Sunday, January 23, 2022

Reflecting on 70 years since the Final Solution, the attack at the synagogue in Colleyville, and why are there no Jews in the Middle East.(outside of Israel)


What happened to the Middle East’s Jews

Follow this link for video of discussion. Starts at 1:45 into video.


Just 2 weeks ago, we had a discussion with Richard Hirschhaut, of the LA AJC. One of the questions I raised was of the  push by Islamist groups, either associated with Palestinians, or with the Muslim Brotherhood( in particular, CAIR, which claims to be the representative of US Muslims) to repeat antisemitic memes, and then back-track when caught.

Now, one week later, we had this horrible event, which could have ended in tragedy. It came just in advance of the 70th year since the notorious Wannsee Conference, which settled the fate of Europe’s Jews, in the Entloessung zur Judenfrage-The Final Solution of the Jewish Question. It was also just in advance of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Jan 27.


Attack on the Beth Israel synagogue would at first seem to have been the work of a deranged lunatic seeking the release of another deranged lunatic, Lady Al Qaeda,  Aafia Siddiqui.

However, even lunatics need outside input to trigger and guide their delusions.

What drove both of them ? Both were from  Pakistan. What about Pakistan?


This from Rob Eshman in LA Times:

Karachi-born Siddiqui, 49, came from an educated, devout Muslim family. … Massachusetts Institute of Technology and, in 1995, went on to obtain an advanced degree in cognitive neuroscience at Brandeis University, … 44% of undergraduates identify as Jewish.

…, Siddiqui tried to dismiss her lawyers because of their Jewish background and demanded that prospective jurors undergo DNA testing to determine if they had Jewish genes.

“Study the history of the Jews,” she wrote in a plea to then-President Obama. “They have always back-stabbed everyone who has taken pity on them and made the ‘fatal’ error of giving them shelter.” She added: “This why ‘holocausts’ keep happening to them repeatedly! If they would only learn to be grateful and change their behavior!!”

But in truth, antisemitic conspiracy theories dominate Pakistani textbooks, media and government. Why would Siddiqui believe anything else?.

( Op-Ed: The Texas hostage-taking was a symptom of conspiracy theories run amok

JAN. 17, 2022


Pakistan is no outlier in the Moslem world on anti-Semitism:


The esteemed President of Malaysia:  In a speech made before the Organization of the Islamic Conference shortly before he left office, Mahathir claimed "the Jews rule the world by proxy: They get others to fight and die for them."[80] “We are up against a people who think. They survived 2,000 years of pogroms not by hitting back but by thinking. They invented socialism, communism, human rights and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so that they can enjoy equal rights with others. With these they have now gained control of the most powerful countries and they, this tiny community, have become a world power. . . .”(NY Times 


Something has gone very sour in the Moslem world, far more so than in the Christian, Hindu, or Buddhist world:


ADL survey of attitudes- data 2014/15


USA- about the same for Canada, most Anglo countries, northern Europeans.

Latin America- worse

Prime Example-Chile-

The new President has Chile’s Jews worried.

They sent him this gift a two years ago:

A jar of honey and affirming building a community based on inclusivity, solidarity, and respect.

And he replied:


Gabriel Boric Font



La Comunidad Judía en Chile me envía un tarrito de miel por el año nuevo judio, reafirmando su compromiso cn "una sociedad más inclusiva, solidaria y respetuosa". Agradezco el gesto pero podrían partir por pedirle a Israel que devuelva el territorio palestino ilegalmente ocupado.

In short:You should have  called on Israel to give back the Palestinian territory it has ilegally occupied 

 [An aside, as a descendant of Palestinians, it is ironic that he is occupying land that was stolen from indigenous native Americans by the ancestors of today's Chileans!]


In Europe, Greece is an outlier-far ahead of Poland, Russia, or Ukraine

In Africa-


Nigeria= very tolerant

Asia Singapore

What about the Moslem world

Iran- to be fair-better than Christian Greece

I suspect more Iranians hate their Ayatollah regine more than they hate Jews!


