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Media bias regarding bombing of Israel puzzling

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I have been reading about the present war in Gaza and watching the comments on TV. Mention has been made of the thousands of rockets launched by Hamas and others at Israel and of the casualties caused by Israel in retaliation. According to the reports, so far, most of the casualties seem to have been Palestinian. Very few Israeli casualties have been reported in comparison with Palestinian ones, and I found the tone to be one of largely anti-Israel condemnation.

I find this puzzling. During and before the 2014 Arab onslaught on Israel and the erection of the Iron Dome defence system, the number of rockets fired from Gaza at the surrounding Israeli population was estimated to have been about 14 000. In fact, it was only after that bombardment of the Jewish civilian population by the Palestinians reached 80 missiles a day that Israel sent in its army.

The present Palestinian onslaught mentions about 2 000 missiles. Some years ago, I visited the Israeli village of Sderot which is located on the border of Gaza about 5km from Gaza City after it had been hit by about 4 000 rockets from Gaza. I saw the effects of such an assault on a civilian city and its population for myself, especially on the little ones in the creche, the only bomb-proof building in the village. I also noted that Israel had destroyed some large buildings, but in the TV interviews, one of the occupants stated that they had been warned by Israel of the impending destruction of the edifices, and so evacuated before suffering any casualties.

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Letters/Discussion Forums

Milnerton Shul needs your help with its history

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I’m researching the history of the Milnerton Shul. There is currently very little information about it. Please help me by emailing any information you may have on the shul to the following address: nicky@stein.org.za.

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It’s a sin to remain silent – report abuse

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I recently came across a poster on an Orthodox Jewish website that said something like, “Don’t do anything that you don’t want others to find out about.” Its message is simple: be respectful. Behave morally. Don’t hurt. Be kind.

I mention this in response to Rebbetzin Wendy Hendler’s recent article in the SA Jewish Report titled ‘Men also face gender-based violence’, specifically in relation to her reference to the barriers that we Jews put up in our community regarding lashon hara or mesirah (one Jew handing over another Jew to secular authorities).

If these laws are preventing our Jewish community from calling out abusers, it indicates that most people don’t fully understand them, and have taken laws regarding speech too far and in the wrong direction.

They were meant to create atmospheres of shalom, and guide us regarding speech, what is acceptable to talk about and what’s not. It’s better to discuss the words of the Torah than talk disparagingly about the Rebbetzin’s new sheitel. Use speech to elevate the world.

The laws of speech were never meant to protect abusers, nor to pressurise victims into remaining silent. To think that we cannot speak out against an abuser is distorted. Abusers have shattered and poisoned any atmosphere of shalom that speech laws were meant to facilitate.

Getting back to the website message, I want to say firstly: it’s true. If your actions embarrass you it’s often an indication you did something wrong. The remedy for that is to not do wrong things.

Secondly, seeing this message on an Orthodox Jewish website was a breath of fresh air, because we Orthodox Jews are so used to emphasising the laws of lashon hara that some people may be too scared to talk about anyone or anything at all, even abuse. This idea is out of control. We have extended the umbrella of lashon hara too far, and included things it wasn’t meant to include.

To the contrary, there are certain harmful aspects of individual behaviour that we must expose. It is a sin to remain silent. It is pikuach nefesh – the mitzvah of ‘saving a life’ – which Rebbetzin Hendler also echoes when she says, “For victims, child sexual abuse is akin to being a living murder victim.”

The bottom line is: report abuse. And teach your children to report abuse too.

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Help me trace my missing relatives

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I would be grateful if anyone is able to help me trace my missing relatives, Cynthia Hasson (born Sassen), the daughter of my late grandfather, and her son, Victor Hassen, who I have been told is a medical doctor in London. Cynthia, who could be in her mid 80s, was known to be living in Cape Town some time ago.

Contact Monty Sassen (montyandbernice@telkomsa.net or sassenm@telkomsa.net).

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