Category Archives: Israel

Jerusalem on Trial

How often does a United States Supreme Court decision affect you personally? The decisions of the Supremes certainly touch our lives, but usually without the immediacy of one case now awaiting decision.

Here in Israel, we have been blessed with the birth of a grandson, and his arrival brings not only great joy but also the confusion that has engendered the case of Zivitofsky v. Kerry. Our grandson was born in Jerusalem, and, under current US consular practice, his place of birth will be recorded on his American passport as “Jerusalem,” and not as is done elsewhere in the world, with the country name rather than the city name. Indeed, if he had been born in Tel Aviv or Ramat Gan, his place of birth would be recorded as “Israel.” Not so in Jerusalem, capital of Israel for, oh, going on 3000 years and the focal point of the impending holiday of Chanuka.

This discrepancy exists because, as is well known, official US policy does not recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, notwithstanding repeated promises and Congressional legislation to move the American embassy to Jerusalem. What is less known, and outrageous, is that official US policy does not even recognize Jerusalem as a city in Israel. That is a remarkable incongruity. Jerusalem is considered to be a disputed city whose ultimate fate is yet to be negotiated, and those born there, apparently, are stateless.

A number of years ago, the Zivitofsky family (Rabbi Dr. Ari Zivitofsky, the father, is a tremendous resource to the Jewish people in the realms of halachaminhag, science and now law) sued to have their Jerusalem-born son’s place of birth on his US passport be recorded as “Israel.” Their appeal was first denied by the Consulate, and a sympathetic Congress then passed a law mandating that any American child who is born in Jerusalem shall have his passport state that he was born in Israel. (That happened in 2002; the child in question is already Bar Mitzvah age, so long has the matter been meandering through the legal and political system.)  The bill was signed into law by President Bush, who nonetheless attached a signing statement arguing that this Congressional act was an unconstitutional violation of the president’s right to conduct foreign policy. The State Department, on those grounds, refused to implement the law. The Zivitofsky’s sued in US federal court, and the denial of their right to sue was upheld until the Supreme Court in 2011 ordered that the matter be decided on the merits.

When it was finally heard, their claim was systematically rejected on the grounds that this was a political/diplomatic question, and therefore solely the purview of the President. The appeal of that ruling is now pending before the Supremes.

How will the case be decided? The lamentable rule of thumb has usually been that “the Jews lose.” Most cases in memory of parochial Jewish interest have been decided against what could be called “the Jewish side.” It certainly does not help that the three Jewish justices who currently sit on the Court (Ginsburg, Breyer and Kagan) were notably hostile to the appellant’s case. When one adds to that number the clear opposition to the law of Justice Sotomayor, it means that the Zivitofsky’s have to run the table – gain the support of all five other justices – in order to prevail.

It is certainly possible, although, as is frequently the case, Justice Kennedy might again prove to be the swing vote. Three other justices (Roberts, Scalia, and Alito) appeared to be favorably disposed to the law and appellant’s arguments (with Justice Thomas reticent as always). How is this for irony? If the Zivotovsky’s prevail, it will be because five Catholic jurists outvoted three Jews and upheld the Jewish connection to Jerusalem!

At first glance, the case appears to be unwinnable. The recognition of foreign governments and their territories is a presidential prerogative. The president is the official who is primarily responsible for the conduct of foreign policy, with Congress playing a subordinate role. Here, too, the government argued that registering the birth of an American citizen in Jerusalem as “Israel” would negate one of the norms of US foreign policy since 1948: that the status of Jerusalem is to be determined through negotiations between the parties and not unilaterally by either side. Recording in a passport that, in effect, Jerusalem is Israel (even so-called West Jerusalem), would undermine that, and presumably ignite the tinderbox that is the Middle East.

What are the counter-arguments? (The oral argument before the Court can be read and even heard in full; it makes for fascinating reading and listening.) Issues were raised by some of the justices in support of the law that even appellant’s attorney did not mention in oral argument. For example, the passport would simply record “Israel” (not Jerusalem, Israel), same as for a child born in Tel Aviv. There is nothing on the face of the passport that makes any kind of political statement; a reader would not even know that the child was born in Jerusalem.

Justice Kennedy suggested attaching a disclaimer to the passport to avert the political problem – to the effect that nothing recorded on the passport should be perceived as tantamount to recognition by the United States of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Such is done with Taiwan, which is not recognized as a country by the US but whose US citizens born there are listed as having been born in Taiwan, not, if appropriate, Taipei the capital.

Appellant argued in the alternative – that the information on an individual’s passport is a personal choice and therefore does not at all imply any formal diplomatic recognition, and that even if it does imply recognition, Congress has the right to override the president’s view, as was done more than a century ago when the Congress recognized Cuba over President McKinley’s opposition. (He later came around.)

Justice Scalia, logical as always, questioned whether recording a geographical fact in an official document amounted to formal diplomatic recognition, and asserted that Congress had the right to pass a law even if it angered the Palestinians or anyone else.

Indeed, Justice Alito underscored the farcical nature of this diplomatic dance by asking, rhetorically, does the United States recognize a birth certificate issued by Israel for those born in Jerusalem? Of course. Does the United States maintain that Israel is not sovereign in Jerusalem, such that Israel would have no right to prosecute a crime committed by an American in Jerusalem? Of course not. Additionally, diplomats and presidents who wish to visit with Israeli leaders and speak before its Parliament all go to Israel’s capital.

It emerges then that obviously some – in fact, many – attributes of sovereignty are exercised by Israel in Jerusalem and accepted by the United States – despite the State Department’s refusal to recognize the births of Americans there as occurring in Israel. As such, it falls under the purview of a congressional statute that should be enforced, regardless of the diplomatic consequences.

Appellant further claimed, slightly less persuasively, that individuals have the right to self-identify on their passports. The point was to negate the argument that recording “Israel” was the equivalent of recognition, but it leaves open the possibility of “Palestine” someday appearing on American passports as well.

Clearly, if the Court wished to do so, there are ample legal grounds to uphold the statute. There are also compelling logical grounds: for how long will the United States tap dance around the reality that Jerusalem is a city in Israel, much less its capital? Even farce should have its limits. We are no longer in1948. We are 47 years past the reunification of Jerusalem as one city under the sovereignty of Israel. If Barack Obama or John Kerry faced a Final Jeopardy question with their fortunes at stake that asked for the capital of Israel, they would both know what to answer. So,  why not stop the charade already?

