Forward Thinking

Rabin's Killer+Hamas=BFF

By Nathan Jeffay

getty images
Yigal Amir

The brother of Yitzhak Rabin’s killer has said that the assassin gets along fine with jailed Hamas terrorists and sees “no difference” between himself and the sworn enemies of Israel.

Hagai Amir made the comment in his first interview since his release in May. His brother Yigal Amir, Rabin’s killer, is still in prison.

For Hagai Amir, being in the same bracket as terrorists isn’t troubling. Asked if he feels remorse for the killing, which was intended to derail the Oslo peace process and is widely thought to have succeeded, he replied: “Of course not. It didn’t just happen out of the blue. We thought about it for two years, we acted according to the Jewish halacha, and one must not regret doing a mitzvah.”

He and his brother “did the only single act that could have been done at that particular point in time and in the conditions that were present.” He insisted: “We did not do it for us but for the Jewish people, simple as that, and behind the act was a good intention. At the end of the day, a good intention does not go to waste and it will bear fruits.” Asked is he is proud of his brother he replied “of course.”

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: israel, hamas, hagai, Yitzhak rabin, Yigal Amir, jewish

'Criticize Away': Hartman Institute Debates Debating

By J.J. Goldberg

Havruta, a journal of the Shalom Hartman Institute, features a symposium on whether and how to criticize Israel in its February 2012 issue. It makes for interesting reading, with special shout-outs to Yossi Klein-Halevi’s thought-provoking letter to a right-wing friend and editor Stuart Schoffman’s delightful introduction.

My own contribution is below. I would link directly to it from Facebook, but there’s no way to link directly to the articles in the journal - you have to page through the full issue (which has its own joys).

Criticism and Civil Conversation /// A Symposium

J.J. Goldberg: Criticize Away

J.J. Goldberg, editor-at-large of the Jewish Daily Forward, has covered the politics and culture of American Jewry for a quarter century in a variety of American and Israeli publications. He has served as editor-in- chief of the Forward and U.S. bureau chief of the Jerusalem Report, and is the author of Jewish Power: Inside the American Jewish Establishment.

IN LATE 1993, SHORTLY AFTER YITZHAK RABIN and Yasser Arafat shook hands on the White House lawn, Rabin’s predecessor Yitzhak Shamir appeared in New York with a surprising message that seemed to surprise no one in his audience. Addressing a packed gathering of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Shamir said (I’m paraphrasing only slightly): I have often urged you to refrain from criticizing Israel’s democratically elected government, because Israelis alone bear the consequences of its decisions. Now I’ve changed my mind. This elected government is making bad decisions. Please, criticize away.

The moment perfectly encapsulated the nonsensical dishonesty that characterizes the debate over whether and how Diaspora Jews may criticize Israel. In reality, there is not and never has been a taboo against Jews criticizing Israel. There is a taboo against Jews urging Israel to adopt more liberal policies toward the Palestinians and the neighboring Arab states. There is no taboo against urging more hardline policies.

The unstated logic behind this one-sided stricture is readily apparent. Advocating a more conciliatory policy can be depicted, fairly or not (usually not) as siding with the enemy. By contrast, no one argues seriously that urging greater inflexibility is meant to weaken Israel and strengthen its foes, even though that may well be the practical result.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Yitzhak Shamir, Yitzhak Rabin, Yariv-Shemtov Formula, Victor Shemtov, Stuart Schoffman, Simcha Dinitz, Los Angles International Airport, Seattle Jewish Federation, Havruta, Empire State Building, Criticizing Israel, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Breira, Aharon Yariv, AMIA Bombing, Yossi Klein-Halevi

Connect the Dots: IDF vs. Rabbis, Silencing the 99%

By J.J. Goldberg

Sometimes the biggest news isn’t found in a hot new scoop, but in a recapitulation of a string of things you knew about but hadn’t put together already—or in little details that flesh out a trend you’d heard about, showing you how fast it’s building up.

An example of the first: Former labor secretary Robert Reich’s Christian Science Monitor blogpost last Tuesday about the ways in which the wealthy have gained and used their access to public discourse in order to change the rules of the game and further enrich themselves —

Yet when real people without money assemble to express their dissatisfaction with all this, they’re told the First Amendment doesn’t apply. Instead, they’re treated as public nuisances – clubbed, pepper-sprayed, thrown out of public parks and evicted from public spaces.

An example of the second: Haaretz military reporter Amos Harel’s news analysis the Friday before last about the growing culture war within the Israeli military between the secular values of the senior command and the increasing numbers of increasingly devout Orthodox soldiers and officers. You’ve heard about the tensions. Here are some of the details:

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Yitzhak Rabin, Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, Robert Reich, Supreme Court, Occupy Wall Street, Rabbi Eli Sadan, Israel Defense Forces, Citizens United, Amos Harel, Akiva Eldar




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