Harmony is not merely auditory. It can take many forms: harmony within your soul, harmony of nature, and even the harmony of a relationship.
“The Corner Stone” by Bob Marley (1974) was inspired by his only attempt to meet his father, which was refused. That could have devastated Marley, but he looked deep within himself and found inspiration in Psalm 118. “The Corner Stone” was the result.
Marley believed he was that Cornerstone. We all are. We will all be rejected, dejected, and cast aside at some point. These moments of vulnerability often sway even the most faithful among us. But when you realize your worth is bestowed upon you by God and put your faith into practice through commitment or song, that creates harmony of the soul.
Leonard Cohen’s “Come Healing” (2012) accentuates the desire for balance and harmony of the mind, body, and spirit through penitence. Jewish commentaries also declare one must ask for forgiveness before praying to God. The first step is to “come” forward, to move closer to God. First you must ask; only then will the healing and harmony begin.
Marley and Cohen’s songs describe concepts through which spiritual harmony can be achieved. Both concepts begin with an action, which leads to harmonious results. Marley, through overcoming a personal struggle and bonding with his self and his faith; Cohen, through penitence and a strengthening of his relationship with God. Both men expressed their process through song, knowing that prayers will be accepted and answered—the most profound harmony of all.
“Harmony imposes compatibility upon the incongruous.”
This observation offers up a juxtaposition of two ideas that seemingly exist in opposition yet are elegantly reconciled. The term harmony derives from the Greek ἁρμονία harmonia, meaning “joint, agreement, concord.” The concept stems from the harmony of nature. Squirrels, birds, flowers, trees—all are lyrically integrated, interconnected, creating something larger than themselves: something glorious. The incongruity, then, can be a veil that obscures deeper connections, the compatibilities in nature. But not only in nature.
In every culture throughout history, mosaics have been the cornerstone of the period’s art. One theory suggests that mosaics represent the harmony of nature, even if unintentionally. These mosaics resonate within us aesthetically: we are able to perceive that harmony.
Contemporary artists play with mosaics, using vivid colors and seemingly incongruent shapes. Their work reflects the true beauty of cultural diversity—its ability to transform both ourselves and the world into something larger, something glorious, something that becomes clear to us only when we step back to see the majestic mosaic of life.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about the “Big Lie”—you know, Donald Trump’s rant that his re-election was “stolen” and that he actually won by a “landslide.” He was wrong, but the election did reveal some truths, a legacy we must begin to take more seriously.
Specifically, the dark side of hyperbole. Words used immoderately. Loaded language designed to explode rather than explain. At some point, they become a numbing refrain.
Words are anything but harmless. There are always consequences to choosing them. The stakes can be high—even lethal. A figure of speech is easily weaponized.
For instance, a peaceful march can be one word away from morphing into violence. Many of the January 6th rioters repeated that the election had been “stolen.” A fateful word provoked an unspeakable act of breaking and entering the Capitol.
Everywhere one looks there are words better left unsaid. Elected officials recite talking points even though they have no idea what they are talking about. Children come home from college and mimic their professors with statements that prove how high SAT scores are no inoculant against stupidity.
If the election taught us anything, it’s that words matter. There is grave danger in sweeping labels applied to very deep-seated domestic or global problems.
Meanwhile, “Big Lies” proliferate around us.
Seemingly out of nowhere, the proponents of Critical Race Theory hijacked the books our children read and the ideas that fill their heads. Words like “racist” and “white supremacy” are fast becoming the bread and butter of our educational system—indeed, in some cases, the only items on the menu. The innocence of childhood is now forever subject to racial composition.
In the broader culture, the charge of “racism” is all too common to defend against. No white person is allowed a passing grade in Woke 101. “White privilege” is an indelible sign of depravity. Many low-income, marginalized white people don’t feel privileged in the least, but their skin disqualifies them from raising an objection.
White bread is no longer just a metaphor for Caucasian blandness. It suggests something more sinister than gluten.
“Cancellation” is being employed by employers who have no causal reason to fire anyone. Twitter apparently has carte blanche over human resource departments. All employees who are white are presumed to have served in the Confederacy.
Whether innocuous or accusatory, language is now supercharged. And often misapplied. An entire vocabulary can be adopted to spread confusion, especially among the uninformed, which constitutes nearly everyone.
