Category Archives: Anti-Semitism

Malign Ministers

It’s an image to warm the deepest cockles of any peace-loving heart: A Gaza in peace with Israel, conducting commerce with her, with both countries exchanging tourists and economically prospering as a result. Indeed, by all logic and reason, Gazans should recognize that Hamas’ rule over the territory has brought them nothing but grief, death and destruction.

What chills those cockles, though, is that we’ve seen this play before. In 2005, 21 Israeli settlements in Gaza were unilaterally dismantled and the strip was rendered Judenrein. With the Gazan populace’s approval, Hamas quickly took charge and, well, the rest is tragic history. 

Today, six months since the merchants of murder demonstrated the depth of their hatred and barbarism, Gaza’s infrastructure has been destroyed. Hospitals (aka military arsenals), schools (aka missile bases) and countless homes (some of which were just homes). Roads, sewage systems and the electrical grid – are in ruins. 

Whether the unprecedented death, destruction and displacement Hamas has brought upon Gazan civilians has convinced them that supporting evil doesn’t pay can’t be known at this time.

But, embracing hope, the U.S. has called for a revitalized Palestinian Authority to administer postwar Gaza ahead of eventual statehood.

The P.A.? Please.

In Mahmoud Abbas’ kingdom of corruption in Yehudah and Shomron, government jobs  are doled out to supporters; international aid enriches officials; basic services are spotty; elections haven’t been held for nearly twenty years. 

Mr. Abbas, of course, was elated by the U.S. endorsement of even a “reconstituted” Palestinian Authority. And, in March, he announced the formation of a new cabinet, to demonstrate his readiness to step up to the reconstruction plate.  

Tapped for prime minister is Mohammad Mustafa, a longtime Abbas adviser. He pledged to form a technocratic government and create an independent trust fund to help rebuild Gaza. 

The U.S. National Security Council welcomed the development, contending that “a reformed Palestinian Authority is essential to delivering results for the Palestinian people and establishing the conditions for stability in both the West Bank and Gaza.”

The key word there is “reformed.”

The signs are hardly encouraging. According to Palestinian Media Watch, the new Palestinian Authority’s minister of women’s affairs, Muna Al-Khalili, offered praise in 2018, for Dalal Mughrabi at an event honoring the terrorist, who in 1978 led a group that hijacked a bus and murdered more than three dozen riders, including 12 children. “A quality resistance operation,” Al-Khalili gushed, proclaiming that the attack “proved that Palestinian women are capable of carrying out the most difficult missions.” The most heinous ones, at least.

And, mere weeks after the Shemini Atzeres massacre, Ms. Al-Khalili hailed the “right to resist the occupation” until Palestinians achieve “self-determination, freedom, independence in its sovereign state whose capital is Jerusalem…” 

An equally disturbing member of the “revitalized Palestinian Authority” is its minister of religious affairs, Muhammad Mustafa Najem. He has called Jews “apes and pigs” who are full of “conceit, pride, arrogance, rioting, disloyalty, and treachery.” He sermonized that Muslims should “afflict the Jews with the worst torment.”

No, neither the old P.A. nor its “new and improved” version – as a bard once put it, “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” – is a path forward for Gaza. Any respectable government there will have to be something truly novel, an administration whose focus is on the wellbeing of its citizens, not on murdering citizens of a neighbor.

Could that happen? 

The latest poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, on March 20, showed that Gazans’ support for continued Hamas control over the Gaza Strip showed a 14-point rise over the prior three months to more than 50%.

If that reflects Gazans’ true feelings, no sane, responsible government will emerge in the territory. The only grounds for hope are the many reports of Gazans who quietly admit that they hate Hamas but are afraid to speak up. 

Their fear is understandable. Hamas has warned Gazans that anyone seeking to undermine its administration of  the territory will be treated as a collaborator – which, of course, means execution. 

