Monday, June 6, 2016

Menachem Bitton - Jerusalem serial child molester - sentenced to 19 years

The Jerusalem District Court on Sunday sentenced a man to 19 years in prison for carrying out hundreds of sex crimes against young teen and preteen boys in the capital.

Menahem Bitton, 30, was convicted in February in a plea bargain after admitting to committing the assaults over a period of several years.

Testimony from Bitton’s victims revealed how he would entice them and then molest them, including in some cases sodomizing them. He bought silence from the victims with bribes of gadgets or cash payments of between NIS 50 and NIS 100 ($13-$26).

Bitton, who worked in an apartment rental business in the Nahlaot neighborhood of Jerusalem, used empty apartments to carry out the attacks.[...]

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Jerusalem Mashgiach's remand extended - Attorney says allegations are baseless

kikar haShabbat

בית המשפט המחוזי בירושלים האריך את מעצרו של "המשגיח התוקף" עד תום ההליכים המשפטיים • פרקליטו עו"ד יהודה פריד ל"כיכר השבת": "מקווה שנוכל להוכיח כי הדברים לא היו מעולם" (בארץ)

בית המשפט המחוזי בירושלים האריך היום (חמישי) את מעצרו של "המשגיח התוקף" עד תום ההליכים, ובכך קיבל את דרישת הפרקליטות להאריך את מעצרו.
פרקליטו, עורך הדין יהודה פריד, אומר ל"כיכר השבת" בתגובה כי "אנחנו בתחילת הדרך. כדי לעצור אדם מספיק ראיות לכאורה".
"לגבי 'הראיות האמיתיות' במרכאות", הוא מוסיף ,"אנו נלמד את החומר ואני מקווה שנוכל להוכיח כי הדברים לא היו מעולם".
הארכת המעצר מגיעה כשלושה שבועות לאחר הגשת כתב האישום החמור נגד המשגיח, מאחת הישיבות המפורסמות בירושלים, כתב אישום שטלטל את המגזר החרדי.

New York Times attacks gender separation at hasidic-area pool

An only-in-New-York story about a public swimming pool that offered women-only swim periods for the area’s Orthodox community turned into a full-blown media firestorm when the New York Times weighed in on the subject.

The pool, located in the heavily Orthodox Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, had been offering women-only hours since the 1990s to accommodate those whose religious sensitivities forbid women and men from swimming together.

Last week, the Parks Department cancelled the women-only swim periods after an anonymous complaint was made to the city’s Commission on Human Rights, only to reverse itself following objections by Assemblyman Dov Hikind, an Orthodox politician representing the nearby Borough Park and Midwood neighborhoods.

That reversal led to a strongly worded editorial in the Times Wednesday, which asserted that setting aside a special time for a religious group at a public facility violated “the laws of New York City and the Constitution, and commonly held principles of fairness and equal access.”

“The city’s human rights law is quite clear that public accommodations like a swimming pool cannot exclude people based on sex,” the editorial argued, adding that the current practice has a “a strong odor of religious intrusion into a secular space.”

The Times editorial drew a swift backlash from parts of the Jewish community, who accused the paper of unfairly rejecting a reasonable religious accommodation and of applying a double standard to Orthodox Jews.

Seth Lipsky, the founding editor of the New York Sun and a former editor of the Forward, wrote a heated missive in the New York Post titled “Let My People Swim — and Damn the New York Times.” [...]

In Tablet Magazine, Yair Rosenberg pointed to examples in St. Paul, Minnesota, San Diego and Seattle in which accommodations made for Muslim women to swim without men were applauded in some cases and sparked controversy in others. But he questioned why the Times editorial failed to mention these precedents and focused exclusively on Orthodox Jews.

“It is exceedingly odd that the national paper of record only excoriated the practice of sex-segregated swimming when it became aware of religious Jews engaging in it, and even then, omitted the identical practices of religious Muslims,” he writes.[...]