But Egypt- at peace with Israel-partner against Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood, Iran


Jordan- at Peace with Israel

Odds of peace with our nearest neighbors-Gaza-West Bank

So- I go to my point, Where are the Jews of the Middle East today?

Communities that date back to – Iraq-Persia- Egypt-over 2500 years. Yemen-2000 years. Before Christianity-before Islam.

That was posed at the UN by Hillel Neuer of the UN watch:

This is the way that map looks:








Why is it that the winds of antisemitism were pervading the Islamic world before the State of Israel, before Zionism?

Multiple factors-

Anti-Jewish statements in the Quran- war at the end of days in which the trees will betray the Jew hiding behind them


Historic anti_Jewish edicts in Islamic law- no Jew may ride on a horse, stand higher than a Moslem, no synagogue higher than  a mosque,  must pay tax to be allowed to live.

Modernity= rise of nationalism-began with improved rights for minorities, and then went south from there- first case- in a large way-the Armenian genocide, which was an inspiration for Hitler. From that point, nationalism closed out all that did not fit neatly in the Islamic world =similar to European fascist states.

The reaction against modernity-

The Saudi compromise with Wahabi Islam= leave us alone, and build madrasas outside Arabia!


Muslim Brotherhood- al akhwan al muslimun-Hasan al bana-100 years old- rejection of liberal thought and politics, and of things western.

“The Muslim Brotherhood’s history of anti-Semitism goes back to its founding. Its leading Palestinian figure, Haj Amin el-Husseini, collaborated with the Nazis, declaring that Jews were the enemies of Islam and had been for 1,300 years. He made explicit appeals on the radio to Arab listeners to “kill the Jews.” In 1946, when Husseini returned to Cairo, he was enthusiastically welcomed by Hassan al-Banna, the Muslim Brotherhood’s founder. In a secret bulletin intercepted by OSS agents in Cairo, Al-Banna said of Husseini, “What a hero, what a miracle of a man. Yes, this hero who challenged an empire and fought Zionism, with the help of Hitler and Germany. Germany and Hitler are gone, but Amin Al-Husseini will continue the struggle.” The Muslim Brotherhood, Anti-Semitism, and Democracy | The New Republic


So, as we approach the International Holocaust Remembrance Day= Let’s see what is left of a once glorious Jewish presence despite subjugated and untouchable status.

Follow this link to see the original images that I presented on zoom discussion.

One of the images is of a magnificent synagogue in the Island of Djerna, Tunisia. Live was bad for the Jews, who mostly left, but that hasn't stopped the government from cashing in on Jewish tourism. 

My discussion followed with this short graphic account of what was once a glorious Jewsoh presence in the Middle East , now made Judenrein, except for one island of safety- the State of Israel.


Short summary:

This is a link to amore extensive video:


Sunday, January 9, 2022

Are we suffering from " Gevalt" or" Head in the Sand" syndromes? --Interview with Richard Hirschhaut of the American Jewish Committee


Jan 8 Notes and video of interview with Richard Hirschhaut of the American Jewish Committee

This is a direct link to the interview conducted by Rabbi Norbert Weinberg, Hollywood Temple Beth El


AJC recently issued a poll, showing a rising number of Jews concerned about anti-Semitism. Conversely, the survey was denounced as exaggeration by an op-ed writer for the Jewish  Forward .
Are we suffering from " Gevalt" or" Head in the Sand" syndromes? 


Hirschhaut is chief strategist and principal spokesperson in advancing AJC’s global advocacy mission in Southern California. AJC is considered the “dean of American Jewish organizations.” He has been involved for over 30 years in civil rights, humanitarian, and Jewish communal advocacy, serving in senior professional roles across the U.S. with the Anti-Defamation League, Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and American Friends of Rambam Medical Center.



