The State Department has released the 2012 International Religious Freedom Report. In the Executive Summary, a section entitled “A Continued Rise in Anti-Semitism” summarizes a global increase documented in the report.
The summary reads in part as follows:
Of great concern were expressions of anti-Semitism by government officials, by religious leaders, and by the media, particularly in Venezuela, Egypt, and Iran. At times, such statements led to desecration and violence.
In Venezuela, the government-controlled media published numerous anti-Semitic statements, particularly in relation to opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, a Catholic with Jewish ancestors. Separately, during an anti-Israel protest in November, a group of individuals gathered outside a synagogue chanting anti-Jewish slogans and throwing fireworks.
In Egypt, anti-Semitic sentiment in the media was widespread and sometimes included Holocaust denial or glorification. On October 19, President Morsy said “Amen” during televised prayers in Mansour after an imam stated, “Oh Allah ... grant us victory over the infidels. Oh Allah, destroy the Jews and their supporters.” This is a common prayer in Egyptian mosques and came in a litany of other prayers. Also in October, Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badei made several anti-Semitic statements, including saying in a sermon that was also published online that “It is time for the Muslim [nation] to unite for the sake of Jerusalem and Palestine after the Jews have increased the corruption in the world….” He added that “Zionists only know the way of force.”
In Iran, the government regularly vilified Judaism. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continued to question the existence and the scope of the Holocaust, and stated that “a horrendous Zionist clan” had been “ruling the major world affairs” for some 400 years, while Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi publicly blamed the “Zionists” for spreading illegal drugs around the world.
In Tunisia, Salafists (fundamentalist Sunni Muslims) attacked synagogues and issued anti-Semitic messages, as did some imams during Friday prayer sermons. Certain Salafist imams preached anti-Jewish and anti-Christian messages, including calling for the killing of non-Muslim citizens. Police arrested five persons, including one police officer, for allegedly plotting to kidnap Jews in Zarzis in October for ransom.
In Ukraine, vandals desecrated several Holocaust memorials. In May, in Russia, vandals painted a swastika on a St. Petersburg synagogue’s fence, and in July, vandals painted a swastika on a synagogue wall in Irkutsk.
Even well into the 21st century, traditional forms of anti-Semitism, such as conspiracy theories, use of the discredited myth of “blood libel,” and cartoons demonizing Jews, continued to flourish. An anti-Semitic cartoon appeared in a major newspaper in Argentina, and a member of the Golden Dawn party in Greece read from the notorious Tsarist forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, during a parliamentary session. In a worrisome sign, such anti-Semitic and xenophobic parties gained seats in parliaments, and a rise in violent attacks on Jews in Europe included several shocking incidents.
Hungary saw continued racist commentary by an openly anti-Semitic political party with seats in parliament, the Jobbik Party, and also witnessed an attack on a member of the Jewish community outside of a prayer house in Budapest.
In France, an Islamist extremist killed a rabbi and his two children, along with another student, outside a Jewish school in Toulouse. While a number of governments took active measures to combat anti-Semitism, this pernicious evil continued to spread.
Irving S. White has just published his first novel, MOSAIC -- the story of a young screenwriter, Sam Greener, on an odyssey from Hollywood to Manhattan to Israel, as he follows a famous author seeking the movie rights to his Nobel Prize-winning novel. The story was inspired by the author’s own life and relationships.
In the course of the novel, Greener is forced to confront his historical roots and loyalties, with an ultimate test of courage (and his own future) as he faces Arab terrorists who threaten his family’s life. As the novel begins, Greener finds himself huddled in the grass outside a cottage in his kibbutz, as the terrorists have taken over the children’s quarters. How is this for a first sentence of a story:
“Sam Greener, thirty-four years old, ten thousand miles away from his Los Angeles home, with a rifle in his unaccustomed hand, was soundly frightened by the immediate noises of death before him.”
Irv White is a screenwriter/producer with several feature films to his credit, including the screenplay for The Magician of Lublin (1979), the film version of the Isaac Bashevis Singer novel. He holds two graduate degrees from the University of Chicago: a PhD in Clinical Psychology and a Masters in International Relations.
MOSAIC is published by Amazon Kindle as an ebook. You can download it for $4.99 by clicking here. I know the author, and can confirm that the book gets your attention from the first sentence and holds it. It is the story of a lifetime.
As the week of remembrance, revival and independence begins, we bow our heads and lower our flag in memory of 23,085 soldiers who fell in Israel’s military campaigns. Jews, Druze, Christians, Muslims, Bedouins, Circassians – Israel’s fallen soldiers come from all walks of life in Israeli society. We value the enormous contribution made by the fallen soldiers, and there is no greater equality than standing together at the frontlines, sacrificing their lives so that we may live.
In a few hours, as the siren echoes all over Israel marking a minute of silence, we will gather around memorial candles, we will come together in deep anguish, and in pining for our loved ones, our glorious heroes.
