Technorati Tag: Israel and Olmert and Condoleezza Rice.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Will The World Ever Just Stand By And Let Israel Defend Herself?
The realignment committee set up to evaluate the idea of a unilateral withdrawal from most of the West Bank presented senior political officials with its report in which they raised legal, security and economic difficulties that are likely to inhibit the plan's implementation.The irony is that while the world sees a Palestinian state as The solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict--and by extension peace and stability to the Middle East, Europe, the West etc--the fact remains that there is no reason to assume that the attacks would stop.
A source with access to the report said its main conclusion is that Israel has no security solution to the threat of rockets launched from the West Bank against population centers. The report's authors assume that following a unilateral Israeli pullout from the West Bank, Hamas will takeover and deploy rockets. Currently, the only solution to the missile threat that the Israel Defense Forces has to offer is its actual presence in the territories and control of the high ground.
Israel will not be allowed to win--neither on the battlefield nor even in the halls of diplomacy:
Another conclusion is that Israel will not gain international recognition for an end to the occupation if it continues to hold significant portions of the West Bank. Similarly, it is doubtful whether such recognition would be forthcoming even if it unilaterally withdraws to the Green Line.In the rush for a solution, especially now that James Baker is on the scene, no one seems to notice that the Kassams being launched from Gaza--even as a peace treaty was agreed to that they would stop--is but a preview of what Israel would face should a Palestinian state in fact be created.
...The committee showed that Israel's two main interests are contradictory: on the one hand, Israel wishes to relinquish responsibility over the Palestinians as an occupying force; on the other, it would like to ensure that the territory it pulls out from is demilitarized.
And if the West cries foul now when Israel goes into Gaza to defend her citizens, what can we expect will be the reaction should the attacks come from within a sovereign Palestinian state?
Will the world ever be willing to just stand by and let Israel defend herself?
Technorati Tag: Israel and Palestinians.
A Sure Sign That Israel Is Losing
Shalom,A play like this and the fact that the Israeli Consulate would see fit to describe it as a "cultural event" has one basic thing in common with the defeatist comments we keep hearing come out of Olmert's mouth:
At this time, we are pleased to inform you of our upcoming cultural events:
We look forward to seeing you.
The Whore From Ohio
Nov 30 - Dec 10
The Whore From Ohio, written by Hanoch Levin, translated form [sic] the Hebrew by Sandra Silverston, directed by Geula and Victor Attar. A black comedy by Israel's foremost playwright in which an old beggar, running from death, who goes to a whore and spends all of his savings, to the horror of his grasping beggar of a son. Levin laughs deeply at life through prototypical characters who resonate strongly to Jews worldwide. The piece is styled like a biblical tale adapted by John Waters for the Three Stooges. [emphasis added]
A lack of pride and self-respect.
Technorati Tag: Israel and Olmert.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
The Two Sides Of Kedushah: Our Language And Our Land
Laban then said, "Here is the mound and here is the pillar that I have set up between us. The mound shall be a witness, and the pillar shall be a witness. I am not to go beyond the mound with bad intentions and you are not to go beyond the mound and pillar. (Bereshit 31:51-52)The Ben Ish Chai notes that this covenant is unlike any other. Normally, a covenant brings the two parties together in friendship, whereas this one keeps the two separate and apart. The explanation he says is that Yaakov is rooted in Kedusha, in holiness, and therefore must be kept separate from Lavan.
There is nothing particularly novel in such an explanation of Kedusha--the idea that holiness requires separation. But then again, the Ben Ish Chai does discuss each Parsha twice.
The second time he discusses VaYaitzei in his sefer, the Ben Ish Chai discusses the covenant between Yaakov and Lavan again, but this time focuses on Yaakov and his sons and how they created the mound of stones, piled one on top of another, that is used for the covenant.
The Ben Ish Chai quotes a pasuk to illustrate how Israel is compared to a stone which on the one hand is walked upon in the dirt and disregarded, yet is also used in a building and can end up towering over the head of a king. Similarly, he explains, Bnei Yisrael are sent out into Galus despised--yet the purpose for being in Galus is to convert the nations: Israel is holy and it is the nature of holiness to draw others to it and make them holy as well.
For years this has been a favorite vort of mine, how holiness is not only something that is attained through separation, but also requires bringing together and adding.
It occurred to me that the first understanding of holiness, the idea that holiness requires separation is an idea that is pervasive in Judaism and Israel. Hebrew is our language, but it is also a holy language. As a result, unlike other minorities who tend to speak their own language among themselves, Jews for generations have tended to speak Yiddish rather than Hebrew because Hebrew is a holy language that is separate and used for davening and learning only. Our knowledge of Hebrew and the growth of Hebrew suffered as a result.
Similarly, in 1967 Israel unified all of Yerushalayim. This included the Kotel and The Temple Mount. The Temple Mount is holy and care must be taken not to walk in certain areas. Because of our wariness and the need to stay separate from the holy areas of the Temple Mount, we have allowed control of that area has become entrenched in the hands of the Wakf--to the extent that Jews who do tour the area of The Temple Mount are not allowed to daven there.
On the other hand, Moslems take an enourmous pride in Arabic and in their holy places--and especially in Islam to the extent that historically they have conquered nations and occupied countries in the process of spreading their religion.
I have often wondered at the courage of the Ben Ish Chai at putting in writing the idea that the holiness of Israel should require Jews convert others to Judaism--while living in Iraq during the 19th century.
At the same time, I've begun to wonder if he saw around him the attitude of holiness that the Moslems around him had, and decided to emphasize those themes in Judaism that also shared the idea of obligation to increase and spread holiness, and not just to hold it as something to be held separate.
Perhaps if we took a greater pride in our language, our holy places, and our land--perhaps then we would not be in the predicament we find ourselves now with leaders who see the land as collateral to be bargained away in the search for an ephemeral peace with terrorists whose stated desire is to destroy us.
Technorati Tag: Israel and Ben Ish Chai and Holiness and Judaism.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Will I Have To Give Up Fame, Women, and...Blogging?
The headline says: Marriage and children kill creativity in men
But don't worry--it's not all men:
Men do their best work in their younger years, but getting married and having children stalls their creativity, according to a New Zealand study of successful scientists.And forget about the question of age. Just marriage by itself is supposed to be the kiss of of death:
Dr Satoshi Kanazawa, a psychologist at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, reports in the August issue of the Journal of Research in Personality that a man's age and unmarried status appear to drive success in his field.
His study was based on the analysis of a biographical database of 280 scientists considered 'great' by their colleagues, noting their age at the time when they did their greatest work. He found the data remarkably concurs with the observation made by Albert Einstein in 1942: "A person who has not made his great contribution to science before the age of 30 will never do so." [emphasis added]
But, regardless of age, the great minds who married virtually kissed goodbye to making any further glorious additions to their CV. Within five years of making their nuptial vows, nearly a quarter of married scientists had made their last significant contribution to knowledge.Speaking of Einstein, there was a PBS special suggesting that Einstein's first wife played a large role in his theories. But then again, every theory has exceptions. Anyway, it looks like Dr. Kanazawa's theory is not limited to just the scientists, either. It seems to affect creativity over a whole range of fields, including blogging:
"Scientists rather quickly desist [from their careers] after their marriage, while unmarried scientists continue to make great scientific contributions later in their lives," said Kanazawa.
