Monday, April 30, 2007

MY POST ON JOHN CONYERS IS NOMINATED FOR A JIB: I didn't realize that my post about Congressman John Conyers' relationship with Islamists has been nominated for a JIB.

Good thing I read blogs--and Soccer Dad's Best Post Recommendations.

You can vote for that post--or one of the other great posts--here.

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WHY IS IT...When I was in grade school and learned about Woodrow Wilson and the League of Nations, I got nuthin. Now, I read about John McCain and his League of Democracies and I think of The Green Lantern?

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THE GOLDEN AGE OF THE JBLOGOSPHERE: Is the JBlogosphere maturing that quickly that already we can look over our shoulder and talk about its Golden Age? Teppenwitz recalls:
Back in the golden days of the Jblogosphere (IMHO late 2003 to early 2004), there were few enough of us writing that it was sort of inevitable that we would read and interact with bloggers that lived substantially different lives... and believed substantially different things. And because I made myself part of their world on a daily basis, many of these fine writers frequently came to see what was going on over here.

But with the exponential explosion of Jblogs, many readers (and writers) began to gravitate towards cliques of like-minded folks and adopted the habit of checking in on 'the others' only infrequently (if at all).
It doesn't much matter if you refer to that time as the JBlogosphere's Golden Age (or its infancy), the JBlogosphere is growing by leaps and bounds just like the Blogosphere itself.

To use a metaphor: maybe it's just that the honeymoon--that initial period of harmony and goodwill--is over.

Random Thoughts also mulls over the idea of The Golden Age of the JBlogosphere.

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LINKS TO POST ABOUT WINOGRAD REPORT: Yid With Lid has compiled a collection of links to posts with commentary on the Winograd Report. He also requests that you email him with links so that he can update his list.

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THE LAST HOURS OF NETZER HAZANI: The last hours of the village, located in Gush Katif, as part of the Disengagement from Gaza, summer 2005.
[Hat tip: A Simple Jew]

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WHAT PART OF FAILURE DOESN'T OLMERT UNDERSTAND? According to the Winograd Report, there was a
"severe failure in the lack of judgment, responsibility and caution."
The failure was not in a particular action that was taken; it was a failure in personal qualities, the kinds of failures that are remedied by a change in personnel--like by holding a new election. After all, both Olmert and Peretz have limited security experience--and there is every reason to believe that another war is around the corner.

Yet the responses to the report show how those involved try to dance around the implications of the report and ignore them:
o Olmert, after receiving a copy of the panel's findings, said that "failures will be remedied."
o "It is right to state as clearly as possible: The report lists difficulties, failures and mistakes by all the leaders, including the prime minister," [Cabinet Secretary Israel] Maimon told Israel Radio. "The question is what do we do now.
o Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Vice Premier Shimon Peres pledged that the report's findings would be taken seriously. "We shall correct everything that calls for correction," he said.
o Olmert's office declined comment until the report's official publication, but aides said Olmert was confident he would weather the storm and that he had no intention of quitting.
A leader should how to lead, but also when to resign.
Golda Meir did.
Olmert does not.

Update: Yid With Lid also draws thea comparison of Meir and Olmert--with Olmert on the short end.

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OLMERT AND NASRALLAH HAVE BOTH FELT THE HEAT...So why are they both still in the kitchen?

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WHILE WAITING FOR MORE ON THE WINOGRAD REPORT...I noticed a couple of blogs linking to How Israel Bungled the Second Lebanon War, an essay by Efraim Inbar appearing in the Middle East Quarterly.

Last paragraph:
Should Israeli officials recognize their mistakes, however, they will find much with which to restore unquestioned Israeli regional deterrence. The war demonstrated that Israel is a strong state. It has the spirit to fight. Its soldiers won each encounter with Hezbollah. The Israeli home front displayed great resilience, and Israel's economy continued to bloom. With adequate preparation, Jerusalem might attain a clear victory in the next round, which, however unfortunate, the outcome of the 2006 war makes inevitable.
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THE WINOGRAD REPORT: For stuff like this I go to Israel Matzav who right now has a quick summary of the report's findings.

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OBAMA AND SOROS: The American Thinker raises questions about how just how far Obama actually distanced himself from Soros and his anti-Israel comments.
[Hat tip: Larwyn]

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75% OF ISRAELI ARABS SUPPORT ISRAEL AS A JEWISH STATE: Israellycool has more about the poll and the kind of constitution they support.

According to the same poll, support among Israeli Arabs for a multi-cultural constitution has gone down.

All of this is of course moot, since Israelis themselves will never agree on a new constitution.

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AM HA'ARETZ? Israel Matzav has the story about Ha'aretz publishing an Iranian ad looking for people to help build its nuclear reactors--and their answer to Arutz Sheva's questions.

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PELOSI OFF TO IRAN? At The Corner, Michael Ledeen writes:
I am told that Nancy Pelosi, undoubtedly encouraged by her great diplomatic breakthrough in Damascus, has applied for a visa to Iran. She'd better dress properly if she goes...people are being rounded up all over the country for insufficient modesty.
This runs contrary to what we heard out of The Horse's Mouth--who got it straight from Pelosi's office that she had no intention of going to Iran.

