Wednesday, November 30, 2005

On Being an Extremist...

Am I an extremist?

I was discussing this issue with Jameel of The Muqata over lunch today (the 1st unknown blogger that I have met since starting to blog), the impetus being that over the last 24 hours I have been told that my blog was both controversial and too extreme.

With the help of Jameel, I believe I have come up with a list of the reasons why I / my blog may have this reputation (in no particular order):

The Top 10 Reasons... as to why people believe I am an extremist:
1) I believe that the borders of the Jewish State of Israel should encompass the entire area west of the Jordan River (I am not relinquishing the right of the Jewish People to other parts of its Homeland, namely: Jordan, Syria, Lebanon & the Sinai - I just do not believe that we should press our claim to them right now - so long as our neighbors behave).

2) I am against the creation of a "Palestinian State" anywhere west of the Jordan River, as I do not believe that anyone aside from the Jewish People has any right to sovereignty in the Land of Israel.

3) I am opposed to the "Peace Process" (as it is understood today - although I am very much in favor of peace), as I recognize that peace will not come through releasing terrorists from prison, arming these very terrorists, and making other "goodwill gestures" that all lead to the murder of innocent Jews.

4) I believe that Israel must come to the (painful) recognition that she is at war with the Arab world, and she must be committed to taking the required steps necessary to win that war (and not to suffice with defensive half-measures like the security fence and shelling open fields).

5) I believe that all Jews should live in the Land of Israel , as this is the only place that the Jew, both on an individual and national level, can live a complete Jewish life and it is the only place where the destiny and mission of the Jewish People can be actualized.

6) I believe that the State of Israel should be a Jewish State and not a State of the Jews (simply having a Jewish majority). I believe that the State of Israel should not strive to "fit-in" with the nations of the world and be a nation like all others, but should act to create a society that will be strongly rooted in Jewish tradition, history, identity and culture.

7) I believe that every Jewish child in Israel (and in the world) should receive a intensive Jewish education that will instill within them a sense of pride in their knowing what it means to be a Jew, where they have come from and where they are going, the reason for having a Jewish State in the Land of Israel, and a commitment to taking an active role in helping to fulfill the collective destiny of the Jewish People.

8) I believe that the ultimate values in the Jewish State of Israel should not be liberalism, pluralism and democracy (although each may have it's place within the Jewish State, under certain situations / conditions), rather values that are consistent with authentic Jewish tradition and beliefs should be given primacy above all others.

9) I believe that the Jewish State of Israel can create an exemplary society, one that is moral and just in all areas of private and public life, all while staying true to Jewish teachings and tradition, and not selling our birthright for a bowl of western, secular values.

10) I believe that if the Jewish State of Israel does all of the above, then Israel and her neighbors will be blessed with true and lasting peace, and the Jewish People and the Jewish State of Israel will earn the respect and admiration of the nations of the world, by serving as a true "Light unto the Nations" and on that day the world will recognize the Oneness of the G-d of Israel and His dominion over all.

So, you tell me... Does all that make me an extremist?

JUST SAY NO!!! - (to extradition)

The State of Israel is preparing to hand over a Jew to a foreign entity - and no one seems to be bothered by it (Courtesy of Ha'aretz).
The Supreme Court unanimously decided Thursday to reject an appeal filed by suspected underworld figure Ze'ev Rosenstein and allow Israel to extradite him to the United States, where he is wanted for his alleged part in major drug-trafficking deals involving Ecstasy.

Many will argue that Rosenstein is a criminal, and as such, he should pay for his crimes, and if that means his being extradited to stand trial in the US, then so be it.

I agree that Rosenstein should pay for his crimes, assuming he is found guilty of them, but let him pay for them here, in a cold, dark prison cell in the Jewish State of Israel.

In attempting to justify the decision, Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy stated:
...the U.S. has the natural right to protect itself against those opposing to from overseas.

And what of the rights of the Jewish People?

Doesn't every Jew in the world have the natural right to live in the Jewish State of Israel?

Isn't the Jewish State of Israel obligated to ensure the safety and well-being of every Jew who seeks refuge and shelter under her canopy?

This would not be the first time that Israel has agreed to extradite a suspected Jewish criminal to the US. The most famous example of this being Israel's extradition of Jewish gangster, Mayer Lanksy:
In 1970, with the FBI after him for income-tax evasion, Lansky moved to Tel Aviv, spent a happy year there and applied for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return, which grants citizenship to all Jews. But under pressure from the U.S. Justice Department, Golda Meir's government turned him down, as did the Israeli Supreme Court.

The only difference between Rosenstein and Lansky is that Rosenstein has always called Israel his home, while Lansky sought refuge here, fleeing from the US authorities. Both were abandoned by the Jewish State.

And, while we are on the topic of Jews who have been abandoned by the Jewish State, let us not forget Jonathan Pollard, (who should not be mistaken for the likes of Rosenstein or Lansky, but who was similarly abandoned by the Jewish State of Israel, even though the crimes he committed were in her name and defense).

The State of Israel does not only belong to certain types of "acceptable" Jews, but to every single Jew in the world, and if it is to truly be a Jewish State, it can't shirk that responsibility.

(Hat-Tip: Strong Bad)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

While we're on the subject of Partition...

As I mentioned in my previous post, 58 years ago today, the United Nations passed the partition Plan, which led, in part, to the establishment of the Jewish State of Israel.

It is important to remember that the Arabs rejected the Partition Plan - which would have given them a Palestinian State west of the Jordan, opting instead to try and wipe out the fledgling Jewish State, and take the entire Land of Israel for themselves. In order to accomplish this, 7 armies marched against Israel, and miraculously, the newborn State was able to hold its own.

In 1967, before there were ever any "Occupied Territories" - which at the time were under the control of Egypt and Jordan respectively, 5 Arab armies sought to once again wipe the Jewish State of Israel off the map, and drive the Jews into the sea.

Clearly, the motivation for the Arabs to launch wars against the Jewish State of Israel in 1948 and 1967 could not have been in order to liberate the "Occupied Territories", as there were none - unless, in the eyes of the Arab world, a Jewish State anywhere in the Middle East must be destroyed.

As such, it is ironic, that today - the day that marks the passing of the Partition Plan, as well as its rejection by the Arabs, that Ariel Sharon's Kadima party publicized its platform, which includes (Courtesy of Arutz - 7):

* The establishment of a Palestinian State in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

* The Palestinian State would be demilitarized and clean of terrorism.

I don't know which of these two positions is more absurd:

1) As history has shown on numerous occasions, the desire of the Arabs to wipe the Jewish State off the face of the earth has nothing to do with the supposed "occupation" of Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

To believe that the creation of such a state would lead to peace with Israel, or at the very least, a more secure Israel is a fantasy.

2) Why would any sane person believe that a Palestinian State would be demilitarized? Time and again the "Palestinians" have signed agreements in which they obligated themselves to limit the amount and types of weapons that they would be allowed to possess, and they have broken every single agreement. (Not to mention all of their empty agreements to eliminate terror and incitement against the Jewish State which continues around the clock).

Furthermore, how on earth would this be enforced? Will the "Government of Palestine" allow Israel to come in and check to make sure they aren’t secretly building an army to be used against Israel?

It is evident, that not only is the Bible and Jewish history irrelevant to Ariel Sharon, but the history of Modern Israel, as well.

This Date in Jewish History...

58 years ago today, on November 29th 1947, at Lake Success, New York, the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, a plan meant to resolve the Arab-Jewish conflict in the British Mandate of Palestine, was approved by the United Nations General Assembly.

Is there any doubt, that were this resolution to have been brought before the United Nations General Assembly today, that it would be soundly rejected, with the very idea of a Jewish State being deemed as racist?

(More likely, we would have seen a resolution calling for the establishment of an Arab State in Palestine being brought to the table and passed, with only Micronesia voting against).

