Category Archives: Jewish history

The Watchmen (and women) on the Wall

My colleague Y.B. has nailed it. Again.

 

There are those that see what is happening around them and see the pattern, and see it for what it is, they recognize that pattern. Then there are those that see the pattern and because it is ugly they tell themselves they can’t possibly be seeing exactly what they are seeing and pull the covers back over their head and top it off with a pillow. Then there are those that see the pattern, look at it for two seconds and ask what time “American Idol” comes on that night. Ok, if it were National Finals Rodeo I could maybe understand a little, maybe, but sure not much. That is sad, very sad. Then there are those that see the pattern, know exactly what it is, and in fact maybe helping to contribute to it but deny that it is a pattern and vilify those that point it out. They spend their resources assuring the nervous that all is well, it’s just fine,nothing to see here, move along.

 

A few random things, a NY city Council man David Greenfield went on a trip to Israel, while there he went to Ramallah. While there, after a visit with the American Consul-General in Jerusalem at his Ramallah office he and the group prepared to go back to their transportation. He was asked to remove his Kippah. He refused.

“I walked into Ramallah with my yarmulke on, of course,” he said. “I was pulled aside by security personnel and was told that I should not wear my yarmulke when I was leaving the building.” The surprised Greenfield asked why he was being told this, and the answer was that “there was a security situation on the ground” and that it was not safe.”I specifically asked them if it was unsafe for me or for the group – they said it was definitely not an issue for the group but they could not guarantee my personal safety. I explained for them that for me it’s a very significant issue and that quite frankly, had I been told this in advance, I never would have agreed to come to Ramallah.”I was told that the US government was providing security and as an official, I expected them to keep up their end of the deal,” he said, adding that the request to have him remove the kippah had come from the Palestinian hosts.

Councilman Greenfield certainly gets it. This is a response he presented at a meeting. He gets it very well.

Then there is this speech by the French Prime Minister.

He gets it.

Then we have those that have walked the streets of Europe wearing a Kippah, to show reactions.

 

 

And in Paris for ten hours, but this one just loops, it’s not really that long.

 

 

We have the 51 Democrats that are Anti-Semitic and Anti-Israel. They whined that they didn’t like how John Bohner invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to give the speech. Well, I don’t like Bohner. But I suspect he was correct, if he went through the White House aka the House of Hussein, there would be no speech. I’m pretty confident that if Iran develops a nuclear weapon it will affect the US as well as Israel. But barry is too busy trying to be buddies with the people that want to kill US than to allow mere facts to interfere with his enjoyment of his rainbow stew. This link has the speech embedded in the web site. Nancy Pelosi showed she could edge 20 steps closer to Prozac and a padded room when she called the speech “Insulting and condescending.” It would seem Democrats are far more invested in towing the barry boat than living in reality. They do not get it, and they also attempt to mislead the uninformed that vote for them. There is a very real threat.

 

I have a very sweet lady in a class I take and we had a conversation about guns. She told me she and her husband absolutely respect the Second Amendment, but they belong to the Brady campaign and they just think that all guns need to be registered to stop crime. Class was over and we were all leaving, but I suggested she do a quick internet search for the “Nuremberg Laws”. I pointed out that Hitler could easily keep Jews from owning weapons to protect themselves because they already had a list of who owned what. So when Hitler decided Jews could have nothing to do with firearms, or own them, they knew where the were, duck soup, round up. She doesn’t get it, at all. But she said she still loved me, and I still think she is a lovely lady. An easy target, but a lovely lady. That “Nuremberg Laws article is pretty interesting by the way. Some compare and contrast in it.

 

So knowledge and interpretation certainly play a role in what you see, and how you see it. But another aspect is your attitude about it. I recently had a very brief discussion with a Rabbi. It involved my wish that Moshe Feiglin would have been returning to the Knesset. He seemed to think that wasn’t such a great thing. I said I just think Jews should be allowed to pray on the Temple Mount, and I do, and I mean right now yesterday. His comment was “When the Messiah comes back”. Really. Because this attitude of accepting little scraps of freedom, the little bits of the Jewish identity people are allowed to retain, the areas where it is safe to walk or as Y.B. pointed out, worship should all be determined by others? The Southern Cowgirl in me rears up and says “OH HELL NO”!

 

Because when you see attacks on a persons religion, on their ethnicity on their belief system when it harms no one else, you can just about bet the farm that not long after follow the physical attacks. WHY does it need to get to that point?

 

There are people who see what is happening, they see what is coming. And while the current regime uses government agencies to go after those that speak out, they still must.

1 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, speak to your people and sayto them, If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a manfrom among them, and make him their watchman, 3 and if he sees the sword comingupon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people, 4 then if anyone whohears the sound of the trumpet does not take warning, and the sword comes andtakes him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. 5 He heard the sound ofthe trumpet and did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But if hehad taken warning, he would have saved his life. 6 But if the watchman sees thesword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned,and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in hisiniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.~~Ezekiel 33: 1-6

These people are called Watchmen.

 

There is a name for those that attempt to mislead people into thinking everything is fine too, or should agree to things that have been disastrous in the past and would be again. And this song keeps going through my mind when I think about them. Yesh lanu tayis.

owl and late mouse
What’s for dinner?

 

Keep your eyes open, and choose carefully who you listen to.

 

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A Shofar Bleats: “Jew! Shma! Go Home.”