Will her trip be as welcome by striking teachers in Iran as by the Reform Movement in Syria?

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PLEASE HAVE SOPHIA BAT FANYA IN MIND: [Update: Her name is Sarah Rifka bat Fanya] The Ignoble Experiment writes that the wife of Citizen of the Month's wife will be having surgery for cancer soon. Check out his blog, where he asks that you send her a card.

ANTI-SEMITIC ATTACKS ON THE RISE--IN ISRAEL: Sultan Knish has a post on what is happening, and on what is not being done about it.

How many Zionist leaders and thinkers saw this coming?

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US TAXPAYERS PAY FOR ANTI-ISRAEL POSTER: writes about the posters, which the ACLU fought to allow to be posted on the Washington DC Metro.

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FALSE DICHOTOMIES FADES TO BLACK: False Dichotomies has posted its last post as he is going into the IDF. He will return to the blogosphere at the end of the year with a new blog. In the meantime, you can sign up to receive emails about his experiences in the army.

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IT WAS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME: Read Elder of Ziyon's post about the latest theory about the Hindenburg Disaster.

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BATMAN VS. AL-QAEDA: That is a matchup that is in the works--but we may not get to see. Check out Colussus of Rhodey for details.

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A HUNDRED MISSLES A DAY ON IRAN, A HUNDRED ISRAELI MISSLES...It's not quite as musical as the song about 100 bottles of beer--maybe it's Olmert's delivery (no pun intended). Clarity and Resolve has the story.

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COCA-COLA IN ISRAEL ACHIEVES A FIRST: According to a post by Boker Tov, Boulder soon the Coca-Cola produced in Israel actually will be 'the real thing'.

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BBC BLOCKS RELEASE OF THE BALEN REPORT: Olmert may be unable to stop the truth from the Winograd Report from getting out, but the BBC has successfully blocked the publication of the Balen Report.

Freedom of the Press becomes the freedom not to express, when there is danger of the bias of the BBC being exposed.

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THE STORY OF LEOPOLD MULLER: I linked earlier to a post by Is That Legal about his Uncle Leopold. Now he has put together the links to all of his Posts on Uncle Leopold and the Holocaust

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE: Harry Maryles has a post about an article in Yated Ne'eman similar My Uncle, The Netziv--with similar results:
The Yated Ne’eman had published a biography of Rav Eliyahu Dessler upon his fortieth Yahrzeit. It told of the Hashkafos of his father, Rav Reuven Dov, a Talmid of R. Simcha Zisel Ziv who was in turn a Talmid of R. Yisroel Salanter.

Rav Simcha Zisel founded a Yeshiva which included the teachings of the Russian language, history, geography, and other secular studies, in addition to the normal Yeshiva curriculum. He felt that Balei Batim would have to know more than Torah and Mussar in order to succeed in life. Rav Reuven Dov learned in that Yeshiva and absorbed the Hashkafos of his Rebbe and made it his goal to transmit what he had learned in his Yeshiva to his son Rav Eliyahu. True to those principles, he made sure that world literature was included in his son’s curriculum, including many classics translated into Russian, among them, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. All this in the Yated.

You can guess what happened next.
Read the whole thing.

According to Tenuas HaMussar, by Rabbi Dov Katz (vol 5 p52-53), Rabbi Yosef Leib Bloch of Telz--who learned for a while at Kelm--sent his daughters to study at the Russian gymnasium in Telz and gave them permission, under his supervision, to study books written by Maskilim.

Rabbi Katz also recounts, in the name of Rabbi Eliahu Meir Bloch, that one daughter even translated an article in a Jewish newspaper into Russian and sent it to Leo Tolstoy because she felt it would be a Kiddush HaShem.

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HAS PELOSI LOST THE PRESS? Reaction to Pelosi's trip has not stopped, and Gateway Pundit has some of the latest, including another editorial from the Washington Post--No Results in Damascus with the byline:
Having finished hosting U.S. politicians, Syria's dictator has returned to jailing dissidents and sponsoring terrorism.
Even the Reform Party in Syria is looking up to President Bush--and not Pelosi.
[Hat tip: Larwyn]

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SCIENCE AND TORAH: Voice From The Wilderness has posted and updated Science of Torah Critique Revisited which is a follow up to Two (or more) Kofrim Don't Equal a Ma'amin.

Some light blog reading for a Sunday afternoon...

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GUESS WHO? Kumah points us to the Haaretz article that answers the question--Who is it that:
  • Directed the 1999 film "The Specialist," which used footage from Adolf Eichmann's trial to portray the architect of the Final Solution as just a Nazi party bureaucrat and presented the view that Eichmann's Jewish victims could have done more to prevent themselves from being murdered?

  • Referred to the UN's 1947 partition plan for a Jewish homeland in Palestine, as a "historical mistake."

