Thursday, December 29, 2005

Uh Oh, We're in trouble now...

Check out Israel's Labor party's slogan for the upcoming election campaign:
The Labor Party unveiled its new campaign slogan on Thursday at a motivational meeting for Labor's Knesset candidates: "Amir Peretz, because the time has come."

The new slogan, along with a photograph of a serious Amir Peretz against an Israeli flag, will appear on bumper stickers and t-shirts.

Perhaps this is the cynical side of me coming out, but this slogan seems to be extremely depressing.

Have things gotten so bad that it's time for Amir Peretz? Have we given up on all else that we have decided that perhaps Socialism isn't so bad, after all?

The first thing that came to mind, upon learning of this slogan was the following political campaign ad that he might consider using:

Sad music playing in the background.

Scenes of:

"Palestinians" desecrating the synagogues of Gush Katif and burning them down...

Striking Israeli teachers...

The Iranian president calling to wipe Israel off the map...

Striking Israeli doctors...

Jews being expelled from their homes by the IDF...

Striking Israeli bus drivers and airline pilots...

Followed by:

Excerpts from Amir Peretz's speeches in which he states that if he is elected Prime Minister, he will implement final-status negotiations without delay, eliminating the need for the "Palestinians" to fight terror before Israel makes concessions...

Final Scene:

A serious looking Amir Peretz standing beside an Israeli Flag...


Amir Peretz, because the time has come... to say goodbye to Israel.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Welcome to the SDL: Settler Defamation League

One of the most powerful Jewish lobby groups in the world today, 2nd only to AIPAC, is the Settler Defamation League (SDL) - primarily led by Israel's media, governmental and judicial officials, and other members of Israel's cultural elite - which aims to defame (by all means possible) any Jew who lives over the Green Line (Judea & Samaria), including anyone who believes that the Jewish People have a right to live in Judea & Samaria under the sovereignty of the Jewish State of Israel, and tirelessly works to create an atmosphere of hatred towards the "settler" public and its ideology, within the eyes of the general Israeli public.

Here is the latest example of the SDL's handiwork - an article by David Forman in the Jerusalem Post - Let's take a closer look at the tactics of the SDL, and see if they stand up to the test of truth:

Settlers, hands off the olive trees
There were a number of media reports last month about Jewish settlers in the northern West Bank cutting down hundreds of Palestinian olives trees. I believe these reports are true. In fact, it is almost impossible to keep track of how many times such heinous acts have been perpetrated against innocent Palestinian farmers.

How is it possible that the supposedly respectable Jerusalem Post suddenly has forgotten a basic principle of journalism, namely, the obligation of the paper to verify the accuracy of statements published in its pages, as opposed to publishing conjecture and passing it off as truth?

Forman starts off by saying that he believes the media reports about "settlers" cutting down hundreds of "Palestinian" olive trees to be true.

I find this statement to be strange. If these events truly happened, why does Forman need to qualify it by stating that he believed them to be true? If the "settlers" truly cut down hundreds of olive trees, then how could there be any doubt regarding the veracity of what took place?

Furthermore, Forman continues, that "it is almost impossible to keep track of how many times such heinous acts have been perpetrated".

Is it not the responsibility of a journalist to be able to prove his statements? Are we talking about tens of incidents? Hundreds? Thousands? Millions? If these incidents are happening as often as Forman seems to imply, you would think that there would be someone keeping track of exactly how many incidents are taking place.
I recently joined a group from Rabbis for Human Rights on a mission to the South Hebron Hills. Our purpose was to aid farmers there who were cultivating their fields in preparation for the planting of olive trees... We wanted to protect these Palestinians from marauding settlers who, we had reason to expect, might prevent them from working their lands...

Rabbis For Human Rights is an organization that already has a history of fabricating false reports against "settlers", accusing them of cutting down "Palestinian" olive trees, and the fact that the basis for Forman's article are his activities with this organization calls the accuracy of the entire article into question.

On Nov. 3, (2003) the branches of hundreds of Arab-owned olive trees were found to have been cut down near the small Jewish community of Mitzpeh Yitzhar in the Shomron. Suspicions were immediately focused on the Jewish residents living
nearby, and media reports and public officials took it for granted that they were responsible.

Police now feel that left-wing Israelis and the Arab tree-owners may have manufactured the entire incident as a provocation and a way to besmirch the Jewish population. The police have requested that Rabbi Arik Asherman of the Reform Movement and an Arab who filed charges against Jewish Yesha residents submit to lie-detector tests - but the two have, thus far, refused to do so.

The investigation began its about-face when a Jewish National Fund expert brought in by the police concluded that no lasting damage was done to the trees, and that the tree-cutters did not "cut down" the trees, but rather "pruned" them.

Here's another incident of "settlers" being falsely accused of cutting down "Palestinian" olive tress:

Tree-Cutting "Libel" - Once Again, Jews Stand Accused

The Jerusalem Post article continues:
There seems to be a coordinated plan by the government, IDF, civil administration and Jewish settlers to make the South Hebron area "Arab Free." This effort includes the destruction of houses, tents and caves. It apparently involves sealing wells, uprooting orchards, poisoning grazing fields and preventing Arab residents from farming their land and tending their livestock.

These measures appear to be carried out as if to exhaust the local Palestinian population, to further impoverish them and to run them off their land without compensation...

Notice Forman's statements:

* There seems to be...
* It apparently involves...
* These measures appear to be carried out as if to...

So, which is it? Are these accusations by Forman based on fact or mere conjecture and speculation?
On our trip, we encountered harrowing Jewish religious fanaticism... Within minutes, about 60 settlers from Susya appeared, rifles slung over their shoulders, descending upon the few Palestinians working their fields...

What is it exactly, according to Forman, that enables him to label these "settlers" immediately upon seeing them, as Jewish religious fanatics?

Is it because they are religious? Is it because some may have had beards? Perhaps they wore knitted kippot? Is it because they carried guns (legally)? Or, is it simply that anyone who lives over the Green Line immediately considered to be an extremist, no questions asked?
After the destruction of olive groves in the north, one would have expected the army to protect the Palestinians and to apprehend the criminals who destroy their property. This never happens, nor are perpetrators of virtually all settler violence against Palestinians ever arrested and tried...

How can it be that in the wake of so many incidents of "settlers" supposedly cutting down "Palestinian" olive trees - so many incidents in fact, that it is "impossible" to know exactly how many - that no "settlers" have been convicted for such actions?

Could it be, perhaps, as has been documented above, that those accusing the "settlers" of such actions have questionable credibility at best?
Postscript: As I write these lines, 140 trees were cut down in the Palestinian village of Burin.

Sure they were.

The latest idea for peace in the Middle East (Don't get too excited)

Ever since the Six-Day War in 1967, both the international community, as well as the State of Israel have struggled to define the status of the areas of which Israel came into possession in the outcome of the war (Judea, Samaria, Gaza, Golan Heights, Jerusalem...).

There are basically 3 schools of thought on this matter:

The majority of the international community (as well as many in Israel) believes that these areas are Occupied Territories - areas that legally, Israel has no right to.

Israel's official position is that these areas (with the exception of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, which were annexed) are not Occupied Territories, but Disputed Territories.

Alternatively, there are those that believe that from a religious perspective, a historical perspective, and an international law perspective, the Jewish People and State of Israel have every right to these areas, and as such, they are to be viewed as Liberated Territories.

Now that we have context, we can proceed.

Labor peace plan: Lease West Bank settlement blocs from PA
Labor Party Chair Amir Peretz's diplomatic team is formulating a platform calling for the long-term leasing of large West Bank settlement blocs from the Palestinians, adopting the model of Great Britain and China with regard to Hong Kong.

Using this model, the large blocs of settlements, Ma'ale Adumim, Gush Etzion and Ariel, would remain under Israeli control in exchange for monetary or territorial compensation to the Palestinian state.

So there you have it. Under the new "peace plan" proposed by Labor, if the settlement blocs are to remain under Israeli control / sovriegnty, it we will have to pay for that right, since really the land does not belong to Israel or the Jewish People.

In reality, this is a very logical statement from Labor's perspective. If we are occupiers, then the land does not belong to us, we are thieves or tourists, whichever you prefer, and we must pay for the right to stay on the land.

