Jerusalem Day, 2006 – by Lekerev Report, May 24, 2006
“Spring 2006 – The Rise of the Last Zionist Government of Israel”
Elusions and Delusion from Oslo to the Disengagement and now Convergence –
The Completion of the Globalization of Israel
March – May, 2006
ELECTION 2006 – April 28, 2006
Lekarev - Amid 85 terror warnings this morning, Israelis have begun to vote for their new Prime Minister and Knesset. Polls opened at 7:00 am and by 10:00 am only 10% of registered voters had cast their ballots. In order to ensure the celebration is not spoiled, security forces have deployed in force across the country, with police declaring the highest state of alert and sending about 22,000 officers to boost security across Israel.
I am counted among those 10% as I walked the one block to the polling station in my neighborhood about 9 am and cast my ballot - with a prayer for all Israel to choose wisely and in accordance with the plan of Hashem. I must say it was an exciting moment - my first time to vote in a general election as an Israeli citizen. Now we wait for the results which are to be officially announced at 5 am tomorrow morning, Israeli time.
82% Solar Eclipse Envelopes Israel in Brief Darkness as the Jews vote at the Polls - March 29, 2006
(IsraelNationalNews) - A 82% solar eclipse enveloped Israel in sudden darkness
Wednesday. The eclipse began at 11:37 AM, peaked at 12:58, and lasted until
2:13 PM. The following are pictures from the eclipse. As Israel digested the results of Tuesday's election, the sky went dark, the sun was slowly blocked
out, temperatures dropped and animals howled, barked and crowed across the Land of Israel.
An eclipse occurs when the moon passes between Earth and the sun during daylight hours, causing its shadow to pass across the planet. Viewed from inside the moon's shadow on Earth, the moon is exactly the right size to completely block the sun. From Israel, Wednesday's eclipse blocked 82% of the sun.
The moon's shadow began in Brazil, crossed the Atlantic, Ghana, Nigeria and Chad. The shadow of the moon then passed by way of the Mediterranean across southeast Turkey and continued until Siberia.
Israel National Radio's Yishai Fleisher and Alex Traiman spoke with the head of Israel's space agency and examined the Divine message of the post-election eclipse for the Jewish people and the world. Archived show can be found on IsraelNationalRadio.com
It's a Win and a Loss At the Same Time – March 29, 2006
Lekarev - Official election results were announced this morning and Ehud Olmert is Israel's new Prime Minister. Kadima gained control of 28 of the Knesset's 120 seats, far less than Olmert and Kadima officials had hoped for. The Labor Party led by Amir Peretz swept up 20 seats while the Likud came in fifth - a stinging rejection - with the ultra orthodox party, Shas, gaining third place with 13 seats, Israel Beitenu with 12 and only 11 for Likud, which has dominated Israeli politics for several years.
Already last night TV commentators were blaming Likud's poor showing at the polls on the turmoil of the past few months - first, the Gaza Disengagement carried out by Ariel Sharon as a Likud Prime Minister, followed by Sharon's bolting of the Likud to form a new party, Kadima. These were two blows that the party did not recover from in time for this election. Too much of the population is disenchanted with Likud, even though some admitted before the election that Netanyahu was right about being strong against Hamas.
Olmert will not have an easy time as Labor leader Amir Peretz will prove a force to be reckoned with. Kadima's poor showing in terms of numbers of seats in the Knesset means that Olmert will not be able to give key positions in his cabinet to his own party members but will have to 'spread the goods around', giving Labor members some of the top portfolios. So while Kadima ostensibly 'won', they really lost in a manner of speaking, gaining nowhere near the 38-42 seats projected by pollsters and analysts. The voting breakdown showed that Kadima did well in large cities, most notably Tel Aviv and Haifa, but fared quite poorly in Jerusalem, where it won only 12 percent of the vote. Olmert was mayor of Jerusalem for 10 years and Jerusalemites in general do not like him. It showed in the Jerusalem voting.
Breakdown of the 17th Knesset – March 30, 2006
Arutz Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - The following is a breakdown of the 120 tentative members of the 17th Knesset and the parties they belong to. Party names are hyperlinked to their English web sites, where available.
Kadima – 28 seats: Chairman Ehud Olmert, Shimon Peres, Tzippy Livni, Meir Sheetrit, Avi Dichter, Marina Solodkin, Chaim Ramon, Sha'ul Mofaz, Tzachi HaNegbi, Avraham Hirschson, Uriel Reichman, Gideon Ezra, Roni Bar-On, Dalia Itzik, Ze’ev Boim, Yaakov Edri, Ze’ev Elkin, Majallie Whbee, Ruhama Avraham, Michael Ben-Sasson, Shlomo Brazanich, Eli Aflalo, David Tal, Avigdor Yitzchaki, Ronit Tirosh, Michael Nudelman, Otniel Shneller, Amira Dotan
Shas – 13: Chairman Eli Yishai,Yitzhak Cohen, Amnon Cohen, Meshulam Nahari, Ariel Atiyas, Shlomo Benizri, David Azulai, Yitzchak Vaknin, Nissim Ze’ev, Yaakov Margi, Chaim Amsalam, Avraham Michaeli, Mazor Beyana
Likud – 11: Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu, Silvan Shalom, Moshe Kahlon, Gilad Erdan, Gideon Sa’ar, Michael Eitan, Reuven Rivlin, Dan Naveh, Yuval Shteinitz, Limor Livnat, Natan Sharansky
Pensioners – 7: Chairman Rafi Eitan, Yaakov Ben-Izri, Moshe Sharoni, Yitzchak Ziv, Yitzchak Galanti, Elchanan Glazer, Sarah Marom
Meretz – 4: Chairman Yossi Beilin, Chaim Oron, Ran Cohen, Zehava Gal'on
Labor/Meimad – 20: Chairman Amir Peretz, Yitzchak Herzog, Ophir Paz-Pines, Avishai Braverman, Yuli Tamir, Ami Ayalon, Eitan Cabel, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Shelly Yechimovich, Michael Melchior, Matan Vilnai, Collette Avital, Efraim Sneh, Danny Yatom, Nadia Hilu, Shalom Simhon, Orit Noked, Yoram Marciano, Ghaleb Majadle, Shakeef Shanan
Yisrael Beitenu – 12: Chairman Avigdor Lieberman, Yuri Stern, Yisrael Hason, Yosef Hagall, Estherina Tartman, Stas Miseznicoff, Sofa Landver, Yitzchak Aharonovich, Robert Iltev, Alex Miller, Leah Shemtov, David Rotem
National Union/NRP – 9: Chairman Benny Elon, Zevulun Orlev, Zvi Hendel, Effie Eitam, Nissan Slomiansky, Yitzchak Levy, Eli Gabbai, Aryeh Eldad, Uri Ariel
United Torah Judaism – 6: Yaakov Litzman, Avraham Ravitz, Meir Porush, Moshe Gafni, Shmuel Halpert, Yisrael Eichler
United Arab List – 4: Chairman Ibrahim Sarsour, Ahmed Tibi, Taleb a-Sana, Mohammed Kanaan
Balad – 3: Chairman Azmi Bishara, Jamal Zehalkah, Wasal Taha
Hadash – 3: Chairman Muhammad Barakeh, Hanna Sweid, Dov Hanin
The Final Week – March 21, 2006
Lekarev - Time is running out, polling stations will open in seven days, and local parties are making last-ditch efforts in a bid to sway more Israelis amid pre-election polls showing a record number of undecided voters Kadima fears voter complacency, the Likud is launching a defensive battle, and Labor is relying on the bird flu outbreak. In an effort to fight complacency, Kadima members are expected to make tens of thousands of phone calls in the coming week to those who have visited the party's website. In addition, the party will hold 15 rallies to instruct its members on their activities during Election Day.
Likud members are planning on focusing on those who left the party. In a big rally held in Jerusalem Monday, former Health Minister Danny Naveh described the crucial day in which "reality will hit Kadima in the face." Knesset member Uzi Landau said at the rally, "The media can't stand us, the people love us. What can we do? I know that a large public is angry at us for different reasons. There are almost 30 undecided Knesset seats, but one thing is sure – the Jerusalemites don’t like Olmert, and we will see it at the polls." Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu said during the rally: "I ask of you to come. Let's determine the results, let's influence, and above all, let's surprise the pollsters, the journalists and the commentators. And with the help of God, we will surprise."
Senior Labor officials said last night, "One of the things to pay attention to is the bird flu. If there has been no hysteria up to now, today hysteria has begun over this issue and it may cause a change in people's subconscious. We must not reject the possibility, and similar things have happened before, that as of tonight people will start associating Kadima and Olmert, who are the government, with the government's failure to deal with the bird flu," a party official said. Former Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon harshly slammed the government for the way it handled the bird flu outbreak. "The government should have told the public the truth, that this is not a single incident but rather a spreading phenomenon. It has already reached the Jerusalem area, and the flu is going to hurt one of the economy's key industries," Simchon told Ynet Monday evening.
Sharon to Be Declared Permanently Incapacitated Tomorrow – April 10, 2006
Lekarev - Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will be declared permanently incapacitated tomorrow, officially ending his term as Prime Minister of Israel.
After suffering a debilitating stroke and falling into a coma on January 4, Sharon, 78, was declared temporally incapacitated. That allowed MK Ehud Olmert (Kadima) to take his place as acting prime minister for 100 days, until a permanent replacement was named.
That period expires this Friday, but because of the Passover holiday the declaration of being permanently incapacitated was moved up to Tuesday.
In the unlikely event that Sharon should awaken from his coma by Friday, the declaration will be null and void.
Sharon Era Officially Ended – April 11, 2006
Lekarev - The government convened this morning for a special session in order to declare that Ehud Olmert is no longer a temporary replacement for ailing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and to declare Sharon 'permanently incapacitated and unable to lead the country'. The change in status would only go into effect Friday, but the act is largely symbolic and Olmert's powers will remain virtually unchanged. Mostly, the government session marked an official farewell from Sharon's leadership.
Cabinet Secretary Yisrael Maimon said: "This is a difficult and sad day for all of us, the personal aides that worked with Sharon, the secretaries, and all employees at the prime minister's office. This is certainly a difficult day for members of Sharon's family. We didn't imagine we'd reach this moment. We're praying and hoping for Ariel Sharon's wellbeing from here."
Ariel Sharon served as Israel's prime minister for more than five years, since he beat Labor's Ehud Barak in the 2001 elections. Sharon entered the Prime Minister's Office shortly after the outbreak of the Palestinian intifada and served during one of the most turbulent periods in the State of Israel's history.
Sharon will soon be transferred to a long term care center. His condition continues to be characterized as "serious and stable" and he is still in a coma.
Today He's Officially Prime Minister – April 14, 2006
Lekarev - From Friday night onwards, its official – the wand of power formally passes into the hands of Ehud Olmert. It is exactly 100 days since Prime Minister Ariel Sharon slipped into a deep coma, making Ehud Olmert prime minister according to law.
Last Tuesday, the government met for a special session during which minister unanimously approved the procedure, appointing Olmert as the prime minister. The responsibilities of prime minister were fully transferred to Olmert, who was still defined as acting prime minister until Friday.
Even his victory during the elections didn't change the picture, as Olmert has yet to assemble a coalition and has not yet been sworn into the role. The new title will find Olmert in a holiday resort in the Galilee, where, under heavy security, Olmert and his family are spending the holiday.
Olmert Government to be Sworn in Today - May 4, 2006
Arutz Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - Ehud Olmert, having served in the
capacity of Prime Minister for 4 months, will be sworn in today in his own
right as head of a 4-party, 67-MK coalition government. 2 Kadima MKs threaten
to abstain. The Knesset first approved the appointment of Kadima MK Dalia
Itzik, a former Minister of Communications on behalf of the Labor Party, as
Speaker of the Knesset. Itzik is the first woman to serve in this position. The
legislature then conducted a debate on the proposed government, but is expected
to approve Olmert's government later this evening. The government will have a
majority comprising the MKs of Kadima/Pensioners, Labor, and Shas - a total of
However, at least two Kadima MKs are threatening not to vote for the government, in protest at not having been named to ministerial or senior posts. Marina Solodkin said this morning, "The public that I represent [new Russian immigrants] has not stopped calling me and demanding that I vote against the new government. I received so many calls that I had to detach the phone." She said that she has not yet decided whether to abstain or simply not show up for the vote, "but one thing is clear: I will not vote in favor of the government."At the same time, Kadima MK Majli Wahabe said, "It cannot be that Kadima does not give representation to the non-Jewish sector... Olmert is abusing an entire sector. We're good at bringing votes but not good enough to be part of the system?"
The government will have 25 ministers: 2 from the Pensioners, 4 of Shas, 7 from Labor, and 12 from Kadima. Two parties, United Torah Judaism and Yisrael Beiteinu, are still considering joining the coalition. UTJ MK Moshe Gafni said, "If the problems are straightened out, we will join the coalition, and if not, we will remain in the opposition." The unresolved issues involve the child allowance payments for large families, civil marriage, and religious services. UTJ claims that Shas, the other hareidi-religious party, did not succeed in obtaining suitable solutions for these problems.
Forbes Israel Article Says Kadima Tool of Oligarchs – April 4, 2006
Lekarev - Forbes Israel reported Sunday that twelve business groups control Israel's economy - making it among the most concentrated on the globe. The report echoes warnings by journalist Ari Shavit.
The 12 families own 60 percent of the aggregate market value of all Israeli public companies (excluding the even larger Teva Pharmaceutical Industries), Forbes reported. The report goes on to say that the families have constructed their empires, which consist of Israel's largest companies, using organizational structures that have long ago been done away with in the Western world.
The report explains that the groups have an inordinate amount of control over Israel's economy, political leaders and media due to the structuring of their holdings as pyramids – meaning several layers of companies each own others beneath them but are all beholden to the leading families. The report stressed that the issue is not economic, but political – saying the only way to regulate the power of the families is a large government coalition that would seek such regulation.
Shavit, a commentator for the left-wing Haaretz daily, recently warned that the Kadima Party, led by Ehud Olmert, directly represent the interests of "the 18 families," as Shavit refers to the families controlling most of Israel's assets. Shavit warned that a Kadima victory would represent a total takeover of control of all the central institutions of the state by the families. Shavit wrote a stinging 'memo' to the 18 families on the eve of the election which can be read at the link below.
Lieberman Causes Uproar in the Knesset – May 5, 2006
Lekarev - Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman MK Avigdor Lieberman managed to cause an uproar in the Knesset when he called for the execution of Knesset Members that collaborate and meet with terrorist groups. “We requested that in the government guidelines it would say explicitly that all the inciters and collaborators with terrorism that sit in this house should bear the brunt of the penalty for those actions,” Lieberman said from the Knesset plenum. “All those who continue to meet freely with Hamas and Hizbullah – who go on monthly visits to Lebanon. Those who declared Israel’s Independence Day to be ‘Nakba’ Day (The Catastrophe) and raised black flags.
“World War Two ended with the Nuremberg Trials. The heads of the Nazi party went to be executed – but not just them, also those who collaborated with them. Just like [prime minister of Vichy France during WWII Pierre] La Valle was later executed, I hope that this is the fate of the collaborators in this house.” The Russian immigrant was loudly heckled by Arab MKs at that point, but pushed on with his speech. “Just like La Valle was brought to justice – you will be brought to justice,” he said, addressing the hecklers directly. “In exactly the same way!”
Lieberman also attacked the Kadima Party from various angles. “For the first time in the history of Israel, a coalition has been formed that is anti- Aliyah,” Lieberman declared. “A coalition against Aliyah is the most damning trait of this government. Aliyah was always the soul and the central path of Zionism – nothing to do with Yisrael Beiteinu or Avigdor Lieberman. “This government rejected Aliyah as a priority. We carried out negotiations, with Kadima. Kadima’s proposed guidelines mentioning Aliyah only in the 55th clause – the last clause of the entire document. I see now in the final draft, it is still only the 42nd clause – that is where the Kadima government places Aliyah in its order of importance.” Lieberman said that Kadima, which had campaigned heavily among the Russian-speaking public, had betrayed its Russian immigrant voters. “In all of its ads – every week - Kadima promised the Russian public civil marriages and immediately turned their back on that promise to recruit Shas to the coalition,” he said, adding a call to Kadima’s Russian members to quit the party in protest of their “betrayal.”
(IsraelNationalNews) - The High
Court of Justice has leveled criticism against Attorney General Menachem Mazuz
for his handling of the case against Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger. The
rabbi’s attorney, former justice minister David Libai turned to the nation’s
highest court to have Mazuz’s remarks calling for Rabbi Metzger resignation to
be removed from the legal record. Mazuz recently announced that a criminal
indictment would not be filed against the chief rabbi, because the state does
not have enough evidence to prosecute Rabbi Metzger on bribery charges. Mazuz
went on, however, to claim that the chief rabbi lied to investigators, changing
his story a number of times. As such, Mazuz recommended Rabbi Metzger step
down, adding he is not fit to serve in his senior position. If Rabbi Metzger
does not resign, Mazuz stated he would be compelled to turn to the committee
that appoints rabbinical justices to act towards the chief rabbi's removal.
Supreme Court Justice Dorit Beinish stated in her ruling that the attorney general’s position “lacks substance” and it does not compel the justice minister, who heads the judicial appointments committee, to comply. Beinish recommended Rabbi Metzger be granted a hearing to explain his version of the events prior to bringing the matter before the committee. Libai questions Mazuz’s actions, citing that while Mazus admits the evidence does not warrant an indictment on the one hand, yet recommends that Rabbi Metzger step down from his post as chief rabbi. Libai pointed out that in other investigations conducted by Mazuz against senior public officials including Tzachi Hanegbi, Binyamin Netanyahu, Roni Bar-On, and Police Commander Mizrachi, the cases were closed without recommendations that any of the officials step down. Libai added that it is unacceptable that Mazuz states the chief rabbi did not tell the truth, while he was never granted a hearing to tell his side of the events. The suggestion that he be permitted a hearing before Justice Minister Chaim Ramon is rejected by Libai, who explains such a hearing must take place in a court of law, not before a “politically appointed minister.”
Chief Rabbi Metzger was investigated for allegedly accepting hotel services from two Jerusalem hotels during his current tenure. Rabbi Metzger denies the allegations and a comprehensive police investigation did not result in an indictment. After the case against him was closed, Rabbi Metzger recently credited the hotels for the amounts in question, a total of some NIS 7,000, less than $2,000, in an effort to further eliminate any blemish to his name.
Attorney General VS The Chief Rabbi – April 5, 2006
Lekarev - Chief Rabbi Metzger, who was advised yesterday by Attorney General Mazuz to resign, has turned to the Supreme Court for redress. He says that Mazuz did not afford him a chance to defend himself. Attorney General Menachem Mazuz announced his conclusions yesterday regarding the criminal investigation into Rabbi Metzger's alleged actions during the Passover holiday of 2004. The rabbi was accused of having been a guest of a Jerusalem hotel for the holiday and receiving significant 'perks' at the time. Mazuz said that there was not sufficient evidence to charge him, but that it would be appropriate for him to resign in any event. Mazuz further threatened to initiate an administrative procedure to depose the rabbi if he does not leave his post. Rabbi Metzger, in response, said he would appeal against Mazuz in the Supreme Court. "He issued a ruling against me without giving me a chance to defend myself," the rabbi said, "while violating the basic civil rights that every citizen deserves."
After deciding that Metzger should not be indicted yesterday, Mazuz added, "In light of the defects in his behavior [in this matter], it would be appropriate for Rabbi Metzger to assume personal responsibility and decide on his own to resign." This extra-judicial opinion, however, is exactly the type Mazuz promised he would not issue. Early in 2004 shortly after becoming Attorney General Mazuz said, "I have said in the past on several occasions that I am against the writing of any public reports. In my opinion, there is a police investigation which must end with a recommendation -[whether or not to indict,] this is not a matter of policy or perception, but rather an objective question. Either there is evidence or there is not, and the evidence is considered in an objective manner." Mazuz's confidantes said at the time that he would not "engage in the worthless practice of issuing public reports that leave the suspect in the gray area - not guilty, but not quite innocent. Mazuz will cut sharply towards an indictment only if the evidence is well-grounded; if not, the file will be closed."
However, this is not what has happened with Rabbi Metzger.
Corruption in the World of the Sabbatean Jews
Olmert's First Decision Blasted – May 5, 2006
Lekarev - During our recent election campaign, a great deal of emphasis was placed on "helping the poor", not only by Amir Peretz of the Labor Party but also by Ehud Olmert of Kadima. Outrage has therefore broken out at Olmert's first decision: to sign a bill increasing the cost of bread in Israel. Bread is the basic food of the poverty stricken and even the symbolic value of being able to buy bread is a powerful issue for poor families. It represents just one step above total desolation. For Olmert to raise the price of bread as his first act in the office of Prime Minister has infuriated social welfare organizations, Knesset members and many in the general population. Cries of 'deceitful government' are being uttered and many are just plain disgusted to say the least.
Eran Weintraub, Director-General of the To Give (Latet) welfare organization, said today: "We are concerned about the fact that the first decision to be made by ministers is an anti-social decision, something that signifies that the "social government" was apparently nothing but an elections slogan." Ehud Shem Tov, a member of the Forum for the War on Unemployment, said Friday morning: "A government that speaks about raising the minimum wage and the first thing it does is raise the price of bread is a deceitful government. For three months the parties waged a campaign with social messages but after it is established its answer is to raise the price of bread. This way the government shows that its main message to citizens is that the profits of the marketing authorities is more important to it than the citizens. The market authorities claim they losing out on bread sales."
To add insult to injury, it is to be noted that though the new government with a whopping 25 Ministers was sworn in last night, there is one Minister who has not yet been appointed and was not part of the ceremony. We do not yet have a Minister of Welfare, which also sends a message that social issues really aren't a priority with this government despite its campaign slogans and speeches. And where is Amir Peretz, Mr. Social Justice himself, who has been screaming about the minimum wage? Why isn't he screaming about the increase in the cost of bread if he's so concerned about the poor in Israel????
State Comptroller: Peres Suspected of Taking Illegal Gifts - April 27, 2006
Arutz Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss has submitted evidence to the Attorney General that Shimon Peres accepted illegal campaign contributions. Peres in response: "Everything was legal." The State Comptroller's Office acknowledges that over the past several months, it has been investigating the contributions received from abroad by MK Shimon Peres for his recent primaries bid for Labor Party leadership against Amir Peretz. The contributions in question total $320,000, reportedly from the billionaires Chaim Saban, Bruce Rappaport, and Daniel Abrams.
Minister Shimon Peres
The Comptroller's Office notes that laws that Peres may have broken include the Public Service law, the Campaign Contributions Law, and others. Peres and his representatives were given early notice of the ongoing investigation, and were also told that the material would be forwarded to Attorney General Mazuz. Peres said in response that the three contributions were given him prior to the period of the elections. The Comptroller's Office stated that this point is irrelevant. Peres further maintains that the contributions were approved by the Labor Party. The anchor of official Israel Radio's main newsmagazine, Anat Davidoff, spoke with Israel Radio's legal commentator Moshe Negbi, and began by saying that the news on Peres "is not surprising, because of this problematic law that doesn't allow a candidate for party head or Prime Minister to collect [money] or to run things as he- because there is some type of distortion in the law." Negbi explained that the law is designed to ensure that politicians are not bought by outside interests with business affairs in Israel. MK Michael Eitan (Likud) praised the State Comptroller for his work in uncovering political corruption. When interviewer Davidoff protested that Lindenstrauss need not run to the press with every investigation, Eitan said, "It's great that he does that! That's the only way to get things done, and that's the only way to end this plague of corruption."
State Comptroller Announces Investigation of Olmert – February 22, 2006
Lekarev - About 5 pm last evening, Israel's state comptroller, Micha Lendenstrauss, announced that he was launching an investigation into alleged financial improprieties of Acting Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert. This announcement followed the expose by veteran and highly respected investigative journalist, Yoav Yitzchak, who alleged that Olmert was guilty of illegal financial dealings, an item I reported to you yesterday. Apparently this one is not going to be swept under the proverbial rug.
Journalist Yoav Yitzchak's investigative Hebrew news- site released yet another scoop against Olmert, lamenting that the Israeli media have largely ignored his reports of Olmert's alleged misdealings. Yitzchak reports today, on his Hebrew website NFC, that Olmert sold his Jerusalem apartment in 2004 for the relatively high price of $2.7 million, and is being allowed to continue renting it until the year 2010. The buyer: a well-known election campaign contributor.
State Comptroller Hon. Micha Lindenstrauss has begun investigating the sale, which was mediated by a company registered in the Virgin Islands. The Comptroller has asked to see a copy of the sale contract and other documents. Yitzchak reports that Olmert is suspected of receiving forbidden financial benefits.
Two days ago, Yitzchak reported that Olmert had arbitrated a deal allowing one of the creditors of the failing Beitar Jerusalem soccer team to keep $5.2 million he had taken from money on its way to the team. The accusation is that Olmert participated in allowing a creditor and a debtor to cooperate on the payment of a debt - part of which may not even have been genuine - at the expense of other creditors.
Looks like Mr. Olmert will have some questions to answer.
Suit Against Shimon Peres Upheld - Could – March 8, 2006
Lekarev - Tel Aviv Magistrates Court Judge Dalia Mark decided to reject a request from Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres to throw out a slander suit against him. The suit was filed by David Rutstein [pictured above] who claims that Peres labeled him insane and called for his incarceration in a psychiatric hospital in the wake of Rutstein's efforts to win a re-examination of the circumstances of the murder of Yitzchak Rabin. Rutstein was interviewed on Israel National Radio's Weekend Edition with Tamar Yonah and Malka Fleisher.
David Rutstein has been at the helm of several websites publicizing documents and videos supporting theories that Yigal Amir did not act alone and that those responsible for Rabin’s murder have never been brought to justice. Rabin murder conspiracy theories have grown in popularity recently, and a noted shift in Israeli public opinion is increasing pressure to question the accuracy of the official account of events surrounding Rabin’s murder. A Dahaf Institute poll commissioned by Israel's largest circulation paper, Yediot Acharonot, last November revealed that at least 25% of Israelis believe there was a conspiracy to murder Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin in 1995.
Lekarev - Top Kadima official and longtime statesman Shimon Peres this week was appointed deputy prime minister of the new Israeli government as well as minister of regional development for the Negev desert, a position reportedly created for Peres at his urging.
Officials yesterday told the media Peres' new role reflects Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's plan to withdraw from Judea and Samaria, the biblical Jewish lands now known as the West Bank, while building up the Negev desert and Galilee regions.
Olmert's plan is to relocate many of the tens of thousands of Jewish residents to be displaced during Judea and Samaria withdrawals to the Negev region and Peres is now tasked to prepare the way for the agenda. A top Kadima official said that Olmert's plan is to push for any displaced Jewish residents to either move to other Judean communities that will remain intact or to settle in the Israeli Negev desert. "We are talking about a very large population that would be removed from the West Bank," he said, speaking on condition his name be withheld since the draft plan has not yet been completed. "The plan is to push for them to settle in the Negev, which is able to accommodate the big numbers and which is already prepared to accept a large influx of new residents. The Negev is seen as a very good alternative for those expected to be displaced," the Kadima official said. "The climate is warm and Israel has been searching for years for ways to bring in a large influx of people to the Negev." (NOTE: But has anybody asked the potential evacuees if they want to live in the Negev??? The Negev stretches from Eilat at the south of the country through Beer Sheva. It encompasses about 66 percent of the land of Israel, but only houses about 10 percent of its population at present because it's a desert. Reportedly some large American construction companies are already working in the area to build communities that would house the future residents.
It will be interesting to follow this story and the activities of Shimon Peres in this regard.
Omri Sharon´s Calendar Reveals Corruption in Kadima - March 6, 2006
(IsraelNationalNews) - The
publication of Omri Sharon's appointment calendar "has exposed to all the
way in which Kadima was formed. No honest person can identify with a movement
with these values," says Likud MK Erdan. Omri Sharon, son and
behind-the-scenes schemer of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, was instrumental in
many official appointments - with the help of Ehud Olmert and other top Kadima
figures. Channel Ten exposed documents and an appointment calendar of former MK
Omri Sharon, showing the extent of his involvement in appointments to
governmental and official bodies. Ministers Olmert, Sha'ul Mofaz, Tzippy Livny
and others were involved as well.
Attorney General Menachem Mazuz has opened an investigation into the matter, after receiving several complaints and requests to do so. The documents are from the year 2004, when Sharon Jr. was a Likud Knesset Member. In August of that year, he jotted down a list of important people he felt he needed in order to win an important upcoming Likud Central Committee vote. The issue to be decided was the inclusion of the Labor Party in the coalition government, without which the government was liable to fall.
The documents appear to show that Omri Sharon acted like the "Director-General" of the country, in the words of journalist Yoav Yitzchak: advancing certain people in exchange for their support for his father, "maintaining" the Likud, and then creating Kadima. His lists show that he was involved in tenders, municipal appointments, directorates, and the like.The list included, next to the names, jobs that Omri planned to obtain for them. Sample entries: "A directorate for Yigal Yosef." "A directorate for Shlomo Ben-Amra." "Housing Culture Association position for Rachamim Eden - why was it not signed yet?" "meeting with Rachamim Eden, mix him a little longer." In fact, shortly afterwards, Eden was appointed to the directorate of the Housing Culture Association - in addition to this position as Likud Chapter Head of Kfar Saba. Shlomo Ben-Amra, a Central Committee member from Kiryat Ono, was soon appointed accountant of the Be'er Sheva Religious Council.
Elsewhere in Omri Sharon's lists, he wrote that Yigal Yosef, the Mayor and Likud Chapter Head of Rosh HaAyin, should be assigned to the "Planning and Construction Committee." Another entry about Yosef says, "Meeting with Ehud [Olmert] about Yigal Yosef and in general." In fact, Olmert's name appears many times in Omri's lists; Olmert was the Minister of Industry and Trade at the time, and he was in a position to provide Omri - who did not have the authority to make these appointments himself - with significant help in this area. Yigal Yosef, for instance, one of those whose favor Omri wished to cultivate, was appointed as head of the Industry and Trade Ministry's Regional Administration for Industrial Development. Other ministers mentioned in Sharon's notes include Sha'ul Mofaz, Meir Sheetrit, Tzippy Livny and others - all of whom are today in the Kadima Party.
Omri Sharon has been sentenced to nine months in prison for lying under oath, filing false affidavits, and violating campaign laws. He perpetrated these crimes in 1999 on behalf of his father's election campaign to become leader of the Likud. The sentence has been put on hold for several months because of Ariel Sharon's illness. Some of the people mentioned in the appointment book denied that they were merely "political appointments." They said they received the positions after passing through a process including tenders and acceptance committees.
MK Gilad Erdan of the Likud, said, "It has now been exposed to all the way in which Kadima was formed. The ministers of Kadima helped Omri in his political maintenance, at the expense of the public, and in return, Omri helped them with high-ranking places in Kadima and ministerial positions. No honest person can identify with a movement that has values like these."
The Labor Party reacted even more strongly, calling the publication of the papers a "moral and political earthquake," adding, "Just a short time ago, [Kadima party minister Tzachi] Hanegbi was indicted on similar charges that we now see Omri involved in. The Attorney General must apply the same law to Ehud Olmert. It is not appropriate that a man like that [Olmert] serve in a public position."
Kadima campaign advisor Eyal Arad said today that the above type of wheeling-dealing is exactly the reason several MKs decided to leave the Likud and form Kadima. Likud spokesmen said in response that the people who left the Likud, such as Omri Sharon, were those who created the corruption in the Likud, and "we are happy that they have all left to Kadima."
Corruption Fighter Slams Peres and Herzog, Praises Comptroller - April 27, 2006
(IsraelNationalNews) - MK Michael Eitan (Likud), a long-time fighter
against corruption in politics, responded to the accusations of illegal funding
against Shimon Peres with a tirade against the Prosecution and others.
Speaking with Voice of Israel Radio, Eitan said, "I have been dealing for many years, ever since I entered the Knesset in '84, with many issues of corruption, and today's story about Peres reminds me of stories I dealt with from those years as well, in which Peres starred. These include transfers of money involving Ballas, and money transfers to Peres from the stock exchange mediated by [his lawyer] Caspi, and notably, a very interesting story of an American oil pipeline between Aqaba and Iraq. This was a major scandal in the U.S. at the time, but it also involved an Israeli connection - and all those who think that these millionaires contribute because they care about Israel, should hear those stories. "The story is that this Bruce Rappaport, who is mentioned in today's accusations as being one of the contributors to Peres, was involved in this giant pipeline project. The builders wanted a promise that Israel wouldn't bomb it - and Rappaport said he could get the guarantee in two days. He went to Peres' home at night, waking him up in his pajamas, and Peres - who was Prime Minister at the time - wrote him some kind of Israeli commitment that the line wouldn't be bombed. The U.S. couldn't believe that this was how things worked in Israel." Rappaport wrote at the time to then-U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese, who was involved in the story, that a portion - as high as $700 million over ten years - of the profits that Rappaport would earn would go directly to Israel's Labor Party, headed by Peres. MK Eitan then mentioned another one of the three men mentioned in today's allegations as having contributed to Peres' campaign: "Chaim Saban owes some explaining to the public as to why he keeps violating the campaign funding law time after time, contributing tremendous sums to politicians from all sorts of places - and he has just purchased 30% of Bezeq [Israel's phone company]. And there are many more stories..."
Voice of Israel Radio interviewer Anat Davidoff asked,
"The candidates know it's forbidden, yet they continue to do it, and are willing to take the risk - why is this? The parties receive two types of funding - both regular funding and campaign funding; it appears that something is wrong with the law."
Eitan responded: "The law is 1000% fine - but the problem is in how it's enforced. First of all, I would like to praise the Comptroller, and give him a great yasher koach (kudos). He should not fear; they are trying to silence him and saying that he just wants headlines, but the fact is that without headlines, he won't be able to achieve a thing! This is a much better way of working than writing a few-hundred page report every four years, which attracts interest for only one day and is then forgotten -
Davidoff: "Yes, but no Comptroller ever ran to the press for every story -"
Eitan: "Very good! Very good! It's very good that he does this. This is the only way to fight corruption, by the light of day, and to publicize the stories. Things should not be hidden, but should rather be exposed. This is the way to fight corruption."
Eitan was asked about the closing of the investigations and dropping of all charges against ex-Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Labor Party minister Yitzchak Herzog and others in the case known as the "Barak campaign scandals." The charges involved the illegal raising of campaign funds via non-profit charity organizations whose sole purpose was to funnel monies into the campaign. In 2003, the police advised the Prosecution to file charges against Herzog, Barak's campaign advisor Tal Silberstein, then-MK Weizmann Shiri, and Atty. Doron Cohen (Barak's brother-in-law). No charges were ever filed, however.
Eitan said: "They can sue me for libel if they want, but I say clearly: Barak and Herzog and the 14 who claimed the right to remain silent broke the law. The judicial system failed miserably in this case. The Tel Aviv office and the prosecutors there simply did not want to indict them, and did everything they could not to indict them.
Davidoff: "Why is that?"
Eitan: "... Because the 'reigning spirit' was that these people should not be prosecuted. The feeling is that with Peres, we might as well not tangle with him, but with [Likuds MKs Naomi] Blumental and [Yechiel] Chazan [who were recently convicted], it's OK to sock it to them. There is no equality in these things. "Regarding the Barak case, the spirit was not to indict them. There was no prosecutor that wanted to prosecute them. The prosecution made a decision to close all the cases... The previous Attorney General [Elyakim Rubenstein] decided that Tal Silberstein... should be indicted; there was more than plenty of evidence against [him]. Nothing happened for years, and now when everything is quiet, they all of a sudden decide that the cases should be closed. "I asked the current Attorney General to allow me to see the relevant material, and we will review it and we will see what happens... But note this phenomenon: Herzog remained silent, and his case was closed - not for lack of guilt, but for lack of evidence - and now he is the candidate for nothing less than Justice Minister! Justice Minister!" Eitan said that he founded this week a new faction in the Likud, entitled New Horizon, that he hopes "will bring a new spirit into Israeli politics, and will show that we can bring political change without violating the law - and will gain us points in the Israeli public for such."
Abramoff Gets Almost 6 Years in Prison – March 29, 2006
My Qay AP) - Disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and a business partner were sentenced Wednesday to five years and 10 months in federal prison, the minimum they faced for fraud related to their 2000 purchase of the SunCruz Casinos gambling fleet. Abramoff and Adam Kidan both pleaded guilty to conspiracy and wire fraud, but they won't have to report to prison immediately.
The judge postponed their reporting date for at least 90 days so the two can continue cooperating in a Washington corruption investigation and a Florida probe into the killing of former SunCruz owner Konstantinos Boulis. Both deny roles in the killing. Abramoff pleaded guilty in connection with the corruption probe but has yet to be sentenced. In court Wednesday, Abramoff said the fraud case was "incredibly painful" for himself, his family and his friends. "In the past two years I have started the process of becoming a new man," he said.
Under their plea agreement, both men had faced a sentence of between five years, 10 months, and seven years, three months in federal prison. U.S. District Judge Paul C. Huck also ordered them Wednesday to pay restitution of more than $21 million. Abramoff and Kidan admitted concocting a fake $23 million wire transfer to make it appear they had made a large cash contribution to the $147.5 million purchase of SunCruz Casinos. Based on that fake transfer, lenders provided the pair with $60 million in financing.
The same week Abramoff pleaded guilty to the SunCruz fraud, he entered guilty pleas to three federal charges as part of a wide-ranging corruption probe that could involve up to 20 members of Congress and aides, including former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas. In addition to assisting in that investigation, Abramoff, 47, and Kidan, 41, are expected to give statements in the investigation into the Feb. 6, 2001, slaying of Boulis, who was gunned down at the wheel of his car amid a power struggle over the gambling fleet. Three men face murder charges, including one who worked for Kidan as a consultant at SunCruz and who allegedly has ties to New York's Gambino crime family.