This being the reality, is one to assume, at least through the eyes of the world, that the right of the Jewish People to a Jewish State in Israel (Palestine), as understood by the United Nations in 1947, no longer applies today?

Adding Insult to Injury - IDF Style - Part Two - UPDATED

The IDF has recently joined the Government of Israel in the new national pastime of kicking the Jews expelled from Gush Katif while they're down (See Part One here).
In violation of promises made to the families of the deceased persons exhumed from graves in Gush Katif for reburial in Israel, the senior officers of the IDF Chief Rabbinate posed for photographs during the exhumation, and the pictures have since appeared on several Internet sites...

One of the photographs shows senior Rabbinate officers smiling for the camera, with coffins and open graves in the background, Israel Radio said.

(CLICK HERE to see the pictures)
Meanwhile, families of fallen IDF soldiers whose bodies were relocated from the Gaza Strip after the disengagement are being prevented from adding anything to the gravestones that mentions Gush Katif.

In an informal conversation with ministry officials, the families' legal representative, Mordechai Mintzer, was told that any mention of Gush Katif on the gravestones would be "problematic," since it "may have political overtones." (Courtesy of Ha'aretz)

1) It clearly wasn't enough for some in the IDF to have carried out their orders of expelling 10,000+ Jews from their homes and of exhuming the bodies from the Jewish cemeteries of Gush Katif - many of whom were killed in terror attacks or had served themselves in the IDF - but for some it was also an opportunity for a photo op. I'm sure those involved will proudly display the photos on their desks, or perhaps on the coffee table in their homes.

2) It was also not enough for the IDF to put the families of those whose bodies had to be exhumed through a 2nd funeral and Shiva (Jewish mourning ritual), but to not allow any mention of Gush Katif on the tombstones of those who had served and fallen while serving in the IDF - because of political overtones - is ridiculous and shameful.

Is the IDF prepared to go into every military cemetery in the country and begin changing all of the tombstones that mention those who fought in Israel's War of Independence? The Six-Day War? The battle for Jerusalem?

Do not all of those have strong political overtones, as well?

One can only shake their head in astonishment and wonder how it is that we have come to hate ourselves and our heritage so very much.

(Hat-tip: Jameel of The Muqata)

Monday, November 28, 2005

Kadima & Ariel Sharon: Guilt by Association... Part Two

Let us put aside for a moment the fact that the only two things that Ariel Sharon's new party, Kadima (Onward), will move forward with are the continued expulsion of Jews from their homes / destruction of the Jewish communities in Judea & Samaria and continued corruption. (For more on that, see Part 1).

What should be of great concern to the Israeli / Jewish public is that while the media keeps labeling Kadima as a centrist party, and those who oppose Sharon as "Hardliners", Sharon is planning on building both his party and any future ruling coalitions with those who are against the very idea of Israel existing as a Jewish State.

1) Exhibit A - The Arabs of Israel (Courtesy of the Jerusalem Post):
A member of Israel's Islamist Movement considers joining Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's new political party... Sami Issa, Head of Kafr Kassem Local Council, is one of many Arab Israeli leaders who were approached by members of Sharon's new party to join its ranks...

The report by investigative reporter Mohammed Watad revealed that Sharon was trying to draft Arab leaders from all over Israel to join his party in order to gain the support of the general Arab population in Israel.

The southern faction of the Islamist Movement of Israel works to achieve unity among Arabs to have a greater voice and influence in Israeli politics. Its leaders call on uniting all Arab parties to be a single force to counter the influence of the Jewish and Zionist parties.

Issa is not likely to do that without a promise of something more than just a seat on Kadima. Sharon's associates have told the press that Sharon would give a ministry to an Arab.

2) Exhibit B - Meretz - Yahad (Courtesy of Ha'aretz):
Meretz-Yahad Chair Yossi Beilin announced at his party's convention Sunday that Meretz would consider joining forces with Ariel Sharon's party Kadima if he forms the next government.

And what does the political party Meretz - Yahad stand for? (Courtesy of Meretz USA):
(Meretz) supports a genuine peace between the State of Israel and its neighbors (including the Palestinian people) based on a negotiated land-for-peace solution. Meretz USA supports full civil and human rights for Israeli citizens, regardless of ethnicity, race, religion, gender, national origin, or sexual orientation... Meretz USA supports the principle of separation of religion and state and believes that religion should be a matter of personal conscience.

Kadima and Ariel Sharon have found a home with the Arabs of Israel who seek to "peacefully & democratically" turn Israel into Palestine, and with their Jewish counterparts of Meretz - Yahad who will do all in their power, in the name of pluralism, democracy and social justice to assist them in destroying the Jewish State.

And, last but not least... How could Sharon resist pairing up with Israel's biggest loser and the man personally reposnible for the thousands of Jewish lives that have been lost and destroyed since the start of the "Peace Process"...

3) Exhibit C - Two words: Shimon Peres(Courtesy of the Jerusalem Post):
Sharon spoke to Peres more than once on Sunday and he offered him to return to his cabinet post of vice premier with additional responsibility over negotiations with the Palestinians and the peace process.

Maybe Ariel Sharon, heading his new party Kadima, together with Shimon "Oslo Accords" Peres, will once again revert to becoming the father of the settlement movement in Israel - just this time it will be to help in building the Arab State of Palestine on the ruins of what was once the Jewish State of Israel, and once that is done, Sharon and Peres will ride off into the sunset, having finally created a New Middle East.

The Double Standard of Ha'aretz

Why is it that Ha'aretz refers to illegal Bedouin outposts in the Negev as "unrecognized villages", while they refer to small Jewish villages in Judea & Samaria as "illegal outposts"?

(Yes, I know, this was probably my shortest post ever - don't get used to it...)

Kadima & Ariel Sharon: Guilt by Association... Part One

With Ariel Sharon's formation of his new political party, Kadima, it is interesting to watch the ripple effect that have taken place throughout Israel's political / judicial echelons...

Once again, the Leftist media (and Judiciary) are gearing up to play cover-up for Sharon's personal (and family) involvement in numerous corruption scandals - they're willing to turn a blind eye to just about anything, so long as he continues throwing Jews out of their homes and handing them over to those who seek our destruction.

Some examples (coincidences?):

* Courtesy of Ha'aretz:
A senior legal source told HaAretz this week that the criminal investigation against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in the Cyril Kern affair is unlikely to be completed before the March elections. This means suspicions against Sharon and his son Gilad will remain unresolved during the campaign.

* Courtesy of Ha'aretz, once again:
The parliamentary inquiry committee to uncover government corruption will cease its activities due to the decision to hold early elections... Committee chair MK Michael Eitan told members at Sunday's meeting that any mention of corruption would be interpreted as serving the political interests of one or another speaker.

What makes this particular development so interesting is that a recent poll found that the public views Omri Sharon to be the most corrupt MK, and his father, PM Sharon to be in the top 5. Joining the Sharon's on the corruption list, as well as in the new party Kadima are Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and Roni Bar-On.

Of course, the party that Sharon put on the map, the Likud, is not much better when it comes to corruption. MK Tzachi HaNegbi of the Likud was named Israel's most corrupt cabinet minister, followed by Agriculture Minister Yisrael Katz, Education Minister Limor Livnat and former Finance Minister Bibi Netanyahu.
The Israeli public will be asked to decide on March 28 between two difficult choices: Which party is more corrupt – the new one, created by Ariel Sharon and his son Omri, or the Likud party that Sharon was forced to flee at the last minute?

At first glance, it is tough to decide which option is correct... But at the end of the day, the Kadima Party wins, hands down: Deceiving the attorney general, perjury, the millions of dollars the Sharon family has taken from private businessmen trying to advance their interests, the Cyril Kern case and silencing of key witnesses are more serious than that the goings-on in Likud... In the best case scenario, it's major- vs. minor league corruption. (Courtesy of Yediot Achronot).

