Jewish Life Carries on in Eastern Ukraine

Feb. 24 2017

Reporting from the city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine, not far from advancing Russian forces, Dovid Margolin describes the state of the local Jewish community, which lives with the constant sound of artillery fire in the background:

Just as the city continues to function, so, too, have Jewish communal activities continued, even strengthened. Mariupol’s Jewish preschool and day school haven’t skipped a day. . . . In the last few weeks, Mariupol has seen two circumcisions: one of a newborn boy [performed by the local rabbi]; and the other of a fifty-five-year-old man who over the last decade has become an active synagogue member after a life without participation in the Jewish community. The latter bris was performed by Rabbi Yaacov Gaissinovitch, formerly of separatist-occupied Donetsk, who today lives in Kiev and serves as the country’s leading mohel. . . .

Having been made cynical by the ongoing war of attrition, [Mariupol’s Jews] do not believe the background noise of heavy artillery will go away soon, much as they hope [it will]. . . . While the boom of rockets can be heard throughout the day, the main show . . . begins like clockwork at 4:45 pm.

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More about: Jewish World, Ukraine, Ukrainian Jews, War in Ukraine

Zionists Can, and Do, Criticize Israel. Are Anti-Zionists Capable of Criticizing Anti-Semitism?

Dec. 12 2018

Last week, the New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg defended the newly elected anti-Israel congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, ostensibly arguing that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism aren’t identical. Abe Greenwald comments:

Tlaib . . . has tweeted and retweeted her enthusiasm for terrorists such as Rasmea Odeh, who murdered two American students in a Jerusalem supermarket in 1969. If Tlaib’s anti-Zionism is of the Jew-loving kind, she has a funny way of showing it.

Ilhan Omar, for her part, once tweeted, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” And wouldn’t you know it, just because she believes that Zionist hypnotists have cast global spells masking Israeli evil, some people think she’s anti-Semitic! Go figure! . . .

Goldberg spends the bulk of her column trying very hard to uncouple American Jewishness from Israel. To do that, she enumerates Israel’s sins, as she sees them. . . . [But] her basic premise is at odds with reality. Zionists aren’t afraid of finding fault with Israel and don’t need to embrace anti-Zionism in order to [do so]. A poll conducted in October by the Jewish Electorate Institute found that a majority of Americans Jews have no problem both supporting Israel and criticizing it. And unlike Goldberg, they have no problem criticizing anti-Semitism, either.

Goldberg gives the game away entirely when she discusses the discomfort that liberal American Jews have felt in “defending multi-ethnic pluralism here, where they’re in the minority, while treating it as unspeakable in Israel, where Jews are the majority.” She adds: “American white nationalists, some of whom liken their project to Zionism, love to poke at this contradiction.” Read that again. She thinks the white nationalists have a point. Because, really, what anti-Semite doesn’t?

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel & Zionism, New York Times