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PAGE 4A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 10, 2018 By Jonathan S. Tobin (JNS)--In ancient times, people looked to portents involving the heavens and earth- bound events in order to try to understand the baffling world in which we live, as well as to discern the will of their Creator. In the 21st century--armed with science, sophisticated technology and mass communication--we're much smarter than that. Instead of pondering the stars, we now expect the fall of a loose rock in an old stone wall to explain it all. When a boulder that was part of the ancient Western Wall fell this past week, it was just a matter of gravity, the loosening most likely caused by vegetation that grows in the ancient structure, the debris that birds place into cre- vasses or an accumulation of moisture. But the crash ofa220-pound piece ofrockwas enough to set off a storm of commentary--some of it serious and some delivered with tongue firmly planted in cheek. All of it was designed to score points in the wars Jews fight among themselves, in addition to the one Palestinians still wage against Israel's existence. The Kotel is the last remnant of the retaining wall surrounding the Holy Temple in Jerusalem that was destroyed by the Romans in 70 C.E. As such, it is more than a historical monument; it is infused with holiness for people of faith. Sadly, that has also made it a battleground on which efforts to ensure or suppress Jewish religious pluralism has played out. The rock fell into the area separated from the main Kotel plaza and in which a relatively small area has been set aside for egalitarian of By Stephen M. Flatow of McCollum's anti-Israel initiative. Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, which (JNS)--Last Thursday, a Palestinian teen- claims to be pro-Israel, was interviewed this agerstabbedayoungJewishfathertodeathand week by the online news site Roll Call about wounded two others. On Sunday, aPalestinian the bill. Here was his response: "These kinds teenager who assaulted Israeli soldiers was of expressions from not just one member but a released from prison to international acclaim, significant portion of the Democratic caucus, Later on Sunday, two Palestinian teenagers in my mind, is groundbreaking. It's part of an with machine guns and bullet magazines were overwhelming trend." intercepted on their way to massacre Jews. Fortunately, it's not an "overwhelming Palestinian children are not born hating trend" at all. There are 193 Democrats in the Jews or loving violence. Who is to blame for House of Representatives, of whom 28 have encouragingand inspiring these youngpeople signed on to McCollum's bill. That's 14 percent to engage in such murderous behavior? of House Democrats who have endorsed the We can, of course, dismiss the tired clich bill, meaning some 86 percent have not. Still, about how "the occupation" is what causes even though it's not an overwhelming trend, young Palestinians to turn violent. Israel it's aworrisome trend. stopped occupying 98 percent of the Pal- What'sespeciallyworrisomeisthatJStreet, estinians back in 1995. Thursday's stabber whichhasalargebudgetandnumerouslobby- and Sunday's machine-gunners have spent ists on Capitol Hill, is hailing this anti-Israel their entire lives under the rule of the Pal- legislationas"groundbreaking,'andobviously estinian Authority, not Israel. They had to encouragingmembersofCongresstoendorsea leave their P.A.-ruled hometowns and go in bill that seeks to help shield teenage terrorists se ch of Jews elsewhere precisely because from being arrested by the Israeli military. the last Israeli soldier left their hometowns The other enablers are, of course, the news- way back in 1995. media outlets that downplay or even glorify Soifit'snotthe"occupation,"thenwhatisit? teenage Palestinian violence. When Palestin- The obviousansweris the P.A. schoolsystem, ian teenager Ahed Tamimi was released from Every day, in every classroom, Palestinian prison thisweekafter servingher sentence for childrenaretaughtthatJewsareevilmonsters, assaulting an Israeli soldier, some major U.S. andArabswhokillthemareheroesandmartyrs newspapers treated her like a hero. who will be rewarded with cash and virgins. Washington Post correspondent Erin Cun- And it's not just the schools. Palestinian ningham authored a sympathetic tribute children are also exposed to newspapers, tele- disguised as "news." She could barely contain vision and radio programs, movies, plays and her admiration for the assaulter: "As she spoke novels--all of which are saturatedwithhatred to reporters, Tamimi's light, unruly curls fell of Jews and the glorification of terrorists, over her black-and-white checkered scarf, And don't forget the crucial role of the long an emblem of Palestinian nationalism," enablers. Cunningham drooled. Let's start with the extreme-left wing of the Imagine if an