Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Can Blogs Kill People?

Can blogs kill?

Well, if one holds by the old adage that "Guns don't kill people, rather people kill people", then the answer would be no, Blogs don't kill people, but bloggers do.

What am I talking about? Read on.

The Israeli / Jewish Blogsphere has recently suffered a tragic loss, in the form of a blog-icide or a blog-slaughter.

Blog of a death foretold

The suicide of Meirav Kanner, known online as Rapunzel, continues to resound through the Israeli blogosphere. Following her death on June 17, there have been calls to define the limits of online discourse in order to minimize harm to the people behind the blogs...

In the last few weeks of her life, Kanner's emotional state apparently deteriorated, and she hurled harsh accusations at various people, even mentioning their names on her blog...

The suicide sparked a flood of reactions, discussions and personal accountings in the blogosphere, starting with people who eulogized Kanner with great sadness and ending with others incapable of forgiving the woman who had hurt so many of them.

The most burning question among many of the writers, however, was, "Could we have prevented such a bitter ending?"

Perhaps it is somehow fitting that this article appeared on my one-year blog anniversary (according to the Gregorian calendar - the anniversary according to the Jewish calendar passed about 10 days ago without my having realized).

The byline of this blog states:

Perspectives on the challenges confronting the Jewish People and State through the eyes of one who finds himself taking an active role in the compelling drama that is the life of the Jewish People in the Land of Israel.

Over the past year, there has been no shortage of challenges that have confronted the Jewish People and State, and I don't foresee many of these challenges being overcome in the near future.

Blogging has provided me with an outlet to express my ideas, visions, hopes and dreams for the future of the Jewish People and State, and I do hope that those who have been reading my blog over the last year feel that the posts have been worthwhile, enlightening, and perhaps, at times, even inspiring.

I am well aware of the fact that not everyone agrees with my "unique" perspective. One of the aspects that I have enjoyed most about blogging has been the opportunity to interact with individuals who don't see things exactly the way I do; to discuss the issues with them; to try and understand where they are coming from, and perhaps go as far as to appreciate their point of view, even if at the end of the day, I still don't agree with it.

Yesterday, the Jewish People celebrated Rosh Chodesh Tammuz. In a little over 2 weeks, the Jewish People will be entering into the most difficult period within the Jewish calendar, namely, the three weeks, during which time the Jewish People commemorate and mourn the destruction of our two Batei Mikdash (along with a myriad of other tragedies), culminating with a day of fasting, mourning and reflection on the 9th of Av (Tisha B'Av).

Jewish tradition teaches us that the 2nd Beit HaMikdash was destroyed due to an atmosphere of baseless hatred that existed amongst the Jewish People. It is my utmost hope that within the daled amot (4 cubits) of this blog, regardless of whatever disagreements may arise, that at the end of the day, we recognize that we all belong to the same family - namely, the Jewish People; that we only have one, true place on this earth which we can call home - namely, the Land (& State) of Israel; and in spite of our differences, that we can only rely on ourselves (and G-d).

Maybe, just maybe, if we in the Jewish Blogsphere can learn to co-exist with those people with whom we disagree, and, dare I say, even come to respect them, then perhaps there might be hope for the "real" Jewish world, and through this we will merit to see the fulfillment of the verse:

Who is like Your nation, Israel, one nation in the Land? (I Samuel 15:19)

The Daily Grind - 2nd of Tammuz / 28th of June

Today's edition of The Daily Grind focuses on the political ramifications of the events of the last few days where two Israelis / Jews were abducted by the Hamas led "Palestinian Authority", and Israel's return to Gaza, as well as highlighting some other choice articles.

Before getting to any of the above, we'll open with one of the all-time greatest quotes ever uttered in the history of the State of Israel.

Let's get started.

1) Kidnapped by emotions - Akiva Eldar - Ha'aretz

In early June last year, not long before the evacuation of Gaza, an Israeli leader got up in front of a Jewish audience in New York and said the following brave words: "We are tired of fighting, we are tired of being courageous, we are tired of winning, we are tired of defeating our enemies. We want that we will be able to live in an entirely different environment of relations with our enemies. We want them to be our friends, our partners, our good neighbors."

He ended his emotional plea with the words, "this is not impossible. [I]t is within reach if we will be smart, if we will dare, if we will be prepared to take the risks, and if we will be able to convince our Palestinian partners to be able to do the same. So that together we will move forward in this direction of building up different relations, better understanding, and greater trust between us and them." The speaker was Ehud Olmert, then deputy prime minister.

I don't agree with the rest of the article, but I will repeat here what I wrote in an earlier post on this classic quote:

I do not know how anyone in Israel can sleep at night knowing that the man leading the country has given up hope; a man who no longer believes in the absolute right of the Jewish People to a Jewish State in the Land of Israel; a man who has lost the will to fight and stand strong for our rights and our lives.

2) MKs try to prevent outpost eviction - Rebecca Anna Stoil - Jerusalem Post

In response to the worsening security situation, MK Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism) on Tuesday called on Defense Minister Amir Peretz to reassess his plan to evacuate illegal outposts in the West Bank in another two weeks...

"After hundreds of Kassam rockets, why should we dismantle the outposts and give [the Palestinians] a prize? Why should we take them down at all?" Porush asked.

Good questions. Peretz' response? My guess is that it will be something about upholding the rule of law... international obligations... all of which seem to be of a higher priority than the government's providing even the most basic level of security for the citizens of the Jewish State of Israel - the primary obligation of any government.

3) No chance to win war - Batya Melamed - Yediot Achronot

It should be said that instead of a fierce military reaction – even if one seems necessary – we must do everything, absolutely everything, to bring about the release Corporal Gilad Shalit in the nicest way possible.

