The “Deal of the Century” is a Cruel Sham Deal

This deal isn’t a peace plan. It’s a cruel sham of a deal because only one side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the most extreme right-wing position in Israel, is represented and there was no attempt to engage with Palestinian national aspirations. It isn’t a “pro-Israel” position either because the deal, if implemented, will not bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians, nor justice for the Palestinians, or enhanced security for both Israel and the Palestinians, nor the continuation of Israeli democracy. This deal pushes the two parties inevitably towards more conflict and violence.

See my complete statement on my blog at the Times of Israel https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/the-deal-of-the-century-is-a-cruel-sham-deal/

 

“John Roberts Can Call Witnesses to Trump’s Trial. Will He?” Neal Katyal, NYT

Democratic House managers should ask the chief justice to issue subpoenas for John Bolton and others.

By Neal K. Katyal, Joshua A. Geltzer and Mickey Edwards – NY Times, January 27, 2020

Neal Katyal, former Solicitor General of the United States, explains that the rules governing impeachment proceedings enable the trial managers (led by Adam Schiff) to request of the presiding judge (Chief Justice John Roberts) to call witnesses without a majority vote by the Senate to approve.

If Congressman Schiff asks the Chief Justice for John Bolton to testify as a witness, the Senate can only overrule the Chief Justice’s decision with a two-thirds vote of the Senate according to Impeachment rules drafted in 1868.

From Katyal, Geltzer, and Edward’s op-ed yesterday (January 27) in the NY Times:

“…it turns out they [the Senators] don’t get to make that choice [to call witnesses]— Chief Justice John Roberts does. This isn’t a matter of Democrats needing four “moderate” Republicans to vote for subpoenas and witnesses, as the Trump lawyers have been claiming. Rather, the impeachment rules, like all trial systems, put a large thumb on the scale of issuing subpoenas and place that power within the authority of the judge, in this case the chief justice.

Most critically, it would take a two-thirds vote — not a majority — of the Senate to overrule that. This week, Democrats can and should ask the chief justice to issue subpoenas on his authority so that key witnesses of relevance like John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney appear in the Senate, and the Senate should subpoena all relevant documents as well.”

January 28 Commemorates the 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz

For decent people to contemplate the evil done to the 6 million Jews and 5 million others murdered during the Shoah is to be overwhelmed with grief and stunned by the enormity of the Nazi crime. Yet, the Jewish people has survived and thrived in the State of Israel and Diaspora communities since Auschwitz was liberated 75 years ago on January 28, 1945.

We can only imagine the enormous contribution to the Jewish people and to the betterment of the human condition that these victims would have contributed had they not perished.

The following two statements remind us that goodness, justice,  compassion, and peace require us to fight always against genocide, to challenge cruelty wherever it raises its ugly head, and to work to eliminate the inhumane conditions that diminish God’s image (Tzelem Elohim) anywhere in the world.

“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” Edmund Burke, Anglo-Irish statesman and philosopher (1729-1797)

“A person may cause evil to others not only by one’s actions but by one’s inaction, and in either case a person is justly accountable to them for the injury.” John Stuart Mill, philosopher and economist (1806-1873)

Zichronam livracha – May the victims of the Shoah be remembered for a blessing.

 

 

You can now Vote Reform in the World Zionist Congress Elections – Starting January 21

I am a candidate on the Reform and Reconstructionist Slate for the upcoming World Zionist Congress. You can now vote “Reform” in the World Zionist Congress. Here is the link to register and vote www.ZionistElection.org – follow all prompts. It will take you 90 seconds. The $7.50 charge is an administrative charge only.

What is the World Zionist Congress?

The World Zionist Congress (WZC) is the World Zionist Organization’s (WZO) legislative body (the parliament of the Jewish people) that meets every five years in Jerusalem. The Congress is the only body in which all of World Jewry is represented democratically, and, therefore, is our only American Jewish democratic opportunity to influence Israeli society. The larger our vote in this election the more influence we will have and the more funds our Israeli Reform movement will receive.

What do the World Zionist Congress (WZC) and World Zionist Organization (WZO) do?

  • The WZC determines policy in Israel, designates its course of action, and chooses the leadership of the World Zionist Organization.
  • The WZC makes decisions that affect the status of Reform and progressive Jews in Israel and across the world.
  • The WZO allocates considerable funding available to Progressive Reform Jews in Israel.
  • Our Israeli Reform movement (called “The Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism – IMPJ”) currently receives $4 million annually based on our success in the last WZC election five years ago. If we increase our presence in the WZC with a larger vote total this year in the American Zionist delegation we can increase funding to our Israel Reform movement, our Reform congregations and social justice programs fighting on behalf of religious pluralism, conversion rights, women’s and LGBTQ rights, justice for asylum seekers, a two-state solution, and a shared society with Israeli-Arab citizens.

I’m proud of the strength and diversity of the Reform and Reconstructionist Slate, and I’m asking you to help me get out the vote and support egalitarianism, pluralism, and peace in Israel.

