A Time to Mourn, Not a Time to Accuse

Oct. 30 2018

Since the massacre of worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue, many have rushed to place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the American president. At least two well-known Jewish journalists—almost immediately after the attack—took this claim one step further by holding Jewish supporters of Donald Trump accountable for the murders as well. Rabbi David Wolpe responds:

My synagogue is on the west side of Los Angeles. On a rough guess, about half of my congregants support Donald Trump. Many of those who do, but certainly not all, are from the Persian community. We have had frank discussions. They know I deplore many of the things he says and I oppose much of what he does. . . . They also know that we respect and listen to one another, that I do not preach politics at them but do speak with them and learn from them, and that our relationship in many cases is one not only of affection but of genuine love.

So when I see major American Jewish figures tell me that my congregants are illegitimate, my blood boils a little bit. After the tragedy in Pittsburgh, perhaps because I spend so much of my time at the bedside of the sick and dying, I expected that the first impulse of Jews in particular would be simply to offer messages of sorrow and condolence [rather than to suggestion that] more than half of my Shabbat-morning congregants, and in some more traditional synagogues almost all of them, should have the doors barred against their entry; that Jews who make minyans, pay shiva calls, underwrite nursing homes and kindergartens—people who make Judaism possible . . . for other people—should be cast out of our midst because of the levers they pull in the privacy of a voting booth. And what, after all, would a Jew who fled from Iran know about anti-Semitism—or protecting the Jewish community?

[M]y congregants are not the ones who are dangerous, and refashioning blood libels so that Jews are the perpetrators is ethically appalling—and communally toxic.

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More about: American Jewry, Donald Trump, Jewish World, Persian Jewry, Politics & Current Affairs

Iran Is Back on Israel’s Doorstep

Feb. 15 2019

On Monday, the IDF shelled Iranian-linked targets—most likely held by Hizballah—in the Quneitra province, which lies in the Syrian part of the Golan Heights. There can thus be little doubt that the Islamic Republic has positioned its proxies in deadly proximity to Israel’s borders. Yossi Yehoshua comments:

Hizballah is trying to entrench itself in Syria now that Bashar al-Assad has reclaimed the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, precisely as it did in 2014 and 2015, [before Syrian rebels retook the area]. This was when one of the terror organization’s more prominent members, Jihad Mughniyeh, was appointed by Hizballah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to be in charge of the Golan Heights area and of planning terror attacks against Israeli civilians. Mughniyeh was killed in a 2015 airstrike attributed to Israel. . . .

In addition, an increase in the number of incidents along the Syrian border was noted over the past two months, with the Israeli strikes in Syria . . . meant to signal to the enemy that it is best not cross any red lines. This is similar to the message Jerusalem conveyed to Iran when it [previously] attempted to entrench itself in [this part of] Syria and was pushed out of there after a series of Israeli airstrikes.

Unlike the situation of four years ago, Iran now has a real presence along the Syrian border, while Hizballah is working to resume its confrontations with Israel. And since the organization is up to its neck in domestic problems and thus cannot allow itself to face Israel on the Lebanese front, it finds Syria to be a more comfortable staging ground from which to take on the Jewish state.

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More about: Golan Heights, Hizballah, Iran, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Syria