May 31, 2012

Can We Stop the Peace Train?

By Moshe Feiglin

10 Sivan, 5772 (May 31, '12)
It is difficult for some to accept the connections being made between Manhigut Yehudit and those who – when push came to shove – voted in favor of the Expulsion from Gush Katif. Both MK Miri Regev, who works tirelessly on behalf of every nationalist issue – be it the Ulpana Hill or the African infiltrators – and Minister Silvan Shalom who has been a very positive force for the settlements and other national interests were not in the right place at the critical hour. Many find our renewed friendship hard to swallow.

Since the government of Rabin and Peres put the "peace train" on the Oslo tracks, the sand in the settlement hourglass has been running out. The recognition of the "Palestinian nation and its rights" means the loss of recognition of the Jewish state and its rights. It's as simple as that. The destruction train does not stop at the 1967 borders; the missiles are already falling in Be'er Sheva and London hardly recognizes Israel. But the policy of removal is currently focused on the settlements over the Green Line. For now, the settlements are the front line.

The Israeli Right did not have the tools to counter the alternative promoted by the Left because it never really had an alternative. All that the Right had was healthier national feelings. But feelings don't stop trains – and they certainly cannot place them on a different track to a different destination. Inside the train, the Likud MKs will do all they can to help, but they are incapable of changing its direction.
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Hebrew Inscription Provides Oldest Archaeological Evidence of Jews in Iberia

Hebrew inscription bearing the name “Yehiel” is the oldest archaeological evidence of Jews in Iberia. Thought to be a tomb slab, the discovery adds visibility to the early history of Jews in Portugal. 

Hebrew inscription bearing the name “Yehiel” is the oldest archaeological evidence of Jews in Iberia. Thought to be a tomb slab, the discovery adds visibility to the early history of Jews in Portugal. 

The recent discovery of a marble plate bearing the Hebrew inscription “Yehiel” in Portugal serves as the oldest archaeological evidence of Jews in Iberia. Dated sometime before 390 C.E., the two-foot-wide marble plate appears to be a tomb slab. Discovered in a Roman-era excavation near the city of Silves, Portugal by archaeologists from the German Friedrich Schiller University Jena, the discovery predates the previous oldest evidence of Jews in Iberia by nearly a century.
The slab was found in a rubble layer nearby antlers, which were carbon dated to 390 C.E. Excavation director Dr. Dennis Graen explains. “we have a so-called ‘terminus ante quem’ for the inscription, as it must have been created before it got mixed in with the rubble with the antlers.”
The history of Jews in Iberia is known from texts documenting interactions between relatively large populations of Jews and Christians around 300 C.E., but until now, there has not been archaeological evidence of the early population. At the time, Jews in Iberia (and across the Roman Empire) wrote in Latin script, making the the Hebrew inscription bearing the Biblical name “Yehiel” (and other still-to-be translated text) a unique find.
It is the first instance of a Hebrew inscription found in a Roman villa in the region.

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Hebrew Academy Israel Trip – ‘It Was Life-Changing’

Hebrew Academy students enjoy a magnificent sunrise on Masada.
Hebrew Academy students enjoy a magnificent sunrise on Masada.

The Rabbi Alexander S. Gross Hebrew Academy is a religious Zionist school. It has been in existence for over 64 years and had never had an official school-sponsored trip to Israel. Until this year.
After months of planning, and a generous grant from the Falic family, 32 high school sophomores and juniors embarked on the first-ever Hebrew Academy High School trip to Israel. Ten days of climbing, swimming, learning, davening, digging (and some sleeping) took the kids from Masada, Ein Gedi and Yam HaMelach to Gush Etzion, Hebron, Efrat and, of course, Jerusalem.
For a third of the group, it was their first time in Israel. As sophomore Kevin Abadi tells it, “I was able to see many historical and spiritual sites and have them explained to me. I was able to connect them all and achieve far greater comprehension of Israel’s history than before. This trip was as much fun as it was educational.”
The trip, which started at Independence Hall in Tel Aviv and concluded with a Shabbat in Yerushalayim, coincided with Yom Ha’zikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut. The students were able to experience and feel, firsthand, a roller coaster of emotions over that 48-hour period. As 16-year old Jordana Rotenberg recalls, “The fact that we were able to stand in the same place where Israel was declared a state sent shivers down my spine. It was amazing to look around and see all my friends listening as the guide was telling us the exact words that made this state possible.”
“V’shavu vanim l’gvulam” (“and the children returned to their borders”) was selected as the theme of the trip and will become an annual part of the school’s high school curriculum. As a participant summed it up, “It was an amazing opportunity that I guarantee no one will ever forget. It was really life changing.”

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You Can be a Giant! By: Tzvi Fishman

If we could dissect a soul, what would we discover inside? What would a microscopic examination reveal? What are a soul’s components? Its atoms? When we probe as deeply as we can into the anatomy of the soul, suddenly under our high-powered lens, an Alef comes into focus. Then we see a Mem, and a Taf. If a soul had a genetic make-up, we would discover that its DNA helix is made up of Hebrew letters.
The Hebrew letters are the atoms and basic building blocks of the Jewish soul. The letters which Rabbi Kook describes are not only the outer, graphic shape of the letters, which have meaning in themselves, but the inner essence and content of the letters. In another work, “Rosh Millin,” Rabbi Kook writes in depth on the meaning of each of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Unlike the letters of the English alphabet which are mere symbols of sounds with no inner meaning of their own, the letters of the Holy Tongue have an independent existence, and spiritual roots in the celestial worlds above.
In the wisdom of the Kabbalah, letters are understood to be powerful, life-giving forces. The Gemara teaches that the Hebrew letters were used to create heaven and earth. Bezalel knew how to combine the letters which were used in Creation. It was this secret wisdom which enabled him to build the Mishkan.
The Torah itself is made up of letters. Each letter is said to represent one of the basic 600,000 Jewish souls in the world. In addition to their alphabetical form, each letter has a deeper, living nature. Every letter contains a concept, a direction, a will which finds expression in the soul. Beyond a person’s individual ego is the deeper, general will of existence. There is a force of life which is Divinely inspired, and this is what inspires each individual ego and psyche. The inner components of this deeper life-force are the Hebrew letters. Just as the letters are the building blocks of Torah, and of the world, they combine to form the molecular blueprint of the soul. What atoms are to the physical world, Hebrew letters are to the spiritual. Thus, Rabbi Kook writes: ”The soul is filled with letters which are infused with the light of life, full of knowledge and will, full of spiritual seeking, and full existence.”

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Itamar, a Year Later – “We Will Prevail” By: Aryeh Savir

The Fogel Family home.
The Fogel Family home.
Photo Credit: Boaz Motes
A little over a year ago, five members of the Fogel family from Itamar were murdered in their sleep by two Palestinian terrorists. The terrorists entered the Fogel home on Shabbat eve, March 11 2011, and slaughtered the father Ehud, the mother Ruth, and three of their children, Yoav 11, Elad, 4, and baby Hadas, only three months old. Three siblings survived. Twenty-five thousand people attended the mass funeral. The terrorists, aged 18 and 19 were arrested a month later, and recently received life sentences.  This incident is one of the most horrifying in recent memory.

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Meet ‘Flame,’ The Massive Spy Malware Infiltrating Iranian Computers

A massive, highly sophisticated piece of malware has been newly found infecting systems in Iran and elsewhere and is believed to be part of a well-coordinated, ongoing, state-run cyberespionage operation.

The malware, discovered by Russia-based antivirus firm Kaspersky Lab, is an espionage toolkit that has been infecting targeted systems in Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Sudan, the Israeli Occupied Territories and other countries in the Middle East and North Africa for at least two years.
Dubbed “Flame” by Kaspersky, the malicious code dwarfs Stuxnet in size — the groundbreaking infrastructure-sabotaging malware that is believed to have wreaked havoc on Iran’s nuclear program in 2009 and 2010. Although Flame has both a different purpose and composition than Stuxnet, and appears to have been written by different programmers, its complexity, the geographic scope of its infections and its behavior indicate strongly that a nation-state is behind Flame, rather than common cyber-criminals — marking it as yet another tool in the growing arsenal of cyberweaponry.
The researchers say that Flame may be part of a parallel project created by contractors who were hired by the same nation-state team that was behind Stuxnet and its sister malware, DuQu.
“Stuxnet and Duqu belonged to a single chain of attacks, which raised cyberwar-related concerns worldwide,” said Eugene Kaspersky, CEO and co-founder of Kaspersky Lab, in a statement. “The Flame malware looks to be another phase in this war, and it’s important to understand that such cyber weapons can easily be used against any country.”

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Israeli Diamond Firm Follows Prophecy

By Tova Cohen and Ari Rabinovitch

AKKO, Israel, May 30 (Reuters) - Somewhere in the Carmel hills of northern Israel, diamond exploration company Shefa Yamim hopes to uncover the exact spot where faith meets science.

