Saturday, October 23, 2021

From Ian:

What We Lose When We Lose Thomas Jefferson
The reduction of American history to an unbroken story of racial oppression comes at particular cost to Jews. Because we have been among the greatest beneficiaries of liberal institutions, we are unavoidably targets when those institutions abandon or reject their liberal mission. A widely despised and persecuted people who thrived in America like nowhere else, Jews do not fit into the sharp distinction between oppressor and oppressed that characterized ideological “antiracism.” Therefore, Jewish experiences must either be ignored or reduced to a monolithic conception of white supremacy.

It’s no coincidence that former Council member (now Assemblyman) Charles Barron, who began the campaign to remove the Jefferson statue twenty years ago, is among the most antisemitic figures in city politics. An ally of the New Black Panther Party, Barron has asserted that the “real” Semites are black and accused Israel of “genocide.” Even if he’s not targeting Levy specifically, Barron is an undisguised enemy of the pluralistic patriotism that Jefferson articulated and Levy did so much to promote. Barron doesn’t want the statue moved, “contextualized” or supplemented by other likenesses. He wants it destroyed.

The question for Assemblyman Barron and everyone else who made removal of the statue their cause celèbre is: By destroying the statue, do you mean to attack the man or the symbol? Do you mean to attack his slave-holding, or his striving for a free and democratic republic? Sometimes, it’s hard to be sure.

Jefferson’s far from the first statue to fall, and it won’t be the last. But the plaster and bronze of which they’re composed isn’t the most important thing. What matters is the fate of the ideas in that Declaration in Jefferson’s hand. The ones that Lincoln described as “an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times,” and “a rebuke and a stumbling-block to the very harbingers of re-appearing tyranny and oppression.” That’s what Uriah Levy saw in Jefferson and what we should continue to honor today.
Israel disputes US claim it wasn’t told of plan to outlaw rights groups
An Israeli defense official on Saturday disputed American claims that the United States was not informed of a highly contentious decision by Jerusalem to label six Palestinian rights organizations as terror groups, insisting Washington had been told in advance.

“Officials in the American administration were updated in advance of the intention to make this declaration and they received intelligence information about the matter,” the defense official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

On Friday afternoon, Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced that half a dozen Palestinian civil society groups — including highly prominent ones with significant backing and oversight from the European Union and other international bodies — were being designated as terror organizations, asserting that they worked on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror group.

This list included: Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees; ADDAMEER — Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association; Bisan Center for Research and Development; al-Haq Organization; Defense for Children International — Palestine (DCI-P); and the Union Of Agricultural Work Committees.

“Those organizations were active under the cover of civil society organizations, but in practice belong and constitute an arm of the [PFLP] leadership, the main activity of which is the liberation of Palestine and destruction of Israel,” Gantz’s office said in a statement. According to the Defense Ministry, all six organizations employed senior PFLP members, “including activists involved in terror activity.”

Representatives of the groups and international organizations denied the charges and accused Israel of trying to silence criticism of alleged human rights abuses, with one of the organizations, al-Haq, calling the move “a sinister, unprecedented, and blanket attack on Palestinian human rights defenders and civil society organizations.”

JPost Editorial: Israel must prove blacklisted NGOs funded terrorism - editorial
It is also reminiscent of the trial of Muhammad el-Halabi, a former head of the World Vision NGO who was arrested in 2016 for allegedly assisting Hamas.

Israel said he diverted millions of dollars contributed by the Australian government that were earmarked for humanitarian aid to Hamas. World Vision suspended its operations in Gaza and hired investigators to check the Israeli claims. Australia did the same. After exhaustive research, they both came up with no evidence to back the Israeli claims.

Halabi’s trial has dragged on for years. Something so simple - the Israeli claims that he funneled money to Hamas - should have been easy to prove in court. Why is the trial not over remains a mystery and as Yonah Bob recently wrote in the Post, the case is showing indications of not being a fair trial.

As Bob pointed out, Halabi has been in jail for more than five years and has endured 165 court sessions without any credible evidence brought against him. He has been denied bail and his trial has been declared secret without any credible reason except possibly to hide the fact that the prosecutor is afraid of being exposed for unjustly keeping an innocent man in jail for such a long time.

And this is exactly the problem with Gantz’s announcement on Friday about the NGOs designated as terrorist groups. It is easy to make announcements and declare that an NGO is part of a terrorist enterprise. It is harder to prove that.

This is not to say that these NGOs or Halabi are innocent. It is a call on Israeli authorities to back up what they claim with real evidence. Otherwise, they should not be surprised when the world asks questions.

Friday, October 22, 2021

From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: The baleful consequences of cultural dogmyopia
In Britain, western Europe and America, those who dissent from liberal dogma hostile to fundamental western values, the nation-state or the existence of Israel are intimidated, smeared and cancelled.

Britain, where an epic revolt by the people against liberal universalism delivered Brexit and thus restored the United Kingdom as an independent sovereign nation, is nevertheless run by a political class that continues to refuse even to identify the Islamic holy war being waged against it. Britain therefore cannot defend itself against that attack.

America is well on the way to destroying itself through the hatred of its identity and values with which it has indoctrinated so many of its citizens. The resulting moral and cultural vacuum is being exploited by an alliance between radical Islamists and black, anti-white extremists intent on bringing down America and the west.

Most American Jews, having bought to some extent at least into the intersectional ideologies fuelling this onslaught, are incapable of acknowledging the threat these pose to Jewish life.

In Britain, Jewish community leaders promote the fantasy that if they line up alongside intersectionality’s purported “victims,” the Jews will be afforded protection.

The west is like the apocryphal frog being uncomprehendingly boiled in the pot. In Britain, the pot is being heated very slowly; in France, it has reached boiling point; and in America, it has boiled over with many Jews actually helping turn up the heat.

When the whole of mainstream politics subscribes to self-destructive thinking, it’s inevitable that leaders will emerge who are themselves in some ways extreme and unpalatable but who nevertheless offer the only chance of extinguishing the heat under the pot.

Various thinkers over the years have recognised a conundrum. This is that, if a liberal society finds itself required to use illiberal means to defend its liberal values, it will refuse to do so — and thus inevitably constitutes its own death warrant.

Will this be the case in the west? Given the significant jump in immigration to Israel this year from France and Britain, it seems that an increasing number of diaspora Jews aren’t waiting to find out.

Father of man charged with Amess murder defended attacks on Israel
The father of the man charged with the murder of Tory MP Sir David Amess posted a series of inflammatory tweets about Israel including one in which he defended Palestinian rocket attacks.

Harbi Ali Kullane, the father of Ali Harbi Ali, also responded to the clashes on Temple Mount in 2009 with a warning that Israel did “not know what it is meddling with”.

The posts, which were uncovered by the influential think tank Policy Exchange, have prompted extremism experts to question whether his son may have been motivated to murder the pro-Israel MP by a “grievance culture” against Israel and the West.