Ever since becoming a nation, we have been forced to fight for our freedom and our existence. Jew-haters in every generation have banished us, persecuted us, slain us and have tried to eradicate the memory of Israel from the face of the earth. Today there are still those who threaten to annihilate us – they did not succeed in the past, and they will never succeed. The glory of Israel will not lie.
If we are so condemned, then we will raise our swords and go to battle against those who wish to harm us. We do not want war, we are not bloodthirsty. Our arm is extended in peace to all peoples and all countries, near and far, but over the ages we have learned that only strong defenses can ensure that we stay safe.
Like you, bereaved families, my family has also paid the price of Israel’s sovereignty. I too have felt the torment of loss and absence, the heart’s cry. My consolation, our consolation, is that our sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters have not fallen in vain. It is thanks to them that we are a free people in our own country.
I remember well Rivka Guber who lost both her sons Ephraim and Zvi in the War of Independence. She did not succumb to her grief, and she dedicated her life to immigrant absorption in Israel.
I am in awe of the strength of Miriam Peretz who lost two of her sons, Uriel and Eliraz, who fell in battle in Lebanon and on the border with Gaza. She said that what gave them the strength was their absolute faith in our right to be a free people in our country.
Blessed is the people who has such sons; blessed is the people who has sons with such families.
I look at you, in your eyes, and identify with the vastness of the pain. My father, Professor Ben-Zion Netanyahu, of blessed memory, passed away over a year ago. Decades after my brother Yoni fell, he published his life’s work, a comprehensive study of Spanish Jewry and the Inquisition. On the first page he wrote that he dedicated the book to his son Yonatan who was killed saving his people in Entebbe. He said: “I dedicate the book with unremitting grief.”
The pain does not loosen its grip on us, the family of bereavement. Yet I can see that the wounds inflicted by bereavement have not detracted from your steadfast spirit and soul – and that is the secret of our strength and our might.
The entire nation follows us, follows you, embraces you to their hearts and honors your noble demeanor in the face of incessant anguish. It draws from your mental strength. Today, the entire people and I salute the courage of our finest sons and daughters, who are worthy of glory for all eternity.
By virtue of the love of Israel, our unity, total devotion, faith and sacrifice, Judah shall be inhabited forever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation.
May the memory of our fallen loved ones be forever blessed.
OneFamily Yom Hazikaron Memorial Ceremony
The Federation of Jewish Communities (FJC) in countries of the former Soviet Union posted a series of pictures showing a group of 12 year old girls from the Jewish community of Odessa celebrating their Bat Mitzvahs.
Above is the picture of the luncheon celebration in Odessa. Notice the wall.
MOHEAK RADIO & THE SATELLITE PRESENTS: LAxLA THE LINCOLN BEDROOM | WED 3/13 @ 9:00PM |
During the week of SXSW, Los Angeles is putting on its 2nd annual festival version of South by, appropriately called LAxLA, for those who can't make it to Austin. Presented by Moheak Radio and The Satellite, Los Angeles natives the Lincoln Bedroom are playing Wednesday night, March 13 at 9:00PM.
Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, speaking on March 5, 2013 to the final plenary session of the 2013 AIPAC Policy Conference:
You know, clearly the Holocaust was the most sinister possible reminder that the Jewish population in exile was in constant jeopardy. It was a definitive argument that anti-Semitism could appear anywhere. And its horrors galvanized international support for the state of Israel. But let's be very clear. While the Shoah has a central role in Israel's identity, it is not the reason behind its founding and it is not the main justification for its existence. That extreme characterization of that mistaken view is that Western powers established Israel in 1948 based on their own guilt, at the expense of Arab peoples who live there. Therefore, the current state is illegitimate and should be wiped off, off the face of the map.
This flawed argument is not only in defiance of basic human dignity, but in plain defiance of history. It is in defiance of ancient history, as told in Biblical texts and through archeological evidence. It ignores the history of millennia. Several thousand years of history leads to an undeniable conclusion. The establishment of the state of Israel in modern times is a political reality with roots going back to King David and the time of Abraham and Sarah.
The argument for Israel's legitimacy does not depend on what we say in any speech; it has been made by history. It has been made by the men and women who made the desert green, by Nobel prizes earned, by groundbreaking innovations and enviable institutions, by lives saved, by democracy defended, by peace made, by battle won. There can be no denying the Jewish people's legitimate right to live in peace and security in a homeland to which they have a connection for thousands of years.
We gather to mark a momentous occasion. Sixty years ago in Tel Aviv, David Ben-Gurion proclaimed Israel's independence, founded on the natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate. What followed was more than the establishment of a new country; it was the redemption of an ancient promise given to Abraham and Moses and David, a homeland for the chosen people, Eretz Yisrael. …
The alliance between our governments is unbreakable, yet the source of our friendship runs deeper than any treaty. It is grounded in the shared spirit of our people, the bonds of the Book, the ties of the soul. When William Bradford stepped off the Mayflower in 1620, he quoted the words of Jeremiah: "Come let us declare in Zion the word of God." The Founders of my country saw a new promised land and bestowed upon their towns names like Bethlehem and New Canaan. And in time, many Americans became passionate advocates for a Jewish state.
