Thankfully, the week ended with a promising attempt to end the killing and violence in Israel. And as of this writing, the fragile cease fire appears to be holding. I love Israel, as I am sure all of you do as well, but frankly the last few weeks have not been a good look for our team. It’s very easy sitting in my comfortable and secure home in the Sharon burbs, to take Bibi to task for his handling of this crisis. What seemed to start as a real estate dispute erupted into the worst violence in the area since I can’t remember when. But the scariest aspect is the internal Arab-Jewish violence plaguing Israel’s so- called mixed cities that many have worried could spiral into a civil war. I won’t bother to describe how we got to this ugly point, (click here for an excellent podcast on the origins https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/13/podcasts/the-daily/israeli-palestinian-conflict-gaza-hamas.html) but I do feel that Bibi should fade away and retire to Florida after the crisis is settled. I work with many Israelis at my company, many of whom did an aliyah in the last 10 years, and are now experiencing something they have never seen or felt before. Most of them are typically secular Jews and are not supportive of Bibi and the direction he has taken the country. They are anxious, and scared, and some even accuse Bibi of a “wag the dog” conspiracy to deflect attention from his legal and political issues, and believe he should have left the political arena long ago. Whatever you may feel about Bibi, the current crisis, or how Israel is handling and managing the Palestinians in general, Israel cannot allow Hamas to continue firing rockets randomly into civilian areas. So, the cease fire is an opportunity to change the dynamic, and try and find a path toward peace or at least some kind of detente or entente cordiale. There is a science behind cease fires and data that supports the idea that cease fires, even if they fail, help in the long run (Syria, Yugoslavia, Bosnia, eg). I still believe a two-state solution is possible, but as you know, I am the ultimate optimist. And while I am not the praying type, I am sending positive thought-waves and a blog or two in that direction.
Meanwhile, this latest crisis has brought further attention to the plight of the Palestinian people, prompting protest marches around the world, and the political winds seem to be shifting toward support of the Palestinians. Biden is probably the most experienced President in my time in dealing with foreign affairs, and he has an excellent staff around him, so it should be interesting to watch how he handles this tough political dilemma. His first real test in the foreign affairs arena, and it aint an easy one.
On a lighter note, how about them Red Sox! And the Bruins win again, now up on the Capitals 3 games to 1. Go Bruins!
Now, onto the news of the Jews for the week, courtesy of The Forward. As you can imagine, a lot of coverage on Israel, and a few other goodies.
- Bringing back Jewish life at Babi Yar – Probably the worst massacre of WWII occurred at this location in Ukraine. Over two nights in 1941, approximately 34,000 Jews were executed by SS officers. An international organization, including Senator Lieberman, have now built a holocaust memorial on the site, starting with a synagogue. The pictures above depict the structure, resembling a pop-up book. An interesting idea to bring back life to such a deadly site, and some interesting architectural ideas.
- Media censoring posts about Israel and Gaza? – Lot’s of reporting on this from both sides of the political spectrum, and its not just a conspiracy theory. Due to the complicated nature of the situation, algorithms and tagging systems have had a tough time discerning what is acceptable and what is not. Instagram and Facebook have actually issued apologies and are trying to rectify the situation with actual human beings that might be better than bots understanding the nuances of the situation.
- An interview with an Arab – Interesting piece of excerpts from Jodi’s interview with an Arab leader of a Co-existence group who ran a failed campaign for Knesset this spring for a new party called “Ma-an”, which means “together” in Arabic. If only we could find more centrists and reasonable people on both sides, we could get to peace in no time. Worth a read.
- Rabbi Zimmerman investigation – Was there an attempt to sweep this under the rug? This not so nice Rabbi is now persona non gratis in the community and was forced to step down from his role as President of Hebrew Union College. As Sandy would say, another incident of a man using his small brain.
- “Zoom fatigue” worse for Jewish women? – Horse poop. Maybe it’s my hormone injections, but i don’t think gender plays a difference here.
- Can progressives relate to what it’s like for Israelis currently? A good read. Those calling out Israel as the apartheid oppressor should read this.
Well, that’s all for this week. And hey, as always, be careful out there, mask or no mask.
Brad out. https://assets.forward.com/shabbat-0521.pdf