Monday, March 28, 2011

Israeli leader’s son sentenced to prison for kidnapping Palestinian teen

An Israeli court has sentenced Zvi Struk, 28, of the Esh Kodesh outpost near Shiloh, to 18 months in prison, one year of probation and restitution of $14,000. Struk was convicted of beating a Palestinian shepherd and killing a lamb in July 2007. The case is on appeal. Be that as it may, what's most telling are the judge's comments as reported by JTA
"I reviewed the medical records and the difficult photographs that were taken of the complainant immediately after the event, and I cannot avoid expressing disgust and deep shock over the signs of terrible trauma that the minor suffered," Judge Amnon Cohen said in the courtroom.
What a difference from Israel's opposites in the Palestinian Authority. First, they don't bring perpetrators of crimes against Israelis to justice, and, second, they glorify their criminals, especially the murderers of innocent civilians. What a difference it would make if Palestinians criticized their criminals the way Judge Cohen did an Israeli. Read the full story from the JTA Well, that's what I have to say. Stephen M. Flatow

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A visit to Israel: Sarah Palin and Sarah the matriarch

From the New York Sun, an editorial about Sarah Palin's recent visit to Israel.
Here at home the central point we keep making about Mrs. Palin is that of all the streams of American conservatism hers is the one that is most welcoming to Jewish Americans. Her mantra is what she calls constitutional conservatism, meaning one that is grounded in the bedrock of the American Constitution. It is different from what, in a previous generation, was called Christian Conservatism, a political flag that rallied a magnificent band of followers but that was not the logical rallying cry of Jewish Americans.
The Sun is onto something, not necessarily about Mrs. Palin's role in Republican politics, but the position of the Republican Party as the one garnering more Jewish members. On another note, the Sun continues to use the phrases settlers and settlements when describing the Israelis who live in Jewish communities in Yehuda and the Shomron. Wouldn't it be nice if the Sun were to adopt usage of the latter in lieu of the former? Read the full editorial, Sarah and Sarah Well, that's what I think. Stephen M. Flatow

Thursday, March 17, 2011

About the Itamar massacre

Some have wondered why this blog has not mentioned the horrific murder of the Fogel family in the Jewish community of Itamar on Friday, March 11th.

Be assured that the murdered and their family members have been in my mind since I first read the news Saturday evening after the Sabbath.

Frankly, my silence is attributable to being as the proverbial deer blinded by the headlights of an approaching car. I’ve been frozen not only by the attack but the implications of the attack and the world’s response to it.

When the Associated Press could only conclude its Sunday report of the massacre by stating that the community of Itamar is “home to some of Israel’s most radical settlers,” a line picked up by the New York Times, my fear that we are sinking to the lows of pre-war Nazi Germany in the demonization of Jews became more real.

In that vein, I came across the following poem by Uri Tzvi Greenberg written in response to the Holocaust.

To God in Europe

We are not as dogs among the gentiles: a dog is pitied by them
fondled by them, sometimes even kissed by a gentile’s mouth
as if he were a pretty baby
of his own flesh and blood, the gentile spoils him
and is forever taking pleasure in him.
And when the dog dies, how the gentile mourns him!

Not like sheep to the slaughter were we brought in
trainload but rather-
through all the lovely landscapes of Europe-
brought like leprous sheep
to Extermination itself.
Not as they dealt with their sheep did the gentiles deal with
our bodies;
they did not extract their teeth before they slaughtered them
nor strip them of their wool as they stripped us of our skins;
nor shove them into the fire to turn their life to ashes;
nor scatter the ashes over sewers and streams;
like this that we have suffered at their hands!
There are none-no other instances.
(All words are shadows of shadow)
This is the horrifying phrase: No other instances.

No matter how brutal the torture a man will
suffer in a land of the gentiles
the maker of comparisons will compare it thus:
He was tortured like a Jew.
Whatever the fear, whatever the outrage,
how deep the loneliness, how harrowing the sorrow-
no matter how loud the weeping-
the maker of comparisons will say:
This is an instance of the Jewish sort.

What retribution can there be for our disaster?
Its dimensions are a world.
All the culture of the gentile kingdoms at its peak
flows with our blood,
and all its conscience, with our tears ....
(Tr. Robert Friend)

I conclude by reminding myself that it’s necessary for me to double my efforts to understand the message of this disgusting act of violence and to teach that lesson to our friends, neighbors, media people and elected officials. So I’ll ask God to give me the strength for that because my tank is getting perilously low.

Stephen M. Flatow