Wednesday, December 31, 2014

News from the Academic Gulag:



1.  News from Israeli Academia:


Sapir College is a far-leftist college supported by public funds, located in embattled Sderot, and it has long been a hotbed of violent anti-Israel leftism.  The news this week:


Art exhibit at Israeli college 'promotes killing Jews'

"The Power of the Word" exhibition includes works with the phrases "ISIS," "Slaughter the Jews," and "In blood and fire we will redeem Palestine" • MKs, organizations and members of public in a rage over the provocative art show.


An exhibition piece with the phrases "Jerusalem of Gold" and "Jerusalem of Shit"

Students, organizations and members of Knesset are fuming after Sapir Academic College in Sderot allowed the display of a contentious exhibition in its art school's gallery that critics feel promotes the massacre of Jews and terrorism and offends the religious public.

The exhibition, called "The Power of the Word," is curated by Liav Mizrahi and includes among its works three hamsas (palm-shaped amulets popular throughout the Middle East) created by artist Gad Wellnitz and decorated with the words "ISIS," "Slaughter the Jews," and "In blood and fire we will redeem Palestine."

The exhibition also features a picture by artist David Riv, where the words "Jerusalem of Gold" are printed along with the words "Jerusalem of Shit," beside images of Jews praying at the Western Wall.

Before the exhibition was opened on Tuesday, Likud MK Danny Danon approached Sapir College President Omri Yadlin and said, "This exhibition is necessarily provocative. It is shocking to see an academic institution in Israel displaying exhibitions that promote terrorism and killing Jews."

Right-wing organization Im Tirtzu also approached Yadlin in an effort to stop the exhibition. The group's director Matan Peleg called it "a disgrace" and said, "We are again bearing witness to anti-Zionist propaganda sponsored by academia under the guise of pluralism."

Sapir College maintains that the exhibition is displaying art from both sides of the conflict. "The exhibition includes works by some of the best artists in Israel, including Israel Prize laureates whose works have received institutional, public and governmental recognition," read a statement released by the school.

The statement concluded with, "Sapir College fosters freedom of expression and thought and cultivates pluralism and tolerance."



As followup to the story about the outrageous "art" exhibit at Sapir College, which featured a "hamsa" on which it read "Massacre the Jews." Sapir College has a long track record of being a center for anti-Israel Far Leftist agitprop.   It ran pro-Hamas rallies. 
Well, just a few days too late for Hannuka, some heroic Maccabees STOLE the atrocity out of the exhibit yesterday! If the heroes go public I propose they be nominated for the Israeli Medal of Valor!



2.  The Palestinian revision of Christmas:



3.   Auld Lang Zion 2015
Should auld accomplice be forgot,
And never brought to trial?
Should auld Osloids, friend, be forgot,
In days of auld lang Zion?
For betraying auld lang Zion, my dear,
For abasing auld lang Zion.
Should their accomplice be forgot,
In days of auld lang Zion?
We yids hae run aboot the world,
Under fire the whole time.
We've wandered mony a weary foot,
To reach auld lang Zion.
Save auld lang Zion, my dear,
Save auld lang Zion,
Indict those Oslo blaggards, dear,
For the sake of auld lang Zion!!!



4.  For those who think the academic rot is ONLY in Israel:



5.  Academic standards on display for all to see:  University of Haifa faculty member claims Israel is the new violent radical theocracy in the Middle East while Iran is the enlightened secular democracy:



6.   Jihading along at Tel Aviv University:   

7.   The Ballad of Michael Brown

Remember the old rock song, "Charlie Brown"?
The most famous line being: " Who calls the English teacher, Daddy-O
Charlie Brown, Charlie Brown… ?"