In a week or so, hundreds of Jewish bigwigs will descend on the White House for the annual Chanukah party. Rather than making small talk with the President, half of the VIPs should ask him to free the ailing Jonathan Pollard and the other half should ask him to recognize Jerusalem as a city in the State of Israel. That would be an effective and intelligent use of their face time, perhaps accomplish some good, and vitiate the need for the Court to decide.

It would also justify the party itself, for Chanuka without Jerusalem is lame – just as Israel without Jerusalem is missing its soul. Let us hope that the people who attend and the Jewish organizations they represent can save one soul and redeem one holy city.

World War IV

(This was first published earlier today on Arutz-7, http://www.inn.co.il.)

It has been apparent for years, vividly clear in the last year, and certainly before our eyes this past week: the world is at war with Islam. Seven years ago Norman Podhoretz wrote the book entitled “World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism,” but the need for political correctness has receded. Sure, sure, sure, there are Muslims who are against terror, who are decent people, etc.; there were also members of the Nazi Party that did not subscribe to all of Hitler’s excesses. The time has long past to play semantic games. Let the good Muslims stand up and re-capture their religion from those who they claim have perverted it. To date, the perverts are winning, and they consider those “good Muslims” infidels who should lose their heads.

In the meantime, civilization is reeling from the horrific blows this past week. A three-month infant girl was murdered in Jerusalem, mowed down by a Hamas terrorist. That terrorist was then extolled by Mahmoud Abbas as a “heroic martyr,” which should earn the “President of the PA” (whose term lapsed in 2009) additional visits from John Kerry, more money from the US and Europe, and more accolades from Jewish liberals – for whom all Abbas must be smirking with contempt. Yes, and he is the “good Muslim,” the “partner for peace.” Insane.

Newly minted Muslims showed their bona-fides by murdering two Canadian soldiers and seeking to go on a rampage in the Canadian Parliament building. Strange. Jewish converts seek to integrate into a Jewish community, study Torah, do the Mitzvot, and grow in piety. Muslim converts immediately seek to kill innocent people. Something is very wrong.

That is not to mention the dozens killed in suicide bombings in Iraq earlier this week by these same jihadists. It is no comfort that most victims of Islamic terror today are Muslims. Every single day some Muslim kills some innocent person somewhere in the world. At a certain point, one is left to conclude that the problem doesn’t only rest with radical Muslims, jihadist Muslims, Islamofascists, or other euphemisms we adopt to avoid the obvious truth. The civilized world is now at war, again.

We have seen something similar in the past: the generation of the flood. “And the earth became corrupt before G-d, and the earth was filled with violence” (Breisheet 6:11). Irony: the Hebrew word for violence is “Hamas.” Perhaps not an irony after all.

Rav Shlomo Ganzfried, the 19th century author of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, asks in his commentary on the Torah, “Aperion,” why does the Torah emphasize that the world became corrupt “before G-d”? The generation of the flood was depraved, but before whom else would it become corrupt but G-d?

His answer is prescient and frightening: that evil generation’s degeneracy was revealed only to G-d – because they did not see themselves as corrupt. The immorality and debauchery of that society was so deep that they did not sense at all that there was anything wrong with their conduct. This was their “normal,” their way of life. These were the values they had. They worshipped their idols by pillaging, plundering, robbing, raping and murdering their fellow man. Their iniquities, to them, were acts of piety.

The Islamic world today (yeah, yeah, the radical/jihadi/fascist/Nazi division, all 150-200 million of them, to undercount) finds virtue in beheading , piety in homicide, and godliness in genocide. Their version of paradise welcomes murderers of infants, children, men, women, scholars and saints. Killing innocent people and causing mayhem across the globe are sacred acts, extolled and encouraged by preachers in their sermons. Theirs is a bizarre world where evil is good and malevolence is celebrated.

Rav Ganzfried continued such evildoers do not respond to criticism, reproof, rebuke, or appeals to morality or conscience. They have lost the capacity to distinguish between right and wrong. They can only be destroyed; hence, the Great Flood with which G-d destroyed the world and then recreated it.

The first three world wars (the Cold War was the third) were characterized by two critical factors: the determination of civilization to vanquish its foes and obliterate their sadistic ideologies from the face of the earth, and the rise of leaders (Lloyd George, Clemenceau, Churchill, FDR, Truman, Reagan, Thatcher) with the resolve and courage to see the wars through to absolute victory.

Sadly, and dangerously, both are lacking today. The American President prefers speeches and golf to leading the free world to victory; he may lack the will, the temperament and the conviction to do so as well. For example, he favors a negotiated settlement with Iran – a piece of paper that will leave the world on the precipice of a nuclear Iran and the catastrophe that heralds, but might earn him a second Nobel Peace Prize that will be even more hollow than the first. Europe is divided despite its union, is usually feckless, fears its growing Muslim population, and reflexively blames Israel for the rise of Islamic terror. Both the US and Europe see Turkey as an ally in this struggle, a sign of intellectual and moral decadence. Asia is mostly silent, and Africa is devastated by a plague.

Israel, too, sends mixed signals. Still the first and favorite target of Muslim terror, it has not yet firmly squelched the incessant talk of appeasement, concessions, unilateral withdrawals and a (phantom) peace process as the way to security and stability. The rise this week of a “diplomatic caucus” in the Knesset that favors negotiations and concessions to the aforementioned Abbas, lionizer of baby killers, shows that much of the Israeli public still labors under the illusion that World War IV will simply go away, because we really wish it to go away.

The Jewish people are being called upon – across the globe – to articulate the problem clearly and to rally the resources of the entire civilized world against this most brutish enemy. Israel must stand firm, certainly against appeasement but even against demands that it ameliorate its war on terror. A population that can produce people who drive cars into crowds, that randomly and wantonly stab, shoot, or stone people, is an enemy population. It should be defined as an enemy population and treated accordingly, if necessary, restoring the military rule under which Israeli Arabs were governed until 1966. If the denizens of Shuafat continue to destroy their light rail station, Israel should stop rebuilding it. Despite the good feelings engendered in all of us, enemy populations (Haniyeh’s daughter?) should not be treated in Israeli hospitals. And there is much more. An enemy is an enemy is an enemy. It cannot be wished away, especially as it desires to destroy the Jewish state. Those who do not desire to live in the Jewish state should take their fight elsewhere, and if what they want is to fight and die, there are many Arab countries from which to choose.

