Local Rally Denounces Right-Wing Extremists in Wake of Charlottesville


Rally held at Linwood Park. Photo: Sam Haut.

Over the weekend at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, to protest the removal of a Confederate statue, neo-Nazis and white supremacists skirmished with counter protesters. The rally left three people dead and many more injured, causing shock among people across the country.

Blessing Osazuwa, a sophomore at Drexel University, was one of the many horrified by what was happening in Virginia and felt she had to do something. Her need to act turned into a rally called Stand Up for Love that was held at Linwood Park in Ardmore on Sunday evening, with about 300 people in attendance. [Read more…]

Stand Against Hate Rally

Stand Against Hate Rally. Photo: Philly.com.

Stand Against Hate Rally. Photo: Philly.com.

On Thursday, March 2, Independence Mall in Philadelphia was filled with supporters of the “Stand Against Hate” rally.

The speakers included Governor Tom Wolf, Mayor Jim Kenney, State Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Rabbi Avraham Shmidman of Lower Merion Synagogue, and Rabbi David Strauss of Main Line Reform.

Also speaking were Nancy Baron Baer of the ADL and members of the inter-faith community. [Read more…]

13 Toxic Terms Used to Describe Israel


Israel’s “1967 borders” were not created in 1967, and were never considered international borders.

— by Lee S. Bender and Jerome R. Verlin

Media coverage of Israel is laced with toxic terms that delegitimize the Jewish State. The good news is that these misleading terms weren’t written in stone 3,300 years ago, but are post-Israel independence creations. The bad news is how extensively anti-Israel imbalance has permeated Mideast reporting in recent decades.

Israel’s enemies appreciate the power of anti-Israel word choices to shape public perceptions. We Jewish supporters of Israel unthinkingly use these poisoned pejoratives — “West Bank … East Jerusalem … 1967 borders … Jewish settlements … etc, etc” – ourselves. This article is a plea to individually and institutionally take the lead in challenging the media’s loaded lexicon of toxic terms, first by our own pro-Israel pundits and advocates, and then by the media and public at large.

Here’s what’s at stake: Scholars say “history is what historians say it is,” but the reality is that history is what the bulk of the world’s ordinary people believe that it is. If we forfeit the Arab-Israeli conflict’s public perception-forming word choices, we forfeit our people’s history.

So here’s a baker’s dozen of poisoned pejoratives in the mainstream media’s loaded lexicon for Arab-Israeli conflict reporting. Cease using these terms. Badger pro-Israel writers and advocates to cease using them. And then, together, let’s lean on the mainstream Western media to clean up its language of Mideast reporting.

