‘Jews, Jews, Jews’ and Proud of It

Editor-in-Chief

Editor-in-Chief

Rosh Hashanah, indeed any Jewish holiday, is typically a peaceful time spent with family and at synagogue, a time to give thanks for the Almighty’s beneficence and enjoy the companionship of loved ones.

But for three men walking on Old Pimlico Road last Thursday evening, peace and tranquility were relatively fleeting notions: They were fired upon by a BB-gun- wielding man, who, according to initial police reports, shouted, “Jews, Jews, Jews.”

While the incident has sparked expected responses — Shomrim is talking of security measures for Yom Kippur, the police are upping patrols, locals are expressing dissatisfaction with an increasing challenge to what it means to live Jewish in America — perhaps it can lead to a wider discussion of what identity means. Identity seems most important when it is threatened, such as the case this summer of the students of the Ramaz day school in New York who were initially counseled to cover up their kippot. But, as affirmed  in a JT editorial last week, if identity truly means anything, it should inform every aspect of a person’s life.

This week’s cover story initially began as a case study in political identity: an attempt to track elephants in donkeys’ garb, to tease out the theory that in Democratic states such as Maryland, so-called “closet Republicans” would show their true stripes when a moderate candidate in the mold of former governor Bob Ehrlich showed an upsurge in the weeks leading up to Election Day. That the primary calendar shakeup gave GOP businessman Larry Hogan much more time than historically has been the norm to fight for media attention after Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown won the Democratic nomination further solidified the hypothesis that this could shape up to be a banner year for the state Republican Party.

What our reporters found out is backed up by polling data. With a little more than four weeks to go until voters head to the polls on Nov. 4, Hogan continues to face an uphill battle made all the more difficult by Brown attempting to tie the GOP candidate to divisive social issues. (For the record, Hogan has pledged that whatever his personal views are on issues such as abortion and gun control, he will not challenge questions that already have been decided by Maryland voters and their legislature.)

Whatever the outcome of the race, politics has increasingly become an identity question. There are women voters and women’s issues, military voters, liberals, conservatives, libertarians, so-called “Jewish voters,” etc. Any one group will have its collective opinion of how one of its members should vote, but pulling the lever provides a unique moment for an individual to consider his or her conscience and values and make an individual choice.

This is an important lesson in what it means for any individual constituent of the collective whole, for sometimes in life — and the Jewish community is no exception — striving for conformity causes a person to sacrifice his or her independence of thought. Where this is occurring, be it in the schoolyard, the synagogue, the street corner or the ballot box, it challenges the very idea that when Moses called the Jewish people together, he did so by noting their individual stations in society.

At the end of the day, we must be true to ourselves so that we can stare down charges of “Jews, Jews, Jews” with pride.

jrunyan@jewishtimes.com

Let’s Focus on Peace in Our Homes, Neighborhoods

As the sun sets on 5774, it might help to take a look back at all that’s transpired in the Jewish world over the past year and, with an eye to 5775, what is left to be accomplished.

The year has seen some notable departures, including those of “rabbi to the stars” Rabbi Philip Berg of the Kabbalah Centre; Sephardic sage Rabbi Ovadia Yosef; Jewish Renewal founder Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi; philanthropist Edgar Bronfman; and 110-year-old Holocaust survivor and concert pianist Alice Herz-Sommer. U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), still very much alive, was dealt a stinging primary defeat and was forced to vacate the office of House majority leader, and Abraham Foxman announced he would be stepping down from his perch as longtime leader of the ADL.

Worries abounded throughout the year, what with the Pew Research Center documenting demographic declines across denominations and the racially stirred comments of NBA team owners providing stark contrast to Judaism’s contributions to the civil rights movement of 50 years ago.

Violence raged both here and abroad, with the JCC of Kansas City, Kan., coming under fire, Jewish communities in France and Germany being targeted by extremists and a 50-day war between Israel and Hamas claiming the lives of scores of Israeli soldiers, hundreds of Palestinian fighters and civilians on both sides.

But 5774, in spite of the anti-Semitism and questions over intermarriage and declining affiliation — the “bread and butter” concerns that never seem to go away, had its high points as well: There was the papal visit to the Jewish state that highlighted the fervent, but as yet unrealized, hope that peace might still be achieved as well as the stand undertaken by actress and SodaStream spokeswoman Scarlett Johansson, who in resigning as a global ambassador for Oxfam, demonstrated to the world that she would not be bullied by the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

To say that emotions and tensions have been high over the past 12 months would be an understatement, and as the e-mails gathered in this editor’s inbox attest, ours is a community with passionate views and equally passionate convictions. Just witness the hundreds of local Jews who turned out in force for a pro-Israel rally downtown over the summer.

