To restate the gist of my previous post:
Measles and societal decadence (apparent in the Eminem video in question) have something in common.
Both are communicative diseases.
Not all communication is benign. Just because an "artist" has the right to disseminate his "artwork" doesn't mean that it is wise or healthy for me or my children to view and absorb the message he is trying to communicate.
If you clicked on every spam email that enters your inbox, you'd infect your computer. No longer would your operating system operate the way it's supposed to.
Why is your mind any less sensitive?
For our $600 dollar laptop, we buy the fanciest antivirus and antispyware protection that money can buy. We delete suspicious or flagged attachments immediately, lest it damage or taint our precious hard drive.
Why don't we regard our psyche with at least the same degree of protectiveness?
According to the Torah, the product manual of the soul, exposure to licentious, immodest or violent imagery and lyrics taints our innocence and leaves an indelible blemish on our soul’s motherboard. It can possibly cause our soul’s most vital applications, i.e. thought, speech and deed, to malfunction.
Perhaps we ought to firewall ourselves from such undesirable communication?
Sunday, July 10, 2011
To restate the gist of my previous post:
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Several months back, I blogged about some of the misleading terms used in our media to describe current events.
Here's another one: extremism. In fact, this one is my pet peeve.
The media's use of this term bothers me. Not because it insults me personally, whom many might consider to be an extremist of sorts.
The reason it's incorrect is because it implies that the extremist's core beliefs are okay. His only vice is that he (or she -- sorry for the gender profiling) is extreme in his convictions. If he'd only become less zealous, a bit more mellow and moderate, he'd be a great guy. "Your views are fine," we are telling the jihadist. "Just don't take them to such extremes."
I remember a decade back, shortly after September 11th, 2001, I was driving in my car listening to a radio talk show host bemoan the "religious extremism" of the Taliban. "As a matter of fact," he ranted, "they are so extreme, so barbaric... why, they even wear beards!" I listened thoughtfully while stroking my unkempt beard -- no, make that: my extremely unkempt beard.
My initial thought was to call the station and complain, but never got around to doing so. Instead, I devoted my Shabbat sermon to it. I explained to my congregants:
Extremism is not bad if you are being extreme about something good. Example: someone who is extemely charitable, excessively peace-loving, exceedingly modest, intensely studious, extraordinarily selfless, ultra kind, giving, humane, just, etc. Even if you're extreme about something that others might consider archaic, aberrant, or defiant of social norms, such as sporting an untrimmed beard, so long as your eccentricity causes no harm to yourself or to others, surely everyone should concede that such hairy "extremism" (if one could rightly call it that) is rather benign. To the smooth-faced moderates who deride bearded males as extremists, I say: "Live and let live."
However, if one is extreme about something bad, i.e. he believes in an extremely evil ideology, is extremely violent, extremely deceptive, extremely malicious, etc... then THAT is bad.
What's bad about this individual is not that he's extreme. It's that he's BAD. What makes him worse than a moderately bad person is that he is EXTREMELY bad.
So when our media refers to a jihadist as a "religious extremist," they are doing humanity a huge disservice.
Their description of the "extremist" masks the real underlying problem. The jihadist's problem is that his views are violent, malevolent and vindictive. By censuring "extremism," we are not confronting the real enemy, but instead are getting sidetracked by focusing on something irrelevant. In fact, we are emboldening him by acknowledging his right to his noxious ideology but merely pleading with him not to be so devout. This only reiterates his opinion of us, that we (i.e. the Western world) are spineless enemies of faith.
Instead of protesting his extremeness, we ought to refer to him by what he is: an Islamofascist hatemonger. Or, if he actualized his ambition and committed an act of terrorism, then he is an Islamofascist genocidal murderer.
He is not merely an "extremist." He is an enemy of G-d, an enemy of mankind.
To describe Ahmadinejad as an extremist is obscuring the facts. Fact: his main vice is that he is blood thirsty and an outspoken proponent of genocide. Why does it matter that he is extremely blood thirsty? And what if he were only moderately blood thirsty? Would we then sigh a breath of relief? Is mild genocide then okay?
So let's be honest and address the real issues. If someone believes that it's okay to murder a non-believer, his vice is not extremism. His problem is his abhorrent beliefs. If his religion sanctions murder, then he has a perverse religion. Calling him an extremist vindicates his blood thirsty religion. Instead, his only shortcoming has now been reduced to a mere lack of moderation.
Furthermore, the media often calls "settlers" like the Fogels' (may G-d avenge their blood) "religious fundamentalists" or "extremists" as well. Why not? The settlers have beards too.
So thanks to our wonderfully unbiased media, we now have moral equivalence between peace-loving Jews who are "extreme" in their views by insisting on their right to live anywhere in the world, including Samaria, and their blood-thirsty Arab counterparts who feel that Samaria ought to be Judenrein, whose stated objective is ethnic cleansing of the entire Levant, and who celebrate the most incomprehensibly brutal form of infanticide, all out of their extremely Islamofascist convictions.
Indeed, the media has created a moral equivalence between all settler Jews (99.9% of whom do not advocate violence or murder of any kind, and would love nothing more than to live in peace with their Arab neighbors) with jihadists (99.9% of whom advocate mass murder of Jews and ethnic cleansing).
In fact, all ultra-Orthodox Jews and fundamentalist Protestants, or any other extremely devout individual of another faith or creed, are now lumped together in the same boat as radical Islamists and Jihadists. (ultra = extreme). And since many people might consider me ultra-orthodox thanks to my ultra-non-conformist beard (in addition to the fact that I am extremely opinionated), I guess that makes me a fundamentalist extremist who is capable of hijacking a plane. Thank you media for another job well done at skewing everyone's perspective and corrupting our minds.
As you can see, I'm getting extremely irate. I think I'd better call it a day.
Have an extremely good night! :-)
PS Maimonides does write that extremism in any form, even in the benign sense of being extremely and excessively generous, extremely miserly, etc., are both incorrect, and that one ought to "take the middle path" and do everything in moderation. While this is an objective truth that everyone ought to strive toward, it has no bearing on what I wrote above. Even if someone is extremely serious or extremely light headed, both attributes negated by Maimonides as "extreme," he still is not an evil or dangerous villain. No one is his right mind would equate an extremely self-effacing but harmless hermit with an extremely blood thirsty Jihadist.
Posted by Rabbi Green at 12:47 AM
Friday, June 24, 2011
Westboro Video Controversy, part II
Well, it looks as though the local controversy surrounding a teacher who showed an objectionable Eminem video to her seventh-grade class is now over.
However, in reality, this issue is far from over. It continues to jeopardize our youth and our adults of all ages. (See previous post)
What particularly concerns me is the reaction of numerous local parents with whom I have discussed the matter.
One highly intelligent father remarked that he believes some (read: his) kids are mature enough to view anything and not be negatively influenced. Yet in the same sentence, he was infuriated that a teacher dare show such material to his or anyone's children. In his mind, an adult who shows such obscene images to children might well be a predator seeking to cause them harm.
I countered: "And what about the possibility that by simply viewing the video at home they might be causing themselves harm?"
While the dad agreed that not all material out there might be beneficial for children to watch, he emphatically maintained that "mature" kids must be granted the freedom to explore the world on their own. "Preventing their exposure to such videos," he asserted, "might be more damaging to their souls than their viewing of the video itself."
(Parenthetically, it is important to note that the teacher showed the video to students, some of whom had presumably viewed before, without audio. She merely played it in order to point out the unhealthy image of women in today's society. While I agree with the outraged parents that it was inappropriate to show in school, the irony can not be overstated. On one hand, many of these parents are allowing their teens to watch anything they wish, without any supervision or parental guidance. But when an experienced teacher attempts to point out the dangerous attitudes advocated by these videos, the parents are up in arms! If parent mustn't restrict freedom, lest he or she be viewed as too judgmental or controlling, and teachers are forbidden to discuss such issues, who will then teach the children how to discriminate between right and wrong?)
Here is a humorous episode I heard recently that sheds brilliant light on this issue:
A Chabadnik woman was shopping in the supermarket one day when she heard something most peculiar. A young African American child asked his mother, "Hey Mom, are these cookies kosher?" The mom replied no, and her son put the cookies back on the shelf.
The curious onlooker approached the mother, who did not seem to fit the stereotype of your average kosher consumer.
"Excuse me, m'am," she said, "are you Jewish?"
"No," replied the mom.
"Just curious, then, why do you keep kosher?"
"Oh, I don't really keep kosher," answered the woman. "I just borrowed the term."
She proceeded to relate the following:
"For years, my kids have been harassing me at the supermarket that they want this snack, that candy bar, etc. I had a hard time saying no, as the kids would just carry on and whine. One day while shopping, I overheard a most unusual exchange between an Orthodox Jewish mother and her own kids. It was at the check-out line where all the sweets are enticingly on display.
