An Open Letter to the Rabbis of T’ruah

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There is the voice of right – and the right to voice. The so-called rabbis of T’ruah have neither. Their credibility is shot as soon as someone looks at their “About” page. Perhaps the only really credible and non-controversial part of their description is where they correctly point out, that t’ruah is one of the sounds of the shofar, the ram’s horn that is blown on Rosh Hashana.

The shofar is many things in Judaism. Even more than what it is in relation to Rosh Hashana, it is a call to arms, a call to honesty. The organization which uses and abuses the name T’ruah reflects neither a call to protect the Jewish people, nor does it reflect a call to honest dialog. They align yourselves with Break the Silence, a Palestinian-funded organization that is little more than cowards. They condemn the Jewish National Fund for investing in a meaningful memorial to Jews who were massacred in cold blood in Gush Etzion and they rush to support our enemies. They focus their self-righteous condemnations on Israel, their demands on those who continue to fight just to survive.

On Open Letter to the “Rabbis” of T’ruah,

I want to thank you for taking time, in the midst of all the terrible problems that the United States has and the ongoing tragedies around the world…

  • in Syria, (500,000 people killed, and some 12 million uprooted).
  • in Ukraine (where a reported 10,000 people have been killed due to an ongoing war there).
  • in Mexico (where violence has resulted in the deaths of around 34,000 people).
  • in Yemen (where at least 4,000 civilians have been killed?)
  • in Greater Sahel and Lake Chad Basin (Do you even know where that is? About 4.2 million people have been uprooted from their homes.).
  • in South Sudan (where an ongoing war has resulted in the displacement of 1.8 million people and forced another 1.2 million to flee the country)?
  • Afghanistan
  • Myanmar

I could go on…but I’m thinking that if you’re going to write an open letter, maybe you should start with those rather than wasting your time (and ours) writing to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Hey, here’s an idea – why don’t you write to Presidient Mahmoud Abbas. First, your views seem to be more in line with his and secondly, he’s the bottleneck to further negotiations and it was the wars his people started that brought about today’s realities.

But, no, you spend your time writing to Bibi. Unfortunately, he’s kind of busy so I thought I’d take the time and answer.

You claim to speak on behalf of “more than 1800 rabbis and cantors”. What I love about your letter is how you say one thing (how your members “hold deep love for the State of Israel” and then spend the next 755 words – I counted them – proving the opposite).

Here are a few of the points you just got wrong:

We also recognize that this victory inaugurated fifty years of occupation that has infringed on the human rights of Palestinians, left too many Israelis and Palestinians dead or injured, and continues to threaten Israel’s long-term survival.

No. What “inaugurated” the last 50 years was their attacking us. Our victory in a war they caused didn’t inaugurate the so-called occupation – it enabled us to be alive and still be here, living in our land…which you probably think we’re occupying but if you Google Jewish history, you’ll learn that we actually are indigenous to this land and therefore, we aren’t occupying it.

As for infringing on the “human rights” of Palestinians, have you ever been in an Israeli hospital? An Israeli store? Walked down a street in Israel? You really have to learn how to use Google…it’s great. It gives you so many facts and really saves you from looking like uneducated idiots. In Israel, infant mortality, life expectancy, rates of education – all better here than anywhere else in the Arab world.

You wrote the “occuption” left too many Israelis and Palestinians dead or injured…The “occupation”?

No, again. See that would be like saying running in the Boston Marathon caused people to die, working for Cantor Fitzgerald in the World Trade Center caused a plane to crash into the building.

Cause and effect, people, what a concept. What caused too many Israelis and Palestinians to be injured or dead was terrorism and wars – both instigated, nurtured and celebrated by the Palestinians.

A few paragraphs later (after you marvel over our surprising military victory and pay lip service to the Arab rhetoric and the very real threats that preceded the war), you continue:

Several hundred thousand Israeli civilians now live in the occupied territory, in violation of international law.

Boy, rabbis must have changed a lot since I left the States. You are now lawyers too?

Experts on international law? Very cool. Inaccurate, but cool that you have the nerve to “posken” (that means issue a rabbinic ruling) that our lives our homes…my life and that of my children, violates international law.

Could you maybe quote me what law you think we are violating because real lawyers…like Alan Derschowitz…have published papers – actually citing laws, can you imagine? – that say otherwise.

Palestinians experience daily violations of their human rights, including restrictions on freedom of movement, land theft, and a two-tiered system of law governing the West Bank. The occupation continues to claim the lives of Israelis, including the soldiers charged with defending the territories.

