, but our inner voice is trying to come up with ridiculous justifications for why we should continue, we need to stop and ask ourselves, “How will I explain this to Hashem?”
There have been many times I have found myself trying to point out to someone else that some action they are doing is wrong, often times the topic is stealing of movies and other digital content through illegal downloading, and they give me all these ludicrous reasons for why it’s okay for them to continue. All the while, the only thought going through my mind is, “And what will you say when you stand before Hashem and he asks you why you did this?” When someone gives us rebuke, whether they did it correctly or incorrectly, it is purely self-destructive for us to argue against them1, rather we should start preparing our defense for when we stand before the Heavenly Court, where we no longer have the opportunity to right the wrongs we have committed, and where our lies and faults are laid bare.
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are coming soon, and we all have committed many sins. Will we readily admit to them before The Holy One Blessed Be He, and repent for what we’ve done wrong, or will we continue to sweep our sins under the rug and delude ourselves into thinking we will never be taken to task for them?
That is the choice that Moshe Rabbeinu placed before us, the choice between life and death. Shabbat Shalom.
1 In Hilchot T’shuvah (4:2), Rambam teaches that refusing to listen to rebuke prevents a person from doing T’shuvah, since refusal to admit you have sinned precludes sincere repentance.
Mauricio Pochettino blasts anti-semitic banner as "unacceptable"
Simon Peach PUBLISHED 18/09/2014 | 21:53
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino was angered by the “unacceptable” anti-Semitic banner displayed by Partizan Belgrade fans in their Europa League opener.
A much-changed Spurs side got their Group C campaign off to a sturdy start by securing a hard-fought, 0-0 draw in an intimidating atmosphere in the Serbian capital.
It was a solid performance overshadowed by an anti-Semitic banner in the home end, inspired by the Only Fools and Horses logo.
The name was changed to ‘Only Jews and Pussies’ and was displayed at Partizan Stadium throughout the match.
UEFA is investigating the issue pointed out to them by Tottenham officials, with a delegate from the governing body taking photographic evidence after the match.
"I didn’t see it," Spurs boss Pochettino said. "The club is aware but I did not see [it myself].
"But if this is true, then it is an unacceptable thing. It is very disrespectful.
"This is a shame, very disrespectful and unacceptable."
It is not the first time Partizan have found themselves in hot water, having been thrown out of the UEFA Cup and fined in 2007 for rioting during a first qualifying round first-leg clash at Zrinjski Mostar.
Thursday’s incident also came just two years on from the disgusting racial abuse suffered by England Under-21s in a European Championship play-off in Serbia.
Hi, thought you should be made aware of the anti-Semitic banner held up in yesterday's Tottenham Europa League match. Just to show that racism and in particularly Antisemitism is a serious problem in all areas of life. Thanks and continue your good work.
A consortium of American Jewish and civil rights groups including the Amcha Initiative have expressed concern that federal funds are underwriting “one-sided, antisemitic programming that masquerades as scholarship,” at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), according to statements released Wednesday.
CNES Israel-related events had an overwhelmingly anti-Israel bias: Of the 28 Israel-related events, 93% were anti-Israel;
Most CNES Israel-related events contained antisemitic content: Of the 28 events, 75% contained antisemitic content;
CNES had disproportionate focus on Israel: Of all the public events pertaining to significant Middle East political conflicts, 61% focused on the Arab-Israeli conflict, significantly more than any other conflict. In addition, events were held about 14 Middle East countries. Of those countries, 27% of the events were about Israel, four times more than any other country except Iran;
CNES favors speakers who engaged in antisemitic activity prior to speaking at CNES: Of the 31 speakers at the CNES Israel-related events, 84% have engaged in antisemitic activity, including the demonization and deligitimization of Israel, denying Jews the right to self-determination, comparing Israelis to Nazis and condoning terrorism;
Each CNES director had engaged in anti-Israel and antisemitic activity: All three CNES directors from 2010-2013 publicly opposed the UC Israel Abroad Program, despite touting the public abroad program as part of the center’s fulfillment of the Title VI funding requirement. In addition, each of the directors endorsed boycotts of Israel, and one is the founder of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel.
CNES supported by Saudi government: Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests revealed CNES received a donation of $10,000 – $20,000 from the Saudi government-owned Arabian American Oil Company. The Saudi website also includes openly anti-Israel and antisemitic discourse.