The purveyors of Big Lies know exactly what they are doing. They are disguising a lie as an idea, peddling a slander, fabricating a prejudice through repetition. They correctly surmise that no one will know the difference. Who is going to take the time to check? The duplicitous always depend on libels. It’s the match that inflames mobs.
Big lies can overwhelm a small country. Israel is an excellent example of a gaslight gone global. The language often used to describe the Jewish state bears virtually no relationship to the truth. But they are widely believed.
The country is very much in the news given yet another deja vu war against terrorists hell-bent on its destruction. A war in Gaza is in its second week—the fourth war against Hamas since 2005. As is true with all warfare, there are human casualties. But the battles Israel is forced to fight are unique among nations. They are known as asymmetrical, Fourth Generation warfare. And they demand agonizing moral choices.
Israel does not meet an opposing army wearing uniforms in an open battlefield. Hamas terrorists are indistinguishable from ordinary Gazans, intentionally so. Hamas specializes in giving Israel a target densely populated with civilians, knowing that the IDF won’t miss. They launch thousands of rockets from schools and hospitals, indiscriminately fired at Israeli civilians. Civilian casualties are Hamas’ war strategy. Why else would they establish command centers in apartments with children on their laps?
Using children as human shields doesn’t quite describe it. The children don’t actually shield anything. They are the main event in an endgame of death. Arouse the sympathy of nations; cause revulsion among the press. Gazans set new lows in unfit parenting, but they have a keen sense of what the world will find unbearable.
So rockets explode prematurely over Tel Aviv all thanks to an Iron Dome that works better than the hand of God. Buildings storing Hamas operatives and weapons, along with underground terror tunnels, collapse from Israeli airstrikes. The casualty count is “disproportionate,” but how could it not be? One side is preternaturally homicidal, declaring victory with each loss of life. They erect tunnels to warehouse weapons rather than shelter their citizens. That’s because their citizens are weapons. “Ceasefires” don’t serve their interests, because they disrupt a war strategy that profits from rubble.
Hamas rockets, 3,000 launched toward Israel so far in this campaign, mostly miss their mark or are intercepted by Iron Dome. But their intended destination is clear. These are not warning shots. Hamas wants its rockets to strike Jews—men, women and children—no matter where they live. For Israel, civilian Palestinian death is accidental; for Hamas, it’s existential.
Must Israel allow Hamas’ rockets to land? Should they instruct Israelis not to hide in bomb shelters in order to make this a fair fight? No moral principle, or rule of engagement, supports such lunacy. Everyone seems to have an opinion about what Israel can’t do in retaliation for the tens of thousands of rockets fired at them since 2006. When it comes to dispensing advice on what they can do . . . silence.
Hamas’ methods renders one speechless, so Israel must fight on.
In the United States Congress, two Muslim elected officials, Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, have referred to Israeli airstrikes in this recent battle as “acts of terrorism” by an “apartheid regime” that is guilty of “ethnic cleansing.” Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez seconded the “apartheid state” charge. Several years ago she referred to Israel’s defense against Gazans trying to breach its border fence as a “massacre.”
Where to begin? That’s a lot of libel to rebut.
Most people can’t find Israel on a map even if you spot them a hemisphere and a longitude. Yet for decades anti-Zionists (See: Jew-Haters) described Israel as both a “settler-colonial enterprise” and “regional superpower.” Surely a nation with such imperial might should have a landmass more in common with Canada than New Jersey.
But it doesn’t. There are 22 colossal but failed Arab states and one phenomenally successful but tiny Jewish one. Attaching “settler” or “colonial” to the Jewish state somehow ignores the history of the Jewish people. According to the Old Testament, Jews and their patriarchs lived on the land of what is today Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. Jerusalem is mentioned 677 times in the Bible.
Guess how many times Jerusalem is mentioned in the Koran, where the Dome of the Rock is located, where last week’s skirmishes with Israeli police occurred outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque, presumably the third holiest site in Islam. Seriously, take a guess.
The answer: not once.
If Jerusalem is so important to Islam, how did it manage to get left out of its holy book? And if Jews are so alien to Jerusalem, so much so that UNESCO disgracefully ruled in 2016 that they have no historic connection to the Temple Mount, why is the Old Testament a testament to Jewish life in Judea?
