Using Google Trends to follow breaking news

Friday saw a worrying set of Islamic terror attacks in three different locations.

Google’s newly launched Trends feature allows you now to see how the search volumes change in almost realtime.

Some of this analysis was available before, but the ability to zero in on very specific days is yielding a more meaningful ability to analyze.

See this chart I just created showing the interest of English language searchers in each attack.


Mosque Burning – Demonstrating Against

Last week there was a demonstration of Jews and a few Arabs at the Gush Etzion junction, South of Bethlehem.
The demonstration was meant to show that most Jews find desecration and destruction of mosques to be disgusting and abhorrent.
On some level it was people saying that we think everyone (including Arabs) should stand against hate crimes and various race and politically-related attacks – when they are committed against any people: Jews, Muslim Arabs, or otherwise. I went to see the event as two guys from my company had helped organize it. I quickly went from standing with the demonstrators to standing with the press people – because I did not agree with the speeches of the Arab or Jewish spokespeople.

Anyway, below I wanted to share the discussion taht ensued on my facebook page – it almost became a whole blog, thought it happened out of site of most people – unless you follow one of the participants on facebook…

The actual page can be seen here – I have included a cut&paste from Facebook below:
Mosque Burning

Mosque Burning

Demonstration condemning desecration of a mosque near Efrat.

Stuart Schnee who participated?
October 5 at 4:39pm ·

Malka Adams how did the desecration?
October 5 at 4:41pm ·

Judy Slomovic I think the palis did it themselves and trying to blame the settlers so that they have an excuse to keep on attacking.
October 5 at 4:43pm · · 1 personLoading…

Nofia Vered Shem Tov as far as I’m concerned we should burn them all down
October 5 at 4:48pm ·

Moshe Kestenbaum Islam is a religion like an elephant is a trunk.
October 5 at 4:56pm ·

Nofia Vered Shem Tov the real question is how far the world is willing to lie to itself that Muslims are peaceful people. Islam is like the biggest mental illness in existence and should be listed in the DSMV
October 5 at 4:56pm ·

Sam Michelson I dont know who did what – but I think that as a Jew and a human I am against desecrating other people’s holy places, or ruining their property for that matter.
October 5 at 5:28pm ·

Nofia Vered Shem Tov they construct mosques as n act of war especially the one on the temple mount. they need to leave israel ASAP. Islam is a false religion and a blight on the world. a mental illness
October 5 at 5:29pm ·

Moshe Kestenbaum
It’s important to separate between a peaceful situation in which all human beings should be against the initiation of physical violence against anyone else (not just holy places) or their property.

To view the Arabs of the Land of Israel as… innocent bystanders or peaceful victims is to blank out the facts of reality. There is a very violent war being waged by these Arabs (either actively or with their tacit agreement and support) against Jews. Until this war ends, targeting their holy places if only to demoralize them is a totally legitimate action.See More
October 5 at 5:49pm · · 1 personLoading…

Sam Michelson
I don’t think the G-d I worship would want me or my friends attacking the holy places of my Muslim neighbors. Even assuming that most of these neighbors are not actually looking to live peacefully with me. Don’t get me wrong, I think peace …with the Arabs in this part of the world will take several generations and that we need to stand up for what is ours.

That said, it is a crime to deface other people’s property even if they don’t like you and even if they want you dead.See More
October 5 at 6:09pm · · 1 personLoading…

Nofia Vered Shem Tov so let them stop defacing our property.
October 5 at 6:11pm ·

Sam Michelson Nofia, Sorry I dont agree with you. Aside from that your solution does not seem pragmatic. They are not really going to leave Israel, just as you and I are not.
October 5 at 6:12pm ·

Leah G. Goodman
I have to agree – defacing their mosques is a poor way to give voice to our anger. It sends the wrong message. Our anger is not against their religion per se. Our anger is against their violence. All attacks should be on sources of violence…. That’s why I have no issue with bombing a school if there is a missile launcher shooting missiles from the roof (though I believe that we should issue warnings to vacate the school before the bombing). Likewise, if there were a weapons cache in a mosque, I would have no problem with burning it to the ground.

Demoralization of the average civilian is not helpful since the leadership only spins it into fuel for the fire. The leadership needs to be demoralized, and defacing a mosque isn’t going to do that .See More
October 5 at 6:29pm ·

Moshe Kestenbaum
Pragmatism — or making decisions based on the range of the moment without any long-term principles or ideals — is exactly what we don’t need. Pragmatism is what brought us to the point we’re at right now: Arabs building without restraint,… Jews banned from building, rampant terrorism on our roads and cities, international condemnation — all of these are the direct result of pragmatic people who decided to abandon our ideals and deal with the world in a pragmatic way. The Arabs are NOT pragmatists . They are idealists, which is why they are winning this battle instead of us.

“They are not going to leave Israel” is a typical statement made by the leftists, totally unsupported by reality and dismissive of any attempt to find a solution other than what they are proposing. The truth is, you have no idea whether or not the Arabs will leave Israel. If you are a believer in Mashiach, then you know that the day will come when the Arabs will leave but even without that, you are ignoring popular opinion polls conducted by Arabs showing very high percentage of Arabs wanting to leave Judea and Samaria as well as Gaza. The Arabs are certainly not operating under the assumption that you and I are not going to leave.

Let’s not pretend that one of the main sources of Arab violence resides within Islam and the Mosque. We are not talking about innocent houses of prayer but focal points of hatred and incitement against Jews which directly leads to murder of innocent Jews.

The policy of pragmatic restraint and respect for Arabs is what put us in the situation we’re in now. How about we try not 30 years, but just 5 years of non-restraint and lack of respect for our enemy’s ideological system. If it doesn’t work, we can always go back to being doormats.See More
October 5 at 7:17pm ·

David Rapport Sam, are you and the participants of the demonstration aware how many times the Israeli media blamed Jews for destroying Arab olive orchards, destroying property etc. only for it to be proven that it was either done by Arabs or if it was done by Jews, they were the Jews of Shalom Achshav?
October 5 at 7:29pm · · 1 personLoading…

Sam Michelson
Moshe. I call bullshit. Pragmatism is “a practical approach to problems and affairs.” It has nothing to do with shortsightedness. It means having a goal in mind and working to achieve it in a practical manner.