CNES, according to AMCHA, is a major federally-designated National Resource Center, and as such, gets most of its funding funding from the Department of Education under Title VI of the Higher Education Act (HEA). The group said the school received $1,383,680 during the period being investigated.
The groups issued a joint statement calling on the U.S. Congress to deny funds to Middle East Studies programs accused of having anti-American and anti-Israel bias, as well as to enact reforms on the funding process.
Congress is currently reconsidering the reauthorization of the HEA, which provides federal funds to 129 international studies and foreign language programs.
According to the 10 organizations that signed the statement- Accuracy in Academia, AMCHA Initiative, American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, Endowment for Middle East Truth, The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, Middle East Forum, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, Zionist Organization of America – the programs “have devolved into hotbeds of anti-American and anti-Israel activity, disseminating falsehoods both in universities and to K-12 teachers and to the general public.”
Hey, I'm a yeshiva student, and we try to have a running list of who in the IDF needs particular attention on high, prayer wise. Do you have an updated list of the names of the soldiers who need healing?
Shalom, i checked few places and this seems to be the latest list from 1/9
but if you want you can email them for an updated list.. as chabad in Israel seems to maintaining an updated list as far as i know, however there might be others too. http://www.ctvp.org/tools/feedback.htm
When our Israeli Admin comes online later in the morning as per Israel time, i will ask her about it too.
If any of our followers have the latest list please feel free to share.
In the wake of Australia’s counter-terrorism raids on Thursday that detained 15 people and foiled an alleged beheading plot by Islamic State jihadists, Jewish community groups called on Australian Jews to remain vigilant during the High Holidays.
A security bulletin released by the Community Security Group, which works with national and local Jewish groups on security issues, urged Jews to remain alert during the upcoming holidays, when synagogues will likely be filled to capacity.
Fifteen people have been arrested and one has appeared in court after police carried out counter-terrorism raids across western Sydney and Brisbane’s south. The raids were the largest of their kind in Australian history, involving hundreds of Australian Federal Police and NSW Police officers. Police said they have thwarted a “serious act of violence”. Prime Minister Tony Abbott said intelligence indicated people in Australia were allegedly planning a public beheading to be carried out in the name of militant group Islamic State. Police allege the suspects were planning to snatch and behead a random member of the public, then drape them in the flag of Islamic State… In Sydney, officers raided properties in Beecroft, Bellavista, Guildford, Merrylands, Northmead, Wentworthville, Marsfield, Westmead, Castle Hill, Revesby, Bass Hill and Regents Park. Security on military bases in Australia could be stepped up in the coming days… AFP acting Commissioner Andrew Colvin said one person had been charged with serious terrorism offences and 14 others detained. Mr Colvin said police acted after there was intelligence to suggest a violent attack was going to be carried out on random members of the public… [SMH]
The emerging reality of terrorism in Australia struck home just before dawn today when more than 800 police launched synchronised raids on houses and vehicles across Sydney’s west and north-west, and Brisbane’s south… Commonwealth prosecutor Michael Allnutt told Sydney’s Central Local Court the alleged offence was “clearly designed to shock, horrify and terrify the community”… Mr Allnutt said there was “a plan to commit extremely serious offences” that involved an “unusual level of fanaticism”. He said the plot involved the “random selection of persons to rather gruesomely execute” and said there was an “irrational determination to commit that plan” because those allegedly involved continued to plot the attacks even though they knew they were under police surveillance… The court was told the charges against Azari stemmed from a single phone call intercepted earlier this week and police made their move this morning to disrupt a group of mostly Afghan Australians 48 hours after that phone call, concerned at how close it was to going ahead. “It’s been an immediate reaction to a clear, imperative danger,” Mr Allnutt said. “There is still an enormous amount of material for police to assess” …The prosecution opposed bail, saying the unusual level of fanaticism meant Azari would be unlikely to adhere to any court orders.[ABC]
NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione has called for calm and said this investigation did not lead to last Friday’s increase of the terrorism level… “That allegation will relate to serious violence on a random member of the public here on the streets of NSW,” Mr Scipione said. He said police acted on Thursday because they believed it was “the most appropriate time”, given the intelligence officers had.”
