August 30, 2012

A Letter to the World from Jerusalem

A Letter to the World from Jerusalem
by Eliezer ben Yisrael (Stanley Goldfoot)
I am not a creature from another planet, as you seem to believe. I am a Jerusalemite, like
yourselves, a man of flesh and blood. I am a citizen of my city, an integral part of my people.
I have a few things to get off my chest. Because I am not a diplomat, I do not have to mince
words. I do not have to please you or even persuade you. I owe you nothing. You did not build
this city, you did not live in it, you did not defend it when they came to destroy it. And we will
be damned if we will let you take it away.
There was a Jerusalem before there was a New York. When Berlin, Moscow, London, and
Paris were miasmal forest and swamp, there was a thriving Jewish community here. It gave
something to  the world which you nations have rejected ever since you established yourselves
- a humane moral code.
Here the prophets walked, their words flashing like forked lightning. Here a people who
wanted nothing more than to be left alone, fought off waves of heathen would-be conquerors,
bled and died on the battlements, hurled themselves into the flames of their burning Temple
rather than surrender, and when finally overwhelmed by sheer numbers and led away into
captivity, swore that before they forgot Jerusalem, they would see their tongues cleave to their
palates, their right arms wither.
For two pain-filled millennia, while we were your unwelcome guests, we prayed daily to return
to this city.  Three times a day we petitioned the Almighty: "Gather us from the four corners
of the world,  bring us upright to our land, return in mercy to Jerusalem, Thy city, and swell
in it as Thou promised." On every Yom Kippur and Passover, we fervently voiced the hope
that next year would find us in Jerusalem.
Your inquisitions, pogroms, expulsions, the ghettos into which you jammed us, your forced
baptisms, your quota systems, your genteel anti-Semitism, and the final unspeakable horror,
the holocaust (and worse, your terrifying disinterest in it) - all these have not broken us.
They may have sapped what little moral strength you still possessed, but they forged us into steel.
Do you think that you can break us now after all we have been through? Do you really believe
that after Dachau and Auschwitz we are frightened by your threats of blockades and sanctions?
We have been to Hell and back- a Hell of your making. What more could you possibly have in your arsenal that could scare us?
I have watched this city bombarded twice by nations calling themselves civilized. In 1948, while
you looked on apathetically, I saw women and children blown to smithereens, after we agreed to
your request to internationalize the city. It was a deadly combination that did the job -
British officers, Arab gunners, and American-made cannon.
And then the savage sacking of the Old City - the wilful slaughter, the wanton destruction of every synagogue and religious school, the desecration of Jewish cemeteries, the sale by a ghoulish
government of tombstones for building materials, for poultry runs, army camps, even latrines.
And you never said a word.
You never breathed the slightest protest when the Jordanians shut off the holiest of our places, the Western Wall, in violation of the pledges they had made after the war - a war they waged,
incidentally, against the decision of the UN.
Not a murmur came from you whenever the legionnaires in their spiked helmets casually opened
fire upon our citizens from behind the walls. Your hearts bled when Berlin came under siege.
You rushed your airlift "to save the gallant Berliners". But you did not send one ounce of food
when Jews starved in besieged Jerusalem. You thundered against the wall which the East Germans
ran through the middle of the German capital - but not one peep out of you about that other wall,
the one that tore through the heart of Jerusalem.
And when that same thing happened 20 years later, and the Arabs unleashed a savage, unprovoked bombardment of the Holy City again, did any of you do anything?
The only time you came to life was when the city was at last reunited. Then you wrung your hands
and spoke loftily of "justice" and need for the "Christian" quality of turning the other cheek.
The truth - and you know it deep inside your gut - you would prefer the city to be destroyed rather
than have it governed by Jews. No matter how diplomatically you phrase it, the age old prejudices
seep out of every word.
If our return to the city has tied your theology in knots, perhaps you had better reexamine your catechisms. After what we have been through, we are not passively going to accommodate ourselves
to the twisted idea that we are to suffer eternal homelessness until we accept your savior.
For the first time since the year 70, there is now complete religious freedom for all in Jerusalem.
For the first time since the Romans put a torch to the Temple, everyone has equal rights (You prefer
to have some more equal than others.) We loathe the sword - but it was you who forced us to take it up.
We crave peace, but we are not going back to the peace of 1948 as you would like us to.
We are home. It has a lovely sound for a nation you have willed to wander over the face of the globe.
We are not leaving.
We are redeeming the pledge made by our forefathers: Jerusalem is being rebuilt. "Next year" and
the year after, and after, and after, until the end of time - "in Jerusalem"!
Stanley Goldfoot,
Founder Editor
The Times of Israel

August 29, 2012

Iraq is hiding 365 Torah scrolls. Can they be rescued from further damage before it’s too late?

Where can you find the largest collection of Torah scrolls? At the Western Wall in Jerusalem? No. At the Center for Jewish History in New York? Not there. The answer is the Iraq Museum in Baghdad. But don’t look for the exhibit. An exclusive investigation reveals 365 scrolls are deteriorating in a secret sub-terrain location.
After several years of silence, an unlikely hero is going public with his first-hand knowledge about the hidden scrolls. It may be the last chance to save them.
He’s called the Vicar of Baghdad.
Andrew White is an Anglican priest risking his life helping Christians in Iraq. Even more dangerous, however, is what he volunteers to do – protecting the last few Iraqi Jews.
“I help Jews because the very heart of my own education, of my faith, is a love for Judaism,” says Canon White. “I don’t see how I can be a Christian without knowing my Jewish roots, and without loving them.”