"'Could we get that, Mommie?' her kids asked.
"'Nope, we can't get it. It's not kosher.'
"The kids quietly accepted her response, and the conversation ended there. I was so impressed, I asked the Jewish mother how she was able to raise such obedient kids. My kids would have begun pleading and pouting. The woman explained that it wasn't about obedience, but simply the knowledge that the food wasn't kosher. Her kids knew that if it wasn't kosher, they don't eat it. Period.
"I was so jealous. What a brilliant idea, I thought to myself. From then on, I introduced the idea of 'kosher' and 'not kosher' to my own kids, even though we're not Jewish and don't keep kosher. When they want something and I say 'It's not kosher,' they know that they're not getting it and that's it."
If only modern-day parents could understand this simple idea. You owe it to your kids to teach them right from wrong, to inspire them to make the right moral choices in their own lives.
It's not about being too controlling or judgmental. By teaching your kids that some images and lyrics are simply not kosher, not fit for consumption, you are empowering them to make the right choices later in life.
More importantly than teaching them, we as parents ought to teach by example. If it's not kosher for kids or young adults, it's not kosher for adults either.
It doesn't matter if the viewer is mature or immature, whether or not he is firmly rooted in his values or not. If it is not kosher, we don't consume it. It's not up for negotiation.
And we'll be happier and healthier as a result.
Teacher your kids to "just say no."
Posted by Rabbi Green at 9:29 AM
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Dear Friends and Readers,
By now I'm sure you've read last week's two disturbing news items involving our town, Westborough, MA.
I never imagined my sleepy New England town would make national or even statewide news. Not once, but twice in one day!
Most fascinating is the common theme of these two stories.
Here's news item number one:
A teacher in our local middle school was suspended after allegedly showing an objectionable video called "Superman" to a class of seventh graders.
Click here for Boston Globe story, or here to view all 35 news stories.
News item number two:
A case of measles in Westborough -- an employee at the local Bose Corporation has allegedly fallen ill with the contagious and potentially fatal disease. Here's a link about it.
Now, I must first state that I do not know the teacher or students personally, nor have I ever watched the Eminem video in question. In fact, until today, I didn't even know who "Eminem" was, nor do I care to know. All I know is what I've read, that the video contained lots of immodest, explicit and violent scenes. The superintendent acknowledged that the video was (sic) inappropriate.
As a rabbi in the community where this occured, I would like to make two comments and ask several questions:
Isn't it uncanny that both news items reflect a contagion that threatens the health and well-being of not just Westborough locals, but our entire modern society?
We immunize to protect people from diseases like measles. Should we be "immunizing" children to protect them from negative societal influences by exposing them to it in the form of Eminem videos? By doing so, are we immunizing them or predisposing them, or worse, poisoning them? A vaccine contains weakened or dead virus particles. Imagine injecting a healthy patient, child or adult, with live, virulent pathogens. Are you protecting your unsuspecting patient, or infecting him? Perhaps the best way to provide immunity to the diseased behaviors glorified in Eminem's videos is by teaching kids to avoid exposure entirely. Teach them to "Just say No."
Some questions about the video:
1. Is it only inappropriate for children, or is it inappropriate for adults too?
2. Is it only inappropriate for a teacher to show in school, but ok for kids to view at home?
3. Eminem is referred to repeatedly in the news articles as an "artist." Is "Superman" artwork?
A NY congressman recently lost his job and reputation because he sent inappropriate images of himself to a few individuals via electronic media. Why? Isn't he just an "artist" like Eminem? Of course, the latter is a much more seasoned "artist" because he sends similar images to not just several, but millions of individuals. And while the congressman reserved his "artwork" for several adult acquaintances, Eminem's "artistic" imagery and lyrics target minors, and lots of 'em. So why does a teacher and politician get canned, but the "artist" makes millions? What am I missing?
I know some of you are rolling your eyes. Come on, rabbi. It was just a measly video (pun intended) It's not for real. It's just harmless "art."
So let's consider the second news item about measles. What's the commotion? So what if one person caught the disease from a migrant worker in an isolated plant on Route 9. Why is that newsworthy?
The answer is obvious. This is a highly contagious disease. We are all at risk. If it's at Wall Street, it will trickle down to Main Street.
For the youth who is growing up watching videos by Eminem (and others of his ilk), the behaviors showcased in such pieces of "art" are now part of the young viewers' reality. His or her pure mind has now been infected with images of licentiousness, vulgarity, violence and misogyny. And thanks to the wonders of modern media, the contagion now spreads rapidly from friend to friend, tainting the minds of countless other young people.
Will all the young people who watch "Superman" try to emulate that behavior? Hopefully not. But then again, most people will survive measles too. Can we afford to take the risk?
The Torah exhorts us "Do not stray after your heart and after your eyes..."
Watching a video or listening to music is like consumption of food or drink. Just like the food has to be clean, healthy, nourishing and kosher, so too the videos we view need to be fit for consuption. Indeed, every image or lyric we consume becomes indelibly etched into the whiteboard of our mind, conscious and subconscious, in permanent ink.
Ever hear the cliche "You are what you eat?" Well, it really ought to be: "You are what you watch."
PS With regards to the Gibbons Middle School class, the facts have still not emerged, and it is entirely possible that the teacher is blameless. What I have written above is not an indictment against the teacher or school, nor is it an opinion about what has actually occured. Rather, it is a commentary on the reality that children all over (perhaps many children in that very class) are in fact viewing this video (and others like it) at home or elsewhere.
Posted by Rabbi Green at 3:07 AM
Monday, May 30, 2011
Ok, time for a correction. Thank you to several astute readers who brought this to my attention:
President Obama didn't exactly say that Israel should "return" to her "pre"-67 Borders.
Instead, he said: "We believe the borders of Israel and 'Palestine' should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps..."
I couldn't agree more. The borders of Israel should be based on the lines of June 10th, 1967, the cease-fire lines at conclusion of the Six Day War.
Israel should definitely return to these borders, and without delay.
Firstly, by now it is obvious to everyone that the "peace" treaty with Egypt in 1979 brokered by Mr. Obama's predecessor, Jimmy Carter, is an utter failure. Although it is debatable as to whether the treaty was ever really honored by the Egyptians, it has now been flagrantly violated, as the border to Gaza is wide open and arms may be brought to Hamas in broad daylight. Hamas just moved their terrorist headquarters to Egypt, and terrorist activity is rising in the Sinai. Time to take back the Sinai and return to the armistice lines of June 10th, 1967.
Secondly, it is also painfully self-evident that Israel's disengagement from Gaza in '05 was a grave error. This blunderous move only enabled Hamas to take power and set up a inimical police state that fires Qassam rockets into Israel on a daily basis, targeting civilians. By returning to the borders of June 10th, '67, Israel could then do what it needs to to protect its civilian population: eliminate Hamas and restore security.
Thirdly, Israel gained nothing by evacuating Northern Samaria in '05, and stands to gain nothing by evacuating and uprooting 558,000 Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria. Not only will Israel not gain peace or security, Israel will only be advancing the front lines of her mortal enemies, those bent on her utter destruction. It would be purely suicidal from anyone's point of view! It is absurd that this needs to be articulated in public forum, it is so obvious.
Moreover, history has proven time and time again that contiguous borders with maniacal hate mongers yield disastrous results. Cases in point: Sudetenland in 1938; Molotov-Ribbentrop Treaty in 1939, etc.
Borders with neighbors like Hamas or the PA are simply unacceptable. Would the US tolerate a border with a Muslim-Brotherhood-dominated police state? Does any sane, objective thinker really believe that such borders will bring peace or security?
Yes, Israel's borders should certainly be based on the 1967 cease fire line.
All the hostile, blood-thirsty Jew-haters and would-be terrorists who currently reside in Gaza, Judea and Samaria can be relocated to Arab Palestine (currently known as Jordan) on the east bank. This must be the "mutually agreed swaps" Obama was referring to.
Well said, Mr. President.
* * *
One more clarification:
Several readers have misinterpreted my previous post as a politically-motivated attack on President Obama. Some have even accused me of unfairly singling out Obama for having said something similar to what former President Bush had said.
Nothing could be further from the truth. First of all, I am not being unfairly critical of Obama. I have always been consistent. I deplored and criticized both statements.
Far be it from me to discriminate between presidents, black or white, Republican or Democrat. If a president is wrong, then he's wrong, regardless of which party he hails from or where he attended church or mosque.
I was completely disgusted by Bush's ill-advised policies toward Israel too, and was quite vociferous about it at the time. The Bush-inspired "Road Map" was nothing more than a dangerous collision course.