What will be interesting to see is how long it will be before Labor takes a few other logical steps:

* Why only lease the settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria? What about the Jewish communities built in Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, which the vast majority of the world refuses to view as belonging to Israel?

* Why not offer reparations to the "Palestinian People" over the suffering the Jewish People caused them in establishing the State of Israel (in pre-1967) boundaries? After all, it was the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 that the Arab world commemorates as The Naqba - The Catastrophe - and is a day of morning for Arabs throughout the world (including the Arabs of Israel - with Israeli citizenship)?

* Finally, if we are occupiers, and if we have been the cause of so much suffering the in the world - especially to the "Palestinians" then by what right do we have to remain here?

We'll save the last two for the next elections - one step at a time, right?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Rantings of an Aliyah Cynic

It seems that not everyone who chooses to make Aliyah is able to see life in Israel through rose-colored glasses - case in point being an article in the Jerusalem Post by Noga Martin, 30, "the elder daughter of non-observant secular humanist parents - who never attended Hebrew school or had a bat mitzva".

Among Noga's gripes:
...If you think that... the minute your plane lands, you'll be "home," think again...

Anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that it's easier to stay married than for an immigrant to remain in Israel after the initial euphoria has worn off...

It's the small things - walking into a store and being ignored by the clerk, who is chatting on a cell phone. Banks that are open different hours on different days, and never when it's convenient. Shoddy merchandise that costs twice what it would abroad and falls apart three times as quickly. People who take your orders for coffee and then - after you remind them twice - still manage to get it wrong.

Shouting. Boy are Israelis shouters. Litter. People who don't pick up after their dogs. People who don't clean up after their children...

You'll earn far less than you would anywhere else. Most people live in debt...

Be prepared to lose any reticence you might have had about discussing financial matters. People will ask you how much rent you pay, or, if you buy an apartment, or anything else, how much it cost...

Israeli emigrants, however, visiting their homeland, are always careful to point out that there's no place like Israel.

Sure, they got out. They can afford to sentimentalize.

You know what? On a lot of these points Noga happens to be on the money. For the life of me, I cant figure out the schedule of banks and the post office in Israel, or why one needs to be at the peak of their physical fitness in order to avoid getting trampled while boarding a bus.

But, so what!?! Whoever said that living in Israel was boring, easy, or without challenges? If that's what you're looking for, move to New Zealand.

There is something special about living in Israel that can't be translated into $$$, a quality of life that just isn't possible anywhere else in the world.

Does life in Israel have its quirks and frustrations? Absolutely. Does the political / security / religious situation here drive me mad? All the time, but its a small price to pay to for the privilege of being able to take an active role in shaping the future of the Jewish People and building the Jewish State into one which will allow us to actualize our collective destiny.

Are things perfect here? Hardly. But for the first time in 2,000 years we have our own challenges, our own dilemmas, our own government, army, economy, education system... and that's something to be thankful for, and it’s exciting to be a part of trying to get it right – instead of just complaining about what’s wrong.

At the end of the day, this little country called Israel is home - the only one we have - and when you look at the bigger picture - where we have come from and where we are going, it all happens here, in Israel.

All in all, I'm happy to be here, and I don't regret my decision to leave NY for a second - even if our neighbor's dog won’t stop barking, and the neighborhood kids are a little loud.

Monday, December 26, 2005

On Standing for Nothing...

I strongly believe that the reason that Israel has found no peace since her establishment has only minimally to do with the Arabs and more to do with ourselves.

From the very beginning of the establishment of the State of Israel we have been a confused people. We have never, collectively figured out who it is that we are, where it is that we are aspiring to reach, what exactly our national goals are - and as a result, we are beset, both within the State of Israel and without, with challenges that threaten the continued existence of Israel.

A few recent examples:

* FM: Likud willing to make concessions in talks with PA
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom... refused to elaborate on what he called "painful concessions" in a potential settlement with the Palestinians, but added, "it is certain that we won't take an extreme route that that says 'no' to every proposal meant to promote peace."

Shalom also said that "it is inappropriate to declare red lines before negotiations begin, because as far as the Palestinians go, negotiations start there."

Granted, I will admit that I am not in favor of there being any negotiations with the "Palestinians", but if you are going to enter into negotiations, how can you not know at the outset what your red lines are? How can you not know what your limits and goals are? It's not enough to simply state that peace is a goal; peace is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself.

The "Palestinians" know very clearly what there goals are, and what their lines are. What meaningful concessions have the Palestinians ever made in negotiations with Israel? Israel keeps ceding territory, releasing terrorists, providing weapons, allows Hamas (and other terrorist organizations) to run in elections, relinquishes sovereignty in Jerusalem, and for what? For continued promises that the "Palestinians" will stop incitement and crack down on terror - as if that doesn't get old after a while.

* Trend: Israeli envoys marry non-Jews
At least 20 ambassadors, consul generals, and security officers are known to have married Christian women in the countries they serve in... The principal argument is that Israeli diplomats are supposed to strengthen the bond between Jewish communities abroad and the Jewish State... “It doesn’t look good. Which message is this sending out? If Israeli representatives are marrying Christians, how are we to convince our youths to marry Jews?”

(For an insightful analysis of this issue, check out Yehudi Yerushalmi).

The first time I read this article, I was genuinely bothered by this trend, but the more I thought about it, I said to myself, "why not"? After all, what's so bad about these consular & embassy officials marrying non-Jews while abroad? Would it be any worse if they married them while living in Israel? if not, then why shouldn't they be able to do so while abroad?

Who are we? Are we Israelis or Jews?

What was the purpose of the re-establishment of the State of Israel? Was it meant to be a Jewish State or a state (nation) like all others?

What are our ultimate values? Are we a Jewish State or a democratic one? If both, then which takes precedence and priority? Western, liberal, progressive values or Jewish ones?

What are our national goals? Peace? Redemption? A new Middle East? Secure and defensible borders? To be "one nation in the Land"? To create an "ideal society" that will serve as a "light unto the nations" and "to perfect the world under the Kingdom of Hashem"?

Until we can, as a nation, answer these questions, the Jewish People and the State of Israel will know not of peace nor tranquility.

Anyone have any ideas as to how to arrive at the answers to these questions, and what those answers should be?

The Revolution has begun!

The Revolution has begun...

There are two things you can choose to do about it:
You take the blue pill and the story ends. You wake in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe.

You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.

Remember -- all I am offering is the truth, nothing more.

The choice is yours - but before you decide - WATCH THIS.

If you like the message behind this film, then post it on your site, so it will gain maximum exposure.

To learn more about this flash film, created by KUMAH, click here.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Cleaning out the Likud...

It's ironic.

Bibi Netanyahu's efforts to cleanse the Likud of it's criminal elements (read: to get rid of Moshe Feiglin) are a true litmus test as to where the party now stands in relation to what it once stood for.

Bibi Netanyahu is advocating that the Likud Central Committee approve a change to the party's constitution that would ban anyone with a criminal record and a jail sentence of at least three months from running for Knesset (Courtesy of Arutz-7).
In Nov. 1997, Feiglin - as leader of the anti-Oslo Zo Artzeinu (This is Our Land) organization - was sentenced to six months in prison, which he was permitted to convert to six months of public service. He had been convicted two months earlier of "sedition" for organizing massive road blockades in the framework of anti-Oslo protests in 1994.

In handing down the sentence, the judges said that the government should learn from this affair to be more attuned to the opinions of large sectors of the society. They said that the defendants carried out a "sincere protest" in pure faith, and that they represented the opinion of many who felt that the government was purposely ignoring them...

Feiglin was not allowed to run in the last Knesset election, by Supreme Court order. In January 2003, the Court sustained the Election Commission's ruling to disqualify him, claiming that his conviction on charges of "sedition" - for organizing road-block protests of the Oslo Accords - was a crime involving "moral turpitude." Israeli law states that conviction of such a crime makes one ineligible to run for Knesset for seven years.

Bibi has made it clear that the Likud is no longer the party for those who are opposed to the Oslo Accords, and other such "peace" initiatives.

Moshe Feiglin, however, should not feel alone in his abandonment by the new Likud.

The law that Bibi is working to implement would likely have disqualified Ze'ev Jabotinsky - founder of the Revisionist Zionist movement (and predecessor to the Likud) - from running for a slot in the Knesset, as he was exiled from Palestine for his Zionist activities by the British.