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August 28, 2012

Rabbi Meir Kahane z'l by Paul Eidelberg

He told the truth, and he died for the truth.  He told the truth about the implacable Arab-Islamic hatred of the Jews and of Israel.  He told the truth about Israel’s government, that this government is the greatest enemy of the Jewish people.  He told the truth about the many Reform and Conservative and Moderdox rabbis who feared the truth and prevented him from appearing and speaking the truth at their temples and synagogues.
It was because he told the truth about the Arabs, who now applaud Saddam Hussein and scream “Itbach al-Yahud” – “Slaughter the Jews” – that he was called a “facist.”  It was because he told the truth about the many rabbis who betrayed Torah Judaism for the baubles of popularity that he was called a “Khomeini.”

He told the truth, and he died for the truth.  He told the truth about the countless Arabs, including Arab citizens of Israel, who keep not one of the Seven Noahide Laws of Universal Morality.  He told the truth about Moslems who blaspheme against the G-d of Israel, who worship blood and glory in bloodshed, who murder and rape and mutilate each other, as well as Jews.

He told the truth about a government that lacks the courage to protect its own people from the stones and firebombs and knives of Arabs.  He told the truth about a government steeped in falsehood, a government that speaks peace, peace with a people that knows only war.  He told the truth about a government that enacted a law making it illegal to tell the truth about that people.  For this reason only was he barred from the Knesset – yea, with the help of a High Court of Injustice that allowed PLO spokesmen to remain in that miscreant assembly.

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(Obama) 2016: Effective, Well Done, a Caveat or Two

Photo Credit: Movie poster
I was surprised to discover that Dinesh D’Souza’s 2016: Obama’s America opened in my little town on Friday. I wasn’t expecting that, given the limited release and our off-the-beaten-track charm. But there it was, so I went to the very first showing at 12:30 PM.

The effectiveness of 2016 comes from its use of imagery to overlay the narrative. It’s one thing to read D’Souza’s thesis on Barack Obama (Jr. and Sr.). It’s another thing to see images conveying its elements.
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Estonian gas company apologizes for using Auschwitz in ad

What did they apologize for? Being Nazi's?

Estonian gas company apologizes for using Auschwitz in ad

(JTA) -- An Estonian gas company apologized for using a photo of Auschwitz in its advertising.

The website of GasTerm Eesti on Aug. 23 published a photograph of the front gate of the Nazi death camp with the famous inscription "Arbeit macht frei," or "work makes you free." The caption read "Gas heating -- flexible, convenient, and effective."

The next day the photo was removed from the site and an apology was posted.

Company director Sven Linros said, according to portal, "Hitler killed himself because he got a gas bill ... a lot of people laugh at this, but I do not. I visited Auschwitz with dread. I feel sorry for the victims and their families. The picture was intended for a narrow group of people. We wanted to clarify that the CH4 gas is not toxic and can be used to heat buildings even those with such a sad history."

Auschwitz photos have been used before in ads. In January, a gym in Dubai used an image from the camp with the tag line "Kiss your calories goodbye."

Israel’s New Reality: 52% of All Preschoolers Are Religious

Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel / Flash 90
On Monday morning, approximately two million children started the new school year 5773 in preschools and schools across the country.

This year 270,000 children 3 and 4 years old are taking advantage of the implementation of the Trachtenberg Committee recommendations, and enjoy tuition-free kindergarten. The rest of children will have to wait longer until the rest of the reforms in education are employed.
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My Big Fat Jewish Wedding

Photo: Orthodox Jewish wedding with chupah in Vienna.
Orthodox Jewish wedding with chupah in Vienna.
Photo Credit: Gryffindor / Wiki Commons

צאנז 111 from bhol on Vimeo.

Not being a Chasid of his (or Chasid of any kind) I don’t really know much about the Munkatcher Rebbe. But if he is like most other Chasidic Rebbes, he will have a huge blowout of a wedding next Monday for his grandson - similar to the one in the above video for the Sanzer Rebbe. The size of those crowds are comparable to those of Presidential inaugurations.  Crowds numbering 10,000 people are not uncommon. An article in adds:
The chuppah will take place on the promenade in front of the shul on an especially erected elevated chuppah to ensure that all participants can see and hear all that transpires.

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Judge Rules Rachel Corrie’s Death an Accident

Judge Oded Gershon of Haifa District Court ruled today that the death of Rachel Corrie in 2003 was an accident.  In a 62 page verdict, the judge stated there was no liability on the part of the Israel Defense Force.  He also found there was no fault in the month-long military investigation which the Israeli military undertook immediately following Corrie's death.  The Israel Defense Force has been cleared of responsibility.

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August 27, 2012

Everyone Eats: Why Are Jews Different?

Everyone eats.  Every man, woman, child.  Thief, sinner, or saint.
Everything eats.  Every beast of the field.  Every insect.  Every fish swarming the seas and oceans, lakes and rivers.
To eat is to live, to maintain contact with corporeal existence.  To keep the body alive.  For without the body, there is nothing.  No experience.  No memory.  No joy, no hardship.  No soul.
Unlike animals and insects, people eat to live and for enjoyment.  Once beyond the barest of caloric needs, everyone develops personal routines surrounding eating to make the act more enjoyable.  We honor world-renown chefs.  Cookbooks proliferate.  Glossy magazines are dedicated to the joy of eating.  We love food.
So how is a Jew to respond when challenged as to why he imposes upon himself not ceremonies dedicated solely to the enjoyment of eating, but rather strict limitations on what he can eat?
Of course, this is a false question.  Understanding the rules of kashrut (kosher) as a restriction is to miss the essential nature of creation and of our relationships with G-d and what it means to truly enjoy partaking of creation.