However, there is something far more troubling about this president's recent statements and his timing. Here we are dealing with a Hamas government, an admittedly terrorist organization. Hamas and the PA are seeking unilateral statehood. Israel faces greater existential threat than any time before in history. Mr. Obama stands by idly while Tehran races toward nuclear weapons and brazenly calls for Israel's destruction. To invoke the indefensible borders of pre-1967 at this critical time is nothing short of overt Antisemitism. "Mutually agreed-upon swaps" doesn't mitigate the gravity of what he said. There is no mutual agreement with Hamas, or even with Abbas. They just want to mass-murder us. They say it and they mean it.
Mr. President, what part of that don't you understand?
I am not a Democrat nor a Republican. I am a Jew and an American. I believe that any Jew and any American ought to have the moral fortitude to stand up and protest the president's foolish and malicious statements.
To all the American Jews who still support Obama, I say:
This is not about party lines or petty politics. Just because he's "your man" and you voted for him, it's time to stand up for the truth. The fate of Israel, no, the fate of the entire world hangs in the balance.
Today is exactly forty-four years since the beginning of the Six Day War. The world has learned little since then.
It's time to speak up for the truth. For ultimately, the truth will prevail.
* * *
One final point:
My intent in the previous post was not to ridicule Obama's call to return to the indefensible borders of the past, although I may have done so in the process. In light of current times, his call is so utterly ridiculous, it needs no pointing out. No need to state the obvious.
I merely sought to derive an inspiring lesson from his objectionable words.
And most importantly, with regard to Obama:
The real problem here is not the POTUS. He may say what ever he likes. In fact, that's his job. He needs to show his constituents that he's trying to make "peace." It is pointless to pressure the Arabs. They are inflexible. Conversely, Israel is flexible and willing to make concessions. So it's a no-brainer that any American president is going to place undue pressure on Israel.
The problem is Israel. Mr. Prime Minister, don't "engage." Just say no.
G-d gave us this land. Bibi, it is not yours to negotiate or use a political bargaining tool. It is the property of every Jew who ever lived and who ever will live. It is the property of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Moses, Miriam, David, Solomon, me and you. You may go jump in the Mediterranean if you wish, but you may not dispossess me of what is eternally and inseparably mine.
Bibi, you said that Jerusalem is not negotiable. It is the "heart of our people" and will always remain one and undivided. If only you realized that the same is true of the entire Land of Israel.
Posted by Rabbi Green at 11:30 PM
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
In light of recent statements by President Obama, I feel it's necessary to veer from this blog's usual apolitical stance and share my thoughts on the matter:
Personally, I am in complete agreement with the president's audacious remark. I too earnestly believe that Israel needs to return to her pre-67 borders.
In fact, therein lies the solution to all of Israel's problems, and, in fact, all the world's problems. Return to the pre-67 borders will unquestionably bring peace to the Middle East and to the entire world. It will effectively end the plights of all displaced exiles and refugees, thereby alleviating their suffering, compensating them for their millenia of yearning and eons of wandering. Indeed, it will right all historical wrongs and establish a new world order.
That's right, my friends. All this can be accomplished, if only Israel is willing to return to her pre-67 borders.
Yes, Israel needs to return to the borders of before 67 CE, the year Vespasian embarked on his military campaign to conquer and lay waste to the land of Israel and ultimately destroyed the Holy Temple (in 68 CE).
What were the pre-67 CE borders, you ask?
Well, for one, these borders contained areas most vital to Israel's security and defense (e.g. Golan, Gaza, West and East Banks, part of the Sinai, etc.). Moreover, they contained the heartland of Biblical Israel, including Judea, Samaria, and even Transjordania.
In 67 CE, there was no "Palestine," but only Israel, land of the Jews. No "Aelia Capitolina." No "East" and "West," but only one united Jerusalem.
But that's not the main point.
The greatest thing about year 67 CE and prior is the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
What we need is a return to pre-67. We need to rebuild the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. And we need to do it right away!
The Third Holy Temple in Jerusalem will surely establish peace on earth and usher in the Messianic Era. It will end all violence, terror and injustice. "They shall neither harm nor destroy on all My holy mount, for the land shall be filled with the knowledge of G-d as the waters covers the sea bed." (Isaiah 25:9)
Obama was right! (Sort of. He was just 1900 years off. At least he had the last two digits right)
The expression "Israel needs to return to her... borders" is great too. It recalls the poignant words of Jeremiah (31:14) "A voice is heard upon high, bitter sobs...(Matriarch) Rachel cries for her children, she will not be comforted… (Says G-d) "Withhold your voice from crying and your eyes from tearing, for there is a reward for your actions… and your children will return to their border."
Fellow Israelites! Listen to our president. He is telling us to "return to our border" as prophesied in Jeremiah. It's high time to return to our roots. Let's bring Moshiach and "return to our border" once and for all!
Actually, the more I think about it, the 67 CE borders are not enough. What we really need is a return to the 67 BCE borders, back to the time that there was true Jewish sovereignty and independence from foreign domination, shortly before Pompeii invaded Jerusalem (during the civil war of the two Hasmonean brothers, Aritobulus and Hyrcanus, thereby commencing a long and painful period of Roman occupation). Now that would truly be something. Imagine an Israel free of foreign interference or prejudice. No UN bias, boycotts, or unfair pressure from US presidents. No foreign power telling Israel how or how not to protect her citizens.
Upon further reflection, I must now conclude that the pre-67 BCE borders are not enough either. What we really need is a return to the pre-567 BCE borders, before the ten northern tribes of Israel were exiled (in circa 556 BCE). Now here's a pre-'67 borders that would really solve our problems. Not only would it restore the territorial integrity of Israel, it would finally achieve true unity to the People of Israel by bringing back all lost and straggling Jews from all over the globe. The long-awaited ingathering of the exiles!
In fact, I must finally admit that I am not in agreement with Obama after all. What we need most of all right now is not a "return" to anything. We need to move forward, not backward.
The borders and conditions of 67 CE, 67 BCE, or even 567 BCE, etc., are not enough. No sir!
The Third Temple with be infinitely greater than its two predecessors, and the Third Commonwealth of the Messianic Era will be vastly and incomparably superior to anything we've ever seen in history. So no, we should not be returning or turning back the pages of history. Instead, it's time to move forward and achieve our destiny.
For then, and only then, mankind will achieve its destiny as well. All of humanity will turn to G-d together as one. No longer will there be war or intolerance, hatred or competition, disease or poverty. The occupation of the entire world will be to know G-d to the fullest of human potential.
Unlike some other deviant belief systems, the true coming of Moshiach doesn't involve any foreboding Armageddons, warlike Mahdis, or worlds coming to their end on Saturday at 4pm. Nor does it necessitate any cataclysmic tornadoes, tsunamis, earthquakes or nuclear fallout. Moshiach's coming is something that everyone can look forward to.
In fact, after the Redemption, there will no longer be any need for borders. "The Land of Israel is destined to spread over the entire world, and Jerusalem is destined to spread throughout all the Land of Israel." (Yalkut Shimoni)
Forget about 67 borders, or even defensible borders. We need an Israel with no borders.
Don't mean to border on sounding utopian or out of touch with reality. Quite the contrary. Realistically speaking, it seems painfully self-evident that the only better and safer option to Israel's current post-'67 borders is expanded borders. And the best and safest option is the Messianic description of no borders at all. A borderless Israel!
(Parenthetically, if you honestly believe that Israel sharing a border with a hostile, so-called "Palestinian" State is a solution, even a temporary one, then you are the borderline delusional. Maybe within the borders of your quixotic dreamworld, but not in the real world. In either case, this short-sighted viewpoint articulated by our president is alas more unrealistically utopian and dream-like than anything Isaiah, Jeremiah or the Yalkut Shimoni ever conceived of.)
If you truly wish to solve the Mideast crisis, and thereby solve all mankind's crises, personal, communal and global, for once and for all, let's discuss the only truly viable and lasting solution, the true and complete Geulah (Redemption).
So it's not about returning to borders, but about advancing and expanding our horizons to usher in a new era of Redemption.
So let's rephrase the president's ill-advised statement:
"Israel needs to advance to her destiny that will infinitely expand her borders and shine her light to the whole world."
Posted by Rabbi Green at 1:16 AM
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Some have commented that my previous post wasn't clear enough.
I shall state my position more concisely:
1. Should one rejoice over the elimination of Osama Bin Laden?
2. Should we give thanks to G-d for OBL's death?
3. Should we be proud of our military, and appreciate our government for their decision to do the right thing in eliminating OBL?
4. Should we publicly celebrate?
No. The world is still a very unsafe place, with far too many OBLs who have yet to be eliminated.
Posted by Rabbi Green at 11:15 PM
Sunday, May 8, 2011
We all agree that Bin Laden's demise is good news for mankind. The Torah tells us to rejoice and thank G-d for good news. That is a given.
The question remains, should we celebrate publicly?
This is a different matter entirely. I contend that it is not the time for celebration, but not for the same reasons others might have.