  1. “West Bank”
    Too often, Israeli spokesmen believe that “West Bank” is merely shorthand for what we all know is really Judea and Samaria. It is not. Media claims that “Judea and Samaria” is simply the “biblical name for the West Bank” stand history on its head. The Hebrew-origin names “Judea” and “Samaria” were used through 1950, when invading [Trans]Jordan renamed them “the West Bank” in order to disassociate these areas of the Jewish homeland from Jews. This term is not shorthand for “Judea and Samaria.” Under this formulation, Jordan is the “East Bank” of the original Palestine Mandate, which was designated as the homeland for the Jewish People.
  2. “East” Jerusalem or “traditionally Arab East” Jerusalem
    From the city’s second millennium BCE origins until 1947 CE, there was no such place as “East” Jerusalem. The 19 year period between when invading Jordan captured part of the city in 1948 and was ousted by Israel in 1967 was the only time in history, except between 638 and 1099, when Arabs ruled any part of Jerusalem. Palestinian Arabs have not ruled an inch of it for one day in history. In the past three millennia, Jerusalem has been the capital of three native states – Judah, Judæa, and modern Israel – and has had a renewed Jewish majority since 19th century Turkish rule. Eastern Jerusalem is just an area of the city that Israel reunified in 1967. Use the term “eastern” Jerusalem, to designate that it is a neighborhood of an undivided city. Of course, this is the area at the heart of the Jewish ancient homeland, the Old City and Temple Mount.
  3. “The UN sought to create Jewish and Palestinian States”
    A benchmark clearly revealing the extent of this language deterioration is the United Nations’ own Palestine partition resolution of 1947. The U.N. there didn’t refer to “the West Bank,” but to “the hill country of Samaria and Judea,” the Hebrew-origin names by which the land of Israel’s hill country had been known from ancient times to the mid-twentieth century. The U.N. didn’t attempt to divide Palestine between Jews and “Palestinians,” as the media sometimes puts it – akin to dividing Pennsylvania between Jews and “Pennsylvanians,” but, in terms used over and over, into “the Jewish State” and “the Arab State.” And that 1947 U.N. resolution didn’t call Palestinian Arabs “the Palestinians,” but referred to Palestine’s Jews and its Arabs as “the two Palestinian peoples.”
  4. 1948 was the “Creation and Founding of Israel” and “The War that Followed Israel’s Creation”
    Israel wasn’t “created” and “founded” in 1948, artificially and out-of-the-blue. Israel attained independence that year as the natural fruition into renewed statehood of a people that had twice before been independent in that land, after centuries of hard work to re-establish a Jewish State in this historic homeland. Israel did not choose its 1948 War of Independence (not “of Creation and Founding”). War was forced upon it by the Arab states, which rejected UN partition and tried to push the Jews of Israel into the sea. It was a homeland Jewish army, Haganah, which became the IDF, that threw back that multi-nation foreign invasion.
  5. “Palestinian Militants”
    No they’re not. They’re mass murderers and terrorists who prey on civilians using rockets,missiles, mortars, bombs, guns, knives, car rammings , etc.
  6. “Palestinian Refugees of the war that followed Israel’s creation”
    The invading Arab states bent on Israel’s destruction encouraged the Arabs (472,000 – 650,000) who fled tiny Israel to leave temporarily while they drove the Jews into the sea. The media constantly ignores the indigenous Middle Eastern Jews (c 850,000) who were expelled from vast Arab lands and Iran, with barely the clothes on their backs and were forced to leave behind property and businesses for which they were never compensated. Many had family roots dating back hundreds, even thousands of years. That Israel absorbed the bulk of these Jews, while Arab “hosts,” including in Arab-administered areas of Palestine itself, isolate the Arab refugees’ descendants in Western-supported “refugee camps” does not convert the Arab-Israeli conflict’s two-sided refugee issue into a “Palestinian” refugee issue. Had the Arabs accepted the UN partition plan that included a western Palestine Arab state, instead of conducting war to destroy the Jewish one, there would have been no “Palestinian” refugees. If there is going to ever be any settlement of this issue, the plight of the Jewish refugees from Arab lands must be taken into account.
  7. Israel “Seized” Arab Lands in 1967
    It did not. The 1967 war, like its predecessors, was a defensive war forced upon Israel. Israel’s neighbors did not want to compromise; they simply wanted to destroy the Jewish State. The newly obtained Israeli territory was meant to provide a security barrier and ensure this could never happen. Moreover, these parts of the Palestine Mandate were not “Arab lands” to which Jews had no historical or legal claim.
  8. Israel’s “1967 Borders”
    The 1949 Israel-Jordan Armistice Agreement expressly declared the “green line” it drew between the two sides’ ceasefire positions as a military ceasefire line only, without prejudice to either side’s political border claims. The post-’67 war UN Resolution 242 pointedly did not demand Israel retreat back to the 1949 ceasefire lines.
  9. “Israeli-Occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem” and Gaza
    That the media insistently calls Israeli presence in the heart of Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria “Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories” does not make it so. Israel has strong legal grounds for its presence there. “Occupation” is an international law term referencing foreign presence in the sovereign territory of another state. The land of Israel’s last sovereign native state before modern Israel was Jewish Judæa. The land ratio of Arab lands to Israel is 625-1, and 22 states to one. The vast majority of Arabs in Judea and Samaria are ruled by their own government, the Palestinian Authority. Gaza is also bordered by Egypt, and not one Jew or Israeli lives in that territory, which is ruled by Hamas.
  10. “Jewish Settlers and Settlements” vs. “Palestinian Residents of Neighborhoods and Villages”
    A favorite media news article contrast is referencing in the same sentence to “Jewish settlers” in “settlements” and “Palestinian residents” of nearby “neighborhoods” and “villages.” Jews are not alien “settlers” in a Jerusalem that has had a Jewish majority since 19th century times or in the Jewish historical heartland of Judea and Samaria. Where Jews live are towns, villages and cities, not “Jewish settlements.” Palestinian Authority President Abbas has repeatedly stated that no Jews will be permitted to live in a future Palestinian state on these lands: that is racist and apartheid. Yet, Arabs live in Israel and participate in its democratic culture, serve in the Knesset, Supreme Court and other institutions, enjoying the same rights as citizens as all Israelis, including health care and education.
  11. Israel’s insistence on “Jewish State” recognition is “a new stumbling block”
    New since Moses’ time! The Jewish homeland of Israel, including continuous homeland-claiming Jewish presence, has always been central to Jewish peoplehood. In 1947, British Foreign Secretary Bevin told Parliament that the Jews’ “essential point of principle” was a sovereign Jewish Palestine state (and that Arabs’ “essential point of principle” was to prevent it). Prime Minister Netanyahu has enunciated a fair formula: Israel is prepared to recognized a Palestinian Arab state if they will recognize that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish People.
  12. “Palestinians accept and Israel rejects a Two-State Solution”
    Wrong on both counts. Both the U.S. and Israel define “Two States” as two states for two peoples – Jews and Arabs. The Arabs insistently reject two states for two peoples. Many Israelis, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, support that plan – conditioned on an end to Palestinian terror. The Arabs continuously and consistently deny Israel’s right to exist as the nation-state of the Jewish People, no matter where its borders are drawn. The Arabs have rejected a state of their own, living side-by-side with Israel, six times since 1937.
  13. “The Palestinians”
    The United Nations’ 1947 partition resolution called Palestine’s Arabs and Jews “the two Palestinian peoples.” Nothing is more self-delegitimizing and counter-productive to achieving peace based on Arab recognition of Jews’ right to be there, than that Jews should go around calling Palestinian Arabs “The Palestinians.” In 1947, the U.N. called Palestine’s Jews and its Arabs “the two Palestinian peoples,” and even the Associated Press has acknowledged that during the Mandate Muslims, Christians and Jews living there were all called Palestinians. Arabs living there abhorred being called “Palestinians” as that term was commonly meant for the Jews. The P.L.O. was not even formed until 1964. Palestinian Arabs have no distinguishing language, religion, or culture from neighboring Arabs, and have never been sovereign in Palestine, whereas the Jews, with a presence stretching back three millennia, have had three states there, all Jerusalem-based. During the 1948-67 period that Jordan occupied Judea and Samaria, Arabs could have established a state in that territory. But that was not their intention, which was to destroy Israel. Instead, always refer to them as “Palestinian Arabs.”