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Rav Ovadia Yosef: We Must Pray for the Destruction of Iran

Spiritual leader of the Shas party, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef during evening prayer in his synagogue in Yefe Noff, Jerusalem.
Spiritual leader of the Shas party, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef during evening prayer in his synagogue in Yefe Noff, Jerusalem.
Photo Credit: Omer Miron/Flash90
With the approach of Rosh Hashana, Rav Ovadia Yosef said on Saturday night that when we eat the traditional holiday symbolic foods, whose names or shapes have a symbolic connection to our supplications to Hashem, especially when we make the blessing over the dates, t'marim, and pray that our enemies be obliterated, we should focus specifically on Iran, the wicked nation which is threatening the State of Israel. "May the good Lord obliterate them, destroy them…"

Tractate Kritut in the Babylonian Talmud teaches that we should eat on Rosh Hashanah, among other fruits, a date – "tamar" – which contains the syllable "tam" or ended, and after eating a portion of it we should say, "May it be Your will, our God and the God of our fathers, that all our enemies and haters and all who plots against us be terminated."

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Israel, US and the Stinking Fish

Rabbi Meir Kahane
Many times I have spoken of the Talmudic parable of the king, his servant, and the fish. Never was it more apt.
Once there was a king who sent his servant to buy a fish.  The servant returned with a fish that stank.  In fury the king gave the servant a choice of three punishments: “Eat the fish, get whipped for the fish, or pay for the fish.”  In common with most people, the servant chose not to reach into his pocket and he decided to eat the stinking fish but after two bites the stench made him give up and he decided to get whipped for it.  The pain of the lashes, however, made him stop that, too, and he cried out, “I will pay for the fish!”
And so the fool ate the fish, got whipped for the fish and, in the end, had to pay for it, anyhow.  Those in Israel and without, who refuse to understand that nothing will deter America from demanding that Israel make the maximum concessions, play the same fool.  Those who do not understand that there is nothing that Israel can possible do, that there are no compromises it can make, that there is nothing short of full retreat to the 1967 borders that will satisfy the United States-are the same fools as the servant who ate, got whipped and in the end had to pay anyhow,
Their refusal to make the difficult choice of telling the Americans “no”, now, at this moment, will see them making the retreats they hope will avert American anger; it will see this effort fail even as the frontier moves from its present lines within the Arab heartland to new ones close to the Jewish cities; and most important, the Americans will make the same demands they always have envisioned since the days of the Roger Plan-total Israeli withdrawal.  And since this is a thing that not even the most dovish of Israelis will agree to, the result will be an ultimate Israeli firm “no”, an ultimate American anger of the kind all men of “new initiative” propose to avert today by compromise, and exactly the same conditions of confrontation that would come anyhow if the Israelis said their “no” today. There would be one great difference, however, a “no” today will bring the crisis while Israel stands poised near the Arab capitols.  A “no” tomorrow, after all the hapless and confused compromises and “initiatives,” will bring the same crisis near Tel Aviv, Beersheva and Netanya.
This is what happens when foolish and confused Israelis, by refusing to pay the price of saying “no” to the stinking fish of pressure, attempt to eat it, submit to getting beaten over it and then learn to their dismay that there is no escape from the difficult decision that they should have made in the first place.   

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Moshe Feiglin Seeks To Keep Bibi Right

Little-Known Insider Keeps Likud From Moving to Center

Man Behind the Curtain: Moshe Feiglin is not well known. But he is sometimes lampooned as the man who makes decisions for Israel’s ruling Likud party.
getty images
Man Behind the Curtain: Moshe Feiglin is not well known. But he is sometimes lampooned as the man who makes decisions for Israel’s ruling Likud party.

By Nathan Jeffay

Published August 05, 2012, issue of August 10, 2012.
He’s the man who has brought God into Israel’s ruling Likud party and is perhaps the most important party insider you’ve never heard of.
A bearded, yarmulke-wearing settler, Moshe Feiglin sips coffee and says with conviction that he will lead Likud further right and will become prime minister. He doesn’t have a Knesset seat, and he talks like a dreamer, but analysts say he may control more than one-fifth of the votes on Likud party committees that select candidates for the Knesset.
“Feiglin and people associated with Feiglin have actually restricted Netanyahu’s orientation to the center,” said Abraham Diskin, a political scientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Feiglin, a resident of the West Bank settlement Karnei Shomron, joined Likud 12 years ago, after years of grassroots activism, with the explicit goal of radicalizing the party from the inside. And in February, after long years of building up support within the party’s central committee, he made his strongest bid so far to lead the party that governs Israel. His movement, Manhigut Yehudit, or Jewish Leadership, had recruited about one in 10 of the 100,000 Likud members eligible to vote in the party primary, but his popularity in that election went well beyond these loyalists. In the Likud primary contest that month, he received almost one in four votes.
While this left Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu firmly in the helm as party leader, his rivalry with Feiglin is far from over. In fact, it may be about to go into full swing.
The decision by the centrist Kadima party to walk out of the ruling coalition on July 17, just 70 days after agreeing to join, has fueled rumors that elections could be in the cards again. If so, this will necessitate a new party primary to select a list of Likud candidates for the next Knesset — a task over which analysts say Feiglin will have significant power.
“He can make a difference by pushing hawkish Likud members up the list, making the ability of Netanyahu to follow policies of the center more difficult,” Diskin said. If the Likud is returned to the Knesset with a strong Feiglin contingency, he said, Netanyahu could never repeat the 10-month freeze on the expansion of Jewish settlements on the occupied West Bank that he offered the United States in 2009–2010.
During a period in which all meaningful power politics is taking place within the right, Gidi Grinstein, founder and president of the Reut Institute think-tank, believes that Feiglin’s effort is currently “splitting Likud” between those willing to discuss territorial compromise and those seeking to drive a stake through any such impulse.
Currently, according to Knesset insiders, between five and 10 of Likud’s 27 lawmakers work or strategize with Feiglin. And his strength is thought to have influenced Netanyahu’s reluctance to give the green light to the evacuation of the illegal outposts Beit El and Migron, which he eventually ordered for this summer, but only under the pressure of a Supreme Court ruling. Feiglin’s influence was also seen in Netanyahu’s decision to approve large new building projects in the settlements.