Both Abramoff and Kidan have repeatedly denied any role in or knowledge of the Boulis murder. But prosecutors say Kidan has not been ruled out as a suspect and defense attorneys say Abramoff could provide critical inside information about the dispute with Boulis, who also founded the Miami Subs restaurant chain. Ultimately, cooperation in those investigations could reduce Abramoff's and Kidan's sentences. Abramoff, who was wearing a tan baseball-style cap, didn't speak to reporters as he and his lawyers left court after the sentencing. Before the hearing, more than 260 people - including rabbis, military officers and even a professional hockey referee - wrote letters on the men's behalf asking the judge for leniency. The letters, obtained by The Associated Press, put a new spin on the foibles and crimes of a man who became the face of Washington's latest corruption scandal. "Jack is a good person, who in his quest to be successful, lost sight of the rules," National Hockey League referee Dave Jackson wrote, describing the time Abramoff brought 14 youngsters to his dressing room before a game.
Kidan, in his own letter to the judge, said he knew the SunCruz deal was wrong but said he "was very caught up in the fast paced world of my partner and the high profile that came along with it." He added, "I am not the horrible person that the media has written about."
Senator Tom Coburn –
Seven Colleagues headed to Slammer - Coburn sees major fallout in Abramoff scandal
– April 15, 2006
U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., says he expects six members of the House of Representatives and at least one fellow senator to go to jail on corruption charges related to the scandal involving lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Coburn declined to name names, but said, "If you've been keeping up with things, you've got a pretty good idea," according to a report in the Tulsa World. Coburn's remarks came during a town hall meeting at the Wagoner Civic Center attended by about 30 people, and were made in relation to his attempts to curb "earmarking" – the practice of inserting appropriations for specific projects into unrelated bills. "Earmarks are used for the gateway drug to overspending," Coburn said. "Everywhere you see an earmark, you'll see a connection to a campaign contribution."
Abramoff was sentenced to more than five years in prison last month and may face additional charges related to his dealings with several Indian tribes.
U.S. Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, has been under scrutiny after taking more than $22,000 in campaign contributions from Indian tribes that were clients of Abramoff. Former Rep. Randall "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., has already been sentenced to more than eight years in prison for taking bribes from defense contractors. Coburn said members of both parties have been involved in questionable dealings and mentioned U.S. Rep. Alan Mollohan, a West Virginia Democrat whose assets reportedly increased more than six-fold during a four-year period in which he was the senior member of the House Appropriations and Ethics committees. "The first step in campaign finance reform is the elimination of earmarks," Coburn said. Coburn is the author of the WND Books title
Pollard's Handler Remains Roaringly Silent on Pollard - May 14, 2006
(IsraelNationalNews) - The
Minister for Pensioner Affairs, Rafi Eitan, refuses to sign a Knesset petition
on behalf of Jonathan Pollard, despite his share of responsibility for
Pollard's incarceration these 21 years. Eitan, a former Israeli intelligence officer, and the recruiter
and handler of imprisoned spy Jonathan Pollard, said before the election that
if elected to the Knesset, he would work for Pollard's release. He has long
said, however, that the way to secure Pollard's release from U.S. prison is to work quietly and behind the scenes. He has not changed his mind. This, despite
telling Pollard's wife Esther in 1998 that the fact that Israel had officially
recognized Jonathan as an Israeli agent made it easier for him to act openly.
At the meeting, Mrs. Pollard brought Eitan a message from her husband: "Rafi,
a commander does not leave his men in the field. The State has finally
acknowledged that I was her agent, that I was your soldier. I am asking you to
bring me home."
When Eitan was elected to the Knesset nearly two months ago, Jonathan Pollard said, "I think it is important that people understand that [Eitan] was the one who failed to provide an escape plan for me. He was the one who was at the heart of my expulsion from the embassy, I believe." As noted, Eitan has refused to sign a Knesset petition for Pollard's release, claiming again that the work for Pollard's release must be done without public noise.
Meanwhile, an Israeli Druze citizen who was falsely imprisoned in Egypt for seven years continues to speak out on Pollard's behalf. Azzam Azzam [pictured above with Pollard], of the Galilee village of M'rar, wrote a letter this morning to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, asking him to utilize his upcoming visit to the U.S. to obtain a pardon for Pollard. Azzam has participated in many public rallies on behalf of Pollard. In response to Minister Eitan's actions, the Committee to Bring Jonathan Home released this statement: "Rafi Eitan manages to keep on breaking the record for hypocrisy. When we begged him not to be appointed a minister and not to run to the cameras while Pollard is still in prison, he ignored us and used his name to win in the elections."
Earlier this month, Pollard filed suit in the Supreme Court demanding that Eitan not be appointed as a government minister. Charging that Eitan is not suited to be entrusted with the responsibility for Israeli citizens, the suit states, inter alia:
· Eitan falsely told the Americans that Pollard had acted on his own and without Israeli knowledge or supervision. This lie deflected all responsibility for the Pollard affair away from the Government of Israel. Throughout the nearly 21 years that Pollard has remained in jail, Eitan has never corrected this lie. His ongoing silence about official Israeli involvement has helped to keep Pollard, an Israeli agent, in U.S. prison throughout this time.
· For 21 years, Eitan has withheld a critical document, refusing to release it to the Americans. He has also refused to provide it to the appropriate authorities in Israel so that they might use it to save the life of the Israeli agent.
Jonathan Pollard Received Surprise Support From Aviv Gefen - April 6, 2006
Arutz Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - Support for the release of
imprisoned American Jew Jonathan Pollard has come from an unlikely source –
Aviv Gefen, sometimes called Israel's Michael Jackson. Gefen, an extremely
popular Israeli performer, who is the nephew of Six Day War Defense Minister
Moshe Dayan, appeared on the Yair Lapid Show on Israel's Channel 2
television on Monday. Host Lapid, whose father headed the defunct Shinui Party,
asked Gefen if there was any Israeli he wanted to meet. Gefen responded,
with uncharacteristic enthusiasm, that he would like to meet Jonathan
Pollard."Is there any Israeli that you know of, but whom you have never
met, with whom you would like to go out to dinner?" Lapid asked. "With
Pollard!" Gefen answered.
surprised at the answer, as Pollard's release has become somewhat of a
right-wing cause in Israel and Gefen is an ardent left-wing icon, said:
"It's a little problematic for Pollard to go out to dinner though..."
Gefen insisted, "The time has come for him to be released, for him to come
home to Israel!" "You are correct," agreed Lapid.
The 12-second video clip can be viewed by clicking here
New Italian Foreign Minister Anti-Semitic –May 18, 2006
Lekarev - Massimo d'Alema, who once referred to Israel as a “terror state,” was sworn in last week as Italy’s foreign minister and deputy prime minister, along with the rest of Prime Minister Romano Prodi’s new cabinet. D’Alema, 57, a former prime minister himself, is a communist and member of the Democratic Left party. He is known for his pro- Palestinian stance, and in the past has expressed his opposition to the construction of settlements, the West Bank security fence and IDF activity in the territories. He replaces Silvio Berlusconi who was a great friend and supporter of Israel.
Following Hamas’ January 2006 victory in the Palestinian elections, d’Alema said that ‘while the organization is in fact extremist, the terror attacks it wages on Israel are part of the Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation.’ A woman who accompanied the new Italian foreign minister during his visit to Jerusalem in 1999 said that upon his arrival she greeted him by saying “welcome to Israel,” to which he responded, “welcome to Palestine.”
Ya'alon: "Israel's Leaders Peddling Delusions” – May 15, 2006
Lekarev - Former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon has broken his relative silence, decrying the entire notion of a Palestinian state and urging Israel to be strong rather than appease the global Jihad.
The longtime warrior drew a comparison between the events leading up to the Holocaust and the present, comparing Ehud Olmert to Neville Chamberlain. "We look back to what the West experienced before World War Two. There was denial of reality, denial of threat. The attitude was, 'Let's leave it to next year, to the next generation,' "Ya'alon said. "We don't need Chamberlains, we need Churchills. We are flooded with lies, manipulated by Al Qaeda, but, most prominently, by the Palestinians."
Ya'alon spoke at Manhattan's Lincoln Square Synagogue last Monday, registering harsh criticism of Israel's leadership for offering "illusions" to the Israeli people. Ya'alon was Chief of Staff up until just before the implementation of Ariel Sharon's Disengagement Plan, of which his criticism was well known. His opposition cost him his job and he was replaced with the current COS, Dan Halutz.
The retired general criticized the notion of withdrawing from parts of Judea and Samaria, in addition to the building of the Partition Wall, which he believes is an illusion in terms of security. "The best defense is a good offense, not a fence," he said. "The best way to deal with terrorists is to arrest them or kill them in their beds. The IDF has intelligence capability to intercept terrorists. They use their civilians as human shields, knowing our sensitivities to killing civilians – but we do have the capability to intercept them in real time. Without dealing with the roots, we can cut down the weeds – to deal with the roots would be to force them to reform their education and culture. I am not sure we will succeed but we should be under no pressure to make any concessions until this change."
The former Chief of Staff says that not only did the Disengagement propel the Hamas terror group to a landslide victory in PA elections earlier this year, but “what we are doing is leaving a legacy for the next generation who will deal with Palestinians who believe that terrorism pays, that Israel cuts and runs under pressure,” Ya’alon explained. He said that at this point, when Kassam missiles are already falling regularly on Israeli towns, "we must stop getting used to these constant missile attacks as if they are rain. We can’t tolerate this missile threat from Gaza or continued terrorism. We must step up military actions in Gaza despite the problems of not being able to have laser-like accuracy against the terrorists there."
Ya'alon doesn't see negotiations as a reality any time in the future. "I do not see any prospect for peace and reconciliation on the Palestinian side," he said. "I needed no sophisticated intelligence to reach this conclusion – I only had to look at their textbooks, posters and so on. We should not be surprised but we ignored it. Without this kind of change, not just in Israel but the West, all Western powers will have to fight them. They believe they can defeat the West and Israel first. We need a wake-up call here and across the West. Under no circumstances should we surrender to terror. As long as they see our appeasement policy, they will continue."
I wonder if Ya'alon would be willing to run for Prime Minister????
Swastikas Sprayed Inside Petah Tikva Great Synagogue – May 4, 2006
Lekarev - In a scene described as "beyond horrifiying", worshipers who arrived to pray this morning at the Great Synagogue of Petah Tikva, a city not far from Tel Aviv, discovered that the shule had been broken into overnight and large black swastikas were sprayed on the walls, the floors and even on the Ark containing the Torah scrolls. The word "Hitler" was spray painted across the front door of the synagogue as well. The police dispatched the Forensics Division to help and possibly identify the perpetrators. Back in March another synagogue in Petah Tikva was also desecrated.
Yaakov Pelhaimer, who prays in the synagogue and is also a member of the city council, said: "What they have done is no longer an act of hatred, but insanity. My uncle worships there. He and his family arrived from Germany after he lost part of his family in the Holocaust. How can a man who lost his family in the Holocaust face this synagogue with swastikas? And it's only been 10 days since the Holocaust Memorial Day." Pelhaimer added, "This scene is beyond horrifying; desecrated Torah books, swastikas sprayed on the Ark, dozens of swastikas where people pray on. I hate to think what the perpetrators could do to other people. What has been done to the synagogue is a dark day, not only to residents of Petah Tikva, but also to the county and for all Jews."
Elusions and Delusions from Oslo to the Disengagement and now Convergence –
The Completion of the Globalization of Israel
Olmert: Nothing Will Stop Me – June 1, 2006
Lekarev - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he wanted to carry out West Bank withdrawal in one single step, which he believes will be less traumatic for the Israeli public. In an exclusive Shavuot interview with Yedioth Ahronoth, Olmert said: “I want to clarify that I am opposed to dividing the realignment into stages. This process will be difficult and painful even if it goes smoothly. I think carrying it out in stages will traumatize the public, and I have mentioned before that I am opposed to this.”
Regarding the realignment, Olmert said, “we will try to establish an infrastructure of international understanding, aiming to bring about borders by concentrating Jewish communities and creating a contiguous Palestinian-governed territory.
At a certain stage, there will be maps too. What is a plan? A plan is what you have in your head. In my head I have a plan. I don’t know it to a 1-mm resolution, but I certainly know what I want. We need to be patient.”
The prime minister added that he was determined to implement the realignment plan. “On this matter, nothing will stop me. That is why I am here. There is always the risk that the moment one takes the prime minister chair, it is very comfortable to pass four years at ceremonies and events. But I’ve passed that. I’ve been at all the ceremonies, the inaugurations and the memorial services. I feel that now is the moment of truth, in which I have to recruit all the soul’s resources and energies to take a step that will lead the Israeli nation to a different place. I hope that at the end of my term the reality here will be completely different.”
Olmert: Yesha Settlement Enterprise is Dangerous - May 4, 2006
(IsraelNationalNews) - Ehud Olmert introduced his new government this afternoon by speaking of
the "dangers" of continued settlement in Judea and Samaria, and of
the need to withdraw from most of those areas. "If we want to guarantee
our future as a Jewish and democratic state, there is no choice but to turn
inward towards an area in which the Jewish majority will be protected and
guaranteed." So said Ehud Olmert in the Knesset this afternoon when
presenting his new government, adding that it "pained" him greatly to
have to do so.
Shas Party MKs, among the other members of his new government, are expected to vote for Olmert's government as outlined in this speech. Shas MK Nissim Ze'ev said his party is against the withdrawal, and predicted that it would not take place. Asked afterwards how Shas could vote for such a government, Shas Party spokesman Ro'i Lachmanovitch told Arutz-7, "Shas is obligated only by the letter it signed, giving it freedom not to vote for the withdrawal plan." He would not elaborate.
Olmert also said, "The continuation of scattered [Jewish] settlement all over Judea and Samaria creates an inseparable mix of populations that will endanger the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish state. The intention is to formulate the State of Israel's final borders with broad internal consensus, and with international support and recognition. From my standpoint, one thing is not on the agenda, and that is infinite waiting for a change by our neighbors.""This does not mean that the settlement enterprise was entirely in vain," the man about to be voted as Israel's premier said, noting that the Jewish residents will remain in Jerusalem and elsewhere.
Turning to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Olmert offered his hand in peace, but said, "We will not wait forever. We cannot delay decisions that are fateful to our future waiting indefinitely... If we see that there are no serious talks, we will act in other ways. We will act in a way that is based primarily on what are the best borders for Israel. The borders must be defensible and must provide a solid Jewish majority. The new borders that will be stabilized in the coming years will be significantly different than those we have now. This [plan] is the very basis for this government." Asked if Shas would be able to vote for such a speech, given its stated opposition to the unilateral withdrawal, party spokesm Ro'i Lachmanovitch told Arutz-7, "The only thing that obligates us is the letter we signed in the coalition talks, and nothing else." He then terminated the conversation.
MK Binyamin Netanyahu, head of the future opposition by virtue of his chairmanship of the largest opposition party, the Likud, spoke after Olmert. Netanyahu emphasized the existential threat faced by Israel from the direction of Iran and its nuclear designs. "This threat unites all of us, and we will stand with the government and cooperate with it regarding this matter," ex-Prime Minister Netanyahu told the Knesset.Netanyahu attacked the government for being wasteful and large, especially in relation to its small size. "Never before have so many [government ministers] been so indebted to so few, to paraphrase Churchill," Netanyahu said. He added that the government's economic policies will surely lead to increasing unemployment, "possibly not immediately, but it will happen." Turning to the diplomatic agenda, Netanyahu said, "First of all, if you give up everything now, what will be left to give during negotiations? Nothing. And to whom are you giving up the territory - to Hamas!" He also noted that Olmert's plan would cost "many billions of shekels." If we are to face and fight the threat from Iran, he said, "this costs money - and we can't use that same money to uproot Jews and move them from one hill to another. The two goals are mutually exclusive; it just doesn't work."
Bush Praises Olmert's Plan But Falls Short of Endorsement – May 24, 2006
Lekarev - In the first White House meeting with new Israeli prime minister, US President George W. Bush praised Olmert's convergence plan as "bold ideas" but said their time has not come. He stopped short of giving his full endorsement, saying negotiated agreement 'best serves Israelis and Palestinians'.
Bush urged Israel to reach out to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas as an alternative to dealing with the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Authority. Abbas "speaks out for peace and negotiations," Bush said and added, "Hamas must recognize Israel's right to exist, must abandon terror, must accept all previous agreements. No country can be expected to make peace with those who deny its right to exist, and who use terror to attack its population."
Olmert said he extended his hand to Abbas, and hopes "he will take the necessary steps which he committed to in order to move forward." But he said the rise of Hamas, which refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist and regards terrorism as a legitimate tool, "severely undermines the possibility of of promoting a genuine peace process."
Olmert to Address Joint Houses of Congress – May 8, 2006
Lekarev -It was announced today that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will address both houses of the U.S. Congress in a rare joint session, scheduled for May 24. The speech will cap Olmert’s first visit to the United States as Israeli prime minister.
Olmert will meet with President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Secretary of State, Condi Rice. Olmert is seeking U.S. backing for his plans to unilaterally withdraw from portions of the West Bank.
Massive Pro-Israel, Anti-Convergence Rally in Washington – May 23, 2006
Lekarev - A massive grassroots rally has been organized to prevent the division of Jerusalem and further Jewish explusions in Israel. The rally is scheduled for noon today, May 23, at the Capitol Building.
Organizers ask that if you can't come to the rally, that you would please ask Pres. Bush to oppose Olmert's dangerous scheme. US citizens can call the White House at 202-456-1111; you will be asked what state you are from. Faxes can be sent to 202-456-2461; emails - to Comments@whitehouse.gov & email@example.com.
In addition, Call your 2 Senators and one Representative, and tell them to protest Olmert's Convergence: its execution would be a major blow to America's global war against terror. Click below to find the phone numbers for your Senators and Congressmen.
Israeli Withdrawals a Threat to Vital U.S. Interests – May 23, 2006
Lekarev - Anti-US Islamic terrorism has increased since the launching of the Oslo-driven series of Israeli retreats in 1993. Yoram Ettinger has posted an excellent explanation of how Israel's retreats and concessions since 1993 have seriously impacted U.S. Vital Interests. Many thanks to Israeli diplomat, Moshe Aumann, who sent this to me.
1. VITAL U.S. INTERESTS would be impacted by Israel's proposed retreat ("Convergence") from terrorist strongholds in Judea & Samaria.
2. Israel's retreat from So. Lebanon catapulted HIZBALLAH from a small – to a regional - terrorist organization, the role model of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), haunting US servicemen in IRAQ and AFGHANISTAN.
3. Israel's 1994-1998 series of retreats from 85% of Gaza and 40% of Judea & Samaria created the Palestinian Authority: the Mecca of homicide bombing and anti-US and anti-Jewish hate-education. Palestinian terrorists fought the US in Iraq and Afghanistan. ANTI-U.S. TERROR has increased since the initial 1993 Oslo retreat!
4. Israel's 2005 retreat ("Disengagement") from Gaza and Northern Samaria has established the largest terrorist base in the Mideast, adrenalizing anti-US terrorism.
5. Israel's 2005 retreat has been perceived as a cave-in by the role-model of counter-terrorism to the role-model of terrorism. It paved the road to HAMAS' electoral victory and upgraded the posture of ISLAMIC JIHAD and AL-QAEDA, thus providing friendly platforms for IRAN, SYRIA, SUDAN, YEMEN and the PRO-SADDAM elements.
6. Bolstered Palestinian profile constitutes a present and immediate lethal DANGER TO PRO-U.S. REGIMES in Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Gulf states, threatening US troops in the Gulf area.
7. Expanded Palestinian Authority facilitates the strategic re-entrenchment of RUSSIA, CHINA and NO. KOREA in the Mideast at the expense of US interests in the eastern flank of the Mediterranean and throughout the Mideast.
8. Another Israeli retreat would further undermine Israel's posture of deterrence, which is critical to the enhancement of regional stability.
9. US encouragement of another Israeli retreat from Palestinian terrorist strongholds would exacerbate the threat to US interests. Would the US learn from recent history by repeating – or avoiding – past errors?!
What to Expect from Bush/Olmert Meeting – May 23, 2006
Lekarev - The Bush Administration will present "new ideas" for advancing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations during Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's visit to Washington this week, a senior administration official said Sunday. The main topics of the meeting between the two leaders will be Iran's nuclear program, the deteriorating situation in the Palestinian Authority and Olmert's unilateral "convergence" plan for evacuating West Bank settlements. Olmert will present the principles of this plan, but the two leaders will not discuss it in detail.
By prior agreement, the president will express interest in Olmert's "new ideas" but will not offer explicit American support for the plan, and no timetable will be set for its implementation. However, a senior administration official said Sunday that the United States also has "new ideas for advancing the peace process," and that American officials will present these ideas to Olmert during his visit. Among other things, it is necessary to bring "additional countries" into the circle of those supporting the peace process, the official said.
The administration, he added, will make it clear to Olmert that America believes the way to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is via the road map peace plan and direct negotiations with the Palestinian leadership. Yet at the same time, the administration recognizes that the current Hamas government "is not an address for negotiations," and that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has not lived up to expectations - and may therefore not be able to serve as such an address either. Aside from their preference for negotiations, the Americans are also worried about the effects of Olmert's convergence plan on Jordan, and they plan to make this clear to the prime minister during his visit. Over the weekend, King Abdullah of Jordan sent a letter to Bush in which he detailed his opposition to the convergence plan. The Americans view Jordan as an important ally in an increasingly unstable Middle East and do not want to do anything that would undermine Abdullah's regime.
The U.S. Stance on Olmert's Plan: Distant - May 23, 2006
Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - With Prime Minister
Olmert in Washington to present his new Unilateral Withdrawal plan, the Bush
Administration remains cool to the idea. Though the Administration has not taken a
clear stand on Olmert's plan to withdraw unilaterally from most of Judea and Samaria, it has often emphasized that it prefers a negotiated solution between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Olmert and Bush are scheduled to meet twice this afternoon, including one meeting just between the two of them. They will also hold a joint press conference about their talks. Olmert met yesterday with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Bush's national security advisor Steve Hadley, and will also hold talks with Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, and House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) Administration officials said the Americans would pose a series of questions about unclear details of the plan. Mr. Olmert is scheduled to address a joint meeting of both chambers of Congress on Wednesday.
MK Effie Eitam (National Union) told Arutz-7's Hebrew newsmagazine today, "The Americans feel awkward [with Olmert's visit] because they understand that Israel's security and military leadership [is] trying to be 'Sharon's successors,' pushing this Convergence plan even though no one [else] supports it... They will give him [Olmert] respect, but they realize that he... has a basic misunderstanding of the priorities." [See separate article]
Arutz-7 spoke today with Yoram Ettinger, a consultant on U.S.-Israel relations and former liaison for Congressional affairs in the Israel Washington embassy, about the U.S. stance on the Olmert plan. He said that essentially all branches of the U.S. government oppose the plan, but for different reasons. "The U.S. stance is complex," Ettinger said. "The State Department has always been in favor of Israel's return all the way to the 1949 borders (if not further; before 1967, they wanted Israel to get out of the Negev as well). As long as Israel is not promising to return to the '49 lines, the State Department, headed by Secretary of State Rice, and the CIA as well, will not be satisfied."
A-7: "Isn't it obvious that a withdrawal from so much of Judea and Samaria, as Olmert proposes, would lead to a Palestinian state? Why is such a plan not sufficient for the State Department?"
Ettinger: "It's true, there are those in the State Department who feel that this would be sufficient and would likely lead to a return to the '49 borders - but others see how Israel is planning to annex settlement blocs, and cannot agree. "On the other hand, the U.S. government is not homogeneous, and certainly the Bush Administration is not, and there are those, such as Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, who have almost a totally opposite view than the State Department on issues such as the Israeli-Arab conflict, Iran, Iraq and many others. Those in this camp are worried about this plan because they see it as a continuation of the Oslo process, which they see as the root of all evil in the Middle East, leading to instability, a prize for terrorism, harm to Israel's deterrence power, and a blow to pro-American interests, goals and allies. Cheney didn't even want to meet with Peres when he came to Israel."
But the bottom line, Ettinger seems to feel, is money. Both sides - those who support Israel and those who don't - are afraid that Israel will ask the United States to fund this plan. "Even if Olmert doesn't ask for the money now," Ettinger said, "they know that the request will come some time or another. This is a terrible time for the U.S. financially. There are fights in Congress over a billion dollars here and a billion there - and now Israel will come and ask for ten billion or more? The U.S. doesn't have the $200 billion it needs for the Katrina relief efforts, and oil prices are skyrocketing, and there are fears of the real estate market and the stock exchange plunging, and there is a major problem of the deficit - for Olmert to request money at a time like this shows a basic lack of understanding of what's going on in the United States. It also shows a basic misunderstanding of how foreign aid harms Israel, but that's a different story.""If Israel were to ask for money to fund a war against terrorism," Ettinger continued, "then that might be a different story. But to ask for money to do that which the U.S. itself doesn't do - give in to terrorism - how can that be justified? And furthermore: If the U.S. had initiated this plan, then there also might be a basis for asking for money - but not when this is an Israeli-made plan..."
Ettinger said that Secretary Rice would support Olmert's plan if he would promise that in the end, it would lead to Israel's return to its 1949 borders. What about President Bush's famous letter to Ariel Sharon of April, 2004 in which he supposedly guaranteed U.S. support for retaining major settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria? Ettinger told Arutz-7 last year that this letter “was grossly misrepresented by the Prime Minister [Sharon] and his spokesman. Bush has not committed the United States to recognizing anything beyond the 1949 cease-fire lines. Bush doesn’t recognize any single settlement or blocs of settlements…”
Harvard Prof. of Psychiatry Labels Oslo Supporters Delusional - March 26, 2006
Arutz Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - Dr. Kenneth Levin, author of The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People Under Siege, terms "delusional" the behavior of Israeli population segments that supported the Oslo Accords. In an interview with Tovia Singer on IsraelNationalRadio, Dr. Levin [pictured above] claims that as a result of their desire for the Arab siege on Israel to end, many Israelis conditioned themselves to believe that a potential partner for peace existed in the Palestinian Authority, when the reality pointed only to the continued escalation of violence and terror.
Dr. Levin, an instructor of clinical psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a Princeton-trained historian, has blended the two disciplines in his extensive writings on the Arab-Israeli conflict. “It is characteristic of people under siege or chronic attack - whether you’re talking about minorities that are marginalized, defamed and attacked or a small state under attack by larger neighbors - it is characteristic of portions of those populations to embrace the indictments, however bizarre, and to believe that if they perform in a way consistent with those indictments, then the siege will end,” Dr. Levin stated.
Levin compared the psychological delusions that led up to the Oslo Accords to those created by abused children desperate to end their suffering. Levin explained,
“Abused children always blame themselves for the abuse because they want to believe that they can have control over a situation that is really beyond their control. They believe that if they can change their behavior they can make their situation better.” “The hope is that if they just accept the indictment, if they just repress the recognition that they are being attacked unfairly, and try to change accordingly that somehow they’ll win relief from their attackers.”
According to Levin the behavior exhibited by contemporary Israeli governments is not a new phenomenon: “It’s a very old problem, characteristic of Jews throughout the Diaspora. There were segments of the population that consistently embraced the indictments of the Jews' enemies when Jews were being attacked, and it is characteristic of Israel during the chronic Arab siege.”
Levin believes that the Israeli delegation to the Oslo accords ignored the reality of the messages Arafat and his people were broadcasting to the Arab world. "The people who led Israel’s engagement in the Oslo process," he explained, "completely ignored what the Arabs were saying to each other and what Arafat was saying to his people in Arabic, what he had his schools teaching, and what he had his associates in the PA saying to their constituents. Instead, if Arafat said something positive in English, they would just grab onto that, or even if it was hinted at they would extrapolate. They wanted to believe, they were so desperate for an end to the siege. They wanted to believe, despite all the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.”
Levin postulates that the Palestinian Authority, as a realistic partner for peace, was an entirely fictional entity, created by an Israeli government that was desperate to put an end to suffering: “They created a partner that didn’t exist. They created this image of the other side that was prepared to give them peace in response/exchange for Israeli withdrawals. But that partner did not exist; it was a figment of the imagination. They ignored what Arafat was saying on the very night of that famous Arafat/Rabin handshake on the White House lawn. Arafat spoke on Jordanian TV telling his constituency that they should understand Oslo as the first phase in the 1974 PLO Plan of Phases, that says we’ll take what we can get through negotiations, and we’ll use that as a base for pursuing the destruction of Israel."
Regarding possible healing for the delusions suffered by so many Israelis, Levin advocated trying to make them realize how far off base their thinking has been. “I can only help patients who recognize that they have problems. There are too many people in Israel who don’t think that they have a problem,” offered Dr. Levin, adding “We have to constantly confront people with the catastrophe of Oslo and how too many Israelis are prepared to perpetuate another catastrophe and follow in the same lines simply because the siege isn’t ending and they want it to end by their own actions. That will never be; it will end at the declaration of the Arabs. What they can do is defend themselves. The saddest thing is that you see too many people willing to sacrifice Israel’s ability to defend itself.”
Former Mossad Chief: 'We're On the Verge of World War III' – March 28, 2006
Lekarev - Meir Amit, former director of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency, said recently that our civilization at large is on the verge of "World War III," a massive conflict in which the Islamic world will attempt to impose its ideology on Western nations. Amit, one of the most esteemed figures in the international defense establishment, warned that Islamic nations and global Islamist groups will continue launching "all kinds of attacks" against Western states. He urged the international community to immediately unite and coordinate a strategy to fight against the "Islamic war."
Amit served as Mossad chief from 1963 to 1968. He directed some of the most notorious Mossad operations during that time and pioneered many of the tactics currently used by intelligence agencies worldwide. The subject of multiple books and movies, Amit is routinely described as a "living legend." Now in his mid-80s, Amit serves as chairman of Israel's Center for Special Studies.
The former intelligence chief referenced recent terror attacks against Israel, Europe and the United States; Iran's alleged nuclear ambitions; the insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan; and worldwide Muslim riots. "It looks to me like it is a kind of coordinated or contemplated problem to somehow impose the Islamic idea all over the world," Amit said. Amit is certainly not someone to ignore as his stature in the international defense community is significant. His remarks have garnered the attention of key figures in several nations.
Ex-CIA Head: Gaza Pullback was"Worst," Olmert's Plan Even Worse - March 31, 2006
Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - Writing for the Wall Street Journal on Monday, ex-CIA
Director James Woolsey ripped apart Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's plan, which,
he says, represents a determination to reinforce failure.
Woolsey sums up Olmert's plan as follows: "The withdrawal of 50,000 to 100,000 Israeli settlers from 90% to 95% of the West Bank and major portions of Jerusalem," together with a redeployment of the IDF near the security fence currently under construction.
He objects to the plan for the following reasons:
He adds that a
"two-state solution can become a reality when the Palestinians are held to
the same standards as Israelis - to the requirement that Jewish settlers in a West
Bank-Gaza Palestinian state would be treated with the same decency that Israel
treats its Arab citizens. Until then, three failures in 13 years should permit
us to evaluate the wisdom of further concessions."
Woolsey bases much of his opposition to Olmert's plan on the failure of last year's Gaza withdrawal. Among the "worst set of results imaginable" that it produced, he lists the following:
* A heavy presence by Al Qaeda, Hizbullah, and even some Iranian Revolutionary Guard units;
* street fighting between Hamas and Fatah, and now Hamas assassination attempts against Fatah's intelligence chief and Jordan's ambassador;
* rocket and mortar attacks against nearby towns inside Israel;
* and a perceived vindication for Hamas, which took credit for the withdrawal and thus helped Hamas's victory in the Palestinian Authority elections.
Shabak Chief: "Don't Agree to Hudna With Hamas" – March 10, 2006
(IsraelNationalNews) - GSS head Yuval
Diskin warned the Knesset Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee that Hamas is
a strategic threat to Israel, and is planning to build itself into an extremist
Islamic country. Some Hamas officials have said that the new PA leadership
would be willing to agree to a hudna - a long-term ceasefire, violable as soon
as the Moslem side feels confident of victory - under certain conditions. The
conditions, generally overlooked in favor of the very willingness of Hamas to
consider a truce, include Israel's consent to remove all Jewish presence from
Judea and Samaria and the like.
GSS Chief Diskin hopes to nip all talk of a possible hudna in the bud. He told the Knesset committee today that Israel "must not accept a hudna even if proposed. It would lead to a long-term strategic threat upon Israel. If there is a hudna, Hamas will use it to stabilize its rule and form a fundamentalist extremist Islamic entity with terrorist capabilities... Hamas has a lot of patience, just like the Islamic Brotherhood in Egypt." Diskin said that Islamic terrorists from all over the Middle East would arrive in Judea and Samaria and "form an Islamic terrorist state on our doorstep." He also warned that the strengthening of a Hamas Authority would also embolden Israeli-Arabs against Israel, as occurred in the beginning of the Oslo War in 2000.
Committee Chairman Yuval Shteinitz called upon the Olmert government to stop Hamas by "placing a siege on the Hamas leaders in their cities, just like we didn't let Arafat leave Ramallah." "We must all be concerned by the threat Diskin talked about," Shteinitz said. "Israel must immediately... stop the development of this threat before it grows." He said that the Hamas offer of a hudna is a "honey trap. Whoever [on the Israeli side] wants to commit suicide, will agree to temporary quiet at the expense of the establishment of a Palestinian Revolutionary Guard movement and the threat of Kassams at the heart of the country."
Committee member Danny Yatom (Labor) downplayed Diskin's warning: "Hamas is not an existential threat and not even 'almost' existential; to say it's a strategic threat is overstating the situation." Avi Dichter, a leading candidate for Defense Minister if Kadima forms the next government, feels that Hamas need not be automatically ruled out as a future diplomatic partner. He recently told Haaretz,
"The stopping of terrorism, the disarming of the terror organizations, the fulfillment of agreements signed by Israel and the PA, recognition of the State of Israel, and the erasure of clauses in the charter calling for the destruction of Israel and Jews - these are the conditions for dialogue with the Palestinians... The Roadmap [calling for a PA state side-by-side with Israel] is the only diplomatic plan that receives widespread Israeli and international support."
Former GSS head Ami Ayalon of Labor is even more conciliatory:
"If these conditions are fulfilled - recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish People, and disarming and ending terrorist activities - there is no reason not to see Hamas as a partner in future Road Map negotiations." Ayalon feels that Israel must also prepare for future unilateral withdrawals and must continue to build the wall separating most of Judea and Samaria from the rest of Israel. GSS Chief Diskin faced opposition from Meretz MK Ran Cohen for calling the disengagement from Gaza an "uprooting." Cohen said that Diskin should not politicize the debate by using such terms. Diskin said that it is not a political term, but rather a technical one describing the act of taking people out of their homes against their will.
In the meanwhile, Hamas officials are preparing to instill their ideals among the Arab populace in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Leading spokesman Mahmoud al-Zahar said last week that one new reform will include education about the "culture of resistance" - i.e., terrorism. Hamas's armed branch, the Iz-Adin al-Kassam, states in its literature that "resistance" is the same as jihad, or holy war. Hamas created an on-line children's magazine in 2004 entitled Al-Fatah (The Conqueror), in which articles include pieces written by suicide terrorists and images of suicide bombers. In addition, the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center recently reported that Hamas has launched its first TV channel. The "Al-Aqsa" station, which began last month, resembles Hizbullah's incendiary Al-Manar TV station. A video from the year 2004 broadcast on a Hamas website shows two suicide bombers, Idham Ahmed Majila and Maumin Rajab Rajab, who blew themselves up at the Karni Crossing in a terrorist attack in 2004. Majila is heard stating, "We are a blood-drinking people and we know that there is no better blood than Jewish blood."
Wisdom Difficult to Refute, Even By Those Who Disagree – May 29. 2006
Lekarev - R. James Woolsey, a former director of Central Intelligence, and presently co-chairman of the Committee on the Present Danger posted a very insightful article in the Wall Street Journal a few days ago. I encourage you to take the time to read it. Here is what Mr. Woolsey wrote:
What does one say to a good ally who seems determined to reinforce failure? That the U.S. will pay for the undertaking?
Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is in Washington, where he will be asking for advice and assistance in financing the withdrawal of 50,000 to 100,000 Israeli settlers from 90% to 95% of the West Bank and major portions of Jerusalem, and for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) to be repositioned largely near the security barrier Israel is constructing. Most Americans are inclined to believe that such disengagement may be a reasonable step toward a two-state solution, even if some territorial disputes remain to be negotiated. It is also widely assumed that Palestinian hostility to Israel is fueled by despair that can only be reduced by Israeli concessions. Both assumptions, however, may be fundamentally flawed.
The approach Israel is preparing to take in the West Bank was tried in Gaza and has failed utterly. The Israeli withdrawal of last year has produced the worst set of results imaginable: a heavy presence by al Qaeda, Hezbollah and even some Iranian Revolutionary Guard units; street-fighting between Hamas and Fatah and now Hamas assassination attempts against Fatah’s intelligence chief and Jordan’s ambassador; rocket and mortar attacks against nearby towns inside Israel; and a perceived vindication for Hamas, which took credit for the withdrawal. This latter almost certainly contributed substantially to Hamas’s victory in the Palestinian elections.
The world now needs to figure out how to keep Palestinians from starving without giving funds to a Hamas government in Gaza resolutely focused on destroying Israel. Before his massive stroke last year Ariel Sharon repeatedly said he would not replay the Gaza retreat in the West Bank. With good reason: Creating a West Bank that looks like today’s Gaza would be many times the nightmare. How would one deal with continuing launches of rockets and mortars from the West Bank into virtually all of Israel? (Israel’s Arrow missile defense will probably work against Iranian Medium Range Ballistic Missiles but not against the much shorter-range Katyushas.) A security barrier does no good against such bombardment. The experience in Gaza, further, has shown the difficulty of defending against such attacks after the IDF boots on the ground have departed. Effective, prompt retaliation from the air is hard to imagine if the mortar rounds and Katyushas are being launched, as they will be, from schools, hospitals and mosques.