But while the campaigns and letter writing and demonstrations are all worthy manifestations of Jewish identity, it’s hard not to think that maybe we’ve become a bit too reactionary. There’s plenty to react against, to be sure, but some people’s solutions have painted complex global problems with the widest of brushes. In such an atmosphere, nuance has been confused with opposition, leading Jews here in Baltimore to label each other as enemies.

The best of sermons, as you’ll read in this week’s JT, engage and inspire, pushing listeners to action. And as the events of the past year have shown, more action is needed if we wish to bequeath a better world to our children and grandchildren. As we struggle with outside threats, maybe we need to do a better job struggling with ourselves. We can always be more generous, more benevolent, more patient. As 5775 beckons, let’s work on bringing peace to our homes and our neighborhoods so that when peace finally comes, we can enjoy it as a unified community.

jrunyan@jewishtimes.com

Let the Refs Make the Call

Editor-in-Chief

Editor-in-Chief

If you were lucky enough to catch Sunday’s NFC matchup between divisional rivals the Washington Redskins and the Philadelphia Eagles — most Baltimore-area television sets were tuned to the Ravens’ field-goal-clinching 23-21 victory over the Cleveland Browns — it either came across as old-style football or thuggery run amok.

One thing’s for sure, though: The Week 3 rough-and-tumble defeat of Washington, 37-34, in which a post-down tackle of Eagles quarterback Nick Foles led to a bench-clearing sideline fight and the ejection of the Redskins’ Nick Baker and the Eagles’ Jason Peters, will go down as one of the most interesting battles of the NFL season.

To football fans, the game is a microcosm of life, and in the great Jewish tradition of finding larger lessons in the mundane, the antics of that particular Sunday offer some telling truths. To the green-clad Eagles’ faithful, Baker’s launch upon a none-the-wiser quarterback amounted to the kind of dirty pool that harkened back to previous seasons’ pay-for-blood scandals. But to citizens of Redskins Nation, Foles was a legitimate target; who could blame a 325-pound lineman for a well-placed tackle?

As in politics, sometimes it all depends upon whose ox is gored.

As the two teams clashed in Philadelphia, hundreds of thousands of protesters marched a couple of hours north in New York City. Timed to coincide with a U.N. climate panel, the Manhattan march demanded action on global warming, but more than one participant — their angry cries broadcast the following day on National Public Radio — decried the “evil” corporations of the world for putting profits above the good of the earth.

In truth, industry titans are no more evil than the Ivy League-educated, fashion-clad protesting class who hold them in contempt are communists. (Although, there were probably more than a few die-hard actual communists scattered throughout the march.) Political discourse frequently invokes the tactic of demonizing the other side, but at the end of the day, a corporation’s job is to remain true to its core principles, profit motives among them, just as a defensive lineman’s job is to aim for the quarterback.

The sacrificing of objective truth for political posturing can also be seen in Israel. To hear the rhetoric emerging out of both the Jewish state’s ruling and ruled classes — as featured in this week’s cover story — is to witness the wholesale maligning of groups.

At issue is the fate of thousands of Africans who have made it from war-torn nations to Israel to seek asylum. To several politicians, these potential refugees — a High Court decision Monday reverses policies of indefinite confinement and gives the government 90 days to close an unpopular detainment facility in the Negev — are criminals and vagrants. But who would really fault a person for fleeing horrific dangers back home?

To many of the Africans’ advocates, Israeli politicians’ stances are malicious and run counter to the Jewish people’s history as refugees seeking protection as well as Judaism’s exhortation to pursue justice in all its forms.

It took a judicial body to settle the dispute. Perhaps we should all tone down the rhetoric, whether in sports, in politics and in our relations with each other, and realize that an arbiter is needed to dispense justice.

jrunyan@jewishtimes.com

It’s Never Too Late to Do the Right Thing

Joshua Runyan Editor-in-Chief

Joshua Runyan
Editor-in-Chief

You don’t need to be a fan of professional football or even a resident of Baltimore to know that the news coming out of the home team has been far from good as of late.