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You Can Run But You Can't Hide

Living in Israel is about many things but my favorite is the fact that you are surrounded by Judaism, everywhere you go. The cabs all have "Tefillat Ha'Derech" signs and most cab drivers – regardless of how they look – will tell you a wonderful D'var Torah about the Parsha of the week. Every store has a Mezuza – even the ones without a Kashrut certificate, everybody says "Shabbat Shalom" on Shabbat – even the ones at a soccer game and at least once each month Israelis are attending either a Brit Milah, kosher wedding or paying a shiva call.

In Israel, Judaism – or Yiddishkeit as I prefer to call it – is all around you. Don't get me wrong. I am well aware of my Jewish brothers and sisters who would prefer that this not be the case but like it or not, that is simply the way it is. Remember the commercial for Trix cereal where the slogan was: "Silly Rabbit, Trix are for kids"?? Well, here in Israel, the expression is: "Silly Rabbit, Israel is for Jews"!!

A good friend of mine told me that recently he spent Shabbat in his father's hospital room in Shaarei Tzedek. The person next to his dad was listening to the radio when the top of the hour arrived for the news. The anchorman began his report by saying; "It is now 10:00 AM. Here is the news from Jerusalem. Shabbat Shalom." That started me thinking. Imagine a totally secular fellow from Ramat Aviv who plans on spending Shabbat wearing his new Speedo with his girlfriend on the beach in Herziliya (I will leave out what she will – or will not – be wearing). The last thing this guy wants is anything religious. He packs the car, picks up the girl and starts driving. A few minutes into the journey the news comes on his radio and the first thing he hears is: "Shabbat Shalom"

As the title of this article says: "You can run, but you can't hide". This poor guy who just wants some fun-in-the-sun is out of luck because Shabbat is coming with him. Allow me to shock you with some additional information. On Friday the beaches in Israel are packed. Most offices are closed on Friday so this has become almost like a "Sunday" to us and people use every second of that precious day. The problem is that the lifeguards go home at 5:00 PM and swimming is forbidden after that time. Why do they leave so early on Friday when the sun is still shining? Well, next time you are by the beach in Israel, hang around until 5:00 and listen to what the lifeguard announces: "Everyone out of the water. Swimming is now forbidden. All lifeguards are leaving. Shabbat shalom." Within minutes the beach clears out, people head for their cars and drive home. Trust me that I know what I am talking about. I live in Herziliya Pituach near the beach and see this with my own eyes each week. The parking lot empties and the streets are clear of traffic for the next 5 hours as people head home for Shabbat - even our buddy in his new Speedo. It is simply incredible.

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A Nation Searches for Significance

For some reason, Tisha B'Av has managed to break out of the walls of religion and knock on the door of Israeli culture. Something about this day 'clicks' with many Israelis.

What is that something?
A search for identity?
Sorely lacking unity?
Lost solidarity?
Fear of baseless hatred?
And perhaps – the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple)?

All of the above are correct and there are probably a few more correct answers, as well. But I would like to propose an answer that is out of the ordinary:

Tisha B'Av is more relevant to non-observant than to observant Jews. In truth, the religious Jews do not want the Beit Hamikdash, while the non-observant do. Or more precisely, there is something about the Beit Hamikdash that is more natural to the non-observant than to the observant.

Sounds preposterous? Here are some statistics:
Three years ago, just before Tisha B'Av, Israel's leading Ynet website, along with the Gesher NGO, publicized a poll of 516 Israelis taken by the Panels polling company. The headline on Ynet read: 64% of Israelis want the Beit Mikdash.

When the participants were asked if they would like the Beit Hamikdash to be rebuilt, 64% answered in the affirmative. Of them, 33% said they wanted the Beit Hamikdash very much and 31% fairly want the Beit Hamikdash. 36% of the participants answered in the negative. Of them, 31% do not want the Beit Hamikdash very much and 5% do not want it at all. Analysis of the religious orientation of the participants reveals that not only the ultra-orthodox and religious anticipate the Beit Hamikdash, 100% and 97% respectively. 91% of the traditional and 47% of those who define themselves as secular also answered that they want the Beit Mikdash.

Two years ago, the Knesset Channel asked the same question in a much less professional manner. 49% of those who responded to their internet poll said that they would be interested in the Beit Hamikdash.

Clearly, the answers to these polls are coming from a place detached from daily fears. If the participants had been asked if they would like the Beit Hamikdash to be built now, the answers would probably have been quite different.

Nevertheless, I am meeting more and more completely non-observant Israelis who simply say: "I want the Beit Hamikdash." Considering the fact that there is almost nothing that has been used to frighten the Israeli public and turned into an object of loathing more than the Beit Hamikdash, there is definitely something in these surprising figures that points to a very strong, essential connection between a broad spectrum of non-observant Israelis and the Temple Mount and Beit Hamikdash.

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August 24, 2012

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind. (OU)

The Practical, The Rational

Trusting in G-d is a quaint thing, to be jollied over at the Jewish Museum and in lecture series, but only an extremist would take it to the light of modern day.  This is a practical world, one in which tough and pragmatic men understand the real realities and make their plans accordingly.  Prayers are wonderful for the holidays and with which to open conventions but let them attempt to escape to the streets to demand equal time and to be taken seriously, and we shoot them down as dangerous fanaticism.

That is why the sophisticates from Peres to the AJC, from Moment to Olam HaZeh reject the past as key to the future and indeed, hallow only the moment, the “zeh”.  We believe only in the things we can see and touch and feel and understand.  Only the logical and rational play any part in our equations; guns, allies, realpolitik, those are the things and stuff of which the real is made of.

