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January 25, 2019     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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PAGE 4A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 25, 2019 By Danny Danon (JNS)--Over the past several weeks, much discussion has been made about the events last spring on the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip. Many have equivocated the actions of violent rioters inspired by Hamas (a terrorist organization) and those of Israel's soldiers charged with defending the sovereignty of a liberal democracy. This abhorrent argument demonstrates a false moral equivalence and, above all, misses the context of the events. Last spring, Hamas-inspired rioters gath- ered on the Gazan side of the border fence with Israel in what was billed as the "Great March of Return." With such a provocative name, the question bears asking: a return to where? The answer that much of the media believed is "to their ancestral homelands." This is a politically correct euphemism for saying: to destroy Israel. Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar was more explicit: to "tear down their [Israel's] border and tear out [Israelis'] hearts." In carrying out this directive, a group of rioters that briefly managed to infiltrate into Israel were brandishing butcher knives and shouting "Jews, we're coming to slaughter you!" And therein lies the blunt truth of Hamas: It is driven by a hatred of the Jewish people and seeks the destruction of the Jewish state. Shabbat on the high seas By Mel Pearlman ligious, political, and social divisions among our people. As I mentioned in my column two weeks On one hand, left-leaning progressive Jews ago, whenever my wife and I travel overseas bring their secular views into the religious we always listen for the sounds of Jewish. context by seeking to change the traditional In that column I described how, upon customs, symbols, and texts associated with boarding our cruise ship on the Friday after- Shabbat and the Jewish holidays. They wrap noon before Christmas, I was hoping to have their social and political positions into their Shabbat services that evening aboard ship. I sense of religious piety which insulates them was pleasantly surprised to see so many co- from criticism in the public debate. religionists appear despite their long journeys Supporting equality and fighting discrimi- to the ship and enduring the hassles of the nation and abuse is a worthy cause. But must boarding process, it really be done by diluting the importance What followed was a beautiful pluralistic of the Passover story for instance, which we service led by a very knowledgable self- are mandated to tell in every generation as appointed female congregant accompanied a unique Jewish historical experience? Of by a more traditional male congregant who course not! sang the prayers in Hebrew using traditional On the other hand, the intolerance and melodies. Everyone was eager to share his or contempt by some orthodox Jewish sects her prayer book with his or her fellow Jew. for non-observant Jews is counter-intuitive Despite their diverse Jewish religious because Judaism is notonlyareligion;we are backgrounds and numerous nationalities, a sovereign people with a unique ethnicity, almost all of the congregants joined in the culture, and language. Singing of the Shabbat songs and prayers, a Do these orthodox Jewish sects care to feed testament to the universality and unity of and clothe the widowed, the poor, and the the Jewish people, hungry only if the recipients are observant? It was heart-warming to see Jews coming Of course not! together to create a Shabbat service on a Of all the gifts the Torah bestows on the cruise ship, respecting, or atleasttemporarily Jewish people, Shabbat is among the most setting aside, their differing religious views cherished by all Jews. It is so fundamentally and beliefs. Everyone recognized the special a part of the Jewish people that it was given circumstances that none ofuswere at home or to all Jews as a renewable resource to assure in our usual synagogues; and how important that even if we miss one Shabbat we only itisforJewstocometogethertocelebrateand have to wait six days to again embrace its observe Shabbat wherever they are. rest, warmth and serenity. Unfortunately, these feelings did not carry It was very unfortunate that so many Jews over to the next Shabbat on board. A week aboard that ship forgot the true meaning later, both liberal and orthodox Jews showed of what Shabbat was all about! They really less tolerance and sensitivity for each other's "missed the boat" on this one. points of view about ritual and observance. If you wish to comment or respond you After less than a civil discussion, onegroup can reach me at melpearlman322@gmail. retreated to a different room resulting in split com. Please do so in a rational, thoughtful, services, a shortage of prayer books for both