About Abigail Hirsch

I am a film producer and CEO of AskAbigail Productions. Currently working on a documentary film/musical theatre production about the life and times of Moshe Kraus, a musical child prodigy and a legendary cantor/hazzan/Jewish prayer leader whose life spans the history of Jews in the twentieth century.

Unveiling the Intellectual Blinders: A Critical Analysis of Karim Khan’s ICC Stance

In her latest article, “Brothers-in-Harms,” Melanie Phillips embarks on a profound journey to dissect the apparent lack of critical thinking exhibited by Karim Khan, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Phillips, renowned for her incisive commentary, delves into Khan’s recent statements and interviews, unravelling the intricate web of moral relativism and political bias that seems to cloud his judgment.

Phillips begins by scrutinizing Khan’s comparison between the actions of Hamas and the IRA, a comparison that, upon closer inspection, reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of terrorism and its implications. She quotes Khan’s interview with Christina Lamb from The Sunday Times (£), where Khan draws parallels between the IRA’s terrorist campaign and Hamas’s onslaught against Israel:

“He compares the Hamas onslaught against Israel with the IRA’s terrorist campaign against Britain… You can’t do that.”

While acknowledging the IRA’s reprehensible acts of violence, Phillips highlights a crucial distinction:

“What the IRA did not aim to do was murder all British people and have Ireland conquer England, Scotland and Wales.”

Phillips further dissects Khan’s assertion of moral equivalence, where he seemingly equates civilian casualties resulting from deliberate terrorist attacks with those occurring inadvertently during legitimate acts of self-defence. Examining previous ICC cases and precedents makes it apparent whether Khan’s approach is consistent with the court’s jurisprudence and international legal standards on terrorism. She quotes Khan’s statement on the need for equal moral outrage:

“Whether those are the rights of Jewish victims or Palestinians, whether Muslim, Christian, or of no belief, we must have the same moral outrage, love, care, and concern — the point is they are all human beings.”

As Phillips aptly points out, this oversimplified view undermines the very essence of justice, blurring the line between victim and victimizer, right and wrong.

Khan’s reliance on a panel of advisors, some of whom harbour explicit biases against Israel, raises serious concerns about the impartiality and objectivity of the ICC’s decision-making process. Phillips exposes the inherent danger of ideological echo chambers within international legal institutions, where preconceived notions can influence prosecutorial decisions and undermine the pursuit of justice. Quoting Khan’s defence of one of the panel members:

“Khan defended one of the panel members, 94-year-old American-Israeli lawyer and judge Theodor Meron, by saying that he can’t be antisemitic because he’s Jewish.”

Drawing attention to the recent ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) regarding the situation in Gaza, Phillips sheds light on the pervasive misinformation and skewed narratives perpetuated by mainstream media outlets. By analyzing alternative perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including viewpoints from scholars, policymakers, and activists, it becomes evident that there are diverse interpretations of the conflict and the actions of Hamas and Israel. She unmasks the underlying agendas driving these narratives, quoting Joshua Rozenberg:

“Several ICJ judges criticized the paragraph as ambiguous — and some of their comments merely added to the confusion.”

Phillips calls for a return to intellectual honesty and moral clarity in international discourse. She urges readers to question prevailing narratives, challenge entrenched biases, and demand accountability from those entrusted with upholding justice on the global stage. Only through such vigilance can the true spirit of justice and human rights be restored, ensuring a future where righteousness triumphs over ideology and truth prevails over propaganda.


Footnote:

  1. Melanie Phillips, “Brothers-in-harms,” Substack, May 27, 2024, melaniephillips.substack.com

Living and Learning in Jerusalem: Embracing Torah and Unity During Challenging Times

I am grateful for each day I spend here and want to share my beautiful experiences living in this city.

Firstly, I have the privilege of engaging in in-person Torah study with exceptional teachers almost every day of the week. There are numerous places of learning for men, women, mixed-gender groups, and children of all ages. This period between Passover and Shavuot commemorates the Torah’s giving at Mount Sinai and is filled with extensive Torah study. The forty-nine days between Passover and Shavuot are a time for personal preparation for receiving the Torah. This period also coincides with spring in the Holy Land, adding to the joy with the blossoming of fruit trees lining the streets.