And that is why we dare not annex the “occupied territories” (Judea-Samaria-Gaza); and that is why we dare not even talk of removing the Arabs from the Temple Mount; and that is why only madmen should think of expelling or “transferring” the Arabs; and that is why we dare not ever anger the Americans without whom we would be in the sea.

Very well, I am convinced.  Secular logic is, after all, so compelling.  I have decided to convert.  I have decided to accept the religion of pragmatism.  You now behold, before you, a superb example of rationality and practicality.  But to the bitter end. And here, fellow pragmatists and healthy rationalists is the bitter end.

Of course this religious dependence on G-d is absurd.  Of course the reality is weapon and the United States and allies and good will.  Because it is only this that will stand us in good stead when the Arabs produce or receive their first nuclear weapon or decide to use the chemical-biological weapons that are today’s “poor man’s” nuclear arsenal.
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Israel Will Survive Without U.S. Aid - Meir Kahane

It is Israel alone that gives the United States a guaranteed and safe base whenever needed.  It is the Haifa naval harbor that is open to the U.S. Sixth Fleet regularly.  It is in the Negev that the U.S. stores tons of military equipment for use when needed.  It is Israel that provides the Voice of America an area in which to build new, powerful transmitters.  It is Israel that works hand in hand with the U.S. to, actively, crush terrorism.  It is Israel that flies U.S. F-16 planes, in real combat, to tell the Americans what defects exist.  It is Israel that puts Soviet missiles given to the Syrians out of commission and then explains to Washington how it was done.  It is Israel that captures a Soviet T-72 tank and shows it to the CIA for the first time.  It is Israel whose Jericho missiles makes Moscow nervous enough to protest a weapon that can reach its territory.  It is Israel that has the brains, the technology, the ability to create; things that no nation in the region has.  And it is Israel that has the innate common hostility to the Soviets and other anti-Western totalitarian states, shared by America.

 If all that is not worth the money - then by all means stop it.  Indeed, the Administration has an obligation to stop “wasting” American money.  But if all that adds up to a priceless asset, then let the weepers and wailers shut up and pay for what they are getting and count themselves fortunate.

And know that the State of Israel’s survival is in no way dependent on the United States or any other human agency.  The incredible saga of the Jewish return to the Holy Land is, of course, preceded by the miraculous survival of that Jewish people through 1,900 years of persecution, wanderings and Holocaust.  How?  Why, because they are, indeed, the Chosen People.  They are, indeed, capable of suffering terribly but never being destroyed.  They are, indeed, the people of G-d who, just as Divinely promised, have come home, never again to be exiled.  That is the immutable fact of history, whether one cares to believe or not.  Not by American bread does the Jewish state live but by the word of G-d.  Let that be clear. 
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Let those whose entire life is committed to Torah study be exempt...By Meir Kahane

In their obsessive attack on authentic Jewry, what have the haters not touched upon?  How the “ultra-Orthodox” dress; how they speak; how they cheat; how they are parasites; how they are aggressive; how they keep to themselves.  All the horrible charges dredged up by the Nazis against the Jewish people, per se. All the Jewish anti-Semitism that is as brutal and nauseating as the gentile kind.

But amidst all the lies and calumny and defamation and sheer hate, there is one point which the haters have seized upon which strikes a tragically responsive chord in many a Jew in Israel who is not anti-religious.  That is the question of army service for Yeshiva students.

Let it be clear.  There is nothing more important for the Jewish people than the study of Torah.  Upon Torah study does Israel – and the world – rest.  Torah scholars are infinitely more important to Israel than any category of professionals and it is not relevant that secular Jews do not grasp this.

“The study of Torah is greater than the building of the Holy Temple.”

“The study of Torah is greater than honoring parents.”

“The study of Torah is greater than the priesthood and the kingship”

That is clear, beyond debate.  The question that remains, however is:  what does a scholar do in the time of a  milchemet mitzvah, an obligatory war, one of the categories that Maimonides (Hilchot M’lachim 5:1) lists:  And what is an obligatory war?  The war against the seven (Canaanite) nations; the war against Amalek, and aiding Israel against an enemy that comes up against them.”

If ever there was such a war as mentioned in the third category it is surely this struggle against the Arabs who come up against us to destroy Israel.

Given that, it is surely a halachic question whether anyone is exempt from such a war.  Maimonides brings down the Braita (Tractate Sotah) and declares:  “In an obligatory war, all go out (to battle), even the bridegroom from his room and the bride from her canopy.” (Hilchot M’lachim 7:4)

Whether this includes those scholars who do nothing but learn is a question that many of the commentators deal with but it is certainly something to consider. What is clear is that the entire issue is one that has led to tremendous anger and bitter antagonisms on the part of many Jews who are not haters of Torah Judaism and let no one underestimate the damage and Hillul Hashem that this is causing.  The fact that sons of some Jews go into army and risk danger to life while others do not, is an explosive one that leads to intense bitterness especially when it is fanned by the professional inciters of Torah-hating Left.

If the halachic, nevertheless, says that scholars shall not go into the army – then that settles the issue, it does not matter how critical and bitter it will become.  But surely, the rabbis must deal decisively and courageously with the issue and not allow internal pressure from certain groups within the religious community to sway them or cause them to hesitate to rule forcefully if the halachic does call for army service for all scholars in the event of a milchemet mitzvah.

On the other hand, it is clear that a student who does not devote his entire time to Torah study; who does not “mediate therein day and night”; who studies only most or part of the day but also works or gives of his time to other things, is surely obligated to participate in a milchemet mitzvah. If one’s dedication to Torah is not total and one can find time to work, then he can certainly find time to participate in the obligatory war of defending his land and sanctifying the Name of the Almighty, which is the basis of a milchemet mitzvah.

