It wasn’t reported as a stand-alone piece in The New York Times or Washington Post for some reason, but on March 19 Hamas security agents raided the Gaza offices of Reuters, seized reporters’ cameras, beat an employee with a metal bar, and announced their intention to throw another (employee, that is, not metal bar) out a window. What brought about the theft, assault, and threatened defenestration was the fact that a reporter in the building had filmed a demonstration taking place on the street below.
A demonstration, it should be noted, in favor of reuniting Hamas, which is pledged to Israel’s destruction, with its current rival Fatah, which administers the West Bank and is, at least in principle, at peace with Israel.
Mere days later, the atmosphere had clouded—maybe cleared would be a better description. First, an advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that his boss considered unity with Hamas so important that even the withdrawal of American aid to the Palestinian Authority—currently hundreds of millions of dollars annually—would not derail a planned re-alliance of the two Palestinian parties.
Then a prominent Hamas leader, Mahmoud al-Zahar, visiting Egypt for the first time since its former President Hosni Mubarak’s … Read More >>
TO sit /stand/walk/be silent/ recite Psalms/ study? These are the choices you have to make if you are in Israel on Holocaust Remembrance Day which the government in 1951 established the week after Pesach, with all the problematics involved. On Holocaust Day I found myself on the train to Beer Sheva at 10 am when the sirens are sounded all over Israel calling for 2 minutes of standing silence. Since no sirens are sounded in the middle of the Negev desert, I wondered what would happen. At 9:55 the conductor announced that the train soon would come to a halt for several minutes of silence, and so it was. Standing, I recited Tehillim and peered over my Psalter to see what the young Beduins in my car were doing, and indeed they too stood, respectfully silent. Once in Beer Sheva I went to hear writer Rabbi Haim Sabato, who was invited to speak at Ben-Gurion University on his latest historic novel, just out in English as From the Four Winds. The hero is a Holocaust survivor, Moshe Farkash, whose real-life diary was the basis for From the Four Winds. R. Sabato spoke about himself in 1956 … Read More >>
29bShvat 5770 Laughter broke the tense atmosphere of the Israel Supreme Court session on Thursday Feb.4 (20bShvat) when both sides, those in favor of gender-separated seating on Mehadrin buses and those against, reacted with smiles to the quip by Justice Elyakim Rubinstein. The session had started with a lengthy discussion about whether to put signs on the buses saying that anyone can sit where he or she wants, but as a courtesy on these lines men are requested to sit in the front and seats in the back are reserved for women. In Hebrew, one term for signs is “tamrurim.” After twenty minutes of arguments by the two sides about the efficacy of such “tamrurim” Justice Rubinstein remarked in Hebrew with a smile,
“I guess what we have here is “bechi tamrurim” — crying over signs,
a pun on the phrase from Jeremiah 31:14 where bechi tamrurim refers to matriarch Rachel’s crying bitterly (related to maror meaning bitter)..
I sat through the court session and, with Adar coming up, decided to record the humor and the jokes, which I will emphasize below. What occasioned the argument about signs was the surprising position taken by … Read More >>
When one lacks any semblance of moral justification for one’s belligerence and lust to murder innocents, there is only benefit in having as many dead civilians as possible of one’s own to display in lieu of logic. … Read More >>
No, I’m neither a prophet nor a covert Israeli operative. Yes, it was only a day after I distributed a column taking the New York Times to task for refusing to call Hamas a terrorist organization that Israel launched its offensive against Hamas in Gaza. But, really, I had no foreknowledge of the fact that Israel’s leaders would do anything more in response to the shelling of its towns by Hamas and its friends than offer the sort of statements that have been issued for years after such terrorist onslaughts.
But they did do more, in the hope – may we merit its fulfillment – of crippling the infrastructure of the murderous entity to its south. And, true to form, The Times avoided the “T” word, going only so far as to identify Hamas on first mention as a group “which Israel and the United States brand as a terrorist organization.” According to informed sources, Israel and the United States have also branded the sun hot and the Pope Catholic.
Similarly true to form was Hamas itself, whose spokesman Fawzi Barhoum, according to the very aforementioned newspaper, “called for revenge in the form of strikes reaching ‘deep into … Read More >>
Ever change your mind after reading something? In the course of translating an essay I was stimulated to rethink a principle I once held dearly: suspicion and avoidance of large crowds. I believed that babies and small children had no place in crowds since they don’t understand what is going on and may disturb. And we know how mass gatherings can be used for nefarious as well as efficacious purposes.
But while translating an essay on Hakhel by Rabbi Haim Sabato from Hebrew to English, I reevaluated my opposition to crowds. (BTW two ceremonies in remembrance of the Hakhel took place during Hol Hamoed Sukkot). I changed my mind on the issue of crowds due to an insight of the Malbim that R. Sabato cites in his essay on Hakhel… Continue reading → Ever change your mind?
Sometimes a word or set of words is just so jarring, so inappropriate or so cruel that it causes actual pain. Jewish religious law forbids such language to Jews as ono’at d’varim pain-causing words. Newspapers don’t likely consider themselves similarly constricted by Jewish law, and a recent report in The New York Times offered a good example of that fact.
Pain was already well in place this past week, when the terrorist militia known as Hezbollah and reviled by civilized people the world over fulfilled its part of a deal with the Israeli government to return two Israeli soldiers it had held since 2006. Cynically refusing to say whether or not the soldiers were alive, the terrorist group seemed to take a perverse pride in “revealing” with a flourish the coffins containing the bodies of the two young men.
In return for that demonstration of grace, Israel handed over the remains of nearly two hundred Palestinian fighters and five all-too-alive terrorists it had captured. One of them, of course, was Samir Kuntar, who in 1979 landed a rubber dinghy on the seashore of the coastal Israeli town of Nahariya on a mission to kidnap Israelis.
According to eyewitnesses, Mr. … Read More >>