How about the “Occupation”? Now there’s an often stated word that blurs core facts and guarantees that Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians will be widely misunderstood.
First, as for Gaza, not a single Jew or Israeli lives there. Not one. Israel withdrew in 2005, uprooting its own citizens despite deep ties to that ancestral land.
How does one occupy an area by living somewhere else?
Gaza is a coastal enclave with magnificent views of the Mediterranean Sea. Nothing, aside from their own nihilism, prevented Gazans from building their own Monaco or Macau. Vacationers could have been spending these post-pandemic days, and dollars, in hotels all along the strip.
Instead of declaring statehood, however, which today would be in its 16th year, Hamas had a better idea: Turn Gaza into one big launching pad. This forced Israel, in the north, and Egypt, in the south, to impose a naval blockade. The reasons are obvious. Hamas’ main imports have always been artillery, rocketry and concrete with which to erect terror tunnels. Even Egypt realizes that Hamas can’t be trusted to build anything other than bombs.
As for the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority, pursuant to the Oslo Accords, controls much of it. But Palestinians loyal to Fatah, also have not kicked the habit of terrorizing Israelis with stabbings, car rammings, and other acts that do not reflect a people ready for statehood.
Palestinians still refuse to recognize Israel’s very existence. Their charters are blueprints for Jewish death. Textbooks teach children to hate Jews. An unofficial national anthem, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” is more in line with a genocidal fight song. The area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is Israel. Where are Jews supposed to live if Palestinians are banking on a state that is much larger than the West Bank?
Given all those impediments to co-existence, why shouldn’t Israelis doubt that a future Palestinian state would make for a nice neighbor?
Finally, under any fair reading of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel can’t occupy land to which it has a historical, ancestral connection, and that never once was there a sovereign state called Palestine—with a Palestinian citzenry. The West Bank has never not been unoccupied, as far back as the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Crusaders, Mamelukes, Ottoman Turks, British, Jordanians, and now Israel—the only country in that long list that actually has a legitimate claim of title to the land. Ironically, Palestinians are the one people to never have occupied the land that is to become their state. They might have lived there, but it was never theirs.
(During those first 19 years of Israel’s existence, when Jordan captured the West Bank and Egypt seized Gaza, no one mentioned the word “occupation” at all. In fact, drawing distinctions between Israeli Arabs and Palestinian Arabs, or contemplating Palestinian statehood, seemed to be on no one’s mind. That all changed, of course, when Israel recaptured it.)
Because the word “occupation” has been so widely adopted, a concession from the Oslo Accords that Israel should have never conceded, most people believe that Israel is occupying a sovereign country once called Palestine and populated by Arabs who were known as Palestinians. That’s why “stolen land” is so casually repeated and added to Israel’s many crimes.
But the land is not really occupied. It’s simply disputed territory between two peoples that have claims to the land—historic, ancestral, and a very complicated set of colliding truths.
Since 1947 when the United Nations carved a Jewish and Arab homeland out of what is now greater Israel, the Palestinians have rejected five offers of statehood. President Bill Clinton’s memoir acknowledges his stupefaction that the Palestinians spurned his last effort of bringing a final peace to the region, which included 97 percent of what the Palestinians had, purportedly, negotiated for. Did they come back to the table with a counteroffer? No. Instead, they reverted to old tricks of the terrorism trade and responded with the Second Intifada, which included suicide bombings in Israeli pizza shops and Passover Seders.
Does this sound like Israel is stubbornly standing in the way of Palestinian national aspirations? More likely is the conclusion that the Palestinians don’t really want statehood. (The Gulf states that normalized relations with Israel in last summer’s Abraham Accords have no doubt come to that realization.)
What seemingly does interest Palestinians is any outcome where Israel is without statehood and the Jews of the region disappear. In addition to a number of rejected peace and statehood offerings, there is also a more damning truth: the timing of when organized Palestinian terror came into existence. The PLO was created in 1964—three years before Jews lived in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.
What does that tell you? It’s not about settlements, territories, Jerusalem, or even the Right of Return. It’s simply about Jewish existence.
