David-Seth Kirshner
Author of Streams of Shattered Consciousness

A Stream of Anxious Consciousness X

In football parlance it is said, ‘Offense wins games, defense wins Super Bowls.’ The idea being that the better the defense, the better the chances of a team winning it all. But if one has no offense and is constantly on defense, the players get exhausted, and no points get on the scoreboard. That is not a feasible option for success.

Israel and Zionist supporters worldwide have been on defense since October 7th. The idea we must defend our right to exist is preposterous. The notion that some could look to disqualify our retaliation is outrageous. This defense spans far past the battlefield. It is in the world of media, especially.

A hospital in Gaza City was bombed today. Innocent people died. Before the smoke reached the sky, Hamas, and the PA condemned Israel for targeting civilians. Claims of 500 fatalities circulated. Countries, including Morocco, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and dozens more, condemned Israel and claimed it was a gross human rights violation. Russia is demanding that Israel be called in front of the UN Security Council. Such morale outrage by these entities; a sense of unity and outrage that has been missing for 10 days. Hamas, who is blind to their hypocrisy, demands justice for their innocent victims.

The only thing is, about 90 minutes later, Israel was able to show verified footage of an errant Palestinian Islamic Jihad missile barrage that hit the hospital. So, PIJ were the actual murderers. Palestinian Jihad terrorists are responsible for killing the innocent and infirm. Even Al Jazeera reported that Hamas and PIJ were to blame for the attack on the hospital.

Did you catch the retraction by the NY Times? Did you hear Turkey or Canada or Morocco rescind its condemnation? Did you get a correction on your breaking news alert? Did you hear Abbas apologize for his accusation that Israel committed war crimes? Did Russia withdraw its actions to take Israel to the Security Council? Did the outrage get squelched?
I tuned up my hearing aids and still, nada!

The PR damage is done. We are on defense. Again.

Truth is that those headlines were written before the rockets were even fired. This is the second battlefield where the terrorists are waging war. They have enlisted a simple, unsophisticated, and willing bunch of people who will fall in line without seeing a shred of evidence or hearing a single fact or even if their claims are disproven. They will take on Israel, and by extension Jews, wherever they can. As one friend posted online, ‘media sources are more hellbent on being first than being accurate.’

Meanwhile, this wrong reporting caused the Israeli Embassy in Amman to be stormed, Abbas to cancel his meeting with Biden and other relationships frayed.

My friend continued, ‘Whenever ANY media source quotes HAMAS as a trusted source, it is journalistic malpractice.’

Why does Israel have to constantly be on defense? Hell, the title of its army even includes ‘Defense.’ What other army has that as its very definition? It is draining to our collective morale.

If only truth bombs were as effective against the enemy as their rockets are to us. If they kill Israelis, they score. If they kill their own, more points for them, in a public relations touchdown. How can they lose?

And how can Israel put points on the proverbial board when we spend a disproportionate amount of time debunking lies, repudiating false claims, and refuting shoddy reporting?

Can someone please teach me how to unring a bell?

I am starting to seriously worry that fighting an amoral enemy cannot be achieved by following the rules of morality and virtue.

The fantastic irony is that this war is freeing Palestinians from the stranglehold of Hamas. Nudniks who are oblivious to facts, reason and reality are trying to inhibit that progress which benefits the good people.

A handful of years ago, just over the Greenline in Israel’s Westbank, there was a factory which employed Palestinians and Israelis. They were making Soda Stream drink machines. It was a beautiful harbinger of an Israel that could be. It demonstrated possibility and hope. The workers ate breakfast and lunch together, daily. The company built a mosque and a synagogue on its campus, so each person could pray. Coexistence was real and tangible. Most of the Palestinians were excited to be employed with a good wage and fed daily, as were the Israelis. The company grew and life was good.

Until Soda Stream became the target of BDS [boycott, divestment, and sanctions] claiming that by being 1.6 miles over the Greenline, it was in violation of law. They faced an aggressive boycott that was hurting revenue. These pot stirrers and mud slingers raised such hell, never speaking to a single employee at Soda Stream or ever visiting its property, that they forced the company to relocate. In doing so, it made the over 1200 Palestinian employees lose their jobs and their source of daily nutrition.

Were the BDSers interested in a viable and vibrant future for Palestinians or only to single out Israelis where and when they could, regardless of what was really gained and lost? It sure felt like the latter, then.

I am getting déjà vu, all over again!

It feels like demonizing Israel is the goal of the outside world. Where and how they accomplish that objective is dynamic. But that sure seems like the target.

