Hillary Clinton’s Defeat Could Signal Her Party’s Decisive Turn against Israel

Nov. 16 2016

As the Democratic party undergoes a post-election reshuffle, writes Seth Mandel, it seems poised to elevate its anti-Israel wing:

Israel’s supporters were hoping Hillary Clinton could forestall the Democratic party’s seemingly inevitable turn against the Jewish state. . . . [Instead, this] could have been the last U.S. presidential election that Israelis don’t have to watch with existential dread.

At least, the first signs of a post-Clinton Democratic party aren’t good. Minnesota’s Congressman Keith Ellison, a fiery critic of Israel, is the frontrunner to be the next Democratic National Committee chairman. . . . [Before] his congressional career, Ellison had worked with Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam and even defended Farrakhan against accusations of anti-Semitism.

Ellison has left Farrakhan far behind, but his Israel criticism remains scathing. . . . On a trip to Israel last summer, Ellison posted a photo of a sign in Hebron declaring Israel to be an apartheid state and land thief. He has also called for Israel to end the blockade on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip—despite the fact that Gaza-based terrorists have launched over 11,000 rocket attacks on Israeli civilians since Israel withdrew from the strip in 2005. . . . Yet Ellison is far from a lone voice among Democrats; indeed, he’s co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

In his quest for the party chairmanship, Ellison has the backing of the soon-to-be Democratic Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer—who prides himself on his pro-Israel bona fides and is now using his credibility on the issue to elevate Ellison. . . . Schumer might just be bowing to the new reality.

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More about: Democrats, Hillary Clinton, Israel & Zionism, U.S. Politics, 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