Thursday, December 8, 2016

Bob Dylan’s forgotten pro-Israel song, revisited

 younger than that now,” Bob Dylan sang in 1964’s “My Back Pages.”
Reverse-aging or no, the legendary Jewish folk singer turns 75 on Tuesday.
While Dylan’s Jewishness has been examined and reexamined over the years, relatively little attention has been paid to his 1983 song “Neighborhood Bully” — a rare declaration of full-throated Israel support by a mainstream American rocker.The lyrics (posted in full here) equate Israel with an “exiled man,” who is unjustly labeled a bully for fending off constant attacks by his neighbors.
Dylan released the song on his second studio album, “Infidels,” in the wake of his brief born-again Christian phase during the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Some of the lyrics sound like they could have been taken from speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who often portrays Israel as besieged.

    Well, the neighborhood bully, he’s just one man
    His enemies say he’s on their land
    They got him outnumbered about a million to one
    He got no place to escape to, no place to run
    He’s the neighborhood bully
Others are reminiscent of the 2015 campaign ads for religious Zionist political party Yisrael Beytenu, in which Education Minister Naftali Bennett urges Israelis to “stop apologizing.”

    Well, he knocked out a lynch mob, he was criticized
    Old women condemned him, said he should apologize.
    Then he destroyed a bomb factory, nobody was glad
    The bombs were meant for him. He was supposed to feel bad
    He’s the neighborhood bully
“Neighborhood Bully” came after Israel’s controversial 1982 Lebanon War, at a time when even Israelis were questioning their government.
Born Robert Allen Zimmerman and raised Jewish in Wisconsin, Dylan has maintained Israel ties throughout his life. He visited the country several times in the late 1960s and 1970s and even took steps toward joining a kibbutz. He played three shows in Israel in 1987, 1993 and 2011. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement pressed him to cancel his most recent performance — to no avail.
Even more recently, Israelis can thank Dylan for the 2014 Rolling Stones concert in Tel Aviv, the band’s first visit to the country. According to Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood, Dylan gave them the idea.

“He was coming off stage and said, ‘We’re going to Tel Aviv,’” Wood told Israel’s Channel 2 at the time. “He had a big smile on his face and said he loved it there.”

Saturday, December 3, 2016

T.E. Lawrence wanted to see Jewish colonies – 'bright spots in a desert' – in the Holy Land

The British officer Lawrence--a pan-Arabist nationalist and a Zionist--played a key role in the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire army in the Middle East war theater. Lawrence wrote in 1909 about the then Ottomann-controlled Palestine: “The sooner the Jews farm it the better: their colonies are bright spots in a desert.”

In a rarely noted 1920 article titled “The Changing East,” Lawrence wrote of the Jewish biblical connection to Israel. For Lawrence, “the Jewish experiment” to create a homeland was “a conscious effort, on the part of the least European people in Europe, to make head against the drift of the ages, and return once more to the Orient from which they came.”
T.E. Lawrence, the British military officer whose famous liaison role in the Middle East in the First World War earned him the nickname "Lawrence of Arabia," was one of the early Gentile visionaries to realize the importance the newly reborn Nation of Israel had to play in the region.
On November 28, 1918, a year after the Balfour Declaration, Lawrence wrote to the British newspaper "The Jewish Guardian," cited in Martin Gilbert's "Churchill and the Jews," that “Speaking entirely as a non-Jew, I look on the Jews as the natural importers of Western leaven so necessary for countries of the Near East.”
Lawrence, who despite being born out of wedlock, had parents who were devout Christians – members of the St. Aldate’s Church, which preached an evangelical type of Christianity. He studied the Holy Land in Sunday school, starting him out on the path to a long love for the Middle East and its history - and later, helping determine its future.
An expert on Crusader castles already in university, Lawrence took his knowledge to the Middle East, working in archeology and a map surveying, learning the local languages and customs in the years just prior to the Great War breaking out. 