Finally, and very significantly, it is our duty collectively and individually to be ambassadors for the truth, and to help win our future by helping win back our past. It should go without saying that the safety and security of the Jewish community is bound inextricably to a strong Israel. Emphasize Israel’s positives as it strives to engage in tikkun olam (repairing the world). Israel is “the Start Up Nation,” a small nation that has made a huge difference, sharing with the world its accomplishments and inventions in high-tech, bio-medicine, and agriculture. It engages in humanitarian missions worldwide as a first responder, is a beacon of Judeo-Christian values, is a democracy that respects civil rights, women’s rights, minority rights, gay rights, is an asset and ally of the U.S., and an oasis in a hostile, totalitarian Arab desert. These, in short, reflect our Jewish values. Remember: if you forfeit the language, you forfeit our heritage and history.

Lee S. Bender, co-President of ZOA’s Greater Philadelphia District, and Jerome R. Verlin, a recent vice-president, are co-authors of Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed From A-to-Z, Pavilion Press (Philadelphia) 2012. They have written numerous articles and are launching a Facts on Israel website and app devoted to countering anti-Israel media bias.

Book Review: Renee H Levy’s Baseless Hatred

— by Rabbi Goldie Milgram

Do you appreciate a good collection of Jewish sources on a topic, presented in a very readable way? One that guides you toward reflection upon your own prejudices and predilections? One that provides a review of the related research literature and a psychological approach to helping you to evolve into a better, more aware person? Then Baseless Hatred by Renee H. Levy might draw you in during the first half of the volume, and that would be a dayenu, i.e. it would be enough to justify encountering it.  

More after the jump.
Levy’s thesis is that:

… hate is triggered because our primitive neural system reacts to events from the perspective of our own preexisting insecurities, because we make generalizations (which may be positive or negative) and confuse associations (additional but not necessarily relevant information) with causality. We will see that once hate has been triggered it is difficult to extinguish. We will understand the rapid switch that occurs when a person who initially feels victimized into a vindictive perpetrator of hate.

