Friday, April 23, 2021

The ultimate goal of the Oslo Accords is self-determination for Palestinian Arabs, culminating in statehood -- contingent on certain benchmarks being fulfilled. It's been a long wait since 1993, when Oslo I was signed, but the accords are still in force, as the continued existence of the Palestinian Authority attests.

Yet people seem to take Oslo for granted.
Or ignore it altogether.

Especially when they attack Israel.

Betty McCollum's Congressional Bill

Betty McCollum is the first US lawmaker to ever publicly accuse Israel of apartheid. This year she is introducing the “U.S. Commitment to the Universal Human Rights of Palestinians Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act” -- similar to the previous iterations of this bill that she introduced in 2017 and 2019. In it, she repeats claims of military detention, interrogation, abuse, torture, and prosecution of Palestinian children by Israel.

In its critique of the bill, NGO Monitor notes that this year the bill adds a reference to house demolitions by Israel. The bill claims that “Israel’s drive to perpetuate its control over the occupied West Bank results in other serious violations of international law, including the unlawful demolition of Palestinian homes and the forcible transfer of Palestinian civilians.”

NGO Monitor points out:
The bill fails to explain that Israel’s actions in this regard derive from the provisions of the Oslo Accords, under which Israel has responsibility for the administration of Area C. As such, and even under the rules of occupation that the NGOs and McCollum apply, Israeli authorities must approve all construction, and they are permitted to demolish structures that are built illegally.
Additionally, the issue of illegal homes is subject to judicial review, including by the Israeli Supreme Court, which has been known to issue injunctions against demolition, even when the homes have been constructed illegally.

The key point is that in accordance with the Oslo Accords, Israel retains authority in Area C, a point that McCollum's bill fails to take into account.

The Covid Vaccine

Back in November, Israel made a deal with Pfizer and Moderna to acquire 18 million shots, taking a leading role in the fight against the coronavirus. Israel was in the spotlight for its aggressive approach towards attacking the virus and returning life to normal.

Then in March, accusations came out that Israel was negligent in fulfilling its obligations as an 'occupying power' to innoculate the Palestinian Arabs. Eventually, left-wing members of Congress came out publically repeating the claims that Israel had an obligation under international law, specifically Article 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to innoculate the Palestinian Arab population in addition to its own and was allegedly putting Palestinian Arab lives at risk.

In an article, Fake International Law Is the Newest Anti-Israel Libel, Eugene Kontorovich debunked this claim, pointing out the text of the Oslo Accords:  
Powers and responsibilities in the sphere of Health in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will be transferred to the Palestinian side...The Palestinian side shall continue to apply the present standards of vaccination of Palestinians and shall improve them according to internationally accepted standards in the field, taking into account WHO recommendations.
Self-proclaimed experts on international law went so far as to proclaim the supremacy of the Geneva Convention over the Oslo Accords -- neglecting the fact that the full name of the Geneva Convention is "The Convention Relevant to the Protection of Civilians in Time of War," and that according to Article 6:
in the case of occupied territory, the application of the present Convention shall cease one year after the general close of military operations.
That would be 1968, 53 years ago.

But if the sourcing used to attack Israel is suspicious, so is the timing. Kontorovich points out:

The claim of Israeli responsibility for vaccinating the PA's populace was never made before Israel achieved global renown for its rapid vaccine rollout program. The accusations against Israel now are designed to besmirch and belittle this remarkable achievement. [emphasis added]

This point, that the goal of the accusation is being made more as an attempted smear of Israel than out of genuine concern for Palestinian Arabs, is similar to a suggestion Elder of Ziyon makes in a post about Betty McCollum's congressional bill, mentioned earlier.

The bill includes restrictions on Israel as to what it is allowed to do with the money it receives from the US. Its provisions

would restrict Israel from using US funds to detain Palestinian minors, appropriate or destroy Palestinian property or forcibly move Palestinians, or annex Palestinian areas.

The post goes into detail about the safeguards that are normally included to ensure the proper use of US aid. In fact, in 2016 in response to questions by Congressional critics of Israel, there was an investigation by the State Department into how Israel in fact used US aid -- and Israel was cleared of any wrongdoing.

So if safeguards are already in place, what is the point of McCollum's bill? 
Elder of Ziyon writes:

The bill is meant to do only one thing: to demonize Israel...It is a PR move to get headlines in newspapers that indicate that Israel is an untrustworthy partner, that it is an enemy and not an ally.

This is reminiscent of the boycotts of the BDS movement, which urges others to divest their money and protest against buying tractors that only companies are going to use -- while BDS members are caught using Israeli products like Wix and others that contain parts manufactured in Israel.

Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Denver defend this apparent hypocrisy by claiming

Boycotts therefore form a limited but necessary component of the BDS campaign. For supporters of the Palestinian call for BDS, boycotts serve as a tactic within a wider strategy...

And SJP Cornell follows suit:

“BDS is not abstention, nor an absolute moral principle … it is a tactic.”

A tactic in an overall smear campaign against Israel and not a principled mission.


This year, the other shoe finally dropped as the ICC issued its decision as to whether The Hague would investigate Israel for war crimes allegedly committed in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

In a 2-1 decision, the court decided it would.

Beyond the question of whether there was reason to believe that war crimes had been committed, there was the complex question as to whether the ICC actually had the jurisdiction to step in.

On the one hand, Israel is not a party to the ICC -- unlike the PA, which joined in 2015.
On the other hand, there is the question of whether the Palestinian Authority even has the criminal jurisdiction that it could then delegate to the court to investigate on its behalf.

The logic behind the court's jurisdiction is that the alleged crimes took place on Palestinian soil, so the ICC can investigate, regardless of whether Israel is a member or not, since the Palestinian Authority itself is a member.

This is far from clear cut, and ignores international law, as Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit points out:

Mandelblit noted that only sovereign states can delegate criminal jurisdiction to the court, claiming that the Palestinian Authority did not meet the criteria; asserted that Israel too had “valid legal claims” over the territory in question; and added that the sides had agreed in the past “to resolve their dispute over the future status of this territory in the framework of negotiations.”

The issue of "valid legal claims" goes back, again, to the Oslo Accords.

