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April 2012




If you haven’t seen Footnote yet, you should; it’s a movie that lends itself to the type of discussion and explication that’s usually reserved for significant literary works. If you haven’t seen it and intend to, please don’t read this article – you should come to your own conclusions before reading mine. Half the fun of this movie is trying to solve a puzzle for which there are many clues and allusions; your conclusion depends upon how you interpret those and it’s fitting in a movie that has the Talmud at its core, that there will always be another point of view.

The movie begins with our introduction to Professor Eliezer Shkolnick, a philologist and professor of Talmud who has devoted 30 years to piecing together and authenticating a volume which a colleague, Professor Grossman, subsequently finds intact, thereby stealing the thunder from Eliezer’s life work. Though the antiquarian volume corroborates all of Eliezer’s theories and findings, it renders them superfluous and we see him become increasingly marginalized at the university. His son, Uriel, on the other hand is an academic star, a charismatic professor whose broader interests in the Talmud encompass the social life and mores of Jews in Babylon, making the subject interesting to many young female students. The movie begins with Uriel being inducted into the privileged realm of the Academy, yet another plume in his well-feathered yarmulke. Although he praises his father in his acceptance speech, giving him the credit for being his role model, Eliezer’s jealousy and discomfort are apparent in his body language and his grudging unwillingness to celebrate his son. He steps outside the auditorium building during a break in the program and we see the stubborn, brittle side of his character as he refuses to answer the security guard’s questions, triggered by Eliezer’s having removed the bracelet that everyone else is wearing to indicate that they have passed inspection and been cleared. He wears his bitterness as a cloak of arrogance, seeing the world as his adversary. When the rest of the family rides by car, he insists on walking alone; when he is at home, he insulates himself from connections by donning earphones that shut out the noise and removing himself to sleep in the den, instead of with his wife. Despite his difficult, laconic demeanor, he is described by various characters in the movie as being “true to himself,” as “the only man of integrity in the department,” and not one to “validate a mistake because it was convenient.” At least in his professional life, he is a man of honor.

By contrast, Uriel has a warm relationship with his wife but we also see a streak of aggression in him both with his own son and in a squash game with a colleague whom he’s clearly bent on demolishing, not just defeating in a sportsmanlike manner. Nevertheless, he’s at ease in crowds and is clearly a charmer both academically and socially. After the game, Uriel steps out of a shower to discover that his clothes, wallet and phone have been stolen from the locker room. We see the back of an older nude man who may be a hint of what to think. Eventually, Uriel dons a fencer’s uniform and mask and as he exits the building, he notices his father talking to a woman in the garden. For the first time, we hear what seems like jocular conversation from this tightly wound man. Uriel is puzzled and begins to wonder whether there’s another side to his father that he knows nothing about. As with Purim, masks and secrets play a big part in this film.

Later, we see Eliezer walking with a briefcase and a shopping bag. As he walks along, a phone rings and when he answers, it becomes clear that he has been awarded the Israel Prize, the coveted award for which he has been turned down every year. We never hear the conversation ourselves but the announcement of the award is confirmed in the press and within short order, Uriel is called in to meet with the Award Committee where he discovers that the award was intended for him and only announced to his father through clerical error. But is it also possible that Eliezer stole his son’s clothes, wallet and phone and then answered the son’s cell phone? There is another scene where we see Eliezer carrying his shoes in a shopping bag, showing that this mode of transport is characteristic of him. On a symbolic level, the father, envious of his son’s acclaim, tries to appropriate his very identity. Uriel pleads with the committee to leave things as they stand and not humiliate the father who has waited a lifetime for some acknowledgement. Professor Grossman, head of the committee, is adamantly opposed and dismisses Eliezer’s work, claiming that its only significance is a brief footnote in his mentor’s book. In this scene, there are several close-ups of Grossman’s deeply furrowed forehead; as we see it magnified and detached from the rest of his face, we are looking at what looks like a brain. Grossman represents a cerebral man who, like the Tin Man in Wizard of Oz, is missing a heart. His only response to Uriel’s plea for compassion for his father’s pride, is to fall back on the rules. Eventually, he relents by binding Uriel to a stringent pact that will deny him the right to ever receive the Israel Prize in his own lifetime. He also insists that Uriel write the letter of acknowledgement to his father which Grossman will then sign. Uriel acquiesces and tells no one what has happened. As he writes the letter, he polishes it, falling back on words that are prevalent throughout his other articles.

