Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Shai Glick, the founder of Btsalmo, is a really good guy who is working hard for human rights. He’s not just working hard for the people of Israel, but for the wider world Jewish community. Yet Glick also believes that his work benefits humanity in general, as more Muslims are killed by extremists than any other people today. Fighting against incitement to terror helps these Muslims as much as it helps the Jews.
I decided that someone should tell the world about Shai Glick and the important almost unknown work of Btsalmo. But in the end, I decided to let Shai do the talking himself. In long form. Because I believe in giving a person a platform to say everything he wants to say about himself. Everything he wants to say to the world.
So here is where I let Shai step in to give you a bit of background information about himself, followed by our written question and answer session (with translation help from Sheri Oz of Israel Diaries):
My name is Shai Glick and I am 32 years old from Beit Shemesh, married to an amazing woman who supports me in all I do even though I can sometimes be very irritating, always singing and talking or just issuing public clarifications.
I am also the father of three children.
Shai Glick of Btsalmo
I was born in Jerusalem to a Haredi family that always was open to help and host people. I always knew that I needed to protect my people and while I was studying in the American branch of the Mir Yeshiva, imediately following my wedding, I was drafted into the army and I served in the 8200 Intelligence Unit.
During my army service I gained expertise in classified intelligence and truly became familiar with the intelligence situation. During Operation Protective Edge, I was assigned to intelligence. While in the IDF's underground command center (the “Bor”) in the Kirya, I was exposed to the fact that there was a hospital in Gaza (Shifa) from which missiles were launched at us. At the same time, we were forbidden from responding to the launching site because there were patients there and I understood that we are the most ethical army in the world, even more than was necessary.
Our goal at Btsalmo is very, very simple.
Human rights – but true human rights.
The right for Israeli citizens to live without terrorism.
The right of the Jews to live without antisemitism and boycotts which are, in fact, Jew-hatred under the guise of freedom of expression – not hatred of Israelis but hatred of Jews.
The right to live. Our organization helps each and every human being in every possible domain with emphasis on the fight against incitement, boycotts, and terrorism.
It’s unacceptable that every time terrorists are arrested, there are those who speak of their rights while nobody talks about the rights of their victims. It is insanity, pure and simple.
There are dozens of organizations that speak about the rights of terrorists and condemn those who challenge those rights (The Public Committee against Torture in Israel, Hamoked, Amnesty, The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Adalah, and more). This is not only true in Israel but around the globe. Everyone is constantly talking about the rights of terrorists and of Muslim religious leaders who incite terror. Who is talking about our right not to be hurt by them? About your right to walk in the street without being stabbed in the back?
Varda Epstein: You have a lot of famous people in your family. Tell us about your grandfather, your father, uncles. Anything you like about your family, as far back as you’d like to go. (We’re listening.)
Shai Glick: I was born to a family with a good heart and with helpfulness in our blood and as I wrote above, we never ate alone. To this day, I remember breaking the Yom Kippur fast, everyone returning home hungry, but my mother waited for guests to arrive and only then did we begin to eat.
The guests were homeless. Everyone came to us.
This family tradition began with my great-grandfather, Shlomo Zalman Glick, who always worked for charity and when he immigrated to Israel he immediately set up a charitable organization that exists to this day.
My beloved grandfather, Professor Shimon Glick, always believed in helping others and made the change from being the high status department director in the United States to living in a “hole” in Beer Sheva, with the main focus of developing the Negev and helping people.
To this day, my grandfather has been awarded dozens of prizes for his work. My grandfather has held dozens of roles, among them, Dean of the Medical School in Beer Sheva and the introduction of an important dimension to the faculty – the human dimension. It was not only important to be a quality professional, but to be a good person, too.
And exactly because of this, my grandfather fought with all his strength against terrorist hunger strikes and took charge of this fight on behalf of the government. While most doctors were in favor of letting terrorists engage in hunger strikes, my grandfather was not. He understood that their hunger strikes could cause their deaths and lead to outbreaks of violence. He called for force feeding these terrorists because he truly understood the meaning of human rights.
By the way, my grandfather believed in preserving and saving lives and did not agree to such hunger strikes for any reason because hunger strikes are the opposite of supporting the preservation and saving of lives.
My father was the rabbi in an American yeshiva in the Neve Yaakov neighborhood of Jerusalem, and for the students of his yeshiva, our home was always their home.
Human rights was our way of life.
One of my uncles, Dr Yitzchak Glick, is a doctor whose life’s work was saving thousands of lives every day and his center serves as a hospital for everyone regardless of ethnicity or origin. He founded a mini-hospital in Efrat that has provided medical services for tens of thousands of Jews and Palestinian Arabs in the region.
My uncle is a doctor and a kind of mukhtar to the entire region. He delivered the babies of hundreds of Palestinian women and travels freely in all the villages in the area. To me, that is true peace and co-existence.
Another uncle is Yehudah Glick, who works day and night to connect people to each other and to bring peace and shed light. Thank God, more and more people understand that the Temple Mount is a focus for peace and not terror, thanks to this uncle. At the beginning he was thought to be crazy, but today everyone understands that he is the one who is right and spoke wisely the whole time.
My uncle, Yehudah Glick, who never hurt a fly, was shot and seriously wounded by an Arab he had never met who had come to him for the express purpose of hurting a Jew. This is the result of incitement.
A moment before the incident, the terrorist told my uncle he was sorry, but that he had harmed Al Aqsa (the mosque on the Temple Mount). Then he shot him.
This terrorist was fed incitement the same as the murderer of Dafna Meir of Otniel. A 15-year-old adolescent saw an anti-Israel television program and immediately set out to find and stab her. During his interrogation, the terrorist admitted that he already regretted what he had done and confessed that he had been overwhelmed by the propaganda he saw on his television screen.
The same was true of the four 15-year-olds who threw rocks and murdered Alexander Leibovitz in Armon Hanatziv during Rosh Hashana. In their interrogation, they admitted that they had just emerged from a lecture in Um el Fahm given by the inciteful sheikh Raed Salah. The sheikh had filled them with the passionate belief that they had to protect the Al Aqsa Mosque from Jewish vandals. Right after the lecture they went out and murdered Leibovitz. They also expressed remorse for this but it was, of course, too late.
Shai Glick at a coexistence event