Additionally, two former Likud Prime Ministers, Menachem Begin (former head of the Irgun) and Yitzchak Shamir (Lehi) were viewed as terrorists by the ruling British authorities during the British mandate of Palestine, would also likely have been disqualified from representing the Likud in the Knesset.

What about Natan Sharansky? he is another member of the Likud with a criminal record, having spent over a decade in numerous prisons and work camps throughout the former Soviet Union.

What Moshe Feiglin has in common with the likes of Begin, Shamir, Jabotinsky and Sharansky is that they all were principled individuals who fought for the rights of the Jewish People and of the right of the Jewish People to a Jewish State in the Land of Israel - and who were prepared to stand up for their beliefs, even in the face of corrupt regimes that branded them as criminals.

Bibi Netanyahu has no place amongst men such as these. Bibi Netanyahu represents the antithesis of these values - one whose political positions change with the wind. Bibi Netanyahu represents the new Likud - whose relation to the original Likud being in name only.

Welcome to the new, cleaner Likud.

You Decide: To kill or to be killed...

Ariel Sharon, and the supporters of the "Disengagement" from the Gaza Strip (and the expulsion of the thousands of Jews who lived there) promised that once Israel had completely withdrawn (read: retreated) from Gaza, Israel would no longer tolerate any terror attacks launched from Gaza, and Israel's response would be fierce and crushing.

Unsurprisingly enough, Ha'aretz reports that in the three and a half months since the IDF evacuated the settlements in the Gaza Strip and removed its bases from there, 230 incidents of Qassam fire have been recorded. In a significant portion of the incidents, more than one rocket was fired at a time.

Do the math - that's an average of over 2 Qassam rockets falling into Israel a day - and does not include the scores of rockets that for various reasons don't successfully reach Israel.

This past week alone:

* A Qassam rocket attack nearly took out the Ashkelon (Rottenberg) power plant, which provides electricity for more than a 3rd of the country (as well as our enemies in Gaza), and this was not the first time rockets have reached the industrial zone in Ashkelon. Ashkelon has become the new Sderot.

* A Qassam rocket attack was launched against an army base in the Ashkelon region, which wounded 5 soldiers. Israel's predictable response was, as reported by Ha'aretz, the IDF will begin working on strengthening defenses against Qassam fire on its boot camp base... The army plans to build a defensive wall around the tents to decrease shrapnel damage. The IDF acknowledges that even after the wall is erected it will be far from perfect in protecting the soldiers.

Build more walls - Israel's answer to every problem she faces.

Nearly 3 weeks ago, in the wake of the Netanya terror attack that killed six, and wounded scores more, Israel vowed a new, tough response to terror attacks, in particular Qassam rocket fire (courtesy of Ha'artez):
In the wake of the suicide bombing in Netanya on Monday, and the constant barrage of Qassam rockets on communities in the south of the country, Israel has decided to adopt a harsher response to the rocket fire.

Israeli artillery fire against the Qassam launchers that had been aimed, for the most part, only at open areas will now be directed also at built-up areas from where the rockets are being fired.

Ahead of the artillery fire at the built-up areas, the Israel Defense Forces will employ loudspeakers to ask the Palestinian residents to clear the area.

3 weeks have gone by in which rockets have continued to fall on Israel on a daily basis; on Jewish communities, army bases and power plants, and Israel's response is to build more walls, and to continue shelling empty fields.

In the meantime, our enemies continue to improve their abilities to destroy us. According to the IDF, as reported by Ha'aretz,
The Islamic Jihad terrorist organization has been upgrading their Qassam rockets... Islamic Jihad's shelling barrages during the past few weeks have been much more precise in finding their targets than in the past... Security sources believe Hamas is taking advantage of the relative calm in violence to focus on improving the Qassams' range. The sources said Hamas would soon be able to produce rockets with a range of some 15 kilometers.

Why is it that as the missile barrage continues to rain down upon Jewish communities, army bases and power plants, that Israel busies itself with building walls, early warning systems and shelling empty fields? Why is Israel unable to act before more Jews are killed?

The Talmud teaches us,
If Someone Comes to Kill You, Rise Up and Kill Him First

If this adage doesn't apply to the current situation in which Israel finds herself in, then when does it apply?!?

(Hat Tip: Joe Settler)

Friday, December 23, 2005

Brotherly love...

I am often times outspoken regarding the many challenges (not problems) facing the Jewish People and State, offering a critical outlook on Israeli society, and the values that it represents and promotes.

However, I must apologize if I have given my readers the impression that there are only faults to be found within Israeli society, because, in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. There are countless special things that take place everyday here in Israel, and while I believe that it is of the utmost importance to highlight the challenges we face here, as we can't hope to overcome them if we are not aware of them, but at the same time, that should not come at the expense of highlighting all the good that takes place here.

In that spirit...

Israeli rescuers to search for four missing travelers in Chile
An Israeli search-and-rescue team was set to reach Chile on Friday in an effort to find four Israelis who went missing during a trek in the center of the country, Israel Radio reported.

The four were traveling in the Villa Rica national park, but have not made contact with their families since beginning their trek there last week. They had been planning to reach a hotel Sunday.

Local rescue forces have been searching for the Israelis, to no avail, the radio said.

Can you think of any other country in the world that would go to such great lengths to find a couple of their backpackers who got lost in some other country?

You go hiking, you get lost. It happens. You wouldn't expect your home country, thousands of miles away to be overly concerned about it, especially when it has more pressing issues to deal with...

That's the special thing about Israel. Even complete strangers are family. People care about each other, always offering unsolicited advice, helping each other out...

There's nowhere else quite like it.

Only in Israel... the country of brotherly love.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

What if...?

What if...?

Keep that question in your mind while reading the following news story:

Pro-Palestinian Brit refuses to leave
A British citizen and member of the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement, arrested a month ago after allegedly assaulting a soldier in Hebron, cannot be deported from Israel despite being considered a security risk, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

Andrew Macdonald, a 31-year-old Glasgow native, has spent the past three weeks in a detention center in the south awaiting deportation. Police confirmed on Wednesday that they were unable to deport Macdonald due to his refusal to board a Scotland-bound plane and his alleged threats to disrupt the flight...

"If Macdonald doesn't want to be deported than he will just have to stay in prison," police said. "We have repeatedly offered him to take a flight home but he refuses and there is nothing we can do about it."

"I will not agree to get on a plane," he said. "I am refusing the deportation since the Israeli military arrested me outside the borders of Israel in the West Bank and transferred me to their country. This doesn't happen anywhere else in the world."

What if... Andrew Macdonald was a Jew?

What if... Andrew Macdonald was a Jew who lived in Yesha (Judea, Samaria & Aza)?

What if... Andrew Macdonald was a Jew who lived in Yesha, in an area that the Government of Israel had decided to "disengage" from?

What if... Andrew Macdonald was a Jew who lived in Yesha, in an area that the Government of Israel had decided to "disengage" from, and yet he refused to leave?

Does anyone truly believe that if Andrew Macdonald was a Jew who lived in Yesha, in an area that the Government of Israel had decided to "disengage" from, and yet he refused to leave, that the Government of Israel would simply throw up its hands in frustration?

Can you imagine the following scenarios taking place:

IDF Soldier: Andrew (the Jew), we have orders that we must carry out. It's time for you to leave your home and come with us.

Andrew (the Jew): No. I refuse. If you try to make me leave my home against my will, I will cause trouble.

IDF Soldier: Ok. You can stay.

Or, how about this twist:

IDF Soldier: Andrew (the Jew), we have orders that we must carry out. It's time for you to leave your home and come with us.

Andrew (the Jew): No. I am refusing the deportation since you are acting outside the borders of the State of Israel.

IDF Soldier: Ok.

IDF Soldier (speaking to his commanding officer): We have repeatedly offered him a chance to leave his home but he refuses and there is nothing we can do about it.

Commanding Officer: Ok.

Of course, Andrew Macdonald isn't a Jew who lives in Yesha, in an area that the Government of Israel had decided to "disengage" from.

On the contrary.

Andrew Macdonald is an enemy of the Jewish State and People, an ally to her enemies - the "Palestinians" - and as such, the Government of Israel is powerless to act against him.

Makes perfect sense to me.

