Trigger warning: For those misguided individuals who see Prager U as an agent of the Devil, you may want to stop reading at this point.
When Benjamin Netanyahu came to New York in 1984 to assume his post as Ambassador to the United Nations, he met with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who cautioned him that he was about to enter the world of sheker [lies]. What was true then is even truer today. As an exemplar, let us consider the Prager U video in which Marissa Streit, CEO of Prager U, discussed with Ze’ev Ornstein, a director at City of David Foundation, the global campaign to deny the Jewish (and Christian) connection to Jerusalem.
To begin, Mr. Ornstein cited a Muslim monograph written in English in 1930, when the British ruled Eretz Yisrael, which asserted conclusively the existence and authenticity of the Jewish Temple. Decades later, that conclusion was retracted. With the assistance of the Soviet Union, the Islamic world began to construct a new narrative in which the Jewish and Christian connection to Jerusalem never existed. They used their voting power in the United Nations to pass a resolution declaring that Jerusalem was solely a Muslim city, in direct contradiction to reality. This selfsame lie has been taken up by the worldwide forces of Leftism, whose antipathy for free markets, individual liberty, and especially religion drives them to calling for the destruction of the State of Israel. While the political axis of evil comprises three nations, Russia, China, and Iran, their ideological counterparts are corporate fascism, cultural Marxism, and political Islam, and it is the latter rather than the former (except that Iran and Islamism overlap) that is driving the false narrative.
Palestinians further claim that they are descendants of the original Canaanites and entitled to all of Israel, while Jews invaded in 1948 and stole their land. A senior official of the PLO has claimed that the creation of the State of Israel was “the crime of the century,” eclipsing the Holocaust. All of these fabrications can be easily refuted.
First, in the Prager U video referred to above, Mr. Ornstein presents considerable archeological evidence for the Jewish presence in Israel dating back over three millennia.
Second, regarding the supposed Canaanite claim to Eretz Yisrael, that canard was refuted over 2,000 years ago:
Amy Oritay, professor of general history at the University of Haifa, writes as follows:
“… Megillat Ta‘anit on 25th of Sivan:
On the 25th of that month the tax-collectors were removed from Jerusalem. That is: the Canaanites came to dispute with Israel before Alexander Macedon, and two more families with them: Egyptians and Ishmaelites. The Canaanites said: ‘It is written in the Torah the land of Canaan and its frontiers. Let them give us back what is ours.’ Now, Gvihah Ben-Psisa, Temple sentinel, did not listen; he replied to them: ‘Is any verdict partly true and partly false? If it is said in the Torah the land of Canaan, it is also said: cursed is Canaan, a slave of slaves shall he be to his brother. The property of a slave is the property of his master. Let us, me and you, stand before our master the King.’ Straightway they ran off.
“Said the Ishmaelites: ‘It is written in the Torah: on that day [Yhwh] made a covenant [with] Abram thus: I gave this land to your progeny. We are the progeny of Abraham, for Ishmael was Abraham’s son. Let us share it with you.’ Gvihah Ben-Psisa, Temple sentinel, replied: ‘It is written in the Torah: and to the sons of his mistresses Abraham gave gifts; it is also written: and Abraham gave all that was his to Isaac.’ Off they ran.”
I submit that Gviha Ben-Psisa’s argument is just as convincing now as it was then.
And third, the Palestinians, with the full support of the United Nations, the global elites, the “intelligentsia,” and the global media, have been making the most ludicrous attacks against Israel. For example, PA President Mahmoud Abbas, whom commentator Ruthie Blum describes as a “terrorist-in-a-tie”, met with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who repeated the usual line about both parties needing to de-escalate the situation, equating Israel and the terrorists. Following the meeting, “His [Abbas’] tightly controlled news agency, WAFA, described the exchange as one in which Abbas ‘briefed the U.S. secretary of state on the Israeli attacks against the Palestinian people in cities, villages and refugee camps, including the blockades, extrajudicial killings, home demolitions and settlement construction, in addition to settlers’ violence and violations carried out against the occupied city of Jerusalem and its Muslim and Christian holy sites.’”
Regarding the frequently-made charges of genocide, heard just as much from the American Left as from the PA, commentator Dennis Prager simply responds that Israel must be conducting the most inefficient genocide in history, since the Palestinian population has doubled in the last 20 years and increased fivefold since Israel became a state in 1948. A considerably more detailed refutation of the lies in the United Nations’ Commission of Inquiry report can be found in Anne Bayefsky’s article of November 7, 2022 on JNS.org.
For the record, Alan Dershowitz summarizes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as follows:
“The movement to single out the nation state of Israel for boycott, known as BDS, was originated by a Palestinian radical named Omar Barghouti, who does not hide the fact that his goal is the destruction of Israel and the substitution of a Palestinian state ‘from the river to the sea,’ meaning the Jordan river and the Mediterranean Sea — namely all of current Israel. He and others who lead the BDS movement want to see this entire area judenrein, that is, ethnically cleansed of the more than 7 million Jews who now supposedly “occupy” Muslim and Arab land. These supposed “occupiers” include Jews who are Black and Brown; European, Asian, African, and American; many are descendants of people who have lived there since before Islam began, and certainly before many current “Palestinians” moved there from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, the Gulf and North Africa. Jews are as indigenous to Israel as descendants of immigrants are to America.