More questions than answers at this stage about what ABC calls Australia’s new “emerging reality” . There is media speculation now that the police activity is likely to be extended to Melbourne. And it has already [source] caused the shut-down of a money-transfer business alleged to be funding terror.
A little further from the headlines, it was reported today [source] that earlier this week the 1,200 students of a Christian school in Sydney came under verbal assault from “men" in a "car" who threatened "to kill all of you here", meaning (according to the nun who heard it) "all Christians”. The school, located in Harris Park (where less than 22% of the population is Australian born) in Sydney’s Western suburbs near Parramatta, is the Maronite College of the Holy Family, an Arabic-language high school formerly called Our Lady of Lebanon School.
The car reportedly had a flag, similar to those brandished by Islamic State jihadists, hanging out the window. Witnesses told police the small triangular flag had Arabic words similar to “there is only one god and Muhammad is the prophet”… Maronite College spokesman Joseph Wakim said the school community was shocked but he stressed the incident was an isolated one. “People expect these situations to appear on their TV screens on the other side of the world,” he said. “They don’t expect them to be taking place where their children attend the school and they come to pray…” [source]
As we write this, angry voices are being heard (see Tweet below) in a Sydney suburb described in a recent Tim Blair article in the Daily Telegraph
Lakemba may be only 30 minutes from the centre of Sydney, yet it is remarkably distinct from the rest of the city. You can walk the length of crowded Haldon St and not hear a single phrase in English. On this main shopping strip the ethnic mix seems similar to what you’d find in any Arabic city. Australia may be multicultural, but Haldon St is a monoculture. This does have its advantages. If you’re ever in need of groceries at 3am, head to Lakemba, where shopkeepers keep unusual hours, particularly during Ramadan.[“Last drinks in Lakemba: Tim Blair takes a look inside Sydney’s Muslim Land”, Daily Telegraph, Sydney, August 18, 2014]
At this moment, the action on Lakemba’s streets is not connected to Ramadan or shopping;
The following is an overview of SJP’s toxic activities during the 2013-2014 academic year and the fall of 2014.
SJP chapters have engaged in many different types of intimidation over the last year:
In February 2014 SJP violated the free speech rights of two Israelis at a pro-Israel event at Cal Poly Pomona. It brought professional anti-Israel activists and students from other schools to shout the speakers down, preventing them from making their presentations and robbing audience members of the opportunity to hear Israeli perspectives on the conflict.
When SJP brought divestment campaigns to the University of Michigan and other campuses, numerous Jewish students and members of student governments were subjected to threats, hate speech, and other forms ofintimidation.
At UC Irvine and San Francisco State University (SFSU), SJP disrupted Israel Independence Day celebrations. Its members attempted to shout down pro-Israel student speakers at SFSU, physically pushed people away from informational booths, and assaulted three Jewish students at Irvine.
UCLA’s SJP chapter employed an especially sophisticated intimidation tactic, filing judicial complaints against two student senators who had gone on sponsored educational trips to Israel.
Temple SJP is currently being investigated because a student associated with the group hit a pro-Israel student in the face during Welcome Week.
SJP at Loyola University of Chicago is currently being investigated for harassing Hillel students and blocking their Birthright Israel informational table.
In all of these instances, SJP demonstrated its total disregard for freedom of speech, its eagerness to silence pro-Israel voices, and its desire to prevent uninformed students from hearing or seeing Israel’s side of the story.
Slander and Misinformation
When SJP members shared their perspective, they made misleading and often slanderous claims about Israel and pro-Israel students:
At campuses in California, SJP chapters set up mock “apartheid wall” displays with maps labeling all of Israel as “occupied territory.”
Many SJP chapters, including those at the University of Michigan, Northwestern, Northeastern, NYU, and UNC, put mock eviction notices in student dorms, aimed at shocking campus communities and spreading misinformation about Israeli policies in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Many Jewish students reported feeling unsafe as a result, and SJP at Northeastern was suspended for violating school policy.
At a UCLA SJP-sponsored event, BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti made statements denying Jewish peoplehood and accusing Israel of shooting Palestinian children for sport – a claim reminiscent of the anti-Semitic blood libels that led to violence against Jews in the Middle Ages.
At the UCs, Cornell University, and elsewhere, SJP’s divestment campaigns featured countless slanderous accusations against Israel, including “genocide,” sterilization of Ethiopian women, and holding refugees in “concentration camps.” Pro-Israel students who opposed BDS and stood up for Jewish self-determination were dehumanized and compared to supporters of slavery and South African apartheid.