Varda Epstein: Elder of Ziyon wrote about a recent achievement of Btsalmo that impacted Israel’s official high school curriculum for cinema. Can you tell us about that, please?
Shai Glick: It was the case in which I was exposed to the fact that whoever dreams about the destruction of Israel in fact teaches this idea, or more accurately, their terrorist propaganda films are taught in school. For me, the most important battle in our generation is the battle against terrorism.
Terror does not begin with the terrorist but with an atmosphere that leads to murder. Therefore, anyone who fans the flames, in my opinion, is the cause of death and terrorism and murder and must be arrested and put away for life. Certainly we should not teach our youth about him, or teach students about his writings or films.
What I did is simple. I turned to the Minister of Education and made him aware of all the writings of that Palestinian that call for our extermination. And he immediately removed the film from the list of educational films to be shown in schools.
I acted in a similar fashion regarding the play about the terrorist Walid Daka who viciously murdered the soldier Moshe Tamam. The play was called “A Parallel Time” and it was to be performed at Al-Midan in Haifa. The play appeared on the list of cultural activities for Israeli children and exposed them to the violent murderer who, under direct orders, killed an Israeli soldier who had been bound and restrained. This is a war crime.
I did the same regarding a play called “The Admission” that was supposed to be performed in Jaffa. I contacted the Minister of Education, Naftali Bennett. The play argues that Israel is guilty of the false “Nakba” the Arab word for “Disaster,” which they use to describe the founding of the State of Israel. Both these plays were removed from the list of cultural events for school pupils.
I actually succeeded in closing Al-Midan Theatre entirely. The place disappeared into the trash bin of history. Jaffa Theatre, unfortunately, is still open in spite of the fact that it serves as a stage for incitement to terror and the boycotting of the Jewish State. The theatre participated in the past in the international Apartheid Week events of the BDS movement and continually hosts events calling for a boycott in conjunction with organizations such as Amnesty International, the Women’s Coalition for Peace, and more.
Demonstrating for the cancellation of the screening of the film, Born in Deir Yassin. The film argues that a massacre was carried out against women and children by Etzel and Lehi soldiers. Because of the pressure Btsalmo brought to bear, the film received no prize and was not entered in the Oscars.