“Do the Palestinians deserve a state? Yes, but no more so than the Kurds and other stateless people. Why no more so? Because the Palestinians have been offered statehood numerous times and have rejected it. As the former leader of the Palestinian people essentially put it when the two-state solution was first proposed in the late 1930s: We want there not to be Jewish state more than we want there to be a Palestinian state.
“This leader, Mohammed Amin al-Husseini, allied himself and his people with Nazi Germany during World War II. Al-Husseini spent the war years in Berlin with Hitler, planning to bring the “final solution” to the Jews of what is now Israel. He was declared a Nazi war criminal. Yet his picture was featured in many Palestinian Arab homes, and he was regarded as a hero and leader.
“Despite being on the losing side of the war, the Palestinians were offered a state on the vast majority of arable land, as part of a United Nations proposed two state solution; the Jews were offered a state on a far smaller area of arable land. In the area proposed for the Jewish state, the Jews constituted a substantial majority of the population. The Jews accepted the compromise two state solution. The Arabs rejected it and went to war against the new Jewish state seeking to destroy it. It was this act of unlawful military aggression that resulted in the Palestinian refugee situation, which they call the “Nakba” (“catastrophe”). But it was a self-induced catastrophe. And many current Palestinian leaders and followers fault their predecessors for not accepting the two state solution offered by the United Nations 75 years ago, as several have told me.
“Rather than trying to negotiate for a state during the subsequent years, the Palestinian leadership under Yasser Arafat opted for terrorism against Israeli and international civilian targets. The Palestinians could have had a state in 1948, 1967, 2000-2001, 2005 and 2008. They still preferred no Jewish state to a Palestinian state living in peace with Israel. They can have a state now, if they would negotiate a compromise instead of fomenting terrorism.”
As Shakespeare would say, the unkindest cut of all is when the demonization of Israel comes from fellow Jews. A recent example emerged from a Twitter war between Ben Shapiro, publisher of The Daily Wire, and commentator Candace Owens regarding her support for Kanye West following his anti-Semitic rant online. One aspect of that war is Mr. Shapiro’s condemnation of Ms. Owens for supporting a tweet by provocateur Max Blumenthal which read as follows: “We White American Jews are living through a golden age of power, affluence and safety. Acceptance of this welcome reality threatens the entire Zionist enterprise, from lobby fronts like the ADL to the State of Israel, because Zionism relies on Jewish insecurity to justify itself.” Ms. Owens tweeted in reply, “You are about to get into a lot of trouble for saying this. Reminds me of when I said something similar about the NAACP and BLM way back when. When you disrupt the trauma economy and call out the not-for-profits that profit from it, you become their next target.” Mr. Shapiro then sent a tweet that referred to Max Blumenthal as spending his life “covering for Jew-haters and stumping for Israel’s destruction…” Not a pretty picture.
It’s even worse when the lashon hora comes from Israeli Jews. As Caroline Glick observes, the left “ignores the actual ideas, actions, values and ideology that animate their political opponents, because they want to demonize them to make everybody fear them, and to instill fear and a detestation of anybody who’s not on the progressive side of the aisle.” Elaborating further, during a conversation on Ron Coleman’s Interesting People podcast, Rabbi Yaakov Menken, Managing Director of the Coalition for Jewish Values, observed that the nonobservant hate the observant [subconscious guilt?] as exemplified by the great Rabbi Akiva who, before turning to Judaism at the age of forty, said that if he encountered a rabbi, he would bite him like a donkey, which breaks bones. Therein lies the tale. The anti-Israel Israelites repeat the lies coming from the Leftists, and vice versa.
The same phenomenon is occurring here, as Americans vilify their own country with lies such as the 1619 Project, which most historians view as distorting our history with the accusation that the American Revolution was fought to preserve slavery, completely forgetting that we were among the first nations to eliminate that evil, and ignoring the existence of slavery today, primarily in Islamic countries.
What it all comes down to is that indifferent college administrators allow “free expression” of anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, and for that matter, anti-American views with impunity, whereas any criticism of any other identity group is seen as intolerable. In a recent article in the Jewish Journal, Princeton University student Alexandra Orbuch cites Rutgers University as a prime example. She writes that Rutgers allows groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine to bring in virulently anti-Zionist speakers with only a tepid comment such as University Chancellor-Provost Francine Conway’s response to an incident in which the property of Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi was egged for the second consecutive year during the recital of the names of Holocaust victims on Yom Hashoah: ““Harassment based on religious belief, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or for any reason, is antithetical to our values at Rutgers University.” These are laudable words, but they are unaccompanied by action. Rutgers’ anti-racism web page decries all manner of racism but says nothing about anti-Semitism. As Ms. Orbuch writes, there must be a change in the designation of views that are unacceptable at the university. She concludes with the observation:
“As it stands, faculty and like-minded students dictate the discourse while administrators hesitate to act decisively against antisemitism in blatant form or veiled behind anti-Israel rhetoric. Such individuals might consider the words of Pastor Martin Niemöller, a principled opponent of Adolf Hitler who spent years in Dachau and Sachsenhausen concentration camps:
“When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I did not speak out;
I was not a Jew.
When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out.”