In other controversial messages, Mr Kullane, a former diplomat for the Somali government, in 2015 compared the Islamist terror attacks in Paris to the West’s aerial bombing campaign in Syria and posted a tweet in 2017 criticising “the misery inflicted by British colonialism”.

Mr Kullane was a one-time adviser to the former Prime Minister of Somalia, Hassan Ali Khaire, and a director of the then-government’s media and communication department.
Commentary Magazine Podcast: What It Means to Be Courageous
Bari Weiss joins the COMMENTARY podcast to discuss her article in the new issue: “We Got Here Because of Cowardice. We Get Out With Courage.” She outlines the threat posed by wokeness, and how dissenters against this authoritarian dogma can reverse course.
The Tikvah Podcast: Elisha Wiesel on His Father’s Jewish and Zionist Legacy
When Elie Wiesel was fifteen years old, the Nazis murdered his mother and sister and enslaved him and his father in Buchenwald. After the U.S. Army liberated the camp in April 1945, Wiesel went to France, where he studied the humanities and worked as a writer, and then to New York, where he became a professor and an activist for human rights. Wiesel, who died in July 2016, wrote some 60 books, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, and was counselor to presidents, senators, kings, and prime ministers.

Recently, he and his family were honored by the installation of a sculpture of his likeness in the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. The manner of this honoring introduces some particularly vexing Jewish questions, which his son Elisha discussed in a recent Washington Post op-ed. Elie Wiesel was a moral hero, and a particularly Jewish one. His family worried that his memorialization in a church would emphasize the universalist elements of his legacy, and discard particular Jewish elements of his moral persona—including his Jewish observance and his Zionist commitments. Elisha joins Mosaic’s editor Jonathan Silver to think about these questions, his father’s legacy, and more on this week’s podcast.
  • Friday, October 22, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon

See here for previous takes on this term.

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: Israel's post-American strategic challenge
A report this week about the discussions Israel and the US are now holding regarding the Iranian nuclear program was nothing short of an earthquake. Tuesday, Israel Hayom ran a red headline on its front page: "Iran is cozying up to moderate states, and Israel is worried." The story, by military correspondent Yoav Limor, told us two deeply alarming things about the state of American-Israeli coordination on Iran's nuclear program. First, the Americans are not working with Israel to block Iran from becoming a nuclear power. They are working against Israel.

The Americans and Israelis agree that Iran is on the verge of becoming a nuclear breakout state, which can assemble nuclear weapons at will. But whereas they agree on the status of Iran's quest for military nuclear capability, they disagree about what the response to the current state of Iran's nuclear program should be. Israel's position is that the US should take diplomatic and economic action, and at a minimum threaten military action if Iran refuses to reinstate the limitations on its nuclear activities set out in the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, from 2015. The 2015 nuclear deal permitted Iran to enrich limited quantities of uranium to 3.67% enrichment. Iran is currently enriching massive quantities of uranium to 60% enrichment – just a step away from weapons-grade.

US President Joe Biden and his advisors are unwilling to consider placing additional economic sanctions on Iran. Indeed, the administration is turning a blind eye to Iran's export of massive quantities of oil and gas to China and other states, in breach of the sanctions.

Military action, the Americans told their Israeli interlocutors, isn't off the table.

The Americans say they may be willing to consider taking diplomatic action of some form or another. But in exchange, they demand Israeli concessions to the Palestinians.

In short, Limor's article reported that the US has made clear to Israel that it will take no effective action to block Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

The second stunning bit of information in Limor's article is that the Lapid-Bennett government has no idea what to do in the face of America's position. Instead of accepting reality and moving to face Iran without the US, Israel's government is opting to cling ever tighter to Washington.

Limor wrote, "The Israeli effort to reach maximal cooperation with the US is under way, among other reasons, because of the fact that Israel has very few options left."
Poll: Majority of Israelis Believe Joe Biden Worse for Israel than Donald Trump
A narrow majority (53 percent) of Israelis believe the Biden administration is worse for Israel than that of Donald Trump, a new poll found.

Only 35 percent thought the relationship between Israel and the U.S. was good, a dramatic drop from a year ago when 67 percent respondents said it was good.

Thirty-six percent said there was no significant difference between Trump and Biden and 11 percent thought Biden is better for Israel.

Forty-six percent of Israelis view the E.U. as hostile to Israel, and 24 percent view it as an ally.

Thirty-four percent believe the Abraham Accords agreements, signed a year ago between Israel and four Arab countries, are a turning point for Israel’s standing in the Middle East. Thirty-one percent believe Israel’s standing has not changed significantly.
Richard Kemp: Biden's Afghanistan Withdrawal Unleashes a Lethal Terrorist Cocktail
Despite their promises to deny terrorists safe haven, the Taliban will do the opposite. They and Al Qaida are joined at the hip, with both Osama Bin Laden and his successor Ayman Al Zawahiri having sworn unbreakable allegiance, bay'ah, to the leaders of the Taliban.

The Islamic State's Khorosan branch, with several thousand fighters in Afghanistan, will pose a similar threat. Many political leaders in the US and UK claim the Taliban are sworn enemies of the IS, with some even suggesting that we might form an alliance against IS with Taliban terrorists. But this abhorrent proposition is merely an attempt to help limit the political fall-out from their ill-judged actions that facilitated the Taliban's conquest.

Today, all these actors know there is no prospect of further large-scale US intervention in the country, no matter how great their atrocities. The US remains capable of air strikes and even special forces raids against serious threats emanating from Afghanistan, but these require high-grade intelligence which, despite the powerful technical capabilities of the agencies, is extremely difficult to gain now that we have withdrawn all forces.

The prospect of a successful jihadist insurgency in Pakistan, with its nuclear arsenal, has been a long-standing concern for the US, which invested huge intelligence and military resources to help prevent it. Most of this capability was withdrawn with the exit from Afghanistan.

Like Pakistan, China supported the Taliban insurgency for many years. In return, the Taliban have frequently hunted down and killed many of the Uighur leaders — fellow Sunni Muslims — who took refuge in Afghanistan. Desperate for Beijing's funds and political backing, the Taliban can be relied on to do all they can to prevent any export of jihadism into China.

But we can expect no such efforts from Beijing to prevent terrorist actions against the West. On the contrary, as the new cold war intensifies, China is more than capable of using its increasing cooperation with the Taliban to enlist jihadists from Afghanistan as proxies against the US.
Palestinian NGOs declared PFLP terrorist arms by Israeli government
Several Palestinian NGOs, designated as Addameer, Al Haq, Bisan Center, DCI-P, Samidoun and UAWC, were declared by the Justice and Defense Ministries on Friday to be affiliated with the terrorist organization the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

"The security organizations will continue to act and intensify the strikes against terrorism and the terrorist infrastructure everywhere, and by all means,” said Defense Minister Benny Gantz. “I call on the countries of the world and international organizations, to assist in this fight, and to avoid contact with companies and organizations that supply materials to terrorism."