Varda Epstein: Haaretz accuses you of “silencing the left,” and the truth is, they make you sound a bissel meshuga, a little crazy. Is shutting down a poetry reading by Dareen Tatour, for instance, shutting down free speech? Do you regret the article? How would you respond, if you could? (Here’s your chance!)
Shai Glick: As I have already said, incitement and antisemitism are the biggest danger in the world and they hide, today, in a variety of disguises, for example, in films and programs, poems, Facebook, and on YouTube. For that reason, I fight them.
The battlefield today is not within the boundaries we have known in the past, but hidden in plain sight on YouTube and in films. The incitement we find there causes murder, and it is against that, which I fight.
I am proud to censor calls for murder that are framed within poetry, art and culture. In the end, they call for murder, period. In the past few years I have caused dozens of events to be cancelled, events that incite against Israeli soldiers and Israeli citizens. I have had festivals cancelled. I have caused the closure of a variety of venues. And I have made sure that many people will be investigated and imprisoned for incitement and I am proud of that. In my opinion, this is lifesaving. (A partial list of closures I am responsible for includes the Barbur Art Gallery, the Negev Co-Existence Forum, the Acco Festival, Al-Midan Theatre, along with many performances and terror-supporting events.)

Varda Epstein: Btsalmo has been working on pushing forward the demolition of the homes of Rina Shnerb’s murderers. Doesn’t the IDF order the demolition of a terrorist’s house automatically in the case of murder? I know the terrorists’ families always appeal and the courts delay, but usually it goes through, right? (Of course, they let the families take out the fixtures and stuff first and then they only fill a single room—the terrorist’s bedroom—with cement. Then the PA rebuilds. Right? I mean, is it even a deterrent, such demolitions??)
Shai Glick: Terrorists do not wake up one morning to commit murder. There is an entire system behind them that causes them to do so. A large part of this system includes the family members who encourage and support terror along with the sheikhs and other religious leaders.
It is not a secret that many would be terrorists are apprehensive about what will happen to their families after a terror event. When they know that their families will be evicted from their homes, their homes destroyed, and that they will only suffer, the terror attack can often be prevented and lives saved.
Therefore, in spite of the fact that, unfortunately, in the terrorist’s house there are infants who are not guilty of the acts of their fathers, the terrorist’s environment must be destroyed in order to prevent all payment connected with the attack and all potential glorification of the terrorist by the presence of a mourning tent to which masses of people can come, something that can inspire other young people to follow in the footsteps of the terrorist.
There is a reason why terrorists fight to have their houses remain standing.
To this day, there have been hundreds of cases that, because of this fear, the terrorists did not carry out an attack or family members turned the potential terrorist in to the Israeli army before the attack, thus saving lives.
The demolition of a terrorist’s home prevents terror attacks and therefore the equation is simple: demolition of the house equals human rights.
I believe in human rights and because of that I understand that we must totally destroy and punish the terrorist in order that all of us may live! The terrorists must be afraid and deterred and that is the only consideration, the only equation.
Shai in front of the Kfar Saba courthouse where he sued Breaking the Silence for libel

