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Israeli Women, Part 4: Great Ladies of Hebrew Song

Sunday, April 20th, 2014 - by P. David Hornik

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Editor’s Note: Please check out the previous installments of this ongoing series. 

Israeli Women, Part 1: Ace Pilots Reporting for Duty

Israeli Women, Part 2: Island of Progress in a Dark Sea

Israeli Women, Part 3: The Jews’ Iron Lady, Golda Meir

Songs have played a huge role in Israeli nation-building. With Jews immigrating to the land from all over the world, an incredibly diverse mix of influences had to be sifted into the musical melting pot. And yet, even in pioneering days well before the declaration of statehood in 1948, songs of distinct, unmistakable Israeli (or what came to be called Israeli) character started emerging.

The Zionist enterprise was not an easy one, beset with economic hardship and violent attacks, and songs were a huge morale-booster. Public sing-a-longs, often with dancing, were a staple of life in the rural settlements and also became part of the general culture. Songs ran the gamut of human experience, but love for the restored land, and heroism and mourning connected to wars and battles, were common themes especially on the collective level. Songs using biblical motifs and passages were also very popular.

Women have been among Israel’s greatest creators and performers of songs. Here I can only offer a few examples from dozens of worthy cases.

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4 Things to Get Liberated From This Passover

Monday, April 14th, 2014 - by P. David Hornik

Still-life with wine and matzoh (jewish passover bread)

Passover, which began Monday at sundown and lasts for seven days in Israel and eight days in the Diaspora, is one of the major, constitutive holidays of the Jewish people. It commemorates the Jews’ exodus from slavery in Egypt 3300 years ago, which led to the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai and an arduous 40-year trek to the Promised Land.

The basic instructions for Passover are laid down by God in Exodus 12:

And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever….

And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever.

The “feast” is the Passover seder practiced by Jews all over the world to this day; the “unleavened bread” is the matza eaten at the seder and all throughout Passover by observant Jews. Passover is a joyous holiday, and in our era it has the added spice of the return to the Promised Land and the rise of a free and independent Jewish state.

Passover coincides this year with a dramatic political event—the crisis and possible demise of yet another Israeli-Palestinian “peace process,” this one shepherded earnestly, passionately, and futilely by U.S. secretary of state John Kerry. We are now at a juncture that offers two options: to remain enslaved to the same flawed assumptions that lead again and again to failure; or to finally get liberated from them and reach a Promised Land of understanding and rational policy.

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10 Things You Need to Know About the Blood Moons That Begin on Monday

Sunday, April 13th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

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Megachurch pastor, televangelist and author John Hagee has warned of a “world-shaking event that will happen between April 2014 and October 2015.” He believes that the series of lunar eclipses that will occur between now and then are predictive of major catastrophic historical events. The first “blood moon” will make its appearance on April 15. “There’s a sense in the world that things are changing and God is trying to communicate with us in a supernatural way,” Hagee told CBN earlier this year. “I believe that in these next two years we’re going to see something dramatic happen in the Middle East involving Israel that will change the course of history in the Middle East and impact the whole world,” he predicted.

That’s a rather unsettling prediction, one that is causing a lot of buzz among Christians and non-Christians alike.

What is a blood moon and should you be worried? Here are some facts:

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Israeli Women, Part 3: The Jews’ Iron Lady, Golda Meir

Sunday, April 13th, 2014 - by P. David Hornik

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Golda Meir was Israel’s fourth prime minister, serving from 1969 to 1974, and the world’s third female head of government. In her seventies at the time, she charmed much of the world with her “Jewish grandmother” image—especially as juxtaposed with her defense minister Moshe Dayan, a tough sabra (native-born Israeli) with an eye-patch.

Unlike Dayan, Meir was not a sabra; she was born Golda Mabovitch in Kiev, Ukraine, in 1898. Her first memory was of her father boarding up the front door because of rumors of a pogrom. In 1905 her father moved to Milwaukee by himself in search of work; a year later, having found a job in a railroad yard, he brought the rest of the family over.

Golda showed leadership qualities early, forming something called the American Young Sisters Society. She was also drawn to socialist Zionism, then an energetic enterprise devoted to creating pioneering settlements in the Land of Israel. She joined a socialist-Zionist youth movement, and in that context she met Morris Meyerson. They got married in 1917, and in 1921 they left to join the fledgling Jewish community in Palestine. (Golda later Hebraicized the name Meyerson to Meir.)

Golda Meir’s story stirs a certain nostalgia. The current Israeli Labor Party—a descendant of socialist Zionism or, as it came to be called, Labor Zionism—is a pallid, even ludicrous remnant. It hardly has the spunk and grit that Golda Meir embodied. True, the decline of socialism left a void for this ideological trend; but it’s not only that.

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If You Read Only One Book About the Middle East This Year, It Should Be Caroline Glick’s

Sunday, April 6th, 2014 - by David P. Goldman

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By any standard, the Palestinian problem involves the strangest criteria in modern history.

To begin with, refugees are defined as individuals who have been forced to leave their land of origin. A new definition of refugee status, though, was invented exclusively for Palestinian Arabs, who count as refugees their descendants to the nth generation.

