Beyond the Cusp

April 16, 2014

Israel and America Nations Headed in Opposite Directions

Spend a good amount of time in the malls and midtown shopping outdoor malls in Israel and the United States and simply count the numbers of baby carriages and pregnant women and you will quickly see a glaring difference. In Israel you cannot take more than a half dozen steps without having to sidestep one or the other and in America you can hardly find either in most cities. These are the signs of a healthy society which is growing against a moribund society dependent on immigrations, both legal and illegal, to support the need for workers. Read the newspapers and you will see that in Israel they have built an effective barrier to prevent further illegals coming across the border from Egypt while giving illegal immigrants already in the nation seed money and a plane ticket to get them to voluntarily relocate outside of Israel while the United States political class appears to be earnestly determined to grant as many as twenty-million illegal immigrants an easy path to citizenship making them legal for employment. The United States is willing to take the workers with other illegal immigrants in order to keep population growth positive as without the influx of illegal aliens into the United States the population would be on a slow decline and accelerating. The population in Israel, particularly the Jewish population, is growing at an increasing rate to such an extent that demographics experts are now predicting that even should Israel annex all of Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem and grant the majority of the Arab population citizenship over time the Jewish majority would not be challenged by the so-called demographic Arab bomb.

 

But that is not the full extent of the differences between the United States and Israel. Where religious service attendance and open practice of religion are on the decline in the United States it is rapidly growing in both numbers and percentage of the population in Israel. Religious observance is being attacked by the government in the United States as is evidenced by the current hearings in the Supreme Court over the Affordable Care Act’s demand that employers provide birth control and other reproductive health services without copay including all abortifacient drugs. In Israel there is a growing movement to provide any necessary assistance, medical care, adoptive options, and support for mothers deciding to keep their child after birth providing viable options for those women who are considering turning to abortion believing they have no other real alternative. These efforts have been received and greatly appreciated with some of the mothers who were aided and had their baby saved by the efforts of these private organizations turning around and joining them in seeking out women in distress and giving them alternatives to getting an abortion. There are those in Israel who claim the trending away from abortion as a solution to pregnancies is due to the great love and respect for life that is a central theme in Judaism. They credit the increasing religious observance with being somewhat responsible for the movement away from abortion and the increase in people and organizations providing assistance and alternatives to abortions.

 

There is a general feeling of optimism accompanying the growth in faith and religious observance in Israel which is almost palpable. The Synagogues, Churches, Mosques and Temples are filled for weekly services and a growing number of Torah and Bible classes with some even being offered in languages other than Hebrew as there is a relatively large immigrant population responding to the call growing in Jews worldwide to make Aliyah and return home. There are signs that the numbers of Jews returning home to Israel will continue to increase as the world situation devolves further with growing anti-Semitism throughout the world including the Americas and Europe as well as other regions where such has long been a serious problem. Meanwhile, there has been evidence that the numbers of immigrants crossing the southern border of the United States have decreased over the past decade with some evidence of some of those who had already come into the United States, often illegally, are now returning south of the border as they have been unable to find the employment and better life they had sought. The difference between America and Israel is one is growing and vibrant and the other not so much. Perhaps this may be part of the growing troubles between the two nations who have experienced great relations that recently have turned troublesome. Such an end is sad to see, but perhaps these two friends will find a path to rebuild their relations in the near future.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

February 25, 2014

Synagogue Firebombed in Ukraine

The place is Zaporizhia, southeast of Kiev, where the community’s Giymat Rosa Synagogue was firebombed by unknown assailants on the night of February 23, causing minor damages. The building showed the scars from traces of a fire on the facade of the balcony. The fortunate news is that there were no casualties and the authorities have promised to take precautions and to do whatever was necessary to arrest those responsible. The neck of a glass bottle was found near the area damaged by the fire affirming that a Molotov cocktail was the cause of the fire which also confirmed the suspicions this was the result of an intentional act. There have been other threats by forces from both the now deposed government including some threats made by government police and other threats came from elements from among the opposition protesters. The Ukrainian police claimed the Jews were behind the opposition to the government while those from the opposition were blaming the Jews for supporting President Yanukovych and his cronies and as such responsible for the deaths of opposition demonstrators shot by the government police. This is not a new situation for Jews living in a nation going through internal turmoil such as civil wars and other uprisings.