Inspired by the words of a revered rabbi who prophesised that precious stones were divinely buried in the area, the firm has been mining for about a decade along the steep hills and lush valleys that surround the city of Haifa.

Now, Shefa Yamim, the first and only diamond explorer in Israel, says it has found strong signs that significant diamond deposits are indeed hidden in the Holy Land, surprising many who had dismissed the mission as a pipe dream.

Potential new mines are big news in an industry that gets most of its diamonds from 20 or so mines, and where no large discovery has been made in 15 years.

Israel has long been a global leader for polishing diamonds, but it was never considered to be a possible source for rough diamonds, which it imports from abroad. Top Israeli diamond dealers even have their own mining operations in Africa but with booming demand for the gems driven by prosperity in China and India there are certain to be many more speculative projects.

Shefa Yamim's workers have dug up thousands of geological indicators -- including 77 macro and micro-diamonds -- in their trenches and boreholes, said Chief Executive Avi Taub.

"It's a mission ... We're talking about divine providence," Taub, an Orthodox Jew who wears a skullcap and a long, white beard, told Reuters at the company's offices in the coastal city of Akko. "I hope I'm going to have the right to reveal it."

In 1999, Taub founded Shefa Yamim, which means "bounty of the seas" in Hebrew, based on a conversation that took place 11 years earlier in Brooklyn, New York between the late Rabbi Menachem Schneerson and the then mayor of Haifa. The dialogue was caught on video.

"The uniqueness of Haifa is that it has a sea and it has a valley -- and in the valley are precious stones and gems. The holy one, blessed be he, did a wondrous thing, he concealed them in the depths of the earth," the rabbi told his visitor.

Many of Schneerson's followers believe him to be the messiah, making the comments a decree of sorts, and Taub answered the call.


Religious belief and biblical verse have inspired others to search for natural resources in the Holy Land.

In the same year Schneerson spoke about precious stones buried near Haifa, he also received a letter from a geologist who is now the chief explorer of Givot Olam, which is drilling for oil in central Israel. The letter described how the Bible and Jewish commentary both contain "a poetic description of fundamental principles of modern petroleum geology".

Texas-based Zion Oil and Gas is exploring for hydrocarbons in the same area as Shefa Yamim and was inspired by a map of the 12 biblical tribes of Israel.

These companies are all optimistic, but have yet to announce commercial finds.

Shefa Yamim has licenses to explore 165,000 acres. The company's website is filled with hard geological data, but also contains Jewish scripture and commentary.

When Shefa Yamim chose to go public in Tel Aviv, a sceptical Israel Securities Authority delayed the issuance for a year until the Energy Ministry, which oversees the country's natural resources, could confirm the findings. The company was listed in April and has kept a market value of roughly $62 million.

Research analysts at Canada's Canaccord Capital think early-stage companies like Shefa Yamim that have found diamond-bearing kimberlite have only a 5-10 percent chance of success.

Only about 1 percent of kimberlite pipes - the geological structures where diamonds are concentrated - that have been discovered to date have been economically viable. They are mostly found in South Africa, Siberia, North America, Brazil and Australia.

Shefa Yamim has until now been focusing most on alluvial mining, which is shallower along the riverbed in the valley. It will need a significant injection of capital if it is to dig deeper to find bigger diamonds and move closer to its goal.

Shefa Yamim's consultant geochemist Mark Fedikow of Mount Morgan Resources in Winnipeg, Canada, believes its chances for success are as high as 20-30 percent due to the abundance of mineral indicators. He thinks it could reach the point of production in three to five years.

"There is no reason why you can't connect faith with economics here," Fedikow said. "There is no basis to throw up your hands and laugh. You accept what the rabbi said and developments after are not based on faith but on hard fact."

Israeli gov’t decision to fund Reform, Conservative rabbis sets precedent for equality with Orthodox

By Ben Sales · May 30, 2012

NEW YORK (JTA) -- This week’s announcement that the Israeli government for the first time will pay the salaries of some non-Orthodox rabbis represents a major victory for the Reform and Conservative movements.
But it's a victory more of principle than major practical changes -- at least, so far.
The Israeli attorney general’s office said Tuesday that Reform and Conservative rabbis in some parts of Israel will be recognized as “rabbis of non-Orthodox communities” and will receive wages equal to those of their Orthodox counterparts.
For now, the decision applies only to Israel’s regional councils -- large districts of rural communities -- but not Israeli cities. And the non-Orthodox rabbis, unlike their Orthodox colleagues, will have no authority over Jewish law or ceremonies such as marriage or divorce. Rather than being funded by the nation's Religious Services Ministry, they will receive their salaries from the Ministry of Culture and Sport.
Even though the decision will not affect most Israeli Reform and Conservative Jews because the vast majority of them live in large metropolitan areas such as Jerusalem and metro Tel Aviv, the decision nevertheless opens a door toward full equality with the Orthodox, non-Orthodox Israeli leaders said.
“The importance of the decision is that it sets the model for the relations between the non-Orthodox movements and the government,” said Rabbi Gilad Kariv, the executive director of Israel’s Reform movement.
The Reform movement also has a petition in court to give Reform rabbis in cities the same rights of those in regional council areas. According to Kariv, Tuesday’s decision only gives full-service synagogues with at least 50 affiliated families in regional council areas eligibility for the funding.
“There’s no reason to adopt this in the regional councils and not in the cities, and the government knows it,” he said.
It’s not clear when the Israeli courts will decide on the Reform movement’s petition, but if the petition is accepted, the change would affect virtually all Conservative and Reform congregations.
This week’s announcement followed out-of-court negotiations over a 2005 petition by the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism and Rabbi Miri Gold, a Reform rabbi from Kibbutz Gezer in central Israel. Gold had petitioned the state to fund the Gezer Reform community just as it funds Orthodox communities and their leaders.
Initially, the government has agreed to fund 15 non-Orthodox rabbis in the regional council areas. But the funding could increase as more Conservative and Reform congregations are established.
Yizhar Hess, the executive director of Israel’s Conservative movement, known as Masorti, said there is a more important issue than the initial number of communities receiving financial support: Conservative and Reform Jews in these areas no longer will have to donate privately to support their rabbis while also paying taxes to support the Orthodox-dominated Rabbinate.
This, he hopes, will allow more Conservative congregations to form and reduce the Israeli movement’s dependence on donations from America. Three-quarters of the Masorti movement’s annual budget of approximately $4.5 million now comes from the Diaspora.
“The only way for a Masorti rabbi to act as a Masorti rabbi was to be able to raise enough funds from donations and dues to make a living,” Hess said. “We know that there are more communities that want to reach out and have us.”
For years the government has held the position that non-Orthodox rabbis deserve these rights: A 2008 government memorandum to the court in Gold’s case said that “a town with a non-Orthodox community that is interested in cultural and communal activities deserves funding from the state.”
The attorney general’s office used that memorandum as a basis for its decision, but by defining non-Orthodox activities as “cultural and communal,” it shifted responsibility for overseeing the activities to the Ministry of Culture and Sport -- meaning that Reform and Conservative rabbis still do not have state-recognized authority over Jewish law.
But Kariv, Hess and their American counterparts believe that this week's decision could pave the way to increased legitimacy for their movements in Israel.
David Lissy, executive director of the Masorti Foundation in New York, pointed to two recent surveys of Israeli Jews showing increased awareness of and identification with non-Orthodox movements. One, a recent report by the Israel Democracy Institute and the Avi Chai foundation, showed that 30 percent of Israeli Jews had attended a Conservative or Reform service.
“More and more people feel that they would like to take responsibility for their Jewish identity,” Hess said. “They understand that there is more than one way to be Jewish.”
Outside Israel, the Rabbinical Assembly of the U.S. Jewish Conservative movement and the World Union for Progressive Judaism were among those that lauded the decision.
“This is a historic day for Israelis and Jews around the world,” said Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly. "In order for Judaism to grow and thrive in Israel, it is necessary that the government recognize its obligation to provide equal funding to various Jewish religious streams and expressions that flower in the Jewish state.”