Let's use the Torah as a guide. In the case, the Biblical Scroll of Esther:
The glorious news of Haman's hanging was well publicized throughout Shushan. In fact, one could easily see his vile corpse dangling from a fifty-cubit gallows (80 feet high). Now that Haman was gone, Mordechai the Jew was elevated to prime minister in his place. Haman was dead, and all his power and wealth now belonged to Mordechai, who was now publicly identified as Queen Esther's own cousin! Yet the Jews of Shushan did not celebrate. Nor did Esther or Mordechai. Instead, they pleaded before the king for mercy.
You see, even after Haman's demise, his wicked decree still loomed over their heads. Still eleven months off, the date of Adar 13th was still set as a "Day of Rage" throughout the Persian Empire in which the Jews were slated for wholesale murder and destruction. So Haman's death was not a time for premature joy, or even to breathe a sigh of relief. It was a time to work even harder to ensure our survival as a people. It was an opportunity to plead from Ahasuerus to outlaw Hamanism altogether.
Unfortunately, the Persian emperor was not able to grant their request. Instead, however, he made an unprecedented gesture of support for the Jewish cause. He gave them the opportunity to arm and protect themselves. Moreover, the Jews were now allowed to act preemptively and destroy their enemies on the very day of Adar 13, the same day that had originally been designated for their own destruction.
Only at that point did the Jews celebrate. "And the Jews had radiance and joy, elation and glory."
Although the danger was not over, the light at the end of the tunnel was sighted. Granted the opportunity to eliminate their enemies, the Jews now had a means to survive. With G-d's help, they now knew that the Jews would prevail.
Following Esther's lead, we cannot celebrate a modern-day Haman's death, since the dangers of his particular Hamanism is very much alive. Instead, we need to use the opportunity to demand the ability to preemptively eliminate many more Hamans, until we can effectively uproot Hamanism and erase it from the face of the earth.
Simply stated, the reason why celebration is not called for is because we are still in grave danger from the Osama bin Ladens' of the world. The so-called "War on Terror" has not been won. In fact, it has barely begun.
When Israel feels free and unencumbered to effectively root out its enemies a la Operation Geronimo, then and only then shall we rejoice.
Meanwhile, the proper Jewish response to Bin Laden's elimination is to demand from our leadership to respect Israel's right to defend her citizens. It's high time for Israel to do what it really needs to ensure her survival. This means targeted assassinations, military incursions into Gaza, disarming and elimination of Hamas, preemptive attack on Hezbollah, etc.
Moreover, it's time to demand that our nation stops funding terror. That's right, the US currently funds Fatah to the tune of $470 million a year. Fatah continues to indoctrinate its children to hate. Funded by US taxpayers' dollars, Fatah continues to incite and encourage terror.
Most of all, we need to plead, beseech, demand, etc., that the US take an proactive role in disarming today's Persia and neutralizing its nuclear ambitions. And to the very least, if King Ahasuerus/Obama lacks the political will or courage to do so, then give a green light to Israel to preemptively eliminate the Persian Hamans of our times.
In addition, the government of Israel needs to rise to the occasion and show true leadership, in the spirit of Esther and Mordechai. Don't sit idly and celebrate the death of one Haman when millions of others are lurking in the shadows, ever ready to do what Hamans do. Don't wait for your enemies to act. Destroy them first. This is the lesson of Purim and a clearly stated law from Parshat Mishpatim. "הבא להורגך השכם להורגו" "If one is preparing to kill you, wake up earler in the morning and kill him first," i.e. before he leaves his home.
* * *
One final point about celebrating in the wake of OBL's long-overdue death.
When the Children of Israel sang joyous songs of praise to G-d at the Sea of Reeds, it was because they themselves had been saved while their pursuers perished.
Are we "out of the water" now that OBL is gone? Should I feel closure now that he is gone? Are we ready to turn a page on history?
Sadly, the answer to all these questions is no.
Remember that OBL was not the individual most responsible for the atrocities that occurred on September 11th. He may have paid for and orchestrated it from afar, but he did not personally murder anyone.
The actual mass murderers were nineteen Arab men. These men were products of a depraved society that breeds hatred. This society has not yet been transformed just because one mass murderer is dead. It cannot and will not be transformed on its own. It has sunken to the depths of depravity.
Until Western governments change their attitudes toward Muslim incitement, we are no where near "out of the water." Our Egyptian pursuers are still hot on our trail, so to say.
As long as we continue our ill-advised policy of appeasement, the terrorists will not stop.
With regards to our president, let's be clear:
Until Obama acknowledges the fallacy of the so-called "two-state solution," he is no hero, and certainly is no champion of peace. As long as Israel is expected to make tough concessions to hostile Arab neighbors while Iran races toward atomic weapons with impunity, there can be no celebration.
Posted by Rabbi Green at 10:28 PM
An unabashedly Jewish response.
The welcomed, long-awaited news of last week have left many searching for answers.
Bloggers and readers alike grapple with the moral dilemma: What is the appropriate Jewish response?
I have remained silent thus far, hoping that we would hear from "Jewish leadership." But alas, no such leadership has materialized. The vast majority of material on the internet sadly reveals a profound lack of moral clarity, and a complete obliviousness to reality.
Worst of all, we are hearing from self-proclaimed Bible experts who quote haphazardly from Proverbs and Midrashic literature to further add to the misinformation.
So let's address the issues.
Should Jews rejoice over the death of an incorrigibly wicked mass murderer?
The answer is a resounding "YES!"
The deaths of Haman, Pharoah's armies, Sancheiriv, are but few of many examples.
Should we be thanking G-d? Absolutely.
True, our Sages taught that G-d chastised the angels for wishing to sing songs of praise while the Egyptians were drowning at sea. However, this was WHILE they were drowning at sea. Death is always a serious issue, regardless of whose death. It's not a time for revealed joy.
Immediately after their death, however, Moses led the Jewish people in the happiest song in Jewish history, sung daily in synagogues and homes throughout the world.
When the wicked Assyrian general Sancheiriv and his army were eliminated, righteous King Chizkiyahu ought to have sung a song of thanks to G-d. In the Talmud, Chizkiyahu was criticized for his failure to do so.
In fact, Chizkiayahu had been deemed worthy of being the righteous Moshiach. Because of his above-mentioned oversight, he was rejected! And we his decedents continue to languish in exile to this day.
In Mishlei, the wise King Solomon observed: "When the wicked get destroyed, there is joyous song."
But what of Solomon's other proverb, "When your enemy falls, do not rejoice, and when he stumbles, your heart should not be glad..."?
Deeper analysis suggests that it does not refer to a generic enemy, but to "your" enemy.
Indeed, the problem lies in the fact that you are gloating over the falling of your own personal enemy. There is a subjective, personal agenda here, so Solomon cautioned us not to rejoice, lest G-d find fault with you and your self-absorbed perspective.
Did you view Osama bin Laden, may his name be erased and his memory obliterated, as a personal enemy of yours? Were you personally outraged because of Osama's audacious attack on YOUR country? Did you view it as a vicious slight to your country's honor? Were you overcome by an exultant feeling of pride and patriotism when you heard the news of OBL's death at the hand of our Navy Seals?
If your answer is "yes," then this second Proverb may be speaking to you.
Indeed, this would not be the proper Solomonic response.
Instead, one ought to have viewed bin Laden as a menacing threat to humanity and an implacable foe of G-d Himself, as it were.
What we witnessed on September 11th, '01, was not a blow to our patriotism or American pride. It was a heinous attack on humanity. It was evil in its rawest form. It was unprecedented suffering and unimaginable darkness. It traumatized an entire nation and the entire civilized world.
The wicked man who funded and masterminded this atrocity was not "your" enemy whose falling ought not inspire joy. He was the very embodiment of wickedness refereed to in our first Proverb. When he is gone, "there is joyous song," in Heaven and on Earth.
Moreover, even if you feel a tinge of personal satisfaction that Osama has been eliminated, you still may rejoice. It's not his death that gratifies us. It's not the fact that he was shot in the head, or that we as a nation had "settled the score."
It's much more basic than that. It's because the entire world can now sigh a breath of relief that an arch-terrorist is no more, and that justice has been met.
We as Americans ought to feel a profound sense of pride in our country and our military, not because we "got even" with "our" enemy, but because we were able to be G-d's agents in making the world a safer, more peaceful and just place.
* * *
After having written this, I feel the need to clarify another crucial point:
In today's confusing world of moral relativism in which Islamofascist genocidal murderers are portrayed as "freedom fighters" and innocent Jewish children in Samaria are dubbed as subhuman "settlers" or "occupiers," it is more important than ever to get your facts straight when it comes to the death of a truly evil and dangerous man.
There is no moral equivalence between hate-monger Arab cab drivers handing out candies to celebrate the horrific murder of babies in Itamar, and between Americans and all peace-loving citizens of the world rejoicing over the elimination of a mass murderer. If you see any equivalence between the two, then you are morally compromised.