If you think its somehow justi…fiable to burn mosques or churches or synagogues you are not in the same camp as me.

David: I wasnt protesting I went to see the protest and moved away when one of the Arabs was given the microphone and started saying that there will be peace only if Netanyahu gives in to their demands.

I have no idea who vandalized the mosque. I sure hope it wasnt someone representing my faith. Either way, I would think that distancing ourselves from that type of illegal immoral activity would be a fine idea.See More
October 5 at 11:05pm · · 1 personKelli Brown likes this.

Branko Rihtman Sam, i wish more people were like you. And I am talking about people from all political sides. Being true to your principles regardless of the circumstances is a rare quality in people and i admire you for that.
October 5 at 11:56pm ·

Mike Gerver Desecrating a mosque is Chillul Hashem. And so is defending the desecration of mosques. Especially when it comes from Orthodox Jews, or from political rightwingers, it completely discredits Judaism, and the Israeli right, in the eyes of the world, and most of all in the eyes of other Jews. I say this from personal experience.
October 6 at 2:13am ·

Moshe Kestenbaum
People who don’t have the slightest idea what Chillul Hashem love waving the Chillul Hashem banner whenever it suits them. Your definition of Chillul Hashem is any activity that the gentiles disapprove of. You forget that Judaism has its ow…n standards and Chillul Hashem is evaluated according to the standards of Judaism, not according to the standards of liberals.

We are at war with the Arabs and their idealogical base is Islam. Attacking their mosques during such a war is a totally legitimate and even desirable action as it causes them to feel the pain that we feel when they attack us and serves as the best deterrent to such attacks. (As I said before, your approach of restraint never got us anywhere — try my approach for a while).

Sam, your definition of pragmatism is not different from mine. A “practical” approach is short-range. A pragmatic person walks dutifully into the cattle car so as to avoid being shot by the Nazi and ends up walking dutifully into the gas chamber. A non-pragmatic person organizes a revolt at the risk of his own life and others to possibly avoid dying but if not, then to die with honor.See More
October 6 at 7:45am ·

Sam Michelson You certainly don’t think that attacking their pregnant women is a legitimate tactic. Those babies are the future terrorists, but somehow you realize that this would be immoral. I am not aware of conflicts that are solved by stainless and perpetrators of hate crimes, are you?
October 6 at 8:04am ·

Sam Michelson ‎’stainless’? I think I meant vandals… (thanks autocorrect!)
October 6 at 8:06am ·

Moshe Kestenbaum True, I don’t advocate vigilantism. I think these things should be done by the Israeli army.
October 6 at 8:14am ·

Mike Gerver
I do not define “Chillul Hashem” as anything gentiles disapprove of. I define it as acting contrary to halacha, in a way gentiles will RIGHTLY disapprove of, and will make them think that this is how observant Jews behave (because they know… that you are an observant Jew), and will therefore lead them (and even more important, will lead non-observant Jews) to disapprove of Judaism. I think desecrating mosques (for the sake of desecrating mosques, I’m not talking about attacking a mosque that Hamas is using to store weapons, or to launch attacks) clearly falls within that definition. Islam is not avoda zara according to any halachic opinion.

Destroying mosques for the sake of destroying mosques, is wrong absolutely, and it does not in any way serve as a deterrent to Arabs or Muslims attacking us. On the contrary, they would love it if we were to destroy their mosques, because it would be a great public relations coup for them, and this war is being fought primarily in the arena of world and Western public opinion right now. It is about as unpragmatic a course of action as I can imagine.

It is also wrong absolutely. We are fighting a war against some Arabs, and against some Muslims, specifically those with a particular ideology, which is sometimes called Islamo-Fascism, or Islamism, or jihadism. Its relationship to Islam as a whole is similar to the relationship of Nazism to Christianity. Nazism developed among Christians, in Christian countries, and its development was paved by centuries of anti-semitic ideology perpetrated by Catholics and Protestants in the name of Christianity, and at the highest levels, as documented by James Carroll in The Sword of Constantine. That doesn’t mean that all Christians were Nazis, even in Germany, and that it would have been right for the allies to deliberately bomb German churches (just because they were churches) during World War II.See More
October 6 at 12:12pm ·

Moshe Kestenbaum
‎1. “It does not in any way serve as a deterrent” — again, a totally baseless assertion stated as fact. How do you know that attacking their ideological power base won’t serve as a deterrent. Have you tried it? I think it would serve as a …huge deterrent.

2. The attempt to distinguish the “good Moslems” from the “bad Moslems” is a favorite today among liberals, especially in the U.S. It’s simply untrue. The supposed “minority” of Islamo-fascists” could never exist without the tacit approval and support of the supposedly “peaceful” Moslems. Over and over we see these “peaceful” Arabs providing support and encouragement to the “evil” Arabs. It’s time we all realized this truth and stop defending those who lend moral and material support to the murderers of our children.