Varda Epstein: Tell us about the Israeli flag-flying issue with the Beit HaGefen Arab-Jewish Center in Haifa. What did Btsalmo do there? Should we be forcing unpatriotic people to be patriotic? Or is this about something else?
Shai Glick: We must remember one simple thing: those who are hurt most in the world by terror are not the Jews and not the Christians but the Muslims. It is simply insane how many Muslims are murdered. The killing has reached the millions in Syria, Yemen, Libya, Nigeria, Iran, Gaza and dozens of other places. Most Muslims are against terror but they have no power to change the situation. Anyone who voices opposition is killed. And unfortunately, most of the human rights organization silence the moderate Muslims. At Btsalmo, we work to strengthen the moderates and understand that victory will only be achieved when the moderates gain the upper hand over the extremists. We are working to integrate the moderates within Israeli society.
The fight to have the Israeli flag flying over Bet Hagefen, an Arab cultural center in Haifa, is based on the simple assertion that the Arabs are part of Israel. Yes, they are part of Israel and we must integrate them and give them the strength to fight the global war against extremism in the world. Because that is the truth: the extremists are not acting in the name of religion but in the name of murder and insanity. They kill their wives and sisters in the context of family honor or whatever they feel at the moment. They are murderers and not religious people. Period.
Lecturing on human right for members of the Film and Television Council

Varda Epstein: Tell us about the Heba Yazbak case. Where are you on that?
Shai Glick: Heba Yazbak is an excellent example of an antisemite in disguise and false human rights. She is a member of the Knesset but in actuality she supports terror, for example the brutal killing of women, children and infants. She does not care about simple people but about killers. And therefore she has to be in prison and not in the Knesset.
Btsalmo represents the families of the victims of the murderer Samir Kuntar, the Hezbollah terrorist who committed a vicious act of murder years ago. Yazbak supports this very murderer and glorifies him. Yes, the same killer of women and children.
And we approached the Attorney General and the Elections Committee in order to have Yazbak’s candidacy cancelled and to have her investigated for criminal charges involving her support of terror. We hope that just as right-wing candidates were denied the right to run because of things they have said that were far less inflammatory than what she has said, that these bodies will deem Yazbak unsuitable to run in the next elections.
We have not yet received an official response but we know that the topic is under discussion at the highest levels and we believe that we will be successful.

Varda Epstein: Btsalmo was working on getting an anti-Israel activist banned from speaking at the site of a former concentration camp. Tell us about that. Also, can you tell us why this is something we need to fight?
Shai Glick: As I have said, the world today is full of disguises. One such disguise is “freedom of expression.” In the name of freedom of expression, Hitler would have had a free hand to incite and call for the Final Solution and to put on exhibitions together with Goebbels, his Propaganda Minister and he would have been protected in the name of freedom of expression in arts and culture. For that reason, I understand that we must fight boycotts, antisemitism, and hate because that is just like incitement to murder and therefore I fight it in every place where it raises its head, in every exhibit of antisemitism and boycott around the world, because that is what will cause the next Holocaust. That is today’s battle and we must understand it and raise the resources needed to fight.
Shai with Tuvia Tenenbom

Varda Epstein: What’s next for Shai Glick?
Shai Glick: My dream is to be like the New Israel Fund, but totally opposite. To found a national and international legal unit that will protect the rights of Jews everywhere, in Israel and the entire world, and that will give strength to moderate Arabs and encourage initiatives on their part and that will raise the voice of human rights around the world.
Unfortunately, that is extremely expensive and would require enormous resources. All the organizations operating opposite to the way Btsalmo anticipates operating, have hundreds of funders and governments, such as the European Union, Norway, Switzerland, Germany and more. There is no government that supports true human rights as Btsalmo understands them and far fewer sources of funding. But I believe that we will succeed and in another ten years the term “human rights” will mean human rights for all people but not for terrorists.
I will make a difference in this world. From Israel will emerge the understanding that human rights is the fight against terror!
That will be a global revolution.
Shai Glick of Btsalmo
UPDATE: Within 12 hours of the publication of this interview, the Jewish Press announced that a Knesset committee had banned Heba Yazbak from running as a candidate in Israel's upcoming election. Another human rights victory for Shai Glick and Btsalmo, who represented Ron Keren, brother of terror victim Danny Haran in the battle to disqualify Yazbak's candidacy.
Read more Judean Rose interviews:

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