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July 4, 2014

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JULY 4, 2014 PAGE 5A By Rabbi Benjamin Blech Aish Hatorah Resources We are indeed one family. And one that dwells alone. More than two weeks have passed. Naftali Frankel, 16, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Eyai Yifrach, 19, are still in cap- tivity and all we can do is continue to pray--to pray that they are still alive and to pray that they will soon be reunited with their families, their friends and all those who love them, Initially, I thought my pain was greater than most. Naftali is a cousin. Just a few short weeks ago I celebrated the traditional Yorn Ha-Atzmaut Bar-B-Q with him athis home, together with our family. We've come together united by sorrow, hope and the profound conviction that all Jews are responsible one for another. In the days since the news of his horrible kidnapping I By David Benkof The newest nonsense from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is its declaration of victory in convincing the Metropolitan Opera to cancel plans for a worldwide simul- cast of its production of the American opera The Death of Klinghoffer. Under the terms of the ADL's compromise with the Met, the show will only be seen by those few who happen to be in New York for the live version and can pay hundreds of dollars per ticket ADL director Abe Foxman acknowledged that the work, which deals with terror- ism, the murder of a Jewish "cruise passenger, and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, is not anti-Semitic - not that he ever bothered to actually see it. But the organization said The three boys and the w00rld discovered that my relation- ship with Naftali is no differ- ent than the one he Shares with Jewish people around the world. It is literally no exaggeration to say that we are all one family. The pain of one parent missing a child is a pain shared by every Jew. Totally secular or devoutly religious, head covered with knitted skullcap or black hat, Israeli or citizen of aoy other country in the Diaspora--aU have come together in the aftermath of this tragedy, united by sorrow, by hope and by the profound convic- tion that indeed all Jews are responsible one for another. Dwelling alone But with all this there is another realization that has become starkly evident. It is a painful truthmand one that has an ancient biblical source. It was uttered by Balaam, a non-Jewish prophet who came to curse the Jewish people but ended up uttering words of blessing placed into his mouth by the Almighty. "Lo,' he said, "it is a people that shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations" (Numbers 23:9). Jewish destiny is "defined by uniqueness. Alone among the nations, Jews will always be identified as those who march to the tune ofadifferent drummer. Jews will be guided by the moral and ethical mis- sion to which they subscribed at Sinai. And for this they will be hated. "Conscience is a Jewish invention," Hitler declared, "It is a blemish like circumcision. I am freeing man from the restraints of an intelligence that has taken charge, from the dirty and degrading self-mortification of a false vision called conscience and morality." It is not true that-anti- Semitism is irrational. We are not reckoned among the nations precisely because we "dwell alone." Our commit- ment to conscience, to the still small Divine voice within us that calls upon us to live up to having been created in God's image, is an ongoing reproach to those who prefer the unfettered lifestyles of the immoral and the depraved. So even when the indisput- able evil of the kidnapping of , innocent children is periae- trated against Jews, we find ourselves alone. So alone that the only response from the head of the United Nations is to question whether in fact a crime was committed. Even the supposedly civi- lized world falls so short of an appropriate response when Jews are the victims. The president of the United States has so far remained silent. His wife Michelle, so troubled by the plight of the girls kidnapped in Nigeria that her hashtag sign plead- ing for the return of these endangered young women made headlines around the globe, does not seem to have been similarly moved to action by the plight of the Israeli teenagers. Moststartlingofall is the comment of the State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki: "We recognize this is an incredibly sensitive and difficult circumstance on the ground, and we feel all sides should exercise reslraint," she stated at a press conference last Wednesday. So too, the New York Times, in its typical attempt to ap- pear to be the voice ofa"sane and balanced approach" in the aftermath of any unpro- voked attacks on Israel or its citizens, rushed to condemn the Israeli government for its "overreaction." After all, its editorial staff simply couldn't understand why there is so much furor over the fate of but three of its children. Each one a universe Letus take this opportunity to nake one thing very clear The ADL: speech patrol of th eJ00,ws the 1991 opera might rein- force the prejudice of viewers who already hate Jews, so it tried to shut it down. Sorry, but the answer to speech we don't like- and yes, art is speech- is more speech, not threats and pressure from an activist organization that reports only to the echo chamber of its own board. If it wants, ADL can commission an opera about the Klinghof- fer Affair in which all the Jews look like Dudley Do-Right and all the Palestinians look like Snidely Whiplash If the ADL opposes works that aren't anti-Semitic but might nonetheless further people's pre-existing big- otry, why doesn't it speak out against The Producers, Schindler's List, and many other films with characters who despise Jews? A 1974 study on TV's All in the Family found that prejudiced people laughed with Archie Bunker's swipes at blacks, Jews, and gays- rather than at them. Why isAll in the Family OK but not Klinghoffer? This brouhaha is only the latest evidence that today's ADL does more harm than good. For example, newspapers and broadcasters recently fell all over themselves to disseminate the ADL's sup- posedly alarming report that a quarter of the world's .populac e is anti-Semitic. Of course, few of those jour- nalists noted that the more anti-Semitism the ADL can elicit, the more money it can raise. Would the news media hyperventilate over a study by the American Soybean Association showing that Americans need more veg- etable protein in their diet? And the survey itself was so arbitrary and slanted to solicit "anti-Semitic" answers that a number of Jewish leaders who took it said they would have been counted as being "infected" (the ADL's term) with anti- Semitism. And did anybody stop to think whether questioning certain people about Jew- ish loyalty to" their home countries and Jewish