Just a few weeks ago, after we planned on this Shabbat program, Rosa Rosenberg was so kind as to loan me a copy of People Love Dead Jews by Dana Horn. It talks about the trend to fetishize the Jews of the past, while ignoring the threats to Jews of the present. Its title is reminiscent of another  work, by another famous Jewish author, Cynthia Ozyck, ALL THE WORLD WANTS THE JEWS DEAD( NOVEMBER 1974 Esquire). The theme is so very much the samethe people of Israel were almost destroyed in the Yom Kippur war, yet that bothered no one, especially not the United Nations, which went on to label Zionism as racism.

Then , I see this report of a faculty member at the respected University of Maryland, who was canned for being outspokenly Jewish:

Filed in the US District Court of Maryland, the suit, alleging a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, said that Dr. Melissa Landa — a professor at the College of Education for ten years before the university declined to renew her contract in 2017 — was subjected to “a series of actions designed to alienate, humiliate, and ultimately terminate” her after she began speaking out against antisemitism. )


So now we have the new poll, about Jews reporting attacks.

Please explain what this recent poll by the AJC is about?

The report goes on to document actual physical attacks not just snide remarks on Instagram? Who is attacking? why is it not given much coverage in the news? Is it true that people love only dead Jews? Are we paranoid? Or do we have our head in the sand?






This is the week before Dr Martin Luther King Jr Day. I moved us up a week so as to put Tu B Shvat into our next week’s agenda.

At one time, both Jews and black Americans were in the same boat and rowed together. W E B Du Bois, an African American, was an example of that cooperation. He was a brilliant young scholar, educated at Harvard, and infused by the same anti-Jewish sentiments of his fellow Harvard alums. Studying at the University of Berlin in the 1890s, Du Bois absorbed the volkisch German nationalism of his teacher, Heinrich von Treitschke, who said: “The Jews are our misfortune.”

But, as he began to create the NAACP, he found so much support from major Jewish leaders that he broke from the anti-Semitism he had absorbed as a young man. Holding up the Jewish people as a “tremendous force for good and uplift,” he reciprocated Jewish support by putting the NAACP on record against The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He condemned antisemitism in Poland and Hungary, as well as in Germany….Du Bois remained steadfast in denouncing Hitler’s war against the Jews and supporting Zionism


We are understandably concerned, now, that, as in the 1960’s and 70’s, there were those in struggle for Black advancement who turned against Jews, notably, Louis Farrakhan.

I fear that we find people in the anti-Zionist camp intentionally seeking to drive a wedge between us. For example, this on Nov. 27 by Zahra Billoo, executive director of the San Francisco chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations.  “But I also want us to pay attention to the polite Zionists. The ones that say, ‘Let’s just break bread together.’ They are not your friends,” she said. As examples, she cited the ADL, Jewish Federations, Hillels and “Zionist synagogues.” She also repeated an unsupported claim, one that circulates among some activist groups, that “police officers in the United States who kill unarmed black men, women and children are trained by the Israeli military.”  

Her position is straight from the platform of the American Muslims for Palestine

That lie has been a staple diet of many resolutions proposed against cooperation between police here in the US and Israel for training purposes.

This just one example of people trying to drive a wedge between our communities—

Since the AJC was attacked by this speaker from CAIR and by the AMP, what is your take on this- how serious the impact, what are you doing to counter it.?




Monday, December 27, 2021

Judaism and Other Religions-Why don't we missionize? Ruminations about Dec 25


Judaism and Other Religions-Why don't we missionize?

 Ruminations about Dec 25


Here is the link to the Dec 25 Shabbat Service. Discussion starts at 1:36 into the video

Dec 25- 

I started the discussion with an aside on how many Christmas songs were written by Jews. Here is a short video clip ( which I could not put up  at the time) which summarizes it:

We take note that we are a minority in a Christian civilization, just as we have been a minority in Muslim civilizations. When things go well, we are happy with our neighbors of all faiths.

 In Europe, it would have been unthinkable for a Jew to set foot in a church, other than to convert, and I am sure that in the Islamic world, that too would have been unthinkable. That is one element of the Western enlightenment that told strong roots here, for sure.