To date, what defines World War IV is the reluctance of the Western world to characterize or fight it as such. The longer the political and ideological ostriches maintain that stance, the longer – and deadlier – this war will be. The Jewish people – despite our size but because of our destiny and divine mission – are called upon the light the nations out of the darkness that currently engulfs them.

Atonement

(NOTE: I again announce the publication in Israel of my new book, entitled “Tzadka Mimeni: The Jewish Ethic of Personal Responsibility.” It is written in English, available now in Israel and should arrive in the United States in a little over a month. Then, it will be available at fine Jewish bookstores. Even now, it can be pre-ordered at Amazon.com or Bn.com. Enjoy!)

My new book (have you heard??) is entitled “Tzadka Mimeni” to recall a specific incident in the Bible that had enormous and historic ramifications. It was the phrase Yehuda (son of Yaakov) used to admit his complicity in the affair with Tamar, who refused to publicly identify him as the father of her child but subtly indicated so to Yehuda. Rather than deny, obfuscate, change the topic or blame someone else, Yehuda admitted his role: “Tzadka Mimeni.” She is more righteous than I am. She is right. I am wrong. It is my fault.

That confession not only saved Tamar’s life and was an act of moral courage; it also qualified Yehuda, in the opinion of our Sages, to become the progenitor of the royal house of Israel. It was the response of a real leader, who knows how to take responsibility for misdeeds and failures and not pass the buck to others.

Those days are long gone, at least here in the United States.

Barack Obama’s inability to take responsibility for anything has become a running joke, albeit one without humor and incapable of inducing laughter. These cannot even be considered gaffes, as they are second (or first?) nature to him. The most recent example is almost run-of-the-mill. Asked whether he was surprised by the rise of ISIL, Obama shifted responsibility for being surprised to the equally hapless James Clapper, even if the intelligence services had, indeed, warned of ISIL’s rise more than a half-year ago. “It wasn’t me! It was him! He didn’t tell me!

It is actually worse than that. I receive a daily briefing on the military situation in Iraq and environs (you can too!) from the Institute for the Study of War, complete with maps and analysis. Note this:

       “ISW’s Jessica Lewis assessed in July 2013 that the group’s leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi literally aimed to declare an Islamic State: “When al Qaeda in Iraq last enjoyed this operational advantage, it chose to announce the birth of the Islamic State of Iraq and to appoint emirs and Shura councils in every province. This historical parallel places Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s recent announcements of his envisioned Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in the literal context of a deliberate campaign to establish governance over areas in Iraq and Syria.”

Check the date: July 2013. That was 15 months ago, at least six months before ISIL became better known in America, and 12 months before they started beheading American journalists.

In August 2013 (that’s over a year ago), ISW reported on ISIL’s territorial gains in Iraq and in Syria, a period that by pure chance coincided with the President’s annual Martha’s Vineyard location. What does ISW know that Obama doesn’t? Perhaps their analysts pay more attention to the intelligence coming their way than the President does to his. Perhaps the President should subscribe to ISW’s daily reports, although he would still have to read them.

But that is only the latest example. The hallmark of this administration has been a headlong flight from personal responsibility – on Putin’s military advances, the botched rollout of Obamacare, the corruption and dirty-dealing at the IRS, the Benghazi attack, the failures at the Veterans Administration, etc., and etc. to the etc. Events seem to swirl around this President and he is often, apparently, the last to know what is happening on his watch and the least able to influence the course of events. He will look dutifully somber, and promise justice, getting to the bottom, etc., but without much passion, engagement, or real acceptance of responsibility. That the White House admitted this week that they learned at the same time the press did that an armed felon rode in an elevator with the President and an unsuspecting Secret Service along for the ride is par for the course (pardon the golf reference). All agencies take their lead from the chief; it stands to reason that the Secret Service is as detached as the man they are sworn to protect.

Indeed, judging by customary reactions from this White House, George W. Bush is more responsible for the events of the last six years than Barack Obama.

This diffidence has had the effect of reducing Obama and the United States on the world scene. Part of this is intentional: Obama believes the dispatch of the American military across the world to be an “evil,” which he will not do absent an attack on the homeland, and perhaps not even then. He does not perceive the US military as a positive, virtuous force (witness the “coffee salute”) but rather as a symptom of the “bad America” that he was elected to transform. And part of this is simply the natural effect of the way Obama is perceived by other world leaders, especially American allies who are counting the days and holding their collective breaths until January 20, 2017.

This week, and once again, Obama was rebuked in private by PM Netanyahu, admonished to “study the facts and details” before reflexively criticizing Israel’s municipal building plans. Foreign leaders have the advantage of piercing the cordon sanitaire that Valerie Jarrett has erected around Obama to shield him from criticism. In private, they tell him exactly how they feel, even if in public, they pay him deference, out of respect to his office and especially to the historic role of the US in world affairs which will outlive even Obama’s efforts to strangle it. Obama, after six years, is unaccustomed to hearing criticism or even dissenting voices and is visibly uncomfortable with it. But it exists.

Netanyahu, who is a serious man and proved it again this week (he also remains Israel’s most effective spokesman when he is overseas), knows that Obama will do nothing about Iran’s nuclear program. The American president lacks both the will and a plan, and, like with ISIS, will offer desultory demonstrations of resolve and might, however ineffectual they are. (In the case of ISIS, an air show that will change nothing on the ground, and in the case of Iran, an empty agreement that will also change nothing.) Personally, I found Obama’s repeated references to the PM as “Bibi” to be disparaging attempts to belittle him; Netanyahu, presumably, had the grace not to refer to Obama as “Barry.” (But did Israel’s PM have to traipse from one treif restaurant to the next in NYC, of all places, and during the Aseret Yemei Teshuva, of all times? There was a time when Israeli leaders had a little more Jewish pride, or at least, self-awareness.)

Incidentally, as noted here not long ago, Obama takes liberties with his conduct of “war” that he doesn’t allow Israel – e.g., bombing from the air (which he insisted that Israel not do in Gaza; for the most part, they ignored him). It is also fascinating how there seem to be no casualties from any US bombing run – neither terrorist nor civilian. Those really are smart bombs.

Leadership requires, first and foremost, the capacity to accept responsibility in a serious and sincere way. So does atonement. At the very heart of Yom Kippur is the recognition, stated again and again, that “I am responsible” for my sins. No one else is responsible. I cannot pound the chest of the person standing next to me, as tempting as that sounds. I cannot shift blame to others for my failures. I cannot hang my mistakes on the fellow who preceded me in my seat in shul.

