Prayer, Plague, Protest & Pusillanimity

The director of the only hospital in the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak resigned yesterday after describing the community among which he works as an “insubordinate mass that kills people.”

“I do not understand what the connection is between religion and what they are doing,” Prof. Moti Ravid told a TV interviewer shortly before his resignation. “They were taught to accept everything and give nothing in return for years.”

Ravid’s resignation came at the behest of the hospital’s management, which later apologized to the community for his statement. Prof Ravid himself clarified that he had been “referring to extremist sects.”

Though the number of new Covid infections in Israel has dropped over the past week, it remains the highest in the world. An estimated 50% of all current Covid patients in the country come from the ultra-Orthodox community. In Bnei Brak, the infection rate is apparently above 30%.

The country’s recuperation hotels – tourist hotels that have been converted into recovery and quarantine wards for patients not requiring hospitalization – currently house 6,400 ultra-Orthodox patients and 1,200 secular patients – five times the number of rooms for a community that comprises only 12% of the population.

And things could get worse, not better. Prof. Ravid cautioned that this weekend’s Simhat Torah holiday is likely to lead to a massive new spike in coronavirus infections – precisely as happened after the preceding holidays of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Succot.

He said that he had never before seen an entire community “unburdening itself in this way and killing people as a part of it.”

The rebellion of the ultra-Orthodox – their refusal to wear masks, observe social distancing and compromise traditional prayer and study practices in conformity with the state’s anti-Corona regulations, as well as their running street battles with police attempting to enforce the regulations – is a two-headed monster.

On the one side is the mass display of clear suicidal tendencies which, in any other context, would be diagnosed as psychotic and dealt with accordingly.

On the other is the government’s spinelessness in handling the ultra-Orthodox madness, an impotence that amounts to criminal collaboration.

An apt analogy would be if the authorities in the US and Guyana had known in advance of Jim Jones’ Kool-Aid plans and blithely allowed him to continue. Except that Kool-Aid does not diffuse through the air and poison those who didn’t drink it.

Most secular Israelis don’t understand the insanity that has gripped the ultra-Orthodox community. They tend to attribute its infection rate to the typically large number of children in ultra-Orthodox families, their cramped living conditions, the traditional group prayer and study sessions, their lack of the most basic education in the sciences and other subjects and their general weirdness, which defies secular understanding.

Those may all be factors in the spread of the coronavirus, but they don’t account for the impunity that the ultra-Orthodox community grants itself – the dispensation to ignore and contravene regulations that everyone else (except politicians, of course) has to abide by.

For the ultra-Orthodox, the pandemic is a blatant challenge to the supremacy of Torah and those who interpret its teachings – the rabbis. It is a showdown between Torah and Science; between scientific experts – in this case those with expertise in virology, immunology and the like – and religious experts, namely the rabbis.

Not that the entire community rejects science; it doesn’t. Science is fine, as long as it knows it place. Science is predicated on a process of hypothesis and challenge. The ultra-Orthodox demand that the edicts from scientists-on-high (usually via politicians) be treated as hypotheses as well – and that they be subjected to religious challenge.

“Just as a Dayan cannot make a ruling without hearing the opposing side, decrees cannot be made upon the people, if they can be made at all, without a thorough investigation as to whether Torah and the metzius hadevorim [state of reality] support such a decree,” writes Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Smith, of Passaic Park, New Jersey, a practicing corporate attorney in addition to his rabbinical duties.

In other words, temporal law – even if backed-up by scientific consensus – is no more than a hypothesis that can, and must, be subject to rabbinical exegesis. The ultra-Orthodox themselves will decide. And they haven’t decided yet.

It’s important to bear in mind that the rebellion is not restricted to Israel. The ultra-Orthodox in Brooklyn are also on a self-harm rampage that has the authorities from Governor Cuomo on down pulling out their hair. Their reasoning is no different from that of their Israeli brethren, though it may also have been influenced by Trump-era notions of individual freedom.

Rabbi Smith, mentioned above, is implacably opposed to what he calls “the rule of Public Health” and describes the distinction made between essential and non-essential workers as “something the Nazis used … who is really valuable, who is acceptable, who is healthy.”  It is a religious variation of the Trumpian notion of freedom as a right that belongs to the individual, unencumbered by any responsibilities.

