A Sad Day for American Jewish Media

Originally published on Arutz-7, May 1, 2017

It is indeed a sad day when an article by the editor of a major Jewish publication fully crosses the line in order to adopt an anti-Semitic narrative about Jews and Israel. But when it is the editor of The Forward who expresses her "dread, despair and embarrassment" that Israel avoided extermination in 1967, we can express our disappointment, but few of us are surprised.

She states that as a child, she "truly believed" that Israel's survival was endangered — as if it were simply childish to imagine that "the extermination of Zionist existence" was the Arab agenda. She says that military victory — not the Balfour Declaration, much less the eternal bond between the Jewish People and their homeland — "legitimized Israel’s moral right to exist;" a militaristic, colonialist view entirely foreign to Israeli Jews who lived through the crisis. 

Far from a "disaster for Palestinians," the Six-Day War gave Arabs living in Gaza and Judea (what Jordan called the "West Bank" when they occupied it in1948) unparalleled opportunities: universities, modern medicine, massive upgrades to infrastructure. It also vastly improved their lives, from a human and civil rights perspective, compared to Jordan, Egypt and any other Arab state. 

It also gave them something else: the opportunity to slaughter Jews, celebrate barbarism, and blame it on "the occupation." Previous atrocities, from the attack upon Petach Tikva in 1886, to the massacre of the Hebron yeshiva and surrounding community in 1929, to the threatened "momentous massacre" of 1948, and the terrorist attacks of the 1950s culminating in the creation of the PLO terrorist organization in 1964, were all recognized as barbaric and evil. Today we are told that, on the contrary, "resistance is not terrorism." The murder of civilians was "indefensible" for the Irish Republican Army and destroyed the Chechen rebellion, although both constituted "resistance" to true and unquestioned occupations of indigenous peoples in their homelands. Yet it is acceptable for "Palestinian" Arabs. Why the difference? Because in this case, the victims are Jews.

A photo caption to Eisner's article asserts that "Palestinians surrender to Israeli soldiers." This is historical revisionism at its finest. Those surrendering to Israeli soldiers in 1967 did not describe themselves as "Palestinian," but rather "Jordanian." But of course, that level of honesty would vacate the claim that "indigenous Palestinians" are under "occupation." 

The name "Palestine" is translated from the Roman Palaestina. It is a name associated with genocide and ethnic cleansing. Hadrian, the Roman Emporer, renamed the land known to its natives as Judea, because the original name made too obvious a connection to its natives: the Jews. 

Who are the "Palestinians?" Arabs, of course. Arabs who cannot pronounce "Palestine" in their language — the only purported indigenous people to lack a home-grown name for their so-called homeland. The same Arabs who colonized the Middle East and Northern Africa from their true homeland, a large expanse known as Arabiyya. After each failed attempt to massacre the Jews of Israel, they engaged in pogroms and ethnic cleansing of Jews from their homes across the Arab world; the majority fled to Israel. Today, Arabs point fingers at the descendants of these Jewish refugees, and accuse them of racism towards Arabs. And Jane Eisner, editor of The Forward, joins their cry.

The "checkpoints" were not built in 1967, nor to promote "apartheid." They exist for precisely the same reason that we endure the humiliation of removing our shoes in order to board an airplane. The barrier and checkpoints were built to stop massacres of Russian refugees at a discotheque and Holocaust survivors at Passover seders — not to mention families out to enjoy a pizza at Sbarro's. Eisner does not condemn any of these atrocities. Instead she implies that there is something evil in trying to prevent them.

To traditional Jews, this is not entirely a surprise. The Forward has consistently favored welfare programs, but only as long as they aren't used by Jews. It incessantly obsesses over people leaving Orthodoxy, and groups that help them leave. Should we be surprised that the editor writes a hit piece against Israel, celebrating the canards of anti-Semitism — and on the day when the Jews of Israel celebrate being spared from death yet again?

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46 Responses

  1. Steve Brizel says:

    Excellent article. The forward had always been a platform for self hating Jews .

  2. Reb Yid says:

    The aftermath/consequences of both the Six Day War and the War of Independence are certainly fair game for debate even in Israel, including for some who lost loved ones in those battles.   To ignore or write-off these consequences, which do not disappear no matter how hard one belittles them, is to miss out on an essential piece of the total picture.  Not the entire piece, to be sure, but a piece nonetheless that fully deserves a seat at the table.