 As I said, through most of history, that wasn’t the case.Too often though, things don’t go well. 



My father’s comment on what to answer when Christian’s ask him what Jews think of Jesus. His answer- why ask? We Jews live among many religions? Do we need to answer what we think of Mohammed, or what we think of Buddha. It’s not a Jewish issue!

So- maybe turn the tables- what do we think of our neighbors, of other religions.

Or, since we have the original word of God, certainly as we saw it, why did we not do as our two cognate religions do:

Constantine- In Hoc Signo, Vinca -In this sign, you call conquer( The vision of a sword in heaven, shaped like the Christian cross)


In Islam, the division of the world into Dar Al Islam-the world of Peace( inside Islam)- or “ Dar al Harb” the World of the Sword ( those refusing to accept Islam).




We, too, had a period of militant missionizing- but very short lived- shortly after the time of the Maccabees- John Hyrcanus a) destroyed capital of the Samaritans b) conquered Idumea and forcibly converted them. There was a presumption that perhaps also the pagan populations of Galilee were forcibly converted, which gave rise to anti-Semitic claims that Jesus was never born a Jew. However, that seems to be inaccurate and Galileans were, to the most part, transplanted Judeans.

Very short lived, indeed. And restricted to lands that were historically part of ancient Israel. Some other later exceptions-when pagan kingdoms converted to Judaism  and then engaged in expansionist wars-like the early Jewish kingdom of Yemen a century before Mohammed.


However, we were, during the Greek & Roman periods, active missionizers-

So, the Christian Scripture has, in the words of Jesus, this condemnation:


23:15 “Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You cross land and sea to make one convert, and when you get one, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves! ( Matthew)


Jewish population in Roman Empire estimated 10%, about 7 million- some by birth, but many by conversion.


Growth stopped by 1) 2 disastrous wars against Rome 2) Intensive restrictions and repression of Jews after Constantine, as expressed in Justinian code .


Nevertheless, we weren’t fully committed to making the whole world Jewish- although some one did write a song and a movie ” When your in Love, the Whole World is Jewish”. Maybe that’s why we didn’t need to.


We eventually went beyond not actively seeking, to actively pushing away:


Keep in mind, under both Christianity and Islam, to convert to Judaism was essentially, to welcome suicide. The convert would have to escape to be protected from execution and the community that helped him convert would be in trouble.


Jewish reluctance to accept Christian converts to Judaism was grounded in Christian laws that prohibited apostasy; such laws punished apostates and those who converted them with death. Rabbi Mosheh Isserles noted in one of his glosses in the Shulḥan ‘arukh that “in these lands [Poland] . . . it is forbidden to convert non-Jews” (Yoreh de‘ah 267:4). The Magdeburg law, which served as the legal framework of Polish cities, and, after 1658, legislation enacted by the Sejm both demanded death penalties for apostasy from Catholicism.

Still operative in many Moslem countries till today. In Pakistan,for instance.

 Non-Muslims are forbidden to convert Muslims to another religion, a crime punishable by law. [Pakistan: Struggle for Human Rights, (Hong Kong/Singapore: Christian Conference of Asia - International Affairs, 1986),

p. 105.] For Muslims themselves, conversion is reportedly dangerous and may be punished under section 295A of the Pakistan Penal Code which imposes up to two years imprisonment for outraging the religious feelings of any class of citizen. [Rights of Religious and Other Minorities (Pakistan), (Geneva: International Commission of Jurists, 1987), p. 9.]

But- even before these codes and elgal restrictions, we were also of a split in opinion:


Common Rabbinic dictum:

כספחת קשין גרים לישראל

Based on Nidah 13b

Converts are as painful for Israel as scabs…

1)    They don’t learn enough and don’t live up to their commitments to mitzvot or

This would have been elicited by the sense that , under the Roman prosecutions, those who had converted in good times, ran away when things got tough. Furthermore, many of the half-way Jews, or pagans influenced by Jews, fell in to the Christian camp as it expanded.