The energy of youth and the dampening effect of marriage, he added, are also remarkably similar among geniuses in music, painting and writing - and even among criminals.(Just to be clear, I'm comparing blogging with writing--not with being a criminal.)
But whereas the title of the article connects the whole age/marriage/children thing with creativity, it isn't till the very end of the article that we find out what really is driving scientists, artists--and bloggers:
Kanazawa suggests "a single psychological mechanism" is responsible for this: the competitive edge among young men to fight for glory and gain the attention of women. That craving drives the all-important male hormone, testosterone.Yeah, baby!! Get a load of my blog!!!
Actually, at this point in my life, I've found an infusion of hot chocolate before bedtime is what I crave.
Anyway, I'm not impressed with any potential comparison between blogging vs. science, music, painting and writing.
Hey, I may be an addict, but I'm no fanatic.
Technorati Tag: Blogging.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Lessons From The Egyptian "Peace Treaty"
Daniel Pipes takes a look:
- In a recent poll of one thousand Egyptians, 92% said that they consider Israel to be an enemy state. Only 2% responded that they saw Israel as "a friend to Egypt."
- One of the most popular songs in Egypt is entitled "I Hate Israel."
- In Egypt there have been terrorist attacks against visiting Israelis.
- Egypt's leading democracy movement, Kifaya, recently collected a million signatures on a petition demanding the annulment of the March 1979 Egypt-Israel peace treaty.
- The Egyptian government has permitted large quantities of weapons to be smuggled into Gaza to use against Israeli border towns. It is estimated that as much as 90% of PLO and Hamas explosives come from Egypt.
- According to the Congressional Research Service, despite having no apparent enemies and being short on resources, Egypt has purchased $6.5 billion worth of foreign weapons in the years 2001-04, more than any other state in the Middle East. In contrast, the Israeli government bought only $4.4 billion worth during that period and the Saudi one $3.8 billion.
- Egypt is the third largest purchaser of arms in the developing world--surpassed only by China and India. It has the tenth largest standing army in the world, well over twice the size of Israel's.
- The treaty opened the American arsenal and made it possible for Egypt to purchase the latest weaponry. For the first time in the the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, an Arab armed force may have reached parity with its Israeli counterpart.
- The treaty may have actually created an increase in anti-Zionism. Pipes lived for about three years in Egypt during the 1970s, before Sadat's dramatic trip to Jerusalem in late 1977, and believes that Egyptians back then showed relatively little interest in Israel and rarely discussed her. However, many Egyptians saw the treaty as a betrayal and there was a major increase in anti-Zionism.
If we want to get an idea of what a Palestinian state would look like, would it really end up being so much different than Egypt?
According to Pipes, in Egypt we see a pattern that:
was replicated in Jordan, where the 1994 treaty with Israel soured popular attitudes. To a lesser extent, the 1993 Palestinian accords and even the aborted 1983 Lebanon treaty prompted similar responses. In all four of these cases, diplomatic agreements prompted a surge in hostility toward Israel.According to Pipes, the 'peace' that exists between Israel and Egypt today--which amounts to the absence of active warfare--is no better that what has existed between Israel and Syria for decades. While there may be nothing on paper, Syria does not have American weapons either.
Which raises the question: if the PA is getting money from the West and the US is considering bolstering Fatah with weapons now--how much more funding and weapons would an actual Palestinian state demand?
Technorati Tag: Israel and Egypt and Israel and Palestinians.
Everybody Loves A Martyr
Iranian state television reported Monday that a plane crashed in Tehran, killing 28 members of the elite Revolutionary Guard, including high-ranking officers.According James S. Robbins at The Corner, crashes like have been an almost yearly occurrence for Iran during the past few years:
The plane crashed shortly after taking off from an airport in Tehran, the report said. It did not specify when the crash occurred or give further information about those killed.
The Revolutionary Guards are an elite group in Iran, widely believed to be strongly influential under the leadership of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
- Today an Iranian transport crashed carrying members of the Pasdaran, the Revolutionary Guards.
- In January 2006 the head of the Pasdaran ground forces and several other high ranking officers were killed in another plane crash.
- In December 2005 yet another transport went down, the passengers mainly journalists traveling to cover naval maneuvers.
- In 2004 a planeload of Iranian aerospace scientists were killed in a plane crash.
- In 2003 a troop carrier crashed killing 276 Pasdaran.
What is important is that [the crash victims] have shown the way to martyrdom which we must follow.Robbins' point is Iran's apparent lack of aviation expertise precludes our trusting them with nuclear capability.
I'm wondering about the great mileage you can get out of the martyrdom card. In this case, we're not even talking about someone who knowingly died for a cause. Somebody goofed and a plane crashed. A tragedy is one thing--if it happens too often, it's incompetence. But using the "M" word, is a guaranteed shortcut to making heroes.
Soccer Dad points out a post last year from Ocean Guy based on his own experience during the mid 1980's, when he was deployed in the Persian Gulf on a British frigate during the Iran-Iraq Tanker War. He describes other examples of Iranian technical incompetence that may scare rather than amuse in light of the nuclear arms they are likely to acquire. Ocean Guy writes:
The attitudes and the procedures in place in the Iranian Navy defined their military environment. That environment tolerated, even encouraged such cavalier handling of destructive technology. Whether from ignorance or carelessness the outcome is the same. That environment has likely changed very little. The Iranian Armed Forces are almost entirely self grown and self-trained. They've had little input from modern professional fighting forces. There is little chance that any truly professional forces have emerged in the past 20 years. It's more than likely that the Iranian forces are just as unprofessional and just as technically inept, and probably even moreso, than they were then.
Technorati Tag: Iran and Ahmadinejad.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Smooth Stone's Haveil Havalim #95 Is Up
You are invited to come take part in a feast of all kinds of posts--but no turkeys.
HH #96 - Dec 2, 2006 - will be hosted by Soccer Dad. You can email him at dhgerstman at hotmail dot com.
HH #97 - Dec 9, 2006 - will be hosted by Jack's Shack. You can e-mail him at talktojacknow at sbcglobal dot net.
You can always submit one or two of your best Israel or Judaism related posts to dhgerstman at hotmail dot com.
If you'd like to host an upcoming edition you can e-mail Soccer Dad at the same address.
You can also submit entries to Haveil Havalim using either Conservative Cat's submission form or the submission form at BlogCarnival.
Listed at the Truth Laid Bear Ubercarnival.Technorati Tags: Blog carnivals, haveil havalim, Israel, Judaism.
"There Are No Palestinians"
when you provide feedback to articles on the Haaretz web site, along with racist remarks, foul-language, and incitement to violence.
This kind of approach smacks of censorship. Arutz Sheva comments:
Documents and quotes which support the claim that there never was a Palestinian people are often cited in legitimate debates and speeches by respectable commentators and Zionists (see examples in letter below). The quotes are used to counter the claim of Arab historic rights to the Land of Israel.The letter referred to is the one Arutz Sheva sent to Haaretz questioning their policy and providing quotes about the myth of the Palestinians:
To allow for fair-minded formulation of opinions and policy, it is important that access to such documents and quotes remain uncensored. Moreover, limiting such statements colors the dialogue in favor of one political spectrum.
To: Editorial BoardThe last thing Israel needs is the kind of CAIR-style censorship and limiting of debate that is encroaching on freedom of speech in the US.
I found of great interest your list of guidelines for publishing talkback comments which appear at the end of the article: "I Voted for a War Criminal."
I commend you for guarding "openness of dialogue" and stating that "Political orientation will have absolutely no bearing on whether a comment is posted or rejected."