Well, here comes the new take-off:


Fe-fe, fi-fi, fo-fo, fum
I smell smoke in the Fergusonium
Michael Brown, Michael Brown
He's a clown, that Michael Brown
He's gonna get caught
Just you wait and see
(Why's everybody always pickin' on me)

That's him on his knees
I know that's him
Yeah, just hit the 7-11
Robbin' on a spree 
Michael Brown, Michael Brown
He's a clown, that Michael Brown
He's gonna get caught
Just you wait and see
(Why's everybody always pickin' on me)

Who walks in the liquor store, cool and slow
Who calls the copper Die Now Daddy-O
Michael Brown, Michael Brown
He's a clown, that Michael Brown
He's gonna get caught
Just you wait and see
(Why's everybody always pickin' on me)

Michael Brown, Michael Brown
He's a clown, that Michael Brown
He's gonna get caught
Just you wait and see
(Why's everybody always pickin' on me)



Sunday, December 21, 2014

Shimon Peres writes a Letter

Letter to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan, from Shimon Peres, International Man of Peace

Letter Forwarded to the world (and conceived) by Steven Plaut

President Shimon Peres receives the Congrssional Gold Medal.

President Shimon Peres receives the Congrssional Gold Medal.
Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
My heartfelt sympathies to you and the Pakistani people for the Peshawar unrest and protests against occupation this past week. However, we must really speak about how to deal with these forms of activism in Pakistan, perpetrated by these misunderstood Islamic militants.
Mister Prime Minister, I have a great deal of experience in dealing successfully with terrorism and violence, and this is why I wish to come to your rescue. The first thing you must realize is that one can only make peace with one's enemies. With one's friends, there is no need to make peace. There is no military solution to the problems of terrorism, and this is why you must seek a diplomatic solution. "No Justice, No Peace?" as they say.
You must invite the leaders of the Taliban responsible for the bloodshed in Islamabad to meet with you. You must learn to feel their pain and understand their needs. And you must end the illegal occupation of territory that does not belong to you!   You must withdraw from the Northwest territories, Bauchistan, and from the Punjab.  The solution is to create two states for two peoples, inside Pakistan itself, one for the Taliban and the other for everyone else. The Taliban are entitled to self-determination and national sovereignty!
You must meet all the demands of the Taliban activists and militants in full. In addition, you must offer them Internet web services and five-star tourist hotels in exchange for their promising to abandon violence. After all, that is how we turned Yasser Arafat into a peace partner. You see, military force serves no role any more in the post-modern universe. It is passé. It is archaic. Today, consumer interests dominate the world, and the Islamist activists of the earth will surely make peace in exchange for some profits from participating in global trade.
The attack on the Peshawar school came about because you have been insufficiently sensitive to the needs of the Other. You took their rhetoric at face value, whereas we in Israel know that all this rhetoric is empty and, in fact, these people truly want peace. Sure, they praise bin Laden and celebrate genocidal atrocities, but what is it that they really want? You must negotiate with them even while under attack. Conditioning negotiations on an end to violence is a no-win situation. It will simply extend the bloodshed!
The key is to build a New Middle Asia, one in which everyone is so busy with the important matters of developing tourism, infrastructure investments and high-technology that they will have no time to pursue violence. Moreover, if you strike at the perpetrators of the Peshawar protests and their supporters, you will simply expand and enlarge the cycle of violence. Your retaliation bombs will no doubt injure some innocent children and civilians alongside any terrorist activists you strike. That will enrage the rest of the world and make the victims seek revenge. Your violence against these militants and activists will cause them to hate you and it will drive the Taliban to embrace terrorism.  Moreover, if you refuse to negotiate with them, then their leaders will be toppled and a violent extremist group will take charge. In that case, you will have lost the window of opportunity to make peace.
Begin by declaring a unilateral ceasefire! Mister Prime Minister, blessed is the peacemaker.  The entire world will support you and congratulate you if you respond to these horrific attacks by opening serious dialogue with the Taliban activists. All we are saying is give peace a chance. Yitzhak Rabin would have approved. Yes, chaver, what you need is shalom, salaam, peace. You will be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in recognition. Do not allow yourself to be drawn down into the gutter of retaliation. Violence never achieves anything. History has no lessons. History is the dead past.
Follow my example! Provide the Taliban with anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles so that they can battle against the true radicals and extremists. Moreover, they will do so with no Greenpeace or Supreme Court to restrain them! Demonstrate your humanity by paying pensions to any widows and orphans of the terrorists who blow up schools. Mister Prime Minister, my own peace policies have eliminated war, bloodshed and terror from the Middle East. We now have only peace partners. If you follow in my footsteps, you can achieve the same lofty goals.
Peacefully yours,
Shimon Peres, Peacemaker-at-Large