Palestinian prisoners should be released – men and women, young and old, those with blood on their hands and those without. Furthermore, the government must promise more disengagements, whatever they may be called – disengagement, convergence, realignment, running away, Jewish population shift. This is the time to punish them for their collective sin.

Just let us avoid this war. It is doomed to failure from the start.

Why will it be a failure?... one measures the power of the most important weapon a country who wants to live, who is dedicated to defeating its enemies, can have: Faith in the justice of its cause and its actions. The ability to walk upright, and even the willingness "to die for one's country..."

The time has come to tell the truth, at least to ourselves: We've got no chance to win this battle. Not as long as we continue to pulverize all remnants of national pride, of our identity and of our faith that we have a right to life. Not as long as we, ourselves, do everything we can to call these things into question.

4) PMW: PA political leaders advocated kidnapping policy - IMRA - Palestinian Media Watch

No surprise here.

5) Labor MK: Israel Failed to Help Gush Katif Refugees - Scott Shiloh - Israel National News

Shelly Yechimovitch, a first term Labor MK, said in the Knesset on Tuesday that the Israeli government has failed in its efforts to resettle Israeli refugees from Gush Katif and northern Samaria...

“Their opposition…and their lack of cooperation does not derogate one bit from our responsibility towards them,” she said. “The bottom line is we failed.”

Yechimovitch, who is attempting to restore the Labor party to its core values based on social justice and equality, said the Gush Katif refugees “symbolize the loss of our values.”

A voice of reason coming from the Israeli Left?

6) Comptroller: Old boys' network rules foreign service - Aluf Benn - Ha'aretz

"For years, appointments have been made with no regard for standards, no transparency, and in violation of principles of good government," State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss wrote...

The picture of the Foreign Ministry that emerges from the report is of a primitive organization where senior positions, including ambassadorial postings to important countries, depend largely on connections and influence. In some of the cases examined by the comptroller, postings were filled before the appointments committee was convened.

And people wonder why Israel has such difficulties making its case to the world.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Daily Grind - 1st of Tammuz/ 27th of June

Welcome back to The Daily Grind.

Today we'll be recapping some of the more interesting articles from the last few days, covering, among other things, the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit by Hamas, Qassam rockets falling on Sderot, and why there's no better place in the world than Israel to live.

Let's get started.

On the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit:

1) Sidelining convergence - Aluf Benn - Ha'aretz

The political outcome of Hamas' raid on Israelis at Kerem Shalom yesterday is that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's convergence plan is being set aside for now...

Three elements have foiled Olmert's scheme. First, the government and the Israel Defense Forces failed to formulate a convincing security response to the continued attacks against Israel from the Gaza Strip...

Second, Olmert's leadership in the face of the escalation of violence in the south has been problematic...

Third, the convergence was greeted without enthusiasm abroad...

2) Deterrence: A precious commodity - Benjamin Netanyahu - Yediot Achronot

The Israeli government must immediately get back two precious commodities it has lost: Gilad Shalit, and its power of deterrence.

3) Analysis: Israel's hostage complex - Anshel Pfeifer - Jerusalem Post

While dozens of Kassam rockets fell daily on Sderot and the neighboring kibbutzim for months and, miraculously, casualties haven't been serious, the missiles haven't warranted a major operation in the Gaza Strip. If Sunday's raid on the IDF outpost had failed, the IDF would probably not be poised to strike now. But because the Palestinians have captured a soldier, the situation has changed completely...

Why does it take the abduction of an Israeli solder to compel the government of Israel to act against our enemies? Daily rocket attacks don't count?

4) Tie a blue ribbon for Gilad - Bradley Burston - Ha'aretz

When the missile hit his tank, Gilad Shalit was guarding our pre-1967 war border...

The border that Hamas has been talking about for months. The one to which, should we withdraw, they would make peace with us for generations...

When the missile hit, there was this kid, stationed at a quiet IDF position, not in the territories, nowhere near Palestinians...

Ignore the voices - you can hear them already - saying that he had it coming, as a member of a military that attacks Palestinians - the Palestinians that fire Qassams into homes, schools and medical clinics, the Palestinians that fire Qassams every single day, sometimes as many as seven times a day.

The world doesn't give a fallen fig.

5) State Department: US urges Israeli restraint - IMRA

With friends like these...

Qassams in Sderot

6) Morality requires: Hurt hostile population - Yisrael Rosen - Yediot Achronot

Jewish ethics are saturated with the ethical message "if someone comes to kill you, kill him first." The Torah and the prophets, Jewish law, rabbinic tales and Jewish thought all treat war as a struggle between two peoples, not between two individuals who happen to have guns...

And in war as in war. Civilians get hurt in war – including women, children and the elderly. Only a population that forcibly vomits out terrorists from its midst, that waves a white flag, that expresses strong protest against being dragged into violent conflict – only such a population will be protected, according to any measure of Jewish morality.

7) Terrorists want Israel to kill civilians - Alan Dershowitz - Jerusalem Post

The increasing number of Palestinian civilian casualties unintentionally inflicted by Israel in its effort to stop rocket attacks against its own civilians reflects the success of the terrorists' policy.

The goal of Palestinian terrorism is to increase the number of civilian deaths on both sides... Every time the Israeli military accidentally kills a Palestinian civilian, the Palestinian terrorists win a propaganda and political victory...

What then should Israel do? It cannot simply tolerate the killing of its civilian population...

Despite the risks of increased terrorism, every effort should be made to pursue the possibility of a two-state solution... If a negotiated two-state solution isn't possible with Hamas calling the shots, then Israel should go forward with the plan for unilateral withdrawal behind the security barrier.

It's amazing that even the smartest of individuals can be so clueless. Dershowitz recognizes that the Hamas led "Palestinian Authority" is committed to wiping out the Jewish State, but even so, he won't give up his dream of an Israel and "Palestine" living side by side, even if it comes at the price of expelling tens of thousands of Jews and endangering the very existence of the Jewish State.