Palestinians arrested for anti - Israeli rape against mentally-disabled woman


In a statement on Wednesday, Tel Aviv police said that “after 15 days of questioning investigators came to the conclusion that they did not find evidence to support the claims of the complaints,” leading them to recommend that both suspects – a 42-year-old father from Nablus and a 17-year-old Palestinian – be released from custody. [...]

The case has become another public embarrassment for police, who first drew criticism for not reporting the rape for over a week, and then for their zig-zagging on the terrorism angle and finally the release of the two suspects. 


Two Palestinians are in currently in custody for allegedly raping and urinating on a mentally-disabled woman in south Tel Aviv, in what police say was a racially-motivated crime.

The incident allegedly took place on Yom Haatzmaut earlier this month, inside the 20-year-old victim’s aunt’s apartment. During the act, Imad Aladin Dragame, 42, allegedly filmed the rape, which police say was carried out by two other Palestinians – including a minor – who urinated and spit on the woman while shouting anti-Semitic slurs at her and threatening to murder her aunt and brother if she complained.

The third suspect in the case remains at large, while the minor and Dragame were on Wednesday ordered kept in custody for an additional 5 days. For Dragame, a resident of Nablus with a legal permit to work inside Israel, it was the third remand hearing since he was arrested on May 16th, following a complaint by the victim’s aunt. He also faces drug charges after police allegedly found 11.5 grams of marijuana in his apartment, which is in the same building as the victim’s aunt.[...]

Sgt. Maj. Yisrael Sianov, the officer representing the police [...] continued, “in addition, they threatened her not to tell anyone, saying they would rape her aunt and murder her brother. This is a shocking incident.”

Last March, the Defense Ministry recognized the victim of a 2012 rape in Tel Aviv as a terror victim, due to the nationalist nature of the attack. [...]

Friday, June 3, 2016

In describing actions causing defects in children are Chazal describing medical facts or rabbinical curses?

I just came across and interesting article in 'Asia vol 73-74 pp 139-144 (  סכנתא או איסורא בהלכות תשמיש) by Rav Yehuda Hertzl Henkin regarding the nature of the statements of Chazal. We have discussed extensively the issue of causality ascribed by rabbis to events such as the Holocaust. There is a general obligation to try and search for the causes of misfortune in order to do teshuva and avoid wrong doing. There remains the question as to whether these causal descriptions of historical events are accurate or whether they are primarily motivational

Rav Henkin introduces a new dimension in this article. When Chazal say that if you do X then Y will happen - are they describing reality? What if the consequences they describe don't happen - does that mean that they were wrong or does it simply mean that nature has changed? Or perhaps all they mean  is that the consequences are more likely to happen if you do X but the change is only an increase in the likelihood - not that they will certainly happen.

The gemora being analyzed is Nedarim (20a-b) which is the basic text dealing with what is permitted in sexual relations.
Nedarim (20b): R Yochanon said, The above view [that talking, kissing or looking at her genitals or having unnatural sex produces defects in the children] is the view of Rabbi Yochanon ben Dehabai. However the Sages have said that the halacha is not in accord with his view but rather the halacha is that all that a man wishes to do with his wife he can do. This is comparable to meat which comes from the butcher. If he wants he can eat it salted, roasted, boiled or baked. And similarly regarding fish that comes from the fisherman. Ameimar asked, And who are the angels [that told him this]. They are rabbis. Because if in fact actual angels told him that the actions produced severe defects in children then why isn't the halacha in agreement with him? After all the angels are very knowledgeable about the nature of embryos! But why are these rabbis referred to as angels? Because they are as distinguished [by wearing white garments and tzitzis – Shabbos 25b] as angels.

Rav Henkin notes that some of the authorites dealing with appropriate behavior state that certain behavior is prohibited because of lack of modesty or the prohibition not to do disgusting things or even that one must love his fellow human being. Thus they clearly hold that these are either Torah or Rabbinic prohibitions. On the other hand there are a number of gemoras which say that inappropriate behavior causes severe defects in the child - such as epilepsy, blindness, deafness, mutism as well as spiritual defects such as an overwhelming yetzer harah.  These latter authorities are describing biological or medical dangers. The problem is how do we understand these statements when in fact to the best of our knowledge these behaviors don't produce the stated consequences? Is there an argument in medical reality?