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The ‘Cycle of Violence’ Fantasy in the Middle East

The 'Cycle of Violence' Fantasy in the Middle East
December 12, 2014 by Steven Plaut 

The 'Cycle of Violence' Fantasy in the Middle East

Posted By Steven Plaut On December 12, 2014 

Ernst Eduard vom Rath was a German diplomat representing the Third Reich in Paris in 1938.  In November of that year he was shot and mortally wounded by a 17-year-old Polish Jewish youth, Herschel Grynszpan, who had been living in Germany.  Vom Rath was 29 years old.  Ironically, vom Rath had earlier expressed anti-Nazi sympathies, evidently based on the Nazi treatment of Jews, and was under Gestapo investigation at the time for being politically unreliable.  He died of his wounds two days after being shot.  Hitler used the assassination as an excuse to launch Kristallnacht, a pogrom against German Jews, shortly after the death.   My father attended school with Grynszpanand knew him casually; Dad escaped to America by the time of the assassination.

Now try to imagine how the Western media would report World War II if they were using the exact same rules of journalism that they apply to the Arab-Israeli conflict.   The assassination of vom Rath by a Jewish youth would be universally held up to illustrate that the German-Jewish conflict was a circle of violence, an ongoing bloody conflict whose roots are so old that no one remembers them, a conflict where each side claims it is retaliating for the violence that the other side perpetrated, a conflict whose causes are all blurred by eons of history.  Sure the Germans were murdering Jews, but then there was the vom Rath assassination, proving the violence was two-directional, symmetric.  Close investigation could probably find a few other examples of Jews using violence against Germans.  Innocent lives are being lost on both sides.  Such senseless tragedy.  Why can't both sides just live and let live?

Of course, such a representation of World War II would not only be an absurdity but also an obscenity.   World War II was not about a "cycle of violence" between Germans and Jews.  It was unambiguously a campaign of annihilation and oppression of Jews committed by Germans.  The fact that one can identify a handful of outlier events such as the assassination of vom Rath does not convey any symmetry to the "conflict."   Indeed to misrepresent the Nazi campaign of extermination against Jews as some sort of "symmetric" pair of movements of violence would be proof that the person so misrepresenting the situation was a Nazi-sympathizer and an anti-Semite.

The Middle East conflict is not a cycle of violence.  It is not a "symmetric" campaign of retaliation by Jews against Arabs and Arabs against Jews.  The Middle East conflict is as unambiguously a unidirectional campaign of violence and atrocities as was World War II.  It is about Arabs murdering Jews and not the inverse.  It is about Arabs seeking to deny Jews their human rights and their right to self-determination, and not the inverse.  The Middle East conflict consists of a century of atrocities perpetrated by Arabs against Jews.

But the Western media are willing to go to extreme lengths to force the conflict into the prism of symmetry and the "cycle of violence" fantasy.  Several months ago a Palestinian Arab teenager from East Jerusalem, Mohammed Abu Khdair, age 17,  was kidnapped and murdered by a Jew.  The Jew was mentally ill and believed himself to be the messiah.   He was arrested and jailed by Israel.  The killer did not represent anyone, was not sponsored by anyone, and no one in Israel cheered his crime.  The killing of Abu Khdair came shortly after three Jewish teenagers were murdered by the Hamas in a well-planned operation.  That was an operation sponsored, financed and planned by the Hamas and cheered by most "Palestinians" and by many Israeli Arabs.   Many passed around candies in celebration.