8) The Israel no one sees - Dr. Eugene Narrett - World Net Daily

The land is astonishingly beautiful, with a uniquely stark, colorful, eye-arresting mix of hills, ridges, winding valleys and stream beds. And, yes, wherever Jews have settled and worked the land it is green, from the tomato, mango, date palm and orange plantings in the sun-baked Dead Sea valley, to the wheat fields, vineyards, herbs and flowers of the Negev, to the olive, fig and almond orchards of the Golan and Samaria. Perhaps this is what the powers of the world don't want people to see: that the promises of the Creator are real; that His covenant is real and everlasting.

Here in the Jewish towns, vineyards, farms and orchards of Samaria are the true beautiful people so much sought since those times: balanced, simple, quietly glad. They know who they are; they know what they are doing and that it's right. They live free, simply and with faith. They have a lot to offer the world, though they would never say so and probably don't think about it.

A must read article.

9) Our World: Israel's rude awakening - Caroline Glick - Jerusalem Post

...Then there is the doctrine of the security fence. Olmert and his colleagues are big proponents of replacing defensive strategies with slogans and one of their favorite ones is "We'll be here and they will be there." Israel will build a fence and we'll never have to deal with the Palestinians again. But then those mean old Palestinians showed us on Sunday that they can dig beneath our fence. They show us daily that they can launch missiles and rockets and mortars above the fence. They can build ladders to climb over the fence. And of course, they can simply subcontract their killing to their collaborators on our side of the fence...

Caroline Glick shatters many of the myths of the Israeli left.

10) The Region: A review that speaks volumes - Barry Rubin - Jerusalem Post

In a shocking anti-Israel diatribe, the New York Times correspondent in Jerusalem has revealed both his profound personal bias and basic acceptance of Hamas's political claims.

Par for the course when it comes to coverage of Israel by "The Paper of Record" - the New York Times.

THE Blog of Choice for World Leaders and Policy Makers

It appears that included among the 80+ daily visitors to this blog are none other than Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and former "Palestinian" President and current head of Fatah, Mahmoud Abbas.

How can I be so sure of this?

Well, a look at today's headlines makes it clear that both leaders have given serious consideration to my 3-step plan for securing the release of abducted soldier, Gilad Shalit.

Here's a closer look.


The government of the State of Israel announces that the "Palestinian Authority", led by Hamas, has one hour to return Gilad Shalit

From today's news:

Olmert Gives 48-Hour Ultimatum

48 hours is a bit much, especially considering that Gilad Shalit has already been in the hands of Hamas for nearly that long, and it's not as if Gaza is so far away from Israel that they should need more than an hour or so to return him.

However, that being said, Olmert's Step 2 is very similar to the 2nd step of my 3-Step plan.


The government of Israel will immediately cut off the supply of electricity, gas and water to the Gaza Strip.

From today's news:

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced Tuesday that if IDF soldier Gilad Shalit is not released, Israel will prevent the entry of fuel and food to Gaza.

The threat originally included cutting electricity as well, though Army Radio reported that Olmert staffers said that that is no longer part of the ultimatum.

It seems that my readers are not only found within the upper echelon of the Israeli government, but within the "Palestinian Authority, as well, as Mahmoud Abbas seemed to be rather concerned that should Step 2 fail to bring about the release of Gilad Shalit, that Step 3 of my plan would be implemented.


The government of Israel will announce that it holds the "Palestinian Authority", led by Hamas, directly responsible for the kidnapping, and as such, authority will be given to the IDF to begin targeting all "Palestinian Authority" officials until Gilad Shalit is safely returned to Israel.

From today's news:

Abbas to Haniyeh: Israel will target you if kidnapped soldier comes to harm

Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas warned Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh that Israel will strike out at him if harm comes to the Israel Defense Forces soldier... Abbas told Haniyeh that Israel would also strike out at his fellow Hamas members Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud a-Zahar and Interior Minister Said Sayam if anything happens to Cpl. Gilad Shalit.

Hopefully, my 3-Step plan, will be the first of the many ideas that are expressed on this blog, which the leaders of the Jewish State will implement, and thus bring about not only a more secure Israel, but a more Jewish one, as well.

Monday, June 26, 2006

What's Jewish Law got to do with it? Qassams, Kidnappings and the War on Terror

The State of Israel has never had a shortage of political leaders with significant military experience and expertise (Ariel Sharon, Ehud Barak, Bibi Netanyahu, Yitzchak Rabin...), and yet, all of this military expertise has not been able to stop the daily barrage of Qassam rockets into the Jewish State over the last 5 years (as part of the greater "Palestinian" war of destruction against the Jewish State), and it was not able to prevent yesterday's kidnapping of Gilad Shalit, in an attack led by Hamas, which also killed two Israeli soldiers.

One can only wonder how the situation might be different if only our "enlightened leaders" would have put aside their real politic considerations, and actually showed an interest in their Jewish heritage, they might have discovered that Jewish law has a very clear and relevant solution as to how to stop the Qassam rocket fire; a solution that would have prevented the unnecessary deaths of two young soldiers, and the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit.

What is this magical solution, you ask?

We can find the answer brought down in the Shulchan Aruch - Code of Jewish Law (Orach Chaim: 329, 6,7):

סימן שכט: על מי מחללין שבת

סעיף ו

עכו"ם שצרו על עיירות ישראל, אם באו על עסק ממון אין מחללין עליהם את השבת; באו על עסקי נפשות, ואפי' סתם, יוצאים עליהם בכלי זיין ומחללין עליהם את השבת; ובעיר הסמוכה לספר, אפילו לא באו אלא על עסקי תבן וקש מחללין עליהם את השבת. הגה: ואפילו לא באו עדיין אלא רוצים לבא - אור זרוע

סעיף ז

יש מי שאומר שבזמן הזה אפי' באו על עסקי ממון מחללין, שאם לא יניחנו ישראל לשלול ולבוז ממונו יהרגנו, והוי עסקי נפשות

Laws of when violating the Sabbath is Permitted:

Section 6:

Non-Jews who are oppressing a city within the borders of Israel, if they come over matters of money (to steal), we do not violate the Sabbath and mobilize against them. If they come over matters of life and death (to harm / kill Jews), we are obligated to violate the Sabbath and mobilize in order to defeat the attackers.

