Thursday, February 14, 2008

Only Israeli Judaism is Authentic!

So said Israeli author A.B. Yehoshua in May 2006, at the American Jewish Committee's (AJC) Centennial Symposium.

He reiterated similar sentiments in the clip below.

Unsurprisingly, many both in Israel and the world Jewish community disagreed.

In response, the AJC complied a booklet of responses, both for and against what A.B. Yehoshua said, entitled: The A. B.Yehoshua Controversy: An Israel-Diaspora Dialogue on Jewishness, Israeliness, and Identity

It makes for a good read.

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Are you a Zionist?

Can a Jew who doesn't live in Israel be a Zionist?

Rabbi Avi Weiss says no.

I tend to agree.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

There's no place like home...

German Jewish leader: No need for aliyah agency like Nativ here
German Jewish leaders told visiting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday they were not interested in Israel's offers to expand the Nativ agency's operations to Germany.

Nativ, a semi-covert agency founded within the Prime Minister's Office in the 1950s, deals mainly with helping Jews from the former Soviet Union immigrate to Israel...

German Jews were satisfied with the help being given to them by the Jewish Agency and other sources, and saw no reason to employ other such agencies in Germany.
In fact, not only are Germany's Jews in no rush to leave, but Germany is the fastest growing Jewish community in the world today.
"Berlin is the place to be," Rabbi Walter Homolka, the principal of the Rabbinical Seminary in the German capital, said.
And it seems that many in Israel are expressing agreement with their feet.

It seems as if many of our Jewish brothers and sisters still prefer the free fish they ate under Egyptian bondage over Jewish freedom which only is possible in the Land of the Living - the Land of Israel.


The Comfort of Exile...

Jewish tourist booted from Belgian cafe for wearing Kippa
An American tourist was kicked out of a cafe in Belgium for being Jewish.

Marcel Kalmann, a 64-year-old professor, told the Antwerp Jewish magazine Joods Actueel that he was ejected from the renowned restaurant Le Panier d'Or in Bruges after a waiter saw his yarmulke under his cap.

"We are not serving Jews, out of here," the magazine reported.

Kalmann also told Joods Actueel that he was mistreated at the police station where he went to file a report and was told the incident would not be considered anti-Semitic. He said he will file reports against both the restaurant and the police.

Kalmann was born in the Auschwitz concentration camp three days before its liberation.

The mayor of Bruges has ordered a police inquiry into the incident and apologized to Kalmann, the European Jewish Press reported.
Speaks for itself.

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The Fine Art of Haggling...

One of the things that all Americans learn upon making Aliyah, is that often times, the price given for a particular item is not final, but merely a starting point for negotiations.

Some of us relish the opportunity to bargain in the shuk, while others find the idea to be totally inconsistent with their upbringing - the equivalent of driving on Shabbat (l'havdil).

So, in order to help those of us who haven't yet mastered the fine art of the haggle, perhaps these two instructional videos can help.

For the second video, click here.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Take a (Virtual) Tour of the Temple Mount - Video

Have you ever thought about visiting the Temple Mount, but, for whatever reason, have yet to do so?

Well, here's your chance to take a virtual tour (until you're ready for the real thing, of course).

Below is a video preview (8+ minutes) of a tour of the Temple Mount led by Rabbi Chaim Richman of The Temple Institute. The tour was led in August, 2005.

For the complete 90 minute tour, visit here.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

What's Your Jew I.Q.?

"A nation which does not know what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do."

--- Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States

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Friday, February 01, 2008

A Case of Bad Gas - Revisited

Back in May 2007, I posted about a billion dollar gas deal that Israel was contemplating entering into with the "Palestinian" Authority.

At the time, I raised the following concerns:
1)Would anyone care to guess what the Hamas led PA will buy with $1 billion? In short, this would not be the first time that the State of Israel would be funding our enemies efforts to destroy the Jewish State (See: The Oslo Accords / "Peace Process".)

The fact that there isn't a law forbidding such actions speaks volumes.

2) Equally troubling is why the State of Israel, which possesses very few natural resources, would give away a gas field off it's coast worth billions of dollars?

It seems that I was not the only one to express such concerns. I recently came across a position paper put out nearly 6 months after my post by the Jewish Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) written by former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe (Boogie) Ya'alon, entitled: Does the Prospective Purchase of British Gas from Gaza's Coastal Waters Threaten Israel's National Security?

