Friday, March 28, 2008

Gail's kabbalah for today installment 5

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Forward this to a friend March 27, 2008

In This issue

Chicago, Midwest, and US news

* Jewish groups placed on security alert
* JCRC protests Swiss natural gas deal with Iran
* UNC names Jewish studies professorship

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict

* IDF nabs Pesach bombing mastermind
* Fresh rocket barrage hits Israel after defense sources assess that Hamas wants Gaza quiet
* Olmert pledges to pursue talks with Palestinians
* Fatah says Hamas must cede Gaza before talks
* Cheney says a Palestinian state is 'long overdue'
* Civil organizations in Gaza urge Fatah-Hamas reconciliation
* Arab officials and columnists: Hamas responsible for escalation in Gaza
* FM station draws Israelis, Palestinians
* Israel to supply cattle to Gaza

Israel and World News

* The Jewish Agency to be awarded the Israel Prize
* Israel's Ben Gurion Airport rated "Best In Middle East"
* With nothing pushing Jews to Israel, can it lure olim?
* Yes Virginia, some Israelis are moving to Sderot

Iran Watch

* Iran wants compensation for sanctions
* Cheney talks Iran in Israel; U.S. strike seen as remote
* Iran's parliamentary elections: The conservatives' mandate
* Iran to hold run-off parliament votes April 25
* US moves towards engaging Iran

Events and Programs

* Teen programs offer range of opportunities for significant involvement
* Interested in moving to Israel? Visit the Aliyah Fair April 3
* Acclaimed Israeli film 'Beaufort' opens in Chicago and Wilmette
* Meet Israeli filmmaker Adi Refaeli
* See Israel-related programming on Shalom TV
* Walk the Walk May 4

Editorial, