Itamar infanticide: The difference between us and them

As news filtered through, yesterday morning, of the slaughter by Palestinians of five members of the same family – two parents and their children, aged 11, 4 and 3 months – an Israeli friend, Itzik, remarked merely “chayot” (animals). Benny Gantz, the new IDF Chief of Staff, used the term “chayot adam” (beasts).

The knife attack, late on Friday evening, was perpetrated in the home of Udi and Ruth Fogel, in the West Bank settlement of Itamar (near Nablus). Their three other children survived: two were asleep in the house at the time, while the third returned home to discover the bloodbath. (Full story)

I am not religious or a Settler. And I support Palestinian statehood. Still. Yet I cannot help but feel that Palestinian Muslims – even Muslim Arabs generally (perhaps all Muslims?) – are just not like us: if it is not stating the bleeding bloody obvious (it is not, I am sure, to the Israel-only bashers), they just don’t have the same moral code, or attach the same value to human life.

I arrived at this uncomfortable conclusion a year before 9/11, as I witnessed – ‘live’ on television, from my office in Tel Aviv – the brutal public lynching in Ramallah. There was something so viscerally shocking about that event – this Israel Channel 2 footage requires no translation – that it left an even greater mark than the spate of suicide bombings that ‘greeted’ my Aliyah, in January 1996.

Before all the knee jerks start screaming “What about Baruch Goldstein?”, his massacre – however appalling – was qualitatively and circumstantially very different from the one on Friday evening. Moreover, the Israeli government of the day – unlike the Palestinian Authority, yesterday – was swift and unqualified in its condemnation of it, as were all but the most extreme of Settlers. And it was certainly never celebrated on the Israeli street . . .

Party time in Gaza: sweets for Hamas policemen in Rafah, yesterday

On the streets of Gaza, however, yesterday, sweets were handed out to rejoice the slaughter of the infants. And stopping at a petrol station (on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway) manned by Israeli Arabs, yesterday afternoon, Itzik and I each wondered the very same thing: what exactly were their feelings about the events of the previous evening?

Call me a racist, but no sane Jew, or other human being, could even force himself to stab a baby – or any child for that matter (the expression “cold blood” is entirely superfluous in such circumstances) – to death (never mind while he or she was asleep) however much he believed in his cause. There is, however, a long history of Palestinian acts of premeditated – cf. collaterally-caused (the distinction, morally, is an extremely significant one) – infanticide (even in Itamar).

Prime Minister Netanyahu has blamed this latest atrocity on Palestinian Authority incitement against Settlements and their inhabitants, and also on the international delegitimization of this country (we are in the middle of the seventh annual Israeli Apartheid Week . . . though some folk must look forward to and enjoy it so much that it has been extended to a fortnight).

To my mind, however, the horror of Friday evening has a far simpler explanation: the essential difference between us and them. That is something which most Israelis – including even PC Brigade members (though they would never admit to it) – instinctively know. And it is the reason why, whatever concessions Israel makes to the Palestinians, there may never be peace in this Land.

Fogel home after the attack. Inset: Hadas (3 months), Elad (4), Yoav (11), Udi (36), Ruth (35).

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70 responses to “Itamar infanticide: The difference between us and them

  1. That is what I’ll remember and I’ll remember how unmistakeably Babies smell and how equally unmistakeable her breathing is, so even if the room should have been only dimly lit, before the murderer flexed his muscles his senses must have given him signals reminding him of the same sensations which he holds very dear within his own family.

    In order to not get spammed for a second link in continuation of the above and in support of the post’s point remember this – Nick Cohen (and Martin Amis) at their best:

    http://nickcohen.net/2008/01/31/martin-and-the-liberals/

  2. I don’t understand how you can RIGHTFULLY conclude this:
    “And it is why, whatever concessions Israel makes to the Palestinians, there may never be peace in this Land,”
    and still be in favor of a ‘palestinian’ state. Makes no sense at all. Revise your thinking & you’ll see that your conclusion is right, & your support of a pal state is wrong – dead wrong!

  3. I used the word “may” deliberately, Simon (I had originally written “will”). As a reasonable, humane people, aren’t we under an obligation to at least try? What is the alternative?

  4. Avraham Reiss

    Two people are responsible for all this: an alcoholic and an astronaut. They both went different ways. Rabin was murdered, and Peres became President, because the Oslo criminals have yet to be rounded up.

    The basic concept of Oslo was crazy (we say in Hebrew “hazuy” – hallucinating): “we will give weapons to terrorists so that they will protect us from other terrorists” .

    Even after Sharon criminally abandoned Gush Katif, destroying 27 settlements, leaving 10,000 people homeless, their lifes’ investments destroyed – so that the leftist Justice system would not expedite his prosecution for various crimes – even after that, and several thousand shells on Sderot, and after Cast Lead, leftists still maintain that they were right.

    If there is ever a serious move to create a so-called “palestinian state”, there will be civil war here. The left have gone too far, and its about time to stop them.

    Meanwhile the army should round up all male Arabs in the area, and have them stamping on paper bags.

    “As a reasonable, humane people, aren’t we under an obligation to at least try? What is the alternative?”

    Friend Mike, I’ve heard that “What is the alternative?” rhetoric so often from Peres, that I want to puke every time I hear it from him. (Most other things he says invoke a similar reaction).

    Of course there is an alternative. Behave like this is our land, like we are the rightful owners. Like this is a Jewish State, the only place where Jews are free (to tear each other apart). Arabs can have good lives if they don’t involve themselves with terror.

    If you really still think a so-called “palestinian state” can be good for Israel, I’d appreciate it if you could email me where you buy your mushrooms …

  5. “They’re not like us”? “They don’t have the same moral code”?

    This rhetoric sounds all too familiar. It was used against the Jews 80 odd years ago by a regime that convinced its citizens Jews were sub-human, and used that as an excuse to deport them like cattle to the gas chambers.

    Don’t repeat the cycle – don’t use these horrific incidents as a pretext to demonize an entire ethnic group, based on the actions of a few, and make that a platform for hatred and segregation. In the year 2011, both ‘sides’ need to be bigger than that..

