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December 10 marks the 129th anniversary of the publication of Mark Twain’s novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The book’s history has found it read by most, beloved by many, and even questioned by some people through the years, and it has lived on as a masterpiece of American writing, as well as a scathing look at the slavery and racism faced by African Americans.
But Twain (the pen name of Samuel Clemens) was not just a defender of African Americans — he defended the Jewish people, as well, writing in an essay from 1898:
He has made a marvellous fight in this world, in all the ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it. The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished.
The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?
This article from the Virtual Jewish Library tells of Twain’s relationship with Jews in America and around the world. As you’ll see, Twain’s relationship with the Jewish people was sometimes colored by stereotypes and sometimes misinterpreted, but he ultimately meant well and was remembered fondly by the Jewish press:
“In one of Mr. Clemens’s works he expressed his opinion of men, saying he had no choice between Hebrew and Gentile, black men or white; to him, all men were…Read More » Comments (0) »
Tuesday, December 10th, 2013 at 3:45 PM | Stand For Israel
Michael Rubin, writing at Commentary, outlines the latest efforts by the American Friends Service Committee (the non-profit organization of the Society of Friends also known as the Quakers) to support the movement to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel as part of an unfortunate recent propensity to demonize the Jewish state:
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Note the 2008 gala dinner co-hosted by the AFSC for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, never mind Ahmadinejad’s threats to eradicate Israel and his Holocaust denial.
Tuesday, December 10th, 2013 at 8:49 AM | Stand For Israel
That sound you hear is the Ayatollah laughing. Loudly.
In one of the most thick-headed New York Times editorials we’ve ever read, a guy who teaches at St. Andrews (known more for being Prince William’s alma mater or for golf than boneheaded foreign policy suggestions) wrote this:
America must now begin to think about a gradual realignment of its Middle East policy, one that aims to reintegrate Iran into the international fold and, over time, transform an enemy into an ally.
Seriously. So we need to start thinking about realigning ourselves away from our sister democracy, Israel, and toward another country in the region that every other country dislikes, that is ruled by America-hating, hard-line theocrats, and that is the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world?
Mr. Patrikarakos, the author, is good enough to make passing reference to Iran’s hostility to basic human rights and its sponsorship of international terror. He also points out that Iran and Israel were allies before the 1979 Islamic revolution. Several other things have happened since 1979, such as the personal computer and the Red Sox winning a few World Series.
But then Mr. Patrikarakos throws in this reason for a thaw in relations between the two countries:
And though Iran supports Hezbollah and Hamas, its army has never taken part in the many Arab wars against Israel.
Iranian soldiers have never attacked Israel while wearing Iranian uniforms. But Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps soldiers have fought alongside Hezbollah forces against Israeli soldiers in southern Lebanon, and virtually all of the funding and weaponry used by Hamas is supplied by Iran. In today’s SFI Daily Dispatch, we reported that Israeli Defense Minister Ya’alon accused Iran of using its embassies around the world as bases for terrorism. Iran, for its part, regularly calls on Israel to “disappear.” They get away with that kind of rhetoric by remaining vague as to the method of Israel’s disappearance. But their audiences in Farsi – and any Westerner unwilling to self-delude…Read More » Comments (10) »
Tuesday, December 10th, 2013 at 8:36 AM | Stand For Israel
Born into a Jewish family in Russia, and having traveled the world since his discovery as a child prodigy, pianist Evgeny Kissin has just been granted Israeli citizenship. The Jerusalem Post reports that Kissin — who now lives in England and France, but is a staunch defender of Israel — felt being an Israeli citizen would allow him to better support the Holy Land on the international stage:
“If I, as a human being and artist represent anything in the world, it is my Jewish people, and therefore Israel is the only state on our planet which I want to represent with my art and all my public activities, no matter where I live.”
Watch and listen to Kissin play a beautiful piece by Liszt:
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Monday, December 9th, 2013 at 11:46 AM | Stand For Israel
Have U.S. policymakers given any serious thought to what Iran will look like in 20 years? 50 years? Michael Rubin, writing at Commentary, says that the future of Iranian demography and the military and political requirements it suggests indicate a failure on the part of Western leaders to think strategically about the growing problem of Iran:
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American policymakers notoriously focus on short-term issues. Within the State Department, Pentagon, and even the Central Intelligence Agency, the majority of staff are focused on the next week’s events and petty bureaucratic tasks rather than long-term strategy. Hence, in 2009, President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton refused to support the Iranian people rising up against Khamenei’s repression, because they feared that to do so would make less likely a response to the letter Obama had penned to the supreme leader. (In a subsequent November 3, 2009 speech, Khamenei mocked Obama’s letters.)