It's good to know that even with all the new parties and alignments, the Israeli voter can still count on Ariel Sharon (and sadly, too many other MK's) to be consistent on one thing: Corruption - no matter what party he is leading...

To be continued...

Haveil Havalim #46

What is Haveil Havalim?

I'm thankful to Mirty's Place for giving the following definition, which is short, sweet & to the point:
Haveil Havalim is the carnival of Jewish blogs -- a weekly collection of blog highlights, tidbits and points of interest

Without further ado, let's take a look at what J-Bloggers are thankful (or not) for from some of the best posts from the Jewish Blogsphere over the past week:

House of Joy truly has a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving... (more here, here, here, here and here).

Ezzie from SerandEz is thankful for special moments, as well as for hosting a diverse Thanksgiving Dinner.

Daled Amos is thankful for there being a difference between Munchkins and Palestinians.

Batya is thankful that Israel is taking (at least some small steps) against police brutality. She is less thankful for Intel's publicity stunt. Last but not least, Batya's not very thankful for husbands being called away for Miluim (reserve duty), while the wives never get any breaks.

I'm thankful that Soccer Dad sets the record straight about suicide bombers.

Jack's Shack is thankful for interfaith relationships...

Critical Mastiff is thankful (sort of) for the agreement between Israel and the "Palestinians" over the Rafiah crossing.

We should be thankful that people like Cosmic X still care about the fate of Jonathan Pollard (Am Echad cares as well). Cosmic X is also thankful for the name of Sharon's new party, as it gave him good blog material.

Elder of Ziyon is less than thankful (and less than surprised) for the Israeli media's consistent use of the term "Hardliner". Also, in case you forgot about what the "Palestinians" committed themselves to in the Road Map (and what they haven't even come close to fulfilling), we can thank EOZ for laying it out for us.

How can one not be thankful for Pearlies of Wisdom bringing us the latest edition of Blog Lingo.

I'm also thankful to Dry Bones Dry Bones for making the issues of the day so clear and easy to understand through his comics.

If you ever had doubts whether it was ok for Jews to be thankful on Thanksgiving, Gil of Hirhurim clears up the mystery.

The Jewish Worker shows why if you're a Chareidi Jew in Israel, you have what to be thankful for in the upcoming elections.

In spite of all the challenges, Joe Settler is still thankful that he lives in Israel (and thinks you should live here too).

Mirty wants to know if you're thankful for "Blog Ads" - well, are you?

Jameel of the Muqata has a lot to be thankful for this week: From heroic Hesder soldiers, to being thankful for the Land of Israel, or that he doesn't have to go to work with these people.

I'll be thankful when Not the Godol HaDor makes up his mind about whether he's ending his blog or not.

It's post like this, from Out of Step Jew, that make me less thankful to be an American living in Israel...

I am thankful for the blog Smooth Stone for giving us all a lesson in the non-history of the Palestinians.

I'm thankful for Sultan Knish's sense of humor (unless he's being serious).

Shoshana of Sweet Rose is thankful for being herself...

Treppenwitz is thankful for his wife...

Ariel Sharon should be thankful that Zion Report is not coming up with his new party platform...

Last, but not least, I am thankful that I am just about finished with this edition of HH, and that I can finally go to bed (it's 2:30am Israel time, and hopefully the NY Giants are about to cap off a huge comeback win - sorry Ezzie - NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).

I had some interesting posts, I think, but I am just too tired to describe them, but check them out, if you like, here, here and here... You'll be thankful that you did, I hope...

(Update: Giants are driving in OT after missing a FG at the end of regulation, they have the ball at the Seattle 20 - I think - they're reviewing something or other - DARN - overturned, now at the SEA 36... I give up, they missed another FG... GOOD NIGHT)!!!

Haveil Havalim can also be found at The Truth Laid Bear's uberCarnival.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Adding insult to injury...

Sadly, the following report by IMRA should come as no surprise:
The Palestinian Authority admitted in an official document published that today parts of Gush Katif, the former Jewish communities of Gaza, are now "training camps" for terror groups.

In what some expelled Jewish residents of the area called the "ultimate insult," Hamas leaders said they turned Neve Dekalim into a "martyr training camp" and have used the territory to launch rockets into Israel.

Where are the homes being built to house all of the Arab "refugees"?

Where are the signs of industry and employment that were meant to allow these Arabs to begin living a respectable life?

On the flip side of the coin, not only did the government of Israel know full well that this would be the end result of the expulsion of 10,000 Jews from their homes, but they have also managed to destroy the Jews of Gush Katif and the Shomron (which was likely part of their plan, as the Jews of Gush Katif stood for all that the Government of Israel has come to scorn - a love for the People of Israel, the Land of Israel and the Torah of Israel):
...The massive unemployment, together with the trauma of having been forced out of their communities, has taken its toll on the residents. Divorce rates are skyrocketing. Parents, who spend much of their days watching television and climbing the walls, have lost control of their children.

The child refugees of Gaza are perhaps the worst hit by the expulsions. Violence among the youths is high and rising. Drug abuse, which was negligible in their communities in Gaza, is on the rise. Two empty mobile homes were locked after they were found to contain drug paraphernalia. So the party moved elsewhere. Nitzan is prime territory for drug dealers looking for easy prey.

To make matters even worse (courtesy of Jerusalem Post):
On the eve of disengagement, a massive government public relations campaign maintained that "there is a solution for each evacuee." Today, more than 100 days after nearly 9,000 Israelis were uprooted, it emerges that there is no solution for many of the evacuees, and indeed there never was.

Many Israelis are indifferent, if not downright hostile to the plight of these fellow citizens. The daily Hatzofeh newspaper recently found a novel way of gauging sentiment by launching a fictional initiative to house evacuees in Tel Aviv. Its make-believe real-estate office, it reported, was inundated with antagonistic responses, hotly opposing the introduction of personas-non-grata into the city.

For generations a Jew knew that no matter where in the world he was, he could always count on his fellow Jews for help. When did this change? How is it that we have become so cruel and uncaring towards our brothers? How is it that we are able to sleep at night and go on living our lives, knowing full well that thousands upon thousands of our brothers and sisters are suffering through the (willful?) neglect of the government of the Jewish State of Israel?

If we can't find away to live together as "one nation in the Land", then we have no future here, as we don't have the strength to fight both against ourselves and the the hundreds of millions of Muslims / Arabs who seek our destruction.

It's time for a new "Peace Process" - between Jew and Jew.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Keeping the Peace - At Any Cost...

Earlier this week, the Iranian sponsored Hezbollah terror organization, based in Syria and Lebanon, launched an attack against Israel, whereby a number of Hezbollah terrorist infiltrated Israel's northern border, with the intention of kidnapping Israeli soldiers who would then be used as bargaining chips to force Israel to release terrorists held in Israeli jails.

Thanks to the heroics of IDF Paratrooper (and Hesder yeshiva student) David Markovitz, a major disaster was averted, as he was able to single-handedly kill 4 of the terrorists involved in the attack.

Israel's response (Courtesy of Ha'aretz):
Israel on Friday transferred the bodies of three Hezbollah militants killed by Israel Defense Forces fire in cross-border fighting this week... "The bodies were returned as a confidence-building gesture to create calm along the Israel-Lebanon border," an IDF source said.

Arutz 7 adds:
The Lebanese government minister behind the request, Health Minister Muhammad Jawad Khalif, who is closely affiliated with Hizbullah, clearly threatened further kidnapping attempts on Lebanon's state-run radio if the bodies would not be returned. “[Hizbullah] will try to secure the return of the bodies one way or another,” he said, “which usually ends in negotiations to exchange them for the bodies of Israeli soldiers or prisoners."

There are so many things about this that trouble me:

1) How does Israel giving back the bodies of these terrorists create calm along the border? Is it by giving into threats of continued terror attacks?