It may be hard for those outside of Israel to grasp the extent to which our Torah and Torah laws, known as “halacha,” influence every facet of life in Israel: from social interactions, child-rearing, and healthcare to agriculture, ecology, governance, and even times of war. The Torah, our sacred text, and thousands of preserved rabbinic commentaries offer guidance on virtually every aspect of daily life.

The practice of counting the days between the Passover Seder and the night of Shavuot is known as “Counting the Omer.” This tradition mentioned in the Torah was initially connected to the sacrificial offerings in the ancient Jerusalem Temples. In contemporary times, Counting the Omer is associated with a Kabbalistic practice of personal growth.

During the seven weeks between these two holidays, studying the Mishnaic text called Pirkei Avot, also known as Ethics of the Fathers, has become customary. One of the precepts of Pirkei Avot, Chapter 1, verse 3, states:

“Antignos of Socho received the tradition from Shimon the Righteous. He would say: Do not be as slaves, who serve their master for the sake of reward. Rather, be as slaves who serve their masters not for the sake of reward. And the fear of Heaven should be upon you.”

Rabbi Yossi Goldin, a faculty member at the OU in Jerusalem, elaborated on this verse, emphasizing that one should study the Torah without seeking earthly rewards. The true and ultimate reward lies in the spiritual blessings derived from Torah study, both in this world and in the World to Come, Olam Habah in Hebrew.

I have the privilege of attending Torah classes in person almost daily and deeply cherish this opportunity.

Many communities worldwide organize all-night Torah study sessions on the night of Shavuot, concluding at sunrise with the customary communal prayer service, where we read the Torah portion relating to the events at Mount Sinai and recount the Ten Commandments.

Our military’s strength is not solely derived from material support, which is undeniably crucial, but also from the spiritual resources of all the people of Israel who pray and support our war efforts through the observance of Torah commandments/mitzvot, wherever they may be, along with our daily communal prayers and Torah study.

In her Shavuot message, Israeli leader Sivan Rahav-Meir articulates the essence of the festival by stating:

“The festival of Shavuot begins this evening. It represents a much-needed revolution in the form of true unity. We have long known how to unite in the face of a common enemy. On Simchat Torah, last October 7, Sinwar wanted to kill all of us, regardless of our political or religious affiliation, and so we united. An external threat has always increased our sense of mutual responsibility. That’s only logical, but it’s not enough.

The festival of Shavuot calls upon us to rise to the next level — that of authentic unity, unity for its own sake. When the Torah was given, we were not running away or hiding from anyone. We did not come together because of Nazis, antisemites, Hizbollah, or Hamas. We simply gathered joyfully at Mount Sinai and there received our identity. We heard the Ten Commandments and declared in unison: “Na’aseh V’nishma” (We will do and we will understand).”

Our identity should not be shaped by fear but rather by what we embrace, shifting from negative thinking to positive affirmation. Ultimately, our enduring unity is rooted in our remarkable shared history and hopeful future.

I have previously written about Shavuot, emphasizing the yearly renewal of the Jewish people’s commitment to the eternal Ten Commandments, which form the core of our national creed and aspiration.

Wishing everyone a hag sameach, a joyous holiday that has the potential to unite all peoples under the Divine Umbrella of Peace and Justice.


Footnotes:

  1. Feldheim Publications. “What Is the Counting of the Omer?” The Book of Our Heritage. Chabad.org
  2. Pirkei Avot: The translated text, selected insights, audio classes, and stories for the children. Chabad.org
  3. Rabbi Yossi Goldin, Faculty of the OU
  4. Sivan Rahav-Meir’s daily WhatsApp: Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Unmasking the Truth: Navigating Media Bias and Misinformation about Israel

A well-known maxim states, “You can fool some people sometimes, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.” This sentiment underscores the importance of discerning truth from misinformation, especially in our media-saturated world. Francisco Gil White‘s research highlights a troubling reality: many people form their views not from direct experience but from the narratives crafted by the media. This was starkly evident in the antisemitic propaganda about Jews disseminated by mainstream German, American, and other Western media sources before and during World War II, which demonized Jews and exaggerated their influence. In hindsight, this raises an essential question for all of us: If Jews were so influential and so powerful, how were European powers able to round up and murder six million of them between 1941 and 1945?

