Is Everyone Really Against Us?

Last month, Rabbi Richard Block wrote in Tablet about why he was unsubscribing to The New York Times:

The straw that broke my subscription’s back came on Aug. 19, when Hamas violated yet another truce, sending a fusillade of rockets into Israel. The Wall Street Journal’s headline read, “Gaza Rocket Strikes End Cease Fire.” A U.S. State Department spokesperson condemned the renewed rocket fire, holding Hamas responsible for causing the ceasefire to break down. The Times headline: “Rockets From Gaza and Israeli Response Break Cease-Fire.” Seriously? A newspaper that cannot distinguish between starting a fight and defending oneself is intellectually deficient, morally obtuse, and profoundly unworthy of its readers.

I know the Times won’t miss me. The feeling is mutual.

If you read Block’s post, then you owe it to yourself to read Chemi Shalev’s response in Ha’aretz:

It all makes for the depressingly insular, self-righteous, with-us-or-against-us mentality that is delineating Israel and many of [its] followers abroad as an island unto themselves. In this cloister, the only benchmark for judging the worth of anyone — countries and institutions, newspapers and opera companies, artists and authors — is whether they accept or reject the Israel-good, Arab-bad narrative. By this standard, the bible itself, with its constant harping on Israel’s bad ways and the Lord’s displeasure would probably be blasted from Brooklyn to Beit Shemesh today for its negative portrayal of Jews.

By parting ways with the New York Times and “not missing” the great intellectual wealth that it offers, day in and day out, Block would have Jews return, mutatis mutandis, to the kind of stifling ghetto that drove his theological forefathers, two centuries ago, to set up the Reform movement in the first place.

Is Obama “Enraged” at Israel?

Last week in The Wall Street Journal, Bret Stephens started an entire column by referring to an interview in which Martin Indyk said that President Obama was “enraged” about the way Israel treated Secretary of State John Kerry.

Stephens then pretended that Obama himself had used the word “enraged” and compared that to the President’s statements on other world issues.

What exactly prompted Indyk to characterize the President as “enraged”? Stephens would not tell you, but I will: Indyk said that an unnamed Israeli official “described Kerry as launching ‘a strategic terror attack.’ That was just outrageous and it enraged the president.”

This was Indyk speaking, not the President, but most reasonable people would be enraged at such a statement. Stephens claimed that President Obama was “enraged” at Israel, but it is clear from Indyk’s comments that the President was enraged (in Indyk’s view) at the statement, not at Israel, and not even at Israel’s overall treatment of Kerry — a big difference that Stephens ignores.

Indyk also said in the same interview that Obama has “been absolutely clear that whatever the differences he may have with the Israeli prime minister, he’s not going to touch the security relationship. And he’s been very strongly supportive of Israel’s security requirements, notwithstanding the real tension in the personal relationship.” Stephens forgot to mention that part.

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