Dennis Ross served as the lead US negotiator on Middle East peace and participated in both the Oslo talks as well as other Israeli-Palestinian discussions from 1993 to 2001. In an article, Why the ICC Prosecutor Is Wrong on Oslo, Ross writes that based on his personal and detailed knowledge of the Oslo Accords, he submitted an amicus curiae brief to the ICC, outlining his belief that "the OTP [Office of the Prosecutor] has misrepresented the terms and meaning of these agreements in a number of ways."

Ross quotes from Fatou Bom Bensouda, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, who wrote that the purpose of the Oslo Accords was “to give effect to the Palestinians’ right to self-determination,” a fact that outweighs the lack of effective control over a well-defined territory. 

Ross responds that it is a mistake for the prosecutor to assume that the "object and purpose" of the Oslo Accords was self-determination --
But that is inaccurate; the accords had several equally important goals, including Israeli security, peaceful coexistence, education for peace, and the development of effective Palestinian governance. Self-determination could not be fully advanced beyond Oslo’s interim self-governance arrangements unless these other goals were fulfilled. [emphasis added]
In the drive for Palestinian self-determination and sovereignty, these issues of importance to Israel are ignored, if not forgotten.

Instead, Bensadou thinks that Palestinian self-determination is an independent end in and of itself, if not the whole point of the agreement.

This is a fundamental error by the prosecutor that is shared by many who tout the virtues of a two-state solution. They ignore the fact that the Oslo Accords address the needs of both parties, the Palestinian Arabs and Israel. Instead, there is a readiness to assume that as a result of Oslo, Israeli rights really have been waived.

A key right that Israel never waived is jurisdiction over area C. Because Israel retains that control and since the Palestinian Authority has only limited control over areas A & B and none over area C, the PA cannot delegate any authority over to the ICC to investigate alleged crimes in Area C.
The accords state unmistakably that Palestinian criminal jurisdiction is circumscribed, that it does not include jurisdiction over Israelis, and that any jurisdiction not explicitly transferred to the Palestinians rests with Israel.
In an article published in the Journal of International Criminal Justice in 2013 entitled "Israel, Palestine and the ICC — Territory Uncharted but not Unknown," Eugene Kontorovich delineates the 2 sides of what Oslo establishes.

On the one hand:
Within the context of Oslo, a Palestinian government has been created which controls the vast majority of the Palestinian population, enjoys direct foreign relations with most countries in the world, and, of course, has recently been welcomed as a sovereign state by the GA. All of these developments are a direct consequence of Oslo.
On the other side of the coin, Oslo established the principle of negotiated final borders and the interim maintenance of settlements. Israeli jurisdiction over settlements is as much a part of the peace process as Palestinian control of Ramallah and Jenin, even if it is not the expected ‘final status’. [emphasis added]. [pp. 991-2]

For all the talk about a "two-state solution," there is a tendency -- if not an outright desire -- to forget that there are 2 states at stake and instead think of it as "the Palestinian-state solution". That second state, Israel, has not only interests represented by the Oslo accords, but binding legal rights as well that preserve jurisdictions while at the same time placing limits on the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority.

It is because of the rights retained by Israel that, as Ross notes, "if the Oslo Accords were actually terminated, the legal result would not be more expansive Palestinian authority. Rather, authority would revert back to Israel, as stated explicitly in the accords."

Just as Jews in the Diaspora have historically been forced to fight for their rights, Israel today continually finds itself having to rebut attempts to deprive it of the rights and sovereignty other states take for granted.

  • Friday, April 23, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon
Last night, mobs of Arabs targeted religious Jews - while others took videos and laughed.

The man being kicked repeatedly while on the ground was driving in an Arab neighborhood where his car was pelted by rocks. He tried to escape and this is what happened. His car was later set on fire.

There were unforgivable acts by some bigoted Jews who chanted "Death to Arabs" in Jerusalem as well, apparently in response to the rash of Arab attacks on Jews. Here are some of them throwing objects at an Arab house while kids are crying inside:

This is disgusting and inexcusable. 

But here is the difference:

The comments in Hebrew for the video of Jews attacking Arabs are filled with condemnations. They are angry and ashamed.

The comments in Arabic for the video of Arabs attacking a Jew are filled with joy

These are situations (though limited in their impact) that make us feel proud.

Finally, God is pleased with the issuance of a people of believers, Lord of your victory, which you promised

Heroes, God bless you, O Lord

May God protect the heroes 🙏

One of the best things I have seen

God lives them, and God our heart and our prayers are with you♥️

May God grant us victory over the darkness (the Israeli occupation). Long live Arab Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Palestine ✌✌🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸

God God ... and God made us happy ... God bless you


May the strength of you😂❤️❤️❤️❤️

Hahaha long live the heroes

God strengthens them


By God, I laughed at him. I said, but God proves you

Oh God, give victory to our brothers everywhere against the occupying Zionists
The vast majority of Arabic-speaking people who react to a video like that support attacking random Jews. There are even articles supporting the violence.

This is the antisemitism that people are afraid to speak about.

  • Friday, April 23, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon

From the Australian Jewish News:

AUSTRALIA Post has pulled a world globe from sale at its outlets and issued an apology after The AJN alerted it to the fact that Israel was labelled as “Palestine”.

The globe, produced by the Discovery company, was bought at Australia Post’s Bentleigh East branch in Melbourne last Friday by a Jewish man as a birthday present for his grandson.

After noticing the error, he contacted the Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) to express his shock and anger and has vowed to return the product.

In another blunder, the name Israel did appear on the globe but it was in Lebanon, above the region identified as Palestine. It was also printed across a border line, so all that is visible is “Isra”.

Speaking to The AJN on Tuesday, an Australia Post spokesperson said, “We are aware of this issue and have suspended the sale of this product and apologise for any offence caused.”

The spokesperson added that Australia Post “stocks a range of Discovery products in our stores, including this one, which was purchased in good faith”.

Stating, “Accuracy is of the utmost importance across all areas of the Discovery business,” a Discovery Australia spokesperson told The AJN, “We have immediately consulted our production partner of the 2-in-1 World Globe Light to rectify the geographical error relating to Israel. We apologise for any offence caused to our customers.”

Meanwhile, ThreeSixty Group, Discovery’s production partner for the product, blamed “a factory misprint error” for the mistake.