Compassion for murderers means cruelty to the innocents who were murdered (or would have been murdered had the murderer not been eliminated).
"Give thanks to G-d, for He is good... He cast Pharaoh and his armies into the sea... He killed mighty kings... for His kindness is everlasting."
"When the wicked perish, there is joy." Period.
Posted by Rabbi Green at 11:08 AM
Monday, May 2, 2011
Osama's death has been confirmed.
Obama's birth has been confirmed.
America's dearth (of leadership) needs no confirmation.
Bin Laden harpooned.
British wedding: meaningless but charming
Hamas-PA wedding: not surprising but alarming
Even less surprising: Hizballah rearming.
Syria in syrious trouble.
Tuscaloosa under rubble.
Our politicians living in a bubble
Israel hostilly surrounded.
Islam humiliated. (what else is new?)
Pedophilia-era pope venerated.
Church degenerated. (what else is new?)
Lessons from Holocaust largely unlearned.
Nuclear Iran? World's unconcerned.
Never again? Ask the UN
Nukes in Tehran, not if but when.
Posted by Rabbi Green at 2:53 AM
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
An astute observation from one of our readers:
It's interesting that one little cartoon that's seen as anti-Arab mobilizes the entire Arab world against the "infidels," and the media portrays their violent rage as an expression of their justified indignation.
Here, we are discussing the gruesome massacre of innocent people and babies... and it garners NO response in the media.
It is pathetic.
Posted by Rabbi Green at 7:10 PM
Monday, March 21, 2011
Ok, time to vent about another toxic word that has polluted our vocabulary with regards to last week’s atrocity in Itamar and other horrific jihadist murders of the recent past.
At first glance, however, the word seems rather benign, certainly nothing in comparison to the malevolent expressions used by the inimical world media we’ve discussed in previous posts (i.e. “settlers,” “cycle of violence,” etc.). In fact, I have heard this word used repeatedly by well-intentioned individuals.
Nevertheless, it is my contention that this is the most egregiously insidious of misleading words used with regards to this atrocity.
The word is “incident.”
Last week I called an Israeli friend and told him we were organizing a prayer vigil and memorial service for the Fogels’. I expressed outrage that the media had completely sidelined the story. He responded that he felt that in the midst of the catastrophic events in Japan, this (sic) incident takes a back-burner position. His callous use of this word deeply troubled me. I will tell you why:
The word "incident" implies that the event was "incidental," something of relatively minor importance, or something that happened by chance and was not calculated. Incident also implies an isolated event, one that can potentially trigger a much larger crisis.
The massacre in Itamar was not a mere incident of separate circumstance. It was not an isolated event.
It was part of a well-planned genocidal war which is being waged by Islamofascist leadership.
The fact that the media glossed over it is not incidental either. It is part of an ongoing overt attempt to marginalize and demonize Israel in the eyes of the world.
The so-called incident in Itamar was not a minor event that can potentially sparked a much larger conflict, or that has exacerbated an already-problematic situation. It has not contributed to the so-called “cycle of violence.”
It was part of an already ongoing genocidal war on the Jewish people. It was the most recent offensive in a decades-old war against humanity.
Would anyone in their right mind refer to the atrocities of September 11th as mere incidents?
Etymologically, the word incident comes from Latin incidere, which means to “happen” or “befall.” In means “on” and cidere means to “fall.” It was something just happened to befall us. Out of the blue. By chance.
Last week, Jews gathered in synagogues around the world and read the Biblical portion of “Zachor.” “Remember what Amalek did to you as you left Egypt, when he fell upon you (karcha) on the way…”
The Hebrew word “fell upon,” (karcha), derives from the word mikreh, a happening, an incident that happened by chance. “Mah karah?” means “what happened?” Etymologically, these expressions come from the word “keri”, which means haphazard or random.
Chassidic philosophy explains that the wicked nation of Amalek tried to poison the minds of the fledgling Jewish nation who had recently gone free from Egyptian bondage. After having witnessed awe-inspiring miracles and supernatural phenomena, the Israelites were inspired to proceed to Sinai and accept their Divine calling. Indeed, they were prepared and psyched to become G-d’s chosen people by receiving His Torah.
Enter Amalek, a distant cousin of the children of Israel. Amalek argued that the alleged miracles of the ten plagues and splitting of the sea were no more than random incidents, or should we say, coincidence. Hence, the Amalekites wished to demonstrate to the nations of the world that Israel is not invincible.
Rashi comments on the word “fell upon” (karcha), that it can also be read “cooled off,” from the word kor (קור), cold. Amalek cooled off the nations’ awe of Israel. In addition, Amalek cooled off Israel’s enthusiasm for receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai.
This is consistent with the literal meaning of karcha, “fell upon you.” Amalek cools off the proper emotional reaction to the events of the Exodus by calling them random and coincidental. Everything is random and haphazard, argues Amalek. There is no purpose, no reward or punishment, no rhyme or reason. No reason for a Torah. The polytheistic paradigm of survival of the fittest works just fine. Indeed, Amalek’s philosophy has persisted until modern times. It was most apparent in determinism of the 19th and early 20th century. The whole world is nothing but a “fortuitous concourse of atoms,” G-d forbid. (Its most destructive manifestation was in the Social Darwinism that brought us the Holocaust.)
This is why Amalek is the antithesis of everything Judaism stands for. There is no such thing as serendipity or fortuity. (We’ll discuss what mazel means a different time). Nothing is by chance. It is all by design. There is a deep lesson to be gleaned, a new motivation for growth and increase in efforts that make the world a better place.
Amalek is karcha, apathy and coolness to the suffering of another. Judaism is enthusiasm, warmth and vitality. Compassion and feeling for another’s pain.
All that from a three-letter word, karcha. Do you now see how powerfully instructive a single word can be?
Anyway, back to our dismal topic:
Amalek has reared it ugly head. Murder for the sake of murder. Infanticide. Blood thirst.
The world has been so poisoned by the contemporary Islamofascist Amalekites and their collaborators that we have begun to speak in Amalekite terms.
Don’t get so enraged, says Amalek. It’s merely incidental, a random occurrence that affected a couple of eccentric “settlers” who deserved it because they dared encroach on “Muslim” space. Anyway, this happened in the periphery, not in Israel proper. It doesn’t affect the rest of us.
That’s Amalek speaking. Shall we become his vile mouthpiece?
No, this was no incident. This was a cataclysmic atrocity that dwarfs the most horrendous natural disasters in history, even the recent catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Why do I say that?
I am not trying to minimize the loss and destruction wrought by this calamity. My prayers are with all the poor victims and their families.
However, while the recent tsunami was mother nature showing its ugliest, most destructive face, the massacre of five innocent Jews in Itamar was human nature showing its ugliest, most devastating and depraved face.
Mother nature has no free choice. It was never intended to be “bad” or “good.” While G-d is certainly behind it all, G-d’s involvement is concealed and completely masked within the guise of nature. Nature seems to operate with a mind of its own, at least from our limited perspective.
Mother nature was not created in G-d’s image. But man is.
A tsunami kills old and young, good and bad. It does not discriminate. Humans discriminate.
A human being capable of indiscriminately murdering a baby and young children is a human being gone awry. It is the most degenerate form of human life. It is a human who has devolved to the primitive mindset of a predator animal.
This is a tsunami of blind and depraved hatred that threatens to deluge the entire civilized world if we don’t act now.
Posted by Rabbi Green at 11:06 PM
Thursday, March 17, 2011
3. “Palestinian State.”
Perhaps the most lethal weapon in our inimical media’s war of words against Israel is the expression “Palestinian.”
“Palestinian” means “from the land once referred to as Palestine.” While it is generally not used incorrectly, this term is still the source of much deception and misrepresentation of the facts. “Palestinian” means something in reality, but also has a perceived meaning that is not factual.
First let’s discuss the historical reality:
There are presently two Palestinian States. There is Jordan, a Judenrein Arab state which took the lion’s share of Palestine. Then there is Israel, a tiny segment of Palestine which was intended be a safe haven for Jewish Palestinians to live. All Israelis are Jewish Palestinians. Arabs who live there can be identified as Palestinian too, but that is rather misleading as it implies that they exclusively have this distinction. It also implies an ancient and ancestral identity. Neither impressions have anything remotely to do with fact.
Prior to the sixties, Arabs who lived in the West Bank were Jordanians. Prior to 1948, they were Arabs living in the British Mandate. Prior to that, they were privileged Muslims living in the Ottoman Empire. Prior to that, in the early to mid 1800’s, they did not live there. No one lived there, aside for a handful of Bedouins and Jews who scarcely survived amidst the unlivable deserts and swamps of Palestine. When European Jews began to arrive in Palestine, they began to hire migrant Arab workers. Arabs arrived in Palestine from all over; Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, etc. This is how the great majority of Arabs came to live in Palestine. Arafat himself was born in Egypt.