Eliezer has now suddenly become a person of interest and a pretty young journalist comes to his home to interview him. When she asks for some photographs for the article, Eliezer’s wife finds an old one of Eliezer holding his young son, showing us a side of him that once existed but has been walled in by the carapace he has worn as a fortress against his disappointments. In the interview, Eliezer disparages the type of scholarship that his son practices, comparing it to finding empty vessels and filling them with cookie recipes. This appears in the press and is a source of profound hurt to Uriel who acts out by becoming more like his father, demeaning one of his students and lashing out at his son, saying that’s he close to giving up on him, and instead of wishing for his success may be wishing for his failure and the opportunity to gloat. Just as Eliezer appropriated Uriel’s identity by taking his possessions and his son’s award, Uriel now assumes the persona of his angry father, dismissing his loving wife at the same time. The characters have traded their respective masks.

The family goes to see a production of Fiddler on the Roof, a play that concerns both the ominous plight of European Jewry and the attitudes of a father towards his children. During the performance, Uriel cannot restrain himself from telling his mother the truth about the Israel Prize and what he has done for his father. When they leave, we see Eliezer get into the car and even hum to himself, a radical departure from his earlier refusal to join the group. He has been seduced and softened by the glimmer of public acclaim and acceptance. At home, the mother knocks on Eliezer’s closed door and we see him make room for her in his bed, a further sign that there are dents in his armor and he is coming to a place where he may finally face the truth of his deportment as husband and father.


Obama violated campaign finance law on Fallon show
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Read more: http://times247.com/#ixzz1t8xEH1Ld
Obamanomics: Legacy of failure
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
President Obama has spent his term in the White House trying to tax, spend and regulate the nation into prosperity. Obamanomics, Keynesian economics on steroids, has been an abysmal failure. Americans can only wonder how the headlines would have read if Obama had instead embraced limited government and free-market solutions three years ago. Read more…

Read more: http://times247.com/#ixzz1t8xWmRnV



Why did George W. Bush invade Afghanistan? Answer: Occurring just after September 11, 2001 in which 2,977 Americans lost their lives, a CIA team was inserted into Afghanistan fifteen days later to begin a campaign against the Taliban who had allied with Al Qaeda and provided sanctuary for Osama bin Laden while the attack was planned. A U.S. bombing campaign in Tora Bora followed but bin Laden escaped into Pakistan.

When bin Laden was killed in 2011 by a U.S. Navy SEAL team, he was living in Abbotabad, Pakistan, a mile away from its equivalent of West Point. The initial reason for the military action ceased to be of any critical importance and the Bush administration pivoted to concentrate on removing Iraq’s Saddam Hussein from power. Afghanistan became a backwater concern, but in 2002 Bush announced “a Marshall Plan” for Afghanistan, intended to be a development plan with security goals. In 2003, the U.S. invaded Iraq.

Insurgent activity in Afghanistan never ceased and military authority there switched to NATO, essentially to protect Kabul. It would be the organization’s first operational commitment outside of Europe. Hamid Karzai became the hand-picked leader of a nation that Transparency International deemed the second most corrupt in the world.


Become a Barack Obama Community Organizer!

URL to article: http://frontpagemag.com/2012/04/26/become-a-barack-obama-community-organizer/

This past week, Michelle Obama sent me an email on behalf of her husband’s re-election campaign. In it, she asked me to join on as a “summer organizer” for the poor, put-upon President. “Barack,” she wrote, “needs you out there this summer.”

She continued, “It’s an amazing experience – one that could change your life while shaping this country for decades to come.” Change again! But it’s the mode of change that was interesting in Michelle’s pitch: “If you take a position as a fellow, you’ll help more people to step up at the local level, where there are so many opportunities to make so much change. You’ll register voters, recruit and train volunteers, run phone banks, have conversations with people on their front porches, and build the relationships that will bring your community together to fight for progress.”


Honor killing, forced marriage, genital mutilation — that is a war on women.

Her name was Derya. She lived in Batman, Turkey, she was 17 years old, and she had a problem that few American women know about, let alone have ever experienced: The men in her family were doing everything they could to get her to kill herself.