If anything, the contrast between the modern world and G-d’s expectations for us is so stunning that it should force us to take a deeper, more introspective look at our deeds and misdeeds, our ambitions and objectives in life. Fortunately, Yom Kippur provides us the opportunity to do that.

Politics aside (this too shall pass), our inner world is the real world in which our moral perfection is sought and measured, and where it has true substance and makes an eternal difference. May we take such messages to heart, merit      G-d’s grace and forgiveness, and be inscribed for a year of life, good health, prosperity and peace.

Obama’s War Rules

President Obama has belatedly come around to the necessity of confronting the murderers of ISIS before they threaten the American homeland directly, but better late than never. His goal – to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the so-called Islamic State – is admirable if open-ended. His chosen measures to accomplish this objective are somewhat wanting, as if he just wants to be seen as doing something more than actually doing something, but perhaps he has begun to accept one basic truth: sometimes you can’t choose your enemies; your enemies choose you.

And if his declaration that there is nothing “Islamic” about Islamic State is a tad overdrawn – the killing of infidels is a perennial and sacred obligation – something has awakened his displeasure, certainly the murder of innocents and the future threat to the United States … but also his plummeting poll numbers.

For sure, Obama is a reluctant warrior, and we wish him (and us) well in the coming campaign. Before commencing the hostilities, though, he should become more acquainted with the modern rules of warfare to which he subscribes but will soon find encumber his success. They are as follows:

  • Never use disproportionate force. ISIS does not have an air force. As such, bombing their strongholds from the air would be overkill, not to mention unfair. Their favorite weapons are machetes and knives, and so, if the US Air Force is not going to drop sharp implements on the enemy from the air, we must at least ensure that the Arab forces that will constitute the boots on the ground will be so equipped. The use of disproportionate force is immoral and probably a war crime, even if it once was the key to victory.
  • Never injure or kill a civilian. ISIS forces routinely hide among civilians, do not always dress in military garb and are not always easily identifiable as fighters. Even when they are identifiable, if their military convoys are ensconced within civilian traffic, they are by definition off limits. If their homes and headquarters are located among civilian facilities or in residential neighborhoods, they are untouchable. If they wage their battles in civilian neighborhoods, it is critical to desist from any type of military activity that might harm a single innocent civilian, even at the cost of mission failure.
  • Ensure that casualties on both sides are equal. It is unacceptable that one side in a conflict should suffer many more casualties than the other side. That per se is proof beyond a reasonable doubt of the use of disproportionate force. Thus, Obama’s coalition must mandate that the casualties of the allies must equal – to a man – the casualties of ISIS. If not, well, the specter of being tried for war crimes will hang over the head of every combatant, general, president or prime minister who has a hand in this confrontation.
  • Have lawyers and ethicists vet every potential target before striking. Human life is too precious to allow such decisions to be made only by generals and commanders whose only interest is victory. Objective third-parties – perhaps even United Nations Human Rights commissioners – should be able to review battle plans before every mission and even artillery coordinates before shells are launched. Although this also might jeopardize the mission, we must be able to maintain our moral standards and especially in the face of an immoral enemy. We should not lower ourselves to their level; rather we will impose on ourselves a double, if necessary a triple, standard to guarantee fidelity to our treasured norms.
  • Embed American journalists among the ISIS fighters. This serves a double purpose: it ensures that there will be television cameras recording every bomb that explodes (assuming the above-referenced advice on dropping only knives is not heeded) and that every civilian casualty can be noted and mourned for posterity. Of course, having reporters on the ground is the only way that survivors can be interviewed and their stories about the effects of the horrific bombing campaign of the evil Americans can be told. It is also the only way to effectively calculate the number of civilians who are killed. Sad to say, do not be surprised if it turns out that only civilians were killed, and that no ISIS fighters at all were harmed – the very definition of indiscriminate bombing, another war crime.

     It is also very important to get the ISIS side of the story out in the public domain. The bad PR they currently have is undoubtedly due to the rough treatment they have afforded journalists to date, but they will learn to befriend reporters or, at the very least, intimidate some (i.e., by letting them to retain their heads) into underscoring the casualties of every American strike and downplaying their own excesses or malevolence. After all, there are two sides to every story.

  • There is no military solution to this problem. Guns and bombs never settled any conflict, and if anything, only serve to prolong it. Violence breeds more violence, hatred engenders more hatred. The cycle of violence must stop. War is so 20th century, maybe even 19th Civilized people talk through their issues and settle their disputes through words, not weapons.

     Indeed, the bombing campaign cannot take more than one month. If ISIS is not eliminated within a month, then another way must be found to deal with them as it would be clear that the problem is only going to get worse over time, not better. No one wants another long war (like World War II or Vietnam) and America especially must focus on repairing its battered economy, finding its shrinking work force new, good-paying jobs, and concentrating on redistributing the wealth of the haves to the have-nots. The problems in the Middle East are distant, hazy images on a television screen, and do not really affect Americans in their daily lives. So, if ISIS is not eradicated in a month, negotiate.

  • Self-determination is a cherished, Wilsonian goal that is universally applicable. The people of ISIS have declared their independence in territory under their control. They have decided to rid themselves of their prior allegiance to the Iraqi tyranny or the Syrian tyranny by establishing their own, home-grown tyranny. And that is their democratic right. We should not be cultural imperialists imposing our values on other political systems. Who’s to say that the American values of freedom, liberty, democracy and human rights are inherently attractive to all? Perhaps the futility of war will convince all parties of the viability of the two-state solution, the three-state solution, or as many states as ISIS wishes to create. Neither Syria nor Iraq seem to need all the territory they claim for themselves anyway, and there is plenty of land to go around for everyone (unlike, say, in Israel).

These are only some of the hurdles Barack Obama will have to overcome in his war of choice. Undoubtedly he will, and we wish him the greatest success. The future of the free world might depend on it. And if somehow the rules of engagement change and the war is fought to win, with all the appropriate and necessary measures employed when wars were fought to win, perhaps those changes can be applied elsewhere in the Middle East as well…

Syria’s Business

OJ Simpson, still in prison, is reportedly converting to Islam, and that is just what Muslims need: a veteran beheader to supplement their growing roster of rookie beheaders. Islam’s latest recruit is not unusual – for years, Islam has successfully spread its gospel in America’s jails and attracted thousands of new adherents – but it does underscore the dangers that the US and the civilized world are facing and, led tepidly and hesitantly by President Obama, facing without much success, direction or energy.