Israel is not the only pro-Western country that would be threatened. How does moderate Jordan, with its Palestinian majority, survive if bordered by a West Bank terrorist state? Israeli concessions will also make the U.S. look weak because it will be inferred that we have urged them, and will suggest that we are reverting to earlier behavior patterns— fleeing Lebanon in 1983, acquiescing in Saddam’s destruction of the Kurdish and Shiite rebels in 1991, fleeing Somalia in 1993, etc.
Three major Israeli efforts at accommodation in the last 13 years have not worked. Oslo and the 1993 handshake in the Rose Garden between Yitzhak Rabin and Yassir Arafat produced only Arafat’s rejection in 2000 of Ehud Barak’s extremely generous settlement offer and the beginning of the Second Intifada. The Israeli withdrawal from Southern Lebanon in 2000 has enhanced Hezbollah’s prestige and control there; and the withdrawal from Gaza has unleashed madness. These three accommodations have been based on the premise that only Israeli concessions can displace Palestinian despair. But it seems increasingly clear that the Palestinian cause is fueled by hatred and contempt.
Israeli concessions indeed enhance Palestinian hope, but not of a reasonable two-state solution—rather a hope that they will actually be able to destroy Israel. The Iranian-Syrian-Hezbollah-Hamas axis is quite explicit about a genocidal objective. When they speak of “ending Israeli occupation” they mean of Tel Aviv. Under these circumstances it is time to recognize that, sadly, the Israeli-Palestinian issue will likely not be the first matter settled in the decades- long war that radical Islam has declared on the U.S., Israel, the West and moderate Muslims—it will more likely be one of the last.
Someday a two-state solution may become possible, but it is naive in the extreme to believe that this can occur while the centerpiece of the radical Islamic and Palestinian agendas is maximizing Jewish deaths. A durable compromise will only be achievable when we no longer, to borrow from Daniel Patrick Moynihan, “define deviancy down” for the Palestinians.
Today we cannot envision the 250,000 Jewish settlers who live outside Israel’s pre-1967 borders being permitted to live at all, much less live free and unmolested, in a West-Bank-Gaza Palestinian state. But some 1.2 million Arabs, almost all Muslim, today live in Israel in peace among some 5 million Jews— about double the percentage of Jews now in the West Bank as a share of the Muslim population there. Israel’s Arab citizens worship freely—one hears muezzins calling the faithful to prayer as one walks around Tel Aviv. They vote in free elections for their own representatives in a real legislature, the Knesset. They give every evidence that they prefer being Arab Israelis to living in the chaos and uncertainty of a West Bank after Israeli withdrawal. A two-state solution can become a reality when the Palestinians are held to the same standards as Israelis—to the requirement that Jewish settlers in a West Bank-Gaza Palestinian state would be treated with the same decency that Israel treats its Arab citizens. Until then, three failures in 13 years should permit us to evaluate the wisdom of further concessions.
Bill Gates Behind Gaza Greenhouse Transfer to Palestinians – April 14, 2006
Lekarev - It is now known that Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, was behind the transfer of profitable high- tech Jewish greenhouses in Gaza to the PA. Arab rioters subsequently destroyed many of the greenhouses.
Gates' charitable foundation, the largest in the world, provided the bulk of the funds used to purchase the greenhouses from Gush Katif residents at rock- bottom prices, to be handed over to the Palestinian Authority (PA), according to Forbes magazine. A foundation representative contacted by WorldNetDaily confirmed the report. "The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation contributed $10 million to facilitate the transfer of the greenhouses," he said. "This was a unique grant, made quickly and quietly because we believed it was in the best interest of all parties and would enhance the peace process."
Curiously, the donation falls outside the stated focus of the foundation, which is global health. The foundation has traditionally stayed away from taking a side in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Until the Forbes report, a request to keep the source of the money confidential had been honored by all the parties involved.
Nine Months after Expulsion: Status Report – May 17, 2006
Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - The report was written by
Dror Vanunu, a former resident of N'vei Dekalim and the International
Coordinator of the Gush Katif Committee. This body coordinates all relief
efforts, from both private and public sources, for the former Gush Katif
communities. It has helped build a social welfare infrastructure to fill the
gap left by government cuts, as well as programs for teenage-support,
employment, and more.
Excerpts from the report:
Nine months have passed since the terrible crisis befell us, and we struggle to understand that we, who built homes, hothouses and public buildings, have to start afresh. It is a painful process, difficult and complicated, demanding effort and dedication to rebuild our lives after we were certain that we were settled. After an exhausting process, most of us have arrived at ‘caravillas’ located in four major centers: Nitzan, Lachish, Yad Binyamin and the Negev (Yated and Yevul). These small [pre-fab] structures in the modern refugee camps that have been built for us are uncomfortable, but [our] group unity makes it easier for us to face the new realities.
...High unemployment statistics, combined with delays in compensation payments to those torn from their homes, farms and businesses, have had a devastating effect on those hundreds of families who not long ago were self-supporting and now find themselves forced to use compensation money simply to stay alive.
...Slowly, slowly we are beginning to see, in certain areas, projects that are being developed, hothouses being rebuilt, and the revival of that special spirit that permeated the communities of Gush Katif before their destruction. The process of rehabilitating the expellees is long and complicated, and may continue for years to come. Only if the government views the rehabilitation of the expellees as a desired national objective, and with the involvement of non-governmental agencies, will the Gush Katif communities be restored to their place as a constructive sector among our people and society.
118 families are still living in interim accommodations, waiting to move to their temporary homes. Of these, 68 families are still living in the difficult conditions of hotel rooms and guest houses, and 50 from Elei Sinai are living in the tent city at Yad Mordechai. 1396 families out of the approximately 1750 former Gush Katif families decided to remain together with their original communities.
Jerusalem hotels - 17 families
Ein Tzurim - 45 from N'vei Dekalim
Ein Tzurim Guest House - 28, mostly from Netzer Hazani
Chafetz Chaim Guest House - 28, from Netzer Hazani and Gadid
Hispin (Golan) - 23 from Netzer Hazani
Ariel - 23, mostly from Netzarim
Yevul (Halutza Sands, south of Gaza) - 55, mostly from Netzarim
Amatzia (Lachish) - 45, mostly from Moshav Katif
Shomeriya - 54, mostly from Atzmona
Yated (Halutza Sands, south of Gaza) - 36, mostly from Atzmona
Ashkelon hi-rise building - 51 from Kfar Darom
Nitsanit (near Ashkelon) - 100
Tene Omarim (southern Judea) - 15, mostly from Morag
Yad Biyamin - 80 from Ganei Tal
Yad Binyamin Gag Anak community - 50 from various communities
Yad Binyamin, Yeshivat Torat HaChaim - 100
The largest concentration of expelled families is in Nitzan, north of Ashkelon, with 240 families from N'vei Dekalim, 90 from Nisanit, and another 143 from six other communities.
According to the Sela Administration data – 4,091claims have been filed, but only in 2,390 cases (58.4%) has all the red tape been worked through and a final decision been issued. Families that asked for a special evaluation of their property have received only down payments on their houses. Even those who have already been paid are not finished: The Compensation Law evaluated the cost of rebuilding a house at $700-$850 per square meter, but as the expellees start looking into building, they find that the prices are significantly higher: at least $950 (for basic standards)! Among businessmen, only 25.5% of their cases reached the final decision stage, and among the farmers – only 5.1%!
Unemployment was almost unknown in Gush Katif. The great majority of residents were employed in agriculture, industry, education, and local services and they were significant contributors to the Israeli economy. As of now, the percentage of the unemployed among the Katif expellees has decreased, and now stands at about 50%. Due to the intensive work of the Gush Katif Committee, in cooperation with JobKatif and Maavarim, more than 450 people have found work. 1,100 people are still unemployed, and 380 of them live in Nitzan. The large majority of them no longer receive unemployment payments. Only 17.2% of the farmers – 38 out of the 220 who worked in Gush Katif - have resumed their activity, including those who are currently working on rebuilding their hothouses. Only 150 businesses, out of 700 - a mere 21.4% - have re-opened: 40 of them in Nitzan, and 7 in Yad Binyamin in a new commercial center that was recently built there.
The teachers, school administrations and the Ministry of Education are all working together with the Gush Katif Committee to reestablish a normal and healthy learning atmosphere in all the schools. Many of the children of the expelled communities of Gush Katif suffer from a full range of traumatic and post traumatic stress symptoms, including anxiety, depression, regressive behavior, behavioral problems, lack of concentration, and difficulties coping with new or challenging situations. Some children have already been in 2-3 different schools since the expulsion, leading to significant learning gaps among the children. Five elementary schools serve most of the children, and another one will start operating in a few weeks in Nitzan. Some of them have various technical and bureaucratic problems, and some are in the process of moving to more permanent locations. Three schools receive funding for lunch programs from the Karev Fund. Most of the high-school pupils attend boarding schools. Many Gush Katif girls study at the Ulpana, formerly of N'vei Dekalim and now located on the campus of Givat Washington, near Yavneh. The site is inadequate and most of the teachers are expellees themselves [with resulting advantages and disadvantages].
753 youth are located in 18 “caravilla” sites and 3 interim (hotel) sites. Five locations have no youth counselor and 15 sites have no building for youth activities. Budgets for youth programs ceased at the end of March, though the activity year continues until the end of August and there is an urgent need to plan for the following year’s activities. In addition, now is the time that counseling is needed for 8th graders regarding their high schools plans for this coming September.
Many of the youth meet the definition of "at risk." They are rebelling against parental and communal authority and are having difficulty in finding their place at school and in their new communities with youth who did not experience the traumatic experiences that they did. There is a danger of alcoholism and drug addiction, and experienced and empathetic youth counselors and programs are urgently needed. In spite of all this, the government decided to stop the budget for youth counselors as of the end of May. This means that the adolescents will be left unattended during the most critical period of the year - the summer - when consistent frameworks are most needed.
The number of job slots for social workers in the local municipal councils has been increased. In addition, the Gush Katif Committee itself employs five social workers and coordinates the many volunteers who work on a regular basis among individuals and communities.
Special Assistance to Needy Families:
As a result of the expulsion, hundreds of families are in severe economic straits. This is due to the loss of income of one or more former breadwinners, and the additional costs involved in the relocation. Unemployment allowances are paid for a period of six months, and many salaried workers are no longer entitled to this financial support. Moreover, many salaried workers who chose to enroll for retraining courses did not receive the promised payment for attending classes, or received only part of the allocation. The Gush Katif Committee has distributed more than 4.7 million shekels NIS in donations to needy families in the various temporary locations. Through the initiative of the Gush Katif Committee, many needy families were 'adopted' by communities which are supporting them on a monthly basis, each family for a delimited period of time.
This is the opportunity to thank all the congregations, communities and organization that extended their assistance before the holiday, provided financial help for the needy families, and delivered hundreds of food packages to all of the dispersed communities. Your contributions were distributed to many families and allowed them to celebrate the holiday with joy and dignity.
From receiving to giving:
One of the projects that the youth of Gush Katif wish to undertake is volunteering in day camps in the south, thus contributing of its strength and energies to weaker children. For more information about the Gush Katif Committee, or to contribute in the U.S. or elsewhere, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Daniel Pinner Released from Prison - April 27, 2006
(IsraelNationalNews) - Pinner, 38,
was sentenced just three weeks ago, after having sat in prison since last June.
Today marks his first time out of prison since then, except for several trips
to court hearings at the Be'er Sheva District Court."G-d's salvation comes
in the twinkling of an eye," a thankful and jubilant Pinner told Arutz-7
as he left the prison. "I am so very grateful to all those people, Jews
and Noachides, who prayed and said Psalms for me, and to my attorney Baruch
Ben-Yosef for doing the impossible in getting me out, and to all those who
wrote me letters and gave me support. My release today is in the merit of all
Daniel was convicted earlier this year of having injured an Arab in Gush Katif by shooting in the air when an Arab mob attacked him with rocks. A licensed electrician, Pinner was in Gush Katif at the time to volunteer his services in the refurbishing of the Palm Beach Hotel for new families. He was taking a walk on the beach when he was attacked by the mob, explaining later that his life was "clearly in danger." He fired in the air, and was arrested four days later on charges of having wounded one of the Arabs. Following his sentencing earlier this month, Pinner's lawyer Baruch Ben-Yosef, hired by the Honenu Civil Rights Organization, filed both an appeal and a request for "stay of execution." Ben-Yosef explained to Arutz-7 that he was afraid that by the time the appeal might be heard, "Daniel's prison sentence might be over already... It is not common, but a judge who feels that the appeal has a good chance of succeeding can order the person freed until the appeal is heard."
To the lawyer's happy surprise, Justice Arbel not only agreed, but essentially ruled that the conviction was faulty on several counts - as Pinner and his lawyer had claimed all along. Ben-Yosef, who now has three weeks to complete filing the appeal and its reasoning, said, "It turned out for the best on several counts, because if he had been freed several months ago before the conviction, he would have been held under house arrest - and then could still have faced two full years in prison. Waiting outside the prison to greet Daniel were the Director of Honenu, Shmuel Medad, and Daniel's sister Dina, with whom he headed for Jerusalem. He plans to spend the night in his home in Kfar Tapuach in the Shomron, where he can expect a festive welcoming ceremony.
"Settlers Out of Touch With Israelis;" Campaign to Rebuild Ties - April 17, 2006
Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - In an address that
ignited last month's Jerusalem Conference, Ha'aretz correspondent Daniel Ben
Simon told the residents of Judea and Samaria, "You are out of touch with
Israeli society." Jewish outreach leader Yisrael Ze'ira [pictured above
on left] agrees with Ben Simon [pictured above on right], but has a plan to
turn the tide.
In what was perhaps the most controversial speech at the March, 2006 Jerusalem Conference sponsored by B'sheva Newspaper, left-leaning journalist Daniel Ben Simon explained why Israelis fell in love with Sharon's Disengagement Plan and subsequently the Kadima party which promises more withdrawals. Filled with both admiration and concern for the religious-Zionist public, Ben Simon urged them to wake up and recognize that though they speak about great ideals, no one is listening.
Ben Simon's eight-minute address appears translated into English below. Following the speech transcript, Jewish outreach activist Yisrael Ze'ira responds and spells out his plan of where religious-Zionism goes from here.
Daniel Ben Simon, Jerusalem Conference, March 20, 2006:
"I was invited to speak here, so I ask that my words be openly received. On the way here, someone handed me a Pollard sticker, and I read through your B’sheva newspaper and slowly I began to realize how much you are focused only on yourselves. If someone were to read the B’sheva newspaper with the aim of getting to know what was going on in Israeli society, he would know nothing except for what applied to only 2-4% of the society.
Instead of focusing on Pollard and the B'sheva newspaper and all of this internalizing and the agenda of this conference, if all the members of the national religious public had taken to the streets of Israel during the past two to three years, they would have come to different conclusions. They would have realized that four years of Intifada has led to the complete wearing down and exhaustion of the Israeli public.
It was clear to me that the disengagement would be carried out without any resistance. There was no more strength left to resist it. The Israeli public reached their breaking point. They could no longer go out to cafes, and they could not send their children out unaccompanied. The disengagement was presented to an Israeli public that was exhausted and fatigued.
When I attend funerals for fallen Israeli servicemen, I no longer hear expressions of collective sorrow. I hear anger at the government and at the settlers. If a soldier was killed in Gush Katif or in Judea and Samaria they question, 'What are we doing there?' I was at a funeral of a soldier killed at the entrance to Ariel and in the eulogies, they asked, 'Who was he protecting?' If someone was killed in Gush Katif the questioning was only magnified.
When Sharon came up with his plan, it was received as if it were a lifeboat. In some respects disengagement was a political victory for the Palestinians - they got what they wanted. The Israeli public lost its ability to resist. I accompanied some of the Gush Katif youth who spoke eloquently when they went door to door explaining their situation. True, they were received nicely in the homes. But on the day of reckoning, the residents of Ashkelon, Ashdod and Kiryat Malachi didn't go out to prevent the disengagement. That's why the disengagement went so smoothly, and Ariel Sharon became not only a national, but an international hero.
[Heckling in the hall] I am telling you this and think it is important that you hear this side of the story.
It was so successful that while you are still busy mourning the first disengagement, the next disengagement will become a reality. Because if it went off without a hitch and without the predicted civil strife, why not plan another disengagement? The Israeli public thinks that the disengagement is a wonder drug to cure our problems with the Palestinians. Ariel Sharon found the remedy: Take the settlers out of Gush Katif, and the Arabs will leave us alone. By the way, it is not important that Kassam rockets are falling. That is irrelevant. The formula was a winner.
It was such a winner, that Kadima, a new party with no organized institutions, is being sold as a party for the Israeli masses. I met two Kadima party members in India ten days ago; they were only planning to return to Israel on March 28th, because they were so sure of their victory. They won thanks to the disengagement. It may not be right, but the disengagement was effective, it was a huge success and it put Ariel Sharon into the same arena as Ben Gurion. The reality is that Ariel Sharon is an international hero because of the disengagement.
During the week of the disengagement, half a million Israelis traveled abroad. They didn't even want to be here; they were not interested in your pain. They didn't come to block soldiers with their bodies. While you were struggling with your internal pain, they got their tickets and left. While your Rabbis were preaching that the evacuation would never happen, the Israeli public said 'oh yes it will.' When they returned they were ready to put it behind them, because it went so smoothly, and no one got hurt.
The disconnect between the people of Gush Katif and the greater Israeli public is the culmination of years of 1) your focusing only on yourselves and your Rabbis' halachic rulings and 2) your inability to relate to the Israeli public. In the upcoming elections, the polls indicate thirty something votes for Kadima and twenty something for Labor, which equals half the Knesset, without factoring in Meretz and the Arab parties. Who will prevent the next disengagement?
I think it would be wise for you to stop your self reflection and try to understand how the Israeli public, who were once so committed to the settler community now want to divorce themselves completely from you. They are tired and have decided to shift their funding and interests to other causes, such as education and anti-violence. It's not about the failure of the settlers; it's just that the needs of Israelis have changed. Instead of wallowing in self-pity about how 2,000 people are being crammed into hotel accommodations for 1,000, prepare yourselves for the next disengagement, which I regret to say will spread beyond Gush Katif through Judea and Samaria to Jerusalem…That is today's reality."
[End of Ben Simon speech]
Yisrael Ze'ira, who heads the Torah-Zionist outreach organization Rosh Yehudi, agrees with Ben Simon on both counts: 1) the Israeli public is fatigued and 2) the national-religious camp has lost touch with Israeli society. His organization operates a Jewish Outreach House in the center of Tel Aviv which offers nightly classes for secular Israelis as well as Shabbat meals.
Ze'ira calls for redefining the priorities of the religious-Zionist public and offers a plan of action to which, he says, energy and resources must now be focused. "There is no question that the Torah-Zionist public which established, over the last 30 years, beautiful towns and villages in Yesha [Judea, Samaria, and Gaza], centers of Torah study, and other important projects, indeed grew in internal strength and produced the most wonderful youth in the country. But, as Ben Simon says, to a certain extent, the religious-Zionists were focused on themselves and had minimal contact with secular society.
"The hareidi-religious sector, on the other hand, made every effort to foster contacts with secular Israelis and imbue them with Jewish values. You can see the results in the elections. The hareidi-religious Shas Party received 12 Knesset seats while, at most, only 5 of them are from hareidi-religious voters. The rest are secular-traditional Israelis who identify with and support the hareidi public, because Shas speaks to them and maintains continuous ties with them.
Ze'ira is passionate about his many-faceted plan to help the settlement movement establish "new outposts in the hearts" of secular Israelis. Ze'ira continues: "The first point is that our Rabbis must issue calls to the ideologically-motivated members of our camp to come live in the major cities of Israel and focus on drawing Israelis closer to Torah. Accomplishing this goal demands some logistics and financing, but it is definitely possible.
"The second point is that we need to change our mentality, vis-a-vis how we approach the man on the Israeli street. The religious-Zionist public speaks of great ideals; we speak of the Jewish People as a whole, the Land of Israel, the army, and the Jewish State. But, we never learned to speak in the simple language of the man on the street. Instead of talking about lofty ideals, we need to speak of economic issues and social welfare, perform acts of hesed (loving-kindness), learn Torah with people one-on-one, bring individuals closer to observance of mitzvoth (commandments), and spread plain and simple love.
"This change of mentality is already happening today and intensifying in the wake of the great crisis of the destruction of Gush Katif. There are small groups of religious-Zionist activists who moved into Lod, Beer Sheva, Tel Aviv, and other places, and slowly but surely, they are starting to reconnect to Israeli society at large.
"This initiative is not, G-d forbid, to come at the expense of the settlements. It is forbidden to back down from the settlement enterprise. Rather, the young generation must know that the primary challenge today is to bring the hearts of the entire Israeli public closer to Torah, Jewish values, and acts of loving kindness, instead of just political action on behalf of the Land of Israel. Through this plan, we will reconnect to a massive part of Israeli society which has a basic sympathy for the settlement enterprise and the religious-Zionist sector. This segment of the Israeli population is traditional and wants to see us scoring major achievements and leading the way. They view us as leaders.
"Other branches of the outreach plan include going house to house as was done successfully before the May, 2004 Likud referendum. It cannot be that going knocking on doors will be reserved only for political initiatives at a moment of crisis. Rather, we must establish vibrant and warm ties with the secular population on a continuous basis throughout the year. We must invite them to experience Shabbat and simply talk with them. There are many Israelis who very much want to hear.
"After a secular family is contacted and shows interest, the program continues to one-on-one Torah study, adult education groups, the establishment of "Jewish Outreach Houses" in the large cities, visits to each other's homes, special activities on holidays, and anything that will foster ties between the idealists of Judea and Samaria and secular Israeli society in the big cities.
"The only thing holding us back today from flooding Tel Aviv and all of secular Israeli society with love and Torah, is 1) internalizing the need to spread Torah, a process which is already underway and 2) seeking out volunteer activists and financial support. The hareidi outreach organizations have been around for years and have developed a broad base of support. My organization Rosh Yehudi and other outreach start-ups like it in the religious-Zionist sector simply lack sufficient resources to ignite a large-scale revolution in secular Israeli society. But we are determined as ever, and have made great headway.
"The CEO of a huge hareidi outreach organization told me, 'Since you religious-Zionists serve in the army and dress the same as secular Israelis, there are many audiences that you can reach that won't even open their doors to me.' Our work is cut out for us. The more people that help us, the faster it will happen. It is the call of the hour."
Yisrael Ze'ira can be contacted at: email@example.com Click here for the Rosh Yehudi website.
State Comptroller Slams Gov't Treatment of Gaza Evacuees – March 8, 2006
Lekarev - State Comptroller Judge Micha Lindenstrauss on Tuesday issued a special report on the government's disengagement plan, in which he harshly criticized the State's treatment of Gaza evacuees. "Severe failures have been found in the preparation of the different bodies to absorb the evacuees, which both harmed the way they were handled and caused unnecessary suffering in a process that was already extremely emotionally charged and painful," Lindenstrauss said in the report.
"The failures in preparation, in budgetary allocations, in the recruitment of essential manpower for the Disengagement Authority and in the absorption of the evacuees in the local authorities were not caused, mostly, by lack of suitable laws and procedures, but by foot-dragging in the activities of the responsible bodies," he added.
The state comptroller said that there was no excuse for the inadequate preparation ahead of the plan by the State's institutions, headed by the Prime Minister's Office, the Finance Ministry and the Disengagement Authority.
The results of the American Zionist Movement's (AZM) on-line elections for the World Zionist Organization's (WZO) congress are in. WZO Election: Reform Lose Seats, Religious Zionists Gain - March 10, 2006
The Religious Zionist Slate
rose from 29 delegates to 35, coming in second place, with 24 percent of the vote.
Out of the 145 delegates, the Reform movement (ARZA) now has 55 delegates, down from 61. The Conservative movement remained with 32 seats. "ARZA’s victory demonstrates that our message — love of Israel, devotion to Zionist ideals and commitment to policies of moderation and religious pluralism in the Jewish state — has become the dominant voice of American Zionism,” said the Reform movement's head rabbi, Eric Yoffie.
The Zionist Organization of America received five seats, along with Progressive, who received the same amount. Likud received just three seats, followed by Green, Herut, Reconstructionist and Dor Zion – which got two each. The Russian and Baltimore Religious groups each got one delegate. The Religious Zionist slate included AMIT, Religious Zionists of America, B'nei Akiva, National Council of Young Israel, Orthodox Union, Poalei Agudat Israel, Rabbinical Council of America, Touro College, Yavneh Olami, Kollel Torah MiTzion, Tehilla and Yeshiva University."
The US delegation of 145 members is second in size only to the Israeli delegation. All delegations will gather in Jerusalem from June 19th to 22nd to determine funding for various education projects in Israel and the Diaspora. Just over 75,000 people took part in the voting, compared with almost 90,000 in the last election. Mel Salberg, Chairman of the US Election Committee, hailed the level of participation in the elections nonetheless, saying “the fact the almost 90% of those who registered cast their ballots demonstrates that American Jews want their voices heard. These elections provide an opportunity for Jews with an interest in Israel and world Jewry to express themselves on the key issues in Jewish life today.” It is not clear why 7,500 of those registered did not cast a vote, as voting in the AZM election is the only reason to register.
While the number of American Jews taking part in such "Zionist" elections continues to fall, the rate of Aliyah (immigration to Israel) from North America continues to rise. AZM president W. James Schiller said that the election committee will be meeting in the next few weeks to analyze the election and plan to increase participation in future elections. He said “we are aware that we have to balance the need for a user-friendly system with one that ensures credibility and confidence in the election process. This challenge remains ahead of us.” Schiller said he hoped that the coming WZO congress would include strategies on making the WZO "a more relevant and potent factor in Jewish life today.” The AZM is the US affiliate of the WZO. It is an umbrella group of more than 30 youth, student, and adult Zionist membership organizations. The stated mission of the AZM is, "To strengthen the connection of American Jews with Israel; develop their appreciation of the centrality of Israel to Jewish life worldwide; deepen their understanding of Israeli society and the challenges it faces; encourage travel, long-term visits and Aliyah to Israel; and to facilitate dialogue, debate and collective action to further Zionism in the United States and abroad."
The Raid at Jericho for former Israeli Cabinet Minister Ze’evi’s Assassins
Operation Underway to Seize Ze'evi's Killers – March 14, 2006
Lekarev - Israeli security forces entered Jericho on Tuesday morning to arrest the killers of former Israeli Cabinet Minister Rehavam Zeevi, pictured here, who are held at a prison in the city. The forces surrounded the jail compound where Ahmed Saadat and three other members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine are imprisoned over the assassination of Zeevi.
Yamam (special police counter-terrorism unit) officers took position on the prison’s roof, while additional security forces blocked the roads leading to the prison. Exchanges of fire ensued, and Saadat and his men were called to surrender. Two Palestinians were killed in the clashes and nine others were wounded. No Israelis were hurt in the gunfight. Saadat said from inside the prison that he does not intend to turn himself in.
IDF bulldozers have started to knock down parts of the jail. A senior IDF officer told Ynet that the terrorists can either surrender or die under the rubble of the jail which is being knocked down by army bulldozers. “We are not holding negotiations with those inside the jail. They either surrender or die,” the officer said, adding that 100 prisoners surrendered so far.
First Hamas Moves Infuriate Israel – February 21, 2006
Lekarev - In its first actions heading the Palestinian Authority, Hamas plans on releasing the murderers of Tourism Minister Rechevam Ze'evi, increasing ties with Iran and closing the Jericho casino. Hamas reached an agreement with the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror group, whereby Ze'evi's assassins would be released from a prison in Jericho where they have been held under international supervision since the assassination, which took place at Jerusalem's Hyatt Hotel on October 17, 2001.
Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz warned that such a move would bring about a severe Israeli response, but declined to outline what such a response would include. "This is a blatant violation of the agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) and we will not let this pass," Mofaz said. "Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas must intervene immediately to stop this."
One of the other prisoners to be released is Fuad Shubaki, formerly Yassir Arafat's financial adviser. Shubaki was responsible for funding suicide bomb attacks against Israeli civilians and arranging the purchase of the large weapons cache seized by the IDF aboard the Karin A ship in January 2002. Since gambling is against Islamic law, Hamas intends to turn the Jericho casino into a huge mosque.
Ze'evi Murderers Surrender, Prison Seige Ends – March 15, 2006
Lekarev - The six murderers of former Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi surrendered Tuesday evening to IDF forces after a day-long siege on the Jericho prison where they were being held. A special anti-terror police unit and the IDF Nahal Brigade charged the prison Tuesday morning after U.S. and Britain withdrew their observers “out of concern for the monitors’ safety”.
Ze’evi’s killers surrendered along with 202 other prisoners after nine hours of shelling with heavy artillery and machine gunfire. The six will be taken to a prison in Israel. Three Arabs were killed and several others wounded during the day-long siege. The IDF released 76 prisoners after it was determined they had not been involved in terrorist activity.
IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Dan Halutz made a personal call to Ze’evi’s family to inform them of the capture. “This is a great day for Israelis,” said Palmach Ze’evi, the son of the murdered Tourism Minister. He also said, however, that Israel should have “settled the score right then and there” on the day his father was assassinated.
The Israel Police raised the public alert level to level three, only one level lower than declaring a state of emergency following Tuesday's successful raid on the Jericho prison in light of multiple threats of retaliation by Hamas and the PFLP.
Arab Protests to Capture of Ze'evi's Murderers – March 15, 2006
Lekarev - Arabs protested the capture by Israel of the murderers of former Minister Zeevi with riots and kidnappings throughout Palestinian Authority- controlled areas. During the day, 17 foreign nationals were kidnapped. Two Australians, an American lecturer and a Red Cross official were released shortly after they were abducted. According to Israel radio, armed terrorists were hunting for foreigners in local hotels. United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan called for an immediate release of foreigners who were kidnapped.
Some 15,000 Palestinians protested in Gaza City against the Jericho operation, the British Cultural Center was torched and approximately 300 rioting Palestinians broke into the European Union compound. In addition, gunmen burst into the German television network (ARD) offices, the same building that houses the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) studios. The office of AMIDEAST, a private nonprofit organization that provides educational support services, was also a target for armed attackers. “We don’t want to see any Americans here,” one shouted at police who arrived on the scene.
The UN and the Red Cross both announced they were pulling their representatives out of Palestinian Authority-controlled areas temporarily in the wake of the kidnappings and other violence. Red Cross officials in Geneva later denied they had told their staff to leave.
European Union monitors also fled their posts at the Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings with Gaza Tuesday afternoon at the instruction of their governments. Both crossings were closed as armed Arabs gathered at the sites. In addition, the Karni crossing was closed due to specific warnings of impending terror attacks. Meanwhile, PA security forces did nothing to prevent the disorders taking place at the crossing sites.
Palestinians Storm British Center in Gaza to protest Jericho Raid – March 14, 2006
Lekarev - Palestinian militants have set fire to the British Council offices in Gaza today as part of protests over the Israel Defense Forces operation at a jail in the Jericho, for which Palestinian leaders have blamed the U.S. and Britain.
Television footage aired by the British media showed armed gunmen, some masked, entering the British Council compound and opening fire. A man could also be seen attacking the interior of the building with a wooden pole as a car burned nearby. The gunmen and police exchanged fire near the center as troops tried to prevent hundreds of protesters from reaching the building.
Meanwhile, spokesman of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades militant group called on all American and British nationals to leave the Palestinian territories within two hours, to avoid being abducted and being exposed to other threats. Members of the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine militant group also warned they would attack foreign embassies if their leader Ahmed Saadat is killed in the IDF's operation in Jericho. "We don't want to see any Americans here," one of the gunmen shouted when Palestinian police approached the AMIDEAST office.
Ze'evi Killers to Be Tried in Israel - March 17, 2006
Lekarev - Israel has announced that the killers of former Tourism Minister Ze'evi will be tried in an Israeli court after being captured in Jericho.
Israel reserved the right to put Ahmet Sadaat, the assassination mastermind, and his death squad on trial when it signed the 2002 international accord placing them in a Palestinian jail under US and British supervision. That accord was nullified by the departure of the supervisory teams under Palestinian threats. The Shin Beit have begun interrogating him and the other five prisoners taken into custody in Jericho prison Tuesday. Four were the gunmen who shot the minister in the Jerusalem Hyatt Hotel, the fifth is Ahmed Shoubaki, who bankrolled Yasser Arafat’s Karin-A smuggling ship, which Israeli commandos intercepted in 2001.
The Hebron Expulsion
Hevron Families: We Will Stay in New Building - May 5, 2006
Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - Jewish families who
have moved into a newly-acquired building in Hevron refuse to back down despite
their impending eviction. The looming clash has been delayed until after the
Sabbath. Outgoing Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz ordered the
eviction of three families who moved into a large building in Hevron, despite
the Jewish community’s assertion that the building was purchased under the full
letter of the law. The Supreme Court Thursday affirmed the decision and
authorized the police to evict the residents by 11 AM Friday. Due to concern
for the sanctity of the Jewish Sabbath, according to the police, and out of
concern for clashes with Arabs congregating for Friday prayers, according to
the Jewish community - the forced eviction has been put off until Sunday or
Monday by another court decision Friday.
The Court for Matter of the Nation and the State, a body affiliated with the 71-member nascent Sanhedrin, issued a call upon Hevron residents to stand strong. The court, which has ruled on matters relating to the Disengagement and Land of Israel issues in the past, said an expulsion from Hevron is the first step in removing Jews from Judea, Samaria and all of Israel. The statement issued by the religious court said that the decision by Israel's Supreme Court is "opposed to justice and law and harms the rights of the buyer. The Supreme Court has been recruited by the state, and together they are destroying and undermining the rights of Jews in the Land of Israel."
The statement concludes, calling upon the public to "put on helmets and come with bandages to bodily prevent the expulsion of Jews."
The newly purchased building, named Beit Shapira, is located along the route leading from Hevron's Avraham Avinu neighborhood to the Cave of the Patriarchs. The ancient tomb is above a cave containing the graves of the Biblical patriarchs and matriarchs - Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, and Leah, as well as the first man and woman, Adam and Eve. From the roof, one can clearly see the ancient site, second in importance to Judaism only to the Temple Mount. The Bible recounts the purchase of the site for an exorbitant sum of money from Ephron the Hittite by Abraham, despite the fact that he had offered it to Abraham free of charge. Abraham, wary of future attempts to question the legality of the sale, insisted on purchasing it for above and beyond the asking price as the elders of the city witnessed the deal.
The three-story building was purchased from a local Arab who left the city. His life is now in danger from the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority due to the sale. "We purchased two buildings in Hevron in recent years," explains Hevron spokesman David Wilder. "One was in Tel Rumeida. That purchase was actualized, with families moving in over a year ago. Nobody has been able to find any legal problems with it and the people continue to live there happily. The second building's purchase was concluded a few weeks ago and when we got the green light from our lawyers, it was populated." During the course of a single night in April, three families moved into the building. Two of the families voluntarily evacuated the Shalhevet Neighborhood, located in the Hevron marketplace, in February. They left on their own, as part of a deal struck with the IDF under threat of a forced eviction. At the time, a Supreme Court ruling affirmed the Jewish ownership of the marketplace property, but insisted on evacuating the 11 families residing there as repercussions for the resettlement of the property without government approval. According to the eleventh hour deal, other Jewish families from Hevron who did not originally populate the neighborhood would be allowed to inhabit the marketplace at a later date.
Attorney General Menachem Mazuz recently denied that the agreement was binding. Now, eight weeks following the Shalhevet Neighborhood standoff, the three families that entered Beit Shapira, are facing the threat of eviction once again. Shortly after their entrance, security forces, including Yassam riot police arrived. Jewish community leaders promptly submitted proof of ownership of the formerly Arab building to senior IDF officers and Civil Administration officials. Unable to find any problems with the documentation, they left together with the security forces. "Everything was done legally," Wilder explains. "We crossed all the T's and dotted all the I's, working hand in hand with attorneys specializing in such matters the whole way so as not to give the government any excuse to cause us problems."
When a building is populated in Judea and Samaria, following its sale or construction, the government has 30 days to declare that it is suspected of being illegal or problematic and to evict the residents. "After 30 days, it becomes a much more difficult task for them," Wilder said. Saturday night at midnight the 30 days will be up. "We have now been notified that, despite the legality of everything, if we do not leave willingly by Thursday, the residents will be expelled," a local resident named Eyal explains. "I do not envy the policeman that tries to take us out of here," he added, knocking on one of the iron doors affixed to each of the buildings doorways.
Rabbi Yisrael and Tzippy Shlissel, together with eight of their ten children (two are grown and married) are one of the families from the Shalhevet Neighborhood who have moved into Beit Shapira. This is the fourth time the large family has moved in the past three months. Following their eviction from their home in the former marketplace, the Shlissels lived for a month in Hevron's Betar Guest House. They then moved into a caravan home in Tel Romeida, the Hevron neighborhood adjacent to the tombs of Biblical Jewish figures Ruth and Yishai, grandparents of King David. The specter of yet another forced eviction weighs heavily on the rabbi's mind. "The police decision that we must leave by Thursday has added a lot of stress to our lives," Rabbi Shlissel admits. "It has made life full of pressure and I am very unhappy about it as a father and a husband." The Shlissel children are still not used to the idea of their government repeatedly forcing them out of their homes. "The older kids are okay, but the younger kids have a very difficult time not knowing where their home is or which bed is theirs," the veteran father described.