 The gemora above notes the if these statements came from actual angels who really know what goes on - then they could be accepted. But since the source is a group of rabbis who apparently don't have special knowledge of the subject - Chazal reject their view.

If these "angels" don't have special knowledge then on what basis are they making their claims? Is it simply to scare people into behaving - even though they know the claims are not true? Perhaps it was the common understanding of the doctors of those times - even though they were mistaken.

Rav Henkin seems to suggest that the rabbis were well aware that they didn't have a medical basis for their claims. He suggests that these rabbis wanted to curse people who acted inappropriately and say that people deserved this to happen - not that it was going to happen. It seems that Chazal rejected this minority proposal and said that a person shouldn't do these things because of piety, modesty, respect of others or not to be disgusting.

והיה ראוי לפרש שר' יוחנן בן דהבאי איסורא קאמר ולא סכנתא, וחז"ל הם שאסרו לעשות מעשים אלה והם אמרו על דרך הקללה שראוי שייענשו על ידי הולדת בנים בעלי מומים. ולא שבאמת נולדים כן ושלא ככל הנ"ל. כלומר שאינו ענין טבעי כי אז מלאכי השרת בקיאים בטבע יותר ממנו, אלא הוא עניין גזירת ואיסור חכמים. וניחא שלא נחלקו במציאות שר"י בן דהבאי סובר שדברים אלה גורמים למומים ורבי יוחנן סובר שאינם גורמים למומים.

Would appreciate anybody letting me know if they have seen a similar explanation

Former principal accused of abusing students - mentally unfit for extradition - released from house arrest in Israel

9 News Australia   A Jerusalem judge has ruled former principal of Adass Israel School Malka Leifer is mentally unfit to be extradited back to Australia to face 74 child sex charges, instead lifting her house arrest and allowing her to stay in the country.

Leifer is wanted by Victorian police for charges of indecent assault and rape allegedly involving girls at the Elsternwick school, after accusations were first raised in 2008.

Jerusalem District Court judge Amnon Cohen ruled yesterday that Leifer would receive outpatient treatment in Jerusalem after a report from the district psychiatrist found she was not mentally fit to face an extradition trial.

A Jerusalem judge has ruled former principal of Adass Israel School Malka Leifer is mentally unfit to be extradited back to Australia to face 74 child sex charges, instead lifting her house arrest and allowing her to stay in the country.

Leifer is wanted by Victorian police for charges of indecent assault and rape allegedly involving girls at the Elsternwick school, after accusations were first raised in 2008.

Jerusalem District Court judge Amnon Cohen ruled yesterday that Leifer would receive outpatient treatment in Jerusalem after a report from the district psychiatrist found she was not mentally fit to face an extradition trial.

Leifer's treatment in a Jerusalem clinic would begin next week and would last initially for six months.

She would receive up to five treatments during that time until a committee would assess whether she is fit to stand trial.

The court ruled this process could go on for up to 10 years. If the committee continually finds she is unfit to stand trial she may evade her extradition trial indefinitely.

Jewish Community Watch representative Shana Aaronson said she was shocked by the judge's ruling.

"Disappointed isn't really a strong enough word - for the victims in Australia this has dragged on and on for them and it's horrible," she said.

Aaronson was also worried Leifer may reoffend in Israel, given she would no longer be under house arrest.

"The thought they will put a predator right back into the community is insane," she said

The move has also sparked outrage with officials. The Ambassador of Australia to Israel Dave Sharma told the ABC they would persist with the process.

“We are determined to be patient and persevere to this end with the view to seeing her extradited,” Mr Sharma said.

One of the alleged victims told the ABC she was horrified by the outcome.

“How can it be that she is not fit enough to stand trial but she only has to go to the psychologist once a month,” she queried.

“It’s mindboggling. I’ve lost all hope that she will face justice.”[...]