However, if the oppressed city is along the border, then, even if these enemies are only coming to steal a piece of grain, we are obligated to violate the Sabbath in order to mobilize and defeat the attackers. This is the case even if our enemies haven't attacked yet, but it is known that they are planning to attack - the Sabbath can be violated and the Jews can mobilize against their attackers.

Section 7:

There are those that say, that in our times, even if attackers come to steal (money) from a city within the borders of Israel, the Sabbath is to be violated and the Jews are to mobilize against their attackers, because if the Jews don't defend their property - this will ultimately embolden the attackers to murder Jews, as well.

If only the government of the State of Israel would have acted in accordance with Jewish Law in response to the very first Qassam rockets fired into the Jewish communities along the border of Israel - communities such as Sderot - the Jewish State would not have been forced to endure 5 years of daily missile barrages.

Furthermore, it is very likely, should our "enlightened leaders" have acted in accordance with Jewish Law on this matter, that our enemies would have never had the audacity to attempt such an attack as the one that resulted in the deaths of two of our soldiers and led to the abduction of a third. as they would have known that even the smallest of attacks against the Jewish State - particularly along the border, would be met with an overwhelming response.

There can be no doubt that Jewish Law can provide relevant solutions to many of the challenges facing the Jewish State. If only the "esteemed leaders" of the Jewish State would be open to learning the wisdom of their heritage.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Proper Response to the Kidnapping of Israeli Soldiers

Today, Hamas, the terrorist organization that also happens to be the ruling party of the "Palestinians" (no coincidence there), raided an Israeli army post, killing two Israeli soldiers and kidnapping a third.

As of this moment, the government of the State of Israel has taken two approaches to securing the release of Corporal Gilad Shalit, 19, and I believe both have little chance of success.

1) Military Action

"The age of restraint has come to an end... We will respond forcefully, with an operation that will last more than a day or two." - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert

2) International Diplomacy

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni spoke with United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to ask they urge Palestinian Authority Chair Mahmoud Abbas to secure Shilat's release... Livni also spoke with her European Union and Spanish counterparts, and is set to speak with foreign ministers from Great Britain, France, Russia and others.

Military action is destined to fail, because both Israel and Hamas know full well that time is not on Israel's side. With each passing day of an Israeli military presence in Gaza - particularly one that will involve a "forceful response" - the international pressure for Israel to withdraw its forces will grow exponentially, until the government of the State of Israel will believe that it has no choice but to withdraw - empty handed.

International diplomacy will fail, because, even were it to succeed, Israel would still find itself as a loss, in that it will have only emboldened Hamas and other terrorist organizations to kidnap more soldiers, as the State of Israel will surely have to give up some diplomatic bargaining chips in any deal to secure the release of Gilad Shalit.

So, what's the alternative you ask?

Here is my 3 step plan to securing the release of Gilad Shalit:


The government of the State of Israel announces that the "Palestinian Authority", led by Hamas, has one hour to return Gilad Shalit, alive, to one of the crossings between Israel and Gaza - which will be determined by the IDF.

Should Hamas fail to comply...


The government of Israel will immediately cut off the supply of electricity, gas and water to the Gaza Strip.



The government of Israel will announce that it holds the "Palestinian Authority", led by Hamas, directly responsible for the kidnapping, and as such, authority will be given to the IDF to begin targeting all "Palestinian Authority" officials until Gilad Shalit is safely returned to Israel.

I have no doubt, that through the implementation of this 3 step plan, both the "Palestinians", as well as the "Palestinian Authority" will do everything in their power to ensure the speedy release of Gilad Shalit, and will refrain from attempting to abduct Israeli soldiers in the future, as the government of the State of Israel will have made it perfectly clear that terror just doesn't pay.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Daily Grind - 18th of Sivan / 14th of June

Here is today's round-up of the most worthwhile Jewish State / Jewish People related articles on the web:

1) Al Aqsa official: Jewish temples existed - Aaron Klein - World Net Daily

The leader, who was dismissed from his Waqf position after he quietly made his beliefs known, said Al Aqsa custodians passed down stories for centuries from generation to generation indicating the mosque was built at the site of the former Jewish Temples.

He said the Muslim world's widespread denial of the existence of the Jewish temples is political in nature and is not rooted in facts.

2) Survey: Birthright achieves its goals - Yitzhak Benhorin - Yediot Achronot

Taking part in the Taglit-Birthright Israel program improves attitudes towards Israel and Judaism, a survey conducted by Brandeis University reveals.

3) Jewish Agency appoints ombudsman - Hilary Leila Krieger - Jerusalem Post

She described her mandate as cutting through bureaucracy on behalf of immigrants, improving the efficiency of the agency and providing replies within 24 hours to any query. The ombudsman can be reached by phone at 02-620-4443 or by email at
And that's good news both for current olim, as well as anyone considering Aliyah.

4) Nobel Prize winner salutes snubbing soldier - Efrat Weiss - Yediot Achronot

Who said that all academics in Israel were left-wingers?

5) This land is our land - Aryeh Eldad - Yediot Achronot

We cannot discuss solutions to the Jewish – Arab conflict in the Land of Israel without recognizing the past and answering basic questions about rights over this sliver of land... It wasn't the 20th century creation called Tel Aviv that inspired the world to recognize the Jewish rights to the entire Land of Israel, including both banks of the Jordan River. Rather, it was Jerusalem and Hebron and Bethlehem and Beit El.