The moves Monday by the Baltimore Ravens to release star running back Ray Rice and by the National Football League to suspend him indefinitely after a more complete video surfaced of the Atlantic City, N.J., altercation in which he knocked his future wife unconscious effectively bars the athlete, who won the NFL Play of the Year Award in 2012, from the sport throughout North America. But the punishment did little to quell the voices of sports fans and domestic violence advocates who pointed out that the only thing that changed since Rice’s earlier punishment — a two-game NFL suspension — and the enactment of a new domestic violence policy by the league was that the public can now view all the gory details online.

Various groups have accused both the team and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell of cynicism and hypocrisy, and Baltimore Sun columnist Susan Reiner went so far Tuesday as to suggest that Rice’s termination “has absolutely nothing to do with domestic abuse.” And yet others have applauded the swift suspension and the message it sends to would-be abusers: that domestic violence should not and will not be tolerated.

Without deciding whether or not Rice — who is reportedly in court-ordered counselling and did express regret — got what he deserved or whether or not the league and the Ravens did the right thing in sending a star player packing, it is possible to glean another altogether different message from the affair: While it’s always preferable to get it right the first time, misguided decisions of the past should not prevent corrective actions in the future.

If the NFL truly believed that it didn’t go far enough several weeks ago, then it was right to expand its suspension.

Of course, the decision itself has very little to do with the Jewish community, but it does say something about the responsibility of organizations to police the conduct of its members. No less than the integrity of the organization and the example it sets for the outside world is at stake.

And if a sports league has a responsibility to enforce proper behavior among its players, then other organizations — universities, for instance — have a responsibility to make sure that those who speak in their name or under their auspices do so in keeping with the values they represent.

You’ll read in this week’s JT about the efforts of Jewish groups to empower local college students with the tools and messages necessary to be effective champions of Israel’s cause. It’s no secret that the world of academia is a hostile one for the Jewish state and its defenders, but recent events, including the assault of a pro-Israel student at Temple University in Philadelphia, have emphasized just how isolated the pro-Israel camp feels at some colleges.

Universities must always champion free speech, but where those who use the First Amendment as a shield with which to intimidate and stifle the speech of others, administrators must take bold steps — previous decisions notwithstanding — to bring professors and students back to the table of respectful debate.

jrunyan@jewishtimes.com

Remember the Service of Years Ago

runyan_josh_otTwo centuries ago, the European world awaited what would become of the curious American experiment that had popped up on the other side of the Atlantic. Just 38 years prior, delegates from each of the 13 colonies from Georgia to Massachusetts declared their independence from King George III and five years after that defeated his forces at the Battle of Yorktown with the help of the French navy. The United States of America was born.

But how that country would operate and under whose influence was a question that would not be decided until the War of 1812. In the early part of September 1814, with the British Armada aiming its guns at Baltimore, residents here were unsure how it would all turn out. The nation’s capital to the south lay in ruins, and a ragtag group of volunteers, regular soldiers and militiamen were left to defend Fort McHenry against the coming British onslaught.

To any student of history or baseball fan, the outcome of the Battle of Baltimore was clear. As memorialized in the verses penned by Francis Scott Key — that “star-spangled banner” still waves “o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave” — America was not only here to stay, but would be unencumbered by the petty politics of Europe.

The Monroe Doctrine would formally spell out diplomatically this notion of American exceptionalism and manifest destiny, but lost in the popular history are the contributions of individual patriots whose names are not enshrined in the various doctrines or upon declarations, constitutions and anthems of the time.

Were it not for the actions of two Jewish Americans, the story of the United States’ final throwing off of European chains and the nation’s early history might have been vastly different. Mendes Cohen, the subject of a new exhibit at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, was among the defenders the night of Sept. 13, 1814, when the British ships began their barrage on Fort McHenry. As you’ll read in this week’s JT, the bombardment nearly succeeded in destroying the fort, but a quick-thinking Cohen and two other men saved the installation’s gunpowder when a British bomb fell on the fort’s magazine.

Cohen would go on to travel the world, becoming in the words of the Jewish museum, a “Forrest Gump” of his time. But the city of Baltimore and the country have much to be thankful for in the self-sacrifice and dedication of Cohen and the rest of Fort McHenry’s defenders.