As a candidate on the slate, I will have the opportunity to travel to Israel and be a delegate to the World Zionist Congress in October 2020.

You can read the Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism platform here

Polls are open NOW through March 11, 2020. Please vote and ask every Jew in your household over the age of 18 to vote along with you.  

Thank you in advance.

Rabbi John Rosove

#VoteReformWZC – www.ZionistElection.org

 

On the Ethics of Public Shaming

I have often wondered how President Trump retains the support of so many orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jews, most of whom are well-versed in the ethics and laws of the Talmud. I am also curious how President Trump retains the support of the Republican Jewish Coalition based on well-known Jewish ethics of speech (Thanks to my colleague Rabbi Leigh Lerner who shared the following passage on the Reform Rabbi list serve RAVKAV).

In the Babylonian Talmud (6th century CE) it is written in Baba Metzia 58b:

“Abaye said to Rav Dimi: In the West, i.e., Eretz Yisrael, with regard to what mitzvah [commandment] are they particularly vigilant [to avoid committing]? Rav Dimi responded: They are vigilant in refraining from humiliating others, as Rabbi Ḥanina says: Everyone descends to Gehenna [i.e. hell] except for three. … the ones who descend to Gehenna ultimately re-ascend, except for three who descend and do not ascend, and these are they: One who engages in intercourse with a married person, as this transgression is a serious offense against both God and a person; and one who humiliates another in public; and one who calls another a derogatory name. The Gemara [500 CE –  the rabbinic interpretation of the Mishnah – 200 CE] asks with regard to one who calls another a derogatory name: That is identical to one who shames him/her; why are they listed separately? The Gemara  answers: Although the victim grew accustomed to being called that name in place of his/her name, and he/she is no longer humiliated by being called that name, since the intent was to insult him/her, the perpetrator’s punishment is [nevertheless] severe…. one who humiliates another in public has no share in the World-to-Come. Rabbi Yoḥanan says in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai: It is more comfortable for a person to cast him/herself into a fiery furnace, than to humiliate another in public to avoid being cast into the furnace.”

Consider all the nasty and demeaning epithets that President Trump has called his political competitors over the years — Crooked Hillary; Sleepy Joe Biden; Little Michael Bloomberg; Alfred E. Neuman – Pete Buttigieg;  Slimeball James Comey; Lyin’ Ted Cruz; Sneaky Dianne Feinstein; Jeff Flakey; Al Frankenstein; Fat Jerry Nadler; Cheatin’ Obama; Nervous Nancy Pelosi; Mike Pounce; Little Marco Rubio; Crazy Bernie Sanders; Shifty [and corrupt] Adam Schiff, among others.

Granted, the President is neither Jewish nor a pastor nor the Pope, but ethical behavior in all western religious traditions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) demands that we treat every human being with dignity and infinite worth because we are created b’tzelem Elohim – in the image of God. Destroying the dignity of another and publicly humiliating any human being personally is forbidden in Judaism.

It’s time that the Republican Jewish Coalition and all religious Jews apply our fundamental Jewish ethics in the evaluation of our leaders and of ourselves in our own behavior towards others.

 

 

 

 

 

LA Jewish Journal Review of my book

Friends:

I wanted to share with you a review of my book Why Israel [and its Future] Matters – Letters of a Liberal Rabbi to his Children and the Millennial Generation with an Afterword by Daniel and David Rosove (New Jersey: Ben Yehuda Press, 2019). The review is written by Jonathan Kirsch for the Los Angeles Jewish Journal and is on-line and in this week’s print edition.

You can read the review here – https://jewishjournal.com/culture/books/309603/rosove-shares-his-progressive-take-on-israel-and-its-future/

If you have read it and like what you read, I ask you to post a quick review on Amazon.com. If you haven’t read it, you can get it on Amazon.

L’shalom,

John

A Zionist Student’s Personal Account at Columbia University

Sam Millner, a Junior at Columbia University in New York City studying international relations and francophone studies, is a Zionist activist on campus. He encounters daily anti-Israel and anti-Semitic students and faculty.

Sam grew up in my synagogue, Temple Israel of Hollywood in Los Angeles, and we’ve stayed in touch over the years. When he told me what he was experiencing at Columbia, I asked him to write it down and promised that I would post it with his permission on my Times of Israel Blog.

You can read his account here – https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/a-zionist-students-account-at-columbia-university/ .

 

 

‘Chaos Is the Point’: Russian Hackers and Trolls Grow Stealthier in 2020 – NY Times today – a Must Read

The two factors that will determine the 2020 election are voter turn-out and foreign hacking of our election system.

This article by Matthew Rosenberg, Nicole Perlroth and David E. Sanger in today’s NY Times (January 10, 2020) reviews the risks that could so confuse the election results in our highly charged politicized nation that public confidence in those results could be the greatest threat to our democracy.