May 29, 2012

Regime Change and Israel’s Best Kept Secret by Paul Eidelberg

Still, the question remains: Why no “regime change” in Israel? The reason is this: the relationship between the rulers and the ruled, or between the elected and their electors, has never changed.
The present writer, an American-born and American-educated political scientist, has yet to meet an Israeli political analyst that has or had a clear, concise, and convincing understanding of “regime change,” a concept bandied about by people from all walks of life.
Of Course Israel is a Democracy
Stated in the most concise way, “regime change” means changing the ruler-ruled relationship of a regime. Since this does not necessarily entail violent revolution, I will define the concept in democratic terms. Regime change means changing the basic relationship between the elected and their electors. Regime change is much more than changing the party in power—although such change may have regime implications. For example, there was no regime change when Democrat Bill Clinton was replaced by Republican George W. Bush, as U.S. President. But the ground for regime change was prepared when Democrat Barack Obama became president of the United States.
Obama was committed to regime change from the outset of his presidential campaign of 2008 as I had warned. As was evident, Obama, in various ways, rejected America’s two foundational documents, the Declaration of Independence and the United States Federal Constitution, both of which prescribed limited government on the one hand, and the primacy of individual freedom on the other.
Anyone who has studied The Federalist Papers will understand that America’s Founding Fathers fully understood how regime change could occur in America without any violent revolution—and the revolution has occurred! It began with the expanded role of government under the Woodrow Wilson administration of 1913. Wilson, influenced by British thought, rejected the constitutional system of checks and balances. He advocated “presidential government.” The First World War enabled him to greatly expand the power of the Presidency. But what is not well known is that Wilson revolutionized the political rhetoric of the regime. As I have shown in A Discourse on Statesmanship, Wilson replaced what I call the “the politics of magnanimity,” which transcends class divisions, with a “politics of compassion,” identified primarily the poor vis-à-vis the middle class (and of course the rich). Government would thereafter enact laws most conducive to the lower class, the masses.
The next stage in this regime change (or bloodless revolution) came with the “New Deal” of the Franklin Roosevelt administration of 1933, which witnessed another great expansion of the power of the central government vis-à-vis the states. And now, with the election of Barack Obama, an outright socialist, regime change in America has reached its climax.
But now let us turn to the more interesting case of Israel, which has had no regime change since its founding in 1948. Notice first that regardless of which party or party coalition is at the helm, the government pursues the same disastrous policy of “land for peace.” This it does despite the fact that a large majority of the electorate opposes this suicidal policy, as I have shown in a lengthy essay The Fixation of Israel’s Elites on ‘Land for Peace’: Five Interpretations.
Notice, too, that no Likud-led or Labor-led government has ever been toppled by a Knesset vote of no-confidence. (I avoid the “stinking maneuver” of 1990 when Labor “persuaded” the Shas party to quit the coalition government under PM Yitzhak Shamir, which nonetheless failed to change the party in power—an indication that the Knesset is a rubber stamp for the government—and you will soon see why.)
Still, the question remains: Why no “regime change” in Israel? The reason is this: the relationship between the rulers and the ruled, or between the elected and their electors, has never changed. It has never changed because the mode of electing members of the Knesset has never changed. From the outset of the regime, Members of the Knesset (MKs) have never been individually elected by the voters in geographic-constituency elections. And of course most MKs have a vested interest in preventing any basic change in this mode of election.
It all began with short-term pragmatism and long-term folly. The founders of the state made the entire country a single electoral district where parties compete for seats in the Knesset on the basis of Proportional Representation (PR). In other words, the number of seats parties win is proportional to the number of votes they receive in a national election—a seemingly democratic system. The trouble is that the candidate who wins a seat in the Knesset depends on his place on the party’s list. Thus, Shimon Peres, who was usually the first or second name on the Labor Party’s list was elected and re-elected for five decades without ever competing against a rival candidate! He never had to defend his political position or policies against a rival who would happily expose the flaws and misdeeds of MK Shimon Peres.

One reason why MKs perpetuate this system is because they don’t have to raise money to compete against rivals in a constituency election. More important, the system not only facilitates their reelection, but by so doing it more readily enables them to become Cabinet ministers, the road to political longevity and power. But given the absence of constituency elections and rival candidates, the System enables MKs to ignore public opinion with impunity!
But this means—and what hardly any political commentator emphasizes—is that the System disempowers or virtually disenfranchises the voters! Brainwashed by their “educators,” people believe that periodic, multiparty elections are sufficient to qualify a country as a democracy. Unfortunately, political scientists and journalists in Israel have been reluctant to explode this myth. Indeed, Israel’s ruling elites—politicians and judges, academics and journalists—prefer to remain silent, for it is Israel’s reputation as a democracy that endows these elites with legitimacy and prestige in Israel as well as on the lecture circuit in America.
It’s really amazing how the System disenfranchises the voters without their knowing it! The System actually enabled Likud leader Ariel Sharon to nullify the 2003 election by adopting Labor’s policy of disengagement from Gaza, even though this policy was rejected by at least 70 percent of the voters in that election! (Interested readers need only go on line for detailed information on the subject, and see especially my book, The Myth of Israeli Democracy.)
We know why there has been no regime change in Israel despite the disastrous policies of its various governments. The myth serves partisan and personal interests. Never mind the fact that Israel’s reputation as a democracy has not saved this country from Israel-bashing and anti-Semitism. Of course Israel is a democracy compared to its despotic Arab neighbors—but is that the banner Israelis should proudly wave to the world?

Politics and Religion: America and Israel

Despite Jefferson’s fondest wishes, human reason and man’s so-called moral sense have not made America a light unto the nations.
Unlike the modern State of Israel, whose founding was largely secular, the American founding was largely religious. Not only were American universities, such as Harvard and Yale, established by clergymen, but several state constitutions provided for religious education.
 Yale's Crest Emblazoned with "Light and Truth"Church and state were thus intertwined—which is not to say there was no struggle for power between politicians who saw in religion or religionists either their enemy or allies.
With the adoption of the Federal Constitution in 1788, and more so with Thomas Jefferson’s election to the presidency in 1800, the process of separating church and state accelerated. Jefferson, a democrat from Virginia, hated the clergy, and the feeling was reciprocated. He believed that unfettered human reason and man’s innate “moral sense” were sufficient to make America the model of mankind. Seldom has secular humanism had such a (mistaken) champion.
More realistic or sophisticated than the “Sage of Monticello” was his vice-president, James Madison. Madison held that the political activity of the clergy—he had his own state of Virginia in mind—was corrupting the church, that separation of church and state would purify religion and, at the same time, remove a bitter source of conflict from state politics.
Whether the separation of church and state purified religion in Virginia is questionable. Certainly it did not improve the state’s moral character: Virginia became America’s stud farm for breeding slaves.
In any event, if we ponder such key terms as “thought,” “speech,” and “behavior,” America today is a secularized society—notwithstanding God-fearing Christians whose identification with Biblical Israel may yet save America.
Be this as it may, and despite Jefferson’s fondest wishes, human reason and man’s so-called moral sense have not made America a light unto the nations. Contrary to the intentions of America’s founding fathers, various judicial rulings have legalized various perversions and gay marriages, while removing religious tenets such as the Ten Commandments from the public domain. Madison, who championed the Bill of Rights, never dreamed that obscenity and pornography—the staple of the entertainment media—are forms of “speech” protected by the First Amendment. Religion, though still a force in America, has not prevented the rampant hedonism and vulgarity of American society.
Turn, now, to Israel, which so much emulates America. Polls indicate that almost 90% of the people of Israel view politics as corrupt. Israeli politics, however, is predominantly secular. To be sure, corruption will also be found in the religious parties. This fact prompts some religionists to wonder whether “politics and religion” should be separated in Israel.
Whatever my own views on the subject, let me play the devil’s advocate and question the value of having religious parties in the Knesset.
No one can seriously argue that the religious parties have elevated the character of Israeli politics. Nor is it obvious that the political activities of these parties have inspired the Jewish people to new heights of intellectual and moral excellence. Indeed, their wheeling and dealing with the secular parties before, during, and after elections generate cynicism among religionists and contempt among secularists.
Of course, it will be argued that the religious parties have (1) secured government funds for yeshivas essential for the preservation of Judaism; (2) prevented the passage of certain laws that would undermine Jewish family values; and (3) helped maintain public recognition of various religious observances without which Israel would lose its raison d’être as a Jewish republic.
There is truth in this argument. However, whether these achievements required religious parties is not clear. Indeed, one may well argue that Israel would be better off—”religiously”—were it not for those parties, and for the following reasons.
Politics involves bargaining, sometimes rather shoddy. This is universally expected of politicians. But we want something more from religious leaders. We expect them to set an example of sincerity, of intellectual integrity, of selfless dedication to Torah values (whether we are Torah-oriented or not). And if they have to compromise, it should not be at the expense of basic principles: they should not play fast and loose with Jewish law (Halakha).

Most secularists—not all—are unaware that Jewish law is more comprehensive and coherent, more humane and progressive than the legal systems of any modern state. But they usually can see when religious parties use the Torah for the sake of politics rather than politics for the sake of Torah. This cannot but alienate them further from Judaism. Hence it is not entirely clear that the religious parties do more good than harm.
This is why some people think that politics as well as Judaism would be better off without such parties in the Knesset. Contrast the Congress of the United States.
Because the Congress has no religious parties, its two major parties, Democrat and Republican, vie with each other for religious voters. No leader of these parties (Barack Obama excluded) would ever make explicit statements offensive to the religious community.
Such is not the case in Israel. With religious parties in the Knesset, secular parties of the Left, know they will not receive any votes from the Orthodox community. Hence they are not deterred from taking anti-religions positions.
Conversely, if there were no religious parties in the Knesset, secularists on the Left would compete with secularists on the Right for religious voters, and this would require them to moderate their attitude toward the Orthodox. At the same time, religious leaders might take a more principled stand on such issues as yielding Jewish land to Arab despots and releasing Arab terrorists who have murdered Jewish men, women, and children.
Of course, in a democracy one cannot prevent the existence of religious parties, and I don’t expect the religious parties in Israel to self-destruct. Nor am I here recommending that they should. Still, I wonder whether they do more good than harm in the long run. Surely this is something for religious Jews to think about—especially those attuned to the convergence of Torah wisdom and quantum and relativity physics. This convergence may prompt both secularists and religionists to transcend the obsolete modes of thought that modulated the now stagnant state of Israel—a stagnation also evident in America.
And so, in the name Passover, the Festival of Freedom, let’s leave Egypt or the bondage of the “Old Order” behind us.