So too does the nation owe a debt of gratitude to Uriah P. Levy, a Jewish sailor who served in the fledgling American Navy, as Baltimore came under attack. Rising through the ranks — he is remembered at the U.S. Naval Academy, where the Jewish chapel bears his name, as Commodore Levy — he did away with flogging as a punishment in the Navy and given his own bitter experience with anti-Semitism as a sailor, he helped turn it into the inclusive force it is today.

Levy’s words, memorialized at the academy, provide a window into immigrant thinking and speak of the duty that all Americans, but especially its minorities, share in ensuring the continuation of this great country: “There will be other Hebrews, in times to come, of whom America will have need. By serving myself, I will help give them a chance to serve.”

Editor-in-Chief
jrunyan@jewishtimes.com

What We Need Is Healthy Communication

runyan_josh_otBack-to-school season is firmly upon us, and with the sales on school supplies just recently ended, the big yellow buses have returned local streets to quagmires of morning and afternoon traffic. Many children are overjoyed at meeting friends they haven’t seen all summer, while quite a few parents are ecstatic that the little ones are once again out of the house for the daytime hours.

But amid the celebrating, there’s also the stress: of new schools, of new friends, of new car-pool routes. For a growing group of new school parents, whose children have — according to Maryland law — 20 days to comply with inoculation requirements, there’s the stress of choosing whether or not to vaccinate their children.

For them, as you’ll read in this week’s cover story, to comply means to subject their children to untold harm. Whatever the questions surrounding the shaky science they rely on, in their minds the threat of autism is real and the danger of vaccinations, as promulgated in a growing body of websites and social media campaigns, darn near certain.

On the other side, parents who adhere to the recommendations of such bodies as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control are increasingly worried about the prospect of their own children, unvaccinated infants among them, being subjected to a plethora of diseases once thought eradicated. For them, the growing anti-vaccination movement is a clear and present danger.

To say that emotions are high in this environment would be an understatement. That 18 outbreaks and 593 confirmed cases of measles occurred in this country between Jan. 1 and Aug. 8 of this year is downright frightening. That whooping cough has experienced a record increase — 9,964 cases from Jan. 1 to June 16, a 24 percent increase over the same time period last year according to the CDC — is horrific.

The culprit identified by authorities for this degradation in public health is the failure of parents to vaccinate their children. Polio was once thought a disease of the past in the developed world, but there are parents here in Baltimore who regard the disease, which killed thousands in 1916, crippled no less than President Franklin D. Roosevelt and continued to kill and disable through the 1950s, as posing little more threat than the common cold in an otherwise healthy child.

That this is a viewpoint gaining a growing, albeit limited, acceptance is scary. But that parents fear reprisals from their friends and neighbors for doing what they legitimately feel is in their children’s best interests is just as worrisome.

Perhaps what is needed is more communication. Far too often, healthcare in this country has amounted to a top-down “do as I say” approach on the part of policymakers and doctors. But while such an approach might have worked in an age where information was scarce, today many people harbor a visceral distrust of “official” dogma. They turn to the Internet, where their views can be magnified, confirmed and spread.

At the very least, those on both sides of the vaccination debate speak for the children. As old-time diseases reappear and spread, it’s time they start talking to each other, rather than past each other.

Editor-in-Chief
jrunyan@jewishtimes.com

Finding balance in both life and death

runyan_josh_otNobody likes dealing with the dead. So many of us view it as a necessary evil: Attending to the burial of a loved one is seen as a crucial part of the mourning process, but it is never embraced as something to be anticipated. It is what it is, much like death itself.

But one Jewish family in Baltimore, the Levinsons, have made catering to those dealing with life’s final moments — and those moments immediately after — their calling. Their business isn’t an easy one, whether in terms of the regulatory and religious frameworks governing their trade or in terms of the emotional toll that tragedy inflicts upon their clients.

But as you’ll read in this week’s JT, they’ve been successful in ensuring that the physical necessities of the dearly departed and their journey into the world to come are taken care of with the utmost sensitivity. It’s part of the reason why they’re the only game in town.

For sure, traditional Jewish practices surrounding funerals and burials are way more simplistic than the non-Jewish wakes and similar services in other faith communities. The traditional Jewish casket — in those locales where a casket is used — is no more than a pine box, for instance, emphasizing both the necessity of not hindering the natural process of decay and the idea that when it comes time to appear before the True Judge, we are all human and therefore equal.