The main reason for the pusillanimity of the Israeli government in the face of the ultra-Orthodox revolt is more prosaic than the good rabbi’s religious blather. Since 1948, Israel has always had a coalition government; no single party has ever achieved a parliamentary majority enabling it to govern without partners. With rare exceptions, parties representing the ultra-Orthodox community, both Ashkenazi and Sephardi, have always been included in coalition governments.

Supporting the government of the day has brought the community innumerable benefits – budgets for their schools and seminaries, stipends for families of men studying rather than working, religious control over marriage and divorce, laws that entrench their idea of respect for the Shabbat, military deferrals – the list is endless. However insurgent they may be right now, the ultra-Orthodox are totally dependent on the state for their way of life and their politicians are under constant pressure to supply the goods.

Since 2009, the governments established by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have been dependent on the support of the ultra-Orthodox parties. Had he lost their support after any of the three elections held in 2019, he would have lost power.

And Netanyahu, lest we forget, is facing trial for corruption. Being in power while the trial is in progress may be a legal and moral travesty, but it has a purpose. He can denigrate and browbeat the legal system and attempt to turn the public against it, as he is currently doing, in the expectation that something will give and his trial will somehow disappear. Were he to lose power – were the religious parties to withhold their support – he would be on a fast train to incarceration.

Enter the coronavirus pandemic. The ultra-Orthodox, believing in their own exceptionality, refuse to adhere to pandemic regulations. Netanyahu, dependent on their political and personal support, allows them to continue with impunity, while insisting that the rest of the country follows the rules to the letter.

The secular public, pissed off by the favoritism enjoyed by the ultra-Orthodox, decide that they won’t cooperate either. The pandemic rages out of control. Another lockdown is introduced – and immediately violated by the ultra-Orthodox, followed by some of the secular population. Thousands of small businesses shut down; millions are out of work. Politicians continue to receive their salaries and flout regulations

Anti-Netanyahu protests break out, first outside the prime minister’s residence then – when that is banned by decree – at thousands of squares and junctions throughout the country. Enraged by the protests, the prime minister urges his colleagues to enact tougher legislation. The police are deployed against protesters and conduct themselves brutally. Another mask-free ultra-Orthodox bash begins tonight …

An up-to-date picture of Israel.





EXCLUSIVE: The Truth Behind Sara’s Dirty Washing

The dirty washing that Sara Netanyahu had laundered in Washington last week consisted of PPE from Ichilov Hospital and items of clothing left behind by Balfour Street demonstrators, the First and Only Lady said in a statement issued this morning.

“I normally wash the protesters’ clothing by hand in the bathtub before ironing it and handing it back,” the statement quoted her as saying. “But it was essential that I go make peace with the IUD and Burundi so I decided to do it in Washington instead.”

“Imagine my surprise,” Sara continued, “when I got back to Blair House after the signing ceremony and found that someone had ransacked my bags and done all the washing. I was devastated.”

The PM’s wife added that the management of Ichilov Hospital had been “utterly delighted” when she volunteered to take some of its PPE for washing, “seeing that I had some extra room in my bags.”

Mrs. Netanyahu is now in quarantine after her trip to the US. Sources in the Prime Minister’s Residence told The Kibbitzer that she is spending her time helping out the domestic staff with their housework and crocheting quilts for the children of immigrants from Africa.




It’s Howitzer Heaven for Trump and Bibi

You won’t find Donald Trump or Benjamin Netanyahu on any list of philanthropists or altruists. They’re takers, not givers.

Interestingly, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, is a well-known philanthropist, though I doubt he sold out the Palestinians due to an excess of altruism.

Behind the peace agreement between the UAE and Israel that was announced yesterday – announced but not signed, note – is a trade-off. Its details have not been made public yet, though it’s not particularly difficult to discern its contours.

One broad hint is the centrality of Trump, who was the third leg in the joint statement issued by the two countries. The US has traditionally played a mediating role in Middle East negotiations, though it’s doubtful if any previous president has needed a “victory” as much as Trump does.

With less than three months to go before the US elections and plummeting in the polls – one result of his farcical handling of the coronavirus pandemic – Trump needed a major boost. It wasn’t going to be a domestic achievement – corona again, economic collapse, rioting in the streets – and his preferred foreign policy surrogate, the Taliban, didn’t play ball.

Enter the UAE, a tiny but rich territory, which includes the playland of the Arab world, Dubai.

Netanyahu, too, was in need of a diplomatic achievement. His initial coronavirus “victory” has soured rapidly, he is hounded by demonstrators in the street and, as an accused grafter who barely survived three elections last year, his magic was looking decidedly tarnished.