  6. Sue

    Please give me a list of verifiable things that Jews did that is even remotely a match for what the Itamar murderer or murderers did?

    Do you know how a baby smells? Arabs are said to have big families, so in all likelihood the killer was familiar with the smell from somebody he loved. He smelled the beloved smell, he heard the equally beloved sounds the breath of a sleeping baby makes, then he flexed his muscles and struck …

    And now they claim they don’t do child killing and you compare my condemning them for that to what Nazis said about Jews. That is at best ridiculous.

  7. Oy, oy, oy … 1st, yes, the attack was brutal, disgusting, horrific & everything else. But …

    That said, the time has long past to get rid of ALL W Bank settlements. As distasteful as it may be, there is no way to establish a Palestinian state unless Israel takes the very difficult step of making ALL settlers leave. Period. I know, I’m talking about their homes, but the homes never should have been allowed there in the 1st place & certainly, no new houses should be built.

    I understand the feelings of many readers of this blog, but there must be a 2-state solution. The Palestinians are not going away – just as Israel isn’t going away. That’s the reality that exists now – maybe not in the past, but it is now what it is. Unless you want to become an unsustainable minority in Israel, the Palestinians must have a place to call home & that place must be theirs, alone.

    Mike, I know we’ve been through this before, but here, again, your racism is showing. You wrote, “… Muslim Arabs generally (perhaps all Muslims …” The operative words here are “generally” & “all.” That simply isn’t true – even if it only applied to a small minority – which it doesn’t – that language is racist, pure & simple. Just as the late US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said about pornography, I know racism when I see it.

    I understand the anger & the frustration, but resorting to racist language & thinking only lowers us to the level of the terrorist murderers. Passt nisht bei unz. Your question mark doesn’t mediate your words & those words do nothing to help the situation. They only add fuel to the fire.

    OK, genug … & I’m not gonna get into the politics & certainly not the policies of the past. Let’s work to make the future healthy & sustainable.

    I’ll end w/ something I hope we can all appreciate. Here’s a video titled “I Am Israel” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4bM2QG3r-I.

    & while we’re at it, here’s a video for Purim: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9HbULd67sE (from the graduates & students of Midreshet Ein Prat: http://einprat.org/en_index.html).

  8. The alternative? Annex Yesha. Israeli citizenship for those who successfully complete the application, a bus ride for those who do not. Give them a golden handshake as compensation and let them be rich in Jordan. Jews have completed their side of the population transfer, time for arabs to do the same – at least those who prefer arab dictatorship to Jewish rule.

  9. Mike,

    Your heartfelt sentiments in your fine piece “the difference between us and them” in the immediate aftermath of the horrific Itamar massacre, were sadly diluted and compromised by a one Avraham Reiss:

    “Meanwhile the army should round up all male Arabs in the area, and have them stamping on paper bags.”

    He disgraces the pages of your fine blog with his hateful vitriol. There is no room for his like in civilized debate. If we are, or strive to be, different to them, then this monster must be censured.

    As I cry and mourn the savage murder of a three-month-old baby (and her siblings and parents) I look into the eyes of my beautiful young boy, and pray I can help to instill in him, a yearning for a life blessed with love and justice, over one poisoned with hatred and prejudice.

  10. “If you really still think a so-called “palestinian state” can be good for Israel . . .”

    I didn’t actually say that, Avraham . . . though it could be be “good for Israel” not to subjugate and control another people, if we can now extricate ourselves from the mess we got ourselves into post-1967.

    Nick, I don’t intend to censor – I think you meant that rather than “censure” (I blame Hasmonean!) – Avraham because we don’t agree with his views, which speak volumes for themselves.

    And Sue (enough with the lazy, inappropriate Holocaust analogies!) and Greg, I wish that Friday evening was a one-off. It was not. And you guys are burying your heads in your PC sand if you excuse such acts of savagery as “the actions of a few,” which come from nowhere.

    They come from a culture of savagery . . . or, at least, a culture now being transformed – by millions worldwide, with little interference (and, in many cases, succour and encouragement) from their leaders – into one of savagery.

    If that is “racist,” Greg, I wear the hat proudly.

  11. Mike, were you to leave out the words between the dahses in your penultimate paragraph (directly) above, you would be beginning to redeem yourself. I do believe you are almost correct when you say that the Muslim culture has been/is being transformed, etc.

    What I believe to be true is that our real enemy are the radical Islamofascists & terrorist-murderers. But we must take the greatest care not to paint all Arabs &/or all Muslims w/ that brush. Condemn everyone who teaches & endorses hatred & savagery wherever they are found, but please, let us not descend to their depraved level in our thoughts, words or deeds.

  12. Why leave those words out, Greg? They’re bloody true! Your Lord, political correctness, however, won’t allow you to see and/or accept it. And I do not need to “redeem [my]self” for telling things as they are (or, at least, as I see them).

    From this morning’s Haaretz . . .
    http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/pa-honors-leader-of-deadly-78-hijacking-1.349014

    Isn’t this “endors[ing] hatred & savagery”? And it did not happen in Hamastan . . . but in the PA-controlled West Bank.

  13. I know … it’s sick! My point is that we cannot afford or allow ourselves to become like them.

  14. Avraham Reiss

    Mike,

    I knew that “paper-bag” thing would get the nick retard up and running, that’s the only reason I wrote it. But even I was surprised at the height of his hysterics and the depth of his verbal bestiality.

    Other readers are warned: if you don’t think like him – then (for him) you are nothing.

  15. I think we can all take a lesson from the Parsha after next – following the death of Aharon’s sons it says Vayidom Aharon – Aharon was silent. The immediate reactions (including my own) to this unspeakable crime were clearly and justifiably emotional but the sensible approach was to hold one’s tongue until the power of reason returned.