  • Said that the rise of anti-Semitism in France is in large part due to the support for Israel by French Jews.
Oh, that would be Eyal Sivan who
will be given a NIS 650,000 grant, paid for by Israeli taxpayers, to direct a film for next year's Independence Day, Israel's 60th.

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SOCCER DAD HOSTS HAVEL HAVALIM #114: This week's edition of Havel Havlim features posts on:
o Post of the week
o Yom Ha'tzmaut (and Yom Hazikaron)
o Judaism
o Torah
o Antisemitism
o Israel
o Kashrut
o Personal
o Culture
o Politics
o Virginia Tech
o Humor
o Blogging
o Misc

Next week, BARBARA'S TCHATZKAHS will be hosting Haveil Havlim.

You can also submit entries to Haveil Havalim using the submission form at BlogCarnival--where you can also find past posts and future hosts.
You can email Soccer Dad (dhgerstman at hotmail dot com) if you'd like to host an upcoming edition.

Listed at the Truth Laid Bear Ubercarnival.

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PELOSI'S FATHER WAS A FRIEND OF ISRAEL: In sidebar to an article in Mishpacha Magazine (Issue 155 4/25/07 p13), Kalman Gordon writes:
There is much irony at play in the fact that the Speaker met and then shook the hand of Assad who, along with Iran, currently funds terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hizbullah, dedicated to Israel's destruction

One such irony is that Pelosi's father, former congressman Thomas d'Alessandro, was one of the few Democrats to pressure President Roosevelt t rescue Jews during the Holocaust and laster strongly supported the creation of the State of Israel. In contrast Assad's father was widely believed to have given sanctuary for decades to several Nazi war criminals, including Alois Brunner.

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No reasonable person can dispute therefore that Jimmy Carter has been and remains dependent on Arab oil money, particularly from Saudi Arabia. Does this mean that Carter has necessarily been influenced in his thinking about the Middle East by receipt of such enormous amounts of money? Ask Carter.

The entire premise of his criticism of Jewish influence on American foreign policy is that money talks. It is Carter, not me, who has made the point that if politicians receive money from Jewish sources, then they are not free to decide issues regarding the Middle East for themselves. It is Carter, not me, who has argued that distinguished reporters cannot honestly report on the Middle East because they are being paid by Jewish money. So, by Carter's own standards, it would be almost economically "suicidal" for Carter "to espouse a balanced position between Israel and Palestine."

By Carter's own standards, therefore, his views on the Middle East must be discounted.
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Friday, April 27, 2007

ORTHODOX JEWS AND AHAVAT YISRAEL. There are those who claim that the one is incompatible with the other. Rabbi Avi Shafran responds.

Rabbi Avi Shafran

In a Jerusalem Post opinion piece, Dr. Jonathan Schorsch calls me a “clever fellow” whose “handwringing” over the hatred I’ve encountered aimed at Orthodox Jews is “somewhat posed, if not disingenuous.”

Dr. Schorsch can be easily disabused of his first assertion by perusing my high school scholastic records, or by consulting my wife and children, who can regale him of all manner of dumb things I’ve said and done (but who love me, I hope, all the same).

As to the second charge, I assure him that I am sincerely pained by my observations.

Dr. Schorsch quickly moves to his real point, the contention that Orthodox Jews are themselves the cause of the hatred aimed at them, because they lack sufficient ahavat Yisrael, or love for fellow Jews. He cites personal experiences of Orthodox Jews insulting him and the Orthodox refusal to accept the Jewish legitimacy of non-Orthodox theologies.

The latter has nothing to do with ahavat Yisrael. Loving other Jews doesn’t mean embracing everything they may embrace. The very essence of Orthodox conviction is the rejection of changes to the Jewish religious mandate, like those changes embraced, to one or another degree, by non-Orthodox movements. So there is no crime in, and hence no apology for, Orthodox belief. That, though, should not (and in the vast majority of Orthodox Jews does not) in any way affect how we Orthodox view non-Orthodox Jews. My love for an uncle who was a socialist was in no way compromised by my rejection of his world-view.

Dr. Schorsch, as a committed non-Orthodox Jew, does not likely consider the unabashedly atheistic “Humanistic Judaism” philosophy as a legitimate form of Judaism. And if not, it must trouble him that rabbis of that movement seek to redefine Judaism in atheistic terms. Does he, though, hate Jews who, out of unfamiliarity with the Jewish heritage, pay dues to that group? I would certainly hope not.

How, Dr. Schorsch asks, can anyone possibly not take it personally when his or her theological beliefs are rejected? Simple. All that is needed is good will, and respect for the deep-seated convictions of others.

But some of what Dr. Schorsch recounts is deeply disturbing. If, indeed, Orthodox Jews seized on the fact that his father is a chancellor emeritus of the Jewish Theological Seminary to berate Dr. Schorsch, that was uncouth, indeed downright rude. And if, indeed, one of his woman friends was assaulted by haredim for carrying a sefer Torah, all I can say is that haredi leaders have explicitly condemned and forbidden any such reactions to even intentionally provocative public displays of that sort.