What’s more, Benny Gantz – Netanyahu’s intended dummy – did not turn out to be as obsequious as the boss had expected. Election fever was beginning to contaminate the air in Israel before yesterday’s announcement. A peace agreement with an Arab state – only the third since the founding of the state – could be the basis of a dream campaign.

But what of Al Nahyan, who lacks neither oil nor riches? The current common wisdom is that he was motivated by brownie points – as the Arab leader who got Netanyahu to renounce annexation of part of the occupied territories. But did he?

Trump says he did, the US ambassador to Israel says maybe he did but tomorrow’s another day, and Netanyah says he didn’t – he merely agreed to a “temporary suspension.”

Even a suspension will be regarded as a sell-out by Israeli settlers in the West Bank, for whom annexation has spiritual, rather than political, significance. But they detest Netanyahu anyway and typically vote for parties to his right. I doubt that their opposition – however vociferously expressed – will make much of an impact on the premier – to whom selling out comes naturally; he is normally juggling a few of them at any given moment.

Netanyahu is an experienced horse trader. If the annexationists desert him, he will find other partners. He’s always found them in the past.

Either way, stopping annexation does not appear to be sufficient recompense for betraying a 73-year-old, pan-Arab principle – not recognizing Israel before it has signed a peace agreement with the Palestinians. It’s unlikely that Al Nahyan would have left the fold without additional inducement.

That, I suspect, is where Trump comes in. There’s nothing a Middle Eastern potentate likes more than expensive, shiny things that kill – and America makes more of them than any other country. Israel is no slouch in that respect, either, though its role will probably be to provide intrusive software and digital systems, rather than hardware.

And then there’s the Iranian Satan, on which all three countries – the UAE, Israel and the US – see eye-to-eye. It stands to reason that a geo-strategic agreement that further tightens the screws on Iran is central to the peace pact. They all want it and there’s no downside – except for Iran, Hezbollah, Syria and Shi’ites in general.

On the face of it, the agreement announced yesterday is a win-win for Netanyahu and Trump. Its timing was perfect and neither of them will face much opposition. As for how Al Nahyan benefits from it – it’s too early to tell. I certainly don’t see the divided and self-interested Moslem world uniting against him.

And then there’s the Palestinians. I can’t see any upside for them in the current situation. Amid the triumphalism of Trump and Netanyahu, they have again been overlooked, betrayed, stabbed in the back – choose your own metaphor. If annexation is really all that Israel gave away, it will make precious little difference to those who have been effectively annexed for decades.




Gantz Doing Well After Spine-Stiffening Surgery

Israel’s Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz is recovering well from the emergency back surgery he underwent on Wednesday, the Sheba Medical Center spokesman has announced.

Gantz’ spine-stiffening procedure took over five hours and involved the implant of titanium rods to create the type of backbone not normally found in politicians, the spokesman said.

First contemplated earlier this year as elective surgery, the operation was upgraded to an emergency procedure following Gantz’s cringing and sycophantic performance since he took office.

“Such spinelessness is not something a people can live with for any length of time,” said Dr. Netanel Mayersohn, the surgeon who performed the operation.

“It not only impacts life-style, but life itself. Humans can’t function adequately without any sort of backbone whatsoever.”

“I wish Benny a full recovery,” said Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi. Gantz’s Blue & White Party colleague. “If it helps him get up from the carpet after Bibi has stepped all over him, I may consider having one myself.”




Blood-Thirsty Anarchists Accuse Bibi of Libel

The International Alliance of Anarchists (chair. M. Bakunin) has sent a formal complaint to the Israeli Consumer Protection Authority regarding the prime minister’s description of the protesters who have thronged his residence in recent weeks as “anarchists”.

In a six-minute rant in front of the Cabinet last week, Benjamin Netanyahu railed against “dens of anarchists,” who, he said, were out to topple his government.

The premier’s son, Yair ‘Parasite’ Netanyahu, also got into the act, tweeting that “you aren’t [even] allowed to protest outside the homes of anarchists who have called for the prime minister’s murder.”

“We take great exception to the image created of our profession,” the IAA wrote in its complaint to the Authority. “The namby-pamby, middle-class protestors with national flags, signs calling for democracy and smileys on their T-shirts who we see in the media are as far from anarchism as Netanyahu is from truth-telling.”