The primary focus of Baseless Hatred is on preventing and resolving hatred between individual Jews, based upon Leviticus 19:17-18, is that “you shall not hate your brother in your heart.” The Bible offers examples of such hatred: Esau’s hatred for Jacob and that of Jacob’s sons for their sibling Joseph. Traditionally, the loss of the Temple and exile of the Jewish people from the Land of Israel are attributed to sinat hinam, “baseless hatred” between Jews. The lore of the Talmud includes a story (Yevamot 62b), that one of the great rabbis of the second century, Rabbi Akiva, had 24,000 students, and a terrible plague struck the students as Divine punishment for the utter lack of respect they showed to each other. When the plague finally ended, only five remained, and they are credited with carrying the learning from this trauma forward and saving Judaism in their time.

Contemporary case examples of how hatred arises between individual Jews are given in a clinical fashion in Baseless Hatred, along with potential approaches to avert and/or resolve such hatred. This facilitates readers in finding their own life parallels, and trying on the awareness methods that the author provides. One might call this section of the book an experience of mussar (moral), training in interpersonal awareness and personal change.

Arvevut, the mitzvah of mutual responsibility between Jews, is at the core of Levy’s approach to encouraging peace within the Jewish tent, under the heading: “Judah’s Legacy: The Judah Principle”. Judah was Jacob’s son and he offered his life as hostage to Joseph in place of his youngest brother in the Biblical story.  She explains: “Judah taught that in order to return and live in Israel, the Jewish people must reestablish its commitment to mutual responsibility. They did so at the covenant at Sinai.” And on the next page, in a way similar to how she will later quote Rabbi Jonathan Sacks she explains that: “…hatred between two Jews results in a tear that does not stop at their relationship. It reverberates and ultimately destroys the unity and integrity of the national fabric.”

Indeed, but what of the human fabric and the narratives and feelings of all the other peoples and nations? The volume continues, unfortunately, into a blindly self-indulgent view of the Jewish people, accounting us as vastly more saintly than we are, or any humans could be.

“Jews will understand that acceptance and respect by other nations will eventually come when the latter will see that Jews have used their freedom and sovereignty to become moral individuals. At that point, anti-Semitic voices that accuse Israel of being a terrorist or outlaw state will have no echo and will be silenced.”

Were Rene H. Levy to have applied her theories and analysis with empathetic and authentic care for those beyond the Jewish people, this could have been a great book. Instead, in the second half of the volume she falls into the trap of speaking of Jews as great and essentially everyone else as perpetrators that do not appreciate us. The wisdom and process recommendations of finding empathy and understanding from the first half are so quickly lost. What a shame and ironic reflection of the prevailing human condition. We are all responsible to evolve, individually and as peoples. In the words of Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch:

“An “art” is any skill that is not innate but must be acquired by constant training and practice. To our thinking, therefore, being good is surely an art.”

S.C. Governor Selects Hate Group Member as Campaign Co-Chair‏

Garcia-Quintana (left) and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (right)

— by Aaron Keyak

The new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, indicating that South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has chosen a member of the Council of Conservative Citizens to serve as a campaign co-chair, is deeply disturbing for all Americans. But as an American Jew, this is particularly unsettling given the CCC’s links to anti-Semitism. It is unacceptable for any politician to accept support from someone affiliated with an SPLC-designated white nationalist hate group, let alone select one as a co-chair of her re-election campaign’s grassroots steering committee. Haley must drop the support or have her campaign defined by her co-chair’s hateful affiliation.

More after the jump.
SPLC reported:

In anticipation of her 2014 re-election campaign, the Tea Party darling has put together a 164-member steering committee comprising folks from all 46 of her state’s counties. And on that list is one “Republican leader” and Tea Party activist named Roan Garcia-Quintana of Greenville.

The name won’t ring many bells outside of the South Carolina political world. But he’s better known in white nationalist, anti-immigrant and neo-Confederate circles.

Garcia-Quintana is a lifetime member and current board member of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), which is listed as a white nationalist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The CCC is the linear descendant of the old White Citizens Councils, which were formed in the 1950s and 1960s to battle school desegregation in the South, and has evolved into a crudely racist organization. Its website, for example, has published pictures comparing pop singer Michael Jackson to an ape and referred to blacks as “a retrograde species of humanity.”

Garcia-Quintana is also a rabid nativist, even though he’s a naturalized citizen who was born in Havana. He’s executive director of the anti-immigrant group Americans Have Had Enough, based in Mauldin, S.C., where he lives. At the 2008 CCC conference held in Sheffield, Ala., Garcia-Quintana referred to Latino immigration as an “illegal alien invasion.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League both published background information on the Council of Conservative Citizens detailing the organization’s long anti-Semitic history.