Obama’s foreign policy blunders will be the subject of dissertations for decades to come. He has stumbled in every region which he has entered, an unblemished record of failure. The “reset” with Russia now looks amateurish, if not a bad joke; Putin simply does not take Obama seriously, and rightfully so. The only limitation on Putin’s expansionist ambitions is Putin himself. He could have Ukraine tomorrow if he so chooses, and Lithuania the day after. Obama has offended allies as diverse as Israel, Saudi Arabia, Poland and Japan, none of whom have any confidence in his willingness to do anything more than offer canned rhetoric, vacuous clichés and bad advice. Each country therefore pursues its interests on its own, alternately humoring and ignoring Obama as needed.

The “red line” threat issued to Syria and then blithely ignored encouraged Assad and emboldened Putin. No one seriously believes that all of Syria’s chemical weapons are gone, and Assad will likely still be in power long after Obama has written his fourth or fifth autobiography. Obama’s (and Hillary Clinton’s) repeated demands that “Assad must go,” were rightly perceived as risible. Surprise! Their wish is not his command; finally, someone who is immune to Obama’s charms and unimpressed with his words.

China is flexing its muscle in Asia, North Korea continues to taunt and threaten, and even Mexico holds in captivity for months already a former US Marine who mistakenly crossed the border (he, apparently, is the only person on the planet who cannot sneak from Mexico into the United States). An American president who was respected would have solved this crisis long ago, but first he has to take an interest in the fate of this soldier and then be seen as a force with whom other leaders must reckon.

The planned withdrawal from Afghanistan will produce there the same mayhem that the unilateral retreat from Iraq engendered – a grand opening for terrorists, marauders and murderers of all stripes. Obama’s participation – from “behind” of course – in the war on Libya and the demise of Qaddafi has resulted in the birth of a radical Islamic and anti-American regime there, whose thugs just this week captured the US Embassy in Tripoli and cavorted in its swimming pool.

That outcome should offer us a lesson that is instructive today: be careful what (and who) you overthrow.

The labyrinthine web of shifting alliances across the world boggles the mind. Last week’s Wall Street Journal featured a tangled chart of all the convoluted relationships – adversaries that are allied to fight one common enemy while fighting each other on other fronts. For one example, the US is allied with Iran against ISIS, but mindful of Iran’s malevolence in other spheres. Russia is a wild card in many regions. It is enough to make one’s head spin, but a good reminder that, contrary to the common aphorism, sometimes the enemy of your enemy is still your enemy.

Rather than punt, kick the can down the road, admit the absence of strategy years into the existence of the problem, golf, fund-raise, vacation or analyze a situation until it causes policy paralysis, Obama, the US and friendly countries simply have to prioritize. Life is about making choices, and often disagreeable choices, choices not between good and bad but between better and worse. In retrospect, much of the recent anarchy in the Middle East has come about because of the overthrow (or attempted overthrow) of radical dictators – like Qaddafi or Assad – who, for all the violence and turmoil they spawned and innocent people they killed, at least brought some measure of stability to their countries and immediate vicinity.

For sure, neither man deserved (or deserves) to live or remain in power. Both were brutal killers, Jew-haters, and fomenters of terror across the globe. The only virtue in having either remain in power was that the vacuum caused by their downfall (in Assad’s case, of course, his decline) brought to the fore far more radical, anti-American, Jew-hating and violence-loving maniacs. Libya is today controlled by radical Muslims (that phrase is becoming a redundancy) who gleefully murder, maim and terrorize without compunction. As awful as it sounds, wasn’t Libya, the region, or the world a better, more stable place when that murderous nut Qaddafi was in power? The correct answer is yes.

The same can be said for Bashar al-Assad. For sure, this psychopath has played a double game for years (along with his late psychopathic father). For all their rhetoric, Israel’s border with Syria has been its quietest border for 30 years. That is not the case anymore, as the deranged rebels have captured part of the Syrian side of the Golan Heights and shelled Israel. Israelis have already been evacuated from that area to a safer zone more inland on the Golan. Assad has been quite discreet in his direct dealings with Israel, avoiding any confrontation that could induce an Israeli strike on his territory and instead relying on the use of proxies like Hezbollah to slake his thirst for Jewish blood.

Hezbollah remains a problem, although it has been greatly distracted by other wars in the region. But now that ISIS controls large swaths of Syria and Iraq, isn’t it fair to say that the status quo ante (ante ISIS in particular) – a stable Syria ruled by the iron-fisted Assad – was preferable to the bedlam that exists today? The correct answer is yes.

It needs to be said that the same does not apply to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, notwithstanding that he too kept an uneasy peace among the various factions that comprise Iraq. Nevertheless, the world is a better place without him. For sure, with Saddam Hussein in power there never would have been an ISIS. But Hussein – unlike Assad or even Qaddafi in his later years – had pretensions to be more than just a regional power. He was a genocidal lunatic who had already massacred tens of thousands of Kurds with poison gas and hundreds of thousands of others. He harbored ambitions to obtain weapons of mass destruction – several times; once, of course, famously thwarted by Israel – and would surely have obtained them within a few years once the world’s attention shifted elsewhere. Even the level of factional violence in Iraq after Hussein’s demise did not reach the level of violence sustained by Hussein while he was in power, and the US left Iraq a far better place than before. The shame is that the US pulled out precipitously, allowing Iraq to collapse and all sorts of unpleasant actors to seize power.

The primary mistake made in Iraq was made with good intentions but was a mistake nonetheless: it was the notion that an Arab state could sustain a democratic system. It is hard to escape the realization – sad but true – that the Arab world is not ready for and presently incapable of democratization. It is not in their culture or history, and it is not even perceived as a value. We have long deluded ourselves into believing that freedom as we perceive it and the concomitant liberties that democracies safeguard are cherished and universal values. Would that it were so! But it is not. For years, many Americans celebrated (and exaggerated) glimmers of democratic processes anywhere – look! The Saudi local councils allow simple people to petition the rulers, even women! But the truth is that the Saudis, Russians, Chinese and many other people simply do not embrace democracy as a value. Indeed, many people would largely prefer stability and security to freedom and personal responsibility, something that has historically been anathema to Americans.

Democracy has not worked out well in Egypt, Gaza, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya and other such entities. It has bred discontent and allowed the creation and sometimes the election of even more radical elements. So, choices have to be made. The civilized world – and even a good part of the uncivilized world – has belatedly recognized that ISIS is the primary threat today, not that it has anything more than light weapons but because its ideology is utterly genocidal. It threatens everybody – even other killers and kooks. If defeating ISIS in the long-term means strengthening Assad in the short term, so be it.