Building a Palestinian nation holds far less appeal than blowing up the Jewish one. This is what progressive, liberal Democrats, many of them Jews suffering from a condition I call moral narcissism, seemingly can’t or simply won’t accept. They will call for a “two-state solution” no matter how many times Palestinians show disinterest in being one of those states.
Many Israelis now wonder whether it was a good idea to withdraw from Gaza altogether. It certainly brought no peace and ceded to Hamas a base of operations. And withdrawal earned Israel no global goodwill, either. They are denounced as an occupying power even though their dealings with Gaza are limited to the border.
Meanwhile, Palestinians sit in refugee camps operated by the United Nations instead of being absorbed as permanent citizens of other Arab states. In fact, the Palestinians are the only people allowed refugee status in perpetuity. In all other cases, the UN insists that displaced persons find a new placement within one generation.
The reason is plainly obvious. Anti-Semites holding out hope that time will run out on the Israelis. Meanwhile, Palestinians sitting in misery are a convenient eyesore.
Speaking of “displaced refugees,” that, too, has a meaning obscured from what most people are led to believe. Yes, Israel’s War of Independence scattered 750,000 Arabs from their homes. In some cases, Israelis forcibly evicted them, but mostly Palestinians received assurances that the combined Arab armies would vanquish the Jewish state.
That didn’t work out so well for Palestinians. But after Israel was created and so quickly embarrassed five Arab armies that had expected the Jewish state to be a very short-lived experiment, roughly one million Jews were exiled from Egypt, Syria, Tunisia, Libya, Morocco, Yemen, Iran, and Jordan, where their families had lived for generations. They immediately became Israelis. Is the world equally interested in granting Jewish refugees from Arab states a Right of Return?
This is where the Big Lie about “colonial” and “racist” is laughable. More than half the population of Israel are dark-skinned Middle Easterners. Add to this Semitic mix Arab Israelis, who represent 20 percent of the country, and who enjoy civil rights and opportunities equal to Jewish Israelis. Further evidence of a multiethnic nation is a former Miss Israel from Ethiopia. “White supremacy?” “Apartheid” with Arabs sitting on the Israeli Supreme Court? Really?
No one should be weeping for terrorists, especially this bunch. Hamas remained an ally of Al-Qaeda after 9/11. Israel erected a 9/11 Memorial in Jerusalem, the first one outside of New York to list the names of the nearly 3,000 who lost their lives to the terrorism on that day.
The special pleading of progressives to condemn Israel is especially galling since none of these people would last five minutes in a Muslim society—liberated women, out-of-the closet homosexuals, artists, journalists, and, of course, Christians.
Beheaded. Lashed. Torched and tossed from rooftops. Jailed.
Perhaps the biggest lie of all is the charge of “ethnic cleansing”—which is so instantly associated with evil. But genocides are measured by mass murder and a drastic loss of a population. Ask the Armenians, Cambodians, Bosnians, Rwandans, Congolese, Sudanese, and, of course, Jews, and they’ll tell you that “cleansing” is a euphemistic way to describe the subtraction of a people. The Palestinian population, however, since the “Occupation,” has more than doubled.
It is true that Gazan casualties are increasing each day. Given Israel’s air defense batteries and civil defense strategies, one can easily lose sight of a different reality for the Jews of the Middle East. Thankfully, some people are not shy in expressing their true desires. They serve as reminders of what Israel has no choice but to do.
On Monday, in capital cities all across Europe, Islamists wrapped in Palestinian flags marched on major boulevards and chanted “Death to Jews.” The story went completely unreported by all mainstream news services. Maybe it’s because “Death to Jews” is not a big lie, but a truthful admission.
Thane Rosenbaum is a novelist, essayist, law professor and Distinguished University Professor at Touro College, where he directs the Forum on Life, Culture & Society. He is the legal analyst for CBS News Radio. His most recent book is titled “Saving Free Speech … From Itself.”
Iran is behind the latest escalation of violence against Israel. The increased accuracy and the sheer number of rockets fired into Israel reveal Iran’s hand. All actions the Islamic Republic and its proxies are taking are in direct violation of existing United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) put in place to curb Iran’s lethal capabilities. Once again, Iran is cheating out in the open with impunity, and once again Iran is attacking a U.S. ally while the international community condemns Israel’s response.