2) In October 2000, Hezbollah, with the assistance of the UN, kidnapped and murdered 3 Israeli soldiers (and shortly thereafter kidnapped an Israeli businessman). In exchange for the bodies of three Israeli soldiers, and the Israeli businessman, Israel released more than 430 Arab terrorists. In addition, the bodies of approximately 60 Lebanese terrorists were handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross, and given over to Lebanon.

What's wrong with Israel simply holding on to the bodies and use them as bargaining chips as well? Hezbollah has information as to the fate and whereabouts of 4 Israeli soldiers, missing since 1982 (Ron Arad, Zecharia Baumel, Yehudah Katz & Zvi Feldman), and Israel should be offering no goodwill gestures unless Hezbollah is forthcoming on this issue.

History has shown what would happen if the situation were to be reversed.

3) Let us not fall into the trap of false morality, whereby one might say, "Israel is better than the Arabs, we shouldn't sink to their level"...

Let us be very clear. Hezbollah (along with their sponsors, Syria, Iran...) seek nothing short of the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel. Hezbollah currently has enough missiles targeted on Israel to wipe out then entire northern part of Israel, including Haifa. Iran, who sponsors Hezbollah has recently called for the annihilation of the Jewish State of Israel and is pursuing nuclear weapons to turn that dream into a reality.

One does not make peace with or goodwill gestures / concessions towards his enemies - on the contrary, one defeats his enemies - or he is defeated by them. The Arabs have learned this lesson well; it's time we do the same.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Hakol kol Rabin, Ha'yadayim y'dei Sharon (It is the voice of Rabin I hear, but the body of Sharon that I see)

It seems that Ariel Sharon has taken a page out of George Orwell's book as he tries to sell the Israeli public on his latest political gimmick (courtesy of Ha'aretz, and my friend, Mike):
Ariel Sharon will offer the Palestinians independence in exchange for the guarantee of security for Israelis if he is re-elected prime minister... Sharon would not operate on the principle of land for peace.

George Orwell, in his essay "Politics and the English Language" defines political language as follows:
"Political language - and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists - is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind...".

The political language that emanates from Sharon and the Israeli government today fits this description perfectly, and eerily resembles what life was like in another of Orwell's more famous works, "1984".

* Does anyone really believe that "Independence for Security" is any different than "Land for Peace"?

* Is it possible, that within the "Land for Peace" formula, that the Arabs merely wanted land without the independence, and that that is the reason why they never fulfilled any of their signed agreements and went on to murder and destroy the lives of thousands of Jews?

* Is it possible, that within the "Land for Peace" equation, it wasn't clear to the Arabs that the peace that they were obligating themselves to, in exchange for land, was at the very least security for the citizens of the Jewish State of Israel - and that this is why Oslo literally blew up in our faces?

The only real difference that exists between the "Land for Peace" equation of the Rabin / Peres era with Sharon's "Independence for Security" gimmick is that Rabin & Peres at least tried to fool the People of Israel by (mis)leading them to believe that there was a true "peace partner", and concessions would only be made in return for peace. Sharon, on the contrary, will give away the farm (not his of course - only those belonging to "settlers") and endanger the very existence of the Jewish State of Israel for absolutley nothing in return.

As an aside, there is one way in which I can see this "Independence for Security" equation working - namely, by applying it in reverse.

If the Arabs are willing to grant the Jewish State of Israel independence from the PLO and their murderous ways, then in return, Israel would provide the Arabs of Yesha (Judea, Samaria & Gaza) with security. Of course, if they do not grant the Jewish State independence, Israel would then take measures to make their lives as un-secure as possible until the Arabs of Yesha came around.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

True Jewish - Arab Co-existence (No joke, I really mean it this time...)

It's ironic, that within the city of Hebron, a place that the Israeli media relishes in describing as being full of the most extreme, hostile, Arab-hating, gun-toting "settlers", that one can find genuine co-existence taking place between Jews and Arabs (courtesy of Arutz 7):
Arab leaders in Hevron have contacted the city’s Jewish leaders for help in getting rid of self-proclaimed anarchist volunteers who, they complain, are destroying their traditional way of life... Several local Arab residents told the Kol Ha’Ir newspaper that the activists - many of whom are members of the International Solidarity Movement - have been exposing the local youths to drug use and sexual promiscuity...

The two sides agreed to have Arabic-speaking Jewish observers along Hevron’s main thoroughfares to replace the anarchists in ensuring calm between the city’s Jewish and Arab populations. The left-wing activists would then be informed by the local Arab population that they appreciate their offer to help, but that they are no longer needed.

So, there you have it, Jews and Arabs co-existing and uniting to fight against a common enemy - an enemy who threatens not only the community's physical security, but also the community's traditional way of life that serves as the very foundation for the Jewish and Arab residents of Hebron.

If Jews and Arabs can find a way to get along - in Hebron of all places - then maybe, just maybe, there is still hope for some type of peaceful co-existence between Arabs and Jews in Israel (within the boundaries set by Jewish law - Ger Toshav / resident stranger status).

Yet another question to the Israeli Left

I recently posed a question to the Israeli Left, dealing, in part, with why they are ok with "asking" Jews who live over the Green Line to "relocate" to within the pre-1967 (Auschwitz) borders, but not with "asking" Israeli Arabs to "relocate" outside of Israel (with compensation) in order to deal with the serious demographic dilemma facing the Jewish State.

While I still am awaiting an answer to my original question, I will pose another question to my friends on the Israeli Left (and their supporters) (courtesy of Arutz-7):
MK Talab El-Sana (whose party is called the United Arab List) is calling upon Israel’s Arab parties to unite under one electoral list. El-Sana says that by unifying into one list, the Arabs could thwart plans to build more Jewish communities in the Galilee and Negev regions.

El-Sana said that unity was necessary “in light of new political developments and their expected ramifications on Arab citizens.” He specifically cited Peres’ plan to expand Jewish settlement in the Galilee and the Negev. He said that a unified Arab list could “push that plan and its dangers for Arab citizens” off the public agenda.

El-Sana says that a unified list would raise Arab participation in Israeli elections to 90%... If Arabs voted according to their percentage of the general population (20%), they could elect up to 24 Knesset representatives.

It is clear that not only is their opposition both from within and without regarding the right of Israel to build and develop Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, but now we also have Israeli Arabs (and their elected officials) stating their opposition to the building and expansion of Jewish communities in the Negev and Galil regions (both within Israel's pre-1967 borders).

* Is the Israeli Left, in the name of democracy, willing to allow Israeli Arabs to work towards limiting the development and expansion of Jewish communities within Israel?

* Is the Israeli Left, in the name of democracy, willing to allow the Israeli Arabs, should they unite into a single electoral bloc, to win 24 seats in the upcoming elections (or in the future), and make up the 2nd largest party to sit in the Knesset of the Jewish State?

* Is the Israeli Left, in the name of democracy, prepared to sit quietly and watch the Jewish State destroyed through peaceful, democratic means at the hands of our fellow Israeli citizens, who just happen to be of the Arab persuasion?

If the answer of the Israeli Left is in the affirmative, that they are willing to place Israel existing as a democratic state - a State of its citizens - over Israel existing as a Jewish State, then they will make very good democrats, but very poor Jews.

If, however, the Israeli Left is that they are not willing to allow the Israeli Arabs to destroy Israel, as a Jewish State, through babies and ballots, then what is the solution of the Israeli Left?

Where would we be without Jewish - Arab co-existence? (No, seriously...)

A new record has been set here in Israel, and it would not have been possible without some genuine co-existence between Jews and Arabs (courtesy of Ha'aretz, of course).
A traffic camera last month captured the fastest speeding violation ever recorded in Israel, when a stolen Mercedes 500 was caught on film "flying" down Highway 4 south of the Rishon Letzion interchange at 248 kilometers per hour (155 MPH).

Where's the co-existence, you ask? Read on.
The car was stolen in late October from the home of a Ramat Gan businessmen, and the film from the traffic camera was developed, as usual, several days after the violation was captured.