Israeli teenager was arrested Democratic Partyin the United States.Twenty- for assaulting a PalestinianAuthority security eight members of Congress, led by Rep. Betty officer. Do you think Cunningham would McCollum of Minnesota, have so far signed on be writing lovingly about her "light, unruly to legislation that would prevent U.S. aid to curls"? Israel from being used to arrest "Palestinian Of course not! Because from the Quakers to children." All 28 are Democrats. J Street, from Congresswoman McCollum's of- Any Palestinian under 18 qualifies as a ficetothe"news"columnsofTheWashington "child," according to the bill. That means that Post, violent Palestinian teenagers are praised, Israel would be penalized if its army arrested coddled and encouraged--guaranteeing that the 17-year-old who murdered the young their violence will only continue. Jewish father or the two 17-year-olds with the Stephen M. Flatow is a vice president of the machine guns. Religious Zionists of America, an attorney Not surprisingly, the bill has been praised in New Jersey and the father of Alisa Flatow, byIsraei-hatingorganizationssuchastheU.S, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Campaign for Palestinian Rights and the Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. His American Friends Service Committee (the book, "A Father's Story: My Fight for Justice Quakers). Against Iranian Terror," will be published But they're not the only ones who approve later this year. THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT. ISSN 0199-0721 CENTRAL FLORIDA'S INDEPENDENT JEWISH VOICE Winner of 46 Press Awards Editor/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor News Editor IR. W I S N E W S Gene StarnKim Fischer Christine DeSouza 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@ rland heritage'c m Society Editor Office Manager Gloria Yousha Paulette Alfonso Account Executives Kim Fischer * Marci Gae~er Contributing Columnists Jim Shipley * Mel Pearlman David Bornstein Ed Ziegler Production Department gavidLehman Gil Dombrosky JoyceGore prayer. A plan to expand access to the area has been blocked by those who are offended by non-Orthodox prayer services. The ensu- ing controversy has angered many Jews in the Diaspora. So it wasn't surprising that some people claimed that the rock falling was a sign of heavenly favor or disfavor, made more profound since had it fallen a day earlier on Tisha B'Av-- when the area was packed with thousands of worshippers--some people almost certainly would have been badly injured or even killed. Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Dov Kalmanovich of the right-wing Jewish Home Party said the non-Orthodox might be the reason for the incident, and that these "quarrelmongers examine themselves, not the Wall." In response, a U.S. Reform rabbi wondered, in what was clearly intended as sarcasm, whether instead the all had "spit out a stone" in protest against the passage of the Jewish nation-state law days earlier. More thought- fully, Alden Solovy, a Reform teacher and blogger, invoked traditional teachings about Tisha B'Av by warning that perhaps the sinat chinam--or "senseless hatred" that helped destroy Jerusalem 2,000 years ago--is now undermining the stability of the Kotel. But as is often the case, these Jewish interne- cine battles can obscure the war their enemies still wage against them. While the Orthodox and the non-Orthodox bicker about who can pray at the wall and where, the Palestinians are still denying that the site has anything to do with the Jews. As Khaled Abu Toameh reported in The Jerusalem Post, Omar Kiswani, director of Letter from Israel Whimsy is the By Ira Sharkansky Should we worry about the future? Of course. But how far into the future? We should certainly complete the obligations we have committed to for today. And maybe next week. Beyond that, however, something unforeseen may get in the way. In matters of politics and public policy, it's much more complex. How much to worry about the incompetence of the American president? Or the tilt to the right of the Israeli prime minister? Each of those characters may be the most weighty influence on the near future of the U.S. and Israel, but there is lots else that can mess up whatever they might be planning for tomorrow or beyond. Only someone obsessed with risk would bet more than a few cents (or agorot) on which of many possible domestic or international events can intrude. The most recent tussle between Donald Trump, his secretary of state, andvice president over what he said about Vladimir Putin sug- gests the coddling that a great leader may face. Did he mean what he said about an accord with Putin? Did he even realize that he had gone 180 degrees from the agreed script while extemporizing? Bibi's great accomplishment in enacting a nationality law appears empty of substance, but nonetheless capable of exciting opposition from Druze and