Since the death of Abu Khdair, the media have exploited the case to sell their "symmetry cycle of violence" snake oil.  True, the "Palestinians" murder Jewish children all the time but here we have a single incident of an inverted crime, an Arab teenager murdered by a Jew.  The media obsession is far more than a postman-biting-dog stroke of interest in uncharacteristic news stories.  The media have used the death to manufacture the symmetry fiction and spread it.   After all, if it is symmetric, then both sides are wrong, which means both sides are right, which means there is no right and wrong about which to worry our pretty little heads.

The killing of Abu Khdair was as characteristic of the Middle East conflict as the killing of vom Rath was representative of the events comprising World War II.  And it is hardly the only "vom Rath anomaly" that drives the reporting of the anti-Israel media.   This week Ziad Abu Ein, a terrorist murderer serving as a Palestinian Authority "cabinet minister," died from a heart attack after being confronted by Israeli troops.   You see, the media are bleating in unison?  It is not just Palestinians who murder Israelis!

Arabs in the West Bank vandalize Jewish property so often that it is generally never even reported as news, even in the Israeli media, because it is so commonplace.  Arson attacks and vandalism of synagogues by Arabs are so frequent that they rarely make it out of the back pages.  But if a handful of teenage Jewish delinquents vandalize some Arab vehicles or paint graffiti on Arab buildings, not only is this highlighted on the front pages, but it is denounced as evidence of Jewish terrorism.  The media, including the Israeli leftist media, scream that such incidents are hate crimes.  Demands are made to define the graffiti painters as a terrorist organization.

Rock throwing by Arabs at Jews in Israel is even less likely to make it into the press or news or even the social media.   But if Arabs allege that some Jewish "settlers" threw some rocks at Arab cars or houses, then stop the presses!   All other news must be removed to page 3.  Arabs in the West bank vandalize Jewish property, including agricultural produce, more frequently than the sun shines in the Middle East.  No one hears about it because it is not considered "news."  After all, dogs chasing postmen are just not very interesting or newsworthy.  But let some Arabs or leftists allege that Jewish "settlers" have vandalized some West Bank Arab olive trees and the media shrieks are deafening.  So deafening, in fact, that they drown out reporting about some cases of  Arabs and leftists intentionally vandalizing Arab olive trees as provocations to be blamed on "settlers."   And it goes without saying that the firing of thousands of rockets by Gaza terrorists at Israeli civilians is never important enough to be reported as news.  But let Israel fire back at the savages and there – you see – we are back in the symmetric cycle of violence.

The symmetry perversion has been played up by the media for so long that few can even keep straight the fundamental underlying truths behind the conflict.  There is a war in the Middle East because the Arabs, controlling territory nearly twice that of the United States (including Alaska), are unwilling for the Jews to control their own state smaller than New Jersey.  The Middle East conflict is not about unwillingness on the part of Jews to accept self-determination for Arabs, but rather by unwillingness on the part of Arabs to accept self-determination for Jews.  Middle East violence is about the campaign of terrorist aggression by the Arab world, including its "Palestinian" playthings, to murder as many Jewish children and other civilians as possible.  The number of innocent Palestinian civilians intentionally murdered by Israel is precisely zero.  Palestinians get killed when Israel shoots back and retaliates for Arab terror and aggression and rocket attacks.  When Arabs do not attack Jews, the Jews do not shoot back.  There is no anti-Arab Jewish terrorism.

Arab terrorism is not caused by Israeli "occupation" but rather by the removal of Israeli occupation.  The "Palestinians" have about as legitimate a claim to statehood and independence as did the Sudeten Germans in Czechoslovakia.   Granting "Palestinians" independence will have precisely the same effect as did the granting "self-determination" to the Sudeten Germans.  The only reason Arabs demand that the "Palestinians" be granted a state is in order to use it to launch an all-out war of annihilation and terror against what would be the rump Israel.