It started with text messages like this one from her uncle: “You have blackened our name. Kill yourself and clean our shame, or we will kill you first.”

What was Derya’s crime? What had she done to deserve a message like that from a relative? She had fallen in love with a boy she had met in school the previous spring.

When news of this outrage reached Derya’s family, her mother warned her that her father — her own father — might kill her. She didn’t listen.

And then the orchestrated campaign of terror began. Threatening text message after threatening text message, sent by her brothers and uncles, sometimes as many as 15 a day.

Young Derya was so overwhelmed that she did the only thing she could do to free herself from the shame and the pain: She tried to kill herself.

Not once. Not twice. Three times, Derya tried to kill herself, first by throwing herself into the Tigris River, then by hanging herself, and finally by slashing her wrists with a kitchen knife.

“I felt I had no right to dishonor my family,” she told a New York Times reporter in July of 2006, “that I have no right to be alive. So I decided to respect my family’s desire and to die.”

The reporter learned that every few weeks, in parts of Turkey deeply influenced by conservative Islam, young women were taking their own lives for the same reasons Derya tried to take hers. Others, the Times reported, were stoned to death, strangled, shot, or buried alive by their male relatives.



Israel’s Jewish population is approaching six million. If current birth rates hold steady that significant milestone will be reached in time for next year’s Independence Day. If there is to be one.
In the sixty-four years that the revived country has existed, there has been a dramatic population shift. Western and Eastern Europe and Russia, where the majority of Western Jews once lived, now hold a fraction of the Jewish population. The Muslim world, former location of the majority of Eastern Jews, is barely worth mentioning.

Globally the Jewish population is divided between Israel and the United States. Israel is the home of the majority of the world’s Jews, but the combined Jewish Anglosphere is still larger, not so much because of the United Kingdom, but because of North America, which holds the largest number of Jews. In a development that would have been all but incomprehensible a century ago, the majority of Jews in the world speak English or Hebrew. Smaller numbers speak French and Spanish, but in a generation hardly any will speak Russian or Arabic.

The majority of Jews live in the American Hemisphere. If we subtract Israel, the Eastern Hemisphere would barely muster up ten percent of the Jewish population because its Jews have for the most part either moved to the Western Hemisphere or to Israel.

Israel is the last Jewish outpost in the Eastern Hemisphere. The last significant Jewish populations there are either in the far west, in the United Kingdom and France or legacy populations in Russia and the Ukraine. The latter have no future and the former are dwindling under pressure from the growing Muslim population in Europe.



A great controversy has erupted over a National Journal article by Michael Hirsh entitled, “The Post Al Qaida Era.” I think this is an important issue there is absolutely nothing new here that couldn’t have been seen—as I’ll show in a moment—five years ago.

The Obama Administration has long thought along the following lines:

Al-Qaida is an evil and terrible organization. It attacked America on September 11, 2001. It is a sworn enemy of the United States and it uses terrorism. Consequently, to protect the American homeland, al-Qaida must be destroyed. Our “war on terror” is then a war on al-Qaida.

Oh, yes, one more thing:

Al-Qaida is the only enemy and the only threat. So once al-Qaida is destroyed there is no more problem, no more conflict.

In this context, then, all other revolutionary Islamist groups—the Muslim Brotherhood, Hizballah, Hamas, and so on—are not enemies. They can be won over or at least neutralized as threats to U.S. interests. And perhaps even they can become allies because they also oppose al-Qaida or, as they are now called, really radical Salafist groups.



Sydney lawyer and international affairs analyst David Singer has been continuing to focus on UNESCO and the issue of Palestinian statehood with an article, again via the antipodean J-Wire service, entitled “Palestine: Quartet and UNESCO in Head-On Collision,” in which, inter alia, he observes that “In going behind [the] Oslo [Accords] and the [Bush] Roadmap to unilaterally achieve statehood at UNESCO, Palestine has cut itself completely adrift from Oslo and the Roadmap.”

Writes David Singer:

UNESCO’S recognition that Palestine is a State has now been totally refuted by the Quartet – America, the Russian Federation, the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN).

The Quartet – in its latest statement – has now endorsed the view of the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (OTP) just a few days earlier – that Palestine is not a State.