But the Jewish funerary business has been evolving, and many families seek to adapt traditional practices or insert their own innovations. That makes the role occupied by Sol Levinson and Bros., Inc. not an enviable one.

It’s a role not unlike that of a pulpit rabbi, who on the one hand is the keeper of tradition, the teacher of the congregation, and on the other is the representative of the congregants. The rabbi represents not only Judaism, but Jews and so must conduct the holy work of congregational leadership with an eye on the individual. It takes both integrity and sensitivity.

Come to think of it, integrity and sensitivity are traits that more of us should nurture and develop in our own lives. More often than not, people err on one side or the other, embracing steadfastness but sacrificing empathy or sacrificing principle in the pursuit of harmony. Finding that balance has never been easy, but were more people to cultivate it, the world would be a much happier place.

Centuries ago, Maimonides ascribed a host of ailments to the lack of balance in a person’s physical, emotional and spiritual lives. And kabbalistic wisdom has long stressed the idea that spiritual flaws can manifest themselves as physical maladies, and vice versa. So the search for balance becomes not an added component to a life well lived, but a prerequisite to a healthy life.

As we approach the final month of the Jewish year and the upcoming holiday of Rosh Hashanah, may we all find balance, especially those of us who are dealing with tragedy.

jrunyan@jewishtimes.com

Looking to the Past for Our Future

runyan_josh_otYou need only look at the prime-time television commercials to realize that genealogy is a big business — a $1.6 billion one, in fact, according to a 2012 report on “Good Morning America.” With Ancestry.com’s sepia-toned spots pulling at heartstrings across the country, it seems that more and more people are seeking out their links to the past.

In a first for the JT, we let our own Marc Shapiro — who’s more often covering political campaigns, local development projects and other hot-button issues — explore his family roots on the company dime. What he discovered is amazing, not only in terms of how it deepened his connection to ancestors recently departed and those long gone, but also in terms of what his newfound passion for family history says about the rest of us.

Family pedigree, or what we would call in Yiddish yichus, has through the years meant a considerable deal to many Jewish families. In the late Middle Ages, great houses of sages married off their sons and daughters to each other, preserving an intellectual heritage as much through scholasticism as through genetics.

Traditionally, matchmakers have been just as interested in who a potential suitor’s family was as the young man or woman’s character traits. And, as hilariously parodied in one scene of “The In-Laws,” great has been the concern of parents marrying off their children that their future machatunim: “The son is the acorn,” Alan Arkin’s Dr. Sheldon Kornpett, quoting a patient, worryingly tells wife Barbara. “The father is the oak.”

There is truth in the idea that, as Antonio is William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” reasons, “what’s past is prologue.” All of the traits and experiences of our forebears help mold who we are and how we respond to challenges in the present. Things do not occur in a vacuum, but rather can be traced back generation to generation and can also help determine how our descendants will behave and what they will be.

But as revolutions both political and psychological have shown, at a certain point individuals — and whole societies, really — must take matters into their own hands. They must step up and take control of their own destinies.

This dichotomy plays out every day in the Middle East: Shall Israel and the other political actors be beholden to the mistakes of the past or shall a shared humanity propel the region into a new age of peace? Pessimism would seem logical at the present moment, but optimism should at least occupy some space in the public discourse.

The dichotomy also plays out in the day-to-day wanderings of countless human beings. True, King Solomon writes that “nothing is new under the sun,” but that mustn’t be used to justify a sense of fatalism. As Moses tells the Jewish people in the desert, we have been given the choice between goodness and the opposite of goodness, between life and death. We must choose life.

As you’ll see in this week’s cover story, Marc’s journey through the past isn’t over yet. If there’s one thing his quest through history has given him, it’s a renewed sense of determination.

Editor-in-Chief
jrunyan@jewishtimes.com

Just Add Water

runyan_josh_otIn chemistry, a solvent is a liquid capable of dissolving another substance. The resulting homogeneous mixture is known as a solution.

In this regard, water is known as “the universal solvent” because of its unique ability to dissolve seemingly impermeable things. Jewish tradition teaches that the great Rabbi Akiva was even motivated to learn Torah — he had previously been illiterate — when contemplating how water, one drop at a time, was able to carve its way through rock. And the cleansing properties of a spring rain have not been lost on the countless poets and naturalists who have marveled at the ability for life itself to be renewed and rejuvenated through water.