Even if you think it’s wrong for individuals to go around burning mosques (I certainly would never initiate this kind of violence), it is extremely harmful to protest against it. In a period where Jews are victimized all around this country, their basic individual rights violated at every turn, racist building freezes, curtailing of freedom of speech and assembly, threats of expulsion, actual expulsion, not to mention DESTRUCTION OF SYNAGOGUES ON A DAILY BASIS BY THE JEWISH GOVERNMENT, the liberals decide to let all these things pass and protest against the burning of a mosque which was not done as a hate crime but as retaliation against hundreds of hate crimes perpetrated against Jews every day in this country. It’s hypocritical and anti-semitic to hold Jews to a “higher” standard than anyone else. Even if you oppose what was done, you should not hold one single demonstration until you see the liberals demonstrating against violation of Jewish rights.See More
October 6 at 12:56pm ·

Mike Gerver
I’m guessing that destroying mosques does not serve as a deterrent, and our enemies want us to do that, because they are constantly accusing us of doing it when we really aren’t. Look at how readily they accuse of us undermining Al-Aksa. If… the idea of Jews undermining Al-Aksa were something that would demoralize Muslims, then their leaders, if they suspected we were doing that, would try to hide that fact, so their people would not become demoralized, and perhaps try to stop it by quiet diplomacy.

It’s true that the Muslim world in general, and the Arab world in particular, has a serious problem these days of failing to take a forthright stand against the extremists, just as the Christian world, in Germany and elsewhere, with a few exceptions, failed to take a stand against Nazism, and even sympathized with Nazism. But being a passive sympathizer with the Nazis, and being an anti-Semite, while despicable, is not a crime that you should punish someone for, by seizing their property, or putting them in jail. That should be reserved for someone who actually commits, or aids and abets, violence against Jews, or theft of Jewish property. Similarly, you cannot say that burning a mosque is
“retaliation” for Arab attacks on Jews, unless you know that the members of that particular mosque actually participated in attacks against Jews, or materially aided such attacks, or criminally incited such attacks.

Yes, it is wrong to curtail free speech and assembly in any circumstances, and this should be protested. If you thought the building freeze of Nov. 2009 was wrong, you should protest it, though even Benny Begin thought there were good enough arguments in favor of it to support it as a one time thing. I agree it should not be continued, and that, in the present circumstances at least, expulsion of Jews, or threats of expulsion, from anywhere in Eretz Yisrael, is wrong, and should be protested. I don’t know if it is hypocritical for liberals not to protest these things, since they sincerely think they are OK, but I agree they are wrong to think that, and in the case of freedom of speech and assembly, they should understand that it is important to protest. But none of these things have the same potential for Chillul Hashem as Jews destroying mosques, or Jews defending the destruction of mosques. So it is more important for Jews to protest that, than to protest any of those other things. It is certainly not “extremely harmful” to protest it, as Moshe says.

I don’t see why it is anti-Semitic to hold Jews to a higher standard of behavior than Arabs. But is wrong to do so for the opposite reason–it is anti-Arab racism to hold Arabs to a lower standard of behavior than Jews. Israeli leftists tend to do that, which makes me think they are just as prejudiced against Arabs as Israelis rightists, if not more so.See More
October 6 at 1:55pm ·

Moshe Kestenbaum
‎1. The Arabs invent desecrations of mosques because they know the it will put Jews like you on the defensive, which is their true motive. If Jews shrugged it off with a “You kill my son, I burn your mosque” attitude, it would take that ver…y weapon out of the hands of the Muslims. They feed on the guilt of liberals.

The Jews were the objectives of blood libels and false accusations throughout two millenia PRECISELY because we were perceived as weak and unable to retaliate. Had the Jews responded to these accusations forcefully, they would have stopped. In any example throughout history (unfortunately there aren’t many of these) where the Jews stood up to their oppressors it resulted in fewer Jewish bodies, not more.

2. There is no comparison between Christianity which happened to be the prevailing religion in Europe and Nazis, who were not religious. Nazism was a racist ideology on its own and whereas it may have had support from some Christians, the Nazis didn’t use Christianity as their main justification for murdering Jews. Would it have been wrong to burn Adolf Eichman’s house together with his wife and children in it as retaliation for what he did to us? I think not. During the Crusades and Inquisition however, I think Church-burning would have been very much justified.

3. From what you write about Benny Begin (the dropping of whose name doesn’t lend strength to any argument) and the building freeze, it appears that you feel that there are circumstances under which the racist abrogation of individual rights are warranted. (For the “good of society” perhaps, which means holding the individual rights of some individuals above those of others.). A person’s right to dispose of his property is not something for others to decide but his basic right as a human being who has earned and acquired property. Once you do away with the concept of individual rights, you do away with morality and anything goes. To start talking then about the rights of Arabs to their mosques is a joke.

4. Here’s why it’s anti-semitic to hold a Jew to a higher standard than an Arab: When you hold the Jew to a higher standard you are saying that for a given action, you will hold a Jew responsible and proclaim him guilty of wrongdoing while absolving the Arab. That is anti-semitic and racist by definition.

5. Your demonstrations are harmful and the best proof of this is the Arab who showed up and used the demonstration as a platform to further his racist goal of expelling Jews from their homes. The worst Chillul Hashem is one in which the Muslims evict Jews from their homes and thus deny the G-d-given Jewish rights to the land, proclaiming their Allah as the real god and our Hashem as a fraud and fake, proclaiming the promises of the Torah as lies. For anyone who really cares about Hashem’s reputation, THOSE are the issues which hurt most and not Jews standing up for their rights and striking back at those who murder them.See More
October 6 at 3:38pm ·

Mike Gerver
‎1. It is very important that Jews take action to deter people from attacking them, and retaliating is one way to do that, which can be effective. But in order to serve as a deterrent, it is very important that the retaliation be directed a…gainst the people who actually attacked you, and not against other people who happen to belong to the same ethnic group or religion as the people who attacked you, even if those people hate you and want you to be attacked. If they think you are going to retaliate against them whether they attack you or not, then deterrence falls apart.

2. While the Nazis were not Christians, their ideology grew out of a Christian world, and very much used Christian anti-semitic traditions to justify what they did to Jews. Read James Carroll’s book, The Sword of Constantine. Indiscriminate church-burning would have made no sense at all during the Crusades and the Inquisition. There were people and groups in the Christian world who defended Jews against the attacks of Crusaders, including the Popes in most cases, and theologians like Peter Abelard. (See Carroll’s book.) You wouldn’t want to burn their churches down, together with, or instead of, the churches of bishops who attacked Jews, and Crusaders who attacked Jews without the approval of any church authority. That would strengthen the hand of the people who were attacking Jews. If a particiular Arab is guilty of attacking Jews, as Eichmann was personally guilty of killing Jews, then it would be legitimate to confiscate his property as punishment, or to burn down his house or his mosque (if it only belonged to him) in retaliation if he was outside Israeli jurisdiction.