The worst tactic may have occurred at UCLA, where a Jewish student government candidate was subjected to a prolonged smear campaign, on social media and elsewhere, centered around baseless accusations of Islamophobia.
At campuses across the country, SJP’s messaging and menacing were synonymous with slander, misinformation and harassment.
As if intimidation and slander were not enough, some SJP activists engaged in overt bigotry against Israel and Jews:
During the divestment campaign at UC Riverside, one of SJP’s key leaders posted extremely hateful statements on social media, including, “Judaism is not the problem. Filthy Zionists are.”
At SFSU, the SJP-affiliated General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) held signs on campus that read, “My heroes have always killed colonizers.” Shortly afterward, GUPS president Mohammad Hammad confirmed that the signs were referring to Israelis and even expressed support for genocide. He wrote that “Israelis ARE colonizers… And you know what else? My heroes HAVE always killed colonizers. I literally see nothing wrong with this and my only regret is that not all colonizers were killed.”
Lastly, at the end of the academic year, the SJP chapter at Vassar postedNazi propaganda on one of its official social media accounts. The president of the university condemned SJP for its “racist, hateful speech” and initiated an investigation, forcing SJP to issue a public apology.
"At a Tuesday conference marking the 40th anniversary of the Legal Services Corporation, Biden recalled anecdotes from his son’s experience serving in Iraq and meeting members of the military who were in need of legal help because of problems back at home.
“That’s one of the things that he finds was most in need when he was over there in Iraq for a year,” Biden said. “That people would come to him and talk about what was happening to them at home in terms of foreclosures, in terms of bad loans that were being … I mean these Shylocks who took advantage of, um, these women and men while overseas.”
Upon being informed that the term ‘Shylock’ might contain some slight anti-Semitic overtone, Biden said, “I want to apologize to any sheenies and kikes who might have been offended by my use of the word Shylock to describe those Jewish Bankers and moneylenders. In my defense, I have never read ‘The Merchant of Venice’ or seen it performed. In fact since getting caught plagiarizing, I’ve taken great pains not to expose myself to anything of intellectual value that I might inadvertently try to pass of as my own work.”
Okay, I made that last part up…
But to offer a historical context, Shakespeare wrote ‘The Merchant of Venice’ (and all his other works), during a period when all Jews had been expelled from England. Meaning, ‘The Bard’ can probably be forgiven for relying on inaccurate negative stereotypes of the period since he had probably never seen or met a Jew in real life.
Friends of the IDF is the only official organization in the United States that cares for Israel’s soldiers’ well being needs. After delivering over 50,000 well being packages to the IDF soldiers during Operation Protective Edge, Friends of the IDF is now sending them Rosh Hashanah cards. If you would like to send one, click
There is a lot happening in Jerusalem and you’re not hearing about it.
It might be all rainbows and unicorns today in Jerusalem, but there is a lot going on in Jerusalem that isn’t being widely reported. Do you remember when I used to post pictures of my electric car in Jerusalem?
I used to visit an Arab customer on the main Arab shopping street there. Just yesterday we delivered goods to this customer but it’s far too dangerous to go to his shop (which I’ve visited in the past many times). We were forced to arrange to meet Mohammad (name has not been changed but his anonymity is reasonably secure) in a safe Jewish neighbourhood.
On Aug. 30, Palestinian terrorists set a Jewish man on fire in Jerusalem, and on Sept. 1, other Palestinian terrorists tried to set an entire bus full of Israeli Jews on fire.
Yet I couldn’t find any mention of these horrific attacks in the New York Times, the Washington Post, or any other major American news outlet. Why is it that news about burning Jews is not considered fit to print?
The first of the firebomb attacks took place in Jerusalem’s City of David neighborhood. A Molotov cocktail—a flaming bottle of gasoline which explodes upon contact—was hurled through the window of a historic 19th-century house known as Beit Meyuhas. One of the residents, a 45-year-old man, was struck by the firebomb and set on fire. He suffered first and second-degree burns to his face and head. Second-degree burns often result in permanent scarring and require skin grafting.
Most of the editors and reporters in the mainstream media subscribe to a narrative of the Israeli-Arab conflict in which the Israelis are the aggressors, and the Palestinians are the victims. That narrative supports the political outcome that most editors and reporters personally endorse: an Israeli retreat to the 1967 lines, a division of Jerusalem, the rise of a Palestinian state.