The Death of Moral Outrage

In today’s post-modern democratic world, lack of moral outrage may largely be attributed to the moral relativism propagated by our colleges and universities.
Ahmadinejad's V for Victory
Contrast the Western media’s cover-up of Nazi atrocities in the 1930s to today’s conspicuous exposure of atrocities inspired by Islam via Internet, Cable TV, to name only two. Why haven’t these atrocities—whether perpetrated in New York, Jerusalem, London, Madrid, or Bali—aroused and infuriated civilized mankind?
Has the world become conditioned to this age of atrocity? Are we witnessing what has aptly been called the “death of moral outrage”?
Since I live in Israel, I ask: How should we compare this global meltdown of moral outrage to the virtual indifference of Israel’s governments to the murder and trauma of their own citizens by Arab terrorists during the past two decades?
How is one to understand the self-restraint Israeli government has displayed toward the enemy since the 1993 Israel-PLO Agreement, to the extent of rewarding the villain with Jewish land, lives, and liberties? Has violent death become so much the norm that human life has become worthless?
Capital punishment has been all but eliminated in the West. Conversely, live-birth abortion—infanticide—does not arouse more outrage than “pulling the plug.” Are we living in a democratic world suffering from moral schizophrenia? Does the idea of human dignity have any consistent, rational, and metaphysical meaning? Does secular society have any moral compass?
Hardly anyone raises a brow when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad screams “Death to America” or vows to wipe Israel off the map. No one proposes to have Iran expelled from the UN even though its Mullahs sacrificed tens of thousands of Iranian children to explode Iraqi landmines. Why does the State Department allow this Islamic Hitler to enter the United States as if he were a rock star from Great Britain!
Manhattan, the business capital of democratic America is also the domicile of the hundred despotic regimes represented in the United Nations. This speaks volumes of the moral framework of “Western Civilization.” Indeed, that America provides much of the financial support for this multicultural monstrosity arouses nothing more than the outrage of a yawn. The Tower of Babel was a monument of human decency compared to Manhattan’s haven of international villainy and hypocrisy, where evil is called good and good called evil.
No parent would allow their children to consort with such scoundrels. Our spiritual leaders warn us to distance ourselves from insincere people lest we become unconsciously influenced by their dishonesty and hypocrisy—the modus operandi of UN representatives. The innocents in that house of iniquity aside, pity it escaped the fate of the World Trade Center.

In today’s post-modern democratic world, lack of moral outrage may largely be attributed to the moral relativism propagated by our colleges and universities. There’s the source of that effete academic doctrine of “conflict resolution”—which sees no evil, hears no evil, and speaks no evil. It is also the source of the emasculating combat doctrine of “proportionality,” bandied about even in a war against Muslims for whom peace means the extermination of Israel and the West.
Underlying the death of outrage is the academic reluctance to face evil as evil, and not simply some troublesome ideology or religion. Three centuries of the European Enlightenment—meaning, three centuries of atheism—has spawned countless men without chests. Some become presidents or prime ministers, some too soft, some too stupid, some too sophisticated, to be animated by moral outrage.

“Our Deadliest Enemy”* by Paul Eidelberg

What irony—the threat is from an enemy that defines us as the enemy, though we sincerely profess to be truly benevolent and peace loving.