Media and Misinformation Today

Today, similar questions arise concerning the portrayal of Israel in the media. Is Israel committing genocide in Gaza? Where do we get our information, and how reliable is it?

The Role of Social Media

Influence of Social Media: Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have the potential to significantly shape perceptions about Israel. Sadly, they also serve as breeding grounds for misinformation, where biased narratives can quickly go viral, influencing public opinion with false and even fake narratives.

Algorithms and Echo Chambers: Social media algorithms can create echo chambers, reinforcing biases and spreading misinformation. This perpetuates the polarization of views on the Israel-Palestine conflict, making it challenging for individuals to discern fact from fiction.

Why is This Important for Civil Society?

Media platforms have become an essential source for shaping public opinion and influencing elections. This is an important battlefield for totalitarian governments that aim to take over the West—China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea, to name only the major players. Your vote is the only safeguard for preserving our democratic freedoms, freedom of speech, assembly, and an unbiased justice system. Recently, even Canadian members of parliament have been accused of direct foreign influence.

Bots and AI

Foreign-influenced bots often exploit algorithms, posing a significant threat in the current cyber war that governments must urgently address. Taiwan has been proactively fighting against the influence of Chinese bots on its social media platforms and has recently shared its strategies with Israel to address this critical issue. In his article “How Israel Can Defend Itself from Iran Using Taiwan’s Anti-China Playbook,” Jeremy Bob discusses how Israel can adopt Taiwan’s strategies to counter Chinese disinformation campaigns and protect itself from similar threats posed by Iran and other adversaries.

Governments and journalists must confront these issues directly to uphold public trust.

Student Campus Protests and Hidden Agendas

Many universities witness “student” pro-Palestinian protests organized by groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). However, transparency about their funding is often lacking, with surprising backers like the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. For example, the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR), founded in 2001, partners with organizations like JVP and AMP and uses rhetoric accusing Israel of “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” and “genocide”—patently false narratives also promoted by Middle Eastern departments of elite universities, many infiltrated and funded by Arab countries for years. The alarm about this has been sounded by reputable investigative channels like ISGAP, SPME, and others for years.

USCPR’s funding claims to come mostly from small individual donations, yet they received $225,000 from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund between 2023 and 2025. (Source: X)

Additionally, many student protesters are paid fellows through programs like USCPR’s “Palestine Youth Organizing Fellowship,” which funds individuals to organize campaigns against Israel. (Source: X)

NGO Bias and the Demonization of Israel

Many organizations that sound like they are protecting democracies, such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Doctors Without Borders, and even the Red Cross, have come under scrutiny for their anti-Israel bias. According to NGO Monitor, these groups have justified or downplayed the atrocities committed by Hamas on October 7, framing them as resistance against Israeli “apartheid” and “oppression.” These narratives distort the truth and fuel global antisemitism and the demonization of Israel in our times. (Source: X)

The Reliability of Information Sources

In this age of information overload, discerning trustworthy sources is crucial. While Wikipedia is a go-to for many, it, too, has been criticized for spreading anti-Israel bias. Investigative journalist Aaron Bandler details how Wikipedia editors have manipulated information to present anti-Israel narratives since October 7. (Source: X)

Fact-Checking Organizations

In the past, fact-checking organizations were crucial in verifying information and debunking myths. However, the rapid spread of misinformation on social media platforms has overwhelmed their effectiveness since only some people bother to turn to them.

Media Accountability

Media accountability mechanisms are essential to ensure responsible journalism. However, biased narratives have infiltrated even many mainstream previously trusted media sources like the BBC, CBC, CNN, and even PBS, perpetuating inadequate reporting and misinformation about Israel. Even mainstream media sources have become corrupted over the years. The Washington Post has lost its audience and $77 million in profits in the last year. A new publisher reveals all as he shakes up the staff. This podcast tells the corruption of mainstream American media 40 years in the making: Stopping the Presses.

Tools for Critical Consumption of Media

Media literacy teaches us tools for critically analyzing content to detect false narratives and biased political agendas. Here are some tips to spot and avoid misinformation:

  • Recognize confirmation bias by seeking out diverse opinions and perspectives. Don’t stick to only one source for news.
  • Investigate the author and reporter’s backgrounds to understand their perspectives.
  • Beware of sensationalist language like “genocide” and “war crimes” and focus on factual content from reliable sources.
  • Continuously improve media literacy skills to adapt to evolving misinformation tactics.