Life in Beit Shapira is not yet easy or convenient. "There are no working showers yet and the bathrooms will only be finished this week," Rabbi Shlissel said. "We are planning to live with the bare minimum for six months and then an architect and engineer will be brought in and decisions as to how many families will live here and how it will be divided up will be made by the Hevron community as a whole." The Shlissels, along with the majority of the Hevron Jewish community, resent the government, and particularly Attorney General Mazuz for going back on the deal made with the IDF regarding the marketplace. They say the State’s actions have vindicated those Hevron residents that argued against compromising with the government and voluntarily leaving the marketplace.
Prior to the marketplace deal, many residents argued that Hevron is a symbol in Israel and worldwide, and that abandoning the legally acquired homes would demoralize the nation. They argued that without resistance in Hevron, places like Amona would be sold out by the Yesha Council, who would agree to demolish homes themselves in return for empty promises. As it turns out, Amona became the symbol of resistance in Hevron's stead, due to the government's unwillingness to make a deal with the Yesha Council to "move" the homes to nearby Ofra. In Amona, over 300 were injured in violent clashes with mounted police and special baton-wielding riot personnel over the demolition of nine homes.
Hevron residents now say there is no chance they will fall for the same trick twice. "There will be no deal with regard to this building," Rabbi Shlissel promises. The building is named after 48-year-old Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchak Shapira, who was murdered by an Arab terrorist directly outside while returning from Sukkot Festival prayers at the Cave of the Patriarchs in September, 2002. His three children, also injured in the attack, witnessed their father crying the last words, "Shema Yisrael Ad-nai El-henu Ad-nai Echad" (Hear Israel! The L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is One!). This Jewish declaration of faith is uttered daily and at the very end of one’s life, defying the murderers throughout history with the rallying cry of the Jewish soul. The enormous solid-stone building was built in the 1850s and can be seen standing alone in video footage of the area from the early 1900s. Beit Shapira features beautiful winding staircases and stone arches, but it was filled with garbage and rubble until last month, when the purchase was finalized.
One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure
Despite the current evacuation orders, renovations continue. The good condition of the building's exterior is literally a facade. "It was unbelievably filthy when we first came, as it had been abandoned for over a decade," Eyal explained. "They took out truckloads of garbage from this place and a ton of work remains." The ground floor is dark and cool. It was once used by local merchants to store bananas and was later used as a junk shop. For the last decade, however, the building served as a local garbage dump. Stone stairs lead up to the second floor, with a newly equipped and tiled bathroom located half way up the stairwell. The second floor consists of a main central room and three large side rooms. The largest room is the communal dining room. "The families share the dining room for now, but the renovations will eventually create separate homes within the building," Eyal said. A winding staircase leads up to the third floor, which, though still in need of heavy renovations, provides a glimpse of the structure's beauty and potential. Stone peeks through the plaster on some of the walls. The dozens of coats of varied-shades-of-blue paint replicate the d?cor of the Old City of Tzfat, with one layer peeling and giving way to another. Ornate floors grace each of the populated rooms. The three families currently all reside on the second and third floors. During renovations this past Monday, a group of senior IDF officers, including the general whose signature would call off the planned eviction of the residents, walked in. Touring the property, they climbed up to the roof, overlooking the city of Hevron.
In addition to the Tomb of the Patriarch and the Avraham Avinu neighborhood, the Arab homes on the adjacent hill are in clear view. From those homes, signed over to Palestinian Authority control by former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, an Arab sniper murdered 10-month-old Shalhevet Pass in her baby carriage near the Avraham Avinu playground in 2001."Who is in charge here?" asked the general. The two construction workers on the third floor say they aren't and the officer asks one where he is from. Wearing a kippa (religious skullcap), the man says he is from nearby Kiryat Arba. Pointing to the other worker, who is bareheaded and busy plastering tiles over a sink – seemingly out of earshot – the officer asks if he is Jewish. "Where are you from?" he asks him directly. Feigning an Arabic accent, he says "Nahlin," a PA-controlled village in western Gush Etzion.
After the officer, who is also a kippa-wearer left, the worker laughed. "Of course I don’t live in Nahlin. I live in Kiryat Arba. They just find it easier to believe that an Arab would be building here than a bare-headed secular Jew," he said. "There are also secular Jews who want the Greater Land of Israel, you know." The worker, named Ehud Yosef, said he usually works restoring old buildings in the Old City of Jerusalem, but is very excited about participating in the restoration of Beit Shapira. "It is old, but 100 percent sturdy. It just needs a lot of love after being stuffed with garbage and neglected for all these years." Yosef says he loves living near Hevron, despite having to wait at checkpoints and being harassed by Jewish police more and more often. "If they chase us out of here, where are we supposed to go? This is a Jewish city on every level of analysis: historically, both ancient and recent; as well as according to the Bible, which the majority of the world believes is true."
"While [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad announces plans to erase us from the map, the government is going to send police and soldiers to Hevron to publicly tear up not only our Biblical and historical deeds to Israel, but an actual deed bought legitimately by Jews last month? We have always won against Ahmadinejads, but our own government is trying to wipe us off the map.""Don't worry though," he says with a twinkle in his eye, "we aren't going anywhere."
Forced Evacuation of Hevron Building Has Ended - May 7, 2006
Arutz Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - At 6:40 AM the police forces - 1,000 strong - began breaking down the door to Beit Shapira, and at 10:15, the operation was declared over. The three families insist they rented the building legally. The three families, including many young children, left relatively early in the mission. The commander of the mission, Judea and Samaria Commander Yisrael Yitzchak, said after one family had left on its own, "we are taking our time with the two other families - allowing them to take another object, or something that they need... We will then begin with the youths who came to the building."
For pictures and updates in Hebron, click on "www.hebron.com"
Photo Gallery - Abandonment and expulsion from Beit Shapira in Hebron
dozen youths remained in the building after the families, and the police then
took about an hour to remove them. "Fears that it would turn into another
Amona did not actualize," one observer said. The police claimed that 17
policemen were injured by rocks and other thrown objects. They further claim
that two Molotov cocktails were hurled from the building at the police, but
that they did not catch fire. It was later reported that the exact contents of
the bottles would be checked to see if they were in fact firebombs. Some ten protestors were
arrested during the course of the events, mostly girls. Rabbi Yisrael Shlissel, a resident of the building with
his family of ten, painted a different picture. Speaking from within the
building this morning, he said, "We heard the police on the roof
threatening to break our heads. And their claims that 13 policemen have been
injured are simply lies. I can see from my window what is going on
Hevron spokesman David Wilder said that the police arrested a young girl, "but somehow they strangled her in the process, and an ambulance was brought to the site to evacuate her." Rabbi Shlissel had to stand against not only the police and courts, but the media as well. Speaking with Voice of Israel Radio this morning, he was in the midst of detailing the police violence when anchorman Aryeh Golan terminated the conversation by interrupting sarcastically, "OK, yes, thank you very much, let's now go to the news bulletin." Ariel Melamed, one of those who were forcibly thrown out today, said, "I believe the entire Israeli public should be worried, because every Jewish purchase of property is now in danger of being nullified based on some imaginary claim or other." The families moved into the building a month ago, after the Jewish Community of Hevron purchased it from its Arab owners. They also rented the building, for good measure, in the event that the purchase would be challenged - as in fact occurred. No fewer than eight Arab families claim ownership over the two-story building, claiming that the purchase papers were invalid. The Jews said in response that this claim was to be foreseen, as Arabs who sell to Jews are in danger of their lives and therefore often deny the sales. The police, however, hurried last week to begin evicting the Jews from the property. The Jewish residents turned to the Supreme Court, asking that the matter be determined in court and not by the police. The Court, however, ruled that the eviction could proceed. The Jewish owners say they will bring the matter to lower courts, but Hevron spokesman David Wilder estimated that it could take a year or more to be resolved. On Friday, after it became clear that the eviction would not take place before the Sabbath, the black-uniformed police forces began making it difficult for the occupants. They originally refused to allow food for the Sabbath to be brought in, and did not wear name tags. However, after many phone calls to governmental, police and political echelons, including Shas MKs, both these problems were alleviated. During the course of the Sabbath, however, the police were seen once again without name tags. MK Matan Vilnai (Labor) expressed the hope that today's eviction would be merely the first step in "the attempt to return law and order in Judea and Samaria."
Women in Green leader Nadia Matar said, "The fact that so many forces are needed to remove three families shows that Olmert won't be able to carry out his evil plan to destroy all of Judea and Samaria. We will bring people to every single house and shack the government tries to destroy." The Shlissel family moved into the building after having been forced out of another house in Hevron a few months ago. Immediately after being thrown out today, Mrs. Tzippy Shlissel was quoted on Ynet as saying, "The State is controlled by a corrupt gang. It doesn't care about security or about nationalism... This army is a foreign army, just like we felt under the Turks and the British. But Am Yisrael Chai - the People of Israel lives!" Her husband Rabbi Shlissel said earlier that his lack of confidence in the Supreme Court stems from the fact that "though we bought the property totally legally, the Court can be expected to rule against anything that has the aroma of Judaism or Zionism."
Conflict In Hebron – May 7, 2006
Lekarev - IDF forces and police officers stormed a Hebron home Sunday morning in a bid to evacuate Jewish settlers who insist they legally rented the housel. Police claim they were there illegally.
The three families, including many young children, left voluntarily shortly after troops entered the house. The commander of the mission, Judea and Samaria Commander Yisrael Yitzchak, said after one family had left on its own, "we are taking our time with the two other families - allowing them to take another object, or something that they need. We will then begin with the youths who came to the building."
Several dozen youths remained in the building after the families, and the police then took about an hour to remove them. "Fears that it would turn into another Amona did not actualize," one observer said.
Ariel Melamed, one of those who were forcibly thrown out today, said, "I believe the entire Israeli public should be worried, because every Jewish purchase of property is now in danger of being nullified based on some imaginary claim or other."
The families moved into the building a month ago, after the Jewish Community of Hevron purchased it from its Arab owners. They also rented the building, for good measure, in the event that the purchase would be challenged - as in fact occurred. No fewer than eight Arab families claim ownership over the two-story building, claiming that the purchase papers were invalid. The Jews said in response that this claim was to be foreseen, as Arabs who sell to Jews are in danger of their lives and therefore often deny the sales.
Atty.-Gen. Nullifies Agreement with Displaced Hevron Residents - April 3, 2006
(IsraelNationalNews) - Nine Hevron
families peacefully evacuated their homes two months ago in exchange for a
promise to be allowed to return - but Atty.-Gen. Mazuz has declared the
agreement null and void. Attorney General Menachem Mazuz determined today that
the agreement, which was signed by Ayosh [Judea and Samaria] Division Commander
Brig.-Gen. Yair Golan, did not comply with orders given by the Chief of Staff
and the government, and is therefore retroactively canceled. The families who
left their homes near the Machpelah Cave in the Avraham Avinu neighborhood now
have no place to return to.
The area in question lies adjacent to the present-day Avraham Avinu neighborhood, and is by all accounts Jewish-owned - yet the Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that its present-day Jews must be forcibly evicted. The issue continued to be contested, but the expulsion was finally set for early 2006. A similar forced expulsion was about to be carried out in Amona, near Ofrah, at approximately the same time, and violence was expected in both areas. To avoid this scenario, the residents of Hevron came to an agreement with the army according to which they would leave voluntarily - even though they had no permanent homes to move to, and even though they had dozens of children - and would return approximately two months later after the legal issues had been settled. It is this agreement that Mazuz has now nullified.
Rabbi Yisrael and Tzippy Shlissel, whose family of ten children is among the nine families in question, are now living in two caravans in Hevron's Tel Romeida neighborhood. Other families - one with four children and another with two - have moved in with their parents in Kiryat Arba, and the others are in similarly uncomfortable temporary quarters. Sounding thoroughly disappointed in the integrity of the authorities, Rabbi Shlissel said, "Mazuz is simply lying. First he said that there was no agreement, and then he says that the agreement is no good, and then that no one knew about it or agreed to it; he sounds like the accused thief who said he never saw the object and that he merely borrowed it and that it was broken anyway... The government definitely knew about the compromise agreement, and we had ongoing negotiations with them... In any event, we will have to see if the government persists in not allowing us to return, and if so, then we will decide how to respond."
The area was emptied of its Jews during the Hevron massacre of 1929 when 67 Jews were slaughtered in their homes and synagogues. From the year 1540 until 1929, Jews lived on a large plot of land in Hevron, commonly known as "The Jewish Quarter." It was purchased by Rabbi Malchiel Ashkenazai, a refugee from the Spanish expulsion in 1492. Following the 1929 massacre and the exile of the community's Jewish population, the property, including houses and synagogues, was abandoned and left uninhabited.
In 1953, Jordanian troops assisted Hevron's Arab population in devastating the remains of the Jewish Quarter. The beautiful Avraham Avinu Synagogue was razed and turned into a goat sty, and apartment buildings were destroyed. Virtually nothing remained of the Quarter's earlier splendor. On part of the land, the Jordanians built an outdoor food market, which continued to operate even after Israeli liberated the city during the Six Day War in 1967.
Hevron is considered Judaism's second-holiest city because of the presence of the Machpelah Cave in which are buried Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob and Leah. It is located near Kiryat Arba, south of Jerusalem. Over a decade ago, when Arab-initiated violence in Hevron was at one of its highs, the army decided to clear out the Arab store-owners in the marketplace. "The sole purpose for the closing," wrote Hevron Jewish Community David Wilder at the time, "was to provide security for the Jews in Hevron, [which had been] jeopardized by the hundreds of Arabs who frequented the market every day."Several years later, after 10-month-old Shalhevet Pass was shot to death by terrorists with a bullet to her head, Jews decided to renew their title to the land, and began renovating the stores and turning them into inhabitable apartments. Eleven families moved in.
In response to a court suit by the Hevron Municipality and its claim that Arabs had occupied the area, the Supreme Court ruled that the Jews must leave. Hevron spokesman Noam Arnon said that the Court had "decided that the land should be returned to the Arabs, even though it is clearly Jewish land that was robbed from us." After the army and the residents agreed on their compromise, Arnon said, "The Jewish property that was stolen from the Jews who were murdered in the pogrom of 1929 will not be given to their murderers. It will remain in Jewish hands, a tough and unnecessary clash has been avoided, and we will continue with our holy work of building Hevron." Today, after Mazuz's decision to cancel the agreement, leaving the families high and dry, Arnon said, "Mazuz said two months ago that there was no agreement at all, but his announcement of today proves that he was wrong. We fulfilled our part, and we are confident that the state authorities, which represent truth and justice, will act appropriately and will fulfill their agreements." "We are once again witness to the devious tactics employed by Mazuz's office and the Justice Department, just like in Amona... The agreement is a strong one, and we fulfilled it. If the State nullifies the agreement in a unilateral manner, we will consider our next steps."
Last Passover for
world's oldest Jewish city? - Tens of thousands flock to Tomb of Patriarchs
ahead of West Bank withdrawal – April 18, 2008
World Net Daily - Tens of thousands flocked here yesterday to the biblical town of Hebron to celebrate Passover festivities alongside the Tomb of the Patriarchs – the second holiest site to Judaism – amid fears the neighborhood would be soon evacuated as part of Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's planned withdrawal from most of the West Bank. "All of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) is on the chopping block. Every neighborhood is now under the threat of eviction as part of Olmert's plan. We are very worried," Hebron spokesperson and longtime resident David Wilder said.
Passover party outside Tomb of Patriarchs in 2005. Photo: WND.
Hebron is home to the oldest Jewish community in the world. Jews lived here almost continuously throughout the Byzantine, Arab, Mameluke and Ottoman periods and first established their capital in the city until it was moved seven years later to Jerusalem. In 1929, Hebron's Jewish community was evacuated by the British as a result of an Arab pogrom in which 67 Jews were murdered. The Jews re-established their presence in Hebron after the West Bank was recaptured in the 1967 Six Day War. Over 20,000 people flocked to a Passover party yesterday in this ancient city, the resting place of the biblical patriarchs and matriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah.
The book of Genesis relates Abraham purchased the field where the Tomb of the Patriarchs is located as a burial place for his wife, Sarah. It later became a plot for the rest of the family, except for Isaac's wife, Rachel, who died when she gave birth while traveling and was buried near the side of the road to Bethlehem.
First Indictment Against Police Brutality in Amona – April 2, 2006
Lekarev - A first indictment was filed in the Jerusalem Magistrates Court today against a policeman who took part in the evacuation of the Amona outpost. The Police Investigation Unit (PIU) indicted David Edry, an officer of the capital's mounted police unit, for assault and causing injury.
According to the indictment, in the framework of the police's attempts to disperse protesters during the violent clashes between settlers and security forces in the outpost, the accused spurred his horse and galloped at one of the activists, Yehuda Etzion, who was at the time standing and talking to another person. Edry, the indictment states, raced his horse at Etzion's direction, exceeding reasonable speed, and struck the activist, causing him to fall on the ground. He then continued to trample over Etzion with his horse. As a result of Edry's actions, Etzion hit his head on the ground and sustained bruises to his body, which also caused internal hemorrhaging in the leg and a cut to the head.
The Yesha Human Rights organization has recently filed a series of complaints to the PIU against police officers, claiming they attacked protesters in Amona using unnecessary force. The organization's Chairman Orit Strock told Ynet: "We believe that after this indictment there will be dozens of others against the policemen who acted in a criminal fashion in Amona. We call on the PIU and the internal security minister to immediately suspend the horseman, as required according to a High Court ruling."
Amona Inquiry Hears Testimony – March 8, 2006
Lekarev - Testimony at the Special Knesset Committee's second session on the Amona clash exposed more police brutality and incitement, including throwing rocks at protestors, and even sexual harassment. The Amona evacuation has gone on record as one of the worst events of modern Israeli history.
Witnesses were brought before the investigative committee to determine the causes of extreme inter- Jewish violence in the small Jewish community of Amona. The hilltop community of just over twenty families is a satellite of the large suburb Ofrah, located in the disputed Israeli territories just north of Jerusalem. On February 1st, over 1,000 specially trained police clashed with hundreds of protesters in Amona prior to the demolition of nine unauthorized houses. Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert issued the orders to destroy the homes, refusing numerous compromises offered by regional and local community leaders to spare or move the uninhabited houses.
Forces that arrived on the scene to disperse the activists ahead of the demolitions arrested approximately three dozen protestors, while over 325 were treated by medics for sustained injuries, with over 60 individuals evacuated to Jerusalem hospitals. Two severely injured victims were taken to the hospital by Medi-vac choppers. Of those beaten by police forces, scores suffered multiple head wounds from poundings they received by police batons. Others suffered broken ribs, limbs, and jaws. Israeli Knesset Members Aryeh Eldad and Effie Eitam (National Union) sustained a broken arm and a head wound, respectively, at the hands of police.
Orit Strook, head of the Yesha Civil Rights Organization, presented a ten-minute video collection of police brutality at the investigative committee's fact-finding session, Tuesday. Policemen were seen beating youths and photographers - including those who appear to be obeying police orders to leave the scene. Horse-tramplings and random beatings were also caught on tape.
It can be clearly seen on tape that the police were NOT wearing the mandatory ID badges and one policeman even had a face mask. The 'word on the street' is that these were Russians as many people present testified that they heard the police speaking Russian to each other. Were they Russian immigrants who are now Israelis? Or ??? Whoever knows the answer to that question is not talking - at least not now.
Amona Inquiry Begins –March 1, 2006
Lekarev - Drawing the ire of lawmakers here, Israel's defense minister yesterday barred soldiers and police who participated in the demolition of several West Bank Jewish homes earlier this month from testifying before a commission established to probe whether extreme violence was utilized against Israeli protesters. "This is an attempt to obstruct the Knesset from carrying out its work," said Yuval Steinitz, chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. "The committee wishes to hear the direct testimonies and investigate the decision-making procedures in the evacuation of Amona." Shteinitz (Likud) said that the purpose of today's meeting was to determine the manner in which it would function and how testimonies would be heard.
Steinitz, along with other lawmakers, was blasting the decision yesterday by Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra to ban the soldiers and police officers who were used against protesters from talking to a Knesset commission probing the televised demolition of nine Jewish homes in northern Samaria.
Police were filmed using brutal violence against hundreds of youthful protestors, over 200 of whom were injured and taken to hospitals for treatment. The committee will also investigate charges that some protestors themselves used violence, as well as the orders given to the police to employ brutal force, and the government decisions that prevented any form of compromise.
Rabbi Ariel: Paschal Sacrifice is Still Obligatory - April 20, 2006
"It's not a question of 'maybe' or 'if',"
says the Temple Institute's Rabbi Yisrael Ariel. "Bringing the Paschal
sacrifice is a Torah obligation incumbent upon the People of Israel these very days." Speaking with Yoel Yaakobi
of the weekly B'Sheva newspaper, Rabbi Ariel said that though there are some
grave Halakhic [Jewish legal] problems associated with bringing the Paschal
sacrifice, "we have found the solutions, and the obligation is as strong
as ever. This is [one of the only two positive Biblical commandments] that
those who forsake it are liable to receive the ultimate karet [cutting
off] punishment. From the moment that a Jew stands on the Temple Mount and the site of the Holy Temple is under our control, the Jewish People are immediately
obligated to bring this sacrifice."
Sixteen of the 613 Biblical commandments relate to the Paschal sacrifice, which must be brought on the 14th day of the month of Nissan - Passover eve - and eaten on the night of the 15th. Today, this sacrifice is remembered only in the form of the Afikoman, the piece of matzah snatched and hidden by children during the Pesach seder meal, by the small roasted shank-bone on the Seder plate, and by prayers and study.
Rabbi Ariel said, "After the destruction of the First Temple, when the Jews began returning from Babylonia to the Holy Land, they brought the Paschal sacrifice during the course of 22 years even though there was no Holy Temple. They also were considered ritually impure - because there was no Red Heifer by which to become pure - yet they still brought it... There is currently no genuine impediment to bringing the Paschal sacrifice."
There have been other attempts to renew this sacrifice over the years, or at least to solve the Halakhic problems involved. Speaking about the rabbis who came to the Holy Land 700 years ago and sought to pave the way to offer the Pesach lamb, Rabbi Ariel said,
"It is simply disgraceful when we compare our actions with theirs. They were here after the Crusaders, when there were perhaps 1,000 Jews in the whole land, which was totally desolate, and tried to renew this commandment. And yet we have 5-6 million Jews, and we have an army with tanks and planes, and what are we doing? ... Over 2,000 years ago, the Jews were afraid to live in Jerusalem, yet they made it obligatory for one out of every ten men to work towards building the Holy Temple, and they started the sacrifice services amidst the ruins of the First Temple. And where are we? Should we not be ashamed?"
Among the problems that Rabbi Ariel says have been solved by the Temple Institute he heads in Jerusalem are the following: Ritual impurity (which applies only to individuals, not to the entire nation), the precise location of the altar, and the sacred priestly garments, which the Institute has recently completed fashioning according to Biblical requirements. He emphasizes, of course, that the exact details of these and other issues are complex and must be reviewed with rabbinical experts. "I don't say that there aren't problems, but as the Maharatz Chayut has written, there is no Halakhic problem in the Temple that cannot be solved."
"Why then do you not go and sacrifice the Pesach sacrifice yourself?" Rabbi Ariel was asked.
"Have you just now returned from the moon?" he answered with pain. "The government has established a special police unit just for the Temple Mount. A Jew is forbidden even to move his lips there - and you want me to go there with my sheep and building tools to build an altar?!...
"The problem, which has received the silent backing of the rabbinical world, is that we have allowed the Arabs to be in charge of the Mount, and so they play soccer there. That's what happened when Moshe Dayan gave the Temple Mount keys to the Arabs [after the Six Day War]. First they give them the keys, then they say, 'It's impossible [to regain control],' and then they say, 'We don't know [all the details of the Temple Mount and the altar, etc.].' The 200 commandments that are connected with the Temple cry out every day, 'Jews, where are you?!'"
90% of Jewish Israelis Attended a Seder – April 20, 2006
Lekarev - More than ninety percent of Israeli Jews attended a Pesach seder this year, according to Israel Radio. More than two-thirds of the respondents also said they eat only Kosher-for-Passover foods during the seven-day holiday even though almost 44% of them described themselves as secular.
Thousands of new immigrants celebrated Passover at large seders held at absorption centers across Israel. In Kiryat Gat, 300 news immigrants held a seder in a giant tent set up in the yard of the absorption center. Chabad-Lubavitch organized seders across the globe as well, including the world's largest seder in Katmandu, Nepal.
Another program, called "Yahad B'seder" (a play on words meaning both "together we are OK" and "together at the seder") provided hundreds of lone soldiers, students and new immigrants with invitations to attend seders at the homes of Israelis in their town. It was organized by the Jewish Agency, which also sent Passover haggadahs in English, French, Spanish and Russian to hundreds of small Jewish communities around the globe, including several in Malta, Sweden, Italy, France and Uzbekistan. Ethiopian immigrants at the Jewish Agency absorption center near Haifa are seen in the photo here attending a 'Pre-Seder' Seder preparing for their first Passover in Israel at a demonstration seder where they learned the laws and customs of the festival.
Shavuot/Sabbath Holiday: Thurs. Night to Sat. Night - June 1, 2006
Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - The holiday of Shavuot (Feast of Weeks), one of
the three Biblical pilgrimage-to-Jerusalem festivals, marks the Jewish People's
receiving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai 3,318 years ago. Tens of thousands are
expected to arrive at the Western Wall throughout Thursday night and Friday
morning, in commemoration of the Biblical commandment to visit Jerusalem on this holiday. The commandment, like some others in the Torah, is not binding
when the Holy Temple is not in place.
The Shavuot holiday of 1967 (5727), which followed the Six-Day War and the liberation of Jerusalem by only a few days, was the first holiday in 1,900 years in which masses of Jews congregated at the Western Wall.
Shavuot also marks the day after the 49-day Sefirat HaOmer counting period, which begins on the Passover holiday. The counting denotes the fact that the ultimate purpose of the Exodus from Egypt was for the Jewish People to receive the Torah and begin its national/spiritual existence as the People of the Book.
Shavuot is celebrated for one day by those who live in the Land of Israel, as originally prescribed by the Torah. However, outside Israel, in accordance with rabbinic tradition because of the lack of calendric certainty, the holiday is celebrated for two days.
Features of the Shavuot holiday include:
* remaining awake all night to study Torah;
* the bringing of the Bikurim (First Fruits) to the Holy Temple;
* the time of the wheat harvest;
* the public reading of the Book of Ruth;
* a wide-spread custom of eating dairy foods on Shavuot.
For more details on the holiday, see the sites listed at jr.co.il/hotsites.
Dreadlock Payos and Tye-Dyed Tzitzit at Boombamela Festival - April 25, 2006
(IsraelNationalNews) - People looking for a good time mixed with eastern
spirituality this Passover found authentic and open Jewish warmth and tradition
as well at this year's annual Boombamela festival over Passover. Three days of music,
matzah and spirituality filled Nitzanim Beach in southern Israel near Ashkelon and Ashdod, on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Part beach party, part rave,
part camp-out and part street fare, Boombamela attracted 36,000 people in 2005.
The festival is based on Kumbamela, a festival in India based on Hinduism. This
year Boombamela returned with tents and canopied areas featuring different
styles of yoga, meditation, participatory music and more. The crowd was mostly
young people, reportedly younger then in previous years. There were at least five different stages. A main stage
with more well-known Israeli musicians and smaller ones divided between Hebrew
reggae, hip-hop, Israeli trance, ethnic, folk and more - each one spaced far
apart enough that one can enjoy that particular stage without the others
interfering too much. Vendors line up along the sand, selling books, hand made
arts and crafts, jewelry, food and more. Different booths advertise for various
causes such as vegetarianism - none too overtly political.
Amongst the tented areas for meditation, yoga, and various eastern philosophies was the Tent of Love and Prayer, adorned with a hand painted rainbow archway. "At the first Boombamela we didn't have a whole village, we had one little booth." says Mordechai Zeller, a rabbinical student from the eastern Gush Etzion town of Tekoa and one of the organizers of the Jewish village. "The organizers of the festival, they really want us to be one of the biggest villages. There is the holistic village and the children's village and we have the Jewish village."
The name of the tent is a taken from Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach's House of Love and Prayer synagogue in San Francisco, California. The guitar playing rabbi was a big influence on many, if not all of the people at the Jewish village, although no one is officially connected to any Carlebach organization. "I never lived at the Carlebach moshav, but if I was going to call somebody my rabbi, that would be probably Shlomo." says Michah Harrari, a harp maker and another organizer of the tent. Harrari stresses the peacefulness and openness of the tent as part of its success in attracting people. "There has to be a spiritual presence that's comfortable and not threatening. You don't have to do anything crazy to be right with G-d."
Harrari's wife Shoshana, another Boombamela veteran, was there as well, cooking and soliciting an ample amount of volunteers to help prepare for Shabbat. "All the food that were making is organic, meaning it's grown without pesticides by organic farmers in Israel. Not only are we giving them kosher for Pesach food, but healthy food," Harrari comments.
In regards to the non-Jewish and sometimes outlandish nature of the festival, Harrari responded, "We came out of Egypt together and I'm sure we were a rowdy bunch then too." She emphasizes the need for Jewish togetherness regardless of religious status. "The first time I came, I didn't know what to expect. You see all these kids and they have all the earrings everywhere, and you think, 'oh, what is this?!' But when you start to talk to them, this one came from a Hasidic family, this one came from a religious home. They're eighteen years old and they're feeling their youth and their freedom and checking life out. But once they taste Torah, they just love it. They want to feel good as Jews. They do, but they just don't know how. They need people to teach them and help them, that's all. But they're beautiful children. Our rabbi, Shlomo Carlebach said one thing that always stuck in my mind. He said, if you really want to serve G-d, you better love his children."
This year Boombamela began on Thursday, the day after seder night. While most attendees didn't arrive until Friday, the Jewish village was ready for those that came early with a seder night on the beach. As the festivities several yards away continued into Shabbat on Friday night, the Jewish village held a free Shabbat dinner led by the organizers as well as adherents to the Breslov hassidic movement. The matzah for the seder was donated by the Belz hassidic sect. "We fed over a thousand people last night for Shabbat dinner," exclaims Zeller in an excited voice. "We've been giving out matzahs to people for the last three days. People might forget it's Pesach until somebody comes to them with hand-made shmurah matzah and offers them a Chag Sameach [Happy Holiday]. It doesn't matter what you're wearing or how many piercings you have in your ear. We're non-judgmental. We let people come in and say 'you're welcome in the eyes of G-d.' " And indeed there was a strange mix of Shabbat guests, some without kippot and some fresh from the beach and without shirts, but all dancing and singing. So much so that Zeller had to push them back from crashing into the Shabbat table. This was a Shabbat where tie-dyed tzitzit and dreadlock peyos were not oxymorons and it's not a surprise to find a yeshiva student who doubles as an environmental activist.
Towards the back of the Tent of Love and Prayer was Yakov Nagen, a rabbi at a Hesder yeshiva in Otniel. The soft-spoken husband and father of five was an unlikely person to attend a new-age festival. With the bass of the Israeli psychedelic trance music pulsating in the background, Rabbi Nagen explains how a former student of his inspired him to return for his third year of Boombamela. Noam Apter was one of the four yeshiva students in Otniel who were shot and killed by terrorists. "He was always trying to push me and the other people in my yeshiva to go out to the place that Am Yisrael really is. Not in the yeshiva, but in the streets. He kept saying, you can't wait for Am Yisrael to come to the yeshiva, the yeshiva has to go out to Am Yisrael. I feel that since couldn't continue his work that whenever I'm given the opportunity, I have to go out and be with Am Yisrael." At the time of the attack, Apter and three others were in the kitchen while the rest of the yeshiva was in the dining hall singing traditional songs and dancing. When the terrorists burst into the kitchen and began shooting, Apter locked the doors to the dining room preventing the terrorists from entering. "One of the teachings I try to give over at Boombamela is that it may have been easier had we never been born, but it is not better," says Rabbi Nagen. "There's what's easy and what's good. What life is really all about is choosing between the easy path or choosing to do what's good. So that last moment choice, not to run out, but lock the doors and be sealed inside, I think, is the best example of the choice between that's what's easy and that's what's good."
Click here to hear the entire interview with Rabbi Nagen in INR's The Beat with Ben Bresky
Arutz Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - The Tent of Love and prayer was not the only Jewish presence at Boombamela. There was also a Chabad tent, tucked behind the food vendors and adjacent to the colorful Jamaican dub sound system stage. The large tarped area resembles a yeshiva. "We are the opposite to the whole festival." smiles Eyal, one of the organizers, who like the other organizers of the tent is wearing a black hat, a long black beard, a button down white shirt and black suit, "looking like a penguin," in his own words.
But Eyal didn't always dress this way. For eleven years he was a yoga instructor and studied buddhism and Hinduism in Tibet. It was there that he became interested in Chabad after he went to the Tibet rabbi for advice. "I got a nice soft recommendation from the rabbi over there. I kind of heard him but not really listening. A year later I can see that all that he told me really came up to the surface. It was interesting to know that he didn't tell me 'no, you're not supposed to do it.' He just told me, look, you will miss some things. And he was right. Then I starting studying with him. I could see that all I was studying in other philosophies and wisdom is all within Judaism and even far more. Far more." It is this attitude that has brought Eyal to Boombamela for the past three years to teaches classes in Torah as well as advice on relationships and other spiritual matters. While some of his old friends feel he left them for another life, he begs to differ. "You can use the tools that you gathered along your trips in the world on our journey and use them to work with yourself to become a better person. But to be them both, that's a very delicate matter. It's either you believe in G-d or you believe in a system of yoga. Yoga is not just stretches. It's got beliefs. You can take some of it with you into your Judaism but you need to leave some of that behind."
The Chabad tent is not officially sanctioned by the Chabad organization. "This kind of festival is too open, to use soft words. Too wild. But we are here because people are searching. There's lot's of confusion. We are connecting people back to their roots, reminding them about where they are coming from, where they're ancestors came from. It's not just stories. It's real and it's alive." Benyamin Bresky is the host of The Beat, which airs weekly on Israel National Radio. He maintains a music blog at: http://www.israelbeat.tk
The History and Memorials in Israel
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ISRAEL - 58 YEARS – May 3, 2006
Lekarev -With the conclusion of Memorial Day at sundown Tuesday, at 8:00 p.m. the nation launched its 58th Independence Day celebrations with a torch-lighting ceremony at the Mount Herzl plaza in Jerusalem. Speaking at the ceremony, Shimon Peres said: "I call on those near and far, on the Palestinians and the rulers of Arab countries that have not yet signed peace treaties with us, lay down your weapons." "In its 58th year, despite crises and difficulties, the country is still a wonder in the eyes of nations when it comes to its abilities, achievements, and unique qualities," Peres said.
This year, the torch-lighting ceremony will be held under the theme “The development of the Negev and Galilee.” Each of the torch-bearers, who were selected by a public committee, have made a contribution towards the settlement of the Negev and Galilee and are being honored for doing so.
My house full of guests and I were treated to a fantastic display of fireworks last night, lighting up the sky over the Galilee. It was really awesome - wish you all could have been here!
From One Who Remembers 1948 – May 3, 2006
Lekarev - Yehuda Avner has posted an excellent article in today's Jerusalem Post, relating his memories of this day, 58 years ago. I think you'll find it fascinating.
Avner is a veteran diplomat and popular speaker in Israel and abroad. I have personally heard him and can vouch that he is terrific.
MEMORIAL DAY: 22, 123 War Victims – May 2, 2006
Lekarev - Today Israel's 7 million citizens remember its victims of war and terrorism who fell in the long struggle for the Jewish People's return to its land. The count begins in 1860, the year the first Jerusalem neighborhood was built outside the walls of the Old City. That year also marks the founding of the Jewish Company for the Settlement of the Holy Land.
It is interesting to note that the number of fallen soldiers is less than three days' worth of victims in Auschwitz. It includes those who fell before the establishment of the State in 1948 from the Bar- Giora, Nili, HaShomer, Haganah, Palmach, Etzel and Lechi military organizations. The number does not include those who fell in terrorist attacks, although they too are remembered on this day.
At 11:00 this morning, a two-minute siren sounded, marking the start of memorial services in 43 military cemeteries around the country. The central ceremony will be held in Jerusalem's Mt. Herzl. At 1 PM, a state ceremony will be held for victims of terror attacks - a new feature of official Memorial Day commemorations. At 8 PM, torches will be lit at Mt. Herzl, marking the conclusion of Memorial Day and the beginning of Israel's 58th Independence Day.
During the past year, 138 soldiers and security force personnel fell in the line of duty.
The Amazing Moment of Silence – May 2, 2006
Lekarev -It just happened before I sat down to write today's report - the two minute siren honoring our fallen soldiers. If you have never been in Israel on this day, it may be difficult to imagine how powerful and moving this moment is.
On busy highways packed with traffic, on narrow side streets filled with pedestrians carrying groceries home from the open market, by the beaches of Tel Aviv, suddenly the entire country freezes, silence descends and for those two minutes, we truly are ONE PEOPLE. Religious and secular, Ashkenazi and Sephardic, native born Israelis and immigrants, Jews by birth and Jews by choice, we are one in our nationwide salute of appreciation for those who paid with their lives that Israel might survive, of sadness at the young lives cut down in their prime.
One wailing siren, wrote Rabbi David Stav of Shoham today, accomplishes far more than a thousand sad songs and a hundred heartfelt speeches. For the briefest of moments, the siren frees us from thoughts of "but what about?" or "why did they?", and gives us a special opportunity to consider what we all have in common, the reasons we are here and the reasons we are willing to pay such a dear price for living in this beloved land of Israel.
Two minutes - one nation. A Promise of Things to Come.