    However much we may wish it, this atrocious crime was not unique to the Arabs or Islam. Modern history is a chronicle of the tightrope above the abyss upon which civilization balances – Germany, Poland, Austria and Ukraine during the Shoah, the horrors of the Spanish and Greek civil wars, Cambodia, Rwanda, Southern USA’s savage treatment of Blacks up to the 1960s , the dreadful acts of inhumanity in the Balkan Wars in the 1990’s all show modern man’s capacity to stoop low. In fact, if we are fair, the only country, other than Israel, where people have not, at one time or another, systematically treated others with unspeakable barbarism is probably Wales.

    Sweeping generalizations, whether openly rascist or not, serve no constructive purpose. Meet the average German today and it is almost impossible to comprehend how the Holocaust could have happened. Spain, Greece, Austria and Poland are proud members of the European Union. The Baltic States seem to be moving forward. This morning I flew from New York to Miami and around a third of the people in Business Class were Black. OK – the Ukrainians are still uncivilized bastards but, let’s face it, you can’t win ’em all.

    There is hope and fear for all humanity…. and yes, even the Arabs.

  16. “the sensible approach was to hold one’s tongue”

    I am sure you are not referring to me, John, but – as for the others (ex-Hasmos, of course) – the tongue is one facet of their anatomies that they are clearly not used to holding (and the above is not the worst of it – I had to delete some other, even more incendiary, contributions).

    Whilst I salute the humanity of your analysis, John, I for one am not letting the Muslims/A-rabs off the hook that easily. Of course, we see barbarism in other places, but most of your examples – with the notable exception of the Balkans in the 90s (like “Old Firm” footie fans with guns) – are from the middle of the last century or Africa, where chasing zebra is their equivalent of chess.

    These days, our lovely cousins are the FC Barcelona of barbarism (though please don’t ask me who is Messi!)

    PS There has been a small hold-up (out of my control) with The Witriol Diaries, Part IV, but another mouth- or, rather, eye-watering dating post (and poll) is coming next . . . and that is clearly the “barbarism,” sadly, that I know best! 😉

  17. This might be a bit long (I even edited to keep it short) but I think it’s important …

    Americans for Peace Now: “… Udi & Ruth Fogel were stabbed to death in their beds along with three of their children … The terrorist attack took place at the West Bank settlement of Itamar, near Nablus.

    “The brutal attack was shocking & outrageous. APN responded immediately by condemning the attack & calling on Israeli & Palestinian leaders to fight violent extremists & to redouble their efforts to negotiate peace. Click here to read (our) statement: http://peacenow.org/entries/post_38.

    “Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was powerfully unequivocal in his condemnation. “A human being is not capable of something like that,” Abbas told Israel Radio. “Scenes like these — the murder of infants & children & a woman slaughtered — cause any person endowed with humanity to hurt & to cry.”

    “… Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s response (is) very troubling. He swiftly approved construction of hundreds of new housing units in West Bank settlements.

    “… terrorism should be a reminder of the need to push forward on peace, not an excuse for actions that deepen Israel’s presence in the West Bank, prolonging & increasing the threat to Israel’s security & future. …

    “… Peace Now … published ads today in Israel’s Hebrew & English language newspapers expressing grief over the attacks, criticizing Netanyahu’s response & pushing back on the attempt to use this incident to incite against peace activists. Click to read PN’s ad: http://peacenow.org/images/Peace_Now_JPost_Ad_3-11.jpg.

    “This weekend’s gruesome violence must be a reminder to all of us of the need to speak out forcefully & rationally. We must be focused on the path forward to peace. & we must not allow ourselves to be distracted by violence & by hate.”

    Here’s the full text of the PN ad: “Peace Now condemns the brutal murder in Itamar & participates in the family’s sorrow. This horrendous murder is a terrible & unacceptable crime. The attempt to link this terrorist act to the positions of the Israeli peace camp is irresponsible & is intended to incite the public towards violence against the Left. Netanyahu’s decision to expand construction in the settlements in the wake of the terrorist act plays into the hands of extremists & grants terrorists the power to influence decisions of the Israeli government. In these moments of pain & grief, Peace Now reaffirms its commitment to prevent further bloodshed. http://www.peacenow.org.il

    In sum: Abbas condemned the murders while Bibi approved more settlements. I ask you, who is acting responsibly? Abbas’ statement proves you wrong, Mike – not all Arabs are terrorist-murderers nor are they all Islamofascists nor do they all want to scuttle the peace process.

  18. “Prove[d me] wrong”?! Bloody hell you are naive, Greg! What did you expect Abbas to tell the world: “Five gone . . . only another 5,699,995 to go”?!

    Again, Greg, at the very same time that the Fogel family was being lowered into the earth, a square in the West Bank – under Mahmoud Abbas’s governance last time I checked – was being named after one of the most notorious Palestinian terrorists in history (here is the link again: http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/pa-honors-leader-of-deadly-78-hijacking-1.349014).

    Or is it just that, for you, Greg, words speak louder than actions?!

  19. Avraham Reiss

    John Fisher,
    “but the sensible approach was to hold one’s tongue until the power of reason returned.”

    – why not come straight out with it said say “turn the other cheek”?
    You totally misunderstood the biblical reference you brought. When G-d acts, silence is a valid reaction. But when murderers attack us – then we react. Haba lehorgecha – haskem vehargehu; if someone comes to kill you, get up and kill him first.

  20. More to chew on from “The Pluralist,” the newsletter of IRAC, the Israel Religious Action Center, 13 King David Street, POB 31936, Jerusalem, 91319; Tel: 972-2-620-3323 Fax: 972-2-625-6260; http://www.irac.org/.

    “One of the traditions of Purim is that people write the name of Haman on the soles of their shoes so that they can step on it all day long. In this way, as the argument goes, you can conquer your enemy, stomping on his name in the synagogue, on the street, everywhere, covering it in filth and smothering it with all our weight.

    But when you step on something, it gets stuck in your shoe. People who have been stepped on are likely to remain enemies for a long, long time. This is not a way to ensure a better future.

    In Pirkei Avot 5:11, it says, “Who is the mightiest of heroes? He who makes an enemy into his friend.” This is the only way to really eradicate an enemy.

