Israeli Mass Murder and a Jew’s Jewish Question

Michael Lesher

“A spirit [of piety] is identified not only by what it does however, no less, by what it allows.”
Rabbi Leo Baeck

One consequence of being Jewish is a standing familiarity with a large range of Jewish jokes– including those that resolve what appears to be our collective inability to let well adequate (or, more often, bad enough) alone.

So, for example, there’s the one about the difference in between a Jewish pessimist and a Jewish optimist: the Jewish pessimist groans, “Things can’t potentially get any even worse”— to which the Jewish optimist replies, “Yes, they can!”

Sadly, this specific joke would be a lot funnier if it didn’t provide an all too precise description of Jewish ethical decrease.

What can I say? As countless lots of debris bury the victims of the putative Jewish State’s newest mass murder project in Gaza, I’m discovering myself buried too– metaphorically, that is– under an avalanche of mixed viciousness and self-pity by which “religious” Jewish media demands its victimhood while commemorating slaughter.

And, Jewish optimist that I am, every time I think my coreligionists’ ethical turpitude can’t potentially get any even worse– it does.

(Complete disclosure: thanks to my record of slamming Israel and of exposing rabbinic child abuse cover-ups, I’ve been called a traitor typically adequate to be solidified to the insult. Still, since it may be bad form for me to claim, in propria persona, that today’s rabbinic and Jewish ordinary management is no better than a criminal conspiracy, all I am going to do in this post is to set out some pertinent facts. Readers may form their own conclusions.)

It has actually been more than three years because Israel began its regular massacres of unarmed demonstrators inside the al fresco prison referred to as Gaza; in one especially remarkable turkey shoot, Israeli soldiers killed nearly sixty Palestinian civilians on a single day in May 2018.

Their crime? Opposing Israel’s illegal siege of that tormented sliver of land where, according to Harvard University’s Sara Roy, a million children are poisoned every day due to the fact that Israel will not even enable its detainees to operate a sewage treatment plant.

When it comes to the response of Jewish “leadership” to those atrocities– well, apart from some highly praiseworthy however minimal exceptions, rabbis and Jewish pundits have either commemorated the abuse of Gaza or have kept their mouths shut.

But on Might 13 of this year, one rabbi I know in Passaic, New Jersey lastly did break his silence. Did he decry the ruthless Israeli attack that was leveling apartment and wiping out whole Palestinian families in the Gaza ghetto? Did he object the outright ethnic cleansing project Israel was all at once waging in East Jerusalem? Did he discuss that his congregants, as American Jews, are always involved in the financing and political defense of Israel’s land theft and apartheid!

.

?. !? No. Our opponents are raining rockets aimed at the civilian population of Israel […] while wild mobs bent on killing Jews roam the streets …”

Mind you, as he wrote that message, Israel’s newest assault had actually already annihilated 113 people inside Gaza, 31 of them children, and had injured 600 more. But the rabbi followed the common Jewish pattern– he discussed just the homemade rockets with which Gazans were feebly trying to strike back.

And when he blogged about “wild mobs,” he didn’t suggest the gangs of Jewish ruffians who, for weeks, had been ruining crops and olive groves all over the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Nor did he point out the murders of Palestinian kids by Israeli soldiers. What bothered the rabbi was the fairly small number of Palestinians who were beginning to fight back.

Others within the people were taking a comparable line.

A day previously, Allison Josephs, founder of an Orthodox Jewish blog site called “Jew in the City,” had fulminated against people who dared to slam Israel for such trifles as blowing up high-rise domestic buildings or exterminating entire families.

“How is peacefully residing in our homeland inciting aggressiveness?” Ms. Josephs madly required. A huge military attack against a trapped population was seemingly what Ms Josephs suggested by “quietly living”; carrying out the massacre in combination with the ethnic cleaning of occupied Palestinian area was “quietly living in our homeland.”

Certainly, how could anyone object to a job so innocent?

On the other hand, Orthodox rabbis– you understand, the kind that say they’re not Zionists, just spiritual– were requiring an “emergency around the world” recitation of psalms to counter the unexpected danger. Like Josephs, they had all steadfastly neglected the Israeli violence that culminated this spring in an orgy of expulsions of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank town of Sheikh Jarrah. Nor did they suggest, even now, that their followers may dedicate their efforts toward limiting the Israeli war maker.