No. 1 of a Unique Series of Articles on what Eminent Statesmen, Scholars, Muslims, and Former Muslims Say about Islam
*That Muslims have exceeded the depravity of Nazis by using their own children as human bombs tends to hinder objective and comprehensive analysis of Islam. This series of articles will instead provide a thoroughly documented, interdisciplinary, transnational, and multiracial study of Islam which men with eyes and ears and a modicum of learning will discern as a unique form of paganism, one that sanctifies evil in the name of a monotheistic theology.1
It is well known that Islam today is a cauldron of murderous hatred. We are no longer shocked by the fact that Muslims hate not only non-Muslims but other Muslims. It is common knowledge that Sunnis and Shiites hate each other, that both abhor Sufi Muslims as well as other Islamic sects. True, something comparable to this may also be said of certain Christian sects before the Reformation—and we dare not forget that Christians slaughtered Jews down through the centuries. But as Dr. Michael Ledeen has documented, and as will presently be seen, Islam is unique in that its love of death or necrophilia remains an ineluctable aspect of its theology. Moreover, despite the murderous hatred Muslim sects display toward each other, we need to understand the character of their supreme role-model and prophet, Mohammad, the author of their holy Scripture, the Quran.2 We need to transcend vacuous tolerance, and we dare not yield to the timidity that poses as “moderation” in discussing Islam.
  • We deplore the fact that Islam’s cult of hatred and love of death is downplayed by scholars who are reluctant or incapable of revealing the theological underpinning of this hatred magnified by necrophilia. Indeed, scholars in the West are reluctant to say anything pejorative of a creed that poses as a worldwide monotheistic religion. We can no longer afford this reticence because weapons of mass murder are now available to this enemy. Our survival requires us to expose the ugly truths about this enemy.
  • We need to understand why Muslims, whether they are Arabs in Saudi Arabia or Persians in Iran, hate Americans and Jews as well as each other. This is a fearful amount of hatred animating a strategically significant percentage of the estimated 1.5 billion Muslims on planet earth!
  • Is it not awesome that so many people who worship Allah can harbor so much hatred—more than ten times the population of Nazi Germany—surely enough to commit genocide. This horrendous phenomenon is a terrible reflection on what civilized people deem a monotheistic religion. To clarify this theological mystery in a candid and convincing manner is precisely the primary concern of this essay. But first, we must come down to earth and remove the many obstacles that hinder this intellectually complex study of Islam without being deterred by its emotionally-charged consequences which silence polite commentators.
If Islam is indeed a cauldron of hatred that animates the leaders of 1.5 billion Muslims and dozens of Muslim states, is it any wonder that many people in the West see this awesome, widespread hostility as an irremediable and impossible threat? Is it any wonder that very few Western scholars and statesmen display the candor and courage to discuss the theological nature of this threat? What irony—the threat is from an enemy that defines us as the enemy, though we sincerely profess to be truly benevolent and peace loving. Our benevolence is obvious. We are even reluctant to call our enemy an “enemy,” let alone our sworn and implacable enemy, lest we insinuate that this Islam is evil. We hesitate to use any pejorative language to describe this enemy, not only because we fear it may antagonize him and prompt him to more violence, but also because we live in a non-judgmental age that avoids calling an openly declared enemy evil—even one who gleefully screams “Death to America” and vows to “wipe Israel off the map”! Some observers believe that the liberal and social democracies of the West are suffering from a mental disorder. Let me try to explain.
Whether conscious of it or not, people in the West have been subtly and profoundly influenced by the moral and cultural relativism that has permeated all levels of education in the free world. For more than a hundred years we have been indoctrinated by the ethical neutrality or indifferentism of the social sciences and humanities. Our institutions of higher education have taught countless opinion makers and policy makers that there are no rational or objective standards by which to distinguish between right and wrong, good or bad, and this inhibits us from calling any moral or religious doctrine pernicious. Describing any doctrine as evil is equivalent to calling someone’s preference for a particular flavor of ice cream evil. It’s all a matter of personal taste—nothing to get upset about, let alone to resort to violence.
And so it is with religion. Your religious preference has no more validity than your preference for light- or dark-rimmed glasses. The conflicts people wage over this or that religion or ideology is irrational. If everyone understood that there are no objective moral or religious truths, hence, that no way of life is intrinsically superior to any other, war would be a thing of the past. Tolerance and peace would rein on earth.
Naive relativism ignores a crucial fact: some men like to lord over others, regardless of whether they are believers, agnostics, or atheists. But what is more: given two antagonists—one a moral relativist, the other a moral absolutist, then, all other things being equal, the absolutist is more likely to persevere and win in any protracted conflict. It is doubtful that the Allied Powers in the Second World War would have conquered Nazi Germany had they not believed that Nazism is evil, and that freedom or liberal democracy is worth fighting and dying for.
This is precisely the psychological state of affairs affecting the conflict between Islam and the United States, Islam and Israel, Islam and the West, Islam and all that is not—and this conflict began ages before 9/11. Muslims believe in the absolute righteousness of their cause, and conversely that liberal democracy is unadulterated evil. This moral disparity or asymmetry is precisely why the more powerful United States, whose decision-makers have been influenced and emasculated by multicultural relativism, is retreating from the Middle East, just as it retreated from Communist-led North Vietnam, a tenth-rate military power. But mark this well: as in the 1960s, American colleges and universities are not only steeped in multicultural relativism, as I have shown in an essay published in the Congressional Record3, but we now behold academics professing outright anti-Americanism!
What does this portend? The bellicosity of the enemy is transparent. He harbors a 1,400 year-old military heritage. His mentality is permeated and disciplined by this heritage. His Arab-Islamic mind abhors infidels, and he is not reluctant to use weapons of mass murder. It should be obvious that the growing power of Iran in the oil-rich Persian Gulf and the expansion of the Muslim Brotherhood on the one hand, and America’s retreat from the Middle East on the other, indicate that our enemy is winning in what can only be called a World War. What is most remarkable, however, is that America, the world’s only superpower, has yet to define the enemy!
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It would be easy to do this if Islam was an atheistic and geographically-defined regime like Nazi Germany or Communist Russia. But our enemy poses as a worldwide monotheistic religion, and here is where Islam departs from other cultures that exalt war. Islam, which should be credited for having eliminated idolatry in Asia and Africa, is a religion whose prophet forms an integral part of the faith.  As I have elsewhere written, it is not sufficient to believe in the Scriptures of such prophets or messengers but in the messengers themselves. This is another reason why Muslims have wielded the sword to spread the faith and to send “infidels” to eternal rest. Compare the militant religion of the Hindus, another numerous people. The Hindus worship Shiva, the god of destruction. Their sacred text, the Bhagavid Gita, exalts war.  Rulers, who necessarily come from the warrior caste, are obliged to discipline their subjects to wage aggressive wars against neighboring states whenever feasible.  As one writer says: “Peace emerges from India’s literature and history either as stagnation, or as a time for plotting military action, or as a ruse of war meant to induce somnolence and moral disarmament in enemy ranks.”4 Add Buddhism. Although Buddhism arose in protest against the Hindu caste system, it did not alter the prevailing orientation toward war and peace.  In Japan, Zen Buddhism combined with Shintoism to establish the martial tradition (innocuously portrayed in the theatrical West).  Throughout Southeast Asia warfare has been accepted as the natural expression of the religious or political order.  Much the same may be said of all of the regions of sub-Saharan Africa.5 But it is in China that the science of war achieved perfection. The martial classics of China exhort rulers to make their people “delight in war” and to expand the frontiers of the state. “It is a misfortune for a prosperous country not to be at war; for in peacetime it will breed … the cultivation of goodness, filial piety and respect for elders, detraction of war and shame at taking part in it.”6
But we were talking of Islam, which, unlike those just mentioned, is deemed a monotheistic religion. And even though many of us are not religious, we tend to believe that, withstanding the wars in which Christian monotheists engaged in the past, the participants in these wars were actually violating their sacred creeds or scriptures. In other words, we want to believe that religion—at least monotheism—is basically benevolent and peace loving; and that even though history manifests bloody examples to the contrary, we incline to the idea that these wars may be attributed—stated simply—to either (1) intellectual causes, (2) moral causes, or (3) systemic causes, meaning, the international system of sovereign states. The first may involve the miscalculations of statesmen regarding the interests of their respective countries. The second may involve the lust for power and dominion. The third may involve, as indicated, the nation-state system itself, which tends to intensify and magnify international conflict. Unfortunately, these considerations are only tangential to the core issues of this essay. Our Prologue must therefore be supplemented by an Introduction that clarifies the intractable nature of Islam and why this enemy constitutes a mortal threat to Western civilization, hence, to the Judeo-Christian heritage, the heart of this civilization.
“To speak of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as the “three Abrahamic faiths,” the ‘three religions of the Book,’ or the three monotheisms, obscures rather than illuminates. These familiar tropes ought to be retired.”7
—George P. Weigel, Catholic Theologian
Some readers, who have not examined the profound scholarship of Dr. Weigel, may attribute his above pronouncement to the bias of a Catholic theologian. But there are many scholars and scholar-statesmen—including atheists—who have not only expressed doubts about the authenticity of Islamic monotheism, but who also deny that Islam can rightly be called a civilization! Indeed, such doubts about Islam can be found even among many former Muslims!
Here caution is necessary. To obtain an objective and transnational as well as insiders understanding of Islam, let us consider (1) how world-renowned scholar-statesmen evaluated Islam before 1900 that is, before the emotional impact and horrors of today’s jihadism, and (2) why many learned Muslims abhor Islam and regard it as cruel and tyrannical. We begin with the world renowned nineteenth-century thinker Alexis de Tocqueville, author of the classic Democracy in America:
I studied the Quran a great deal. I came away from that study with the conviction that by and large there have been few religions in the world as deadly to men as that of Muhammad.   So far as I can see, it is the principal cause of the decadence so visible today in the Muslim world and, though less absurd than the polytheism of old, its social and political tendencies are in my opinion more to be feared, and I therefore regard it as a form of decadence rather than a form of progress in relation to paganism itself.8
Compare a statement appearing in the 1899 work of Winston Churchill The River War:
Moslems may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome9
Perhaps some may attribute the assessments of de Tocqueville and Churchill to imperialistic bias or even to racism. Indeed, inasmuch as criticism of Islam exposes one to the racist canard, let us ponder the views and experience of intellectually liberated Muslims and Arabs. Indeed, perhaps the most reliable way to assess the nature of Islam is to consult such commentators. For this purpose, we can do no better than examine the transnational evidence and records of learned Muslims who rejected Islam and its founder. Let us therefore turn to No. 2 of this series. (To Be Continued.)

Humility and Why Muslims Hate Jews by Paul Eidelberg

The “victimhood” associated with Islam’s animus against the West is nothing more than dejection resulting from frustrated pride or arrogance.

Benedictus Spinoza
It is a remarkable fact that the Hebrew word anav, usually translated as “humble” or “meek,” is the only adjective used in the Bible of Israel to describe the man Moses. The noun form of anav is anava.  The word appears in Numbers 12:3.  “Now the man Moses was very humble (anav), above all the men that were on the face of the earth.” Strange that the Torah uses no other adjective to characterize a man as extraordinary as Moses. Although he was supremely humble, Moses has also been called the wisest man that ever lived—and not only by Jews. Yet we find in the Torah not the lofty adjective “wise” but only the lowly anav to characterize mankind’s greatest teacher and law-giver.
One might conclude that humility ranks above wisdom in the Torah order of values.  What makes this problematic is that such words as “humility” or “modesty” fail to capture the meaning of anava, a concept that radically distinguishes Judaism not only from Christianity, but also from Islam and the entire philosophic tradition.

Christian humility is rooted in “original sin,” a concept foreign to Judaism. In contrast, Muslims are distinguished not by humility but by pride—really arrogance, a quality hateful to the God of Israel but not to Allah. As various scholars have observed (e.g. Bernard Lewis and Yehoshafat Harkabi), Islamic literature is replete with examples of self-glorification—to which we may add a denial of personal responsibility for misfortune, given the Islamic concept of predestination.  From this follows today’s pathetic but contradictory notion of “victimhood” propagated by Muslim leaders against the United States and the West.
This pathetic notion of “victimhood” would be despised by the philosophers of classical antiquity such as Aristotle, who extols rational pride, or rather “magnanimity” (megalopsychia), as the adornment of the virtues. By the same token, those who bandy the term “victimhood” to win support for the Muslim cause are engaged in the art of deception: posing as the innocent and injured party in the conflict between the so-called Palestinians and Israel.