However, your last criteria for deletion of a comment was puzzling: "Use of the phrase: 'There are no Palestinians' or derivatives thereof." Such statements are beyond the pale of openness of dialogue, according to your editorial policy.
This historical truth of no distinct Palestinian people was articulated by none other than former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir who said:"There were no such thing as Palestinians. When was there an independent Palestinian people with a Palestinian state? It was either southern Syria before the First World War, and then it was a Palestine including Jordan. It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people, and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist."But your readers won't be allowed to consider Golda's remarks since her political orientation on the issue of Palestinian peoplehood is not considered legitimate at Haaretz.
Sunday Times, 15 June, 1969; The Washington Post (June 16, 1969)
But, it's not just Golda who made the point. Many Arabs admitted that the campaign to utterly destroy the Jewish State unites Palestinians and not aspiration for statehood.
Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee member Zahir Muhsein said just that on March 31, 1977 in an interview with the Dutch newspaper Trouw:"The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct "Palestinian people" to oppose Zionism.Would Zahir Muhsein's comment be deleted from your talkback?
For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan."
Lebanese American Sharon Nader Sloan, Esq. noted in her article "The Big Lie" from 2001:"…Did you know that for 19 years Jordan occupied and ruled the whole West Bank, including Jerusalem? ...All this time, …did we hear anything about a Palestinian state? No, we did not. Why not?[Palestine] is the name of a region -- just like Siberia is a region, not a country. There is no Siberian country, nor is there a Siberian people…
Because their never existed a Palestinian state. And in the entire history of nations, Jerusalem was never the capital of any country other than that of ancient Israel and modern Israel. So how can there be a claim on Jerusalem as the capital of a state that never existed?
Some may argue that Golda's statement from 1977 is irrelevant today, as she would most probably recognize "new political realities." Now, wouldn't that question be fertile ground for legitimate argument in a talkback between political rivals on Israel's left and right?
But your current policy has disqualified historical truths that would otherwise be voiced by those of a certain political orientation. This, despite your assertion that "Political orientation will have absolutely no bearing on whether a comment is posted or rejected."
Your rule of deleting derivatives of the statement 'There are no Palestinians' does not coexist with your "guiding principle of openness of dialogue." One of them must go.
I urge you to retain your openness, and allow the political right to freely express historical truths which support its agenda.
I await your reply.
Director of English Media
Arutz Sheva, IsraelNationalNews.com
Technorati Tag: Palestine and Palestinians.
The Incredible Shrinking Ceasefire
- All Palestinian terrorist factions agreed to the ceasefire
- Tunnel-digging would stop
- Suicide bombing would stop
- Firing of Kassam rockets would stop
- Manufacture of rockets would stop
All IDF forces were withdrawn from Gaza in the course of the night - and shortly afterwards, two terrorist groups announced they were not parties to the ceasefire agreement. Islamic Jihad and the Abu Rish Brigades of Fatah declared this morning that they would continue firing rockets at Israeli citizens. [emphasis added]And that was only the beginning:
In the meanwhile, three rockets hit the besieged city of Sderot and environs around 8 AM, and another Kassam was fired at the Eshkol region of the Negev.In an interview with IMRA, a Hamas spokesman made clear that besides the manufacture of weapons, smuggling weapons in the tunnels is not covered by the ceasefire
...Shortly before 10 AM, a fifth rocket slammed into the town, but causing no physical damage.
IMRA has an article quoting from 2 Olmert speeches indicating that there is no expectation for a halt in weapon production--contrary to the original official Governement indication. By the same token, Olmert clearly states that the smuggling of weapons through tunnels would stop--contrary to what the Hamas spokesman quoted above claimed.
What do you expect when you make a deal with terrorists?
For that matter, why would you go to the trouble to negotiate a ceasefire with the same leader for whom the US is constantly demanding you make concessions because his weak position needs to be strengthened?
Then there is Shimon Peres:
"It is a positive development, but not the final move," he told Israel Radio this morning. "Let us not exaggerate its importance, but it should not be derided... It is an achievement for Israel, for Ehud Olmert and for his government."Even while hedging, Peres does not grasp how hollow an achievement this is, even as it falls apart the day after the ceasefire goes into effect.
The problem again is that Israel follows the West's lead in the absurd notion that Palestinian terrorists somehow have some kind of legitimacy and not only can but must be negotiated with and trusted. As long as Israel buys into this, concessions will expected and demanded.
It is up to Israel to say 'no' to such expectations--consistently and repeatedly.
And first step is to elect real leaders.
Technorati Tag: Israel and Olmert and Peres and Ceasefire.
The Demographic Problem--Of The Palestinian Arabs
Using information from researcher Bennett Zimmerman, Demographic analyst Yoram Ettinger has concluded:
the Jewish fertility rate in Israel is among the highest in the industrialized world. Forty years ago, Arab families had an average of six children more than Jewish families in Israel, while today, the gap has closed to less than one child.
Jews in Judea and Samaria have an even higher fertility rate. Prof. Dan Meyerstein, President of Ariel College, said recently that fertility in Yesha is "crazily higherAnd the good news in the numbers does not end there. Among Ettinger's other findings:
than the rest of Israel" - 4.4 children, as opposed to the national average of 2.8.
Since 1995, the annual number of Arab births within Israel's Green Line has stabilized around 37,000, while the annual number of Jewish births has increased by 34% (from 80,400 in 1995 to 107,000 in 2006).
- The Jewish population between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean has grown 164-fold since 1882, while the Arab population has grown six-fold.
- Since 1948, the Jewish population west of the Jordan River has grown 9-fold, from 650,000 to well over 5.5 million, while the Arab population has slightly more than tripled, to 3.8 million. This last number, incidentally, is the total number of Arabs in Israel, including Judea, Samaria and Gaza - and not in Judea, Samaria and Gaza alone, as the Arabs report.
- Jewish immigration into Israel has brought Jews to Israel every year since 1882, while a net average annual emigration of over 10,000 has characterized the Arab population of Judea and Samaria (especially) and Gaza since 1950.
Not only do the numbers indicate there is no need to make concessions, but they also indicate that making territorial concessions will endanger the demographic superiority that Israel has:
"Demography is not an existential threat to the Jewish State. Therefore, there is no need to retreat from Jewish Geography in order to secure Jewish Demography. In fact, a retreat from Jewish Geography would upset the migration balance in the area, facilitating a potential immigration of 1-2 million Palestinians into Judea & Samaria and from there (due to economic pressure) to the Green Line, thus wrecking Jewish Demography."Of course it would help if there were any indications that the government was open to news outside of, and contrary to, their preconceived notions.
...A retreat from Judea and Samaria could pose an existential threat to the Jewish State."
Then there is an additional consequence of the lower and shrinking number of Palestinian Arabs--the amount of aid the West provides to the PA.
Maybe they should stop providing aid altogether to the PA and just buy Mahmoud Zahar a bigger suitcase.
Technorati Tag: Israel and Demographics and Palestinians.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Iran Suspended For Not Following Road Map
A deadline is being enforced!
No one messes with FIFA!!
Iran was suspended from international soccer by FIFA on Thursday because of government interference with the country's soccer federation.We've seen how soccer fans turn against each other.
The decision was made Wednesday at an emergency council meeting of soccer's world governing body. FIFA said it had given Iran a November 15 deadline to reinstate elected soccer federation president Mohammed Dadgan and comply with FIFA regulations.
