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Selective Grief, Selective Solidarity

soudackBy RUTHIE SOUDACK There are people, beloved friends, who will not like this post, but I have to write it. It has been brewing inside me, along with the grief over the terrible attacks in Paris, the terrible attacks in Israel, the terrible attacks worldwide.

I consider myself to be in the center politically, sometimes a bit to the right, sometimes a bit to the left, depending on the issue. I speak Arabic to an extent, I made Aliyah to Israel because I felt that Jerusalem was my heart’s home, that every step I took was taking me to Jerusalem. However it was the Arab presence here that created a comfortable cultural crossroads for this woman whose soul never felt Western. I say this as a sort of disclaimer for what will come next, which I am absolutely compelled to say.
Whenever a terrorist attack is committed against Israelis, there are many people, in Israel and abroad, who jump to justify it by stating that Palestinians are in a state of such despair that they have nothing to lose, inferring that Israel and the “occupation” are responsible for this terror. First it is because of the settlements, and next it is because of the separation wall, and then it is because imams incite by claiming that Jews want to pray on the Temple Mount (and seriously, why the *&#% shouldn’t they???). I could go on about where this despair could be directed (why not towards Palestinian leaders, who pocket the millions of dollars donated to them to build Palestine, for example), or how it is stoked, prodded, encouraged, imbibed in Palestinian mothers’ milk and in the Palestinian educational system, and sanctioned by the international community.
The latest attacks were supposedly over the Temple Mount. Jews have now been categorically forbidden to pray there, in Judaism’s most holy place, and cameras are being installed to enforce this, but the terror on the streets and in the trains and in the cars of Israel continues. I am not claiming that all is pleasant in the territories nor that Israel is blame-free, however every terror attack brings us further and further from the possibility of coexistence. But this is not really where I want to dwell.
What I want to ask now is this: Are the perpetrators of the attacks in Paris suffering from despair? Is despair what lies behind terror? Does despair excuse terror? Or is despair just the pretext for legitimizing terrorism directed at Israel, while terrorism directed at Paris (or New York, or anywhere-other-than-Israel) is so very rightfully condemned? Why is terrorism horrible everywhere, except when Israel is targeted? Jews have been the target of anti-Semitism from time immemorial, and Israel has been the target of terrorism since its establishment, long before the West Bank and Gaza were “occupied” in 1967, long before there were settlements.
And for weeks now, Israelis have been stabbed or run over in the streets, and the world remains silent. World leaders call only for restraint in Israel’s reactions; the European Union labels products from the territories; and academics, musicians and artists boycott Israel, whose Arab citizens have more opportunities than in any other country in this region. But there are no condemnations of the stabbings, no show of solidarity. No one superimposes the Israeli flag on their Facebook profile picture, and nobody volunteers to “ride with us,” as they did for Muslims, fearful for their lives, following the Charlie Hebdo attack, and the attack on a Jewish supermarket in Paris in which Jews were targeted. But the world will ride with the Muslims. And that is EXACTLY what is happening. THAT is the point.
I am not an Islam-basher. I have Muslim friends all over the world, there is much I love about Islamic culture, I majored in Islamic art during my master’s studies, and I am offended by the anti-Muslim emails that I often receive. BUT…
Islam is supposed to be the religion of peace. However, with very few exceptions, ALL terror attacks anywhere are perpetrated by Muslims, and most of the world’s current conflicts involve Muslims as well, and the brutality is utterly unthinkable. I accept that Jihadism and fundamentalist Islam do not represent the views of the majority of Muslims, but where are they? Where are their voices? In Israel, the peace movement is so vocal and present that its representatives have, ironically, even come to blows with those on the right end of the political spectrum. Where are the Muslim peace rallies? Where are the Palestinians who want peace, the Arabs who want peace?
In this current round of violence in Israel, terrorists range from 12-year-old boys to 72-year-old women (the photo in the press showed a sweet, smiling elderly lady in a leopard-print head scarf, holding a bouquet of flowers – anybody’s grandmother). THIS is what makes me despair. What is left? Where is the outcry? Where is the Palestinian peace movement, or the Muslim peace movement in France or America or ANYWHERE for that matter? How can we make peace with a people that doesn’t want peace, that doesn’t cry out for peace?
Terrorism is horrific. Everywhere. The killing of innocent people is unacceptable. Period. It makes no difference whether it is people at work in the twin towers, or fans of a heavy-metal band in the Bataclan theater, or a father and mother shot dead in front of their children in an Israeli car, or young women captured as sex slaves in Tunisia. Terrorism causes people to suspect passers-by on the streets and to question the legitimacy of the refugee status of people whose lives have been utterly devastated by it. Terrorism destroys lives and souls and it is destroying the life and the soul of our world. It needs to be condemned. Everywhere. In Beirut, in Paris, in Nairobi, in Madrid, in New York, and yes, ALSO in Israel.
Let’s all post an image of a suffering planet earth on our Facebook pages. Let’s call a spade a spade and stop pandering to political correctness, to the prejudice of the BDS movement and the rampant apologetics for Palestinian atrocities. The only way to save our world (if it is not already too late) is to stand up unequivocally against terror of any sort, against evil, against the undermining of humanity. To see, but really SEE, truly understand, that the only way that anybody will survive is if we learn to live in peace with one another, and QUICKLY find a way to make that happen.