When it comes to the subject of Jews in today’s Europe, I am pretty jaded. Yes, I forward articles and commentary to family and friends. The news so percolates with these stories I know I am a Johnny-One-Note. Still, the Atlantic article Claire blogged about made me very sad, because, despite all the possibilities, they seem so… doomed. And, sooner rather than later.

French_jews

There is no small amount of pride involved in their staying. As the article mentions, most French Jews are from North Africa. They kind of skip quickly over it, but while the world “knows” all about the displaced Muslim Arabs in the wake of the 1948 war, remarkably few know of the Jews who lived in Muslim lands. They had lived the degrading sting of being the “Dhimmi” all of their lives.

Old Moroccan Jew

When the Jews of Israel were NOT driven into the sea by victorious Muslim armies in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, etc.  Eight Hundred Fifty Thousand Jews of the Muslim countries, some of whom had resided there for nearly two thousand years, were unceremoniously stripped of their citizenship,  homes, businesses and possessions and driven out.  From Morocco to Iran. Running for their lives.

Jewish refugees

No wonder they are hardened to being driven out, especially by Muslim thugs, or their Jew-Hating native European soul-mates. It is insulting in the extreme. A very raw nerve.

Many settled in France and became instant assets. A huge population of Persian Jews lives in Los Angeles, bringing traditions of hard work, deep-rooted ethics, and firm loyalty to their new homes. This is the way of the Jews in the Diaspora. And many of these Jews settled in Israel and became instant assets there too.

And, to blow that “Note”  (a blowing a shofar, if you will) again… A story closer to home:
My son and his family also live here in the USA, in a modern, economically stable metropolis. They live in the “nice” part of town. This is not a town known for Jews.  A local rabbi in the neighborhood runs a very small orthodox congregation out of his house.

A few years ago a neighbor alleged that having those Jews there, all in one place, for a couple of hours every Saturday, and on their weird holidays, was driving down the property values. He sued. It cost the congregation monies they did not have to spare, and shoved off plans for a more permanent home for the congregation. The neighbor lost (but, not really, right?).

Then the Homeowner’s Association alleged much the same thing and also sued. More money picked from a little shul too small and too poor to even rent a building to pray in. The building fund depleted with legal fees, the plans pushed off again. The HOA lost (but, not really, right?).

Recently, the City itself decided to joint the party and sued the little shul, too.

The other day a SWASTIKA was found painted on a car near the little shul-in-a-house.

How soon until people start getting beaten up walking to synagogue? How soon until a mason jar of jellied gasoline crashes through a front window during the Passover Seder? Opening the door and calling for the Prophet Elijah in one breath and screaming as your family burns alive in the next?

Burning Jews

In the end, there is only ONE place where a Jew belongs. If enough landsmen “Make Aliyah” (literally, To Ascend) to their own home, they may face enemies near and far, but they will have more security to live their lives and fulfill their destiny than anywhere else on earth. http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/706162/jewish/Translation.htm

So I will sound that one “Note” again.

Jew.  Shma! Have you packed your bags?

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Is it time for the Jews to leave Europe? But even if it is — what then?

This topic is more Y.B.’s beat than mine. Perhaps he’ll have more to say. But this Atlantic article on the current predicament of Jews in Europe disturbed me as much as anything I’ve read about the fatal squeeze being put on Europe’s Jewish remnant.

Muslims (who outnumber Jews in Europe now by an order of magnitude) may provide the “muscle” these days when it comes to harming Jews. But the traditional prejudice of Christian and secular Europeans makes it easy for long-time Europeans to turn a blind eye, mutter in secret agreement, or otherwise support the barbarity.

The bottom line lesson is one we all know: Self defense can’t be delegated. Europe’s Jews will ultimately have to protect themselves. But how? Without an honored right to bear arms, they’re caught between being bankrupted by hiring security or fleeing to Israel — a nation that will welcome them right into the most dangerous region of the world.

Europe’s governments may promise to protect them and may even make token efforts in that direction. But seriously? You think “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you” is going to work magic for the safety of Europe’s Jews?

An excerpt from the article:

France’s 475,000 Jews represent less than 1 percent of the country’s population. Yet last year, according to the French Interior Ministry, 51 percent of all racist attacks targeted Jews. The statistics in other countries, including Great Britain, are similarly dismal. In 2014, Jews in Europe were murdered, raped, beaten, stalked, chased, harassed, spat on, and insulted for being Jewish. Sale Juif—“dirty Jew”—rang in the streets, as did “Death to the Jews,” and “Jews to the gas.”

The epithet dirty Jew, Zola wrote in “J’Accuse …!,” was the “scourge of our time.” “J’Accuse …!” was published in 1898.

The resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe is not — or should not be — a surprise. One of the least surprising phenomena in the history of civilization, in fact, is the persistence of anti-Semitism in Europe, which has been the wellspring of Judeophobia for 1,000 years. The Church itself functioned as the centrifuge of anti-Semitism from the time it rebelled against its mother religion until the middle of the 20th century. As Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi of Great Britain, has observed, Europe has added to the global lexicon of bigotry such terms as Inquisition, blood libel, auto‑da‑fé, ghetto, pogrom, and Holocaust. Europe has blamed the Jews for an encyclopedia of sins. The Church blamed the Jews for killing Jesus; Voltaire blamed the Jews for inventing Christianity. In the febrile minds of anti-Semites, Jews were usurers and well-poisoners and spreaders of disease. Jews were the creators of both communism and capitalism; they were clannish but also cosmopolitan; cowardly and warmongering; self-righteous moralists and defilers of culture. Ideologues and demagogues of many permutations have understood the Jews to be a singularly malevolent force standing between the world and its perfection.