“This appalling and unjust decision is an attack by the Israeli government on the international human rights movement,” Human Rights Watch, which reportedly works closely with many of the affected NGOs, said in a statement. “How the international community responds will be a true test of its resolve to protect human rights defenders. We are proud to work with our Palestinian partners and have been doing so for decades. They represent the best of global civil society. We stand with them in challenging this outrageous decision.”

The Defense Ministry charges that the organizations serve as a network on the world stage working undercover as civil society organizations to support the PFLP and pursue its interests.

The NGOs allegedly serve as a branch of PFLP’s leadership. Members of the PFLP serve as senior officials in the groups, and they have employed field activists who have participated in acts of terrorism.

  • Friday, October 22, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon

Rabbi Yaakov Herzog calls himself the Chief Rabbi of Saudi Arabia. He has been traveling to the kingdom for well over a year now but he became famous in April when Jewish media started covering his intention to represent Judaism to the Saudis and provide services to any Jews traveling there, either in the US Army or on business.

Every time he posts photos or videos of himself in front of various Saudi landmarks, he gets a lot of response. 

On Thursday, he posted a video of him dancing with a Saudi friend. One response was that "Riyadh must be washed with water and dirt after [his] stepping on its land." But another responded to critics of him visiting by saying "America exploded a nuclear bomb on Japan and today they are friends and allies.. In the same way you think, we have to be hostile to France, Italy and Britain because they colonized all our countries."

One said, "You will not be happy, O you who wish to destroy the first of the two Qiblahs and the third of the Two Holy Mosques." 

Arab media also picked up on the videos and photos of Herzog. One theorized that he entered the kingdom with an Emirati passport (he has an American accent and almost certainly used that passport.) 

A video where Herzog blesses the Saudi king and citizens gained a comment that the Saudis arrest people for tweets, why is this rabbi allowed to run around freely?

For another tweet of his, one Arab responds with a video of a Hitler speech dubbed into Arabic that is translated as being explicitly antisemitic. 

Even so, the number of positive reactions is nothing short of amazing, considering that any public support for Jews was unheard of in Saudi Arabia only a few years ago.

  • Friday, October 22, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon
(Not exactly like this)

This week it was revealed that Turkey had arrested 15 people that they claimed were part of a Mossad "spy ring."

Turkish newspaper Sabah today described how one of the supposed spies was recruited - and it appears that he didn't know he was a spy.

According to the news article, [Turkish citizen] M.A.S. had a company that provided consultancy to students coming from abroad to Istanbul. Mossad first contacted him in December 2018 through an agent called A.Z., who reached him through an unknown number on WhatsApp.

He asked M.A.S. for information about his business, claiming that he had Arab-origin customers in Germany whose children wanted to study in Turkey.

The agent aimed thereby to learn how Palestinian students entered universities in Turkey and what kind of opportunities the Turkish government and municipalities provided them with. After a week, the suspect who sent his work to the Mossad official received hundreds of euros through Western Union.

This was the first parcel of money that he was to receive over three years. M.A.S. also agreed to work on a separate file on Palestinian nongovernmental organizations (NGO) in Turkey for Mossad, which he encountered for the first time face-to-face in 2019.

A.Z. told him he has a close friend who wants to help the Palestinian people, with the initials M.C.

This friend was another case officer who told M.A.S he is working in the European Union and could communicate with him through Protonmail.

M.A.S. explained that he received thousands of euros in return for the files and that he once took the money from a market in Istanbul’s Batışehir by showing his ID and receipt.

Mossad also wanted to learn how Palestinians coming to Istanbul Airport during COVID-19 that could not leave were aided.

The two stayed in contact until April 2021, when M.C. asked M.A.S. to meet him in Europe with all of his expenses covered. M.A.S. was sent an invitation letter by a front company called European Student Guidance Center (ESGC) through the Switzerland consulate general in Istanbul.

M.A.S received his visa from Switzerland within the hour, flew to the country and was met by A.Z. at Zurich Airport.

He guessed A.Z. was around 60-65 years old and 1.80 meters (5 feet 9 inches) tall. He was given 500 euros ($580) and was brought to a hotel. He met M.C. at another hotel and was taught in his room how to encrypt Word files on Protonmail. Further contact between the two was made through Protonmail.

M.A.S. elaborated that he went to Zurich once again in August where he met with M.C. and another man called John. After M.A.S. got suspicious that they might be intelligence agents, M.C. told him he could think of them as “an intelligence-like organization with the duty of making research for EU institutions.”

M.A.S. received close to $10,000 over the three years.
Based on this, the Turkish citizen is not a spy. He didn't even suspect that his handlers were spies until a few months ago. 

Every government gathers intelligence, and while the handlers used clandestine means to gather it, "M.A.S" does not appear to have done that. The information he gathered was useful as part of a huge amount of information that intelligence agencies must sift through to find patterns and potential threats. But this is really small potatoes.

Maybe some of the other people arrested were doing more illegal things to gather intelligence, or had access to more sensitive information. But based on this story, it sounds more like Turkey bragging that they managed to "break a Mossad spy ring" than any actual accomplishment.

  • Friday, October 22, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon

JTA reported on Wednesday:

The Washington D.C. branch of a national climate action group turned down a role at a voting rights rally because a “number of Zionist organizations” will be taking part.

“Given our commitment to racial justice, self-governance and indigenous sovereignty, we oppose Zionism and any state that enforces its ideology,” Sunrise DC said in a statement it posted Tuesday on Twitter.

The group named the National Council of Jewish Women, the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs as groups supporting Israel, which Sunrise DC called a “colonial project.”
All three Jewish groups cited by Sunrise DC have long-established records of pro-Israel advocacy but have in recent years devoted much of their focus on domestic issues. The three groups all back the two-state outcome; NCJW and the Reform movement’s RAC have sister groups in Israel that advocate for the rights of minorities and for women.
Reaction was swift from both the Zionist and anti-Zionist sides. One other Sunrise group, based at George Washington University, responded forcefully and succinctly:

Sunrise GW unequivocally condemns the Sunrise DC hub’s statement this week calling for the removal of 3 Jewish organizations from the Declaration for American Democracy Coalition. 
Standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people is morally just and not antisemitic. Singling out explicitly Jewish organizations despite non-Jewish organizations in the coalition holding similar stances on Israel is unquestionably antisemitic and has no place in our movement. 
Our movement is rooted in principles of justice, equity, and anti-oppression. We do not and will not place a litmus test on Jewish students or any students to be a part of our movement at GW. 
But while even another progressive Sunrise group was easily able to identify the antisemitism behind its sister chapter, Jewish liberal organizations - while critical of the statement - refused to say the same.

Americans for Peace Now said that SunriseDC's position  "crosses any line" but didn't use the A word:

“If you look at NCJW, for example, nowhere on their website does it say that they’re a Zionist organization,” said Hadar Susskind, president and CEO of Americans for Peace Now, an organization that advocates for a two-state solution. “This is not boycotting the ZOA [Zionist Organization of America] or AIPAC or even [Americans for Peace Now]. This is boycotting groups because they are Jewish and state a general … support of Israel, which is the position of 90% of the American Jewish community.”