“As such we will be working with the factory to immediately correct this and to ensure that our teams more closely check this item for accuracy going forward,” a spokesperson said.

“We are currently working with our retail partners to immediately remove this item from shelves. We deeply regret that this mistake was not caught sooner.”
This is a popular globe, sold all over the world. 

The manufacturer was clearly not too invested in accuracy or clarity altogether. One would think that Cyprus is part of Syria and the actual island is underwater. 

Not all Discovery globes have the same map and error. It is hard to see but this video of Discovery's "World Globe for Students" shows the names of the Levant countries much larger, and Israel is in the right place; Tel Aviv is mentioned  as well as Jerusalem.

From a different company, the Little Experimenter Illuminated Globe for Kids says "Palestine" without distinguishing it on the map from Israel.

At least one globe company doesn't even make a pretense admitting that Israel exists.  

Here's the region shown on the KINGSO globe - where Israel is not mentioned at all, and is fully replaced with "Palestine."

(h/t Martin)

Thursday, April 22, 2021

From Ian:

Bernard-Henri Levy: Sarah Halimi’s Law
Everything about this case is heartbreaking.

The fate of a retired kindergarten teacher, beaten and then thrown from a window.

The evasiveness about whether a murder committed to cries of “I’ve killed the devil!” was or was not an anti-Semitic act.

The silence of the feminist groups that typically do such remarkable work in support of battered women and victims of domestic abuse, but who had nothing to say about this case.

The December 2020 decision of the court of appeals, confirmed by the high court on April 17, that Kobili Traoré, the killer, whose criminal record contains 20-odd convictions, was, in this instance, overcome with a delirious episode and thus could not be held criminally responsible.

Not to mention the good souls who, clearly perceiving that the courts have spoken but justice not done, keep repeating that they “understand the feelings of the Jewish community,” as if it were the latter alone, and not the French nation as a whole, that had reason to feel cheated by a trial that was whisked away, making it impossible to reach closure.

In the face of this legal and moral defeat, I offer three observations.

First, since judges are ordinary mortals, subject to prejudice, errors of judgment, and even emotion, it is not inappropriate, contrary to ubiquitous assertions to the contrary, to “comment on a court decision.”

Indeed, the derailment inflicted by the high court is revolting.

Indeed, we live in a country, France, where a man who throws his dog from his fourth floor is sentenced to a year in prison, whereas if he murders an old Jewish woman, he may face no consequences whatsoever.

Indeed, it is worrisome to know that the murderer, who had no history of psychiatric problems, who suffered and suffers from no pathology, and who, since his hospitalization, has received no medication, will soon regain his freedom.

And, no, it is not inappropriate to worry about the state of a legal system that is too often the prisoner of the culture of excuses: In Sarcelles, we witnessed the inability to call by its proper name the act of an individual armed with a knife who attacked three people leaving a synagogue wearing yarmulkes.

JPost Editorial: Sarah Halimi murder: No excuse for killing, hating Jews - editorial
The fact that the man shouted religious slogans during the killing provides evidence that this was not just a random drug-fueled murder. Throughout history Jews have been murdered for blood libels, hacked to death by Crusaders, and stuffed into gas chambers and crematoriums. In recent years, France’s Jews have often been targeted by Islamist extremists. For instance, in 2012 a Jewish school in Toulouse was targeted by a murderer who filmed the killing of a teacher and children. Mohammed Merah, the murderer, shouted “Allahu akhbar” while killing others during his campaign of terror.

Then, in 2015, four people were killed at a kosher supermarket in Paris. That attack was also mistakenly dismissed as “randomly shoot[ing] a bunch of folks in a deli” by former US president Barack Obama. One wonders again whether, had they not been Jews but another minority group, and had they been targeted in a unique traditional food store, it would have been labeled “random.”

It was not random when France’s “Gang of Barbarians” murdered Ilan Halimi in 2006. He was targeted for being Jewish, and during the trial the ringleader of the murderers claimed “all the Jews in the world are enemies,” a statement we Jews have heard before.

Unfortunately, in France there is a long list of wannabe Hitlers who have targeted our people, from Ilan Halimi, to Sarah Halimi. The difference is that the law has now decided in France that so long as people have taken a bit of drugs, they are no longer responsible for their murderous actions. Any “angry” person can now murder a Jew in France and claim he took drugs beforehand and have a reasonable chance of walking free.

While it is a positive step that Macron has called for the law to change, it is years too late. Macron has said that he wants to assure the family and relatives of the victim and all fellow citizens of the Jewish faith that they have his support. Then why do they keep getting murdered in France?

Jews make up a small, historic minority in France. Many have left the country over the years for Israel, the United States or Canada, seeking to build a new life. They shouldn’t have to flee for safety or put up more bars and walls around their synagogues to feel safe. It’s not enough to change a failed law that enables people to murder so long as they are “high.” Society in France should have been educated long ago not to hate Jews and not to call Jews “Satan.” Crimes of people shouting “God is great” while killing members of another faith should be prosecuted as religious-inspired hate crimes. The excuses have to stop.

Sarah Halimi's family to seek Israeli trial, lawyers say
Sarah Halimi’s sister is set to file a legal complaint in Israel against her killer who was recently found criminally not responsible by a French court.

Ms Halimi died in 2017 aged 65 after being pushed from her Parisian apartment window by her neighbour Kobili Traoré, who has since remained in psychiatric care.

He had shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ before the attack.

Lawyers representing the victim’s Israeli sister, Esther Lekover, said they will lodge a complaint in Israel where some antisemitic offences committed abroad may also be prosecuted.

Gilles-William Goldnadel and Francis Szpiner said they “deplored” having to take the step but “could not accept a denial of justice which offends reason and fairness far beyond France’s Jewish community.”

They also expressed their “consternation” at the cour de Cassation’s recent ruling.
France's Jews Outraged After Sarah Halimi Murderer Acquitted

Our weekly column from the humor site PreOccupied Territory.

Check out their Facebook page.

GROSSChagrin Falls, OH, April 22 - A spokesman for the local chapter of the Get Rid Of Slimy girlS club (G.R.O.S.S.) announced today that the group had voted down a proposal to boycott Israeli cultural, political, commercial, and academic entities to put pressure on the Jewish State to alter its policies toward the Palestinians. Witnesses put the margin of votes at a mere two.

