Why Is a Major Jewish Organization Hosting Al Sharpton?

Feb. 14 2019

At an upcoming conference, the Religious Action Center—the advocacy and activism arm of American Reform Judaism—has on its roster of speakers the “civil-rights leader” Al Sharpton. An anti-Semitic demagogue, Sharpton has twice incited his followers to violence against Jews—in the 1991 Crown Heights riots and the 1995 attack on Freddie’s Fashion Mart—leading to a combined figure of nine deaths. Yet he was a frequent guest at the Obama White House and now has his own political talk show. Chris Robbins comments:

In August 1991 [Sharpton] helped incite a three-day race riot in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. . . . In response to a tragic [traffic] accident, Sharpton organized angry protests. . . . He railed against Jewish “diamond merchants” and later told a crowd that “if the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house.” Roused by Sharpton’s rhetoric, the mob rampaged. It pursued and cornered an innocent Jewish victim. Yankel Rosenbaum, then twenty-nine years old, was an Orthodox student visiting Crown Heights from Australia. Sharpton’s mob stabbed him to death.

[S]ome say Sharpton has outgrown his past. We could perhaps entertain that conclusion if Sharpton had addressed his misdeeds and asked his victims for forgiveness during his Obama-era makeover. But [he] is not repentant. The best we can say is that after cable-television executives insisted upon—and bought and paid for—Sharpton’s good manners, he has had the good sense to stay bought.

[The Religious Action Center] sees Sharpton as a key bedfellow in the anti-Trump alliance as well as a bridge to the African-American community. [It] thus chooses to see Sharpton version 2.0, the recently minted civil-rights leader and power broker. Sharpton’s sordid past is off limits. It would be better to remember Yankel Rosenbaum.

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Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: American Jewry, Anti-Semitism, Brooklyn, Politics & Current Affairs, Reform Judaism

The Impossibility of Unilateral Withdrawal from the West Bank

Feb. 19 2019

Since throwing his hat into the ring for the Israeli premiership, the former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz has been reticent about his policy plans. Nonetheless, he has made clear his openness to unilateral disengagement from the West Bank along the lines of the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, stating the necessity of finding “a way in which we’re not controlling other people.” Gershon Hacohen argues that any such plan would be ill-advised:

The political and strategic precepts underlying the Oslo “peace” process, which Gantz echoes, vanished long ago. The PLO has unequivocally revealed its true colors: its total lack of interest in peace, unyielding rejection of the idea of Jewish statehood, and incessant propensity for violence and terrorism. . . . Tehran is rapidly emerging as regional hegemon, with its tentacles spreading from Yemen and Iraq to the Mediterranean Sea and its dogged quest for nuclear weapons continuing apace under the international radar. Even the terror groups Hizballah and Hamas pose a far greater threat to Israel’s national security than they did a decade ago. Under these circumstances, Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank’s Area C, [the only part still under direct Israeli control], would constitute nothing short of an existential threat.

Nor does Israel need to find a way to stop “controlling other people,” as Gantz put it, for the simple reason that its control of the Palestinians ended some two decades ago. In May 1994 the IDF withdrew from all Palestinian population centers in the Gaza Strip. In January 1996 it vacated the West Bank’s populated areas (the Oslo Accords’ Areas A and B), comprising over 90 percent of the West Bank’s Palestinian residents, and handed control of that population to the Palestinian Authority (PA). . . .

This in turn means that the real dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as within Israel itself, no longer revolves around the end of “occupation” but around the future of eastern Jerusalem and Area C. And since Area C (which is home to only 100,000 Palestinians) includes all the Jewish West Bank localities, IDF bases, transportation arteries, vital topographic sites, and habitable empty spaces between the Jordan Valley and the Jerusalem metropolis, its continued retention by Israel is a vital national interest. Why? Because its surrender to a potentially hostile Palestinian state would make the defense of the Israeli hinterland virtually impossible—and because these highly strategic and sparsely populated lands are of immense economic, infrastructural, communal, ecological, and cultural importance, not to mention their historical significance as the bedrock of the Jewish ancestral homeland

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More about: Benny Gantz, Israel & Zionism, Two-State Solution, West Bank