The old world order cannot be restored but far-sighted diplomats such as once existed (but are no longer extant) would be able to use the current disorder to fashion (or impose) a more stable environment. Iraq as it once existed is gone. Rather than forcing it to regain its old form, it should be partitioned. The Kurds in the north have earned and thus deserve their own independent state. Much of the rest of the territory should be divided into separate Sunni and Shiite states, with the oil revenue equitably distributed between them. Western Iraq should be designated for the “Palestinian” refugees and the state that we hear they so desire.

And clever diplomats will be able to structure governments in Shi’a Iraq that look westward for alliances instead of north to Iran. For as America spins its wheels in search of a strategy, the Iran’s centrifuges also continue to spin, and its genocidal sociopaths edge ever closer to their own nuclear bomb.

That might not concern President Obama or even OJ Simpson, but it should concern Jews, Americans and the free world.

 

 

Stalemate

One has to give credit to PM Netanyahu for snatching a stalemate from the jaws of potential victory and spinning it as an historic triumph. His rhetorical gifts certainly exceed his strategic vision. But the turning point in the recent conflict – and a sure indication that nothing would change, nothing gained, and dangers would still loom ahead – happened at a very early stage when the Prime Minister fired the Deputy Defense Minister, Dani Danon, for vocally opposing Netanyahu’s acceptance of the first cease fire proposal – even before the IDF had uncovered the tunnels of terror. (Imagine if Hamas had accepted that cease fire, enabling them to carry out their planned Rosh Hashana massacres.)

For that prescience, Danon was fired, which also served as a warning shot across the bow of Avigdor Lieberman and Naphtali Bennett, both consistent critics of the PM’s handling of the war. With the hostilities on temporary hiatus (it is expected that Israel will relax its border controls and allow Hamas to import deadlier missiles and cement and steel to rebuild its tunnels; it’s only fair), Netanyahu ably wrapped himself in the mantle of unity the other night. That is also a neat trick, lauding the unity of the nation during this crisis and subtly implying that unity means following his lead and dissent is an example of disunity. People do fall for that line, but how many do will go a long way to determining Netanyahu’s political future, not just nationally but even in the Likud party itself.

His approach reminds me of the Pruzansky Plan for Jewish Unity, suggested many years ago, which, succinctly summarized, proposed that “everyone should agree with me.” Then there will be unity. It was never implemented, to my chagrin, because it turned out that several million other people had the exact same idea. But the overt criticism of the Cabinet dissenters was more election-positioning than a genuine concern about the united front during battle, especially since Lieberman and Bennett gave Netanyahu cover on the right flank by demanding harsher action against the enemy, usually a staple of wartime.

But when the enemy fires 70 rockets on your civilians on the first day of battle and 184 rockets on the last day of battle, it is a stretch to claim that it has suffered some grievous defeat. In essence, nothing changed, except for the 70 Jews killed and the hundreds more wounded. The enemy is unbowed, unbroken and in some sense even more brazen, farcically so, but nonetheless. It was on the ropes during the second week of the war when a conscious decision was made not to win, with “win” meaning surrender. It certainly was doable under the normal processes of warfare, in which the enemy is the enemy, and is not coddled, fed, nurtured and sustained by the very people they are trying to murder.

At one time this was obvious. Rashi comments on this week’s Torah portion (Devarim 20:1) that there is an enemy in war, and that enemy should be perceived as an enemy, with all that entails. “Have no mercy on them, because they will have no mercy on you.” Or, as George Patton put it, “May G-d have mercy upon my enemies, because I won’t.” Something has changed, in which victory itself has become anathema to modern man – especially citizens of democracies – as if victory over an enemy is repugnant, immoral and undesirable. There is more that will be said about this at another time, but the question before us is: what inhibited Israel from actually inflicting a death blow on a ruthless enemy of inferior resources and infinite malevolence? Why does Israel constantly hold back, and even worse, actually send provisions – food, fuel, electricity, water – to sustain an enemy population that wants to destroy it and that voted overwhelmingly for the thugs who govern them and rejoice in the death of Jews? Why not do, for once, what is necessary to win?

Many will point to the customary inhibitors – Obama or the American left, the Europeans, the UN, the Arab street, etc. There is some merit to that but it is ultimately unsatisfactory and self-defeating. The enemy is strengthened, and wars and terror are fomented, when the Arabs realize that Israel will pull its punches, not fight to win, and will flinch from actually changing the dynamic of the conflict. (For example, laying siege to Gaza – and sticking to it until surrender, regardless of world pressure – could have resulted in that very surrender, benefitting especially the Gazans and the Middle East. The siege is an ancient tactic, and the enemy could have controlled the escape from the siege – surrender. But Israel feared doing what is normal, and it will claim it is because of the “world.”) Is that true? Maybe on some level. But I believe there is another factor at work that serves to weaken Israel in every conflict and in its conduct of war and statecraft.

Israel is hampered by its self-definition – by the “values” that it claims renders it unique. In general, those values are noble, but in wartime they are completely misplaced, and often comical when applied.

So Israel’s concern for the preservation of life deters it from laying siege to the enemy – and engenders such anomalies – now so taken for granted by the “world” that Israel could never abandon these prescriptions without being accused of war crimes – as warning the enemy that an attack is coming, calling on them to leave, rushing to provide them medical care and all the provisions meant to keep them alive and fighting for another decade or ten.

There are reasons why armies – certainly not those of the bad guys, but even not those of the good guys, like the Allies in World War II – have never conducted wars in this fashion. It is because it is stupid, ineffective, and serves to prolong the hostilities thereby producing more casualties. But it feels good! These measures feel good and reinforce a sense of moral superiority, but make no sense and are wholly unrelated – and even antithetical to – the Torah’s ethic of warfare. To many people, feeling good about the conduct of war is more important than actually winning it.

There are other examples as well. Why doesn’t Israel attack cherished religious assets of the Arab population in order to deter or punish terror – such as shutting the Temple Mount or the Cave of the Patriarchs to them, or even dismantling the mosques on the Temple Mount for relocation in Iraq or Saudi Arabia? Because Israel prides itself on the freedom of religion it guarantees to all, even non-citizens, and even to its enemies in wartime.