This privately imported Mercedes has a 5,000 cc engine and a speed that is limited by the manufacturer to 250 kph.

It may therefore be assumed that the thieves, who were headed for the Palestinian Authority, were going as fast as possible.

So, there you have it.

If not for the Israeli businessman owning this really nice car and the Arab who decided to relieve him of it, this record may never have been set.

If this doesn't make you reconsider the value of the Oslo accords and the Peace Process, I don't know what will. I'm just looking forward to the day when I can tell my grandchildren about this... they'll be so proud.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A Light unto the Nations???

Among the primary missions of the Jewish People, and our reason for continuing to exist, is to serve as a "Light unto the Nations" (Isaiah 42:6).

While there may be differing opinions within traditional Judaism as to what this means exactly and how we are to go about achieving it, here are a number of examples of how the Jewish People currently are definitely not serving as a Light unto the Nations:

1) Let's start with the Bar / Bat Mitzvah extravaganza celebrations that have become little more than a modern day Sin of the Golden Calf orgy, with each Jewish family striving to out-spend and out-class the next. Some recent examples:

* The Superficial on Brittany's Sex Mitzvah (courtesy of AbbaGav):
... a gossip item on E!online implied that Murphy had had sex with a waiter at an industry bar mitzvah... Now I'm not Jewish, and have no idea how bar mitzvah's are supposed to work, but if there's any truth to the above story I'm seriously thinking of converting...

* Bat Mitzvah Madness (courtesy of Orthomom):
Ja Rule, the platinum-selling rapper accustomed to Madison Square Garden, could not afford to strain his vocal cords. He had an important gig the next night. He was playing a Miami steakhouse. The occasion was a bat mitzvah... As they performed, Amber Ridinger, 13, stood onstage with them, in a $27,000 Dolce & Gabbana dress...

The Ridingers, who recounted the evening in an interview, proudly acknowledge that their booking two pop stars for a party that would typically call for a kitschy cover band wearing ill-fitting tuxedos was a social achievement, even in Miami money circles.

2) This sickness of excess spending and misplaced values and priorities can be found even within the Orthodox Jewish community:

* Status Strollers (courtesy of Orthomom, again):
Evidently, the new must-have accessory in the Five Towns for hip mommies in the know is the $1,000 stroller (with accessories)... Six months ago, I only saw a few of these dotted about the shul stroller parking lot. But now, these strollers (called bugaboos, in case you might not be up on the lingo) seem to be proliferating...well, like bugs...

I have seen them in every color imaginable, in denim, even in ultra suede! They have managed to creep their way into almost every conversation. Overheard in the coffee shop yesterday: "I'm so depressed. I jumped on the aubergine, when really, I should have waited until the 2006 colors came out."

3) To add the icing to the cake, we are reminded of the sorry state of Jewish education, which is perfectly captured in this post (and is likely one of the main causes of all of the above problems), "Judaism won't be here in 100 years" (courtesy of Go West, Young Jew):
"Judaism won't be here in 100 years." So said a student last night in my Hebrew High class...

1. What's wrong with Judaism? What isn't it offering you that you want or need? Why do you think people are seeking out other paths?

Some of their answers:
"Judaism is just so old. It doesn't feel relevant anymore."
"I don't understand half the things we do ritually."
"Other places give me answers"
"If it doesn't matter if I come to synagogue to pray...If can just pray at home, then that's what I'll do."
"You can live a Jewish life and not actually DO anything Jewish like go to services."

2. Where do you see Judaism in 100 years?

"I think it will be about the same as it is now."
"It will look very different -- more like a culture even, and less like a religion."
"I'm not sure it will be here in 100 years. Maybe it's time to go out and start recruiting converts."

Hashem, please save us from ourselves.

A Rainbow, the Land of Israel & the Half-Full Glass

This morning, while I was taking care of my daughter, I glanced out of my apartment window (that faces Jerusalem), as I always do, to get a sense of the weather. I tend to look towards Jerusalem when gauging the weather for the day, because that's where I work, and it's amazing how the weather can be so different between where I live, and Jerusalem, only a few miles away.

In any event... when I looked outside the window, I was privileged to see a big, beautiful rainbow, crossing the Judean / Jerusalem hills (To see more pictures of the rainbow, click here).

It's all too easy, living in Israel, to get caught up in all of the negativity that one is inundated with by the media everyday. There seem to be endless challenges facing the Jewish People and State here in Israel (many of which I discuss at length through this blog), and if one doesn't make an effort (myself included), it's easy to see the glass as being half-empty - to only see the clouds.

Upon seeing a rainbow, one is forced to look past the clouds, look past the rain, and to focus on the beauty of the world, or nature and of creation. I am fortunate, living where I do, that rainbows are not a rare occurrence, but I am happy to receive these reminders of how lucky I am to be living in the Land of Israel as often as possible.

The blessing that a Jew says upon seeing a rainbow also gives us reason to be hopeful:
Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the Universe, Who remembers the covenant and is faithful to all promises.

Today, upon seeing the rainbow, I remembered that as difficult as things may seem, the Jewish People and State have a glorious future ahead of them, a special destiny to fulfill, and I am happy knowing how fortunate I am to be living in the Land of Israel, the Land chosen by Hashem for the nation chosen by Hashem, and am able to be a part of it all.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The 1st Move for the New / Old Likud

The 1st thing the new / old Likud should do, once they get their house in order, is to pass the following internal party resolution:
Any Likud MK who left the party along with former party Chairman, Ariel Sharon, to join the "National Responsibility" party, can never again serve in the Likud party, in any capacity.

Ha'aretz correctly stated this idea:
After Sharon, there will be no party. All the deserters will return home to their parties, or will go home.

Why should the Likud give them the choice. Those who are leaving now should be told that they are leaving on a one way ticket.

So, hopefully, this will be the beginning of the end for the following Likud MK's whom we have grown so attached to:
Tzipi Livni, Ehud Olmert, Avraham Hirschon, Gideon Ezra, Omri Sharon, Marina Solodkin, Roni Bar-On, Ruhama Avraham, Eli Aflalo and Ze'ev Boim.

I'm personally hoping that Shaul Mofaz, Limor Livnat, Meir Shitreet, Silvan Shalom, and Bibi Netanyahu join the others, and then we can throw one giant going-away party.

Bye bye, now.

This day in Jewish History...

I write the following words to myself, more than to anyone else, as I am guilty of every word written below.

20 years ago today, Jonathan Jay Pollard, a US Navy intelligence officer, began serving his life term, convicted by the United States of spying for the State of Israel. He has been imprisoned for 7,304 days.

Now, let us put aside whether or not what he did was justified, as one can make a very strong case that it was in fact the United States that had betrayed Israel by witholding vital security information that it was legally bound to share with Israel, and which led directly to Pollard's actions.

The bottom line is, that whether or not Jonathan Pollard committed a crime against the United States, he was acting solely in the best interests (and on behalf) of the Jewish People and State, and as such, while it may explain why there are those in the US who are against his release, it is unforgivable that the Jewish State of Israel (and the Jewish People, in general) have abandoned him.

Jonathan Pollard said before the expulsion of thousands of Jews from their homes and the destruction of the Jewish communities of Gush Katif and the Shomron:
Any government that can abandon one person, can do the same to entire communities.

We, too, must share the blame for this.

We have been silent for too long. We have collectively expressed one of the worst traits that a person can have, that of being ungrateful for good that has been done on your behalf. We have forgotten Jonathan Pollard and all that he sacrificed for the Jewish People and State. We have placed our relationship with America at a higher priority than loyalty to our brother.

This can be extended even further. Today, as we speak, the Temple Mount is being destroyed by the Muslim Waqf, with the tacit approval of the Government of Israel. Where is the outcry? Where are the demonstrations and protests? How is it that we are able to go on with our lives as if nothing is happening?