All the world’s refugees are the responsibility of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, except for the Palestinians, who have their own refugee agency, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine. Among all the population exchanges of the 20th century — Greeks for Turks after World War I, Hindus for Moslems after the separation of India and Pakistan after World War II, Serbs for Croats after the breakup of Yugoslavia during the 1980s — the Palestinians alone remain frozen in time, a living fossil of long-decided conflicts.

Some 700,000 Jews were expelled from Muslim countries where they had lived in many cases more than a thousand years before the advent of Islam, and most of them were absorbed into the new State of Israel with a territory the size of New Jersey; 700,000 or so Arabs left Israel’s Jewish sector during the 1948 War of Independence, most at the behest of their leaders, but few were absorbed by the vast Muslim lands surrounding Israel.

Instead, the so-called refugees were gathered in camps (now for the most part towns with a living standard much higher than that of the adjacent Arab countries thanks to foreign aid) and kept as a human battering ram against Israel, whose existence the Muslim countries cannot easily accept.

Some 10 million Germans who had lived for generations in what is now Russia, Poland and the Czech Republic were driven out at the end of World War II (more than half a million died in the great displacement).

Imagine that Germany had kept these 10 million people in camps for 70 years and that their descendants now numbered 40 million — and that Germany demanded on pain of war restitution of everything from the Sudetenland to Kaliningrad (the former Konigsberg). That is a fair analogy to the Palestinian position.

It is a scam, a hoax, a put-on, a Grand Guignol theatrical with 5 million extras. Because polite opinion bows to the sensibilities of the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims, it is treated in all seriousness.

As a matter of full disclosure, I want to put my personal view on record: The mainstream view amounts to a repulsive and depraved exercise in hypocrisy that merits the harshest punishment that a just God might devise.

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Israeli Women, Part 2: Island of Progress in a Dark Sea

Sunday, April 6th, 2014 - by P. David Hornik

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Observers like Caroline Glick, Michael Curtis, and popular blogger Elder of Zion have all noted the strange fact that feminists tend to beat up on Israel while giving the Arab (and larger Muslim) world a free pass.

As Glick points out:

if being a feminist means attacking the only country in the Middle East where women enjoy freedom and equal rights, then feminism…has become at best, a meaningless term…. The deception at the heart of the feminist movement is nowhere more apparent than in the silence with which self-professed feminists and feminist movements ignore the inhumane treatment of women who live under Islamic law…. Leading feminist voices in the US and Europe remain unforgivably silent on the unspeakable oppression of women and girls in Islamic societies….

On December 30, 2010, Moshe Katsav, who had served as president of Israel (a ceremonial but significant post) from 2000 to 2007, was convicted of rape and sexual harassment by a three-judge panel. The judges were two Jewish women, Miriam Sokolow and Judith Shevah, and an Arab man, George Kara.

It was an illuminative moment in several ways:

● Whereas in Israel rape, including marital rape, is a felony, most Arab countries explicitly or tacitly allow marital rape; rape is currently endemic particularly in Egypt, Syria, and Yemen; and in many Arab countries the victim of rape is the one who is charged with an offense.

● There could be no parallel phenomenon of a Jewish judge sentencing an Arab defendant, let alone a former high official, in an Arab country, not least because almost all the Jews who lived in those countries had to flee because of persecution.

● Whereas there are very small percentages of female judges in a minority of Arab countries (and none in the rest), in Israel half of all magistrate and district-court judges are women, and for years the Supreme Court has included at least one woman.

Even if it doesn’t fit the warped view of today’s feminists, the difference between Israel and the Arab world on women’s rights (and human rights generally) is night and day.

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Noah: A Good Jewish Boy’s Cinematic Drash

Monday, March 31st, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Darren Aronofsky’s take on the classic tale of Noah is the Jewish guy’s Bible movie. The narrative, which does remain true to the textual account of Genesis, is crafted in the style akin to a scholarly drash. In another lifetime you might imagine this story to have been generated by a minyan of Talmud scholars poring over the story in their classes. Perhaps that is why the Christian audience has reacted so poorly to the film; it is not, in the words of Walter Hudson, told “from a Christian theological standpoint.” The audience is treated to a wrestling, not recounting, of the text for two very good reasons: A four-chapter story would make for a very short film and Aronofsky, for however religious he may or may not be at the moment, is most definitely 100% a Jew.

Aronofsky’s Noah remains, first and foremost, a story of redemption as it was interpreted thousands of years ago when paired with Haftarah portions in Isaiah (42-43 and 54-55) for the weekly Torah reading. Like the patriarch Jacob, Noah wrestles with God: the battle is a question of original sin and free will. Redemption, Aronofsky illustrates, is a choice entered into by covenant with God. It is not simply a no-strings-attached gift granted to perfectly bad people by a perfectly good looking guy who tests well with focus groups.

Contrary to most Bible epics, a faceless, voiceless God communicates His redemptive plan to Noah through the Biblically prophetic device of a metaphoric dream. “You must trust that He speaks to you in a way you understand,” Noah’s grandfather Methuselah advises. Reminiscent of the Tanakh prophecy “your old men will see visions, your young men will dream dreams,” Aronofsky engages Noah with his aged, wise grandfather, who advises him of Enoch’s prophecy that God would, one day, annihilate the world by fire.

