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A Personal Tribute to Senator Joseph Lieberman

Former US Senator Joe Lieberman speaks at an event in Ashraf-3 camp, which is a base for the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK) in Manza, Albania, July 13, 2019. Photo: REUTERS/Florion Goga

The words that come to me as I absorb with great sadness the sudden passing of Senator Joe Lieberman, of blessed memory, are from the verses describing his namesake, Joseph in ancient Egypt — how all who encountered him, from the top echelons of government to those imprisoned in its dungeons, could see that “God was with him, and everything he did, God made succeed in his hand.” (Genesis 39:3).

As Pharaoh himself said, on appointing Joseph to be the prime minister of Egypt, “Could we find another like him — a man who has the spirit of God within him … there is no one as insightful and wise.” (Genesis 41:38-39)

Like Joseph in ancient Egypt, as a United States Senator, Joseph Lieberman held high office in a global superpower, succeeding in everything he did, and enjoying Divine blessings. He was God’s ambassador for the Torah’s noblest attributes — humility, wisdom, integrity and compassion — and was the ultimate Kiddush Hashem, sanctifying the Divine name in the world, carrying it with befitting dignity and grace.

Senator Lieberman was a public servant in the truest sense, living, as our sages describe, “for the sake of Heaven.” His memoir, In Praise of Public Life, is a tribute to the idea of politics for a higher purpose. The book is about the importance of making a difference — of getting involved in public life in order to make the world a better place. He writes, paraphrasing Pirkei Avot: “The day is short… and there is much work to be done, tikkun olam, repairing our government and improving our beloved country and world. We are not required to complete the work ourselves, but, as good and grateful citizens, we cannot withdraw from it either.”

Senator Lieberman was a man of principle. He was the first national Democrat to publicly criticize President Bill Clinton for his infidelity, drawing the anger of his party and risking his political career. And yet, Al Gore — Vice President under Clinton — turned to Senator Lieberman to join the ticket for the 2000 presidential elections, making him the first Jewish candidate on a major-party ticket for the White House.

But Senator Lieberman wasn’t just Jewish by birth — he was a proud, vocal Jew, unreserved and totally committed to his Judaism. In the heat of the campaign, he made it publicly known that he would not be campaigning on Shabbat. As renowned political commentator Charles Krauthammer put it, “Jews in American public life are old news; Orthodox Jews are not… Which is why Lieberman’s entry onto the national stage is so significant. It not only confirms and ratifies the full entry of Jews into the higher councils of American life. It marks the entry of Judaism into the deeper recesses of the American consciousness.”

And at the heart of Senator Lieberman’s own Jewish consciousness was Shabbat. In the opening pages of The Gift of Rest — the title of his book on the subject — he describes how, delayed by an important vote at the Senate, he had to walk home one Friday night in the rain:

It’s Friday night and it’s one of those torrential downpours that we get in Washington, D.C., and I’m walking from the Capitol to my home in Georgetown getting absolutely soaked — the United States Capitol policemen at my side as we make our way up Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol building towards our distant goal, a four-and-a-half-mile walk. But I do not — indeed, I cannot — accept a ride in the car.

Reflecting on this symbolic moment he wrote, “Sabbath observance is a gift that has anchored, shaped and inspired my life.” It was through Senator Lieberman’s passion for Shabbat that I got to know him personally. We shared a vision of spreading Shabbat in the world. He kindly joined the International Advisory Board of The Shabbat Project, giving so generously of his time and effort, and sharing his connections and wisdom. He was a cherished advisor and mentor, and his gentle warmth and friendship meant the world to me. I will miss him dearly.

Our world is dimmer without Senator Joseph Lieberman. Let us illuminate it by living the values he personified — sharing the light of Shabbat, dignity, decency, and faith, in our world.

May his memory be a blessing — like his beloved Shabbat, “the source of all blessing.”

The author is the Chief Rabbi of South Africa.

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Assault charge laid, arrest made related to incident near the University of Toronto encampment—while its president speaks in Ottawa on antisemitism, and the school seeks a removal injunction

Toronto Police have arrested and charged a man for assault over an incident May 9 near the protest encampment at the University of Toronto’s King’s College Circle on its downtown campus.  Toronto Police Services (TPS) say they responded at 3:45 p.m. that day to a call for assault in the area of the road around […]

The post Assault charge laid, arrest made related to incident near the University of Toronto encampment—while its president speaks in Ottawa on antisemitism, and the school seeks a removal injunction appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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‘Any Chance the Media Would Cover This?’ New Video Shows Terrorists in Gaza Using Humanitarian Aid to Help Prepare Rockets

Terrorists in Gaza using humanitarian aid bags to prop up rockets. Photo: Screenshot

Terrorists in Gaza have been using humanitarian aid bags to prop up rockets they were preparing to shoot at Israelis, new video circulating on social media reveals, underscoring the challenges of delivering aid to Palestinian civilians in the Hamas-ruled enclave without it being stolen.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade — which is the armed wing of Fatah, the political party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbasused bags from Turkey and UNRWA — the UN agency responsible for the Palestinians — to prop up the rockets, according to the video.