Susskind said such a view “crosses any line.” 

“To say that any group that is in any way supportive of Israel should be excluded from our civic life is unacceptable,” said Susskind. 
The three groups targeted by Sunrise DC also refused to say that the stance was antisemitic:
In separate statements to Jewish Insider, senior leaders at the RAC, NCJW and JCPA expressed commitments to dialogue and coalition-building but did not criticize the Sunrise Movement by name nor call the group’s stance antisemitic. When asked specifically what they thought about the Sunrise Movement statement and its language about Zionism, all three declined to elaborate. 
J-Street likewise refused to point out the antisemitism:
Kevin Rachlin, J Street’s vice president of public affairs, expressed his support for “the critical work of the Sunrise Movement in combating the urgent dangers of climate change.”

But, Rachlin told JI, “we find the statement by the local Sunrise DC Chapter to be saddening, harmful and wrong,” he said. “Seeking to bar liberal pro-Israel and Zionist groups and individuals from progressive coalitions and spaces disrespects and alienates a large portion of the American Jewish community — and does nothing to actually help the Palestinian people, combat occupation or promote peace. Progressive advocates for Palestinian rights and other important causes should seek to engage and share views with liberal Jewish institutions — not treat them with dismissive contempt.”
The only exception listed in the JI article came from the Jewish Democratic Council of America:
This is antisemitism, plain and simple.

Targeting Jewish Americans in is such an open and blatant way is a shameful attempt to bar Jews from participating in civic spaces. We stand with 

We won't stand for such blatant attacks against our community. 
This is modern dhimmitude.

Most (but not all) Jewish progressives are often so frightened of maintaining their status among other liberal groups that they are not willing to call out obvious antisemitism when it happens in their own spaces.  They prioritize being one of the "in crowd" than they do their own Jewishness. 

SunruseGW's unequivocal statement of condemnation towards SunriseDC was stronger that of nearly all liberal Jewish groups. And that says volumes about how secure liberal Jews are in their liberal spaces. 

They know that there is a huge amount of antisemitism on the Left - but they are willing to let it slide rather than admit it and fight it. This cowardly attitude is what helps modern antisemitism grow and fester. They prioritize politics (calling out right-wing antisemitism, real or imagined) rather than defending themselves from the hate from some of their own allies.

The organizations that refused to call out this hate for what it was are doing a disservice to all Jews, liberal or otherwise.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

From Ian:

Climate group refuses to rally with 'Zionist organizations'
The Washington, DC chapter of US climate action group Sunrise Movement is being accused of antisemitism for turning down a role in a voting rights rally taking place this Saturday over the participation of "Zionist organizations."

“Given our commitment to racial justice, self-governance and indigenous sovereignty, we oppose Zionism and any state that enforces its ideology,” Sunrise DC said in a statement it posted Tuesday on Twitter. The group named the National Council of Jewish Women, the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs as groups supporting Israel, which it calls a "colonial project."

The Freedom to Vote Relay and Rally is a bike ride from West Virginia to Washington, DC in support of voting reform legislation in the US Congress. The participants of the ride will be greeted by demonstrators in the nation's capital.

Sunrise DC called for Declaration for American Democracy, one of the main organizers of the rally, to remove the pro-Israel Jewish groups from the coalition it put together.

Sunrise distances itself from, but doesn’t condemn, boycott of Zionist groups
The Sunrise national climate organization said Thursday that it was not involved in the decision by one of its local chapters to pull out of a voting rights rally in Washington due to the participation of several Zionist groups.

However, the Sunrise Movement defended Sunrise DC’s “ability to act independently” and refrained from condemning the local chapter’s decision.

The national movement said it “reject[s] all forms of discrimination, including antisemitism and anti-Palestinian racism.”

It went on to note that it has hundreds of local chapters like Sunrise DC, and that each “has the ability to act independently — whether it’s organizing protests, supporting candidates, or sending out public statements.”

“Sunrise DC made a decision to issue this statement, and we weren’t given the chance to look at it before it became public,” the Sunrise Movement continued.

“As a national movement that supports freedom and dignity for all people, we will always welcome anyone who acts on our principles and chooses to join the fight for collective liberation,” the umbrella group continued, indicating that it believed Sunrise DC’s boycott of Zionist groups was rooted in its principles.

  • Thursday, October 21, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon
  • ,
I came up with this after reading the zillionth hot woke take that the US should fund an Iron Dome for Hamas.

Our weekly column from the humor site PreOccupied Territory.

Check out their Facebook page.

refugeeHaifa, October 24, 1947 - An Arab resident of this mixed-ethnicity city in the north of Palestine feels such a powerful, protective attachment to his place of birth and upbringing that he will soon run away rather than defend it from usurpers, and will instead allow different usurpers to attempt conquest, sources close to the man announced today.

Amr Habash, 22, prepared this week to move out of Haifa in advance of an anticipated offensive by Syrian and Lebanese soldiers and irregular militia troops who will try to push the Jews into the sea or otherwise slaughter them. Habash, who helps run his family's fishing enterprise, has voiced such love for his ancestral homeland that he has never once referred to it as  distinct political entity, and plans to spend however long necessary in areas already under foreign Arab rule until he can return to the city and live under either the same or different foreign Arab rule, depending on how the war goes.

"Amr just loves this place to pieces," acknowledged his uncle Faisal. "I can just tell that his bond with the land is so strong, he would rather skedaddle to Beirut or Damascus than stand and fight the Jews for possession of it. Not everyone feels as he does, even though we can all sense the trouble ahead."

The United Nations General Assembly is set to vote next month on a proposal to divide what remains of the British Mandate of Palestine between two new countries: one Arab state and one Jewish. Experts agree that any such plan stands slim chance of approval by the UN, and even if it clears that hurdle, faces rejection by the Arab states surrounding Palestine, which refuse any sovereign Jewish presence even in that tiny sliver of land. Britain gained control of Palestine in 1917 from the Ottoman Empire, which in turn captured it from the Mameluks in the thirteenth century (the semi-independent kingdom of Egypt controlled it briefly in the nineteenth century), who formed but the latest in a long series of invasions and conquests that included Seljuks, Fatimids, Ummayads, European Crusaders, Byzantines, Romans, and Parthians, among others. The last time the place now called "Palestine" enjoyed sovereign rule occurred in the first century CE, when it was a Jewish vassal state of the Roman Empire. Some Jews remained in the land after Roman suppression of revolts and exile of most Jews, who began to return en masse in the nineteenth century; the British Mandate, granted under the League of Nations, will expire in May of next year.

That return has sparked resistance from the non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine, who refer to it as "southern Syria." Their formidable attachment to the land has prompted talk of leaving to make space for the armies of Lebanon, Transjordan, Syria, and Egypt to sweep in and get rid of those uppity Jews, who should know better than to assert anything above second-class status under Islamic rule. In the unlikely event of an Arab defeat, the hordes of voluntary refugees plan to spend generation after generation as stateless political tools of the same powers that promised to rescue them from the threat of  Jewish state even as everyone knew none of those powers intended to relinquish conquered territory to the people they were "helping."

