Jews’ Special Obligation to Defend the Story of the American Founding

Nov. 26 2021

When the Mayflower arrived in what is now Massachusetts, its passengers knelt on the ground and recited Psalm 107inspired, it seems, by a British Hebraist’s citation of Moses Maimonides, who instructed that this chapter be recited by those who have safely completed an oversea journey. This episode leads Meir Soloveichik to contemplate Judaism’s role in the American founding:

In an excellent reflection in Jewish Ideas Daily on the first Thanksgiving of the Mayflower’s passengers, Moshe Sokolow correctly notes that “this vestige of Jewish influence on the religious mores of the U.S. is worth our acknowledgment and contemplation—and, of course, our thanksgiving.” But I would add that it also, rightly understood, obligates American Jews to safeguard the story of America’s past and thereby its future. For we find ourselves concluding a summer of discontent, experiencing, as Commentary has rightly put it, a “great unraveling” that [calls into question] the greatness of America and its Founders. This follows the “1619 Project” launched by the New York Times, which insisted that America itself was created in order to preserve slavery. The project’s premise was roundly derided as entirely ahistorical by prominent historians such as Sean Wilentz, James McPherson, and Gordon Wood. . . . It was nevertheless awarded the Pulitzer Prize, a reminder of how swiftly and spinelessly the cultural elite has fallen in line.

In the face of these many assaults on the American idea, a number of American scholars have proposed a “1620 Project,” linking the Pilgrims to the preservation of American history. The anniversary of the Mayflower’s sailing reminds us what Jewish ideas have given to America and the obligation that Jews who care about the Bible owe this remarkable country in defending its story.

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Read more at Commentary

More about: American founding, Christian Hebraists, Judaism

The Significance of Mahmoud Abbas’s Holocaust Denial

Aug. 19 2022

On Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, during an official visit to Berlin, gave a joint press conference with the German chancellor Olaf Scholz, where he was asked by a journalist if he would apologize for the murder of Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics. (The relationship between the group that carried out the massacre and Abbas’s Fatah party remains murky.) Abbas instead responded by ranting about the “50 Holocausts” perpetrated by Israel against Palestinians. Stephen Pollard comments:

Scholz’s response to that? He shook Abbas’s hand and ended the press conference.

Reading yet another column pointing out that Scholz is a dunderhead isn’t, I grant you, the most useful of ways to spend an August afternoon, so let’s leave the German chancellor there, save to say that he eventually issued a statement hours later, after an eruption of fury from his fellow countrymen, saying that “I am disgusted by the outrageous remarks made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. For us Germans in particular, any trivialization of the singularity of the Holocaust is intolerable and unacceptable. I condemn any attempt to deny the crimes of the Holocaust.” Which only goes to show that late is actually no better than never.

The real issue, in Pollard’s view, is the West’s willful blindness about Abbas, who wrote a doctoral thesis at a Soviet university blaming “Zionists” for the Holocaust and claiming that a mere million Jews were killed by the Nazis—notions he has reiterated publicly as recently as 2013.

On Wednesday, [Abbas] “clarified” his remarks in Berlin, saying that “the Holocaust is the most heinous crime in modern human history.” Credulous fools have again ignored what Abbas actually means by that.

It’s time we stopped projecting what we want Abbas to be and focused on what he actually is, using his own words. In a speech in 2018 he informed us that Israel is a “colonialist project that had nothing to do with Judaism”—to such an extent that European Jews chose to stay in their homes and be murdered rather than live in Palestine. Do I have to point out the moral degeneracy of such a proposition? It would seem so, given the persistent refusal of so many to take Abbas for what he actually is.

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Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Anti-Semitism, Germany, Holocaust denial, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority