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Jewish Journal

Larry Derfner

  • The wrong Zionist response to refugees

    July 12, 2007 | 8:00 pm

    It's hard to escape the impression that the Olmert government is being humane to the refugees from Sudan's Darfur region for appearance's sake only. I say this because the government is being amazingly cruel to the refugees from southern Sudan, who are far more numerous than the...
  • Israeli Electoral Reform Dream: What a Headache

    April 5, 2007 | 8:00 pm

    When I left Los Angeles for Israel many years ago, two of the 15 members on the L.A. City Council, who are elected by voters in their geographical district, were widely rumored to be corrupt and a third councilman didn't even bother to hide it. Yet these three guys kept getting...
  • Attention Israelis: Please stop kvetching

    March 1, 2007 | 7:00 pm


    Excerpt from Israeli TV show "Ktzarim": some troubled people meet for group therapy.
    In Hebrew with English subtitles.
    Click on the BIG ARROW to view.

    ::::::::::::::::::::: Security in Israel now is about as good as it gets. Suicide bombings have become a rarity; just the threat...
  • Bibi Netanyahu ranks high ...  as racist demagogue

    January 18, 2007 | 7:00 pm

    By rights, Binyamin Netanyahu, which every poll says is by far the most popular politician in Israel, should be ranked with Jean Le Pen, Jorge Haider and the rest of the Western world's racist demagogues.

    But he won't be, because anti-Arab racism in Israel is either supported or...

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  • The big con about Iran

    October 5, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    Despite all the skepticism, the United States and Israel do have a military option in Iran: pre-emptive nuclear annihilation.
     
    The United States and Israel, or the United States by itself, or maybe even Israel by itself, can destroy Iran and its 69 million people, probably in a...
  • Direct Hezbollah rocket hit leaves Israeli/Arab ‘peace school’ in pieces

    September 21, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    The one school in Acre that took a direct hit from a rocket during the war happens to be the only school in the city that serves both Jewish and Arab pupils -- the el-Mahaba ("love" in Arabic) kindergarten for mentally and emotionally handicapped kids.
     
  • Good for the Jews

    March 30, 2006 | 7:00 pm

    Although it's easy to write off the ideological integrity of a party whose leaders include both Shimon Peres and Tsachi Hanegbi -- along with about everyone in between -- Kadima happens to be the real thing.

    That conclusion was firmly ratified this week by voters in Israeli, who...

  • Israel Tames but Doesn’t Halt Torture

    March 23, 2006 | 7:00 pm

    Last November, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), while campaigning to ban the U.S. government from using torture, told the "Today" show: "The Israeli Supreme Court outlawed torture, outlawed cruel and inhumane treatment. And I have talked to Israeli officials, and they say they do very...

  • Olmert’s Conversion From Pol to Leader

    January 19, 2006 | 7:00 pm

    As far as personality goes, Ehud Olmert is not my kind of guy. He comes off like he thinks he's God's gift to humanity, riffraff that we are.

    I remember several years ago when as mayor of Jerusalem, he came to view the damage to a local Conservative synagogue that had been...

  • A Solution to Israel’s Demographic Peril

    July 21, 2005 | 8:00 pm

    When Israeli Arabs protest that talk of the "demographic threat" is racist, can Israeli Jews blame them? If non-Jewish professors and politicians anywhere on earth spoke of a Jewish demographic threat to their countries, what would Jews call it? What, for that matter, would decent...

  • Hope for At-Risk Youth at Yemin Orde

    June 2, 2005 | 8:00 pm

    One of the notorious ways that overwrought Israeli parents get unruly kids into line is by threatening to send them to a pnimia -- a boarding school. For Israelis, "boarding school" carries the associations that "reform school" once did for Americans: juvenile delinquents, family...

  • Jewish Split Marks Armenian Genocide

    April 21, 2005 | 8:00 pm

     

    In the cemetery of the 1,500-year-old Armenian Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem there rises a memorial to genocide -- the Armenian genocide. This horror set the stage for the Jewish Holocaust, but as a human calamity, it also stands alone.

    George Hintlian, a 58-year-old...

  • Unilateral Withdrawal

    February 17, 2005 | 7:00 pm

    I, along with what the polls say is 60 percent of Israelis -- and maybe even Ariel Sharon, too -- trust Mahmoud Abbas' good intentions. More than that, I'm impressed by what he's done on the ground -- by prevailing on Hamas and the other terrorist groups to "cool down" the violence...

  • International Left Rooting for Barghouti

    December 30, 2004 | 7:00 pm

     

    Progressives of the world, including those in Israel, have a thing about Marwan Barghouti and with good reason: He's so cool. He's the coolest

    Palestinian since Yasser Arafat first turned up in a keffiyeh and Ray Bans.

    Journalist Patrick Bishop put it just right recently in...

  • Rocket Threat Casts Shadow on Kibbutz

    October 14, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    Kibbutz Nir'am, which is slightly closer to the Gaza Strip than Sderot, seemed dead that morning. The air was hot, harsh and still. Hardly anybody was outdoors.

    Ofer Lieberman, whose office and van are plastered with stickers for Guinness, the beer he soaks up at the kibbutz's Green...

  • Tricked Into

    September 16, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    Like everyone else, I used to divide the prostitutes smuggled into Israel from the former Soviet republics into two categories -- the good ones who were tricked into it, and the bad ones who knew what they were getting into.

    I think differently now. After meeting one of the "bad"...

  • Israeli Tourists ‘Ugly’ No More

    June 17, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    Leafing through travel books on Turkey at Tel Aviv's L'Metayel (For the Traveler), veteran sojourner Ronen Lazar suggests how to curb the phenomenon of the "ugly Israeli" -- the obnoxious Israeli tourist.

    "There should be a law forbidding Israelis from going overseas for at least...

  • Barbaric Acts Kill Palestinian Sympathy

    May 27, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    I know there are many Palestinians out there who are sickened and ashamed by what happened in Gaza to the remains of the six dead Israeli soldiers.

    I don't hold them responsible; I don't associate them with those acts just because they are Palestinians or Arabs, not in any way.

    In...

  • Showdown Nears in Settlements Battle

    January 8, 2004 | 7:00 pm

    It would be hard to exaggerate how fateful, how historic is the drama about to begin at the settlement outposts. Here's where things stand:

    Within a few months, we will pretty well know if Israel's 36-year occupation of the West Bank and Gaza will be on its way out or here to stay.

    ...

  • Geneva Pact Generates Ray of Optimism

    December 11, 2003 | 7:00 pm

    Some thoughts, optimistic ones, on the effects already felt from the Geneva agreement:

    1) The view from the Israeli street is that the agreement is another trick, another Palestinian trick to fool Israel into believing that they really want peace, and then, when our guard is down,...

  • Palestinians Face Hamas Dilemma

    June 19, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    The three young Fatah guerrillas in the West Bank city of Tulkarm, wearing masks and holding AK-47s, had just received advance payment to start a second career -- as Palestinian policemen fighting terror, according to an Arab journalist present. They were paid by aides of Mohammed...

  • Going Through Hell For The Dead

    August 29, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    Natan Koenig was blotting up blood from the floor of the cafeteria named for Frank Sinatra at Jerusalem's Hebrew University. Koenig worked for two hours on that 95-degree afternoon on July 31, arriving soon after a Hamas-made bomb exploded under a table, killing nine people,...

  • The Irrelevance of Arab Hatred

    August 22, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    The consensus view of the intifada among Israelis, Diaspora Jews and American conservatives -- that it's caused by Arab hatred and rejection of Israel -- is nothing but a lousy excuse. An excuse to say Israel is wholly blameless in this affair, and there's nothing Israel can do...

  • A Confident Failure

    August 15, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    Talk about cognitive dissonance. The mood in Israel may never have been so hopeless, the indices of quality of life may never have pointed so sharply downward, and yet the calmest, most content person in the country appears to be Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Politically, at least,...

  • Tilting Away From Israel

    March 21, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    The visits here by Vice President Dick Cheney and peace envoy Anthony Zinni appear to be the first step in the Bush administration's readjustment of its policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and toward terror overall.

    Since Sept. 11, the administration has stood solidly...

  • Cycle of Bloodshed

    March 7, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    There is a new rhythm to the terror attacks against Israelis: They are coming in one-two punches, leaving the country staggering.

    On Saturday, March 2, a suicide bomber killed 11 people in Jerusalem, and the following morning, a Palestinian sniper killed 10 soldiers and settlers at...

  • In or Out?

    February 14, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    "We have no intention of reconquering the Palestinian areas," Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer told a news conference this week, repeating a common refrain of the Sharon government. Then he added a new twist, saying that Israel would not reoccupy Palestinian cities, villages and...

  • Refuseniks in the Ranks

    February 7, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    The "officers' letter" came out on Jan. 25 in Yediot Aharonot, Israel's largest newspaper -- 52 reserve army officers declared that they would not serve in the West Bank or Gaza for moral and political reasons.

    They detailed acts of brutality -- refusing to allow pregnant woman to...

  • Israel’s Emigration Problem

    January 31, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    More than any other Israeli politician, Yossi Beilin has a knack for saying things that many other people are thinking but will not say, and he has just done it again.

    This time the subject is emigration from Israel, which, he told Yediot Aharonot newspaper, is the inevitable result...

  • Israel’s Mayors Threatened Daily

    January 24, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    It's been a so-so January for Zvi Gov-Ari, mayor of the Israeli city of Yavne. On the good side, the 18-year-old boy who torched Gov-Ari's car with two Molotov cocktails was convicted and sentenced, albeit very lightly -- 20 months imprisonment, suspended. On the bad side, the mayor...

  • Economic Emergency

    November 22, 2001 | 7:00 pm

    On top of being in a military state of emergency for over a year, Israel is now in an "economic state of emergency" as well, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced last week. He was about the last person in the country to say the words out loud.

    The arrival of Israel's economic...

  • Enemy or Friend?

    November 15, 2001 | 7:00 pm

    Israel's 1 million Arab citizens have been going through a process of radicalization for the last generation, but since the Al Aqsa Intifada broke out nearly 14 months ago, that process has taken a bitter leap forward. Days after the intifada began and rioting Palestinians were shot...

  • Closed for the Duration

    November 1, 2001 | 7:00 pm

    Whenever there's a wave of terror in Israel, the nation's hotels come up against a wave of cancellations, and the country's entire tourist industry -- from five-star hotels to souvenir hawkers -- goes into a slump. But in a few months the terror and fear subside, and the tourists...

  • A Siberian-Jewish Tragedy

    October 11, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    The crash of the Air Siberia jet over the Black Sea last week was an Israeli tragedy, but more specifically and acutely, it was a tragedy for Siberian Jewry. Fifty of the 76 people killed were Siberian Jewish immigrants to Israel, mainly from the metropolis of Novosibirsk.

    "I would...

  • Muslims Against Jihad

    September 27, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    Here is President George W. Bush on Islam: "Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah."

    It's hard, though, to understand Islam as a "good and peaceful" religion when its headline-grabbers in this generation are the...

  • Lessons from Israel’s War on Terror

    September 20, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    When President Bush talks of fighting a war against terror until victory, of stamping out terror, it's probably worth looking at Israel's decades-long attempt at doing the same. The results obviously do not add up to victory. Over the last year Islamic fundamentalist suicide bombers...

  • Israelis Identify With U.S.

    September 13, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    The contrast between the Palestinian and Israeli reaction couldn't have been more stark -- while crowds of Palestinians were celebrating in the streets of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, Israel was observing an official national day of mourning, with flags flying at...

  • Now It’s Jewish Terrorists

    July 26, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    The settler movement is in serious denial over last week's killings of three Palestinians, including 3-month-old Dia Tmeizi. While all settlers publicly condemn the killings, even the most "mainstream" don't see any connection between the nighttime ambush near Hebron and the...