Are there enough Gazans who prefer peace to endless bloodshed and who will vote that preference in some future election? 

I’m not taking bets.

(c) 2024 Ami Magazine

Vilified… Once Again

Ours are times when it isn’t hard to imagine oneself as a Jew in Mitzrayim –  at least according to the way two commentaries understand a word in Devarim.

The word is in one of the pesukim comprising the declaration to be made by those bringing bikurim, the firstfruits of the season, to the Beis Hamikdash. It is, famously, a declaration that the Haggadah expands upon. The word is vayarei’u, often translated as “they [the Mitzri’yim] treated us in an evil way” (26:6).

Abarbanel and the Netziv, however, see the syntax of the word as implying something subtly but decidedly different. They read it as meaning “they ‘eviled’ us” – in other words, they portrayed the descendants of Yaakov as evil. As we would say in English, they vilified us.

Could there be a better way to describe so much of the world’s attitude toward Jews today? To be sure, there are always haters who, as is their wont, hate, for any of an assortment of “reasons” or with no attempt at “justification” at all; that’s nothing new. 

But, as a result of civilian casualties in Gaza – unavoidable deaths and injuries like those that have been part of every war in history – Israel has been vilified to an unprecedented extent, not only by the usual suspects but in broad international circles and media. And, tellingly, all Jews – as Jews, simply for being Jews, our opinions unknown and of no concern to the venomous vilifiers – are targeted as well. 

Attacks on Jews, physical and verbal, abound across the globe. The despicable chants of “Burn the Jews!” and displays of Nazi symbols at “pro-Palestinian” rallies – a British bobby was recently recorded dismissing a distraught Jewish woman’s complaint about swastika flags at a demonstration by saying they needed to be “taken into context” – is evidence enough of how easily empty-headed people can, under the self-righteous guise of what they proffer as principled political positions slide into… vilification of Jews.

And so it’s no great challenge this year to put ourselves in the places of our vilified ancestors in Mitzrayim. The Haggadah’s mandate that we endeavor to see ourselves as if we, too, were redeemed from Mitzrayim logically includes imagining ourselves in the state that our forebears endured before they went free. After all, an appreciation of redemption must include what it has freed one from.

Although we refer to the splitting of the Red Sea as kri’as Yam Suf,  a “tearing” of the waters, that word is not used by the Torah. The Torah’s word for the parting of the waters is vayibak’u – “splitting” or “chopping.”

Noting the use of the same verb to describe Avraham Avinu’s splitting of wood for use in the offering of Yitzchak as an olah to Hashem, Chazal tell us that it was in the merit of that action of Avrohom’s that the sea was able to split. 

What was the essence of that merit? It’s more than plausible that it was the perseverance in the face of hopelessness, the selfless determination with which Avraham undertook to follow Hashem’s unfathomable command. Our forefather’s deepest desire lay in a world-changing future for Yitzchak and his eventual descendants. But, it seemed, in light of the command, that there was no hope left to be hoped. 

Similarly, when Klal Yisrael found itself faced with a sea before them and an approaching army closing in from behind, hopelessness would understandably have seized them. 

And yet, just as the despair Avraham had reason to feel as he split wood for the akeida was later dissipated in a crucial instant, so did the anguish our ancestors experienced at the sea suddenly evaporate, as they watched the waters before them part.

It’s a thought worth pondering these days. Even surrounded by darkening clouds of seemingly mindless, relentless hatred, we do well to remember how hopelessness needn’t be final.
The Egyptian pyramids and the Sphinx, intended to herald the permanence of the power of an ancient dynasty, are today nothing more than tourist attractions, and crumbling ones at that. Our people persists, vibrant and hopeful, looking toward the ge’ulah sheleimah

© 2024 Ami Magazine

Cartoons, Canards and Poison Programs

Covered in blood, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is eating a child.

That succinctly describes a cartoon published by a Libyan news organization on this past October 20. 