On the limits of democracy in the Jewish State - A Dialogue

A few days ago, I wrote a post on Azmi Bishara, a vocally-anti-Zionist Arab Knesset Member who, of late, hass been calling for the destruction of the Jewish State. After detailing a few of Bishara’s more choice expressions, I asked:
Why is it that in the Jewish State of Israel, that we must suffer the indignity of having people like Azmi Bishara sit in the Knesset and have a say shaping the policies and character of the Jewish State?

In response, Don from On the Contrary wrote the following comment (quoted with his permission):
Let’s say that we throw Azmi Bishara out of the Knesset, prosecute him, throw him in jail, whatever. What happens next? The same people who voted for him will elect someone else who’s just as anti-Israel, if not worse.

What are you going to do? Take away their right to vote? Take away their citizenship? Throw them out of the country? Kill them? So much for democracy.

The problem isn’t Azmi Bishara - not that I have any particular love for the man. The problem is that in 57 years since independence, we have largely failed to give Israeli Arabs a reason to feel Israeli rather than Palestinian. Of course the failure hasn’t been total, or we’d have more Azmi Bisharas in the Knesset than we do. But we need to accept that Azmi Bishara was elected by people who really do feel the way he does about the State of Israel, and by their own lights have every right to feel this way.

I’m not sure how to solve this problem. Creating a less discriminatory society might help, but it would be painful and expensive, would take a long time, and certainly wouldn’t be 100% effective. All I can say for sure is that focusing on Azmi Bishara as the villain of the story is exactly the wrong thing to do – it won’t do a thing to solve the underlying problem.

I replied to Don (by e-mail) with the following:
Don, very simple. If I had my way, Azmi Bishara and other Israeli Arabs would not be in the Knesset. I am not in favor of the idea of non-Jews shaping the national character and policy of the Jewish State.

I am prepared to provide all those non-Jews who are willing to swear loyalty to the Jewish State and forfeit any national claims [with] basic civil rights and communal autonomy – just the inability to vote in the Knesset.

I agree with you that Israeli Arabs have every right to feel the way they do towards Israel, but I also believe that the Jewish People have the right to ensure the continued existence of the Jewish State.

I do not believe that we need to provide non-Jews with the ability to peacefully and democratically do away with the Jewish State or to incite against it.

The underlying issue is not a lack of equality or acceptance, but the belief that we can buy the loyalty of the Arabs and make them forget their national aspiration for a bowl of lentil soup... which is racist and condescending, if you ask me.

Finally (for now), Don answered my e-mail with the following thoughts:
If we take away the right to vote and serve in the Knesset from Israeli Arabs, how long will it be before we start doing the same thing to Israeli Jews who aren't “the right kind of Jew”?

My concerns in this regard are not entirely unrealistic. I am already partially disenfranchised: I am a non-Orthodox Jew, and yet a portion of my taxes goes to support a purely Orthodox (and the most inflexible kind of Orthodox) rabbinical establishment which holds tremendous power. I have to pay for the Rabbanut, yet I get no say in who runs it. Streams of Judaism to which I would be more sympathetic get little or no state funding, and have no right to perform weddings, funerals, or conversions here.

In fact, my wife and I can’t even get married in Israel, because the Rabbanut has a problem with her conversion (Orthodox rabbi/Conservative witnesses) 22 years ago in Texas, and there is no alternative here to a Rabbanut wedding. So much for equal rights!

* * *

The argument you’re making is fundamentally flawed. As soon as we start discriminating against Arabs in the way you discuss, we’ve crossed the line: we are no longer a democratic state. We’ve established that we can take civil rights (and the right to vote and be represented is a very fundamental civil right!) away from people simply because they hold views we don’t like. Once we’ve done that, there’s no stopping. It’s like the old story:
First they came for the communists and I said nothing because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they locked up the Social Democrats, and I said nothing; after all, I was not a Social Democrat.

When they arrested the trade unionists, I said nothing; after all, I was not a trade unionist.

They came for the Jews, and I said nothing because I wasn’t a Jew.

And then they came for me, and there was no-one left to say anything for me.

If the vote were taken away from Israeli Arabs, before too long the vote would be taken away from Israeli Jews – and that would mean the end of the State of Israel.

As far as I’m concerned, today’s Arab is tomorrow’s non-Orthodox Jew. After all, I too hold views (on many subjects, including, for example, Jerusalem) that you probably consider inimical to your concept of the Jewish State.

That’s as far as our discussion has progressed so far. As the issues involved are important ones, We decided to open it up to all of our readers and allow them to express their thoughts on the matter.

So, what are your thoughts on the balance between Israel existing as both a Jewish & democratic state?

The measuring stick of Zionism

The battle over the soul of the State of Israel is being waged before our very eyes, and the stakes are, simply put, the very future of the Jewish People.

It is said that when Tel Aviv mayor Meir Dizengoff was informed about prostitution in his city, he evinced satisfaction that the Jews had become a "normal people."

Was the purpose of Zionism, and the establishment of the State of Israel, as a State of the Jews, simply to enable the Jewish People to become "normal", or was the re-establishment of the State of Israel, as a Jewish State only a means to a greater end, whereby the Jewish People would be able to actualize their religio-national destiny?

Depending how one answers the above question will determine their attitude to the following two stories:

1) Police bust central Israel's `Ocean's 11' burglary ring
A sophisticated burglary ring has been at work in central Israel almost every weekend for the past few months, netting millions of dollars by means of special burglary tools and methods straight out of a Hollywood movie, police investigators believe.

2) Last year, Labor MK Opher Pines Paz, in relation to the numerous corruption scandals involving Ariel Sharon and his family, said the following:
This is very sad, very grave, but this is the reality of Israel in 2004. There's Sopranos on television, and there's Sopranos in Israel.

Are we to view the fact that Israel is faced with prostitution, rampant government corruption, and a mafia crime ring that would make Al Capone and John Gotti proud -"Zionist" versions of the Sopranos and Ocean's 11 - as a source of national pride, celebrating the success of Zionism in turning the Jews into a "normal people", or are we to view the existence of such societal ills as a national badge of shame - that in the desire to turn the Jews into a "normal people", Judaism got left behind, Zionism lost its way, and these are the fruits of the labor?

What in G-d's name is going on here? Photo Trivia - UPDATED

What is going on in this picture?

I give you my word that it is relevant to the spirit of this blog (I think...).

Here's the answer:

Would-be Israeli brides leave intimate offering for rabbi

(Hat-Tip: Strong Bad)

(UPDATE: Jameel of The Muqata has pointed out to me that this has already gone up on a few other sites. In any case, I had initially hoped to do this post a few days ago, when Strong Bad 1st brought it to my attention, but due to unforseen circumstances, I didn't get a chance to post it until now.

So, for those of you who already know what this is, having seen it somewhere else, I apologize, and I'll try to be more original - and quicker to the post - in the future.)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

What on earth are you doing here?

This blog is not a personal diary. This blog is not meant as a place for me to simply write what's on my mind.

This blog is meant to serve as a forum where I am able to express my (non-conformist / non-mainstream) viewpoints relating to the significance of the Jewish People having returned to the Land of Israel, with a particular emphasis on the challenges that currently face the Jewish People & State, and what needs to be done in order for us to overcome those challenges and actualize our collective potential and destiny, which can only be achieved in the Land of Israel.

So, the question that I would like to pose to my readers is the following:

What brings you here?

I came up with the following possible reasons as to why someone visits this blog (and I am curious as to which category my readers fall into):

* One happens upon this blog by chance (and generally the visit lasts a few seconds)

* One visits this blog because they share my religious / political / ideological beliefs

* One visits this blog because they disagree with my beliefs, but are curious as to what someone from "the other side" has to say about any given issue

* One visits this blog because they are interested in hearing a different perspective about the challenges facing the Jewish People & State - one that they aren't getting from the mainstream media

I would really be interested in finding out which of these reasons (or others) are bringing you here.

So, don't be shy. If you're reading this already, take a moment to tell me why.

A Chance for True Peace...

Some of the readers of this blog may have the impression that I am against peace with the Arabs. I want to make it clear that nothing could be further from the truth. Perhaps the confusion arises from the fact that I may have a different vision of peace and what must be done to attain it than those who define themselves as being in the "Peace Camp" and who advocated peace initiatives the likes of the Oslo Accords and the "Disengagement" plan that have failed to provide either peace or security.