Now consider the modern attitude toward humility.  The first systematic treatment of the subject will be found in Spinoza’s most important work, the Ethics.  He approaches the problem of humility by way of the emotions, specifically, the emotion of “dejection.”  For Spinoza, “Humility is not a virtue, or does not arise from reason” (Prop. LIII). Humility is pain accompanied by the idea of one’s weakness or one’s power of activity being checked. Inasmuch as “pain,” according to Spinoza, “is a transition of a man from a greater to a lesser perfection” (Prop. LIX, Def. III), humility, far from being a virtue, is an emotional barrier to human perfection.
This perhaps startling but logically unavoidable conclusion may also be deduced from Spinoza’s conception of what he calls “self-approval.” “Self-approval may also arise from reason …” (Prop. LII). It is “pleasure arising from a man’s contemplation of himself and his power of action” (ibid., Proof).  This may be called “non-rational” pride because Spinoza defines pride as “pleasure arising from man’s overestimation of himself” (Prop. LVII, Proof).  But given his definition of pleasure as “the transition of a man from a lesser to a greater perfection,” it follows that non-rational pride or arrogance is conducive to human perfection!
In fact, Spinoza goes so far as to say, “Self-approval is in reality the highest object for which one can hope. For … no one endeavors to preserve his being for the sake of any ulterior object, and as self-approval is more and more fostered and strengthened by praise … fame becomes the most powerful incitement to action …” (Prop. LII, Note). Viewed in this light, humility is contrary to human nature, that is, to what is truly human. Conversely, Muslim arrogance, hence non-rational pride or self-glorification is the highest virtue!
These paradoxical conclusions require for their clarification some understanding of Spinoza’s conception of virtue and of human nature. Like Machiavelli, whom he admired, Spinoza identifies virtue with power. “By virtue (virtus) and power I mean the same thing; that is … virtue, in so far as it is referred to man, is a man’s nature or essence, in so far as it has the power of effecting what can be understood by the laws of that nature” (Def. VIII). For Spinoza the most fundamental law of nature is self-preservation.
“The effort for self-preservation is the first and only foundation of virtue” (Prop. XXII, cor.).  Accordingly, “the more a man endeavors, and is able to preserve his own being, the more endowed with virtue, and, consequently in so far as he neglects his own being, he is wanting in power” (Prop. XX). For Spinoza, preserving one’s own being means more than physical self-preservation. He has in view nothing less than the contemporary notion of self-actualization. Thus was developed the philosophic doctrine of egoism, which accords with Islamic arrogance, but which is utterly opposed to anava and to its superficial renderings such as humility or modesty.

It should now be clear why Spinoza regards the dejected man as very nearly akin to the proud man. “For inasmuch as his pain arises from a comparison between his own infirmity and other men’s power or virtue, it will be removed, or, in other words, he will feel pleasure, if his imagination be occupied in contemplating other men’s faults …” (Prop. XVII, Note) —precisely the self-inflating attitude of Muslims toward “infidels” in general and Jews in particular. Humility and “victimhood” may therefore be understood as pained or aggravated pride, which means there is no such thing as genuine humility, and that the “victimhood” associated with Islam’s animus against the West is nothing more than dejection resulting from frustrated pride or arrogance.
From the preceding, one may conclude that the mere existence of Israel is the ultimate cause of Islamic dejection. But this suggests that Muslims nurture an inferiority complex vis-à-vis the Jews, and it is this feeling of inferiority that is the root cause of Islam’s vow to wipe Israel off the map.

May 25, 2012

Rally Against Illegal Arab Construction in Hebron Points Finger at Civil Administration

Noam Arnon, center, Spokesman for the Hebron Jewish residents, decried the blatant discrimination against Jewish construction in the city.
Noam Arnon, center, Spokesman for the Hebron Jewish residents, decried the blatant discrimination against Jewish construction in the city.
Photo Credit: Eliyahu Afarsemon / Tazpit
The Tazpit news agency reported on a rally in Hebron Thursday night which protested the lack of enforcement on illegal Arab construction currently taking place along Zion Road, the 700 meter route connecting the Jewish neighborhood of Kiryat Arba and the Cave of the Patriarchs.
The rally was in response to the massive Arab construction in the area, which the Civil Administration has been ignoring, while meticulously enforcing a ban on all new Jewish construction.
Some 50 people marched from Kiryat Arba to Cedar Lane, along Zion Road.
Action Committee member Blicher life noted that “it is forbidden according to the Hebron Agreement for the Arabs to build higher than three stories around the Jewish settlement.”
The 1997 Hebron Agreement divides the city into H1, a Palestinian run section, and H2, a Jewish section which also includes some 40 thousand Arabs, and is run by the Civil Administration of the Ministry of Defense.
Blicher explained that “today we can see Arab construction that goes above three stories, ignoring the agreement without any response from the Civil Administration. There is a blatantly unequal enforcement of the law here, where on the one hand any Jewish construction or house is demolished and cleared, while Arab construction continues freely.”
Spokesman for the Jewish residents of Hebron Noam Arnon spoke at the Peace House, near the Tomb of the Patriarchs, saying, “The Jews are discriminated against, and nowadays a Jew can’t build an inch, while the Arabs are free to build.”
Elijah Persimmon / Tatzpit
Demonstrators hung a photograph of an eviction order from the Cave of the Patriarchs, which states that Jewish entry into the cave constitutes a violation of the delicate status quo in Hebron.
The demonstrators hung an altered version of the order on the doors of Arab homes, calling Arab construction a violation of the delicate balance in the city.

Netanyahu: Israel Will Resolve African Illegal Aliens Situation

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday decried violence against African migrants following a night of violent protest and promised the problem of African infiltrators would be solved.
“There is no place for either the expressions or the actions that we witnessed last night,” said Netanyahu one day after a demonstration in south Tel Aviv against illegal African migrants turned violent. “I say this to the public at large as well as to the residents of south Tel Aviv, whose pain I understand.”
“We will complete construction of the fence within a few months and we will soon begin repatriating infiltrators back to their countries of origin,” he said, referring to the fence which is two-thirds complete, along the border between Israel and Egypt.
Wednesday night’s violent rally in south Tel Aviv’s Hatikvah neighborhood, involving about 1,000 protesters, ended with 17 arrests.
Protesters attacked African migrants who happened in their path, and smashed the windshield of a car carrying three migrants as well as other car windows. They also set trash bins on fire and threw firecrackers at police. The rioters also broke into and looted shops purported to be owned by Africans.
Yediot Achronot reported Thursday that the Public Security Ministry is considering deploying Border Guard troops in south Tel Aviv to prevent problems between residents and African migrants, and to fight crime associated with the migrants.
Israel’s Justice Ministry announced Wednesday that migrant workers from South Sudan will be returned to their country after it is established that they are not eligible for political asylum.
More than 50,000 African migrants and asylum seekers are living in Tel Aviv alone, according to government reports. Most entered through the border with Egypt.
On Sunday, Netanyahu said that the surge of illegal African migrants into Israel “threatens national security and identity.” Last week, Interior Minister Eli Yishai told Army Radio that most African migrants in Israel are involved in criminal activity and should be imprisoned and deported to their countries of origin.

From Yad Vashem Zionism to Temple Zionism

Some people still think that the reason that our national train continues to speed down the Oslo track is because of the people at the helm. Begin surrendered the Sinai Peninsula because he was tricked. Netanyahu hugged Arafat because he is pliable. Sharon destroyed Gush Katif because he is corrupt. And the list goes on. But the truth is just the opposite. The Right continues to slide down the slippery slope of the "peace process" not because of the weakness of its leaders but despite the fact that its leaders are eminently capable. Who can compare to Menachem Begin's dedication to the Nation of Israel? Who is a greater war hero and builder of the Land than Sharon? And can we really compare the human gallery that the other parties have to offer to the talent of Binyamin Netanyahu? Netanyahu likes to boast of the achievements of his ministers, and he is right. The executive arm of this government is functioning well and Israel enjoys one of the most professional and effective governments that it has ever known.

We should not be searching for the failure of the Right in its chosen leaders, but rather in its ideology. The ideology of the classic Right must ultimately drag it to destruction. For the political Right is the right hand of Zionism. And Zionism's current creed, that it "has no connection to religion" is really much more appropriate to the Left than to the Right. That is the root of the reason why Zionist legitimacy remains with the Left despite the fact that the majority of Israelis are rightist and traditional.

What was the idea, the tremendous force that established the State of Israel against all odds? What was the spirit that restored the Nation of Israel to history? It was the shaking off of religion that was considered – justifiably – to be the noose hanging the Jew above reality, never allowing the Jewish Nation to connect with the ground under its feet.

And here I must provide a short explanation for those readers who have raised an eyebrow: When the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, the national Jewish connection to reality was sundered. The Temple, the perfection of the world in the Kingdom of the Almighty, is the ultimate purpose of our national existence; it is also the axis around which the daily lives of the individual and the collective revolved. The Temple provided a timeline, the thrice yearly ascent to Jerusalem, an entire annual cycle of life.

Jewish sovereignty without the Temple is like a state without a capital, a parliament, national holidays – without anything. Religion in its present configuration was the most successful start-up in history; the virtualization of the Nation of Israel; it was the preservation of its national existence outside reality until its return to Zion and the building of the Temple.

But in the course of 2,000 years the virtualization became an existential consciousness. The Lamentations that we recite on the 9th of Av have their set place on our bookshelves, ready and waiting for the next year. The Mashiach has been transformed from the symbol of vibrant Judaism interacting with every level of reality into a non-intrusive Santa Clause who makes no demands. And who is also the greatest delayer of the coming of the Mashiach.

The Zionists who cut the religion umbilical cord suddenly felt the earth under their feet; they sensed it responding to the national flexing of muscles. Suddenly, we were a normal nation. A monumental redemptive energy that was suppressed for 2,000 years burst forth after the disconnection from religion. That energy carried the Zionist revolution on its back. It inflated the sails of the ship until after the Yom Kippur War, Entebbe and the Right's victory in the 1977 elections - and that was the end.