Search for Holocaust Victims' Names Continues - May 1, 2006
(IsraelNationalNews) - Race against time: Yad Vashem is seeking the names of
close to 3 million Holocaust victims from the former Soviet Union. The hope is
that the new Russian interface on its central database will help. The Russian interface of
Yad Vashem’s Central Database of Shoah [Holocaust] Victims’ Names was uploaded
to the internet this week, on Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day.
“Yad Vashem regards the completion of the Names Database as vitally important," said Avner Shalev, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate, "and the estimation is that many of the nearly 3 million missing names belong to Jews from the territories of the Former Soviet Union. To raise awareness of its commemorative enterprise, and to encourage names collection from the Russian-speaking community, Yad Vashem experts have spent the past year translating the Names Database into Russian.” Over 8 million visitors from 215 countries have visited the Names Database since its uploading in Hebrew and English to the Yad Vashem website in November 2004. Only a small percentage of these visitors came from former Soviet Union countries, despite the fact that these areas contain a high proportion of Holocaust survivors and their descendants.
The new translation, which Yad Vashem reports was made possible due to the support of the Nadav Foundation of Israel, will help make it accessible to Russian-speaking populations in Israel and elsewhere. More names will thus be able to be added to the Pages of Testimony online. These are the same Pages of Testimony Yad Vashem has been collecting since the 1950s, on which friends and relatives fill out the names and biographical details of the victims. Over 2/3 of the Jews murdered in the Holocaust lived in the areas of what used to be the Soviet Union, yet only about a quarter of these victims have been identified and registered on the Pages of Testimony. Yad Vashem has also initiated a project to collect Holocaust victims’ names in cooperation with local Jewish and Israeli organizations in the former Soviet Union and in Israel. Boriz Mafzir, head of the names recovery campaign in the Russian-language sector, said, "We plan to work intensively with help of all Jewish organizations in Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Russia." Efforts will be channeled through Jewish schools, universities, welfare centers and more, as well as in Russian-immigrant centers in Israel.
The Pages of Testimony have helped reunite many long-lost relatives. In Feb. 2005, for instance, two elderly sisters who had been living in Israel within an hour of each other for the last several decades did not know that the other was alive - until the granddaughter of one searched the Pages of Testimony for her grandmother's family. More recently, silverware belonging to a Jewish family in Riga finally made its way from Australia to Haifa, Israel; the son of the non-Jewish woman with whom the silver had been deposited for safekeeping was able to locate the family that owned it, with help from the Pages of Testimony.
HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY BEGINS TONIGHT – April 24, 2006
Lekarev - The annual Memorial of the State of Israel to remember the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust will begin at sundown tonight. The state ceremony will begin at 8 p.m. at Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority.
The hour-long event, which will be broadcast live on television and radio, will be attended by President Moshe Katsav, Interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and scores of dignitaries and ambassadors from around the world. The theme of this year's ceremony - coming at a time when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called the Holocaust a myth - is "The Human Spirit in the Shadow of Death." Six torches will be lit by Holocaust survivors in memory of the six million Jewish victims. The chief rabbis will recite a selection from Psalms and will say kaddish, the Jewish mourning prayer. All places of entertainment will be closed on Monday night. At 10 a.m. on Tuesday, a two-minute siren will sound to mark the start of a day of ceremonies throughout Israel. A wreath-laying ceremony will take place just after the siren is sounded Tuesday at the Warsaw Ghetto uprising memorial at Yad Vashem, in the presence of Olmert and other dignitaries. Victims' names will be read out loud during "Unto Every Person There is a Name" ceremonies, at both the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem and at the Knesset. I invite all of you to join us in honoring the memory of the six million, including 1.2 million children by lighting a candle in your home this evening. If you have a type of candle that can burn SAFELY for 24 hours, that would be great. If not, perhaps light a candle this evening or tomorrow at an appropriate time for your family to stop and remember - as well as to pray for Israel in light of the present threats we - and the rest of the world - now face from Iran, and from growing anti-Semitism around the world.
8000 March Through Auschwitz' Gates Declaring "NEVER AGAIN” – April 25, 2006
Lekarev - With the blast of the Shofar, Shimon Peres, father of Israel’s nuclear reactor in Dimona, led 8000 people in a march from Auschwitz to Birkenau, were over 1.1 million Jews were killed. The walk, repeated for the past 19 years on Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, parallels the march of death, taken by hundreds of thousands of starving, emaciated Jews, some no more than walking skeletons, as they trekked two miles from the horrors of the Auschwitz concentration camp to Birkenau, where they were gassed and cremated. Both places, located in Poland, were actually part of a single complex, one of many set up by the Germans to rapidly and efficiently destroy European Jewry. Over 1.1 million Jews were exterminated at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.
Israeli officials, representing the Jewish state that arose out of the ashes of the Holocaust, typically accompany the marchers. This year’s march included Peres, government minister Avraham Herschson, and Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, former Chief Rabbi of Israel and himself a survivor of the Holocaust.
Marchers proudly waved Israeli flags and sang Hatikvah (The Hope), Israel’s national anthem.
Kamangir Blogsite - I have been to Auschwitz (Oswiecim)on a school trip, it is a memorable and terrible experience particularly when you are a child. In this photo at the top there is a slogan "arbeit macht frei" (work makes you free) on the left side below skull and cross bones it says "stop" (in polish and german). a lot of people, polish, jews, russian did stop, they died. Auschwitz is only one of the many camps, nazis had also other smaller concentration camps less know but as awful as this one.
Arutz Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - Lekarev -This morning at 10 a.m., as Israel remember those murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators, the traditional siren will blare across the country, bringing the entire country to a complete standstill for two minutes as we remember the six million of our people who perished in the Holocaust. For the hundreds of Holocaust survivors who live in Israel, today is an especially difficult day.
Immediately following the morning siren, a ceremony will be held at the Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum and flowers will be placed at the memorial for the fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. President Katsav, Prime Minister Olmert, the Knesset chairman, and High Court Chief Justice Barak among other public figures will attend, as well as Holocaust survivors and others. Throughout the day Tuesday memorial ceremonies will be held at all schools and institutions across Israel.
Islamist Rally in NY: Real Holocaust Is On Its Way – April 24, 2006
Lekarev - A New York rally by the Islamic Thinkers Society outside the Israeli consulate yesterday featured chants of "The mushroom cloud is on its way! The real holocaust is on its way!"
The demonstration by the Queens-based group was monitored by the Investigative Project on Terrorism whose members noted signs including "Islam will Dominate" and a picture with an Islamic flag flying over the White House.
The chants were in Arabic and translated by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, headed by Steve Emerson, a former reporter for CNN. Here are some excerpts from the chants:
Leader (in Arabic): "With our blood and our lives we will liberate al Aqsa!" [The rest also respond in Arabic:] "With our blood and our lives we will liberate al Aqsa! Israeli Zionists What do you say? The real Holocaust is on its way"
– April 25, 2006
Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - Other speakers at the opening ceremony of Holocaust
Memorial Day last night included Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, child
survivor Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, and Yad Vashem Director Avner
Olmert, trying to explain why the Nazis were so intent on exterminating each and every Jew, explained, "This pure-hearted Jew, armed with nothing but a prayer book, a tallit [prayer shawl] and teffilin, evoked the murderous fury of the Nazis. He reminded them by his very presence what they sought to forget, make others forget and completely root out of human civilization: the values of justice, equality, grace and faith."
This morning, a two-minute siren was sounded throughout the country to mark the day. Traffic and conversations stopped, as people stood and remembered the murdered six million Jews.
Though stores and businesses are open today, memorial services or programs must be held in every school. Public ceremonies will also be held elsewhere throughout the country, and the closing ceremony will be held, as always, at Kibbutz Lochamei HaGetaot (Ghetto Fighters) in the north. Another ceremony will be held this evening at Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, named in memory of the leader of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, Mordechai Anielewicz.
Six survivors living in Israel lit torches at the Yad Vashem ceremony. The six were:
* Chasia Bornstein (Bielicka), 85, born in Grodno, Poland. She saw a German hang one of her girlfriends in a public square, and remembers that the last thing the hanged girl did was to spit heavily in her executioner's face. "I stood there for hours looking at the bodies of my friend and the two others who were killed there, simply trying to build up enough hatred inside myself so that I would be able to murder a German myself," she later said.
In the Grodno ghetto, Chasia kept the youth occupied, reading them stories and talking about emigrating to Israel. As part of her underground activities, she worked during the day under the alias of a young Polish woman for the family of an SS officer, while at night smuggling weapons, armaments, food and medicines, and gathering intelligence, for the partisans. Thanks to a map of Bialystok she prepared for the Red Army Command, the city was captured without losses. For this, she and her fellow couriers were awarded the highest commendation given to civilians. At the end of the war, Chasia opened the first orphanage for Jewish children in Lodz. For the next 18 months, she wandered through Germany and France with the children. In 1947, she boarded the ship “Theodore Herzl” with more than 500 children in her charge. The ship was caught by the British and sent to Cyprus, where Chasia continued to run educational activities in the youth camp. After six months, the group managed to reach Israel, and to this day, she maintains warm relationships with many of the group’s members.
Chasia married and made her home on Kibbutz Lehavot Habashan, working as an educator and an art teacher at Tel Hai College. She has three daughters, 11 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Widow of Nazi Who Tried to Kill Hitler Dies at 92 – April 4, 2006
Lekarev - Nina von Stauffenberg, widow of the aristocratic Nazi army officer who tried to kill Adolf Hitler with a briefcase bomb, died Sunday at her home in Germany. She was 92. Col. von Stauffenberg was one of the best known internal German resistance fighters during the Second World War, leading the failed attempt to kill Hitler with a briefcase bomb placed under a conference table on July 20, 1944. Four people died in the bombing, but Hitler was only superficially wounded after an aide moved the briefcase before it exploded. Von Stauffenberg, along with other members of the resistance, were shot and their families arrested by the Gestapo.
Nina von Stauffenberg, who was pregnant with their fifth child at the time, was held in a camp in Frankfurt an der Oder, while the four other children were kept in an orphanage in the state of Thuringia under false names. Only after the war were the children reunited with their mother and new sibling. No immediate information on her children's present whereabouts was available.
Online Jewish Film Archive Offers Glimpse Into the Past - May 1, 2006
Arutz Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - An online archive of Jewish films offers a glimpse of the ingathering of the exiles, a Kurdish Jewish wedding and pre-war shtetl life – all free and open to the public at all hours of the day. The Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive has 300 movies on Israel, Zionism, the Holocaust and Jewish life in the Diaspora available free of charge on its website, and aims to add 100 more every year. The archive seeks to "record life as we know it for our children and their children after them so they will know who they are and where we all came from," its short promotional film, which contains glimpses many of the most fascinating clips, explains.
Jewish American Film Producer
Debby Steinmetz, Director of the archive at the Hebrew University, spoke with Israel National Radio's Yishai Fleisher and Alex Traiman. "The Spielberg archive collects movies made since 1911 that deal with Israel and Jewish communities around the world," she said. "We started the project three years ago, aiming to put 100 movies each year onto the Internet - so anyone, anywhere in the world can view them." The films range from five minutes to an hour and, though the majority are in English, Hebrew, French and Yiddish films are also included in the archive.
One film, from 1945, is called Land of Promise. Though its claim to fame is that it is the first piece of Zionist propaganda, Steinmetz explains, it shows rare footage of pioneers building kibbutzim and images of the city of Tel Aviv in 1945. Another film, in Hebrew, shows dramatic images of the Red Sea port city of Eilat being built. "One night," Steinmetz recalls, "the movie on Eilat got 1,000 hits and we looked into it and found that there was a chat room for people who had grown up in Eilat – and they had all decided to watch it together."
The reason so many of the films are in English, Steinmetz explains, is because "most of the movies were made by professional film makers for the Jewish Agency for the purposes of fundraising and spreading awareness about what was going on in the Jewish State in the 50s" with the aim of increasing Aliyah (immigration to Israel). Five short films show footage from five Polish cities in August 1939 – just one month before the start of World War Two. The cities are Cracow, Warsaw, Bialystock, Lvov and Vilna. They were filmed by an American filmmaker for immigrants who used to live in the cities. They sat in unclaimed mail in New York for years before they were claimed. The Road to Liberty was made about the Jewish Brigade –following its members through Italy. A follow-up was made years later, allowing the members of the brigade to view the footage and reflect on where they now were. Another such film is called Children of the Exodus, and is about the children that came on the famed Exodus boat in 1947. It takes place in 1967 – and consists of the individual stories of the individuals who came on the boat. One movie, about Moroccan immigration in 1961, is called Edge of the West. "The Jewish Agency sent a film crew to Morocco and you actually see the immigrants getting ready before they came to Israel," Steinmetz says. Another film about Moroccan Aliyah, The Lachish Story, is about Moroccan families who came on Aliyah from France. The film follows them from beginning to end until they reach the Lachish region, where they settle on an agricultural moshav. "We have a movie called The First Film of Palestine," Steinmetz says, "made in 1911 by a friend of Herzl who decided that film was the way to go – that this was how he was going to tell people what was going on in Israel. He filmed a scene at the Kotel (Western Wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem) and you see little girl who keeps looking at the camera – because at the time he had this huge box and a curtain over him so no sun would get in and most had not seen a video camera. We often wonder who this little girl is."
Though the archive staff has still not found out the identity of the young girl, many visitors to the archive have found relatives, friends, and even themselves in the footage. "Many people who made Aliyah in the 50s have no home videos," Steinmetz explains, "so they come to us now and often find themselves in the films we have in the archives." The selection is vast, including early images of Jerusalem, footage of the War of Indepenence and of Jews repelling Arab attacks prior to the 1967 Six Day War and the capture of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Also available are scenes of early settlers, such as On to Hanita, which documents the establishment of a pioneering Kibbutz on a hilltop near the Lebanese border. The settlement of a barren hilltop is shown, along with the celebration accompanying the arrival of the first Torah scroll in the secular kibbutz. The archive aims to store 500 films in the coming years, harnessing the Internet to give children a glimpse of the world of their grandparents and great-grandparents and preserving footage for generations to come.
Click here to listen to the interview with Debbie Steinmetz
Lekarev - The United States reached out to hostile Arabs three decades ago with an offer to work toward making Israel a ``small friendly country'' of no threat to its neighbors and with an assurance to Iraq that the U.S. had stopped backing Kurdish rebels in the north. "We can't negotiate about the existence of Israel,'' then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger told his Iraqi counterpart in a rare high-level meeting, ``but we can reduce its size to historical proportions.''
A December 1975 memo detailing Kissinger's probing conversation with Foreign Affairs Minister Saadoun Hammadi eight years after Iraq severed diplomatic relations with Washington is included in some 28,000 pages of Kissinger-era foreign policy papers published in an online collection Friday.
Kissinger said U.S. public opinion was turning more pro-Palestinian and U.S. aid to Israel could not be sustained for much longer at its massive levels. He predicted that in 10 or 15 years, "Israel will be like Lebanon - struggling for existence, with no influence in the Arab world.''
Mindful of Israel's nuclear capability, a skeptical Hammadi peppered Kissinger with questions, including whether Washington would recognize Palestinian identity and even a Palestinian state. "Is it in your power to create such a thing?'' Kissinger said he could not make recognition of Palestinian identity happen right away but, "No solution is possible without it.'' And added, "After a settlement, Israel will be a small friendly country.'' The collection, also available in microfiche, consists of some 2,100 memoranda of Kissinger's secret conversations with senior officials abroad and at home from 1969 to 1977, serving under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.
New Light on US/Israel Nuclear Policy 'Understanding' – April 29, 2006
Lekarev - New revelations about the circumstances under which Israel and the United States reached a secret understanding on the Israeli nuclear program, and the Richard Nixon administration came to recognize Israel's policy of "nuclear ambiguity," appear in an article published this weekend in Washington. The article, in the current issue of Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, was coauthored by Israeli historian Avner Cohen, who wrote "Israel and the Bomb" (1998), and William Burr, an expert on U.S. nuclear weapons policy.
Prime Minister Golda Meir with American President Richard Nixon
Cohen and Burr reveal internal documents of the Nixon administration about contacts with Israel over the nuclear issue, including Israel's official notification to the U.S. that it would not sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The "nuclear understanding" reached in 1969 between then-prime minister Golda Meir and Richard Nixon ended a decade of American pressure on Israel to stop its nuclear program. In the '60s the Americans sent inspectors to the Dimona nuclear reactor, and officials in the Johnson administration sought to condition the supply of F-4 Phantom fighter planes to Israel on its signing the NPT. Israel refused and adhered to its vague pledge "not to be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East."
Nixon's entry to the White House in January 1969 heralded a change in U.S. policy. Then Prime Minister Golda Meir and Nixon met in private at the White House on September 26, 1969. The precise contents of their conversation remains unknown, but it is known that it led to an understanding between the two countries. According to internal memoranda by Nixon's national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, Nixon had made clear to Meir that it was in America's interest that "Israel make no visible introduction of nuclear weapons or undertake a nuclear test program."
After Meir's departure, according to a Kissinger memo from October 7, 1969, then Ambassador to Washington, Yitzak Rabin assured the administration that "Israel will not become a nuclear power" and "will not deploy strategic missiles until at least 1972." When Kissinger asked how a country could become a nuclear power without "possessing" nuclear weapons, Rabin said the Israelis "prefer" their formulation.
Portugal's Jews Remember Massacre – April 23, 2006
Lekarev - Members of Portugal's Jewish community said prayers in a downtown Lisbon square Wednesday to mark the 500th anniversary of a massacre of thousands of Jews in the Portuguese capital's streets. Chronicles from the time recount that at least 2,000 Jews were butchered and burnt alive when Catholic crowds, incited by a small group of priests, rioted for three days in 1506. Lisbon at the time was gripped by hunger amid a prolonged drought and was threatened by an outbreak of the plague. Locals, encouraged by the Inquisition, sought divine help and were told that killing Jews would reverse the drought.
Portugal's King Manuel I forced all Jews in his country to convert to Catholicism in 1496. Some fled, but those who stayed were subjected to humiliating public baptisms. They were designated "New Christians" or "Marranos," Iberian slang for pigs. Even then, they remained at risk from religious persecution and lived in designated Jewish quarters. In 1988, Portugal's then-president Mario Soares formally apologized to the Jews for the persecution.
Spanish & Portuguese Crypto-Jews Gather for Barcelona Seminar - March 31, 2006
Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - Close to 100 Bnai
Anousim from across Spain and Portugal will be gathering this weekend in
Barcelona for an annual seminar and communal Sabbath being organized by the
Shavei Israel organization. The seminar, entitled “The Relevance and Significance of
Judaism and its Precepts in Our Times,” will bring together rabbis, historians
and academics from Israel, Spain and Portugal. They will discuss a variety of
topics such as the centrality of Torah in Jewish life and the observance of the
Bnai Anousim is the Hebrew term for people whose ancestors were forcibly converted to Catholicism during the time of the Inquisition. Historians have often referred to them as "crypto-Jews" or by the derogatory term "Marranos." Many continued to practice Judaism in secret over the centuries."Hundreds of years ago, the ancestors of the Bnai Anousim were torn away from the Jewish people,” said Shavei Israel Chairman Michael Freund. “But now, many are looking for a way to reconnect with their heritage. Our goal in convening this seminar is to reach out to them and to embrace them, and to help them to find their way home." "We want them to know that just as they did not forget us, the Jewish people, so too we have not forgotten them,” Freund said.
In addition to traditional Sabbath prayers and festive meals, all of which will be held at Barcelona’s main synagogue, the program includes a day-trip to Gerona, where the great Biblical commentator Rabbi Moses ben Nachman, known as the Ramban, or Nachmanides, was born in 1194. Participants will also hold a special memorial service to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Lisbon Massacre, when thousands of Portuguese Jews who had been forcibly converted to Catholicism in 1497 were hunted down and murdered in the streets of Portugal’s capital in 1506. Some of the victims were burned alive before crowds of gleeful on-lookers.
Based in Jerusalem, Shavei Israel reaches out and assists “lost Jews” seeking to return to the Jewish people. The group currently has full-time rabbinical emissaries in Spain, Portugal and Brazil, where they are engaged in outreach work among Bnai Anousim.It also operates Machon Miriam, a Spanish-language conversion institute in Jerusalem under the auspices of Israel’s Chief Rabbinate, where many Bnai Anousim complete their formal process of return to Judaism.
Tombs of Bible Heroes Joshua, Caleb Opened for Jewish Worship - April 25, 2006
(IsraelNationalNews) - Just 4 times a year, the IDF opens the Arab village
Timnat Hares for Jewish visitors to the graves of the Biblical Joshua and
Caleb. Arutz-7 takes you inside...
We arrived just before midnight, to mark the
anniversary of the passing of Joshua, the great Jewish leader and successor to
Moses. We pulled into a makeshift parking lot outside the entrance to Timnat
Hares, the mountaintop mentioned in the Book of Joshua, and now home to the
Arab village Kefel Hares. "It's better
to go in on foot," said a smiling IDF officer, "as parking in the
village is a balagan (hullabaloo) and it's only about a ten minute
Less than two years ago I had taken part in a similar midnight visit to Joseph's Tomb, also coordinated with the IDF. But walking into the streets and alleys of Palestinian Authority-controlled Shechem (forcibly renamed Neapolis by the Romans less than 2000 years ago, and now mispronounced as Nablus by locals and the world press) was certainly not offered as an option.The IDF soldiers who secured the village of Kefel Hares for the evening were in very high spirits. INN photographer Josh Shamsi and I entered the village through an iron gate that could easily be closed to block the entrance to Arab vehicular traffic in the event of a military imposed closure following an attack emanating from the village. We passed three hareidi-religious men, in their late twenties and early thirties, from the town of Elad. "We came to pray and to invoke the merit of Joshua bin [son of] Nun, Calev ben [son of] Yefuneh, and of course Nun," Yisrael Elcharar tells us. "We hope that they will come before G-d and fight on behalf of the Jewish people in the coming days."
Joshua and Calev were both warriors and religious leaders - the lone voices among the twelve spies sent by Moses to scout out the Land of Israel who brought back a favorable report of the land, encouraging the Jewish people to trust G-d and fight for the Promised Land. Forty years later they led the young Jewish nation to conquer the Land of Israel. "Nun?" I asked them. "Tell me about Nun.""Well, Nun is Joshua's father – what more is there to say?"
This was the first time in years that the tomb of Nun, located away from that of Joshua and Calev (Caleb), would also be open to worshippers. The hours the village was open to Jews have also been doubled from the previous year due to rising demand to visit the sites. The streets of Kefel Hares were lined with posters depicting leaders of various terrorist factions, from Yasser Arafat to parliament members of the Hamas terror group, the sweeping victors in PA legislative elections held earlier this year. Local martyrs also featured prominently. Though buses were shuttling people back and forth from the parking lot to the graves, we passed an elderly couple walking on foot down the village's dark streets. Chana and Elazar took a bus to nearby Ariel from Bnei Brak in order to make the visit, but had started their journey even farther away. "We came from New York and are here to pray at the grave of Joshua bin Nun," Chana said in native Israeli Hebrew. When asked why they came all the way to the middle of an Arab village in Samaria in the middle of the night, Elazar explained, "He brought the Jewish people back to Israel."
We reached a square heralding the martyrdom of one of the town's Arab residents. There was no obvious sign of the massive IDF presence we assumed had been brought out to secure the town, except for the occasional hanging glow-sticks signaling the proper direction to walk. We arrived first at the tomb of Calev ben Yefuneh, the mighty conqueror of Hevron and Joshua's sole ally in proclaiming the Land of Israel to be both conquerable and desirable. "The Land is very, very good [Numbers 14:7]," the two Jewish heroes reported back the Jewish nation, which had been waiting for the report of the twelve spies sent to scout out the fortifications and specifications of the local inhabitants' defenses. "You should not fear the people of the land, for they are our bread," declared Calev. Visiting Calev's grave is of special significance, as tradition has it that Calev himself visited the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hevron when he first visited Israel on behalf of Moses.
The Tomb of Calev is a domed structure with a stone courtyard in front, and a smaller domed structure to the left. It has been surrounded on two sides by an Arab graveyard. Garbage was strewn about the area, and there was a subtle smell of decaying fish. Two towering cypress trees graced the courtyard, as well as a mighty cedar. Inside, words of prayer and melodic readings of Psalms and the Torah verses recounting Calev's deeds filled the quiet night. The grave had been draped in a sky blue cover and worshippers were fully leaned over, hugging it, and beseeching Calev to once again convey his faith and confidence to the hearts of the Jewish people. Mystics say our generation is tasked with rectifying the national sin of the Jewish people upon the spies return in the desert. At the time, the nation rejected the minority report of Joshua and Calev in favor of the pessimistic, yet seemingly pragmatic reports delivered by the majority of the spies, who were originally selected as righteous spiritual leaders of the tribes of Israel. As G-d’s punishment for the miscalculation, the conquering of the Land of Israel was postponed for 40 years as the Jews wandered the desert until every member of that rejectionist generation had died, with the exception of Joshua and Calev.The Jewish people are now being given another opportunity to decide whether to accept G-d’s promised land as an inheritance. Today, Jews can choose to continue wandering in the desert, fed by manna and guarded by clouds of Glory, or to enter the Land, despite the Global Jihad, Gush Katif, Amona, a struggling economy, or any other factor steering us to feel like "It is a land that devours its inhabitants," as the spies said, leaving us feeling like "grasshoppers in our own eyes."
The voice of someone within the tomb boomed, "And Calev silenced the people before Moses, declaring, 'We shall surely ascend and conquer it, for we can surely do it!' [Numbers 13:30]." The echo sounded as though it might not end at the other side of the nearby wadi, but rather continue across the Atlantic, where modern offices have been set up facilitating "Aliyah," the Hebrew word sharing the same root as Calev's exhortation, “We shall ascend [Aloh na'aleh]” meaning the modern move to Israel from the Exile. On the side of the tomb, a middle-aged professor with a slight Russian accent talks heatedly with a soldier stationed there. The soldier intermittently paces to overlook a closed-off side-street with his short M-16 at ready position. The two discuss science and theology. I came back after ten minutes to hear the soldier insist that the professor speak with his brother. "No, you speak to him yourself," the professor exclaimed. "Let him know what I said, and that I am here if he wants to talk to me." The two exchange phone numbers and bid each other farewell.
Continuing up the road, we reached the square where Joshua's Tomb is located. It has been festooned in Hamas flags of multiple shapes and sizes, the largest with gold trim and a handwritten "Allahu Akbar" added to it – presumably after the landslide victory. If I didn't know better I would think that local graffiti artists came up with a logo to express their pride in sharing the mountain with Joshua, who led the Jewish people across the Jordan River, and later around the walls of Jericho seven times until they sank into the ground. The logo, with its arrow entering Israel's center from across the Jordan, refers instead to the flooding of Israel with the children and grandchildren of those Arabs who left in 1948. The logo belongs to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the terrorist group responsible for the murder of Tourism Minister Rechavam Ze'evi. Although it is almost 2 AM, a festive atmosphere surrounded the tomb. Breslav hassidim sold books while free cookies, beurekas and caffeinated cola filled tables set up around the square.
Along the benches and stoops of the plaza sat visitors from across Israel, reading booklets printed by the Samaria Religious Municipality's Division for Holy Sites. Reprinted were the verses from the Torah recounting Joshua's deeds:
fire made up of hundreds of small candles burned outside the tomb. It was so
crowded that many prayed outside. A nearby sign declares that Belgium is building a massive complex that will tower above the tomb. The doorway leading in is only
about four feet tall and we have to first wait for the stream of people leaving
to ebb before ducking and making our way in. Inside is a courtyard, shaded by
an enormous fragrant tree. Another, even lower and narrower door leads into the
actual tomb. To the left of the door has been spray painted "Joshua"
in blue Hebrew letters. On the opposite side of the small courtyard,
"FATEH" is written in red capital English letters. We squeezed
through the entranceway and entered the prayer room, which smells of the fresh
whitewash applied to cover the swastikas and anti-Jewish graffiti scrawled
inside the tomb ahead of the annual visit.
Though the walls of Jericho came tumbling down under Joshua's leadership, the Partition Wall being erected by the current Israeli government is slated to fence out the Tomb of Joshua which will become off limits to Jews under Ehud Olmert's concentration plan.The Oslo Accords, signed in 1993, provided assurances that Jewish worshipers would have continued access to religious sites. Just as those assurances were eventually violated, many are now concerned that Olmert's unilateral plan will essentially leave religious and historical sites outside the Partition Wall to be destroyed and Islamicized.Local Arabs have already attempted to destroy the tomb. On Yom Kippur, October 10, 2000, just after the start of the current intifada, rioters approached the tomb but were prevented from doing serious harm by IDF troops.
Samaria's top IDF brass turned out to oversee the current operation to secure the area for Jewish visitors, as well as take part in the event itself. One senior officer, named "Maki," is the commander of the local Chatmar brigade – a reserve unit made up of soldiers who left their original units to serve in the area of their residence. "I enjoyed this very much," he told me. "It is very emotional and an honor to be a part of an army that makes this a priority." When asked whether the village of Kefel Hares will be placed outside the government’s Partition Wall, he said that he has no idea and, smiling, advised me not to spoil the mood with politics.
I overhear three middle-aged men, with strong north African accents and kippot still creased from being folded and placed in pockets or glove compartments.
"Hayita etzel Nun? [Were you at Nun yet?]"
"Ma pitom Nun? [Say what? Nun?]"
"Ken, shtei dakot mikan! [Yeah, two minutes from here]"
"Bo, Yallah! [Let's get a move on!]"
[Calls across the square to his friend:] "Bo, Avi! L'Nun! [Come, Avi! – To Nun!]"
We pass four gigantic olive trees less than 100 feet from Joshua's Tomb – the ancient trees were planted in a square and forced each other to bend and grow outward at 45 degree angels. They seem to mark something. The large Arab homes lining the narrow roads are covered with thick grape vines that climb multiple stories to grace rooftop trellises. The roadside tomb of Nun is below one such residence and smells like it may usually be used as a pen for animals. If the prayer was fervent at the graves of Joshua and Calev, the primal cries at the Tomb of Nun were even more intense. People lay on the roof of the tomb and crowded inside as well, crying "Abba! [Father!]" A troupe of men with guitars showed up and began playing music. Dancing broke out as the cries from within the tomb continued and intensified. The three tombs of Kefel Hares are actually visited by Jews far more often than the few visits allotted by the IDF. A Breslav hassid said that worshippers enter the village to pray at the tombs at least three times a week. "For years this has been going on, without incident," he told us. The hassid says "Praise you, tzaddikim [righteous ones]" to every soldier we pass while walking down the other side of the mountain from the tomb of Joshua's father, Nun. The soldiers grin and ask us where we are from.
On this night, on the anniversary of the death of Joshua – the Jewish leader who successfully combined spiritual and military leadership to unlock the key to the Land of Israel, the demolitions at Gush Katif and Amona are but footnotes and the bulldozers preparing the ground for the Partition Wall are but dust and straw – easily brought down by a faithful Jewish nation. Despite the current hardships, the Nation of Israel lives – as does the prophecy of Joshua and Calev: "The Land is very, very good. If we please G-d He will bring us to this Land and give it to us - a Land that flows with milk and honey."
- May 26, 2006
Arutz Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - Knesset Member Otniel Schneller said Thursday that Hevron’s Jewish community won’t be axed in any plan to set permanent borders for Israel. Neither will the Cave of the Patriarchs.
Schneller, a member of Prime
Minister Ehud Olmert’s Kadima party, is a resident of the Yesha community of
Michmash, one of those set to be destroyed if Olmert's withdrawal plan goes
through. He told the Associated Press on Thursday that the Jewish neighborhoods
in Hevron will be attached to the nearby community of Kiryat Arba in any final
The Cave of the Machpela, also known as the Cave of the Patriarchs, where Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sara, Rebecca, Leah, Adam and Eve are buried, would be included in the Israeli borders, Schneller hopes. The site is also holy to Muslims because Abraham was the father of Ishmael.
Olmert wishes to begin preparations for his withdrawal plan within 6-12 months if the Palestinian Authority does not come to the table to negotiate a permanent peace agreement within that time. Under the plan, Israel will draw its permanent borders, to be completed by 2008.
Some 500 Jews live in Hevron, one of the four holiest cities in the Land of Israel. This is the first time a Knesset Member has made a definite statement that Hevron’s Jews will be able to keep their homes and their place within Israel’s final borders. However, Schneller has admitted in the past that no one knows the exact delineation of the borders under the withdrawal plan.
The statement comes in the wake of the recent expulsion of three families from their new home in Beit Shapira, a building purchased by the Hevron community from PA Arabs several months before. The Arabs challenged the sale, and the Supreme Court ruled that the police could expel the Jews in order to set the stage for a clarification of the transaction's legality.
Schneller, who served as the secretary-general of the Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza from 1983 to 1986, maintained Thursday that Hevron’s Jews have nothing to fear from Olmert’s unilateral withdrawal plan.
“The Jewish neighborhood in Hevron will grow,” he told the Associated Press. He added that the government would find “creative ways” to separate the Jewish areas from the Arab sections of Hevron. “Hevron and Kiryat Arba are supposed to be part of the Israeli state,” he asserted hopefully.
Ancient Jewish Town Discovered Under Cana in Galilee – March 13, 2006
Lekarev - An ancient Jewish town from the time of King Solomon has been uncovered beneath the Arab village of Kfar Kana (the town of Cana), north of Nazareth in the Galilee.
The discovery, unearthed by Israel’s Antiquities Authority, also includes remnants of Jewish settlement during the Roman period. Among the findings, are underground tunnels excavated by Jews who defended the city against Roman legions during the Great Revolt (66 C.E.).
Jerusalem Day to Be Celebrated Tomorrow – May 24, 2005
Lekarev - Jerusalem Day, the 28th of Iyar - this coming Friday -commemorates the liberation of the Old City of Jerusalem during the Six Day War in 1967. The third day of that war marked the first time in 1,899 years that the Jewish People controlled the site of their most sacred location in the world - Mt. Moriah, where Abraham bound his son Isaac and where the Holy Temples stood and will stand.
Public commemoration of the day this year will be moved up to Thursday, in order to avoid all possibility of Sabbath desecration. The special holiday prayers, however, will be held on Friday. Public Jerusalem Day ceremonies in the capital will begin at 3:30 PM with a rally on behalf of Jonathan Pollard at Independence Park, opposite the U.S. Consulate on Agron St.
JerusalemOnline has prepared a lovely brief video to commemorate Jerusalem Day which you can view by clicking below. Enjoy!
Chief Rabbinate Demands, Receives Haaretz Rabbinate Correction - April 6, 2006
Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - Haaretz
reported today that PM Sharon's intervention led to a Halakhic dispensation for
a Cohen to marry a convert; the Chief Rabbinate says it never happened. Haaretz
later corrected the story. According to Haaretz reporter Amiram Barkat, the story
was straightforward: "In an unusual ruling and after the intervention of
the Prime Minister's Bureau, the Chief Rabbinical Court in Jerusalem recently
allowed a Cohen [a Jew of priestly descent - ed.] to marry an immigrant from
the former Soviet Union who converted to Judaism."
In fact, however, the Chief Rabbinate says that the woman is not a convert - who would be forbidden to marry a Cohen - but rather a full-fledged Jewess whose father is not Jewish. The Halakhah [Jewish law] in such a case is more complex, allowing her to marry a Cohen under extenuating circumstances, such as existed in the case in question."We plan to contact Haaretz and demand a correction to this story," Rabbinate spokesman Shami Parver told Arutz-7, in response to its query on the topic. "The woman is not a convert, and there are many Jewish legal rulings that permit such a union in cases such as this, where the couple already has children together. To present the story as if it was a Cohen and a divorcee will mislead many people in similar situations."
Haaretz also reported that a civil marriage activist named Alex Tantzer asked Prime Minister Sharon to intervene in the case, as the groom in question fought and was wounded in Sinai in the Yom Kippur War. Tantzer said he was informed that Sharon's office had in fact contacted the Chief Rabbinate on the matter. Parver, however, told Arutz-7 that if a Sharon representative contacted the Rabbinate, "it had no effect on the ruling, which was solely a Halakhic matter." Tantzer told Haaretz that he hopes the decision allowing the couple to marry "will serve as a precedent for many other couples to marry in Israel." Spokesman Parver said that this is precisely the mistaken conclusion that might be reached from the Haaretz article, as the case in question is a unique one. Haaretz later amended the story and reported that the woman's mother was Jewish.
For the many of you who are writing and asking, I am strongly opposed to the Israeli Government Rabbinate's position of not recognizing the conversions of all certified Orthodox rabbis in the diaspora. This decision negates the spirit of smicha, and is a blow to the dignity of rabbis all across the globe. As a matter of solidarity, I want my colleagues around the world to know that I hereby protest the affront. The Israeli Rabbinate has no right to rewrite the Shukchan Oruch in their own quest for oligarchy.
Several months ago, I lodged a complaint directly to Government Head Rabbi Amar and accused him of insulting the true Torah giants of Israel. The story is as follows: A young Jewish man near Ashdod was living with a non-Jewish woman. My Outreach Program convinced the young man to return to his roots; he agreed on condition that we'd teach Judaism to his lady friend. We did - for 13 intensive months. She turned into another Ruth - pious, modest, and sincere - also, she knew her stuff! The Chassidic Rabbinical Court of Ashdod, which consists of 3 Torah giants (The Melitzer Rebbe, Rav Shmuel Dovid HaCohen Gross of Gur, and Dayan Horowitz of Belz) were so impressed with this young lady, that they agreed to perform the conversion despite the fact that they rarely agree to perform conversions. Head Rabbi Amar refused to recognize the above conversion. His aide said to me brassly, "Who is the Ashdod Badatz that we should recognize them?" Sounds like Pharaoh, doesn't it? Oligarchy is the name of the game.