As such, I have decided to launch my own peace movement, to be known as YAMAH or “To the Sea” in the hopes of bringing the Jewish - Muslim / Arab conflict to an end.

YAMAH believes in the following principles:

YAMAH believes that up until now, the basic premise guiding each of the failed attempts at peace has been the flawed assumption of the willingness of the Muslim / Arab nations to accept a Jewish State in the Middle East. The very presence of a Jewish State (of any size) in the Middle East serves as a provocation. The existence of Israel represents a collective badge of shame to the Arab states and the Nation of Islam, as a whole.

YAMAH believes that it is a natural response of the Muslim / Arab states, in trying to rectify such a gross injustice, to do so through any means possible. Whether through war, terror, boycotts, incitement, or the exploitation of natural resources to bring about world pressure on Israel, all means of fighting this grievance are to be expected and accepted as being legitimate means to right a historic wrong.

YAMAH believes that it is we, the Jews, who are truly responsible for the Jewish - Arab / Muslim conflict and all of the blood that has been shed throughout it, be it Jewish or Arab / Muslim. Giving away significant areas of territory to the "Palestinians" in an attempt to appease the Muslim / Arab world will not work, as even a small Jewish State in the Middle East represents a gross injustice. For the Jewish People to think that they can buy off the Muslim / Arab nations and cause them to forget their sense of dignity is shameful and perhaps even racist.

YAMAH calls for the Jewish citizens of the State of Israel to mobilize and willingly march themselves into the sea. Only in this way can a peaceful resolution be brought to the Muslim / Arab - Jewish conflict and for all of the bloodshed to be brought to an end. One of the names of G-d is Shalom, and we are taught to be like Aharon the Kohen – “to be a lover of peace and to pursue it”, and it is based on this central tenet of Judaism that YAMAH make its call. No doubt, this won’t be easy, but for true peace one must be willing to make painful sacrifices.

YAMAH calls on the Arab states and the Nation of Islam, in a gesture of goodwill, to support this initiative, to crack down on any extremists opposed to it, and to begin educating their people, in Arabic, towards the importance of such an action.

YAMAH – “To the Sea” – For true peace – it’s our only hope!

The Jewish Value of Partying!!!

If the values that parents pass on to their children are an accurate indication of the values of a particular people, culture & society, then there is cause for concern in the Jewish State (courtesy of Yediot Achronot):
I want to be like big people,” announced six-year-old Omri, resting at the bar of the Laser Club in Tel Aviv. “Adults go to dance at nightclubs and now I do, too. It's great - instead of dancing to (silly children's songs) we dance to real music,” he said as he swallowed the rest of an ice slushy...

For NIS 20 (USD 4.35) per adult and NIS 30 (USD 6.50) per child (including a slushy and a glow-in-the-dark bracelet,) parents and children get the chance to boogie until eight o’clock. The party, run by a “Yeladisko”, or children's disco, includes two performers to show the new recruits how to get down...

..."The parents will experience a different kind of quality time with their children and the children will get to dance in a genuine nightclub... “Everything here is focused on strengthening the family bond".

The music is mainly of Israeli hip-hop and trance, just like a regular nightclub.

I dance here the same way I dance without the children, I drink a little, get into the mood. The truth, what’s wrong with starting the week this way?”

Isn’t it too young to start the whole club scene at age six?

Not at all. What’s wrong with dancing with your mother? What’s wrong with trance music? If it's fun for parents then it’s also fun for their children.”

The existential threat that trance culture poses to the continued existence of Israel as a Jewish State is addressed in an insightful essay entitledThe 52nd Anniversary of the Creation of the State of Israel: Israeli Society in a State of Trance - By Julian Schvindlerman:
In order the understand the overwhelmingly favorable reception which trance enjoys in Israel, we must delve a bit further into the nature of the two major currents shaping Israeli society at the moment... post modernism, with its nihilism and perpetual emptiness, and post-Zionism, a homegrown variant of the former. Post-Zionism is progressively de-Judaizing Israel...

The children of post-modernism no longer believe in the dream of forging a better society, nor are they overly enchanted with the gains of "progress". Their attitude is, quite frankly, indifferent... Hedonism is given first place, and ego-gratification dominates all other areas...

There is really no need to be amazed at the demoralization of Israel’s youth, particularly when its own self-appointed intellectual role models seem committed to destroying the trust which young people formerly placed in their own institutions. The central message being purveyed: Zionism is unjust. Obviously, Israeli youth will lose their ideological bearings if their elders are hell-bent on erasing the Jewish uniqueness in return for an abstract universalism...

Using the slogans of democracy and universalism, the post-Zionist movement is robbing the Jewish people of its greatest treasure: self-confidence. It is going to take more than a cocktail of drugs and psychedelic music to reinvigorate the faith in ourselves that we have lost.

Let's now return to the questions raised in the original article: What's the big deal about trance music? What's wrong with mothers and their children going clubbing together - the mothers sipping their alcoholic drinks and dancing with abandon, while their kids slurp their slush’s at the bar, or try their hand at getting down on the dance floor with mom?

Is it any wonder that parents in Israel are passing on the empty values of the trance ideology on to their children when:

* They have given up their belief in the right of the Jewish people to a Jewish State;
* Their lives are driven, first and foremost, by a desire to fulfill their own self-interests and desires;
* They, themselves, are seeking to escape from the challenges inherent in being a member of the Jewish People and living in the Jewish State;
* They have been inundated by the Israeli media, Supreme Court, politicians and education system with the idea that the State of Israel was born in sin, and that we are occupiers and thieves.

The only cure for those infected by the trance ideology is to give them a sense of Jewish pride - both in the Jewish People & the Jewish State - to provide them with a sense of purpose and meaning - recognition of the glorious history of the Jewish People, and the majestic destiny that awaits us and which can only be actualized in the Land of Israel.

Hopefully, it's not too late.

Sorry about that...

A few of my more loyal readers noticed that I haven't been blogging very much of late (this being my first post in 48 hours - in contrast to my usual 2 - 3 posts a day).

While I generally don't get into my personal life too much on this blog, I will make an exception this time.

On Sunday night, my wife fell while going down the stairs in our apartment building, breaking her collarbone in the process. Thank G-d, things could have been much worse, as she was holding our daughter at the time, who is, thank G-d, fine. Also, although my wife will have her left arm immobilized for the next 3 weeks or so, she is not in any terrible pain, just limited in what she can do for the time being.

Thankfully, we are blessed to be surrounded by wonderful family and friends who have been helping us out with various odds and ends, which has made things that much more manageable.

The whole ordeal also happened to occur at a time when some other stressful issues were coming to a head, and all in all, it left me with little time or energy for much of anything, let alone blogging (or responding to comments & e-mails).

Hopefully, as of today, I will be able to get back into the swing of things, and I do apologize to any of my readers who have become so dependant on my daily rants, and who may have gone through withdrawal the last few days.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Let's Play... Connect the Dots

Can you find the connection between the terror attacks against the United States on 9/11 and Ariel Sharon suffering a stroke?


They are both causes for the "Palestinians" to celebrate.

Let's take a closer look:

"Jubilant Palestinians took to the streets of refugee camps of Lebanon and the West Bank, waving Palestinian flags and distributing sweets to celebrate the attacks on major U.S. landmarks and government offices."

"In Nablus, motorists honked their horns and gunmen fired into the air from assault rifles to cheer on the attacks which unfolded in the space of a few hours and stunned people around the globe."

Ariel Sharon's stroke:
On the streets of Gaza City, meanwhile, dozens of armed men from the Popular Resistance Committees, a small but fiercely militant group, fired guns in the air and handed out pastries to motorists on the streets of in celebration of the news that Sharon was ill.

The celebrations quieted soon after news emerged that the prime minister's life was not in danger, Israel Radio reported.

And whoever said that the "Palestinians" didn't know how to have a good time...

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Sometimes, blogging is just too easy...

Every now and again, one comes across a story that seems to have just been gift-wrapped, just begging to have a post written about it.

Today was one of those days.

Spielberg hires top PM advisor to market his new film 'Munich'

Steven Spielberg has hired one of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's top strategists to market his controversial new film about Israel's retaliation for the Palestinian attack on its team at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Eyal Arad, who helped mastermind the disengagement, said on Sunday he was promoting the film "Munich", where it has already stirred fierce debate.