At least three of the bags say they contain “wheat flour,” and the bag from Turkey specifically says it is supposed to go “to the Palestinian people.” It is unclear whether the bags had previously been opened to extract the food and then refilled with sand, for example, or if it still contained the food that was intended to feed Palestinian civilians.

“Any chance the media would cover this, yet another violation of international humanitarian law?” pro-Israel commentator Hen Mazzig wrote on X/Twitter while sharing the video.

Rafah, Gaza: Hamas is using UN humanitarian aid bags as rocket launchers today.

Any chance the media would cover this, yet another, violation of International Humanitarian Law?

— Hen Mazzig (@HenMazzig) May 29, 2024

Almost every day for the past seven months, Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorist organizations have been shooting rockets into Israel from civilian areas, which is a war crime. Tens of thousands of Israelis are internally displaced and unable to return to their homes as a result.

There is mounting evidence that Hamas has also operated in civilian clothing and in civilian infrastructure such as hospitals. However, these violations of international law are rarely noted by much of the media.

The latest video of terrorists using humanitarian aid for military purposes underscores the issue of making sure such aid gets to Palestinian civilians. 

The US built a pier to deliver 2,000,000 meals daily to Palestinian civilians, but after a few weeks of operation, the Pentagon said none of the aid unloaded from the pier had made it to those who needed it. On one occasion, about 70 percent of the aid has been stolen while en route to a UN warehouse. In other cases, it just never showed up.

Israeli estimates suggest approximately 60 percent of the aid that has gone into Gaza has been stolen — either by Hamas or other groups and individuals. Oftentimes, that aid is then sold to the population at high prices, making it difficult to impossible for most Gazans to gain access to it. 

According to Ehud Yaari, an expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Hamas has made more than $500 million in profit from selling humanitarian aid since Oct. 7.

The terror group began the war last October by massacring 1,200 people in Israel and taking more than 250 people hostage, about half of whom have still not been released.

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Columbia University Anti-Zionist Group Endorses Hamas

Demonstrators take part in an anti-Israel demonstration at the Columbia University campus, in New York City, US, Feb. 2, 2024. REUTERS/David Dee Delgado

Columbia University’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) has endorsed Hamas, a US-designated terrorist organization, the latest sign of its growing extremism and willingness to embrace antisemitic violence.

“The Palestinian resistance is the only force materially fighting back against isr*el [sic],” the group said in a series of posts shared by Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus, a social media account which exposes antisemitism on college campuses. “There is no way to eliminate the resistance without ending the occupation. When you see a video of a young palestinian [sic] boy traumatized in a hospital talking about how iof [the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF] shot his pregnant mother in cold blood in front of his own eyes, do not question how he chooses to resist years later.”

.@Columbia and @BarnardCollege, @ColumbiaSJP is actively promoting terrorism and anti-Israel rhetoric on their social media channels. They are sounding more and more like Hamas spokespeople every day. When is the university going to permanently ban this “student group”?

— Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus (@CampusJewHate) May 26, 2024

Campus Reform, a higher education watchdog which first reported Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus’ posts, noted that Columbia SJP has added an “inverted red triangle” to its social media biography, further indicating its support for Hamas. The Palestinian terrorist group has used an inverted red triangle in its propaganda videos to indicate an Israeli target about to be attacked, and anti-Israel protesters on university campuses have been using the symbol in their demonstrations.

Columbia SJP, a group that has reformed under multiple organizations since being suspended by school administrators during the fall semester, has been central in staging a slew of riotous demonstrations in which anti-Zionist activists verbally assaulted Jewish students with antisemitic epithets, clamorously expressed support for terrorism and Hamas, and caused thousands of dollars in damages to school property.

The group’s behavior after Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel is the subject of a lawsuit filed by the StandWithUs Center for League Justice (SCLJ).

The complaint alleges that after bullying Jewish students and rubbing their noses in the carnage Hamas wrought on their people, the pro-Hamas students were still unsatisfied and resulted to violence. They beat up five Jewish students in Columbia’s Butler Library, according to the lawsuit. Another attacked a Jewish students with a stick, lacerating his head and breaking his finger, after being asked to return missing persons posters she had stolen.

Following the incidents, pleas for help allegedly went unanswered and administrators told Jewish students they could not guarantee their safety while SJP held its demonstrations. The school’s apparent powerlessness to prevent anti-Jewish violence was cited as the reason why Students Supporting Israel (SSI), a recognized school club, was denied permission to hold an event on self-defense. Events with “buzzwords” such as “Israel” and “Palestine” were forbidden, administrators allegedly said, but SJP continued to host events while no one explained the inconsistency.

The explosion of end-of-year protests held by the group forced Columbia officials to shutter the campus in April and institute virtual learning. Later, the group occupied Hamilton Hall, forcing President Minouche Shafik to call on the New York City Police Department (NYPD) for help, a decision she hesitated to make. According to The Columbia Spectator, over 108 arrests were made.

“Yes, we’re all Hamas, pig!” one protester was filmed screaming during the fracas, which saw some verbal skirmishes between pro-Zionist and anti-Zionist partisans. “Long live Hamas!” said others who filmed themselves dancing and praising the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas terrorist organization. “Kill another solider!”

Amid the chaos, a prominent rabbi at the school urged Jewish students to leave the campus for the sake of their safety. Ultimately, the university cancelled its main commencement ceremony.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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