Saturday, May 04, 2024

Why not to chant "Intifada Revolution"

If you feel inclined to chant "There is only one solution: Intifada Revolution," think about this Facebook post from Sarah Tuttle, remembering one of the many Israelis murdered in the second intifada (2000-2005).
When you talk about intifada, it reminds me of my friend who got married, and then got on a bus two weeks later and was blown up - along with several others. The only way they could 100% identify him was from a piece of twisted metal half melted into what was left of his hand with part of the message his wife had inscribed before they met under the wedding canopy: I am my beloved and my beloved is mine. 
I knew one person who was murdered during the Second Intifada: Ben Blutstein. He was killed on July 31, 2002, when the Frank Sinatra cafeteria on the Mt. Scopus campus of the Hebrew University was bombed.

I wrote in this blog a year afterwards: 
A year ago today, a terrorist bombing at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem took the lives of 9 people, including two young American students who were studying at the Pardes Institute. One of them, Benjamin Blutstein, was the son of people I know in Pennsylvania, and it was a tremendous shock to see his name in the list of the dead.

More information on Ben Blutstein (by his father): 
"At 25, Ben, a graduate of the Rabbi David L. Silver Yeshiva Academy, Susquehanna Township High School and Dickinson College, was enrolled in a Masters Degree Program at Hebrew University, in conjunction with the Pardes Institute, in preparation for a career in Jewish education. Ben had just completed two years of advanced Jewish learning at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies when he was killed in a bombing attack in a Hebrew University cafeteria on July 31, 2002." 
He also quotes from a letter that Ben wrote to his grandmother in the fall of 2001, before Thanksgiving: "'I want to bless... all of us that we should have strength to continue doing the things we know are right even when others might think we're crazy or be concerned for us. And that all of us should continue to strive and grow....' Ben continued to strive and grow until his life was tragically ended."

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Shoshke Engelmayer's Night Postcard for the Iran attack on Israel April 13, 2024

 Shoshke Engelmayer's take on tonight's attack

הגלויה הלילית. כטב"מים וטילים. ורק שיחזרו החטופים.
The nightly postcard: drones and missiles.
The most important thing: the hostages must return

Source: Facebook - Shoshke Engelmayer

Iranian attack on Israel tonight - a few observations

One thing I did not expect was that Iran would target Jerusalem. In past wars, Hamas has avoided targeting the city, presumably to avoid striking holy sites and Palestinians in East Jerusalem. Iran doesn't seem to care about that, which is very strange. According to CNN, the first Iranian attacks on Israel were in Jerusalem.

The video below is of interceptions over the Dome of the Rock. (Source: Nir Hasson)

Still photo from video above:

Photo of interceptions over the Knesset in Jerusalem

Some more surprising items - Saudi Arabia and Jordan shooting down drones and missiles launched at Israel.

Discussion by Anshel Pfeffer:

Jordanians have paid a price for shooting down the drones over Amman:

Monday, April 01, 2024

Angry mob outside synagogue protests presentation by Zaka

 "Within Our Lifetime" has now outdone themselves. 

Together with American Muslims for Palestine they organized a demonstration today against a synagogue in Teaneck, NJ, that was hosting a presentation by Zaka. (It was really an angry mob, not a peaceful demonstration).

Zaka is the Israeli organization that goes to sites of traffic accidents and terrorist attacks, in order to collect the human remains that need to be buried according to Jewish law. Zaka members were among those who took care of the bodies of those murdered by Hamas on October 7, and some of them spoke about the marks of atrocious violence that they saw on the bodies.

This is the poster for the demo. It gives the address, but carefully avoids mentioning that the location is a synagogue.

Twitter post about the protest:

Here's video of the protest:

Sunday, March 24, 2024

When "Free Palestine" Arrives at Your Home

"Free Palestine" Demands

The current version of the student Palestine movement has finally arrived at my college. Last month they held a protest demonstration when our Hillel and the interfaith chapel brought two speakers, an Israeli and a Palestinian, each to speak about their own take on the shared/divided history of Jews and Palestinians in the land. It wasn't really a dialogue, rather a side-by-side sharing of experiences and interpretations. I went to hear them and was left quite unhappy by what the Palestinian speaker had to say.