From Ian:

Amb. Alan Baker: US Consulate in Jerusalem: The Bottom Line
The May 2018 proclamation by the U.S. formally recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel established a new bilateral legal situation that replaced the former policy of non-recognition, whereby the U.S. acknowledged the application of Israeli law in Jerusalem. The 2018 proclamation rendered the existence of an independent U.S. consulate in Jerusalem serving the Palestinian administration as redundant and incompatible with official U.S. policy.

The mutually accepted consular relationship between Israel and the U.S. is based on the 1963 Vienna Convention of Consular Relations. Article 4 of this convention determines that consular posts may only be established in the territory of the receiving state with that state's consent. Similarly, Articles 7 and 8 of the convention require that the exercise of consular functions vis-a-vis or on behalf of another state requires specific approval.

Opening a U.S. consulate in Jerusalem to serve the Palestinians, without Israel's prior consent and sanction, would be a flagrant breach of Article 4 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

In Article IX (5) of the 1995 Israel-PLO Interim Agreement (Oslo 2), the parties agreed that the Palestinian Authority will not have powers and responsibilities in the sphere of foreign relations. The same article provides for the possible establishment of "representative offices" by foreign states in the area under the control of the Palestinian Authority and would not require Israel's consent.

Only in this manner could the U.S. establish a mission to provide services to the Palestinian Authority and its population that would be compatible with U.S. policy, with American international law commitments, and that would not undermine U.S. commitments and proclamations.
US, Israel to Form Team to Discuss Palestinian Consulate
The United States and Israel are planning to form a team that will hold discreet negotiations on the reopening of the US Consulate in Jerusalem serving Palestinians, Israeli officials told Axios reporter Barak Ravid.

The diplomatic mission was the US government’s de facto representative office to the Palestinian Authority before being shut down by the administration of former president Donald Trump in March 2019.

The consulate was downgraded to the Palestinian Affairs Unit and merged with the US Embassy in Jerusalem that opened in May of 2018 after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Trump acted under the bipartisan Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 requiring the US to move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognize the city as Israel’s capital. The law was waived by previous presidents.

The current Israeli government opposes the reopening of the Palestinian consulate, citing the fragile nature of the diverse coalition cobbled together that succeeded in ousting former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu from power after 12 years in office.

However, US President Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett during a recent White House visit that his administration is determined to reopen the the consulate.
Morton Klein: Israel can't submit to Biden pressure on consulate, settlements - opinion
Freezes on Jewish building in Judea/Samaria and Jerusalem would be especially detrimental now. Aliyah is way up. Jews face dramatically increasing worldwide antisemitism. Thousands are finally realizing the 2,000-year-old dream to return to the Jewish homeland. In 2020, over 20,000 Jews moved to Israel from 70 foreign countries. Aliyah in 2021 is record-breaking. More building is needed to house Jews returning home – not less.

Pressuring Israel to freeze building also violates Israel’s sovereign right to Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem under binding international law (including the Mandate, San Remo Resolution, Anglo-American treaty and UN Charter). In 2019, the US acknowledged that Jewish communities in Judea/Samaria are legal. Jews moreover have the moral and historic right to these areas. Jewish kingdoms reigned here for hundreds of years. Jews have lived here for thousands of years.

Judea/Samaria is also a haven for avoiding Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza, and Hezbollah rocket attacks from Lebanon. The “Protectors of Israel” (Bithonistim) movement of over 2,400 Israeli security and military professionals explains that Israeli sovereignty in Judea/Samaria is essential for securing Israel’s defense.

In addition, building in the E1 corridor connecting Jerusalem with Jerusalem suburb Ma’aleh Adumim would help stop Arab attacks on Jews traveling back and forth to their homes.

The Biden administration’s demands reflect the will of Biden’s slew of anti-Israel appointees: Reema Dodin justified and encouraged suicide bombings against Jews, organized anti-Israel rallies, and spread anti-Israel blood libels; Samantha Power enabled the passage of extreme anti-Israel UN Security Council Resolution 2334, and called for the US to give the PA terrorist regime a “protection force” against Israel; Deputy Assistant Secretary for Israeli-Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr wrote he “was inspired by the Palestinian intifada” (the terrorist war in which Arab terrorists murdered or maimed 10,000 Jews); National Security Council official Maher Bitar supports BDS and ran a seminar on how to demonize Israel – to name just a few.

Concerningly, Bennett appears to be at least partly appeasing Biden’s demands, including by offering to limit building in Judea/Samaria to “natural growth” and by delaying building approval meetings – a de facto freeze.
David Singer: European Union and Germany plot to see Jerusalem divided
The decision by the European Union (EU) and Germany to launch the East Jerusalem Tourism Development Programme is in reality a blatant attempt by them to see Jerusalem divided by creating political facts on the ground under the guise of helping promote tourism in East Jerusalem.

The German representative - Oliver Owcza – was quite happy to create this tourism smokescreen:

“As Germans and Europeans we value tourism that is of quality and locally owned. We therefore are confident this project will connect the tourism community and support new concepts and services. As it will contribute to more and better job and career opportunities”

European Union Representative - Sven Kühn Von Burgsdorff – however - did not seek to hide the consortium’s real objective - firing these bullets:
‘’Palestinians in East Jerusalem are facing daily political, economic, and social challenges. Tourism has always been one of the main income-generating activities in the city and helped maintaining the Palestinian presence and identity of the city.

"Our joint work as Europeans reflects once again the clear and united position of the EU and its Member States with regard to East Jerusalem. For us, East Jerusalem is part of the occupied Palestinian territory and the status of Jerusalem as the future capital for the two states should always be respected and protected.’’

Words do have meaning.

“Palestinians in East Jerusalem”, “Palestinian territory” and “maintaining the Palestinian presence and identity of the city” excludes any rights Jews, non-Arab Christians and non-Arab Moslems might have in East Jerusalem - according to the self-created definition of “Palestinians” in Clause 6 of the 1964 Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Charter:
“The Palestinians are those Arab citizens who were living normally in Palestine up to 1947, whether they remained or were expelled. Every child who was born to a Palestinian parent after this date whether in Palestine or outside is a Palestinian.”
  • Thursday, October 21, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon
On Tuesday, Israeli doctors performed a major 8-hour surgery to remove a tumor from the lung of a murderer.

Here's how Palestinian media covered the story:
Today, Thursday, the lawyer of the Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners Affairs Authority, Karim Ajwa, said that the doctors of the Israeli Barzilai Hospital performed a surgery for the prisoner Nasser Abu Hamid the day before yesterday, to remove a tumor from the left lung, and cut 10 cm from it due to damage to it. 

Ajwa added, in a press statement, that the operation of the captive Abu Hamid took more than 8 hours, and began at half past seven in the morning last Tuesday and ended after three thirty in the afternoon, by making a small hole in the beginning in the left side of the chest, and then a larger hole in order to remove the damaged part of the lung, and its surroundings, and the mass was sent to the laboratory for examination and knowledge of its nature. 

