On Wednesday night, September 4, Akiva and I went to hear Daniel Pollak, the director of government relations of the Zionist Organization of America, speak on “Anti-Semitism in Congress: What You Need To Know and What We Can Do About It!” at the home of our friends Michael and Gila Rollhaus.
In last week’s parashah of Shoftim, we read that when Klal Yisrael will go out to war they shouldn’t be afraid because Hashem goes with them and fights for them. We are fighting a war today, but it is a different kind of war: a war of words and public relations. We must go out and fight and speak up and let the world know the truth about Zionism, Israel, antisemitism, BDS, and all the other accusations against Israel and the Jewish people. And if we are prepared and we have the right people addressing these issues, with Hashem’s help we can win the PR battle.
The ZOA is the oldest pro-Israel organization, advocating for Israel for 121 years. They believe in the legitimate Israeli sovereignty of Judea and Samaria and a united Jerusalem. The difference between the ZOA and AIPAC is that the ZOA is determined to help Israel, while AIPAC wants to help everyone.
Mr. Pollak mentioned clearly who we are talking about in Congress. The women of “the Squad” are the ones orchestrating the rhetoric against the Jews. He was clear that you can’t separate antisemitism, anti-Zionism, and anti-Israel sentiments. “If you hate Israel, you hate Jews.” They are all connected.
Mr. Pollak pointed out how Congress could not pass a bipartisan resolution condemning the anti-Semitic vitriol of Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and have not removed them from their committees, while openly condemning Steve King for his racist remarks and removing him from committees.
He went on to focus on the planned trip of Omar and Tlaib. In August a delegation of 72 Congress members went to Israel; among them were 41 Democrats and 31 Republicans. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar refused to go and said they would take their own delegation to Palestine to see firsthand the abuses the Israeli occupation forces on the Palestinians.
Mr. Pollak said their trip was sponsored by Miftah, a terrorist organization founded by Hanan Ashwari, a well-known supporter of terrorism. He also mentioned Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, saying that in his opinion, “she is the least informed person and knows little of what she speaks.” On the contrary, Tlaib and Omar are extremely bright and calculating and know exactly what they are doing. Omar lied about being against BDS and 80% of the Jews of her Minnesotan district voted for her. Tlaib’s trip was carefully orchestrated for propaganda and press events, particularly on the Temple Mount.
Pollak also mentioned legislation in Congress that the ZOA supports such as anti-BDS legislation which passed in the Senate but is not even being brought to the floor of the House because the Democrats didn’t sign the petition. Another absurd bill being presented in Congress is to protect rock-throwing Palestinian kids.
One bill that did get passed in Congress is the Taylor-Force Act which will cut U.S. funding for the Palestinian Authority until they stop paying the families of terrorists.
Pollak introduced Elizabeth Berney, the ZOA director of special projects, who implored us all to vote in the next Zionist Congress elections. The elections are held every five years and this year will be from January 21, 2020 through March 11. The American left is trying to take over politically and we must vote for the ZOA slate in order to shift the Zionist Congress from left to right. Aside from lobbying for Israel, we Jews must step forward and vote the leftist, racist socialists out of office. Congress, academia, and the media are the sources of leftist ideology and Ms. Berney gave the example that the media is not balanced. Their idea of a balanced debate would be a Palestinian who hates Israel debating a Jew who hates Israel.
It was also mentioned that in terms of Jewish pro-Israel involvement, the non-Orthodox community is dying, mostly due to intermarriage. Many who consider themselves Jewish are not halachically Jewish and align themselves with the left. The Modern Orthodox community is doing well and is advocating for Israel. Unfortunately, the right-wing yeshiva and chassidic community is not involved, and the ZOA should reach out to that community.
It is a shame that in our yeshivos and Bais Yaakovs our children are not taught modern Israeli history or current events. Our children and grandchildren are the future spokespeople for Israel and for the Jewish people. Someone commented that he doesn’t get involved for himself, but for his grandchildren. They need to know how to answer the anti-Semites and know the history of modern-day Israel.
Mr. Pollak also stressed that we should write letters to editors of various newspapers and to our congressmen. They read these letters and their own involvement is equal to or stronger than the involvement of their constituents.
There were lively questions and answers and the evening enlightened all of us about the work of the ZOA.