In 1947, the UN proposed a Jewish and an Arab state, not a “Palestinian” State. At that time, the Arabs utterly rejected the notion of Palestine. They regarded it as a Zionist invention. (Read article cited below for more historical data).
Nevertheless, we shall not deprive Arabs of their Palestinian identity. But they are no more Palestinian than all the millions of Jews who made their home in Palestine as well in recent generations. Furthermore, they are no more Palestinian than the millions of Arabs who live in Jordan.
A case in point: my cousin’s father was born in the West Bank before 1948. He is Jewish, a fifth-generation Jerusalemite. On his passport he is identified as being “Palestinian.”
Some modern historians argue that the Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza ought to be exclusively called “Palestinians” since they have no other national identity, while Palestinian Jews are now “Israelis,” etc.
While this might have been an acceptable and rational argument, the problem is that there is a false connotation, a particularly dangerous one.
You see, the perceived meaning of Palestinian implies something uniquely un-Jewish, even anti-Jewish. As if “Palestinian” Arabs are native to Palestine but Jews are not. It implies that Jews are colonists who encroached on the Arabs’ turf.
In practical terms, a “Palestinian State” implies that it must be Judenrein by very definition. There is no place for a Jew in a “Palestinian” State. Indeed, there seems to be an automatic understanding that if any sort of autonomy or statehood is given to “Palestinian” Arabs, all Jewish homes and businesses in the area must be uprooted and all Jewish residents banished and relocated within “Israel” proper. Muslims and Christians are welcome to live in Israel, but Jews cannot possibly be tolerated in “Palestine.” Never mind the fact that the Jew has lived there for forty years. Never mind the fact that his grandfather lived there in 1929, his great grandfather in 1890, his ancestors in 135 CE, his ancient ancestors in 1273 BCE, and his forefathers in 1713 BCE. (Indeed, the very expression “Palestine” implies that any Jewish historical connection with that land must be erased our collective memories).
“Peace” with “Palestinians” means the “peace” partner must accept that “Palestinian” lands are to be strictly Judenrein. By definition, “peace with Palestinians” means ethnic cleansing.
That is a “peace” that no morally conscious human being could ever possibly accept. That is, of course, as long as the morally conscious human being retains his intellectual objectivity, and does not get indoctrinated by the shamefully biased news media.
Indeed, Dr. Moshe Dann describes the ideology which he calls “Palestinianism.” In his article, he explains that Palestiniansim has no positive self-definition. It only means one thing: the utter rejection of a Jewish state of any form.
Indeed, the very notion of “Palestine” precludes the existence of the Jew. This is why we need a lexical paradigm shift.
Some argue that since the very reference to Palestine precludes Israel’s right to exist, Palestinian Arabs ought to be referred to simply as Arabs, just as they referred to themselves as prior to 1967. Others counter that it is too late; the proverbial cat is out of its bag. A national or geographical identity has been forged. Ignoring it serves no purpose.
Instead, they argue, we ought to correct the historical and ethical error inherent in the term, the notion that a Jew cannot possibly have lived in “Palestine.”
To them, Israel ought to be referred to as “Jewish Palestine” and Jordan as “Arab Palestine,” or “Lesser Palestine” and “Greater Palestine.” The Arabs who live in the West Bank or Gaza can be referred to as “anarchist Muslim Palestinians who don’t accept the sovereignty of Jewish Palestinians.” Even better, Arabs who can’t tolerate the presence of Jewish families in Itamar or Hebron can be called: “racist Judeophobic Muslims who advocate ethnic cleansing.”
A true Palestinian, then, is anyone who chooses to make his home in Palestine (Palestine is a historic designation referring to the entire coastal area of the Mediterranean Sea from the border of Modern Egypt to Turkey, including parts of Syria and the Transjordan. Even if we were to agree to the assertion that in postmodern times, “Palestine” only includes the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, the Jews of Israel are still native to “Palestine,” and are no less Palestinian than their Arab neighbors.)
(Thanks to my friend Zushe the Galilean for pointing this out repeatedly.)
That is one perspective.
However, in my opinion, Israel is the name we ought to call ourselves. We are not “Jewish Palestinians.” This is an insult. We are Israel.
What does Israel mean? What does it represent?
The Torah tells us why G-d changed our Forefather Jacob’s name to Israel. "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, because you have commanding power with an angel of G-d and with men, and you have prevailed." Etymologically, Israel connotes “commanding power” and “prevailing” over an angel of G-d and humans.
That’s a pretty powerful name. It commands awe and reverence. It reminds us that Israel will ultimately prevail over all her enemies, physical and spiritual.
It’s no mistake that everyone calls us Israel. Even our most vindictive enemies, the ones who incessantly plot evil against us, call us Israel. In their heart of hearts, they know that we are G-d’s people and are invincible. In some deep subconscious way, they intuit that their end is near, for G-d is with us.
Palestine, conversely, is a meaningless word. It was concocted by the Romans who wished to erase any vestiges of Jewish sovereignty over the land of Judea. So they fished up an ancient name, Philistia, a warlike pagan tribe that had vanished eight hundred years earlier. (It’s interesting to note that the ancient Philistines did not live in the “West Bank,” but along the coast). This was five hundred years before any Arabs or Muslims arrived in the Land of Israel.
So why would we wish to perpetuate the lie of the existence of “Palestine?”
So, while I might agree that calling the Jewish State “Jewish Palestine” might be more effective while trying to negotiate in the UN, or might score some points with the “pro-Palestinian” world media, it is still wrong.
There is no such thing as Palestine.
G-d gave us this land. We are His people Israel. So it is the Land of Israel. Period.
If we put it that way, if we speak with the moral clarity and conviction of the Torah, the nations of the world will surely understand.
Posted by Rabbi Green at 11:36 PM
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
An addendum to yesterday's post:
In spite of my aversion to "terrorism" and "terrorists," I will probably continue to use these expression for lack of better ones. "Islamofascist genocidal murderers" is too cumbersome to write or say. Maybe if we'd abbreviate it -- I.G.M. -- but then no one would understand whom or what we are referring to.
I must say, though, that their acts of terrorism do not terrify me. I am not fearful of them. I fear no one but G-d alone.
However, they are shockingly morally revolting to me. Their depravity stuns me. It boggles my imagination. How could a human being handfashioned in G-d's image be capable of such incorrigible wickedness?
They also inspire a feeling of intense rage, a desire to see them cease to exist, to be wiped away from humanity, to vanish from the collective memory of mankind.
It's not vengeance that I am feeling. It's beyond that. It would not please me to see them suffer. It would offer me some sense of relief to see them vanish. Instantly.
They are so detrimental to G-d's master plan for our world, or I should say, so irrelevant, that it would seem that G-d's world cannot be complete until they are gone and negated forever. In existential terms, it seems that the only purpose for their current existence is to stop existing.
Clearly, they don't exist for their own sake. Their existence is only a means to an end, but not an ends in themselves. They exist only because of us, the good guys. They exist only to evoke from within us a greater sense of commitment to G-d and His Torah, to flooding the world with goodness and kindness, to do the right thing to the point of self sacrifice. The exist only in order to inspire in us a more profound courage, an inner strength, if you would, to serve G-d against all odds and prevail.
Several other intense feelings I am feeling as a result of their nefarious deeds are trauma and searing pain. But this has nothing to do with the IGM's. They are powerless in G-d's world in the broader sense. G-d, in His infinite wisdom, planned the tragic demise of these virtuous and pure martyrs. The barbaric animals who perpetrated it were but chess pieces in G-d's hand. It is true that the vile and beastlike humans who committed these unspeakable acts exercised their free choice to do so, and for that they will be judged, as will the society who cultivated them. But that's between them and their Creator.
Another feeling I am experiencing is a sense of deep anxiety that our governments are not fulfilling their G-d-given charge to protect us. They are not recognizing the threat of the unprecedented evil we are witnessing, and, for reasons that I cannot understand, are not allowing our militaries to do what they need to do to keep us safe. If I dwell on this anxiety too much, that can produce despair. Both these feelings are not kosher, and should be suppressed, or, shall I say, sublimated. Instead of anxiety, I can proactively channel this emotive response and transform it into constructive action, to unabashedly speak the truth, to contact my politicians, to write a blog, to double my efforts on spreading Torah and mitzvot, and most importantly, to lend emotional and monetary support to the heroic men, women and children who risk their lives daily in order to dwell in places like Itamar, a vital part of the Promised Land bequeathed to our ancestors as an eternal heritage to every Jew. I can transform the despair into intense hope and yearning for better days, the era of Moshiach.
But again, the anxiety I might have felt was not caused by the IGM’s. It was caused by the ineptitude, cowardice and dysfunction of our governments that allow these beasts to develop and fester. So no, they do not traumatize me, nor do they terrorize me.
They simply disgust me.
Perhaps a more succinct description of jihadists, terrorists, IGM’s, is simply: “human scum, may their memories be erased.”