I know this may be a hard concept for you to understand, there in your safe homes 6,000 miles away, but we happen to be in a state of perpetual and perhaps even permanent war. During such times, you either restrict the free movement of your enemies by vetting them, or you have stadiums exploding, ramming attacks on popular tourist sites, dead people at marathons, and regular stabbings, bombings, ax attacks, and more.

Land theft? Like most western countries, Israel is a land of laws and courts. If it is proven in court that land was stolen it is returned and those who stole it are punished.

But are you aware…no, allow me to rephrase, how dare you ignore the land being stolen by Palestinians, the illegal building that they are doing on almost every side of the city where I live, Maale Adumim. You, who are not experts on Israeli law, you who allow a prejudiced, biased organization like the New Israel Fund to guide you, you who preach from distant shores, you who don’t even know how to use the Google search engine, you think you have a right to determine issues related to the theft of land?

And you refer to a two-tiered system of governing Judea and Samaria. Oh, wait, you called our ancient homeland by a name given to it by Jordan….

we are not the west bank of another country! Our land is Judea and Samaria, Yehuda and Shomon. Your inaccurate use of the term “West Bank” speaks volumes about your ghetto mentality and your inaccurate understanding of our lives here.

If you want to be accurate (but why would you?), there is, in practice, a three-tiered system of governing. One applies to Israel and Israeli citizens, one applies to Palestinians that fall under Israeli jurisdiction (I don’t mean Israeli Arabs who are completely under Israeli law just like any other Israeli – except they can opt out of serving in the army while other Israelis would be thrown in jail or subject to social derision), and a third that applies to those who fall under Palestinian jurisdiction (which is the vast majority of Palestinians).

The two-tiered system to which you incorrectly refer, actually benefits the Palestinians economically, as it results in better prices, allows them to escape most traffic violations, paying real taxes, etc. And yes, while we Israelis don’t get those tax benefits and we actually have to follow the traffic rules, we benefit by having a higher level of security in our areas, protection at the gates of our cities. Of course, you’ll note that Palestinians don’t have the same protection…but likely ignore that they don’t have Israelis waiting on the roads trying to ram them, teenage Israeli girls and boys trying to stab them). Despite your ridiculous assumptions about how Palestinians (and Israelis) are suffering for the last 50 years, the reality is, we all live quite here in Israel.

The occupation has done grave damage to Israel’s standing in the court of world opinion. And the occupation has eroded support for Israel, even among world Jewry.

Well, thanks for letting us know. I’ll skip the first sentence because honestly, the world seems to be doing just fine with Israel. We have ever-increasing trade agreements with African and Asian countries; we have an amazingly close relationship with India (where like over a billion people live), but yeah, we know, they’re angry at us in the UK, France and Germany. Our consolation there, sadly, is they are beginning to realize that they have more to worry about right now. But, let’s let’s focus on that last reference, about how we are experiencing eroded support for Israel “even among world Jewry.”

Let’s be honest here as well – you and we both know you have greater problems in world Jewry and especially in American Jewry than Israel. You’re losing your entire population – a lot more Jews are dying in America than in Israel because while our physical bodies are in danger, you’re losing the Jewish soul.

I’ve got cousins more comfortable in a church than a synagogue; cousins whose Christmas tree is more honored than some candlesticks that they wouldn’t know how to use on Shabbat unless they consulted a YouTube video. You’ve got Jewish children being beaten in universities and organizations like yours that are so busy condemning Israel, they’re forgetting the invaluable and permanent and positive experience visiting here gives to your children. And you’re worried about us?

Have you seen OUR children? Well, while yours are drinking on the beaches, ours are volunteering their service to the country. Yours are running around getting tattooed; ours are taking first aid courses and volunteering for the ambulance and fire departments. Yours grow weak from drinking; ours grow strong from exercising, running, learning to defend themselves (and their people) and most of all, learning the morality that comes with the responsibility of being given a gun.

While your children are taught to run away, ours are taught to run to help. While yours hide their Jewishness; ours are taught to walk proud and wear their identities for all the world to see.

As we approach this momentous fiftieth anniversary, we call upon the government of the State of Israel to stop the building of Jewish settlements over the Green Line; prevent Jewish settlers in the West Bank from taking the land and property rightfully owned by Palestinians; and pursue all possible political avenues to relinquish control of the territories conquered during the Six-Day War with appropriate international guarantees.