Why didn’t Israel declare Gaza a closed military zone, banning journalists and photographers from covering the wars and sparing us the sights of the dead women and children, killed because Hamas forced them to be human shields? Because Israel prides itself on protecting freedom of the press and easy access to anywhere on the battlefield. But such generosity of spirit hampers the war effort and makes victory impossible. There is a reason why war zones are often closed to the press – Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, etc., leading to those wars falling out of the headlines and the public consciousness: it is because wars cannot be won when the hyper-sensitivity of third-parties, especially tendentious journalists, riles up public opinion. As it happens, those wars are being waged by evildoers, but the US in Iraq and Afghanistan often closed certain areas to the press, for their own protection, of course.

There is also something beyond bizarre about the need for every military action or response to require the approval of a gaggle of lawyers before being conducted – or frequently nixed by those very lawyers – but Israel prides itself on being a nation that respects laws, even the international laws of warfare that no one else honors, except occasionally by wistful mention of them after the conflict has ended successfully.

Note that none of these are Jewish values, except in the most general and undefined way. The Torah is quite explicit that wars are to be waged to win, and that Jewish life is not to be lost in the quixotic quest to spare the lives of the enemy, whether military or civilian (granted, in the current context, a distinction without a difference). These are all Western values, but in theory not practice, as few countries inhibit their militaries because of these niceties. Hence the staggering loss of civilian life in the United States’ wars in Middle East, which did not produce much hand-wringing anywhere.

For all the phony and hypocritical criticism of Israel’s conduct of the war in Gaza and the civilian casualties that resulted (relatively few, compared to every other similar conflict), Israel could write the manual on how to conduct urban warfare and minimize civilian casualties. No other war comes even close. But why would they want to? No army should seek to intentionally inflict casualties on innocent civilians, but nor should any army or government encumber its conduct of war and deprive itself of victory by mistaken notions of morality and by adhering to rules of war that seem to be crafted precisely for Israel, and only for Israel, and precisely to deprive it of even the possibility of victory.

That is ultimately a failure of leadership. That the double standard is obvious does not make it a measure of pride. I have yet to hear the Israeli government speak with vehemence and passion, not about the unfairness of the double standard, but against their eagerness to abide by it and about the unfairness of the mere suggestion that it should. And this plays directly into another execrable dimension of Israeli self-definition – the need to feel like victims, to mourn and lament the deaths, injuries, incessant terror and unending hatred – rather than take the war to the enemy in a way that shocks them by the wrath, might and power of Israel.

There are too many Jews that are uncomfortable with Jewish power. They would never admit it, but they prefer grieving at the funerals of soldiers and terror victims to marching in a victory parade. To be sure, I am not at all implying that this is a motivating factor for Netanyahu, Bogie Yaalon or anyone in particular. Nor is it necessarily conscious, but too many people are wedded to the status quo and will never take steps – no matter the provocation – to change it for the better, to seek even the absolute defeat of a single enemy. They are locked into defensive mode, responding, always responding, and always hesitating to take the initiative in a way that will challenge or force the revision of the aforementioned self-definitions.

The glorification of victimhood has seeped into the Jewish DNA because of the centuries during which our blood was shed with impunity. But is unconscionable, immoral and fallacious, and it has to stop. We need not feel guilty over defeating our enemies, nor over the catastrophes they bring on themselves, nor over our survival, nor over our G-d-given homeland. But how we perceive ourselves today has produced a narrative that makes victory difficult, if not impossible, but is not normal.

That the Prime Minister’s popularity is plummeting, and that there is great discontent over the stalemate that ended the current conflict but which 87% of the people feel will just presage the next (and likely deadlier) one within the next two years, suggest that many Israelis are tired of the game, the lack of strategic vision and the disdain for victory that characterizes current government policy. They are looking to craft a new narrative, in which the Jewish people can access the morality of Torah in order to educate the world as to how to combat our era’s brutal, merciless foe – the non-state terror group that lacks any inhibitions and seeks only victory and the fulfillment of its murderous objectives.

When our self-definition encompasses nothing more than the Torah’s values and our willingness to embrace and actualize G-d’s eternal morality, we will be a “light onto the nations” even in the conduct of war and hasten the day of victory and redemption for all mankind.

 

 

 

Liars and Their Lies

Here in Israel, life is settling back to what passes for normal, but with everyone wondering will the cease fire hold, and for how long? But the most animated question as people reflect on the war is how do you deal with an enemy that knows no moral limits or boundaries, and considers the death of civilians and children a victory – an essential part in their war strategy? What Israel learns will benefit the world, as Hamas and its style of warfare might soon – if not thwarted here – come to a theater near you, and not the movie theater.

Mark Twain said it best: “a lie can travel halfway around the world  while the truth is putting on its shoes.” The lies of Hamas are so pervasive that one wonders whether they actually believe them. They are worse than even that infamous telephone exchange (recorded by US intelligence) during the Six Day War between Egypt’s dictator Nasser and Jordan’s King Hussein about whether they should blame the Americans for Israel’s air supremacy or the Americans and the British. Both could not accept that their air forces had been destroyed by Jews. Undoubtedly, had both taken polygraphs, both dictators would have passed; such is the power of self-deception.

Hamas has taken the art of lying to new depths, and in large part has convinced those pre-disposed to seeing only evil in Jews but has even intimidated some Jews. Let us count the ways, literally.

From the earliest days of the recent war, Hamas lamented to the world the death of its civilians, starting at 200 and then finishing at approximately 1900. All civilians. Every last one. Every Hamas spokesman – even those hiding in the luxury of Qatar – had the identical figures in real time. Even more astounding, everyone killed in Gaza was a civilian. Somehow, not one terrorist was killed.

There are several possibilities that explain this anomaly.  It is certainly possible that Hamas fighters are impervious to bullets and bombs, which bounce off them, ricochet and strike innocent civilians. Or, perhaps Israeli technology – already mind-boggling in its sophistication –  has developed weaponry in which individual shells are capable of distinguishing between terrorists and civilians, sort of a variation on the neutron bomb that killed people but left people intact, and said weapons always make a beeline for civilians.  Or, perhaps Hamas is just lying, and their lies are being repeated verbatim by tendentious journalists. I’ll vote for the latter, seeing as all the figures are production of the Gazan Department of Health which is controlled by Hamas.

Within weeks, Israel will release a list of every person – by name! – who was killed in Gaza, and it will be clear that most people killed were terrorists, and the remainder were the support system for the terrorists, including women and children, whether willingly or unwillingly.