Iran gave the nod and Iran’s proxies seized on a dispute as the ignitor for violence to attack a U.S. ally—an ally the Biden White House is distancing itself from in its actions and in its courtship of the Islamic Republic.
The Biden administration allowed Tehran to use proxy attacks against the U.S. mission in Iraq and against Saudi Arabia as leverage in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) talks, and Iran saw weakness from Washington. Iran viewed Washington’s carve out of its missile capabilities and regional behavior from nuclear talks in Vienna as a green light to use Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) to attack Israel under the pretense of a Palestinian issue.
Iran Deal supporters will argue that the JCPOA was not meant to address regional behavior or ballistic missiles, and yet Iran is using malignant regional behavior and missiles as leverage to get the U.S. to completely cave in Vienna.
Iran sees weakness in Vienna, and it will continue to fracture the region until it sees its actions have consequences. To date, there are no consequences for the regime in Tehran. Iran is not being pressured to make any concessions on sunsets, ballistic missiles, and regional behavior ahead of a U.S. reentry to the JCPOA.
Iran increased the lethality and accuracy of its rocket arsenal under the protections of the JCPOA. The technology acquired to make Iran’s missiles and rockets more precise took place within the JCPOA and under the supposed constraints of existing UNSCRs put in place to stop the regime from advancing its lethal offensive capabilities and aid to proxies.
What didn’t exist in 2007 exists now. Iran’s land-bridge is operational, advanced, and in use in the attacks against Israel. Its missile and rocket components and the weapons themselves are making their way to Iran’s proxies across Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and into the hands of Hamas and the PIJ. Iran’s Iraqi militias stand ready to move across this land bridge and join the fight against Israel. Iran now has the sustained capability to move weapons and fighters to further destabilize the Levant and threaten Israel.
The players and their goals
Hamas and PIJ military positions are purposely placed in civilian locations to ensure increased collateral damage. They need civilian casualties and are sacrificing Palestinians for their own cause. The goal of Hamas is to control the media narrative and limit its own casualties while maximizing Palestinian casualties. Collateral damage is the bait for moral outrage from those who believe they can condemn Israel’s actions without mentioning the designated terror groups responsible for the attacks and the civilian deaths on both sides.
The goal of Iran is to rachet up pressure everywhere to get the Biden White House to cave on everything in Vienna. Let’s remember, Iran will fight to the last Arab.
The goal of the Palestinian Authority (PA) is to perpetuate the illusion that they matter.
The goal of Israel is to defend its people and win by denying Hamas and the PIJ the victory these terrorist organizations covet: international condemnation of Israel and anti-Israel sentiment. The only way Israel can win is to resist Washington’s insistence that it lose. Israel is “trying to degrade Hamas’s terrorist abilities and to degrade their will to do this again. So it’ll take some time. I hope it won’t take long, but it’s not immediate.” This from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The goal of the U.S. is to act like it has one, though this administration does not. The moral equivalency argument is the favorite tool of the pro-JCPOA diplomat in the U.S. The Biden administration cannot answer simple questions like this from Israeli PM Netanyahu: “they’re sending thousands of rockets on our cities with the specific purpose of murdering our civilians from these places. What would you do? If it happened to Washington or to New York? You know damn well what you would do.”
Keep the Wild Card on the sidelines
Lebanese Hezbollah is watching what Israel is doing to Hamas with bated breath. Hezbollah is not ready for this fight because it believes Iran is not ready for this fight. Hassan Nasrallah knows Iran is using the crisis to enhance its negotiating position in Vienna. That could all change if the Biden administration lifts sanctions and gives Iran access to the U.S. dollar. Iran would then be able to increase the flow of much needed currency to Iran’s premiere proxy in the region.
Hezbollah has the most advanced precision guided missiles of all of Iran’s proxies. Iran’s strategy is to overwhelm and exhaust Israel’s Iron Dome capabilities through Hamas and PIJ rocket attacks and then have Hezbollah use precision-guided rockets to hit key military and infrastructure sites in Israel. So far, Hezbollah is sitting this one out. The U.S. can keep Hezbollah on the bench by not empowering Iran.