This article is a must read not only for American citizens generally, but for every election campaign and for all states that oversee the elections in their respective domains as the election year moves through primaries and political conventions towards November.

Paper ballots in every state are the surest protection against a corrupted election result, but the holes in the cyber world that Russians, Iranians, Chinese, and others can manipulate in an ever more sophisticated manner presents enormous challenges to our election security and could threaten voter registration rolls and the vote itself.

“To keep his promise to kill an achievement of Obama’s, Trump has been willing to break his promise to get us out of wars in the Middle East.” The Atlantic

Ben Rhodes writes, “To keep his promise to kill an achievement of Obama’s, Donald Trump has been willing to break his promise to get us out of wars in the Middle East. In doing so, he has tragically proved Obama right: The choice all along was between the Iran deal or an unconstrained Iranian nuclear program and some form of war.”

Read full article – https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/01/trump-has-produced-extraordinarily-dangerous-moment/604456/

 

Israelis Hailing Trump for Killing Soleimani Forget the Destructive Consequences of Past Assassinations – Haaretz

Netanyahu has pointedly refrained from reasserting his unique influence on America’s ‘tough stance’ against Iran

Chemi Shalev  –  Jan 06, 2020 6:40 PM

Note: I am reprinting Chemi Shalev’s article from today and posting it here because one must subscribe to Haaretz to read him and many who subscribe to my blog do not have that option. Shalev is always worth reading as he is among Israel’s finest columnists. I recommend to those of you who want Israeli news and thoughtful columnists to subscribe. This column is indicative of Shalev’s clear thinking.

“Yahya Ayyash deserved to die. The so-called Hamas “engineer”, who was assassinated in January 1996, had perfected the suicide vests worn by Hamas terrorists, turning them increasingly lethal. His killing sparked widespread enthusiasm among Israelis. Then Prime Minister Shimon Peres, who approved the plan to booby-trap Ayyash’s cellphone, was portrayed for the first time in his life as the kind of ruthless leader Israelis yearn for.

The end is known. The killing of Ayyash enraged Palestinians and pushed Hamas to carry out four suicide bombings within eight days, in which 59 Israelis were killed. The shock and fear that gripped Israeli public opinion turned Peres from valiant hero to impotent loser paved the way for Benjamin Netanyahu’s sensational victory in the May 1996 elections – and changed Israel forever.

On August 15, 2001, Israeli missiles killed the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Abu Ali Mustafa, following a series of car-bomb terror attacks. The PFLP promised revenge against Israel’s “senior political echelon” and within two months made good on their threat by assassinating Israeli cabinet minister Rehavam Zeevi. The killing radicalized Israeli public opinion and made Zeevi, hitherto ostracized for his extreme right wing views and support for “transfer” of Palestinians, into a national hero. Thousands attended his funeral.

Nonetheless, in the collective memory of Israel, the link between cause and effect has been severed. Targeted assassinations – whether they decreased terror attacks, as was the case after the 2004 killing of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, or increased terror attacks, as was the case during the so-called “Black March” that followed the 2002 assassination of al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades commander Raed Karmi, in which 130 Israelis were killed, or even anointed Hassan Nasrallah as Hezbollah leader after predecessor Abbas al-Musawi was killed in 1992 – are deemed, almost by definition, not only as eminently justified but as uniquely effective, no matter what.

This is why the assassination of Qassem Soleimani has not only elicited nearly universal and otherwise understandable support – the man was a sophisticated and implacable foe of Israel – but also collective condemnation from anyone who dared point out the operation’s potentially destructive consequences.  Donald Trump was once against hailed as Israel’s hero and savior while Democrats who expressed reservations were painted by Israeli commentators as weak-kneed appeasers who had lost the plot.

America’s historic memory, however, is markedly different. The very term “targeted assassination” conjures the spate of undercover assassinations carried out by the CIA from the 1950’s to 1970’s, when they were ostensibly declared illegal. Many Americans realize that some of the right wingers who were cheering Trump today were the ones who pushed George Bush to invade Iraq in 2003, in what turned out to be one of the most misconceived and poorly executed wars in U.S. history.

Unlike his Israeli fans, most Americans cannot separate Trump’s supposedly brave if brazen decision to approve Soleimani’s assassination from his otherwise erratic and impulsive conduct in all other arenas, foreign and domestic. Trump’s threat to destroy 52 Iranian targets, including world heritage cultural sites, is not only a barbaric notice of intent to commit war crimes, unbecoming of any U.S. President, it is also a symptom of the kind of presidential inanity that could ignite the Middle East – and inflict a harsh blow on Israel itself.”

https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-israelis-hailing-soleimani-s-killing-forget-the-consequences-of-past-assassinations-1.8365258?utm_term=20200106-18%3A40&utm_campaign=Chemi+Shalev&utm_medium=email&writerAlerts=true&utm_content=www.haaretz.com%2Fopinion%2F.premium–1.8365258&utm_source=smartfocus