others. Great changes in and around Israel will depend on the Palestinians putting their house in order, and getting ready for accepting something that has occurred since 1948. And that doesn't seem likely to occur anytime soon. It's not a crap shoot, especially for stable democracies. Bureaucracies in the fields of social policy, diplomacy, and security do almost all of the work, and very important in their actions is established policy and precedent. Things move incrementally, usually in small changes from what's existed. Adjustments come in response to what's not expected, but big changes are infrequent and unpredictable. The headlines are likely to be dramatic, but that's more likely to reflect a concern for media ratings than any certainty about what's likely to be important. Lots of Americans and Israelis may be embarrassed by details of what their leaders have been saying, tweeting, or doing, but in neither place is there a promising alternative to the man in charge worth betting on. Israel's the AI-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount, claimed that the loose rock was the result of Israeli archeological excavations aimed at toppling the entire plateau and destroying Muslim holy places. Yusef Natsheh, direc- tor of Islamic Archeology and Tourism on the Mount, chimed in by saying that the slab falling was clearly a "pre-planned test" carried out by the Jews in order to test the strength the walls of the mosques before destroying them. The spokesperson for the Fatah Party that runs the Palestinian Authority also said that the rock's fall was proof that Israel was trying to destroy the mosque. Not confining himself to conspiracy theories, Fatah's Osama Qawas- meh, who works for P.A. leader Mahmoud Ab- bas, made it clear that the Kotel prayer areas were the property of Muslims, not the Jews arguing about them. "We affirm that al-Aqsa Mosque and its sur- roundings, including what is beneath it, are purely Islamic," Qawasmeh said. "The Jews have no right to it." He also called the visits to the Temple Mount by Israelis a"crime," even though Jewish tour- ists are forbidden to pray at the sacred site in a futile effort to mollify the Palestinians. If all this sounds familiar, it should. Palestin- ian leaders have been spewing such falsehoods, which amount to a blood libel against Jews, for a century in order to stir up hate. The recent "stabbing intifada" was set off in no small measure by Abbas's claims that "stink- ing Jewish feet" were profaning Jerusalem's Tobin on page 15A solution, left and center is neutralized by the conflicts within Palestine. Lots of Americans may be embarrassed by their president, but no fix appears to be obvious, Cynicism, or more likely whimsy, is appropri- ate for anyone concerned about the future. Cynicism may be too serious an option. Whimsy is less costly, and no less effective than donating to any of the do-gooders promising to fix, or call attention to the plight of the environment, inadequate social programs, corruption in government, the dangers lurking in migration, or evil outside of one's borders. In a mature society, like the U.S. or Israel, there's plenty of legislation, regulation, and administrative cadres in place. Most likely all the workable solutions have been considered on high. Security forces seem capable of de- fending against the likely threats. Both the U.S. and Israel, along with numerous other developed countries have programs that have helped ambitious individuals at the bottom of their societies get themselves out of misery. Nothing's perfect, or anywhere close to ideal. None of the do-gooders seems likely to civilize the evils or incompetence prevailing among Palestinians, or the enmity that pre- cludes Muslims from coming together and agreeing to modernize and liberalize their societies. For the meantime, we seem stuck with Trump's passion and grammar, and Bibi's symbolic moves to the right. Those worried about Israel's security can relax. The IDF and other organizations are active, imperfect, but largely successful. So far the damage from incendiary kites and balloons has been less costly than a military operation that will cost some Israeli lives and would not, in all probability, bring Gaza any closer to a peace-accepting, and stable locale, whose government can reach and honor agree- ments with the variety of armed Palestinian activists or its neighbors. Should the next balloon that brings fire to a kindergarten actually kill or injure children, then all bets are off. Alfred E. Neuman had it about right. There ain't no cause for serious worry for those living in tolerable societies, at least partly because there ain't any sure way of making them better. Contribute what you will of your money to the do-gooders, sign petitions and dem- onstrate. Chances are better that it'll make you feel good than make things better for the rest of us. You might also comment, irashark@gmail. com.