He stressed that Abu Hamid suffers from aches and pains at the site of the operation, and from difficulty and shortness of breath, as an industrial tube was placed to help him breathe, pointing out that he is expected to stay in the hospital between one week to ten days, and that his medical condition still needs close follow-up and ongoing care.

The commission confirmed that what Abu Hamid is subjected to is part of the systematic policy of medical negligence, which hundreds of sick prisoners suffer from.
Israeli doctors just saved the life of this terrorist at the expense of the Israeli taxpayer, and Palestinians are calling it medical neglect because he still has pain at the site of the incision a day after a major surgery.

Nasser Abu Hamid isn't a "political prisoner." He was a commander in Fatah's military wing the
Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades in Ramallah and was convicted of killing seven Israeli civilians and 12
attempted murders. He provided logistics and weapons for the murders of Gad Rejwan in Atarot, Yosef Habi, Eli Dahan and Salim Barakat at a restaurant in Tel Aviv, Binyamin and Talia Kahane in a shooting attack on their car near Ofra, and Eliyahu Cohen on Road No. 443 near Giv'at Ze'ev.

Not only that, but Hamid is part of a celebrated terror family. His five brothers were convicted for killing another 11 Israeli civilians, and four of them are in prison with him. His mother is considered a hero to Palestinians for giving birth to so many murderers and has been honored by Palestinian president Abbas. 

Here are the brothers with their parents during a prison visit a few years ago. Their victims can no longer smile, but these terrorists are having a wonderful time.

If anyone deserves to die a painful death, it is Nasser Abu Hamid. Yet Israel saved his life - despite his murders, despite the fact that Israel is being accused of medical negligence, despite the fact that he is a sickening piece of subhuman garbage.

  • Thursday, October 21, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon

Palestinian media are reporting on an apparent audit done on the Palestinian Authority budget by an anti-corruption commission.

It is unclear what the actual source of the findings are, it translates as the "Global Anti-Corruption Code" which doesn't sound like the official Palestinian body to investigate corruption, the "Palestine Anti-Corruption Commission."

Whoever they are, the findings are worth looking at. They are consistent with previously published information.

The commission said:

Corruption in the Palestinian Authority is deeply entrenched. Just to illustrate by a few examples: 

Between 2008 and 2012 alone, more than $2.3 billion in development aid funds provided by the European Union to the Palestinian Authority were misappropriated.

In 2017, the PA spent huge sums on shell companies and projects, including a non-existent airline, and instead of developing welfare programs to distribute social services or development aid funds to Palestinians, the PA allocates funds to pay salaries to security officers and government officials.

Senior PA officials establish foundations, non-governmental bodies, and shell companies to attract additional funds from aid programs, yet donors have mostly turned a blind eye to the PA's blatant corruption and mismanagement of development funds.

For example, even when investigators reported that PA officials embezzled EU aid funds, the EU did not stop providing assistance. Thus, despite providing more than $15 billion in development aid to the Palestinians over the past 30 years, nothing has changed on the issue of reducing poverty or delivering sustainable improvements in the quality of life for Palestinians.

It is not just that PA corruption undermines aid effectiveness. Perhaps the biggest problem is that the flow of development aid contributes to and supports the PA's culture of widespread corruption. And the more funding the PA can receive, the more powerful it becomes. It has increased its capacity to embezzle funds, extortion and bribery, and worse, the consequences of corruption are not just economic: in Palestine, corruption contributes to violence against Palestinians.

The only way out of this cycle is for donors to call for the cessation of unrestricted development aid to Palestinian government institutions, which have proven time and time again to be too weak and who treat aid as an opportunity for corruption.

Donors, including the United States and the European Union, should set a timetable for the expiry of existing aid packages and should make clear that no further aid will be provided until the Palestinian Authority provides strong evidence of a reduction in corruption and assurances that the development aid funds they have received is used in development projects and its objectives.

Some may be concerned that cutting direct development aid to the Palestinian Authority will lead to its collapse, and thus create a vacuum that Hamas may exploit, but whoever claims this ignores the bigger picture, that the corruption rooted in the Authority is what enabled Hamas from gaining power in the first place.

More than empowering corrupt institutions, the continued flow of unrestricted funds to the PA will do more than support and perpetuate the PA’s systemic corruption.
Arab nations have curtailed their monetary support of the PA partially because of corruption. Sweden, one of the most staunch national supporters of the Palestinian Authority, has warned that they might do the same. 

  • Thursday, October 21, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon

Every once in a while, the Palestinian media still manages to shock with how utterly immoral it is.

During the May conflict, one of the Israeli victims was 5-year old Ido Avigal, who lived in Sderot and who was in a safe room that suffered a direct hit.

Israeli media is now reporting that the Avigal family has decided to move away from Sderot  to live in a moshav near Kiryat Malachi.  His mother wrote a letter to her late child about the move, and how the family has kept all of his toys.

The disgusting site Palestine Today is bragging about the Avigal family move.

The Islamic Jihad-linked website says that "the family of settler Ido Avigal, who was killed by shrapnel from the resistance's rockets in the "Sword of Jerusalem" battle, will flee Thursday from the Sderot settlement adjacent to the Gaza Strip."

The typically lying site says "In the first moments of the battle, the resistance managed to target a military enclave on the borders of the Gaza Strip, which led to the injury and killing of the soldiers in it. "

The five year old Ido is considered one of the "soldiers" in the Sderot "settlement."

In the end, the bragging betrays the most pathetic thing about Palestinians as reported in their own media. They act like toddlers who throw tantrums, screaming to be noticed. When they get any attention whatsoever, they are happy. They must spin the fact that an Israeli family whose child they killed is moving into a narrative where they forced a Zionist family to flee from their might - of killing a five year old. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

From Ian:

Meir Y. Soloveichik: Hamilton, Barnard, and the Ominous Decree of 2021
In September, a bureaucrat at Barnard College, the sister institution of Columbia University, declared the millennia-old religious requirements of Judaism null and void. To understand the exquisite irony of her announcement, we must first review the origins of this academic institution.

After the American Revolution, a New Yorker by the name of Alexander Hamilton returned to the city. As an alumnus of the formerly royalist institution called Kings College, Hamilton oversaw its transformation into Columbia. As a sign of its embrace of equality, Hamilton installed on Columbia’s Board of Regents the spiritual leader of New York’s Jewish community, Gershom Mendes Seixas. The historian Andrew Porwancher describes in his fascinating new book about Hamilton how the Founding Father built his legal career in New York representing the members of Seixas’s congregation at a time when others might have been reluctant to do so. Considering the quotas that were yet to come at America’s elite schools, Hamilton’s embrace of Jews at Columbia was remarkable: “In a young country caught between egalitarian promises and enduring prejudices, Hamilton’s reforms at his alma mater demonstrate his commitment to the revolutionary ideal of equality,” Porwancher writes in The Jewish World of Alexander Hamilton.