"This deadline was not met," FIFA said.
FIFA said Iran was not abiding by rules regarding the "independence of the decision-making process of the football governing body in each country and the way in which changes in the leadership of associations are brought about."
Iran, which played in the 2006 World Cup and has qualified for the 2007 Asian Cup, will be reinstated only after drafting new statutes and organizing a new election under the supervision of FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation.
"The lifting of this suspension would depend on the above road map being accepted and fully implemented by the relevant authorities in Tehran," FIFA said.
What would happen if a nation of soccer fans turns against its leaders?
According to Michael Ledeen:
The Iranian people are passionate soccer fans, and they will rightly blame the regime for this categorical rejection. FIFA has done what no Western leader has dared do: punish Iran for its cavalier violation of international standards.Technorati Tag: Iran and Soccer and FIFA.
There will certainly be a political price to pay for this; the only question is how costly it will be. Watch out for demonstrations in Iran. But watch out online, not in the MSM.
Putin Succeeds In Silencing Jewish Refuseniks
And it's not because Russia has become a beacon of Democracy.
From the Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal:
The End of the Opposition
Russian Jews used to be a voice of dissent. Not anymore.
During the 1970s and '80s--the last time the Kremlin was facing regular American criticism for its human-rights record--some of the most trenchant internal opposition came from the country's Jewish community. The refuseniks, as the very ardent core of these activists were known, turned the concerns of a religious and ethnic community into a potent political force.
Now the policies of Vladimir Putin have brought back complaints about the decline in press freedoms here and the rise of nationalism. But talk to Russian Jewish leaders today and there is a conspicuous silence on the sins of the Kremlin. "There is no longer any distinctively Jewish voice in the political life of this country," Tankred Golenpolsky, the editor of Russia's one independent Jewish newspaper, told me with evident regret. The silence of the Jews in these trying times says as much about the current state of Russian civil society as it does about the Jews themselves.
At the most basic level, the change of tone from the refusenik era arises from the changed place of Jews in the Russian social hierarchy. During Soviet times, Jews were deemed "cosmopolitan" and thereby a threat to the state. As such, they were subjected to constant state-sponsored discrimination, giving refuseniks (whose name comes from the state's denial of their right to leave) a strong reason to seek exit visas to Israel or the U.S.
The legal discrimination against Jews came to a swift end along with communism, and in short order a handful of Jews benefited spectacularly from Russia's booming economy. In a related development, the position of Russian scapegoat--a role long filled by the Jews--was assumed by immigrants from the Caucasus. More than a few relieved Jews have told me recently: "Russia has a new Jew--the Chechen."
All of which is not to say that Jews are feeling particularly secure. Russian Jews are still considered an alien nationality, and last year 5,000 Russian leaders, including many members of Parliament, signed a letter calling for a ban on Jewish organizations, claiming they were extremist. Spokesmen for the Russian Jewish community say that the authoritarian impulses in Russia today would make it foolish for the community to try to have a political voice.
"Russia is not ready for a Democratic or Republican or liberal Jewish coalition," said Rabbi Berel Lazar, the chief rabbi of Russia and Mr. Putin's closest friend in the Jewish leadership. "Russia is a different mindset--a different history, different tradition. In Russia, Jews should not be involved in politics."
Such self-censorship has not always been the rule in the post-Soviet era. In 1996, the Jewish media oligarch Vladimir Gusinsky helped found the Russian Jewish Congress as a voice for the 500,000 Jews of Russia. Mr. Gusinsky was accused of bringing his own political battles into his Jewish work, but he was not afraid to speak out about the Russian government's policies toward Israel or its policies toward Chechnya. Perhaps more important, the Russian Jewish Congress sparred with other Jewish groups about the proper positions to take. There was, in short, debate.
Then, in 2000, Mr. Gusinsky was arrested and forced to flee the country. Like oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky a few years later, Mr. Gusinsky was accused of financial wrongdoing, but opposing Mr. Putin was seen by many as the real crime. The new oligarchs who took over the funding of the Russian Jewish Congress were noticeably silent on the Kremlin's policies. It was obviously bad for business.
The changes at the congress were not the only shift caused by Kremlin intervention. For a number of years after the fall of communism, Russia had multiple "chief rabbis," representing different Jewish traditions. In 2002, this custom changed when Mr. Putin signaled that he would only deal with one of these rabbis, Berel Lazar, as the official chief. Whatever the reason--and it is hotly disputed--Mr. Putin's intervention has effectively shut out the other voices of community, leaving only the overwhelmingly friendly proclamations of Rabbi Lazar and the Russian Jewish Congress.
That Jewish organizations avoid criticizing Mr. Putin does not mean, however, that there are no Jewish people in the opposition. Alexander Osovtsov, the staff director of the Russian Jewish Congress under Mr. Gusinsky, joined the pro-democracy movement. His first job was with the Open Russia Foundation, which was shut down after its leader's arrest. Now he is with Another Russia, a group that trains opposition leaders.
Mr. Osovtsov says that his years at the Russian Jewish Congress were hopeful ones, but an outspoken, independent Jewish organization is now impossible. It could function normally, he says, "only if there is a minimal degree of freedom in the country. That doesn't exist anymore."
Technorati Tag: Russia and Jews.
Friday, November 24, 2006
"Peace Now" Makes A Land Grab Of It's Own
Peace Now on Tuesday submitted a complaint to Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz accusing the government of conducting a "systematic and institutional land grab" in the West Bank by building most of the settlements on land owned in part by individual Palestinians.Despite the obvious biases of Peace Now, the government is looking into the accusation. Meanwhile, the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza is getting ready to respond and Council head Benzi Lieberman said they will produce a report of their own to debunk the Peace Now allegations. Lieberman said they plan to hold a press conference in the coming weeks to expose the inaccuracies in the Peace Now report.
The complaint followed publication of a report by Peace Now entitled "Breaking the Law in the West Bank," in which the organization charged that about 40 percent of the land occupied de facto by the settlements was privately-owned Palestinian land.
Of course, that delay gives Peace Now the time they need for the results of their report to sink in.
According to the Jerusalem Post:
According to the report, Palestinians own almost 40% of all the land on which the settlements were built. This includes 86.4% of Ma'aleh Adumim, 44.3% of Givat Ze'ev, 47.7% of Kedumim and 35.1% of Ariel.
There are four types of land ownership in the West Bank - state-owned land, "survey" land, whose ownership is in dispute between the state and Palestinians, land owned privately by Palestinians and land owned privately by Jews.
Until now, the common understanding has been that since 1979, when the High Court of Justice overruled a military order to seize land for military purposes in order to establish the civilian settlement of Alon Moreh, all subsequent settlements were to be built on state-owned land.
Etkes told reporters, "for the first time, we can prove this isn't true.
Responding to Peace Now's claims, Yisrael Medad, a volunteer spokesman for the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, disputes the methodology of the report.
- While the report claims that only 1.47% of the land at Karnei Shomron is Jewish-owned, in actuality almost all the area of the community is Jewish-owned as is the land at Etz Efraim community--indicating that Peace Now is discounting land purchases made by Jews.
- There are Arabs who have sold land but then claim otherwise because they don't want to be murdered for selling land to Jews.
- The pictures on the Peace Now website of the land supposedly owned by communities on the West Bank are misleading: "There is a vast difference between the area displayed and the actual area zoned at various government ministries and civilian administration offices. The boundaries are arbitrary, usually delineated by patrol roads which do not reflect on the actual property definitions."