"G.R.O.S.S. has voted not to adopt the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions motion," stated Dictator-for-Life Calvin at a post-vote press conference. "A majority of the voters decided against it. Our club invited input from numerous sources and engaged in its customary lively debate, followed by a show of hands. Two votes against the measure made the difference."

"Now I hope G.R.O.S.S. can return to its core activities," added El Tigre Numero Uno Hobbes. "Whatever the merits of BDS - I happened to have voted against - the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has little or no bearing on the business of this organization. We focus on combating the pernicious influence of girls, chief among them our arch-nemesis Susie Derkins. Now THAT is an entity to boycott."

"Oh, some boycott," sneered Chief Strategist Calvin. "Is that what you were doing in Susie's arms yesterday? 'Boycotting' indeed! I move to censure Hobbes for canoodling with the enemy!"

"I did no such thing!" insisted G.R.O.S.S. Cartographer Hobbes. "It was an infiltration mission to map the hideout of our main opponent! In fact you knew that, because you sent me on that mission in the first place, you chowderhead! This is a naked attempt by Head Scout Calvin to frame me for his own dismal failures, such as when he saved a winter snowball in the freezer to throw at Susie during the summer, when she would least expect it - and he missed! And then, while he was focused all on himself, loudly lamenting his catastrophic failure, she simply gathered up the pieces, pressed them together, and pelted him! Right in the kisser! Which is what he probably wants to do right now! He planned this all. Treason!"

"I'll give YOU treason!" bellowed King and Tyrant Calvin, taking a swing at Special Agent in charge of munitions Hobbes. A dusty mêlée ensued, featuring further mutual recriminations, half-a-dozen scratches, one bruise, and some pulled hair and fur. All parties to the fracas agreed to a truce, whereupon Most Highest, Grandest, Exalted Supreme Dictator-For-Life Calvin proposed to Club Secretary Hobbes that the minutes show a dignified discussion of the pros and cons of adopting a BDS motion, and Hobbes observed that no coherent case for BDS had ever been offered, in G.R.O.S.S. or anywhere else.

From Ian:

Amb. Alan Baker: What Does the Return of the “Two-State Solution” Mean?
With the advent of the new Biden administration in the United States, the phrase “two-state solution” appears to have returned to the forefront in the new U.S. administration’s “reset” of its policy priorities regarding the Palestinian-Israeli dispute.2

The phrase is repeated daily by administration officials as well as by international leaders and organizations, as it was during the Obama and previous administrations.

However, as in the past, the phrase is again being bandied about as a form of collective and generalized “wishful thinking,” as the only panacea to the Palestinian-Israeli dispute, but without a full awareness of its history, its practical implications, and the feasibility of its implementation amidst the realities of that dispute.

It is repeated despite the fact that the “two-state solution” has never been accepted by the parties to the dispute as the agreed solution, and despite the fact that the permanent status of the territories, as agreed in the Oslo Accords, remains an open negotiating issue between the parties. As such, repetition of the call for a “two-state solution” would appear to be an attempt to prejudge the outcome of that negotiating process.

Clearly, any concept of a “two-state solution” that would include the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel could only emanate from direct negotiations between Israel and a unified Palestinian leadership. This would not be a result of a partisan political resolution issued by the UN or any other source, or from vague and generalized calls from international leaders for a “two-state solution” as a form of collective wishful thinking.

Any such outcome must include the recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people by a Palestinian state, in the same manner in which Israel would recognize a Palestinian state as the nation-state of the Palestinian people.

Amb. Dore Gold: Defensible Borders for Israel: An Updated Response to Advocates and Skeptics
Despite intense efforts in Western capitals to second-guess Israel's security requirements, the top Israeli leadership has been remarkably consistent about what Israel requires to protect its vulnerable borders. The architects of Israel's national security have insisted on retaining "defensible borders" for assuring a stable peace.

In the aftermath of the Six-Day War in 1967, Gen. Earle Wheeler, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted: "From a strictly military point of view, Israel would require the retention of some captured Arab territory in order to provide militarily defensible borders."

In 2004, President George W. Bush wrote to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon: "The United States reiterates its steadfast commitment to Israel's security, including secure and defensible borders to preserve and strengthen Israel's capability to deter and defend itself, by itself."

IDF Maj.-Gen. Shlomo Yanai published a study on Israel's "Core Security Requirements" in 2005 and concluded: "Despite the technological advances of modern defense systems and warfare, controlling the high ground remains an essential part of basic security doctrine." Similarly, former IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Gadi Eisenkot wrote Guidelines for Israel's National Security Strategy in 2019 and included "defensible borders" among the seven principles for the military security of Israel.

The West Bank mountain ridge, together with the Jordan Valley, constitutes a strategic barrier reaching more than 4,600 feet in some places to protect Israel against threats from the east on its longest land border.

In the face of threats from Iran and Muslim terror armies equipped with state-of-the-art conventional weapons systems, terrain, topography, and strategic depth remain critical, as does Israel's need for defensible borders.
Caroline Glick: The Thomas-Greenfield Doctrine of U.S. Foreign Policy
Taken at face value, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield's condemnation of the United States in a speech last week before Al Sharpton's National Action Network was one of the most bizarre statements made by a diplomat—from the U.S. or, indeed, from anywhere—in recent years.

In her remarks, Thomas-Greenfield castigated the U.S. as inherently, irredeemably evil. "I have seen for myself how the original sin of slavery weaved white supremacy into our founding documents and principles," America's woman at the United Nations said.

While bizarre to the uninformed, it turns out Thomas-Greenfield's remarks were simply her stump speech. She gave the same one—nearly verbatim—at the UN last month.

Speaking at the UN General Assembly's meeting marking the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Thomas-Greenfield insisted that America's "original sin" of slavery has not been expunged from American life. It has simply morphed into a new form.

There is "a direct line from slavery to lynchings to segregation to mass incarceration," she alleged. So as far as Thomas-Greenfield is concerned, slavery didn't end when hundreds of thousands of Union soldiers gave their lives to end slavery in the Civil War. It didn't end through constitutional amendments, or even during the civil rights movement. America's "original sin of slavery" continues to have a terrible impact "on our people today," she insisted.

