Friday, January 26, 2024

In This Moment: Not Genocide; Scarsdale Shopping Center Vandalized; Holocaust Memorial Day


In This Moment

Three major stories on our radar today...

Story #1

It was disturbing to see a full page ad in today's print version of the NYT by the "Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council," which states unequivocally that Israel "was committing a genocide." Not even "acts of genocide," but "a genocide." This on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day. Curiously, the letter itself is not to be found at the address listed on the ad, or anywhere else that I could detect as of Friday mid-morning. There is a small list on the JVC site about 50 who who claim to be members of the Rabbinical Council - including some students.

I object strongly to their claims of genocide, especially in the face of clear acts of genocide committed and pledged by Hamas. But as Ezra Klein writes today in the NYT, Israel is not blameless in what has gone from a trickle over the past few decades to a massive hemorrhaging of support for Israel among Gen Z. We can't just blame social media or the Chinese, or a Jewish establishment that shunned all dissenters from the left. Those Jewish leaders indeed were Netanyahu's enablers, but to blame them is to ignore that the root cause goes back to Israel's shifts over the past two decades. Klein writes that this "is one reason I think the response to the protests on campus has been misguided. This is not a problem you can solve by firing college presidents or blackballing student radicals. Israel is losing the support of a generation, not a few student groups. And it is losing it because of what it does, not what it is."

Still, the headline for today is that the court is not calling Israel's actions genocide and is not calling for an immediate ceasefire. Israel has some time left to continue to degrade Hamas (while aiming to protect the innocent) and plan next steps - ideally, in partnership with their real allies and partners and not on their own. As Daniel Gordis demonstrates today with some viral Israeli social media posts, IDF reservists are raring to finish the job - and they also blame Bibi.

This week's new polling reconfirms that a disdain for their Prime Minister is what's uniting Israelis more than anything else. See below. Benny Ganz' party is the "State Camp," which has 12 seats in the current Knesset, projecting to go up to 40, while Likud, which now has 32, would shrink to half its current size. The ruling coalition would go down from 64 seats to 44, and the opposition, led by Ganz, up to an unimpeachable 76 seats. A sea-change is happening in the Israeli electorate before our eyes. But while they oppose the government, they do not oppose the current fighting and want - need - a conclusive victory. But not genocide.

Story # 2

I was at Seasons yesterday afternoon and aside from a modest police presence you would never have known that an incident had occurred at the Golden Horseshoe. It was as busy as ever, with the pre-Shabbat bustle in the air.

Story #3

Friday's Front Pages

Jerusalem Post


Yediot Ahronot

Next Wed on JBS / Cablevision channel 138

Remembering Mark Golub

See the preview below. I was honored to be asked to participate in this tribute, which will be aired on Jan. 31, Rabbi Golub's first yahrzeit.

Recommended Reading

  • Modi Opens a Giant Temple in a Triumph for India’s Hindu Nationalists (NYT) - Here's an interesting scenario. A Hindu holy place becomes a mosque when Muslims rule the area centuries ago. In the 1990's, radical Hindus destroy the mosque and when those an extremist religious party comes to power, they build a new Hindu temple on the grounds and tell the Muslims tough luck. Is this how to promote co-existance? Not in Modi's India, before an election. And don't think some people in Jerusalem aren't taking notice of how India just got away with it. Their newspapers proclaimed this a triumphant moment. Religion can either mend or destroy our scary world. In the wrong hands, it can become, in the words of Hindu sacred writ, the god Shiva, and Robert Oppenheimer, "death the destroyer of worlds."

Here's what the Times reported:

The Babri Mosque, which the Hindu side argued was built after Muslim rulers destroyed an earlier Hindu temple in the spot, was brought down in 1992 by Hindu activists, unleashing waves of sectarian violence that left thousands dead. The manner in which the mosque was razed set a precedent of impunity that reverberates today: lynchings of Muslim men accused of slaughtering or transporting cows, beatings of interfaith couples to combat “love jihad” and — in an echo of Ayodhya — “bulldozer justice” in which the homes of Muslims are leveled by officials without due process in the wake of religious tensions. The Hindu right wing has ridden the Ram movement to become India’s dominant political force. The opening of the temple, built over 70 acres at a cost of nearly $250 million, marks the unofficial start of Mr. Modi’s campaign for a third term, in an election expected in the spring. That it was Mr. Modi who was the star of the inauguration of the temple in Ayodhya — which Hindu nationalists have compared to the Vatican and Mecca — captures the right’s blurring of old lines. India’s founding fathers took great pains to keep the state at arm’s length from religion, seeing it as crucial to the country’s cohesion after the communal bloodletting wrought by the 1947 partition that cleaved Pakistan from India. But Mr. Modi has unabashedly normalized the opposite.

Shabbat Shalom

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