Shades of Adolf Hitler. New century, different uniforms. Same deadly peril.

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Towers Floating in the Air

Several days ago my friend Claire Wolfe posted excerpts on an excellent speech prepared by the firebrand, Mike Vanderboegh. In this speech he drew parallels to the biblical scholar, and murderous traitor, Doeg the Edomite, with secular players we encounter today. If you will indulge me, I would like to expand briefly on this.

As many will recall, the Jews had been fighting against the vastly more numerous and powerful Philistine forces for years, and with mixed results. The Tribal elders wanted to emulate the Philistines, and all the other “great” nations in their midst, by crowning a king.

The Prophet Samuel, conveying the word of G-d, had given them stark warning about the stupidity of such a course. The Jewish People had been given a unique role in G-d’s creation and instead the sought to push that aside to be like those they were tasked to inspire.

Like any good father, G-d allowed their folly, in what might be seen as an act of “tough love”. Still, the Prophet Samuel, softening the inevitable blow, sought out someone who could both lead against great enemies, and yet, seemed reluctant to power. He found Saul, and anointed him King.

But power corrupts. After several stunning victories, King Saul began to believe his own press. Ascribing these victories more to his own prowess than the sanction of G-d, he became consumed with power. Yet some of that core personal insecurity remained.

At a critical juncture, the Jews now settled in their land, G-d gave a very specific instruction to King Saul. Through Samuel, King Saul was told that this was the time to utterly destroy the perpetual foe of the Jews; the Amalakites. Though many were killed, and the Amalakites were weakened for a time, King Saul (possibly at the urging of Doeg) refused to complete the task.

Samuel informed King Saul that this defiance had cost him his divine mandate. He may remain a physical King for a time; the “Spirit of the Lord” had departed his reign. Saul was overtaken by an “evil spirit”, which governed the rest of his days.

Consumed with power-lust “King” Saul became paranoid, devious, and vengeful. He sought out willing henchmen, and found them. Ultimately, his corrupted gaze fell upon the Slayer of Goliath, a young shepherd named David.

As Mr. Vanderboegh relates, Doeg, was a great scholar, a member of the Sanhedrin. Perhaps even once the High Priest. But Doeg was mostly adept in manipulating Torah in service of his own ends… and that of his patron, “King” Saul.  Achitophel was his increasingly willing, and equally skilled, dupe.

Doeg’s “Three Hundred Confounding Questions” challenging David’s lineage (the Arizal leans towards the parallel reference citing FOUR HUNDRED) were never intended in any way to bring us closer to G-d, but merely to harness the great power of Torah to base, and often evil ends.

But G-d wants service of the heart.

And what of those questions? According to the Zohar, David’s son, the wisest of men; King Solomon answered each and every one.

Doeg’s skills have been described as flowing from the surface, outward. Doeg never internalized the Torah. For all his academic and rhetorical brilliance, he missed the entire point. No… Rather, he used his clever mind to simply ignore it.

Doeg’s story peaks with the vicious and traitorous slaughter at Nob.

In the end, Doeg’s choices catch up with him. G-d took back all of Doeg’s great gifts, and finally, in relative youth, he died away. His legacy is one of great potential and skill turned in the service of evil.

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Purim Reflections

If you are unfamiliar with Purim, why and what is being celebrated, there is a helpful video at the end. The story of Purim comes from the Book of Esther in the Tanakh, or First Testament. The name “Purim” comes from the word “Pur” which means “Lots” as Haman, the villain of the story cast lots to determine which day he would destroy the Jews. Haman became miffed at the Jews because Mordechai, Esther’s Uncle, would not bow down before him. Haman was quite impressed with himself. So this year’s Purim is very interesting to me, being a patterns person and all. So under the “The More Things Change The More They Stay The Same” banner let’s have a look.

One of the things one does on Purim is hear the reading of the story of Esther, usually in a Synagogue. Let’s contrast that with the Temple Mount, the one that is the holiest sight in Judaism. For sometime now muslims have been attempting to prevent Jews from going to visit the temple mount. They are already forbidden to pray there. The muslims have rioted near the area where the Jews are allowed to gain entrance to prevent them from entering. When they do enter, they are attacked verbally and lately, physically. Some of the muslims attempting to stop the Jewish visitors from seeing the temple mount are now children who shout “Allahu Akbar” Luckily the police were right there to stop it. Oh, wait, my bad. They were right there, they just didn’t stop it. Nor did they intervene when a member of the waqf guard assaulted a Jewish visitor. Physically, not just verbally. But, hey, good luck, because the Israeli police were right there this time and they sprang into action, and they.. oops, my bad again. They were right there, they just didn’t do anything. Ok, so this year reading the story of Esther on the Temple Mount was not a promising proposition.