The most basic job of a diplomat—for any country—is to put a good face on his or her country before the nations of the world. At the UN, an institution dominated by tyrannies, the U.S faces isolation as a matter of course. For the most part, the only U.S. initiatives at the UN that have succeeded have been those that directly support rogue actors—like then-President Barack Obama's decision to rejoin the dictator-controlled, anti-American and anti-Semitic Human Rights Council, as well as his decision to legitimize Iran's nuclear program.
  • Thursday, April 22, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon
Yesterday, Facebook announced that it has been tracking two different Palestinian hacker groups.

One was associated with Palestinian Preventive Security Services, the official internal intelligence agency for the Palestinian Authority - which gets funded by Western dollars.

This activity originated in the West Bank and focused on the Palestinian territories and Syria, and to a lesser extent Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon and Libya. It relied on social engineering to trick people into clicking on malicious links and installing malware on their devices. Our investigation found links to the Preventive Security Service — the Palestinian Authority’s internal intelligence organization.

This persistent threat actor focused on a wide range of targets, including journalists, people opposing the Fatah-led government, human rights activists and military groups including the Syrian opposition and Iraqi military. They used their own low-sophistication malware disguised as secure chat applications, in addition to malware tools openly available on the internet.
It is not surprising that the Palestinian Authority targets journalists and human rights activists - they have laws against publishing anything negative about themselves. Going after the Syrian opposition is a little more interesting; it hints at some intelligence sharing between the Palestinian Authority and the murderous government of Syria. 

The PPS hacks relied primarily on social engineering, often posing as women and gaining the trust of their targets to get them to install "secure chat" applications on their phones and computers. But they also created fake web pages that would attract people they want to spy on, like Hamas members. In addition, they created fake Facebook Pages  that "posted memes criticizing Russian foreign policy in the Middle East, Russian military contractor Wagner Group and its involvement in Syria and Libya and the Assad government."

The PPS is funded by Western dollars, and in the past it has cooperated with both Israel and the CIA.

Today, however, it seems more aligned with Syria's Bashar Assad. 

At the same time, Hamas has a extensive hacking operation, known in the security community as Arid Viper. It would install spyware on victims' phones, turning them into remote surveillance devices. 

The Arid Viper hacks are far more sophisticated than the ones from the Palestinian  Authority. It was previously known to have attacked Israeli targets. In this case, the targets seem to be pretty much Fatah and the Palestinian Authority. 

For example, it created a fake webpage spoofing the Palestinian Central Elections Commission site, tricking people into entering their social media credentials. 

Like the PSS hacks, Hamas would use social engineering, convincing targets to install supposed dating message apps on their phones. 

Facebook wrote an entire 40 page report analyzing Arid Viper's methods.

One must assume that some of the Hamas expertise comes courtesy of Iran, although they have been doing this for years and are certainly learning some methods on their own. 

  • Thursday, April 22, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon

In response to Betty McCollum's annual bill designed to slander Israel under the pretense of adding audit mechanisms that already exist for US aid, a group of more than 75% of all members of the House of Representatives have signed a letter to the chair and ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee supporting continued, unconditional security assistance to Israel.

Jewish Insider reports that the signers are roughly split between Democrats and Republicans. 

Signatories include House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and GOP Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), and run the ideological gamut from progressive Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) to arch-conservative Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).

J-Street's support for the McCollum bill shows that the organization is not at all in the mainstream of even Democratic party thinking, but is just as much a far-Left group as Jewish Voice for Peace. Its claims to support a secure Israel are a fig leaf for its extreme anti-Israel positions.  Which explains why Mahmoud Abbas was a featured speaker at their conference - he shares their desire for a defenseless Israel while pretending to support a two state solution that he has opposed every time it was presented as a plan. 

Here is the full text of the letter.
Dear Chair DeLauro and Ranking Member Granger, 

As you begin your consideration of the Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations bills, we know you face many conflicting demands on this year’s budget. As the United States meets pressing global challenges, we strongly believe that robust U.S. foreign assistance is vital to ensuring our national security interests abroad. 

One program that enjoys particularly strong bipartisan backing and for which we, Democrats and Republicans, urge your continued strong support is the full funding of security assistance to Israel as authorized in the 2016 U.S. - Israel Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Foreign military financing and security assistance are provided by appropriations and are subject to Congressional oversight. In addition, our assistance to Israel is governed by the terms of the U.S.-Israel MOU. The expected Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Request of $3.8 billion in security assistance for Israel - $3.3 billion in foreign military financing and $500 million for cooperative missile defense programs - constitutes the fourth year of the ten-year 2016 MOU. This assistance was approved overwhelmingly by Congress in 2020 in the U.S. - Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act (UISAAA), which became law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. The Act codified the levels of funding set forth in the 2016 MOU. In that spirit, we urge you to support foreign assistance funding, including full funding for Israel’s security needs. 

Israel continues to face direct threats from Iran and its terrorist proxies. In February, an Israeli-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman was hit by a mysterious explosion that Israel has attributed as an attack by Iran. In 2019, Hizballah launched three anti-tank missiles at an Israeli Defense Forces vehicle in Israel. Hizballah is estimated to have an arsenal of over 130,000 rockets and missiles, and is believed to be developing new precision-guided munitions to be deployed in Lebanon. American security assistance to Israel helps counter these threats, and our rock-solid security partnership serves as a deterrent against even more significant attacks on our shared interests. 

Congress is committed to maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge and its ability to defend itself, by itself, against persistent threats. Our aid to Israel is a vital and cost-effective expenditure which advances important U.S. national security interests in a highly challenging region. For decades, Presidents of both parties have understood the strategic importance of providing Israel with security assistance. 

As America’s closest Mideast ally, Israel regularly provides the United States with unique intelligence information and advanced defensive weapons systems. Israel is also actively engaged in supporting security partners like Jordan and Egypt, and its recent normalization agreements with the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco will help promote regional stability and deal with common challenges from Iran and its terrorist proxies. 

We recognize that not every Member of Congress will agree with every policy decision of every Israeli government. However as President Biden has stated, “I’m not going to place conditions for the security assistance given the serious threats that Israel is facing, and this would be, I think, irresponsible.” Reducing funding or adding conditions on security assistance would be detrimental to Israel’s ability to defend itself against all threats. We urge you to fulfill our commitments as agreed to in the 2016 MOU as codified by the UISAAA, and in accordance with all U.S. laws. 