SOS Queens organization is holding awareness Shabbos on Shabbos, September 14. All shuls will be talking about giving some of our tzedakah funds to our local schools. On Sunday morning, September 15 there will be a breakfast at 9 a.m. for men and women at the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills. Guest speaker will be Rabbi Yaakov Bender. For more information, contact info@SOSQueens.org.
Tefillin and mezuzah checking campaign. Sunday, September 15 at 9 a.m. at Congregation Ohr Moshe, 170-16 73rd Avenue, Hillcrest. The event is presented by Ohr Moshe in conjunction with mezuzah doctor Reb Moshe Gantz. Since a large turnout is expected, you are encouraged to make a reservation for your tefillin and mezuzos. This will guarantee that they will be checked first. All the rest will be checked on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information and to make your reservation, contact Rabbi Asher Schechter at Rabbi@CongOhrMoshe.org or 718-591-4888.
Mitzvah Morning. Sunday, September 15 at Young Israel of Jamaica Estates. Help pack Rosh Hashanah bags for U.S. soldiers.
Couples Night Out and Marriage Workshop. Sunday, September 15 at 8 p.m. at Kehilat Avodat Hashem, 171-05 Jewel Avenue in Fresh Meadows. Presented by Chazaq and Kehilat Avodat Hashem. RSVP by September 12 for Marriage Workshop: text 917-435-7395. Limited spots available; $80 per couple (members), $100 per couple (non-members). An interactive evening with your spouse; enjoy deliciously catered cuisine and discover powerful insights for a deeper connection in your marriage. Learn effective tools for your marriage that are true game-changers.
Rabbi David Forhman on “How Your Inner Voice Lends You Power.” Monday, September 16 at 8:00 p.m. at Congregation Ahavas Yisroel 147-02 73rd Ave, Flushing. Presented by Chazaq, Alpha Beta, and Congregation Ahavas Yisroel. Men and women welcome; suggested donation, $15. For more information, call 718-285-9132, email Events@Chazaq.org, or visit Chazaq.org.
Rabbi Benzion Shafier on “Teshuvah: Finding The Real You.” Thursday, September 19 at 8 p.m. at the Sephardic Congregation of Queens, 101-17 67th Drive in Flushing. Presented by Chazaq and the Sephardic Congregation of Queens. Admission is free; men and women welcome. For more information, call 718-285-9132, email Events@Chazaq.org, or visit Chazaq.org.
Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss, “Don’t Give Up.” September 14, 9:45 p.m. at Congregation Nachlas Yitzchok (Rabbi Oelbaum’s Shul), 141-43 73rd Avenue, Kew Gardens Hills, NY 11367. Men and women welcome. Free admission. For more information, call 718-285-9132 or email Events@Chazaq.org.
Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser “Tikun Hanefesh: Repairing The Soul.” Presented by Chazaq and Congregation Anshei Shalom. Wednesday, September 18, 8:00 p.m. at Congregation Anshei Shalom 80-15 Kent St. Jamaica, NY 11432. Men and women welcome. Free admission! For more information, call 718-285-9132 or email Events@Chazaq.org.
Kehilas Torah Temima Meet-and-Greet. Sunday September 15 at 7 p.m. in the YCQ multipurpose room, 70-10 150th Street. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to play life-size games? Axe-throwing? Spyder pong? And much, much more! Admission is free. Pizza and drinks will be served.
Rabbi Judah Kerbel’s September series of shiurim about “Shivti B’Veis Hashem: Inside the Prayers of Tishrei.” The Queens Jewish Center, 66-05 108th St., Forest Hills. Admission is free. For information, call 718-459-8432 or visit MyQJC.org. They will take place on Tuesdays, following Ma’ariv, as follows:
- Tuesday, September 17 at 7:20 p.m.: “Here I Am: The Chazzan’s Humble Declaration.”
- Tuesday, September 24 at 7:15 p.m.: “Hoshanot: Plea or Praise?”
Rabbanit Shani Taragin will speak on “Hidden Figures in the Rosh Hashanah Readings.” Wednesday, September 18, at Congregation Etz Chaim, 147-17 73rd Ave., at 7:30 p.m. as part of the monthly Shiur HaChodesh for women by women. Suggested donation is $6 or subscribe to the entire series for $35.
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