  • Caught Red-Handed

    June 28, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    Israel has arrested two more Palestinians it said were involved in the brutal lynching of two Israeli soldiers by a Palestinian mob in October, bringing the total arrests up to 15.

    The front-page photos in the Hebrew dailies couldn't have told the story more graphically: There was...

  • Arabs Against Arafat

    June 21, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    "I look at my little boy, and I ask myself, 'What did he do to me that he should deserve this punishment?' I tell you, if I could leave here tomorrow for America, I would."

    We'll call the speaker Mahmoud.

    He is a taxi driver who lives in an Arab neighborhood of Jerusalem. He is a...

  • Israel’s Wagner Taboo

    May 17, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    Ideology seems to have won out over culture in Israel: The taboo on playing the music of pre-Nazi German composer Richard Wagner in concert has been upheld.

    After strenuous protests by Holocaust survivor groups, backed by virtually the entire Israeli political spectrum, the decision...

  • An Intifada Casualty Named Atarot

    March 22, 2001 | 7:00 pm

    The Atarot Industrial Park, located at the edge of a Jerusalem Arab village and right on the border of the Palestinian Authority, was meant as a forerunner of the "New Middle East": Arabs and Jews making money together, not war. Coca-Cola, Mercedes-Benz, Israel Aircraft Industries...

  • The Home Front

    March 8, 2001 | 7:00 pm

    Standing with the crowd in Netanya where, hours before, a Palestinian suicide bomber had killed three Israelis and himself, local carpenter Ya'acov Ohayon was asked if he thought the public -- the home front -- was ready for more of the same, or worse.

    "Are they ready?" he replied....

  • A Rabbi’s Fatwa

    March 23, 2000 | 7:00 pm

    After Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, ruler of the Shas (Sephardi ultra-Orthodox) party, caused an uproar this week by pronouncing a kind of Jewish fatwa on liberal Education Minister Yossi Sarid, one of Yosef's minions tried to jump into the fray.

    Shlomo Benizri, Israel's minister of health,...

  • But Can Barak Convince the Israelis?

    December 16, 1999 | 7:00 pm

    At first blush it seemed like a done deal. If Syria and Israel were returning to the negotiating table, and President Bill Clinton was leading them, then it was surely just a matter of time until the two sides reached agreement and declared peace. American, Syrian and Israeli...
  • Rich Israeli, Poor Israeli

    December 16, 1999 | 7:00 pm

    For all the recent hubbub over the worsening lot of Israel's poor, and the growing criticism of Prime Minister Ehud Barak's born-again Reaganite economic policies, it should be understood that in many key misery indices, Israel isn't doing too badly.

    Compared to the world's other 25...

  • Poverty and Unemployment Plague Israel

    December 2, 1999 | 7:00 pm

    The peace process isn't the news in Israel anymore; it's poverty, unemployment and hunger. The domestic agenda, the one that Prime Minister Ehud Barak focused his election campaign on, has jumped up and bitten him.

    Recent polls show that Israelis, by a margin of over 2-1, think Barak...

  • The Power of Advertising

    October 7, 1999 | 8:00 pm

    About 1,000 people crammed into Jerusalem's Kol Haneshama Reform synagogue for Yom Kippur services, while another 500 or so listened in the courtyard outside.

    "My own father couldn't get in," said Rabbi David Ariel-Joel, assistant director of Israel's Reform movement. "Neither could...

  • Three Books That Shook the New York Times

    September 9, 1999 | 8:00 pm

    The New York Times dubbed it "a quiet revolution in the teaching of Israeli history." That front-page Times article, headlined "In Israel, New Grade School Texts for History Replace Myths With Facts," and published Aug. 14, has kicked up a lot of dust among right-wing commentators....
  • Barak’s Hard Road to Peace

    July 15, 1999 | 8:00 pm

    Now that Yasser Arafat has called Ehud Barak his "friend and partner," and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has pronounced himself pleased and encouraged with the new Israeli prime minister, and President Clinton is just waiting to welcome him to Washington, the old euphoria seems to...