Monday, December 9th, 2013 at 8:34 AM | Stand For Israel
As always, Walter Russell Mead deals with a recent speech by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel with brutal precision. Trying to defend the Administration’s recent nuclear deal with Iran – a deal that horrified our allies like Saudi Arabia – Hagel tried to reassure them that American diplomacy with Tehran did not mean a weakening of our military resolve:
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Sunni Arab Gulf rulers will not miss the unmistakable tenor of [Hagel’s] remarks. The U.S. is not taking sides in the thing they care most about: the Sunni-Shia religious war now convulsing the Middle East. In Syria and Bahrain, the U.S. is more concerned about rules of the road than about Sunni victory—while longtime allies like Saudi Arabia are much more interested in defeating the Shia than in enforcing Marquis of Queensbury rules on their Sunni co-religionists.
Monday, December 9th, 2013 at 8:22 AM | Stand For Israel
The engulfing waters threatened me,
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.
To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you, Lord my God,
brought my life up from the pit. (Jonah 2:5-6)
IDF soldier Avi Ohayun looks out over the Holy Land he has sworn to protect.
Read how Avi went from being a troubled teen to a member of one of the IDF’s elite units, along with other miraculous stories.
And reflect this weekend on how God loves each one of us, despite our flaws and imperfections, and plans to use us — as He used Jonah — to do His good. Shabbat shalom, friends.Comments (0) »
Friday, December 6th, 2013 at 1:12 PM | Stand For Israel
Israeli politician, physician, and retired IDF general Ephraim Sneh writes in The Christian Science Monitor about the nuclear agreement with Iran and the harmful implications it will have on the Israel-Palestinian peace process:
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Without the Geneva deal in place, the U.S. administration might have been able to give the Israelis and Palestinians a bridging offer in early 2014. But now that this deal is signed, the U.S. may not have the moral authority to exert pressure on any Israeli government regarding an agreement with Palestinians.
Friday, December 6th, 2013 at 9:12 AM | Stand For Israel
While we are deeply saddened by the death of Nelson Mandela, we recognize that human beings are frail and not meant to live forever and we feel grateful that our world was able to benefit from 95 years of this great man’s presence.
The world will spend the next several days retelling Mandela’s story: one of a tiny number of black African lawyers educated in South Africa in the 1940s (he met and befriended future anti-Apartheid allies Harry Schwartz and Ruth First, both Jewish, during his time in law school), activist in the anti-Apartheid African National Congress, sent to prison in 1962 on Robben Island where he worked in the quarries for 20 years, released from prison in 1990, elected President of South Africa in the first open election in 1994, oversaw the reconciliation process between the races in his country. His story is extraordinary and, if you haven’t read his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, you should. He is among the greatest and most beloved world leaders of the 20th century.
There is much for us to learn from Mandela. This was a man jailed for 27 years – much of that time spent performing hard labor – for the crime of peacefully attempting to organize his people to demand equality under the law. He had every right to be embittered. He had every right to want revenge. He had every right to hate his persecutors. Yet Nelson Mandela wasn’t bitter or vengeful or hateful.
His example led South Africa out of the long nightmare of Apartheid and into a better future. Anyone who has followed South Africa over the past twenty years knows that things are hardly perfect; but the example of national reconciliation between the races – an example largely due to the policies and persona of Mandela – is a true wonder from which other peoples in conflict can learn.
Mandela decided that building was…Read More » Comments (13) »
Friday, December 6th, 2013 at 8:57 AM | Stand For Israel
A team of European negotiators are visiting Israel to discuss with officials there the recently brokered deal with Iran regarding its nuclear program. Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has told his country that they’ll never stop their enrichment program that they say is used for peaceful purposes.
Also this week in Israel in the News:
• Israeli officials continue to question the Iranian deal, pushing for clearer goals and enforcing the remaining sanctions against Iran.
• Israel has developed a new flight simulator that will bolster their resolve to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
• As the civil war continues in Syria, many children of Syrian refugees are forced to become their displaced families’ primary breadwinners.
• In Egypt, 21 women, supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi, were recently sentenced to 11 years in prison for protesting.
This week’s Israel in the News Perspective features The Fellowship’s Ami Farkas on Israel’s acceptance into a regional group of the United Nations.
Thursday, December 5th, 2013 at 5:00 PM | email@example.com