But when you report about Palestinians burning and stoning Israelis, that changes everything. Americans—from the average person in the street to Members of Congress—regard such behavior as barbaric. They naturally conclude that giving a state to such violent extremists is crazy. Telling the truth about Palestinian behavior makes it harder to mobilize pressure on Israel to give in. That’s why in the editorial offices of the New York Times and so many other newspapers, news about burning Jews isn’t fit to print. Sadly, it’s that simple.
Please do read the rest. Then ask why this stuff isn’t going out on the main news wires and why the main news networks aren’t asking for details on this.
Vice President Joe Biden’s casual use of an expression some deem anti-Semitic has drawn sharp criticism from the Anti-Defamation League.
Biden referred to bankers that take advantage of military men and women serving overseas as “Shylocks.”
The term comes from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, in which the villain, Shylock, is a greedy Jewish money-lender that asks for a “pound of flesh” as payment.
“Shylock represents the medieval stereotype about Jews and remains an offensive characterization to this day. The Vice President should have been more careful,” Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman said.
Violence and incitement against European Jews reached new heights during Operation Protective Edge.
Nevertheless, levels of German anti-Semitism remain high – even when there is no military conflict taking place in Israel.
In May, the Anti-Defamation League’s Global 100 Index found that 27 percent of German adults answered “probably” or “definitely” true to six or more of 11 stereotypes about Jews in the survey, such as “Jews are more loyal to Israel than to this country/the country they live in.”
This placed Germany among the countries with the highest levels of anti-Semitism in Western Europe.
Germans and other Europeans need to ask themselves why it is legitimate to express “Israel criticism” while leveling the same withering criticism against other countries is unheard of. There is, after all, no “Japan criticism” or “Sweden criticism” or even “Syria criticism”; rather, criticism is confined to specific policies, governments or regimes.
It is their preoccupation with Jews and Israel that motivates Europeans to take to the streets to show solidarity with Palestinian victims.
What else explains why the same sort of solidarity is not shown with the hundreds of thousands killed in Syria?
Is there anything that Germany or other European countries can do to combat anti-Semitism? Education might help. But when a rally against anti-Semitism takes place in the center of Berlin attended by the chancellor and other notables, and only 5,000 bother to show up, it is difficult to be optimistic.
Kentucky man running for U.S. senate has campaign slogan: ‘With Jews We Lose,” and calls blacks ‘savages in a white nation.’
Photo from campaign of Robert Rensdell for US senator from Kentucky. Photo Credit: YouTube
Most people run for political office because they have ideas for making the lives of citizens better, which they want to implement. One man in Kentucky is running for the office of U.S. senate simply so that he can post political campaign signs denouncing Jews.
Robert Ransdell is the man filled with hate. Although he is an independent candidate in the Kentucky race for U.S. senate, he told a local television news station that he knows he cannot beat the incumbent, Republican Mitch McConnell, or the contender for the Democrats, Alison Lundergan Grimes. Nope. He just wants to use the campaign to spread his slogan of hatred, “With Jews We Lose.”
Ransdale has made and posted several videos describing what is behind his slogan.
But there is another agenda Ransdell isn’t sharing in his campaign signs. If one (don’t bother, please) looks through his videos this throwback in Jew Hatred also has pre-civil rights era views about another segment of the population. This one is blacks, whom he describes as “a race of savages in a white nation.” Ransdell is calling for white unity against blacks. And he is pretty shockingly forthcoming about his views.
Ransdell – who says he speaks for lots of people who won’t say it publicly – blames the Jewish-controlled media and their “white traitor” abettors for pretending there is equality in this nation. But he says there isn’t. According to Ransdell, “There are race differences, equality does not exist. Blacks are more pre-disposed to criminal behavior, no matter what is their economic situation.”
And he is contemptuous of the response from the “establishment.” Enough dealing with symptoms, Rensdell is calling for the creation of a “White Guard,” a phalanx of white men who will protect “our women and children.”
The “candidate” said he has already put up 20 “With Jews We Lose” signs along various roads and highways in northern Kentucky, and he plans to post 200 more soon.
Although there were complaints to the television station which first posted the story, Ransdell says he received lots of positive feedback.
