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Silence the Diplomatic Clock

Golda Meir. Photo: Wiki Commons.

JNS.orgFormer Prime Minister Golda Meir once said, “I must govern the clock, not be governed by it.”

Never has this been truer than in Israel’s current war to destroy Hamas.

For many years, a figurative diplomatic clock was set for Israel every time it launched a defensive military operation.

This clock is not brought out for any other conflict in the world. It simply does not exist except in the imagination of Israel’s foreign interlocutors, who try to burn it into the psyches of the Jewish state’s decision-makers.

As a result, the clock has become an ever-present part of Israel’s wars, almost as much as the ingenious deconstruction of the concept of “proportionately,” which is used as a weapon against Israel to ensure that it fights with one-and-a-half hands tied behind its back.

But the diplomatic clock is a fraud, and Israel’s leaders must see through it.

There can be no specific time limitations on responding to the murder, rape and butchery of 1,200 people, the wounding of thousands of others and the vicious kidnapping and humiliation of 240 Israelis and foreigners.

There is no precedent for such crimes. Thus, there can be no time limit set on how long it takes for Israel to ensure that it never happens again.

Israel’s wars are not fought halfway around the world. They are fought on our borders, mere meters from our homes, towns and cities.

The war on the Jewish state launched on Oct. 7 broke something that needs fixing, regardless of how long it takes.

Unfortunately, as we know, the diplomatic clock is very much brought to meetings with foreign leaders, who are eager to end the war before Israel’s goals have been achieved.

According to a leaked readout from a recent Israeli war cabinet meeting attended by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Blinken placed a very firm proverbial stopwatch on the table in front of his Israeli counterparts.

During the meeting, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said, “The entire Israeli society is united behind the goal of dismantling Hamas, even if it takes months.”

Blinken reportedly replied, “I don’t think you have the credit for that.”

One would think that Israel’s closest ally, which knows how Israel has suffered, watched the horror movie chronicling the massacre and heard Hamas say that Oct. 7 was just a “dress rehearsal,” would be more attuned and sensitive to the Jewish state’s needs.

My expectation is that Israel will ignore Blinken and many others who demand that Israel speed up the war, because speeding up means many more Israeli soldiers will be killed.

The IDF has been very successful thus far in taking its time in conquering territory and flushing out Hamas terrorists. It sends in the air force first and deploys ground forces only when absolutely necessary. Speeding up this process will mean making mistakes and forcing Israel to send in its soldiers without the advantage.

No Israeli leader can or should be doing anything but putting our war aims and the safety of our soldiers first. These go hand in hand, and while the process might be trying for some foreign leaders, Israel has experienced enough bloodshed and loss already.

Israeli leaders must say firmly and confidently that the only clock that matters is the one that stops when Israel achieves victory. Not a minute before. Israel must say very clearly to the world that it governs the clock; it is not governed by the clock. This must be said now, not when the pressure mounts.

Those who claim to be Israel’s allies must help, not hinder Israel’s effort to win this war. They must dispense with their obsession with time; but if they do not, it is the responsibility of Israel’s leaders to silence the clock themselves.

The post Silence the Diplomatic Clock first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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What the Torah Teaches Us About Modesty

A Torah scroll. Photo: RabbiSacks.org.

Many years ago, I was told a story about my father by somebody who belonged to the same congregation as his family in London. My father was, from a young age, a very confident speaker. In his little community of Notting Hill in West London, he was often asked to give a Derasha (a sermon) on Shabbat. What attracted the attention of the public was the fact that the sermon he gave was entitled “The Priests’ Pants.”

In England, this meant underpants, unlike in America, where pants mean what we call trousers. It was obviously an oratorical device to attract everyone’s attention right away — something I have often used myself, although not at such an early age.

This is relevant because the Torah reading on that occasion happened to be the same one as we read this week, Tetzaveh. This parsha is concerned almost entirely with the special garments Aaron the High Priest and his sons wore when serving in the Tabernacle, and that succeeding priests would wear in the Temple (Exodus 28:42).

In all temples, then and now,  priests of all religions, pagan and monotheistic, all dressed up in special clothes as an obvious sign of importance, designed to generate respect and awe. Indeed, even to this day aristocrats, diplomats, military officers, and clergy wear formal uniforms from top to toe, as a sign of importance.