3. I didn’t support the building freeze of Nov. 2009, for the reasons you state. It was indeed racist, discriminating against people based on their ethnicity. There may be dire emergencies where it is necessary to do that–that was the rationale that the US government used for interning Japanese-Americans during World War II, which the US Supreme Court accepted. But in retrospect, it clearly wasn’t necessary in that case, and it shouldn’t have been done. No doubt Netanyahu and Benny Begin felt that the need to stay on good terms with the US was such an emergency situation last November, which justified such a racist policy. In principle, that could be a valid argument, but in practice I don’t think it was. Nothing we did would have satisfied Obama, as subsequent events showed. But it was legitimate for a democratically elected government to make such a decision, using their best judgment. I just think it was the wrong decision, given the facts.

4. The Torah holds Jews to a higher standard. They have to obey 613 commandments, and Bnei Noach only have to obey 7. Jews are punished by Hashem, as well as by a Beit Din, for doing things that non-Jews would not be punished for. Is that anti-Semitic? It is not a denigration of Jews to hold them to a higher standard. On the contrary. But in the case of killing and stealing, which are forbidden alike to Jews and non-Jews, it is wrong to hold non-Jews to a lower standard, because it is insulting to non-Jews.

5. If Jews burn down mosques, and openly admit it and justify it, that is a very good convincing argument, to most people in the world and even to most Jews in the world, why Jews should not be allowed to live in Yehuda and Shomron, areas where there are a lot of Muslims. If Jews demonstrate against burning down mosques, that is a refutation of that argument. This is a far more important consideration than giving Arabs another forum for arguing against us–they have plenty of forums already. Unfortunately it does matter what non-Jews think, especially in the US. Like it or not, what non-Jews think can put serious constraints on what the Israeli government can do, not because they are afraid of offending them, but because it affects what weapons we can buy, and what the UN Security Council can do against us. Hasbara is an extremely important part of this struggle we are engaged in, and we forget that at our peril.See More
October 6 at 7:47pm ·

Moshe Kestenbaum
‎1. Again, the Arabs of the Land of Israel don’t just harbor anti-semitic feelings. They actively support the terror infrastructure. Without their support, the terrorists would never have the safe haven to run to, the transportation to carr…y out their attacks and the moral support and propaganda machine to handle public opinion. The Arabs are not some anti-Semitic guy sitting in a bar cursing out Jews. They are at war with us as a nation and as a religion. Your attempts to turn this into some kind of inner-city race conflict only serve to mask what’s truly going on.

2. Unlike your assertion about Churches and groups who supported Jews during the crusades, there are no Arab groups and religious figures who support Zionism and Zionists so again the comparison is not valid. One person’s opinion in a book on the Christian influences on Nazis doesn’t make a fact, and the fact is that the Nazis were NOT religious people and their ideology was not a Christian ideology.

3. Individual rights are absolute and cannot be abrogated because someone “feels” that his ties with the U.S. are more important than someone else’s rights. It is true that in a democracy which doesn’t uphold individual rights (like Israel’s democracy as opposed to U.S. democracy) it is possible for the majority to violate the rights of the minority. Such a system is amoral (or immoral) and I certainly don’t support it. The breakthrough of the U.S. founding fathers was to recognize that even a democratically-elected government cannot be allowed to trample the individual rights of its citizens.

The case of Japanese-Americans during world war II is an excellent example of where people can lose their rights because they have initiated violence against others. To the extent that the Japanese-Americans were at war with America their rights should have been abrogated and only to that extent. The Arabs of the Land of Israel as a group are at war with Israel and support the destruction of Israel in one way or another. They democratically elected Hamas, which is dedicated to violent destruction of Israel and Jews. If you want, we can allow those of them who support Israel and Zionism to speak out and make them immune to retaliation…let’s see if that happens.

4. The Torah holds Jews to a different standard and is racist. The Torah is also G-d-given and we are bound by its standards. However, the Torah spells out precisely where those differences lie. Your attempt to use the Torah as a basis to excuse racism in other areas than Halacha is exactly what was used by the Roman Ruler in the story of the Asarah Harugei Malchut and is abhorrent to anyone who respects individual rights.

5. Are you seriously claiming that the burning down of mosques would give the nations of the world an excuse to deny Jews’ rights to live in Judea and Samaria? They have been claiming this for 40 years based on their denial of our right to be there at all. They will continue to claim it and it doesn’t make one damn bit of difference whether we continue to prostrate ourselves before the Arabs as we do today or whether we burn down every mosque in the land. By demonstrating against it, you don’t take away any of their arguments. You want proof? Here it is: You demonstrated, they continue to demand that you leave. There ya go.

The liberals and leftists have been claiming for years that “like it or not” the world can make us do this or that. First of all, this is refutable by simply pointing out the support given to totalitarian states and brutal dictatorships by the “civilized” world. Hamas has no problem buying weapons and neither do any of the other brutal mass-murderers who govern most of the world’s countries. There is simply no validity to this claim and it has been proven over and over and yet the liberals continue to use this scare tactic to get us to commit suicide. Part of this tactic is stating assumptions as fact in such a scornful way as to intimidate anyone from challenging them. I am not afraid to challenge them and I think that the goings on in the world today provide enough evidence to show that their assumptions are completely baseless.