    We can disagree (or not), but certainly no-one has a monopoly on the truth or what it means to be a Zionist or “pro-Israel”.

    I have been to Israel many times, my kids are currently there on a school visit, and I have a brother who made aliya.  I was raised with a rather one-sided perspective of Israel’s history.  I support it, but that does not mean I do so uncritically.  Just as I celebrate Independence Day on July 4th, that does not mean I do not find some aspects of our society, governmental and political leaders to be an embarrassing and spend much of my time educating others about these issues and how to ameliorate these injustices.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Israel and its supporters should never be required to engage in self pity for defending their right to exist as Jews and the Jewish state.

    • Yaakov Menken says:

      These are fine words that don’t meet up with cold reality.

      “I truly believed that the Jewish state’s very survival was at stake.” Is that what she “truly believed” simply by “absorbing my parents’ existential fear” — or objective fact?

      Is Israel “a sometimes-brutal occupier of an estimated 2.9 million Palestinians,” or the only place in the Middle East where Jews, Christians and Muslims can worship freely?

      Does the security barrier exist in order to create a system of apartheid, or to protect innocents from being reduced to body parts by the latest Arab ‘martyr’?

      There is a difference between being “critical” and adopting an anti-Semitic narrative that blames Jews for preferring not to die.

      • Reb Yid says:

        There are plenty of Jews and people who are not Jewish within Israel, as well as many others of both persuasions outside of it, who would contest your above characterizations.

        And whether you agree with them or not, it is both inaccurate and mistaken to geschray “anti-Semitism”.

        The truth is that Israel’s military and political leaders had some deep misgivings about some of what was done both in ’48 and ’67.  That is the historical reality (even as I was given a much narrower and myopic narrative in my Jewish upbringing).  The concern about the consequences of these actions proved rather prescient, sadly.

        Just imagine what it would be like to be a Palestinian for a day, a week or a month.  To live on the other side of that security wall and how it impacts your life.

        You can be the “best” and most “moral” occupier in the world but, at the end of the day, you are still an occupier.  And now you’ve been one for so long that Israel, sadly, is slowly but surely losing its soul.

      • Yaakov Menken says:

        I’m not “geshraying anti-Semitism.” Because I know the traditional signs of anti-Semitism, I don’t need the ADL’s list of 11 stereotypes. They all boil down to two basic ideas found in Torah. if you don’t know them, you can mistake anti-Semitism for legitimate criticism.

        By identifying Arabs as “Palestinian,” you have fallen directly into this trap. Tell me, do you believe that Arabs speak Latin? Or is there an indigenous Arab name for Palestine that no one uses? Of course not. They are not native, any more than they are native to Morocco, Egypt or Lebanon. They are not indigenous, and Jews living in Judea are not occupying anything.

        Calling Jews living in Hebron “occupiers” is no more sensible than claiming Navajos are occupying North America — and equally a moral outrage. How can you claim any knowledge of Jewish history whatsoever, and say something so blatantly counterfactual… and disgusting? This is built directly upon the anti-Semitic canard that Jews do not legitimately own any property — because nothing is more clear than that the Jews are the sole indigenous residents of that city and its environs, and that they lived there continuously throughout history, except when ethnically cleansed by Romans (70 AD), Crusaders (1000) and Arabs (1929, 1948). They always returned; for you to call them “occupiers” is beneath contempt.

        There are only three places in Israel that Arabs renamed; all the others, like Haifa, Yaffo, Ashkelon and Be’er Sheva, still carry their ancient names from Tanach. Why did they rename Hebron, Jerusalem and Sh’chem? Because these are the three places where the Tanach says clearly that land there was bought by Jews.

        As far as human rights, an Arab in the West Bank has it better than one in Jordan, and did prior to the Palestinian Authority. An Arab in Israel, of course, is the only Arab in the Middle East able to speak against the government, participate in the government, and sit in judgment over the government.

        The security wall is exclusively the result of the desire of certain Arabs to murder Jews. This is what they did to the Jews of Hebron in 1929, so it has nothing to do with occupation. If you don’t see that, you are, once again, authenticating the beliefs and statements of anti-Semites.