Trump’s personal, racially tinged attacks on federal judge alarm legal experts

update: Wall Street Journal

Donald Trump on Thursday escalated his attacks on the federal judge presiding over civil fraud lawsuits against Trump University, amid criticism from legal observers who say the presumptive GOP presidential nominee’s comments are an unusual affront on an independent judiciary.

In an interview, Mr. Trump said U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel had “an absolute conflict” in presiding over the litigation given that he was “of Mexican heritage” and a member of a Latino lawyers’ association. Mr. Trump said the background of the judge, who was born in Indiana to Mexican immigrants, was relevant because of his campaign stance against illegal immigration and his pledge to seal the southern U.S. border. “I’m building a wall. It’s an inherent conflict of interest,” Mr. Trump said.

The New York businessman also alleged the judge was a former colleague and friend of one of the Trump University plaintiffs’ lawyers. The judge and the lawyer once worked together as federal prosecutors, but the lawyer, Jason Forge, in an interview said he had never seen the judge socially.

“Neither Judge Curiel’s ethnicity nor the fact that we crossed paths as prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office well over a decade ago is to blame” for Mr. Trump’s actions, said Mr. Forge, who is with the law firm Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP.[...]

For judges, being criticized for rulings comes with the territory, but court watchers say it is a degree far different when the critic could win the nation’s highest office, is involved in a pending case and references the judge's ethnicity.

University of Pennsylvania law professor Stephen Burbank said it was “absolute nonsense” that the judge shouldn’t be able to preside over the case because of his ethnicity.

“If this continues, I would hope that some prominent federal judges would set Mr. Trump straight on what’s appropriate and what’s not in our democracy,” Mr. Burbank said.

Ronald Rotunda, a professor at Chapman University School of Law in Orange, Calif., noted that whatever Mr. Trump’s grievances, his lawyers haven’t filed any motion asking for the case to be reassigned to a different judge. If Mr. Trump has a problem with the judge, “that’s the legitimate way” to register a complaint, he said.[...]

The GOP candidate’s comments follow a San Diego speech last week in which he called the judge “a hater of Donald Trump” and “a total disgrace,” while referencing the judge’s ethnicity.[...]

Legal experts agreed that defendants have the First Amendment freedom to express opinions about a judge hearing their case—as long as they aren’t disruptive in the courtroom.

“It is a prized American privilege to speak one’s mind, although not always with perfect good taste, on all public institutions,” Justice Hugo Black wrote in a 1941 Supreme Court decision that threw out contempt convictions of a newspaper publisher and a labor leader for speaking out on pending litigation.[...]

Washington Post

Donald Trump’s highly personal, racially tinged attacks on a federal judge overseeing a pair of lawsuits against him have set off a wave of alarm among legal experts, who worry that the ­Republican presidential candidate’s vendetta signals a remarkable disregard for judicial independence.

That attitude, many argue, could carry constitutional implications if Trump becomes president.

U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is handling two class-action lawsuits against Trump University in San Diego, has emerged as a central target for Trump and his supporters in recent weeks. The enmity only escalated after Curiel ordered the release of embarrassing internal documents detailing predatory marketing practices at the for-profit educational venture; that case is set to go to trial after the November election.

“I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. He’s a hater,” Trump said at a campaign rally in San Diego, adding that he believed the Indiana-born judge was “Mexican.”

He also suggested taking action against the judge after the election: “They ought to look into Judge Curiel, because what Judge Curiel is doing is a total disgrace. Okay? But we will come back in November. Wouldn’t that be wild if I am president and come back and do a civil case? Where everybody likes it. Okay. This is called life, folks.”

The courtroom proceedings come with high stakes for Trump, whose likely tough ­general-election fight against Hillary Clinton will leave him open to intense scrutiny of his character, business practices and temperament. Clinton said Wednesday that the Trump University allegations are “just more evidence that Donald Trump himself is a fraud.”

Trump’s strikingly personal attacks on Curiel are highly unusual and have prompted questions about how he would react to adverse judicial decisions should he become president. Trump’s remarks also stand out because he has a personal financial stake in the case. [...]

