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Rabbi’s Blog: Prisoner Swaps

12/11/2023 01:16:51 PM


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Dear OZ family,


Every passing day seems to present new examples of hypocrisy from the typical sources in media and academia. The latest I saw yesterday is the moral equivalence between those who are being set free. It is being called a prisoner swap, as if there is any moral equivalence between those who are jailed for  violence and attempted murder, are equal to those who were kidnapped on Oct. 7. The implication is clear, and is part of CNN, MSNBC WAP, NYT, etc’s agenda to dehumanize and delegitimize Israel. To many in the media as well as academia, the struggle of Chamas, as well the prisoners who are being traded in return for the release of hostages, is considered legitimate resistance against the one Jewish State, that has offered numerous opportunities to live side by side with her Arab neighbors in peace.


21 Arab states and 57 majority Muslim states had no room for the refugees created by the original refusal, in 1947, to live side by side with Israel. Where were the UN refugee commissions to care for the hundreds of thousands of Jews banished from Arab lands, in the wake of Israel’s independence? There was no need for that because the one Jewish state took them all in, but there was  no room for the Arabs, most of whom voluntarily left Israel to more readily facilitate six charging Arab armies to drive the Jews of Israel into the Sea (the same Sea those campus protesters chant in the ravings). When that didn’t happen, refugees were created, and their descendants continue to seethe against Israel. Their anger is misplaced. Israel has tried to improve their lives again and again, but their leaders, who never lose an opportunity to lose their opportunities to make their lives better, keep them in squalor to assure their hatred for Israel remains and grows.


When Egypt and Jordan controlled the lands in which they lived, there was no running water or electricity, no universities, and very low literacy rates and life-expectancy. When Israel began to control these areas after 1967, these areas flourished. We thought this would bring the children of Abraham closer together, but their leaders mostly had other plans.


Besides the odious comparisons of the prisoners being exchanged, I have also seen a passing reference to the suffering of Jews and Arabs in the middle of the 20th Century because of the Holocaust and the Naqba. This is morally absurd and outrageous! The Naqba, which is what the Arab world calls the Creation of the State of Israel and its aftermath for Arabs living in Israel, has no equivalence whatsoever with the Holocaust. (Notice that I refer to Arabs living in Israel. No one referred to Palestinian Arabs at that time. A Palestinian in 1948 was a Jew. The term only began to be used in the 60’s for Arabs, by the one person more responsible for “Palestinian” suffering than any one individual- Yasser Arafat Yimach Shemo). The Naqba is totally of the making of the Arab leadership who could not come to grips with the partition plan, or any other plan that acknowledges a Jewish right to Israel.


The insignia of the Palestinian Authority, and their charter, to say nothing of the charter of Chamas refers to the entire land of Israel. CNN referred this week to the Chamas head’s vision of a unified area for a Chamas state, comprising Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. That is utter nonsense! Chamas wants Tel Aviv and Chaifa and all of Jerusalem. At least CNN corrected that, when informed of Chamas’s stated goals of wiping out all of Israel. Liberal academia and media side with the most illiberal elements, as a function of their visceral opposition to Western Civilization, especially exemplified by the US and Israel. They are against colonizers and call the Jews the colonizers of Arab land. They are against Menorah lightings because Chanukah celebrates a time when Jews lived in Israel many centuries before Islam. The Jews in the Chanukah story broke the yoke of the Greeks, long before Islam conquered the Middle East. So let’s ask the campus protesters: Who are the colonizers in Israel today?  Even “Greater Israel” is barely 10% of the land originally promised to Avraham and barely 12% of the original Balfour Declaration.


We have demonstrated our willingness again and again and again to live side by side in peace. Do we have any partners? Hopefully, with the utter destruction of Chamas we will soon.


Stay well and healthy.

Rabbi Allen Schwartz     



Rabbi Allen Schwartz

Congregation Ohab Zedek

118 West 95th Street | New York, NY  10025-6604

Phone 212.749-5150, ext 200





Mon, March 4 2024 24 Adar I 5784