When we abandon our brother and when we abandon our history and heritage, ultimately, we will find ourselves abandoned as well, Heaven Forbid.

This coming Wednesday there will be a rally on behalf of Jonathan Pollard Independence Park and Agron St. in the Jerusalem, beginning at 5 PM.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

American Jewry Influencing Israeli Policy...

I have always been torn on whether or not Jews who do not live in Israel should be able to influence government policy of the State of Israel.

On the one hand, I strongly believe that it is important for every Jew to feel a strong, personal connection to the Jewish State and People, and to feel that his / her fate is bound to the fate of Israel.

However, I also can't help but shake the feeling that by choosing not to live in Israel, the values and priorities of those Jews are not the same as Jews who do live in Israel, and as such, there is something unfair in having those Jews being able to shape the policies of the Jewish State without having to deal with the consequences of those decisions.

An example of the latter can be seen from the alleged American Jewish influence exerted upon US Secretary of State Condi Rice relating to the agreement she brokered between Israel and the PLO over the Rafah crossing (Arutz -7):
Rice used "unusual personal involvement" to pressure Israel and the PA, according to the liberal New York Jewish daily The Forward... The left-wing Israel Policy Forum, Reform movement members and Americans for Peace Now met with Rice to express their backing before her recent trip to the Middle East.

Abe Foxman, director of the liberal Anti-Defamation league (ADL), told The Forward, "I am nervous about this" because Israel's security may have been compromised. "I worry because there is a basic asymmetry, an imbalance, between the two parties. For the Palestinians, it is about status and sovereignty, which could always be adjusted, while for Israel it is about security and trust. If you make a mistake..., there is no going back."

Peace Now and the Israel Policy Forum are two organizations that are against the very idea of Israel existing as a Jewish State, instead they would like Israel to be a progressive, pluralistic, liberal, secular nation like all others. As for Reform Jewry, the majority of its members have minimal (at best) connection to traditional Jewish identity and to Israel as a Jewish State.

How can one not be troubled when these types of "Jewish" groups are influencing America to pressure Israel into moves that are clearly threatening both the Jewish State and People?

To be honest, I am not really sure where to draw the line between encouraging world Jewry's involvement in Israel's affairs while also having them know their place... I need to give this issue some more thought.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

A Question to the Israeli Left (and her supporters)

The Israeli Left have found a new cause to champion. All of the sudden, the left are concerned for the safety and well-being of their Jewish brothers and sisters living over the Green Line (post Six Day War borders), whom they refer to as "settlers".

A new organization has been established, One House movement, headed by MKs Avshalom Vilan (Meretz) and Colette Avital (Labor), which seeks to compensate any of the 80,000 Jews who are currently living in Judea and Samaria that will not be included in the route of the "security fence” for the cost of their homes should they want to leave, and move within the Green Line (courtesy of the Jerusalem Post):
In a gesture designed to heighten public awareness of the plight of the 80,000 Israelis living outside the security fence, MKs Colette Avital (Labor) and Avshalom Vilan (Meretz-Yahad) plan to file a bill on Monday offering money to compensate those who want to move.

Unlike the compensation packages offered to the Gaza settlers, which took into account loss of employment and number of years spent living in the settlement, this bill offers them only replacement value for their house, which she estimates will be between $100,000 and $200,000.

The One House movement recently released the results of a poll that seem to indicate support within the country for such an initiative, claiming the 74% of the respondents favored such legislation.

The reason that the Left give for their newfound love and concern for their brothers and sisters living in Judea and Samaria can be summed up as such (Ha'aretz):
Alon Pinkas, one of the movement's leaders, said that "it is clear that their will be a second disengagement in Judea and Samaria, it is clear that it will take place before a permanent agreement, and it is clear that it will include the 80,000 settlers living outside of the fence. Therefore, the government must stop using settlers as bargaining chips and hostages and enable them to voluntary leave right now."

If that's the case, then would the Israeli Left be willing to accept a similar type of legislation that proposed to offer compensation (within the same range of the figures listed above) that would encourage Israeli Arabs to emigrate from Israel?

After all, everyone knows that the Israeli Arabs pose a serious demographic threat to the continued existence of Israel as a Jewish State, an issue that will ultimately need to be dealt with, so why not start dealing with the issue now in a way where everyone wins - the Jews keep Israel as a Jewish State, and the Israeli Arabs are able to rebuild their lives somewhere else, on their own terms, with enough money to do so)?

There is much support for this idea, as can be seen from a recent study that found More Israeli Jews favor transfer of Palestinians, Israeli Arabs (A must read article).

If the Left would oppose such legislation, then they would appear to be racists (anti-Semites) and enemies of the idea of Israel being a Jewish State, as they would only find it acceptable to ask Jews to leave their homes, but not Arabs. If the Left would support such legislation, then, at the very least would be acting in a consistent manner, trying to maintain as large a Jewish majority within Israel as possible.

Time will tell which is the case.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Peace Process Update: "Let's Give them Bullets..."

It amazes me how the ruling elites in Israel just never learn. The last two weeks we have been inundated about remembering the life of Yitzchak Rabin. One of the first things that comes to mind when I think of Rabin is the absolute insanity of his decision to give the PLO Arabs weapons, as thousands of Jewish lives have been destroyed (directly or indirectly) through this immoral decision.

Sadly, that idea didn't seem to get much air time at the ceremonies or in the press, and as such, one can't be surprised to see that Israel's ruling elites are following in Rabin's footsteps (courtesy of Yediot Achronot):
A delivery of 500,000 rifle bullets is expected to reach the Gaza strip in the coming days, perhaps even as soon as Thursday, through the Rafah border crossing, Palestinian sources have told Ynet.

The bullets, which will be shipped from Egypt, are intended for use by the Palestinian police. Israel has already given its permission to the transport, on condition that the bullets are used solely by the Palestinian Authority, and not by any other armed factions.

IMRA points out the absurdity of Israel allowing this shipment of bullets into Gaza:
Since the PA plans to put the members of the various terrorist groups on the PA payroll - and this as intact units - DM (Defense Minister) Mofaz's restriction, if honored, would mean that terrorist groups only get the bullets if they agreed to also draw a salary from the PA.

Let's see how these decisions by the Government of Israel rank on theOslo scale, which rates the insanity of Israel's policy decisions as they relate to the PLO and the security of the Jewish State:

* Giving the PLO bullets: 9 (at least they're not giving them guns)

* Allowing the EU to control the border crossings: 8 (It could've been worse, at least it's not Iran controlling the border).

* Israel's believing that the bullets will only be used by the PLO police force - for the purpose of strengthening the PLO's security system's ability "to fight anarchy and enforce law and order in Gaza": PRICELESS

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Borderline Insanity...

You would think, after hearing yet again that the city in which I live is going to be included in the "final borders" (as well as inside the security fence), that I would feel a sense of relief. Yet, after hearing the following report from Ha'aretz, I remain ill at ease:
The Israel Lands Administration (ILA) Thursday issued building tenders for 13 lots in Ma'aleh Adumim, while the Housing Ministry issued tenders for building infrastructures in Ariel, Ma'aleh Adumim and Adam.

The most recent tenders were issued 24 hours after Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said "the settlement blocs will continue to be Israel's eastern border in the future."

I can't comprehend why it is that everyone seems to be is in love with the security fence. Yes, it might, in the short term prevent terror attacks, but at what price? At the cost of building up ghetto walls around us, and giving our enemies for nothing what they couldn't take from us on the battlefield? Giving away flourishing Jewish communities full of Jewish life and history such as Beit El, Shiloh, Elon Moreh, Eli... Not to mention that the fence does not actually stop terror, but merely lets it fester and grow like a malignant tumor that will strike at us soon as it feels the will to do so.

The security fence is a modern day symbol of Jewish weakness, and I take no pride from being included within it. To me, the fence represents a badge of shame that is scarring the face of the Jewish State in the Land of Israel.