One of Trump’s earlier jeremiads came in February, when he told Fox News that Curiel was biased against him because of his controversial immigration comments and proposals, including his promises to build a giant wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and deport 11 million illegal immigrants.

“I think it has to do with perhaps the fact that I’m very, very strong on the border,” Trump said then. “Now, he is Hispanic, I believe. He is a very hostile judge to me.”[...]

As part of the ongoing class-action lawsuit against Trump University that he is overseeing, Curiel ordered the release of internal documents that showed Trump played a key role in the marketing for the business and how staff members were guided to push customers to purchase expensive follow-ups costing up to $35,000 after taking free introductory courses.

The order came in response to a request by The Washington Post, which argued that Trump’s presidential bid made the documents a matter of public interest. In the order, Curiel said that Trump had “placed the integrity of these court proceedings at issue.”

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Bamidbar - Shavuot 76 - Unconditional Teaching by Allan Katz

Guest Post by Allan Katz

After having counted the tribes, The Torah lists the Priests= Kohanim and Levites. They would devote themselves to spirituality and the service of God in the Tabernacle. The Torah introduces us to the descendants and children of Moses and Aaron – אלה תולדות אהרן ומשה these are the offspring of Moses and Aaron ……. And then begins to list only the sons of Aaron. The Talmud – Sanhedrin asks why does the Torah list only the sons of Aaron and call them the offspring – תולדות of Moses as well. The Talmud says that if someone teaches someone else's children Torah, it as if he bore them. Moses taught Aaron's son's Torah and became their spiritual father. The implication for teachers is that is that they must treat pupils and students as if they were their own children. The litmus test is that a student must see in the teacher a caring father and that the teacher's acceptance, respect, concern and love for the child must be unconditional and does not depend on what the child does – learn well or behave , but on who he is.

The question is why ' unconditional teaching ', the title of an  article by A. Kohn, is so important for the teaching of Torah. The teaching of Torah should focus on the whole child – not only his external behavior and academics. It should focus on his thoughts, motives, underlying values, his emotional and spiritual side and informal learning = learning from all people etc. We want kids to feel self-directed, internalize their learning, develop a love for learning, give expression to their personalities, individual thinking, learning and values through communication, doing good deeds and mitzvoth and teaching others. When kids feel that they are valued conditionally, and feel more or less loved and accepted depending how they perform or behave, acceptance is never a sure thing. Carl Rogers explains that children will be able to accept themselves as fundamentally valuable and capable, is to the extent which they have been accepted unconditionally by others. They need to see themselves as basically good people in order to repent and do Teshuva, be accepting of others and do good to them. Children, whose parental/teacher love and acceptance was conditional , based on what they do and not by who they are, have a lower perception of their overall worth, come to disown parts of them that are not valued , regard themselves as worthy only when they behave in certain ways and accept themselves and others with strings attached. In extreme cases they will create a ' false self ' in order to be the person their parents will love.

When it comes to academics, acceptance is based on performance. We use competition to ' rank kids' against each other and try to remedy the situation by giving each kid a ' chance of being number one '.We motivate kids to learn by using grades, honor rolls, praise etc. So the focus is on achievement and the message kids get is only those who do well count. We focus on helping kids think on how they are learning instead of focusing on what they are learning so they can connect to and internalize the learning. Kids, who feel valued irrespective of their achievements, accomplish quite a lot and develop a healthy self-confidence in themselves and a belief that it is safe to take risks and try new things. Every child should be able to find his place in the Beit Hamidrash, connect to the Torah and feel valuable in the eyes of the teacher.

When it comes to behavior, acceptance is based on a child being compliant and obedient. Kids are forced into time-out, detentions and suspensions or even corporal punishment or seduced by rewards in the hope that they will be taught a lesson, to behave better and be more compliant. Kids experience these consequences and ' doing to ' approaches rather differently - that acceptance is conditional, teachers are unfair, and mistake was being caught and become alienated from the teacher and learning in general. Instead of helping kids do Teshuva, and reflect on the consequences of their actions and feel sorry for others, they now feel sorry for themselves. When we focus on the whole child and not just on the behavior, we take into account feelings, motives, values, underlying problems, lagging skills etc. We can then echo the CPS, collaborative problem solving moto that 'children do well if they can and not children do well if they want to ' and try and deal with the underlying problems that are giving fuel to the child's behavior and solve the problem – working with the child in a collaborative way.