    To truly progress, the answer is not on the sole of our feet but rather it is right in front of our eyes. There is no rule that says you can’t look an opponent in the eyes. When you do so, you will see a human being on the other side. This is the start of progress, and this is the way forward.”

  21. Avraham Reiss

    Greg, your view is extreme-leftist and is accordingly totally devoid of reality.

    Israel has been conducting dialogues with its Arab co-inhabitants of Eretz Yisrael since the early ‘ninties. Retreat from Gaza and destruction of Gush Katif resulted in some 3,000 shells landing on and around Sderot.

    And your answer is to mis-quote verses. By the way, do you actually live in Israel?

  22. Yes, Avraham, as has been apparent & admitted to quite often & openly, I am an unabashed, Left-leaning Liberal & no, I don’t live in Israel. I suppose another nail in my coffin is that I was born in & have lived my entire life in your former Colonies. 😉 But I’m not alone — on either side of the pond — & that’s why I often quote others rather than rely on my own rantings. While you certainly are free to discount every word I write, I adamantly deny that I am “totally devoid of reality.” Nevertheless, you’re more than welcome to hold onto that narrow-minded opinion. Only time will tell whose views will prevail.

  23. Avraham Reiss

    Since you live outside of Israel, your opinions are irrelevant – although you are obviously free to waffle them here and elsewhere.

    “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime”. Same here: if you don’t live here, don’t tell us what to do. Go fix matters in your own country.

    BTW, are you at all Jewish?

  24. Avraham – I did not misunderstand anything and I suggest you read my comment again with your brain in gear.

    Your reaction reminded me of a 1960’s interview wth Professor Yeshayahu Leibovitz z’l in which he was challenged concerning his previously stated objection to the Eichman Trial which appeared an extreme position, even for him. He replied, to the best of my memory of the transcript, that he had never said that Eichman should not be killed – he believed that to be correct, even essential – he just did not consider it an appropriate matter for a Court of Law (which, before anybody gets going, is light years beyond my intellectual capacity to understand). However, the point is that we need to use our brains and not just churn out ill-thought-out responses from our churned up stomachs, however justified our emotions. One of the advantages of those of us that studied at, and survived, the Hasmonean High Emporium of Dogma With Your Cornflakes and Everything Else, is that we learned the art of dialectics despite ourselves.

  25. Avraham, I strongly take issue w/ your statement that simply b/c I don’t live in Israel my opinions are irrelevant. In case you’re unaware, Israel is extremely important in the lives of Jews worldwide. What happens there has important consequences in our lives as well as yours. The simple reality is that we all live in an ever-shrinking world that is more & more intertwined & interwoven. What happens anywhere happens everywhere. That is greatly magnified when it comes to us as Jews.

    Yes, I am a Jew; an orthodox rabbi performed my bris. I’m a hazzan, a graduate of JTSA (the Conservative seminary) & have served both Conservative & Reform congs. However, I have long ago rejected the rightist brainwashing & indoctirnation served up @ JTS in my student days. I align w/ all the liberal movements & streams of Judaism, including the Left side of Conservative (Masorti in Israel), Reform (URJ in the US, WUPJ worldwide, the RSGB in the UK), Reconstructionist & Renewal (ALEPH & am a relatively new member of OHALAH). I’m also sure none of the foregoing holds any meaning for you, but that’s OK. 🙂

  26. Avraham, I agreed to let you back on melchett mike on the basis that you refrain from insulting other readers. You agreed to this. Have you changed your mind?

    Moreover, everyone is free to comment here – wherever they live, whatever they believe in (or not), and whatever their religion, sexuality, etc. – without you questioning its relevance and validity based merely on your own opinions (some would say prejudices; and most readers haven’t even seen what you posted – and I deleted – yesterday evening!)

    Do you think you can live with that? Otherwise, you just make the whole atmosphere unpleasant, which I don’t want . . .

  27. Thanks for your support, Mike! & John, your comment that people can learn in spite of themselves & their instruction/indoctrination fortunately is not limited to survivors of Hasmo — or any other institution. LOL Kol hakavod!

  28. Avraham Reiss

    Mike,

    I agree to everything you have written (except for “prejudices”).

    I do feel that I can challenge the relevancy of opinions of Galut Jews concerning “hot” issues in Israel.

    They don’t endanger their lives by living here, or by serving in the IDF, they don’t pay taxes, and if they donate at all to Israel its on a voluntary basis.

    By any other logic, I as an ex-patriate Englishman should have a full say in what goes on in Britain, or for that matter what goes on in the USA, since the world’s largest Jewish population lives there.

    But I don’t. When someone has made the decision “I will not live in Israel”, he has divorced himself from the hardships and other of life’s experiences in Israel. He has in fact rejected Israel. That’s his prerogative.

    Blogs are by nature international, so anyone can say anything – this is a purely technical thing – but I still feel that if you don’t pay your dues you should have no influence on matters importantt to Israel.

    Of course, if someone comes along and says “I live in America because of A, B, or C, but I think …” then the words are portrayed in their correct framework.

    Greg,

    “I’m also sure none of the foregoing holds any meaning for you,..”

    Correct.

    John,

    “Avraham – I did not misunderstand anything and I suggest you read my comment again with your brain in gear.”

    All I said was that the verse you quoted was inapplicable for the subject under discussion. What was not clear?

    Eichman and Leibowitz are an interesting combination – elsewhere – but I can’t decide which of them was less relevant to the discussion at hand. but I forgo any further explanation.

  29. “I agree to everything you have written (except for “prejudices”).”

    What, Avraham? You don’t agree that some melchett mike readers would say you were prejudiced? Any readers care to come to my aid?!

    In spite of everything you claim about the the views of those living outside Israel not being relevant, I know that you got very involved with Israel-related matters on the JC website. Why waste your time?

    And just out of (good natured) interest – and if you can refrain from firing in all directions in response 😉 – do you consider yourself a bigot?