But when we say a business is solvent, we mean that it is able to meet its financial obligations. In both the chemical and financial understandings of the word “solvent,” we can trace it back to its roots in Latin signifying the loosening up of something. A business is solvent if it is loose, if it is flush with cash. A problem is solved — or a solution is found — when, like a stubborn knot that finally unravels, all of its constituent parts are untangled.

But here in Baltimore, the rain and waters of the Gwynns Falls and the Jones Falls rivers have been too good at dissolving and the muck of decades of growth now sits in solution at the Inner Harbor. The water quality is so bad, one local businessman tells Melissa Gerr in this week’s cover story, that tourists have taken heed of signs warning of the harbor’s health hazards and taken their business elsewhere.

As you’ll read in this week’s JT, a coalition of groups thinks it has the solution and aims to make the harbor swimmable and fishable by 2020. They’ve scored some successes, although the harbor recently received another F on an environmental firm’s report card. And as demonstrated in Toledo, Ohio, over the weekend, when residents discovered that their water, sourced from nearby Lake Erie, was suddenly unusable, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

Water isn’t just a great tourism resource. Since time immemorial, clean water has been a prerequisite for a functioning society. And some political scientists have been warning for years of impending global wars fought over something as simple as access to water.

Over in the Gaza Strip, where a tenuous cease-fire announced Monday appeared to return calm to the troubled region — Israeli schools opened in the south, and the Israel Defense Forces redeployed the units that took part in Operation Protective Edge’s destruction of cross-border tunnels used by Hamas — many residents have for years used salty water from the local aquifer for bathing; potable water comes desalinated from local neighborhood facilities and home-based purification units.

For sure, upgrading the infrastructure was never really a priority of Hamas, which while controlling the territory spent more time and effort on digging underneath the Israeli border to launch terror attacks. But now, Israeli military officials are speaking of rehabilitating the Gaza Strip — albeit without Hamas in control — as a necessity from both a humanitarian and strategic point of view.

Only time will tell, but perhaps peace will be achieved a drop at a time.

Editor-in-Chief
jrunyan@jewishtimes.com

Going It Alone

runyan_josh_otBack in February, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned of the consequences facing Israel if the American-led peace talks between the Jewish state and its Palestinian neighbors fell apart. He alluded to the growing strength of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement and worried that should peace fail, Israel would find itself isolated from the rest of the world.

“Today’s status quo, absolutely to a certainty, I promise you 100 percent, cannot be maintained,” he said at the time. “You see for Israel there is an increasing delegitimization campaign that has been building up. People are very sensitive to it, there is talk of boycott and other kinds of things. Are we all going to be better with all of that?”

As anyone who has been conscious of world events since that time knows, the peace talks collapsed shortly after the Palestinian Authority, with whom the Israelis had been negotiating, entered into a unity government with Hamas, the terrorist group that “governs” the Gaza Strip. Shortly thereafter, three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered by suspected Hamas operatives in the West Bank; a Palestinian teenager was murdered in an apparent revenge attack by Israeli youths; Hamas renewed its rocket barrage of Israel; and the Jewish state launched Operation Protective Edge, a military campaign aimed at destroying Hamas’ offensive capabilities and a network of tunnels the group has dug under the Gaza border with Israel.

Kerry warned of economic and political isolation. What Israel got — through no choice or fault of its own — was terror and bloodshed. And if news reports of conversations between U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are to be believed, it appears that in addition to the blood and the bombs, Israel, having lost the support of the United States to continue to invoke its right to self-defense, now finds itself as isolated as ever.

But to say that Israel has no friends in the world would be to lie. The fact of the matter is, twice as many Americans, according to the results of a Pew Research Poll released Monday, blame Hamas rather than Israel for the current crisis. Half of those polled say that Israel’s response to the rockets and the tunnels, despite the fact that vastly more Palestinians have been killed — more than 1,000 versus more than 50 on the Israeli side — is “about right” or has “not gone far enough.”

Even more, Baltimore’s and other Jewish communities around the world have rallied on behalf of Israel and, as you’ll read in this week’s JT, immigration to the Jewish state continues.

The problem isn’t that Israel doesn’t have friends, it’s that many of the friends it has continue to bemoan the lack of international support behind Israel’s defense. If there’s anything the current crisis and the many wars Israel has fought since its founding in 1948 indicate it’s that sometimes, Israel and the Jewish people that support it must go it alone.

Editor-in-Chief
jrunyan@jewishtimes.com