It was only logical that when the Zionist spirit dissipated, it was specifically the Right that led the great retreats. For while Begin did retain the strong nationalism of Jabotinsky, what connection did he have to the Sinai? Not the Left's plow and not the Bible. He hurriedly called upon Laborites Moshe Dayan and Ezer Weitzman to join him so that he would enjoy legitimacy for the move that looked like the end of Zionism, but was really its natural outcome; the actualization of the dream of normalcy. The self-destruction mechanism built in to Zionism was triggered. IDF bulldozers destroyed an entire chain of settlements in the Sinai. Now they are on their way to Ulpana Hill. Moshe Dayan was replaced by Ehud Barak, Weitzman by Shaul Mofaz – the principle was determined then.

When the floodgates were opened by Begin, the Left had nothing to do but to become more and more radical. So in a right-left-right-left movement – the right hand dismantling and the left hand pushing and pulling - Zionism was pushed closer and closer to the edge of the abyss.

In truth, when G-d is outside the game, this is the only possible outcome. We can consider ourselves great heroes, real "killers" who will always defeat the entire world. But there is a limit to how much the lone sheep can continue to live surrounded by all the wolves.

Much more important: When there was (Zionist) spirit, the pre-State Palmach fighter thought that he would always prevail – and he was right. But when Zionism melted and G-d remained outside, the only thing that brings the people out into the streets is the lower price of Israeli chocolate in London, normal and comfortable existence and nothing beyond that. When no alternative leadership holds up a vision of destiny, the only thing the public can expect from the leadership is to calm the situation at any price; to sustain its connection to the world; to preserve normalcy; to neutralize any landmines that may smear our uniqueness right back into our faces. Simply put, the public expects its leaders to retreat, retreat and retreat from any possible battlefront. Ulpana Hill, security prisoners, Ahmadinijad, the Shalit deal: Without destiny, all that is left is to retreat to the constantly shrinking remnants of existence.

Now we have the broadest coalition ever in Israel searching for meaning. It wants maximum governability and minimum destiny; maximum economy and security and minimum international legitimacy.

It is not the leaders of the Right. It is much bigger than them. It is the spirit that is missing. We must progress from the Zionism of existence to the Zionism of destiny; from Zionism of Holocaust memorial Yad-Vashem to Zionism of the Temple.

Ominous Deja Vu: By Moshe Feiglin

Unease. Déjà vu from Sharon's great Expulsion. It began with an article by Hagai Segal, who depicted the insistence of the residents of Migron not to move from their current location as a sort of childish stubbornness; as if they were picking a fight instead of accepting a solution. After all, Kedumim was founded after it was moved from its original location and ultimately it grew into an anchor settlement with satellite settlements around it. So how dare those 'children' of Migron, who never heard of settler leader Zambish, think otherwise?

After reading that article, I already began to feel that we lost: Migron, Ulpana Hill, it doesn't really matter what exactly will happen on the ground. Just like in Gush Katif, the on the ground struggle is really just make-believe. The real decisions on the fate of the settlements are being made in an entirely different place where the principle has already been determined – or to be more specific – preserved. Now it is just a question of price. The deal is really being closed between the settler leaders with the same old Sebastia/Kfar Maimon mentality and the Prime Minister's advisors.

I spent this week running to meetings with the Likud ministers, trying to convince them to vote in favor of the "Ulpana Law". They are all truly in favor of settlement. They genuinely do not want to see it destroyed. They want to help any way they can. But somehow, I left each meeting with a sinking feeling. Now as then, the real battlefield is above our heads, in a completely different place.

In a lively two-hour conversation, one of the ministers analyzed the entire scheme of considerations and pressures with which the government is dealing. He left no stone unturned as he explained the facts in detail and analyzed them once again. But he gave me no answer.

When we got up to leave, I said to him, "You know, there is a certain moment in which all the right answers are no longer relevant. The political outcome is really not important. The interests of A and the apprehensions of B make no difference; how C will react and what will transpire this way or that are irrelevant. There is a certain space that you enter, without even realizing that you are there. But if you continue from that space to make all of these logical calculations, you lose everything."

"That is true," said the minister (a truly brilliant man) "but we are not in that space."

And then I understood the problem. The problem is that "we are not in that space." And we are not there because of the same mentality that plagued us in Gush Katif. The destruction of Migron and the Ulpana Hill don't move us into that space: They are still being represented by the same Yesha Council, whose very existence will always ensure that we do not reach the space in which the settlers and their tens of thousands of supporters will embark on a genuine struggle to save their Land.

We all had a role to play in Gush Katif. We thought that we were going to Kfar Maimon to battle the Expulsion. But in truth, we were all actors in a make-believe struggle. Everything was already decided before we started out. Our role was to play a bit with the army. The army's role was to be sensitive and determined. Afterwards, we cried. It was everything but a struggle. The role of the Yesha Council was to ensure that we would never get to that space – to the genuine struggle.

The entire settler establishment is dependent on government funding. Even more, it is mentally dependent on the government. It is dependent on its ability to provide the goods; to ensure that the minister will always answer, "We are not there yet."

They refuse to understand that Judea and Samaria are "out;" that the reality has changed since the good old days of Sebastia and Menachem Begin. Today, an underground tunnel is being dug for a train between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The most logical and direct route for the tunnel is along highway 443. But that highway is in "Palestinian" territory and thus the tunnel will tortuously wind through the hills ascending to Jerusalem.

Judea and Samaria no longer exist in Israel's long-term plans. All they are is a huge white blotch in the middle of the map of Israel. This is the reality in which we have allowed the Left to corner us. They built a political border fence in the name of security; they created a new reality on the ground without asking anybody. All that is left now is to slowly gnaw away at the settlements until the opportunity for the final blow presents itself. The only new settlement currently being built by Israel is Ruabi – for the Arabs.

True, in the midst of this strategic process, Zambish can still get authorization for a public building here and to finish construction that had already been approved there. But the strategic picture is the negative of the gleeful days of Sebastia. The enticement to remain on good terms with the establishment, the source of the Yesha Council's power, blinds them to the necessity to fight it.

Currently, the settlement leadership is legitimizing the establishment that strives to destroy it. This situation requires us to fight against even the smallest blow to the settlements; to relate to the demand to move one caravan one centimeter as if it was the destruction of Ma'aleh Adumim. The settlers are being led to their destruction by leadership that is incapable of understanding reality. They will always agree to all types of arrangements; they will always buy short term relief in exchange for long term existence; they will always hasten the end instead of distancing it; they will twist and turn with Begin in Migron and will bring the bulldozers closer to the Ulpana Hill.

When Migron will G-d forbid be destroyed, or when the homes on Ulpana Hill will be sealed or even worse (or whatever "creative solution" they will reach there) the Yesha Council will decry the destruction. Nobody expects otherwise. Their role is to ensure that there will be no genuine struggle; that there will be no public atmosphere of doing everything possible for the cause. They will ensure that we will once again be dragged from our homes like harmless sacks of potatoes, while the country will continue with business as usual. Our rightist journalists will write terrible things about Netanyahu. Our Likud members will run from one minister to the next. The hilltop youth will continue to hate the state; our wonderful children will sneak into Migron in the middle of the night and wage a heroic and boring battle: Everyone will play his role in the grand drama whose finale has already been written.

What can you do? Circumvent Zambish. If you need funding for your settlement, turn directly to the relevant minister. Stop paying taxes to Amanah (the settlement organization). Do not vote for a local candidate who does not commit himself to stop funding Amanah. Understand that what made the Expulsion possible then, is making it possible today.

Waiting to Receive the Torah

By Rabbi Ami Neuman

וידבר ה’ אל משה במדבר סיני…

“And G-d spoke to Moses in the Sinai Desert…” (Deuteronomy 1:1)

There is an argument among the sages in the Talmud (Shabbos 86b) regarding the exact date of the giving of the Torah at Sinai. One opinion claims that it was given on the sixth day of Sivan, while another, Rabbi Yosi, asserts that it was on the seventh. This argument is based on conflicting views of the day that the month of Sivan was declared that year by the Jewish High Court (who determined the new month based on the new moon). According to Rabbi Yosi, the month was declared on Sunday, but nothing was taught to the Jewish people until the following day as they were “too weary from the journey.”
This explanation is puzzling. Why were the Jewish people so tired? They were surrounded on all sides by the Clouds of Glory; these clouds supported them, like “kings being carried upon their beds” (Medrash, Parshat Beshalach). Thus, the Jews expended no effort in their travels. Their weariness, therefore, is quite perplexing.
The Shem Mishmuel commentary explains that there were a number of people who did not merit staying within the Clouds of Glory. Due to their sins, these people were expelled, forced to travel outside of the clouds’ protection. It was these outcasts that were weary from their journey, and it was for them that the Jewish people waited an entire day to receive the Torah.
An obvious question arises. Now, after all those years, through the struggles and the drama, from our descent into Egypt and our miraculous exodus, we finally made it, ready, as one people, to accept and forever affirm our commitment to G-d by receiving the Torah… and everything just stops? All for the sake of a relatively small number of people, sinners no less, to lie down and get some rest!
Rabbi Avrohom Schorr explains that the Torah is not meant only for the sages. It is not held captive atop some ivory tower waiting to be rescued by those who have spent their entire lives pure from all sin, delving deeply into its teachings. Rather, the Torah is meant for everyone! Every single Jew can access Torah, can learn it and live by its words, and no Jew should be denied that opportunity.
This episode is a valuable source of encouragement to anyone who believes he or she may have strayed too far from G-d to ever reconnect with Him. There is no such thing as a Jew who does not belong. While the person who has strayed may have some repairs to make in his relationship with G-d, he remains an important component of the Jewish people — so vital that the revelation at Sinai was delayed for others in the same boat.
As we prepare for the upcoming Shavuot holiday, the sacred time when all Jewish people received the Torah, we would do well to pause for a moment and reflect on the important role we all play in the chain of Jewish tradition.