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A Jew’s Take on Jesus Movies

Sunday, March 30th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

BiblememeAcculturated‘s R.J. Moeller has penned an excellent commentary on faith-based films in light of the Christian controversy surrounding Noah:

…no one who doesn’t already believe in God will go see Son of God. And many who do believe in God and who do go see it are, like me, plopping down $14 or $15 purely from a sense of solidarity with the well-intentioned creators of such projects. There are other, better “Jesus movies.” A dramatic reading of some of the more risqué and exciting parts of the Bible by the likes of Morgan Freeman would interest me more than sitting through Son of God again.

And while neither option likely interests your secular, non-religious co-worker, neighbor, or relative, all of them will go see something like Darren Aronofsky’s Noah. This is why I, as a Christian, am infinitely more excited about Noah than any other “faith-based” film in a long time – regardless of the theology or worldview found in it. I can actually talk to my non-Christian friends about it because they will actually pay U.S. currency (or BitCoin) to go see it.

…what I am suggesting is that while we work to inspire and equip new generations of artists who share our values to boldly venture into the pop-culture fray, we must not miss opportunities to introduce our worldview into the cultural conversation. … Art has the power to transcend and speak to the soul. But it must be able to meet people on their level before pointing them upward.

Upon first read I knew Moeller went out on a limb with his commentary, precisely because what he says is the truth. And truth doesn’t always gel with religious dogma; I’m a Jew, I should know. One advantage I do have over my Christian brothers when it comes to faith is that my Jewish culture encourages — and is built on — wrestling with God’s word. These matches stray far from the polite scenarios common to gentile Christian faith. However, they have resulted in a similarity between us, in that they have developed and sustained a religious culture that reveres commentary as much as the actual Word of God.

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Glenn Beck, The Church & the Real Secret to Disney’s Success

Monday, March 24th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Last week, alternative media mogul Glenn Beck announced that he was going to focus on “taking back” American culture through the power of nostalgia:

In the future, Glenn Beck’s focus is going to be more on influencing culture and less on politics and news. After all, news is only “what the culture allows,” he said in a recent interview with National Review’s Eliana Johnson.

…“Beck is nostalgic for an America of decades past, and his cultural projects will aim to resurrect and revive it,” Johnson writes. “It’s an America where duty trumped desire and Americans were bound together by a sort of civic religion created by that sense of duty. ‘I want to impact the culture in the way that people see good again,’ [Glenn] says.”

Beck’s goal is admirable, to a fault. The period he seeks to resurrect was one in which concepts like “good” and “duty” were defined by a Biblical religion, not a civic one. Any history student will tell you that Marx had his own take on the American Revolution; you can show someone Frank Capra movies until you’re blue in the face and they’re still going to see Mr. Smith as the ultimate community organizer if that’s their moral outlook.

As Amy Kenyon notes, there are pitfalls to what passes for nostalgia these days:

…the historical meanings and usages associated with nostalgia were finally mangled beyond recognition until its chief purpose became the performance of sentimentalism, the parceling out of discount memory via television, advertising, heritage theme parks, and souvenir markets, all aspects of what we might call the “nostalgia industry.” As such, nostalgia became kitsch, trivial and reactionary: hardly the stuff of a meaningful engagement with the past or the workings of memory.

Simply put: Glenn Beck needs to do more than embrace the facade of America, circa 1940. Beck needs to dig deeper, to America’s Biblical heritage, to understand what re-taking the culture truly means.

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The Latest Outbreak of Golden Calf Syndrome

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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There’s this great story in the Torah that goes a little something like this. The leaders of Israel went up on a mountain for a private conference with God, per His request. With the bosses away, the Israelites decided to throw a party. Grateful to their God for freeing them from slavery, they shaped a golden calf to symbolize Him, worshipped the calf as God, and partied on. When the leaders came back down from the mountain, they were less than pleased. Tablets were smashed, God rained justice, there were a lot of irreversible layoffs. The common understanding of the tale says that God destroyed the Israelites because they worshipped the calf as a god. In reality, their sin was creating an image of God that suited their own liking, then worshipping Him as they wished.

Hollywood, and American culture in general, suffers from Golden Calf Syndrome. Whether you blame it on the instant gratification of social media or simple human impatience, God doesn’t communicate every 5 seconds in 140 characters or less. That’s not enough for us as a culture, so we’ve made a nasty habit out of satiating our need for the Almighty by forcing Him into a box of our own liking. Habit has become trend to the point that we don’t even realize when we’re trying to force God into our mold.

Take, for instance, the conservative Christian idol-worship of Matthew McConaughey for “daring” to use the name “God” in a sentence at the Oscars. Upon remarking on the huge stretch of the imagination performed by Christians (and some Jews, I’m sure) in thinking that McConaughey’s use of the G-word somehow referenced the God of scripture, the common, rather lackluster response I received was best phrased as, “Take it where you can get it.”

One comment, however, caught my eye.

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Farewell to a Fighter: Meir Har-Zion, Larger-than-Life Israeli Legend, Dies at 80

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014 - by P. David Hornik

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Meir Har-Zion, an iconic Israeli military figure, died at 80 on March 14. He never pursued a political career and you probably haven’t heard of him. Indeed, his military exploits were mostly confined to a three-year period in the 1950s. Yet his fame in Israel never wore off, and a 2005 poll ranked him 15th out of the 200 greatest Israelis of all time.

