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How a Letter From Jewish Clergy Undermines Israel and Harms Jews

Hamas leader and Oct. 7 pogrom mastermind Yahya Sinwar addressing a rally in Gaza. Photo: Reuters/braheem Abu Mustafa

This week, a group of American rabbis, cantors, and student clergy, under the banner of an organization called T’ruah, wrote a letter to President Joe Biden expressing their distress over the ongoing conflict enveloping Israelis and Palestinians alike.

Citing the verse from scripture, “God is close to the brokenhearted; those crushed in spirit, God delivers” (Psalms 34:19), the group called for an immediate ceasefire and urged the American administration to leverage its global leadership to halt the hostilities.

According to them, “A ceasefire is the only reliable, proven means for securing the release of the remaining hostages and ensuring the provision of desperately needed humanitarian relief to Gaza. Lives hang in the balance.”

At face value, T’ruah’s appeal seems to indicate a deep yearning for peace and the alleviation of suffering. But on closer scrutiny, the letter reveals a profound disconnect from the complex realities on the ground and the intricacies of truly achieving lasting peace and security for everyone involved.

The letter from T’ruah fails to acknowledge the necessity of confronting aggression with strength — so that there can be a peaceful future for Israel and the Palestinians. War, with all its ugliness and tragedy, was never Israel’s desire, nor is it welcomed by Israel’s supporters across the globe. But the premature cessation of hostilities, particularly if it is driven by external pressures that are devoid of any kind of nuanced understanding of the security dynamics, just risks emboldening Hamas and sowing the seeds of future turmoil, in which death and destruction will inevitably exceed the current horror.

Truthfully, I wish that was it. I wish this was just a letter written by bunch of naïve peace-seekers trying to shift the needle against Israel’s military campaign in Gaza. Wouldn’t it be great if the letter was merely a misguided but heartfelt attempt by T’ruah to be true to their humanitarian ideals? The problem is that it isn’t.

Instead, the authors reveal that their stance — despite it being couched in religious language and the platitudes of religious piety — is nothing less than an attack on Israel, on its people, and on its right to defend itself against an existential threat.

How can they claim that their “hearts are broken by the deaths of over 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza — the majority of whom are women and children who bear no responsibility for Hamas’s crimes”? Really? As they well know, the Gaza casualty numbers are provided by the Hamas-run “health ministry” — which, to be clear, is not a reliable source by any stretch of the imagination. And by simply trotting out the mindless mantra that “the majority” of those who have died in Gaza are women and children, T’ruah has demonstrated that it has become nothing more than a propaganda tool for Hamas.

In any event, even if all this were true (and there is strong reason to believe it is not), how many of the “30,000” dead are Hamas combatants — including, tragically, women and young teenagers bearing arms for this evil terrorist outfit? And how many women and children have died because Hamas has cynically used them as human shields? Of course, T’ruah makes no mention of this.

And how is it that T’ruah has not called for President Biden’s administration to use “the full force of America’s leverage and global leadership” to get Hamas to lay down its arms, so that the people of Gaza can begin charting a path towards normalcy and rebuilding? The cause of Gaza’s devastation is not Israel — it is Hamas, which has cynically engineered this crisis so that international sympathy is focused on Gaza, which has been shattered and destroyed as a direct consequence of the October 7th Hamas massacre in Israel.

But it gets even worse. The concluding segment of T’ruah’s letter targets the actions and policies of the Israeli government, and criticizes settlers in the West Bank, accusing them of deliberately escalating violence and of attempting to ethnically cleanse Palestinians. Inexplicably, the letter goes on to call for actions against Israel’s government, and against organizations and individuals that T’ruah accuses of promoting violence.

These calls are ludicrous and one-sided, and they stand out in a letter in which is there no call for the true sources of the conflict, namely Hamas, Iran, and Qatar, to be sanctioned — or even called out — for their endless bloodlust. With this omission, T’ruah has revealed its hand; the signatories to the letter, notwithstanding their attempt to occupy the high moral ground, are no more than political and ideological allies of diehard antisemites and those who wish to see Israel perish.

In stark contrast to the positions outlined in T’ruah’s letter stands the wisdom of the Shem Mishmuel, who offers a timeless perspective on the essence of a genuine rhetorical contribution. In the Shem Mishmuel’s commentary to Parshat Vayikra, he delves into the spiritual significance of contributions to the Mishkan, and Moses’ unique role in this process.

The Midrash Tanhuma on Vayikra tells us that Moses never had the chance to donate anything material to the Mishkan, and that this upset him very much. The Midrash opens with a conversation between God and Moses, in which God tells Moses that because his spoken words are uncontaminated by material desires or concerns, they are considered the ultimate gift towards the Mishkan’s construction. Moses instructing the workers to build the Mishkan was the greatest contribution of all — greater than all the gold and silver, and all precious jewels donated by everyone else.

The Shem Mishmuel finds this idea that the purity of words used by a leader represents the pinnacle of leadership to be exceptionally significant. Moses was above material distractions, so he wasn’t required to contribute physical objects — his words were the purest gift he could give. But had Moses’ words contained even a smidgen of personal interest, they would have been totally devalued.

Which leads us to the question: where does the line between genuine advocacy for peace and the purity of intention stand in the context of T’ruah’s letter? Simply put: had T’ruah’s letter been entirely focused on humanitarian concerns for Israelis and Palestinians, one might have concluded that the signatories had nothing but the purest motives. But by engaging in political attacks and unfounded mudslinging, the letter betrays a nasty streak that disqualifies its authors from saying anything. Only a physical contribution can count. Unless they are in the field, fighting alongside the IDF, or volunteering their time and resources for the welfare of those in Israel they claim to represent, their words have no value whatsoever.

In applying the Shem Mishmuel’s insights to the present conflict, it becomes evident that any call for peace by those who wish to lead must be grounded in a realistic appraisal of the situation, and the avoidance of personal agenda-driven, mean-spirited attacks on ideological adversaries. As we navigate these turbulent and troubling times, the leadership style we need is that of Moses. We certainly don’t need the vacuous clichés and empty words of those who seek to make a name for themselves as contributors to the cause, but whose contribution is destructive and unhelpful.

Instead of betraying their faith and their people, I would urge the T’ruah activists to strive for a lasting resolution — grounded in a realistic set of proposals untarnished by political vendettas and virtue signaling, and that will ensure the well-being of all those who are suffering from the effects of the current war.

The author is a rabbi in Beverly Hills, California.

The post How a Letter From Jewish Clergy Undermines Israel and Harms Jews first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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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? pic.twitter.com/eNIy2SU0Ep

— 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.

The post ‘Any Chance the Media Would Cover This?’ New Video Shows Terrorists in Gaza Using Humanitarian Aid to Help Prepare Rockets first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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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”? pic.twitter.com/FE0VbgmFLA

— 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.

The post Columbia University Anti-Zionist Group Endorses Hamas first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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