      • mycroft says:

        In fairness the Arabs clearly renamed Jerusalem to change the meaning of the name of the city. Nablus is essentially an Arabized form of the name Vespesian changed  the name of Shechem to. The Arabic for Hebron is essentially trying to have an Arabic term for what the root Haver means.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        The Arab population was promised a lot in the Israeli Declaration of Independence but instead voted with its feet and fled as urged by the other Arab states and the Islamic leaders who had strong pro Nazi sympathies. The Arab population voted with its feet and lost.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        An occupation according to any definition means a military conquest of an existing state and its population. No such state was existing in 1948 or 1967.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        This is revisionist history at best. Israel declared independence in 1948 and offered an olive branch to the Arab population which was vociferously rejected. Israel waited until the last minute to launch the Six Day war and only counterattacked when Jordan shelled the new sector of Jerusalem . the seizure of the Golan Heights was prompted by decades of Syrian shelling. Read Michael Orens history of the events leading up to the war and the war itself for an objective recounting of his most Israelis and their leaders felt.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Would you apologize for the saving of American lives that was accomplished by dropping of two atomic bombs?

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Would you give back the American southwest to Mexico or allow the southern states that seceded to exist with slavery intact?

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Would you apologize for the naval blockade of the South Sherman’s march thru Georgia and Sheridans march thru the Shenandoah which coupled with Grants siege of Petersburg made the South surrender?I would never apologize for the same or the submarine warfare against Japan or the round the clock aerial bombing of Germany. I sleep very well knowing that the US employed the above tactics.

  3. DF says:

    These types of articles, whenever I accidentally come across one as here, have zero effect on me. We simply have nothing in common with Jews that think like she does. Bemoan it if you will, but the chasm between our premises and basic assumptions is today so wide that conversation is pointless. Besides, the point of view she represents is waning both Jewishly and generally, so it is they who must reckon with orthodox opinion and not the other way around.

    If you wish to speak of sharply divergent opinion about Israel, it would be more profitable to limit discussion to the big tent of orthodoxy. This past Monday in many communities around the world, half the shuls (rough estimates) recited Hallel for Independence Day, and the other half said Selichos for an ancient custom 99% of people don’t truly know the real origins of.  One half living in the present, the other living in the past. Perhaps we should say vive la difference, but there is enough common ground that the two sides can at least have a discussion, even if they don’t reach agreement. By contrast, our differences with  the Forward et al are too wide and too far-gone to be bridged. Let them go. Arguing or debating them or engaging them is an exercise in futility and counter-productive.

    • Yaakov Menken says:

      To observe our Mesorah is not called “living in the past,” regardless of whether it is Halacha or Minhag, Torah or Rabbinic. Judaism is why the Jews are eternal. Otherwise I sympathize with much of what you wrote, much as I believe a response is still required.

      • DF says:

        To be clear, I used the phrase not so much as a pejorative but as a shorthand method (for space considerations) to distinguish the different stress emphasized by the two broad groups in orthodoxy I was speaking of. Clearly neither group exists solely and exclusively within either the past or the present. Few people do.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Many of us recited Hallel on Monday .

      • Nachum says:

        No one in Israel said Hallel on Monday.

      • dr.bill says:

        rav goren ztl’s logic for that supported by both the text of multiple gemaras and the Ran is overwhelming.  i feel the gemara in RH 21, quoted by the Rav ztl in an early article in hapardes on kidush hachodesh, also supports that POV.  i wonder if those saying hallel monday is a minority minhag america.

      • ROBERT LEBOVITS says:

        I believe an article in a very old edition of Tradition outlined the opinion of the Chazon Ish regarding Hallel on Yom Haatzmaut.

        Hallel would certainly be an appropriate addition to the Tefillah of the day had a genuine salvation of the Jews taken place that day. Unfortunately, the creation of the State of Israel did not have that effect. The enemies surrounding the country did not lay down their arms and accept peace. The danger to Jewish life did not diminish at that time (or in fact today, for that matter). Whether or not the declaration of independence initiated additional risk is debatable, but it did not make the Jews of Israel immediately safer from harm. Consequently, the Chazon Ish concluded that the day did not qualify as a marker to be recognized by including Hallel in the Tefilas Hayom. One can contemplate whether or not that criterion has been met thus far.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Was the article ever published in a volume of Chiddushei Torah from RYBS entitled Kovetz Chiddushei Torah ( approximate title) by Machon Yerushalayim which published the two volumes of RYBS’s Yahrtzeit shiurim? Could you summarize what RYBS said? It should be be noted parenthetically that RYBS was very critical of R Goren ZL with respect to the Langer case ( re gerus) and the views of Kedushas EY as espoused by R Goren ZL who was a far more successful CR of the IDF than as Ashkenazic CR of Israel.

