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Burning Rubber on Pennsylvania Avenue

As they engage in their performative outrage, how stupid does the media think Americans are? 


IN a sea of troubles and dark horizons, let’s start with some comic relief of the black variety.

CNN host Jake Tapper to Joe Biden: “What will you do with four more years?”

Biden, parchment-hued, slack-jawed and croaking weakly: “If we raise taxes on billionaires we’d be able to make every single solitary person… eligible for what I’ve been able to do with… the Covid… excuse me… dealing with everything that we have to do with… look… we finally beat Medicare.”

Media in collective howl: “We had no idea that you were aging, Joe! It was all so sudden. It came as such a shock. How could you betray us with this cover-up?”

They literally had no idea that Biden is long past his sell-by date.

Ha-ha. Ho-ho. What an epic, uproarious joke. What a cosmically funny, side-splitting witticism — at our expense.

For me the absurd, laughable, utterly shameless faux dismay of the “Democracy Dies in Darkness” puritans is what sticks in the craw about this episode. As they engage in their performative outrage, how stupid does the media think Americans are?

Did Axios already know pre-debate that Biden is only “reliably engaged” for six hours a day and chose to bury that earthshaking scoop, or were their well-connected reporters only permitted to dig once the debate had burst the protective wall thrown up around Biden? In the final analysis, there’s not much difference — it’s media collusion of the worst kind.

It’s the same in outlet after outlet, where eye-catching reporting about Operation Coverup has suddenly — quite miraculously — blossomed. Journalists are competing to out-scoop each other on the grubby doings of this administration: the scripted Pravda interviews, the printed instructions to help the president navigate his way to the podium, and the other scandalous minutiae that were somehow missed before.

Over it all hovers the acrid smell of burning rubber as Democratic media mouthpieces execute high-speed U-turns on Pennsylvania Avenue, brazenly pretending that they hadn’t knowingly covered for the president’s decline. Any residual embarrassment is not for the cover-up — it’s for getting caught.

Of course, nothing is new about the co-option of mainstream media in the Democrats’ war on Trump. The suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story might well have tipped the scales against Trump in 2020. But this time around, with poll after poll showing that even Democratic voters were worried by Joe Biden’s decline, the media coverup is simply odious.

As DC reporters finally do their job with some reporting on the Biden White House, I’m left with one question: What else are they hiding?



Meta-narratives are dangerous toys, liable to explode in the face of their journalistic practitioners. But sometimes, it’s time to connect the dots. Within days of each other, snap elections in Britain and France produced bad news for the Jews: left-wing governments that will ramp up the pressure on Israel and likely make their Jewish communities very uncomfortable in the process.

Despite very different political systems in the two countries, there are striking similarities in outcome. In both, the anti-immigration right-wing outperformed. Nigel Farage’s insurgent Reform Party entered the UK Parliament for the first time. In the first round of France’s voting, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally went even further, trouncing the centrists and far-left parties.

On both sides of the Channel, the left ultimately benefited: Keir Starmer’s Labour Party won a landslide due to the split in Britain’s right. France’s two-round voting system enabled Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s hard-left to regroup and pull off a shock victory over the right.

The cross-Channel results are a one-two punch for Israel. Starmer has vowed to recognize Palestine, and the pro-Hamas Mélenchon will pressure hard for the same result. If these two Western European powers fall, Democrats will be under far more pressure to make it happen. A Palestinian state would surely be on the agenda were a Biden second term to materialize. If Donald Trump makes a comeback, how much diplomatic muscle would he deploy to talk down his European allies from making the move, and what would it cost Israel?

Beyond Israel, there’s another concerning pattern. The rise of the hard-right and hard-left are symptoms of a new-old story: the collapse of the center. The ascent of the immigrant-bashing, pro-Israel right across the Western world is celebrated by some in our community, but while it is certainly better than the anti-West, pro-Hamas alternative on the left, it bears saying that we were much better off when the center held. Yes, it was too PC, cautious and critical of Israel, but the dissolution of the centrist Blob that once dominated Western politics is a thing to be mourned.



Ori Haddad, Yehuda Geto, Nadav Knoller, Eyal Avnion, Aleksandr Iakiminskyi, Ilai Lugasi, Roy Miller, Itay Galea, Eyal Mimran — these are the soldiers who died since our last edition closed. The daily security updates sound a horrible, relentless drumbeat of tragedy. But nine months into the war, they no longer shock. The war is fading into the background, and we can’t muster the same sense of urgency as before.

The normalization of human suffering is the subject of the parshah of Eglah Arufa. Sandwiched as it is between passages dealing with war, its location is striking. Why interrupt the discussion of warfare with the unrelated case of a man found dead between two cities? Precisely to teach a lesson about the value of human life, said Rav Dunner ztz”l, of London. Even when blood is spilled like water, the Torah insists that we account for every human life as if it were the only life lost.

Ori, Yehuda, Nadav, Eyal, Aleksandr, Ilai, Roy, Itay, and Eyal, I didn’t know you, and I didn’t thank you for the selfless decision to go and serve. But there’s one thing that I can say to your families: You weren’t just a statistic, a dry announcement from the Defense Ministry. You fell protecting Am Yisrael, and to me, together with all who sit safely at home because of your sacrifice, you won’t be forgotten.

Lessons for Life

If it takes a village to raise a child, in my case it took a kollel. I was brought up in a traditional, United Synagogue community in Manchester, where my father, Rabbi Jonathan Guttentag, was the local Orthodox rabbi with a vision. Three decades ago he conceived of a revolutionary idea: creating an American-style community kollel in a classic English shul whose membership ranged from shomrei Shabbos to Three-Times-A-Year Jews. The results were astounding: a rising tide of Yiddishkeit across the community lifted all boats, from Bnei Akiva to BBYO, in terms of Jewish commitment.

Around the world, there are genuine talmidei chachamim whose entry into the world of the beis hamedrash was via the WCK kollel. Such was the impact of this innovative kiruv lab that a cohort of university students whom my father had brought in to work with the shul youth went on to become rabbis and kiruv leaders across the world.

“The Kollel,” as my father’s institution was known in our house, taught me the enduring value of Torah as the paramount outreach tool. Seminars and social events have their place — but only exposure to genuine Torah and its scholars can revolutionize lives.

As the institution celebrates three decades and — in its new location — embarks on its first crowdfunding campaign, my mind goes back decades to the old fundraising model and the lesson it taught me. One night a week, my father would leave home for an evening of knocking on doors.

If anything can teach a young teen the value of Torah, it’s the subliminal message of a father spending hours on something that isn’t part of his job description, to raise funds so that avreichim can become rabbanim, and Jews of all ages get a chance to enter a world that was denied to them.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 1019)

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