Anyone wanting to understand the right of the Jewish People to a Jewish State in the Land of Israel MUST read this article - one written by a "non-religious" Jew.

6) Israel does not need Palestinian recognition - Yehuda Avner - Jerusalem Post

There is irony in the thought that were Menachem Begin alive today he would be saddened, indeed outraged, at Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's insistence - in consort with the US and the EU - that Hamas's political legitimacy be conditioned, inter alia, on its recognition of Israel's right to exist.

"Right to exist?" I can hear the late prime minister roundly chastising his younger successor who declares himself to be a Begin disciple. "Are you telling me, Ehud, that our right to exist in Eretz Yisrael has to be sanctioned for political purposes by an intrinsically anti-Semitic, murderous Palestinian Arab terrorist organization? Have you lost your Jewish self-respect? Where is your Jewish memory?"

7) Olmert Approves Strategy of Arming Abbas to Fight Hamas - Scott Shiloh - Israel National News

An aide to Olmert quoted by Reuters said, “He approved the delivery of a certain amount of weaponry to Abu Mazen's (Abbas's) presidential guard in order to bolster him so he can fulfill his obligations." The aide did not specify which obligations the weapons would help Abbas fulfill.

Just like the good old days, when Rabin gave weapons to Arafat for the very same reason. Some people never learn.

8) Annan: Results of IDF probe into Gaza beach deaths are 'strange' - Amos Harel - Ha'aretz

Amazing. Kofi Annan hasn't learned a single thing since the UN openly accused Israel of committing a massacre in Jenin during Operation Defensive Shield, only to have to backtrack when the facts came to light. (To read the UN report, click here).

9) UN Sec'y Gen.: Israel can't defend itself if Palestinians use human shields - IMRA

IMRA: "I have always maintained that there has to be proportional use of force, and governments have to be careful not to take action in areas where civilians are remotely likely to be put in harm's way" = if the Palestinians store, move, and launch rockets from within Palestinian civilian areas
Israel should not defend itself.

10) Sderot: Rocket siren used as ringtone - Shmulik Hadad - Yediot Achronot

Making the best of a bad situation. I wonder if Prime Minister Ehud Olmert or Defense Minister Amir Peretz might be interested in using that ring for their phones?

11) Foreign Ministry launches PR blitz - Herb Keinon - Jerusalem Post

In explaining the recent events, the (Foreign) ministry is instructing its representatives abroad to stress the following points:...

"Since Israel's disengagement from Gaza last August, more than 500 terrorist rockets have fallen on Israeli civilian targets, including kindergartens, schools, homes and factories... "The government of Israel bears the responsibility to protect the lives of its citizens, and to defend its territory and population from terrorist threat. Every other government would, in similar circumstances, act in a similar manner."

No, any other government would likely act much differently than the government of Israel. No other government in the world would tolerate missiles being fired upon her citizens on a daily basis for over the last four years. Any other government would have long ago wiped out the source of the threat.

It's because the government of the State of Israel has not fulfilled its obligation, that we have articles such as the following one...

12) Get the kids out of Sderot - Ariana Melamed - Yediot Achronot

Run away! Run away!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Not another blog round-up...

As Part of my daily routine, I make the rounds each morning through a number of different websites, catching up on the news and views of the day, all generally related to either the Jewish People or the Jewish State.

As is evident to my regular readers, I do not have the time or energy to write posts every single day, even though, generally speaking, there is no shortage of blog-worthy material that catches my eye on any given day.

As such, I hope to add a new feature to my blog. No, I am not starting yet another blog round-up, as between Soccer Dad, SerandEz and Daled Amos (and I am sure there are others out there), that niche within the J-Blogsphere has been adequately filled.

It is my hope, on a daily basis, to post a list of articles, which I have come across that I believe to be worth a read (if not a post) - a daily Jewish / Israel affairs article round-up, if you will - IMRA style.

(If anyone has a suggestion for a catchy name for these posts, I am open to ideas).

So, without further ado, here are the choice articles for the 17th of Sivan / 13th of June:

1) Israel's image - why the all-time low? - Evelyn Gordon - Jerusalem Post

Good question. Even better answers.

2) אסור להתפלל - Nahum Schnitzer - Makor Rishon - HEBREW

A story written about the discriminatory practices carried out against religious Jews who wish to visit the Temple Mount by the State of Israel.

3) Our World: Facing down our defeatist leaders - Caroline Glick - Jerusalem Post

Two words aptly describe the Bush administration and the Olmert government's responses to the escalating war. They are respectively: appeasement and capitulation.

4) Defining Judaism down - Avi Shafran - Jerusalem Post

Are Judaism and homosexuality compatible?

5) HU star researchers take Kaye Prizes for innovation - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich - Jerusalem Post

Good news from Israel. More success stories from Jews who made Aliyah.

6) Report: Chances slim that IDF shell killed Gazans on beach - Jerusalem Post

7) PA TV falsifies video of Gaza deaths - Palestinian Media Watch

Now, why would they go and do something like that? Perhaps, because as the next article shows, not only will the world buy it, but so will we...

8) CHORUS OF HYPOCRITES [reaction to Gaza Beach incident] - IMRA - (Article by Editor Amnon Dankner, Ma'ariv, 12.6.06, p. A1,18)
[Translation provided by Israel Government Press Office]

A must read article. We are our own worst enemy.

9) 15 Qassams hit Sderot area Monday, one person lightly hurt - Amos Harel - Ha'aretz

When will the IDF take the steps to end this madness? Or, more to the point, when will the government untie the IDF's hands?