- The State of Israel appropriated private land until 1979. Karmiel was built this way and even the Ein Kerem neighborhood of Jerusalem benefited from such classifications. But Since, then, however, no Arab private land has been used for the Jewish communities.
- The Arabs have claimed for 50 years that they own 93 percent of the land which became the State of Israel--of which 43% was privately owned. The remainder of the land was identified then as the Sultan's Land. According to this claim, Jews owned but 7%. Peace Now has resurrected this claim.
- According to Article 6 of the League of Nations Mandate:
the Administration of Palestine... shall encourage, in cooperation with the Jewish Agency... close settlement by Jews on the land, including state lands and waste lands not acquired for public purposes.As a result, the vast majority of the area in Judea and Samaria are lands under the direct control of the State--this is an issue expanded upon later in this post.
Peace Now admits that they are unfamiliar with the data that was leaked to them that was “updated to the best of our knowledge through 2004.”Likewise, they do not know for sure neither the authenticity nor accuracy of the information. A fact that did not stop them for using and publishing the data.
Peace Now brags that the data they received "served as a reference for attorney Talia Sasson when she prepared her government-mandated report on the outposts – a report which has been widely publicized and discussed"-- these were apparently unauthorized outposts, built without the necessary permissions from the proper authorities. However, contrary to Peace Now’s claim, in reality Ms. Sasson found that that the use of these private Palestinian land for outposts was not due to the theft of land, but instead to errors in the maps.
The errors in the Peace Now report are the result of mistakes in the crucial definition of terms.
According to the report:
Since 1967, Israel has made use of Ottoman legislation dating back to the middle of the 19th century in order to declare land to be “State land.” According to that law, all lands are considered "State Land" unless proven otherwise. To formally register land as private property, one must cultivate it for at least ten years. If the land is not registered, one would be considered the owner as long as he cultivates it and pays taxes on it. If the land is not cultivated for three successive years, it may become the property of the Ottoman State, i.e. "State Land".While the phrase "has made use of" implies underhanded exploitation, the fact is
Israel was and is obligated under international law, in particular the Hague Regulations of 1907, to maintain the legal system in the territories, and to respect, "unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country." Thus it was not, as Peace Now clearly implies, an Israeli subterfuge ("Israel has made use of Ottoman legislation") to apply the pre-existing Ottoman – as well as British and Jordanian – laws in the West Bank.A second error Peace Now makes in the very same paragraph is in their mistaken claim that land must be cultivated for 10 years. According to the Ottoman land law that is used there is a category of land known as mulk--private land, where ownership is not related to cultivation and would revert to state ownership only if the owner died intestate.
A third error made in that same paragraph is that land which is cultivated for 10 years does not become private Palestinian land as Peace Now mistakenly claims. Instead, land acquired through cultivation is considered according to the Ottoman Code as at best miri land--land in which a person acquires a limited right of use. Contrary to Peace Now, such land remains the property of the state, and its reversion to the state is not limited to a failure to cultivate. Miri land is by definition state land.
A fourth error is the Peace Now claim that while prior to 1968 the land registration was open to Palestinians but not since. CAMERA quotes from a court case that proves that is not true
A fifth factual problem is a category of land which the Peace Now report neglected to mention altogether. Under the Ottoman Code, there is a category of land known as mewat ('dead land') which is applicable to the West Bank--unallocated or waste areas outside of inhabited areas which can be cultivated by special effort. Such development requires prior permission from the State. CAMERA quotes from a British Mandate source that clarifies:
Practically all the unoccupied land of Palestine is mewat and cannot be occupied without the permission of the Government.CAMERA finds that:
much of what Peace Now is terming “private Palestinian land” is in fact state land because it is mewat, and has been considered so for generations. The land on which Ma’ale Adumim was built, for example, was more than a mile and a half from the built up area of the closest Arab village, Al ‘Ayzariyah; the land was also rocky and on a ridge, and had therefore never been inhabited or cultivated. It was therefore clearly mewat land which belonged to the state and not to any private owners. [emphasis added]Thus, land which was once in the category of miri but later was abandoned or fell into disuse would lose even its limited rights--but Peace Now considers this land to still be private Palestinian land.
CAMERA concludes based on the Ottoman Code in effect and other documentation that:
There can be no doubt, however, that the majority of land that Peace Now calls “private Palestinian land” is in fact mewat, or waste land, and therefore permanently in the public domain, with not even rights to cultivate.Peace Now's report is riddled with factual error and omission of key law. One can only hope that as the facts come out they will be given the same exposure as the Peace Now report.
Technorati Tag: Israel and Peace Now and West Bank and Gaza and Yisrael Medad and CAMERA.
Everything That Is Wrong With Olmert's Government
The danger of self imposed moderation in Gaza Strip operation
When PM Olmert, DM Peretz and COS Halutz snap back at their critics that the
IDF is already doing everything it can to stop the Qassams from the Gaza
Strip, there are some huge caveats attached to the claim.
- The IDF's mission includes destroying weapons stores, but if the weapons
are stored in a residential area the IDF gives the Palestinians thirty
minutes warning before attacking the location to either relocate the weapons
or bring in even more human shields to protect it from attack.
- Weapons stored in "sensitive" locations such as mosques are off limits to
IDF operations and Palestinian combatants can shield themselves with
- No operation within the Gaza Strip can be open ended - even in the
Philadelphi Corridor that separates between Egyptian Sinai and Gaza.
And so, having set rules that make it next to impossible to succeed, it is
hardly surprising that this team is so keen on finding a way to make a deal
with the Palestinians according to which the various Palestinian groups can
continue smuggling in weapons and manufacturing ever more effective Qassam
rockets as long as they don't shoot.
For a while.
Until they decide to start shooting again.
When they can shoot even more powerful and more numerous rockets prepared
during the Israeli hiatus in security operations.
If the above rules reflect some notion of morality then it's a sick one
which gives preference to the lives of Palestinian human shields over those
of Israeli victims.
If these rules are for public relations they indicate a profound
misunderstanding of how the world sees the story.
The world doesn't praise Israel for respecting human shields - they either
don't believe it or they think Israel is stupid. And there is no reward for
And the world certainly isn't impressed by the restraint Israel has shown so
far. That's because even restrained operations can make a headline or get a
few seconds on the evening news on a slow news day
The truth is that the PR costs of a massive brutally effective operation are
barely more than the costs of a mediocre one.
That's because you get almost the same coverage for an operation taking
place simultaneously in ten locations as in only one. The same goes for
The Olmert-Peretz-Halutz approach is wrong. Dead wrong.
The last thing Israel can afford to do today is continue policies that could
ultimately corner it into accepting a timeout for a Palestinians arms build
For if Israel accepts such a timeout, the Jewish State may find itself in
the same situation as the proverbial frog in pot of water being slowly
heated to a boil.
Technorati Tag: Israel and Olmert and Peretz .
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Is This Islamist Terrorist Really A Closet Zionist?
Technorati Tag: Israel and Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi and MEMRI and Islamists.Sheik Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi: The Islamic Nation's Problem is That Muslims Do Not Work. The Zionist Gang Has Turned the Desert into an Oasis
The following are excerpts from a friday sermon on Qatar TV by Sheik Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi
Dr. Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi: We use trains and planes, but they are not our trains or planes. The (Westerners) manufacture them and export them to us. True, we can buy the most magnificent things in the world products for our homes and for ourselves. Our people can buy the most luxurious cars, Rolls-Royce or Mercedes 500 or 700, models S, M, and L with all the luxuries. We own them, but we don't manufacture them. We don't even produce a single nail in any of these cars. Others do this for us.