As far as the Fogels’ go, the correct term for them is not “victims of terror.” Instead, I would call them “holy and pure martyrs who died sanctifying G-d’s name. May their righteous memory be for a blessing, and may G-d avenge their blood.”
Can’t think of anything more concise.
Okay, tomorrow we'll examine the names "Israelis" and "Palestinians."
Posted by Rabbi Green at 8:41 PM
This one has bothered me for a long time. What does “terrorism” mean?
Webster Dictionary defines it as “the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion.” Terror is defined as “a state of intense fear.” Dictionary.com translates terrorism as “the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.”
This term is inadequate here for numerous reasons.
Firstly, “use of terror” is too vague. Is my eight-year-old then a terrorist because her antics inspire fear amongst her sibling? I personally know numerous individuals who feel terrorized by their children, in-laws, ruthless bosses or supervisors at work, etc.
The Israelis can easily be accused of “terrorizing” suspicious Arabs at security checkpoints. Building homes for Jewish families in Jerusalem (or anywhere else in the West Bank)? Well, hardliner Arab nationalists feel terrified by that. So that’s terror too.
Speaking of security, my friend was terrified to fly because of the harassment he was subjected to at the airport. Can the TSA be rightfully called a terrorist organization?
Terror is in the eyes of the beholder. Indeed, CNN refused to acknowledge the obvious that the Itamar massacre was in fact terrorism. Instead, their article was entitled “Israeli family of 5 killed in ‘terror attack’, military says.” They made sure to encircle the words “terror attack” with quotations, suggesting that there is a doubt whether the brutal murder was indeed an act of terrorism. The body of the report said that “Five members of an Israeli family were killed in the West Bank early Saturday morning in what the Israeli military is calling a ‘terror attack.’” The Israeli military called it a terror attack, but the “unbiased” media leaves room for doubt.
“Terrorism,” therefore, is an ambiguous term that can be easily construed or misconstrued to fit anyone’s agenda. It allows for convenient moral equivalence to be drawn between the murderer and the victim. The disturbed employee who went on a killing spree at the post office felt terrorized by the federal government, so he “terrorized” them back.
Moreover, terrorism doesn’t do justice to the actual crimes committed. Whom would you rather be? The slain victim or the survivor? The term terrorism would suggest that the primary target of the terrorist act is the survivor who now is in an induced state of terror, whereas the actual victim is dead (and in some cases, died instantly or with momentary terror). The survivor should then be accurately described as the “victim” of terrorism. The slain victim is nothing more than a technicality. Calling it “terrorism” is effectively sanitizing the egregious act of mass murder.
However, all the above arguments aside, even if we will accept the definition of terrorism quoted above (“the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes”), this might pertain to the IRA or Russian nihilist anarchists of the 19th century. Contemporary extremist Islamists, however, are quite a different story.
You see, the modern-day jihadist doesn’t necessarily have a political or coercive objective in mind. He just wants to murder us. It’s his religion, as pathologically depraved as it sounds. Murder for the sake of murder.
Moreover, even if we were to be so naïve as to accept the LA Times’ outrageous assertion that this atrocity was in protest to the settlements, murder of Jews by Muslim jihadists cannot rightfully be described as terrorism for a specific political objective. Imagine that the terrorists were to accomplish this stated goal, the dismantling of all settlements. Does anyone seriously believe that there would be peace? Certainly not. The terrorists would continue to murder us until Israel would cease to exist. And then what? Then the Muslim Brotherhood could be free to take over where Hitler left off, Heaven forefend (לא תקום פעמים צרה).
In other words, the baby-slaying of last week was not a means toward a political end. It was the end in itself. The jihadist’s ultimate objective is genocide. His ruthless acts of murder are methodical and deliberate, consistent with his end goal.
In light of all the above, I feel that Muslim jihadists ought not to be called terrorists. Instead, why not just call them what they are? They are Islamofascist mass murderers.
Okay, so the problem with “mass murderer” is that it implies that the perpetrator personally murdered many victims. For example, Hitler, Eichmann or Arafat might be called mass murderers, but the low level Gestapo guard who murdered few might not.
So let’s create a new, more fitting description. They are Islamofascist genocidal murderers.
It doesn’t matter if they murdered one or five or more, G-d forbid. They carried out their dark deed as part of a determined and sustained effort to commit genocide. They participated in genocide, so they are genocidal murderers.
The modern jihadist movement is not a new phenomenon. It is part of the genocide movement begun by Hitler and Al Husseini, erstwhile Mufti of Jerusalem. The thousands of murders perpetrated by Arab “terrorists” since Oslo are not isolated acts of terror for particular political objectives. They are part of a consistent plan of the Muslim Brotherhood to commit genocide, a Final Solution, if you would.
May the Almighty protect us from their evil schemes. May G-d grant our leaders the wisdom to acknowledge the enemy for what it is and take the painful but necessary measures to deal with the threat effectively and responsibly.
Tomorrow we'll address another oft-misunderstood catchphrase, "Palestinians."
Posted by Rabbi Green at 12:02 AM
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Semantics in the Israel-bashing Media
Recent examples of the mainstream media’s word choices and their subtle innuendo have deeply disturbed me.
In yesterday’s blog, we rambled about how BBC hijacked a story of an atrocious Arab murder and transformed it into a diatribe on Israel. In one fell swoop, with one stroke of ink, an innocent baby murdered in her crib became a generic settler. A horrific act of murder, of infanticide, became a justified reaction to “illegal occupation.”
Words are such powerful tools. In the wrong hands, like that of the BBC or Associated Press, they can be used to cause much damage and spread much falsehood.
In the prophetic words attributed to Mark Twain, “A lie can travel halfway round the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”
Well, the BBC effectively sent a lie all the way around the world in seconds, with one carefully chosen word.
Hey, don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-semantic. Some of my best friends are linguists. Really. :-)
I enjoy playing with words too. It’s not the semantics I deplore. It’s the propagandists who abuse it.
In fact, I don’t really mind writers choosing words to advocate their cause. It’s just when the news media-turned-propagandists use carefully nuanced words to further their own hidden (or not so hidden) agendas.
Anyhow, the more I think about it, many of the words we regularly use to describe the current state of affairs in the Middle East are largely inaccurate.
Let’s delineate a few:
1. “Peace Process.”
By now, any sane observer would come to the obvious conclusion that this process has nothing to do with peace. Indeed, while most Israelis would love to live in peace, it has become painfully clear that their partner does not really want peace, nor did they ever really want peace in the first place.
For the Arab leadership, peace was an artificially Western concept that had no place in their agenda. For them, it was hudna. In Muslim ideology, hudna means temporary cessation of hostilities, an opportunity to regroup and re-arm, until the jihad can be continued with greater effectiveness (read: more horrendous carnage).
This is the great fallacy of Oslo. In Rabin’s blissfully utopian mind, he was making painful concessions for peace. In Arafat’s sinister mind, he was gaining ground, advancing the front. His handshake for peace was in fact nothing more than a strategic and temporary delay of war. Like the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact or Neville Chamberlain’s “Peace in our Times!,” there was nothing peaceful about Oslo, the Roadmap, or any other foolhardy attempts at “peace.” So let’s stop calling it peace.
Likewise, the so-called “Peace Now” movement, which calls for a Muslim State alongside Israel, is not about peace. It is about war, bloodshed and prolonged misery.
So let’s be honest and call it the “War Process.”
Someone who still seriously believes that conceding more territory to Arabs will achieve “peace” is not pro-peace. He is pro-war. Such a person is not a dove, but a flightless ostrich with his head in the sand.
Tomorrow, we’ll examine another buzzword, “terrorism.”
Posted by Rabbi Green at 11:39 PM
Thank you to all for reading yesterday’s blog and for your comments.
To clarify my title:
The enemy is among us. We invite it into our living rooms and broadcast its message throughout our homes, cars and workplaces. We grant it prominent space on our PCs, BlackBerries, I-Phones and Facebook pages. We invite its message into our minds by allowing it to define our perception of reality.
The enemy is the mainstream media.
That is not to say that there aren’t bigger, more dangerous enemies. But they are formidable enemies nonetheless. Enemies that we ought to acknowldege.
Every time you visit their sites, tune into their programs, buying their products, etc., you are supporting their inimical cause.
I remember when Ted Turner made hideously anti-Israel remarks in public. In disgust, I promptly cancelled my subscription to AOL. I remember thinking to myself, would I pay to subscribe to Al Jazeera TV? Would I even wish to give them any clicks at all?
So why are we going to CNN or BBC for news?
Why are we funding propagandist organizations that tacitly endorse terrorism?
By the way, thank you to www.honestreporting.com and www.arutzsheva.com for keeping us apprised of the media's recent abuses. Personally, I stopped tuning to the above-referenced news sites years ago.