The protestors were also made unhappy, in their case by the mere presence of the Israeli speaker, whom they accused of being a "genocide supporter." They didn't disturb anyone going to hear the speakers, but held what a "boycott" demonstration in a nearby location. Nonetheless, a couple of the protestors came to hear the speakers for a while and then went to the protest. One of the signs at the protest was "genocide supporters not welcome." I wondered when I saw it whether they would consider me a genocide supporter. Other signs were typical of Palestine protests: "liberate Palestine" and "from the river to the sea Palestine will be free."

"Die-in" at the administration building

Yesterday, the group broadcast clips of their protest from the foyer of the administration building (including a die-in), with the college president watching. A group of about 12-15 students sat in a circle clapping and chanting "free free Palestine." The student newspaper reported on the event and provided more detail - in addition to the free Palestine chant, they also chanted “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" and “When a land is occupied, resistance is justified."

Are all kinds of resistance justified?

I find the third slogan particularly troubling. This is a slogan used at many pro-Palestine demonstrations. What kind of resistance is justified? Non-violent demonstrations or other actions? Strikes?

What violent actions are permissible? Taking up arms against the Israeli army? On October 7, when Hamas invaded Israel, they attacked Israeli soldiers in bases right on the border, and killed several hundred of them. In a war, soldiers kill and are killed - this is normal in war, and the law of armed conflict does not prohibit it. What about terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians? Are they permissible? As we all know the Hamas fighters attacked, raped, mutilated, tortured, killed, and kidnapped Israeli and foreign civilians living in the kibbutzim along the border, in Sderot, and at the Nova party.

And who is doing the resisting? Is this slogan meant to apply to Palestinians living in Gaza or also to people in the US protesting the Israel-Hamas war? If the resistance is happening in the US, is violence an acceptable method? Would it be permissible to attack police who try to control pro-Palestinian demonstrations? Or damage government buildings? Or attack "Zionists," however they are defined? Would terrorist attacks be permissible in the United States?

This is the problem with a slogan that is completely open-ended, like "when a land is occupied, resistance is justified." There is potentially no limit to the tactics of resistance.

The first part of the slogan is also open to interpretation. What land is occupied? Does the slogan only apply to the land that Israel conquered in 1967 - the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights? Many of those protesting these days refer to Israel's 75-year occupation, going back to the founding of Israel in 1948, meaning that all of Israel is "occupied."

Good article to read on what resistance means: "Even the Oppressed Have Obligations," by Michael Walzer, in The Atlantic, November 6, 2023. The tagline is: "Not every act of resistance is justified."

Student demands

These are their demands:

They want the president of the college to "issue a formal apology and statement wherein she acknowledges the ongoing genocide in Palestine."

They also want the college to allow for a "BDS audit of their finances."

And finally, "All Birthright trips being run through Hillel cease indefinitely."

On their Instagram page they wrote "we presented [the president] our three major demands and made it clear that the ... student body will not rest until our demands are met." (Is the whole student body represented by the group that protested today? I suspect not, considering how small the group was).

In the fall, after the October 7 attack by Hamas, the president issued a couple of statements expressing her concern for Jewish students and community (the statement referred to the attack as "terrorist"). She hasn't made any further statements since then. Personally, I don't think she has anything to apologize for. Expressing concern for the impact of the Hamas attack on the Jewish community is not a political statement, in my opinion.

What would a "BDS audit" of the college finances be? Part of BDS is divestment (that's the "D" of the acronym) - are they thinking of what the college endowment is invested in? I don't think the college president has the power either to audit the endowment's investments, or publicly disclose them - that's within the purview of the Board of Trustees.

As for their third demand - this would belong to the "boycott" part of the BDS demands, in this case, preventing Hillel from running trips to Israel through Birthright. I don't know if our Hillel actually runs Birthright trips now, but there are certainly students from my college who go on Birthright trips at various times through the year. Even if the college told our Hillel not to facilitate those trips, it would not prevent our students from going to Israel. They could simply apply to go on trips sponsored by other organizations.

I am definitely opposed to any boycott of Israel, especially to the academic boycott of Israel. I don't think the college should implement any of these steps, but I feel the most strongly about the last demand, because it would directly impact our Jewish students.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Jerusalem, New York and the Public Universal Friend

When Jews recite "Next Year in Jerusalem" at the end of the Passover seder, they mean the city of Jerusalem in Israel/Palestine.

But there are other Jerusalems, including in New York State.