10) Analysis: Without artillery, IDF at loss - Yaakov Katz - Jerusalem Post

...In the eyes of the Israeli public, the IDF has this week appeared incompetent and weak in face of the massive downpour of Qassam rockets on the western Negev... Stopped from using artillery fire by Peretz until the completion of the investigation, the IDF has found itself at a loss of how to combat the non-stop rocket attacks... Some officers even went as far as to blame Peretz's decision to suspend artillery fire on the Gaza Strip as one of the reasons for the drastic increase in the number of Qassam attacks, claiming that there was no longer any such deterrence.

Defense Minister Peretz's response...

11) Peretz: We can deliver painful answers to Qassams - Anshel Pfeifer - Jerusalem Post

Really? And when does Defense Minister Peretz plan on walking the walk and not just talking the talk? Qassams have been raining down on Jewish communities in Israel on a daily basis for well over 4 years, I think now might be a good time.

12) Sderot's children are suffering post-traumatic stress - Eli Ashkenazi - Ha'aretz

Go figure.

13) The Region: A disturbing poll - Barry Rubin - Jerusalem Post

As if more proof was needed to show that Abu Mazen (along with Fatah and the PLO) is just as committed to the destruction of the Jewish State as is Hamas. And yet...

14) PM drafting alternative to convergence plan - Akiva Eldar - Ha'aretz

In light of the international opposition to further unilateral steps by Israel, the government has begun to draft an alternative plan that would essentially convert Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's unilateral convergence plan into a bilateral move carried out in conjunction with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Can you say "Oslo Accords" - take 2? Yikes. It seems that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, like his predecessor, Ariel Sharon, is willing to lead the Jewish State towards the brink of national suicide (in the footsteps of Rabin and Peres) in order to solidify his legacy and place in history.

In light of the above, the following story is not surprising...

15) Prime minister's daughter in anti-Israel rally - Aaron Klein - World Net Daily

Looks like the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Israel: Home of the Nebs?

Even though Faith in Nathan beat me to the punch, I believe that the following issue merits reiterating (and, in any case, I had been meaning to write this post last week, so, I ask for your indulgence).

Elie Wiesel calls upon Israel to take in Darfur refugees

Nobel Prize-winning author Elie Wiesel has called on Israel to take in refugees from Darfur. In an interview in the upcoming issue of Haaretz Magazine, Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, says, "We as Jews are obliged to help not only Jews. I was a refugee and therefore I am in favor of admitting refugees. I thought it was very laudable when Israel became the first country to admit the Vietnamese boat people. History constantly chooses a capital of human suffering, and Darfur is today the capital of human suffering. Israel should absorb refugees from Darfur, even a symbolic number."

Perhaps Elie Wiesel, in light of the above quote, can answer the following questions for me:

1) Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor, and self-declared refugee, decided long ago to make the United States of America his home, as such, if he is in favor of admitting refugees from Darfur, why not call upon the United States to open her borders? Could it be that Wiesel recalled the refusal of the United States to allow the Jews fleeing Europe during the Sho'ah to find refuge on her shores that lead him to turn to Israel?

2) Placing the merit of Wiesel's request aside, in choosing to make the United States his home, does Wiesel have the right to call upon the State of Israel to admit refugees from Darfur (or to implement any other policy)?

3) While Wiesel's request may be a just one, why do I get the impression that for Wiesel, the State of Israel exists merely to serve as home to refugees and others who are fleeing persecution?

Could it be, that there might actually be Jews (like myself) who have chosen to make Aliyah to the Jewish State of Israel for positive reasons, and who are proud to call Israel home?

4) Is it too difficult for Elie Wiesel to comprehend, that while he may be living a comfortable (Jewish?) life in the United States, and as such, the State of Israel exists for him solely as an option of last resort, that no amount of wishful thinking or blissful ignorance will change the fact the that today, the Jewish State of Israel is home to the single largest Jewish community in the world; is the only Jewish community in the world that can boast of a positive growth rate; is on the verge of having the majority of world Jewry living within her borders (something that has not occurred in over 2,500 years - not since the destruction of the 1st Temple), all the while, the American Jewish community continues its steady physical and spiritual decline?

I am proud to be living in the Jewish State of Israel, a state that was concerned for the well-being of the "Vietnamese boat people"; a state that, in her short history, has provided a home to hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of Jews who experienced various forms of distress and persecution throughout the world, whether from Arab countries, Ethiopia, the Former Soviet Union, France, or Argentina; a country that has reached out to nations in distress throughout the world, but do not misconstrue any of the above to believe that the State of Israel exists solely as a place of refuge for those who are persecuted or who have nowhere else to turn.

True, the Jewish State of Israel isn't quite yet the "Light unto the Nations" which our Torah and Prophets envisioned, but the challenges we face here are the challenges of the Jewish People, and by living here, I am proud to be doing my share to help the Jewish people and State overcome those challenges; proud to be living in the Land of my Forefathers, the physical, spiritual and cultural center of the Jewish world, and proud to be taking an active role in shaping the future of the Jewish State of Israel, working to ensure that it will be a place that will allow for the collective potnetial and destiny of the Jewish People to be realized...

and that's something that Elie Wiesel can only pay lip service to.

(For more on this topic, see With Friends Like You: What Israelis Really Think About American Jews by Matti Golan).

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Making Headlines; Making Waves

I've made the news once again.

Over the last few days, among activists and leaders of the National Union party, to which I am affiliated, there has been much discussion over the decision by the MK's of the NU-NRP faction to abstain from voting against Ehud Olmert's 2006 proposed budget (which was passed last night), in return for receiving an allocation of funds that would support causes and institutions affiliated with the parties. (Deals were also made with United Torah Judaism and Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party).

While it is unclear what percentage of the rank and file NU-NRP voters and supporters were in favor of such a move, 8 of the NU-NRP's 9 MK's chose to support this deal and abstain in the vote on the budget, with only Moledet (National Union) MK Aryeh Eldad voting against the budget.

