Where Does Hillary Clinton Stand on Israel?

March 23 2016

In an extensive exploration of the former secretary of state’s political evolution, Joshua Muravchik notes that among those who exert the greatest influence on her are two Jews with a record of hostility toward Israel. One is Michael Lerner, a New Left radical turned new-age rabbi and tireless critic of the Jewish state. The other, Sidney Blumenthal, whom she retained as an unofficial adviser while secretary of state, authored myriad emails to her—now available to the public—that her own correspondence indicates she took very seriously. Blumenthal’s son, Max, penned book of anti-Israel libels so atrocious as to make dedicated left-wing critics of Israel blush. Muravchik writes:

The messages [from Blumenthal to Clinton] consisted mostly of articles he was forwarding, often prefaced with a brief comment. . . . No other country received even a fraction of the attention he devoted to Libya, with one glaring exception: Israel. . . . In contrast [to the Libya emails], his communications about Israel clearly press a point of view about the country and its policies. They are unfailingly critical of Israel, blaming it for the absence of peace.

When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2009 first publicly endorsed a two-state solution with Palestinians, Blumenthal wrote to Clinton that this was a “transparently false and hypocritical ploy” on which she should try to “catch” him. . . . When she prepared to speak before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, he urged using the occasion to diminish [it]. . . .

Among the articles Blumenthal transmitted was one by the UK’s Jeremy Greenstock arguing that Hamas sought peace and quoting approvingly a UN official who called Israel’s control of imports into Gaza “illegal, inhuman, . . . insane, . . . a medieval siege.” . . .

The author whose writing Blumenthal transmitted most often was his son, Max. . . . Of course Sidney cannot be held accountable for Max’s writings, but of the articles Sidney forwarded to Clinton on the subject of Israel, he sent more by Max than by any other author.

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More about: Hillary Clinton, Israel & Zionism, Max Blumenthal, U.S. Foreign policy, US-Israel relations

The Proper Jewish Response to the Pittsburgh Massacre

Nov. 21 2018

In the Jewish tradition, it is commonplace to add the words zikhronam li-vrakhah (may their memory be for a blessing) after the names of the departed, but when speaking of those who have been murdered because they were Jews, a different phrase is used: Hashem yikom damam—may God avenge their blood. Meir Soloveichik explains:

The saying reflects the fact that when it comes to mass murderers, Jews do not believe that we must love the sinner while hating the sin; in the face of egregious evil, we will not say the words ascribed to Jesus on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” We believe that a man who shoots up a synagogue knows well what he does; that a murderer who sheds the blood of helpless elderly men and women knows exactly what he does; that one who brings death to those engaged in celebrating new life knows precisely what he does. To forgive in this context is to absolve; and it is, for Jews, morally unthinkable.

But the mantra for murdered Jews that is Hashem yikom damam bears a deeper message. It is a reminder to us to see the slaughter of eleven Jews in Pennsylvania not only as one terrible, tragic moment in time, but as part of the story of our people, who from the very beginning have had enemies that sought our destruction. There exists an eerie parallel between Amalek, the tribe of desert marauders that assaulted Israel immediately after the Exodus, and the Pittsburgh murderer. The Amalekites are singled out by the Bible from among the enemies of ancient Israel because in their hatred for the chosen people, they attacked the weak, the stragglers, the helpless, those who posed no threat to them in any way.

Similarly, many among the dead in Pittsburgh were elderly or disabled; the murderer smote “all that were enfeebled,” and he “feared not God.” Amalek, for Jewish tradition, embodies evil incarnate in the world; we are commanded to remember Amalek, and the Almighty’s enmity for it, because, as Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik explained, the biblical appellation refers not only to one tribe but also to our enemies throughout the ages who will follow the original Amalek’s example. To say “May God avenge their blood” is to remind all who hear us that there is a war against Amalek from generation to generation—and we believe that, in this war, God is not neutral.

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More about: Amalek, Anti-Semitism, Judaism, Religion & Holidays