The only way for the U.S. to win here is to support Israel by holding Iran responsible for the escalation, walking away from Iran talks in Vienna, and imposing more sanctions on Iran, Russia, China, and on any other country doing business with Iran. The U.S. has crippling economic leverage with this regime. The regime is on life support and now is not the time to give it an economic lifeline. Lifting that pressure at this point in time will fuel and empower Iran and its proxies to get all they can, starting now. On the other hand, walking away will demonstrate to Tehran that there are consequences for its actions.
Michael Pregent is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. He is a senior Middle East analyst, a former adjunct lecturer for the College of International Security Affairs, and a visiting fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University.
April 13: The holy month of Ramadan begins. Many thousands of Muslims pray every day at the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
April 13: Palestinian youth launch a “challenge” on TikTok to post videos of themselves randomly assaulting Jews in Jerusalem. Several of these videos are shared widely on social media.
April 14: In response to the violence, Israeli police put up barriers to prevent large crowds from gathering near the Damascus gate of Jerusalem’s Old City. The barriers lead to protests and clashes with the police. The barriers are removed on April 25th.
April 19: Extremist Jews in Jerusalem launch random revenge assaults against Palestinians; police arrest six Jewish suspects.
April 22: A far-right anti-Arab Jewish group called Lehava (“Flame” in Hebrew) marches in Jerusalem, chanting racist slogans. Palestinian counter-protesters clash with police, who used stun grenades and “skunk water” on both groups of protesters. Dozens are injured in the violence.
April 23-25: Hamas begins firing rockets at Israel and incites Palestinians to “continue mobilizing in the Old City.”
April 29: More clashes erupt at the Damascus Gate when Palestinians throw rocks, bottles, and fireworks at police.
April 30: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas postpones Palestinian elections. He blames Israel, but is widely believed to be motivated by concern that the terrorist group Hamas will defeat him and his allies at the polls. Analysts believe the following escalation toward violent conflict is mainly an effort by the terrorist group to gain political power and weaken their rival Abbas. They hope to do this by positioning themselves as the primary “defenders of Jerusalem.”
May 2: Yehuda Guetta, a 19-year-old Jewish student and resident of Jerusalem, is shot by a Palestinian terrorist at Tapuah Junction and later dies of his wounds. Two other Jewish students were shot and wounded in the attack as well.
May 3-7: Clashes break out in Sheikh Jarrah, ahead of an Israeli High Court hearing regarding a deeply controversial property dispute between Jews and Palestinians in the neighborhood.
May 4: Journalist Khaled Abu Toameh reports that terrorist groups in Gaza “call on Palestinians to arrive at al-Aqsa Mosque and ‘ignite an intifada against settlers.’” Hamas initiates a social media campaign inciting Palestinians to violence.
May 4: Prime Minister Netanyahu officially fails to form a government after Israel’s fourth national election in two years, leaving an unstable transitional government. Reports suggest that a coalition of parties across the political spectrum, including the conservative Arab Muslim Ra’am faction, is forming to replace Netanyahu’s government. This would represent unprecedented cooperation between Jewish and Arab parties in Israel.
May 7: Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei tweets a series of inflammatory statements supporting terrorism against Israel. Hamas leader Fathi Hammad urges Palestinians in Jerusalem to “cut off the heads of the Jews with knives.”
Tens of thousands of Palestinians attend evening prayers at the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. After prayers end, protests and clashes with police break out, with parts of the crowd waving Hamas flags.
May 8: After prayers on Laylat al-Qadr, the holiest night of Ramadan, protests and clashes break out again with parts of the crowd chanting “Bomb, bomb Tel Aviv!”
May 9: During continued riots on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, Palestinians fire flares, which set fire to a tree near the Al Aqsa Mosque. Jewish Israelis, celebrating Jerusalem Day in the Western Wall Plaza beneath Al Aqsa, are photographed with the burning tree in the background. The photo spreads far and wide on social media with the false narrative that they are celebrating the burning of Al Aqsa.
Following a request by the Israeli government, Israel’s Supreme Court suspends its hearing on Sheikh Jarrah property dispute in hopes of reducing tensions and violence.
Hamas launches incendiary balloons from Gaza that set fire to hundreds of acres of Israeli agricultural land.
