Young Israel Invites You to Fight BDS With Mischloach Manot

Written by Bob Levi on . Posted in Capital Commentary

A snowball effect is a process whereby a small action builds upon itself, growing larger and larger, and picking up momentum as it proceeds. It is wonderful to behold such a phenomenon when it makes a meaningful impression on the broader Jewish community and benefits our brethren in Israel.

I am the chairman of the board of a national Jewish organization that may not be the largest or the wealthiest, and we rely on our branches to be inspired and challenged. One of our constituent branches has started a snowball effect like the one I described, enriching the entire National Council of Young Israel, a nation-wide synagogue with 120 branches, as well as Klal Yisrael (the Jewish people).

Why JDAIM Shouldn’t Exist

Written by Lianne Heller on . Posted in Capital Commentary

February is Jewish Disabilities Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM). In an ideal world, there would be no such thing. Not because in an ideal world there would be no people with disabilities; rather, those with disabilities contribute to the diversity of our world, and diversity is what makes our lives rich with nuances, challenges, different perspectives and interesting ideas. No, in an ideal world we would be so inclusive of all types of people that we would find the idea of a dedicated month of the year for disabilities and inclusion awareness completely absurd.

Leaving the Jews Out of Jewish History

Written by Rafael Medoff on . Posted in Capital Commentary

Jewish organizations are understandably troubled that last week’s White House statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day failed to mention that the Holocaust targeted Jews. The statement’s bland reference to “the horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror” did not do justice to the historical record.

The Washington Post took the omission seriously, devoting an entire 13-paragraph news story to it.

Presidential Election Takeaways

Written by Eli Chomsky on . Posted in Capital Commentary

With the whirlwind rollout of President Trump’s policy agenda just getting started, it is far too premature to judge its chances of success in making “America Great Again.”

So, instead of prognosticating what the results will be on current and upcoming domestic and foreign policy initiatives, let’s take a sobering look back at some crucial but at times overlooked issues that played a part in the 2016 presidential election.

Let the post-election musings begin.

John Kerry’s Rant

Written by Sarah N. Stern on . Posted in Capital Commentary

Aleppo, Syria. A once thriving, bustling city. It boasted a population of over two million people and was one of the largest, most vibrant cities in the Levant. Today? It is a ghost town of what it once was. All one can see is rubble, charred buildings and mass graves. Human rights groups have recorded numerous examples of evidence of torture, mutilation and massacres perpetuated by the government of Bashir Assad, or the rebels or ISIS.

No one even knows an accurate toll of the Syrian fatalities. As of April 2016, the “unofficial estimate” by UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura was 400,000 deaths. As Foreign Policy reported that month, there was no official estimate at that time because the UN had simply stopped counting. “A lack of confidence in its own data, a nearly insurmountable problem in a complex conflict.” Meanwhile, two months earlier, one Syrian organization had already put the death toll at 470,000.

Red, Blue, and Frum: The Orthodox Community and the US Political Divide

Written by DeDe Jacobs-Komisar on . Posted in Capital Commentary

While the post-election report from the Pew Research Center says that 70% of American Jews voted for Hillary Clinton, it’s hard to find definitive numbers on how Orthodox people voted in the 2016 presidential election. The number 56-39 was floating around the internet–– attributed to both Trump and Clinton victories. We may never have hard data, so let’s just ask outright what we’ve been debating at Shabbos tables for what seems like forever:

Will Trump be “good for the Jews”? What does this even mean? Many assume he’ll be “better for Israel,” but is there a paradox when it comes to a President who supports the current Israeli government but has as his closest advisor Steve Bannon, founder of a site he called the “platform for the alt-right” and himself on record making anti-Semitic statements?

Preparing for Disaster? Read This First

Written by David Hornestay on . Posted in Capital Commentary

“Shall We Wake the President? Two Centuries of Disaster Management from the Oval Office” by Tevi Troy, Lyons Press, 2016

Prospective readers contemplating the title of this worthwhile book should not actually anticipate a 200-year chronicle of presidential reactions to national disasters. As the author himself points out, the state of communications in the first century of American history made a Washington response to events like the 1811-1812 earthquakes in Missouri irrelevant. The cherished concept of federalism rendered the federal government’s involvement an afterthought at best for even longer.

The One Thing He Couldn’t Change

Written by Jacob Kohn on . Posted in Capital Commentary

The Obama administration is a thing of the past. John Kerry is ready to become a trivia question. However, as President Barack Obama now becomes “former” and we talk about his legacy, it’s important that we don’t allow the fervor over his last few weeks in office to cloud our judgment. Many in the Jewish community reacted to Kerry’s speech at the UN and Obama’s surprise move to give $221 million to the Palestinian Authority with a visceral sense of shock and betrayal. What I have found in conversation with person after person since then is that many of the people with opinions about Kerry’s speech did not listen to his speech, in part or in its entirety. Instead, they looked at sensationalist headlines or memes on their social media feed as confirmation of an anti-Israel bias in the Obama administration that they long ago accepted as fact.

Listening to Kerry’s speech from start to finish, I heard a familiar tune, a theme if you will, and it was the theme of Obama’s tenure in office.

Why Does a Soldier Carry a Gun?

Written by General (res.) Bentzi Gruber Translated by Rachel Kohn on . Posted in Capital Commentary

In the course of my lecture tours throughout the United States this month, including a stop in Washington, D.C., I was frequently asked about the case the soldier who was convicted of manslaughter for his actions in Chevron, a case that has become known as “the Elor Azariah case.”

Most of the people asking, as far as I can tell from the questions, are not well-versed on the details of the specific event and don’t know in general about the conditions and reasons for using one’s weapon in the IDF. Therefore, I think there’s room for an explanation, in a simple manner, the essense of an IDF soldier’s use of lethal force. Most of those asking have preconceived notions that bring them to ask their questions and to criticize the IDF and the court system.

Trump’s Presidency Marks Shift in Israel Policy

Written by Zachary Leshin on . Posted in Capital Commentary

WASHINGTON––– The new administration of President Donald Trump marks a shift in the policy of the United States towards Israel. The clearest shift that has already occurred is the lack of criticism towards Israel’s construction of housing in east Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria.

During the Obama administration, every time Israel approved an apartment building to be constructed in the disputed territories, the administration condemned it. In contrast, since President Trump came into office 2500 housing units have been approved in Judea and Samaria and 566 units approved in east Jerusalem and the administration has issued no condemnation.