 

Even the United States had a major incident where Jews were victimized being held responsible for working against the government of the United States. This event came immediately after the end of the United States Civil War (War Between the States) when General Ulysses S. Grant as the military governor of the Kentucky Territory (governing the areas including Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi) ordered all properties, homes, cattle, horse and other assets confiscated from the Jewish residents and for them to be removed from the areas under his charge. Despite this situation being countermanded immediately as reports reached the White House, such while commemorative was too late to avoid much of the damage as the reversal of Grant’s orders took over a week before the new orders reached the area. Communications were quite a bit slower and the confusion quotient was fairly high, but there was no excuse for the order to have been given in the first place. If it could happen that Jews were singled out for scorn and blame without any proof of actions and chosen as others of equal or greater responsibility were not so treated is an anathema to any civilized society. Let us hope that nothing similar occur anywhere throughout the Ukraine which thus far appears unlikely.

 

Still, the Jewish communities in Kiev particularly and throughout the Ukraine have beefed up their security in response to the increased tensions. Reports from within the communities throughout the Ukraine tell of them putting their activities on hold out of safety concerns. There have also been arrest warrants issued for President Yanukovych and various members of his Administration over the violence perpetrated by security and police forces during the months of the demonstrations. Meanwhile, President Yanukovych was reportedly seen to be in a southern port in the company of Russian Marines. The area he was reportedly currently hiding is an area that is among those aligned with Russia as the majority of the citizens are Russians who were imported into the Ukraine during the reign of the Soviet Union in order to serve as a cause for Soviet forces to be injected and the rest of the Ukrainian population pacified. If there will be any shove back from Russia, it will be in response to petition from these Ukrainians as many may prefer to remain aligned and even ruled by the Russians. There have already been reports of demonstrations against the new government and calls from those demonstrating for the return of President Yanukovych as the duly elected President of the Ukraine. The struggle for the heart and soul of the Ukraine is not yet a settled disagreement and the potential for additional violence is still high enough to cause serious concerns until the new government has been elected hopefully as scheduled for May 25. A prayer for the people of the Ukraine and for calm to be the rule and not the exception and for the nation to heal and come together once a new government has been elected. Let us call for patience and for all anticipation be for changes through the ballot box and not the baseball bat.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

January 26, 2014

Anti-Semitism Rising to Newer and Uglier Heights

The obvious and very public acts of anti-Semitism are on the increase throughout much of the world and have closed in on being an epidemic infecting Europe. In Rome, Italy this past week an act of anti-Semitism hit a new level of crassness bringing to mind memories of the desecration of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem during the period of the Second Temple. The historic insulting and crass act was perpetrated by the priests and governing oppressors of the Jewish people during the Cyrenaic Greek occupation. Boxes containing pigs’ heads were recently delivered to the Israeli Embassy, the Synagogue in the Parioli neighborhood and the Jewish Museum of Rome which is currently hosting an exhibit on the Holocaust. This act goes beyond any simple hatred due to its historical implication of the sacrifice of pigs and other non-kosher animals to the pagan Greek gods which was committed over two thousand years ago and was declared to be being performed by the occupying Cyrenaic Greeks as an intentional desecration and insult intended to belittle the Jews and demonstrate the falseness of the Jewish faith and against G0d. This act now perpetrated in the modern times exemplifies the depth of the depravity of those who hate the Jewish people today with all the raw and unbridled spite as was on display in the ancient world where civility by presumably today’s standards was not generally practiced. The Repubblica daily reported that a letter was inside the boxes contained derogatory comments about the Holocaust and references to Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern political Zionism. This was not the only sign of the growing anti-Semitism as there was fresh graffiti in one of Rome’s suburbs Saturday which read “Holocaust fake” and “Anne Frank liar”.

 

Reaction by officials was immediately forthcoming denouncing the barbarous acts with Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino stating, “Those who insult the Jewish community offend Rome. We reject the intimidation outright.” Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge was also quoted declaring, “I want to express my full support to the Jewish community for what has happened. We will do everything possible to find the person behind this unspeakable act.” He further promised to track down those responsible as police are analyzing fingerprints and DNA traces found on the boxes and following up on the lead that all the boxes were delivered by the same postal company. Making these acts of bigotry even worse is their timing coming just three days before an international memorial day for Holocaust victims which falls on Monday, January 27.