Moshe Dayan—another iconic Israeli figure who was a chief of staff, defense minister, and foreign minister—called Har-Zion “the finest of our commando soldiers, the greatest Jewish warrior since Bar Kochba,” referring to the leader of the 2nd-century-CE revolt against Rome. It was Dayan who had Har-Zion appointed an officer even though he had never undergone officers’ training.

In eulogizing Har-Zion, current defense minister Moshe Yaalon called him “one of the greatest warriors in the history of the IDF—an audacious, distinctive commander whose influence in molding generations of fighters and units was pivotal.”

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Purim: The Cure for Vashti Feminists

Sunday, March 16th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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There are a lot of great lines in the megillah of Esther. The one most often quoted comes from Mordecai: “Who knows whether you didn’t come into your royal position for such a time as this.” It smacks of drama and makes for an excellent movie poster catchphrase. But, it wouldn’t hold half its meaning without the point-blank observation of evil Haman’s wife, Zeresh.

Upon listening to his frustration over Mordecai’s refusal to bow to him, Zeresh tells her husband to hang Mordecai. But, when she finds out Mordecai is a Jew, she does a complete 180 and admits:

If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is a Jew, you will not get the better of him; on the contrary, your downfall before him is certain.

And this is before Esther convinced the King not to massacre the Jews. It’s refreshing to know our reputation precedes us. But it isn’t a reputation we Jews are always glad to have; we aren’t exactly in it for the fame. In fact, like Esther, our first instinct is to keep our heads down and fit in with the rest of the crowd.

Speaking of “the crowd”, modern feminists have managed to twist the humble Jewess into the villain of the tale, instead opting to celebrate the Persian Queen Vashti for her refusal to appear before the King at his whim. Think: Her body, her self, Persian style. Docile, compliant Esther, meanwhile, is a mere pawn whose beauty comes in handy to persuade the patriarchy to let her live another day. This simplistic interpretation, totally ignorant of the promise and perspective of God, relies on the feminist myth that a woman’s worth is in her ability to manipulate her body to her advantage. Esther could never be considered a hero to these women, because she was inspired by a sense of purpose that outweighed the importance of her own skin.

“Don’t suppose that merely because you happen to be in the royal palace you will escape any more than the other Jews. For if you fail to speak up now, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from a different direction; but you and your father’s family will perish,” Mordecai warns before adding, “Who knows whether you didn’t come into your royal position precisely for such a time as this.”

Vashti Feminists like to think the story is about Esther using her body to pursue the King’s favor. In reality, Esther pursues God’s purpose for her life and the life of her nation, Israel. She didn’t choose to sacrifice her body to the Persian King’s whims. On the contrary, Esther chose to devote herself, body, mind and spirit, to the living promises of God. The King, the death decree, even evil Haman, all of them were nothing more than plot devices in the ongoing love story between God and Israel. Esther, Queen of the Shadchans (Matchmakers) arrived on the scene as a reminder that “relief and deliverance will come”.

Esther was just a regular Jewish girl, redirecting her focus away from herself and onto the bigger picture of God’s plan for humanity. Crowned with the desire and humility to walk in faith, she is remembered as a Queen among her people. Vashti-feminists are oblivious to this plan and the honor it bestows, because their focus remains on the image in the mirror, not the person within, let alone the others who may be around.

Thank God, Esther decided that fitting in with the crowd was a bad idea. Had Esther followed feminist mantra, she would have dismissed Mordecai’s warning and followed the example of Queen Vashti, only to wind up exiled or dead. Instead, she trusted that God’s plan involved every part of her, including her beauty, and used all of her gifts to that end. Typical feminists favor Vashti because they worship tragic beauty; Biblical feminists admire Esther because she plays to win.

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Purim: A Wacky Tribute to Life

Saturday, March 15th, 2014 - by P. David Hornik

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The wackiest of the many holidays on the Jewish calendar is Purim, which falls this year on Saturday evening and Sunday (and a day later in Jerusalem). Purim commemorates the Jews’ deliverance from a genocidal decree of the Persian Empire sometime in the 5th century BCE. Its story is told in the Book of Esther, the last of the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible to be canonized.

Purim, as laid down in the ninth chapter of Esther two and a half millennia ago, is a joyous day, marked by a festive meal, the sending of food gifts, the giving of charity, and the public reading of Esther (mostly in synagogues, though in Israel you can tune into synagogue readings on TV). The Talmud even tells you to get drunk on Purim until you can’t tell the difference between “cursed be Haman” (the villain of the Book of Esther, who is eventually hanged) and “blessed be Mordechai” (a good guy, who eventually becomes the king’s second-in-command).

At some point in medieval times Purim also became a costume holiday. While, in today’s Diaspora, Purim is mostly celebrated by observant Jews, in today’s Israel it’s a countrywide event and you can see colorful, often bizarre costumes everywhere, along with carnival processions on city streets (a custom begun in a then brand-new city, Tel Aviv, in 1912).

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5 Mysterious Bible Passages Worth Pondering For Lent or Anytime You Need Stimulation

Sunday, March 9th, 2014 - by Myra Adams

Now that the Lenten Season is upon us and the 40 day countdown to Easter has begun, this is good time to review some fascinating Bible stories that are worth knowing and pondering for their deeper meaning.

The three stories selected are personal favorites because they are filled with supernatural mystery and many unanswered questions that baffle Bible scholars to this day.