      • dr.bill says:

        contrast your quote with what the Rav ztl said in his famous address (of 1956, i believe) kol dodi dofaik.  among the impacts of the state of Israel’s establishment were its impact on Jewry worldwide.  after the aliyah from Russia and numerous other countries, his insight has turned out demonstrably accurate.

        whether a nes a occured on one day or another is not as critical as realizing the significance of God knocking 6 times.

      • dr.bill says:

        steve, it was printed in  the chidushim of the GRAM and GRID.  without going into depth it related to the people in bavel being unaware that the rare event of tishrei being nidcheh occurred and observed YK one day early.

        though the rav ztl disagreed with rav goren ztl on the langer case, his basis in known to the few with whom he discussed it.  listen to Rabbi rakeffet’s shiurim on the topic, though i cannot recall the basis for his version of the event.  .  i heard about it from someone no longer alive

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Many in Chutz LaAretz especially talmidim of RHS said full Hallel on Monday without a bracha after Aleinu.

      • mycroft says:

        Part of the problem in saying Hallelu-kah on Yom Haatzmaut is the question what victory happened on 5 Iyyar. Certainly, no victory happened on  6 Iyyar. Thus RHS makes consistent sense IMO and recommends on 5 Iyyar. Of course, the Rav was opposed to saying Hallelu-kah on 5 Iyyar too.

        on a sociological view, it is my impression that most who say Hallel follow the Israeli CRview rather than the viewpoint of Rav Schachter. I suspect the majority of people davening this week in the US didn’t say Hallel any day.

      • Sarah Elias says:

        (No one is Israel said Hallel on Monday, because they celebrated Yom Haatzmaut on Tuesday.)

    • dr.bill says:

      i shudder to think of where Israel would be with only the efforts of those in the orthodox tent.  Thank God enough orthodox leaders dealt with those far from their viewpoint.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Daniel Gordis documented how many of today’s would be future R and C leadership have adopted many positions that illustrate very harsh  criticism of as opposed to support of Israel.

  4. dr.bill says:

    i guess i read more charitably.  most truly committed to Jewish AND Democratic state have some trepidation about the issue resolves itself.  does that mean that as Eisner states that Trump necessarily raises the level of trepidation?  i think not; Reagan and Nixon accomplished what their more liberal predecessors could not.

    Israel realizes that American strategic interests need stability in the middle east. Supporting its allies may somehow create a way to untangle the problem.  looked at from that perspective the problem is more tractable than just a local conflict by two people wanting the same home(land).

    worry about right and wrong will not necessarily solve the problem.  finding solutions where everyone’s lot improves often does.  alignment between Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, the Gulf states and the US would create an environment where arab support could focus on solving versus exacerbating the problem.  if this opportunity passes us by, i worry about how long it might take until conditions again provide a glimmer of hope.  in the interim israel continues to live with a cloud covering an otherwise miraculous success.

    • joel rich says:

      It was a historic victory for Israel, absolutely. It was also a disaster for another people — a people that Israel continues to rule rather than govern. This is not a time for triumphalism, but one for humility and gratitude. We must find a way to end an occupation that has stained Israel’s profound accomplishment of half a century ago.
      I was 100% aligned with this closing until the last sentence.

      • lacosta says:

        why?  i am as RW as the next guy, but it is undeniable that there is a human toll that the army-serving public pays , there IS a certain amount of brutality that goes on , and that spills over into civilian life.    I am not saying there is a pre-messianic solution , but we should at least admit there is a problem… and i left out the ever-increasing political ramifications– BDS, potential arrest as war criminals overseas,etc

      • DF says:

        We DO admit there’s a problem. Who doesn’t? But all countries have problems, both domestic and foreign. The US has problems too, plenty of them, and always has had problems. Its part of life. Not a reason for anyone to wring his hands in guilt.

