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Having just recently returned from Israel (as of 1:00AM EDT last Friday morning) I wanted to get my thoughts about the last hike I did while there – the Jilaboun River in the Golan. This was an amazing hike that I did with my younger daughter in the early afternoon last Wednesday. We drove from where we were staying near Rosh Pina up to the Golan and followed Waze until we got to the trailhead. When I read about the Jilaboun trail here I figured that we would be following the trail as they presented it – not quite. While that write-up notes that you park near the remains of a Syrian village (which we did) – we did not find the markings quite the way that article describes it and so we ended up getting on the trail near the Devorah waterfall. Ok – no biggie. As for the description that this trail is of medium difficulty – that’s accurate. It’s much rockier that I had anticipated and required a lot more scrambling than I expected. However, the trail is absolutely gorgeous and waterfalls are just incredible. As you can see from the pictures below the landscape is awesome. If you want a reasonable length hike that challenges you somewhat and rewards you greatly with beautiful views, the Jilaboun is definitely one to try. What I found somewhat amusing (albeit it’s not really *that* funny) is that the board at the entrance to the trail warns you (4th bullet down) to stay on the trail because of the danger of landmines. That’s not something you normally see when you’re hiking the Billy Goat Trail or Old Rag.

This is one of those books that you pick up and immediately grabs your attention and gets you going.  I was infuriated from the very beginning of the book – not with Dr. Lipstadt but with the fact that there are these “deniers” out there who have gone and continue to go to great lengths to revise history and white-wash the German responsibility for World War II and for the Holocaust in particular.

Their methods initially were very rudimentary and poor in that they produced pamphlets that had limited circulation and were of low quality that is was obvious that their target audience was simply like-minded individuals.  Initially much of their effort seems to have been devoted to exonerating Germany’s role in the war and portraying the Nazi regime as more victim of the Allies and of Jews in particular.  The early deniers focused more on minimizing the numbers of Jews murdered in the death camps like Aushwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka, Buchenwald and others and on blaming those deaths to starvation and to the deprivations Nazi Germany experienced due to the Allies bombing campaigns.  The initial focus was not on the gas chambers but rather explaining away the deaths and minimizing them and even equivocating them to the German deaths due to the Allies.

Over time their tactics changed more to denying that any Jews actually were murdered in the homicidal gas chambers at the death camps.  The deniers focused on making claims that there was insufficient proof of wholesale slaughter (when in reality there has always been ample proof) and that the homicidal gas chambers were actually used for delousing prisoner’s clothes and property.  Over time they went from printing pamphlets to whole books (usually published by neo-Nazi publishing houses) and to updating their presentation to having a pseudo-scholarly look to it by creating an “Institute” for historical research that publishes a “journal” (I hesitate to call it that since the “methods” used by the authors of the “articles” in this “journal” are nowhere near the historiographic bar for legitimate journals). 

Dr. Lipstadt does an amazing effort to expose these people for who they really are: Antisemites who simply are looking to white-wash Germany’s crimes committed during World War 2 (particularly in reference to the Holocaust) and to bolster their false claims that Israel (and Jews in general) are trying to pull a “fast one” over the rest of the world. These people cherry pick their facts, misquote historical documents, or just fabricate lies to bolster their claims. Their behavior deserves to be derided by all – but yet they continue to attract like-minded neo-Nazis and Antisemites to them. What’s worse is that even those who are *NOT* neo-Nazis or Antisemitic sometimes fall into their traps and help promulgate their message unwittingly. The worst cases of these happens on university campuses where students and professors alike – who should have critical thinking skills – fail to realize that not all ideas or speech have merit and need to be defended.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning more about these deniers and their false messages and the danger they pose to historical accuracy and truth. We must be ever vigilant against them and call them out whenever they appear. Thank you Dr. Lipstadt for this wonderful work.

Every year the event “Israel Apartheid Week” begins to rear its ugly head in college campuses across the US and the world.  The organizers of this event would like for the uneducated and unwary to believe their narrative that Israel is an apartheid state in the same mold as South Africa.  However, this couldn’t be farther from the truth – in fact its an outright lie.  The information below will explain exactly why Israel IS NOT an apartheid state.

The definition of apartheid according to Merriam-Webster is “racial segregation; specifically :  a former policy of segregation and political and economic discrimination against non-European groups in the Republic of South Africa.”