In all cases Bible quotes are italicized and taken from the widely used New International Version. (NIV)

1. Job 1: 6-12  

This is what happened when God and Satan had a little chat.

Job, the main character in the Old Testament Book of Job, was wealthy and richly blessed. He had a wife, ten children, many servants and numerous flocks. The second sentence in verse 1:1 described him as: “The man was blameless and upright he feared God and shunned evil.”

Job’s celebrity status was further described in verse 1:3,

“He was the greatest man of all the people in the East.” 

Unfortunately, being THAT awesome landed Job in the middle of a famous (and ultimately very painful) smack-down between God and Satan.

Artist: William Blake

Artist: William Blake of Satan tormenting Job

 

In verses 1: 7-8, Satan, along with other angels presented himself to God. When God asked Satan where he has came from, Satan replied, “roaming through the earth and going back and forth from it.”

Then, because Job was the equivalent of God’s “teacher’s pet,” God bragged about Job to Satan saying,

“Have you considered my servant Job?”

(God is then quoted as saying what was previously stated in verse 1:1)  “There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”

However, Satan was not impressed because Satan thought Job’s faithfulness to God was a result of Job living the lifestyle of the rich and famous.

Thus, Satan asked God in verse 1:9, “Does Job fear God for nothing?”

Satan explained to God his theory that if Job’s good fortunes were to suddenly disappear then Job would turn away from God.

“But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has and he will surely curse you to your face.” (Job 1:11)

Satan’s words set in motion a classic conflict between good and evil, faith and non-faith. Poor Job was about to get zapped with God’s permission.

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What the MSM Isn’t Telling You About Medea Benjamin’s Tweet-Fest in Egypt

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Here’s what the mainstream media has failed to report in its coverage of Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin’s mad-tweets about being detained overnight in a Cairo holding cell.

According to Israel National News, the organization Stop the ISM has taken responsibility for getting Benjamin deported from Egypt:

The news wires were all abuzz today with the report that Medea Benjamin of Code Pink was deported from Egypt on trying to enter Gaza through the Rafah crossing. Stop the ISM, a division of DAFKA.org was responsible for this.

Upon learning that Benjamin was planning a trip to Gaza under the ruse of bringing lanterns to the Palestinian Arabs, our agency contacted the Egyptian embassy in Washington D.C.  and alerted them to her plans. The result was  Egyptian officials met her airplane when she arrived and immediately arrested her.

…Benjamin’s arrest and deportation show a serious shift in Egypt’s relationship with Hamas since the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi from that country. Only days ago, Egypt closed the Hamas office in the country and put out a clear signal that Egypt recognizes that the threat from Hamas extremists poses just as much of a threat to stability in Egypt as elsewhere in the Middle East.

Benjamin is part of the ISM network in the United States and was involved in several excursions to Gaza where her NGO’s would bring support to the Hamas terrorist leadership in Gaza.

Egypt is to be commended for finally putting a stop to this woman’s penchant for encouraging aid to a terrorist organization and disguising that aid as “humanitarian work.”  In any case, her arrest and removal by the Egyptian authorities is the first concrete step taken toward reining in Hamas in Gaza.

Hamas has been aligning itself more and more with Iran, also increasingly supported by Benjamin, so that she is seen as posing a security concern for Egypt.

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18 Reasons Why You Wish You Were in Israel Right Now

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

With 49 states buried in snow and most schools in the northeastern U.S. looking at anywhere from 7-10 snow days to make up, our country is ready for a warm up of national proportions. Throw on your heat lamps, put on a bathing suit under that fleece, and cuddle up to these 18 (the number of chai or “life”) warm images of sun, beach and desert (sweet, hot desert) from Israel.

Waking up before sunrise - totally worth it! </p>
<p><a href=Just an abundance of #beauty. #HulaValley #Israel #freedom #River #Mountain #Green

Good morning! בוקר טוב! Bonne journee! Доброе утро! Всем прекрасного солнечного дня! #flowers #instaflowers #nature #4simply4 #ig_treasures

Flowers of the Negev Desert. Цветы пустыни Негев. #israel #ig_israel #gf_israel #e_srael #hapitria #allunique_pro #israeli_moments #Israel_PhotoGraphers #ig_treasures #4simply4 #nature #desert #negev #naturehippys #Naturehippys #ig_captures #ig_captures_nature #power_group #ihavenicepic #nature_uc #awesome_foto #floralfix #_nature_features #ig_diamondshotz

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Manufacturing Disney Guilt By Association

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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No one in the entertainment industry bears the brunt of ire like Disney. For decades, Walt Disney the man and the company he founded have taken hits from critics, reporters, and historians. On far too many occasions Disney has come up against agents of disinformation trying to tarnish its founder, and the company at large finds itself the target of media hatred. From the antics of its former child stars – as if the studio could be responsible for their personal behavior – to the recent attempts to deface Walt Disney that seem to come from out of nowhere, members of the media try to attach any scandal they can to Disney, manufacturing a type of guilt by association.

Two recent stories in the UK’s Daily Mail signal this trend. In one article, a trio of would be child molesters work for Walt Disney World, while in the other, a Disney voice actor displays his anti-Israel hatred for the world to see. Disney has no direct involvement in either case, yet the authors of both pieces go out of their way to make the Disney connection in the headlines and in opening paragraphs.