“The Quartet reaffirmed its commitment, as expressed in its 23 September 2011 statement, to examine possible mechanisms it can actively support going forward, individually and together, to advance peace efforts and strengthen the Palestinian Authority’s ability to meet the full range of civil and security needs of the Palestinian people both now and in a future state.”

The Quartet’s use of the words – “both now and in a future state” – was clear and unambiguous .
If the Quartet and the OTP are correct – then Palestine’s admission to UNESCO as a State is indeed unlawful – since only States can be members of UNESCO under Article II paragraph 2 of UNESCO’S Constitution.

Yet the Russian Federation and many other member states of the UN and the EU – 107 to be precise – voted to recognize Palestine’s claim to be a State – thereby qualifying it to be granted admission to UNESCO.

JOHN BOLTON: Obama’s Timidity Risks the World’s Security


“In 2009 Obama said: “I’m always worried about using the word ‘victory,’ because, you know, it invokes this notion of Emperor Hirohito coming down and signing a surrender to MacArthur.” Of course, it wasn’t Hirohito who surrendered on the Missouri’s stout deck, but the revelation of Obama’s mindset is telling. Conceptually, a world of no victories may warm the hearts of social democrats, but it is insufficient for the defence of America. Nonetheless, November may well tell us, in more ways than one, whether America will remain America, or whether it has become better suited to being a junior member of the European Union.”

Barack Obama’s Stakhanovite efforts to transform America’s economy and society into something akin to European-style social democracy are undergoing considerable analysis and debate, especially as the 2012 campaign steams towards November. Most presidential re-election contests are referenda on the incumbent, and this year will be no exception, despite Obama’s obvious strategy to focus on almost anything but his actual record. His “spread the wealth around” slogan, industrial policy that showers favourites with subsidies and loan guarantees, turning major car manufacturers over to union ownership, and taxing the rich as if they were miscreants, all resemble the paradigm of most current or aspiring European Union members.

But Obama’s driving ideology, whether he wins or loses on November 6, has already had enormous implications for the US role in the world and the very structure of the international order. By reducing not only the visibility of America’s global presence, but also its military capabilities, and by shifting the federal budget even further from national security to social welfare programmes, Obama has also sought to transform the United States into Europe. Of course, the obvious question is what happens once Washington’s protective shield is diminished to the point of feebleness. It was one thing for European and other industrial democracies to be free riders under the sheltering US nuclear umbrella, its strong naval forces, and its essentially global force projection capabilities. But when the only superpower doffs its cape and Lycra uniform, packs them up in the telephone booth, and becomes just another mild-mannered suit, who will then shield those free riders, not to mention a much weakened United States itself?

Obama sees American strength as provocative. He believes its nuclear arsenal is excessive, and hence worthy of reduction, without fearing in any way that shredding the nuclear deterrent might actually have profoundly deleterious consequences not only on US national security, but on security and stability in the world as a whole. He sees his presidency causing “the tide of war” to recede in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, just as his tenure will mark “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow”. Dramatic reductions in military budgets, and the consequent devastating reductions in force levels, capabilities and weapons systems, apparently do not trouble him even slightly.

Indeed, in purely political terms, Obama’s most amazing successes have come in his evisceration of the US defence budget, something no one predicted at his 2009 inauguration. His massive stimulus package, which funded spending wish lists that ambitious bureaucrats, special interests and members of Congress had long kept hidden in their desk drawers, contained essentially no net increase in defence funding. At a time when Obama was thundering about jobs and “shovel-ready projects”, precious little of either of which the stimulus actually delivered, national defence had ample prospects for both. Instead, the military was starved.

Then, even more remarkably, as increased federal spending on virtually all non-defence programmes remained the hallmark of Obama fiscal policy, defence budgets began suffering further enormous hits. If in the 2008 campaign Obama had openly proposed military spending reductions of the magnitude now being contemplated, Republican opposition would have been full-throated. Instead, after the Tea Party successes in the 2010 congressional elections, Obama used the cover of reducing expenditures, deficits and taxes generally to outwit and out-negotiate Republicans into military spending cuts that even his own Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, finds unacceptable.