Israel is the only country in the Middle East that is NOT an apartheid regime.  The only Arabs in the Middle East enjoying human rights are those living under Israeli  rule.   The treatment of Arabs by Israel is at least a thousand times better than the treatment of Arabs by Arab regimes.   The "stateless Palestinians" are Arabs, and Arabs control 22 states.   No one is stopping any Arabs uncomfortable about living in a Jewish state from moving to any of those 22 states and taking all their assets and wealth with them.  The Middle East conflict is about injustices perpetrated by Arabs against Jews and not the other way around.

None of this belies the possibility that if one seeks hard enough one can find incidents in which some Jews behave badly towards some Arabs.  Just as Hershel Grynszpan may have murdered the wrong German.  But that hardly makes the Middle East conflict a symmetric cycle of violence and injustice.  There was a handful of white slaves owned by slaveholders in the American south before the Civil War and there were small numbers of black slave-owners.   Using that to paint pre-Emancipation slavery as a symmetry of black and white slaves with black and white slave-owners would of course by an obscenity.   Use of the assassination of vom Rath to create fictional symmetry would be even worse.  But nothing can compete with the malicious, repugnant, and perfidious distortion of the Middle East conflict by the media as a symmetric conflict and a cycle of violence.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Netanyahu Springs his Trap




Netanyahu Springs his Trap

Posted By Steven Plaut On December 8, 2014 @

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may demonstrate foolishness regarding a great many things in public life, but no one ever accused him of demonstrating foolishness with regard to his own electoral prospects.  His enemies are suddenly foaming at the mouth.  In response to the remarkable jump in Likud popularity in the polls, they claim, Bibi has decided to pull a fast one and has decided to take the undemocratic decision of holding elections.  That Netanyahu's rivals claim it is undemocratic when elections are held is only the tip of their problems.  What really has them worried is that the Israeli electorate is about to sic itself against most of the non-Likud parties.

To a large extent, the real factor behind the dismemberment of the government coalition and the calling of new elections is the military operation against Gaza from this past summer.  The events surrounding those battles shook up the Israeli electorate and reshuffled the political deck.

The Gaza war made the Likud very popular.  The Jewish public almost unanimously supported the operation against the Hamas barbarians. Israelis do not think that too many Gazans were killed but rather that too few were.  The main complaint from Israeli Jews was that the Likud did not go far enough and ended the military incursions there too soon.

But the Gaza war also decimated the political base for the Likud's opposition.  In Gaza, Israel had carried out to the letter every "idea" of the Israeli Labor Party and its allies.  It had evicted the entire Jewish population of Gaza, removed every single Israeli soldier and military asset, turned the area over to the "Palestinians," ending every single vestige of "occupation."  The result was the raining down of thousands of rockets upon the Israeli civilian population fired from Gaza, some hitting Tel Aviv and some landing near the airport, plus the terror tunnels built to carry out large-scale massacres of Jews.  The Hitlerjugend on Western campuses may be marching around chanting that Jews are subhumans whose lives not worthy of being defended and protected, but no one is going to get very far in Israeli politics mouthing such a platform.  The huge bulk of Israelis see the Labor Party and the "center-Left" as directly responsible for turning Gaza into one huge rocket launching pad and putting almost the entire Israeli civilian population at risk, all in the name of "the need to end occupation."  Israelis now understand that Arab terrorism is not caused by Israeli occupation but by the ending of Israeli occupation.

That means that everyone knows that at the very first electoral opportunity, the Israeli voter will exact his revenge against those who turned Gaza into Hamastan.  That means the Labor Party and Tzipi Livni's "Tnuah" party, what is left of the once large Kadima bloc.

So the Labor Party, which in its first decades exercised a monopoly hegemony over Israeli government, is likely to fall in any new election far below the 15 parliamentary seats it managed to hang on to in the last elections (out of 120).

