November 15, 2020

Yankel Plitnick 1923 - 2020

If it were possible for someone to choose the time they’d like to leave this world at a ripe old age, and be taken for burial in the land they loved, Yankel Plitnick might well have chosen this weekend of parshat Chayei Sarah. 

Because in better times he would have flown to Israel last Thursday to join the tens of thousands who come annually to liberated Chevron to stand at the very spot that the Torah reading of the week describes.

Instead dear Yankel z’l passed away in London on Thursday afternoon at the age of 97.  He leaves behind a legacy of charitable endowments across Israel which helped build schools, orphanages and community centres from Netanya to Zichron Yaakov, and Yokneam to Kiryat Arba.

Brought up in England, the son of Liverpool’s chief rabbi, his mother hailed from the esteemed Landinsky family which had roots in the Yeshiva of the Chafetz Chaim in Radin and branches in the founding of the English yeshiva town of Gateshead.

Yankel became a successful businessman and, after the 1973 war, became a staunch supporter of Jewish settlement in Judea & Samaria. He later partnered Bet El founder ‘Ketzaleh’ Katz in the formation of Gush Emunim and the financing of Arutz Sheva’s pirate radio ship in the late ‘80s.

At that time, Israel’s Left-wing establishment had all three major Hebrew newspapers in their hands, as well as the two main television channels and almost all of the radio stations. The only dissenting voice for the Right and the promotion of ‘greater Israel’ was being broadcast from the ‘MV Eretz Hatzvi’ anchored just outside Israel’s territorial waters. From such choppy beginnings Arutz Sheva grew into the formidable media presence it is today.

Yankel lived and worked all his life in England, using his business success to provide support to local causes as well as promoting the ideology of Jabotinsky and Begin in pro-Israel activism and advocacy in the UK. Although never married with children of his own, Yankel built up an extended family of many hundreds of young people through his founding and leadership of the Hendon Adath youth minyan near his home in northwest London. To them he was their ‘Uncle Yankel’ - now sorely missed but with many fond memories.

Yankel is survived by his sister in Lakewood and will be laid to rest today, Sunday,in Beit Shemesh. 

יהי זכרו ברוך 

Yankel greets the legendary Rabbi Moshe Levinger, builder of Chevron.

[This article first appeared in Arutz Sheva]

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November 08, 2020

My Love for Trump

I enjoyed watching Trump’s rallies in the closing days of the election campaign. The huge crowd sizes and overflows were amazing as was the enthusiasm which was booming. Amid the raucous chants of “USA” and “Lock Them Up” there was one unusual chorus I’d never heard before – least of all in politics.

"We love you!” they roared. Again, and again.

Well I guess I do too.

And it’s not just for all the bountiful gifts Trump has bestowed on our people and our Jewish state. From the Jerusalem embassy and Golan sovereignty to stifling the antisemitism at the UN, defunding UNRWA and holding Iran’s feet to the fire. More than that, I loved him simply as a kindred spirit.

Just think of how Trump came on the scene. As soon as he declared his candidacy he was demonized from all sides, right and left, as some sort of creature from the depths. I recall one conservative podcaster referring to him as ‘some kind of lizard’.

Once elected with a wide margin his presidency was promptly delegitimized, with hordes of protesters marching under the banner of “Not my president!” for months on end.

And then came the two impeachments over Russia and Ukraine. After 2 years and 40 million dollars of the Muller enquiry (staffed exclusively by Clinton supporters) it was found that there was no Trump collusion with Russia. Instead we learned that the whole Russia hoax was started by Clinton based on a fake Russian dossier to deflect attention from her own email scandal. Then as to Trump’s phone call to the president of Ukraine, it was found the only real story with Ukraine was Hunter Biden’s million dollar payoffs by corrupt Burisma and Joe Biden’s televised leverage of a billion dollars of US aid to get a Ukrainian prosecutor off his son’s back.
So it turns out, everything the Democrats accused Trump of, and falsely, they were actually doing themselves. Russia collusion to spy on the Tump campaign and abuse of Vice-Presidential privilege to hide Ukrainian corruption. Those are double standards by any measure.

These three elements: Demonization, Delegitimization and Double standards happen to be the 3D test of antisemitism as defined by former Russian dissident Anatoly Sharansky.

And there lies my kinship to Donald Trump.

Israel is today the World’s Jew. The Yid among nations. The one so many European leaders still wish had never come into existence, to mess up their lucrative deals with oil-rich sheikhdoms. The place they call ‘that shitty little country’. The one that is singled out at the UN for more punishment than all the despotic and rights-abusing members combined. Between the UN and EU, all 3D boxes are checked.

As the son of an Auschwitz survivor whose parents were gassed and incinerated on arrival, it hurts me every day that despite all that happened, the Jewish state is still the one country that is not welcomed in the family of nations – truly a nation that dwells alone.
Which is why I empathise with any victim of 3D – like Donald Trump. Truly a kindred spirit.

How ironic that in less than four years he made such stunning progress bringing together Arabs and Jews. And how sad that the Saudi icing on the cake will now melt away with new American empowerment of Iran.

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