 On the other hand- always an other hand--

2)    On that same quote, about scabs:The opposite, they are so devoted, it makes those born Jews look bad in comparison.


This would have been supported by the realization that  major teachers of Judaism were Ben Bag Bag and Ben Hehe as well as the author of  Aramaic Targum Onkelos, also identified as Aquila, author of a Greek translation. All converts.

Sanhedrin 96b

תנו רבנן נעמן גר תושב היה נבוזר אדן גר צדק היה מבני בניו של סיסרא למדו תורה בירושלים מבני בניו של סנחריב לימדו תורה ברבים ומאן נינהו שמעיה ואבטליון

מבני בניו של המן למדו תורה בבני ברק ואף מבני בניו של אותו רשע

The descendants of the great enemies of Israel became students and teachers of Torah- Sisera,Nebuzaradan, Haman, and even Nebuchadnezzar. Sancherib was the ancestor of the two great teachers, Shamayah and Avtalyon.Rabbi Akiba also reported to be descendant of a convert.


Not an unusual thought- the Jewish Museum of Berlin has in its archives, a folder, of some 300 cases of Germans who converted to Judaism after the Holocaust. My father was the officiating Rabbi.This was sent to me just this week!


But we did not take an active role in outreach- yad mekarev veyad docheh- One hand pulls in, and one hand pushes  out.


Story of the pagan who comes to Hillel and Shammai:

Al regel achat- on one leg( regel-leg-regulus-Latin-rule) Shabbat 31 a

שׁוּב מַעֲשֶׂה בְּגוֹי אֶחָד שֶׁבָּא לִפְנֵי שַׁמַּאי. אָמַר לוֹ: גַּיְּירֵנִי עַל מְנָת שֶׁתְּלַמְּדֵנִי כׇּל הַתּוֹרָה כּוּלָּהּ כְּשֶׁאֲנִי עוֹמֵד עַל רֶגֶל אַחַת! דְּחָפוֹ בְּאַמַּת הַבִּנְיָן שֶׁבְּיָדוֹ. בָּא לִפְנֵי הִלֵּל, גַּיְירֵיהּ. אָמַר לוֹ: דַּעֲלָךְ סְנֵי לְחַבְרָךְ לָא תַּעֲבֵיד — זוֹ הִיא כׇּל הַתּוֹרָה כּוּלָּהּ, וְאִידַּךְ פֵּירוּשַׁהּ הוּא, זִיל גְּמוֹר.

This is, of course, a variation of the Golden Rule, something in use in Jewish sources well before the time of Jesus.

The strictness of Shammai drove him away, the patience of Hillel brought him close.

Still we ask the question- do we actively go out and push for proselytes?


My cousin’s daughter, you may recall, spoke to us on a recorded interview, on Yom Kippur, on the need to bring in more people.

But again. If we do bring in people from the outside, it is by social influence or connection or acquaintance, and not through coercion, whether political or through application of pressure. Even now, in US, where anyine can switch to any or no religion, we don’t push our way in, knocking on doors, leaving pamphlets, like Jehovahs Witnesses, or Mormons, or The American Board of Missions to the Jews  or Jews for Jesus.


Instead, we get Chabadniks knocking ONLY on Jewish doors.


Why our reluctance.

After all, we were the first recorded group in history to see a common source of humanity. It is the bible that traces all to one common ancestry-Adam. Concept of 7 Naochide laws

-        A universal moral and spiritual code, - Tzadikei umot haolam yesh lahem helek bolam haba-

-        The righteous of all nations have a place in the world to come.


So, we have a universalizing core—that core gave both Christianity and Islam its dynamic. If we possess what we consider to be true to all, we have an obligation to preach that truth. If I believe I have a vaccine for a pandemic- do I not have an obligation to vaccinate you? Even by force? To do less is to be immoral, in that perspective.

This is true not just of religion, but of all universal ethics- it drove Alexander to his great conquests, as a student of Aristotle. It drove Marxists to spread the faith, by the sword.