In Zechariah 2:8, in references to the future redemption, it states:
"...Yerushalayim shall be inhabited like unwalled towns..."

The Radak (Rabbi David Kimchi - a commentator on the Torah and Prophets) explains that Jerusalem will be so full of Jews that she will be forced to expand beyond the city walls, and that the Jews will be able to live outside those walls without fear.

Instead of us focusing on building walls, and limiting Jewish growth and expansion in the Land of Israel, we should be doing the opposite. Hopefully, our leaders will familiarize themselves with the true words of our prophets, and not just pay lip service to them.

Blind Faith

Two words: Tiger who?
A blind Israeli golfer realized the dream of every amateur hacker when he shot a hole-in-one.

Zohar Sharon aced the 160-metre, 15th hole at the Caesarea Golf Club in Israel during a round yesterday.

Mr. Sharon, with a handicap of 20, initially thought he had over hit his tee-shot but was delighted when his caddy, Shimshon Levy, found the ball nestled in the cup.

"He went crazy. I did not understand what he was shouting about, I thought a snake had bitten him," Mr. Sharon said of Mr. Levy, who accompanies him on his regular rounds of golf and lines him up for his shots.

(Courtesy of Reuters)

Here is yet another example of the supernatural occurrences (Divine intervention) of which the Jewish People benefit from in the Land of Israel.

(Thanks to my loyal reader in Brooklyn, NY for bringing this story to my attention).

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

In the EU we trust...

Israel and the PLO recently reached an agreement relating to the control and monitoring of the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, with the EU, close friend of the Jewish State and People taking an active role.

Here's how things are going to be run:
In addition, Israeli and PA security officers will monitor remote-control cameras at an EU-run control room a few kilometers from Rafah. If the Israelis want someone stopped or detained, they must ask their Palestinian counterparts to do so. If the Palestinians refuse, an appeal can be made to the EU team while the person in question is held for up to six hours.

Let's try to imagine how this might play out:

(Background: Rafah Border Crossing. Jamal, a well known member of an Arab terror organization, wants to cross from Egypt into Gaza.)

Israel: Hey, stop that guy, he's a terrorist, having planned and taken part in numerous terror attacks against Jews in Israel.

PLO: No, he's not. He is a close personal friend of PLO President Abbas.

Israel: Hey, EU, you have to step in and stop this guy, the PLO is not willing to stop this terrorist from crossing into Gaza.

EU: Jamal, are you a terrorist like Israel claims?

Jamal: No, of course not.

EU: What is the purpose of your visit to Gaza?

Jamal: "Business"

EU: (Shuffling some papers and typing something into the computer) Yes, everything seems to check out...

EU: Mr. Jamal, I apologize for the delay. Enjoy your stay in Gaza.

EU: You see Israel, there's nothing to worry about. Jamal gave me his word that he is not involved in terrorism and that he is only going to Gaza for business purposes.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Authentic Jewish Values for a Jewish State

Hardly a day goes by without someone invoking Jewish Values to justify things that by and large do not have a basis in traditional Judaism. Jewish Values are not merely things that a particular Jew values, rather they are values that are at the very heart of Judaism and whose roots can be traced back to traditional Jewish texts and law.

Today's example is courtesy of David Forman from the Jerusalem Post who shares with us his view on the issue of Israel being both a Jewish and Democratic State (very worthwhile to read the entire article):
The Jewish state can legitimately call itself Jewish only so long as it is Jewish and democratic and humane.

For Jews, the building of a society based on a prophetic vision of social justice, equality and humanity...

No people should be more sensitive to the notion of “separate laws” than Jews.

Ultimately, by introducing racist laws, it is not others, but we who are challenging our own legitimacy as a people and a nation.

Forman seems to imply that:

* According to the teachings of the Prophets, there must be full equality in the Jewish State, between Jew and non-Jew.

* The notion of separate laws concerning Jews and non-Jews is racist.

* That a Jewish State is only legitimate if it is in fact a democratic state.

Now consider the following points in response:

* What is the basis for Forman's claim that a Jewish State must also be democratic? Neither the 1st, nor the 2nd Jewish commonwealths were run according to democratic principles.

* Throughout the nearly 2,000 year long exile, the Jewish People did not pray to return to Zion in order to become "The Only Democracy in the Middle East", but to create a truly Jewish State where they could serve Hashem as they were meant to.

* The Torah, as well as the Prophets make it very clear that the non-Jew in Israel is limited to a Resident-Stranger status, with all of the limitations that go along with it. (Perhaps Forman isn't familiar with those sections).

* The Torah makes it very clear that the Jewish people are not meant to live amongst the nations of the world - that they are meant to live in a Jewish State in the Land of Israel, to create a society based on Torah values (protected from the foreign, secular values of the outside world) and serve as a light unto the nations. (See: Lev. 20:24-26, Bamidbar Rabbah, 18:7, Num. 23:9).

For the sake of brevity I refrained from delving into specific sources to prove out these points. If there is interest for me to do so, please let me know, and I would be happy to elaborate on this issue.

A Tale of Two Taxis - in Jerusalem...

I'm no stranger to riding in a taxi. Having lived and worked in NY, prior to having made Aliyah, I often found myself in the back of a yellow taxi cab. I consider myself to be a friendly person, and I enjoy making idle chit-chat with people, but more often than not, I found that it was not usually possible to engage in conversation with taxi drivers from NY. If they were able to understand enough English to know where I wanted to be going to (as well as knowing enough English to enable them to read street and traffic signs) you could consider it a good ride.

In Israel things are quite different. The other day, I found myself in two different taxis, and each one was an interesting experience in its own right.

The 1st taxi driver was a Russian Jew, who made Aliyah 42 years ago (1963, I think). He stated that since he arrived every day has only been worse, and things will only continue to get worse. If he could get a visa, he would sell everything and move to Canada, and take his cat with him. He believes that it's only a matter of time before the State of Israel will cease to exist.

Granted, I didn't really agree with most of the things that he was saying, as we have very different worldviews, but I found his passion to be very captivating, and it is always interesting hearing a different perspective on the challenges that the Jewish People are facing here, and the possible solutions to them.

The 2nd taxi driver was a native born Israeli. The ride started with the obligatory haggling over the price of the ride (See: Life of Brian). He was very interested in what life in NY was like, and how Americans and Israelis are different. He was surprised that I had left NY to live in Israel. He also was surprised when I told him that I had no desire to move back to NY after having lived here for a few years. We ended up getting into a whole discussion about what it means to be a Jew, and why we have a Jewish State. The bottom line that came out of the conversation was that Israel is the only place that a Jew can call home, and that all Jews are family, even if we don't agree on everything.

At the end of the ride, he asked me if I would talk to taxi drivers in NY. I said that not only did many of them not speak English, but it was difficult to find what to talk about with them, as opposed to him (the Israeli taxi driver), who is family, and with whom I have much in common and so much to learn from.

The ride ended with me offering to pay a bit more than we had agreed upon, and him wanting to charge me less. He pulled away with a smile on his face, and I arrived home with a smile on mine.

Two different drivers, both total strangers to me, with very different beliefs about what it means to be a Jew and what the future holds in store for the Jewish People and State.

Yet... at the end of the day, we're family, and we have a common destiny, and on a sunny day in Jerusalem, we were able to connect as Jews, in the front seat of a taxi.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Welcome Home! - My Visit to Rachel's Tomb

I'm embarrassed to admit this, but it took me almost 3 years since having made Aliyah, until I finally got around to visiting my mother who resides in Israel - in Beit Lechem (Bethlehem) to be precise, and who has been waiting patiently for my visit since the day I arrived.

I am, of course, talking about my mother, Rachel. Yesterday, I was privileged to finally visit Kever Rachel (Rachel's Tomb), courtesy of KUMAH, Arutz-7 and the Jerusalem Capital Development Fund.

(To read all about this powerful trip, click here, and to see pictures of the trip, click here).

