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Sebastian Gorka and the Truth about Jewish Liberals and American Politics

Sept. 6 2017

In a recent radio interview, the outgoing White House counterterrorism adviser claimed that his pro-Israel positions were the source of much of the criticism directed at him during his tenure. Gorka went on to suggest that the “liberal elements of the American Jewish population have basically become anti-Israeli. It’s the greatest, saddest paradox.” But, writes, Jonathan Tobin, Gorka misunderstands the Jewish left—much as the Jewish left has misunderstood him:

[L]ike all such generalizations, any attempt to describe all liberal Jews as anti-Israel is a slander. Some . . . have turned on Israel and have swelled the ranks of groups critical [of Israel], like J Street, with many others backing anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic organizations like Jewish Voice for Peace that support the BDS movement. But most liberal Jews are still pro-Israel and many play a role in maintaining support for Israel via AIPAC and other groups.

But the avalanche of attacks on Gorka—including many from Jewish sources, some of which were unfair—was real. What was confusing about it, for him, is that he didn’t understand why being pro-Israel cut him no slack from liberal Jews. The reason for their antipathy is no secret. Gorka was an editor at Breitbart.com before his stint at the White House, and he’s returning to the website. . . . Donald Trump’s style is both inspired by and deeply appealing to Breitbart’s readers.

So far as liberals are concerned, that means it’s open season to assail those associated with Breitbart or President Trump. For Gorka, that meant a deep dive into his background as the son of Hungarian exiles. . . . Most of what was discovered was more a matter of guilt by association than proof of anything damaging. . . . The low point was reached when the Forward published a story about his son’s high-school science project. . . . Though the story was withdrawn, the Forward has yet to . . . explain this breach of journalistic ethics. . . .

All liberal Jews don’t deserve to be labeled as Israel-haters, and Gorka’s support for the Jewish state shouldn’t earn him immunity from all criticism. But neither should it have been ignored in a rush to demonize someone who, whatever you may think of his politics, was eager to be an ally of the Jewish people at a time when we can use all the friends we can get. That so many Jews are unmoved by that fact is, as Gorka correctly notes, a sad paradox.

Read more at Algemeiner

More about: American politics, Donald Trump, Israel & Zionism, Liberal Zionism

The Movement to Return Jewish Worship to the Temple Mount Has Gone Mainstream

Sept. 25 2017

During the eruption of violence against Israelis in Jerusalem this summer, and the subsequent struggle over metal detectors, the Islamic authorities briefly boycotted the Temple Mount. As a result, Jewish visitors, normally prohibited from praying there, immediately began to do so. Meir Soloveichik puts the episode in context and describes its meaning:

The Temple Mount is fast becoming a pilgrimage site for religious Jews. In the past, most abstained from visiting out of concern that they might enter a sacred area in a state of ritual impurity, but many now believe that, with a knowledge of the layout, history, and religious laws pertaining to the location, it is permissible to visit certain parts of the Temple Mount plaza. They thus visit the site under religious guidance—immersing first in a ritual bath, or mikveh—and tread only in specific areas. What was once a trickle of pilgrims has become a stream, and this year they numbered in the many thousands. . . .

[Indeed, a] sea change has taken place in the past fifteen years: . . . the segment of Jews visiting the Temple Mount is becoming more and more mainstream, supported by rabbis noted for their liberalism in social or religious affairs. . . .

Visiting Jews were, for a brief and brilliant moment [this summer], able to utter several words of prayer without interference. The Israeli media published photos of a diverse group of Jews standing on the Temple Mount reciting the kaddish, so close to where their ancestors, on Yom Kippur, had once stood listening to the high priest pronounce the Name of God. Soon after this kaddish, the [status quo ante] returned; Jews again were no longer free to pray at the site toward which all Jewish prayer has been directed for thousands of years. But images of that one unimpeded kaddish remain; to study them is to look back on the miraculous and heartbreaking past half-century in Jerusalem, to celebrate what has been achieved, and to mourn what might have been.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Judaism, Palestinian terror, Religion & Holidays, Temple Mount