For those who don't have the time for the full article, Ya'alon's answer is yes, it does.

Some highlights (lowlights?):
* Proceeds of a Palestinian gas sale to Israel would likely not trickle down to help an impoverished Palestinian public. Rather, based on Israel's past experience, the proceeds will likely serve to fund further terror attacks against Israel.

* It is possible that the prospect of an Israeli gas purchase may have played a role in influencing the Olmert cabinet to avoid ordering a major IDF ground operation in Gaza, despite at least 1,000 rocket and mortar attacks against southern Israel since the Hamas takeover of Gaza in June 2007.

* However, with Gaza currently a radical Islamic stronghold, and the West Bank in danger of becoming the next one, Israel's funneling a billion dollars into local or international bank accounts on behalf of the Palestinian Authority would be tantamount to Israel's bankrolling terror against itself. Therefore, an urgent review is required of the far-reaching security implications of an Israeli decision to purchase Gaza gas.
I wonder how I can get myself one of these cushy fellowship positions at a think tank?

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Israel @ 60: A Jewish & Democratic State?

In preparation for the upcoming 60th anniversary of the State of Israel, I was asked to participate in a written debate surrounding the character of the State of Israel.

I was given 300 words to comment on the section of Israel's Declaration of Independence
appearing below. (I will have another 200 words to respond to what one of the other participants in this exercise writes, which I will also post here).
THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

Having suffered in Exile like no other nation, the Jewish people are sensitive to the suffering of others and expect the Jewish State of Israel to serve as a model in how a nation-state can treat its minorities fairly.

It is for this reason that the founding fathers of the State of Israel took pains, in the very paragraph within Israel’s Declaration of Independence stating that the State of Israel will be open to every Jew in the world, to balance that with the assurance that despite being a Jewish state, “complete equality” will be assured to all.

However, does this accurately reflect the vision of the prophets of Israel?

In this paragraph, two distinct values are expressed. First, that Israel should be a Jewish State, and second, that there should be “complete equality” for everyone living in the State of Israel.

Did the Jewish people, for millennia, yearn for a return to Zion merely to create “the only democracy in the Middle East”? Did they dream of granting “complete equality” to strangers, enabling them to turn the Jewish State into a state of its citizens, or decide on issues such as “Who is a Jew?” or “Land for Peace?”


Throughout the long Exile, the Jewish people were sustained by the “vision of the prophets” – of the eventual ingathering of the Exiles. Upon returning to their ancient Homeland the Jewish people would live as proud, strong and sovereign Jews," creating an “exemplary society” and serving as a "light unto the nations," thus sanctifying G-d’s name throughout the world.

Any non-Jew willing to accept Israel as a Jewish State without seeking to undermine that premise would be guaranteed full individual rights. Issues concerning the national character and policy of the Jewish State would be left exclusively to the Jewish people residing in Israel.

Treat the stranger kindly? Certainly, but the Bible didn’t intend this to be taken to the extreme of giving the stranger the keys to our national home.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Non-Kosher Way to Think...

This past week, Israeli (Russian) billionaire businessman, Arkadi Gaydamak, bought the Tiv Ta'am supermarket chain, which, until now, was one of the largest suppliers of pork products in Israel.

Gadamak has declared his intent to make the Tiv Ta'am supermarket chain kosher, dramatically reducing the number of places selling pork product in Israel.

So far so good.

Things get a bit complicated, however, when Gaydamak explain his reasoning for turning Tiv Ta'am kosher.
"I believe that in a Jewish state, in which there is a large Muslim minority, selling pork is a provocation."
If Israel is a Jewish State, then why does it matter how large or small the Muslim population is?

Simply put, what Gaydamak should have said was:

"I believe that in a Jewish State, selling pork is a provocation."

A provocation towards Jews!

If any animal serves as the symbol of all that is non-kosher and anti-Judaism, it is the pig.

However, there is an additional reason why we should be troubled by Gaydamak's remarks. Namely, his remarks serve as an indictment against the Jewish People.

Gaydamak knows that Muslims won't accept pork being sold in their community - and he is not interested in offending their sensibilities, as is made clear by his statement.

Gaydamak doesn't seem to be overly concerned of offending the majority of Jews living in the Jewish State of Israel, and that reflects shamefully both upon Gaydamak and all Jews who call the Jewish State home.

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