The New York Jerusalem is in Yates County, right on Keuka Lake. (In the map below, it's enclosed by the dotted red line).
From a history of the town published in 1892: 
"Jerusalem is practically and substantially the mother of towns in Yates County. The district, sometimes called township, of Jerusalem, was organized in 1789 as one of the subdivisions of Ontario County, and included with its limits all that is now Milo, Benton and Torrey, as well as its own original territory. On the erection of Stueben County in 1796, the region or district called Bluff Point, or so much of it as lies south of the south line of township seven, was made a part of the new formation; but in 1814 an act of the Legislature annexed Bluff Point to Jerusalem, and to which it has since belonged.

"In 1803 the town of Jerusalem was definitely erected, embracing township seven, second range, and so much of township seven, first range, as lay westward of Lake Keuka and lot No. 37. At or about the same time the other territory that had previously formed a part of the district of Jerusalem was organized into a town and called Vernon, after Snell and finally Benton."

The Public Universal Friend

Portrait of the Public Universal Friend, from 1812, unknown painter. Source: Yates County Historical Society
A famous resident of the town (famous then, not now), was the Public Universal Friend:

"The Public Universal Friend, Jemima WILKINSON, was of course a pioneer of this town, the same as she had been in the locality and settlement on Seneca Lake. In 1790 she first came to the Genesee country and four years later she established herself permanently in the town of Jerusalem."

The Public Universal Friend was born as Jemima Wilkinson in 1752 to a Quaker family in Rhode Island. Jemima was transformed into the Public Universal Friend after "a night of fevered dreams" on October 10, 1776.

Jemima took on a new identity after the fever. "'Reborn' in their place was the Public Universal Friend, neither male nor female. According to the Friend, Jemima’s soul had passed into heaven, and God had reanimated their body with the spirit of the Friend sent to spread the Quaker gospel. From then on, the Friend began to gather followers and travel as a preacher."

The Friend lived as a nonbinary person: "The Public Universal Friend dressed in a way that blended masculinity and femininity, and this drew much attention. Their clothing included a cravat and robe like traditional ministers and clergymen wore, as well as the kind of hat typically worn by Quaker men. They also didn’t wear the traditional bonnet or head covering women were expected to wear. The Public Universal Friend’s gender presentation caused curiosity and anger, and it was a radical challenge to the status quo that the Friend was not willing to be bound by the customs of the community."

How did the Friend come to settle in Jerusalem, New York? After their transformation, the Friend gathered a following, and they decided to create a settlement in western New York, called Jerusalem.

The Friend's house, where they lived until dying in 1819. (Photo from the National Park Service).


More information about the Friend

The Public Universal Friend: Jemima Wilkinson and Religious Enthusiasm in Revolutionary America, by Paul B. Moyer (Cornell University Press, 2015).
"'Indescribable Being': Theological Performances of Genderlessness in the Society of the Publick Universal Friend, 1776–1819," by Scott Larson, Early American Studies 12:3 (2014) 576-600. (Special issue: Beyond the Boundaries: Critical Approaches to Sex and Gender in Early America). 

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Pro-Hamas demonstrators in New York chant for "solidarity with our rockets"

Saying the quiet part out loud

Nardeen Kiswani, founder and leader of the group Within Our Lifetime, led this chant today outside of an iftar meal attended by the mayor of New York City at 31 Chambers Street (near City Hall): "Those who are in solidarity with our corpses but not our rockets are hypocrites. They are not one of us." Nardeen Kiswani said this as pro-Palestinian protesters gathered outside the iftar meal. The crowd chanted hateful messages against Muslims attending the meal, calling them "traitors."

Kiswani was arrested today by NYPD "as the crowd marched through downtown #NYC for 'Emergency Action For AL-SHIFA HOSPITAL.'" (

Video by @yyeeaahhhboiii2 to license
— Oliya Scootercaster 🛴 (@ScooterCasterNY) March 20, 2024

This is the transcript of the video:

May every single Muslim traitor never have the pleasure in praying in our beloved mosques. May they never have the pleasure of visiting our beloved homeland.

May they never have a moment of peace until they make amends for their traitorous conduct.

We will not just protest you, we will make ? against you.

We will turn the community against you.

We will name and shame you, not just about this genocide, but every single day of your life that you go on in our ? there isn’t a genocide going on and that you weren’t complicit in it.

Every single person who is invited to the White House Iftar should have ripped up their invitation.