Obama’s policies and debilitating budget cuts reflect the views of former Defense Secretary Robert Gates on the nature of the threats that America and its allies will face in the near future. Proving yet again that generals tend to fight the last war, Gates and his aides concluded from Afghanistan and Iraq that future wars would most likely be counter-insurgency or counter-terrorist scenarios. No more Cold War-era spectres of Soviet-armoured thrusts through the Fulda Gap and over the northern European plains, or World War II-style armadas clashing at sea.




In 2011 AFSI Instituted the Apate Award for the most egregious “Calumnists against Israel.”

Calumny is defined as a false and malicious statement designed to injure the reputation of someone or something. Its synonyms are slander, defamation, libel, misrepresentation, vituperation, smear.

With that in mind we call the professors, reporters, columnists and commentators who have vilified, libeled and slandered Israel “The Calumnists” and AFSI awards the worst of them. We have named the award the “Apate” after the goddess of calumny, guile and deception in Greek mythology.

Despite facing stiff competition, Peter Beinart receives the highest Platinum Apate for exemplifying calumny, guile and deception in his hatred for Israel.



Editor: Rael Jean Isaac Editorial Board: Ruth King and Rita Kramer

Outpost is distributed free to Members of Americans For a Safe Israel Annual membership: $50.

Americans For a Safe Israel 1751 Second Ave. (at 91st St.) New York, NY 10128 tel (212) 828-2424 / fax (212) 828-1717 E-mail: afsi @rcn.com web site: http://www.afsi.org

Outpost Editor: Rael Jean Isaac Editorial Board: Ruth King and Rita Kramer Outpost is distributed free to Members of Americans For a Safe Israel Annual membership: $50. Americans For a Safe Israel 1751 Second Ave. (at 91st St.) New York, NY 10128 tel (212) 828-2424 / fax (212) 828-1717 E-mail: afsi @rcn.com web site: http://www.afsi.org



The ruins of the homes they were forced to abandon 30 years ago still lie stacked up in the desert near the Keren Shalom crossing into Gaza, withered memorials to “an idyllic dreamland of turquoise waters and white dunes, marching to its own tranquil rhythm,” as one observer put it, snuffed out in the April 1982 finale to Israel’s handover of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt.

They tell an unforgettable story, these bits and pieces of Yamit, the pearl in the diadem of 16 Jewish communities that once extended from northeast to central Sinai and their pioneering populace. First and foremost, it is a story of the missed opportunity for lasting regional security, cum hegemony, that began knocking on Israel’s door after June 1967. When in reply, 12 years later, it exchanged the territorial base on which that opportunity rested for a promissory note from the very nation that had twice employed it as a springboard for Israel’s intended annihilation, the Jewish State’s certainty that no regional power or combination of powers could ever again threaten its existence vanished. That act of self-imposed jeopardy became the template for an unbroken string of retreats stretching from south Lebanon to the Gaza Strip, with pit stops at Hebron, Bethlehem, Amona and Migron.

Yamit’s remnants also relate a signature Israeli morality tale, repeated all too often, of broken promises, broken hearts, broken homes and the lasting depression evoked by a sense of betrayal. Some of the most embittered of the young idealists sent off to the Sinai with the encouragement of three governments left Israel never to return after witnessing their investment in Zionism wiped off the books with a stroke of Menachem Begin’s pen at Camp David. Some soldiered on only to wind up as two-time losers when Ariel Sharon put the torch to their homes in Gush Katif 23 years later.

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Mocking the Flytilla

It’s not often that Israel reacts well in response to those who hate her, so it was especially welcome when the Israeli government undercut an attempted publicity stunt by anti-Israel activists efficiently and, more surprising, wittily.

“We Have Gone Mad”

Unfortunately within days of this demonstration of feistiness, Israel was back in its all-too-customary mode of self-flagellation. The Israeli press repeated endlessly a brief video in which Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner pushed the magazine of his gun against the face of Andreas Ayas, a Danish anarchist from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). Ayas was attempting to close a road, along with a coterie of fellow, get this, “cyclists”, as the media described them. The legal analyst for the Israel Broadcasting Authority went on air to say the matter was “exceedingly grave” and Eisner should be put on criminal trial. IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz joined the chorus of indignation as did Prime Minister Netanyahu, who declared such conduct had “no place in the IDF and the State of Israel.” Eisner, a hero of the 2006 war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, was promptly suspended from the IDF. Never mind that these same peaceful “cyclists” had (in a segment not filmed by ISM or shown by the media) beaten him with sticks, broken his finger and damaged his wrist.