One is tempted to estimate Theresienstadt survivor Rabbi Leo Baeck, who wrote that piety “is identified not just by what it does however … by what it allows,” which “it is difficult to state what has been more pernicious in the course of time: the intolerance that devoted the wrongs or the indifference that beheld them undisturbed.”

However I say no more.

The Jewish Press— the world’s largest English-language Orthodox Jewish publication– got into the act, too. On May 15, by which time the death toll in Gaza had actually reached at least 149, its only pertinent heading shouted:

One Dead in Rocket Attack on Ramat Gan [in Israel], Monkey Injured, Numerous Rockets Hit Israeli Cities.”

That’s right: a hurt monkey made it into the Jewish Press heading, however not the Palestinian victims of Israel’s assault. The short article even noted the deaths of “three cows” before its one and just reference to Gaza’s humans– in which it recycled Israel’s claim that “30 Gaza civilians, consisting of many kids, have actually … been eliminated by rockets that were misfired by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organizations.”

Well, however what about the other 119 dead Palestinians? Obviously, “spiritual” Jews weren’t even expected to ask such a question.

All of this commentary took it for granted that Jews– not the targets of Israeli shells– were the genuine victims of the violence. However just in case anybody stopped working to value the adversities of the privileged as they crushed the not-so-lucky, the Jewish Press website offered a podcast with the consoling heading “The Jewish Right to Rage.”

Click the audio link and you could hear Yishai and Malkah Fleisher inveighing versus the Israeli authorities, whose insufficient cruelty towards Palestinians– yes, really– had demanded what Yishai happily called “Jewish militias to safeguard the homeland.” (“We damaged them, we left them in pieces,” bragged a member of among those impromptu “militias” after they smashed vehicle windows, abducted and attacked Palestinian passersby and organized attacks on “Arab-owned services” in the Israeli town of Bat Yam.)

Unsatisfied, Yishai mused that “there’s something extremely, very incorrect with our police and our army, that they’re not actually utilizing live ammo to suppress this jihadist uprising.”

But Yishai’s recommendation of mob violence was small change compared with his other half’s thrilled description of a fire she believed was roasting Muslim worshipers alive at the Al-Aqsa mosque in East Jerusalem.

“Commemorating” with other Zionists as they danced near the ancient Temple mount– she called this “fulfilling their rights to pray in their own city, in their own capital,” even though the site is actually inside occupied Palestinian area— a thrilled Malkah had actually witnessed “a big fire flying out of the leading” of the mosque where Israeli “police” were attacking trapped Palestinian adorers who, under a barrage of stun grenades, were attempting to confuse the aggressors by tossing “firecrackers” in their direction.

The blaze turned out to be no more major than the Palestinians’ mode of defense– however even when Malkah and her good friends assumed the whole mosque was a lethal inferno, they were quite content to see the goyim burn:

[I] t was shocking– however it was also not scary. It was not terrible. Due to the fact that … we simply seemed like, as you say in Hebrew, magia lahem, like, they deserve this, they should have to have a fire up on the Temple Mount because of what they’re trying to do to us, and we know if that those police weren’t standing there, they ‘d be shooting those firecrackers straight in our faces … And [so] the [Jewish] crowd was not frightened to see this fire.

What’s a woman to do? If we don’t incinerate those pesky natives, they may simply toss a firecracker at us while storm troopers bludgeon them out of their homes and mosques so we can keep dancing on what used to be their land. Poor us!

Luckily, there’s a treatment for such issues. The very same Allison Josephs who could not construct out why some individuals challenge mass murder has already offered spiritual suggestions to Jews who support it: rely on God and believe in Jewish infallibility.

” [I] t is pretty clear that there is Jew hatred going on,” sighed Josephs in a post dated May 12. However no matter: “Why should I feel insignificant and loaded with anguish when we are the people who taught the world how a David could beat a Goliath? … What is difficult with Hashem [God] on our side?”

8 days later, a “neighborhood awareness publication” from a Jewish company that focuses on “practical concerns facing the Orthodox Jewish Neighborhood today” was a lot more explicit. Mentioning a verse in Psalm 8 that describes an evil person who “has dug a pit deep, just to fall into a trap of his own making,” the newsletter declared that this “is a clear allusion to the tunnels dug by the Sonei Yisrael [opponents of the Jews], and what ought to end up being of their plans.”