Ahavat Yisrael, though, is very much an Orthodox ideal. It is a mandate my wife and I have instilled (thank G-d, successfully, I think) in our children, and one that I stressed, over nearly two decades in Jewish education, to the hundreds of students I was so fortunate to teach (and learn from).

Dr. Schorsch may think it lacking from the larger Orthodox world, but he is wrong.

For example, take Chai Lifeline, which cares for young Jewish cancer patients and their families, regardless of what prefix the beneficiaries may place before “Jew” in their self-description. Or the famed “Satmar Ladies,” who minister to the needs of all Jewish patients in New York area hospitals. And those are but two of the better known of many such chesed organizations under Orthodox auspices.

Then there is the world of Jewish outreach. The very existence of dozens of groups helping Jews interact with their religious heritage should say it all. The concern of the “givers” in these programs transcends any and all denominational lines. A participant who remains a staunch member of a Reform or Conservative congregation is studied with, invited and cared about as much as any belonging to an Orthodox shul or to none at all. It would be exceedingly odd for Jews to be so determined to share what they treasure with other Jews they don’t care for.

And then there are the many “community kollelim” that exist to engage in Torah study not only in the traditional kollel mode of internal study partnerships but which pointedly set aside considerable time for members and their wives to interact and study with men and women from the larger local community – again, without regard to denominational affiliations.

Then there are things like the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation, which has brought unprecedented focus to the importance of “between Jew and Jew” ideals, and the remarkable “Inspired” films, whose entire existence is born of a desire to encourage Orthodox Jews to care about their non-Orthodox brothers and sisters. That the films have drawn large Orthodox audiences in many cities clearly indicates a concern in the Orthodox community for Jews who are not part of it. As do the themes of ahavat Yisrael that are mainstays of lectures by popular Orthodox speakers like Rabbi Paysach Krohn and Rabbi Yissocher Frand, whose audiences sometimes number in the thousands.

Nor should anyone forget Partners in Torah, the celebrated project of Torah Umesorah that matches up Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jewish men and women to study Torah by phone. My wife’s partner in Torah lives in Arizona, is intermarried and belongs to a Conservative temple. My Chassidic colleague’s lives in Poughkeepsie and is of a similar background. At my daughter’s recent wedding, her new mother-in-law, who is from Los Angeles and not Orthodox, got to see her own Partner in Torah, from Lakewood, New Jersey, a young woman who made a long trip just to be at the wedding and dance with the Jewish woman she has been studying with for years. It was a festive sight to behold. Scores of Orthodox Jews are studying with equal numbers of non-Orthodox Jews through this wonderful project.

Orthodox organizations, both in America and Israel, offer Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews alike the benefits of an array of projects, services and educational opportunities. On the local level, practically every Jewish community has an Orthodox chesed group, whose goal it is to assist Jews in need – any Jews in need; likewise a chevra kadisha, or burial society, which prepares the Jewish deceased – regardless of his or her affiliation during life – for Jewish burial.

Even a quick look at any of countless articles in the Orthodox media calling on readers to reach out to and care about all their fellow Jews – or a quick listen to Orthodox-produced audiotapes and CDs for children – readily evidences the prominence given to the promotion of good will toward fellow Jews.

So to Dr. Schorsch I say: I hope you will come to realize how embarrassed and pained most Orthodox Jews are by reports like yours of alleged boorish behavior by some Orthodox Jews. And that you will realize that ahavat Yisrael is in fact a deep conviction in the larger Orthodox world.

I hope, too, that you will consider an open invitation to, at your convenience, grace my family’s Sabbath table with the presence of you and yours. I assure you that the experience will be filled only with smiles (and wholly sincere ones), song, friendly conversation, words of Torah and ahavat Yisrael.

[Rabbi Shafran is director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America.]

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PLANET ISRAEL AT THE END OF THE EARTH: Planet Israel has a picture journal during Pesach break when he and some friends signed up to volunteer at Beit Hoglah.

Part 1: A Journey to the End of the Earth
Part 2: Nahal Ein Hoglah
Part 3: Hiking Nahal Ein Hoglah
Part 4: Shabbat Beit Hoglah

Join them!

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AMERICAN JEWRY CAUSES YERIDA: That is the opinion of Yishai on Kuma
American Jewry is not kosher-style, it's American Orthodox Jewry which is kosher-style.

There they are, parading their black hats to everyone, making sure to keep Shabbos, and Kashrus. But Eretz Yisrael? Even though every page of the Siddur mentions it in one way or another, even the Torah seems obsessed with it, the American-Orthodox seem Exile-content.
Pinchas responds on Kuma:
Let's go straight to the point? Jews living in Chuz L'Aretz are responsible for Yerida? That's like saying the Israeli aggression is responsible for Arab attacks on Jews.

Who is responsible then? There are only two correct answers.
Read the both posts.