“Online we have had a lot of positive feedback. Like I said we’re going to find out what kind of feedback we get once we go out and take it to the people here in the state of Kentucky,” Ransdell said.
There is one legal technicality which would enable diligent officials to remove the Ransdell’s hate messages. The only requirement for political signs in Kentucky is that they include the words “paid for by” and the name and address of who paid. There is no address on the signs posted thus far.
Perhaps it is for that reason that at least some of the signs were gone the day after the story first ran, Tuesday, Sept. 17.
But judging by the comments posted to the WLWT story, Ransdell’s message is not unwelcome. Some were supportive simply because they are free speech purists, but others still believe Jews “own the media,” while others expand their resentment towards Jews who also control “US policy in finance, War and mass media/entertainment.”
Ransdell proclaims that “the time for basic lying is over, now we start to name the Jew, stand up for our people, and we win!”
Yes, he’s an outlier and looks and sounds like a nut. Still, it is hard to believe that in 2014 people feel comfortable posting campaign signs for national office with slogans like “With Jews We Lose,” and calling for the creation of a White Guard movement.
The “spark” in me, sometimes grows into a little fire, I grow wings and feel the connection. Sometimes it almost disappears completely, leaving me in that hopeless dark place again and all my “understandings” of the past looks like nonsense. My soul keeps me looking on, and I’m so tired…
What you describe is the natural way of spiritual growth. You should be used to it by now, and not be fooled by the lows, nor too swept away with the highs.
When the ultimate experience comes - the revelation of G-d’s Presence - you will experience the fulfillment you are seeking, but that too will pass. All this is to encourage you to continue doing the things that bring goodness into the world so you will be fitting to receive the reward that Hashem wants to give you.
Iran sentences six youths dancing in ‘Happy’ video to six months in jail, 91 lashes…… The group of young Iranian men and women who released a YouTube video showing them dancing to pop star Pharrell Williams’ hit song “Happy” has been sentenced to six months in jail in addition to 91 lashes, their attorney is quoted as saying by the IranWire news agency.
Palestinian Arabs will get full civil rights when they get this kind of leadership
Israel’s Left is unhappy. Nobody votes for their parties and their chance of returning to power is negligible. You can see them boiling with frustration — they used to run things here, and now they are a permanent opposition, reduced to increasingly hysterical announcements that “time is running out” on a peaceful solution with the Palestinian Arabs.
Outside of Israel they are still taken seriously, primarily because of their well-funded — by the Europeans and left-wing American sources — English-language propaganda organs and NGOs. It doesn’t seem to occur to those Israeli progressives who still think that there is room in the world for a Jewish state that they may be compromising their Zionism by accepting the largesse of people who oppose Jewish self-determination.
Some are giving up, making plans to emigrate, to rejoin the Diaspora that their parents and grandparents suffered immensely to escape. Others think that their fundamental conception — that Israeli Jews have it in their power to bring about peace and reconciliation with the Arabs by being more forthcoming, more prepared to sacrifice — is correct, and it only needs to be sold more effectively. None of them seem to think that this premise is simply wrong.
So journalist Noam Sheizaf writes in the European and American-Left funded +972 Magazine that “the problem of the occupation” needs to be solved in a new way, because they will not get Israelis to agree to commit suicide by agreeing to a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria. Forget “two states,” he says, and concentrate on a “civil rights struggle” for Palestinians.
This is a stroke of unmitigated PR genius. If anything will play to the hearts and open up the coffers of well-meaning Europeans and Americans, it is ‘civil rights’. It immediately makes the comparison to the African-American movement of the 1960s and the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. It immediately pushes aside the question of Israel’s security, for which there is no analogy in these other civil rights campaigns.
The analogy breaks down in several essential ways. The US and South Africa were not surrounded by hostile states allied with their black residents. The American civil-rights movement was not dominated by groups whose charters called for the violent expulsion or killing of whites, and which had already killed thousands in terrorist attacks. South Africa really was an apartheid state, characterized by explicit institutionalized racism.
What does he think count as civil rights issues?
The fact that Palestinians do not enjoy freedom of movement. The fact that they have been tried in military courts for almost half a century. The limits on their freedom of speech and their right to freely assemble. The lack of proper detainee rights (including minors). The disrespect for their property rights, and, of course, their lack of political rights.