Just as foreign assistance is an investment in advancing our values and furthering our global interests, security aid to Israel is a specific investment in the peace and prosperity of the entire Middle East. U.S. support for Israel makes the region a safer place and bolsters diplomatic efforts aimed at achieving a negotiated two-state solution, resulting in peace and prosperity for both Israelis and Palestinians. We appreciate your leadership on this issue, and we urge your full support for this continued critical investment. 
As I have shown, there are already conditions of US aid to Israel and every other nation. No one is demanding a blank check, and those who pretend that that is the current situation are simply liars.

  • Thursday, April 22, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon
Early this morning Israel time, according to reports, a missile came from Syria (or Iraq) towards Israel where it apparently landed without damage, seemingly without being intercepted.  Details remain fuzzy.

Syrian aggression is of course not new.  70 years ago, in April 1951, was the first dogfight between Israel's and Syria's air forces:
The first aerial dogfight between Syrian and Israeli planes took place this afternoon when a Syrian fighter appeared over Israeli territory wear the frontier. He was driven back into Syria after an exchange of fire with an Israeli fighter.

Earlier, five Syrian planes flew over the defense zone, violating the provisions of the armistice agreement. Israeli authorities lodged a protest with United Nations officials against the newest Syrian violation of the pact.

And that wasn't the only Syrian aggression that month - way before "occupation," way before Israel annexed the Golan, way before the Alawites controlled Syria:

A list of new charges against Syria were last night submitted by Israel to Col. Bennet de Ridder, acting chief of the United Nations truce commission, with the request that these complaints be included in the agenda of the next meeting of the Israeli-Syrian mixed armistice commission. The charges are:

1. Arab para-military forces supported and commanded by members of the Syrian regular army have entered the Nuqeib area, in the demilitarized zone, and have been attacking for the past two weeks all civilians and police in the vicinity.

2. During the last five days, Syrian troops again attacked and murdered Jews in the demilitarized zone, including one policeman who was on a routine police patrol–such patrols having been sent to Nuquieb almost daily for many months.

3. Syria has recruited several hundred Palestine Arab refugees who are being trained and armed by Syrian formations along the Israeli border.

4. About 60 armed khaki-clad Arabs entered last Friday and Saturday a number of villages in Israeli territory, violating the provisions of the armistice agreement.

5. Arab forces entering the demilitarized zone in the Nuqeib area from Syria have constructed military positions and fortifications inside and around the village of Nuqeib.
Syria hasn't changed much. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Earlier this week I wrote about what Yoram Hazony calls “The Virtue of Nationalism,” the idea that independent nation-states with ethnically homogeneous populations and limited borders provide a better opportunity to maximize individual freedom and satisfaction than large imperial conglomerations that try to meld diverse groups into an ethnically neutral state of all its citizens.
I noted that nationalism is a natural extension of the inherent human tendency to like and trust others that resemble them, beginning with family members and expanding outward to include clans, tribes, and nations. I argued that this tendency was probably developed as a result of evolutionary forces over hundreds of thousands of years, and is now essentially hardwired into humans.

Zionism, Jewish nationalism, is naturally based on these human feelings.

But it’s not simple. As Jonathan Haidt notes in his fascinating book “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion,” the “wiring” is not the same in every culture, and even within cultures there are individual differences. Haidt identifies five or six different “moral foundations” which give rise to our intuitive feelings about right and wrong, and good and evil. Individuals seem to possess these foundations in different proportions, and that causes divergent moral judgments about the same factual situations. For example, most people feel quite strongly that, other things being equal, human pain and suffering should be minimized. And most people have a conception of fairness or justice as morally good. But there are other moral foundations that are not as widespread: those for loyalty, for deference to authority, or for sanctity (the opposite of degradation or contamination).

Haidt suggests (I’m oversimplifying) that liberals tend to emphasize minimizing harm and realizing fairness, while conservatives add concerns about loyalty, authority, and sanctity. He also notes that in WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrial, Rich, and Democratic) cultures, the last three seem to have atrophied. Many WEIRD people do not go past the “harm” criterion – they will say “no behavior is immoral unless someone is harmed by it.” Here is a link to an excerpt from the book which contains some examples. It’s entertaining to think about the examples given and ask yourself “how WEIRD am I?”

The pursuit of a Jewish nation-state is more than just a search for a way to protect ourselves against the antisemitism that is rife in the diaspora. Zionists feel a strong pull to make common cause with their fellow Jews, a feeling related to the moral foundation of Loyalty. And most of them, even the secular ones, feel that it ought to be located in the Jewish people’s historical homeland, which is related to the moral foundation of Sanctity. Zionism, in other words, is less likely to appeal to WEIRD people, who are less likely to be strongly influenced by Loyalty and Sanctity. And this is borne out in several ways.

Here in Israel, there is a controversy about the Nation-State Law, a strongly Zionist explication of the Jewishness of our state, which says (among other things) that “[t]he exercise of the right to national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish People.” In general, the Right supports it, while the Left believes that it should be weakened in the name of democracy and equality. The breakdown according to Haidt’s categories is almost perfect, with non-WEIRD people of Mizrachi and Russian backgrounds supporting it, and upper-class people and academics opposing it.

In the US, too, we see the same phenomenon. Most American Jews are descended from working-class immigrants, but since then they have done very well. Today, they tend to be well-educated and well off. Perhaps this is part of the reason that younger Jews, far from the culture of their struggling ancestors, seem to feel the connection to the Jewish people and to Zionism much less strongly than their grandparents did.

An individual’s set of moral foundations can change throughout life. Education, experience, and introspection can change it, albeit slowly. Most people seem to move toward the right with age, although there are notable exceptions. But at any given time, a person’s moral perceptions come through a fixed lens. This is why it’s so hard to change someone’s mind about these kinds of issues, as the subtitle of Haidt’s book implies.