The income of the entire Arab world, including the oil-producing countries, does not reach the that of a European country, such as Spain. Spain – let alone Germany, France, Britain, or Italy. Just Spain, which is at the bottom of the list of industrial countries... The income of the entire Arab world does not reach it. How come? Because we don't work, and if we do work, we don't do it professionally.
They conducted a survey of the average time that a government employee spends working in a certain Arab country. The average was 27 minutes a day. 27 minutes! The rest of the time he drinks coffee, reads newspapers, and goes on errands here and there. Only a small number of people work. The rest do not.
In the mid 1970s I went to Germany. We arrived during in the morning. I asked the guy who took me from the airport to the convention hall… As I was passing through the empty streets, I asked him how come the streets were not busy, like in our countries. He said: "People are at work." After 7 p.m. he took me back to the hotel, and the streets were empty. I said to him: "What's going on, the streets are empty again." He said: people are back home from work, and they are exhausted. All they want is to eat their dinner, watch the news, and then go to bed, because early next morning they have to wake up for hard work. They commute more than an hour to work and back, and spend an hour at lunch. They work non-stop.
We are a nation that doesn't work. How can we develop if we don't work? When we do work, we don't do it professionally. We keep saying "Don't worry, later, later…" Islam teaches us to do things professionally. Doing things professionally is a religious duty. The Prophet said that Allah ordered to excel in everyhting. He imposed excellence and professionalism. Professionalism must be followed in everything. "If you kill, do it properly, and if you slaughter, do it properly." Even when killing, you must do well.
Unfortunately, we do not excel in either military or civil industries. We import everything from needles to missiles. This is our nation. We still haven't manufactured an engine in our Arab countries. We assemble parts, but have no manufacturing industries. India has manufactured a car, and even a plane, while we still go around in circles like a bull in who turns a grinding mill or a water weal until it reaches exactly where it started.
How come the Zionist gang has managed to be superior to us, despite being so few? It has become superior through knowledge, through technology, and through strength. It has become superior to us through work. We had the desert before our eyes but we didn't do anything with it. When they took over, they turned it into a green oasis. How can a nation that does not work progress? How can it grow? [emphasis added]
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
What College Students Need To Know about Israel
What College Students Need To Know about Israel
Rebutting those who distort history.
-- Dr. Alex Grobman
A key element in raising a Jewish children is to encourage them to develop their informed opinion about the situation in Israel. This begins with building and maintaining a historical and current knowledge base of Israel issues. They need to learn to separate the facts from the misinformation, the good sources of information from the biased. Remember that you as parents are a key source for children. Once their information base is solid, encourage your children to build on this base by developing their interpretation of the situation, what should be done and what the implications will be of a certain action and then, encourage him to take action. You have heard the expression "Two Jews, two opinions." This is one of my favorite aspects of Judaism --- debate and questioning. It is very healthy. To feed your family discussions on Israel, we are privileged to have the following parenting op/ed from Dr. Alex Grobman, a historian with an M.A. and Ph.D. in contemporary Jewish history with a major in the Shoah from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He is president of the Brenn Institute, a think tank dealing with historical and contemporary issues affecting the Jewish community."
-- Flaura Koplin Winston, M.D. Ph.D.
Sending our children to college marks a major milestone for both parents and their children. Through no fault of their own, or ours, some of them will find themselves ill-prepared to deal with the anti-Israel propaganda disseminated throughout their campuses. Below are a number of suggestions that parents and teachers can use to help their children understand and effectively respond to the issues surrounding the Israel-Arab conflict.
Israel is engaged in a war for its survival. There is nothing in the Arab media or statements by Arab political or religious figures that indicates they have ever accepted Israel's right to exist. The Palestinians and their supporters have manufactured specious arguments that have fooled some in the West into thinking that Israel does not want peace and that the Arabs are the victims of Israeli aggression. Today, they say the obstacles to peace are the settlements; tomorrow there will be other excuses to justify murderous attacks against the Jewish State.
Students need to know the basics of modern Middle Eastern history and the Israeli/Arab conflict. Approaching the Middle East from the historians' point of view engages students intellectually and emotionally. With perspective, they can be confident when confronting those who distort history.Knowing Facts
Students should be very careful about the information they do use. For example, a well-known and oft-used full-page quote from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism is a fake. The alleged source is the August 1967 issue of Saturday Review, but this article does not exist in that or any other issue of the Saturday Review.
A week and a half before he was assassinated, at the annual convention of the Conservative Judaism's Rabbinical Assembly on March 28, 1968, Dr. King did say: "Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how the desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality."
Arabs have raised a number of questions about the context in which these remarks were made, insisting that Dr. King knew little about the Middle East and that this was said before Israel's "occupation" of the West Bank (even though the Six-Day War took place in June 1967).Learning To Analyze
Students also need to learn how to analyze news. The media uses language and pictures to slant a story in order to make it "sell," and that determines how the story influences listeners and readers.
Sometimes the biases are a result of bad reporting and simple ignorance. At other times, the slant is deliberately anti-Israel and often anti-Semitic. Students should check HonestReporting.com, which dissects news reports daily, to see which reports are straightforward, which are not, and how the two approaches differ.A Moral Imperative Beyond the Jewish Issue
Responding to Arab propaganda is a moral imperative that goes beyond the "Jewish issue." Universities have the responsibility to seek the truth. Failure to react to lies allows people to think there are no answers and to rely upon fabrications as truth.
Becoming involved in the campus newspaper and other campus organizations are important ways for students to develop strategic alliances and counter misconceptions. For example, when the Jewish National Fund (JNF) wanted to come to Harvard, members of the Sierra Club balked. As president of the Sierra Club, Josh Suskewicz, my student, researcher, and ultimately president of Harvard Students for Israel, convinced them that the JNF is not racist.
Informal discussions in the dorms also offer important opportunities to defuse anti-Israel feelings. Providing a balanced view that tells the truth can influence people.Preemptive Action
Students should learn to counter Arab propaganda by seizing the initiative, publicizing Israel's positive actions, and explaining her specific policies. Before someone decides to build a "Wall" in front of the dining hall, preempt them by holding a teach-in about why the Israeli security fence was built and how many lives it has saved on both sides. The same should be done before "check-points" are erected on campus.Exhibits
To inhibit use of the "Zionism is Racism" canard, mount an exhibit about Zionism and Israel's accomplishments. For example, a few years ago, students at Harvard produced an effective display of posters highlighting Israel's contributions to the world.
Recent examples of such stories include Israelis who: won the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering a cell process that leads the way to DNA repair and may control newly produced proteins and immune systems; created human monoclonal antibodies that neutralize the smallpox virus without inducing dangerous side effects; devised a simple blood test that diagnoses mild and more severe cases of Multiple Sclerosis; developed of a non-invasive treatment of intrauterine fibroid tumors.
Most of Microsoft's Windows operating systems were developed in Israel. The complete design, development, and production of Pentium NMX Chip technology, the Pentium 4 microprocessor, and the Centrium processor-were all carried out in Israel.Cell Phones and Gay Rights
Israeli techies developed voicemail, and cell phones can't work without Israeli technology. The Israelis developed ICQ, now mostly known as Instant Messenger. Microsoft's and Cisco's only research and development facilities outside the US are in Israel.
