Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Picture isn't Always Worth 1,000 Words...

Take a moment to answer the following question:

When you picture Jerusalem, what is the first thing that comes to mind?


My guess is that whatever image popped into your mind, it wasn't the Tower of David.

All around Jerusalem, one finds the logo shown in the picture above (courtesy of Jonny Stein), commemorating 40 years since the reunification of Jerusalem, during the Six Day War in 1967.

Now, If someone asked me to suggest possible themes for a logo to commemorate 40 years since the liberation of Jerusalem, the Tower of David wouldn't appear anywhere on my list.

The Tower of David was a fortress built be Herod, and later used by the Romans, Crusaders, Muslims... and the list goes on and on - but as far as symbolizing the reunification of Jerusalem under Jewish sovereignty after 2,000 years of Exile?

Not quite.

My suggestions:

* The Temple (Beit HaMikdash) - Nothing says Jerusalem quite like the Temple.

* The Kotel - If the Beit HaMikdash is too controversial, this could work (although, nothing says Exile quite like the Kotel - but that's for another post.)

* The Hurva Synagouge - particularly, the single remaining arch - Symbolizing the return of the Jewish People to their ancient holy sites...

My sense is that the Tower of David was selected precisely because, unlike any of the above suggestions, it's not overly Jewish - serving as a symbol that the Jews, Muslims and Christians of Jerusalem can all, equally, dislike.

What a wasted opportunity.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Why should anyone care about Sderot?

With no end in sight to the 6 year long rocket assault on Sderot, Ari Shavit of Ha'aretz elaborates upon why those in Israel should give a damn:
It should not have been like this. Sderot is not Gush Katif. There is no debate. On the contrary: Sderot is a "Green Line" city. Sderot is a post-withdrawal city. Sderot is the righteous Israeli city after the occupation. Sderot is the future
Which leads us to Shavit's main point. Why should Israelis care about Sderot?
The attack on Sderot is a strategic attack on peace. It is an attack on the two-state solution. If the attack succeeds, there will be no chance of any future withdrawal. If the attack succeeds, the occupation will be perpetuated.
In Shavit's world,, one should care about Sderot, not because of the responsibility one Jew has for another - or even that of one human being for another, nor is he driven by the pursuit of justice. The sole reason one should care about Sderot is because if Sderot falls, so does the "peace process".

While Shavit makes the distinction between Sderot and Gush Katif clear, he fails to grasp a major distinction existing between Israel and the Arab world, which serves as the root cause for the tragedy that is Sderot.

If one looks at the "Palestinian Authority" map above, there is no green line. No distinction is made between Gush Katif and Sderot. No distinctions are needed for the simple reason that the entire Land of Israel (Palestine) belongs to them - to Islam.

If one looks at the nobility of Israeli society, what does one find? As Shavit puts it:
Sderot should have been the apple of the eye of all those preaching withdrawal in the past, and of everyone who still believes in withdrawal. Sderot should have been the city of peace writers and peace singers and peace industrialists. A "peace now" city. A city of Israeli solidarity. A city of mutual responsibility. A city where strong Israelis stand together with Israelis who are less strong in the face of Islamic zealotry.
Yet, what one finds amongst the vast majority of Israels elite is a group who questions the very right of the Jewish People to a Jewish State in the Land of Israel. After all, can it be said that Gush Katif is really anymore "occupied territory" than Sderot? Certainly there's no difference in the eyes of the Arabs. Which is why, if, as Shavit puts it, Sderot is Israel's future, then it's clear that Israel's nobility has already abandoned ship.

When Ariel Sharon said that the fate of Netzarim is that of Tel Aviv (April, 2002), he was not mistaken. Until the Jewish People recognize their absolute right to the Land of Israel and show that they are willing and able to enforce that right, there will be no peace. Not in Gush Katif. Not in Sderot. Not in Jerusalem and not in Tel Aviv.

The time has come for us - those who still believe in this fundamental and historic truth - to assume the leadership and responsibility of this country and to do so before Sderot falls.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Case of Bad Gas

The Jerusalem Post reports that Israel is considering signing a 15-20 year contract to purchase gas from a British energy company that would earn the "Palestinians" $1 billion. The gas would be supplied from the Gaza marine field, off the coast of the Gaza strip, to which the "Palestinian Authority" has control over (as a e result of the "peace process"), thus earning them one quarter of the estimated $ billion deal.
Last month the cabinet approved continued negotiations with BG over purchase of the gas, a decision that necessitated a previous ban on buying natural gas from the PA. The change of heart, government officials said, was simply the product of economics, since buying the gas from Egypt, another option, would cost twice as much.
Now, there are many problematic aspects to this potential deal, but here are two of them:

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

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

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

Once again, this is not the first time Israel has made such a mistake.