“Annoyance at the closure of one’s local sushi bar due to the pandemic does not an anarchist make.”

“If anything,” the complaint continued, “the true anarchists in Israel are those who raid Palestinian homes in the middle of the night, shoot people in the street and bomb the shit out of women and children. Those are our kind of anarchists.”

The complaint concluded with an invitation to the true Israeli anarchists to apply for membership in the IAA.





Brownshirt Leader Praises Trump’s Tactical Nous

Support for President Donald Trump’s deployment of irregular troops onto the streets of Portland has come from a surprising source.

“It takes me back to the good old days when we battled commies in the streets of Berlin and Munich in ’32,” Ernst Röhm wrote on his Facebook page on Friday.

Röhm, who largely dropped from sight after Hitler had him killed in June 1934, has made a comeback recently with posts praising Trump for “making the streets ungovernable so citizens will turn to a strongman for protection .”

His Facebook posts have become required reading in recent weeks on alt-right forums such as “Braunhemden for Trump” and “Don’s Weimar Warriors”.

“I never thought it would happen, but another tactical genius has arisen,” Röhm wrote in a recent post. ‘We are witnessing an historical rebirth.”

“The president’s tactics of causing anarchy on the streets to propel good, property-owning citizens into the arms of a strong, law & order leader could have been cut & pasted from the Fuhrer’s playbook.”

“He’s even created concentration camps in the desert to hold the commie, Negro troublemakers.”

The White House said in a statement that, while the president had never met Röhm, he “appreciated the input of a man with such an outstanding public record.”





Gory Godfrey Joins Wave of Protests

The world of global cultural politics is in an uproar today after an unprecedented tweet from Godfrey of Bouillon, leader of the First Crusade and the conqueror of Jerusalem in 1099.

“Love the new anti-racist crusade,” Godfrey wrote, in what Twitter confirmed was his first tweet in 921 years.

“Death to cultural appropriation, anti-intersectionality and elite privilege. #deadlivesmatter #coronacrusader #takeaheadandaknee”

“It’s extraordinary,” said Prof. Philip Bryant-Waugh, of the Yale History Department. “Something about the current situation must have struck a chord with Godfrey, who has gone down in history as an intolerant and sanctimonious bastard. Can’t think what it is, though.”

“Another old, male, white elitist trying to stay relevant,” tweeted Darleen-Ubuntu Vangellis of the Identity Pride Coalition. “I bet he never toppled a statue in his life. #icantbreathe”

“I don’t know who he is, but anyone who recognizes the problems of power, privilege, marginalization and historically ignored communities – as long as they’re not a cis white intellectual – is welcome to join our ranks,” said Jason Zygelbaum of Crusaders of Color.

One enigmatic tweet by someone named G.K. Chesterton said simply, “Do not be so open-minded that your brains fall out. #dragonsreallyexist”


The Empty Hope of Liberal Zionism

“It’s time to imagine a Jewish home that is not a Jewish state.”

Those words – which appeared in a New York Times opinion piece last week – have created a tempest in that segment of the Jewish world that regards itself as progressive. They were written by journalist and commentator Peter Beinart, who, until the publication of the article, was one of the darlings of the Jewish Left.

Now he seems to be everyone’s favorite anti-Semite, the catch-phrase for anyone who disagrees with the Zionist mainstream. “Denying the right of Jews to a national homeland is anti-Semitism,” wrote Ben Dror Yemini in Yediot Aharonot, Israel’s largest daily, before apparently realizing the absurdity of his knee-jerk response.

“Beinart is not Anti-Semitic,” Yemini added quickly. “His intentions are different, but his position assists the anti-Semitic campaign.”

I’m glad we clarified that.

Even some columnists in Haaretz, the only surviving island of sanity in Israel’s media, have gotten into the act, describing Beinart’s about-face as “utopian” and “jumping ship”.

Personally, I’ve never had much time for Beinart’s blinkered and earnest liberal-Zionism, in which, “the dream of a two-state solution that would give Palestinians a country of their own let me hope that I could remain a liberal and a supporter of Jewish statehood at the same time.” Seventy-two years after the nakba and fifty-three after the occupation, intelligent people shouldn’t have been lulling themselves to sleep with such dreams.

But, to Beinart’s credit, he saw the light. “Events have now extinguished that hope,” he writes, pointing to the close to 700,000 Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank and the fact – obvious to all but those who refuse to see – that “the leaders of Israel’s supposedly center-left parties don’t support a viable, sovereign Palestinian state.”