Another Harvard exhibit explored democracy, gay rights, women's rights, ethnic diversity, and technology in Israel. An Israeli rock concert attracted students indifferent or hostile to the politics.
According to my student Josh, "When we demonstrate that we can co-exist and get along, it enormously improves our standing as advocates. Highlighting Israel's unique culture allows people to feel closer to Israel and brings the connection to life, resulting in more dedicated and focused advocates."The Write Stuff
Letters to local college newspapers and media are another way to counter distortions from Arab propagandists and to gain support from non-Jews. Correspondence should stick to the facts and not become personal attacks.
Qualified students should try to become regular contributors to the campus paper. When truth is distorted, it should be corrected in print via a letter to the editor or in an op-ed piece.
During his first two years in school, Josh published several articles in the Harvard Crimson. As his mentor, I reassured him, checked his facts, and made sure the arguments were cogent.
An English major, Josh did his "homework" by engaging in extensive reading and felt confident enough to question his professors when they intended to invite Tom Paulin - who said that Israeli settlers should be shot - to lecture.Confidence
Rachel, a student at Yale University, worked with me via e-mail and telephone to learn about the Middle East conflict. She was frustrated by her inability to respond effectively first to Arab lies on campus and then to Jews participating in a Jewish Federation program which sympathized with Arabs and Arab propaganda.
As a result of our correspondence, she successfully confronted an anti-Israeli professor from the university about his attacks on the Jewish state.
Sometimes pressure from alumni and the fear of losing funds are the most effective means of protest. Verbal abuse of Jewish students at Columbia University became so serious that students, working with a Boston-based organization called the David Project, documented the harassment.
It took a massive letter-writing campaign to Columbia's president by concerned alumni, students, parents, and faculty as well as coverage of the incidents on campus by the mainstream national media before the Columbia administration agreed to take steps to address the problem.Primary Sources
David Ben-Gurion once observed, "Nothing is more dangerous for Zionism than the fatalistic belief in the eternity of Israel."
The fight for the Jewish State will continue for years to come. We must educate the next generation to defend Israel-and we need to do it now.
I suggest students begin by reading the following material: Primary books: Alan Dershowitz, The Case For Israel, (Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons, 2003); and Mitchell Bard's Myths and Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict, (Chevy Chase, Maryland: American Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, 2001), Reply Myths and Facts; and Alex Grobman, Nations United: How the UN is Undermining Israel and the West (Green Forest, Arkansas: Balfour Books, 2006).
One of the most important ways students can demonstrate their concern for Israel is to vote for candidates who strongly support the Jewish state and Jewish causes. For many undergraduates, their first election may occur during their first semester of college. Voting is a very tangible way for them to help Israel, the Jewish people, and the U.S. in their fight against those who wish to destroy our democratic way of life.Primary websites to check regularly
Additional Internet and Hard Copy Sources
The following should be read on a regular basis:
- The Jerusalem Post,
- The Forward,
- The Jerusalem Report,
- Maariv (in Hebrew),
- Jewish Telegraphic Agency Daily News Bulletin,
- Jewish World Review,
- Daniel Pipes,
- Israel 21c .
Personal search engine keywords such as Israel, Jews, Jewish, Middle East will put news articles with those words into your own mailbox, daily or as set.
The Basic Library-must-reads-should include:
- Alan Dershowitz, Why Terrorism Works: Understanding the Threat, Responding to the Challenge;
- Arthur Hertzberg, The Zionist Idea;
- The Palestinian Liberation Organization Covenant;
- Kenneth Levin, The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People Under Siege;
- Yaacov Lozowick, Right To Exist: A Moral Defense of Israel's Wars; Martin Gilbert, Atlas of the Arab-Israeli Conflict and any of his works on Israel;
- Efraim Karsh, Arafat's War: The Man and His Battle for Israeli Conquest and Fabricating History;
- Yoram Hazony, The Jewish State: The Struggle for Israel's Soul;
- Kenneth W. Stein. The Land Question In Palestine, 1917-1939; and
- Barry Rubin and Walter Laqueur, The Israel-Arab Reader.
An historian, Dr. Grobman's most recent book is Battling for Souls: The Vaad Hatzala Rescue Committee in Post War Europe. He is also co-author of Denying History: Who Says The Holocaust Never Happened? His most recent book is Nations United: How the UN is Undermining Israel and the West.
Crossposted at Israpundit
Technorati Tag: Israel and Hasbarah and University Campuses.
"Bling Bling", Barbies, And Teaching Hashkafah
I made my move the other day to try to address the issue with my daughter.
I had saved the box that my daughter's "Bling Bling" Barbie had come in, and Monday night I took it out and sat down with my daughter. I reminded her that I had told her then that I did not like the doll. I asked her if she knew why, and she pointed at the picture on the box and said that the Barbie doll was not modestly dressed, and had a lot of jewelry on. I talked to her about the idea of being Tzenuah--modest--and not being ostentatious. She seemed to really understand. I showed her how on the box it talked about the Barbie doll representing a "new lifestyle" and that this is not our lifestyle .
My daughter nodded in understanding.
She then proceeded to point to a picture of a new series of Barbie dolls that are now available that are shown on the box and told me that she wanted one because her friend had one. She didn't skip a beat--she went from complete understanding of and agreement with the idea of being modest, to asking for a half-naked doll that completely contradicted everything we had just been talking about.
I had a similar experience years ago when I was teaching Chumash to a 7th grade class.
One day a girl in my class mentioned that on the soap opera "Days of Our Lives", one of the characters--a religious Jewish woman--had a non-Jewish boyfriend. My student saw nothing wrong with this.
That day, we discussed the soap opera in class.
We discussed the issue of intermarriage. We discussed it from the viewpoint of Halachah and the implications for the survival of Jews, Jewry, and Judaism. We discussed whether it makes a difference if the couple is in love. We discussed if it made a difference if the non-Jewish partner converts and whether such a conversion was sincere and acceptable according to Jewish Law.
Then I took a poll by secret ballot.
In the first part of the poll, I asked whether it was OK for a Jew to marry a non-Jew. I asked if it made a difference if they were "truly in love", if the non-Jewish partner would convert etc. The vast majority of the class said that intermarriage was wrong.
In the second half of the poll, I asked them whether they thought the character in the soap opera should marry the non-Jew. The majority said yes.
After having said in class that even if the non-Jewish partner would convert it would likely not be sincere, after having voted in the poll that conversion should not make a difference--those same students said that in the case of the soap opera it was real love and the non-Jew would probably convert and he would surely mean it.
No matter what they thought in theory, when it came to characters in a soap opera that they could identify with, the rules of the game changed. Remember--these were characters in a soap opera, not real people; yet because they identified with them, all the discussions and reasons went out the window. For many, all the arguments we had discussed in class against intermarriage amounted to nothing more than an idea, a theory, that was coherent and logical, but not applicable to a real flesh and blood situation in life.
I was shocked.
This is the problem I am having right now with my daughter. She understands what I tell her about being Tzenuah--the same way that she understands that if 1+9=10 then 9+1=10. But it is only a piece of information that exists in the world and makes sense, but it is not something that affects her life, her interests.
At least not yet.
But there is time.
After the poll, I kidded the girl who had mentioned this plot line in "Days Of Our Lives" in the first place that the characters in the soap opera would probably not get married anyway, and that if they did, there marriage would not work out. She bet me that they would get married and live happily ever after.