I helped the couple make an appeal, and won in the Ashdod rabbinical court. The decision was sent to Jerusalem, and overturned because of an order from upstairs. When people outside of Israel ask me what to do, I tell them to find the best rabbi they can to teach them, and then pray. Such antics by the Government Rabbinate is delaying the Geula. Rebbe Nachman of Breslev writes that gerrim and baalei tshuva enhance the glory and honor of Hashem. Who has a right to interfere? What's even worse is that the government rabbinate doesn't want American rabbis to give conversions, yet they themselves don't have the resources to teach conversion candidates. The Ashdod branch of the government rabbinate offered me a job teaching converts, but I flatly refuse to have anything to do with them and their politics. The government rabbinate is no place for a naive Breslever. I'm a non-rabbinical rabbi; my job is to spread faith in the world. Yet, I stand by my wonderful colleagues across the globe who head their communities, and say, continue on fearlessly! Moshiach will recognize everything that's done in accordance with Halacha.Sorry, I wanted to avoid this subject, but sometimes one must take a stand.
Chief Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger calls for 'UN of religions' – March 20, 2006
The Chief Rabbi of Israel, Yona Metzger, has called for the creation of a world body with representatives from the major religious groups. Rabbi Metzger was addressing the International Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace in Seville, Spain. He called for the formation of a "United Nations of religious groups".
The Imam of Gaza, Imad al-Faluji, said politicians lied but religious leaders had a different objective - to work towards a higher good. The imams and rabbis at this conference, which opened on Sunday, say the world is in crisis and it is time they acted to restore justice, respect and peace.
The delegates have made it very clear that now is the time for concrete initiatives. At the opening ceremony Rabbi Yona Metzger said his idea of a "United Nations of religious groups" could "bring a bridge between religions to help the bridge of the diplomatic way". That plan has broad support from key participants like Frederico Major, the co-president of the Alliance for Civilisations, the lobby group for international conflict resolution, supported by the United Nations and initiated by Spain's Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. The speeches at this conference rather than using polite, diplomatic language have at times been brutally direct. When the Rabbi Metzger harangued mainstream Muslims for not standing up to Osama bin Laden, Islamic leaders nodded in agreement. Both Muslim and Jewish leaders have shown a preparedness to take criticism. There have also been strong expressions of opposition to any killing in the name of religion. At the end of the opening ceremony, the Muslim delegation sang an oration to the Prophet Mohammed before resuming discussions about the ideas they plan to present to their Jewish counterparts. The religious leaders have three days to come up with a manifesto that aims to convert their words into actions.
Rabbi: Non-Jewish Kabbalah Study is Good, if Done Correctly - March 1, 2006
Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the Chief Rabbi of the city that
what was once the Kabbalah center of the world, Tzfat, says that Kabbalah
studies for Gentiles is "positive," if done in the proper manner.
Speaking with Arutz-7 today, Rabbi Eliyahu said, "I believe that the study
of the Zohar by Gentiles, as in the common phenomenon we see today with Gentile
musicians and entertainers studying Kabbalah, is a positive phenomenon - as
long as it is done in the right way." He explained that it should not just
be a matter of curiosity, but of a genuine search for the "Torah of
Rabbi Eliyahu addressed the matter in light of the jump in sales of books of Kabbalah. The Manufacturers Association informed Arutz-7 that in light of the world-wide awakening to Kabbalah around the world, exports of such books have tripled of late. Thirty-five million dollars worth of Kabbalah texts were exported around the world from Israel in 2005, and professional printers are in short supply relative to the continuing demand for holy books from Israel.
"This is exactly what Elijah the Prophet told [1st-century C.E. Zohar author] Rabbe Shimon bar Yochai and his group when they began writing the Zohar," Rabbi Eliyahu said, "that in the course of time, people will begin making a living from this work. Of course, Elijah was referring to the fact that it would have a spiritual effect on those who study it, but it can be understood this way as well."
"It is told about King David," the rabbi said, "that when he wanted to bring people closer to an authentic Torah life, he would teach them the 'secrets of Torah.' In general, to see people searching for spirituality is a positive and important development."
Meir Bar-El, Deputy Director of the Manufacturers Association, said that total exports of Jewish holy books in 2005 grew by 119% over the year before, and totaled $92 million - 70% of all book exports from Israel. He said that Israel is lacking in training courses for professional printers.
Kabbala – by Lazer Brody
Kabbala is Jewish mysticism, or the secrets of the Torah; the word "kabbala" in Hebrew means "reception", in other words, each generation of pupils receives the knowledge of Torah's inner, hidden meanings from the masters of the previous generation. Kabbala is based on the "Zohar", the 2nd Century CE commentary on the secrets of Torah by the holy Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, and based on the works of the holy 16th Century CE sage, Rabbi Isaac Luria Ashkenazi as written by his chief disciple, Rabbi Chaim Vital...Kabbala is not merely a discipline - it's a way of life, governing the way a person washes hands in the morning until going to bed at night. Trying to learn Kabbala (again, the inner chambers of Torah) without complete commitment to, and immersment in, the laws and study of the outer chambers of Torah is like applying for a job as a 747 pilot when you haven't yet flown solo on a Piper Cub.Commercialization, selling little red strings for $26 a piece, candles, incense, and other so-called "kabbala gear" is as far from the real thing as snow is from steam. Beware of the self-declared "kabbalists" - they know that this generation is thirsty for spirituality, and they're trying to capitalize on people's search for G-d. A real kabbalist will never ever let you know that he's a kabbalist. He's altruistic, modest, devout, and he doesn't have his hand in your pocket. His deportment is impeccable. The real learning of Kabbala brings a person closer to G-d. You can't be learning Kabbala while wiggling your semi-unclad body on a stage in front of umpteen numbers of people. Any person who learns Kabbala appreciates the divine soul, and is therefore deathly afraid of the slightest misdemeanor which is liable to tarnish the soul. So, if a person isn't observing the laws of Torah - and investing their best energies in the study of Torah - they certainly can't be teaching you Kabbala. Beware of imposters
I'm definitely in favor of a person learning anything that brings him or her closer to G-d and to spiritual awareness. But, if you give a 5-year old the keys of a new Volvo - before he's learned to ride a tricycle - you're asking for trouble. Kabbala is like the light of the sun. If you gaze into the sun with a naked eye, you become blinded. Therefore, you need a pair of good sunglasses. Unless a person is neck-deep into Torah study - principally Gemorra with Rashi and Tosefos - I don't suggest he try to tackle pure Kabbalic sources, and certainly not without a reputable teacher and spiritual guide. Better to use a pair of spiritual "sunglasses", and to familiarize yourself with the books of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev, The Tanya by Rebbe Shneur Zalman of Ladi, or the books of Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto. From those three sages - all monumental masters of Kabbala - you'll get what your soul needs.
Rabbi: Jews should know New Testament – April 9, 2006
YNet News - Reform rabbi says time has come to break 'self-imposed ignorance' about Christian bible; conservative and orthodox movements: matter so simple. A major work with Jewish roots is usually missing from everyone's list: the New Testament. Most Jews shun Christian Scripture. As a result, they can't answer Christians who ask why Jews don't accept Jesus as the Messiah. Now, Reform Rabbi Michael J. Cook says this "self-imposed ignorance" is dangerous.
At a time when many Christians are embracing the Jewish origins of their faith, holding Pesach seder dinners before Easter, Cook says he has taken on the "Herculean task" of convincing Jews they must learn how the Gospels molded Christian attitudes toward Judaism. "The New Testament is the greatest single external determinant of Jewish history, and deleteriously so in its causing Jews grievous problems," said Cook, who holds the unusual job of New Testament professor at the Reform movement's rabbinical school, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. In a book he plans to publish next year, "Modern Jews Engage the New Testament," he will present an education plan for how Jews can learn enough to answer "why they process it differently from Christians."
Many scholars agree that Jews would benefit from studying the Christian texts. They say it could improve interfaith relations, especially on the local level where rabbis are expected to work with fellow clergy from other denominations. It also would help when public debates arise - like the controversy about how Jews were depicted in the Mel Gibson movie, "The Passion of the Christ." Many outsiders viewed Jewish objections to the film as an affront to Christianity, damaging relations between the two faiths. Cook said most Jews had no idea how to explain their concerns about the script - even to their own children. However, the scholars also say there are too many other pressing issues in Jewish education - including the increasing assimilation of Jews - to make New Testament learning a priority.
Burt Visostsky, a longtime professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary, the flagship institution for Conservative Judaism, said many rabbinical students enroll at the seminary without strong backgrounds in their own religion - let alone Christianity and other faiths. "In an ideal world, of course we'd train our students to know something about Christianity and also Islam," said Visostsky, who teaches Midrash and inter-religious studies. "But where is it on the triage list? I'm afraid not very high." Jewish aversion to the New Testament is rooted in both religious law and historical experience. Some passages in early rabbinic literature bar Jews from reading the Gospels, Cook said. The Talmud, the 2,000-year-old compilation of Jewish law, reinforces this point by prohibiting Jews from saving the Gospels from a fire even though the name of God is written in them, said Jacob Neusner, a Bard College professor and expert on Judaism and Christianity.
Jewish resentment grew over the centuries as Christians used the New Testament to try to convert Jews - either through evangelism or by force during the Crusades and other violent periods. The belief, derived from the New Testament, that Jews are collectively responsible for the death of Jesus has now been rejected by the Roman Catholic Church and some other denominations, but the idea persists among many Christians to this day. "The New Testament historically has been a book that has been thrown in the face of Jews," said Rabbi James Rudin, the inter-religious adviser for the American Jewish Committee, who agrees that Jews need to study the Gospels. "As the years have gone by, it has been seen as the Scripture of the `other' and the other has always been perceived, until recently, as a hostile group trying to subvert or replace Jews and Judaism."
Presently, the text is almost completely absent from coursework for rabbinical candidates, students at American Jewish colleges and the many young people enrolled in Jewish high schools. Rabbinical students who study the Hellenistic period learn some history of the New Testament. The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Pennsylvania requires a course in Christian history that includes reading the Gospels. Still, Cook says he is the only full professor of New Testament at an American Jewish seminary, and Hebrew Union College is the only seminary requiring technical study of the Gospels for ordination.
The idea of New Testament study faces the greatest resistance in Orthodox schools, which strive to provide a liberal arts education within the bounds of a strict reading of Jewish law. Rabbi Shalom Carmy, an expert on biblical thought at Yeshiva University in New York, said the New Testament is part of an undergraduate course in medieval and modern literature, but some students are uncomfortable learning about the Christian text and skip the lectures. "The highest priority for a believing Jew is the study of Torah and the fulfillment of the mitzvot," he said. "The study of other religions and cultures may be a source of psychological insight and may help us better to understand others. But these goals are ancillary." Cook says he understands these arguments, but ultimately rejects them, contending it is illogical for Jews who so heavily emphasize education to ignore such an important text. He called lack of knowledge about the New Testament the Jewish "Achilles' heel." "Once Jews catch on to this, most will recognize how valuable this venture can be," Cook said, "and how ... damaging has been their self-imposed taboo."
Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - The
tomb of Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel is located in the Israeli-Arab village of Kafr Kana, near the Golani Junction. In recent weeks the iron bars at the
entrance to the tomb have been bent and broken. The entire structure, which sits atop
the cave in which the prominent rabbi is buried, was also set on fire.
The fire damaged the site, blackening the stones and obscuring explanatory plaques explaining its significance. The stone steps leading down to the grave are smashed, and one of the walls has been torn apart as well. The site is also apparently being used as a dumping ground for garbage from the local village.
Israel National News correspondent Michael Freund contacted the Tourism Ministry, which is responsibly for maintaining the site, and was told that the vandalism occurred during the Passover holiday and that workers would be sent to the site Sunday to clean it up. The ministry official told Freund that the tomb is attacked regularly by local Arabs – as often as twice a month.
During the Israeli-Arab riots in October 2000, just weeks after the burning of Joseph's Tomb in Palestinian Authority-controlled Shechem, Israeli-Arabs torched Rabban [Our Rabbi] Shimon's tomb, causing most extensive damage to the site.
Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel served as the Nasi, or leader, of the Jews just before the destruction of the Second Temple, 2,000 years ago. One of his most quoted sayings, from the Ethics of the Fathers, is, "Action, not study, is the primary thing" – calling upon the Jewish people to realize that wisdom is a means toward rectifying the world for the Kingdom of Heaven. He was murdered by the Romans, and his tomb has remained an important site for Jewish pilgrims throughout the years.
In a contrasting item, thousands of Jews visited the tombs of Yehoshua bin Nun and Calev Ben Yefuneh in the Shomron last night, under the cheerful protection of an IDF unit. The tombs are located in an area that is under Israeli military control, but Palestinian Authority civil control. Entrance to Jews is permitted only on specified occasions - such as the anniversary of the death of Yehoshua, which occurs today.
IsraelNationalRadio's Yishai Fleisher, one of the visitors, said, "The historic significance of these two Biblical figures in our times cannot be overstated. They represent the willingness to inherit the Land because of G-d's command, as well as the timeless connection of the Jewish People to the Land. Kalev was the first to visit the Patriarchs' Tombs in Hevron after 210 years of exile..."
Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - Hundreds
of thousands of Jews will make their way by bus, car, and foot Monday night and
Tuesday to the non-stop 24-hr. Lag B'omer celebration at Rabbi Shimon Bar
Yochai's tomb in the Galilee. Arutz Sheva IsraelNationalNews will air a live
webcast from the festivities in Meron beginning 6pm Monday night until 8pm
Tuesday night (11am Monday – 1pm Tuesday, EST). Viewers will be charged $10 to
help cover the costs of this unique event. A banner linking to the broadcast
will appear on the IsraelNN.com homepage Monday.
A week beforehand, thousands have already pitched tents in the village of Meron to secure a close spot to the tomb. Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (AKA Rashbi) is the famed author of the Zohar, the central book of the Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism). Lag B'Omer is the anniversary of his death.
Multiple cameras for the webcast will provide live scenes of dancing inside the courtyard of the tomb, the surrounding streets, a wide angle view from atop a tower, and a camera on a helicopter. The age-old custom of Chai Rotel (distribution of literally tons of free food and drink to the myriads of visitors) will be covered as well in conjunction with the Ohel HaRashbi organization.
Arutz Sheva's Kobi Selah who is directing the event says, "We plan to bring not only the pictures and voices which any news network can do, but also the special atmosphere and spiritual fragrance. TV Viewers will be able to submit requests and prayers that will be recited at the tomb of Rashbi."
Police spokesman Miki Rosenfeld says that at the height of the event Monday night, as many as 100,000 people will be present. Police will begin mobilizing in the area Saturday night culminating with over 5,000 officers patrolling on Lag B'Omer. A hotline for information and suggested approach routes is already operational: 1-700-500-678.
Policewoman Maayan Mamo, who is already in the north for the event, says that some of her colleagues feel special merit to have received the Lag B'Omer assignment. "It is not your ordinary happening. It is something special." Rosenfeld refused to go into details but said that security preparations were underway on a number of different levels.
Rav Moshe Halberstam, First to Renew Semikha, Dies at 74 – April 27, 2006
(IsraelNationalNews) - An ambulance rushed Rabbi Halberstam to the hospital’s
Cardiology Division at around 10 AM where doctors fought for his life for more
than two hours. The 74-year-old rabbi died at 12:25 PM. Rabbi Halberstam served
at the President of Hatzala Israel, a volunteer group providing first-aid and
ambulance services. Head of the Galicia Kollel in Jerusalem, the deceased rabbi
was the great-grandson of the Tzanzer Rebbe.The rabbi was widely accepted in
non-hareidi circles as well. He participated in the project to
reestablish the Sanhedrin by becoming the first person to receive semikha
(Biblical ordination as passed down from Moses). He was found to be “fitting to
serve on the Sanhedrin" by both Sephardic Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef and
Ashkenazi Rabbi Shalom Elyashiv and no objectors came forward to oppose his
receiving the ordination. Halberstam then ordained Rabbi Dov Levanoni who, in
turn, ordained the rest of the rabbis involved in the nascent Sanhedrin.
Rabbi Dov Shtein, the secretary for the Sanhedrin project, spoke with Arutz-7 Thursday about the late rabbi. "Without Rabbi Halberstam's efforts toward renewing semikha, it would not have happened the way it did," he said. "By agreeing to be the first to be ordained, he took a serious risk of being rejected and condemned by his community for taking part in such a project. His ordination set the ball rolling for the foundation of a Jewish legal body that seeks to eventually supercede the Badatz [hareidi rabbinical court system]. But despite the serious pressures put on him following his agreement and granting of semikha to others, he never went back on it or even tempered his agreement with the act of renewing semikha." Recalling the rabbi himself, from time spent with him, Rabbi Shtein said, "He was a lover of Israel, a soft person, always willing to listen, a man steeped in the secrets of the kabbalah."
Rabbi David Greunwald, Chairman of Hatzala Israel, met with Rabbi Halberstam regularly and told Ladaat.net of his last meeting with the rabbi, shortly before his death: “[Wednesday] morning I was at his home and he felt fine. A few hours later they alerted me to come back to his home. The rabbi was conscious and spoke with us. We soon realized that his situation was deteriorating and escorted him to the hospital. We appealed in prayer to the Creator of the World and deployed the best doctors, but to our great sorrow, the worst happened. It is unbelievable that Rav Moshe is no longer with us.” The funeral procession began in Jerusalem’s Meah Shearim neighborhood and was attended by tens of thousands of mourners.
(IsraelNationalNews) - The Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York, passed away Monday night at the age of 91 in Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York. Many thousands of people attended his funeral, which
closed down streets in Manhattan and Brooklyn. He was buried in the Satmar
community in Kiryas Yoel, in Orange County, New York. Rabbi Teitelbaum headed
what is apparently the United States' fastest-growing Hassidic group. The
Satmars number an esimated 60,000 in New York, including over 35,000 in Williamsburg and another 15,000-20,000 in Kiryas Yoel. Several other communities in Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, London and elsewhere number only several hundred each.
In addition to New York real estate holdings valued at close to a half-million dollars, the New York Times reported that if the Satmar schools were a public school system, it would be the fourth-largest system in New York State, after those of New York City, Buffalo and Rochester. The deceased rabbi, author of Berach Moshe, survived the Holocaust, though his wife and children did not. When he arrived in New York, he married again and began a new family, which now numbers six children and 85 grandchildren; a Satmarer member in Jerusalem estimated that this number includes great-grandchildren as well. The rabbi's first great-great-granddaughter was born the day he died. He succeeded the previous Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum, the author of the seminal Satmar work VaYoel Moshe, in 1980.
Satmar Hassidism is staunchly anti-Zionist, but should not be confused with the pro-PLO Neturei Karta sect. The previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yoel, explained that unlike Neturei Karta members, he would not meet with Yasser Arafat because he does "not meet with murderers." The Satmarers do believe, however, that the State of Israel is a violation of Jewish Law, in that it is a forbidden attempt to hasten the Redemption process. The deceased rabbi did not publicly choose a successor in his lifetime, leading to stiff competition between two of his sons, Rabbis Aaron and Zalman Teitelbaum, and their respective followers. His will, read aloud at the funeral, designated Rabbi Zalman as his successor. Rabbi Zalman's son, Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Teitelbaum, heads the Jerusalem branch of Satmar, while a son of Rabbi Moshe's daughter, his oldest child, heads the Bnei Brak group.
IDF Gets New Chief Rabbi – March 28, 2006
Lekarev - Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz has approved the appointment of Lt.-Col. Rabbi Avi Ronsky as Chief Rabbi of the Israel Defense Forces. Rabbi Ronsky, 54, became an observant Jew after the Yom Kippur War in 1973, in which he served as an IDF Company commanding officer. He was a founding member of the community of Itamar in Samaria, where he still lives. He continued to serve in the reserves each year, and still serves as head of the Shomron Regional Division.
Rabbi Ronsky was adamantly against refusal of orders during the Disengagement and expulsion of the Jews from Gush Katif and Northern Shomron last summer. Leftists are already complaining that someone who lives in Samaria (Itamar is a 'West Bank' settlement) should not be given such a high position in the IDF.
Orthodox Judaism Growing Among Young American Jews - May 11, 2006
Arutz Sheva (IsraelNationalNews)
- A study released by the American
Jewish Committee shows that Orthodox Judaism is growing in popularity among
under-30 Jews in the U.S. The study, carried out in honor of the New York-based
advocacy group’s 100th anniversary, measured Jewish identification trends in
the American Jewish population from ages 18 to 39, a group which numbers some
1.5 million Jews. The total Jewish population in the U.S., according to the
study, is estimated to be between 5.5 and 6 million, including Jews who are intermarried.
Some 16% of Jews aged 18-29 now identify themselves as Orthodox, the study revealed. In the 30-39 age group, slightly more than half of that number, 9%, consider themselves Orthodox. According to the report, the percentage of Orthodox Jews is expected to grow as the population marries and has children, especially in light of the fact that Orthodox Jews place a higher emphasis on having children than do other Jews.
The report also found that more than half of all American Jews under age 40 are not married. Men in their 20’s are “highly likely to be unmarried." In general, the overall trend among young Jewish adults is to marry later in life.The role played by the State of Israel is also much less important to young Jews today, found the report. “The Holocaust continues to be profoundly important to a broad spectrum of young Jews,” it read, “yet Israel appears to be much less important in positively affecting Jewish identity.” The exception to the rule is the group of Jews who have either traveled to Israel or who identify themselves as Orthodox, both “for whom Israel has powerful positive resonance,” it stated.
The report also addressed the climbing statistics of intermarriage and assimilation in the U.S., recommending that outreach programs targeting intermarried Jews be expanded and increased.“The [outreach] programs which focus on unaffiliated young Jews are much less politically ‘charged’ than programs which focus on the intermarried and in many ways show a greater willingness to welcome the intermarried without stigmatizing them,” read the report. “These programs need to be continued and, if current demographic trends continue, need to be expanded.” The study used previous demographic studies and opinion polls conducted in the past six years as primary sources for data collection. Ukeles Associates Inc. compiled the report for the committee.
A Miracle in the Midst of Horror – April 19, 2006
Lekarev - Amid the aftermath of the Palestinian suicide attack yesterday that killed nine we have learned of a real miracle.
A rabbi's life was spared when a book of Psalms held in a pocket next to his heart was ripped in two by a piece of shrapnel.
The rabbi's son-in-law – himself a prominent Torah scholar – told the Israeli news site Shturem.net his father-in-law was saved by a "big miracle."
Today's Zionism Means Spreading Judaism - April 6, 2006
Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - "After a generation of settlement and
army-building, the time has come for a new Zionism: building true Jewish
identity based on Jewish values." So said Rabbi Shimon Cohen at a Jerusalem seminar. Educators and rabbis convened at a seminar sponsored by Machon Meir in Jerusalem this week, spotlighting the topic of "Face-to-Face" - meeting Israelis
in their homes and re-introducing them to observant Zionist Jews and observant
Rabbi Cohen, the head of the Beit Moriah Kollel in Be'er Sheva, said, "In today's world, taking up more space and attention than before is the 'individual.' We must talk the language the people speak, and show that we are on the same side. We must work on the simple fundamentals that we are familiar with from our upbringing and study, and turn them into the inalienable assets of the entire nation."
A recent phenomenon in religious-Zionist circles can be noted every Friday in many cities throughout Israel. Two or three youths set up a table in a public area - often outside the store of a willing store-owner - and offer Sabbath candles, tefillin and a smile to passers-by. Conversations that are struck up often lead to an appointment for further study on Jewish topics.
In one story among many, yeshiva students in Jerusalem went one step further. They decided to set up a Sabbath table on Friday night in a central area usually frequented by youths with nowhere else to go. After overcoming initial awkwardness on the part of both the "regulars" and the "visitors" clad in their Sabbath-best white shirts, the sincerity and joyous singing of the latter won out. After the breaking of the ice came discussions of substance. "Why don't you come back every week?" the yeshiva students were asked - and they said they would. "We must fight ignorance by adding knowledge," Rabbi Cohen said. "We must increase much faith and confidence by coming with true love of our fellow neighbors... We see this process happening in Be'er Sheva; with an integration of the forces of all the yeshivot there, we will succeed in leading a process of dissemination of faith and Judaism throughout the country."
Amazing Story - A Must Read! – May 4, 2006
Lekarev - More than 50 years ago, a bereaved mother donated an embroidered cover for a Synagogue Ark in memory of her son who was executed by the British for his activities in the Jewish Underground at the time of Israel's independence. On Monday of this week, the 59th anniversary of her son's execution, the cover was finally hung on the Ark in the Central Synagogue in Shaarei Tikva.
Yehiel Dresner was only 25 years old when he was executed for the 'crime' of fighting for the right of Israel to exist.
The story of how the cover was found, restored and finally hung is amazing and I've provided the link so you can read it on the Arutz Sheva website. Very moving and well worth the few minutes to read.
The DaVinci Code and the Jews – May 14, 2006
Lekarev - Quite a number of subscribers over the past weeks have written to ask what Jewish people think - or what Israelis are saying - about the book, The DaVinci Code. Interest has piqued with the imminent release of the movie by the same name.
Rabbi Benjamin Blech, author of seven highly acclaimed books, including Understanding Judaism: The basics of Deed and Creed, has posted a commentary on the internet that answers your question, "How do Jewish people view The DaVinci Code?". Rabbi Blech is a professor at Yeshiva University and the Rabbi Emeritus of Young Israel Congregation of Oceanside which he served for 37 years and from which he retired to pursue his interests in writing and lecturing around the globe.
I am linking his article, not for any other purpose than to provide a response to those who have asked the question. Over the years, I have learned that without fail, if ten people write and ask a question on a particular topic, there are 40 people out there who also wonder but don't take the time to write. And I certainly had more than 10 inquiries so by the law of averages, alot of you have wondered. The article does not ask you to agree or disagree; it simply tells you how Jewish people view the book and why.
Poll: 62% Israeli Jews Want Arabs to Leave Israel – May 9, 2006
Lekarev - A total of 62 percent of Israelis want the government to encourage local Arabs to leave the country, according to the 2006 democracy index released Tuesday by the Israel Democracy Institute. This certainly puts a damper on Prime Minister Olmert's assertion that the recent election was a "mandate" for his unilateral withdrawals!
Only 14 percent of respondents said ties between Arabs and Jews are good, while 29 percent said a Jewish majority is required for decisions of crucial national significance. Meanwhile, 26 percent said religious Jews and secular Jews enjoy a good relationship. According to the annual survey, Israelis trust the IDF more than any other institution (79 percent,) followed by the High Court of Justice, the media, and the Knesset.
The most optimistic results were that 86 percent of respondents said they were proud to be Israeli and 90 percent said they wish to continue living in Israel in the long run. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Olmert said yesterday, "In the next few years, we will change Israel's character to ensure it will be a state with a solid Jewish majority living in defensible borders that can provide security to the residents of Israel and separate us from those who must live alongside us and not among us."
7 Million and Still Growing – May 2, 2006
Lekarev -On the eve of the 58th Independence Day, Israel's population has reached 7,026,000. This figure is 8.7 times larger than it was when the state was established. Israel had 806,000 citizens in 1948, and half of them still live here.
According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, 80 percent of Israelis - 5,639,000 - are Jewish and 20 percent - 1,387,000 - are Arab. Over the past year Israel's population grew by 118,000, pushing it past the 7-million mark. Most of the increase - 104,000 individuals - was from natural growth (births minus deaths).
138,000 babies were born and 21,000 new immigrants arrived since last year's Independence Day. Over the past 58 years, a total of seven children were named Atzmaut (independence), mainly in the early 1950s. Children born on Independence Day in the early years of the state were also named Medina (state), Tikva (hope), Nitzhona (her victory), Dror and Drora (freedom).
Tourism On the Rise – May 1, 2006
Lekarev - Between January 1 - March 31, 2006, 465,000 tourists entered Israel, an increase of 25 percent in comparison to the same period last year. The largest number of visitors came from the United States - 125,700 - an increase of 38%.
The rise in incoming tourism from Nordic countries was also significant, providing a 49% increase since last year.
Reportedly some people have shied away from coming to Israel since Hamas was elected to power but let me assure you that Israel is a GREAT place to come and particularly now through November. The weather is terrific, the whole country is blooming with flowers, the likes of which you won't see around the world. It's magnificent. Come on over!
Rivera to Make Aliya? – March 4, 2005
Lekarev - American talk show host Geraldo Rivera, in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Israel's leading newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported Sunday that he wants to make Aliya and run for the Israeli Knesset. "I've wanted to make aliyah (immigrate to Israel) for years, so I could run for the Knesset and further my ideas to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace," he said.
Rivera, 62, has been a reporter and presenter for Fox News for years. Amongst other things, he has reported on the war in Afghanistan and the Israel- Palestinian conflict. Rivera, whose mother was Jewish, says he was raised as a Jew and had a bar mitzvah. "I would die for Israel," he told the Inquirer. "We must take risks for peace," he continued. "I want peace between Jews and Palestinians, based on equality for both countries."
Not Getting Along: Religious Students, Civics Lessons – February 26, 2006
Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - Rabbi
of Ofrah: "After what these students have been through recently,
particularly in Gush Katif and Amona, they cannot take their civics lessons
seriously." Rabbi Avi Gisser, of Ofrah, who also serves as the Chairman of
the Public-Religious Education Council, spoke with Arutz-7's Hebrew newsmagazine on Thursday. "Everthing
that has happened over the past two years, " Rabbi Gisser said,
"especially the disengagement, the uprooting and expulsion, and most of
all, what happened at Amona - all of this certainly leaves very heavy scars.
The students were very involved in these events, and some of them were uprooted
themselves, and when they have to learn about proper government in Israel, they simply are unable to really believe in it."
Many of the students, too, were "offered" a first-hand and inside look at the justice and prison systems over the past several months. "I saw real evil," said Yaakov F., 22, while others talked of the judges being "rubber stamps" for the prosecution's positions. Many youths were beaten by police not only at Amona, but also in pre-expulsion street protests."Look," Rabbi Gisser said, "if the teacher would say to them that they're simply learning science fiction, and they just have to know the facts for their matriculation exams, then OK. But if they want to take it seriously, then they are in a great crisis.... Teachers are reporting that the students are cynical towards the subject matter, don't care about it, and don't show up for classes.
This is because the subject
is so loaded, and appears to them to be some kind of ideological payment to the
government - when they themselves have been hurt and are still pained by
Israel's democracy.""What do you suggest?" asked Arutz-7's Yigal
Shok of Rabbi Gisser."I think that all the government institutions must be
made aware of the rotten fruit that has resulted from the events of the past
two years. In addition, they must be called to order and made to improve their
actions. Regarding the students, we must explain the ideals behind democracy,
and that it's the least bad of all the alternatives. However, it must be
emphasized that even the best values can be abused, and that when democracy is
abused, then for sure the results are what we see. Our guiding principle is to
distinguish between the values themselves and they way they are
Rabbi Gisser said that the Public Religious Education Council has long been demanding that the one civics textbook used for the last five years should be changed to reflect the values of the public religious network. "Most ironically," he said, "the Arab schools have been allowed to make changes in certain subjects regarding the Jewish state and minorities' rights, while we have not received such permission, even though civics must be taught in a particular manner in religious schools. We hope that the current crisis will in fact lead to the necessary changes."
Hesder Yeshiva Head: Teach Our Kids to Refuse Immoral Orders - May 12, 2006
(IsraelNationalNews) - Rabbi Nahum Eliezer Rabinovitch, Rosh Yeshiva of the
Birkat Moshe Hesder Yeshiva in Maaleh Adumim, was interviewed last month by
B'Sheva Weekly about how to thwart the next expulsion. Rabbi Rabinovitch
[pictured above] is known in the Yeshiva world for his monumental compositions
– the 'Yad Pshuta' on the Rambam's (Maimonides) Mishneh Torah. He also received
his Ph.D. in the History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Toronto and an M.A. in Mathematics from Johns Hopkins University. He authored an
oft-consulted work called "Melumdei Milchama" - a collection of
responsa dealing with Jewish legal issues facing religious soldiers serving in
The rabbi, known to have strong views on matters dealing with the Land of Israel, does not grant interviews frequently, and when asked to participate in this interview on contemporary matters facing the Jewish people, he said he was unsure if he had anything unique to offer. In the end he relented and spoke with B'Sheva's Yoel Yaakoby about the expulsion and its aftermath. The following are excerpts of the lengthy interview, published in Hebrew in B'Sheva:
World Knows Morality Comes From Scripture, Only Supreme Court Thinks it Comes From Knesset
A7: What, in the rabbi's opinion, is the root of the failure in the struggle for Gush Katif?
Rabbi Rabinovitch: It is very hard to develop hard and fast rules in matters like these, and I am also no expert in sociology, psychology and certainly not politics. But, I do think that there are two important perspectives here that need to be emphasized with regard to the struggle. On one hand, I don’t think that there was a complete failure here. It was very important to demonstrate that we can carry out a struggle without violence – and this was proven. I also have no doubt that the lesson that was learned from this will penetrate the public's consciousness. On the other hand, there was a lack of determination among our soldiers. It is clear that we have a substantial role in the army among soldiers and junior officers, and even in the higher echelons – but we did not succeed in clarifying a very basic point: Even the Ethical Code of the IDF stresses that there are orders that have a black flag flying over them. What is a black flag? The intention is an immoral order. Here we fell into a situation that lacked clarity, even among soldiers from 'our' public, regarding what the source for definition of such an order is.
Regarding this, one can cite a relevant quote from our Sages of blessed memory: 'The positive traits of the nations you did not emulate, rather the destructive ones.' Certainly the ethics espoused in Western nations are rooted in the Scriptures – that is to say, in the Torah of Israel. Relations to one’s fellow citizen, honoring him, respecting his right to his home and property – all this flows from the essence of the realization that man is created in the image of G-d. [Quoting the US Declaration of Independence] 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.' It is clear that among those rights exists the right to retain property that one honestly attained. But here, there was a petition to the Supreme Court before the expulsion - based on human rights. But the Supreme Court didn't understand that the basic rights of man are anchored in his being created in G-d's image. The Supreme Court ruled that although it is true that man's right to property is a basic right, the question is whether Jews have those rights over the Green Line [Israel's pre-1967 borders]. According to them, the source of authority is Knesset legislation, which was not applied over the Green Line, as long as Arabs' rights are determined by international treaties. This means that only in the nation which bestowed ethics to the world is there no place granted for the source of those ethics – the Torah.
Matters got to the extent that we heard they wanted to place on trial those rabbis who ruled that it was forbidden to expel simple people from their homes, as though the rabbinate is made up of clerks in the government bureaucracy. Suddenly the rabbinate has no right to open its mouth and talk about what ethical obligations are. This matter was a fiasco for the nation, the state and the [religious-Zionist] community.
If only all the religious soldiers and all the soldiers that appreciate the moral heritage of tradition had understood that we are dealing with orders that fundamentally oppose eternal ethics and morality – the [expulsion] would not have been able to be implemented. They carried out a sort of brainwashing on us, as though rabbis and Torah have nothing to do with morality, and that it is permitted to enter a home and remove peaceful people who built their houses with their own hands, who didn't do wrong to anybody, who spent their entire lives creating and honestly working with their hands, and [to then] expel them from their homes. Many soldiers did not understand that there was no basis for this.
The Rabbis Were Confused
A7: There were rabbis who said not to refuse orders…
Rabbi Rabimovitch: That's why I quoted the American Declaration of Independence, which says that the source of authority is from on High. Our Supreme Court did not want to understand this fundamental concept, and from there flowed the enormous confusion, from the fact that the rabbis also did not understand this. It is indeed a simple ruling, that even if a man saves his life by taking the possessions of his fellow – he is personally responsible to pay. This is a simple judgment regarding which there is no debate, and there is no authority in the world that can permit such a thing – not rabbis and not judges. And this simple truth we did not understand. It is clear that this could not be clarified in a second, but this teaches that over the years something became very spoiled in our moral understanding."
A7: And how is the simple soldier supposed to decide whom to act in accordance with?
Rabbi Rabinovitch: I don't know what the simple soldier needs to decide, but the rabbis have to know! Indeed there is no Sanhedrin, and this is a serious problem. It is impossible to say with certainty that a specific point of view is the true judgment. On the other hand, if rabbis come and nullify the Sabbath, teffilin (phylacteries), the prohibition against murder, the prohibition against adultery – would we not expect that the Jewish soldier and simple student to understand that this is not so!? So why, when we are speaking about 'Thou shalt not steal' and 'Thou shalt not rob,' rabbis are not able to say that it is not so!? There are basic things that every Jew needs to know. In all the history of the nation of Israel there was never a time when Jewish soldiers plundered and removed Jews from their homes.
A7: How can we prevent further expulsions in the future?
Rabbi Rabinovitch: I have no magic answer, but we must certainly deepen our education regarding mitzvot [commandments] between a man and his fellow man, which are the basis of the entire Torah. This we must focus upon. It is clear that there are additional steps, such as strengthening the understanding of the importance of the nation of Israel in the Land of Israel, and all sorts of other matters. But the foundation of it all is between a man and his fellow man, together with the clarification of the source of moral authority."
Civil War Prevented at the Expense of Expellees
A7: What is the rabbi's opinion of the nature of a struggle, which was waged in the "With love we shall overcome," style?
Rabbi Rabinovitch: I am no expert in public struggles. I think that the emphasis on the prevention of civil war was achieved, but at the expense of terrible injustice to those expelled.
A7: Is there a need to replace the leadership of the right?
Rabbi Rabinovitch: I do not know. There are good people, and probably also not such good people – I'm no authority on this matter. I must say, however, that my heart aches at the fact that after everything that we have undergone, our political leadership still does not understand that all those for whom the good of the nation of Israel is the highest concern must join hands to prevent future expulsions."
A7: How does the rabbi think we should handle the split that has formed in the Torah world between the hareidi-religious and national-religious?