Besides all that, the attitude of “what will the goyim say” is a galuti attitude. The cornerstone of Zionism was that the Jew would control his own destiny and not rely on the gentiles to defend us. Now that we finally have our own country and army (which was established against all pragmatism and against all odds of success) we have liberals and leftists yearning to go back (or claiming we are already there) to the galut where our decisions are made based on gentile interests and not Jewish ones. We are now at the point where every decision that is made is made based on what the U.S. or Europe will say without even waiting for a reaction. Our enemies could care less about what the U.S. or Europe say and that’s why they have the support of the EU. In the end, the EU sees one group being totally acquiescent to its demands and another group staunchly standing up for its principles and ideology. Which group would you expect them to put pressure on if their final goal is just to reach an agreement?

If you’re going to make your decisions based on what the U.N. security council might do to you, I suggest moving back to Poland where that attitude worked really well for the Jews there. I prefer to stay here and fight for what I believe in (and if necessary, die with a bullet in my head and defiance in my heart, rather than walk like a sheep into whatever slaughterhouse the gentiles are preparing for me).See More
October 7 at 1:56pm ·

Mike Gerver
‎1. It is not “the Arabs of the Land of Israel” who provide terrorists a safe haven to run to, but a small minority of them, viz. the leaders of the Palestinian Authority (who, in the absence of democratic elections, represent no one but th…emselves), and Fatah, and, in Gaza, the leaders of Hamas, in the rare instances where they can successfully send a terrorist into Israel. Pressure has to be exerted on them to change the situation, and to a very large extent this has already been done, successfully. Terrorist attacks are down to something like 1% or 2% of what they were during the height of the intifada. Even if, as polls show, most Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza support terrorism against Israel, very few of them actively take part in terrorist attacks, or shield returning terrorists. Think about it–there are about 1.5 million Arabs on the West Bank, and there have been something like 10,000 or 20,000 terrorist attacks in the past 10 years, and each attack does not involve anywhere near 100 people, and the people who take part have probably each taken part in many attacks, so the vast majority have not taken part in any. There is nothing to pressure them into doing that they are not already doing. It’s not reasonable to punish them for their opinions, and burning down their mosques certainly isn’t going to make them like us.

2. The popes in the Middle Ages didn’t exactly support Judaism. Like all Christians, they thought that all Jews ought to become Christians. They just didn’t think they should be killed if they wouldn’t, and only to that extent can they be said to support Jews. On that level, there have indeed been Arab and Muslim leaders who have taken the position that a Jewish state should be allowed to exist, even if they are not enthusiastic about it. Anwar Sadat and Benazir Bhutto are two examples that come to mind, and both paid with their lives for taking that position, and more generally for opposing Islamic extremism, which goes a long way toward explaining why there haven’t been so many more such leaders. I agree, of course, that there need to be far more Muslim leaders with the courage to take such positions publicly, as risky as it is.

The fact that James Carroll has an opinion does not make it a fact, but the evidence he brings in his book is very convincing, in my opinion. Granted, Nazism is not Christianity, but most Nazis and most German Christians felt the two were perfectly compatible. And where else could Nazi anti-Semitism have come from, if not from Catholic and Protestant ideology, which were thoroughly saturated with anti-Semitism in 1933, and had been almost since their founding? The Nazis also borrowed symbolism from Teutonic mythology, and from Hinduism, but neither of those had a tradition of anti-Semitism. I believe the relationship between Nazism and Christianity is very much like the relationship between modern Islamo-fascism and Islam.

3. It’s admirable that you hold such an absolutist view of the importance of individual rights, and think that they cannot be violated even temporarily in an emergency. But that principled (if occasionally impractical) point of view seems inconsistent with your ascribing terms denoting guilt or innocence collectively to whole ethnic groups. How could “Japanese-Americans” as a whole be at war, or not at war, with the United States? There was no Japanese-American government that could declare war on the US. There was only a group of individuals who shared a common ethnic origin. If individual Japanese-Americans were disloyal, and aided the enemy during World War II, then they, as individuals, deserved punishment. If a large fraction of all Japanese-Americans were disloyal, which was certainly not the case, then, according to the Supreme Court ruling, it would be justified, as a temporary emergency measure during wartime, to intern all of them, even though the individual rights of those who were innocent would be violated. It’s hard to find fault with this logic, though they had the facts wrong. If you disagree, I don’t really have any objection, though I am surprised that you don’t apply the same logic to the rights of individual Arabs on the West Bank, who (see #1) cannot all be guilty of terrorist acts, or aiding and abetting terrorism.

4. I wouldn’t call the Torah racist, except I suppose in the halachot of converting Moabites, which is no longer applicable in practice since there are no more Moabites. It is true that the Torah makes a distinction between Jews (not defined racially, of course) and non-Jews, and in this sense it is elitist, or perhaps I should say it has a tendency to encourage those who follow it to be elitist, looking down on non-Jews as not being good enough to be obligated to follow all 613 commandments. It seems odd to me that you consider this to be discriminating against Jews, rather than against non-Jews, but maybe this is just arguing over semantics. I think we both agree that, when it comes to mitzvot that Jews and non-Jews are equally obligated in, it is wrong not to hold non-Jews responsible for their actions, and to make excuses for them.

5. During the Holocaust, Jews had no power at all. Now, with a state, we have some power, which we can use to defend ourselves, and it is important that we make sure never to lose that power. But having some power doesn’t mean we have infinite power, and can do whatever we feel is in our interests, without having to take into account what other people think. The rest of the world, put together, can defeat us militarily if they wanted to, and even some individual countries or groups of countries could do that, so we have to make sure that doesn’t happen. Since we do have some power, we can use it deter other countries from acting against us, but that isn’t enough by itself. We also need to use diplomacy, and public opinion. Sometimes there is a conflict between deterrence and public opinion, and there can be uncertainty as to what the best trade off is, but it is wrong to think that no such trade off ever has to be made. Because I say this, you accuse me of saying that Israel has no power at all, and we are back in the Holocaust years. This is an extreme exaggeration.