Trusted Sources for Accurate News

For reliable news about Israel, these are some sources that I have found to be honest and trustworthy:

History reminds us of the devastating impact of misinformation and bias. The rise of antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment today echoes the propaganda of the past. We are responsible for seeking reliable information, questioning the narratives presented, and remaining vigilant against misinformation. Doing so, we uphold the values of truth and justice essential for a fair and informed society.

 

Francisco Gil-White: Geopolitical and Historic Insights on Jews, Israel, and the Battle Against Antisemitism

The following interview with Francisco Gil-White provides deep insights into the historical, political, and social dynamics surrounding Jews and Israel today, alongside the broader issues of prejudice and propaganda targeting Jews over the last century.

Contributions of Jews to Western Civilization

Francisco Gil-White, a Mexican Catholic scholar, political anthropologist, historian, and author, highlights the profound influence of Jewish thought on Western civilization. He explains how Jews transformed the violent Roman totalitarian system into a more just and equitable society based on the Mishna and texts by Hillel the Elder. These ancient texts introduced fundamental concepts such as the equality of all men under one G-d, the pursuit of justice, and the importance of caring for the stranger, widow, and orphan.

Shaping Our Models of Reality

Gil-White emphasizes that the average citizen’s worldview, or “model of reality,” is significantly shaped by the media. He discusses how the nineteenth-century bogus racial theory, the “science of eugenics,” gained acceptance among Western elites and influenced Nazi racial dogma about Jews. He questions whether Western countries were merely appeasing Hitler or secretly supporting him, given their alignment with these theories.

 

The Impact of Russian Propaganda

He delves into how Russian propaganda at the turn of the century, particularly the publication of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” by the Russian Secret Police, fueled global antisemitism. This fabricated document falsely accused Jews of controlling banks and governments, spreading fear and prejudice worldwide.

 

Historical Ties and Propaganda

Gil-White explores the historical ties between the Nazis and the Arab world, focusing on figures like Haj Amin Al Husseini. He discusses the role of propaganda in shaping societal perceptions, refuting antisemitic stereotypes with historical evidence, and addressing persistent myths about Jewish control of the media and big business. He argues that the ease with which Europe rounded up and murdered six million Jews should dispel any notion of secret Jewish powers.

 

Challenging Authoritarianism and Divisive Ideologies

Gil-White stresses the importance of challenging authoritarian regimes that use antisemitic rhetoric to suppress democratic ideals and promote totalitarian agendas. He critiques the current trend of supporting Hamas and the Palestinian cause, attributing it to divisive ideologies propagated in academia and the influence of radical Muslim immigration. He encourages critical thinking to promote social harmony rather than division.

The Repercussions of Antisemitism

Gil-White passionately argues that combating antisemitism is crucial for safeguarding the Western social fabric and is in humanity’s best interests. He points out that Jews have played significant roles in shaping Western civilization and laments the erosion of critical thinking among the younger generation. He critiques Western power elites for fostering radical Islamist elements and covertly supporting the Arab genocidal cause.

Confronting Authoritarianism, Radicalism, and Divisive Ideologies

In his analysis, Gil-White highlights how authoritarian regimes have historically utilized anti-Semitic rhetoric as a means of suppressing democratic ideals and promoting their own totalitarian agendas. He emphasizes the importance of challenging these harmful stereotypes whenever they surface.

Gil-White points out the importance of critiquing the current trend of supporting Hamas and the Palestinian cause, which he believes runs counter to the values upheld by the United States and Israel. He attributes this trend to divisive ideologies propagated in academic settings over the past several decades and to the influence of radical Muslim immigration. Ultimately, Gil-White’s perspective encourages listeners to approach these complex issues critically to promote social harmony rather than division.

Dismantling Stereotypes

Gil-White asserts that Jews have continually contributed positively to humanity. He debunks negative stereotypes and advocates for the protection and inclusion of Jewish minorities and support for Israel against antisemitic enemies like Hamas, Iran, and Hezbollah. His multidisciplinary background lends weight to his insights on these complex societal issues.

And why is this powerfully important for all of us?

There is no better way to explain this than by sharing this brief video from the Shine A Light Organization with you.