Rabbi Rabinovitch: I think that at the end of the day, all those to whom the Torah is really important – who are immersed in it and trying with all their might to fulfill its words – will draw near to one another. There are all sorts of impulses that cause fissure. [But] with deepening in Torah and caution in its fulfillment, such fissures will be bridged. The fixing will come from individuals. When each one deepens his awe of Heaven, many of the sources of fracture will become trivial and disappear.
A7: What does the rabbi say to the claim that our public deals too much with the Land of Israel and less with other matters?
Rabbi Rabinovitch: It is always possible to say something is not enough. As much as we perform mitzvot [Torah commandments], we need to do even more. But do not dismiss the fact that the settlement in Yesha [Judea, Samaria and Gaza] represented not only cleaving to the Land of Israel, but also the creation of a wondrous society. Communities with a sense of mutual responsibility were created. Wondrous economic development was created as well there. Gush Katif was destroyed, but it was one of the biggest economic success stories, almost unmatched anywhere in Israel. People built this apparatus, which produced 11% of the agricultural exports of the country. How is it possible to say, from this, that it was excessively focused on the matter of the Land of Israel. There is social welfare, economic prosperity, thoughtfulness, the building of a secure Israel and also building of Torah. Not one of these communities is lacking a Torah institution. There is also an importance to creating a communal feeling. In the big cities you have people who live in the same building but don't even say 'Good Morning' to each other. There is estrangement and despair. In the settlements this is not the reality. There is a rich communal life. It is wrong to make light of all the richness of the model, which should continue to be followed on both sides of the Green Line.
Yes to IDF, No to Following Immoral Orders
A7: What should the relationship with the army be like today?
Rabbi Rabinovitch: We must understand that a nation that is unable to defend itself is not able to stand. Without the army, our enemies around us would not allow us to survive, this is an elementary matter – without it there is not the possibility of living anywhere in the world, and certainly not here. Therefore, the army is an essential need and we are obliged to serve in it. If we don't, we are cutting off the branch upon which we are sitting. At the same time, we must educate out children to know that the army is supposed to defend the nation of Israel and the Land of Israel, and not, G-d forbid, to war against its own people. This is the line, and if all of our soldiers are imbued with the same awareness, there is no doubt that there will not be any more destructions – with G-d's help."
Spiritual Matters Not Subject to Give-and-Take - April 23, 2006
Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - In a Passover holiday article distributed in
synagogues around the country, Rabbi Shlomo Aviner explained why he objects to
a "practical" compromise regarding the Land of Israel. In his article, entitled
"A Foreign and Strange Proposal," in Machon
Meir's weekly publication, Rabbi Aviner, Dean of Yeshivat Ateret Cohanim in
the Moslem Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, first presents the following
question he has often been asked: "Perhaps, for lack of choice, we should
propose our own territorial compromise - for if not, we are liable to lose
everything, both the land and the people. We are losing our national unity...
Even if we are ethically correct, perhaps we should give up parts of the Land of Israel in order to retain our national unity. In addition, if we don't give up
parts of Yesha, we are liable to lose all of Yesha!"
Rabbi Aviner responded: "No! This is the foundation of faith... There are many tribulations in life, and with G-d's help we will overcome; but out of our own free will to agree to the destruction of our People, Torah and Land - Heaven forbid! "If someone schemes to abduct your wife, would you engage him in dialogue and abandon her for half the week in order not to lose her altogether?! Jewish law states that if gentiles threaten Jews and demand that we give up one Jew or else they will kill all of us - we must not give up one Jew, come what may. Why? Because if they forcibly take all of us, then this is a great tragedy - but our hands are clean. But if we give over even just one, then we are great sinners, and this is much worse.
"When the first core group of Elon Moreh [the first Yesha community] tried to take root, our leaders were willing to accept a compromise and move the settlement to a nearby army camp - but our teacher Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook refused, saying, 'Is this the Land of Israel or is this not the Land of Israel?!' As a result, we received nothing. There were some Gush Emunim leaders who said, 'Rav Tzvi Yehuda doesn't know how to be politically flexible, next time we won't bring him here.' But the fact is that he was right, because that struggle infused a great spirit into everything, ultimately leading to the settling of 250,000 Jews throughout Judea and Samaria. True, he lost the battle at that time, but he won the war, because the spirit had been lifted. "In business, true, you give up a little in order to gain much, and the same in checkers and chess. But this is not business and not games; this is the essence of life. Spiritual matters are not up for give-and-take... "This compromise proposal is therefore one of foolishness, sadness, and despair. But we are not given to despair. We are full of strength and full of future hope, despite all the difficulties. There have always been hardships, and we have always overcome. If not today, then tomorrow, and if not tomorrow, then the next day."
Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - Once again, a court has ruled against the Jerusalem municipality and in favor of the capital's homo-lesbian community, providing
impetus for this summer's scheduled int'l gay pride event there. Jerusalem
District Court Judge Yehudit Tzur ruled that the city had set discriminatory
standards in its cultural funding practices, thus enabling itself to avoid
giving money to the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance. Judge Tzur
ordered the municipality to pay 350,000 shekels (close to $80,000) to cover its
lack of payments for the years 2003-2005. "Even if certain officials in
the municipality have trouble accepting the homo-lesbian community," Tzur
wrote, "and feel that it is an undesirable phenomenon, the city cannot
stray the basic values of the legal system and ignore this community. It must
treat this community in an egalitarian manner, out of a recognition of the
senior status of the value of equality, and with respect for the values of
tolerance and pluralism."
Last year as well, the Jerusalem municipality lost a court case to the Open House, and was forced not only to approve a Gay Pride parade in its streets, but also to pay for it. The Open House is organizing this summer's scheduled World Pride event in Jerusalem, in which thousands of people from around the world are expected to take part. The quadrennial week-long event, set for Aug. 6-12, was to have been held in Jerusalem last summer, but was postponed because of Israel's retreat from Gaza. Several hotels are providing a special World Pride hotel rate for the six-night stay. The Jerusalem hotels listed on the event's website are the Inbal, Sheraton Plaza, Prima Royale, Gloria, Jerusalem Inn, Jerusalem Tower, and Agron hostel.
Objections to the march have been sounded from various quarters, including the Chief Rabbis and women's groups. No concrete steps have yet been taken to stop it, however. On the other hand, spokesmen for Israel's Conservative movement, Rabbis Ehud Bandel and Andrew Sachs, expressed support last year for the right to hold the Gay Pride event in Jerusalem, although they indicated that this did not indicate their movement's endorsement of the event itself. Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, Israel's former Chief Rabbi and a possible candidate for Israel's next President, said a few days ago that same-sex couples present not only "Haliakhic [Jewish legal] problems," but also, "speaking from a national and human standpoint, it pains me to see that an abnormal way of life is replacing the family unit. I fear the rising violence, both among the general public and within the family unit.” Earlier this month, 500 people marched in a Gay Pride event in Eilat, replacing a similar event that had been scheduled for Tel Aviv but was canceled.
Exploring the Crisis Between the Army and Religious Zionists - March 24, 2006
Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - A key session at this week's Jerusalem Conference
dealt with the dynamic and seething love/hate relationship between the IDF and
Religious-Zionists following the Gush Katif and Amona crises. The
religious-Zionist camp has traditionally seen the army as a sacred organization
in Israel's national revival. Many of its voices, however, are now calling for
decreased involvement in the IDF. For example, recent reports of low enlistment
were welcomed by former Gush Katif spokesman Eran Sternberg, who wrote,
"True, this is not a knock-out victory, but it is the only thing that can
cause the oligarchy up there to understand that if it continues to carry out
crimes against the Jewish Nation, it simply won't have the slaves to perpetrate
The Tuesday morning session of the Jerusalem Conference dealt with this critical issue. Paraphrased excerpts follow: Rabbi Avraham Baron, head of the Yeshivot Hesder Association, chaired the conference session and said, "We will now try to analyze how we have reached the situation in which we find ourselves, and to propose solutions. I assume we all agree that we want to serve in the army, and that we don't have a spare army." Hesder yeshivot provide an army-sanctioned arrangement in which student/soldiers combine yeshiva studies and combat service for five years. The army service is generally approximately 16 months.Rabbi Yaakov Levanon, head of the Elon Moreh hesder yeshiva, cited many examples of the army trying to force religious soldiers to give up their ideals. He said that before the Disengagement, several religious-Zionist leaders met with government officials, "asking them to remove the army from this dirty political game. It looked as if they were about to do that, and not let the army do the dirty work; but soon it changed again, and in the end, the army did the uprooting... "I speak with youth today, and I see that the problems are deep. The army has not learned the lesson of the past months, and continues to try to use force, to crush our public. “When students consult and ask me, I tell them that if they have another alternative - of which there are plenty - there is no reason for them to enlist in the army and risk going to prison for their beliefs. There are of course those who continue to want to enlist, and we guide them with great spiritual strength. But in general, until the army learns the lesson and stops trying to force us to give up our ideals, this is how it will be. When the army does understand, everything will change, and our public will once again be happy to serve in the army."
Prof. Stuart Cohen of Bar Ilan University's Political Science Department: "I am tempted to respond immediately to the honored rabbi, but I will try to overcome... My viewpoint is from within the army, and not necessarily from the religious-Zionist angle. The army has undergone some changes over recent years. “One is a change in the type of missions it is given. It used to be more concerned with immediate threats from our neighbors, but now it is more focused on what is called the low-intensity war against terrorism and a hostile local population, as well as long-range missile threats and the like. This change requires the army to build a new structure, and maybe also requires a new type of soldier. “Another change that has overcome the army is its new social standing. Many civil groups, including the Finance Ministry, media, parents, women's groups, courts both in Israel and outside, rabbis, interfere in the army much more than they used to, and this also requires the army to adapt. “A third change, but one that the army has chosen to some extent, is a type of professionalization and specialization. There is a new emphasis on technological skills... In addition, the army is more concentrated on security, and not other goals on which it focused in its first decades: not new communities, as with the Nachal brigades; not education, like the underprivileged "Raful youth" [named for the late Chief of Staff Rafael Eitan]; and not absorption, and not military music bands. “This is also a sign of maturity of the army and the society... We are also heading for selective enlistment or recruitment. Other armies have undergone or are undergoing these changes as well.
"Where does all this leave the religious-Zionist public, which gave and gives so much to the IDF? I disagree with the rabbi, if I may. I don't know any other army that comes towards the religious soldiers as much as the IDF. For instance, there are two versions of the oath of allegiance, one that says 'I swear,' and one for religious soldiers that says 'I affirm.' The rabbi will say of course that there is no need for both, and the latter could suffice for all, but there is a military custom... In addition, soldiers are permitted to wear any type of yarmulke they want. “There are various hesder arrangements for yeshiva students [though the army is considering doing away with or reducing them - ed.]. The IDF is not dependent solely on this public. Look at the list of those who have been killed. “In addition, the army is no longer looking only for combat-worthy soldiers, but also for technological skills, as we said. And third of all, we are headed towards an army that will be professional, with selective enlistment. Given all this, I think we should look carefully and see what the army will look like if we don't continue to encourage specifically this public, with all its talents, to take part."
MK Effie Eitam (National Union) commented, "The process of getting religious people into leading positions of influence in the army is a long process. Those who graduated the first pre-military one-year yeshiva academies in the framework of the army have now been in the army for 15 years, and are now Lt.-Cols. This is significant, but not yet influential; they need some more time to really become a force in the army. “We are thus in the middle of a process that if we despair of it or give contradicting messages, then this multi-year and important process which can effect the character of the entire army will be cut off in the middle. It is important to judge what has been done and what we can look forward to, and compare it to what our detachment from the army is liable to bring."Secondly, to judge the army as something separate from the society is not correct; it's like judging the horse which trampled me [at Amona]. The army is like the horse, and it has a rider who directs it: the government. That's how it must be... And so when the same Chief of Staff who banished me from the army for irrelevant reasons [widely believed to be Eitam's religious observant lifestyle - ed.] came and appeared before the government in which I was a minister, it was clear that though he came to argue and present his case - in the end, he would accept whatever decision the government handed down to him.
"We in the religious-Zionist camp deal much more intensively with the horse, instead of with its rider, namely, the political echelons. I think we should use the Gush Katif crisis for a deep self-reckoning to realize [this]. As long as we diffuse our influence and deal too much with the horse and not with the politicians, other riders will ride the horse and we will not succeed... The army cannot refuse government orders, and those who feel the opposite are talking about a different state, if it can at all be called a state." "Perhaps the heart of the matter is the following: ... We must find an alternative to the police violence at Amona, refusal to carry out orders, and the uprooting of Jewish communities. That alternative is the building of a common desire that unites all of us with one national desire. “This is the challenge we face: to form national solidarity, a common ideological horizon, where everyone will want to endanger his life for the common will. At present we have weakness and lack of clarity. We have to find the way to replace the mechanical organs of authority, which use violence and bulldozers, with a true national solidarity."
Recently-retired senior IDF officer Yiftah Ron-Tal, a former resident of the Yesha community of Ofrah, said that when he was faced with the choice of either resigning from the army or carrying out Disengagement orders, he deliberated, but chose the latter. Eitam, who reached the rank of Brigadier-General, later said that he would definitely have chosen the former. Ron-Tal said, "Israel continues to face existential security dangers, and as such, we cannot choose the level of security we wish to maintain... The army is the army of the people, and must remain above all disputes and social controversy. This doesn't mean that every security-related action it takes is in the consensus, such as the Lebanon War, but rather that once it is taken, it must be this way... “No fewer than 45 percent of the recent officers' course were wearing kippot (yarmulkes). This public brings a tremendous dimension of faith and mission to the army, and we cannot afford to give it up. If this means that non-security matters [such as uprooting residents from their homes in Gush Katif] should be taken out of the army's hands, then that's how it must be." Many speakers agreed with this last point.
Emanuel Shilo, editor of B'Sheva, the newspaper that sponsored the Conference, said, "Seven or eight months ago, the army carried out a mission that was perhaps unprecedented in scope, when a very large joint army-police force, after having undergone months of preparation, conquered a residential area, broke down the gates, took over the villages, forced the residents out of their homes, sent them to the unknown, and then was left with nothing but to destroy their homes and lock the village gates behind them. "I believe that the people that were there - mostly religious-Zionists, by chance or not by chance - saw and felt what happened to them exactly as I just described it. This can help us understand the depth of the crisis and break in spirit that this public feels. "In addition, it also appears that this will continue to be part of what the army can look forward to doing in the future; some of its basic missions will be to once again fall upon Jewish communities, throw the people out, and the like. This will then influence other aspects of the army, such as who to promote, based on whether they are fit for this type of job, etc.
"Regarding the horse and its rider [that Eitam spoke about]. First of all, regarding the army's willingness to carry out these orders, I respect the achievements of all those who made whatever decisions they made - but it's clear that there are some orders that are simply immoral and cannot be carried out. The very fact that an order or law was passed democratically does not make it moral. Therefore the army as an organization bears responsibility for having taken part. "I don't agree with Effie Eitam that the army must merely carry out the orders. There is a precedent in the Bible for what I am saying, and that is when the army as an army refused to carry out King Saul's orders to kill the Kohanim of Nov. This therefore causes some of our disappointment. "We could have expected some senior officers to resign rather than carry out these orders; if this would lead to a form of disintegration in the army, as some of the speakers feared, then the government would be smart enough to realize what is going on and would adapt its policies accordingly. “Just like the Finance Minister adapts his policies according to various considerations, such as diverting the painful blows more to the poorer classes and not the wealthier classes, in order that the wealthy not take their money out of the country; we definitely could have expected to have officers from our camp who would have refused to take part in what happened in Gush Katif."
Reduction in Non-Hareidi Soldiers Allowed in Nachal Hareidi - February 22, 2006
Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - The IDF's Nachal Hareidi unit, contrary to press
reports, will not be closed, but the army has decided to limit the number of
non-Hareidi soldiers who are allowed to enlist in the program. The Nachal Hareidi
Battalion was established in order to allow soldiers from the Hareidi-religious
sector to serve in the IDF, while adapting the environment in which they serve
to their specific needs. Though members of
the Hareidi community have enlisted in the unit, it has also become a viable
option for religious soldiers from various other communities, including
volunteers from overseas. All food served to the unit is certified Glatt kosher
and the staff on the base is all male. Torah classes are also offered as well
as other services.Following the IDF's participation in the implementation of
the unilateral Disengagement from Gaza and northern Samaria, rumors that the
unit would be closed abounded after soldiers from the unit boasted that the
government didn't dare assign them to take part in the expulsion due to fear of
IDF Chief of Manpower Maj.-Gen. Elazar Stern has now issued a statement establishing a quota for the number of non-Hareidi religious soldiers allowed to join the unit. Stern says the move is a step toward the goal of having the entire unit made up of Hareidi-religious recruits. "Lately, the number of Hareidim [plural of Hareidi] enlisting in this battalion has grown, indicating that the potential for recruiting among the Hareidi population has also increased," Stern's office wrote. "We hope, ultimately, to reach the goal set for the battalion - that all its soldiers will be from the Hareidi sector." Stern has decided that enlistment levels must now be such that 70% of the soldiers in the unit come from the Hareidi sector. "This fits in with the intention of the IDF to limit, as much as possible, assignment of recruits to the battalion from populations for whom the battalion was not actually set up," Stern said. The father of a soldier serving in the brigade, who asked that his name be withheld, said that the decision is one based purely on Stern's personal ideological conviction that religious soldiers should not be isolated from the general population in the army. "I also feel that this is an attempt by Stern to punish the religious public for the Disengagement," he added. "They all signed a petition saying they would refuse orders if called upon to take part in the expulsion. They had no part in the Disengagement and there were a number of soldiers who protested when not on duty."
Nachal Hareidi is also an option for religious soldiers that want to attend any yeshiva that is not part of the hesder program, which organizes integration of yeshiva study and army service over a five-year period. Following the Disengagement, heads of Hesder yeshivot that advised their students to disobey orders to remove Jews from parts of the Land of Israel were reprimanded and threatened with the closing of their academies. The Hesder program as a whole is undergoing changes initiated by Stern, as well.The Manpower Division says that as of the November 2005 draft, the IDF has already begun recruitment on the basis of the new policy. In a normal draft, the unit would have accepted over 120 soldiers. In November, however, they only accepted 80 soldiers, leaving the unit 60% Hareidi, 30% non-Hareidi religious, and 10% of the members volunteers from overseas as part of the Machal program. Recruiters reportedly demanded to see the files of recruits, in order to prove, via the high school they attended, etc., that they were indeed Hareidi. "We are prepared for the possibility of a slight drop in enlistment numbers in the short term, but this should lead to stability, in terms of the battalion fulfilling its original purpose," a statement read.
Israeli Professor Taking Harvard by Storm – May 29, 2006
Lekarev - Most university professors don't have students lining up outside their lectures hoping to find an extra space. But most professors haven't tapped an emotional and intellectual connection with his students like Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar has. Even his colleagues consider him the 'rock star' of positive psychology - the discipline he teaches. In essence, Ben-Shahar offers his students what every person is struggling to find - the key to happiness. The 35-year-old Israeli psychologist lectures to a staggering one fifth of the student body at Harvard University. His class, Positive Psychology, is the largest ever in the history of the Psychology Department at Harvard, with an enrollment of 850 students.
Ben-Shahar's other class - the Psychology of Leadership - boasts 550 students and is the third most popular class at the university. His classes are so popular that Harvard was forced to move his lectures to Memorial Hall in Sanders Theatre, their largest lecture hall. Professor Ben-Shahar tells his students to ask themselves three questions:
"The challenge is then to find activities that fulfill these three criteria - of meaning, pleasure, and strengths," he explains. He stresses that not only are people happier when choosing our work according to these criteria, they are also more successful in the long run - able to sustain long periods of effort and focus with relative ease. One of the basic tenets of Positive Psychology is to simplify. "Life is short, and many of us tend to clutter our lives with things that we do not really want to do. We are too busy trying to squeeze in more and more activities into less and less time. We compromise on our happiness by trying to do too much. All of us need to remember saying 'no' to others often means saying 'yes' to ourselves. The price we pay for doing too much is too high - it comes in the form of unhappiness, stress, and physical health," says Ben- Shahar.
Mediterranean Diet Cuts Risk of – April 20, 2006
Lekarev - A new scientific study suggests that a Mediterranean-style diet that appears to cut the risk of heart disease may also help protect against Alzheimer's disease. People who followed the diet were up to 40 per cent less likely than those who largely avoided it to develop Alzheimer's during the course of the research, scientists reported. The reserach was recently published online by the Annals of Neurology.
The diet tested includes eating lots of vegetables, legumes, fruits, cereals and fish, while limiting intake of meat and dairy products, drinking moderate amounts of alcohol and emphasizing monounsaturated fats, such as in olive oil, over saturated fats. Previous research has suggested that such an approach can reduce the risk of heart disease. The idea that a heart-healthy diet could also help fight Alzheimer's fits in with growing evidence that “the kinds of things we associate with being bad for our heart turn out to be bad for our brain,” said Dr. Marilyn Albert, a Johns Hopkins neurology professor and spokeswoman for the Alzheimer's Association. The list includes high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, smoking and uncontrolled diabetes, she said.
Soooooo - eat healthy! Like an Israeli!
Israeli Low-Carb Potato a Hit Abroad- April 17, 2006
Lekarev - A low-carb 'diet' potato grown in Israel has quickly become a staple on dinner plates in Great Britain. With American consumers increasingly weight conscious, it is clearly only a matter of time before the 'Vivaldi' potato crosses the ocean to the other side. In an age where the glycemic index (GI), which measures the amount of carbohydrates food contains, is the new diet phenomenon, the Vivaldi potato, which contains up to 38% less carbohydrates and half the calories of the average potato, has tremendous potential. Potatoes are known to be an excellent source of vitamin C and also contain vitamin E, B vitamins, and minerals calcium and magnesium. Tests are ongoing to ascertain the precise levels of these nutrients in Vivaldi, but these are not expected to be significantly less than in other varieties.
The potato is being grown in Israel by 13 kibbutzim that make up the Hevel Maon cooperative in the Western Negev desert. Due to its mild climate, Israel is a very attractive place for growing all kinds of spuds, according to Shimon Warshavsky, potato quality specialist at Hevel Maon's research and development department. Because there are two Israeli potato 'seasons', consumers can have Israeli potatoes on their plates all year round. "Our advantage is that it is never too cold for potatoes," Warshavsky told ISRAEL21c. "We can grow two crops here. Some people are willing to pay higher prices for new potatoes all through the year."
Research Breakthrough May Help Women To Conceive - May 17, 2006
(IsraelNationalNews) - Some
completely unexpected results of biopsies performed on women with fertility
problems have led to a new path of scientific discovery that may hold hope for
women trying to conceive. Prof. Nava Dekel and her team in the Weizmann
Institute’s Biological Regulation Department began investigating a protein they
suspected plays a role in the implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus –
a crucial and sometimes failure-prone process. The team took biopsies at
several stages in the menstrual cycles of 12 women with long histories of
fertility problems and unsuccessful In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatments to
see if levels of this protein changed over the course of the cycle. Indeed, the
team’s research went according to plan and they found evidence pointing to the
protein’s role. But the surprise came soon after: Of the 12 women participating
in the study, 11 became pregnant during the next round of IVF.
The idea of biopsy incisions - small wounds involving the removal and examination of tissue from the living body - leading to such a positive outcome was counterintuitive, and Dekel realized something interesting was happening. She and her team repeated the biopsies, this time on a group of 45 volunteers, and compared the results to a control group of 89 women who did not undergo biopsy.
The results were clear: The procedure doubled a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant. On the basis of this and other evidence obtained from previous studies, the scientists suggest that some form of mild distress, such as a biopsy, may provoke a response that makes conditions in the uterus favorable for implantation. Dekel and her team are now looking for the exact mechanisms involved when an unreceptive uterus turns receptive following local injury. They are conducting both animal studies and human clinical trials to identify genes that may play a role in this process. In the future, this accidental finding may give birth to new treatments to improve the success rate of IVF or even tackle some types of fertility problems directly. Prof. Dekel's team includes Drs. Yael Kalma and Yulia Gnainsky, working in collaboration with Drs. Amichai Barash and Irit Granot of the Kaplan Medical Center.
Israeli Infant Undergoes 6 Organ Transplant, Doing Well - May 16, 2006
Arutz Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - In the course of an extremely complex U.S. operation, six organs were transplanted into the tiny body of Israeli infant girl, Agam Ben-Old. The operation was labeled a success on Monday, after Agam fought for her life for ten days in the immediate aftermath of the operation. She received a new liver, large intestine, small intestine, pancreas, spleen and stomach. On Monday, Agam ate on her own for the first time, without an intravenous infusion. Amazing!
Thirteen-month-old Agam, from Be'er Sheva, was born with a rare defect that damaged her digestive system. Her parents underwent major fundraising efforts ahead of the trip, and Agam was flown a few weeks ago to Miami in preparation for the operation. "When we got there, her condition had severely deteriorated and she was on the verge of death, but we had seen her in bad condition, and we knew she'd come out of it. The doctors don't know her, they don't know what a fighter she is, and we continued to sit next to her bed in optimism and not in tears," Tomer Ben-Old, Agam's father, told Army Radio. Tomer explained that his daughter was born with a nerve defect that prevented her digestive tract from functioning properly. Doctors did not believe Agam would live past the age of one, and her parents set out to raise money for an operation to prove them wrong. The procedure cost more than $1.5 million. Agam's parents said that while many organizations gave money, the bulk of the NIS 5 million they raised came from ordinary citizens. What a great pleasure to report such GOOD NEWS to you today about this tiny little girl! Baruch Hashem for the saving of this precious little life.
Private Solar Power Plant in the Negev? – April 9, 2006
(IsraelNationalNews) - After 14
years of activity abroad, Beit Shemesh-based Solel Solar Systems Ltd. is planning
its first project at home, this month announcing plans for a solar-energy power
plant in the Negev. The Solel Company says that the Negev facility will be able
to produce 150 megawatts and provide clean power to 300,000 homes. The company
has already approached the state authorities, among them the Israel Electric
Corporation, to obtain the necessary permits to build a private power plant in
the region. "Israel has the ideal conditions for producing clean
energy," said Solel CEO Avi Brenmiller. "We expect that in 10-15
years about 10 percent of Israelis will consume clean solar energy and the
percentage is expected to increase annually. This will totally change the
energy market in Israel."
Construction of the Negev power plant was expected to cost about $350 million. Within 10 years, Solel intends to expand the facility to produce 500 MW of power daily, at a total investment of about $1 billion. The plant would use 70% solar energy and 30% natural gas to heat water for steam-based power production. Solel's technology is used in nine commercial solar-powered plants in California, producing 350 megawatts of electricity for 500,000 people, as well as by power suppliers serving 150,000 homes in Nevada. The company, established in 1992, has its development and manufacturing center in Beit-Shemesh, near Jerusalem
'We Can Only Count on Ourselves' – April 26, 2006
Lekarev - The successful launch of Israel's newest spy satellite is a "huge achievement" and reinforces the evident fact that Israel can only count on itself to when it comes to defending the Jewish state, said Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz. "This is a huge achievement for the defense establishment, defense industries, and the State of Israel," Mofaz said. "The satellite will enhance the ability to gather high-quality intelligence far away from the country's borders." "The State of Israel again proved that it counts first and foremost on itself in defending its citizens and acts at all times to improve capabilities and develop advanced systems to address the threats around us," he said. "The ability to provide security depends not only on the persistence and determinate of security forces, but also on directing resources to research and development projects."
The satellite will spy on Iran's nuclear program, an Israeli defense official said earlier, as Iran's leader persists with his calls for the Jewish state's destruction. A TV report said the launch was successful, but it would be some time before it could be determined if the satellite was operational. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, meanwhile, said Iran has already funneled 10 million US dollars to Palestinian terror groups since the start of this year. Israel has for years regarded Iran as the primary threat to its survival, disputing Tehran's claims that its nuclear program is peaceful. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made this threat more tangible by repeatedly questioning Israel's right to exist, most recently on Monday of this week, when he said Israel was a "fake regime" that "cannot logically continue to live."
Researchers Regenerate Tendons, Ligaments With Stem Cells - April 6, 2006
Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - Israeli researchers are using adult stem cells to
regenerate torn tendon and ligament tissue at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Adult stem cells are being used by an Israeli research team to create a new
orthopedic solution to a difficult and common problem: how to heal torn
ligaments and tendons. The research team, led by Professor Dan Gazit, is
working to change this by using stem cells taken from bone marrow and
genetically engineering them to become different cells altogether. “With this
in mind, we can genetically engineer new skeletal tissue – ligaments,
cartilage, tendons,” explained Dr. Gadi Peled, a senior scientist at the lab.
The stem cells were injected with two proteins, called Smad8 and BMP2, and were then injected into the torn Achilles tendons of rats at the Skeletal Biotechnology Laboratory at Hebrew University’s Faculty of Dental Medicine. The cells were drawn to the site of the injury and were able to repair the tendon, said Peled. “There was complete healing in seven weeks, which is very quick,” he told Israel21c.
A special type of imaging test, developed by Professor Gil Navon at Tel Aviv University, was used in the study to identify the tendon tissue repairs. The test, known as proton DQF MRI, differentiates between tendons, bones, skin and muscle, all of which contain different amounts of collagen. Peled said that in time, the new technology might be used to help people who suffer with lower back pain as well. Invertebrate discs consist largely of tendon tissue that deteriorates over time. “Our next step will be to conduct the tests on large animals. For tendons and ligaments, goats are the best subjects,” he said. Pigs will be used for invertebrate disc research. Clinical trials on bone regeneration are currently being conducted on humans by Hadassah Medical Center together with Teva Pharmaceuticals, using the same adult stem cells. “The nice thing about this is that depending on the protein you introduce, it creates different tissue,” said Peled. The new approach for tendon regeneration was reported in the April issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
Study: Religious Girls More Comfortable With Their Bodies - April 6, 2006
Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - As long as a young girl is religious, the likelihood
that she will have an eating disorder is lower, asserts Prof. Yael Latzer of
the School of Social Work at the University of Haifa. In a unique, first of its
kind study, Latzer [pictured above] looks at the connection between levels of
religiosity, self-esteem, self-image, and eating disorders.The study findings
showed that as long as the level of religiosity is unified and high, the desire
to be thin is lower. On the positive side, self-esteem and body image are
higher, as is the extent of satisfaction with one's body. The result, the
researcher states, is that there is less preoccupation with food and weight. A
total of 320 Jewish religious girls in grades 9-12 (16-18 years old) in Israel participated in the University of Haifa study.
According to Latzer, Western society sees thinness as an important value, representing beauty. It is also an expression of self-control, independence, and high social status. On the other hand, she continues, religious society expects women at a young age to fulfill some roles of mother and wife. In the religious world, importance is focused on the woman's activities in the house and less so on her external appearance and activities outside the house.
Professor Lazar commented that Jewish religious girls tended to emphasize and focus on traditional values, such as simplicity and modesty, more than on beauty and external appearance. "The important uniqueness of the woman, as is written in Halacha [Jewish law], is her inner qualities and moral principles, and not beauty," the University of Haifa researcher commented. "Instead of controlling their body and their weight, young religious girls focus on a modest life style and observance of the commandments." She cited the maxim: "The dignity of a king's daughter is on the inside."
The younger in age and the lower the level of religious belief of religious girls, Latzer found, the greater was the connection with eating disorders. "Young girls (age 12-13) still immature and unclear about their identities, become confused in respect to their religious identities, values, and the division of roles in the home between the sexes," she explained. "The confusion is expressed both in a lower self-esteem and in a poorer body image." She emphasizes that a similar phenomenon of confusion with identity also exists among peers from secular society.
Lemon Grass Fields Attracting Cancer Patients to Israel – April 6, 2006
Lekarev - It all began when researchers at Ben Gurion University of the Negev discovered last year that the lemon aroma in herbs like lemon grass kills cancer cells in vitro, while leaving healthy cells unharmed. Citral is the key component that gives the lemony aroma and taste in several herbal plants such as lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus), melissa (Melissa officinalis) and verbena (Verbena officinalis.) According to one of the research team leaders, Dr. Rivka Ofir, the study found that citral causes cancer cells to "commit suicide: using apoptosis, a mechanism called programmed cell death." A drink with as little as one gram of lemon grass contains enough citral to prompt the cancer cells to 'commit suicide' in the test tube.
The findings were published in the scientific journal Planta Medica, which highlights research on alternative and herbal remedies. Shortly afterwards, the discovery was featured in the popular Israeli press. As they learned of the BGU findings in the press, many physicians in Israel began to believe that while the research certainly needed to be explored further, in the meantime it would be advisable for their patients, who were looking for any possible tool to fight their condition, to try to harness the cancer- destroying properties of citral. Therefore, many cancer patients here are now told to drink eight glasses of hot water with fresh lemon grass steeped in it on the days that they go for their radiation and chemotherapy treatments.
Israeli Psychologists: Chocolate Therapy for Brain Trauma - March 24, 2006
(IsraelNationalNews) - Chocolate.
The very word itself conjures up images that evoke happy thoughts, relief,
pleasure and pain relief. It has also become a tool for rehabilitation in
Ra’anana, where two psychologists at the Beit Loewenstein Rehabilitation Hospital have created a chocolate sculpture therapy program.
Dr. Miri Tadir and Aviva Edelman work at the hospital’s Traumatic Brain Injury Unit, where they use chocolate to increase their patients’ pleasure while helping them to express issues that are difficult to verbalize.“We wanted a little diversity, a little color,” said Tadir in an interview with Israel21c. Edelman added, “Psychological treatment often has a stigma. [People think] you have to be abnormal to get this treatment. Especially when you already feel that something is wrong with your head. We wanted something a bit more appealing.”
The first three-month, 12-session weekly workshop began last year with a group of eight patients. A second course began in February with eight new patients and the two clinicians are closely monitoring the results, to be discussed in a paper about the new form of therapy. After the patients’ hour-long session with the chocolate, said Tadir, “they can talk about all kinds of things that are not directly connected” with the confection. “If you are doing what we do, psychological work, you can see the underlying processes which are probably coming from the work with the chocolate,” she added.
Only the best chocolate is used in the sessions, the psychologists assured. Dark Belgian, milk and white chocolate as well as various filling substances all go into making the creations that express the patients’ thoughts and feelings. “They learn how to melt it, you have to have it at the right temperature, we bought a special thermometer to control this,” said Edelman. Patients have been enthusiastic about the course, she said. “We were taught that you are not supposed to play with your food,” she noted. With a smile, she said, “We are playing with food!”
Israel Exports Apples to Syria; Syria Sells Them to Gulf States - March 20., 2006
(IsraelNationalNews) - For the
second straight year, Israeli apple growers are expanding their customer base
to include an unlikely, but eager purchaser of their surplus produce - Syria. Using the United Nations as an intermediary, Israel exported some 10,000 tons of
apples from the Golan Heights to Syria on Sunday - double the amount exported
last year.The growing trade in apples between the two countries, which are
technically at war with each other, is an interesting anomaly in a region
riddled with violence and virtually endless internecine conflict. Faced with a
surplus of apples, Israel's Agriculture Ministry turned to the United Nations
peacekeeping force on the Golan Heights in a bid to export the excess produce
to Syria. The Syrians, apparently short on apples, unexpectedly agreed to the
deal. Ironically, Israel’s apples are grown mainly in the Golan Heights, an
area which Syria has considered occupied territory ever since Israel conquered it in the 1967 Six Day War.
The produce comes from Druze apple growers. Though full-fledged citizens of Israel, many Golan Druze still identify with Syria and maintain extensive family ties across the border. The deal is expected to help Jewish growers as well, by stabilizing prices on the local market, said Giora Sela, director of the Israel Farmers Federation. In another twist, Sela said Israel’s surplus of apples stems from the inability of growers to market the produce in the Gaza district, due to the prolonged closure of Karni border terminal. Israel shut the terminal down after receiving warnings that the terminal was being targeted by terrorists.
Sela expressed satisfaction that both Israel and Syria stood to benefit from the unusual transaction. Syrian consumers, however, may not able to taste the Israeli apples, which are known for their quality and sweetness. The Syrian importers will probably resell the apples to states in the Persian Gulf, where prices for such produce are much higher.When it comes to apples, this time in the Middle East, what’s likely to win out is not military force, but the force of the market.
- February 28, 2006
(IsraelNationalNews) - The Chief
Rabbinate has issued an announcement warning that at least some frozen
cauliflower and broccoli can no longer be marketed as kosher. Chief Rabbinate
lab tests of cauliflower and broccoli samples from the Sunfrost, Pri HaGalil
and Milotel companies show unacceptably "high levels of infestation of
insects and worms."The Rabbinate's announcement states, "There is
practically no possibility of removing, on the home level, insects and worms
from broccoli and cauliflower that have been found to be infested, and
certainly not on the industrial level."
Rabbi Haggai Bar-Giora of the Chief Rabbinate's Food Industry Division explained to Arutz-7 that the cold weather of the winter months reduces the number of tiny insects found in these vegetables. For this reason, he explained, all processing and marketing of the frozen produce is done during the winter exclusively. Probably due to the unseasonably warm weather of this winter, Rabbi Bar-Giora said, produce samplings tested by the Rabbinate in an external laboratory showed an increased number of bugs.
The Rabbinate says that if and when the required changes are made, it will issue another announcement. USDA regulations permit 60 or more aphids, thrips or mites per 100 grams (3.6 oz.) in frozen broccoli. The Alei Katif "Hasalat" plant - formerly of Kfar Darom in Gush Katif, and now operating out of the industrial zone in Sderot - continues to grow bug-free cauliflower in closed hothouses. The company has not yet been able to resume its broccoli production, but cauliflower output is the same as it was in Gush Katif.