Livni's party is what is left from the larger Kadima party that implemented the Gaza capitulation and the conversion of Gaza into ISIS-South.  It managed to get 6 seats in the last election and was invited by Netanyahu to join his coalition.  There Livni herself pursued a leftist agenda within the government coalition.  As Minister of Justice, she appointed far leftist judicial activist court judges.  She also rallied in defense of the Islamofascist terrorist Haneen Zoabi, a Knesset Member from one of the Arab fascist parties, defending her from attempts to indict her for treason and terrorism.  There are serious doubts as to whether Livni's party will pass the minimum threshold and even make it into the next Knesset after the election.  The ultra-leftist MERETZ party, with 6 seats at the moment, is also likely to get pummeled in a new election.  Israel bashing is just not a great vote grabber in Israel these days.

They are not the only likely losers from a new election.  The wunderkind of the last election was TV personality Yair Lapid and his Yesh Atid party.  A bit of a Seinfeldian party, one about nothing, Lapid rode to power by painting himself as the voice of irate middle class Israelis upset at housing prices and determined to end exemptions from military service for religious yeshiva students.  After rising from nothing to 19 seats, Lapid was invited into the coalition and made Minister of Finance, a politically thankless position even for someone who had once taken freshman economics, which Lapid had not.  Determined to do "something" as Finance Minister, Lapid introduced a moronic proposal for reducing housing prices by increasing the demand for housing (granting new home buyers exemptions from Value-Added Taxes).   Then in recent months he introduced proposals for rent controls, price controls in some other markets, and boosts in the minimum wage.   Years ago I proposed requiring prospective Ministers of Finance to be able to get a B minus on an exam in Economics 101 and Lapid illustrates what happens when there is no such requirement.

Having delivered nothing, Lapid's party will probably lose at least half its electoral strength.  There is a popular Israeli pop song about "My heart is Racing a New Guy is Coming to the Neighborhood."   Well that new guy is Moshe Kahlon.  He is a well-liked good-looking ex-Likud politician with a very bright public image, considered honest and intelligent and clean.  He was the father of the reform and shakeup of the cell phone industry in Israel which resulted in sharp drops in prices for consumers.  He is setting up his own new party, so far unnamed, and it will run as the party of the middle class.  In other words, he will be out-Lapiding Yair Lapid.  His entry onto the stage dooms Lapid to an even sharper decline.

Yisrael Beiteinu, the party of sharp-tongued Russian immigrant strongman and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, is also due to take a drumming.  In the last election, it did not run as a separate party, but rather as part of a merger with the Likud.  So its own electoral popularity was not really put to the test, as it will be this winter.  In the past it managed to draw support from Israeli "hawks," above and beyond its power base among Russian Jewish immigrants to Israel, and was helped by being the party most hated by the Far Left.  But in the last election its ability to attract "hawks" was already being undercut by the emergence of Naftali Bennett's "Jewish Home" party.  And Lieberman has been involved in other shenanigans that are likely to undercut his popularity, such as his leading an anti-democratic campaign to shut down a daily newspaper because its editorial line is pro-Netanyahu.

Naftali Bennett's "Jewish Home" party was one of the great winners in the last election, winning 12 seats.  He would have likely done even better had not the Likud focused most of its attack ads and energies in the last weeks before the last election on attacking Bennett.   While Bennett and Netanyahu do not like one another at the personal level, and while the party has lost some of its glamour in some missteps and foolish policy positions, particular by Uri Ariel, Minister of Construction, Bennett's party is still the only reliably "hawkish" party left in the arena and is likely to benefit from the shifts in public sentiment.

The rest of the Knesset is unlikely to change much in the new election.  The religious parties and the Arab fascist parties will probably keep their strength at current levels.  The rump "Kadima" party of Shaul Mofaz will go the way of the dodo bird after the election.

The main net effect of the snap elections is likely to be a strengthening of the Israeli "Right" based around the Likud and a stronger Likud governmental coalition emerging.