And this is where my gently delivered sarcasm turns to anger. Who the hell do you think you are? What right do you have to call on us for anything? No, we will NOT stop building on JEWISH LAND. There is NO green line. And Jewish settlers are not taking land and property that rightfully (or wrongfully) belongs to Palestinians. We will NOT relinquish territories that we obtained after being attacked in 1967 and international guarantees are almost as fake as your professed love of Israel.

This is not about assigning blame.

And yet, hypocrites that you are – there is no letter to President Assad; there is no demand or call to the Palestinians. Only to Israel do you dare preach our suicide to assuage your misguided sense of justice and ignorance-induced sense of right and wrong.

Certainly, the Palestinian leadership bears much responsibility for missed opportunities for peace, and for condoning or even encouraging terrorism at various points.   

Seriously? We are to stop building, relinquish territory, punish “settlers” and they should stop “condoning” terrorism? They should stop “encouraging” terrorism?

What about staging, planning and funding terror attacks? What about paying the families of terrorists so that murder has become a main salary source for countless families? What about glorifying the terrorist and their acts of murder, naming streets and building monuments and worse, electing them to public office? Where the hell is your condemnation of that?

Zionism is not about waiting for others to make decisions about our history, but about claiming responsibility for our own fate.

I love this…do you dare, from your cushy homes in America, do you dare to preach to Bibi Netanyahu what Zionism is? The man FOUGHT for this country; you only fight for our destruction.

And you managed, in that one sentence describing what you think Zionism is, to miss the essence of the whole thing. Zionism is about a return to Zion – it isn’t about making decisions or claiming responsibility and if it were, why would you expect us to accept your making decisions for us? Why would we put our fate and the lives of our chlidren in your hands?

After fifty years of a seemingly endless cycle of war and violence, isn’t it time to take a bold step for peace?

Well, now you go from being insulting to just being stupid. Endless cycle? I wish I had a dollar for every time some idiot used that phrase. I could afford a house in the Old City…the unified, unoccupied, Old City. I could buy stock in some of the amazing, life-saving innovations that Israeli hi-tech companies have created.

And bold step for peace? Would that be like our withdrawing in 1956 from lands we captured after they attacked us? Would that be like evacuating cities in Sinai – Yamit and others – to make “peace” with Egypt?

Would that be like removing all the Jews and destroying all the villages in Gush Katif in 2005? Would that be initiating several building freezes unilaterally?

Again, your arrogance is insulting; your presumptions outrageous. What have you ever done that risked the lives of your children? That’s what each bold initiative is for us – a risk. Who do you think you are that you dare to tell us how and what we should risk? Oh. My. God.

And as the violins begin to sound in the background, the lost rabbis and cantors of T’ruah offer their final words to the Prime Minister of the only Jewish state in the world, a state that would not exist if it were left to these rabbis to guide and defend it.

For the past fifty years, both Israelis and Palestinians have been enslaved to an occupation that harms both parties. We call on the government of the State of Israel to be a rodef shalom (Avot 1:12), the party that pursues peace, ending the military occupation, and laying the groundwork for a Palestinian state, living side-by-side, in peace, with Israel.

I love the use of the word “enslaved” because it so perfectly shows the incredible chasm between Israel and American Jewry – a chasm they encourage, feed, worship and serve. We were not enslaved in 1967, we were liberated. Jerusalem was liberated and is now free.

You call on the government of the State of Israel to be a rodef shalom – I always love when people throw in a Hebrew term because clearly saying “pursue peace” just sounds so less authentic, right?

Clearly, you must think that if you use two Hebrew words, all of Israel must bow down to your blinded visions.

So you want Israel to pursue peace? Google, people, Google. We’ve been pursuing peace since before our country was established and if you were even a bit honest, you’d admit that Israel continues pursuing peace, even when we lack the most critical of all components to achieve that goal – someone to make peace with.

But even without that critically important peace partner, you and your ghetto mentality are right there urging us onward towards concessions and weakness. Long before your organization was even created, WE were determined to find a way to peace – for ourselves, for our children. But make no mistake. So long as it is OUR children on the borders of Israel, you have no right to pressure Israel.

Whether that future includes a Palestinian state is up to the involved parties to decide – and you are not involved.

Zionism is the love of Zion and Zion is the city of Jerusalem in one sense; the land as the home of the Jews in another. So rather than waste further bandwidth lecturing the only democracy in the Middle East, the only truly open and free society here, I suggest you consider writing to the leaders of Sudan, Yemen, the Ukraine and Syria.

And while you’re at it, perhaps you should devote some time to your own children. While ours grow strong and beautiful in the land of Israel, yours wither off the vine that is the lifeblood of our people.

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