  30. Avraham Reiss

    Mike,

    the 1st definition I found for ‘bigot’ reads:
    “a prejudiced person who is intolerant of any opinions differing from his own”

    Prejudice: “An adverse judgment or opinion formed beforehand or without knowledge or examination of the facts”

    That certainly does not include me, because as I replied to Greg, if someone identifies himself as a Galut Jew, then the framework is acceptable – and it will mostly cover opinions that are not my own.

    As far as “judgment or opinion formed beforehand or without knowledge or examination of the facts” goes – I studied Judaism for a number of years, and possess opinions based on knowledge and examination of the facts. Someone who disagrees with me – quite possibly without knowledge or examination of the facts – may say that I am “prejudiced”, when in fact by that definition – he is!

    I am intolerant of opinions that are harmful to me – such as the opinion that the Jewish State has no right to exist – but of such an opinion, I assume, you are also intolerant. So where does one draw the line?

    We’ve been thru this before, and you don’t like my views on homosexuality – I won’t repeat them here now – but those opinions have behind them the authority of 3,000 years of Judaism, whereas the opposing opinions … let’s see you justify them.

    ——

    “In spite of everything you claim about the the views of those living outside Israel not being relevant, I know that you got very involved with Israel-related matters on the JC website. Why waste your time?”

    Good question. I got to the JC last year quite by accident – a referral from YOUR blog, so you are to blame! – and was mightily pissed of at seeing Jews calling Israel a “nazi state”, an “apartheid state” and other similar epithets. In the Israeli mentality, one does not abandon the court to one’s oponents – hence the blog JCWatch.

    There is a big difference between a single galut Jew expressing an opinion about life here in Israel – which I think is chutzpah on his part because he refuses to accept the burdens of living here – and a well-established and influential Jewish newspaper providing quotes for anti-semites who can then say “but I read it in the Jewish Chronicle. And I can say confidently that I have forced the JC to greatly tone down its anti-semitic comments, including the fact that one cannot now post a comment there over the weekend, when JC staff are busy in shul or saying Tehilim, and are not free to moderate.

    ——

    This was a boring post to write, but you asked and I complied.

  31. Henri Berest

    Greg and Avraham..
    2 sides of the same coin.
    2 equally opinionated arseholes.

    Greg would have loved the doomed politics of appeasement of Chamberlain. His naivette is truly staggering, whilst Avrahams disdain of anyone’s opinion who does not reside in Israel, is a sign of his own bigotry and small-mindedness.
    What unfortunately is getting lost in the translation is that some motherfucking arab killed amongst others, a 3-month old baby.
    Still, at least he was being true to his faith, which clearly condemns us and Christians as pigs and monkeys.
    Lay off the politics and mourn the baby – then afterwards hit the bastards back hard.

  32. Avraham Reiss

    HB,

    “whilst Avrahams disdain of anyone’s opinion who does not reside in Israel, is a sign of his own bigotry and small-mindedness.”

    People who accuse others of “bigotry and small-mindedness”, are what, exactly?

    And I’ll bet you are not an Israeli – you spew too much fire and brimstone. We don’t talk like that HERE.

  33. MM,

    please, please! do not evict Avrumala, or anyone else for that matter, from this blog. I find him highly entertaining. In addition, much can be learned from his postings – his points are poignant, not because of what they are, but because of how they are expressed. Taken in combination with the other “characters” expressing strong opinions, you have a work of art. Sure the atmosphere is occasionally poisoned, but that is the price you have to pay for inter-Jew dialogue.

    Strong work!

  34. Henri Berest

    Avraham,
    Rather than address my points, you’ve chosen instead to attack the messenger. You choose to arrogantly attack me whilst knowing nothing about me.
    You’re right, I’m not Israeli, but having spent 4 years of my life living there I do have a deep understanding of life there.
    Which makes me laugh even harder at your pathetic comment about “not talking like that HERE”.
    I well remember the old people getting pushed over and injured in the Friday morning scrum at Jerusalem bus station. You may not talk like that …but if you want to generalise, take a look at the behaviour of your fellow countrymen before attempting to take moral high ground in the area of politeness.

  35. Avraham Reiss

    HB,
    “attack the messenger”?
    You have no message.

  36. Can everyone stop talking about terrorists and revert to the more temperate term, militant, please.

    Must dash now – off to hug some trees at the havurat hayyim that some really lovely same sex couples with other-faith partners have organised outside Temple Shalom.

    D

  37. Henri Berest

    Avraham,
    You gave no understanding. Unsurprisingly.

  38. Avraham Reiss

    That should read “havurat hayyot”.

    And why not inside? Shalom al Yisrael?

  39. How do you hug trees inside ffs?!

  40. Tamar Meijers

    “Prove[d me] wrong”?! Bloody hell you are naive, Greg! What did you expect Abbas to tell the world: “Five gone . . . only another 5,699,995 to go”?!

    MIKE YOU MADE MY DAY!!!!!!!!!!!! HYSTERICAL!!!!!!

  41. Avraham Reiss

    DG,
    Shalom and Yisrael are two boys – figure it out.

  42. “Shalom and Yisrael are two boys – figure it out.” So were David & Jonathan. 😉

    “the 1st definition I found for ‘bigot’ reads: “a prejudiced person who is intolerant of any opinions differing from his own” Prejudice: “An adverse judgment or opinion formed beforehand or without knowledge or examination of the facts” That certainly does not include me …”

    Congratulations, Avraham, by your own definitions, you are a prejudiced bigot b/c your adverse judgements have been formed beforehand. The latter “or” clause happens not to be relevant in your case, but that doesn’t negate the rest of your definition.

    I do understand how you feel about us “outsiders” expressing our opinions regarding Israel but I believe you are wrong. (Big surprise.) Israel doesn’t just belong to you b/c you live there & may (or may not) have served in the IDF.

    I did not serve in the US armed forces during the Viet Nam era (when I was of draft age), nor would I now. In fact, I helped hundreds avoid the draft (aka conscription). Founded on my Jewishly-learned & biblically- & rabbinic-based beliefs, I believe that that murder – of evrey sort – is wrong & that military service is, indeed, murder; defined as the conscious taking of human life. I will NOT get into a discussion of Conscientious Objection here! But you know as well as do I that Israel has her share of CO’s.