May 10: More riots break out near the Al Aqsa mosque. Israel’s police enter the area after thousands of Palestinians gathered in the compound overnight, having collected numerous rocks and other makeshift weapons at the holy site. Three hundred Palestinians and 21 police officers are injured.
Palestinian extremists attack a Jewish driver outside the Old City of Jerusalem and nearly lynch him. He is saved by a police officer firing his weapon into the air to disperse the mob.
Hamas issues an ultimatum demanding that by 6 pm local time Israel must withdraw from the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif and Sheikh Jarrah and must release all Palestinians arrested in the week’s rioting.
May 10-Present: Massive assault by Hamas against Israel civilians.
Israel ignores Hamas’ ultimatum and immediately after 6 pm, the terrorist group fires a barrage of rockets at civilians in Jerusalem and southern Israel.
Hamas and its allies have launched more than 2,300 rockets aimed at murdering Israeli civilians since the fighting began. Israel has responded with hundreds of strikes aimed at stopping terrorists in Gaza from killing its people.
This violence has been a horrific tragedy for Israeli and Palestinian civilians. Several Israelis have been murdered and hundreds injured by terrorism from Gaza, including both Jewish and Arab citizens. More than 100 people have been killed in Gaza, with initial reports indicating most were members of terrorist groups. However, Palestinian civilians have been killed and wounded as well.
The main reason Palestinians in Gaza have died is because Hamas and its allies militarized their neighborhoods. Terrorist groups are committing a double war crime: firing at Israeli civilian communities from within Palestinian civilian communities. Some Palestinians have also been killed by Hamas rockets that fell short and landed in Gaza.
The only reason Hamas has not been able to murder massive numbers of Israelis is that Israel does everything it can to protect civilians. It has built bomb shelters in most Israeli homes and its Iron Dome defense system has shot down countless incoming rockets.
The IDF code of ethics requires Israeli soldiers to do everything they can to protect innocent life. The IDF does not intentionally target civilians as a matter of policy and goes beyond what the law requires by warning civilians before striking military targets. Nevertheless, it has proven impossible to stop terrorists in Gaza from attacking innocent Israelis without harming innocent Palestinians in the process. This is because Hamas and its allies intentionally put civilians directly in harm’s way.
Hamas also encouraged an unprecedented wave of mob violence by Arab extremists in Israel, and Jewish extremists retaliated with mob violence of their own. Jewish and Arab leaders across the Israeli political spectrum strongly condemned this, and members of both communities have held rallies calling for peace. Some see Hamas’ involvement as an effort to stop the growing cooperation between Jewish and Arab political leaders in Israel.
As of May 16th, 2021, the conflict is ongoing with Hamas continuing to fire rockets at Israeli civilians, and Israel striking the terrorist group and its allies in Gaza.
Compiled from Standwithus.com/situationroom
I see you
Your hopes and dreams
I see the fears you hold
The worries that keep sleep away
You for all the ways
That you are truly uniquely you
You are not a sum of arbitrary things
Details to be checked off a list somewhere
You are you
Unique from all others
Much like a snowflake
One of many yet unlike all others
I see you and understand
Why it can seem easy to be part of a crowd
Lost in it
To feel less lost
Yet it’s that very erasure of yourself
That fuels the unrest that rises within
I see you amidst the crowd
For who you are and who you want to be
Losing that is injustice to yourself
And to those denied getting to know you
I see you not for any aspect of appearance
But for the very content of your character
It is in that dream
That so clearly I can see you
unset the sun,
unset the sun,
as if the night had not begun.
unset the sun,
and rise it hon,
as if this weren’t over, done.
the night brings forth another day,
i fear for us it’s not the same
our sunset will never reverse,
it seems our orbit has been cursed.
yet try again,
unset the sun,
as if this weren’t over, done,
as if the night had not begun.
During a well-known scene in the 1989 film Field of Dreams, Amy Madigan’s character takes righteous umbrage at a proposal by her daughter’s school library to ban the books of a certain author. She references the spirit of her 1960s youth; she declares herself to be willing to stand up against the opponents of liberalism who seek to ban books such as L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl.