And we can see why there seems to be a growing gap between American and Israeli Jews. Of course there are obvious differences in our experience – Israelis are much closer to the security situation and have more immediate personal concerns. But in addition, American Jews have been wealthier and well-educated for a much longer time, so the strength of their Loyalty and Sanctity foundations is less. And American culture in general deprecates the idea of peoplehood, although recently it has begun to try to develop it for specific groups (but not Jews).

This relates to the question that many of us ask: why are there so many Jewish anti-Zionists? Why do so many Jews take the side of their enemies, compared to Arabs who – while they may fight amongst themselves – more or less all agree to fight Israel as well?

The answer is that Jewish culture, because of its long exposure to the West, has lost some of the moral foundations that are still powerful in Arab cultures. It has become WEIRD. And that doesn’t serve us well in the Middle East.

From Ian:

Holocaust Memorials Are Monuments Against Civilization’s Enemies
Now, Americans who believe in civil rights, black and white, want to remove Confederate statues, not to dishonor Southern soldiers who died during the Civil War, but because they refuse any longer to accept the white South’s racist mythologizing of its past.

It is important to remember that attacks on Holocaust memorialization are not really about history. Holocaust monuments and museums, as Neiman argues, are “values made visible.”

Holocaust deniers and desecrators are not the only ones who want to destroy these universal values of justice and equality. So too do the white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville in 2017 carrying swastiska-emblazoned banners and shouting “Blood and Soil. Jews will not replace us” — and also the violent occupiers of the US Capitol in January 2021, who wore antisemitic insignias while unfurling Confederate flags.

Over a century ago, philosopher William James gave a speech dedicating a monument to Black soldiers and the white officers who died fighting for freedom in 1864. But he also delivered a warning to future generations about where the greatest threats to civilization might come from: “The deadliest enemies of nations are not their foreign foes … [From] internal enemies civilization is always in need of being saved. The nation blessed above all is [the nation where] the civic genius of the people does the saving day by day … by speaking, writing, voting reasonably … by good temper between parties.”

The “internal enemies” James was warning against were bigots wearing the masks of false patriotism — a sight that is becoming all too common today in America and across the world.
Who’s Afraid of the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism?
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) includes 34 member states and numerous experts who work together to strengthen, advance, and promote Holocaust education, research, and remembrance. To effectively combat the rise in antisemitism world-wide, IHRA experts determined that the definition of antisemitism must be clarified.

The IHRA’s Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial built an unprecedented international consensus around the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism, which was formally adopted at a Plenary in Bucharest in May 2016. The definition has since been adopted by numerous countries, government agencies, and organizations around the world, including the US State Department.

The idea embodied in the IHRA definition is that to fight Jew hatred, we must first define it.

Many people recognize antisemitism only in its classical form; i.e., the public portrayal of Jews as greedy, demonic creatures who constantly conspire to control the world. However, in the past few decades, as the memory of the Holocaust has faded and social media became a primary channel of communication and source of news, antisemitism has mutated into a new form — anti-Zionism.

By masking one’s Jew hatred as an allegedly legitimate criticism of the State of Israel, the delegitimization campaign against the State of Israel, led by the terror-linked Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, has openly promoted and fostered the new antisemitism.
Walter Mondale, a liberal icon who championed Israel
Walter Mondale, the former vice president, represented a time in American history when being pro-Israel and progressive were often synonymous.

He passed away Monday at his home in Minneapolis aged 93.

From the launch of his national political career, Mondale was close to the national Jewish and pro-Israel communities. He found in those organizations willing partners in his endeavors to expand civil rights, and they found in him an avid advocate of Israel.

Mondale acted as a buffer between President Jimmy Carter, under whom he served as vice president, and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and when the talks that culminated in an Israel-Egypt peace deal turned tense. Begin was said to favor the company of the affable Mondale over Carter, who was standoffish.

Mondale was one of three US lawmakers present at the dedication of Israel’s Knesset building in 1966 — he was a Minnesota senator at the time — and he led a delegation to Israel in 1978 to mark the country’s 30th anniversary.

Vice President Walter Mondale, left foreground, and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, right, strain to hear the questions of reporters above the chants of anti-American demonstrators who were nearby in Jerusalem, July 2, 1978. Mondale and Begin had just completed a round of talks in the prime minister’s Jerusalem office. (AP Photo)

Israel policy was one of the few areas where Carter and Mondale differed. (The other was Mondale’s impatience with what he believed was Carter’s tendency to scold the American public.) In 2007, appearing with Carter on CNN in an interview marking 30 years since they assumed office, he gently pushed back at his friend’s book published not long before, “Palestine: Peace not Apartheid,” in an exchange that was otherwise all mutual admiration.

“I have read the book,” Mondale said. “I think there’s a lot of good materials in there. I do have a few problems with it, but if I might, I’d like to talk to the president about it first.”

Reaching for Comfort: What I Saw, What I Learned, & How I Blew it Training as a Pastoral Counselor, is the third of three books by Sherri Mandell on dealing with the loss of her son Koby Mandell, to terror. But know that Mandell is a writer by profession, and not by circumstance. She writes because that’s her gift: it’s what she does. The fact that she can not only write but has a heartbreaking story to tell, makes it all the more poignant to read her story, and hear her “voice.”

It’s difficult—even gut-wrenching—to read these works, but some would say, necessary. This is a human rights issue. Jews, like all other people, should have the right to live productive lives in peace, in particular in their indigenous territory. Jewish children, like all other children, should have the right to grow up unmolested by terror, no matter where they live.

In this new book, in which Mandell speaks of her experiences training as a pastoral counselor, we hear the voice of a mother who longs for comfort, who is seeking something to give her relief or at least a small respite from the feelings she goes to bed with at night, and wakes up to every morning. It is obvious to all who witness this sort of pain, even from the outside looking in: the pain of losing a child to terror never, ever leaves you. This book helps us see what this might be like, God forbid, even if only to the smallest degree (may we never need to understand it fully).

Mandell takes us along as she begins to visit hospitalized patients as part of her training. This takes place at a time when pastoral counseling is new to the scene of Israeli patient care. Many of the patients fail to understand the purpose of her visits and are reluctant to avail themselves of what she attempts to offer them. One understands that Mandell thought she'd be good at pastoral counseling by dint of her experiences as the mother of a terror victim. Her efforts at comforting patients and their families, on the other hand, tend not to have the desired effect.