Keep your eyes open. Keep your ears open. Name and shame these people. They are not one of us. They are hypocrites, and not one of us. And those who were in solidarity with our corpses but not our rockets are hypocrites and are not one of us. [Cheering]

We are protesting against our city’s and country’s complicity and direct role in genocide…

Kiswani was the student speaker at the CUNY Law School commencement speech in 2022, when she made a virulently anti-Israel speech.

More on Within Our Lifetime from their "Points of Unity." They explicitly support the use of violence - "by any means necessary." These are not "peace" demonstrators - they are demonstrating in support of the Hamas war against Israel.

3. Right to Resist

We defend the right of Palestinians as colonized people to resist the zionist occupation by any means necessary. Just as we believe the liberation of Palestine will be achieved through the initiative and strategy of all forms of Palestinian resistance, we uphold the right of all oppressed nationality people in the United States and around the world to engage in all forms of struggle in pursuit of freedom. 

Some of their chants (found on the page Rally Toolkit). I've bolded the Arabic chant that reveals the true meaning of "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free"

‏ بالروح بالدم نفديك يا فلسطين
Bilroh, biddem, nafdeek ya Falasteen
(Our souls, our blood, we sacrifice ourselves for you, Palestine)

There is only one solution!
Intifada revolution!

Resistance is justified!
When people are occupied!

‏من المية للمية فلسطين عربية
Min il-maya lal maya, Falasteen 3arabiye
(From the river to the sea, Palestine is Arab)

From the river to the sea!
Palestine will be free!

From New York to Gaza!
Globalize the intifada!

We don’t want two states!
We want ‘48!

1 2 3 4 occupation no more!
5 6 7 8 smash the settler zionist state!

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

J. K. Rowling's increasing anti-trans extremism

Erin Reed, a transgender rights activist and author of the invaluable blog, Erin in the Morning, just posted a story today on J. K. Rowling's continued descent into the rabbit hole of anti-trans bigotry.

On Wednesday, J.K. Rowling implicitly denied that transgender individuals were targeted and that books about them were burned in Nazi Germany. This assertion contradicts abundant evidence that transgender people were among the first targeted by the Nazis' rise to power in Germany. This culminated in the looting of the Magnus Hirschfeld Institute of Sexology and the infamous burning of the initial decades of transgender healthcare research, as well as the internment, forced detransition, and murder of transgender citizens. When confronted with numerous scholarly sources, she instead linked to another thread that labeled the first transgender patient a "troubled male.”....
The exchange promoting a denial that transgender people were targeted in the Holocaust was triggered by a tweet questioning why individuals like Rowling increasingly find themselves aligned with Nazis, who burned books on transgender healthcare and research in 1933. Rather than defending her position, Rowling seemed to dismiss the notion altogether that transgender individuals were targeted, asking, "How did you type this out and press send without thinking ‘I should maybe check my source for this, because it might’ve been a fever dream’?" When others provided her with sources, she responded by linking to an anti-trans account calling the first transgender woman to undergo gender reassignment surgery in Germany to a "troubled male.” The thread in question also denied that transgender people were targeted by the Holocaust.

This is the tweet that Rowland posted:

 Alejandra Caraballo's response (

Caraballo's links: 

Article on Magnus Hirschfeld in the Holocaust Encyclopedia at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum's website:
See also this article in Scientific American about the Institute for Sexology:

Rowling's response (clue: she's wrong):

Article on the looting of Hirschfeld's Institute of Sexology on the website of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (UK):

Continuing the exchange:

Thank you Dr. Gorski!

The issue of Der Stürmer is from February 1929. The slogan at the bottom translates as: "The Jews are our misfortune." Source of the page from Der Stürmer:

As Erin Reed writes, Rowling's anti-trans rhetoric and demands are getting more and more extreme.
The statements, while part of an ongoing history of escalating anti-trans rhetoric from the author, signify a shift towards extremist views against transgender individuals. Leading anti-trans voices worldwide echo these viewpoints. Meanwhile, conservative activists are advocating for transgender eradication and the cessation of all related care. Rowling's recent engagement with Holocaust denial concerning transgender individuals only fuels the same fires that incinerated books about transgender people a century ago.

