My people are dying because of [your] lack of knowledge! Because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you as a priestly people to Me; Because you have forgotten the laws of your G-d,I, for My part, will forget your children.For the more they grew in numbers, the more they sinned against Me: They have changed a glorious calling into a shameful trade.- Hosea 4:6-7

Various organizations bring speakers to Chicago to coax Jews into attending their events and raise money. It is painfully clear that speakers are often chosen for their political bias (of a leftist persuasion) or entertainment value rather than for a balanced, substantive discussion of challenges confronting our community. When Vice President Joe Biden recently spoke at the United Jewish Appeal’s General Assembly, it was considered a real coup. At smaller venues, these organizations have been known to drop even the pretense of substance, bringing in actual entertainers in order to avoid any possible political fallout from opinions that might be at odds with a liberal agenda. Abraham, Moses or Joshua would never make it to the podium. Stating the facts, leading to opinions grounded in truth, is often like traversing a minefield. Sadly, it’s been a long time since any conservative speaker graced a podium in Chicago, for the obvious reason that due to mainstream Jewish liberalism, most “tolerant” Jews are not very tolerant of people who don’t share their biased and often ill-informed opinions about current events and Israel in particular. I’ve often heard impassioned critiques from Jews with little or no knowledge of what they’re talking about. Because entertainment is more innocuous than substance, the speakers are often nothing more than cheerleaders who know their customers and play to the ignorance of the crowd, violating the Torah prohibition against “placing a stumbling block before the blind.”

A number of years ago, Israel Bonds brought to Chicago a former Israeli Consul General of New York, Alon Pinkus, a pro of sorts. It was a major event of over 700 people. In various appearances on the talk show circuit, when confronted by some of Israel’s antagonists, the smart and personable Pinkus did a masterful job of running circles around them. But in his address to the Bonds audience, Pinkus – an avowed leftist – made two interesting points. First, “Jews and Arabs can’t live together.” (Since he was no longer in the diplomatic corps, he no longer had to be diplomatic.) Second, Israel had to leave Gaza because “there are 8,000 Jews surrounded by over a million Arabs.” His talk was smooth and well- scripted.

During Q&A I posed the following question: “If, as you said, ‘Jews and Arabs can’t live together,’ and since Israel was willing to transfer 8,000 Jews from their homes in Gaza, shouldn’t Israel likewise transfer the Arabs from their homes in places like Um el-Fahm (an Arab town within the green line)?” As Pinkus began to respond, I politely interrupted his non-sequitur to rephrase the question: “If the reason for disengagement was about numbers, and considering that the State of Israel is comprised of about 6 million Jews surrounded by over 100 million Arabs, shouldn’t Israel—by your logic—just pack up and move someplace else?” And to my astonishment, the Consul General responded by invoking the sanctity of the Land given to the Jewish people by G-d and our return to our homeland after 2000 years of exile…” To which I replied: “The day a leftist like you begins to quote Torah, I know that Moshiach is on the way!” And with that, 700 attendees roared with laughter. Consul General Pinkus was not pleased, and on my way out, two rabbis grabbed me, their eyes twinkling, as they vigorously shook my hand. Truth can be uplifting in the right situations.

Not long ago, a liberal congregant approached me at shul with a question which, ironically, I had been researching. Because on occasion I had publicly challenged his intellect (or lack thereof), his question caught me a bit off guard; but because it was Shabbat, I calmly answered his question based on factual information. He quickly snapped back, “Well, that’s your opinion!” I explained that it had nothing to do with opinion since it was a verifiable fact. Again he jabbered, “But that’s your opinion!” I was aware that this imbecile had graduated from a “Big Ten” university and held a prestigious job in the financial field; yet here he was, insisting that two plus two equaling four is only my opinion. And then it hit me why this liberal was obviously impervious to the facts. Because he had no real knowledge, he could only express an opinion. By assuming that my answer was likewise based on opinion rather than fact, he avoided having to admit his complete ignorance of the subject – which is what often happens on the stage of Jewish philanthropic burlesque, with various speakers each doing their own fan dance. The assumption is that the audience is “Gruberized” – devoid of any knowledge of the subject, easily manipulated, and thus incapable of challenging the speaker. With a tap dance and smooth presentation, the speaker is free to pitch his bias unfettered by the facts.