Disney fired the Arabic voice of Donald Duck after he published an anti-Israel tweet:

Disney has dropped the voice of Donald Duck in the Middle East after he said Israel should be demolished.

Wael Mansour no longer works for the global corporation – whose founder Walt Disney was famously accused of being racist and anti-semitic – after he tweeted: ‘I truly wish #Israel is demolished, I hate Zionism, I have so much hate inside me with every single child they murder or land they seize’.

He insisted his message was ‘anti-Zionist‘, claiming Israelis were just a bunch of Polish / Ethiopian immigrants roughly 70 years old‘.

Note the dig at Walt in the second paragraph there – more on that later. Mansour sent the initial tweet in August of 2013, and he announced his firing earlier this month, also via Twitter.

He told his 5,000 Twitter followers: ‘Disney decided I am no longer the official voice of Donald Duck in it’s middle-east dubbed cartoons because of an anti Zionism tweet. Proud!’

His total has since rocketed to 30,000 followers.

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Slamming Torah: There’s an App for That

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg
heebsilverman

Sarah Silverman, Hipster Jew Goddess.

Last week the Forward covered a “trendy Jewish spoken word” happening in the trendy neighborhood of Park Slope in the trendy part of trendy New York City known as Brooklyn. If the E! network hasn’t made you wary enough of the word “trendy” this article surely should. Basically, it’s about a doctoral student and an app techie using grant funding to study what makes Judaism trendy with millennials. And if that doesn’t set off any alarm bells in your head, let me be very clear: the title “Sermon Slam” shouldn’t fool you. Despite the religious-themed location, if God was invited to join in the party it was to sit and be talked at, not about let alone with.

For those of you unfamiliar with Judaism or hip lingo: Instead of reading the Torah portion, and perhaps even the Haftarah portion, then wrestling with the meaning of the portion through a discussion involving comparative texts, the Sermon Slam for young adults involves attacking the weekly Torah portion with a style akin to a poetry slam – rough-edged spoken verse rooted in the performer’s emotions and personal (potentially uneducated) perspective:

“Spoken word poetry has become increasingly sexy. …When you synergize that with something that sounds boring, like a sermon… it’s an ancient tradition that we’re now embracing and making our own. It’s for the people, by the people. That feels exciting to those of us in our 20s and 30s.”

I’m far from Orthodox, in fact I don’t identify as a Rabbinic Jew (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, or Reconstructionist) at all. But this self aggrandizing hyperbole annoys me more than black hatters arguing over sleeve length ever could. Seriously, is Judaism so desperate for adherents that we’re getting grant funding to make the Torah “sexy”?

It gets worse. Apparently making the Torah “sexy” doesn’t involve actually reading the Torah as much as it involves creating a postmodern pastiche of Biblical words and pop culture lingo:

References to iPhones and to Facebook popped up in the same sentence as “Kiddush.” And the hallowed Hebrew names of God, “Adonai” and “Elohim,” were uttered in the same breath as “s–t.”

And now you know why I avoid obnoxious hipster Judaism like the plague. With its goddess worship of Sarah Silverman and Lena Dunham and its conversion of New York into the New Zion, this religion has nothing to do with God and Torah and everything to do with Judaizing the kind of liberal self help ethos already prolific within the New Age and Buddhist movements. What’s next for Sermon Slam, a Chopra-esque two-hour fundraising featurette on PBS?

hipsterjew

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Dinesh D’Souza Gets Israel Wrong in Acclaimed Debate with Bill Ayers

Monday, February 3rd, 2014 - by Sam Levine

After their anticipated debate at Dartmouth College, Dinesh D’Souza and Bill Ayers took questions from the audience.

D’Souza’s answer to an audience member’s question about Israel was unfortunate (see 1:31:31 of the debate).

The audience member libeled Israel as an apartheid state, accused it of codifying into law discrimination against Arabs, then asked the debaters why the United States supports such a country.

The answer to this question is obvious.

Israel is not an apartheid state.

More than 1 million Arabs live in Israel and have full civil rights. Arabs constitute 10 percent of the Israeli parliament, and one sits on the Israeli Supreme Court. Arabs make up a large portion of the student population at elite Israeli universities where Arabs teach and have full tenure. The only place where Arabs have freedom of speech and association is in Israel.

Hundreds of gay Palestinian Arabs have actually fled to Israel because of fear for their lives due to their sexual orientation.

Meanwhile, Palestinian President Abbas states openly that not a single Jew will be allowed in a future Palestinian state. In Saudi Arabia women are not allowed to drive. In Iran gays are hanged. There is plenty of apartheid in the Middle East, but it is not happening in Israel.

But did D’Souza mention any of this? Nope.

Instead, he tacitly agreed that Israel is an apartheid state by not challenging that accusation in his answer, and ranting on about how much different Israel is than the United States. He then spoke about how all countries are flawed, saying, “We also recognize we live in a big world, and in a big world, we make allies with people, some of whom we agree with 100%, and some of whom we agree with 5%. Why? Because foreign policy is based on the principle of the lesser evil. And you sometimes ally even with the bad guy to get rid of the worse guy.” Wow.

The implication clearly being that Israel is a bad guy, but, hey, we allied with Joseph Stalin, too.

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Are These Signs Of the Messiah Coming in 2014?