Neither of us took into account the fact that this was, after all, a soap opera.
In the soap opera plot, the girl died.
Technorati Tag: Judaism and Hashkafa and Hashkafah.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Israel Perspectives Has Returned to the JBlogosphere!
Israel Perspectives' first post back is on the glass half empty/half full perspective of Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post on the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora.
He also offers his thoughts on the future of the Law of Return.
It's good to have you back.
Go read his latest post.
Technorati Tag: Israel and Blogs and JBlogosphere.
Rosenblum: Contemplating Israel's Demise
by Jonathan Rosenblum
November 8, 2006
I've been thinking a lot about my father, hareini kaparat mishkavo, lately. He used to say, "If the world is prepared to stand by and watch Jews be slaughtered again, then the world does not deserve to exist."
That moment, I fear, has come. The very existence of Israel (which whatever its virtues or failings is home to nearly half of all Jews living today) has become in the eyes of much of the world a big bother. And we are not speaking here about the Moslem or Arab world, but about much of the West.
References to the creation of Israel as a "mistake" not worth the price are commonplace in European discourse. Even Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen describes Israel in this fashion – as based on a delusional fantasy that a colony of Jews could ever gain acceptance in the Arab Middle East.You can read more of Jonathan Rosenblum's articles here.
Tony Judt (a Jewish professor) finds an ethnic-religious state like Israel to be an "anachronism" in a post-nationalist world. Interestingly, he sees no similar infirmity in all those Moslem states in which Sharia is the law of the land, and which non-Moslems are barred from citizenship.
What lies behind all this talk of "mistakes" and "anachronisms?" The belief that if Israel somehow disappeared the world would be a far happier place. Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, professors at two of America's leading universities, in their infamous paper "The Israel Lobby," identify not one threat to world peace that is not directly attributable to Israel. Not Iran. Not North Korea.
The perfidy and trickiness of those sly Jews is almost beyond belief in Walt and Mearsheimer's telling. Israel, they charge, withdrew from Gaza with the deliberate intent to bring into power a Hamas-led government and thereby bring an end to the "peace process." More recently, speaking before the Council on American-Islamic Relations, they charged that Israel had long planned an invasion of Lebanon and that Hizbullah's kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers was merely a pretext for doing so.
What prime minister, after all, would not want to see one million of his country's citizens spend a month cowering in bomb shelters, the economy brought to a standstill, and his own poll numbers hit absolute bottom? And wasn't it clever of those Jews to trick Nasrallah into attacking Israel? I wonder how they did that.
The claim that support for Israel underlies virtually every act of Islamic terrorism in the world gains greater currency with each terrorist attack. In England, and much of Western Europe, it is already gospel. After British authorities uncovered a plot by native-born British Moslems to blow up ten or more transatlantic carriers, Moslem peers and MPs in England audaciously wrote that England can only expect many more such plots as long as it does not alter its Middle East policy.
Rather than reacting with rage to the implicit threat from its own honored representatives, the British public lapped it up and cast Tony Blair from office for daring to label this view of matters as more than a bit insane.
Yet even in the Middle East itself, the greatest losses of life have not had the slightest connection to Israel: the million lives lost in the Iraqi-Iranian war, the hundreds of thousands of Moslems slaughtered by their fellow Moslem's in Sudan's Darfur Province, civil wars in Algeria and Yemen, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, Syria's murder of more than 25,000 of its own citizens in Hama.
MUCH OF THE WEST DOES not just lament the error of Israel's creation, but is prepared to assist, either actively or passively, in reversing that historical mistake. Iranian president Ahmadinejad threatens to wipe Israel or the map, and his predecessor publicly offered his calculus for a nuclear exchange with Israel: one nuclear bomb could wipe out Israel's five million Jews, whereas the loss of an equal number of Iranians would still leave another 15 million alive.
Despite the blatant threats against Israel's existence, Ahmadinejad is still treated to submissive visits from U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and a host of European dignitaries, and a fawning interview by America's "toughest" TV journalist focusing on his sweet family and sartorial tastes. Meanwhile, after more than 3 years of diplomatic talk-talk, we are no closer to the most minimal collective action to halt Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Even more telling is the West's refusal to grant Israel the right to defend itself from attack. It is the West that has made the terrorists' tactic of embedding themselves among civilians a win-win proposition: If their missiles kill Israelis, that is a win; and if Israel strikes back at those firing those missiles and kills civilians as well, the ensuing media condemnations of Israel are an even greater win.
Those who routinely condemn every Israeli attempt to strike back at those operating from among civilians populations as "disproportionate" or "war crimes," without every specifying how Israel should protect its citizens (other than announcing its own dissolution), effectively deny Israel the right to defend itself. In our rough neighborhood a state that cannot defend itself will not long survive.
The irony, however, is that by denying Israel the right to defend itself, the Europeans only make more likely the most disastrous possible outcomes. Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin has testified that missiles are pouring into Gaza, just as they poured into southern Lebanon between 2000 and 2006. And efforts are underway to bring them into the West Bank as well.
Given Israel's vulnerability to missile attack, and the world's condemnation of any response, the Palestinians will be tempted to use those missiles to keep Israel in a permanent state of mobilization and to make life generally intolerable. At that point, it will literally be them or us.
And especially if the Palestinians were to unleash their missiles in the midst of a conventional war with Syria or Egypt or both, Israel would have no time to go searching for Palestinian missiles house to house. It would have no choice but to level Palestinian areas and send the population packing.
Where things would go from there no one wants to contemplate. But the West should not count on Israel to go quietly into the night.
By refusing to take Iran's nuclear threats seriously or permit Israel to defend itself in the same fashion as any other nation, the West could well be sowing its own worst case scenario.
Dad would have appreciated the irony.
Technorati Tag: Israel.
Former Mossad Chief Still Taking His Show On The Road
DESPITE Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s declaration this week that Iran poses “an existential threat to Israel”, a former Mossad chief who is visiting Australia said Tehran lacks the military and strategic capability to destroy the Jewish State.This week, Halevy has taken his show to Budapest:
“Israel is indestructible today. It’s not so simple just to think you can have a device on your hand and you will able to hurl it on to a certain location and wipe out a nation,” Efraim Halevy told an Australian Friends of the Hebrew University dinner at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Monday.
Former head of the Mossad, Ephraim Halevy, said on Sunday that Iran would never be able to destroy Israel and that its efforts to develop nuclear capabilities were not an existential threat, Israel Radio reported.Apparently Olmert and Halevy have something of a philosophical debate going about the nature of "existential threats." But the question is: who is Halevy trying to convince? There was a time that this kind of talk would inspire us with confidence that Israel really did have something up its sleeve and there is nothing to fear--but Entebbe was 30 years ago and the memories are fading.
Speaking at an international law convention in Budapest, Halevy said that Israel has a number of ways to deal with an Iranian nuclear threat.
There is little about the current government to inspire confidence, not even reports--from outside of Israel--that Olmert is ready to use targeted assassinations to deal with Hamas. Talk about Israel dealing with Iran has been going on for so long that at this point it is hard to imagine that anything will be done to stop the Iranian regime from acquiring nuclear capabilities. Reports about Iran slowly securing its grip around Israel only add to the tension. Defense Minister Peretz working at cross-purposes from Olmert don't help either.
Where is the leadership?
Technorati Tag: Israel and Olmert and Peretz and Halevy.