In The Future of an Illusion, Sigmund Freud wrote:

What is characteristic of illusions [opinions] is that they are derived from human wishes. In this respect they come near to psychiatric delusions. … Thus we call a belief an illusion when a wish-fulfilment is a prominent factor in its motivation, and in doing so we disregard its relations to reality, just as the illusion [opinion] itself sets no store by verification. … No one can be compelled to think [illusions are] true, to believe in them. Some of them are so improbable, so incompatible with … the reality of the world, that we may compare them … to delusions. … Ignorance is ignorance. … [N]o sensible person will behave so irresponsibly or rest content with such feeble grounds for his opinions…. (pp. 48-51)

Good old Sigmund Freud tells it like it is. He knows his customers. And if there is any people to whom this concept applies, it’s been the Jewish people during the last 21 years of the delusion of a peace process that never was and never will be. It is a tragic illusion that Israel has paid for with almost 2000 dead Jews. Friends have told me I sound like an angry Jeremiah – that the Jews won’t listen… This I understand…It’s historic. But after the last 2000 years, isn’t it time our people recognize the truths in front of their very eyes? “For it is a rebellious people … who say to the seers, ‘Do not see,’ and to the prophets, ‘Do not see true visions for us! Speak pleasant things to us; speak illusions for us!’ ” (Isaiah 30:10) And so for 21 years, under the direction of a series of duplicitous American administrations, Israel has tried to make peace with an implacable enemy whose only desire is to murder Jews. They dream of virgins while Jews dream of peace, a delusion fueled by mythmakers.

Not long ago a high-level, once wishful peacemaker, retired U.S. ambassador Daniel Kurtzer, came to Chicago to present a lecture on the history of Oslo and the illusory peace process between Israel and the “Muhammad-come-latelies” aka Palestinians. Taking a page straight out of the State Department’s playbook during his presentation, he pontificated about the “settlements” being “illegal according to international law” – and having heard this canard so often, the audience of know-nothings let it pass. Now anyone who has done even a modest amount of research knows that that statement is blatantly false. But this sound bite repeated ad nauseam has had its effect. Addressing Ambassador Kurtzer during the Q&A, I stated, “As you should be aware, the settlements on the West Bank are not illegal, for surely you remember that based on the original Palestine Mandate unanimously approved by the League of Nations at San Remo, Italy in 1922, the lands on the banks of the Jordan River were to be set aside in accordance with the Balfour Declaration for the reconstitution of the Jewish homeland; and to the best of my knowledge that vote at San Remo has never been abrogated, amended or revoked [which it hasn’t].” Apparently taken aback, Ambassador Kurtzer politely responded that he was not an international lawyer, admitting that he had indeed misspoken. Clarifying his statement, he noted that although it is not illegal, it has been the position of successive U.S. administrations that the building of settlements has not been helpful in the effort to attain peace—which raised a whole host of potential questions. But Ambassador Kurtzer had graciously admitted his mistake, and afterward I thanked him for the clarification and bought his book The Peace Puzzle, which he autographed, “To my good friend Jack.” My next confrontation was a little less amiable.

A Chicago synagogue hosted a talk by another former ambassador, Dennis Ross. Involved in the Oslo peace process from the beginning, Ross was deeply invested in each successive failure. I first became aware of Ross when he was working for Secretary of State James Baker in the days of President George H. W. Bush, as one of the four “Baker Jews” while Yitzhak Shamir was the prime minister of Israel. Ross, the acclaimed “Middle East expert,” has been involved in peace-processing for over 24 years, leaving piles of dead Jews as testament to his fecklessness. His track record is a consistent series of dismal failures, clearly qualifying him for the Hall of the Defamed. Yet this “master of disaster” is often brought in to speak on his experience and expertise, exploiting the ignorance of his audiences tingled to their toes that Mr. Big Time Peace Macher would grace them with his “wisdom,” only to often paint Israel as the obstacle in his game of placing blame. During his presentation, with a liberal sprinkle of Osloid pixie dust, he stated categorically that the venerable Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was in favor of a two- state solution—a contemptible, unabashed lie. This time, in the middle of his talk I interrupted, compelled to set the record straight: “Rabin was not for a two-state solution. In his last speech in the Knesset on October 5, 1995, a month before his assassination, he specifically spoke out against a two-state solution:

We view the permanent solution in the framework of the State of Israel which will include most of the area of the Land of Israel as it was under the rule of the British Mandate, and alongside it a Palestinian entity which will be a home to most of the Palestinian residents living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. We would like this to be an entity which is less than a state, and which will independently run the lives of the Palestinians under its authority. The borders of the State of Israel, during the permanent solution, will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six Day War. We will not return to the 4 June 1967 lines.”

Can’t get much clearer than that! Ross was visibly startled as I proceeded to ask if he was familiar with Rabin’s October Knesset speech, offering him a copy if he wasn’t. He suddenly remembered the speech and admitted he had misspoken, thus becoming a leading candidate for four Pinocchios.

Which gets back to my original premise that most of the “big names” brought in to rake in the bucks come with their liberal bias and say anything they want since it’s just showtime and most of the audience won’t remember much an hour later, except to tell friends they attended. There was a time when the issues were considered important enough to command the expectation of a truthful and balanced presentation. Sadly, those days seem long gone. For we are a rebellious people… who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not see true visions for us! Speak pleasant things to us; speak illusions for us; prophesy deceits!” Get ready for that shower, Heinz!

Shabbat Shalom

Jack “Yehoshua” Berger