The installation of Seixas at Columbia went hand in hand with a flourishing of fascination in the Hebrew Bible at the school and in America. The Columbia University seal featured the Tetragrammaton, the sacred biblical name of God, written in Hebrew letters, emitting rays of light, expressing that it was from Scripture that true enlightenment could be found. The creation of the Hebraic seal set the stage for a Hebrew address at commencement, delivered by a Jewish student and composed by Seixas.

Columbia’s beginnings reflected the bond between America and the Hebrew Bible and part of why the nascent nation was so welcoming to Jews. Thus, George Washington wrote to America’s Jews: “May the same wonder-working Deity, who long since delivering the Hebrews from their Egyptian Oppressors planted them in the promised land—whose providential agency has lately been conspicuous in establishing these United States as an independent nation—still continue to water them with the dews of Heaven and to make the inhabitants of every denomination participate in the temporal and spiritual blessings of that people whose God is Jehovah.”
David Collier: The Guardian is actively trying to undermine Israel – the Nimbus story
Nimbus is a $1.2 billion dollar project recently awarded to Google and Amazon. The Nimbus contract is about supplying cloud services to the Israeli government. The anti-Israel boycott movement, BDS, is fully aware that the entire tech industry is well outside of its reach. Israel is a world titan of tech and innovation and every single tech monster on the planet wants a piece of the pie. More than 250 non-Israeli companies have even set up R&D centres inside Israel. BDS may be able to persuade Ben and Jerries to do something stupid – mainly because an anti-Zionist extremist is currently its CEO. It can even dupe Sally Rooney into making a similar move – mainly because Ireland is neck deep in antisemitism anyway – but BDS knows – it knows – that Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Intel, IBM and co – are all firmly in Israel’s camp.

Which is why what happened with Project Nimbus and the Guardian cannot be put down to an editorial mistake.

The Guardian’s Nimbus propaganda gambit.
Following the announcement of the Nimbus contract in May, the words ‘Israel’ and ‘Nimbus’ do not appear together anywhere of note on social media until 12th October 2021. What eventually brought this contract back to everyone’s attention was an op-ed letter printed in the Guardian newspaper – claiming to be from ‘hundreds’ of Amazon and Google workers, calling on their employer to break their strong ties with Israel:

The story was bogus
As we now know, there is nothing ‘grassroots’ about the letter that the Guardian published – nor any newsworthy substance to it. Instead it was an astroturf propaganda stunt by the anti-Zionist extremists of ‘JVP’ and the just-as-toxic ‘MPower Change’ – Linda Sarsour’s group. Here is the timeline of the set-up:
The website was created in August. Yet the campaign and hashtag only appeared in mid-October. Only three workers, all known activists put their names to the campaign. One was a known Jewish anti-Zionist extremist who has previously called on the international community to ‘intervene’ – even in places such as Ramla, Lod and Haifa! Another known activst, Ariel Koren – is linked to JVP, one of the groups behind the stunt. The third seems to be a raging antisemite:
That’s it – three workers – out of over a million. Hardly newsworthy. And as the Israel Advocacy Movement’s video correctly points out – how is it possible that so many toxic BDS organisations such as the PSC in the UK – were ready to sign a letter – that had only just been formulated? The entire episode was clearly a coordinated propaganda stunt. I am sure they will now get a few antisemites to sign the well-publicised letter – and then pretend they had the names all along.
WaPo: The BDS movement shows its hypocrisy by boycotting Israel but not China
There is a telling disconnect in the way that Israel is perceived by Arab countries and by Western leftists. The Arab states have increasingly accepted Israel’s legitimacy and are doing business with it. The leftists increasingly deny Israel’s legitimacy and refuse to do business with it.

Last week in Washington, Secretary of State Antony Blinken hosted the foreign ministers of Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to build on the foundations of the Abraham Accords concluded under the Trump administration. Last year the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco joined Jordan and Egypt in establishing diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. Israelis and Emiratis can now travel to each other’s countries without a visa, and more than 250,000 Israelis have visited UAE in the past year. Bilateral trade between the two countries has already hit $675 million and is projected to rapidly grow.

Yet while the Arab world is increasingly welcoming Israel, more Western progressives shun it. Last week the Irish novelist Sally Rooney, who has endorsed the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, announced that she would not allow an Israeli publishing house to release her latest novel. This comes after nine House members — eight far-left Democrats and a far-right Republican — voted against funding Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system. (Two other progressives, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), voted “present.”) During the debate Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) described Israel as an “apartheid regime.” And that, in turn, comes after Ben & Jerry’s announced that it would stop selling its ice cream in the West Bank, because to do so is “inconsistent with our values.”

The case against Israel was buttressed by an April report from Human Rights Watch accusing it of committing “crimes against humanity,” including “apartheid and persecution.” Palestinian Israelis do face discrimination (as do Muslims in Europe), but nothing like the formal system of oppression in apartheid South Africa, whose “pass laws” dictated where Black people could live and work. Indeed, 1.9 million Arabs living in Israel are able to exercise political rights denied to the citizens of almost all Arab states. Arabs sit in the Knesset and on the Israeli Supreme Court, and they are part of the governing coalition. Overall, Israel is the freest state in the entire region — the only place in the Middle East where tens of thousands of people can march for LGBTQ pride.

Thomas Hardy was definitely not Jewish. But Hardy knew there was no such thing as the “West Bank.” And he knew that Jerusalem belonged to the Jews.

Hardy’s family couldn’t afford to send him to university, so his formal education ended at the age of 16 when he was apprenticed to a local architect. But for all that, Hardy knew Latin, and appeared to have a nodding acquaintance with other languages, including a smattering of Hebrew (more on this later). Like other Victorian writers, Hardy sprinkled his more than 900 poems, short stories, and plays with quotes from ecclesiastical works and the classics, and was well-acquainted with solar mythology.

Hardy was an autodidact. When not at work, he read, and learned how to write by writing. In my own efforts to self-educate, I have been known to raid the classics shelf in our local library, reading things the rest of my peers have read long ago, in school. Which is how I came to read Jude the Obscure. When I mentioned the book to friends, they said it was the one Hardy book they truly disliked. But I didn’t know the book from a hole in the wall. I only knew that it was by Thomas Hardy, and as such, was a classic. That meant I was going to read it.

Thomas Hardy, painting by William Strang

Hardy, like Jane Austen before him, was a social critic. He rebelled against entrenched beliefs that put constraints on people and made them miserable. Jude the Obscure, published in 1895, for example, caused a ruckus for its controversial take on the institution of marriage.

Hardy’s wife Emma was afraid people would think the book was autobiographical. Booksellers bagged it in brown paper, and Walsham How, the Bishop of Wakefield is said to have burned his copy of the book. Adding a postscript to the Jude in 1912, Hardy made reference to the last. "After these [hostile] verdicts from the press its next misfortune was to be burnt by a bishop–probably in his despair at not being able to burn me.”