The next month saw a Bahrain news outlet depicting Mr. Netanyahu driving through Gaza in a blood-soaked tank while pulling the Statue of Liberty and President Biden behind him.

Yet another cartoon, featuring a frocked Jew with a large microphone in place of his nose, is captioned: “The Lie of Zionist Media.” 

That’s rather like the pot calling the glass of milk black. For decades, Arabic-language newspapers and websites have crawled with anti-Israel and antisemitic images and sentiments. And since the October 7 Hamas massacre, according to the Anti-Defamation League, the ugliness has only increased.

A report from the organization cites examples from Palestinian publications as well as in media based in Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Some also appeared in UK Arabic-language news outlets.

Welcome to the warped world of Arab media.

It’s not only the Arab world’s cartoons that evidence hatred for Jews. What passes for actual news reportage in that realm also regularly promotes incendiary falsehoods, claiming, for instance, that Israel wishes to kill Gazan civilians; and provides ample space to opinion writers whom Goebbels would have been overjoyed to have had on hand.

Among the best examples of such propaganda posing as reportage is Iran’s PressTV, which is nothing more than the malignant mullahs’ mouthpiece. It regularly traffics in Holocaust denial and spreads an assortment of antisemitic conspiracy theories. (Iran isn’t an Arab land, but its rulers share their Arabian coreligionists’ sentiments when it comes to Jews.)

Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television station, based in Lebanon, is another contender. Its director let his less-than-journalistic sentiments show when, speaking about Mr. Netanyahu, he explained that “We want to get close to him, not to interview him, but to kill him.”

And then, of course, we have Qatar’s Al-Jazeera network. It does a good job of pretending to be a neutral, objective medium. But not good enough.

Recently, a laptop belonging to an Al-Jazeera reporter, Muhammad Washah, was found at one of Hamas’ bases in Gaza. It contained photos and intelligence materials linking him to Hamas.

“In the morning a ‘journalist’ on the Al-Jazeera network and in the evening a terrorist in Hamas,” was IDF Lt. Col. Avichay Adraee’s comment on a social media platform.

Apparently, according to Mr. Adraee, Mr. Washah is a senior military operative in Hamas’ anti-tank missile system and has worked in the research and development of aerial weapons for the terror group. Photos show him with rocket-propelled grenade launchers and weaponized drones.

On October 7 itself, it eventually came to light, at least two Al-Jazeera journalists entered Israel with Hamas terrorists and photographed atrocities. Ahmed Najjar accompanied some of the terrorists and filmed several kidnappings. Ismail Abu Omar filmed the Hamas slaughter in Kibbutz Nir Oz, even sharing a video in which he is heard saying: “The comrades have progressed, may Allah bless.”

Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, a cleric who praised Hitler, condoned Palestinian suicide bombings against Israeli civilians and appealed for people to “kill Zionists and Jews, down to the very last one…” was, until his death in 2020, a frequent guest on Al-Jazeera’s Arabic channel. 

As to moderate Arab voices, Jordan Cope, of the think tank Middle East Forum, asserts that “Other than in Israel… freedom of expression in the Middle East is limited.” There must be some prize for understatement.

And need we even mention Hamas’ own Al-AqsaTV? Renowned for its children’s programming, a medium in its own right, its broadcasts have featured cute furry characters like “Nahoul,” a giant bee, who encouraged his young fans to “punch” Jews and “turn their faces into tomatoes”; and his co-host, an actual little girl, responded to one of her pint-sized peers who expressed the wish to grow up and “shoot the Jews” – “all of them” – with: “Good!”

When some of the cuddly creatures suddenly disappeared from the program, the kiddies watching were solemnly informed that their beloved friends had been “martyred” by Israelis.

That particular “educational” program aired back in 2014. I find myself wondering if any of the young people who watched it back then might have been, ten years later, in the vicinity of the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel on October 7.

© 2024 Ami Magazine