Hardly anyone in Israel does. For decades, Israel’s leaders have had their fingers crossed behind their backs when talking of a two-state solution. It was the price they had to pay for the billions of dollars in American aid and access to European markets. No-one really believed they were serious, did they?

With Trump now in charge, Israel has largely dropped the charade. Talk of a two-state solution elicits little more than sniggers these days. Now it’s all about annexation – the de facto situation for years already, but the stamp of kashrut that the messianic right seems to need to cross ownership of the territories off their bucket list.

Beinart says he now believes in a bi-national state – “a Jewish home that is also, equally, a Palestinian home. And building that home can bring liberation not just for Palestinians but for us, too.”

Yet, oddly, he writes that “this doesn’t require abandoning Zionism… It requires distinguishing between form and essence. The essence of Zionism is not a Jewish state in the land of Israel; it is a Jewish home in the land of Israel…”

Oops, just when he was getting it right he blew it.

It is true that Herzl originally spoke of a Jewish home in Palestine and the issue of full statehood was open until the Biltmore Conference in 1942, if not later – but that home never, ever included Arabs. The wimps of Brit Shalom may have spoken of Jewish-Arab equality but real, macho Zionists never did.

From the start of Jewish settlement in Palestine, the issue that most concerned the leadership of the Yishuv – aside from security – was avoda ivrit (Hebrew labor), which was code for separate development. Ostensibly a means of opening up jobs for new Jewish immigrants by getting Jewish farmers to hire only Jewish workers, avoda ivrit was in fact the means of developing an ethnically-pure Jewish society – long before the establishment of the state. Hebrew labor was achieved through violence and racism. Even David Ben Gurion, an activist for Hebrew labor, at one point accused fellow Jewish workers of treating Arabs with violence, arrogance and condescension.

Jewish racism and anti-Arabism dating back to the dawn of Zionism are well documented. “They behave toward the Arabs with hostility and cruelty, commit unwarranted trespass, beat them shamefully without any good reason, and brag about doing so,” Ahad Ha’am wrote in the 1880s. According to Israel Rokach, a resident of Jaffa, the Jewish farmers “do not think of the fellahin (peasants) as human.” And that was well over 100 years ago.

Many more scales need to fall from Beinart’s eyes before he understands that the essence of Zionism was – and remains – racism, ethno-centrism and Jewish exceptionalism. Those are the values on which the current generations of Israelis were weaned – and they don’t make for successful bi-nationalism.

Peter Beinart is on the right path. It took courage to write what he did and I applaud him for it. But he’s deluded if he thinks that Jewish statehood is the only obstacle – on the Jewish side; the Palestinians have their own obstacles – to the establishment of a bi-national state. The Zionism that he continues to swear by is rancid. There is no way it can serve as a moral basis for the state’s Jewish component

Israel’s Jews have been brought up to be conquerors, bosses and masters. They are uniquely unqualified to live as equals alongside Palestinians. A good place to begin a process that might, eventually lead to bi-nationalism would be an honest reckoning with Zionist dogma and praxis.




Do You Really Want To Tell The Goyim The Truth?

With both the coronavirus and the germ of annexation clogging the air in these parts, it’s surprising that most of the stench is not coming from Jerusalem but from somber and measured Jews in the diaspora – those who call themselves Zionists but aren’t willing to walk the walk.

Take for example the letter sent by about 40 prominent British Jews to the Israeli ambassador in London, solemnly warning about the grave consequences of annexation. “We are yet to see an argument that convinces us, committed Zionists and passionately outspoken friends of Israel, that the proposed annexation is a constructive step,” opined the Jewish notables, among them historian Simon Schama, writer Howard Jacobson and former foreign secretary Malolm Rifkind, as reported by the Guardian.

“Instead, it would in our view be a pyrrhic victory intensifying Israel’s political, diplomatic and economic challenges without yielding any tangible benefit.”

Or, in simpler terms, do you really want to tell the truth to the goyim?

Where have Schama, Jacobson and the other tribal chiefs been over the past fifty years as, step-by-step, Israel put the foundations of  Jewish sovereignty over the West Bank into place? Where were they when Israel built and populated the settlements which it is now using as an excuse for annexation?

Hiding the truth from the goyim, is where they were. Being committed Zionists and passionately outspoken as Israel went about its apartheid business.