Francisco Gil-White’s expertise and deep understanding are evident in his advocacy against various forms of antisemitism, from subtle prejudices to overt acts of violence. His efforts aim to foster greater understanding and empathy across all communities.

I encourage you to follow Francisco Gil-White and draw your own conclusions. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

Mimouna in Israel, 2024: A Glimpse of Brotherhood Amidst Turmoil

In the month of Nissan, we were redeemed from Egypt, and in the month of Nissan, we are destined to be redeemed in the future, according to an ancient rabbinic quote: “B’Nissan nigalnu, v’b’Nissan atidim l’higael.” This quote is the source of the Mimouna feast, celebrated annually among Sephardi Jews and Hassidim at the end of the Passover Festival. This year, we celebrate Mimouna amid a global upheaval centred in Israel.

The Essence of Mimouna

Amidst the ongoing war that began last October 7, Mimouna stands as a symbol of hope. More than just a celebration, Mimouna holds the promise of global redemption. It represents the day our prophets speak of, when ‘the lion will lie down with the lamb,’ and all nations will transform their weapons into tools to feed the hungry and those experiencing poverty. It reaffirms the enduring faith of Jews in a future world of peace and cooperation among all peoples.

This year, we are celebrating Mimouna during a time of war that involves not only Israel but the entire world. Since October 7, 2023 Israel and the Jewish community have been under intense global scrutiny due to the invasion and massacre of Israelis by Hamas and the ongoing state of war in Israel and Gaza. There has been a significant increase in anti-Israel/Pro-Palestinian protests on the streets of various cities and at prestigious universities worldwide, including McGill University in Canada, the Sorbonne in France, and Columbia, Penn, and Stanford in the US. These war-provoking protests are a threat not only to Jews but also to innocent men, women, and children across the globe. They jeopardize the stability of the entire world. For a detailed analysis of the sources of geopolitical anti-Israel and antisemitic sentiments, I recommend the work of Francisco Gil-White, a contemporary scholar and historian.

Our adversaries continue to hold over 130 innocent hostages and pose additional threats. However, the resilience of the Israeli people and Jews globally is genuinely inspiring. They persevere in the face of adversity, their unwavering commitment to peace and justice embodying the essence of Mimouna. It is a testament to the strength of the Jewish spirit and the universal Jewish pursuit of peace and harmony.

From Miracles to Human Responsibility

But while Jewish tradition prophesies a time of world peace, we consistently emphasize that Jews “do not rely on miracles.” This principle is underscored throughout our Torah:

“The Bible’s ultimate process is a movement away from visible miracles and public (heavenly) revelation toward a process of education and persuasion to get people to act properly. Increasingly, the historical outcomes are dependent on human behavior and the equilibrium of forces rather than on divine intervention. By the time we reach the Talmud, the Rabbis tell us that the age of prophecy (direct messages from Heaven) and of visible miracles is over. Such miracles are too ‘coercive.’ God wants humans to use their reason and emotions and choose to do the right thing out of free will and choice.” (Rabbi Yitz Greenberg essay: Do Not Rely on a Miracle: Parshat Beshallach 5781)

Embracing Mimouna

As I sit here amongst tonight’s festivities, surrounded by my loved ones, I am reminded of Rabbi Akiva’s wise words: ‘Do not do to your neighbour what you would not have done to yourself.’ These words are significant in today’s society, where the world remains divided and filled with discord. Let us all embrace the joyous atmosphere of Mimouna and reflect on its powerful message of hope and redemption.

May this celebration inspire all of us to work tirelessly towards a future where freedom and justice prevail and humanity can thrive in peace and harmony. We must remember that only our actions can bring about this positive future. It is now up to you and me!

 

Footnotes:

  1. Francisco Gil-White and others have pointed out that these anti-Israel perspectives are associated with traditional geopolitical hostility towards Jews, Muslim/Jihadi ideology, and the Progressive/Communist ideology born in the USSR, all of which pose challenges to democracy, freedom, and global cooperation and stability. For further exploration of this, I refer you to the work of Francisco Gil White: Geopolitical and Historical Insights on Jews, Israel and the Battle Against Antisemitism.
  2. Greenberg, Yitz. “Do Not Rely on a Miracle: Parshat Beshallach 5781.” Hadar.org, https://www.hadar.org/torah-tefillah/resources/do-not-rely-miracle.