Saturday, March 02, 2024

CUNY Jewish Law Students Association - supporters of the Hamas attack upon Israel on October 7, 2023

The Jewish Law Students Association at CUNY issued a viciously anti-Israel statement only three days after the Hamas attack on October 7, 2023. (If you would like to read it yourself, go to the Twitter account for the group and download it, or check this link: CUNY JLSA statement). It reads like so many of the other anti-Israel statements rushed out immediately after the attack, especially the one signed by thirty student groups at Harvard that blamed Israel for the Hamas attack upon it. Although the JLSA statement doesn't mention Hamas explicitly, it implies support for them. This is how the statement begins, with a pious reference to the Jewish New Year:

In this season of renewal and self-reflection, and as we begin the year 5784, the Jewish students at the CUNY School of Law wish to express our uncompromising solidarity with the Palestinian people in their righteous struggle for self-determination. This feeling is accompanied by a profound sense of grief over the lives that have been lost. We are steadfast in our belief that Zionism – as a political ideology predicated on theft and destruction – serves to imperil both Jews and Palestinians, even though its proponents only target the latter. 

The only possible reference to the Israelis killed on October 7 is the sentence that mentions "the lives that have been lost," but of course "Zionism" is at fault for the deaths of those Israelis.

Later on, the statement denounces the CUNY administration in these words: "Since no form of Palestinian resistance is ever justified in the eyes of Zionists, it is no surprise that CUNY’s administration has once again chosen to malign student-organizers who are demanding an end to Israel’s illegal occupation."

Who is it that the administration "maligned"? The link in the original statement goes to an announcement by the Chancellor of CUNY, Félix V. Matos Rodríguez:

October 9, 2023

“CUNY is devastated by the scope of death and destruction in Israel, still being assessed in the aftermath of Saturday’s violent attacks by Hamas militants. The University is putting in place counseling and related supports to our impacted students, faculty and staff. We are especially concerned about members of our community who have families, colleagues and friends in the Middle East.

“We want to be clear that we don’t condone the activities of any internal organizations that are sponsoring rallies to celebrate or support Hamas’ cowardly actions. Such efforts do not in any way represent the University and its campuses.”

The CUNY administration accurately portrays the rallies that were held immediately after the attack upon Israel as "celebrating or supporting" Hamas' actions, something which is anathema to the JLSA, which appears to think that attacking civilians is a valid form of "righteous struggle for self-determination."  

This is confirmed by a statement on their Twitter account that was posted on October 7:

For more information and links, see article from the Algemeiner, published on October 12, 2023: New York ‘Jewish’ Student Group Condemns Israel, Stands With Palestinian ‘Resistance’.

Vertex - Spider and its web


Friday, March 01, 2024


Monday, February 05, 2024

Wildpeace - the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water

Wood duck drake vocalizing in Central Park
Source: Wikimedia Commons


Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives might be, 
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. 
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water. 
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Thursday, February 01, 2024

"Side By Side" - Conflict, Hope, & Change in Israel & Palestine - Ithaca College, February 6, 5:00-6:30 pm


Witness a riveting “dual narrative” of Israeli and Palestinian history through the interwoven personal & familial stories of two individuals --one Israeli (Uriel Abulof) and one Palestinian (Nizar Farsakh) - who have become scholars, political advisors, professors, and activists for peace.

Dialogue & Question and Answer to Follow.

Muller Chapel, 5:00-6:30 pm

Sponsored by Hillel at Ithaca College and Office of Spiritual and Religious  Life

More on the speakers

Uriel Abulof is an associate professor at Tel-Aviv UniversityLinks to an external site.’s School of Political Science, Government and International Affairs. Abulof studies the politics of fear, happiness and hope, legitimation, social movements, nationalism, and ethnic conflicts. He has written extensively on the Middle East and Israel and is the recipient of the Young Scholar Award in Israel Studies. 

Nizar Farsakh is a trainer on leadership, negotiations, and advocacy with over 20 years of experience across the Middle East and North Africa. Before joining George Washington University, Farsakh was head of Civil Society Partnerships at the Project On Middle East Democracy (POMEDLinks to an external site.) where he built the advocacy capacity of Arab civil society organizations. Before that, he directed the Palestinian Delegation in Washington D.C. Between 2003 and 2008 Nizar advised senior Palestinian leaders including the President, the Prime Minister and various ministries in their negotiations with Israel. Currently, and in addition to teaching negotiations at the Elliot School of International Affairs, Nizar co-founded an online leadership training platform Inspire Leadership SchoolLinks to an external site., and is frequently invited by think tanks and the media (ArabicLinks to an external site.EnglishLinks to an external site.) to comment on Middle East affairs. He is also on the board of the Museum of the Palestinian PeopleLinks to an external site. in Washington D.C.