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014 - by Myra Adams
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Israeli Rabbi Kaduri predicted in 2005 that the Messiah would return “soon” after the death of Ariel Sharon who died on January 11, 2014.

Anytime you want to start a lively discussion among Christians just ask the question, “Will Jesus return in your lifetime?”

Then of course, some Bible thumper will immediately quote the famous scripture verse from Matthew 24:36:

“However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.” (New Living Translation)

Mindful that believers can never know, but only speculate about the exact date of the “Second Coming” – here are some interesting facts enfolding in 2014 relating to events on earth and in the sky.

First, let’s begin with the earthly facts concerning an Orthodox Israeli Rabbi named Yitzhak Kaduri who died on January 28, 2006 at over 100 years of age. (There is debate over Kaduri’s exact age at his death ranging from 108 to 104.)

From this short video you will learn about Rabbi Kaduri and the mysteries that are still swirling around him eight years after his death.

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As mentioned in the video, Rabbi Kaduri publicly stated in a sermon that the Messiah, who Kaduri said had revealed himself to him, was going to appear to Israel “soon” after the death of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Not mentioned was Kaduri gave the sermon in 2005 on Yom Kippur, the holiest of Jewish holidays when Ariel Sharon was Prime Minister of Israel.

At the time this video was produced Sharon was still “alive” but in a coma, after suffering a massive stroke on January 4, 2006.

Then on January 11, 2014 Sharon finally died after eight years in a coma and his obituary from the Washington Post stated the following:

The man who chose the title “Warrior” for his autobiography was for much of his career the darling of the Israeli right, which chanted “Arik, King of Israel!” invoking his nickname and comparing him to the legendary biblical King David.

Is it coincidental that Jesus is also often referred to as “The King of Israel?”

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Obama’s Great Jewish Conspiracy That Isn’t

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg
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Typical mainstream media disinformation campaign …bet the “Joos” are behind it; their leader, Bibi, loves to be called “King”.

 Last Thursday, Seth Mandel at Commentary covered a disturbing news report featured in the Jerusalem Post:

A US official close to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry said both men are disturbed over what is being perceived in their inner circle as “Jewish activism in Congress” that they think is being encouraged by the Israeli government, Israel Radio reported on Thursday.

The official has informed Israeli government figures that the president and secretary of state are disappointed over repeated attacks made against them by leading members of the Jewish community in the US.

According to Israel Radio, Israeli diplomats and foreign officers have warned against this trend. According to officials based in foreign missions, the Israeli government is increasingly being viewed as fanning the flames among American Jews by encouraging them to promote the official government position while making no room for opposing viewpoints.

FrontPage Magazine, the Weekly Standard , and Breitbart were among the bigger conservative sources to pick up on the story, but that’s not surprising. The shocker is the lack of coverage on the part of left-wing Jewish-American news sources, like the Forward and Tablet Magazine. Even the non-partisan Jewish Telegraphic Agency has failed to cover the story that, as Tom Wilson at Commentary succinctly explains, has extremely plausible grounding in the scenario of current peace talks.

So much for an Israel lobby on American shores. The “Joos” who are supposedly taking orders from Israel don’t even bother to say a word to defend their dreaded Lord and Master Zion in the face of the Obama administration’s aggression. Guess they didn’t get the memo.

The one Jewish American response that hasn’t come from a conservative news source was written by a former Forward editor …and published in Israel’s left-wing Ha’aretz. Commenting on Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s address to the Knesset, former Forward editor and current editor of the New York Sun Seth Lipsky writes:

The American leader is sending out word that he is “disturbed” by “Jewish activism in Congress” against his administration’s entente with Iran. Obama and Secretary of State Kerry, according to Israel Radio, are even blaming Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government for encouraging Jewish leaders to criticize the White House. We haven’t had this tone since President George H.W. Bush carped about being “one lonely little guy” beset by the Israel lobby.

Obama’s message hints at the kind of double-dual-loyalty libel that Harper confronted so bluntly in articulating the basis of the policies that have made him the most pro-Israel premier outside Jerusalem. …

…What is so striking about Harper’s speech is not the ardent expressions of friendship — all recent American presidents, including Obama, have done the same. Particularly George W. Bush, who, in the well of the Knesset, spoke of the “Chosen People” and called the Jewish state “the redemption of an ancient promise given to Abraham and Moses and David.” What is striking about Harper’s speech is the willingness to confront political correctness and call the hostility to Israel for what it is.

That’s what makes Israel the “holy land”: 2 Jews with 3 opinions can still manage to agree on 1 thing: Political correctness can’t mask blatant hostility towards Israel.

If only the American Jews would get the memo. After all, my fellow politically conservative Jews and I can’t be the only ones bringing food to the “We’ve Conquered the World” after-party.

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The Biggest Challenge Facing The Church Today?

Sunday, December 29th, 2013 - by Rhonda Robinson

historicJesus

We began this series, some months back, following Shmuley Boteach’s Kosher Jesus. You might remember the first installment Restoring Our Judeo-Christian Culture where, in earnest, I was inspired by the author’s introduction to his work with these words:

“Christianity, too has much to gain from a rediscovery of the authentic Jewishness of Jesus. American culture is less in accordance with Christian theology than many would think. Bringing a bit more Jewish influence to bear would make a great deal of sense for American Christians.