My challenge to all remains: when will Americans wake up to the reality that the "news stations" are feeding us with not just news, but with political indoctrination?
Posted by Rabbi Green at 1:47 PM
Monday, March 14, 2011
Itamar Massacre and the Complicit World Media
Ok, that’s enough for me.
I have had it with the media. Enough is enough.
I used to think that the enemy was extremist Islam. Then I came to understand that the enemy includes “moderate” Muslim leadership. Then I learned that the United Nations and European Union endorse, support and collaborate with the enemy, and hence, are the enemy by collusion.
Now I am dismayed to discover that ostensibly “unbiased” US and British media outlets have deplorably aligned themselves with the Axis of Evil, the bestial and bloodthirsty thugs in Samaria, Gaza and around the world who would love nothing more but to continue the work of Hitler.
But from our media’s perspective, the war monger murderers are in fact victims, oppressed freedom fighters who seek peace. And the real victims, innocent babies and their loving parents, are villains by default. Of course they are villains. They are hardly human. The media has a great name for them. They are “settlers.”
“Five settlers killed” the headlines screamed. Then the articles proceed to report on illegal Jewish settlements. The atrocity, the merciless slaughter of young children and their parents, is sidelined with barely a mention.
Moreover, in the biased eyes of the BBC reporter, the subhuman murders and “illegal” Jewish settlements share a moral equivalence. Indeed, the reader is led to believe that the murders were in fact justified by well-deserved Arab rage over the existence of Jewish settlements.
The BBC piece is a classic example of obvious media bias. Not just bias, but complicity. The article aims to arouse worldwide sympathy for the terrorists and indifference to the slain victims, their family and community. This effort can only help in emboldening terrorists worldwide.
In my mind, the modern mainstream media is the re-embodiment of Nazi collaborators and supporters during the Holocaust. The Jew cannot be the victim. The Jew is the guilty by default. He is a “settler,” guilty of illegal occupation. He does not belong in Berlin, Warsaw, or the West Bank. He does not belong, period.
Never mind the fact that this settler was a three month old infant in her crib. That is irrelevant to the “story” (read: their agenda in reporting the story).
I remember asking my Hebrew School teacher at age ten, “Why did the Holocaust happen? How could G-d have allowed such unspeakable atrocities and such appalling loss of life?”
My teacher responded: “If I could offer you any reasons, any justifications, then I’d be as bad as Hitler.”
His words hauntingly echoed in my mind as I read the BBC’s article fraught with moral equivalence and subtle justification. Hmm. I thought back to my teacher’s remark about justifying evil.
On another occasion in my childhood, my mother and I were discussing the evil perpetrators of the Holocaust. I argued that just because Germans supported Hitler, this did not necessarily mean that they approved of the horrific crimes he was committing.
She responded: “Cannibals have a cannibal king.”
If you support or condone cannibalism, you are aiding and abetting cannibalism; in a sense, you are cannibal.
If the BBC or CNN can condone or rationalize murder, does that not constitute a tacit endorsement of murder?
(In fact, Associated Press did not even call it a “murder.” Instead, they reported that the settlers were “knifed to death,” and, elsewhere in the article, “killed.”)
Speaking parallels of West Bank 2011 and Europe of 1939-1945, here’s another spine-chilling one:
In 1939, following the horrors of Kristallnacht, Jews in Germany saw the writing on the wall, and many tried to flee Germany. Problem was, almost all countries had closed their doors to Jews. The US also had strict anti-immigration laws, and refused Jews entry.
A German vessel, the St. Louis, set sail from Germany with over nine-hundred Jewish passengers, mostly women and children. Turned away from every country they arrived at, they were turned away from American shores as well. With no other option, they returned to Europe. Hundreds of them perished in the German death camps.
U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull was opposed to letting the Jews enter the United States, apparently because Southern Democrats, who were anti-immigrants, threatened to stop supporting Roosevelt in the 1940 presidential election.
While the St. Louis passengers were awaiting their fate, the Wagner-Rogers bill died in committee. It would have allowed twenty thousand Jewish children from Germany to come to the United States. When asked for her opinion of the bill, Laura Delano Houghteling, wife of the commissioner of immigration and a cousin of President Roosevelt's, remarked "Twenty-thousand charming children would all too soon grow up into twenty-thousand ugly adults."
BBC didn’t even need to repeat Houghteling’s telling observation. They just omitted any mention of the age of the victims and simply called them settlers. (“Illegal settlers” conjures up the image of ugly, belligerent adults).
So that’s it. In my book, Time Magazine, CNN, BBC, New York Times, etc., are not just sympathetic toward the enemy. They ARE the enemy.
That’s right, the world media, the Reuters, Associated Press, and all the rest. The ones who serve you your news and feed you your daily dose of information concerning world events. To be more precise, they are not reporting events. They are indoctrinating you with a poisoned and skewed view of reality. Their agenda is to advocate the enemy’s agenda. The media is no longer your friend (if it ever was). It is your ENEMY.
Sadly to say, this is plainly evidenced by the media’s coverage of recent horrific atrocities. If you haven’t figured this out yet, you’re simply not paying attention.
The West’s primary media outlets, presumably motivated by greed and moral bankruptcy, have “sold out” to the enemy.
For further reading on the subject:
Posted by Rabbi Green at 8:28 PM
Saturday, January 1, 2011
Wow! We made it to the end of another year. 2010 will soon be history, and we shall embark on a new decade.
I recall eleven years ago as we entered year 2000. I remember thinking to myself, what shall we call the new decade? The "Zeroes?" After all these years, the glorious Seventies, Eighties and Nineties... Is that all we amount to now? Zero?
That year, New Year's Eve was Friday night and New Year's Day was Shabbat morning, just like this year. Everyone thought the world would come to an end at midnight of Y2K because of some sort of alleged computer glitch, and there was widespread feeling of discontent. Everything is returning to zero. Zilch!
Living in S Diego at the time, Dvora and I advertised a big Friday Night service and dinner. "End off the millennium in the right place," our flyer declared. "Don't worry about Y2K... it's Shabbat today!" Needless to say, we had a tough time competing with the nightclubs, in spite of Y2K apprehension.
The next morning in synagogue, our congregants seemed relieved that society didn’t shut down. At the kiddush, we discussed the above question, how shall we refer to the current decade? The Zeroes?
I explained that this is a powerful lesson in the purpose and nature of our existence. G-d created the world from absolute nothingness. In fact, ever since the moment of Creation, G-d has been continually recreating our universe from absolute nothingness, and is doing so each and every moment (more accurately, every infinitesimally small unit of time). If He’d stop, even momentarily, we’d revert to what we originally were, absolute nothingness. As such, explains Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the author of the Tanya, existence is not our natural state, but is rather artificial. Instead, the natural state of the universe is utter and complete nothingness. In other words, the whole world as we know it is really, in essence, one big Zero.
The only way a zero becomes meaningful is if there is a one in front of it. The oneness of “Hashem Echad” – “G-d is One.”
So that’s the meditation that pulled me through the Zeroes.
The most unsettling date that defined our national mindset in the Zeroes was the horrific tragedies of September 11th, ’01. It ended our sense of national complacency and invincibility. The towering World Trade Center, once a formidable symbol of our invincible economy, was reduced to Ground Zero.
It was during this decade that brutal dictators were toppled and others rose to take their place. And here we are at the close of the decade, when our enemies brazenly threaten nuclear attack on Israel, vying once more to destroy our nation and its six million inhabitants, may Hashem bless and guard them. And the whole world sits by quietly.
I remember thinking during the turbulent times of September ‘01, “Don’t despair. We may have been reduced to zero, but G-d is One. We will survive.”
Indeed, the world is zero. The “zero”ness (is that a word? Hey, I think I may have something in common with President Bush) of our world is meaningless if it places itself before the One, as in 01. But if we put G-d’s existence first, if we make the pursuit of revealing G-dliness the paramount purpose of our existence, then we become meaningful, as in the number 10 (remember the Ten Commandments?)
To be more precise, the world is zero, but we are not. “Who is like Your people Israel, one nation on earth!” cried King Solomon the Wise. Chassidut teaches that we are one because we proclaim the Oneness of G-d “on earth.” In a deeper sense, we are one when we are united. When we are not united, G-d forbid, we are zero.
Our enemies will not succeed in their evil designs, because G-d is One. And we are one.
Anyway, enough talk about zeroes. Let’s move on.
It’s the Teens now.
That sounds like a pretty formidable challenge. Everyone knows that raising teens is no small feat.
So will it be the Terrible Teens or the Terrific Teens? That is up to us.
Meanwhile, as the new secular year enters, the first numbers we encounter are 1/1/11. The lesson: let’s keep focused on those Ones. Enough with the zero’s already.
So I’ll see you in Shul tomorrow morning, 1/1/11, and together as one we’ll recite “G-d is One!”
Posted by Rabbi Green at 10:11 PM