eco- nomic power might spark anti-Semitism rather than- simply measuring it? It's what experts in public opinion call the "push poll effect." When an organization that once no- bly fought Jew-hatred starts spreading it, something has gone seriously wrong. As for the Klinghoffer fi- asco, some art is important precisely because it contains attitudes and perspectives State Department should restrain itself on response to Israeli kidnappings By Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn (TheAIgemeiner) The State Department's demand that Israel "exercise restraint" in its search for the Hamas kid- nappers makes a mockery of President Obama's pledge two years ago that he "will always have Israel's back." State Department spokes- woman Jen Psaki declared on June 20 that the Obama Administration is "urging all parties to exercise restraint and avoid steps that could destabilize the situation." That phrase "all parties" was a thin veneer of even- handedness. Everyone knows the call for "restraint" was aimed at Israel. In fact, Psaki made her slant clear in her very next words, expressing "concern" that two Palestin- ian Arabs were shot dead by Israeli troops. Psaki did not exhibit any "concern" for the Israeli soldiers at whom those Arabs were throwing rocks and firebombs This attempt by the Ad- ministration to tie Israel's hands in its search for the kidnappers is just the latest in a series of indications that President Obama is trying to avoid siding with Israel against Hamas. 1. The Obama Administra- tion website, www.rewards-, which offers monetary rewards for tips leading to the capture of ter- rorists who harm Americans, is not offering any reward in .connection with the kidnap- ping--even though one of the victims, 16 year-old Naf- tali Frenkel, is an American citizen. 2. While spokespeople for the Administration have made the usual general remarks of sympathy for Israel in the current crisis, President Obama himself has not said a word about the kidnapping. A president who is so well known for his rhetorical gifts has suddenly fallen silent. 3. The Obama Administra- tion has refused to withdraw its recognition of the Hamas- Palestinian Authority regime. 4. The U.S. continues to send $500 million annually to the PA, even though Hamas is now a full partner in its government. That's a total of more than $20-billion since 1993-:-yet all the Adminis- tration could get out of PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas was a vague statement about how he is against kidnapping because Israelis "are human beings, too." That's not exactly an earth-shaking concession. President Obama's March " 2012 vow to "always have Israel's back" evoked some private skepticism in the American Jewish community, since it was made when he was running for re-election. But now the Obama " " Administra- tion's failure to unequivocally side with Israel in the current kidnapping crisis exposes his pledge of support as painfully hollow. Israel's war of self-defense against Hamas is just one front in an internationalbattle ,gainst j ihadist terrorism that is being waged on many con- tinents. In Nigeria, the Boko Haram jihadists are kidnap- ping hundreds of Christian girls. In Afghanistan, Taliban terrorists are attacking NATO bases. In Iraq; they are con- quering city after city. And in Israel, they are seeking to terrorize an entire country by kidnapping Jewish children. Israeli soldiers are risking their lives every day by going into hostile Palestinian Arab neighborhoods in search of the kidnapped boys. PA chairman Abbas' own Fatah movement has urged Arab residents to interfere with the soldiers' efforts. In many instances, the soldiers have been confronted by mobs throwing deadly firebombs. The Obama Administra- tion, which has been reluctant to send U.S. forces to confront terrorists abroad, should give unequivocal support to the Israeli forces that are trying to do the job without any outside help. At the very least, the Administration should have the decency to restrain its tongue and let the Israelis defend themselves without interference. The authors are members of the board of the Religious Zionists of America. to the media and to the world. God began creation with only one human being to teach a powerful truth: Every person is a potential world. Every individual is a universe. Steven Spielberg under- stood it when he closed "Schindler's List," his master- piece on the Holocaust, with the Talmudic quote that "he who saves but one life is as if he saves an entire world." Jewish law codifies it when it mandates that we never count people by number. If we need to know whether there is a minyan, a quorum of 10 for prayer, we turn to those present and say, "not one, not two, not three..." because no person should ever be viewed simply as a number. That in- deed was one of the unspeak- able crimes of the Nazis, who began their debasement of the Jewish victims by depriving them of their identities as Blech on page 15A that are disturbing but de- Brith (then the ADL's parent serve exposure and discus- organization), the verse was sion. changed in a nonsensical way I'mnot talkingabout gratu- that eviscerated the historical itous slurs and random insults point. here and there - I'm talking The ADL has far outlasted about classic films like Song - its usefulness. I couldsupport of the South, which Disney refuses to release on video or otherwise in the United States because its political correctness trumps allowing Americans to learn the full history of racial attitudes in this country and to discuss them after seeing a movie whose creation was ground- breaking in the history of animation. Another example relates to the 1966 cast album and original stage production of the brilliant show Cabaret, set in Berlin during the Nazi rise to power. One of Cabaret's most shocking and thought- provoking musical numbers has as its very message (perhaps the most powerful moment in the show) the last line - "if you could see [a gorilla] through my eyes - she wouldn't ,look Jewish at all." But under pressure from B'na! an organization devoted to re- porting actual anti-Semitism and other prejudice, improv- ing community relations, and responding to alarming public expression by criticiz- ing it (but not trying to make it go away). Unfortunately, the ADL is not that organization. Jews who are interested in free and open communication in the public square need to tell the ADL that nobody elected them the Jewish community's thought patrol, and the speech that needs to stop is their own. David Benkof is a Jew- ish historian and freelance writer living in St. Louis. He constructs the Jerusalem Post Crossword Puzzle, which runs in this publication. Follow him on Facebook or E-mail him at DavidBenkof@gmail. com. A version of this essay appeared in the Daily Caller. Dry Bones WHEN OUR CHILDR00 ARE KILLED; WE DON"r CELEBRATE THEIR 00R'rYI00O/00