Another part of Purim is a lovely meal, traditional food would include Oznei Haman or Hamantaschen filled with poppyseed filling. Although I have now seen a huge variety of filling choices I want to try. So let’s see what is of interest this year in the food category. Ahh, back to the Temple Mount. I see they are having a delightful FREE, yes FREE Al Aqsa Buffet. But wait, that can’t be, because that would be illegal. And calculated to offend, much like their playing football on the Temple Mount. Think of it as carrying on a lively soccer game in the House of Worship of your denomination. Not on the athletic field behind the building. In the sanctuary. To Jews the entire Temple Mount is holy, to muslims, not so much. Just the al aqsa mosque, which is why they have destroyed Jewish artifacts trying to erase the Jewish presence.

So what else for Purim. Ah, costumes. I rethought my first choice, and came up with a better idea. I’m sure that’s common, thinking through the costume and what you want to do with it. Thankfully we’ve come many years from when a madman wanted to wipe every trace of Jews from the earth. Except we haven’t. A mere couple weeks ago a young man named Avraham Goldschmidt was attacked on his way to a wedding by a knife wielding manic. Avraham fought him off with his tefillin bag while shouting if someone had a weapon to “neutalize him”. It was Avraham’s good fortune that Nir Barkat is the mayor of Jerusalem and not someone like Bloomers, DeBlasio (is that still his name this week?) or any of the astroturf group Mayors Against Self-Defense. Nope Nir is cut from a different cloth. His bodyguards drew their guns and Nir rushed the terrorist after he dropped the knife. All this can be viewed on closed circuit TV. Which despite the videocams being right there did actual zip/nada to stop the crime. A thought for those that think those security cams are useful. Along with tefillin, Jews often wear a Kippah. Now that’s not part of a costume per se, but it is something that is part of Jewish dress. Unless you are a Jew in Ramallah Israel. NYC Councilor David Greenfield was asked by U.S. officials on his visit to Israel to remove his Kippah when he left the U.S consulate. To his credit, after first ascertaining he wasn’t placing the other members at risk, he refused to remove it. NYC Councilor David Greenfield is no shrinking violet, no he isn’t. That video is well worth watching too.

So, without giving away the end of the Purim story, let’s just say self-defense was involved. So, what is the application for today? Well, there certainly have been a plethora of attacks on Jews lately and antisemitism is on the rise all over the world. And the response from the leaders of the different countries has been a parade? Well, except from the U.S. In the U.S. the regime harfed that the correct response to terrorism is not to kill the terrorists, but to give them jobs instead. What a load of harf! Things are so bad, that as my colleague Y.B. has pointed out Rabbi Margolin suggested Jews at risk be granted a special permit to be armed. I would suggest that most people without a crystal ball are at risk, but that’s just me.

In the article Is it Just Fashionable to Hate the Jews? Rabbi Joseph Potasnik points out “It’s not a big deal to hate the Jews.” The author concludes “Jews are a nice easy nonviolent target”

But if Bibi Netanyahu is setting the tone for going forward, that could begin to change. From one of his speeches

And as Prime Minister of Israel I have a moral obligation to speak up in the face of these dangers while there is still time to avert them. For 2000 years, my people, the Jewish people, were stateless, defenseless, voiceless. We were utterly powerless against our enemies who swore to destroy us. We suffered relentless persecution and horrific attacks. We could never speak in our own behalf, and we could not defend ourselves. Well, no more! No more. The days when the Jewish people are passive in the face of threats to annihilate us, those days are over.

But hey, it’s not like Iran wants to destroy Israel or America! I don’t know what would ever make you think that! I mean Iranians love Israel and America, just look at this recent domino competition in which they prominently displayed American and Israeli flags. Nope, no hostility here!

 

Is it just me or does anyone else find the timing of Bibi’s speech to congress interesting. Not in terms of Israeli elections as the current regime has harfed, but in terms of Purim, when Ester spoke to the King on behalf of her people.

Purim celebrates the survival of the Jews against one of the attempts to wipe them off the face of the earth. There have already been many, there will be more. The attacks we’re seeing now are against Jews, Christians and other faiths, well, except for one. Wise people will be prepared, if they are someday there may be another holiday similar to Purim, because with Purim, none of the Jews died because Esther rose to the occasion, and so the Jews were allowed to defend themselves when the attackers came.

“They tried to kill us.  We won.  Let’s eat!”

 

Good deal. May we all do our best to rise to meet the occasions that come before us.

 

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Islam Enmeshed In America Since Founding?

Written mostly at an eighth-grade level (as measured by the Flesch-Kincaid readability test), Barack Obama’s ramblings are getting harder and harder to address seriously. The ISIS-is-un-Islamic absurdity overwhelmed all else in his latest address on “extremism”—so much so that another of Obama’s absurdities on that occasion has been neglected. Said the ass with ears: “Islam has been woven into the fabric of our country since its founding.”

That’s news to this writer. It’s true about the Jews of America, to whom George Washington promised peace and goodwill in a 1790 address to a synagogue congregation in Newport, Rhode Island. “The highest ranking Jewish officer of the Colonial forces was Colonel Mordecai Sheftall.” Why we Jews even had a Confederate colonel, Abraham Charles Myers.

In any event, “[a]fter President Barack Obama said this week that ‘Islam has been woven into the fabric of our country since its founding,’ Glenn Beck asked historian David Barton to come on his radio program” and get to the bottom of this fiction:

“In all the reading I’ve done, thousands of books, there’s nothing there,” Barton said on Friday. “I mean, we know that Muslims were the folks who captured the slaves sent to America, largely out of Africa. … The Muslims did the slave hunting and the slave trading, et cetera. The first Muslims came to America as a result of the Muslims capturing them and sending them to the Dutch traders.”