By discovering the Jewish Jesus and the Jewish understanding behind the bedrock premises of Christianity, Christians’ understanding of their own faith will be enriched and riddles will be resolved. Modern American and Judeo-Christian values will be strengthened to the benefit of both Jewish and Christian communities and our society as a whole.”

It’s hard not read the headlines and not shake my head in disbelief, if not disgust, at how far we have fallen as a society. Who doesn’t want both communities strengthened along with society as a whole? However, Boteach misses the mark–at least within the Christian community. His attempt at unity between the faiths rested in presenting Jesus as a fully Jewish man–fully Jewish but fully man.

However, there is a common thread running throughout both Kosher Jesus and Restoring the Jewishness of the Gospel. That is the misinterpretations of Jewish culture that has led to much of the antisemitism and Jewish suffering throughout history done in the name of Christianity.

Although Boteach’s intention is to bring the two faiths to a better understanding, one thing I learned from him was that there is a deep, deep wound inflicted on the Jewish people over centuries of Christianity that for many, has yet to heal.

As we finish the last of this series with David H. Stern, Ph.D’s book, Restoring the Jewishness of the Gospel: A Message For Christians, I noticed that Stern uses many of the same scripture passages that Boteach does. Although he takes it one step further. Rather than blaming unnamed antisemitic editors that have purposely (for political reasons) turned Christ and the New Testament against the Jewish people, he explains the subtle yet profound misinterpretations.

One other noticeable point, while Boteach (and myself) were focused on restoring values to the culture, Stern is focused on returning the Christian to answering the call of the Great Commission.

As we pray for our nation we often quote, 2 Chronicles 7:14:

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” New International Version.

“My people” that are called “by my name” is that Jewish, Christian or both? Whose land?

The answers shouldn’t surprise you.

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The Ten Worst U.S. Purveyors of Antisemitism, #7: David Duke

Sunday, December 29th, 2013 - by P. David Hornik

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No top ten of American hate would be complete without David Duke, the ex-Louisiana state representative who has made a career out of white supremacism and slandering African Americans, gays, and most of all Jews. The reason I put Duke no higher than number seven on my list is that, despite his fervent efforts, he has been kept—just barely—out of the mainstream. More mainstream, presentable figures—who are not hate-mongers per se—are more effective purveyors of antisemitism.

The Anti-Defamation League has called Duke “perhaps America’s most well-known racist and anti-Semite.” His greatest triumph, if one can call it that, was being elected in 1989 to the Louisiana State Legislature, where he served until 1992. Duke has also run unsuccessfully for governor of Louisiana and for U.S. senator (twice), representative, and even president. His first bid for the Senate and his bid for the governorship, however, won a majority of white Louisiana voters.

Meanwhile Duke has carried on with the show, tirelessly spreading hate through books, articles, his newsletter, his website, and leadership of racist organizations from the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s to, at present, his European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO). More recently Duke has been taking the show on the road, further inflaming Jew-hatred in places—including parts of Eastern Europe and, particularly, the Middle East—where it is already strong. And lately Duke has been starring on Iranian TV.

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The Chicago Rules for Negotiating with Health Insurance Companies and Israel

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013 - by Arnold S. Trebach

It would seem that there is no connection between Obamacare and the dire situation in the Middle East.   However, I would maintain that there is indeed a major connection.  The Obama administration has openly demonstrated in ways that all can see that it is not bound by any sense of ethics or laws, especially not by the Constitution.   Mr. Obama and his loyal staff took pride in the passage of the so-called Affordable Care Act by Congress and then proceeded to ignore and amend the act as they saw fit.  They have actually amended the act at least twenty times in very significant ways. The president and all of his minions in the executive branch have no legitimate power to take such action.  Zero power.

Among the many criticisms of their unconstitutional and illegal actions regarding Obamacare was this recent clear declaration in sworn congressional testimony by liberal law professor Jonathan Turley: “The danger is quite severe.  The problem with what the president is doing is that he’s not simply posing a danger to the constitutional system.  He’s becoming the very danger the Constitution was designed to avoid. ”

The latest set of such outrages involved the Obama officials suggesting to American insurance companies that on January 1, 2014, they simply assume that premiums have been paid and that applicants are properly registered even in the absence of solid documentation. Thus, we have clear proof that our vast, wonderful country is being led by a group of officials who are bound by no laws and no set of ethics – and who, on top of that, are truly incompetent.  To put a fine point on the matter, we must admit that this is an American nightmare.

There is only one saving grace in the face of that nightmare — the serial outrages regarding Obamacare are often fully reported as they happen in our media and in congressional hearings.  However, it is much more difficult to learn what is actually happening in the closed meetings involving John Kerry and Bibi Netanyahu in the Middle East. Kerry just reported that great progress was being made between the Israelis and the Palestinians looking toward a comprehensive settlement in the near future.

It is at this juncture that my fears come to the fore – and so also should the fears of all sensible people.  As the leopard cannot change its spots, so also Mr. Kerry and the entire American negotiating team in Israel do not know how to operate differently in Jerusalem than they do in Washington.  They follow Chicago rules, which focus on winning and imposing their visions regardless of ethics or laws or practicalities. And remember our negotiating leopards are wickedly (an adjective based in the Boston dialect) incompetent beasts. They are losers to the core.

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