Leadership in Genesis and in the Bible

By: Steven Plaut

Published: December 8th, 2014 
Latest update: December 7th, 2014

(This year the author, Steve Plaut, was the Chatan Torah in his Haifa synagogue.  The following is the Dvar Torah he gave at the kiddush that followed:)

I would like to speak to you briefly about the subject of leadership in the Book of Genesis and throughout the entire Bible. More specifically I would like to address the leadership role of Judah.

What exactly was it that qualified Judah for leadership? Indeed, Judah's leadership was not just in the generation of the biological offspring of Jacob but was an ongoing leadership that would last for many generations. Judah is described in Jacob's departing blessing thus: "The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet until the coming of Shiloh." The last part of the sentence is considered to be an anticipation of the Messianic Era. Judah of course is the biological forefather of King David and so the Kings of Judaea and the future messiah all descend from Judah.

But what is so special about Judah? What was it exactly that qualified Judah as leader of his generation and even of the generations that follow?

Probably the most common answers to the question focus on the role that Judah played in the drama of the sons of Jacob and their adventures and challenges in Egypt, where - unbeknown to them - Joseph is the planning czar in control of the entire country. In particular, the role of Judah with regard to Benjamin is critical When Jacob hesitates in allowing Benjamin to leave home, Judah offers himself to his father Jacob as a guarantor for Benjamin. And then after Benjamin is arrested by Joseph's agents for the trumped up charges regarding theft of a chalice, Judah proposes that he himself be allowed to be imprisoned in place of Benjamin.

I would like to suggest that the real reason behind Judah's assuming the leadership role is not those incidents but rather a completely unrelated matter. It is to be found in a very different Biblical story, one of the weirdest of all stories in the Bible: the story of Judah and Tamar. As you recall, Tamar is the widowed daughter-in-law of Judah, who is reluctant to allow his eldest surviving son to marry Tamar. Instead, in order to establish a family, Tamar disguises herself and induces Judah himself to have relations with her, becoming pregnant with twins. The very presence of this story in Genesis is bizarre, and even more bizarre is its position in the Book - smack dab in the middle of all of the drama of the selling of Joseph into slavery, the subsequent rise of Joseph as Governor of Egypt, and the journeys of his brothers into Egypt to buy food.

Why was it so important to include the Tamar story at this point in the Torah? In part, it was to establish the earliest genealogical record for King David, the line from Judah through Peretz to the future king. But there is a no less important reason. At the end of the story of Judah, when his behavior has been "outed" by Tamar, Judah steps up and concedes that she is correct. I was in the wrong, says Judah, I regret my behavior.

That's such a big deal? Yes, that's such a big deal. Judah is capable of conceding that he was wrong, that he had made mistakes that he feels regrets. And THAT is precisely what qualifies him and his descendents for their future leadership role, holding the scepter and the ruler's staff.

To understand how amazing and unusual such behavior is, I would like to invite you to participate with me in a brief thought experiment. Try to think of OTHER figures in the Bible who similarly are willing to step up and admit that they had been in the wrong. You will quickly realize how rare this is and how difficult it is to point to other examples.

Indeed, it is highly instructive to point to the many leadership figures in the Bible who FAILED this "Judah Test," who were unwilling to step forward and admit that they had been in the wrong. Many such people were in fact the most important leaders of the entire Jewish people. I wish to review their failures not as some sort of attempt on my part to mock or belittle them but rather to emphasize how unusual such behavior is, how strongly it runs psychologically against the grain of human nature.

Let us begin with Moses himself, the most modest of all men. In Deuteronomy, in his long speech before the Israelites as they prepare to enter the promised land, he explains that he will not be going along with them. It was because of YOU, Moses berates the Israelites bitterly, that the Lord became angry with me and will not allow me to enter. Now our sages debate what exactly it was that constituted Moses' transgression, but they all agree that Moses transgressed. Moses however is incapable of coming to terms with this idea. So Moses himself fails the Judah Test.