The central figure of Jude the Obscure, is Jude Fawley, a working class stonemason who yearns to be educated. He dreams of going to the fictional town of Christminster (modeled after Oxford), where he hopes to enter the halls of academe. Alas, (SPOILER ALERT) poverty and an unhappy marriage followed by a great love that cannot be sanctioned by society, all combine to doom Jude to, well, obscurity. My favorite line in the book relates to the talk surrounding Jude’s fake-out attempt to sanitize, at least for his neighbors’ consumption, his unorthodox relationship with Sue Bridehead, “A living mystery was not much less interesting than a dead scandal.”

Jude's ambition was to go to Christminster, modeled after Oxford. 

I love encountering gems like that writerly phrase, which is why I read the classics. But reading the classics can also be disconcerting, in particular if one is Jewish. I am familiar enough with Victorian literature to know that it is infested with antisemitism—a reflection of the times. Knowing this, I am not sure why manifestations of antisemitism in the classics continue to distress me or why I am not yet inured.

I suppose it is about feeling an affinity with a certain writer. You want and expect the writer to think harder about things and not just parrot the attitudes of his peers. You want him to scorn xenophobia, to have a higher sensibility: a calling to truth and goodness. When instead, a writer proves to have no better norms than the society he keeps, it is disheartening.

For this reason I was unsurprised but saddened to come across a reference to a “wicked Jew” only 18 pages into Hardy’s Jude, when as a young boy, the main character tries to see Christminster--the object of his academic dreams--from afar:

People said that, if you prayed, things sometimes came to you, even though they sometimes did not. He had read in a tract that a man who had begun to build a church, and had no money to finish it, knelt down and prayed, and the money came in by the next post. Another man tried the same experiment, and the money did not come; but he found afterwards that the breeches he knelt in were made by a wicked Jew. This was not discouraging, and turning on the ladder Jude knelt on the third rung, where, resting against those above it, he prayed that the mist might rise.

This was so disappointing! Was Hardy yet another literary antisemite? But after my initial shock at the “wicked Jew” reference, I reread the passage with more care. This time I understood that Hardy did not share the antisemitic attitudes of his peers. “This was not discouraging” was the key phrase here. 

Hardy’s character Jude was not poisoned by the silly lies people feed each other from the well of their base prejudices. Jude didn’t believe such stories and would be neither deterred nor diverted by them. Because his creator, Hardy, did not believe these lies.

This was Hardy satirizing the antisemitic attitudes of the day. He was poking fun at ignorant people who believed stupid tropes about Jews. Hardy also poked fun at Christianity. He had no compunction about calling things as he saw them, an uncommon expression of bravery for his time.

In Jude the Obscure, Hardy affirms the Jewish connection to Jerusalem when he details a trip by schoolchildren to see a model of the holy city. “It happened that the children were to be taken to Christminster to see an itinerant model of Jerusalem, to which schools were admitted at a penny a head in the interests of education.”

After walking around the model a few times, the pupils were bored. Realizing that this was the case, their school mistress Sue Bridehead commented, “I fancy we have had enough of Jerusalem,” she said, “considering we are not descended from Jews.”

Jerusalem, it was clear to Hardy, was Jewish indigenous territory. The Jews--and not Christians--were the inheritors of the Holy City. And in 1895, at least, there was no such thing as the West Bank. Places were apparently still known by their actual geographic designations:

“[They] expressed their thoughts so strongly to the meeting that a blackboard was split, three panes of the school-windows were broken, an inkbottle was spilled over a town-councillor’s shirt-front, [and] a church-warden was dealt such a topper with the map of Palestine that his head went right through Samaria . . .”

Samaria! How do you like them apples? No "West Bank." No "Occupied Palestinian Territory," but Samaria: Jewish indigenous territory.

At another point in the book, Hardy appears to highlight Christian hypocrisy. Jude is called upon to repair a stone ornament in a church in his capacity as a stone mason. The ornament is a rendering of the tablets of the Ten Commandments, a symbol of law and order. “The tables of the Jewish law towered sternly over the utensils of Christian grace, as the chief ornament of the chancel end, in the fine dry style of the last century.”

Jude enlists Sue to help him with the lettering, her special talent. But the job doesn’t last. Parishioners soon discover that Jude and Sue are living together in sin, and are shocked to find the two working on the sternly towering tablets of the law. The stone mason and his common law wife are asked to leave.

Christian tradition rejects Judaism as a stern religion of laws.* But here we have Christians offended by the idea that an unmarried couple living together in sin should make repairs to Jewish tablets of law in a church. “So much for the utensils of ‘Christian grace,’” Hardy seems to comment.

Near the end of the book, I was charmed by a reference to the English translation of the love interest’s full first name, “Susanna,” derived from the Hebrew "Shoshanna."

“She had never in her life looked so much like the lily her name connoted as she did in that pallid morning light.”

Many Jewish girls with the name “Shoshanna” are called so after a grandmother Rose or Raizel, on the assumption that “Shoshanna” means “rose.” But actually, “Shoshanna” is a lily. (“Varda,” on the other hand, comes from the actual word for rose, “Vered.” And yes, I am named after my great grandmother, Raizel—my parents didn’t like the name “Shoshanna” so they asked the rabbi to suggest a different name.)

Not only did Thomas Hardy understand that Jerusalem belonged to the Jews, and that there was no such thing as a “West Bank,” but as it turns out, he was a Zionist. From an essay on Hardy, Zionism, and Providential History[1]:

Hardy's  . . . interest in the Jews as the "People of the Book" was deep-rooted. His notebooks, for example, contain an 1876 review of J.P.N. Lan's The Principles of Hebrew Grammar, dealing with word-play in the Old Testament and the relationship between written script and speech, and providing him with a model of continuity in contrast with the decline of dialect he saw everywhere in Dorset. . .

We know something of Hardy's attitude to Zionism because in the Life, he includes a letter of support, written November 1905, to Israel Zangwill (whom Hardy knew well enough to be invited to his wedding in 1903). This is one of the rare occasions on which Hardy abandoned his resolution not to be allied to any political cause. . .

[Hardy saw] the attractions of the East African scheme as "a good practical idea, and . . . possibly all the better for having no retrospective sentiment about it." But he adds that it is precisely the "retrospective sentiment" attached to the idea of a return to the Palestine which would attract him if he were a Jew, "like unto them that dream" --as one of you said in a lyric which is among the finest in any tongue."

When Thomas Hardy died in 1928, there was a bit of a squabble over how he was to be buried. Hardy had asked for his body to be buried in the same grave as his first wife Emma at Stinsford parish church. But his executor, Sir Sydney Carlyle Cockerell, wanted him interred in the Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey. At last, a compromise was reached. The author’s heart was buried with his Emma, but his ashes were interred in Poets’ Corner.

*There are numerous examples of this in the gospel. For instance: “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace,” and, “To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law.”

[1] ARMSTRONG, T. (1999). HARDY, ZIONISM AND PROVIDENTIAL HISTORY. The Thomas Hardy Journal, 15(3), 73–79.


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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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