Marilyn Watson in her book "Learning to Trust" explains that a teacher can make it clear to students that certain actions are unacceptable while still providing a deep kind of reassurance that she still cares about them and is not going to punish or desert them even if they do something very bad. This posture allows their best motives to surface and give them space and support them in the process of reflecting and autonomously engaging in the moral act of restitution - Teshuva. If we want students to trust that we care for them, then we need to display our affection without demanding that they behave or perform in certain ways in return. It is not that we don't want or expect certain behaviors – we do, but our concern and affection does not depend on it. '

A relationship depends also on being interested in hearing their opinions and perspectives of how things could be done differently and countless gestures that let them know we are glad to see them. The Chazon Ish is quoted as saying – what kids need more than love is respect. For kids, how much the teacher cares is far more important than how much he knows.

Kohn asks teachers... Imagine that your students are invited to respond to a questionnaire several years after leaving school. They are asked to indicate whether they agree or disagree – how strongly – with statements such as : " Even when I was not proud of how I acted , even when I didn't do the homework, even when I got low test scores or didn't seem interested in what was being taught , I knew that – insert your name here – still cared about me." How would you like your students to answer that sort of question? How do you think they will answer it?

With Shavuot approaching, we reflect on ' receiving the Torah ' and passing it on to future generations. We should remind ourselves that unconditional love, acceptance and respect will help us focus on the whole child and without judgment help them be more focused on what they are doing and learning and on not on ' how well ' they are doing, so that they can connect to the Torah and internalize its teachings..

'Refuser' husband located after 10 years, finally gives divorce

Arutz 7     The story began some ten years ago, when a man and woman, parents of four children, decided that their marriage was over. They succeeded in reaching a civil court agreement on guardianship of the children and property division, but the actual get (divorce papers) never materialized. The woman finally turned to the Rabbinical Court in the hope that it could facilitate the get.

However, the husband maintained that he still had some outstanding monetary claims, and that only the civil court could adjudicate them. "Regarding financial issues," explained Rabbi Eliyahu Maimon, head of the Rabbinical Court's Division for Agunot (literally, chained women), to the Kipa website, "there was nothing we could do to advance the process."

But the court could, and did, inform the husband that it was obligating him to give the get even before the monetary issues were finalized. The court made it clear that if he did not do so, sanctions would be placed upon him. The husband wasted no time, and promptly disappeared.

Specifically, he left his hometown and did not accept mail or phone calls. He also, as was learned only recently, assumed a new name and lived in a non-registered, one-room apartment in Givat Ze'ev, north of Jerusalem. His family helped him remain incognito, and in fact, neither the woman nor the courts were able to locate him. [...]

t happened a week ago. The investigator discovered that the man was living in Givat Ze'ev, working as a photographer under a new name. He stayed away from public transportation and attempted not to be seen. Two nights ago, Rabbi Maimon recounts, "we followed him as he rode his electric bicycle home. There he was placed under arrest, sat in jail for 24 hours – and this morning he gave the get."

Rabbi Maimon expressed his satisfaction that the woman's ten-year nightmare was ended, but said, "It's too bad it didn't happen earlier. We arrest some 30-50 men each year for this purpose, and 95% of them give a get within a day of being arrested. In this case, the man gained nothing over these ten years, other than having to live underground for all that time. We would like to make it clear to everyone: A man who refuses to give a get – there is no point in hiding."

Rabbinical Court sources reported at the end of 2014 that there were 180 cases of '"chained" women whose husbands refuse to give them divorces – and 190 cases of men in a parallel situation. 

Clinton’s Fibs, and Her Opponents’ Double Whoppers

Your Honor, I rise this week in defense of Hillary Clinton.