Barton said that beyond their heavy involvement in the slave trade, America was at war with the Barbary pirates shortly after the founding of the country, but those were “the two biggest contributions.”

“This is the fabric,” Beck said with heavy sarcasm. “I mean, it’s practically the whole blanket.”

Barton added that there were a number of Muslims whose activities were recorded in the 1800?s, but it might be a stretch to say they are part of the “fabric of the country.” One such Muslim helped the American military raise camels, he said.

MORE.

RELATED:

“Obama Says That ‘Islam Has Been Woven Into The Fabric Of Our Country Since Its Founding.’ Yes, Its Called The Barbary Pirate Wars, The First War America Every Fought Against Jihad” By Walid Shoebat.

Timeline in American Jewish History

History of the Jews in the United States

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Jews as a convenient example

When it comes to genocides, Jews aren’t unique. What made them special is the cultural history of self-expression. Many of the relatively recent genocides in places like Africa have gone by with only a slight interest from the rest of the world, as neither Burundi nor Ethiopia nor Nigeria have a literary tradition of notice. Jews, being spread all over the world and fluent in local languages, also had surviving relatives and friends able to expose the plight of their people. And finally, and perhaps most importantly, the shining example of the Israeli success despite the odds underlined the advantages to armed resistance to evil.

Unfortunately, the socialist origins of Israel meant that only collective resistance to evil has been fostered. Israeli government treats its own citizens as unworthy of trust unless controlled by the state military and police agencies. American Jews, heirs to a more individualist tradition, are better positioned to provide for their own defense. Some of the take advantage of this opportunity, while others prefer the comforting but disabling opium of left-wing promises of safety through surrender to the state.

Jews as a culture have been traditionally quite good at educating each other and at influencing those who sympathize them. With every new person convinced of the need for self-reliance — defensive as well as economic — the collectivist foes lose a minion and we gain an ally. The mainstream Jewish culture has the terrific advantage of being welcoming to outsiders: it’s tenets do not require strife against any kind of alien or infidel, and so make it competitive through cooperation. The offer of training extended to a person serves simultaneously as a compliment (“we consider you sane”), a show of trust (“we expect you to remain friendly”) and as a peace offering (“this training will put you on par with us, and wouldn’t have been offered had we planned to mistreat you.”) These effects apply across such divides as culture, gender, religion and even party affiliation.

All of these consideration apply to other distinct cultures. Defined in enough detail, every one of us can be considered a minority. Those who make political careers of building lynch mobs are quite good at dividing to rule. Our job is to out-argue them while being so well armed and trained as to make the prospect of a stand-up fight to burn us out unattractive. And, given the post-war hunt for Nazi criminals, Jews in particular have a proven track record of avenging injustices.

Given the varied interests of the stereotypical Jewish youngsters, technological solutions to physical threats are preferred. It takes less time and keep-up practice to stay proficient with a Tavor rifle than to maintain combat proficiency in unarmed martial arts. The Bielski guerrilla band of WW2 Belorus illustrated quite well the survival advantage conferred by firearms on even a slightly trained group of civilians. And the occasional range trip or a weekend rifle class doesn’t take all available time away from competing academic and cultural pursuits or family obligations.

The first President of Israel, Chaim Weizmann, was a chemist with a major contribution to the British mass production of Cordite gunpowder during WW1. If the pursuit of such a martial goal was good enough for him, perhaps we can bestir ourselves to pursue a more modest task of providing for defense of self and family.

 

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The Holocaust: Through Their Eyes

Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”~~John Donne

I attended a showing of The Holocaust: Through their eyes at the Jewish Community Center. It is the accounts of local holocaust survivors. Not people who heard about it from their distant cousin or parents, but lived it, survived it.

According to one of the survivors, in 1930 Berlin, hitler’s SS beat  to death 8 Jews who were walking down the street. That was the start of the spiral down. The harassment of Jews in public places had already started, the anti-Jewish notices and slogans had started. But these were the first deaths. That act was the start of the holocaust, no matter what other signs there were or were not, THAT was the start, according to this survivor.

Some of the survivors seemed astonished that their non-Jewish friends began to turn against them, people they had known for years, played with, grown up with would no longer associate with them. Not only would they not associate with them, they turned on them. There was a government who’s leader had the opinion that “The personification of the devil as the symbol of all evil assumes the living shape of the Jew” and a very obliging media who was willing to spread the message. I suppose it should be no big surprise that when a population constantly hears a message it eventually wears down resistance & rational thought. The persecution was embedded in laws like the Nuremberg laws, which defined who and who was not a Jew according to the Reich, and based on those definitions what people were allowed to do, and who they were allowed to marry or be with. The discrimination further curtailed privileges such as riding on a bus, going to a public park or sitting on a bench in a park. All decreed by having one Jewish Grandparent. Then it became Jews weren’t allowed to go to school and Gentiles weren’t allowed to go into Jewish homes. Then they were denied the ability to own a radio, or animals. One lady talked about how the family had a pet dog and a bird, they had to get rid of them. My heart just broke for her, you could tell, hers still hurt. With all she had endured, the loss of the pets still hurt. Then the Jews were denied service. The baker, butcher, barber refused to serve Jews. More than one of those interviewed talked about people they had known most of their lives that were turning against them. Labensraum was begun, the German policy of taking land belonging to those that the nazis considered inferior. Because in their deluded minds, taking land from the inferior people to give me superior people “living space” and room to grow food was necessary. The nazis felt this was a fair way to encourage and increase the natural vigor of the superior race.