respectful and civil manner. Shabbat Shalom groups, and insufficient wine and challah, and Happy New Year! which the ship had graciously furnished. Mel Pearlman holds B.S. & M.S. degrees There was very little evidence of that child- in physics as well as a J.D. degree and ini- hood song, we teach our children in early tially came to Florida in 1966 to work on education,'Tve got that Shabbat feeling." the Gemini and Apollo space programs. He What was a beautiful Shabbat service the has practiced law in Central Florida since week before turned into an ugly display of 1972. He has served as president of the Jew- Jewish disunity and acrimony. Many of the ish Federation of Greater Orlando; was a attendees, disgusted and frustrated by this charter board member, first Vice President debacle simply left and did not participate andpro-bono legal counseloftheHolocaust in services at all. Memorial Resource and Education Centerof Responsibility for this fiasco must be shared CentralFlorida, as well as holding many other by both sides and accentuates the serious re- community leadership positions. ]THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT. [ CENTRAL FLORIDA'SINDEPENDENTJEWISHVOICE # ISSN 0199-0721 Winner of 46 Press Awards IEWISH NEWS HERITAGE Florida Jewish News (ISN 0199-0721) is published weekly for $37.95 per year to Florida ad- dresses ($46.95 for the rest of the U.S.) by HERITAGE Central Florida Jewish News, Inc 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park, FL 32730. Periodicals postage paid at Fern Park and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes and other correspondence to: HERITAGE, P.O. Box 300742, Fern Park, FL 32730. MAILING ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER P.O. Box 300742 (407) 834-8787 Fern Park, FL 32730 FAX (407) 831-0507 email: news@orlandoheritage.com Editor/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor News Editor Gene Starn Kim Fischer Christine DeSouza Society Editor Office Manager Gloria Yousha Paulette Alfonso Account Executives K/m Fischer Marci Gaeser Contributing Columnists Jim Shipley Mel Pearlman David Bomstein Ed Ziegler Production Department David Lehman Gil Dombrosky Joyce Gore In short, it is one of the most anti-Semitic organizations in the world. This statement is not hyperbole or in- tended for fear-mongering. It is a recognition of fact, both in word and deed. Inword, Hamas's charter infamously calls for the destruction of Israel, and its leaders have regularly stated that they "love death as the Jews love life." In action, Hamas has turned the Gaza Strip into a launching pad from which to realize its genocidal ambitions. When Israel unilaterally pulled every soldier and civilian out of the Strip in the 2005 disengagement, the Palestinians had the opportunity to govern themselves and prove to Israel and the world that they could exist alongside the Jewish state in peace. Yet Hamas seized power and increased its rocket attacks against Israel. In response, Israel, as well as Egypt, imposed a naval blockade to prevent the terror organization from acquiring weapons from foreign sup- porters such as Iran, its primary sponsor. Israel also constructed a fence along the border to protect its civilian communities in the south; Egypt would soon do the same to prevent infiltration from the Sinai Peninsula. In the more than 10 years it has ruled the Gaza Strip, Hamas has done nothing to im- prove the lives of the Palestinians under its control. Instead, it has stolen international aid to fund its terrorist agenda, kidnapped Israeli soldiers and civilians, launched thou- sands of rockets and dug attack tunnels into neighboring Israeli communities, all while using the people of Gaza as human shields. Which brings us to the riots. Many try to claim that these were "non- violent" protests, which is objectively false. Others try to paint the image that these events were another demonstration of Pales- tinian nationalism--akin to something like a state fair in America--to suggest an in- nocent, care-free excursion, which is grossly misleading. "Nonviolent" protestors do not carry knives, wire-cutters and improvised firebombs. Hamas co-founder Mahmoud al-Zahar even said this characterization was intentionally deceptive as the riots were "not a peaceful resistance." Is there any clearer indication of intent? When a Hamas official publicly stated that more than 80 percent of the rioters killed in a two-day period were terrorist operatives, it became inexcusable to believe that these riots were peaceful demonstrations. The world could no longer ignore what Israel had known all along: These riots were simply a different tactic of the next battle in Hamas's ongoing war against Israel and the Jewish people. When faced with a similar situation--in which tens of thousands of rioters inspired by a terrorist organization rush its border, wielding weapons and proudly proclaiming their intent to kill its civilians--what nation would not take all