Unfortunately, universalist ideologues too often become universal destroyers.

Eric Hoffer on the True Believer:

All mass movements strive, therefore, to interpose a fact-proof screen between the faithful and the realities of the world. They do this by claiming that the ultimate and absolute truth is already embodied in their doctrine and that there is no truth nor certitude outside it. The facts on which the true believer bases his conclusions must not be derived from his experience or observation but from holy writ.( He meant Das Kapital and Mein Kampf, not the Bible or Koran).


Yes, we have a militant religion- especially at the start-

We are to enter the land of Canaan and take it by force. We are to cleanse it of its pagan inhabitants. But, except for the short , short period in which the Kingdom under David expanded deep into Syria, that land was restricted, very much to what is now the State of Israel with the West Bank-and not Gaza!

There was no imperative to take any other territory, and Milchemet Mitzvah was restricted to those wars essential to defend the land of Israel. We have no sense of “wakf” as in historic Islam, to say that whatever was once an Islamic land, remains forever Islamic, and must be regained by force.


Rather, the people of Israel are defined  in the Torah “ mamlechet kohanim” a kingdom of priests, not of conquerors.  Repeatedly, we are told that we were chosen, not because we were the mighty power, but precisely because we were the smallest of the peoples on earth.Deut 7:7-8

כִּ֣י עַ֤ם קָדוֹשׁ֙ אַתָּ֔ה לַיהֹוָ֖ה אֱלֹהֶ֑יךָ בְּךָ֞ בָּחַ֣ר׀ יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֗יךָ לִהְי֥וֹת לוֹ֙ לְעַ֣ם סְגֻלָּ֔ה מִכֹּל֙ הָֽעַמִּ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֖ר עַל־פְּנֵ֥י הָאֲדָמָֽה׃

לֹ֣א מֵֽרֻבְּכֶ֞ם מִכׇּל־הָֽעַמִּ֗ים חָשַׁ֧ק יְהֹוָ֛ה בָּכֶ֖ם וַיִּבְחַ֣ר בָּכֶ֑ם כִּֽי־אַתֶּ֥ם הַמְעַ֖ט מִכׇּל־הָעַמִּֽים׃

כִּי֩ מֵאַֽהֲבַ֨ת יְהֹוָ֜ה אֶתְכֶ֗ם וּמִשׇּׁמְר֤וֹ אֶת־הַשְּׁבֻעָה֙ אֲשֶׁ֤ר נִשְׁבַּע֙ לַאֲבֹ֣תֵיכֶ֔ם הוֹצִ֧יא יְהֹוָ֛ה אֶתְכֶ֖ם בְּיָ֣ד חֲזָקָ֑ה וַֽיִּפְדְּךָ֙ מִבֵּ֣ית עֲבָדִ֔ים מִיַּ֖ד פַּרְעֹ֥ה מֶֽלֶךְ־מִצְרָֽיִם׃

To what purpose this elevation:The Romans believed it was to” divda et impera.” Dive and conquer.

The European colonialist believed it was their obligation of “mission civilisatrice”, for the Japanese Imperialists, it was the “Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere.”


That was never seen as the Jewish mission. Rather, in the words of the Prophet Micah, there would be a grand reconciliation of all nations, gathering in the Holy Mount of Jerusalem:


.In the days to come,

And the many nations shall go and shall say:
Let us go up to the Mount of the L
To the House of the God of Jacob;
That He may instruct us in His ways,
And that we may walk in His paths.”
For instruction shall come forth from Zion,
The word of the L
ORD from Jerusalem.

Thus He will judge among the many peoples,
And arbitrate for the multitude of nations,
However distant;
And they shall beat their swords into plowshares

And their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation shall not take up
Sword against nation;
They shall never again know war

But every man shall sit
Under his grapevine or fig tree
With no one to disturb him.
For it was the L
ORD of Hosts who spoke.

Though all the peoples walk
Each in the names of its gods,
We will walk
In the name of the L
ORD our God
Forever and ever.

Micah 4 1-5