“You must study to be frank with the world: frankness is the child of honesty and courage.
Say just what you mean to do on every occasion, and take it for granted that you mean to do right.”
— Robert E. Lee (1807-1870) General-in-Chief of the Confederate States army
Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the Jewish year because it is the day that the Torah sets aside for us to reckon with ourselves. We are commanded to give an accounting – before our fellow men and before God – for our actions in the previous year. We must make amends to both for our misdeeds. And since none of us is perfect, every one of us has things to atone for.
Yom Kippur’s power stems from a basic assumption that forms its core. That assumption is that we are all moral agents. We all have to make an accounting.
This basic assumption is the most liberating notion ever created. Moral agency is what makes us free. It doesn’t matter how wretched or rich our external circumstances, the fact that the Torah enjoins all of us to take responsibility for our behavior means that as far as God is concerned, we are not slaves and never will be slaves.
The converse is also true.
We are only free for as long as we are capable of accounting for our actions. This means that preserving our ability to properly judge ourselves is the key to preserving our liberty.
This is true not only for the Jewish people as individuals. It is true as well for the Jewish state, Israel.
The question then is how do we do that? As far as Israel is concerned, the answer to this question has become one of increasing urgency over the past generation or so.
Over the past couple of decades, we have seen the world – and more importantly our own elites in Israel – rushing to judge our society and find it lacking seemingly on a daily basis.
Our journalists, professors, judges and generals routinely tell us what is wrong with our society. And each year, their harangues become shriller and angrier.
Indeed it is becoming hard to avoid the conclusion that for our elites, Israeli society is morally irredeemable.
Consider the behavior of our generals in the IDF. Sunday night, after the terrorist attack in Jerusalem, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot spoke at a memorial ceremony for the armored corps. There he restated for the umpteenth time in recent months that the key to defeating terrorism is maintaining the IDF’s values.
Eisenkot and his fellow generals never seem to tire of talking about the IDF’s values and of insisting the IDF is the most moral fighting force on earth.
The problem is that the more they make these statements the more they alienate the public.
It isn’t that the public doesn’t view the IDF as the most moral fighting force on earth. It does. And it also believes that IDF soldiers live in accordance with the IDF’s values – which are also the values of Israeli society.
The problem is that the public doesn’t think that Eisenkot and his generals share its faith in the goodness of the army they command.
For the past seven months, every time that Eisenkot and his generals have invoked the IDF’s values and morality, the only thing that anyone has ever heard is a rebuke of Sgt. Elor Azaria, who is standing trial for manslaughter for killing a wounded terrorist in Hebron, after the terrorist had stabbed another soldier.
The Azaria prosecution was by far the most significant national event of the past year. It exposed the wide and expanding gap between our elites – who rushed to condemn the combat soldier – and the public which gave him the benefit of the doubt.
Based on a video of the incident taken by an employee of the anti-Zionist, foreign government-funded B’tselem organization, the IDF General Staff, the media and Israel’s various and sundry leftist luminaries rushed to condemn Azaria. The decorated combat soldier was filmed handcuffed, being loaded into a military police squad car and removed from the scene.
In the months that have passed since his trial for manslaughter began, the public has learned extensive details about what happened on the ground the day of the incident and since. These details easily lend to the conclusion that Azaria was railroaded by senior commanders who had uncritically accepted the veracity of the B’tselem video.
In other words, the public has learned that whereas the generals denied Azaria the benefit of the doubt, our military brass gave their full faith to a film produced by an organization that has been falsely accusing the IDF and Israeli society as a whole of criminal behavior for nearly 30 years.
Once the public discovered the nature of their behavior, it naturally followed that the more Eisenkot and his comrades speak of the IDF’s values, the less they are trusted.
It didn’t use to be this way. Time was that the IDF’s commanders said next to nothing about the IDF’s morality and its values. They simply assumed them.
They trusted their soldiers and officers. And their soldiers and officers, and the public as a whole, trusted them right back.
There is no doubt that past practices were sometimes excessive. Sometimes soldiers and officers didn’t deserve the trust they received. And actions that should have been disciplined were wrongly swept under the rug.
But our military leaders have gone overboard in their rejection of the old ways. It is possible to give soldiers and officers the benefit of the doubt without giving them a pass. It is possible to accept the basic idea that they are innocent until proven guilty and treat them as innocent so long as they haven’t been proven guilty.
Doing so does not impair our ability to correct and punish bad behavior, it facilitates it.
Eisenkot and his generals appear shaken by the loss of trust they have suffered for their faithlessness to Azaria.
The same cannot be said for our legal elites in the courts and state prosecution.
Consider the legal context in which Sunday’s attack took place.
The terrorist who killed two innocent Israelis was a convicted felon. This past May he was convicted for assaulting a policeman and sentenced to prison.
But then the magistrate’s court judge Hagit Mack-Kalmanovich decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. First, she sentenced the offender to a measly four months in prison for the crime of punching an officer and threatening to kill him.