Then hitler was elected in Austria. Anschluss, March 12, 1938, when the Austrians welcomed the Germans rolling down the streets with cheers and waves. Banners were unfurled out of windows, swastika pins appeared on lapels and in parks signs stating “No dogs and Jews” appeared. Austria was not invaded, the Austrians choose this. And again, the turning away of life long friends, their scorn and derision on open display. The painful realization those people had never been their friends. They had always hated them, it was just that now it was permissible to publicly show the hatred.

Then Kristallnacht, “Night of the broken glass” 9-10 November 1938. A series of pogroms that caused the death of between 1-2 thousand when the total includes those that died in German custody, concentration camps and suicide as a result of what they suffered are included. Over 1 thousand Synagogues were burned and Jewish owned businesses and homes were destroyed.

In September 1939 Germany and Russia invaded Poland.

Then Operation Barbaross, when Germany invaded Russia generated some horrible atrocities.

One lady talked about being a 16 year old girl the night the Germans came to their home at 0400. They told her Father to walk outside. As he was complying they shot him in front of her, six times and left him in the doorway for the family.

On December 7th, the day America’s Pearl Harbor was attacked the first of the Jews were sent to be gassed. The witnesses that spoke of this seemed saddened that so many don’t realize that was the day the gassings started. One witness talked about how the nazis would enter a town, drive the people to the town center square then take them to a building, like a brewery to sort them. Who lives, who dies? As one witness stated matter of fact, if you were old, or very young or sick, you had no chance. Up the chimney you would go, they said. If you were healthy you would be sent to a camp to work. One survivor of the Gross-Rosen camp talked about eating grass and snow to survive. Germans liked starving people to death.

Of one ghetto in a Polish town that had once held 5000 souls only 3 survived. One lady told of enduring 25 lashes for being caught with a pound of butter. Another told of seeing a baby being thrown at a truck, another recounted the brave German soldiers tearing a baby into pieces and throwing it out the window. Remember, these are not stories that were handed down by grandparents, these are the things the witnesses saw themselves.

At camp you got to keep your clothes, and there would be 150-200 people per barrack. You were given a blanket, a bowl and a cup and then maybe some food for the first time in two days. One man said they had to sing. Once a day they were given some noodle or potato soup. On those meager rations you worked from day to night. The prisoners would lay pipe, and shovel coal despite having no shoes, and that was the women. One man painted portraits of the Russian guards for food. One recounted how they became very good at realizing about a week out when someone was going to die within the week.

One addressed the question of why didn’t they fight back? More than one reason it seems. The first was possession of a weapon was a death sentence. And thanks to the German version of Universal Background Checks it was easy to know who had what where, so when Jews were forbidden to own guns it was easy to divest them of their now illegal guns. The other factor he mentioned was how weak, physically, everyone was. He said with the amount of food you got, you were lucky to survive, let alone fight or run. It sounds like it was less than a moochelle obama school lunch. He also pointed out even if you got away, you are wearing a stripped uniform, you are tattooed, gaunt and they have cut your hair into a reverse Mohawk, and go where? Although one lady did have her means of resistance. She passed on Jewish history and knowledge to the children.

In 1943 from 19 April to 16 May the Warsaw Ghetto uprising took place. It was the largest single revolt by Jews during WWII, and they held off the Germans longer than the whole country of Poland. But poorly armed with virtually non-existent re-supply they were finally overrun.

One talked about being on the cattle cars the Germans used. They said if the boxcar held 100, they would cram 150 in. The witness talked about little children and old people in those boxcars. They said there was no food or sanitation. They would drive the boxcars back and forth for 11 days. For 11 days the people in those boxcars would starve, vomit, defecate and die. Mothers would be trying, Fathers would be praying and no one was listening and 60% died.

One witness talked about getting to Auschwitz. The guards would yell “Rouse rouse” Come quick. They signaled to go left or right. If you went to the right, you went to the barracks, if you went to the left “You went to the crematory and up the chimney”. If you didn’t move fast enough they hit you, if you still didn’t move fast enough they shot you. Some saw their whole family murdered. More than one talked about the sky high fires.

In 1945 the Allies arrived and the death marches to the next camps started. They weren’t allowed to take a blanket and it was winter. Maybe 10-20 below. There was no food and anything that could be grabbed along the way was, corn, wheat, potatoes, beets anything they saw, they would grab and share with the others. Of the 55,000 that left the camp 12,000 survived to arrive at the next death camp.

In April of 1945 when the Allies found the death camps they initially had no scope of the magnitude of what they were seeing. Then they realized they prisoners were mostly civilians, so weak and with heads like skulls, words mumbled and garbled. They found bodies not fully burned and wagon loads of bodies to be burned. The soldiers were shocked. They had heard about the camps but didn’t realize what they were hearing meant in reality.