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In that debate, moderator Brian Williams of NBC News asked: "If, God forbid, a thousand times, while we were gathered here tonight, we learned that two American cities had been hit simultaneously by terrorists, and we further learned beyond the shadow of a doubt it had been the work of al Qaeda, how would you change the U.S. military stance overseas as a result?" Two of the three frontrunners in the Democratic race couldn't bring themselves to mention any military action at all. [emphasis added]
Seriously--it's one thing for a candidate to talk in the abstract about supporting Israel's right to defend herself, but as president with allies and other considerations to take into account: how solidly will a Democrat as president defend Israel's military action while actively pursuing 'all diplomatic options' with Al Qaeda?

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GIULIANI VS. OLMERT: The Volokh Conspiracy examines a criticism of a speech by Rudy Giuliani which claims that
milking one’s 9/11 reputation for crass political gain is, obviously, despicable
Volokh writes:
Maybe Giuliani's speech can be faulted on all sorts of substantive grounds. But we should encourage politicians to run on their reputations, and encourage them to do things that would build reputations that can get them ahead. And this is especially so when the reputations are for sound leadership in tragic circumstances, where we need sound leadership most.[emphasis added]
So why is Olmert apparently ignorant of the concept of doing things that will build his reputation and respect--in the eyes of both Israel and the Palestinian Arabs?
Maybe the reason is that Olmert has already gotten as far as he can in the Israeli political system--he has no incentive.

One more reason to remove him from office.
[Hat tip: Instapundit]

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ANOTHER ANTI-SEMITIC ATTACK IN FRANCE: Unlike when the grand rabbi of the Nord Pas de Calais region in northern France was attacked, this time at least they are saying it is anti-semitic.

Somewhat different from one of those 'hate crimes' when someone places a ham next to a Muslim.
[Hat tip: LGF]

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

JEWS OF THE CARIBBEAN: One of the disadvantages of moving offices is having to sort through and throwing out accumulated papers. One of the advantages is the papers you find. I thought this was interesting.

From the New York Times, March 27, 2005:
...his bar mitzvah took place at the United Netherlands Portuguese Congregation Mikvé Israel-Emanuel in Willemstad, Curaçao, the island north of Venezuela that is an autonomous part of the Netherlands and home to the oldest continuously operating synagogue in the Western Hemisphere. There, the blanket of soft white sand that coats the floor commemorates the clandestine means by which forcefully Christianized Jews in Inquisition-era Spain and Portugal continued to conduct Jewish prayers.
The shul has one of the three oldest Sifrei Torah in the world, dating from 1320,--and a rich history:

Subjected to forced conversion and the Inquisition in Spain and Portugal, Sephardic Jews sought refuge among the relatively tolerant Dutch and on their even more liberal island outpost in the Caribbean, which Holland seized from Spain in 1634. Jews settled on Curaçao in 1651, three years before the first Jews reached America. They dominated the island's shipping and trade, and by the 18th century formed more than half of Curaçao's white population.

The community grew so wealthy that its contributions sustained fledgling Jewish communities in Colonial America. To this day, Yom Kippur services at Shearith Israel, a Sephardic synagogue on Manhattan's Upper West Side, and the oldest congregation in the United States, features a special prayer of gratitude to the Curaçao community.

Interesting stuff.
And I still have 2 more boxes of papers to go through.

Update: Soccer Dad notes that there is a more current article about 'Jews in the Caribbean': In Cuba, Finding a Tiny Corner of Jewish Life

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THE LOGIC OF FUNDING TERRORISTS: Via IMRA--the logic behind the US spending tax dollars on Fatah, in a nutshell:
Fatah are the "moderates" being armed and trained to be stronger than the "radicals" with the idea being that despite the repeated declarations of "moderate" Mahmoud Abbas that he won't fight the "radicals" that these "moderates" will indeed fight the "radicals" instead of Israel.
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RELIGIOUS MODEL AS ROLE-MODEL? My Ober Dicta writes about the conflict between super-model Chava Mond's world and her being a Kiddush HaShem on account of her being Shomer Shabbos, Shomer Kashrut, davening daily.

A commenter on his blog asks, "What, exactly, do you think she can achieve?"--which brings up the question of whether Mond can still be doing a Kiddush HaShem if people believe there is an intrinsic conflict between her frumkeit and her job.

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AUSTRALIA: RAPPERS VS ISLAMISTS: Israellycool finds that Australia allows Islamist imams but draws the line at rappers.

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WINOGRAD REPORT COMING OUT ON MONDAY: Israel Matzav writes that when the day comes, Olmert and Peretz will get a sneak peak at the Winograd Report one hour before everyone else. In a separate post, Israel Matzav reminds us why the Winograd cannot come out soon enough.