Ruthi Soudack, originally from Vancouver, arrived in Jerusalem for a short visit three days after the beginning of the first intifada, and has been here ever since. She is a traveller, yoga teacher, writer, translator, editor, storyteller, musician, and occasionally, a stand-up comic.
“originally published in the Times of Israel.”

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Israel

Hamas murdered their friend. Now, they help Israeli soldiers to keep his memory alive

David Newman (right): David died helping to save the lives of others who were at the music festival on October 7 when Hamas massacred hundreds of attendees

By VIRGINIA ALLEN (The Daily Signal) David Newman sent a text to a friend the morning of Saturday, Oct. 7. Something terrible had happened. Word quickly spread among Newman’s group of friends, who had known each other since high school.
Newman, 25, had traveled the night before to the music festival in southern Israel, close to the border with the Gaza Strip. It was supposed to be a fun weekend with his girlfriend “celebrating life,” something Newman, who served with the Israel Defense Forces, was good at and loved to do, friend Gidon Hazony recalls.
When Hazony learned that Newman, his longtime friend, was in danger, he and another friend decided they were “going to go down and try and save him.” Trained as a medic and armed with a handgun and bulletproof vest, Hazony started driving south from Jerusalem.
Hazony and his friend ended up joining with other medical personnel and “treated probably around 50 soldiers and civilians in total that day,” Hazony recalls, but they kept trying to make it south to rescue Newman.

But the two “never made it down to the party, and that’s probably for the best,” Hazony says, “because that area was completely taken over by terrorists. And if we had gone down there, I think we would’ve been killed.”
Hazony later learned that Hamas terrorists had murdered Newman on Oct. 7, but not before Newman had saved nearly 300 lives, including the life of his girlfriend.
When the terrorists began their attack on the music festival, many attendees began running to their cars. But Newman and his girlfriend encountered a police officer who warned them to run the opposite direction because the terrorists were near the vehicles, says David Gani, another friend of Newman’s.
Newman “ran in the opposite direction with his girlfriend and whoever else he could kind of corral with him,” Gani explains during an interview on “The Daily Signal Podcast.”
“They saw two industrial garbage cans, big containers, and so David told everyone, ‘Hide, hide in those containers,’” Gani says. “And so what he did over the course of the next few hours is, he would take people and … he was this big guy, and he would just chuck them in that container. And then he would go in, wait, wait till the coast is clear, and then he’d go back out, find more people, put them in there.”
Newman’s actions that day, and the atrocities Hazony and so many others in Israel witnessed Oct. 7, led Hazony, Gani, and several friends to quit their jobs and set up a nonprofit called Soldiers Save Lives. The organization is working to collect tactical and humanitarian aid for the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF.
According to the group’s website, Soldiers Save Lives has supplied over 20 IDF units and civilian response teams “with protective and self-defense gear.”
Gani, board chairman, chief financial officer, and chief technology officer of Soldiers Save Lives, and Hazony, president of the organization, recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to raise support and awareness for their mission to provide IDF troops with needed supplies.
If you would like to find out more about Soldiers Save Lives or donate to them, go to https://www.soldierssavelives.org/
Reprinted with permission.