Post Six Day War, after Israel had liberated the Sinai peninsula, it was discovered that there were was enough oil reserves in the Sinai to cover 100% of Israel's energy needs for a long time to come. As part of the "peace process" with Egypt, Israel gave away the Sinai and all her oil fields, leaving Israel with no peace and no oil.

Those on the left often speak of how much the "settlements" have cost Israel. Well, I think the time has come to begin asking how much "peace" has cost Israel, both in dollars, and in lives.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

What a PA collapse would mean for Israel

What a PA collapse would mean for Israel?

Herb Keinon of the Jerusalem Post, recently offered an analysis of this question.
Faced with the possibility that the PA could collapse, Israel is essentially faced with two unattractive choices: drop the three conditions established when Hamas came into power and deal with a Hamas-led PA, under the logic that some address is better than none at all, or side with Fatah in its battle with Hamas.
With these two options, I'm can't help but insist on seeing what's behind door #3, Let's Make a Deal style.

Keinon concedes that both Fatah and Hamas are enemies of the Jewish State, however, he lacks the courage to suggest the only viable, albeit unattractive, option that exists, namely, a declaration of war on the PA / PLO / Hamas.

No, it's won't be pretty, and yes, the international community will cry out in righteous indignation, but it sure beats the alternatives.

The time has come for the Jewish People to stand up for their rights and stop apologizing to the world for wanting to live as proud Jews in our Homeland.


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Look Mom, I'm on Google!!!

Every now and again I like to Google myself. (Yes, Google can be used as both a verb and a noun.)

I know. It sounds terribly egotistical. But, frankly, I have an inquiring mind, and I want to know where I stand in cyberspace.

Depending on how I spell my name (Zev, Zeev, Ze'ev...) I come across thousands of entries.

Here are two of the more entertaining ones.

1) From a comment on Matthew Yglesias's The Atlantic Online blog:
The Michael Rubin policy wonk neocons know full well that they're lucky to have escaped the noose for what they've done to America's place in the world vis a vis the Iraqi debacle and are afraid to go on the record again. Their real agendas can be found in the ravings of louche neocons Michael Freund, Caroline Glick, and Zev Orenstein. In short- they want to drop thermonuclear bombs on Iran, Syria, and Mecca. This is their hot and sticky dream scenario.
To be totally honest, I haven't a clue as to what the guy is talking about. But, I am flattered to be put in the same company as Michael Freund and Caroline Glick. My only guess is that he might be referring to this article of mine.

And, as far as what might constitute my hot and sticky dream scenario... since this is a family oriented blog, something things are better left unsaid.

2) Recently, I was asked to write a d'var Torah for one of the many weekly Parsha sheets that are distributed in shuls throughout Israel.

Lo and behold... While I wasn't paid for doing so, it seems that I was given the title of Rabbi...
Rabbi Ze'ev Orenstein

Written by the rabbi...

Click here for more Shiurim by Rabbi Ze'ev Orenstein

I wonder if this makes me the first louche, neocon Rabbi?


According to Dictionary.com, louche means:
  • Dubious; shady; disreputable.
  • Of questionable taste or morality; decadent.
And, neocon means:
"Neoconservatism is the first variant of American conservatism in the past century that is in the 'American grain.' It is hopeful, not lugubrious; forward-looking, not nostalgic; and its general tone is cheerful, not grim or dyspeptic. Its 20th-century heroes tend to be TR, FDR, and Ronald Reagan. Such Republican and conservative worthies as Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, and Barry Goldwater are politely overlooked." [Irving Kristol, "The Neoconservative Persuasion," in "The Weekly Standard," Aug. 25, 2003]

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Jerusalem Day: Historic Video Footage of the Liberation of the Temple Mount

Despite forces within Israel on both the right and to the left, who do everything in their power to distance the Jewish People from connecting to the Temple Mount and yearning for Temple Consciousness - the Jewish People will not be denied.

On that note, as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the liberation of the Temple Mount, take a moment to watch the historic video footage that captured the dramatic moment:

After you've watched the video, head on over to Israel National News, where a special site commemorating the 40 years since the liberation of much of the Land of Israel took place. You'll find photos, videos, audio clips, essays and many other exciting and inspiring tidbits all relating to the Six Day War.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Jewish & Israel blog Awards... I'm in the Finals!