Reality? While the dead by category differs according to different researchers it’s basically around 6 million Jews, or 78% of German occupied Europe were murdered. Roma, or Gypsies 130,000 to 1,500,000 depending on which researcher. Handicapped, 200,000 to 250,000 were murdered, POWs around 3.1 million, Ethnic Poles 1.8-1.9 million. Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians lost around 13.7 million including 2 million Jews. 10,000-15,000 Homosexuals died in the concentration camps. Around 1,000-2,000 Catholic clergy, 1,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses and some Freemasons were killed in the camps. The price tag for vulnerability is very, very high.

One lady talked about what to do after liberation. Where do you go? You could stay in the camp, but no one wanted to, and most no longer had a home.

Ok, so the camps are liberated, all is well now, right? Not so much. July 4, 1946 The Kielce Pogrom took place.

The soldiers and the policemen then went into the building. Jews were told to surrender their weapons, but not all of the residents obeyed the order. The entry of the policemen and the soldiers into the Jewish house marked the beginning of the pogrom. Excerpts from testimony supplied by people who witnessed the outbreak of the pogrom describe what followed.

Ewa Szuchman, resident of the house on Planty Street, said: After the police took away the weapons, the crowd broke into the Kibutz ( on the second floor) and policemen started shooting at the Jews first. They killed one and wounded several others. Albert Grynbaum, another inhabitant of the Jewish house who was on the first floor, said: The soldiers went up to the second floor. Several minutes later two Jews came to me and told me that the soldiers were killing Jews and looting their property. It was then that I heard shots. After the shooting on the second floor, shots were heard from the street and inside the building.

Apparently by then some of the people had learned when the government starts demanding groups of people hand over their weapons bad things are about to happen. Unfortunately not enough of them were armed to stop what was coming. And this was AFTER the war had ended. One man told of his brother going in to try to get their Mother and his Girlfriend out. The man said his brother was never seen again.

One witness told of coming to America, seeing the Statue of Liberty and looking at the crowds of people waiting to greet loved ones getting off the ship, and he had no one. It’s not just that there wasn’t anyone there to greet him, it’s that he literally had NO ONE.

The witnesses had messages for us. How fragile is liberty and civilization. Life is precious and wonderful. Change the world around yourself. Not my children, not nobody’s children should have to live through what we lived through. I didn’t want to tell people because I’ve never gotten over that my family died. My Mom was 45, my sister 22 and another sister 25, a brother 10 and a little nephew 2 or 3. I tell people what happened so it won’t happen again. I saw it with my own eyes. People helped me rebuild my life. I live in a world that has changed, the holocaust can’t happen again, then I realize it IS happening again in other parts of the world. And their suffering becomes our suffering.

One witness talked about hearing of hilter and eva braun’s deaths after he was liberated from the camp. He said they are dead and we are alive. We have won. That is how I defined victory.

With all due respect, this is NOT how I define victory. I would define victory as when the nazi’s tried to enact their Nuremberg laws and used their universal background checks to begin gun confiscation people would have seen the writing on the wall and stopped it right then. Yes, I do think the Christians would have needed to stand with their Jewish neighbors and realized that the only hope any of them had was to stand together. Had it happened? Millions of people would not have died. We can not compromise to “common sense gun laws”. We can not compromise to political correctness. We can not compromise to universal background checks. We can not compromise to phony public opinion polls. We can not compromise to phony anti-gun groups funded by anti-gun millionaires with armed security guards. We can cease to support Hollywood anti-gun liberals with armed security guards. We can look critically at the choices of Second Amendment groups and pick the ones that truly fight for our rights. Now we have choices, use them wisely. Resolve to do something each day to regain our liberty. Be resolved, we are. The Zelman Partisans, no compromise, no surrender, ever.

Holocaust
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Jews (and threats against Jews) in the News

In all the noise about “Je suis Charlie” earlier this month, less attention was paid to the related deadly attack on a Kosher market in Paris. Defense of free speech against ideological thugs is a vital world issue, but given what happened the last time European ideologues unleashed their historic hatred of Jews, nobody should be ignoring that danger, either.

Jews should also remember that last time around most of the world’s governments turned a blind eye on their fate. It’s fashionable to mourn the Holocaust now, but nobody cared very much when there was still time to do something to prevent or stop it.

Here’s a small sample of how things are turning in Europe. In Malmo, Sweden a pair of journalists don Jewish symbols and take a walk. Here’s what happened.

The Washington PostCharles Krauthammer wonders (as well he should), if anybody actually means “never again.” He says:

The rise of European anti-Semitism is, in reality, just a return to the norm. For a millennium, virulent Jew-hatred — persecution, expulsions, massacres — was the norm in Europe until the shame of the Holocaust created a temporary anomaly wherein anti-Semitism became socially unacceptable.

The hiatus is over. Jew-hatred is back, recapitulating the past with impressive zeal. Italians protesting Gaza handed out leaflets calling for a boycott of Jewish merchants. As in the 1930s. A widely popular French comedian has introduced a variant of the Nazi salute. In Berlin, Gaza brought out a mob chanting, “Jew, Jew, cowardly pig, come out and fight alone!” Berlin, mind you.

Finally, some Jews and Jewish leaders are coming around to the idea self defense by definition has to be performed by the SELF. Some of them are reluctant and wimpy about it, but they’re getting there. Benjamin Brafman writes, as if he’s startled by the revelation, “In light of recent events, however, I am convinced that Jews everywhere are now targets of terrorists intent on killing us. Accordingly, I am leaning closer to changing my mind on this issue as I come to grips with the realization that no police force, however superb, can always be everywhere. It is really that simple. When skilled, armed police are not on site, should we as Jews allow ourselves to be slaughtered, or do we take precautions that will give us at least a fighting chance?”