Centuries of suffering and sacrifice would pass before the dream was fulfilled. The Jewish people endured the agony of the pogroms, the tragedy of the Great War, and the horror of the Holocaust--what Elie Wiesel called "the kingdom of the night." Soulless men took away lives and broke apart families. Yet they could not take away the spirit of the Jewish people, and they could not break the promise of God. When news of Israel's freedom finally arrived, Golda Meir, a fearless woman raised in Wisconsin, could summon only tears. She later said: "For 2,000 years, we have waited for our deliverance. Now that it is here, it is so great and wonderful that it surpasses human words."
What Golda Meir spoke of – a moment awaited for 2,000 years, so great and wonderful that it surpassed human words – was literally true.
The above two speeches have set a high bar for President Barack Obama when he visits Jerusalem, Israel, later this month.
The Tenth Annual Interfaith Symposium took place today at the Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church, with a concert entitled "The Psalms: In the Past, In Our Lives," conducted by the extraordinary Nick Strimple, Director of Music at the church, member of the USC Thornton School of Music faculty, and Music Director of the Choral Society of Southern California and the Los Angeles Zimriyah Chorale.
Strimple has been recognized internationally for his work with Shoah music and served for ten years as consultant to the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust.
Well, you have if you've seen "The Gatekeepers," the new documentary that bills itself as showing the "first ever" interviews with the ex-heads of Israel's Shin Bet secret service.
Except the above picture is from 2003, when they appeared on the front page of Israel's largest-circulation daily newspaper, which printed a widely-publicized two-hour interview with them.
That 2003 interview was instrumental in precipitating Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Gaza Disengagement Plan, which was announced the following month as a result of the pressure Sharon was placed as a result of the interview.
Even those who thought the Gaza Disengagement Plan was a good idea at the time now concede it was a disaster -- for the 8,000 Jews forcibly removed from their homes by the Jewish State, for the Israeli citizens in the south of the country, who became vulnerable to the rocket wars that resulted from the disengagement, and for the "peace process," which has yet to acknowledge that no such process can succeed as long as post-disengagement Gaza remains a terrorist mini-state.
Nowhere is any of this acknowledged, analyzed or discussed in "The Gatekeepers."
Below are the articles and post I have done on this film, which is the leading candidate for this year's Oscar for Best Documentary Feature even though it keeps from viewers the story of the 2003 interview and its aftermath, and thus creates the illusion that the director's new film is a "first ever" phenomenon.
“What is Zionism if not the opposite of cowardice? And what are we without Zionism, but homeless … no matter where we happen to live.”
Her two concise sentences remind me of two essays, by two of the greatest Zionists of the 19th and 20th centuries, both of whom had the
courage to turn down their opportunities for higher education in Russia, to
pursue a greater goal.
The first is “The Way of Repentance,” part of the autobiography of Moses Leib Lilienblum, one of the most influential Jewish writers of his time, who died in 1910 in Odessa. He became a Zionist after the pogroms in Russia in 1881, writing as follows about the experience:
The pogroms taught me their lesson, and I was in despair about our future. My studies seemed a sin against my unfortunate people. Our sons were robbed and derided, our daughters shamed, and all our hopes for equality came to naught. Our people were fleeing the sword, misfortune all around, the present bitter, the future fearful -- and I was thinking of entering the University! For years I had striven toward this. But now I am convinced that our misfortune is not the lack of general education but that we are aliens. We will remain aliens when we will be stuffed with education … I terminated my studies and, with great dedication, I began to prepare myself for my new ideal, though I did not know how.
The second is “Memoirs By My Typewriter,” written by Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky in 1932 (having formed the Jewish Legion to fight in World War I to free Palestine from Ottoman control), looking back at his life in Odessa in the 1890s, when he was a young boy in school there:
I was not engaged in any revolutions. The extent of my liberalism was that I forgot to get a haircut. Though I hated school like poison, I was not expelled. It was much worse. I ran away on my own -- two months before the end of the term of the seventh, the next-to-last class.
Running away from a Russian gymnasium, which had been so difficult to get into, was a great foolishness, especially a year and two months before completing it. And until today I thank the Lord that I did so, not listening to the advice of friends and uncles and aunts. Because I believe that life is logical. If one completes a Russian gymnasium in the normal way, then one must go to a Russian University; and then one becomes a lawyer. Then when war comes, one already has a wealthy practice and one cannot leave for England and become a soldier. So one remains in Russia until a Bolshevik upheaval erupts and then, considering my deeply reactionary world outlook, one would lie six feet underground without a gravestone.
But I am continuing another career, one which started with a foolishness. I am thinking of writing a scientific tractate on the importance of not being afraid to commit foolishnesses. It is one of the most successful ways of living like a human being.