The former was banned by public libraries in Chicago and Detroit in the 1920s and 1950s, respectively, as well as being the target of a more contemporary attempt in Tennessee in 1986. The latter has been the subject of multiple banning attempts both before and after the film, including most recently a 2010 court case in Culpeper County, Virginia. The 1960s spirit she references in that scene was the influence of the Free Speech Movement, which originated at the University of California in Berkeley in 1964, and coalesced around certain leaders of the emerging New Left of that time. Their politics focused on concepts such as free speech and academic freedom, two key classical liberal values that, sadly, are nearly impossible to imagine any current leftist movement galvanizing around. Today’s left demands complete and total conformity to their preconceived, unchallengeable notions and brooks no dissent to their package of ideas and values. You either buy in 100 percent on every agenda item, or you are cast out as a virtual heretic.
Books are ideas put into words and onto pages that are then bound up in nice and neat packages for distribution. Today, it can be difficult to distinguish the stodgy old illiberal “them,” who banned books, from leftists who are unfortunately, and often erroneously, referred to as “liberals.” Seeking to ban books is no different than seeking to similarly expel from society ideas and ways of thinking themselves, whether wrapped in covers or not. A prominent example of a book where these two sides of censorship frequently collide can be found with To Kill a Mockingbird, where calls are made to ban the book both for its historically accurate language and content (which admittedly can shock some by today’s standards), as well as for the ultimate lesson it taught. This was a truly anti-racist book (published in 1960, no less) in the literal sense of that similarly abused phrase, yet it is also one that can draw equally outraged opposition from groups who would otherwise be diametrically opposed to each other politically.
The book, like all groundbreaking literature, was intended to shake people out of their comfort zones and make them reevaluate their ways of thought. Classical liberals respect and encourage this individualistic process, allowing people to come to their own conclusions, while leftists prefer to preach and demand deference without precisely explaining why people should think the way that they’re told.
The current craze of “cancel culture” is certainly not anything new or innovative. Socrates was executed for expressing inconvenient ideas. Numerous religious scholars throughout history were banished or worse for their theories, opinions, and ponderings. Abraham Lincoln was assassinated for eliminating the evil institution of slavery in the United States, while a little over a century later Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered for his success at working toward ending the disgusting practices of discrimination and segregation against African Americans that followed.
Right now, the stakes are obviously (with some exceptions) not the same as the more prominent examples that have been mentioned above, but “canceling” follows the same practice of intolerance, which if we tolerate it, leads down a very slippery and dangerous slope. We began to see a clear turn toward illiberalism and against the liberal values of free speech and free thought on the left with Salman Rushdie’s experience. In 1988, the publication of his novel The Satanic Verses ultimately led Iran’s then-leader, Sayyid Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini, to a call for Rushdie’s murder. Just a bit more than 25 years later, two terrorists shot up the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, murdering 12 and injuring 11 others, all because of a cartoon that the magazine had published.
After that tragedy, a clear distinction became evident between classical liberals who oppose censorship and leftists posing as liberals who consider It acceptable to murder cartoonists and secretaries as long as one can provide an ideologically appropriate justification. Just five years later we now have illiberal leftists celebrating the firing of literary agents such as Colleen Oefelein simply for having an account on the social media site Parler, which is “known” to be conservative (hello, shades of Bizarro McCarthyism).
Free speech is the absolute key to classical liberalism and all the values we hold dear. It is the underlying value without which no one is truly free. This is liberalism 101.
The United States, now near the 250th anniversary of the establishment of the greatest and longest-running experiment in classical liberalism in world history, based upon such documents as the Constitution of the United States, the Bill of Rights, and texts such as Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, finds itself in a troubling situation where radicals currently seek to undermine the foundations of society. Tragically, these radical individuals are not regarded now as mere mischievous malcontents spoiled by generational privilege, but rather are often considered to be serious people representing a serious movement by the current American government, as well as by institutions such as the media, universities, and even major corporations.
It is now vital for those who value the opportunities provided to succeed in the United States, and who hope to pass along this place to their children and grandchildren and further generations down the line, to stand strong against this current challenge. The same applies to those in other democracies and republics throughout the world which were based upon classical liberal values that are also being similarly challenged by illiberal, destructive forces that today are masquerading as the opposite.
Jason D. Paluch is a Contributing Writer for White Rose Magazine.