necessary measures to defend its sovereignty and protect its people? Maybe those who believe that these were simply protesters would have preferred hun- dreds of rioters had broken through the fence and massacred innocent Israelis before the Israel Defense Forces took action. If Israel has to choose between saving the lives of Israelis or appeasing morally bankrupt audiences, we will always choose life. Danny Danon is Israel's ambassador to the United Nations. Answering #ifnotnow By Jim Shipley Civility. It was something basic to our society. We were taught at home to be re- spectful of other people, specifically those older than ourselves. We were taught to listen to other peoples' opinions, not inter- rupt and then offer our own take on the subject--with respect. Recently, times have changed. When it comes to matters Jewish, or the subject of Israel, Jews can tend to be more dogmatic than even the loudest of the chatterers filling the 24-hour news cycle. In the beginning, it was simple. The Jews were a people who had been cast out of their land. By the Romans. Then the Ottoman Turks cast out the Romans. In WWI the British cast out the Turks. The Jews saw an Opportunity and the necessity of going back to the land that had been in the hands of foreign powers for better than two millennia. Were there people living in the land? Of course. Mainly farmers, mostly Arabs and most of them tenant farmers on land owned by Turkish interests--although there were Jewish villages that had never left, even when the Romans took over. But, the fact remains that since the Romans destroyed the Second Jewish Commonwealth, there had been no legal internal government in that land. In 1947, the United Nations, in a nation-by- nation vote, elected to divide the land between Jews and Arabs (the word "Palestinian" is nowhere to be found in the document). As we all know the Jews agreed to give up half their land, but the Arabs wanted it all. After four wars, the Arab nations gave up the possibility of removing Jews from their native land by force and now operate in the shadows using money and influence to change the narrative. Somehow, they have managed to penetrate the conscience of a large num- ber of people--including a number of Jews, mostly young Jews. Never believe for a moment that the #Ifnotnow movement sprang from ultra- liberal young Jews suddenly concerned for Arab citizens of Israel, West Bank politics and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. It took organization, money and personnel to have the effect that is now plaguing Birthright and has practically destroyed the purpose of the "Women's March." When you see a Linda Sarsour or a Tamika Mallory in leadership roles ofthe"March," know that anti-Semitism has taken root in this once proud endeavor. Sarsour and Mallory are anti- Semites to their core. Sarsour because of her background and hatred of Israel and therefore Jews. Mallory as an acolyte of Farrakhan. Birthright and the High School in Israel programs are now under attack. Those on the extreme left have been reached and to some extent educated in a false narrative about Israel. The target market for #ifnotnow are young--including young Jews; very few of whom have been to Israel and fewer still who have been there long enough to get a true picture of daily life. Is there to some extent discriminatory treatment of the Arab population in Israel? Yes. But a much greater problem for them arises when they want their children to be integrated into the daily life and opportunities in the country. Our daughter Tracy, who has lived in Israel for almost two decades, tried to start a joint Arab/Jewish opera company of young people a few years ago. As soon as it began to get some traction, Arab militants went to the homes of these youngsters and warned their parents not to participate in any joint Arab/Israeli programs or they would be killed. Should Birthright include some dialogue and open discussion on the Arab population of the Jewish nation? Absolutely--but not a narrative directed by anti-Israel, anti-Semitic radicals. Now, Birthright's reaction to young people taunting their groups on the way to Israel is neither smart nor effective. These young, virtually untrained "coun- selors" get into arguments at U.S. airports as the trip is leaving. These confrontations are not spontaneous. They are well planned. The Birthright "counselors" obviously have not been trained to handle and defuse these confrontations. They should be. To shoo these #ifnotnow people off only leaves the Birthright attendees curious and ready to ask questions which their "counselors" obviously cannot handle. What the Birthright youngsters are get- ting is an uneven and unproductive answer to their questions. Questions that need to be answered if these first-time travelers to Israel are to get the truth. And, it should be done with civility--something lacking presently in our national discussions and will never be part of the #ifnotnow narrative.