Avi Dichter, a retired head of the Shin Bet security service who attended a preview in Washington, likened "Munich" to a children's adventure story. "There is no comparison between what you see in the movie and how it works in reality," he said.

I wonder if there might be a comparison between the distorted reality portrayed in the film 'Munich' that Arad is promoting, and the message (read: lie) coined by Arad, that "There is a solution for everyone", whereby the government of Israel gave its word that all of the Jews expelled from their homes during the "Disengagement" would be taken care of without delay and that all was in order for them - which has been shown to be a blatant distortion, over and over again.

Perhaps, Arad's next job will be as the Director of Public Relations for the "Palestinian Authority", as they have a particular interest in Arad's special ability to lie with a straight face, and his willingness to represent any organization or product - so long as the check doesn't bounce.

On the limits of tolerance...

I have often been told that I have "strong beliefs", an assertion with which I do not disagree, as "strong beliefs" are not to be equated with wrong beliefs. Believe it or not, I am aware that more often than not, my fellow Jewish brothers and sisters have beliefs that are contrary to my own, and as much as I might enjoy the idea of having everyone share my worldview every now and again, I am prepared to accept that on any given issue there will likely exist a plurality of Jewish beliefs.

While I certainly will not agree with all viewpoints expressed on any given issue concerning the Jewish People & State, I am willing to accept that my way is not the only way, and that I must be willing to work together (wherever possible) with my Jewish brothers and sisters, if we are to be able to live together as "one nation in the Land".

However, this attitude only goes so far, and it reaches its limit when I come across someone like Azmi Bishara. Bishara is an enemy of both the Jewish State & People, and he also happens to be a member of Israel's Knesset, and is the ring-leader of the 5th column within Israel, that is working against the interests of the Jewish State.

Bishara recently violated Israeli law by visiting an enemy country, in this instance Lebanon (he had previously attended a pro-Hezbollah rally in Syria where he called on Arab countries to expand their "resistance against Israel’s occupation, and to provide for the Palestinian people’s struggle against the occupation"). While in Lebanon, he had the following things to say about his home country, Israel, and in whose parliament he serves (Courtesy of Yediot Achronot):
"I will never recognize Zionism even if all Arabs do," he said. "I will never concede Palestine. The battle is still long..."

"The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is not a demographic dispute, but a national one," he said. "It's not the problem of 1.2 million Palestinians living in Israel. They are like all Arabs, only with Israeli citizenship forced upon them... "We are the original residents of Palestine, not those who came from Poland and Russia," the MK added. "Return Palestine to us and take your democracy with you. We Arabs are not interested in it."

Bishara has meanwhile returned to Israel and told Yediot Achronot Saturday night that his speech was "about Zionism and citizenship." "I didn’t say anything new that I hadn't said in other places. I've spoken like this in the Knesset," he said.

Not only is Bishara an enemy of the Jewish People & State, but he is also clearly an enemy of democracy.

Upon Bishara's return from Lebanon, he wasted no time in continuing his anti-Semitic diatribe (Courtesy of Arutz-7):
The gathering in Nazereth Saturday morning was under the banner "responsibility for the historical Nakba," referring to the "tragedy" of the establishment of Israel as a Jewish state.

MK Azmi Bishara, who was born and lives in Nazereth, encouraged the crowd to keep "burning the coals of the struggle against Zionists."

(And lest you think that Azmi Bishara is the exception to the rule, this incident represents only the tip of the iceberg. Another example can be found here).

To add insult to injury, the State of Israel's inaction in meting out a suitable punishment to someone like Bishara not only undermines Israel as a Jewish State, but as a democratic one, as well. If Bishara's comments do not fall under the scope of sedition, then what does?

Why is it that in the Jewish State of Israel, that we must suffer the indignity of having people like Azmi Bishara sit in the Knesset and have a say shaping the policies and character of the Jewish State? Azmi Bishara is not my brother, nor will he ever be, and I do not feel compelled to extend to him the same tolerance and understanding that I must extend to my fellow Jewish brothers and sisters - and certainly not to one who is not only not a member of the family, but one who is actively working to destroy the Jewish State!

Why is it that we find it so difficult to stand up for ourselves, and to assert our rights as proud Jews?

Perhaps having a steadfast belief in the justness of one's cause, and the willingness to stand behind one's beliefs regardless of the consequences is a lesson that we can learn from Azmi Bishara, himself.

Who's to Blame?

One of the main purposes of this blog is to focus on the challenges facing both the Jewish State & People, and present what steps (I believe) must be taken in order for us to collectively overcome those challenges. As such, all too often, I have been critical of certain policies, ideologies or actions of particular individuals or institutions within the State of Israel.

However, I recently came across a different perspective as to how to view the challenges facing the Jewish People & State, and I would be remiss if I did not present it alongside my critiques of Israel's left and its ideology which I believe cause irreparable damage to both the Jewish People & State.

The following words were written by Rabbi Yissachar Shlomo Teichtal, the author of Eim HaBanim Smeicha, a Torah giant who initially was a staunch anti-Zionist, but through his experiences in the Shoah (at which time he wrote this book, and in which he perished - May Hashem avenge his blood) he came to the recognize that the Jewish People must collectively return to the Land of Israel and that it is only there that the potential and destiny of the Jewish People will be actualized. (The following words were written during the Shoah, prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, are all too relevant and accurate today):
It is clear that he who prepares prior to the Sabbath will eat on the Sabbath (Avodah Zarah, 3a), and since the Orthodox did not toil, they have absolutely no influence in the Land (of Israel). Those who toil and build have the influence, and they are the masters of the Land. It is, therefore, no wonder that they are in control... Now, what will the Orthodox say? I do not know if they will ever be able to vindicate themselves before the heavenly court for not participating in the movement to rebuild the Land...

Had the G-d fearing, religious Jews been involved in this undertaking, our Holy Land would have a completely different, more sanctified appearance and form than it has now... All agree that if the Orthodox would have cooperated and participated in the building effort, it would have been exceedingly lofty and holy. Now that they kept themselves at a distance, they should not wonder to question the situation, for they are at fault. (Eim Habanim Smeicha, p. 23)

How can any observant, G-d fearing Jew respond to these words, aside from bowing his head in shame?

It is true that the IDF, the media, the judicial system, the education system, and the government are all run and based on values which are not all consistent with Torah Judaism, but who is really to blame for that?

If Orthodox Jews would have taken up the banner to rebuild the Land of Israel and establish the Jewish State of Israel, we would have shaped these institutions on traditional, Jewish values. Regretfully, only a small minority decided to actively partake in this endeavor, and as a result, the character of the re-established State of Israel was decided upon by others - by those whose motivation in returning to the Land of Israel was not totally consistent with our own.

Today, we still have not learned from our mistakes.

Observant, G-d fearing Jews, the world over, continue to lament the current state of affairs in the Jewish State, vocally protesting this policy or that, and yet they continue to reject the only true hope of being able to change the current reality, namely, Aliyah. Within the State of Israel, observant Jews make up perhaps 20%+ of the population and that is clearly not a significant enough % to shape the policies and agendas of the day according to our vision.

I will continue to oppose the policies and ideology of those whose actions I believe weaken the Jewish State & People, and I will continue to advocate and work towards shaping Israel into a truly Jewish State that will enable the Jewish people to actualize our potential & destiny. Yet, until observant Jews, the world over, are prepared to accept an active role in the struggle over character of the Jewish State, and are willing to place their own fate with that of their Jewish brothers and sisters here in Israel, the situation will not change.

Money is nice, but it isn't the answer to everything.

Prayers are important, but there is a time for prayer and there is a time for action, and one can't act from 6,000 miles away.

Foriegn influence has its merits, but in the end, history has shown that we can rely only upon ourselves.

We have only one home, and the few can't be expected to bear the responsibility and the burden of the many.

What will it take for us to learn this lesson?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Who needs Jerusalem, anyway?

All the lines have been crossed.

Advisors of Ariel Sharon have let it become known that Sharon is prepared to make concessions (retreat) to the "Palestinians" on Jerusalem (Courtesy of Yediot Achronot).
American magazine Newsweek quoted pollster Kalman Gayer as saying that Sharon is willing to concede 90 percent of the West Bank and parts of Jerusalem for the establishment of a Palestinian state with a capital in Jerusalem.