But why mention the unmentionable underpants? The word used here in Exodus 28:42 is Michnasayim, which in modern Hebrew means trousers or pants. But it also means “to cover up.” And that’s what the Bible was instructing priests — and us — to do.

The truth is that sexuality plays a very important part in our lives, and certainly sexuality played a very important part in Pagan worship. The very first episode of human interaction in the Torah is the story of Adam and Eve realizing that nakedness is something that can be misused as well. And requires covering.

One of the important themes of the Torah is the idea of modesty. Some of our bodily functions may be perfectly natural and necessary such as reproduction or using the bathroom. But they are things that traditionally had to be treated differently and privately, and not in the public domain. Not all societies agree with this. Nowadays many of us live in societies where the definitions of modesty are changing and loosening. As important as modesty in every area is, the Torah never tries to define it. Probably because it is too variable to legislate specifically for, which is why in different religious communities the customs are so varied, and each one sets its own standards.

You may wonder whether this was an appropriate message for a 13-year-old boy to hold forth upon. And I might be inclined to suggest within an ideal world that my father might have chosen another topic. But given that rabbis or their representatives are expected to speak about the reading of the Torah each week, frankly, it is hard to imagine what else he could have chosen as a topic that would have inspired some interest amongst his audience. So, he took a risk. Something I unconsciously must have picked up on from my father.

The author is a writer and rabbi, currently based in New York.

The post What the Torah Teaches Us About Modesty first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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A Letter to Candace Owens on Israel and Jews

Candace Owens. Photo: Wiki Commons.

Dear Candace,

The last time we chatted (OK, I wrote to you), you were defending Kanye West for his antisemitic tirades. It was unclear whether you were doing this as his friend, or because you agreed with him (though your obnoxious tone suggested the latter).

The past four months have made everything much clearer. Most recently, in a podcast and three rants, you accused a segment of Jews of being dishonest, disgusting, manipulative, thugs, and Marxists.

So, to use your favorite expression, let’s be honest here:

Sure, there are Marxist Jews. And they’ve caused a lot of problems. But they don’t like Israel any more than you seem to. They are not the ones defending Israel against the incessant attacks from some Democrats, whom you have proclaimed to hate. In fact, some of those Marxist Jews have helped to create terrorism-friendly campuses and are taking part in the daily, violent pro-Hamas protests.

You go after “DC Jews” and call them a fringe element, a “rot” in the Jewish community, comparing them to Black Lives Matter activists. Again, you’re a little confused. Pro-Israel Jews do not “use” antisemitism the way some BLM activists use the cause against racism to advance an agenda. Since Oct. 7, antisemitic incidents in the US have risen 400%. The reason all your “best friends” growing up didn’t call out antisemitism is because it wasn’t as big of a problem then as it is today.

Or maybe your friends are status leftists who prefer to be silent on these issues precisely because of people like you, who would use it against them.

Regarding the two ads the Israeli government took out for the Super Bowl: Those ads were meant to remind Americans that Hamas still holds 134 hostages — five of whom are Americans. Hamas is not the “government” of Arabs who identify as “Palestinian,” as you claim. They’re terrorists. Are you now pro-terrorism — or just when it comes to Jews?

Yes, the US gives Israel aid — but the vast majority of it must be used to buy American weapons. They’re called Foreign Military Financing grants, meaning they simultaneously give Americans jobs. Maybe if your new best friends like Hamas stopped trying to destroy Israel, these grants would not be needed.

Despite all the nasty things you have said about us, let’s assume for a moment that you do like Jews — that many of your “best friends” have in fact been Jewish — and you don’t hate Israel. Let’s assume all of your problematic views are coming from the neo-isolationism that Tucker Carlson and the Freedom Caucus espouse. (Though Carlson has shared antisemitic tropes during a discussion with you, and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who believes Jews use space lasers to control the world, was a key member of the Caucus.)

There are numerous problems with this neo-isolationism, but since being “America first” is key to who you claim to be today, let’s just look at one of America’s enemies: Iran. You may not be aware of this, but Iran doesn’t like America. Iran calls us the “Great Satan.” Iran is also part of the new axis of evil — Russia, China, North Korea — that Carlson doesn’t want to acknowledge.