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MEDIA BIAS FROM BBC TO PBS: Jonathan Rosenblum details the well-established media bias in Great Britain, leading up to the almost welcome journalist boycott--and signs of publicly funded bias in the US.
Media Objectivity -- Fuhgeddaboudit!

by Jonathan Rosenblum
Yated Ne'eman
April 25, 2007

It has been a long time indeed since anyone suspected the British media of anything approaching objectivity or fairness regarding Israel. Not without cause has the BBC, the largest and most listened to media outlet in the world, has spent tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees to prevent release and publication of an internal report dealing with the objectivity of its Middle East reporting. One BBC reporter told a Hamas rally in Gaza, that he and his colleagues were "waging the campaign shoulder-to-shoulder with the Palestinian people." And another BBC reporter in Gaza described on camera how she was moved to tears by the sight of a dying Yasiser Arafat.

The British press led the charge proclaiming that the IDF was engaged in genocide in Jenin during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002. In the annals of shoddy, propaganda journalism, the reportage of the battle in Jenin by the British media, including the BBC, deserves a full chapter.

The British press did not just distort and credulously accept at face value the most fantastic stories woven for them by Palestinians, they lied outright. Phillip Reeves of the Independent, informed his readers that Israel's cover up of a "monstrous war crime . . . has finally been exposed. . . . The sweet and ghastly reed of rotting human bodies is everywhere, evidence that this is a human tomb." Yet Reeves could have smelled no such thing for the simple reason that there were too few bodies. After initially reporting 5,000 Palestinian dead – an estimate dutifully reported by much of the British media – even the Palestinians themselves admitted in the end that the total number of Palestinians killed did not exceed 56, and that most of those were armed fighters.

Daily Telegraph reporter David Blair described cold-blooded killings of Palestinian civilians, with a single shot to the head. None occurred. Veteran war correspondents, like the Evening Standard's Sam Kiley and the Times' Janine di Giovanni, termed the scope of the destruction in Jenin the worst that they had seen in decades of covering wars around the world.

Giovanni compared the destruction in Jenin to that in the Chechen capital of Grozny, after Russian artillery leveled the city of 300,000. Blair reported that two-thirds of the Jenin camp was destroyed. Again these purported eye-witness reports were demonstrably lying. The total area of destruction in the camps was a few hundred square meters.

In the documentary, Jenin: Massacring the Truth, the Times’ Di di Giovanni revealed her true colors. Leaning back on plush pillows, she did not squirm under questioning by producer Martin Himel. She refused to talk as long with Yonatan Van Caspel, an IDF reserve officer who lost 13 comrades in Jenin, remained in the room. A bit later, she asks Himel, "Are you Jewish?" Called upon to justify her comparison of Jenin to scenes of mass death in Grozny, she offers only, "Israel always seems to get away with it, doesn't it."

Dave Brown won the British Cartoon Society's 2003 award for the best political cartoon for a portraying a grossly fat Ariel Sharon dropping Palestinian babies into his mouth.

British journalist Chas Newkey Burden relates how after traveling to Israel to write a series of articles on tourism in Israel, he received a call from a journalistic colleague, with whom he had not spoken in years, who told him how "absolutely disgusted" he was with Burden for his trip and to express his hope that Burden would "put the boot in" when he wrote his articles. Over drinks with another group of journalists, one of them gushed admiringly about the "guts" of Palestinian suicide bombers and wished that more people in the world had their courage.

The editor of a respected magazine, which has published numerous articles about Israeli "war crimes," refused -- "because of the need for balance" -- to let Burden write in an op-ed piece that Arafat had refused Ehud Barak's offer at Camp David in 2000 – a fact never denied by Arafat himself.

We are indebted to Zev Chafets for having uncovered the words of British poet Humbert Wolfe, written in 1930, which perfectly capture the state of the British press today: "You cannot hope to bribe or twist/ (thank G-d) the British journalist./ But seeing what the man will do Unbribed,/there's no occasion to."

IN THIS CONTEXT, we should all be grateful for the recently passed resolution of the British National Union of Journalists at its annual meeting calling upon its membership to boycott Israel. That resolution removes once and for all any pretense to objectivity on the part of British journalists.

No other country has ever been subjected to a boycott by the British National Union of Journalists. Not Sudan, which has actively sponsored the murder of over 300,000 black Moslems in Darfur by the janjaweed militias; not North Korea, which has starved millions of its citizens in order to pursue its nuclear ambitions, and which exports nuclear technology to any rogue state interested in purchasing it; not the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia, which killed over two million Cambodians; not China for its occupation of Tibet and efforts to destroy all remnants of Tibetan culture; not Iran which threatens to "wipe out" Israel, and whose highest court recently ruled that it is permissible for private citizens to kill any fellow citizen whom they consider guilty of "immoral activity." (The list could be expanded indefinitely.) Just Israel.

The resolution, inter alia, condemned Israel for its "slaughter of civilians in Gaza," and last summer's "savage pre-planned attack on Lebanon." Apparently, British journalists, sharp observers that they are, had not noticed that Israel withdrew from Gaza in the summer of 2005 and, despite the constant firing of rockets from Gaza at Israeli cities, has not returned. Nor has it come to their attention that the Palestinian civilians being killed in Gaza are being killed by their fellow Palestinians in clan warfare or in battles between Hamas and Fatah factions.