Thanks to the support of many of you, my blog, Israel Perspectives, has reached the final round of the Jewish & Israel Blog Awards for 2007 (JIBs for short) - within the Best Right-Wing Political blog category.

I'm up against some stiff competition, so I guess I need to do some campaigning in order to prove that my right-wing credentials are second to none.

Therefore, a vote for Israel Perspectives is...:

* A vote in favor of Jewish sovereignty over the Temple Mount (Temple Consciousness)
* A vote in favor of Israel being a truly Jewish State
* A vote in favor of all the Jewish People returning home (The Aliyah Revolution)
* A vote against any two / three / four state solutions
* A vote in favor of taking an active role in ensuring all of the above (Neo-Zionism)

Voting in the final round has already begun, and will be open until May 16th, 10pm, US EST.

Please take 20 seconds to vote for my blog, and if you really are generous, maybe another 20 seconds to encourage some other people to vote for me as well.

Thanks again for all your support.

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A Neo-Zionist Challenge: Shmittah & The Living Torah

Next year is going to a be a Shmittah year - the one year in every seven, where the Land of Israel must be left to lie fallow.

Since the destruction of the 1st Holy Temple in Jerusalem, until present times - over 2,500 years later - Shmittah has been only Rabbinically mandated. However, within the next 25 years, when the majority of the Jewish People will be living in the Land of Israel, Shmittah (along with all of the other Mitzvot HaTeluyot Ba'aretz - Land of Israel dependent commandments) will return to Biblically mandated status.

Below are two article presenting differing perspectives as to how modern Israeli society should be relating to Shmittah - each with their own set of pros and cons:

1) Chief Rabbinate to Reduce Use of Special 7th-Year Dispensation]

2) The ground beneath our feet

Equally important as the solution that will ultimately be agreed upon and implemented is the discussion in itself.

For 2,000+ years, this discussion did not take place - could not take place - in a manner that had any practical relevance. With the re-establishment of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel the Torah of Israel has returned to life.

Rabbi Yotav Eliach puts it best:
The Torah sets up a constitutional blueprint for the running of a Jewish society which is anchored in a Jewish state. Parashat Mishpatim, most of Vayikra and Bemidbar, and all of Sefer Devarim, make this point very clear. Judaism is not merely interested in the ritualistic aspects of our lives. It is rather a framework for running a Jewish republic, one complete with a court system, government, army, welfare and tax system. Finally, this constitutional blueprint is not meant for implementation in any piece of territory in which the Jewish nation may happen to be the majority, but primarily in the one country whose boundaries are clearly outlined geographically in the Torah: The Land of Israel.

One of the striking ways to reinforce these points is by showing that there are four basic areas of mitzvot in the Torah that are dependent upon the Land of Israel in one way or another:

a) All mitzvot connected to the Beit Hamikdash in any shape or form;
b) All mitzvot connected to having a Sanhedrin court system functioning;
c) All mitzvot connected to the soil of Israel;
d) All mitzvot connected to the running of the government, army, and taxes.

Taken together, these four areas make up approximately 50% of the 613 mitzvot. Another graphic way to make the point of Israel's centrality to Jewish life is by looking at the Shas. Two of the six sedarim of Shas, Kodashim and Taharot, are totally dependent upon the Land of Israel, as is Seder Zera'im (with the exception of Masekhet Berakhot).

The fourth, Seder Mo'ed, is also very dependent upon the Land of Israel. All the special sacrifices associated with each holiday are dependent upon the Beit Hamikdash in Israel, as is aliyah la'regel, bikkurim, and the bringing of the omer. The fifth, Seder Nezikin, is also connected, to a large extent, to the concept of a functioning Jewish legal system existing in the land of Israel, headed by the Sanhedrin. Only the sixth seder - Nashim - can be kept almost in its entirety (the exception being Sotah) outside the boundaries of Israel.
Thank G-d for the challenges that go along with living in the Land of Israel!

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

From Temple Consciousness to Temple Consensus?

Ever since the liberation of the Temple Mount 40 years ago, those who have been pushing for the Jewish People to assume a greater connection with the Mount, as well as promoting Temple consciousness have been in the minority.

Until now, that is...

Increasing number of rabbis are allowing Jews to enter Temple Mount

An increasing number of religious Zionist rabbis are allowing their followers to enter the Temple Mount, contrary to the religious consensus on the matter.