These names are important because one picture can be worth a thousand lies. The internet is crawling with pictures – easily accessible – presented by Hamas as evidence of Israeli atrocities – but pictures “borrowed” from the massacres of Bashar al-Assad in Syria and other places. Indeed, one family had the great misfortune of being murdered by Assad last year, and apparently again by Israel in the last few weeks. Perhaps the most repugnant of these expropriated images was a picture of a dead baby purportedly killed by the evil Israelis, released by Hamas and swallowed whole by the media – when in fact it was a picture of the slaughtered Fogel baby from Itamar, murdered by Arabs five years ago. Same picture, easily found on the internet. Unless, there are homes in Gaza that have Mezuzot on the door.

Dishonorable mention must be made of the staged photography, of stills and videos taken of “victims” – complete with wailing women – with just two minutes later those same “victims” (official cameras turned off) getting up and walking away unscathed. The hospitals themselves are part of this charade, no real surprise because most Gaza hospitals serve as Hamas headquarters or arms depots as well. That is not to say that no one was killed – obviously not – but that both the numbers and the circumstances are clearly not what has been portrayed. And Israel committed to truth, frequently answered that it is “investigating” a variety of brazen accusations, but those investigations usually ended (and exonerated Israel) long after the world’s attention span had drifted elsewhere.

Much of the staging has taken place in the so-called UN schools. The working theory that Hamas deceives the naive UN workers and squirreled away weapons and fighters in the UNRWA establishments is implausible. The UN is part of problem.  UNWRA is part of the problem. Its Gaza offices are staffed by Hamas members or Arab sympathizes (a more pleasant term than Jew-haters). Israel plays along, as it has for decades, because the UN – essentially a worthless, even counterproductive organization – provides Israel some of the international legitimacy it craves. But it has always been a thorn in Israel’s side, ever regretful of the only decision that warranted its creation – the establishment of a Jewish state in 1947 (after which it did everything possible to render stillborn). These “schools” are offensive staging areas and weapons storage facilities, and not by accident but by design, and in cooperation with the UN officials who doth protest too much. The “schools” serve as propaganda weapons and helped propagate the lies of the enemy.

Add to the lies the fact that two of the schools hit – where apparently no weapons were stored – were hit by Hamas rockets that went awry, all captured on film from Israeli drones. No matter. Hamas accuses first, and the union of the gullible and the malevolent buy it immediately.

The language used by the Arab propagandists also reeks of duplicity. Officials delight in calling Israelis “Nazis,” and terming Israeli actions in self-defense “genocide” or “ethnic cleansing.” Hmmm. The Talmud (Masechet Kiddushin 70b) states that “kal haposel b’moomo posel,” loosely translated as “he who besmirches others does so with his own blemish.” The only entity thinking, dreaming and planning for genocide is Hamas and its Arab henchmen, and genocide intended for the Jews, in Israel and across the world. The only entities that harbor Nazi-like ambitions are Hamas, and others – Iran, Al Qaeda, ISIS and the other crazies that inhabit the Muslim world and are threatening the rest of civilization.

Sadly, the lies are a way of life. Muslims adhere to a religious doctrine known as Taqiyya (or Kitman) which permits lying in order to further the conduct of a noble goal like victory over the infidel. Do note the irony: Judaism permits lying in order to foster peace (Masechet Bava Metzia 87a), Islam in order to advance the cause of jihad and war.

Even more sadly, many across the world are eager to accept the lies to assuage guilt over the Holocaust, to promote Jew hatred, to weaken Israel, to strengthen Islam, and to prevent an Israeli victory. Long before Twain noted the difficulty in combating lies, King David did as well, in Psalm 120: “Lord, save me from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue. What can be given to you, what can be added, to lying lips?…Too long have I dwelled with those who hate peace.”

The Israeli government has done a remarkable job in countering the lies – point by point, picture by picture – the only problems being that exposure of the truth lags somewhat behind the propagation of the lies, and that the world market for truth is somewhat limited.

But there are certain aspects of Hamas’ conduct of war that transcend the obvious but unprosecuted commission of war crimes and enter the realm of the grotesque, monstrous, and ghastly. IDF soldiers were disproportionately killed by Hamas members wearing IDF uniforms emerging from tunnels. Children were used to lure IDF soldiers to their deaths – the children as well – in booby-trapped buildings. (Naturally, Israel would be blamed for the deaths of those children, as they would be for the murder of dozens of Arabs deemed collaborators and killed by Hamas.) More than 160 children were killed in the last few years while being forced to build the Hamas tunnels designed to murder Jews. At one point, Hamas placed a fake “UNRWA School” sign in front of a building, again to lure IDF soldiers into complacency. Several times, ghoulish Hamas soldiers grabbed the body parts of IDF casualties and ran off with them. This is even sicker than just the coerced use of human shields to create a bevy of martyrs.

This is not human, or reflects such a nadir of humanity that any critic of Israel or supporter of Hamas should question their own morality and decency. It seems as if every Jew-hater on the planet has emerged from his cave (or university office) to bash Israel for having the temerity to live, defend its citizens and respond with measured force to every provocation. The criticism is fixed and often unserious (no one has yet to answer Israel’s pointed question: what would you do to prevent rockets from falling on your people?). Those critics simply require satisfaction of their blood lust for dead Jews. They must maintain that Jews have to die in certain numbers to justify exercising our right of self-defense. It is sick.

There are Jews who will soon tire of the world criticism and urge Israel’s leadership to improve the optics (maybe have more funerals, shut down Iron Dome for a few days to allow civilian suffering to be filmed for posterity, absorb a few blows and be a better sport towards their genocidal enemy.) The voices of those Jews should be ignored.

Fortunately, the will here is strong, and recognition of the enemy’s evil is clear.  The sense of us against them – the moral, good and decent vs. the immoral, the evil and the repugnant – is pervasive. The battle continues, as does the desire to sanctify G-d’s name through holiness, good deeds, Torah study, prayer and self-defense. May the rest of the world – “friends” and foes – share that desire, work to protect and preserve Jewish life, and never accommodate itself to such unadulterated wickedness.

And may G-d bless the holy and pure and bring salvation to His troubled world.

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8bwiour-iM&feature=youtu.be

See http://www.thomaswictor.com/gaza-sniper-video-definitively-debunked/

See http://www.ndtv.com/article/world/ndtv-exclusive-how-hamas-assembles-and-fires-rockets-571033

And fifty others such videos.