With respect to Lebanon, one wonders whether the British journalists also believe that Israel somehow maneuvered Hizbullah into kidnapping two soldiers, in a cross border raid last July. Needless to say, the resolution makes no mention of the 34 days of missile fire to which over a million Israeli citizens were subjected as well.

The General Secretary of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), Jeremy Dear, offered one more precious justification for the resolution: He described the boycott resolution as a "gesture of support for the Palestinian people – notably those suffering in the siege of Gaza, the community Alan Johnston [the BBC reporter kidnapped and held by Palestinians for more than a month] has been so keen to help through his reporting." (Note the admission that a BBC correspondent was "so keen" to use his position to help the Palestinians.)

The ever sharp Melanie Phillips did her usual job of making mincemeat of this excuse: "The NUJ apparently cannot grasp how demented it is . . . to boycott Israel because of the kidnap of Alan Johnston. . . . . If Palestinians kill Jews, blame Israel. If Palestinians kill Palestinians, blame Israel. If Palestinians kidnap a British NUJ member, blame Israel. And if Palestinian journalists protest to Palestinians about the kidnap by Palestinians of a British journalist, those Palestinian journalists are to be 'rewarded' by – a boycott of Israel."

True, asAs in the case of the resolutions of the British academic unions calling for a boycott of Israeli academics and academic institutions a few years back, only a small fraction of the union NUJ members voted: 120 out of a total membership of 35,000. But the resolution was publicized in advance of the annual meeting, and even assuming that a majority of British journalists opposed the resolution – by no means a given – with a handful of exceptions they did not feel strongly enough about being associated with a motion singling out Israel from all the nations of the earth to attend the meeting or vote against it.

IN A SENSE the British journalists' boycott resolution is a non-story: It merely confirmed what was already evident to any observer of the British media. Far more revelatory, and therefore far more disturbing, are the recent efforts by Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) to censor a documentary entitled Islam vs. Islamists: Voices from the Moslem Center, produced for a PBS series "America at the a Crossroads, " under a grant of $675,000 from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The subject of the documentary is what happens to those Muslims in America and Europe who participate in the democratic processes in their adopted lands, and the pressures to which they are subjected by radical Muslim groups, many of them espousing the Wahhabi stream of Islam and financed by the Saudis.

Clearly the subject is an important one. If as Daniel Pipes has repeatedly said, "Radical Islam is the enemy; moderate Islam is the cure," then there could hardly be a more important topic for Western policymakers, especially those in countries where there are large Muslim populations torn between integrating into their host societies and adopting a radical separatist posture.

Islam vs. Islamists was selected as one of eleven documentaries to air on the "America at the a Crossroads" series. But after it was selected PBS and its local Washington D.C. affiliate WETA placed innumerable obstacles in its path, including demanding a series of changes from the filmmakers that would have totally eviscerated the documentary and stood its message on its head. At one point, the filmmaker Marty Blake, was asked by the president of WETA, "Don't you check into the politics offo the people your work with," a reference to the fact that his co-producers Frank Gaffney and Alex Alexiev are the president and vice-president, respectively, of the Center for Security Policy, a neo-conservative think tank.

The United States Constitution bans religious tests for public office, but apparently PBS does not hesitate to impose a political test on what kind of documentaries may be shown. Only those documentaries produced by those people with solid Left-wing credentials are fit for airing. The rest are not fit for viewing. The idea that government-financed public broadcasting should be limited to the Left side of the political spectrum, in a country where more taxpayers describe themselves as conservative than liberal, is simply mind-boggling.

Nor was the insistence that Gaffney and Alexiev be dropped from the project the end of the procedural irregularities in the handling of the film. One of the segments of Islam vs. Islamists dealt with Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam and the funding that it receives via the Saudi embassy in Washington D.C. So naturally PBS hired as an advisor for that segment an academic who has publicly expressed her admiration for Farrakhan. Even more astounding, the rough cut of that segment was sent to the Nation of Islam for their review.

The PBS producer for the entire series of documentaries was Leo Eaton, whose father Hassan (Charles) Le Gai Eaton, also known as Hassan Abdul Hakeem, is a prominent British convert to Islam and an influential figure in British Islamist circles. The latter's influence was evident in Eaton's criticisms of the documentary. One of the charges made against the documentary was that it was excessively alarmist and portrays all Muslim organizations that are not liberal and Western as threatening. When the filmmakers pointed to their treatment of Sufi Muslims, a stream within Islam dating back to the early centuries of Islam, Eaton countered that they must specify that Sufi is considered heretical by many Moslems.

Eaton further contested whether it might not be a good thing for Muslims in the West to be able to live according to their own legal system, and demanded to know on what basis the producers contended that Sharia is incompatible with Western values. According to Sharia, only a Muslim can judge another Muslim, a Muslim cannot be sentenced to death for killing an infidel (though, naturally, there is no reciprocity in this respect), and a Muslim woman cannot marry without the consent of a male guardian. Each of these requirements would be hard to square with Western values.