The Mount of Olives

The Mount of Olives is a mountain ridge in East Jerusalem that has been a Jewish cemetery for over three thousand years. Yet the Israel government is doing nothing to stop its desecration and physical attacks on those who visit it. In Frontpage, David Hornick writes that The Jerusalem Post has taken note of this scandal in a recent editorial. Last month a young bridegroom, who wanted to say a prayer at his mother’s tomb, was driven up by his friend Dror Klein. As they grew near to the tomb, 30 to 40 young Arabs crashed a bucket of white paint into the front windshield, hurled large rocks and cement blocks at the vehicle and dragged the bridegroom from the car, smashed his head with a boulder and beat him to the cry of Alahu Akhbar.

Hollywood Haters

It used to be that they were outliers–people like Vanessa Redgrave who have attacked Israel for decades. Now they are mainstream. Giulio Meotti reports that seven time Oscar nominee Mike Leigh and two time Oscar winner Emma Thompson are among three dozen actors and directors who signed a letter calling for the boycott of Israel’s national theater, Habima, which has been included in a Shakespeare festival in England. More than 150 American Hollywood filmmakers signed a letter in support of the boycott of Ariel’s culture center in Samaria. A number of prominent actors boycotted the Toronto International Film Festival to protest a week of screening of Israeli films. Oscar winner Jean-Luc Godard has called Israel “a cancer on the map of the Middle East.”

But the award for lowest of the low goes to “The Death of Klinghoffer” by composer John Adams and librettist Alice Goodman (and the English National Opera and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, both of which staged the opera). Meotti notes that the opera romanticizes the murderers of Klinghoffer, a wheelchair-bound Jewish passenger, shot in cold blood in the forehead and chest, and then dumped into the sea. Klinghoffer’s daughters, who attended anonymously, provided this understatement: “It’s a production that appears to us to be anti-Semitic.”

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Professor Yale Kramer is a psychoanalyst, former Clinical Professor at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and author of Talking Back to Liberal Power.

1942 was one of the grimmest years of the war for America and its Allies. Only weeks before, this country had lost much of its naval power at Pearl Harbor and lost the Philippines as well as control of the western Pacific. Europe was dominated by the Nazi military machine–the most powerful army and air force existing at the time. Virtually all of the land mass from the Atlantic to the Volga was occupied by the Wehrmacht and had submitted to Nazi regulations governing the treatment of Jews and other targets of the Nazi culture.

At that time, as grim as the outlook was for the Allies, the Germans were at the zenith of their morale. It seemed to them they couldn’t lose. It was the moment of the greatest belief in the future of the Thousand Year Reich for Hitler and his followers.

It was in this context of military success and confidence that Reinhard Heydrich conveyed, in January 1942, his plans for the extermination of Europe’s Jews to a group of fourteen highly intelligent, conscientious officials of the Third Reich. Minutes of the meeting were kept by Heydrich’s assistant, SS Obersturmbannfuhrer Adolf Eichmann and copies were sent by Eichmann to all the participants after the meeting with the warning that they were to be destroyed after reading. And indeed they were. All but one copy, which was discovered in 1947 by Robert Kempner, prosecutor before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg.

The official meeting at Wannsee took less than two hours, after which the finest cognac and cigars were served by Heydrich and Eichmann and the conversation about Jews and extermination became more joke-ridden and less stilted and euphemistic.

A few months later, Auschwitz-Birkenau became operational as one of five extermination camps–including Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka– of which it was the largest and most efficient. There between one and two million people were murdered over a two-year period from the summer of 1942 until November of 1944.

At the beginning of this period, on June 30, 1942, a seventeen-year-old Czech Jew named Rudolf Vrba arrived at Auschwitz. He had been arrested while trying to escape from Czechoslovakia to join the Free Czech Army in England and wound up instead at Auschwitz as a slave laborer.

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Sarah Honig is an Israeli journalist. This appeared on SarahHonig.com on April 12.