    Perhaps unlike any country the world has ever known, Israel belongs to ALL Jews, wherever we may live. What Israel does & what happens there does affect my life. It affected yours to such an extent that you made the decision to move there & for that, I give you the greatest credit, but that doesn’t change things for the rest of your coreligionists who live elsewhere (for whatever reasons).

    I know I’m not telling you anything new; when a Jew does something – good or bad – it reflects on all of us; it affects our lives & the lives of those around us & their relationships w/ & actions relative to us. You’ve demonstrated your knowledge & acceptance of that by aknowledging that the world’s largest Jewish population lives here.

    You know damn well that were it not for the support of American Jewry, Israel would not have lasted this long; she would have been crushed long ago. Israel is the USA’s strongest, best & most loyal ally in the enitre Mid-East, but it also works the other way – the US is Israel’s best ally to the rest of the world. It is b/c every other country knows that the US stands firmly behind Israel that they cannot summarily destroy her b/c doing so would lead to their own destruction. & it is that way here primarily b/c of the efforts of American Jews.

    Like it or not, there is an undying, everlasting connection. Kol yisrael areivim zeh lazeh does not apply only to Jews who live in Israel. I’m quite sure that was beaten into you as a student @ Hasmo (based on what I’ve read of it & y’all here). So give it & your I’m-the-only-1-who-has-a-right-to-express-an-opinion horse which you seem to enjoy riding so much a permanent rest.

  43. Avraham Reiss

    Greg,
    “Congratulations, Avraham, by your own definitions, you are a prejudiced bigot …”

    -You are a nice, pleasant guy.

    “I do understand how you feel about us “outsiders” expressing our opinions regarding Israel but I believe you are wrong”

    -Who cares what you think?

    ” Israel doesn’t just belong to you b/c you live there & may (or may not) have served in the IDF.
    I did not serve in the US armed forces during the Viet Nam era (when I was of draft age), nor would I now. In fact, I helped hundreds avoid the draft (aka conscription). ”

    -Israel certainly does not belong to you – you are disloyal even to your own country -USA- by your own admission. You certainly have no connection with Israel.

    “Founded on my Jewishly-learned & biblically- & rabbinic-based beliefs, I believe that that murder – of evrey sort – is wrong & that military service is, indeed, murder; defined as the conscious taking of human life. ”

    – That is a complete load of crap. ‘rabinic beliefs’? The Torah has plenty to say about war, about how it is under the right circumstances a mitzvah, Rambam has a complete section on the subject. As a conservative Jew, you are a religious ignoramous. I once knew an American guy in yeshiva, who told me he was leaving to become a conservative rabbi. I asked him why, and he said “to become an orthodox rabbi is too difficult for me.” THAT could well have been you; kick out all the ‘hard stuff’, learn 90% less than required, and call yourself a ‘conservative rabbi’ – i.e. an intellectual nonentity, or an intellectual drop-out.

    “Perhaps unlike any country the world has ever known, Israel belongs to ALL Jews, wherever we may live.”

    -In Hebrew we say “ochel chinam”, which is in American “freeloader”.

    “You know damn well that were it not for the support of American Jewry, Israel would not have lasted this long”

    -Your belief in G-d is about as serious as your knowledge of Judaism – which is a logical equation.

    “I’m quite sure that was beaten into you as a student @ Hasmo”

    -Hasmo taught me nothing.

    Dialogue with you is a waste of my time. Go find an Artscroll translation of something Jewsih and try to learn soemthing about Judaism, instead of pontification conservative Judaism here.

  44. I invite you to read this commentary on Shabbat Zachor/Remembering Amalek by Rabbi Marc Rosenstein, a Reform Jew who made aliyah many years ago & who lives in the Galilee: http://blogs.rj.org/reform/2011/03/galilee-diary-remember-amalek.html.

  45. Gina Hammond

    Greg – I find very distateful an American Jew deriding a Jew who lives in Israel.
    I don’t live in Israel either, but I respect those who do and see them as Jews of a higher plain. They give more, and certainly suffer more.
    You are only a conservative Jew by your own admission, and enabling people to break American laws as you have admitted to doing, is also forbidden by Jewish law.
    Wouldn’t it be better if instead of writing here, you devoted your time to those Jews in America requiring various forms of social aid? I do this in England.

  46. Ariel Kleinman

    I would add to Gina’s comments – and by the way, I DO live in Israel – that a refusal to fight as stated by Greg, is a christian doctrine – turn the other cheek!

    Is that what Conservative Judaism is about? Infiltrating christian “values” into Judaism? No, thank you!

    “Yes, I am a Jew; an orthodox rabbi performed my bris.”

    Maybe, but after the bris I think he threw away the wrong end.

  47. What is wrong with Christian values? Christianity has refined Judaism over two thousand years, and has been tested in all countries in the western world. Why can’t Judaism accept modern values of the world we live in?

  48. wow Mike…this post of yours generated quite a stir… which should be a signal for you to get more involved in activism doncha think? It’s just that I really like your articles and would like to see more of them and in more places…btw, are you on twitter? ppl like you should have their voices heard/read in more places… you are a talented writer and a true zionist…cheers…Yossi

  49. Avraham Reiss

    “What is wrong with Christian values? Christianity has refined Judaism over two thousand years, and has been tested in all countries in the western world. Why can’t Judaism accept modern values of the world we live in?”

    Mike – this is going too far, even for you. It starts with conservatives/reforms, and ends up with the yoks.

    Are you touting for the church, now?

  50. “Mike – this is going too far, even for you.”

    What have I done?! I have been in Jerusalem all day. I’ve got witnesses!

  51. Avraham Reiss

    “What have I done?! I have been in Jerusalem all day. I’ve got witnesses”

    Then you should have called me – you could have helped me to move a cupboard. 🙂

  52. Great article Mike.

    There are so many witty/sarcastic and intelligent comments here that are pretty male dominated peppered with a few guest appearances by women here and there. Not a value judgement, just an observation.