    • Rafael Quinoaface says:

      If you would read a lot of the drivel Eisner writes as editor, you would not be reading her so charitably. Eisner, coming in as editor, was known as to be on the far left, and she has taken the paper to that extreme. The fact that she hired Peter Beinart, who has also questioned Israel’s existence, that she just defended anti-semite and misogynist Linda Sarsour, that she is leading baseless attacks on Dr. Gorka as an anti-semite, even relying on a doctored video for her “proof”, should lead a sensible person like you to not read charitably.

      • joel rich says:

        I was not reading charitably or uncharitably. Just agreeing on the need to cut the triumphalism, and focus on humility and gratitude. 


      • Reb Yid says:

        You honestly think there’s nothing objectable about Gorka?  Now THAT man is all about anti-Semitism.

        The article mentioned in this thread?  Again, you may or may not agree with its conclusions but plenty of Jews and Israelis who have done much in the Jewish community and played instrumental roles in Israeli society have made similar comments.  So call it what you want, but it aint anti-Semitism.

      • Yaakov Menken says:

        “Because the people saying it are Jews who seem to care about Jews, it can’t possibly be antiSemitism” — said no one informed about antiSemitism, ever. The claim that Jews don’t legitimately own property, that everything we have is stolen, is classic antiSemitism. The claim that Israel is occupying “Palestinian” land, doctoring up a nonexistent “indigenous people” in order to claim Jews have no legitimate claim to their homeland, is classic antiSemitism — regardless of how many well-meaning Jews are too uninformed, ignorant and/or mentally limited to see the obvious.

        The slander of Gorka is outrageous. He has neither said nor done anything with the faintest connection to antiSemitism, and the need to doctor a video to portray his comments as meaning quite the opposite of his actual sentiments merely proves it.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        There is an article on Tablet worth reading about Gorka that is must reading before reaching any conclusions about his POV let alone any claims that Gorka is an anti Semite

      • Steve Brizel says:

        There is no doubt thAt Eisner has moved the Forward to the far left and suppports the progressive agenda many of whose supporters express unease and or disgust when Israel defends itself and who have a very negative attitude towards the Torah observant community.

      • dr.bill says:

        i am not a forward’s reader.  but in any case, i read each article based on its perspective as expressed in that article; i am not trying to understand the overall views of the writer.

  5. Steve Brizel says:

    As long as Arab governments meet sotto voce with their Israeli counterparts and quietly appreciate what Israel has to do against the likes of Hesbellah and the current regime in Gaza while allowing their masses to receive viciously anti Semitic messages in schools and from the mosques one cannot count on any such alignment happening in the near future.

  6. Nachum says:

    It’s highly unlikely any of the people surrendering in that photo are “Palestinian,” that is, local Arabs. The war was fought between Israel and the nations of Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. That the Forward would think otherwise is quite telling.

  7. YB says:

    This is a smart business decision by the Forwards, that’s all. They need to differentiate themselves and sell their website to the only clientele willing to read it, bleeding heart liberals from Bernie Sanders and leftwards.

    • Yeder Ayner says:

      One thing that seems very evident when one looks at the 990 of the Forward is that they are really bad a business.  They lose millions each year.

      I agree that it makes no sense for them to be a tax exempt entity, however they are and thus one can easily see haw poorly managed they are.

  8. Bob Miller says:

    True to its original socialist heritage, today’s more upscale Forward rejects Jewish nationalism and religion, too.   Its writers’ words have changed a bit (at least from Yiddish to English) but their thought process and basic delusions have not.  The same socialists who imagine themselves leading humanity to utopia can excuse and even fund our enemies who want us dead.

  9. Yeder Ayner says:

    It is almost funny to read the Forward call anyone an anti semite or Nazi (as they do regularly) when the Forward and its “esteemed” editor continually publish “articles” and “opinions” that are much more hateful to Jews than any of those they accuse.


  10. DF says:

    I’m happy to see this article was entitled “a Sad Day for American Jewish Media”, and not “…American Jews.” There was a time when newspaper columnists, for some reason that sounds incredibly naïve today, were thought to represent the views of the general public. Not anymore. We now know, and all to well, that so-called “opinion-makers” (a laughable term) speak only for themselves. We can presume this woman represents the views of her employer, the Forward. However, we can infer nothing from this or any other column of the feelings of the average Jew on the street towards Israel. He may agree with this writer or he may disagree, or  – being Jewish – he may do both. But  there is no reliable way of knowing, and no one should be fooled by reports claiming to know what “American Jews” think.

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