Israeli Flower Industry B(l)ooming – February 23, 2006
Lekarev - High-technology know-how is fueling Israel's ascendancy in the cut-flower industry, where export accounts for 90 percent of growers' crops of peonies, anemones and other species. Only 15 minutes from Beit Shemesh, on a tiny moshav called Sdot Micha, thousands of crimson and yellow roses and red anemones grow in neat, muddy rows under the watchful eyes of Beni Sharoni and his employee, a farm worker from Thailand. Cardboard- packed bunches of 100 cut flowers are taken to the airport at Lod each morning by truck from Sharoni's freezing-cold packing house, which is a tiny, rundown shack in back of his rose greenhouse and small tarp- covered anemone field. The anemones can grow in winter without temperature control, and from November through March there is a daily crop of these poppy-like buds. The picking, packing and distribution process is so streamlined that German and British direct-order clients receive flowers via temperature-controlled jet within two days of plucking.
Israel's flower, plant and propagation-material export brings upward of $200 million into the economy annually. The country is third only to the Netherlands and Kenya in supplying the European Union with its flowers. Each year 1.5 billion stems are exported, double from only 10 years ago - while the number of growers engaging in export has dropped by 75 percent. The system, along with the growers, has simply become more efficient. At present, the Israeli landscape is turning into one huge, national garden with riotous colors splashed against the vivid greens of the post-rain early Springtime. It is absolutely beautiful here now and this morning we are enjoying a summer-like day with clear skies and magnificent sunshine.
Forbes Reinforces Claim That Kadima is Tool of Oligarchs - April 5, 2006
(IsraelNationalNews) - Forbes Israel reported Sunday that twelve business
groups control Israel's economy - making it among the most concentrated on the
globe. The report echoes warnings by journalist Ari Shavit. According to the report,
the business groups are controlled by the following families: Sami Ofer,
Nochi Dankner, Shari Arison, the Cerberus-Gabriel consortium, Charles Bronfman,
Yitzchak Tshuva, the Saban group, Lev Leviev, Matthew Bronfman, Tzadik Bino,
the Borovich family, and Eliezer Fishman. The 12 families own 60 percent of the
aggregate market value of all Israeli public companies (excluding the even
larger Teva Pharmaceutical Industries), Forbes reported.The report goes on
to say that the families have constructed their empires, which consist of
Israel's largest companies, using organizational structures that have long ago
been done away with in the Western world.
The report explains that the groups have an inordinate amount of control over Israel's economy, political leaders and media due to the structuring of their holdings as pyramids – meaning several layers of companies each own others beneath them but are all beholden to the leading families. Such a phenomenon was eliminated in the US in the early 20th century through restrictions on ownership and the double taxation of dividends a company paid its owner company. The report stressed that the issue is not economic, but political – saying the only way to regulate the power of the families is a large government coalition that would seek such regulation.
Shavit, a commentator for the left-wing Haaretz daily, recently warned that the Kadima Party, led by Ehud Olmert, directly represents the interests of "the 18 families," as Shavit refers to those controlling most of Israel's assets. Shavit warned that a Kadima victory would represent a total takeover of control of all the central institutions of the state by the families. He wrote a mock-memo, as a "strategic advisor to the 18 families" on the eve of elections:
"...For the last 15 years my colleagues and I have been laboring faithfully and devotedly to assure your conquest over the democratic systems of said country. Over the years, we reached outstanding achievements. We have managed to create a society devoid of opposition for you, one without any parties worthy of note, without labor unions worth the name, without sniping journalists. We thus achieved almost perfect control over the Israeli consciousness, and over the government and political establishment.
"We can state, with great satisfaction, that there is no political power in Israel today that can stop us; there is no public debate that could restrain us; and there no investigative journalism that can imperil us. Thanks to methodical, professional work over a decade, we have achieved absolute hegemony for you. A hegemony that wealth never had in any western country worthy of the name.
"...We had to set up a political body that would serve us faithfully and put One of Us at its head. We had to harness all the assets we bought in the last decade to assure its victory, to ensure that the government shared our views, bears our arms, does our bidding.
"...But the issue isn't just personal. As a vehicle, Kadima has the political structure we always dreamed of, being a party with no members and no institutions and no ideology. The new ruling party will be a vastly valuable tool to achieve our goals. Since it has no obligations downward, only upward, it will enable us to seize full control over the Israeli government. Police, prosecution, treasury - it will all be in our hands. Even the antitrust commissioner. The Supervisor of Banks. Even the Supreme Court will be manned with new, friendly faces. Like Berlusconi's Italy or Putin's Russia, Israel of Kadima will be a paradise for corporate control. The decrepit democratic regime of the 20th century will be replaced by a reign of the oligarchs with absolute economic power."
Israel Investment News - May, 2006 – May 31, 2006
(IsraelNationalNews) - ONE OF AMERICA'S GREATEST INVESTORS WARREN BUFFETT IN
HIS LARGEST INVESTMENT OUTSIDE U.S., BUYS 80% OF ISCAR FOR $4 BILLION - Buffett:
"Iscar is an amazing company run by amazing people. I don't get many
opportunities to invest in companies like that."Warren Buffett,
labeled the biggest investment guru of all time and his investment company
Berkshire Hathaway Inc. announced an agreement to buy 80% of Israeli company
Iscar Ltd. for $4 billion. Iscar Metalworking Companies (IMC) is an industry
leader in the metal cutting tools business through its Iscar, TaeguTec,
Ingersoll and other IMC group companies. It is owned by the Wertheimer family
with operations worldwide. The deal is the largest acquisition ever by Buffett
outside the U.S. and the third largest investment ever made by Berkshire.
Buffett said that his investment in Iscar and its management would prove to be one of the most significant things Berkshire had ever done. Talking about Israel, Buffett said that Israel has "amazing people. We are investing $4 billion in an amazing group of people from Israel – and we are investing it at an astounding speed." The company will continue to be managed by its current management team, headed by Chairman Eitan Wertheimer and President and CEO Jacob Harpaz with headquarters remaining in Tefen, Israel. Expressing interest in investing in additional Israeli companies, Buffett commented that he is waiting for calls from Israeli companies that meet his criteria.
MORGAN STANLEY LABELS ISRAELI ECONOMY "ALMOST PERFECT"
Investment bank releases glowing report on Israeli economy - In a review on the Israeli economy entitled "Israel, Almost Perfect", U.S. investment bank Morgan Stanley predicted the Bank of Israel's key rate will rise to 5.75% in 2006. The report said that "Israel's new government is good news from the economy and financial markets. The formation of a 'grand' coalition…in the Knesset is a positive development and will help maintain economic stability."
6.6% GROWTH IN ECONOMY IN FIRST QUARTER
Citigroup sees average growth exceeding 4%- A report showed the economy grew 6.6% in the first quarter of 2006, compared with 5.2% in the same period of 2005. The results exceeded previous forecasts. Investments in fixed assets grew by an annualized 16.3%, business product rose by an annualized 10.6% and investments in machinery and equipment rose by 20%. In response to the first quarter figures, Citigroup analysts predict that the average growth for 2006 will be higher than its 4% previously predicted.
NASDAQ TO LAUNCH INDEX OF ISRAELI COMPANIES
Israeli stock index to be the first foreign index on Nasdaq - Nasdaq International Vice President for EMEA, Charlotte Crosswell said that the Nasdaq will launch an Israeli stock index within the next few months. The companies on the index will be weighed on the basis of their market capitalization. This will be the first ever foreign index on the Nasdaq, with Israel boasting more companies listed than any country outside North America.
RED HERRING'S TOP 100 EUROPEAN LIST INCLUDES 17 ISRAELI COMPANIES
Israel ties 2nd place for the largest number of companies on the list- Israel tied with France in the second largest number of companies, after Britain to be listed on Red Herring's top European 100 private technology companies. The companies, judged on innovation and entrepreneurial activities, include D-Pharm, BiolineRX, BitBand, Genova, Altair Semiconductor, Axerra Networks, cVidya Networks, Discretix Technologies, Double Fusion, Gteko Technologies, Negevtech, Power Paper, Siano Mobile Silicon, SpeedBit, Targetize Innovative Solutions, Xeround and Voltaire.
MICROSOFT ANNOUNCES BUYS ISRAELI WHALE COMMUNICATIONS
Microsoft Israel's VP R&D: Microsoft plans to turn the start-up into another Israeli R&D center - Microsoft announced plans to acquire secure sockets layer (SSL) and virtual private networks (VPN) vendor Whale Communications. Whale was listed in international accountancy firm Deloitte Touche’s “Europe Fast 500” list of top companies in 2005. Whale marks Microsoft's first acquisition of an Israeli company since 2001.
BMC SOFTWARE INTERESTED IN FURTHER INVESTING IN ISRAEL
The company's investments in Israel are considered its largest outside the U.S - On a visit to Israel, BMC President and CEO Bob Beauchamp announced that BMC Software would continue investing in Israel on top of the billion dollars it had already spent. Beauchamp was in Israel with other company executives celebrating the company's recent acquisition of Identify Group for $150 million. Jim Grant, the Vice President of BMC Software Service Management Business Unit said that the company's investments in Israel are its largest outside the U.S. "Our Tel Aviv facility is particularly important because the mainframe talent and technology that we have there is not easily found around the world… We have had tremendous success here and (with) the products they produce and the great technology environment that exists in Israel," he said.
CAPITAL INTERNATIONAL INVESTMENT GROUP TO ENTER ISRAELI MARKET
Company establishes fund with Pekan Plus Mutual Funds - Capital International, an investment group with over $300 billion under management, announced it would establish a mutual fund in Israel. This marks the company's first entry into the Israeli market. Capital International signed an agreement with Tel Aviv based Pekan Plus Mutual Funds. The fund will specialize in investments in the US share markets for its Israeli clientele.
IBM ACQUIRES ISRAELI UNICORN SOLUTIONS
Company listed on Red Herring's 100 leading start-ups for 2005 - Unicorn Solutions, developers of software for metadata management is being acquired by IBM. The company is based in Jerusalem with a presence in New York. Unicorn is included in Gartner Group's "visionary quadrant" within its high-level evaluation criteria "Magic Quadrant" and was listed on Red Herring's 100 leading start-ups in 2005. Its employees will join the IBM R&D laboratory in Israel.
FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT REACHES $1.72 BILLION IN MARCH-APRIL
Hi-tech , industry and real estate benefit from investment - The Bank of Israel reported that total direct foreign investment and investment in Israeli securities totaled $1.72 billion for the months of March and April. The hi-tech, industry and real estate sectors benefited most from the investment.
STANDARD AND POORS AND MOODY'S CAST CONFIDENT VOTE ON ISRAELI ECONOMY
"Israeli society and its political and economic decision-makers have shown remarkable resiliency," reported Moody's - Both Moody's Investor Services and credit rating company Standard & Poors (S&P) granted a vote of confidence in the Israeli economy. Moody's Investor Services upgraded its outlook for its international market rating for Israel to "positive". "Israel is exhibiting considerable growth of GDP per capita, moving towards a level more often associated with advanced economies than with developing ones," said the report. In addition, announcing its credit ratings, S&P retained its A- rating for Israel. It reaffirmed the outlook remains stable.
WARREN BUFFETT INVESTS FURTHER IN ISRAEL
AgroLogic and Cellulogic acquired by Berkshire Hathaway - Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Group announced its subsidiary CTB International Corp. had signed an agreement to buy the controlling interest of Israeli company AgroLogic. The company designs and manufactures integrated systems for cultural use including climate controllers, feed and poultry weighing systems. Cellulogic, AgroLogic's subsidiary which makes warning and control systems was also acquired by CTB International. As a public service, Arutz Sheva provides below the May newsletter from the Finance Ministry's Investment Promotion Center.
Owes Israel $23 Billion
– February 28, 2006
Arutz Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - Israel has become a large-scale international lender in the past three years, with global sources owing Israel $23 billion at the end of 2005. According to a Globes report, global debt to Israel rose 92% over the past year.
Most of the debt ($22.7 billion) is to the private sector and Israel banks are owed $3.1 billion. The public sector, though, led by the Israeli government, continues to borrow, in order to recycle debts and cover budget deficits.
Israel’s gross external debt was $75.5 billion in 2005, a drop of $250 million.
“The balance of Israel's external liabilities totaled some $153 billion at the end of December 2005, a rise of $16.5 billion in 2005,” a Bank of Israel statement read. “This is a positive development, caused by sizeable foreign direct and portfolio investment…The increased profitability of the business sector, the contraction of the budget deficit, the improved geopolitical situation and the accelerated pace of privatization (the sale of Bank Leumi and Israel Discount Bank) enabled Israel's economy to attract an unprecedented amount of non-resident investment and to benefit from the global trend of international flows of capital into the emerging markets.”
Lekarev - In a sale deeply significant for Israel, showing great confidence in the Israeli economy, the world's second richest man, Warren Buffett of Berkshire-Hathaway, Inc. of the US has purchased 80% interest in Israel's ISCAR Metalworking Company for $4 Billion USD, a business begun about 50 years ago in the seacoast town of Nahariya. There had been mounting market speculation that Buffett would unveil a major acquisition to help rid Berkshire of some of its enormous cash stake. Berkshire ended March with USD 42.86 billion of cash. Iscar, now based in Tefen, Israel, manufactures metalworking tools used by makers of heavy equipment such as cars and airplanes. It has facilities in Tefen, the United States, Brazil, China, Germany, India, Italy, Japan and Korea.
The firm is controlled by the Wertheimer family, which will retain a 20 percent stake after the closing. Chairman Eitan Wertheimer, Chief Executive Jacob Harpaz and the rest of current management will remain in place. "We are investing $4 billion in an amazing band of people from Israel," Buffett told The Marker on Saturday. "If your readers know a company that resembles Iscar, even a little, have them call me immediately. I want to buy. Let them call me collect." The deal values Iscar, a leading private manufacturer of advanced cutting tools, at $5 billion and will make its owners, Stef and Eitan Wertheimer, the richest family in Israel. It will also net $1 Billion USD in taxes to the government - not a bad bit of a boost for the new Minister of the Treasury!!
Bird Flu Strikes in Southern Israel – March 19, 2006
Lekarev - Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said today that while the government was dedicating a significant amount of time towards dealing with the bird flu virus discovered in southern Israel, it was important not to panic unnecessarily over the outbreak. "It is important to stress that at this stage there is no indication that the disease has spread to humans", said Olmert at the start of his cabinet meeting.
"The government is taking all the necessary steps to prevent the virus spreading and in the next few days a team will be set up to evaluate the compensation to be given to farmers."
Thousands of chickens and turkeys have been destroyed over the last 48 hours because of the outbreak at three Kibbutzim toward the end of last week. Four million vaccine doses are due to arrive here from Holland on Tuesday.
Poultry growers expect heavy losses, reaching billions of dollars. Each turkey that is destroyed is worth 100 shekels, and with hundreds of thousands of birds being killed, dozens of small farms risk amassing crippling debt.
Avian Flu Spreads to Gaza, Jordan Valley and Possibly Elsewhere - April 23, 2006
Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - Agriculture
Minister Ze’ev Boim (Kadima) has ordered the transfer of 300,000 doses of
Tamiflu, a drug to combat avian flu, to the Palestinian Authority (PA). More
cases of the flu have been found. So far, no human cases of the flu have been
reported, but dead birds who had caught the flu were found in the former Jewish community of
Netzarim, now controlled by the PA. Dead birds were also found in Rafiah – the
southern Gaza town known for its weapons smuggling tunnels.Tests were also
positive for the H5N1 strain of the flu in Moshav Bekaot, in the Jordan Valley, and dead birds were found in the central Israel town of Netaim as well, though
test results are pending. Cases have not yet been found in the neighboring Beit Shean Valley, which is home to most of Israel’s chicken coops.
The Arab village of Ouja near Jericho has also reported dead birds, which are now being tested. Jordan has gone on high alert for cases of the flu as well. Communities in southern Israel are extremely concerned about the discovery of bird flu in Gaza. Many are worried that the PA will not be willing or able to take the necessary steps to quarrantine infected birds to prevent the spread and strengthening of the disease.
People are being offered 2,000 shekels a day to kill chickens in the Sharon region because there are not enough people willing to do the job, which involves denying the birds food and drink, and then offering them poisoned water. The work will be available for a seven-day period. People who are experienced in working with animals are preferred, and all those who apply are required to sign a document that says they will not hold the employer responsible if they catch the flu. Meanwhile, the bird flu has caused sales of poultry products to plummet. Supermarkets, stocking up for the upcoming Passover holiday, have reported a rise in demand of fish products – particularly the quintessential Ashkenazi fish-balls called gefilte fish. Health Minister Yaakov Edri will be meeting on Sunday with Chief Rabbis Shlomo Amar and Yona Metzger, along with experts representing the Chief Rabbinate, Health Ministry and Agriculture Ministry, to discuss the ramifications of the bird flu epidemic. The rabbis hope to obtain a clear picture of the current situation and to permit preparations for Passover to move ahead in an organized fashion with coordination between relevant government agencies.
Jerusalem Conference Aims to Set National Agenda - March 6, 2006
Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - The annual Jerusalem Conference is set to begin on
March 20, bringing together Israel’s leading figures in politics, economics,
security, culture, academics and Torah scholarship. “The conference will
cover key issues and values on the national agenda of Israel and the Jewish
people today,” said Conference Director-General Yehuda Oliva, speaking with Israel
National Radio. “We are formulating our own agenda to influence the nation
through it.” Oliva says the conference aims to steer Israeli policy in the same
manner that the Herzliya and Ceasaria conferences have in recent years. “Until
now, it was the left-wing that was organizing conferences like this. It is now
Following two days of mainly political and social issues, the third day of the conference will be dedicated solely to all matters pertaining to the city of Jerusalem. “This conference is being held in Jerusalem and one of its roles is to encourage and strengthen our Jerusalem,” Oliva said. The conference will take place in the Regency Hotel (formerly the Hyatt), which is located in eastern Jerusalem. Oliva says that the location of the concert is in itself a statement. “It says that we see Jerusalem as one united whole,” he said.
As in past years, simultaneous translation into English will be available throughout the conference through headsets that will be distributed. Every session will be followed by questions from the audience, and Oliva said that no one in Israeli society should feel unwelcome to attend. “Everybody is invited – it has nothing to do with whether you are a right-winger or left-winger. We advertise in all the different papers. No doubt, if you look into the numbers of speakers, you will see more right-wingers, but that is only because of the fact that other conferences lean in exactly the opposite direction and we need to balance it out.”
Some of the topics to be discussed include:
Jerusalem Focus of Final Day of Jerusalem Conference - March 23, 2006
The third and final day of the Jerusalem Conference
dealt with matters pertaining to the city of Jerusalem. Jewish Agency Chairman Ze'ev
Bielski recalled growing up in Jerusalem's Ramot Eshkol neighborhood, where
he said his life was affected by the Gush Emunim settlement movement office in
an apartment next door. "My younger sister ended up being one of the first
settlers of Beit El," he recalled. "She lived in one of the first
caravans [trailers] there, and my mother never forgave or forgot that Arutz-7
was taken off the air. I always promised her that the people responsible would
pay the price some day."
Regarding the holy city, Bielski said no matter where he has gone in life, being sent across the globe as a Jewish Agency emissary, serving as mayor of Ra'anana, he shivers every time he enters the city – even now, when he commutes daily from Ra'anana.
National Religious Party Chairman and now number-two on the National Union/NRP list Zevulun Orlev spoke at the conference about the dangerous nature of the Partition Wall's route in the Jerusalem region. Orlev spoke about the decision to build the fence between the Arab village of Beit Iksa and Highway 1. "I can't help thinking back to the Six Day War," he said, "when I was serving in Motta Gur's 55th Paratroopers Brigade. We needed to get to Jerusalem from Beit Shemesh when Jordan's King Hussein decided to attack. The regiment traveled to Jerusalem with a small bulldozer clearing the road near the railroad lines, near Bar Giora and Ein Karem – a back road. I asked why we could not take the main road from Beit Shemesh to Jerusalem and was told it was impossible for our large, armed, paratroopers brigade to get to Jerusalem on that road because Beit Iksa, armed with rifles alone, was able to render the road impassable. Today, once again, there is the attempt to return Jerusalem to this corridor again... Jerusalem of the Jewish people must stand in the center. Sadly, it is only the capital on paper. Jews are leaving the city. More are leaving than are coming, and there is even a hidden competition of what Israel's real capital is in every regard, Jerusalem or Tel Aviv – over which is the center of industry and culture and education."
Orlev's suggested a solution similar to his party's overall platform. "I think the answer lies first and foremost in education. We need not only a mandatory curriculum, but a mandatory visit – more than one day. We need visits to the Western Wall, government buildings, Yad VaShem [Holocaust memorial] and Ammunition Hill. More than half of Israeli students have never visited Jerusalem as part of their studies." Orlev said that in the 15th Knesset, he proposed a law to provide recognition of Jewish pilgrimage to Jerusalem. "It was a declarative law that would call on all the Jews of the world and Israel to visit Jerusalem once in seven years. They would receive a certificate suitable for hanging on the wall saying they have visited Jerusalem."
Dr. Benny Ish-Shalom, a philosophy professor at Hebrew University and Bar-Ilan, lamented the fact that many of Jerusalem's Jewish residents are leaving it. "Those who are unable to tolerate the complex and oppressive nature of this old city, so laden with emotion, heritage, tradition and conflict of this wondrous city simply are leaving." Several other speakers throughout the day echoed Ish-Shalom's sentiments and presented various anecdotes about how their formerly mixed religious-secular neighborhoods have now become completely homogenous.
Dr. Avi Ben Bassat, a professor at Hebrew University and former Director-General of the Finance Ministry, spoke about Jerusalem's economic woes – a phenomenon he said is relatively recent. "The Central Bureau of Statistics publishes an economic social index of local authorities in Israel, based on standard of living, education, etc.," he said. "Jerusalem scores below the development towns of Dimona, Giryat Gat, Kiryat Shemona, Lod and Ramle. It is not just another poor city – it is the poor city."
Eastern Jerusalem land-rights activist Aryeh King asked permission to speak following the dismal prognoses of the morning's speakers. "First of all," said King, "most people leaving Jerusalem are moving to Greater Jerusalem - to Maaleh Adumim, Gush Etzion, Beit El, Adam, Mevaseret, etc. 800,000 Jews live in the Jerusalem envelope – and many of these people still work in Jerusalem." "Second of all - Jerusalem is Jewish before it is Israeli," King added, bringing up the topic of widespread illegal Arab building on state-lands in the capital. "We have published a comprehensive report that demonstrates that the state, the municipality, the government – all don't care about the land that is administrated by them. There are thousands of cases of illegal building. The Arabs build where there are no building permits because it is the goal of their strategic political plans. When we talk about poverty in Jerusalem – we aren't taking into consideration how much the Arab residents work without reporting or paying taxes. At the Herzliya Conference they talked about 11 meters per person in Jerusalem's Arab sector – they simply don't count the 20,000 illegal housing units." King also blasted the so-called Jerusalem envelope fence, saying it had nothing to do with security or demographics, as Arabs are simply moving en masse to the Jerusalem side of the fence.
Rabbi Mordechai Elon, who heads Yeshivat HaKotel, also chose to spoke about fences and walls – though in a much more metaphorical sense, calling upon the national religious to tear down the walls around our spiritual ideals. "Ben-Gurion called for tearing down the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem," he said, explaining that the first prime minister wanted Jerusalem to be a united sprawling city. "Jerusalem is tired of being walls and tourists," Rabbi Elon said. "For me, Tel Aviv is also Jerusalem; only there can we sing a new song. Over 500 synagogues were built in Tel Aviv over the past 100 years. More than 400 of them are closed today. One of them has become a rehabilitation center for Thai workers and the Great Synagogue, on Allenby Street, is open in the morning and, for a token sum, you can visit. It is like visiting a synagogue in Europe. The tragedy is that in Poland, we didn't leave the synagogues because we wanted to, but in Tel Aviv we left the synagogues because we wanted to – because we preferred the shtetls and because we didn't want to live without walls any more." Elon was referring to the homogenous religious communities and neighborhoods that have become the norm across Israel. "I have one dream," Elon concluded, "to break down the walls of Jerusalem. We must make a decision that we will break down the walls of Jerusalem within ourselves."
Michael Freund and Shavei Israel Receive Jerusalem Prize - March 23, 2006
(IsraelNationalNews) - Michael Freund and the Shavei Israel organization were
presented with the Jerusalem Prize at the closing ceremony of the Jerusalem
Conference. The Maaleh School of Cinema was also awarded. "The Jerusalem
Prize is being granted to Shavei Israel for lending a hand to Jews and their
descendants all over the world, educating them and assisting them in returning
to Judaism," read the award. "Whether assisting crypto-Jews in Spain,
Subbotnik Jews in Russia, B'nei Menashe in India, the Morrocan Jews living in
Peru or those elsewhere, Shavei Israel - acting through determination and
sensitivity, as well as with an overarching sense of humanity - welcomes these
souls back to our people." The award plaque was presented to Freund by
Gonen Ginat, Editor of HaTzofeh.
Recent Shavei Israel projects include providing a rabbi for the "Jungle Jews" of Peru, reaching out to the Chinese Jewish community of Kaifeng and establishing an outreach center in Brazil for the descendents of Anousim – Jews who hid their Judaism during the Spanish Inquisition whose descendants are rediscovering their Jewish roots. Another project reaches out to Subbotnik Jews in Russia, who are descendants of Russian peasants in the Voronezh region, located hundreds of miles south of Moscow, who converted to Judaism nearly two centuries ago and adhered to their faith despite continuous persecution. Several other projects are ongoing as well.
Additional information is available on Shavei Israel's web site, Shavei.org
Jerusalem Conference Chair Seeks Unity, Balance and Aliyah - March 23, 2006
Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - Robert Rechnitz from Los Angeles, chairman of the Jerusalem Conference and Vice-Chairman of American Friends of
Likud, says the conference's aim is Jewish unity. "I think the bottom
line of the conference is to create unity," Rechnitz told Israel National
Radio's Yishai Fleisher and Alex Traiman. "I am not talking about the
overused phrase, but rather true unity - bridging the gaps not only between
secular and religious society, but within the religious Zionist movement, so it
can get out there and make itself known – not just at times of opposing
Disengagement or at times of canvassing for votes."
Another aim of the conference, according to Rechnitz, is to remedy the one-sidedness of socio-political debate in Israeli society, which contributes to the fragmented nature of the Jewish people. "One of the problems I had, as someone from the United States, was that the Herzliya Conference was getting a lot of publicity and was looked at as the central think-tank of the State of Israel. Well, most people that I know were not invited to the Herzliya Conference – and I know people in the center, left and right. It consists strictly of one view. When you invite one view to a conference and you broadcast to the world that this is a think-tank of Israel's intellectual community – that is not a fair representation. As a matter of fact, that is called misrepresentation where I live. [This] conference extends itself to the right, center and the left. We had Haaretz journalists here yesterday, [Labor MK] Matan Vilnai was here last year - the nice thing is that everyone is accepted here in a nice spirit, in a Kiddush HaShem [sanctification of G-d's name] and there is no heckling and no insults. People agree to disagree – this is a very good forum. What I would like to see as an outcome is that this educates the settlers and the nationalist camp to the right to be able to have a forum to meet with the left in a dignified manner because every side here is at fault for the conflict and every side needs to work harder to mend those gaps.”
The conference chairman recalled hearing a lecture by veteran journalist Avi Shavit, where a particular anecdote struck a chord. Shavit had decided to visit Gaza on a Saturday morning before the Disengagement, after Gaza had already been closed to non-residents and activists were going to great efforts to evade security forces and sneak in. Shavit said that as he drove on that Sabbath, he did not pass any blockades or soldiers or police. Rechnitz said that what he took from the anecdote was that one of the greatest tragedies of Israel today is that the assumption can be made that only Sabbath-observers would care about those living in the settlements.
"The settlements were not founded as religious enterprises – but in the spirit of the pioneers," Rechnitz said. "That spirit you can only find today in the IDF - members of the national religious community, career soldiers doing it for the sake of the country. But for most of the country, [the IDF] is a stop on the way to exploring far-east countries. The tragedy is that Olmert has chosen to demonize this fantastic sector. I fear that if the religious Zionist and settlement movement doesn’t change its image by first of all uniting amongst themselves and second of all reaching out to society, that they can actually alienate themselves further."
Asked what the role is of Israel for American Jewry and vice versa, Rechnitz said he was concerned that recent events may forebode bad times for Jews of the US. "A Harvard study has just been published by two professors, and it unfortunately claims that AIPAC is such a strong lobby that it has convinced the leadership of the US to take action and vote against what would really be in their national interest. This is a dangerous precedent similar to what we saw just before the Holocaust, when they claimed that the Jews were manipulating Germany for their own good at the expense of the German people. This has hints of that. It is a dangerous accusation and we don't know yet what the implications are going to be."
The Los Angeles native added that Aliyah (Jewish immigration to Israel) needed to be strengthened and added to the top of the American Jewish agenda. "We need to promote Jewish continuity and religious education, but we also need to promote Aliyah," he said. "Los Angeles is a community that is known for Aliyah – but not as strong as other communities, like Toronto."
Jerusalem Conference: Thinkers Discuss Preservation of the Diaspora - March 20, 2006
Sheva (IsraelNationalNews) - The third annual
Jerusalem Conference began Monday morning, with notable thinkers and shapers of
public policy gathering in Israel's capital to formulate an agenda for Israel's
future. "Just days before a critical election for a new prime
minister and government of Israel… we celebrated the holiday of Purim, where
[the hero] Mordechai is described as seeking peace for his people," said
Conference Chairman Robert Rechnitz of Los Angeles. "What a wondrous way
to describe a politician - especially compared with those we see today, who
seek their personal betterment in exchange for nothing but talk and sweet
words. How many times have we been disappointed by leaders who give us nice
words, but do not match them with actions."
Rechnitz said he hoped the conference would herald new initiatives that would guide Israel's leadership and build bridges in an increasingly fractured Israel. "We must use this opportunity to remedy the alienation between religious and secular Jews in Israel. It is OK to talk about concessions, but not painful concessions. Our people have a monopoly on pain, and the concessions we should be engaging in should be within our people - to bridge gaps between brothers."
The Monday morning session was entitled, "The Jewish People - Thoughts and Challenges for the Next 25 Years." "We have not thought about this enough," said Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, who chaired the plenum. "People are so preoccupied with demographics that they have forgotten about the central issue of keeping Israel a Jewish State in all the critical and necessary ways, beyond mere numeric dominance. Does the State of Israel have to ask itself how its actions will affect Jews living outside the State of Israel? What do we do so as not to lose the Jews of the Diaspora to intermarriage? Is that within our purview? All these questions are hardly addressed in a serious manner, but I think they are more important than what Israel's borders will be – though some think that is the most important question. " Amidror recalled a meeting he had with former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, in which Kissinger told him, "You have to remember that the United States can live without Israel, but American Jewry cannot."
Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau (pictured), former Chief Rabbi of Israel and current Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, took the podium next, quoting the Biblical prophet Bilaam, who said Israel is a nation that will dwell alone. "We usually view this as sad and fatalistic," Rabbi Lau said. "Sometimes Micronesia votes with Israel, France once did, but usually everyone votes against us. The Netziv of Volozhin said this verse should be punctuated properly. The real meaning is that 'They are a nation that when alone - dwells.' As long as this nation retains its character, it will remain. But when it mixes and loses its portion, it will lose its ability to remain."Rabbi Lau then focused on what he views as the main crisis facing the Jewish people – the disintegration of the Diaspora Jewry. "The Jews of the Diaspora are like gold to us," he said. "And it is not the money or the bonds or the trees. But to this day, what have we given them in return - beyond our existence, which is very valuable in and of itself? How many emissaries have we sent? Not to ask for money, but as emissaries? How many of our generals and notables have we sent to Jewish schools – which are the only hope for the continuity of the Diaspora - to show them that Jewish continuity is important to Israel? Press conferences and parlor meetings are well and good, but to sit on a stool with children in the first grade who only know a few Hebrew words is what is important. 85% of the Jews in the Diaspora have never been to Israel. If there is no education and no basis then that is no surprise. Our problem is that we don't reach out enough to the Diaspora. We talk about immigration, but not about building schools there."
Lau then took out a graph he says he carries with him always: "In the 1990s, from 1990-1997, two Jewish statisticians, Gordon and Horowitz, conducted a comprehensive survey of US Jewry from coast to coast. They sought to determine what happens in the Jewish community. They divided it into five groups – secular, reform, conservative, modern orthodox and yeshiva orthodox. Their model was to see how many out of 100 Jews remain Jewish after three generations. The results were: 72% of secular Jews intermarried, with the rest having an average of 1.62 children – leaving five Jews out of 100 in the fourth generation. 53% of Reform Jews intermarried, having an average of 1.72 children – leaving 13 Jewish in the fourth generation. 37% of Conservative Jews intermarried, having an average of 1.82 children and leaving 24 Jews remaining in the fourth generation. Just 3% of Modern Orthodox Jews intermarried, bearing an average of 3.27 children and expanding to 346 Jews in the fourth generation. Yeshiva Orthodox had the same level of intermarriage at Modern Orthodox, but had an average of 6.4 children and were therefore 2,587 in number in the fourth generation.""As many mistakes as there could be in the study, the trends are clear," Rabbi Lau concluded. "What do we worry about while this is going on? Nonsense and vanity. And it is happening in the United States, with wonderful schools and Bnei Akiva and Chabad. What can we do as Jews when we say we are responsible for one another? Our brothers and sisters are being lost before our eyes. What can we do so that this candle will not be extinguished?"
Veteran Israeli journalist Dan Margalit spoke after Rabbi Lau, largely taking issue with his conclusions. "The Jewish people are dissipating in the world," he said. "I think in 25 years, there will be no debate with [Arab MK] Ahmed Tibi regarding the Law of Return because there won't be quantities of Jewish people outside Israel enough for it to be relevant. In the atmosphere of globalization and the war of civilizations, the Jewish people will continue to shrink." Margalit said that this pessimistic assessment need not necessarily be combated via strengthening Jewish life in the exile. "What are we doing to have Israel be the Jewish State and not the state of the Jews?" Margalit asked. "How and why would it be a Jewish state if the Jews of the Diaspora do not come live in it? Unless it will be the state of the Jews, Israel's chances of being a Jewish state are negligible. As you know, there is a danger to the Jewish majority in the State of Israel, as well... If we have a critical mass of Jewish people in the State of Israel, then it will become a Jewish state. "We cannot preserve the Diaspora, but [we can only preserve] enclaves for a certain number of generations. There is a need for a great breakthrough among the Jewish leadership in the Diaspora. It is necessary for them to draw the conclusion that there is nothing to look for in New York and that they have to go to the land of the Jews. I am afraid that leadership does not exist right now." Margalit then offered an alternative solution whereby Israel would continue to build walls, fortify them and launch a recruitment effort to accept anyone in the world who wants to undergo a simplified conversion. "I don't know what it says in Jewish Law about conversion... but I think that those who can, should find a way to increase the Jewish people via a mass conversion effort."
Rabbi Pesach Lerner, Executive Vice President of the Young Israel movement, agreed with Rabbi Lau about the importance of education, suggesting that widespread educational projects focus on educating youngsters about the Land of Israel. "We must spend some time teaching Jews in the Diaspora about the Land of Israel – the history, the geography, the mitzvoth [commandments]. How many people know where Judea and Samaria is or what the distance from Gaza to Ben-Gurion airport is? If we could find creative ways to teach a connection to the Land of Israel - that will be a foundation to stay connected. We talk about college students who don't care. They don't care because they don't know the difference between the Land of Israel and Uganda."
Former Prisoner of Zion and current Likud MK Natan Sharansky addressed the conference, taking strong issue with Margalit's suggestion to pursue mass conversion. "When I was in Russia I heard a Soviet functionary speak about how Israel made its great efforts to bring immigrants to Israel in order that they could act as cannon fodder to fight the Palestinians. I knew then that it was a lie, and was filled with pride that the Jewish State goes to the ends of the earth to gather the exiles," Sharansky said. "But now, a good Israeli comes and says, 'We need cannon fodder – we need bodies – and let's take whoever is willing to come' – like a football team. This is Soviet propaganda standing on its head. And these are the finest people in Israel suggesting this."
Monday and Tuesday's sessions focus mainly on political and social issues, while the third day of the conference will be dedicated solely to all matters pertaining to the city of Jerusalem. “This conference is being held in Jerusalem and one of its roles is to encourage and strengthen our Jerusalem,” said Conference organizer Yehuda Oliva. Sponsored by Arutz-7's sister newspaper B'Sheva, the conference is taking place at the Regency Hotel (formerly the Hyatt), located in eastern Jerusalem. Oliva says that the location of the conference is in itself a statement. “It says that we see Jerusalem as one united whole,” he said. The Regency is also where Moledet Party founder and Tourism Minister Rehavam (Gandhi) Ze'evi was murdered in 2001. Ze'evi's killers were apprehended from a posh Jericho prison by the IDF last week following intelligence information indicating they were to be released.
Message from BibleSearchers
BibleSearchers scans the world for information that has relevance on the time of the end. It is our prayer that this will allow the believers in the Almighty One of Israel to “watch and be ready”. Our readiness has nothing to do trying to halt the progression of evil on our planet earth. In our readiness, we seek to be prepared for the coming of the Messiah of Israel so that goodness and evil will be manifested in its fullest. Our preparation is a pathway of spiritual readiness for a world of peace. Our defender is the Lord of hosts. The time of the end suggests that the Eternal One of Israel’s intent is to close out this chapter of earth’s history so that the perpetrators of evil, those that seek power, greed and control, will be eliminated from this planet earth. The wars of the heavens are being played out on this planet earth and humans will live through it to testify of the might, power, justice and the love of the God of Israel. In a world of corruption and disinformation, we cannot always know what the historical truth is and who is promoting evil or mis-information. We cannot guarantee our sources but we will always seek to portray trends that can be validated in the Torah and the testimony of the prophets of the Old and the New Testament.
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