It is written in Jeremiah (31:14):
"Thus said Hashem: A voice is heard on high, wailing, bitter weeping, Rachel weeps for her children; she refuses to be consoled for her children, for they are gone. Thus said Hashem: Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears; for there is reward for your accomplishment - the word of Hashem - and they will return from the enemy's land. There is hope for your future - the word of Hashem - and your children will return to their border."

Rachel Imeinu is the one who has been weeping throughout the generations for the Children of Israel to return home to the Land of Israel, and she is the one who continues to pray for the rest of the Jewish People to return home.

It is sad, that in many ways, Kever Rachel has been abandoned by the State of Israel. In order to reach the area, one must travel in a armored bus, and one feels as if he is entering a fortress, surrounded on nearly every side by huge concrete walls (see pictures), to be protected from the Arabs who live in Beit Lechem, and if not for the presence of the army, would destroy Kever Rachel just as they did to Kever Yosef in Schem.

Yet, in spite of the difficulties involved in reaching our mother, Rachel, the Jewish People have not abandoned her. Over 20,000 Jews visited their mother yesterday, the day of her passing - the 11th of Cheshvan - and the Jerusalem Capitol Development Fund has been working to strengthen the Jewish presence around Kever Rachel (may Hashem bless their efforts).

After I was able to push my way through to get up to the Kever, I prayed for all my Jewish brothers and sisters who still live outside of Israel, that they should be able to return home soon, that I should be able to play a part in making that happen, and that Rachel Imeinu should no lonee have reason to cry...

The Right to Dissent in The Only Democracy in the Middle East

In case the title of this post left anyone in doubt, for the purpose of this post, The Only Democracy in the Middle East refers to the State of Israel.

From Ha'aretz:
The Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday rejected a request by Judea and Samaria police to deport four foreign activists in Hebron accused of obstructing police and Israel Defense Forces operations... they have been involved in protests against the construction of Jewish settlements in the region and against the settlers' treatment of Palestinian residents in neighboring towns.

Judge Rafi Strauss criticized police for its treatment of the activists and for placing them under arrest. The judge instructed the activists to distance themselves from Tel Rumeida for ten days.

I wonder where Judge Strauss was when 14 year old girls were put in prison for over a month for protesting the expulsion of 10,000+ Jews, the destruction of those communities, and the handing over of the land to the sworn enemy of the Jewish State and People?

Why is it that Judge Strauss in particular, and Israel's judicial system in general, care more about the rights of the enemies of the Jewish People and State than they do for the rights of those who only seek to strengthen the connection of the Jewish People to their Land and heritage?

Sunday, November 13, 2005

The logic behind Israel's (non) response to terror... - UPDATED

For the longest time, I have been trying to understand the logic behind Israel's (non) response to Arab attacks against the Jewish State.

Among the tactics that Israel has developed an affinity for has been causing sonic booms over Arab population centers in Gaza.

As a result of a petition filed against the sonic booms by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and the Gaza Community Mental Health Program, the State of Israel had to explain the rationale behind its policy of non-response measures (AKA sonic booms) to the Supreme Court (courtesy of Ha'aretz):
Israel Air Force warplanes break the sound barrier over the Gaza Strip in order to confuse terrorists, the state told the High Court of Justice on Sunday.

The sonic booms are intended to "disrupt terror activities, engender fear among terrorists planning to attempt to fire rockets, deceive, create disinformation and a sense of threat and confusion among terrorists concerning the extent of Israel Defense Forces operations - their nature and specific locations."

And to think, all this time, I thought the sonic booms were meant to confuse the Jewish citizens of the State of Israel, leading them to believe that the State of Israel and the IDF were actually taking steps to fight Arab terror.

Learn something new everyday...

This just in: Government Eases Travel and Work Permit Restrictions in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. (The list must be seen to be believed).

Sadly, we all know what generally follows such "goodwill" gestures...

Confusion in Zion

There has been much speculation as to what ramifications Amir Peretz's wresting away control of the Labor party would have on the Israeli political map. Well, it looks like we may have some early indications that can be summed up in a word - madness - that has struck at both the left and the "right". (Courtesy of Jerusalem Post):
"The Arabs will not be ruled out of any coalition," Peretz said during an interview with Channel 2. "If an Arab agrees to be a minister in the government, it would decrease tensions in the country. I think a Jewish majority must do everything so that the minority feels good, because a majority must justify its presence as a majority by treating the minority well."
I am afraid that Amir Peretz believes a bit too much in his Socialist values and not enough in his Jewish ones.

I have no doubt that if Israel were to allow Israeli Arabs to serve as ministers in the government that it would go a long way to making them "feel good", but that would only come at the expense of the Jewish People and State, as only a fool could believe that the interests of the Arabs of Israel have anything in common with that of the Jewish People or State.

There is a big difference between treating a minority respectfully, allowing them to live a dignified life, and giving them the keys to your home.

As I see it, the #1 criteria for allowing minorities (non-Jews) to live in Israel is their loyalty to Israel as a Jewish State and their forswearing any national aspirations that would threaten the existence of the Jewish State. If someone can't agree to that, then there is no room for him / her in the State of Israel, as they are declaring themselves as enemies of the Jewish People and State.

As for the "right", the hypocrisy and confusion is astounding:
The comment aroused the ire of several MK’s, including Likud faction chairman Gideon Sa'ar, who said that Peretz's statement exposed "extremist plans."

"Peretz's intent to set up a coalition with Arab, anti-Zionist parties symbolizes the fall of Zionism and morality in the Labor Party, which would want to set up a government with Ahmed Tibi and Azmi Bishara," Sa'ar said, listing two Arab MK’s.

Now, I must be fair and mention that Gideon Sa'ar was one of the "Likud Rebels", who went against the Prime Minister and Likud Chairman, Ariel Sharon, and voted against the expulsion of Jews and destruction of the Jewish communities of Gaza and the Shomron. However, all that being said, the Likud is the embodiment of all that Sa'ar is blaming Peretz and Labor of being:

"Extremist Plans" - Throwing 10,000 Jews out of their homes, destroying Jewish communities at the hands of the IDF and handing over the land to our enemies seems to be pretty extreme to me.

"...intent to set up a coalition with Arab, anti-Zionist parties symbolizes the fall of Zionism..." - That may be true, but wasn't the Likud guilty of this when they brought Labor into the government, and pushed the expulsion plan through on the backs of the anti-Zionist Ultra-Orthodox parties?

Not to mention that we see the utter hypocrisy of the "Right", who claim to believe in Israel being a Jewish and Democratic state, yet oppose having Arabs serve as Ministers in the government - what's the big deal, are they not equal citizens of the State of Israel?

Let's be honest with ourselves here. We can't be both good Jews and good democrats, one must take precedence over the other.

Amir Peretz has made his decision, Gideon Sa'ar and the rest of the Likud are confused lot, what will the rest of Israel decide?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Prediciting the Future...

Everyone has an opinion about how things should be in the future... life, politics, and sports.

Personally, I have lots of opinions when it comes to the future of Israel and the Jewish People.

Well, now we all have a chance to put our money where out mouth is, courtesy of Forbes and their E-Mail Time Capsule.
Most time capsules involve cramming stuff into a metal box and burying it in a hole in the ground. It's a method that works --but it's so primitive. What if you could write an email to yourself, and be assured of receiving it twenty years in the future?

That's what we've done with this email time capsule. Simply fill out the fields below, decide how long you want the capsule to be sealed for, and hit send. We'll do our best to make sure the message gets delivered.

You have the option to have your e mail sent you in either: 1, 3, 5, 10 or 20 years...

Anyone care to share their predictions?

Here's a bold one for you: Within the next 20 years the majority of the Jewish People will be living in the Land of Israel - in expanded borders (and hopefully with the Beit Hamikdash).

(I also like the chances of the New York Giants this year – for those who must have action).

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