Israel’s President Is More Complex Than You’d Think

Some people are surprised by some of the things Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has said and done. That just shows a real lack of historical Reuven_Rivlinperspective on the Israeli political scene.

In the United States and Europe, the Israeli right, epitomized by the Likud Coalition, has always been the “opponent of peace,” while the Labor Party and, later, Kadima were the “pursuers of peace.” This was always a false dichotomy. It would have been somewhat truer to say that supporters of Likud were usually, but far from always, opposed to the two-state solution that Oslo envisioned, while Labor and Kadima supported it.  Continue reading

Rabbis Issue Anti-Arab Ruling and Anti-Jewish Statements

A group of Israeli rabbis issued a religious ruling forbidding Jews to rent homes to Arabs.

Even Benjamin Netanyahu could take the high road on this one. “How would we feel if we were told not to sell an apartment to Jews?” asked Netanyahu. “We would protest, and we protest now when it is said of our neighbors.”

Bibi gets this one exactly right, of course. The rabbis, however, display themselves to be ignorant of halakha (Jewish law), willfully or otherwise, and, even worse, to be classical anti-Semites. Consider the words of Rabbi Yosef Scheinen, who heads the Ashdod Yeshiva: “Racism originated in the Torah. The land of Israel is designated for the people of Israel. This is what the Holy One Blessed Be He intended and that is what the [sage] Rashi interpreted.”

I don’t know what passage Scheinen is referring to. But I do know he is wrong about the law. Doing business, renting, to non-Jews is not prohibited. Even the question of selling land in Israel to non-Jews is off-base—those laws deal with a post-messianic Israel, where Jews have already returned.

We may recall that Orthodox Jews opposed Zionism for many years, on the basis that Judaism teaches us that Jews live in galut (exile) by God’s decree, and only the coming of the Messiah can end that exile. Religious Zionism re-wrote Jewish history to accommodate the Talmudic acrobatics they needed to perform in order to poison Jewish nationalism with religious fundamentalism. Continue reading

Helen Thomas Scorned, Caroline Glick Praised

Helen Thomas made an extremely offensive, off the cuff remark, and has now announced her retirement.

I met Thomas some years ago; she is definitely someone who shoots from the hip, and she has, for quite some time, been in a position where she could do so. She has generally asked tougher questions, on the Middle East as well as many other issues, than other reporters because she has had virtually guaranteed access to the White House.

I have enormous respect for the work she’s done as a journalist. But I have absolutely no sympathy on her for the

The now-fallen Helen Thomas

reaction her remarks have garnered. They were offensive and inappropriate. Her apology, which I believe was sincere, didn’t really address the offensive content of what she said.

Some, like Think Progress’ Matt Duss, have pointed out that similar comments regarding Palestinians have not garnered serious criticism. He’s right. Still, I do believe that while anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry remains shamefully tolerated in the US, had Thomas’ comments been directed at African-Americans, women, or other groups in this country who have made some progress in fighting discrimination, she would have been in just as much trouble.

In any case, there was a great outcry, and Thomas, who could be argued to be the premier serious female reporter in the country, has retired as a result.

In Israel, the premier woman journalist in the country went a hell of a lot farther, in a premeditated, rather than an impetuous fashion. And there is hardly a peep in response in her home country.

Caroline Glick is well-known to readers of right-wing e-mail lists, and of course, of the Jerusalem Post, where she is the deputy managing editor and a regular columnist. She is also a fellow at the extremist neoconservative Center for Security Policy in Washington. Continue reading