Then Kalmanovich agreed to his request to delay the start of his imprisonment for five months. He was supposed to enter prison Sunday.
Kalmanovich’s decisions were all the more startling given that this wasn’t the terrorist’s first conviction.
He assaulted the policeman shortly after he was paroled from a one-year prison term for inciting terrorism on Facebook.
MK Yehuda Glick, the human rights activist who survived an assassination attempt in 2014 when a paroled terrorist tried to kill him for championing the right of Jews to pray on the Temple Mount, blasted Kalmanovich in a Facebook post on Monday.
It works out that the same judge who gave the repeat terrorist offender a light sentence and then allowed him to remain free for five months, decided to ban Glick from the Temple Mount based on no evidence of wrongdoing on his part just 10 days before he was shot in the stomach and nearly killed.
Kalmanovich, Glick intimated, falsely found him guilty of endangering the public because she didn’t like his championing of Jewish rights. By siding with terrorists and their supporters against Glick, she legitimized the false claims the Palestinian leadership issued against him at the time. Those claims, that Glick was endangering the Temple Mount, surfaced days before Glick was attacked. They incited his assailant to shoot him.
In other words, Kalmanovich refused to see the good in Glick, and so she misjudged him. And she refused to see the evil in the terrorist she allowed to walk free, and so enabled him to kill innocents.
In both cases, she failed to judge well because she was unable to see either good in a Jew or bad in a terrorist.
The Jewish people and the Jewish state face extraordinary challenges today. Luckily, we can handle all of them. But to do so, we need to be capable of judging ourselves fairly – of loving what is good in us even as we work to correct what is bad.
This is how we will secure our future and this is how we will remain forever free.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.
“I thought it was an honorary name. … I’d be honored if someone named a cupcake after me.” – Oregon baker Anjelica Hayes
Apparently political correctness is now spoiling our desserts.
Anjelica Hayes, 26, owner of Portland’s Fat Cupcake bakery, has been shamed into renaming one of her signature treats. Based upon her innocent understanding that the Oreo cookie is Mr. Obama’s favorite, she had called her black and white confection “The President”? After a Yelp reviewer denounced the cup cake’s name as a racial slur, the negative local press compelled Ms. Hayes to change its name to “The Professional;” a title never confused with this failed president.
Was Ms. Hayes making an unconscious political statement? Did she infer that Barack Obama is “black on the outside, but white on the inside”? Is Anjelica Hayes, who incidentally is black, a secret racist?
This absurdist “controversy” epitomizes what’s wrong with progressivism. Numerous, deep-seeded problems which plague our society are utterly ignored (read: black-on-black homicide and Chicago’s yearly record death toll) while non-issues (like this one) are fixated upon as spurious evidence of “racist” bogeymen. Consequently, innocents as she are wrongly demonized.
The triviality of identity politics is a cancer on our democracy. This dynamic is the same insanity which threatens to elect a candidate president based solely upon the superficiality of her gender. Objective facts like a track record of lies and abject failure—not to mention the travesty of lawbreaking corruption (read: Hillary’s Server-gate)—are completely disregarded. This truth is as black and white as Ms. Hayes’s renamed Oreo cupcakes.
Perhaps the baker Hayes will name a delicious pound cake after Donald Trump. Maybe serve slices with some heavily whipped cream. After his triumphant 2nd debate performance, that sounds like just desserts to me.
David L. Hunter is an Associate Editor at “Capitol Hill Outsider.” He’s on Twitter and blogs at davidlhunter.blogspot.com. He is published in The Washington Post, The Washington Times, “FrontPage Mag,” and extensively in “Patriot Post,” “Canada Free Press” and “American Thinker.”
You may have seen the headlines claiming that “hate crimes” against Muslims have soared to levels not seen since 9/11. According to this controversial study, hate crimes had increased 78%. All the media had to do was fill in the boilerplate language blaming Trump and Islamophobic discourse by conservatives.
These numbers come from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University San Bernardino. It’s conveniently located around 11 miles from the site of the Muslim massacre in San Bernardino. One of its authors, Kevin Grisham, was the former director of the Center for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, and his writings reveal a certain degree of sympathy for Islamists.
The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism’s board includes Hussein Ibish, who had described Hezbollah’s Islamic terrorists as a “liberation force”.
The Center’s study gets its big claims from small numbers. It compares supposed anti-Islamic hate crimes in 20 states from 2014 to 2015. These results were then handed to the media with scary quotes such as, “Anti-Muslim hate crimes for only those 20 states soared.”
Did they soar across twenty states? Not according to the Center’s own numbers.
There were increases in only 10 states; California, Idaho, Texas, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia.
And the increases were occasionally significant only if you describe them in very specific ways.
That 66% increase in Tennessee meant that 6 cases went up to 10 and that 40% increase in Virginia was 5 cases rising to 7. And that shocking 250% increase in New Jersey? That’s 4 cases rising to 14.
