Archive for the 'Opinion' Category

Dec 29 2008

The world is crazy!

Published by under Israel,Opinion,Thoughts

Israel has been striking back at Hamas institutions in the Gaza strip in retaliation for continual rocket fire on Israeli communities that border the Gaza strip. And yet in Europe there are loud and vociferous protests against Isreal. It wasn’t Israel that started this…Hamas is directly to blame for this exchange and yet the rest of the world immediately goes and condemns Israel. Why?

I mean, I expect the Arab street to rally behind the Gazans and Hamas as they see this is “naked Israeli agression” and the Muslim religious leaders are calling for vengence against Israel and Israeli targets worldwide, but what I can’t understand is how the world can say that it’s ok for rockets to fall, day-in and day-out, on Israeli communities — where people live their daily lives in terror — and when Israel tries to put an end to these attacks that it is the aggressor. Typically the words thrown out by the left wing groups are that Israel is committing “crimes against humanity” and that it’s violating International law. But let’s look at the law.

First off, the shelling of Israeli civilian population centers near Gaza has been going on for well over 8 years. Hamas, a terrorist organization, started the latest round of their aggression through the initial use of armed force against Israeli civilians and non-combatant Jews once the “truce” ended in November. This is a clear violation of the United Nations charter and is evidence of agression which, by International Law, is defined as the “the most serious and dangerous form of illegal use of force” (UN Resolution 3314 (XXIX). Definition of Aggression). The UN further demands that states combat the use of terrorism and reaffirm “unequivocal condemnation of all acts, methods and practices of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, in all their forms and manifestations, wherever and by whomever committed.” (UNSC resolutions 1269, 1368,1373, 1377).

Israel’s response is further supported by statements made by the former President of the International Court of Justice, Judge Stephen Schwebel, who noted that

[i]n the case of conduct adopted for punitive purposes…it is self-evident that the punitive action and the wrong should be commensurate with each other, but in the case of action taken for the specific purpose of halting and repelling an armed attack (emphasis added), this does not mean that the action should be more or less commensurate with the attack. Its lawfulness cannot be measured except by its capacity for achieving the desired result.

(Schwebel, Judge Stephen, Nicaragua vs. U.S., 1986 I.C.J. 14, 259 (June 27), quoted in “Draft Articles on State Responsibility – Comments of the Government of the United States of America”, U.S. State Department, http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/28993.pdf, March 1, 2001)

Israel is responding to continuous provocation by Hamas from Gaza and it is responding appropriately in order to end the rocket attacks of the past 8 years. It never ceases to amaze me that the European public is so willing to cry out in outrage over the fact that Israel is doing the very thing that they would demand if it was, say, Russia lobbing missles over it’s border into Europe. When will the world see that the Palestinian Arabs (and Arabs elsewhere in the region) are not interested in a true and just peace with Isreal? They are only interested in the eradication of Israel and probably Jews worldwide!

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Dec 25 2008

The shame of Bernie Madoff

Published by under Judaism,Opinion,Thoughts

As a Jew (and a Modern Orthodox Jew at that) I am deeply saddened and shamed by Bernie Madoff. Of course I realize that what he did was not my fault. But what I am particularly disgusted and ashamed of was who he stole money from. Of course stealing money in his Ponzi scheme was bad enough (and $50 billion dollars at that!) but what makes it that much more egregious is that he stole it from charities and other organizations that rely on their endowments and investments to help fund their work to help other people. He’s sort of a perverted Robin Hood — he stole from everyone to spend on…?

I recently read a good letter from Rabbi Marc Gellman in the latest issue of Newsweek. Rabbi Gellman does an excellent job in summing up the betrayal that Bernie Madoff has wreaked everyone. However, what I really feel he quantified best was the damage that Mr. Madoff has done to Jews everywhere. As Rabbi Gellman notes

You are responsible for reviving the “Jew game.” I heard of the Jew game from a boy who became a man last Saturday. I asked him once if he had ever experienced anti-Semitism in school. That is when he looked at the floor and told me about the Jew game. The game, played by anti-Semitic kids in school, was one in which they would hide around a corner, throw a quarter down the hall, and then when somebody picked up the quarter, they’d run at the person, shouting, “You’re the Jew!”

You did not cause the anti-Semitic insults about Jews and money, but you caused them to be revived.

(Gellman, Marc, “A Letter To Madoff,” Newsweek, December 23, 2008 )

Yes, Mr. Madoff…you have revived not just anti-semitic insults but you, personally, have revived the ancient bigotry and accusations that Jews are untrustworthy and greedy (Gellman, Marc, “A Letter To Madoff,” Newsweek, December 23, 2008 )…you have given new life to the slur “dirty Jew” that flows from the mouths of the bigots and hate-mongers who despise us. You, Sir, have done this single-handedly. The Aryan Nation couldn’t have asked for a better Christmas present than you and you will assuredly be cursed for what you have done.

I am reminded of a story a friend of mine told me one time about a Professor at Yeshiva University who taught accounting. It seems that some time after he taught a particular class a few of his students were arrested for embezzlement. When asked why they did it (especially since they studied at Yeshiva University) they said that they were never told not to steal. So, in response, this professor would make sure that every semester he would tell his students “oh, by the way, don’t steal!” Now, as to how accurate this story is, I cannot say but it seems to sum Bernie Madoff pretty well. “Do not steal” is one of the Ten Commandments given to us at Mt. Sinai…it’s not like this was some obscure commandment…this was one of the Ten that were on the tablets Moses brought down! How could you not know this one Bernie?

I find it interesting that Yeshiva University professors are now trying to find a lesson in what Bernie Madoff has done. In a New York Times article is a story of how the students of Yeshiva University struggle to find lessons in this and to understand the short and long term implications for the Jewish community. We are all sullied by the actions of this man and many within our own communities and our own institutions were impacted by the thievery of Mr. Madoff…some will never recover.

I am ashamed of Mr. Madoff…but he doesn’t represent Jews worldwide. What he has done, though, has awakened and reinforced the old stereotypes that we had hoped would die away with the Nazis and the communists. For that, Bernie, there has to be a special place in Hell for you. May your name be blotted out from memory.

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