I see from polls that Hillary scores very low on “trustworthy” questions. Well, let’s talk about truth in politics. All politicians shade the truth at times. Some do it more than others. Indeed, when Donald Trump tells the truth, it should be labeled “Breaking News — Trump tells truth without immediately contradicting himself. We’re going live to the scene right now.”

Here is what is relevant: Lying is serious business. But Hillary’s fibs or lack of candor are all about bad judgments she made on issues that will not impact the future of either my family or my country. Private email servers? Cattle futures? Goldman Sachs lectures? All really stupid, but my kids will not be harmed by those poor calls. Debate where she came out on Iraq and Libya, if you will, but those were considered judgment calls, and if you disagree don’t vote for her.

But while Hillary’s struggles with the whole truth on certain issues have garnered huge attention, driving up her negatives, Trump and Bernie Sanders have been getting away with some full Burger King Double Whoppers that will come crashing down on the whole country if either gets the chance to do what he says.

Trump told a biker rally in Washington on Sunday: “When you think of the great General Patton and all our generals, they are spinning in their graves when they watch we can’t beat ISIS. … We are going to knock the hell out of them.” Then, for good measure, he repeated his longstanding call to build a wall along the Mexican border, and when he asked who would pay for it, the crowd shouted in unison: “Mexico!” Trump added, “Not even a doubt.”

Really, not even a doubt? Why hasn’t President Obama been a “real man” and just carpet-bombed ISIS off the face of the earth? Answer: 1.) ISIS is embedded in urban areas, among Iraqi and Syrian civilians, so we can’t carpet-bomb the terrorists without killing all the civilians around them. 2.) If Obama sent the 82nd Airborne into Mosul and wiped out ISIS, after horrific door-to-door fighting, the morning after the battle we would own Mosul, because there is no agreement among Sunni tribes there, let alone the Kurds, Shiites and neighboring Turkey, over who should control Mosul post-ISIS. In other words, we’d be stuck governing it. So Obama is trying to squeeze ISIS with one hand while trying to squeeze Iraqis to come together around a post-ISIS order with the other. [...]

All lying in politics is not created equal. I think the ideology Bernie is selling is fanciful, but underlying it is a moral critique of modern capitalism that has merit and deserves to be heard. But Bernie is not being truthful about the costs. What is grating about Hillary is that her prevarications seem so unnecessary and often insult our intelligence. But they are not about existential issues. As for Trump, his lies are industrial size and often contradict each other. But there is no theory behind his lies, except what will advance him, which is why Trump is only scary if he wins. Otherwise, his candidacy will leave no ideas behind. It will just be a reality TV show that got canceled.

This is serious. We’re about to elect all three branches of our government. I wish we had better choices, but given the options, I’d vote for the candidate who is most likely to be a practical unifier and get some things done — and who only tells whoppers about herself, not about my country’s future.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Who Cares That Ivanka Trump Is Jewish?

Haaretz    After writing critically about Donald Trump in recent weeks, a series of Jewish journalists have expressed astonishment at the level of anti-Semitic vitriol directed their way. “I have never received the amount of anti-Semitic hate I currently do each day for the crime of criticizing The Great Trump,” noted conservative commentator Ben Shapiro. Another Trump critic, Bethany Mandel, recently wrote an essay entitled, “My Trump Tweets Earned Me So Many Anti-Semitic Haters That I Bought a Gun.”

Trump’s response to his supporters’ behavior has been coy. Asked on CNN about the torrent of Nazi imagery directed at Julia Ioffe after she profiled his wife Melania, Trump replied, “I don’t have a message to the fans. A woman wrote an article that’s inaccurate.” For her part, Melania conceded that some of her fans “maybe went too far,” but said that Ioffe “provoked them.”

Trump has said that, “Antisemitism has no place our society.” But he’s also retweeted messages from openly anti-Semitic accounts. He’s promised that the “major and overriding theme of my administration” will be “America First,” a 1930s-era slogan associated with the notoriously anti-Semitic Charles Lindbergh. And he’s told a Jewish audience that Jews love to “negotiate deals.”