What exactly is tzitzit?

By Obadiah Shoher     

 Wearing tzitzit is a major commandment, repeated three times in the Torah.
Tzitzit is a sign of Jewish royalty, and touching it reminds the Jew of every
single commandment. The critical part of tzitzit is a blue thread. Rabbis
abrogated this commandment because Jews forgot the secret of blue dye—which
was never secret or fixed in the first place. Rabbis replaced tzitzit with
absurd-looking long tassels. The tassels were all white, and thus bereft of the
biblical meaning associated with blue.

       Attaching tassels to the hems of clothes was impractical, as ancient clothes
commonly stretched to the ground. Numbers 15:39 enjoins us to look at tzitzit
rather than touching them; they were placed too low to touch or pull, as modern
tassels can be pulled. Tzitzit should be attached to all clothes, even at night.
The rabbinical interpretation that looking is only possible during the daytime
is implausible. Tassels are inconvenient to walk with, and even more so to sleep

       Jesus accused the Pharisees of making their tassels long; the customary length
of tzitzit appears to be short.

       Deuteronomy 22:12 introduces a synonym for tzitzit: “Make yourself gdilim.”
This rare word has to do with majesty, thus in 1Kings 7:17 it means wreaths. The
common meaning of tzitzit and gdilim seems to be fringes; long tassels surely
have nothing in common with wreaths. Num 15:38 speaks of tzitzit (singular) on
canfei (plural), suggesting a single piece of tzitzit rather than four tassels.
The Karaite reading of gdilim as “chains” (thus having tzitzit as plaids) is
also possible.

       Another hint comes from Exodus 28:33: the high priest’s clothes were hemmed
with “pomegranates of blue, and purple, and red” threads. Though it is
possible that high priests wore pomegranates while laymen satisfied themselves
with tassels, no less likely is that common Israelites also wore
pomegranate-like skeins, but only of blue threads. The skeins would be
small—essentially knots—but many rather than four.

       The same verse speaks of tzitzit of each edge (canaf). That is, if the garment
has two bottom edges like a tunic, then tzitzit must be attached to each edge,
namely two of them. Deut 22:12 changed that to a tzitzit on (presumably each of)
the four edges.

       Deuteronomy 22:12 mandates attaching tzitzit to four canfot of one's clothes.
That is traditionally interpreted as "four corners," and clothes which lack four
corners are exempted. In Isaiah 11:12, however, the same phrase refers to four
ends of the earth. Isaiah didn't imagine the earth to be cross-shaped or
rectangular, but used the term "four corners" figuratively to denote directions.
In 1Samuel 24:4, David cuts the canaf off of Saul's robe—clearly a
considerable piece that David later waved to Saul. In line with its main meaning
of “wing,” canaf is a skirt of clothing, loosely its end.

       In Samuel 24:4, the robe (meil) has canaf. A similar robe (meil) is described
in Exodus 28:31-34, where its bottom is called shulim. The word shulim only
comes in plural and seems to mean “folds.” The folds are many, not four:
Exodus 28:34 describes their decoration as “round about.” The most expensive
robe (meil) worn by high priests (Ex28:34) and kings (1Sam24:4) was likely a
single-piece cloth. The meil robe lacked corners but possessed canfot, which
therefore must denote bottom edges rather than corners.

       At the same time, Deut22:12 attributes four canfot to csut (cf csui), which
means any covering, from the covering of the Ark to a poor man's sackcloth. In
connection with csut, canaf can mean “corner,” but for the sake of
consistency with other uses of canaf this word should be assumed to mean

       Num15:38 relates the commandment of tzitzit without mentioning the four canfot.
Every instance of the commandment is presumed to be intelligible on its own. It
is unlikely that the lawgiver omitted an important detail. The mention of the
four canfot is merely a metaphor for "along the bottom edges."

If such diverse clothes as sackcloth and high priest's clothes possess canfot,
then modern clothes likely possess canfot, too. Deut 22:12 concurs, using csut
to relate the widest range of applicable clothing. The only restriction possibly
implied by Deut 22:12 is that canfot should be attached to covering rather than
just any clothes—that is, to the outermost piece of clothes. Num 15:38 speaks
of a still wider range of applicable clothes: bigdei, any clothes, though most
commonly outer clothes. By the time Deuteronomy was recorded, the inconvenience
of attaching fringes to all clothes had become apparent, and Deuteronomy
sensibly clarifies that the commandment is limited to outer clothes. It is wrong
to limit the tzitzit only to garments which have four corners.

       The rabbinical insistence on four corners created a need for tallit, a special
piece of clothes with the required number of corners. It also conflicted with
shaatnez commandment, a prohibition of wearing linen and wool simultaneously:
woolen tassels are commonly attached to linen tallit. Sages recognized the
problem, but instead of admitting that their tassels are incorrect, they lifted
the shaatnez ban in this particular instance.

       Mishna Kiddushin 1:7 exempts women from time-fixed commandments, including
wearing tzitzit. The rabbinical law is ostensibly meant to free women for
household work. That nonsensical approach flies in the face of the Torah, which
addresses the commandments to the entire congregation. It is because the Torah
speaks in masculine gender (a mixed gender in Hebrew) that we can be sure that
women are under the same yoke as men—and must wear tzitzit. Rashi accepted
women wearing tzitzit and ruled they must say blessing when donning it. It is
unlikely that ancient women wore tunics, since a tunic reveals one's legs.
Women's clothes lacked four corners, but likely included tzitzit.

       It seems superfluous to discuss the connotation of bah in Deut 22:12: cover
[yourself] in it. Though modern people don't usually cover themselves in clothes
(bathrobes and long coats are rare exceptions), the commandment clearly relates
to any suitable clothes.

       Tzitzit fringes are made with enigmatic ptil tekhelet.

       Ciseh—to cover (with a tzitzit garment)—is related to cisa, throne.
Tekhelet, blue sapphire, the ancient for lapis lazuli, the color of God’s
throne. That traditional reading is supported by the etymological meaning of
tekhelet, the color of dark-blue sunset sky.

       Exodus 28:28: patil tekhelet is sufficiently strong to wear as a breastplate.
Here patil is a noun. In Genesis 38:25, patilim is a plural noun. Numbers 19:15:
tzamid patil alaiv—cover bound to it; here patil is used as an adjective.

       Patil is an object made by a specific method, seemingly by twisting. Patil
seems to be braid rather than thread. It should be put on the fringe (Num15:38)
which does not quite imply plait into (betoh), as the tradition has it.
Plausibly, the patil blue braid runs horizontally across the fringes which are
attached throughout the bottom edges of garments. A horizontal blue line is
consistent with the tradition of tallit: it has specifically horizontal lines
which, according to some commentators, are reminiscent of the patil.

       Fringes are not necessarily white, but can be of any color. They are not
necessarily woolen, but being an extension of the garment, the fringes are of
the same textile as the garment.

       Tekhelet was available in quantities large enough that a high priest's meil
robe and various ritual clothes were fully dyed with that color. In Exodus 35:6,
tekhelet is implied to be widespread among Hebrews, who are enjoined to bring it
as an offering. The commandment to attach tekhelet fringes to each cloak would
impose hardship on Hebrews if the dye had been produced in minuscule quantities
from shellfish, as rabbis assert. The production of dye from shellfish presented
a problem of kashrut, because shellfish is non-kosher, and extracting
considerable amounts of shellfish meat could tempt the workers to eat it.
Hebrews in the Sinai would have found it problematic to procure a sufficient
quantity of shellfish dye. The dye is not particularly strong, and fades away
with wear and washing, necessitating occasional replacement.

       A possible source of deep sky-blue dye is woad, known as Asp of Jerusalem. Woad
is produced from a plant common to steppe and desert zones, and thus common both
to second-millennium B.C.E. Sinai and later to Judea. A chemically identical
indigo dye is another possible source: expensive but sufficiently widespread in
the Middle East and Africa that Hebrews could afford it.

       The commandment to wear fringes with blue braid—the two signs of royalty or
affluence—dispels the myth of mandatory Jewish humility.