Returning to in the region during the war, Lawrence made well-known his desire for the Arab population to gain independence, but he also made clear that Zionist dreams were meant to flourish as well.
"His relationship to the Zionist movement was a very positive one, in spite of the fact that he was strongly pro-Arab and he has been mistakenly represented as anti-Zionist," wrote Zionist leader and Israel's first president, Chaim Weizmann, in his autobiography "Trial and Error."
Lawrence had interpreted a meeting between Weizmann and Prince Faisal, where Weizmann told the Arab emir that a future Jewish state would not encroach on the "ownership rights of Arab peasantry.”
Gilbert, Winston Churchill's biographer, wrote that Lawrence's presence at the Cairo Conference in 1921, which would decide on the future of the Middle East was of "inestimable benefit to [British Colonial Secretary Winston] Churchill in his desire to help establish a Jewish National Home in Palestine."
But the real desire to see the Jewish People succeed may have gone back to his days of learning the about the Kingdom of Israel in Sunday school.
"It is a conscious effort, on the part of the least European people in Europe, to make head against the drift of the ages, and return once more to the Orient from which they came," Lawrence wrote in a 1920 article called "The Great East."
“The colonists will take back with them to the land which they occupied for some centuries before the Christian era samples of all the knowledge and technique of Europe."
But the Jewish Nation would not just be returning home, they would be returning the Holy Land – a wasteland for almost 2,000 years – to its glory days.
"Palestine was a decent country then, and could so easily be made so again," he wrote in a letter during his early years in the region, cited in "The Letters of T.E. Lawrence," edited by David Garnett
"The sooner the Jews farm it all the better: Their colonies are bright spots in a desert.”

To learn more about Jewish-Christian relations, and the building of the modern State of Israel as envisaged by the prophets of the Bible check us out at @christian_jpost, on and see the best of the Holy Land in The Jerusalem Post - Christian Edition monthly magazine.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

What American Jewry can learn from Emperor Franz Joseph

Michael Freund

is a correspondent and syndicated columnist for The Jerusalem Post

For decades, Jews had put their faith in the institution of the emperor to protect them from the popular hatred.This week marks the centennial of the passing of a towering figure, a man still hailed as one of the great emancipators in modern European Jewish history: Emperor Franz Joseph of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. And while his policies were characterized by remarkable benevolence toward the Jews, the Habsburg sovereign’s reign and its aftermath also serve as a cautionary tale for Diaspora Jewry, especially our brethren in America.Taking the throne in December 1848, Franz Joseph was in power for nearly 68 years, making him one of the longest-ruling monarchs in Europe’s history. Almost from the start, he implemented bold changes that had a transformative effect on the Jews of his realm, adopting a constitution in March 1849 which stated that “civic and political rights” were “not dependent on religion.”  Three years later, Franz Joseph granted Viennese Jewry the right to form an official and organized community, which grew steadily when imperial restrictions on freedom of movement were later lifted.Dozens of synagogues were built throughout Vienna, and heartfelt Hebrew prayers were written in Franz Joseph’s honor.On January 12, 1860, the emperor issued an edict which permitted Jews to own land and engage in any profession they chose, and by 1867, he had lifted all remaining curbs on full Jewish participation in public life.The subsequent decades came to be known as the “Golden Age” of Viennese Jewry, when Jews went on to scale the heights of literature, art and culture, making an indelible imprint on Austria and Europe as a whole.They produced men such as Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, and Gustav Mahler, the famed composer.In his masterful 696 page tome, The Jews of Vienna in the Age of Franz Joseph, historian Robert S. Wistrich notes that the result was the creation of a secular Jewish intelligentsia which “changed the face of Vienna and, indeed, of the modern world. They helped transform a city which had not been in the forefront of European intellectual or artistic activity (except in music) into an experimental laboratory for the creative triumphs and traumas of the modern world.”In 1869, Franz Joseph paid a visit to Jerusalem, and went out of his way to meet with local Jews and their leaders. A well-known story relates that during his stay, he saw that the large and imposing Tiferet Israel Synagogue stood without a roof. When he asked his interlocutors why that was the case, Rabbi Nisan Bak, a student of Hassidic master Rabbi Israel of Rizhin, who was overseeing the project, wryly replied, “Your majesty, the synagogue has doffed its hat to you.” Franz Joseph knew a good fundraising plea when he heard one, so he graciously replied, “How much will it cost me to have the synagogue replace its hat?” before donating the funds needed to complete the structure.It is no wonder that many Jews in the empire referred to him affectionately by the Yiddish name “Ephraim Yossele.”On a number of occasions, Franz Joseph denounced antisemitism, which was widespread in Austria. In 1882, the emperor told the ministers in his cabinet that “I will tolerate no Jew-baiting in my empire.”Synagogues are said to have held annual services on his birthday, and one legend even claimed that Elijah the Prophet had blessed him to have a long life.But with all that freedom at their fingertips, many Austrian Jews could not resist the pull of assimilation and intermarriage. The writer Stefan Zweig, a fierce critic of Theodor Herzl, typified this sentiment when he wrote, “Why should we go to Palestine? Our language is German, not Hebrew, and beautiful Austria is our homeland. Are we not well off under the good emperor Franz Joseph?” Indeed, the Jews were well off, but as history has repeatedly shown, Jewish existence in the Diaspora is fragile and ephemeral.And so, when the emperor left this world on November 21, 1916, Austrian Jewry found itself at a crossroads.For decades, Jews had put their faith in the institution of the emperor to protect them from the popular hatred that enveloped them on a societal level. They had become, or so they thought, part and parcel of Austria.They had every reason to believe that they had become so thoroughly ingrained in every strata of Austrian life that no ill could possibly befall them.And yet, barely two decades later, Austria’s thriving Jewish presence would prove to be little more than a castle built on sand, one that would tragically topple once the winds of hatred shifted violently in the Jews’ direction.Many of Austria’s Jews idealized the Diaspora, holding it up as the model for Jewish progress and survival, confident that discrimination was largely a thing of the past.Like many American Jews today, they believed that they had entered a new phase in Jewish history, one where Jews could at last find long-term peace and prosperity while living at the mercy of others.And like Jews in the US, they made enormous social, political and economic progress, but at the price of religious and spiritual retreat.Of course, it would be rash and perhaps even reckless to take the analogy any further. But on the 100th anniversary of the death of Emperor Franz Joseph, and as Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, it is nonetheless worth remembering that however strong and powerful American Jewry might be, Jewish life in the Diaspora has always been precarious. And it is never permanent.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Jewish pirates of the Caribbean