    Silke your comment about the smell of a baby caught me again with hand over mouth lump in throat and blinking them back and I went over to my own gorgeous one for a snuggle and to breathe her angelic essence in. They are after all, little angels.

    I just cannot move past this. I just cannot reconcile that this has happened. I am still not all cried out about this.

    I am seeing the pictures of their three little faces with baby Hadas sleeping everywhere I look. I am seeing the orphaned ones and repeating the clip in my mind in the Shiva with their little pained faces with their grandma.

    The chief rabbi of Israel’s voice cracking all choked as he spoke at the funeral, telling of the little boy not understanding telling his father to wake up. Is there anything on this earth more heartbreaking than imagining that scene? No. There is not.

    There, I have set myself off again.

    I have been so busy mourning the passing of five Jewish souls, that I shocked myself last night and the extent of my wrath to anyone who DARES to tell me that there is suffering on both sides in a bid to justify to themselves their own lack of outrage at the murder of sleeping infants. She got it so very harshly from me there was practically fire coming out of my keyboard. G-d help anyone who DARES to utter ANY hint of justifying this. I will not be held responsible for my actions. What else can I do right now to protect the blessed memory of those who were butchered?

    I have nothing really constructive to say right now. That’s all.

    (BTW Aish has done a really excellent piece on this, I recommend)

  53. From Arutz Sheva’s website – should be compulsory reading!

    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/142948

  54. Gina, I wasn’t deriding Avraham b/c he lives in Israel. It matters not to me where anyone lives. What matters are the values one holds. If one lives in Israel & hates his neighbor, he does not live on a higher plane. FYI I broke no laws in the USA; the work of draft counselors was validated by the US Supreme Court & even by the Selective Service System, itself. I was a paralegal & worked w/in the confines of the law.

    Ariel, let me reiterate – I do not identify myself as a member of any 1 stream of Judaism; I consider myself to be a Liberal Jew – w/ a capital “L,” which also is anathema to many Americans. Too bad. If what I write causes even 1 person to think outside their box, even for a short moment, I have done what needs to be done.

    Also, Israel now recognizes as legitimate Jewish citizens who state they are Conscientious Objectors. CO is not a Christain concept; it is based in Torah & the teachings of the rabbis. 1 example: the rabbis taught that a Sanhedrin that would sentence 1 person to death in 70 years was to be considered bloodthirsty. By definition, military actions, whether they be r’shut or clothed in the self-righteous robes of chiyuv, condemn human beings to death. That’s murder. Of course torah & tradition support & validate both views; turn it & turn it & all things are found in it. I shall not get drawn into a pissing contest.

    Avraham, I hope you know I don’t stand alone in the positions I espouse. Many of the founders of Shalom Achshav are highly decorated Israeli military heros. There are many who can run talmudic arguments around both of us who have come to postions w/ which you so ardently disagree. You know things I don’t know & I know things you don’t know. That neither validates nor devalues either of us. As the saying goes, 2 Jews, 3 opinions. That’s what makes us who we are. Yes, we; both sides; every side. But I’m terribly sorry you learned nothing @ Hasmo – what an unfortunate waste of time & money. Perhaps if you did learn … Insult me & tell me to go away if it makes you happy, but you know I’m not going anywhere.

  55. Avraham Reiss

    Greg,

    Our sages tell us that if one wants to lie, he should “distance his evidence” meaning that he should avoid specifics, and speak in generalisations. This is what you have done.

    1. “If one lives in Israel & hates his neighbor, he does not live on a higher plane.” – YOU decide who hates, here? And YOU decide on what planes people live?

    2. “Many of the founders of Shalom Achshav are highly decorated Israeli military heros”. Bullshit!

    – name three “highly decorated Israeli military heros” (sic) who were “founders of Shalom Achshav”.

    3. “CO is not a Christain concept; it is based in Torah & the teachings of the rabbis. 1 example: the rabbis taught that a Sanhedrin that would sentence 1 person to death in 70 years was to be considered bloodthirsty.”

    – utter and total rubbish. There is NO connection whatsoever between actions of the Sanhedrin and co’s. You have no right to try and expound Jewish Law, because you have no foundation – you can’t even read and understand Rashi script, let alone Talmud in Aramaic.
    Or understand the Shulchan Aruch in Hebrew.

    Just as I have no right to discuss dentistry or brain surgery, for the same reason – I have no background in these subjects.

    At least two other people have told you that you are out of order. Pay attention to them.

  56. As opposed to you, Avraham: You have never had anyone tell you that you are out of order.

    Even if I may not agree with everything he writes here – for starters, he might want to take a look at this – I salute Greg for, however great the provocation, never lowering himself to the level of personal insults.

  57. Avraham Reiss

    Mike:
    “Even if I may not agree with everything he writes here, I salute Greg for, however great the provocation, never lowering himself to the level of personal insults.”

    How about:
    “Congratulations, Avraham, by your own definitions, you are a prejudiced bigot …”

    If you consider that a compliment, it opens all sorts of interesting doors …

  58. This discussion is starting to take on the qualities of a wrestling match between two dead sheep with the sort of referee who sends Sir Alex Ferguson off his trolley and I don’t want to spoil the fun; but Greg please allow me to put you right on one point. You wrote to your sparring partner:

    “But I’m terribly sorry you learned nothing @ Hasmo – what an unfortunate waste of time & money.”

    Well, if Hasmonean had one saving grace it was that it was not a waste of money. While the school had a Voluntary Contribution system (including reminder letters to parents – “Please note that you have not yet paid your voluntary contribution”) the school had no compulsory fees. I like to think of it in terms of those Sunday afternoon Buskers in Covent Garden who provide fabulous free comic entertainment and then pass the hat around.

  59. And see this from one of the few voices of sanity in the UK:
    http://www.melaniephillips.com/articles-new/?p=808

  60. Lawrence Green

    Even if, in their own minds, those who committed this horrific crime think that they are justisfied, that is no mitigation and no defence to any man or woman who has a modicum of humanity.