“Apartheid”, Merriam-Webster Dictionary,, accessed February 23, 2016)

In Israel today there are 1.7 million Arab citizens who make up 20 percent of Israel’s population.  These Arabs are full citizens and enjoy the same rights as their fellow Jewish citizens.  The Arab citizens of Israel are able to pursue careers in any field they wish – actors, singers, models, news anchors, soldiers, politicians, athletes, etc.

They, along with Christians, Druze, Baha’i, Hindus, and others all have equal rights to live their lives in freedom and safety. All of Israel’s citizens enjoy freedom of religion as well as equal rights for genders and sexual orientation.  Among the many notable Israeli Arabs there are two Supreme Court justices, the captain of the Israeli Hapoel soccer team, the Israeli ambassador to Ecuador, the mayor of Nazareth and a general in the Israel Defense Forces. Arabs have their own political parties and have served in the Knesset as members of their own parties as well as the non-Arab parties.  Today there are currently 17 members of the Israeli Knesset who belong to the Arab political parties – many of whom actively work against the state of Israel while enjoying all of the benefits!

Israel does not have separate water fountains, toilets or public transportation systems which is typically seen in countries with racial or ethnic segregation.  During the apartheid regime in South Africa laws dictated where Black South Africans could live, work, go to school and travel.  They were completely disenfranchised and were not even considered citizens of South Africa even though they formed the overwhelming majority of the population.

Contrast this situation with the treatment of Palestinians, women and homosexuals in Arab countries.

In Lebanon Palestinians are banned from owning property or passing it on to their descendants, and they are also barred from employment as lawyers, doctors and more than 20 other professions. (Amnesty International, “Annual Report: Lebanon 2013”, and “Lebanon’s Apartheid Laws”, The Gatestone Institute, July 21, 2013,

In Saudi Arabia women are banned from walking without a chaperone, driving a car, going for a swim, or even interacting with men.  During the recent renovation of a Starbuck’s in Riyadh the owner asked that women send their drivers in to place an order to avoid the possibility of interaction between men and women. (“Eleven Things Women in Saudi Arabia Cannot Do”, The Week, February 4, 2016,

In Iran Reyhaneh Jabbari was hanged in 2014 for killing the man who was in trying to rape her while he was in the act of assaulting her. (“Iran’s Hanging of Reyhaneh Jabbari Condemned”, BBC, October 25, 2014,

The obsession which the organizers of the Israel Apartheid Week completely ignores the fact that Israel is a democratic, multicultural, multiracial society.  Israel airlifted tens of thousands of black men, women and children from Africa and gave them citizenship. Today, more than 130,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel and have served in the Knesset, achieved high ranks in the military, served as an ambassador and won the Miss Israel.

In a 2014 poll of Arabs 77 percent of Israeli Arabs prefer to live in Israel – not under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority. (“Poll: Arabs Prefer to Live in Israel – Not ‘Palestine'”, United With Israel, December 22, 2014,

The Israel Apartheid Week organizers prefer to ignore the above facts and prefer to falsely claim that Israeli “apartheid” drives the Palestinian situation in the West Bank. However that’s completely incorrect.  Israel’s policy in the West Bank is driven not by racial or ethnic discrimination but rather by the security needs of Israel.  The Palestinians have had multiple opportunities to reach a comprehensive peace agreement with Israel – most notably in 2000 with Ehud Barak’s offer at the Wye River Plantation talks and more recently in 2008 with Ehud Olmert’s peace proposal which Abu Mazen dismissed outright because, as he claimed, he didn’t have access to a map at the time!

95% of all Palestinians in the West Bank live under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority and have been doing so since the implementation of the Oslo agreements over 20 years ago.  Israel withdrew from Gaza back in 2005 and since then has lived under the constant threat of rockets, mortar, gun fire and now terror tunnels.  Gaza is 100% ruled by Hamas – an organization that is not only dedicated to the destruction of Israel but in the genocide of the Jewish people as a whole.  In the West Bank the denial of basic freedoms such as the freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the freedom of assembly comes from the Palestinian Authority itself (“Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories”, Wikipedia,

Israel Apartheid Week is a out and out lie.  Israeli Arabs enjoy a standard of living that ranks among the highest in the Middle East and, to some extent, the world.  They are able to live, work, and enjoy all of the benefits of an open, pluralistic society which is exactly what was denied to Black South Africans under the apartheid regime.  Israelis come from a wide range of backgrounds – racial, ethnic, and religious – and all of them enjoy the freedoms that many in the West enjoy as well.  One day the Palestinians in the West Bank (and hopefully Gaza) will also be able to enjoy such freedoms – but they will have to choose leaders who truly embrace those freedoms and be willing to achieve an honest peace with Israel.


April 2020

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