The main argument against this, aside from that of “bitul Torah” taking time away from the learning of Torah, is the one that, a yeshiva scholar who is placed in the environment of the army can easily be led astray.  There is much, very much to this.  As one who has served for many years in the army, I can testify to the almost total lack of anything sacred in the army.  Not only is the atmosphere one that is totally secular but the immorality surrounding women soldiers is nothing short of scandalous. (And spare me the hypocritical pieties of: Do you not have enough faith in yeshiva students to trust them to overcome all this?  I will accept this argument from all the parents who will see nothing wrong in allowing their children to wander freely in any kind of atmosphere and accept their angry complaint:  Don’t you trust me?)

Nevertheless, there is a solution to this, also.  The army can be asked to set aside a large army base for the exclusive use of religious scholars.  There, they will undergo the same kind of training that other soldiers do and there they can have their rabbis visit each night and pass on Torah lessons to them.  It will be a base which will be totally religious, sacred and moral – but an army base in every sense of the word.

Is such a suggestion so extreme?  Hardly.  It will find favor in the eyes of G-d and Jews.  Consider how it would take from the Haters of Torah the most potent of weapons. Consider how it would sanctify the Name of G-d.  And above all, there is no doubt that it is an accord with halachic.  

Let those whose entire life is committed to Torah study be exempt, if the sages decide that even an obligatory war does not bind them.  But the others, the many others, who study only partially, cannot avoid the halachic obligation to participate in the milchemet mitzvah of defending the Land of Israel from the enemy that comes up against it.

World Leaders Ignore International Law

World Leaders Ignore International Law 

August 23, 2012 | Eli E. Hertz
The U.S. Administration, the European Union, the United Nations, and Russia's decision to rewrite history by labeling the Territories 'Occupied Territories,' the Settlements as an 'Obstacle to Peace' and 'Not Legitimate,' thus endowing them with an aura of bogus statehood and a false history. The use of these dishonest loaded terms, empowers terrorism and incites Palestinian Arabs with the right to use all measures to expel Israel.
The Jewish People's Right to the Land of Israel
The "Mandate for Palestine" & the Law of War
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, United States President Barack Obama, and the European Union Foreign Affairs Chief Catherine Ashton became victims to the 'Occupation' mantra their own organization has repeated over and over in their propaganda campaign to legitimize the Arab position.
Continuous pressure by the "Quartet" (U.S., the European Union, the UN and Russia) to surrender parts of the Land of Israel are contrary to international law as stated in the "Mandate for Palestine" document, that in article 6 firmly call to "encourage ... close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes." It also requires, under Article 5 of the Mandate to "seeing that no Palestine territory shall be ceded or leased to, or in any way placed under the control of the government of any foreign power."
Any attempt by the World Leaders to negate the Jewish people's right to Palestine - Eretz-Israel, and to deny them access and control in the area designated for the Jewish people by the League of Nations, is a serious infringement of international law, and as such - illegitimate.

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August 23, 2012

Moral Behavior and Jewish Rights

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman with EU foreign policy chief Chaterine Ashton
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman with EU foreign policy chief Chaterine Ashton
Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90

Recently I wrote about how important it was for Israel to insist on its legitimate rights under international law, rather than allowing its enemies to define the terms of the discussion. The recent Levy Commission report — perhaps many years late — tries to reestablish these rights:
“According to international law, Israelis have a legal right to settle all of Judea and Samaria, at the very least the lands that Israel controls under agreements with the Palestinian Authority,” Levy stated. “Therefore, the establishment of Jewish settlements [in Judea and Samaria] is, in itself, not illegal.” …
The committee issued its report on [July 10, 2012], which was subsequently handed over to Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein. In the report, Levy wrote that “upon completing the committee’s tasks, and considering the testimonies heard, the basic conclusion is that from an international law perspective, the laws of ‘occupation’ do not apply to the unique historic and legal circumstances surrounding Israel’s decades-long presence in Judea and Samaria.”

“Likewise,” the report said, “the Fourth Geneva Convention [relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War] on the transfer of populations does not apply, and wasn’t intended to apply to communities such as those established by Israel in Judea and Samaria.”

The government still has not adopted this report. Apparently it presents an “inconvenient truth” for those who believe, for whatever reason, that Israel needs to withdraw from all or most of Judea and Samaria.

It needn’t. The fact that Jews have as much right to live in these areas as Arabs (and even that Israel has a prima facie claim on these disputed territories stronger than the Palestinian Authority) does not prevent Israel from ceding some of its rights in the event that an Arab leadership capable of being a real peace partner were to appear.

Accepting the report is not tantamount to annexing Judea and Samaria, as the hysterical Left claims.
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The ‘Nine Questions’

In prayer
Photo Credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90

I generally do not respond to patronizing comments on my blog. The following comment by Ben Dov (...don’t know if that is his real name or an alias) was flagged for moderation - and I debated deleting it for that reason. However the questions he raises are common ones and deserve answers. Although I have dealt with these questions in the past in one fashion or another, I will deal with them here in a stand alone post. Here is his comment in its entirety:
You are reverting to the role of social critic of haredim.  I think this is a waste of your time, for reasons I have pointed out before. You are proud to invoke Rav SZ Auerbach as someone who did not wear blurring glasses.  Well, it is also true that Rav Shlomo Zalman did not spend hours picking at the flaws of those outside his own community i.e. dati leumi. People are flawed and one could fill a book- maybe an encyclopedia- of haredi flaws.  But you seem proportionately less interested in problems close to you.