Compare that to 113 cases in the Jewish community.
The statistical games go further. By only comparing two years, the report is able to manufacture shock headlines about a huge surge. But when we look deeper, the surge doesn’t hold up that well.
That dramatic increase in New York works only if you compare 24 incidents in 2014 with 33 incidents in 2015. But if you look back at the 31 incidents in 2011, the sudden spike is not all that newsworthy. Statistical card tricks like these offer rather obvious signs of bad faith.
The Center spends a great deal of time and effort trying to tie this “rise” to Donald Trump. Its methodology is almost childishly sloppy. Its list of “hate crimes” after the Muslim massacre in San Bernardino includes the vandalism of a Sikh Temple.
Sikhs are not Muslims. The vandal, a Latino man, had sprayed gang graffiti on a wall near the temple and had written, “F___ ISIS” on a nearby truck. There was no actual evidence of a hate crime.
But there is a little interest on the left in looking a gift narrative in the mouth.
The New York Times, which received an advance copy of the report, used it to try and revive the infamous Chapel Hill hoax in which the killing of three Muslims by an atheist over a parking dispute was denounced as a hate crime without a single actual piece of evidence. In another murder, discovered by the Times, authorities have “not determined a motive or whether it should be treated as a hate crime”.
But this doesn’t stop the paper or Obama’s DOJ from fussing about “apparent hate crimes”. What are apparent hate crimes? A crime that is claimed as such without any actual evidence to back it up.
In politically correct circles, Muslim fragility and victimization is deemed to be a fact. And it’s just a matter of finding the numbers to back up what everyone on the left knows to be true.
This is the worst possible way to conduct any kind of research. It almost demands sloppy methodology and statistical sleight of hand. The Center report massages the data to produce that sharp increase that is demanded by the media narrative about Muslim fragility. And the media, incestuously, reports on the report that backs up its narrative resulting in a tainted cycle of bias and bad faith.
But the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism’s report is heavier on implication and editorializing than on facts. After dozens of pages, it fails to do the elementary thing that the FBI’s own reports do, which is break down the various incidents into types of crimes instead of piling them all into one large and vague general category. It is this breakdown that enables us to determine danger levels.
Many of the state reports that the Center relies on don’t do this either making it impossible to determine the seriousness of this supposed spike. California, for example, has the largest number of incidents, yet no breakdowns whatsoever, making it impossible to come to any larger conclusions about them. The Illinois report, while lacking the flashy graphics is far more professional, and notes very little in the way of assaults on Muslims. But it’s the Michigan report which has a very thorough breakdown.
The majority of these incidents fall into the “intimidation/stalking” category which, particularly as it relates to hate crimes, is largely meaningless. There is one case of damage to property, a number of non-aggravated assaults and assorted more minor crimes. There are two aggravated assaults. One of the perpetrators was a black woman. It’s a safe bet that her actions had nothing to do with Trump.
Stalking and intimidation remain a controversial aspect of hate crime laws. Michigan’s Ethnic Intimidation Act has a long controversial history of collisions with the Constitution.
Prosecutors, under pressure by politicians to fight Islamophobia, often tack on hate crimes charges that aren’t supported by the evidence and that are then stealthily withdrawn. A prominent case took place a few years ago in Michigan where a man was charged with “ethnic intimidation” for allegedly trying to pull off a Muslim woman’s veil. Then the charges were quietly pulled due to “issues with evidence” and a chat with the woman’s Imam.
Intimidation and stalking charges are the bread and butter of hate crime prosecutions. They are also often meaningless. A list full of them suggests that instead of a spike in events, political pressure has instead produced a spike in charges that don’t amount to anything. And it’s not much of a spike.
The Center’s spike relies largely on increases in a handful of states. The majority of these states are not particularly conservative making the attempt to tie these increases to Trump all the more hollow. The report is fueled by an unambiguous agenda. That agenda is as obvious as its numbers are bad.
The report frequently references Trump. It spends the bulk of its content on Muslims while sending Jews, African-Americans, Latinos and other groups who experience far more hate crimes to the back of the bus. Why emphasize Muslims at the expense of other groups? Because the report has an agenda.
And that agenda closely follows the narrative of Islamic fragility in which criticizing Islam causes anti-Muslim hate crimes. Each act of Muslim terror must be followed by an immediate whitewashing. And the failure to immediately launch a cover up after every attack leads to anti-Muslim hate crimes.
This is a dangerous, destructive and dishonest narrative. It is the reason that Islamic acts of terror continue to increase. The efforts to stigmatize counterterrorism serves an Islamist agenda.
There is no wave of anti-Islamic terror in America. There is a wave of Islamic terror. That simple truth cannot be silenced. The nation’s greatest hate crime was September 11. Every Islamic act of terror is a hate crime by the racist and supremacist ideology of Islam against America. The best way to prevent Islamic hate crimes against Americans is to limit the growth of the supremacist ideology.
Source: Sultan Knish