Not only has Sharon crushed the dream of Greater Israel, but the dream of a United Jerusalem is about to be shattered, as well.

The logic behind the willingness to abandon certain parts of Jerusalem was summed up by Labor-defector, and new Kadima member, Haim Ramon:
“I do not know one moderate man who wants to keep Arab areas like a-Ram as parts of Jerusalem. That’s a mistake.”

So, what it boils down to is this. Everything is negotiable. The State of Israel has no red lines. Gush Katif is no different from Hebron, and Hebron is no different from Schem, Beit Lechem, the Shomron or Jerusalem.

Our right to a Jewish State in the Land of Israel is no longer a given - not in the eyes of the world, and, increasingly, not within the hearts and minds of the Jewish People.

If our right to a Jewish State in the Land of Israel is based solely on demographic and security considerations, then the founding fathers of Zionism would have been better off settling for Uganda or Argentina.

When the early Zionists began settling Israel, the Jews were hardly a majority, and if not for the fact that hundreds of thousands of Arabs fled during the War of Independence in 1948, the State of Israel would not have sustained a Jewish majority by the time the Six-Day War rolled around in 1967.

If, today, Jerusalem is just another piece of land, as was Gush Katif, as was Schem, Beit Lechem, Jericho and Hebron, then, why not give it away - why should Jewish history and Jewish destiny stand in the way of peace, so long as we can sit in our cafes in Tel Aviv sipping lattes.

If, today, Jewish sovereignty over the Temple Mount is viewed as more of a burden than a blessing, if we are willing to sit idly by while our enemies systematically destroy any Jewish connection to the site, and we are silent as the "Palestinians" openly claim that the Western Wall (the Kotel) is the property of the Muslims, then why not give Jerusalem away to the Muslims who clearly recognize her significance and sanctity more than we do?

If, today, Zionism is all about being a nation like all others, it can be accomplished without a United Jerusalem. If, however, we aspire to be a Jewish State, with all that that implies, then a United Jerusalem is a central component to all that the Jewish State of Israel will represent.

The fate of Jerusalem is in our hands - in the upcoming elections we can choose to have a hand in destroying Untied Jerusalem or to take part in strengthening it, along with our right to the rest of our Homeland - and to a Jewish State.

If we waste this opportunity – a chance to act for the sake of Zion & Jerusalem – we will only have ourselves to blame.

(Jewish) Leadership Qualities

I recently posted about the lack of quality leaders within the Jewish People & State today, instead, we find that our leaders are primarily driven by personal ambition and a desire for power.

This led me to begin thinking about what qualities are needed for one aspiring to assume a position of leadership.

I came across the following list of leadership qualities:
A Leader:

1. Has a mission that matters…
2. Is a big thinker…
3. Has high ethics…
4. Masters change…
5. Is sensitive…
6. Is a risk taker…
7. Is a decision maker…
8. Uses power wisely…
9. Communicates effectively…
10. Is a team builder…
11. Is courageous…
12. Is committed…

If we were to focus, now, specifically on the qualities needed to lead the Jewish People & State, what qualities would we include? Would it differ from the above list?

Just for starters, one quality that I believe is a pre-requisite for any Jewish leader, particularly one in the Jewish State, is a belief in the G-d of Israel and in the truth of His Torah (even if he / she doesn't / isn't able to follow all of it himself / herself).

I'm interested in hearing other thoughts on what qualities are needed for Jewish leadership?

Perhaps, if we can put together a comprehensive list, we can then begin thinking about whom (if anyone) meet those qualities and are fit to lead the Jewish People & State.

Strange Bedfellows?

Here's a question for you:

Which of the following two things do you view as being worse for the Jewish State of Israel?

1) Israeli Arabs decide to flex their electoral and "democratic" muscles and vote for exclusively for Arab parties in the upcoming election?


2) Israeli Arabs come out to vote in greater numbers than in past elections, yet, instead of voting for Arab parties, the close to a majority will vote for "Zionist" parties?

The Jerusalem Post reports that the 2nd scenario is likely to become a reality:
More Arabs will vote in the upcoming elections than the last one and almost half of them will vote for Zionist parties, according to experts and an opinion poll released Wednesday.

Dr. Elie Rekhess, an expert on Arab Israeli politics at the Dayan Center, told the audience at the conference on Arab Politics in Israel and the Forthcoming Knesset Elections that 48 percent of Arab voters will cast their ballots for Zionist parties and 51 percent will vote for Arab parties. In the 2003 elections only 30 percent voted for Zionist parties.

The poll showed 67% of Arab voters will go to the polls, an increase of 5% from the last elections and the Labor party will be the big winner. The united list of Hadash and MK Ahmed Tibi's TAL party will be the longest Arab list with almost 22% of the Arab vote, but Labor will get 33%. In the 2003 elections Labor got only 7.7% of the Arab vote.

The question that one must ask is if this is "good news for the Jews"?

True, it seems as if the number of MK's representing exclusively Arab parties may decrease, but at the same time, it shows that Israeli Arabs feel comfortable enough voting for Arab parties, where they believe they can garner enough influence to shape the policy and platform of the party - in this case, Labor. Furthermore, can one truly believe that the Labor party is a party that has the best interest of the Jewish People and State at heart when such a significant percentage of her voters are Israeli Arabs?

As I see the political map in Israel today, the central issue facing the Israeli voter in the upcoming elections is not one of security, the peace process or even the economy. The main issue in Israel today, even if it may go unspoken (and perhaps unseen) by many, is whether the State of Israel is going to exist as a Jewish State, or as a state like all others, based on western, liberal & progressive ideology and values.

In that sense, the Israeli Arabs can feel right at home in Labor, as both are interested in ensuring that Israel not exist as a Jewish State (although for the Arabs, that would mean doing away with Israel's Jewish majority, which is something that Labor is not ready to accept... yet), and they can likely accomplish this goal better from a mainstream "Zionist" party than from a fringe Arab one.

The State of Israel has always prided itself of being both a Jewish & Democratic state, the question that is relevant today is whether it can be both a Jewish & Zionist state?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

We Deserve Better...

One of the greatest disappointments I have, living in Israel, is that the Jewish State is "blessed" with leaders whose primary concern is their own.

Throughout Jewish history, more often than not, we have had leaders who were corrupt, who were sinners / criminals, who were more concerned with maintaining their own hold on power than with what was in the best interests of the Jewish People.

Today’s example (courtesy of Ha'aretz):
Businesswomen Pnina Rosenblum was sworn in as a member of Knesset on Wednesday morning on behalf of Likud to replace MK Tzachi Hanegbi who resigned his seat and joined Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Kadima party...

Army Radio on Wednesday quoted Rosenblum as saying that she would join a party in which her chances of being reelected were the highest. There have been rumors recently that Rosenblum intends to join Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's party Kadima.

Is it any wonder that the Jewish People and State are faced with so many challenges?

How can we ever expect to overcome these challenges when our leaders seem to be the very source of them?

How many of the 120 Members of Knesset are people that we can actually look at with respect and admiration and believe that they have what it takes to lead the Jewish People - or that their primary concern is doing what's in the best interests of the Jewish People and State (and not just their own little section of it)?

I can honestly say that I have much more respect for someone like Yossi Sarid, the former head of Meretz, than I do for just about any Likud Member of Knesset (both those that have defected to Kadima, and those that haven't). At least Sarid stood for something - his decisions based on the values and ideology in which he believed. Granted, I did not agree with much of what he stood for, but at least he stood for something.

Today, neither on the left nor on the right, do we seem to find very many "leaders" who stand for anything aside from maintaining their hold on power for their own sake.

If anyone has any ideas as to who has what it takes to lead the Jewish People, I am open to hearing them...

The Visions of the Prophets come to life

Have you ever seen the Hand of G-d (figuratively speaking) manifest itself in the world?

Have you ever been privileged to witness the visions of the Prophets coming to life before your very eyes?

Well, if not, that is all about to change.

Arutz 7 reports PA Farmers in Gaza: How Do Those Israelis Do It?
After years of producing bug-free lettuce and other vegetables for Jewish farmers, the sands of Gaza have reverted to their old ways. PA farmers report failure in keeping the bugs away.