Interspersed with Mandell's visits to patients (whom she describes as "fictional composites, drawn broadly from real stories") are her training sessions and meetings with Michael, her mentor and co-teacher of the pastoral counseling course. Michael leads the group through prayers and exercises, during which Mandell always seems to fall short in comparison with her classmates. Mandell's self-described inadequacies as a pastoral counselor are as puzzling to the reader as they are to Mandell. Her descriptions of her visits to patients, meanwhile, are compelling, and we know something they do not: that she is Sherri Mandell, mother of Koby Mandell, who was murdered in a brutal attack when he was only 13.  

An Added Dimension

For this writer, there is an added dimension to this story of an effort to comfort others in the midst of grief. Having lived in Gush Etzion for a long time, through both intifadas, I remember when Koby Mandell and Yosef Ishran were murdered. There was a media blackout at first, but we understood that children had been murdered in Tekoa, a settlement in our area. And of course, the Gush was a much smaller community in those days than it is now, and everyone knew everyone in the Gush.

We wanted to know what had happened, so we began making calls to people we knew in Tekoa. We wanted to be there for the parents, to mourn alongside them. We wanted to learn from what happened in order to understand what measures we needed to take in our attempts to protect our own children going forward. It took only two phone calls to learn the identity of the two boys who had been murdered, and the terrible details of the attack. It was, in fact, a child who told me—the child of a friend—what had happened and to whom.

It was Sherri and Seth Mandell’s story. It was Koby’s story, and it was Yosef’s story. And yet, in a sense, it was everyone’s story, in that it affected us all, as residents of the Gush, as Jews. The knowledge of what happened turned me into a hyper-vigilant mother. I told the daycare workers that under no circumstances were they allowed to let my children walk home alone, though it was a very short walk from the daycare center to our caravan. And yet, years later, reading Sherri Mandell’s books, you realize it’s not your story, but her story, and hers alone to tell.

Our responsibility, it seems, is to read every word of her elegant prose.

Koby Mandell (H"YD) with his parents Seth and Sherri, at his bar mitzvah, the last birthday he lived to see.

I spoke with Sherri to learn more about her new book:

Varda Epstein: Your first book, “The Blessings of a Broken Heart,” was the story of what happened to your son and the blessings you recognized in the face of tragedy. Your second book, “The Road to Resilience: From Chaos to Celebration” was about how to find a way forward after tragedy. This third book you’ve “birthed” is more difficult to define. How would you summarize “Reaching for Comfort?”

Sherri Mandell: “Reaching for Comfort” is the story of a year training to be a pastoral counselor, being taught how to be present in the face of suffering.

Varda Epstein: When did you first hear about the pastoral counseling course? What did you imagine you would get out of your training?

Sherri Mandell: A friend told me about the course. I thought that I would learn to be comfortable with prayer and become a more serene, centered person. I thought that I would also confront death and illness and see how people coped. I think my main goal was to find a lamed vavnik [one of the 36 righteous people in every generation who wander among us in secret. V.E.] who would tell me the secret of suffering. Of course, I also wanted to be able to have the therapeutic skills to lead the foundation where we worked with so many bereaved children and families.  

Varda Epstein: Your book is about pastoral counseling for those with serious or terminal illness and their families. You’ve lost family in the natural way, to age and illness, and you’ve lost a child to terror. How are these experiences different and how are they the same?

Sherri Mandell: Loss is a common denominator for all people, because everybody dies. But there is a difference when somebody is murdered by terrorists, because the family is left with a need to seek justice. Also trauma leaves scars that the loss of a parent in old age does not.   

Koby at his bar mitzvah with his father, Rabbi Seth Mandell

Varda Epstein: What would you like people to understand about what it is like to lose a child to terror?

Sherri Mandell: That the pain never goes away.

Varda Epstein: In “Reaching for Comfort” you offer a vivid description of your grief as a sort of underworld: “Even though you have the ability to exit the underworld, you are not sure you want to. In fact, you no longer no which world you belong in or which world you prefer. The ordinary world is no longer hospitable in some ways: it’s too light, too trivial. The underworld has the gravity, the shock, the darkness, the weight of being you crave.”

Do you think your children feel the same way? Have you tried to keep them out of this “underworld?” Tried to give them normalcy? How do you find the balance between giving them a normal childhood, and letting them grieve?

Sherri Mandell: I think that all children who experience tragedy touch the underworld and are changed by the experience.

Koby, laughing with his younger siblings, long before the brutal murder that robbed them of their big brother.

Varda Epstein: Arnold Roth, father of Malki Roth, murdered in the Sbarro massacre, related that people crossed the street to avoid him and his wife after the tragedy. Did you experience anything like this? Do you sometimes feel like you’re wearing a sign?  

Sherri Mandell: No, I did not feel that at all. I think because I live in a Yishuv [settlement, V.E.], everybody was involved and everybody cared. I had a feeling of being cocooned by my neighbors and also supported.

Varda Epstein: The website for Koby Mandell Foundation speaks of healing and rebuilding. Is it really possible to heal and rebuild after losing a family member to a terror attack? How would you define healing and rebuilding in this context?

Sherri Mandell: One must rebuild after a tragedy. I realized that when you undergo a tragedy it’s like your vessel is broken. The way you looked at the world, the way you thought, the things you did. They’re no longer sufficient to keep you afloat. You need to build a new vessel somehow, you need to recreate yourself in the light of what you have suffered.

Like most boys born in the U.S., Koby loved baseball. 

Varda Epstein: Pastoral counseling may not have been the right path for you, but what is the right path for us to take in order to comfort the family members of terror victims? Is there anything we can say or do that can help?

Sherri Mandell: Pastoral counseling was the right path for me at the time. I think that anytime anyone remembers Koby, it is a good feeling. I think that others can try to be there at important times like the azkara [annual memorial service, V.E.], for example. Or just leave a message that you’re thinking about the person and you remember and you care. The best is when somebody does something to memorialize Koby.

Varda Epstein: What will you write about next?

Sherri Mandell: Good question. I’m working on a novel!


Sherri Mandell won the 2004 National Jewish Book Award for The Blessings of a Broken Heart. Her newest book, Reaching for Comfort, is available at the Ben Yehuda Press and on Amazon


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