In 1903 Shalom Aleichem, the giant of Yiddish literature, wrote a letter to Leo Tolstoy, the giant of Russian literature. It was shortly after the gruesome Kishinev pogrom. Shalom Aleichem planned to publish a modest compilation about the atrocity, to which he asked Tolstoy to contribute a short message to “Russia’s millions of distraught and disoriented Jews, who more than anything need a word of comfort.” Tolstoy never so much as bothered to reply.

The famed novelist, feted as the conscience of Russia, received dozens such letters urging him to speak out against the slaughters – then a seminal trauma in Jewish annals. The Holocaust was decades away. Nobody 109 years ago could imagine anything more bloodcurdling than the horrors of Kishinev.

But not everyone was moved – not even a renowned humanitarian like Tolstoy.

Not only did he not speak out, but he resented the entreaties.

He replied to one Jewish correspondent only, Emanuel Grigorievich Linietzky, to whom he caustically complained about being pestered. Tolstoy then blamed the Czar’s government, absolving the masses who bashed the skulls of babies, gouged children’s eyes, raped their mothers and sisters, eviscerated them, beheaded men and boys, quartered and mutilated them and looted all they could carry.

We hear much the same throughout Europe at each memorial to the Holocaust.

The upgraded, systemized, gargantuan-scale German sequel to Kishinev was by all accounts committed by unidentified extraterrestrials called Nazis. All the others, Germans included, were their victims.

But Tolstoy foreshadowed an even more sinister inclination that would fully and hideously burst upon our scene a century and more after the Kishinev devastation. The great author and icon of compassion exhorted Russia’s shaken Jews to behave better.

The implication was that the Jews were somehow guilty, needed to improve themselves and achieve higher virtue in order to merit better treatment.

And so Tolstoy wrote to Emanuel Grigorievich: “The Jews must, for their own good, conduct themselves by the universal principle of ‘do onto others as you would have them do to you.’ They must resist the government nonviolently…by living lives of grace, which precludes not only violence against others, but also the partaking in acts of violence.”

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(Editor’s note: There has long been a segment of anti-Israel evangelical Christians, for example those centered around the “progressive” journal Sojourners. This article suggests such views are dangerously gaining in strength in the broader evangelical community.)

Lee Smith is a fellow at the Hudson Institute and author of The Strong Horse. This article appeared on tabletmag.com on April 18.

For most American Jews and Israelis, evangelical Christians are synonymous with zealous, biblically inspired support of the Jewish state—so zealous, in fact, that it makes some Jews uneasy. But the days when Israel could count on unconditional support from evangelicals may be coming to an end.

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Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) is often quoted by Israel’s protagonists for his descriptions of Israel published in 1867 in Innocents Abroad.

His comments expose the faux history of Arab Palestine as the land of milk and halal:

“….. A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds… a silent mournful expanse…. a desolation…. we never saw a human being on the whole route…. hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.”

Less has been written about Twain’s affection and admiration for the Jewish people and the trajectory that took him from the stereotypical anti-Semitism of his early years to become an eloquent and impassioned defender of Jews.

It is hard to pinpoint the moment or event that changed his thinking. Twain was in Paris on Saturday, January 5, 1895, when Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish Army officer who had been falsely convicted of treason, was surrounded by 5,000 troops as his buttons were torn, his military tunic cut, the stripes of his trousers and the insignia on his cap and his sleeve removed, and his sword broken in two. He was marched off amid calls for his death and death to all Jews. Theodor Herzl, an Austrian journalist, watched the horrifying spectacle, and the rest is history.

Twain was stirred by the display of anti-Semitism and outraged that in spite of evidence pointing elsewhere, a Jew could not be absolved, because Jews were deemed evil and incapable of loyalty. Dreyfus’ most famous champion, the author of “J’Accuse,” French novelist Emile Zola only escaped arrest (for allegedly defaming the judges who had found Esterhazy, the real culprit, not guilty) by fleeing to England. The Dreyfus scandal heightened Twain’s esteem for Jews and he wrote letters and published columns on Zola and Dreyfus and his lingering disdain for the French.

In 1899, he wrote in “My First Lie and How I Got out of It”: “From the beginning of the Dreyfus case to the end of it all France, except a dozen moral paladins, lay under the smother of the silent assertion-lie that no wrong was being done to a persecuted and unoffending man.”

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