The Jews who first arrived in Gaza some 30 years ago were repeatedly told by the Arabs who welcomed them that the land was "cursed"...

Ma'yan Yadai, a 27-year-old mother of two who was thrown out of Gush Katif said,
"It is difficult for me to believe that this obviously blessed area is the very same area that our Moslem neighbors called the ‘cursed land’ of El G’erara. They have told me that nobody lived in this area from the time that the last Jews left because there was not enough rain, and nothing could grow properly. They were happy when the Jews returned because the rain started again, and the land began to produce."

Now, let us compare this with the words of the Torah and our Prophets who speak of what will befall the Land of Israel at the times when the Jewish People will not be living upon her, having been exiled, as was the case of Gush Katif:
* "So devastated will I leave the land that your enemies who live there will be astonished... Your land will remain desolate and your cities in ruins." (VaYikra 26:32-33)

* "Future generations - your own descendants who will arise after you, as well as the foreigners who will come from distant lands - shall see the calamities of this land, and the ills with which G-d has struck it... Nothing can be planted and nothing can grow - not even a blade of grass..." (Devarim 29: 21-22)

* "And I shall make the land a desolate waste, so that its proud strength will cease, and the mountains of Israel shall be desolate; no one will cross them. Then they shall know that I am a G-d, when I make the land a desolate waste..." (Yechezkel 33: 28-29)

Let us now look at the words of the Torah and our Prophets, which speak of how the Land of Israel will rejoice upon the return of her children (as was the case with Gush Katif 30 years ago):
* "I will open up rivers on the bare heights and fountains in the broad valleys. I will turn the desert into a pool of water and the dry ground into springs of water. In the desert I will place cedars, acacia trees, myrtles and pines... In order that they may see and know, pay heed and understand together that G-d's hand did this, the Holy One of Israel created it." (Yishyahu 41: 18-20)

* "As for you, O' mountains of Israel, you shall shoot forth your branches and bear your fruit, for My people Israel, for their return is close at hand. For behold, I am with you, and I shall return to you; then you shall be tilled and sewn... I shall cause you to be inhabited as in your former times, and I will make you even more bountiful than you were in your beginnings. You shall know that I am G-d." (Yechezkel 36: 8-11)

* "As long as Israel does not dwell on its Land, the Land does not give her fruits, as she is accustomed. When she will begin to reflourish, however, and give of her fruits, this is the clear sign that the end - the time of the Redemption - is approaching, when all of Israel will return to their Land." (Maharsha)

I have no doubt that there will be those who will find other reasons to explain how it is that a Land - a desert - that had flourished under the Jewish People for over 30 years has suddenly become desolate and barren - not willing to give of her fruits. Yet, for those of us who have not been cursed to view the world through the eyes of a skeptic, behold the power of the Hand of G-d, and the truth of His Torah and Prophets.

May we merit to witness the return of the Jewish People to all parts of their Land and be blessed to partake of her fruits - and to enjoy them in peace and tranquility as we anticipate the Redemption.
"But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid." (Micah 4:4)

Hat Tip: Jameel of The Muqata)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

"Palestinian" Poverty - Not Israel's (fault or) Problem

Time and again, we are subjected to tales of woe regarding the plight of the poor "Palestinians", and how, invariably, Israel is to blame for the situation, as the poverty is a cause of the "Occupation", and this is what leads to "Palestinian" hatred and terror attacks against the Jewish State.

Case in point is a recent report by the United Nations:

UN report: Joblessness and poverty on the rise in territories
Economic, social and emotional hardship in the territories - the Gaza Strip in particular - is on the rise, according to a new United Nations report that will be presented at the Donors Conference in London on Tuesday. The report warns that closing the crossings between Gaza, Israel and the West Bank will cause a further deterioration in the humanitarian situation in the area.

According to the report, the third quarter of the year saw unemployment in the territories hit 28 percent, with the rate in Gaza reaching 35 percent... The rise in unemployment is explained, partially, by restrictions on movement due to closures and roadblocks.

During the course of 2005, UN agencies allocated a total of around $500 million toward humanitarian aid and economic development in the territories. Over and above this sum, up until July, donor countries transferred or undertook to transfer to the territories $134 million for urgent humanitarian assistance.

Let's clear the air on this issue, once and for all.

Can anyone account for the over $634 million that UN agencies have allocated to alleviate the suffering of the "Palestinians" in the "territories" in the year 2005 alone (and the over $1 billion in foreign aid since the early 1990's)?

If history is any indication, very little of this money was ever seen by any poor "Palestinians". On the contrary, at this point, the vast majority of the over $1 billion in foreign aid to the "Palestinians" has either gone into the pockets of corrupt PLO officials, or to fund terror and incitement against the Jewish State.

CAMERA reports:
More than 95 percent of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza now live under Palestinian administration. The PA controls virtually every aspect of Palestinian life – schools, medical institutions, civic and political establishments. Palestinians now have passports, a flag, and a sea port is underway... If “life has become worse under the peace process”, Palestinians can thank Arafat and his lieutenants who have erected a lawless and corrupt dictatorship that subverts basic freedoms and terrorizes its own people.

The fact that Israel is forced to take actions to prevent "Palestinian" terror is not the reason for the plight of the poor "Palestinians". Israel need not waste a single precious Shekel that could be going towards so many more important causes that would benefit the Jewish State, nor should it compromise on matters of security in order to alleviate the plight of these poor "Palestinians" that only comes at the expense of Jewish lives.

Whatever poverty issues the "Palestinians" might be facing, they need only look in the mirror as to where to place the blame. "Occupation"? Hardly.

The sooner the world starts holding the "Palestinians" and their leadership accountable for their actions, the sooner the poor "Palestinians" will be able to find a better future for themselves.

To Give or Not to Give - That is the question

When I arrived home from work yesterday, my wife shared with me an interesting dilemma that she had been faced with earlier in the day.

She had gone next door to visit our neighbor, and while there, two high school students came to the apartment who were collecting for a charity called: Agudah L'ma'an HaChayal (loose translation: Organization on behalf of Soldiers). This organization is responsible for providing Israeli soldiers with recreation centers and other amenities that help to make their time in the army that much more comfortable.

Our neighbor has been very involved in helping the Jews of Aza and the Shomron who had been expelled from their homes as part of the "Disengagement" plan (and who have been abandoned by the powers-that-be and are suffering greatly), and was in Gush Katif for a number of weeks prior to the expulsion.

She made it very clear to the two students that under no circumstances would she give any money to any organization that was assisting the IDF, which was responsible for the expulsion of thousands of Jews, and that she isn’t even sure if she will send her children to serve in the IDF.

The two students went on the defensive, arguing that not every soldier participated in the expulsion, and it's not right to punish all soldiers - who, by and large, do so much for the Jewish People and State of Israel, even if one didn't agree with the IDF's involvement in the "disengagement".

Ultimately, the two students left empty-handed, and I imagine, not in the best of spirits.

My wife expressed to me her mixed feelings regarding the situation. On the one hand, we were very much opposed to the expulsion, and believe that it was wrong for the IDF to have been involved in such an action. At the same time, we still do recognize the importance of the IDF, and as my wife expressed, we can't afford to totally reject all connections to the IDF, for numerous reasons, and as such, it might have been better to give something, as opposed to having these two students leave feeling the way they did.

Honestly, I don't know how I feel.

On the one hand, my wife and I are not rich by any means, and with the limited amount of money we have to give to charity, I can think of many better addresses than the IDF these days. On the other hand, while it may not be a relevant issue right now, I imagine, if I had a son, that I would encourage him to serve in the IDF (although I would make it clear to him that he would have my absolute support if he felt the need to refuse any order that was inconsistent with Jewish law). As much as it seems that the IDF, through the manipulation of the government, has betrayed so many of the principles and values that are central to the Jewish People, in the long run, we still need the IDF, and there is a value (a Mitzvah, in fact) to serving in the IDF and defending the Jewish People and Jewish State.

So, I do believe that our neighbor was right for choosing not to contribute to this particular charity. However, I am not totally certain that the she needed to express to the two high school students her reasoning behind not wanting to contribute. On the other hand, perhaps it was important for these two high school students, who will themselves be enlisting in the IDF in the future, to know how much pain, suffering and anger the participation of the IDF in the expulsion of thousands of Jews has caused.

Tough choices. Tough times.

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