    “Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the end, giving them peace and rest at last, but that it was essential and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature – that baby beating its breast with its fist, for instance – and to found that edifice on its unavenged tears, would you consent to be the architect on those conditions? Tell me, and tell the truth.” (Brothers Karamazov)

    I have absolutely no doubt that if those who committed this crime had the worst and most devastating weapon available, they would not hesitate to use it against the State of Israel and Jews. That is the difference between “them and us”. Israel, for all its faults, acts with humanity and follows a moral code that is alien to those that murdered a four month old baby. The joyful celebrations in Gaza – the handing out of sweets in the streets – shows how widespread their inhumanity is.

  61. Lawrence writes: “Israel, for all its faults, acts with humanity and follows a moral code that is alien to those that murdered a four month old baby. The joyful celebrations in Gaza – the handing out of sweets in the streets – shows how widespread their inhumanity is.”

    I would simply point out that Israel does not ALWAYS act w/ humanity, nor do ALL elements of Israeli society follow the moral code I have been lead to believe is the teaching of rabbinic Judaism. Not always. Unfortunately, no human society is perfect & Israel is not immune from human imperfection.

    Also, the myth of “handing out sweets in the streets of Gaza” has been completely debunked. The picture that was published of a young man handing out sweets was something he does on a regular basis & had absolutely nothing to do w/ the horrific murders. The picture was not taken at the time of that monstrous event – it was taken at an earlier time.

  62. Re your last para, Greg, I’ll take your word for it. And do hordes of Palestinians also dance in the streets with replica Dan and Egged buses “on a regular basis” . . . or only when one of their number has just blown himself – and dozens of “Jewish apes and pigs” – up on one of them?

  63. Lawrence Green

    In this article in the Daily Telegraph, Julian Kossoff discusses the question of whether the children of Gaza could be taught about the Holocaust.

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/juliankossoff/100081465/could-hamas-teach-the-holocaust/

    “Israeli officials have long said that Palestinian recognition of Jewish suffering is a necessary step toward peace. But for Gaza residents, empathy is particularly difficult. Indeed, as one commentator remarked, when it gets to the section on the Holocaust, it might be hard to stop the students applauding.”

    I think this makes the point.

  64. Get real, Mr. Tossoff! Teaching Palestinian children, especially those in Islamofascist Gaza, about the Holocaust would be a complete waste of time and somewhat akin to teaching the sprog of an English football hooligan – and one who attends a school run by hooligans of the same team – about the tradition and history of a rival club.

    With the likely . . . or, rather, certain reaction, I prefer not to desecrate the memory of the dead.

  65. Mike – I confined my remarks only to the myth surrounding the handing out of sweets. That pic was taken completely out of context & therefore was used as propaganda. Nothing more.

  66. Greg – Next week Tottenham Hotspur, G-d bless ’em, play Real Madrid in the quarter finals of the European Champions League. A few years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Didier Marlier who was brought in by Real Madrid in the middle of the last decade to analyze why, despite a line-up of megastars to die for, they were not winning games. His findings were that, because of their individual talents, the players were hesitating for nanoseconds in passing the ball while deciding whether to go it alone for the goal of the season. The solution was to sacrifice some of the overall strategy of the game for tactic and drum into them the reflex reaction that, unless they were sitting two meters from an open goal with the goalie talking to the linesman, they should always pass the ball. Their football became less exciting but far more effective.

    I have read your comments above, especially your impassioned defense of the right to express your critical opinion of Israel despite not living here. I sympathize with that viewpoint and have, indeed, attracted some criticism above for suggesting that people make more use of their cognitive rather than emotional powers in formulating their arguments.

    But, as the Prince of Denmark said, “Aye, there’s the rub”. With all your clever talk you are an American and Americans do not play football.

    Over there in the United Fleshpots of America you can indulge in long-term Western Liberal Strategy with the comfort of knowing that, other than the minimal risk of a United Airlines plane piloted by some nutter from Saudi Arabia making an uninvited ntrance through your front door, you can get on with your life.

    Like Real Madrid, and unlike the entire western world, Israel needs to sacrifice strategy for tactic. There is no question that up to and including today, given the right circumstances, some or all Arab nations would wipe us off the face of the Earth. We all pray that, in time, that will change – Israel’s ultimate strategy is to make peace with true partners for peace. Who knows? Perhaps the current Arab Spring will bring those true partners in a new secular, democratic environment. But in the meantime Israel has to live by tactics. Our sons need to be trained to react in nanoseconds – to kill or be killed. Our politicians need to make tactical decisions that may well bring criticism as being strategically inept but, in the context of the moment, are tactically understandable – Do you suffer missiles raining down on southern Israel from Gaza because you want to build trust with the Gazan residents and not hurt their civilians or do you bomb the hell out of them and bring quiet for a few years while hopefully the Arab Spring brings progress on the diplomatic front?

    Greg, you are simply singing from the wrong songbook and, frankly, you just sound like one of those intellectually masturbating left wing breast beaters looking for a social existence in protest movements. You are in good company – your president is of similar stock.

    You have the perfect right to speak out against Israeli policy but you clearly do not have the ability – your benchmark is the world we long for, ours is the world we are forced to live in.

    So in the wise words of that most intellectual of men, President Ronald Reagan OBM, to a heckler at one of his rallies:

    “Shut up!”

  67. My point was, Greg (and I think you know it), that – even if there was some misreporting on this occasion – Palestinians celebrating acts of barbarism is no “myth.”

    And John, in the not so “wise words” of this not so “intellectual of men,” kol hakavod for getting two of my favourite subjects – breasts and masturbation – into the same sentence!

  68. do you bomb the hell out of them

    don’t exaggerate the extent of the bombing – this is how a place looks the hell has been bombed out of (and rightfully so)

  69. http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/israeli-actor-juliano-mer-khamis-shot-dead-in-jenin-1.354044

    I must admit to never having heard of Mr. Mer-Khamis before yesterday evening . . . but the murder of someone who had built (or tried to) so many “bridges” is quite compelling evidence in support of my conclusion above: that peace in this Land is a mere pipe dream.

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