Others are still a long way from getting the reality. One Israeli hair stylist has invented an invisible kippah so that men can still be observant while looking less Jewish. Although (according to that article) rabbis have sanctioned foregoing the kippah if wearing it could be unsafe, this clever dodge dodges the real issue.

In the 1947 book and movie “Gentleman’s Agreement” a Gentile American journalist, Philip Green, does what those Swedish journalists did but for a longer time. He pretends to be Jewish to observe how he’s treated. At that time in the U.S., even after everybody had seen the horrors of Hitler’s death camps, Jews were still looked down on, excluded, and denied a lot of opportunities. It was mostly done without overt sneers and insults and certainly without violence, at least among polite adults. Green (played by Gregory Peck in the film) has a young son, though, and the boy comes home in tears one day because a gang of local bullies has called him a kike or a “dirty Jew.”

Green’s clueless, social climbing fiancee who feels threatened by the whole experiment comforts the boy by saying (I’m going from memory so this is the gist, if not the exact words), “It’s alright! It’s alright! You’re not really Jewish!”

Green, of course, gives her righteous hell. She has wretchedly missed the point and implied that if the kid was Jewish, somehow the insults and bullying would be okay.

You can pretend to be Jewish in Europe and see what it gets you. You can pretend not to be Jewish by wearing an invisible yarmulke and see if it makes you feel safer. But you’re missing the point if you can’t also see that Jew hatred is rising and that the only defense against violent thuggery is being prepared to deliver violent, life saving righteousness in return.

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R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Since Hanukkah I’ve been nursing a little gripe about the lack of respect given to Jews, compared with members of some other religions. Fellow Zelman Partisan Y.B ben Avraham had sent me a link to an article about restaurants contributing pork latkes, yes PORK latkes, to a Haunkkah contest.

If they’d contributed pork to any traditional Muslim festival, editorial writers the world over would be indignant about it. If they’d contributed watermelon to a Martin Luther King Day celebration, we’d have been treated to endless rants about how racist we all are (even we who had nothing to do with it). But pork to a Jewish festival? No problem. Even if it’s a festival commemorating a rebellion against oppressors who, among other things, tried to force pork on the ancient Jews.

While I thought about what to say, I collected other examples of thoughtlessness toward Jews, like Hallmark’s horrible Hanukkah wrapping paper (which could have been a mistake, but still) and Zara’s kiddie concentration camp shirt complete with yellow star. No way could that have been a mistake, just a slap in the face to the six million dead and all who care about the horrors inflicted by the Nazis.

ZelmanPartisans_ZaraNaziShirt

I was feeling indignant. I wanted to say something about how dangerous it is to casually disrespect Jews and Judaism in a world that’s increasingly antisemitic.

Then Islamic terrorists murdered 12 people because an irreverent French magazine didn’t give them and their religion the respect they thought they should have. That put a whole new aspect on things.

Charlie Hebdo didn’t respect any religion. They pilloried Judaism, Christianity, and Islam with equal crudity and disrespect. One cartoon they published showed Jesus, Moses, Mohammed, and the Buddha in bed together after an orgy. But these days only Muslims feel entitled to kill anybody who doesn’t agree with them or who won’t give them artificial, fear-driven “respect.” Other religions take mockery and criticism in stride. There have already been a lot of powerful comments on the slaughter, with people seeing it rightly as an attack on everyone’s freedom of speech and western freedoms in general. Others have dared to point out that these murders are on a spectrum with the new grievance culture. I couldn’t say it better.

But I’ll say right now that if you think your religion can’t be mocked, that’s a sure sign it deserves and needs to be mocked.

If you think people who don’t respect your religion deserve to die, then your religion isn’t worthy of respect, and neither are you. Respect has to be earned.

I’m supposed to interrupt myself here and say that Islamic terrorists don’t represent all Muslims, which is true. They are, however, a growing and increasingly powerful strain within Islam, and there seems to be far too little serious opposition to them within the Muslim world. This is scary, and combined with the increasing insults to Jews, even scarier.

On the other hand, there’s also a positive side to the lack of respect for Jews. I’m not saying there are positives to real violence or real antisemitism, just positives to some of the casual disregard we sometimes see. It means that Jews are accepted as people who can “take it,” people who can roll with life, people who don’t have to be handled with kid gloves, who aren’t going to go nuts if everybody doesn’t kowtow all the time.

In fact, while so many young Muslim men feel entitled to murder anybody who mocks their beliefs, Jews have long been noted for mocking themselves. About 75 percent of America’s stand-up comedians have historically been Jewish, and modern stand-up comedy was nurtured in the Borscht Belt resorts of the Catskills, where dozens of comedians who were soon to be nationally famous told jokes to Jews and about Jews. From the satiric songs of Allan Sherman to the quips of Billy Crystal and Jerry Seinfeld, self-mockery has always been part of Jewish culture. Jews have to be wary of many, and increasing, real threats. But one thing’s for sure; Jews don’t have to fear humor.

Perhaps a lot of young Islamic men would do well to take a lesson from that. You can’t earn respect by cutting somebody’s head off or shooting them in cold blood. You might get farther by accepting that respect comes to those who earn it and acceptance comes to those who understand that world doesn’t owe them anything.

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