I expect the rabbis should have some credit for understanding that Gaza’s meager defenses consist of underground tunnels. All the very same, the rabbis’ familiarity with the Bible leaves something to be desired: they may have priced estimate more appropriately from Ezekiel 33:24 -26, where God rebukes Jews who claim “the land [of Israel] is given us for inheritance” with the mad rejoinder:

Ye stand upon your sword, ye work abomination, and ye defile every one his neighbor’s wife: and shall ye possess the land?”

However that prescient description of the contemporary State of Israel would not have actually yielded the response the rabbis wanted, so … Once again, I state no more.

A little personal history is worth pointing out here. Numerous years back, I found out that Ohr Somayach, the school in Monsey, New York where– as a newbie to traditional Judaism– I as soon as studied the Talmud, Scriptural commentaries and the legal codes, was planning a massive brand-new complex in occupied Sheikh Jarrah.

Frightened, I composed to the school’s administrators, pleading with them not to make trainees of holy texts accomplices in a global criminal offense. They responded that the brand-new structure was the work of Ohr Somayach’s Israeli branch, which was not affiliated with the one in Monsey. (A fraud, however what the hell.)

So I composed to Ohr Somayach in Israel with the exact same message. I waited patiently for a response; nothing ever came.

But two years ago, advanced prepare for the eleven-story structure were formally announced in Israel as part of what human rights activists have called “Israel’s ramped up efforts to deepen its circle of control around the Old City Basin.”

You don’t need to be a prophet to comprehend what is going on. As part of its ethnic cleaning project, Israel wishes to tighten its noose around the Palestinians of East Jerusalem– and what better reason for kicking out Palestinian households from Sheikh Jarrah than the distance of a big school filled with young Jews, lots of from the United States, who might otherwise deal with risk from “Arab terrorists”?

For its part, Ohr Somayach is seeking a bargain-basement price for a substantial property development project– and the Israeli government mores than happy to oblige, provided the function the brand-new structure will play in its own criminal plans.

Simply put: it’s a dirty deal made in paradise. God, fulfill ethnic cleansing. Neo-Nazis, satisfy the Talmud.

Over two a century back (as informed by Martin Buber) the Hasidic master Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev cautioned versus the growing perversion of moral top priorities that is ripening today in the grotesque marriage of Zionist brutality with ersatz Jewish piety:

What I see before me is a topsy-turvy world. Once the entire reality remained in the streets and market-places of Israel: there everybody told the reality … Reality and loyalty were the lights lighting their actions, and … with their souls they proved the words: “Your ‘yes’ be true and your ‘no’ hold true,” and all their trading was done in excellent faith. But when they concerned your home of Prayer they beat their breasts and said: “We have trespassed! We have actually dealt treacherously! We have actually robbed!” And all this was a lie due to the fact that they had actually kept faith before God and Guy. Today the reverse takes place: in trading they lie and cheat; in their prayer they profess the truth.

How lucky is the religious neighborhood that “lies” to God by declaring more wickedness than it really possesses! And how threatening is our moral horizon when the only truth we inform is the rote repetition of the confessional liturgy– while in every other respect, our cumulative words and actions have actually sunk to the level of Nazi apologetics!

I can visualize that future Ohr Somayach building in Sheikh Jarrah– the rows of earnest boys swaying in impassioned prayer or diving into their Talmudic folio volumes.

The image fills me with sadness. And with anger.

With every prayer they recite, with every spiritual law they discover, with every page they study, the occupants of that bloodstained structure will be more deeply knotted in a web of deceit, treachery, cruelty, hypocrisy and fraud.

Yes, I know that some elements of history are irreparable, and that we can not all be accountable for the crimes of the past.

However when a society develops its future on a foundation of stolen property and killed kids– and that’s what we “religious” Jews are doing at this very minute– it welcomes both the curse of Ezekiel and the taunt of the political thinker Leo Strauss, who once experienced an ideology so blind to truth that when it is taken to court for “messing while Rome burns” it will plead just 2 useless “reasons”:

it does not know that it fiddles, and it does not know that Rome burns.”

Which will not be just another Jewish joke.

Michael Lesher is an author, poet and attorney whose legal work is mainly committed to problems gotten in touch with domestic abuse and kid sexual abuse. His most current nonfiction book is Sexual assault, Shonda and Concealment in Orthodox Jewish Communities (McFarland & Co., 2014); his first collection of poetry, Surfaces, was published by The High Window in 2019. A narrative of his discovery of Orthodox Judaism as an adult– Turning Back: The Individual Journey of a “Born-Again” Jew– was published in September 2020 by Lincoln Square Books.

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