Which country has the best intel on Iran? That tiny homeland of the Jewish people. Why? Because Israel is “Little Satan” to Iran. Why does Israel have better intel on Iran than the US? Because they’ve had to. Maybe you don’t know this, but both Hamas and Hezbollah are Iranian proxies.

You talk a lot about “emotional manipulation” — indoctrination, brainwashing — on the part of Democrats. But you do the same. Because I don’t think you’re lacking in facts as much as you pretend to be. On the subject of Israel, you seem to want to believe leftist/Marxist lies.

But many of your followers are not smart enough to see through your emotional manipulation. And they don’t want to. Most are ultra-nationalist white Christians who don’t like Blacks or Jews. They’re willing to overlook your skin color because you incessantly attack Blacks and Jews. What do you think they would do if you stopped?

As you repeatedly say, all your life Jews have been very good to you — both as friends and employers. But you’ve now attached yourself to the ultra-nationalist/neo-isolationist wing of the GOP, and they, like their parents and grandparents, don’t like Jews. Instead of trying to reconcile this, as an honest person would, you’ve taken the antisemitic way out: blaming Jews for antisemitism.

Hitler, for whom you have expressed great admiration, would indeed be proud.

Karen Lehrman Bloch is editor in chief of White Rose Magazine. A different version of this article was originally published by The Jewish Journal.

The post A Letter to Candace Owens on Israel and Jews first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Media Distort Israel’s Refusal to Be Bullied Into Rewarding Terrorists

Displaced Palestinians, who fled their homes due to the war provoked by Hamas’s terror attacks, shelter in a tent camp, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, December 29, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Shadi Tabatibi

Following indications by the likes of the United Kingdom and France that they could formally recognize a Palestinian state without Israel’s approval, the Israeli government issued a statement in response:

Israel outright rejects international dictates regarding a final status agreement with the Palestinians. The agreement, in so far as it will be reached, will be solely through direct negotiations between the parties, without preconditions.

Israel will continue to oppose the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state. Such recognition in the wake of the October 7th massacre would give a huge reward to unprecedented terrorism and prevent any future peace agreement.

Israel’s message was explicit: it will not stand back and allow the perpetrators of the October 7 massacre of Israeli civilians to be rewarded with what effectively amounts to legitimacy.

What Israel’s statement about unilateral recognition did not do, was oppose Palestinian statehood in general. That is, Israel did not outright reject the idea that a Palestinian state could be formed as part of a larger peace agreement.

Why, then, did some media outlets distort the contents of Sunday’s announcement to suggest that Israel had said it would refuse to accept a two-state solution to the conflict?

The Telegraph, for example, characterized Israel’s position as Israel declining outright the possibility of two states existing side by side in a misleading headline that also hinted at Israeli aggression by linking the supposed rejection to a ground offensive in Rafah.

The Israeli cabinet rejected an imposed two-state solution from outside without Israeli agreement.@Telegraph‘s headline is disingenuous and fails to make this clear.#HeadlineFailhttps://t.co/QBt1o1tFKb pic.twitter.com/5eba0rWwSY

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) February 19, 2024

Taking a similar line was LBC News, which led with Israel’s plan to root Hamas from its last stronghold in Rafah — painting it instead as effectively an assault on the 1.5 million people sheltering there, and tying it to Israel’s allegedly stymying Palestinian aspirations for a sovereign state.

The New York Post chose to obscure what had occurred to suggest that the Israeli government was rejecting “all calls” for a Palestinian state.

Meanwhile, the Irish Times, the Financial Times and Voice of America all produced vague headlines that claimed Israel is opposed to a state as part of any resolution after the war against Hamas in Gaza, without noting that its objection was to unilateral recognition.

Irish Times:

Financial Times:

Voice of America:

The fact is, Israel has shown time and time again that is willing to negotiate with Palestinians and is not opposed to the actualization of a Palestinian state.

Indeed, one only needs to look at the many occasions over the years in which Israel has come to the negotiating table offering the eventual establishment of a Palestinian state — only for the Palestinians to, invariably with violence, reject its creation.

From the UN partition plan to the Camp David proposals, Israel’s willingness to accept Palestinian statehood is etched in the history books.

For the media to suggest otherwise is just historical revisionism.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

The post Media Distort Israel’s Refusal to Be Bullied Into Rewarding Terrorists first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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