Here is a list for starters.  Anyone who disagrees with the list could compose a different one:

1. Why do so many MO Jews not even know the words to bracha of Asher Yatzar?

2. Why was the MO siyum hashas a trickle compared to the Agudah siyum?

3. What is the MO alternative to the Asifa- why has MO Rabbinic leadership done so little about internet issues?

4. How many MO parents want their children to be Rabbis and Jewish educators?

5. Why do many MO Jews have only a hazy commitment to Torah practices and doctrines?

6. Why are many MO youth sent to college and/or co-ed dormitories without adequate guidance and supervision?

7. What is a bigger nachas to an MO parent- that their son finished Shas or attained economic/professional prestige?

8. Who are more often the heroes of MO youth- media celebrities or gedolai Torah (of any stripe).

9. While preparing for parnasa is totally respectable, how many MO Jews believe God and bitachon have anything to do with their success as opposed to university admissions offices and other secular factors?

Rabbi Harry, if you share my concerns, why not write about it?  If you don't, what are your concerns about MO?  What do MO Rabbanim and principals think are the crucial battles facing their communities?

Are all these issues so uninteresting to you?

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French Rabbi Receives Threat to ‘Punish’ Jews for Complaining

The chief rabbi of Lyon, Richard Wertenschlag, has received a letter threatening to "punish a Jew for every complaint the Jews make on TV."

The threat came in a two-page letter delivered to Wertenschlag on Aug. 10. It contained two photos of a concentration camp, according to Dr. Richard Prasquier, president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France, CRIF.

Wertenschlag, who reported the letter to the authorities, opened the letter on Aug. 12, according to CRIF.

The authors of the "small, dense handwritten text" signed with the words "the righteous network."

They added, "Every time you go on television to complain, a Jew - man, woman, child or family - will be punished." Further down, the authors wrote: "See you soon at a synagogue, which has already been chosen."

Wertenschlag called the letter "the expression of anti-Semitic rage and unimaginable hate."

He said he had received an earlier hate letter in April, which was both "anti-Semitic and anti-Arab," but decided not to go to police at the time.

Last month French police arrested two youths in Lyon for allegedly attacking a 17-year-old Jewish boy.

The boy is a student at Ozar Hatorah, a Jewish school in Toulouse where, on March 19, a Muslim extremist murdered three children and a rabbi.

Rabbi Lau: I Didn’t See Such German Sensitivity to Jewish Blood During the Holocaust

.Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau
.Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau
Photo Credit: Uri Lenz/FLASH90
Rabbi Meir Lau, Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv and Holocaust Survivor, attacked the Germans today with harsh words. Rabbi Lau said, "We don't need their permission to live as Jews," and added that, "I didn't see such German sensitivity to Jewish blood during the Shoah."

"It's amazing, German spokesmen are sensitive to the cries of a baby and a drop of spilled blood like I did not see in my childhood. Then, Jewish children's blood was worthless and trampled on by the boots of the Gestapo, while tens of millions of Germans collaberated or stood by and watched."

Rabbi Lau continued to say that Jews don't have anything to look for in Germany, but that we must fight this anti-Semitic law.

Rabbi Lau also attacked the idea, proposed by Rabbi Metzger, that German doctors would teach or certify Jewish Mohels on how to perform Brit Mila, he added that Rabbi David Goldberg, who was just arrested, has performed over 3000 successful circumcisions.

French-Jewish Mother in Custody Battle with Saudi prince Dies in Fall

A Jewish mother from France locked in a custody battle with a Saudi prince fell to her death from an apartment window in Paris.

Candice Cohen-Ahnine died last week, less than a month before she was to see her 11-year-old daughter for the first time in four years.

It is unclear whether Cohen-Ahnine's death was accidental or the result of foul play, according to the Daily Telegraph, which reported that French media have suggested Cohen-Ahnine had slipped and fallen to her death "as if she was escaping something dangerous."

A Paris criminal court ruled in January in favor of Cohen-Ahnine’s plea to have her daughter, Haya, returned to her. Cohen-Ahnine claimed that Haya was being held captive by the girl’s father, Prince Sattam al-Saud, a member of the Saudi royal family, since September 2008. The court also ordered Sattam to pay child support.

Sattam continued to refuse to turn the girl over after the ruling, but had agreed to next month's visit.

Cohen-Ahnine alleged that when she agreed to visit Sattam with her daughter in 2008 after the couple had separated, she was swiftly locked up in a Riyadh palace and separated from Haya. Accused by authorities of being a Muslim who converted to Judaism -- a capital crime in Saudi Arabia -- Cohen-Ahnine was able to escape to the French Embassy and return to France. Haya remained behind and the two reportedly spoke occasionally by phone.

Cohen-Ahnine, 34, met Sattam in London when she was 18. Despite their differences in religion and nationality, the couple continued their relationship, and Haya was born in 2001. But the couple separated in 2006; the prince allegedly said he would have to marry a cousin and could only keep Cohen-Ahnine as a mistress or second wife.

Cohen-Ahnine published a book in French about the ordeal with the literally translated title “Give me back my daughter” (l’Archipel).

The Tide Is Turning: New Settlement Authorized in Samaria

An Israeli flag drapes a house in Bruchin, the newest settlement in Samaria.
An Israeli flag drapes a house in Bruchin, the newest settlement in Samaria.
Photo Credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90
Bruchin outpost in Samaria was officially recognized as a legal settlement on Sunday with the signing of an order to that effect by head of the IDF Central Command Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon.

The community, home to over 100 families and located approximately 18 miles from Tel Aviv between Ariel and Rosh Ha'ayin, is now under the jurisdiction of the Samaria Regional Council.

The signing of the order was more of a technicality, as Alon was merely implementing the directive of the Israeli government, which decided in April to retroactively legalize the status of three outposts in Judea and Samaria — Bruchin, Rehelim and Sansana. Rehelim and Sansana are yet to be authorized.

Many in the international community – including the US, the EU, and the UN - condemned the Israeli government's decision at the time.