 

This act comes amid rising anti-Semitism across Europe which has already reached levels high enough to be considered a threat to the Jews living in much of Europe and other places as well. This trend has a very long history beginning soon after the end of World War II. The initial wave washed across the Muslim world, particularly the Arab nations, after the founding of Israel in May of 1948. The Jews were dispossessed of their belongings, their businesses confiscated in many cases and sold for a pittance where time permitted. These actions occurred over more than a decade with some of the evictions of the Jews in these nations was committed by the government and was even incorporated into the laws making being Jewish a capital offense. In other instances the cleansing of the Jews almost completely was accomplished by pogroms, riots and other violence forcing the Jews to leave hastily and under duress. We are beginning to witness an increase in anti-Semitism which will likely result in an exodus of the Jews from Europe to the United States and Israel. The numbers of Jews who made Aliyah returning to their ancient homelands in Israel made a marked and significant increase in France by fifty-seven percent last year over the previous year and even larger increase over the average of the previous half a century. There have been reports of mayors of cities flat out stating that they are unable to provide for the safety and security needs of their Jewish citizens with the former Mayor of Malmo, Sweden, Ilmar Reepalu, who had served in that position for seventeen years, not endearing himself to the Jewish community as he laid the blame for the local anti-Semitism on the city’s Jews themselves. At an interview in January 2010 about growing anti-Semitism in Malmo, then Mayor Reepalu responded, “We accept neither anti-Semitism nor Zionism in Malmö.” On another occasion he had stated, “There have been no attacks against Jews, and if Jews want to leave for Israel that is not a concern for Malmo.” When confronted about his apparently anti-Semitic views and statements he blamed it all on the orchestrations by “the Israeli lobby.”

 

The Mayor of Malmo is far from alone as similar statements have been recorded from previous London Mayor Ken Livingstone. Mr. Livingstone’s hatred of Israel and the contempt he feels for the Jews in general is well documented. In Ken Livingstone’s case the documentation of both disdain for Israel and anti-Semitism removes all doubts that in his case, hatred for Israel is a result of his anti-Semitism. Unfortunately the rising anti-Semitism is not restricted to Europe. Anti-Israel, anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism is alive as growing on the campuses of numerous universities and colleges across North America. In some schools the epidemic has grown so serious as to require court orders to force school officials to address the problem and provide safety in the campus environment for its Jewish students. Two students at the University of California, Jessica Felber and Brian Maissy, filed a suit accusing the University of California system of failure to mitigate a hostile climate against Jewish students in March 2011. The lawsuit was settled out of court and instructed changes to the university’s campus policies regarding campus protests. Despite the settlement, the students’ lawyers, Joel Siegal and Neal Sher, filed a Title VI complaint Justice Department and the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, urging them to investigate what they describe as “a pervasive hostile environment toward Jews” on the campus. Additionally, acts of violence against Jews in particular have surfaced in major cities throughout the United States coming to be referred to as the “Knockout Game” or the more specific name of “Get the Jew.” There has been a marked rise in Nazi and other anti-Semitic graffiti in Jewish neighborhoods and on Jewish buildings including Synagogues, daycare centers, Yeshivas, Jewish owned businesses, and most alarming, Jewish homes. Despite these unarguable facts, most Jews in the United States continue to have a false sense of security claiming using the exact phrase used by assimilated Jews in the Weimar Republic in the early 1930s that, “It cannot happen here and not to me as I am accepted and am respected as I holding high office.” Those denials were soon to be regretted as the truth became obvious, no position, stature in the community or other presumed mitigating factor was of any worth towards saving any Jew as time progressed. The delivery of packaged pigs’ heads to numerous Jewish institutions in Rome has brought the rising atmosphere of anti-Semitism into shocking and immediate attention. This should act as the severe threat that it represents and imparts a strong message to Jews everywhere to examine critically and honestly their position and the growing and visceral hatred brewing within Western societies and address this phenomenon and make arrangements and plans with care and act decisively before the contagion spreads further and becomes unstoppable. Closing one’s eyes and pretending that these are disparate acts with nothing linking them together can only result in tragedy. The history of the Jewish people contains ample examples of similar episodes of dismissible hatred of Jews which inevitably grew accumulating disciples who spread the venom until it became an integrated part of the societal whole leading to tragedies waged against our forefathers. Unaddressed, the current seeds of anti-Semitism will slowly spread and engulf the entire world making victims of all of us. Wake-up please.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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