Like Eldad, I too went against the decision of the leaders of the party, issuing a list of 7 problems I had with the decision for NU-NRP MK's to abstain in the budget vote, part of which was used as the featured quote in the following story by Arutz-7:

NU/NRP Plans to Abstain in Budget Vote

The NU/NRP faction has agreed not to vote against the government's budget proposal in tonight's Knesset vote, in return for NIS 122 million in funding for yeshivot & other religious-Zionist causes.

The decision by the right-wing religious party to cooperate with the Kadima-led government has caused a storm within religious-Zionist circles.

One member of the National Union, Ze'ev Orenstein, who ran for Knesset on behalf of the party in the last election, albeit in a slot considered to be not realistic, said, "Here is the perfect chance for the NU-NRP to establish itself as the true opposition in the Knesset; as faithful to the Nation, Land and Torah of Israel, and faithful to the State of Israel existing as a Jewish State - but instead, we are playing political games, showing ourselves to be no better than the MK’s in Likud, NRP, Yisrael Beiteinu, Shas and UTJ (and just as buyable) – and our voters will not let us forget that.

Where is our leadership? Where is our commitment to our principles? Is everything justifiable in the name of being pragmatic and real politik?"

For those interested in the complete list of the 7 problems I had with the deal, continue reading...

1) MK Benny Elon, head of the NU-NRP, has stressed many times that our only hope of stopping the next expulsion is through the Knesset - presumably by toppling Olmert's government before it can implement its expulsion plans. If we wait to topple the government until the day before the expulsion, when everything is in place, and a majority vote is assured, we will have been too late. The time to act is not 2 years from now, when the expulsion is on the verge of being implemented, but today, when it is still far from a done deal.

2) True, the votes of the NU-NRP MK's may not be the deciding votes, but even so, imagine if without our votes, the budget would only pass by a handful of votes. it would be a sign to everyone that Olmert's government is weak, and even his own coalition partners do not support him.

If Olmert were not concerned about this possibility, he would not be spending hundreds of millions of NIS to buy the support of NU-NRP and Yisrael Beiteinu (as well as UTJ). Olmert knows that passing the budget in a convincing manner is crucial, as this represents his first true test as PM, and we are giving him exactly what he needs to pass it.

It is through passing the budget today, something that seems trivial, that Olmert will gain the political support, capital and momentum that he will use to eventually implement the expulsion plan. We can't allow him to gain that momentum. Every opportunity we have, we need to show how weak Olmert is, how weak his coalition is, how even members of his own party do not support him, how he cant barely pass the budget.

Instead, the story will be how the budget was passed by a wide margin, including the religious and the right - making Olmert out to be a strong PM, with the support of all segments of country (both politically and religiously).

3) The argument that since the budget will pass without our votes, and therefore, our MK's may as well abstain, and get something out of it makes us out to be no better than Shas or Aguda, when they say that they will sit with Kadima, but will only support the next expulsion if their votes are not the deciding ones (or, will vote against it, even though they are sitting in the government, since their votes will be meaningless anyway - and they will have cashed in on all of the benefits that go along with being part of the government).

Based on the above logic, perhaps our MK's should have abstained on the vote against the destruction of Gush Katif, since there was an assured majority, and perhaps we could have cashed in on it. Perhaps we should join Olmert's government now, getting lots of money for our causes, on condition that NU-NRP votes will not be the deciding votes on any crucial issue?!?

4) As for there being nothing in the current budget towards expulsion, that makes absolutely no sense. 1st, there is money to keep building the fence - the future border of Israel. 2nd, there is funding to remove "illegal outposts", and 3rd, while one might not be able to point to a particular section of the budget and say that this money is geared towards the expulsion, the money is there in other places, whether in Defense, or elsewhere, just not officially marked for those purposes. (Every organization does that - it's called creative bookkeeping).

5) Based on numerous media reports, Of the 122 million NIS that the NU is receiving, only 2.5 million NIS is allocated for those expelled from Gush Katif. That's less than 2%!!! Frankly, that's insulting. The government has an obligation to those expelled from Gush Katif, and their receiving what is rightfully coming to them should not be contingent on the NU-NRP selling out, not to mention that 2.5 million NIS will not solve any of the problems facing the Jews of Gush Katif.

As for the rest of the money, it's being broken down as follows:

NIS 22 million for national service, NIS 37 million for high school yeshivas and ulpanot, NIS 50 million for other study programs, NIS 2.5 million for projects in Jerusalem .

Last I checked, NU had 6 MK's and NRP had 3. Why is it that 99% (without exaggeration) of the budget is going towards Mafdal institutions? This is a victory for the Mafdal and their voters, and makes the NU look not only like sell-outs, but of caving in not only to Olmert, but to Orlev.

At least Olmert is the PM, and he clearly has what to offer us to support the budget, but why are we taking a back seat to Mafdal? In the next elections, voters will turn to us and say that there is no reason to vote NU, if when we had control of the Mafdal, all we did was implement their policies - they may as well vote for Mafdal, and have there be 6 NRP MK's and only 3 from the NU.

At least, show that the 122 million NIS is being invested into building in Yesha...

Furthermore, what message are we sending to our children who attend these institutions, when we tell them that for 100 million NIS+ we were willing to undermine the very values that we are teaching them in these programs?

6) If we are agreeing to sell-out, at we should get our money's worth. How can we explain that between NU-NRP (122 million NIS) and Yisrael Be'iteinu (185 million NIS), who have a total of 20 MK's combined are only receiving a little over 300 million NIS, while UTJ, with their 6 MK's are getting 290 million NIS?!?

7) By NU-NRP, as well as Yisrael Be'iteinu making deals with Kadima, there is effectively no longer any opposition party in the Knesset. Lieberman has declared that he is in favor of territorial concessions and the establishment of a P-State west of the Jordan, and the same can be said for Bibi and the Likud.