Bruchin was founded in 1998 on state land, and was identified as an illegal outpost in the 2005 Sasson Report, which was headed by former State Prosecutor and future Meretz candidate Talia Sasson. The report found that Israeli government agencies had channeled large sums of money to fund the construction of outposts and settlements in violation of Israeli law, and more specifically, that $785,000 was spent on construction in Bruchin. Building in Bruchin has been frozen since the release of the Sasson Report.

“This is a day of celebration for the state of Israel and for Zionism,” Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika told Army Radio. “The prime minister ended years of injustice by making the logical decision.”

Mt. Carmel Tunnels to Be Used as Bomb Shelters Should Iran Attack

Traffic control sign being tested at the exit of the Mt. Carmel tunnel. Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav thinks of using the tunnels as bomb shelters.
Traffic control sign being tested at the exit of the Mt. Carmel tunnel. Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav thinks of using the tunnels as bomb shelters.
Photo Credit: Shay Levy /Flash90
The idea of using the Mt. Carmel tunnels as public shelters already came up 2 years ago when they were initially opened for traffic, but now the idea is being considered as a practical solution should a war break out.

Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav has already approached Home Front Command and National Emergency Council officials asking to coordinate the use of the tunnels as public shelters. This is accompanied by a request from officials involved to organize adequate parking space for the thousands of cars belonging to the people who will arrive at the tunnels seeking protection.

Yahav also asked the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Transportation to declare the tunnels an essential emergency workplace, in order to prevent worker now-shows which could cause the closure of the tunnels.

The Carmel Tunnels (Minharot HaCarmel) are a set of road tunnels in and around Haifa, Israel. The tunnels' purpose is to reduce road congestion in the Haifa area and to provide an alternative route of reaching the eastern and central parts of the city, Haifa Bay and the Krayot area to and from Israel's central coastal plain without having to travel through traffic-congested downtown Haifa, having to drive up and across the Carmel Mountain or bypassing Haifa from the east, along the edge of the Jezreel Valley.

The tunnels cut the travel time from the Haifa South interchange in the west to the Checkpost interchange in the east from 30–50 minutes down to 6 minutes.

The tunnels were opened to traffic on December 1, 2010.
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Reform, Conservative Rabbis for Obama List Tops 600

More than 600 rabbis have joined a campaign initiative called Rabbis for Obama.

The rabbis represent themselves and not individual synagogues or organizations, according to the news release. The names of all the rabbis can be found on the website Most of the rabbis are Reform or Conservative, although a handful are Orthodox.

Obama for America announced Tuesday that Rabbis for Obama is designed to “engage and mobilize grassroots supporters.”

"This list of rabbis represents a broad group of respected Jewish leaders from all parts of the country. These rabbis mirror the diversity of American Jewry,” Ira Forman, the Obama campaign's Jewish outreach director, said in a news release.

“Their ringing endorsement of President Obama speaks volumes about the president’s deep commitment to the security of the state of Israel and his dedication to a policy agenda that represents the values of the overwhelming majority of the American Jewish community," Forman said.

The number of rabbis signing on is more than double the number who added their names to President Obama’s 2008 campaign at the launch of a similar effort then.

Rabbis Sam Gordon and Steven Bob, both of Illinois, and Burt Visotzky of New York are co-chairs for this initiative. The first two started Rabbis for Obama in 2008.

‘Should Jews Vote for Obama or Romney’

Palm Beach, Florida
Palm Beach, Florida
If you are already bored with the US presidential campaign rhetoric, do we have a debate for you!

Tonight's debate in the swing state of Florida will not be the standard snooze, and you can watch it on your very own computer screen.  Among the players are one vegetarian, animal rights, nuke-the-terrorists rabbi; a Christian Zionist whose opposition to Islamic terrorism has placed his group on the Southern Poverty Law Center's list of hate groups; a dyed in the wool Democratic Party leader; and a former high school teacher who debates as if his life depends on it.  He thinks it does.

Florida is one of the key swing states in play in this year's US presidential campaign.   President Obama made a personal visit to  Century Village in Boca Raton, Florida last month, and newly-annointed Republican vice presidential candidate Cong. Paul Ryan (R-WI ) made one of his first official campaign visits there.  Ryan appeared with his Wisconsin-based mom, who lives part of the year in Florida.

Within the swing Sunshine State,  Florida's 639,000 Jews are attracting a lot of the campaign attention.  According to a Boston Globe article this week, President Obama is losing some support amongst Jewish Floridians.   Although Jews constitute only 3 percent of Florida voters, their high voter turnout means they may account for as much as 7 or 8 percent of the vote.

Which brings us to tonight's debate.
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Don’t Fear All Islamists, Fear Salafis

(I am not sure what to think of this, is only part of the truth.
Even those that are Muslim that don't end the terrorists are no better and will be treated as
terrorists themselves.If the non participant who is Muslim stands idly by and does nothing...them the entire religion is fraudulent)

A new Salafi Crescent, radiating from the Persian Gulf sheikdoms into the Levant and North Africa, is one of the most underappreciated and disturbing byproducts of the Arab revolts. In varying degrees, these populist puritans are moving into the political space once occupied by jihadi militants, who are now less in vogue. Both are fundamentalists who favor a new order modeled on early Islam. Salafis are not necessarily fighters, however. Many disavow violence.
In Tunisia, Salafis started the Reform Front party in May and led protests, including in Sidi Bouzid. This summer, they’ve repeatedly attacked symbols of the new freedom of speech, ransacking an art gallery and blocking Sufi musicians and political comedians from performing. In Egypt, Salafis emerged last year from obscurity, hastily formed parties, and in January won 25 percent of the seats in parliament — second only to the 84-year-old Muslim Brotherhood. Salafis are a growing influence in Syria’s rebellion. And they have parties or factions in Algeria, Bahrain, Kuwait, Libya, Yemen and among Palestinians.

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