“The nations of the world” have not been denying our right to live in Judea and Samaria for 40 years. Resolution 242, which in some sense represents the considered opinion of the “nations of the world” weighted according to their power, envisioned a division of Judea and Samaria between Israel and Jordan, and later, between Israel and the Palestinians. Even Jimmy Carter is on record saying that, within the past year. This business of Jews having no right to live anywhere in Judea and Samaria was only an idea of Arab countries and their sympathizers, until relatively recently, when, due to effective PR, that have managed to get it taken seriously by the European Union and the Obama administration. At the same time, they have gotten more and more leftwing intellectual types, like Tony Judt, to subscribe to the notion that Israel should not have a right to exist at all, which used to be very much a fringe notion in the US and Europe. What has changed recently in one direction can go back and change in the other direction, if we get our own hasbara efforts in order.See More
Yesterday at 12:35am ·

Mike Gerver
One more point I forgot to make on #5. Everything I say about public opinion in the rest of the world applies at least as much to public opinion within Israel. If we Israelis are not convinced of the justice of our own cause, we are not goi…ng to fight as hard to defend ourselves. Norman Podhoretz told a story about giving a speech shortly after the Oslo accords, predicting what a disaster it would be. Someone in the audience said that he agreed with him completely, but that he still thought the Oslo accords were necessary, just to convince soldiers in the IDF that they really had no choice but to fight, that no stone had been left unturned to achieve peace. Podhoretz had no reply to that. The same argument could be made about the freeze on construction. As useless as it seems to us, there are quite a few leftists out there (I know some of them) who thought it was just what was needed. That may be the only reasonable argument for doing it, in spite of the (temporary) suspension of the property rights of landowners. We need to demonstrate to them, periodically since they have short memories, that these kinds of things really are useless, under the present circumstances. And, even among non-leftists, burning down mosques is not the kind of thing that will encourage Israelis to think our cause is just.See More
Yesterday at 1:32am ·

Moshe Kestenbaum
We’re rehashing the same points. Ignoring the facts is not going to change them:

1. The terrorists receive help not just from the Arabs of Judea and Samaria but also from the Arabs of Israel. They would never be able to operate in a society …that didn’t support their actions. The fact that you see only the ones who physically blow themselves up as criminals and not the entire society which actively supports them, is immoral. We are not holding people accountable for their opinions and if the entire population were anti-semitic but not murdering Jews, we would indeed have no recourse against them for their opinions. However, they are murdering us and they are able to do so because of the safe haven and support they receive from their brethren which makes their entire society guilty. Burning their mosques down is not done to make them like us but to let them know that their actions have consequences and a society that tolerates and supports murder will not be allowed to continue doing so and live in peace.

2. You are of course entitled to your beliefs about the connection between Nazism and Christianity. I don’t think the facts support them. Again, the Nazis were not religious and their ideology was that of a supreme race of Aryans and not Christians. If it serves your purpose to blank out this fact, that’s your decision to do so. Using the process of elimination to determine the roots of Nazism (it couldn’t be A, B, or C so it must be D) is not applicable to an ideology which doesn’t need religious roots to exist.

3. Individual rights ARE absolute and it’s not because I hold them to be but by the very nature of Man as Man. A human being needs the freedom to produce and retain the product of his efforts in order to survive. Nothing gives any other human the right to sacrifice another human being’s rights because HE determined that it was an “emergency”.

All the liberals and leftists could have offered their own homes (or the homes of any of their supporters) in exchange for the homes of the settlers of Gush Katif but apparently, the “emergency” was only important enough for the sacrifice of other people’s property and not their own. They decided based on their altruistic morality to take 10,000 human beings and literally throw them into the street.

I don’t know the facts about the population of Japanese-Americans, hence the caveat accompanying my agreement with their treatment during the war. I do know the facts about the Arabs (see #1). The big hole in your structure is the plain fact that there are NO Arab groups who support Zionism and the rights of the Jews to the Land of Israel. The reason for this is that they (as a group) do not support our rights. You can’t use actually murdering Jews as a criteria for guilt when an entire society provides the infrastructure and support for such murders to be carried out.

4. It seems we agree, although I maintain that the Torah is racist. While it’s true that any non-Jew (except a Moabit/Ammonite) can become a Jew, he is not automatically a Jew. He must go through a process whereas a Jew does not. I don’t define racism in the negative sense but in the factual sense, a recognition of the fact that there exists a difference between races and not “all men are created equal”. By this definition, the Torah definitely does differentiate between people born Jewish and people born Gentile and as such is by definition, racist.

5. I disagree. It was only the interpretation of Israel that “withdrawal from territories” meant only SOME territories and not all. The rest of the world always saw J&S as belonging to the Arabs and the only possible reason for modifications in the borders would have been security-related, an argument which Israel itself has been making for 40 years (instead of: We’re keeping them because they belong to us).

It might be true that in the unlikely event that the entire world decided to go to war against us we would lose. That of course doesn’t change the fact that if the alternative is putting us in a position where not the whole world but only a local Arab army could achieve the same effect, it doesn’t make sense to trade one kind of suicide for another.

Of course, the above scenario is purely hypothetical and a favorite among leftist panic-spreaders who use the Jewish fear of annihilation as a tool to take away the newly acquired defenses of the Jews. In fact, no one would go to war against us if properly asserted and defended our rights. The “world”, (meaning the U.S.) would never go to war against Israel and none of the other third-party countries would do that either. The only countries who would go to war against us are the Arabs who don’t need further provocation and if they could win a war against us today, would start a war today.