They certainly didn’t do much to prevent fifty-plus years of creeping annexation. But now, when Israel proposes to formalize what already exists in practice, they find their collective voice?

They give hypocrisy a bad name.

Annexation is not an aberration; it’s not a madcap idea that Benjamin Netanyahu and his sidekicks suddenly came up with in 2020, possibly under the influence of the coronavirus. Nor is it a partisan viewpoint held by a minority of the Israeli population.

Annexation is the natural – the organic, inevitable and inexorable – culmination of Zionist praxis going back to the late-19th century. For as long as modern Jews have coveted the land on which Palestinian Arabs were living, total Jewish sovereignty has been the one and only goal. There has never been any other goal.

“We are not coming to a desolate land to inherit it; rather, we are coming to conquer the land from the nation that resides there,” Moshe Sharett wrote in 1925.

For David Ben-Gurion, “We are not workers—we are conquerors. Conquerors of the land. We are a camp of conquerors … We worked and conquered and we were joyful with victory.”

The ultimate goal – conquest of the entire biblical Land of Israel, preferably with as few of its native inhabitants as possible – was never hidden. It wasn’t reserved for whispered conversations in dark corners between consenting adults. It appears repeatedly in public statements by Zionist leaders and in resolutions by Zionist organizations.

From the Second Aliyah onward Zionism had a clear and unwavering objective. Successive Israeli governments fiddled with the objective but never disowned it. Gaining and holding onto biblical territory in its entirety has always been the lodestar, even if committed and passionate Zionists in the diaspora preferred that it not be mentioned in their presence.

Over the years, Israel’s leaders have sometimes had to trim their sails to the prevailing diplomatic winds. In 1956, that meant withdrawing from the conquered Sinai peninsula, despite Ben-Gurion’s euphoric statement that the territories occupied by Israel would become part of “the third Jewish kingdom.”

The country’s ostensible acceptance of the UN’s 1947 Partition Plan was another such tactical realignment, as was Ariel Sharon’s dismantling of the settlements in Gaza in 2005. When the destination is clear and obvious, one can take the necessary detours to reach it.

The Sinai and Gaza are debatably part of the biblical heritage – few would wax lyrical today, as Davar newspaper did in 1956, about the Sinai being “the cradle of our transformation into a nation” – but there has never been any doubt about Judea and Samaria; Hebron and Nablus.

They were, are and always have been essential to the Zionist dream. What Netanyahu is threatening to do now – supported by Trump and his gaon son-in-law – is regularize what has been the quotidian since 1967. Diaspora Jewish leaders oppose it because it will call their bluff – highlight their hypocrisy. They will finally be seen for what they are.

Personally, I’m all for annexation. It will be a reactionary, atavistic move in every possible way – but at least it will reveal the Zionist mission for what it is. There is a chance, however slight, that it might clear the logjam; that it might finally get people thinking beyond their knee-jerk, romantic Zionism. It will show Israel in its true, apartheid light – a racist society lording it over its ethnic inferiors.

I don’t know what will happen after that, but letting in some light can’t be a bad thing.




Language Academy Berates Bibi Over Choice of Words

The Academy of the Hebrew Language has written an official letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pointing out that a recent quote attributed to him could do “untold damage to the tongue that is the corner-stone of the Zionist dream.”

“You were recently quoted by the media in Israel as saying that the death of an autistic Palestinian youth at the hands of Israeli Border Policemen was a ‘tragedy,'” Academy head Prof. Asher Bar-Arye wrote in the letter.

“I must point out that such an expression is a misuse of the language that sustains our existence in the Promised Land and is contrary to accepted usage as approved by the Academy.”

“The words ‘tragedy’ and ‘tragic’ are not approved for use in conjunction with Palestinian deaths. That has been our policy since the Academy’s establishment in 1953 and remains in force.”

“Words that have been approved by the Academy for use in describing Palestinian deaths include ‘unavoidable’, ‘justified’, ‘necessary’ and ‘legitimate.'”

“On one occasion, after the glorious Kafr Qasim operation in 1956, one-time permission was granted for the use of the word ‘unfortunate,'” Prof. Bar-Arye continued. “But ‘tragedy’ and ‘tragic’ are not words which any Hebrew user should consider appropriate in the circumstances.”

In response to the letter, the Prime Minister’s Bureau in Jerusalem said in a statement that Netanyahu had, as usual, been misquoted by the fake and irresponsible media. What the prime minister actually said was that the youth’s death was a “comedy,” the statement said.