I saw a verified video posted online of a gaggle of people on the Penn campus today chanting that they want genocide for the Jews. You read that correctly. “Israel – Israel you can’t hide. We want Jewish genocide,” they repeated.

These students marched bald-faced, waving Palestinian flags and in broad daylight. This is not Skokie in the 80s and the Ku Klux Klan! This is Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on one of the most prestigious Ivy League campuses in the country.

What if one crazy person decides to now kill a Jew? What if a Jewish kid is beaten on campus? What if a Hillel or Jewish fraternity or sorority is vandalized? Are these not hate crimes? Are the people not fomenting hatred? Should not all these people be brought up on charges for hate?

I am pretty sure if a group of white students marched through Dartmouth or Cornell asking for death to Black people or genocide to Asians, they would be brought up to the school leadership and summarily expelled. Free speech is not a license for hate speech.

Why will this NOT happen at Penn? Why the double standard?

In the past few days, when it comes to university contributions, we have heard the checkbooks of quite a few billionaire-philanthropists slam shut. It is about time. More should follow.

When Penn hosts anti-Israel activists and anti-Semitic speakers and falls on the sword of free speech, it is revealing its cowardice. Is that the educational and moral standard Penn wants for its student body? I did not see Penn inviting David Duke to its lecture halls. Or the Aryan Brotherhood to lead a campus rally? Does not the same free speech protect those abhorrent beings?

After October 7th, generous donors called out the lack of actions of school administrators, their tepid written responses to terror and their gross equivocations on rape, beheadings, and murder. It is about time the dollars stop flowing. It might finally get these places where it hurts most.

For years, the deeds of these places said Jewish blood is different. Less than. But money of Jewish donors is sought after. Revered. Welcome. Encouraged.

It will be interesting to see how Universities address these double standards and how, if at all, they try to earn the trust of Jewish leadership and students, again.

This one got me.
Wadea al Fayoumme was killed in Chicago this week. His only crime was being born Palestinian. He was an innocent and sweet six-year-old boy who had his entire life ahead of him.

I mourn his tragic and senseless death. His murderer should have every lever of the law adjusted against him to exact the most severe punishment for his heinous crime. There is no room for Islamophobia or Muslim hate.

Less than 24 hours after Wadea’s death, more than 100 Jewish organizations, spear headed by the JCPA, signed on to a joint statement condemning the killer and lamenting the death of Wadea. Our collective condolences stand with the Al Fayoumme family.

Full Stop.

Why did it take only twenty-four hours for 100 plus Jewish groups to condemn one murder – as they should – and we are still waiting for dozens of nations and thousands of Muslim organizations to condemn the murder of 1400 Jewish souls? Where is their collective statement? Their outrage? Their unity against Hamas?

*Asking for a friend…. actually, 16.1 million friends.

The flatfooted posture of Israel and its army last week is a serious source of embarrassment. Much time and energy will surely address how we were caught off guard. Creating unity in a time of crisis is exponentially harder than if unity existed beforehand. The war time unity government took almost 90 hours to be formed. Those were critical hours wasted on political posturing and back-room deal making.

The United States – and any other Western civilized country – should be aware that a radical attack on a sovereign nation and its citizens can happen here, too. No one was prepared for 9/11. No one was ready for the attack on the USS Cole. Who brought guns to the Bataclan theater in Paris?

God forbid it were to happen in America while we have no Speaker of the House, I worry. We have no agreement on budgets and debt ceilings. Infighting and bickering will ensue. We will spend inordinate amounts of timing uniting under pressure and ONLY then, will we address the threats and response.

We must get our act together. Now. Too much is at stake. Not just for Israel but for America. To quote from the movie, The American President, this is a serious time that calls for serious people.

Can we get serious? Please?! Before it is too late?!

I feel like Jerry Springer (obm) whenever I sign these blogs off. I stop myself from writing – “Take care of yourself – and each other.” But maybe – just for right now – that works.

About the Author
David-Seth Kirshner is the senior rabbi of Temple Emanu-El, a Conservative synagogue in Closter, New Jersey. He is the past President of the NY Board of Rabbis and the NJ Board of Rabbis and is a Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Hartman Institute and serves on the Executive Committee of the JFNA. Rabbi Kirshner was appointed to the New Jersey/Israel Commission by Governors Christie and Murphy. Rabbi Kirshner is a National Council member of AIPAC and an adjunct faculty member at the Academy for Jewish Religion, (AJR). He is the author of Streams of Shattered Consciousness, featured in The NY Times Book Review (Feb '24) and has over 11,000 copies in circulation in its first three months since publication. He has spoken on his book and topics connected to Judaism and Zionism across the world.