In general, it’s not a good idea to sacrifice justice for pragmatism. No one respects or supports someone who has no ideology (or whose “ideology” consists of short-range convenience). The fact is that the entire Land of Israel was stolen from the Jewish people by the Romans. The fact is that no other independent country existed in this land for 2,000 years and the “palestinian” people is an invention. The fact is that even without any of the above, Israel captured Judea, Samaria, and Gaza in a defensive war initiated by the Arabs and therefore the lands captured in that war should belong to Israel, not the aggressors. The fact is that Israel should never be obligated to take in as citizens the Arabs citizens of the countries which attacked it. The fact is that those Arabs, if given individual rights (and not political ones) would have more rights and better lives than any Arabs in the Middle East and if they disagreed, no one would stop them from going elsewhere. The fact is that the Israeli Army (like any army in a civilized country which respects individual rights) has the responsibility to defend its citizens against attack and those attackers do not have the right to choose the degree of “measured response” they get once they have initiated the use of physical force against others.

All of the above are the points which Israel should stand on not because they are convenient and not because the rest of the world (which either actively helped or passively allowed the Nazis to exterminate six million Jews 70 years ago — let’s not forget that little testament to the Jews’ ability to trust the “nations of the world”) agrees or does not agree, but because they are true, because they are moral and because they are just.

Allowing a cult which actively advocates holy war against all non-adherents and encourages oppression, totalitarianism, and murder to flourish in our midst is an act of immorality and is the objective of all those who participated in that rally.See More
Yesterday at 1:12pm ·

Moshe Kestenbaum
Regarding your additional point, it is not the soldiers in the IDF who need to be convinced in the justice of their cause. Thank G-d most of the country is healthy and does believe in our basic rights to our land. It is the tiny minority of… leftist elite (and their supporters, like you) consisting of the Supreme Court, the prosecutor’s office, and most of the media who would need to be convinced. And yet, we see that time after time, these people, faced with the most conclusive evidence possible that their ways are not the path to peace, persist in continuing along that path. There is simply no convincing people who don’t make their decisions based on logic and reality, but rather on their emotions.

What is needed is to limit their power so they can’t hurt anyone anymore and this should be done through the legislation of individual rights which are not subject to violation by people like you who see it as within your power to dispose of other people’s rights “temporarily” or “in an emergency” (those criteria, of course, being determined by the person whose rights are NOT being violated.).

I’ve often toyed with the “Atlas Shrugged” kind of solution where the entire population of Judea and Samaria voluntarily picks themselves up and moves say, to the Negev, just to allow the missiles to rain down on Tel Aviv and thus hope that when the Kassam rockets fall into the cups of coffee on Shenkin Street, the leftists will finally be convinced. Unfortunately, the Gaza experiment shows that this is NOT what will happen. Rather, the leftists will find another reason why the Arabs are justified in their violent attacks (e.g. Israel refusing to grant the Arabs autonomy in the Galil where they represent a majority) and begin campaigning for that. In the end, it all comes down to whether or not you respect individual rights and non-aggression and are willing to fight for it. If you do, you will draw the line right now where it is and demand peace without concessions and continue to do what is necessary to defend yourself until the people on the other side change their mind or are defeated. If you don’t you can continue to give “painful concessions” (painful to other’s of course), and “gestures of good will” which further weaken you until such time as you will be forced to fight the final battle with your back against the wall and your children screaming as the Arab mob rampages through your liberal streets with their axes yelling “Allah hu Akbar” and their muazzin broadcasting words of encouragement and incitement from the mosque you didn’t take the trouble to destroy.See More
Yesterday at 1:40pm ·

Mike Gerver
Yes, we are repeating ourselves, so let’s try to wrap this up. I think we can retire points #2 and #4, at least. For #2, I am saying that the arguments James Carroll makes in his book The Sword of Constantine, for the role that Christianity… played in promoting anti-Semitism over the past 2000 years, makes it very clear that all European anti-Semitism is an outgrowth of Christian anti-Semitism. You deny this, but haven’t read the book. So read the book if you want to (I’d be happy to lend it to you), and if you still think he doesn’t make a convincing case, we can argue about specific points. I will add that I thought I knew a lot about the topic before I read the book, but didn’t know a tenth of the history he describes there, and that it is a very well written book.

For #4, I am only making the rather minor point that Jews are an ethnic group, and a religious community, but not a race, so you cannot call the Torah “racist” for making a distinction between Jews and non-Jews. Racism is wrong not only because it discriminates against people, but because it discriminates against people for superficial reasons, such as the color of their skin, which the Torah does not do. Jews come in all races, and this was true even at the time of Matan Torah, as exemplified by Tsippora, who was a Cushite. (Yes, I know Rashi interprets that differently.) There is also a mishneh discussing how to tell if people with light skin and dark skin have tzora’at.

1. Yes, there are some Israeli Arabs who help terrorists, or are terrorists, but the vast majority of Israeli Arabs have not only never helped a terrorist, but are against terrorism, unlike Arabs on the West Bank and Gaza, who, according to polls, are in favor of terrorism against Israeli Jews. Though, as I showed, the numbers are such that it is not possible for more than a small fraction of Arabs in the shtachim to have engaged in a terrorist act, helped to plan a terrorist act, hid a terrorist, or done anything more than, say, danced in the streets to celebrate a successful terrorist act. But the great majority of Israeli Arabs do not dance in the streets to celebrate acts of terrorism, and are very embarrassed when members of their community support terrorism or engage in terrorism. Maybe there are some towns, like Umm Al-Faham, where a majority of Israeli Arabs are in favor of terrorism against Jews, I don’t know, but these places are very much the exception. Israeli Arabs make up 20% of the voters, but only about 5% of the voters vote for the Arab parties, and the rest of the Israeli Arabs vote mostly for Labor and Kadimah, probably, so this is an indication of where they stand. Even the ones who vote for Arab parties are not necessarily in favor of terrorism. This is not to say that most Israeli Arabs are happy that Israel exists as a Jewish state. Probably most of them would rather it were “a state for its citizens” and you can’t blame them for feeling that way. You certainly shouldn’t burn down their mosques for feeling that way. But they know that their lives would be much worse if Israel were to be destroyed and taken over by a Palestinian state, and the great majority of them do not hope that will happen, let alone take active steps to make it happen. I’m not even mentioning here the Bedouin and Druze who serve in the IDF, but I assume you are not including them among Israeli Arabs, even though they speak Arabic, and have mosques (maybe the Druze use a different word).