One of the sections of the film dealt with "blood money," the practice by which a murderer can free himself of further obligation by paying the family of the murdered party an agreed upon sum. An April 19 article in the New York Times helpfully explained how blood money works in the Iranian legal system. Iran's Supreme Court ruled last week that six members of the state militia cannot be tried for the murder of five people they considered to be "morally corrupt." The court ruled that they would be are immune to prosecution, even if their victims were not in fact "morally corrupt," as long as they had good faith suspicions of moral corruption. In that case, however, they might be required to pay "blood money." Two of those murdered in the Iranian case were an engaged couple whose moral corruption consisted of walking together in public. (But who says the Sharia is not compatible with Western values.) ?) Eaton's response to the "blood money" segment was to describe the institution of "blood money" as a positive means of bringing closure to tribal disputes.

The written criticisms directed to the filmmakers contained a heaping dose of the moral relativism that has become the "religion" of much of Western intelligentsia. Thus they were challenged to explain on what basis they characterize the Muslim group Hizb-ut Tahria as "extremist," despite the fact that it is banned in several Western countries as a terrorist organization. "Moderation" and "extremism," one of the written critiques of the documentary argued, inevitably depend on one's vantage point.

Most disturbing about PBS's so far successful efforts to suppress Islam vs. Islamists is what it reveals about the Europeanization of American elites. Western European elites have to a very large degree shown themselves incapable of awakening to the threat posed to their societies by large, and totally unassimilated, ,Muslim minorities, or by the external threat of radical Islam. Islamophobia is still considered by European policy-makers a far greater danger than radical Islam.

If America follows down that path of underestimating the ambitions of radical Islam or its ability to wage war on the West, then the situation is grave indeed. PBS's efforts to suppress Islam vs. Islamists suggest that America is further down that road than we might previously have suspected.
Read more articles by Jonathan Rosenblum at Jewish Media Resources

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PALESTINIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATE CRITICIZES ARABS--AND LIVES: Israel At Level Ground has a post on Bassam Eid who blames Arab culture instead of occupation for the problems in Gaza--and an exclusive video interview with Eid.

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PETITION IRAN TO RELEASE JEWISH AMERICAN: Hugh Hewitt has the story about Robert Levinson, a Jewish American in Iran on business last month who has not been heard from since March 8. Hewitt has set up a petition here.

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ISRAEL ON THE WAY TO PEACE? From American Thinker:
Specifically, the Arab League, led by the Saudis and Jordanians, has now publicly offered to recognize Israel. That offer comes with conditions that make it unworkable on the surface, although it may provide a basis for further negotiation. But the big breakthrough is implicit, as usual in the complex maneuvering characteristic of that part of the world. When the United States recognized Communist China after many years of passionate refusals, all the preliminary negotiations were conducted in secret between Henry Kissinger and Chinese Foreign Minister Chou En-lai. Nixon's public trip to China just put the official stamp on well-established secret understandings. There are now many reports of secret conversations between Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel.
I'd feel a lot better about this possibility if I thought that the current Israeli government could actually negotiate in its own best interests.
[Hat tip: Larwyn]

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AIPAC TRIAL MAY BE POSTPONED: Seems the law could be getting in the way according to American Thinker:
Due to the inability of the prosecution so far to come up with a means of presenting its case that passes both constitutional and judicial muster, the case against two former AIPAC officials is likely to be postponed from its initial June 4 trial date.

Part of the prosecution's problem seems to be whether the classified information in question is actually damaging to national security.
[Hat tip: Larwyn]

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

EGYPT GETS TOUGH WITH HAMAS: According to the Jerusalem Post:
The officials said Egyptian Intelligence Chief Gen. Omar Suleiman sent a "tough" message to Hamas leaders, warning them against the continued rocket attacks.

...They said that Suleiman also warned that Egypt would not side with the Palestinians if Israel launched a military operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
If only--but based on past history, just why should Hamas fear an Israeli operation in Gaza?
And what would it say if Hamas really did fear Egypt more than their sworn enemy?
[Hat tip: LGF]

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My final thought is YouTube. I have been struck down by the fascists at YouTube. As many of you know, I've been making videos since last summer's war. I made videos chronicling the brave soldiers that fought and died in the war. I also made a video chronicling Holocaust denial in the Middle East. I have been censoring people. When a comment has been posted that has been factually incorrect and/or anti-semitic, I've taken the comment down and blocked the poster from being able to comment again. Apparently, I pist some people off, because YouTube SUDDENLY AND WITHOUT WARNING shut off my account. No particular reason was given, except all the possibilities that could have contributed to the cancellation of my account. So, while the Jihadi and Hezbollah propaganda and recruiting videos remain safely on the site, while anti-semitic Holocaust denial and anti-Israel videos are still playing, my videos have been struck down. It happened to the website, Hot Air, and now it has happened to me. Well, they're not shutting me down. My videos will go up in another format. I'll keep you updated to let you know where they'll be showing up next. I suggest a boycott of YouTube. Is any-one else interested? Has anybody else out there had this happened to them? Let me know.
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