He writes something weekly for the member’s newsletter, always enlightening and I may well post more from him in the future.
It has not been a good week for the people of Israel. Yet again we bury our brothers and sons. It seemed to have hurt worse this time as over the last eighteen days we really got to intimately know the three boys Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frenkel and Gilad Shaar.
What noble families they come from, no recriminations, no screaming and no calls for revenge, only a widespread pall of collective love and quiet silence.
As I stood together with our community at Moriah College at prayers there were mixed emotions, utter sadness, emptiness and aching void.
What a waste.
There was anger, but angry with whom?
What to do, when your adversary looses seemingly unblinkingly hundreds of thousands of their own by their own in Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, and Pakistan and all over the Muslim world?
They seem to condone child malnutrition and illiteracy.
There seems to be a tacit acceptance of gross abuse of human rights on a daily basis.
We are struggling with an adversary who seems to have vastly different cultural values of life, morals and the sheer beauty of the human spirit. I do not accept that it is only the minority. It is not. Leaders of the Arab world are silent on human kidnapping; this is not the first time that there has been a kidnapping.
The silence emanating from the Imams and religious leaders of the Arab world of incitement against Jews, Christians, women, Gays and whether Shiite or Sunni are deafening. The loud shouts of delight and joy in the streets of the West Bank at every Israeli misfortune are disturbing.
No, it is not anger that we feel. I think we collectively feel despair and emptiness, we feel alone. In this week’s Parsha of Balak, the oracle-wizard Bilaam is employed to curse and bring bad luck on the advancing Israelites in their sojourn through the desert towards the land of Canaan.
However Bilaam is unable to articulate the words of the spell. Instead of a shouting curse some beautiful poetry of blessings proceeds. He views the Israelites from the mountains and says
“How goodly are your tents Jacob, how beautiful are your sanctuaries Israel”
and then in the next line he says this;
“Behold Jacob, you are a nation that sits alone, not reckoned amongst the nations”.
But Bilaam is wrong; we are not alone, we are a member of the group of nation states of the world; we have equal rights in democratic countries and we feel at home in this great country of ours, Australia.
I think the Biblical interpretation of Bilaams words are this.
Bilaam besides being a lunatic-seer, was a member of the media pack who habitually paint Israel as being alone and a pariah state.
Bilaam was part of the media pack who repeatedly accuses Israel of being a terrorist nation, judging Israel unfairly and unjustly.
Bilaam was part of the media pack who in the name of freedom of speech, continually abuse the very law of anti discrimination and in particular section 18C of the anti discrimination act, that it is a crime to vilify, slander and malign on the basis of religion gender and ethnicity.
How ironic it is, that the bastion of freedom of speech, the media pack, are the ones that continually abuse the right of freedom of speech.
Last week on learning of the 7 year jail sentence handed down to Peter Greste, I was genuinely sorry. I could not imagine a horrific jail term in Egypt. I sincerely hoped the Australian government would intervene and get a pardon for him.
This week I am not so sure. Peter Greste was a journalist for the Al Jazeera World News Network Service. The network presented a balanced view on the kidnapping, essentially blaming the victims. It makes sense, because as far as I know Al Jazeera is owned by the Qatar government which is ruled by the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who is an absolute monarch.
Al Jazeera is a news service that does not under any circumstance permit a positive spin towards anything in Israel. It is a news service that institutionalizes censorship in its presentation of the news. It puts Rupert Murdoch’s ‘News of the World’ to shame. Al Jazeera is owned by the same mob that brought you the Qatar Soccer World Cup in 2022.
Now, how did that happen?
I am not about to judge Peter Greste, for all I know he needed a job and I heard that I could get a job as a writer with Al Jazeera if I took off my Yarmulke, tucked in my tzitzit and erased Israel from my passport.
Peter Greste however was part of that Bilaam media pack who remained silent and allowed Israel to feel alone. He aided and abetted in the excommunication of Israel and it being portrayed as a pariah state in exile, alone and friendless. He fell into the Bilaam mistake of
“This is a nation that dwells alone”
As we all felt this week, there is nothing worse, than that empty feeling of being alone. Worse, when you feel let down by good people; worse still when friends break loyalty. We expected more from good people like Peter Greste. I don’t wish Peter Greste any evil. In fact I still wish that he will win his freedom speedily, but what did he expect when working and reporting for Al Jazeera; because what he reports and witnesses now from his prison cell is exactly what he reported about Israel from the comfort of his news-studio.
I did not understand why I could not sing the Hatikvah last Wednesday night, the first night of shiva for the boys. I usually passionately shout out the words with tears, yet Wednesday night my lips were dry and throat parched and not a word could I utter. Perhaps on reflection I was saddened by the Bilaam syndrome and left speechless, for there is nothing so lonesome and drear as a media pack baying with the self righteous assuredness of freedom of speech.
As always l’chaim and see you in shule .