3. I think we’re mixing up two different things. One is that it is wrong to discriminate against people on the basis of ethnicity, and the building freeze discriminated against Jews who own property in Judea and Samaria. The other is that the government does not have a right to take property away from some people, but not other people (even if not based on ethnicity) without giving them fair compensation. In the case of the building freeze, this second problem would be solved if the government compensated Jewish land owners in Judea and Samaria for the income they lost (in rent not collected, or delayed income from sale of homes) due to the freeze. I don’t know if they did that, but they certainly should have. And I agree that the way the government handled compensation for the Jews who were kicked out of the their homes in Gaza, including my second cousin, was disgraceful. (I was also very opposed to the withdrawal from Gaza altogether, of course.) Governments DO have a right to seize people’s property against their will, if they pay them fair compensation. This is called eminent domain, and is not a violation of human rights according to any theory.

That still leaves the first problem, of discriminating against people based on their ethnic group. This is highly undesirable, and should be avoided if at all possible, but I think it can be justified in cases of emergency, if done by a democratically elected government. This is especially true if it only involves property rights, and only involves a temporary suspension of property rights. Interning people is much more problematic, but in principle, in a life and death situation like a war, I think even that can be justified. I don’t think these conditions were met in the case of the Japanese-Americans in World War II, and I don’t think these conditions were met in the case of the building freeze in Judea and Samaria. But, if people were fairly compensated for their lost income, I don’t think it raises the problem of absolute violations of human rights that you bring up.

And after all, Israel, like many countries, discriminates in favor of its dominant ethnic group in allowing immigrants in. So I don’t see how you can say that discrimination on the basis of ethnicity is something that has to be avoided absolutely, in all circumstances, as a human right. It’s something that should be avoided as much as possible.

5. Resolution 242 was deliberately written to say “territories” rather than “the territories”, by Arthur Goldberg and Peter Carrington, so that it would NOT imply that Israel had to withdraw from all the territories. That is not just Israel’s interpretation, but the intention of the people who wrote it (and Carrington, at least, was no friend of the Jews). The Arabs, of course, interpreted it to mean all the territories, but that’s not what its intended meaning was. And Eugene Rostow, who had been a high ranking foreign policy official in the Johnson administration, wrote the first article I read (in Commentary in the 1970s, maybe?) outlining the legal reasons why Jews have a right to live in Judea and Samaria, and the Geneva Convention does not prohibit it. The idea that Jews have no right to live in Judea and Samaria at all, and that Israel should not keep any of it, has only gained popularity, outside the Arab world, relatively recently.

The US certainly could invade Israel, if Israel became unpopular enough among the American public, in the long term. Or, short of that, start selling their top weapons to our enemies, and not sell them to us. I am NOT saying that this concern justifies our giving in to the Obama administration about the freeze–it does not. I’m just saying that Israel, like every other country in the world, does have to take into account public opinion in at least some other countries, among other considerations, in formulating their policies.

(to be continued, I’m over the maximum length for a comment)See More
3 hours ago ·

Mike Gerver
I agree with everything else you said under #5, amd most of what you said in your later message. But I resent being called a supporter of the leftist elite! I do not know where you got that idea, and it is not true. I voted for Habayit Haye…hudi in the last election, Likud in the 2006 election (after Kadimah had split off from Likud), and Yisrael B’Aliyah in the 2003 election. I was, as I said, against the building freeze of last November, and against the withdrawal from Gaza. So what makes me a supporter of the leftist elite? Just the fact that I am opposed to burning down mosques? I don’t think you will find many supporters of the Right in Israel who agree with you on that.

Though I was against the withdrawal from Gaza, and against the concessions that Barak offered Arafat in 2000, and that Olmert offered Abbas in 2008, I do not agree with you that leftists did not learn anything from this. Maybe the most diehard leftists did not, but I think most Israelis who supported these things were very surprised at the results, and did learn something from them. That is why Labor went from 19 to 8 seats, and Likud went from 12 to 28 seats, in the last election.See More
3 hours ago ·

Moshe Kestenbaum
OK, I may have gotten a little carried away with the “supporter of leftist elite comment”. I apologize for that. 🙂

I meant the diehard leftists, of course and unfortunately there are quite a few of them and they occupy key positions in the …aforementioned areas.

It seems we’ve milked this topic for all it’s worth, so see you at the next debate :)See More
about an hour ago ·

Thinking Outside the box – A cell Phone Example

See below from the Los Angeles Times today.

I think its a great idea…
I am wondering whether there are other ways to utilize the public and devices they are carrying for the greater good.
The free Mobile GPS App – WAZE uses crowd-sourcing to provide information on traffic jams (and speed traps).
Food for thought…

Teaching phones to smell danger

Today’s cellphones have the technology to take photos, record videos, check stocks and play games.

Now the Department of Homeland Security is teaming up with high-tech firms to develop a cellphone that could also thwart terrorist attacks.

The department’s science and technology arm is spearheading a plan to give cellphones the ability to sniff out dangerous chemicals. If successful, the phones could help detect chemical attacks at airports, train stations and subway stops, the agency said.

In 2007, the department called on companies to develop the danger-sensing technology. Now it’s pushing ahead, working with wireless technology developer Qualcomm Inc., camera lens specialist Rhevision Technology Inc. and NASA.

As they are envisioned, these cellphones would sound an alarm if they sensed a noxious gas such as chlorine.

But if the phone detected something more deadly, such as sarin gas, it could send a message directly to authorities, using GPS technology to pinpoint the location of the gas.

If the idea works, every person armed with a cellphone could become a sentry against terrorist attacks. Nearly 90% of the U.S. population owns a cellphone.

That’s about 277 million phones sniffing the air for trouble.