What about his brother, Aaron the High Priest? He also fails it. As Moses descends from Mt. Sinai and sees Aaron with the Golden Calf, Moses screams Gevalt! (evidently they spoke Yiddish among themselves), brother what did you do? Well, says Aaron, the nation was running amok, going postal, they threatened me, I was afraid for my life, they killed Hur, so I did what I did. No admission of guilt. No contrition. No confession of error. Aaron gets an F in the Judah Test.

Joseph was the traditional challenger of and competitor with Judah for the leadership role, the "crown" of his brothers, both in the generation of the sons of Jacob and also in later generations. The kings of the northern kingdom were from the tribe of Efraim, descendents from Joseph, and there is the future "anointed son of Joseph" predating the "anointed of King David" in the messianic era. When Joseph is at last reunited with his father Jacob, there is no apology for never having sent a fax or SMS text message all those years letting Jacob know that he was alright, no apology for suspecting Jacob of complicity in his sale to the Ishmaelites, no admission of error. Joseph also fails the Judah Test.

Then there are the parallel twin stories involving Abraham and Isaac, in which each misrepresents his wife as his sister, leading to messy and dangerous political developments. All ends well, of course, But one might have expected an apology and admission of guilt, if not towards Pharaoh then at least towards your wife, sir!

There is in the Torah a special sacrifice in the Temple performed by the Nasi or tribal prince/president who has erred. There is also a well-known saying that happy is the generation whose Nasi errs, meaning the generation that has a Nasi willing to admit that he has erred. Such a Nasi is a great asset politically. The only problem is the lack of records of princes or kings admitting to error and offering the Nasi-Error sacrifice, and may be forgiven for being skeptical about how often such people actually emerged in leadership roles.

There is one glaring counter-example to this sorry track record, a leader who DID in fact admit freely that he had been in the wrong and who expressed regret and penance. That is King David, in the matter regarding Bathsheba, Uriah the Hittite, and the Prophet Natan. But upon contemplation, this is not really a SECOND case in the Bible of a leader satisfying the Judah test. Rather it is the original case itself. The "Judahness" of Judah manifests itself in David, who is himself the scepter of Judah and ruler's staff. This is not a separate incident of willingness to admit error but a continuation of the original incident involving Judah himself!

There is one other place where we find numerous cases of people admitting to error and confessing mistakes. That is in the Talmud, which is filled with instances of sages stating a position, listening to counterarguments, and then conceding they had been in error. These of course are generally not political leaders but educational and spiritual leaders. Nevertheless, I find some of the charm of Talmudic discourse to be precisely this feature, the willingness of the players to concede error and admit mistakes. It occurs to me that part of our willingness to accept upon ourselves the halakhic authority of these sages so many generations later may be in part because these are people capable of admitting error and expressing regret.

May it be the fortune of the people of Israel that we be graced with leaders who are capable of admitting that they have been in the wrong and of confessing to error!





Hebrew University - Apartheid "Survey" Sponsor Amiram Goldblum (Dept of Pharmaceutical Sciences) Says Waving Israeli Flags Makes You a "Judeo-Nazi"

Professor Amiram Goldblum, a senior lecturer at Hebrew University and co-founder of the extreme leftist organization Peace Now, has made use of his Facebook page to tear into the nationalist camp, the Jewish Home faction and religious Zionism.

"Let someone dare say that this is not Judeo-Nazi youth," wrote Goldblum next to a video of the "rikudgalim" flag dance celebration on Jerusalem Day. "The Arabs are under curfew in the streets of the Old City. The apartheid that exists beyond the Green Line is in Jerusalem now. Jewish youths are raised on the monstrous style that we have seen in other places."

Prior to Jerusalem Day, Goldblum said that the right wing camp makes the historic day "look and sound like the neo-Nazi march through Skokie... let the call resound: fascists of the world, unite – the Golden Dawn from Greece, the religious right in Israel, brothers in fascism."


See also

Hebrew University - Mister Apartheid, Amiram Goldblum (Dept of Pharmaceutical Sciences), Takes to Social Media toContinue his International Call to Undermine Israeli Sovereignty


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