The Bulletin

Our Community Campaign
Next week's Bulletin will be the first one to appear after the Jewish holidays. With Simchat Torah ahead, we are almost there. As we conclude the annual cycle of Torah reading and the beginning of another, as the holiday of Sukkot ends, and as we of course enjoy more food (you guessed it) with friends and family, let us spend a moment thinking of others and of how we can help those in need.
The 2016-17 Annual Campaign is underway. In the coming year we'd like to continue and support Meals on Wheels for the elderly; fund PJ Library books for our children and grandchildren; support the Center for Jewish Culture at UMass Dartmouth and the Holocaust Center at BCC; deliver Passover food; and provide college scholarships.
To do that we need your help. Don't wait for the campaign letter (on its way) -- donate online today. Thank you.

Not Their Finest Hour

More than 25 years after it was founded, B'Tselem, an Israeli NGO advocating for the human rights of Palestinians did not (in my opinion) have a great week. Operating in a controversial space on the political map will always draw criticism, particularly from those on the other side, particularly for an organization representing views of the minority opposition. That they have on many occasions fought for people who needed defending is not always the first thing that comes to mind, especially in a country where those they defend have terrorists living among them, not to mention some who are.
Last week, the group's executive director, Hagai El-Ad, addressed the UN Security Council in an informal meeting on Israeli settlements. In his address he called for "decisive action against Israel." While one can argue for and against the organization's right to speak and represent the position (nothing new for B'Tselem), there is no doubt that the political strategy behind the speech was misguided and (in my opinion) politically naive. I say that because in taking this conversation outside Israel, B'Tselem provided its political opponents with fresh wind in their sails at a time when they desperately need it. And to make things worse, they could not have picked a worse time to do so from a UN stage.
The UN is often hostile to Israel (accepting more resolutions against Israel than the rest of the world COMBINED), and just a few days before El Ad's speech UNESCO resolved there that the Jewish people had no connection to the Temple Mount. No, this is not a joke, they did. In so doing they gifted Prime Minister Netanyahu a perfect opportunity  and he of course used it to suggest that this is the equivalent to saying "China has no connection to the Great Wall." Over the years Netanyahu has used B'Tselem as one of his favorite punching bags and last week he pounced on this chance and also accused the group of joining the anti-Israel "chorus of slander." Which given the circumstances, it sure looked like they did.  In this Haaretz piece, the writer asserts that liberal Jews should condemn the denial of Jewish ties to the Temple Mount - a practical approach if you ask me. If B'Tselem is (or wishes to be) a human rights organization and on the Israeli left, this week it has done a great job in strengthening the right-wing government it seeks to replace.
And one final observation: When I watched El-Ad's speech at the UN, it sounded like a speech of an enemy, not a political opponent. It could easily have been the spokesperson for Hamas (the same organization El-Ad refused to call a terrorist organization two years ago). It has been argued before that B'Tselem's approach is one-sided and lacking in any understanding of and empathy for the Zionist position. This was what I saw this week and perhaps the reason why even those who often jump in in support of this issue have remained quiet.
As for the resolution at UNESCO, Yair Lapid, a member of Knesset and a former minister and the head of Yesh Atid, suggests UNESCO erased history. I agree. Here is his piece for the Times of Israel.  But aside from erasing history what is perhaps more troubling is that "young Palestinians already fueled by incitement against Israel read a decision like this one by UNESCO, they become convinced that the conspiracy theories are true. The next stage is that they take a knife, a gun or a Molotov cocktail and carry out a terror attack. People will die." 
Dylan's Cool With the Nobel Prize After All

Turns out the Nobel Prize folks had not been able to find Mr.
Zimmerman -- until today. Bob Dylan finally broke his silence on winning the Nobel Prize in a most Bob Dylan way.

It's not like he was that hard to find. Dear friends in Sweden, you might have looked for him at the WinStar in Thackerville on Saturday or the Brady Center in Tulsa on Sunday.


October 20
7:00 - 9:30 PM
Crypto Jews in Spain & Portugal
Speaker Professor Pedro Bicudo
Co-sponsored by BCC Holocaust Center and LusoCentro
Bristol Community College, Fall River campus, C-Building, room C-111

October 21
12:00 PM
Religious Literacy -- Judaism: What is a Sukkah? What do you do in it?
Rabbi Jacqueline Satlow teaching. Free lunch.
UMass Dartmouth, the Sukkah behind Unity House

November 4
9:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Propaganda and the Holocaust
Conference for middle, high school and college instructors, also open to community members
Sponsored by BCC Holocaust Center and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Bristol Community College, Fall River campus, Jackson Arts Center

November 15
11:00 AM
Branded on My Arm and in My Soul,
the story of Abraham W. Landau, concentration camps survivor
Speakers from the Jewish Federation Holocaust Education Committee and the editor of Spinner Publications
Sponsored by BCC Holocaust Center
Bristol Community College, New Bedford campus, room TBA


Shabbat Shalom,


The Bulletin is a weekly email from Amir Cohen, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Bedford.  I welcome your feedback at amir@jewishnewbedford.org.

Jewish Federation of Greater New Bedford, 467 Hawthorn Street, Dartmouth, MA 02747
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