  ...THE MOST famous of the Caribbean’s Jewish pirates, or privateers, was Moses Cohen Henriques. His name is of Portuguese origin. Like many of his contemporary buccaneers, Henriques’s life is shrouded in mystery. Together with Dutch folk hero Admiral Piet Pieterszoon Hein, Henriques captured a Spanish treasure fleet off Cuba’s Bay of Matanzas in 1628. The booty of gold and silver bullion amounted to a staggering 11,509,524 guilders, worth around US$1 billion in today’s currency. It was the Dutch West Indies Company’s greatest heist in the Caribbean.Another notable – if poorly documented – Jewish pirate was Yaakov Koriel, who commanded three pirate ships in the Caribbean. Upon repenting, he retired to Safed where he studied mysticism under the famous kabbalist Rabbi Isaac Luria (known as the holy Ari). Koriel is buried near the Ari’s grave in the Upper Galilee town’s Old Cemetery. Similarly a pirate named David Abrabanel, evidently from the same family as the famous Spanish rabbinic dynasty (which included Don Isaac Abrabanel who fled Spain in 1492 after unsuccessfully trying to bribe Ferdinand and Isabella to rescind their catastrophic expulsion decree), joined British privateers after his family was butchered off the South American coast. He used the nom de guerre “Captain Davis” and commanded his own pirate vessel named Jerusalem.
Henriques, Koriel and Abrabanel spoke Ladino, and knew the sting of the anti-Semitic slur marrano, meaning pig. The most infamous American Jewish freebooter spoke French, and knew the insult of maudit juif (damned Jew).
A US national park in Louisiana proudly bears the name of Jean Lafitte of New Orleans. According to the aforementioned author Edward Kritzler, the kosher swashbuckler was the inspiration for Johnny Depp in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.According to retired political science professor Edward Bernard Glick (“Lafitte’s Jewish origins,” The Jerusalem Post, July 14, 2006) “[Lafitte] was a Sephardi Jew, as was his first wife, who was born in the Danish Virgin Islands. In his prime, Lafitte ran not just one pirate sloop but a whole fleet of them simultaneously. He even bought a blacksmith shop in New Orleans, which he used as a front for fencing pirate loot. And he was one of the few buccaneers who didn’t die in battle, in prison or on the gallows.”...

& wiki

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Israelis in germany, how many

  The Frankfurt-based pro-Israel media watchdog NGO Honestly Concerned filed a

complaint with the Press Council in late 2014 against SZ because of the article.

Schmitz’s claim that tens of thousands of Israelis sought refuge in Germany was

contradicted by Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. The Office

reported a total of 11,655 Israelis living in Germany in 2013. In 2012, 11,244 Israeli

citizens lived in the Federal Republic.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Rainer Höss, the grandson of Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss, is active in Holocaust education

Grandson of infamous Nazi spends lifetime making amends for namesake's atrocities
Rainer Höss, the grandson of Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss, is active in Holocaust education and preaches tolerance.

Rainer Höss

THE HÖSS family (from left to right) Ingebrigitt; Klaus; Rudolf’s wife Hedwig, holding Annegret; Rudolf Hoess, Hans- Rudolf (Rainer’s father); and Heidetraut.