So how does Trump defend himself against charges that he’s flirting with Jew-hatred? Often, he invokes his daughter Ivanka, who became an Orthodox Jew herself. In a speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition last December, Trump boasted that his daughter doesn’t answer the phone on Saturday. At a debate in March, he declared that, “I have tremendous love for Israel. I happen to have a son-in-law and a daughter that are Jewish, OK? And two grandchildren that are Jewish.” [...]

People buy Trump’s alibi because they assume that leaders who have Jewish family and friends won’t foment anti-Semitism. It’s a reassuring notion. Unfortunately, history proves it to be patently untrue. [...]

In his book, The Captive Mind, Czeslaw Milosz describes an anti-Semitic writer in 1930s Poland who “had many Jewish friends, and the very day he published his racist statements, he would come to these friends…and falling on his knees, would declare his love for them.” Notorious anti-Jewish polemicists of 16th Century Central Europe, Johannes Pfefferkorn and Anton Margaritha, were both Jewish converts to Christianity. Even Hitler himself expressed deep affection toward Eduard Bloch, a Jewish doctor from Vienna who had treated his mother. Calling Bloch a “noble Jew,” Hitler instructed the Gestapo to protect him even as Nazi forces sent other Austrian Jews to their deaths. [...]

For Trump, as for many other leaders throughout history, winking at bigotry is part of a political project. It’s not personal. It’s a technique for achieving power.

Better later than never: Novominsker Rebbe says ok to report abuse to police


Honesty wrote:
Is this the video you intended to post? Where does he speak about going to the police? Wasn't raglayim l'dovor always his position?

There is a problem with certain bloggers and "activists" who are more interested in using the abused as a way to fill their emotional needs of bravado. Just think about the crazy mashgiach story where those who came to the police were guaranteed anonymity, but were publicized by "activists" and bloggers.

I responded:

Your objection is solid. It seems clear that the purpose of this speech was to attack bloggers and child abuse is just an excuse for that attack(i.e. defense of Daas Torah and gedolim). 
The person who sent this video to me felt that this was a major change. It can be interpreted that way since he is saying that if there are raglayim ldavar it is permitted to go to the police - and he doesn't say that a rabbi has to decide that fact. However it can also be readily understood as just repeating previous views. 
So the issue comes down to whether a rabbi needs to decide. The position of the Aguda has always been that a rabbi needs to decide. Here he doesn't say rabbi but just say that if there are raglayim ldavar you can go to the police. 
However since his purpose was to primarily to smash bloggers it can also be understood that he is just stating there is a possibility of going to the police - contrary to the lies of the bloggers. But that he still holds that without a psak from a rabbi one can not go to the police. 
His comments are at best disingenuous or he is simply ignorant of facts that he should know about. The senior gadol in America has stated that one does not sacrifice the viability of a yeshiva to  report a molester to the police. Rabbi Belsky's letter in the Kolko case speaks for itself. I personally was told by a rabbi in Baltimore that the best way to deal with molesters is to send them to another community - not to report them. In the Webeman case - there was no condemnation of Weberman by the Aguda.  
In fact what case has the Aguda said to report a molester to the police? Anybody remember the Colmer case? Daas Torah Blog  and Survivors for Justice
There is more to speak on the subject but the Noveminsker's speech is more concerned with defending Daas Torah against the claim of incompetence or evil than it is about protecting children. 
There is in fact a problem of the activity of the activists - but that does not justify the gross rewriting of history and double think expressed in the above video.

p.s. When I asked the head of Torah u'Mesorah about including their protocols for dealing with sexual abuse in my book on abuse - he responded that that was problematic and that I should speak with the organization's lawyer. When I asked what was the problem since it clearly showed that Torah u'Mesora was concerned about properly dealing with the issue. He responded if it is published it will give people the idea that we have an abuse problem. I published it anyway since I had received a copy from someone working at Torah u'Mesorah. 

So while it is true that the chareidi rabbis have spent a lot of time talking about the issue - they have done very little to prevent it or to deal properly with abuse when it has happened.