This weekend, the rabbis Haim Druckman and Avraham Zukerman, of the Bnei Akiva youth movement, and Tzafania Drori, chief rabbi of Kiryat Shmona, are set to join this growing group with an ad in the Orthodox media. The rabbis, who are major figures in the religious Zionist movement, will call on Jews wishing to enter the Temple Mount "in purity, to ascend at this time to the to the places permitted for Jews to enter."

The three rabbis are known for their principle support for letting Jews on to the Temple Mount. But they had not yet expressed their stand formally, because of the religious sensitivity of the issue. Now, in honor of the 40th anniversary of Jerusalem's unification, with many right-wing movements placing the Temple Mount on their agenda, the rabbis have decided to call publicly on Jews to go to the Mount.

In publishing the ad, they will be joining dozens of other rabbis of the religious Zionist stream, among them rabbis in West Bank settlements, who in recent years have allowed Jews to go to the Temple Mount within the bounds of Jewish law.
It's taken forty years, but perhaps the relationship of the Jewish People to the Temple Mount is beginning to change for the better.

Additionally, let's not overlook the moral to this story.

For many years, there have been a handful of dedicated individuals and organizations who have devoted themselves to promoting Temple Consciousness. At first they were viewed as radicals or a fringe element, but over time, as can be seen from the above story, their efforts have begun to produce results, and their messages and ideology are slowly but surely working there way into the consensus.

Temple consciousness... Neo-Zionism... The Aliyah Revolution...

It's all just a matter of time.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Is every Jew really responsible for one another? (Kol Yisrael areivim zeh la'zeh?)

Drivers ignore dying man on road

(Click here if video doesn't download.)




These are just a few of the words that come to mind.

Can it be that Israeli society has become so cold, unforgiving and apathetic (as Avi Dichter, Israel's Internal Security minister, asserts)?

Before casting blame and making sweeping judgements, it's important to place this tragic event in the proper context.

On the morning of March 13th, 1964, 29 year old Kitty Genovese was brutally murdered just outside her New York apartment.

For over 30 minutes, 40 of Ms. Genovese's neighbors watched the brutal attack, doing absolutely nothing. Only 35 minutes after the attack had begun did someone finally call the police.

In order to determine if New Yorkers were in fact cold and heartless, or, if perhaps there was another explanation as to why no one responded to Ms. Genovese's cries for help, a series of experiments were conducted.
The researchers consistently found that as the number of bystanders increased, the likelihood that any one of them would help decreased.
This phenomenon is known as the "bystander effect".
If we are by ourselves when an emergency occurs, we perceive ourselves to be 100% responsible for taking action. However, when there are 10 bystanders, we each perceive ourselves to have only a tenth of the responsibility. The higher the number of bystanders, the less obligated each individual is likely to feel to intervene.
Another explanation given is...
If we are unsure of our own perceptions and interpretations, or if the situation is ambiguous, we look to others for help in defining what is going on. If others appear calm, we may decide that whatever is happening doesn't require our assistance.
When these findings are applied to Israel society, I believe that we can better understand why this tragic event occurred, and how similar occurrences can be prevented in the future..

Frankly, over the last two decades, as corruption and deceit infected many of the seats of power within Israeli society - particularly the government - average Israelis came to feel that they were no longer able to make a difference. Israeli society was now ruled by the law of the jungle - everyone for themselves and the survival of the fittest - and whoever didn't play by those rules would come to be viewed as friers / (suckers) - the absolute worst thing you can call an Israeli.

It is not a matter of Israeli society being populated by cold and heartless individuals, quite to the contrary. However, the foreign values that have consciously been imported from abroad (courtesy of Israel's ruling elites), such as individualism and materialism have come to replace the authentic Jewish values of self-sacrifice and of caring for the needs of the community.

We are taught in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of our Fathers, 5:22):
Whoever possesses these three qualities belongs to the disciples of Abraham our father: a generous eye, a humble spirit, and a meek soul.

But he who possesses the three opposite qualities--an evil eye, a proud spirit, and a haughty soul--is of the disciples of Bilam the wicked.
So, what is the solution?

I believe that each and every one of us needs to take upon themselves a sense of personal responsibility for making the Jewish State of Israel the best it can possibly be.

True, there are many challenges within Israeli society, and we can't possibly overcome all of them with our limited abilities and resources, but, returning once again to Pirkei Avot, 2:21:
It is not incumbent upon you to finish the task. Yet, you are not free to desist from it.

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