The justification for all of these limitations, as everyone knows, is security. The right to freely assemble, for example is limited when the assembly is a riot in which Palestinians and supporters try to destroy the security barrier and throw rocks and firebombs at police and soldiers. Freedom of movement is limited in order to prevent terrorists from killing Jewish Israelis; and plenty of them have been stopped by the barriers that are so strongly criticized.
It is certainly true that these measures are inconvenient, unfair and oppressive to Palestinians who are not terrorists. The alternative, however, isn’t to dismantle them in the name of civil rights and hope for the best. That’s suicide.
Sheizaf is right that the two-state solution idea is dead. He is right that Palestinian Arabs living in the territories do not have the same rights as Jews and Arabs in Israel. He is right that this is bad for Arabs and Jews alike.
But what he doesn’t understand is that ending the conflict isn’t up to us. Israel has already done more than what ought to be expected of it, and result has only been wars, intifadas, and the further radicalization of Palestinian Arabs.
The root of the problem is the Palestinians’ adherence to a false historical narrative and to ideologies that do not accept the existence of a Jewish state (and in some cases, like Hamas, the physical presence of Jews) in the Middle East. It is nurtured by the continuous propaganda coming from the terrorist organizations that own Palestinian politics, the anti-Jewish attitudes that permeate international institutions like the UN, and the complicity of the West.
Israel didn’t create this situation, and it can’t fix it.
The key to the solution to the problem, if there is one, is in the hands of the Palestinian Arabs, who will have to give up for good the idea of replacing Israel with an Arab state. Unless a Palestinian leadership arises that understands this, the conflict will continue, and so will the limitations on the rights of Palestinian Arabs.
Scientists create therapy-grade stem cells using new cocktail to reprogram adult cells
Sep 16, 2014
Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have developed a new cocktail that is highly effective at coaxing adult cells to become quality pluripotent stem cells.
Regenerative medicine is a new and expanding area that aims to replace lost or damaged cells, tissues or organs through cellular transplantation. Because stem cellsderived from human embryos can trigger ethical concerns, a good solution is reprogramming adult cells back to an embryo-like state using a combination of reprogramming factors.
The resulting cells, called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), could be used to replace those lost to damage or disease. However, scientists have discovered that the process of reprogramming adult cells can introduce genetic abnormalities that limit the cells’ usefulness in research and medicine.
To make iPSCs, scientists expose adult cells to a cocktail of genes that are active inembryonic stem cells. iPSCs can then be coaxed to differentiate into other cell types such as nerve or muscle. However, the standard combination of factors used to reprogram cells leads to a high percentage of serious genomic aberrations in the resulting cells. (The reprogramming factors are Oct4, Sox2, Klf4, and Myc—known collectively as OSKM).
Now researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have developed a new cocktail of reprogramming factors that produce high-quality iPSCs. Dr. Yosef Buganim, at the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada in the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine, worked with scientists at the lab of Whitehead Institute founding member Rudolf Jaenisch, a professor of biology at MIT.
The researchers reasoned that changing the reprogramming factors could reprogram the adult cells in a more controlled way and yield high-quality iPSCs. Working with mouse cells, Dr. Buganim and research scientist Styliani Markoulaki used bioinformatic analysis to design a new cocktail of reprogramming factors (Sall4, Nanog, Esrrb, and Lin28, known collectively as SNEL).
Their results showed that the interaction between reprogramming factors plays a crucial role in determining the quantity and quality of resulting iPSCs—and that a different combination of reprogramming factors can in fact produce a much higher quality product.
The new SNEL cocktail created fewer colonies of iPSCs, but approximately 80% of those produced passed the most stringent pluripotency test. This is highly preferable to the traditional OSKM cocktail, which produces a large number of colonies but the majority of which fail the pluripotency test.
Dr. Buganim hypothesizes that SNEL may reprogram cells better than OSKM because it does not rely on the master regulators Oct4 and Sox2, which might activate part of the adult cell genome. According to Buganim, the research demonstrates the effectiveness of bioinformatics tools in producing high quality iPSCs.
This study takes the regenerative medicine field one step closer to the clinic, where it may be able to help patients in need of cellular transplantation therapy. The researchers will now seek to define the optimal combinations for reprogramming human iPSCs, which are harder to reprogram than mouse cells and which could not be reprogrammed using the SNEL cocktail.