Here is the perfect chance for the NU-NRP to establish itself as the true opposition in the Knesset; as faithful to Am Yisrael, Eretz Yisrael and Torah Yisrael; faithful to the State of Israel existing as a Jewish State, and instead, we are playing political games, and show ourselves to be no better than the MK's in Likud, Mafdal, Yisrael Be'iteinu, Shas and UTJ (and just as buyable) – and our voters will not let us forget that.

Where is our leadership? Where is our commitment to our principles? Is everything justifiable in the name of being pragmatic and real politik?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

I can't give up on Israel

About a month ago, Joseph Farah, an American Christian Arab, and founder of World Net Daily wrote an article entitled, "I give up on Israel".

The gist of the article, for those who haven't read it, is that Farah, who has long been known as a staunch defender of the Jewish State, is calling it quits. No, he's not quitting his job as a journalist, but he is no longer going to devote his time and energy towards advocating on behalf of the Jewish State when its leaders seem to be hell-bent on committing national suicide. In short, he's giving up on Israel.

Since the article first came out, I have read it numerous times, and have devoted it much thought, and I have come to the conclusion that Joseph Farah is right. I don't blame him. If I were in his shoes, I would probably feel the same exact way.

However, there is one small difference between myself and Joseph Farah, and it is that difference which prevents me from giving up on Israel.

Before I elaborate upon the point of difference, it is important to understand how one of the Jewish State's strongest supporters in an otherwise hostile media has come to the point of giving up on Israel.

I am through defending Israel – at least the regime currently in power in Jerusalem, this useless coalition seemingly hell-bent on committing national suicide... I'm through trying to understand the incomprehensible moves of a self-flagellating nation. I'm through trying to point out the moral rightness of a state and a people who themselves fail to discern right from wrong...

I know I speak for many Jews and Christians throughout the world who see Israel's surrender as a cowardly betrayal, a sign that the Jewish state puts more faith in Washington and "international diplomacy" than in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob...

Enough of "land for peace." It has never worked – not in Israel's history, nor in any other nation's history. Enough of retreat. Enough of unilateral withdrawals. Enough of staged surrender. Enough of the appeasement with evil. Enough of the madness.

Compromise with evil is evil. And that's what Israel is doing. As for me and my house, I will not be a part of it. I will continue to serve the Lord and pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

One thing is for certain. That peace will not come under the leadership of men like Ehud Olmert and Ariel Sharon. If the Israeli people want to disengage, it should be from so-called "leaders" like this...

The Truth is, I agree with just about 99.9% of what Joseph Farah writes in the above article (minus his reference to Jesus, of course), and yet, I can't agree with his conclusion. I can't give up on Israel.

Why you ask? What is it that allows Joseph Farah to walk away; to give up on Israel, but that does not allow me the same privilege?

I found the answer in a song.

I was recently at an event, at the close of which, the Israeli song, "Ein li Eretz Acheret" ("I have no other Homeland") was played, to the tune of which I walked down to my chuppah. (For the Hebrew lyrics, click here, and to listen to the song, click here). The words to the song are as follows:
Ein li eretz acheret
Gam im admati bo'eret
Rak mila be'ivrit
choderet el orkai el nishmati -
Beguf ko'ev, belev ra'ev
Kan hu beiti --

Lo eshtok
ki artzi shinta et paneha

Lo avater lehazkir la
Ve'ashir kan be'ozneha
Ad shetiftach et eineha

Ein li eretz acheret
Gam im admati boeret
Rak mila beivrit
hoderet el orkai el nishmati
Beguf koev, belev raev
Kan hu beiti --

Lo eshtok ki ertzi
shinta et paneha
Lo avater lehazkir la
Veashir kan beozneha
Ad shetiftah et eineha

Ein li eretz aheret
Ad shetihadesh yameha
Ad shetiftah et eineha

Ein li eretz aheret
Gam im admati boeret
Rak mila beivrit
hoderet el orkai el nishmati
Beguf koev, belev raev
Kan -- hu beiti

Beguf koev, belev raev
Kan -- hu beiti

I have no other Homeland
even if my land is burning.
Just one word ever turning
In my mind, into my soul.
Though wracked with pain,
I murmur again,
This is my home.

I must speak - for my homeland seems to be changing.
I will not give up reminding her,
Sing although my heart is breaking,
Until I see that it's waking.

I have no other Homeland
even if my land is burning.
Just one word ever turning
In my mind, into my soul.
Though wracked with pain,
I murmur again,
This is my home.

I must speak - for my Homeland seems to be changing.
I will not give up reminding her,
Sing although my heart is breaking,
Until I see that it's waking.

I have no other Homeland
until she will renew her glorious days
Until I see that it's waking

I have no other Homeland
even if my land is burning.
Just one word ever turning
In my mind, into my soul.
Though wracked with pain,
I murmur again,
This is my home.

Though wracked with pain,
I murmur again,
This is my home.
Joseph Farah, as he points out, is an "American journalist of Arabic heritage". Joseph Farah does not owe the Jewish State his loyalty. He does not owe the Jewish People his loyalty. This does not discount his support for the Jewish People and State, but at any moment, as Joseph Farah makes clear in his article, he is free to walk away, to give up on Israel.

I am afforded no such luxury. I see the same Israel the Joseph Farah sees. I see the same shortcomings and am pained by the same failures and weaknesses. I am troubled at the lack of Jewish leadership that exists within the leadership of the State, and the consequences that come as a result.

Yet, in spite of all of that, I do not have the luxury, as Joseph Farah does, as giving up on Israel.

At the end of the day, Israel is my (only) home, and the Jewish People are my family.

One does not give up on his family and one does not abandon his home - never, no matter what, no questions asked...

As painful as it may be, at times.

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