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Israel

Our New Jewish Reality

Indigo bookstore in Toronto defaced

By HENRY SREBRNIK Since Oct. 7, we Jews have been witnessing an ongoing political and psychological pogrom. True, there have been no deaths (so far), but we’ve seen the very real threat of mobs advocating violence and extensive property damage of Jewish-owned businesses, and all this with little forceful reaction from the authorities.
The very day after the carnage, Canadians awoke to the news that the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust had inspired sustained celebrations in its major cities. And they have continued ever since. I’d go so far as to say the Trudeau government has, objectively, been more interested in preventing harm to Gazans than caring about the atrocities against Israelis and their state.
For diaspora Jews, the attacks of Oct. 7 were not distant overseas events and in this country since then they have inspired anti-Semitism, pure and simple, which any Jew can recognize. Even though it happened in Israel, it brought back the centuries-old memories of defenseless Jews being slaughtered in a vicious pogrom by wild anti-Semites.
I think this has shocked, deeply, most Jews, even those completely “secular” and not all that interested in Judaism, Israel or “Zionism.” Jewish parents, especially, now fear for their children in schools and universities. The statements universities are making to Jewish students across the country could not be clearer: We will not protect you, they all but scream. You’re on your own.
But all this has happened before, as we know from Jewish history. Long before Alfred Dreyfus and Theodor Herzl, the 1881 pogroms in tsarist Russia led to an awakening of proto-Zionist activity there, with an emphasis on the land of Israel. There were soon new Jewish settlements in Palestine.
The average Jew in Canada now knows that his or her friend at a university, his co-worker in an office, and the people he or she socializes with, may in fact approve, or at least not disapprove, of what happened that day in Israel. Acquaintances or even close friends may care far more about Israel killing Palestinians in Gaza. Such people may even believe what we may call “Hamas pogrom denial,” already being spread. Many people have now gone so far in accepting the demonization of Israel and Jews that they see no penalty attached to public expressions of Jew-hatred. Indeed, many academics scream their hatred of Israel and Jews as loud as possible.
One example: On Nov. 10, Toronto officers responded to a call at an Indigo bookstore located in the downtown. It had been defaced with red paint splashed on its windows and the sidewalk, and posters plastered to its windows.
The eleven suspects later arrested claimed that Indigo founder Heather Reisman (who is Jewish) was “funding genocide” because of her financial support of the HESEG Foundation for Lone Soldiers, which provides scholarships to foreign nationals who study in Israel after serving in the Israeli armed forces. By this logic, then, most Jewish properties and organizations could be targeted, since the vast majority of Jews are solidly on Israel’s side.
Were these vandals right-wing thugs or people recently arrived from the Middle East? No, those charged were mostly white middle-class professionals. Among them are figures from academia, the legal community, and the public education sector. Four are academics connected to York University (one of them a former chair of the Sociology Department) and a fifth at the University of Toronto; two are elementary school teachers; another a paralegal at a law firm.
Were their students and colleagues dismayed by this behaviour? On the contrary. Some faculty members, staff and students at the university staged a rally in their support. These revelations have triggered discussions about the role and responsibilities of educators, given their influential positions in society.
You’ve heard the term “quiet quitting.” I think many Jews will withdraw from various clubs and organizations and we will begin to see, in a sense like in the 1930s, a reversal of assimilation, at least in the social sphere. (Of course none of this applies to Orthodox Jews, who already live this way.)
Women in various feminist organizations may form their own groups or join already existing Jewish women’s groups. There may be an increase in attendance in K-12 Jewish schools. In universities, “progressive” Jewish students will have to opt out of organizations whose members, including people they considered friends, have been marching to the slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and similar eliminationist rhetoric, while waving Palestinian flags.
This will mostly affect Jews on the left, who may be supporters of organizations which have become carriers of anti-Semitism, though ostensibly dealing with “human rights,” “social justice,” and even “climate change.”
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg took part in a demonstration outside the Israeli Embassy in Stockholm on Oct. 22 in which she chanted “crush Zionism” along with hundreds of other anti-Israel protesters. Israel is now unthinkingly condemned as a genocidal apartheid settler-colonialist state, indeed, the single most malevolent country in the world and the root of all evil.
New York Times Columnist Bret Stephens expressed it well in his Nov. 7 article. “Knowing who our friends aren’t isn’t pleasant, particularly after so many Jews have sought to be personal friends and political allies to people and movements that, as we grieved, turned their backs on us. But it’s also clarifying.”
Henry Srebrnik is a professor of political science at the University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown.

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Israel

Former Winnipegger Vivian Silver, at first thought to have been taken hostage, has now been confirmed dead

Jewish Post & News file photo

Former Winnipegger and well-known Israeli peace activist Vivian Silver has now been confirmed as having been killed during the massacre of Israelis and foreign nationals perpetrated by Hamas terrorists on October 7. Vivian, a resident of Kibbutz Be’eri was originally thought to be among the more than 1200 individuals who were taken hostage by Hamas.

To read the full story on the CBC website, go to https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/israel-gaza-vivian-silver-1.7027333

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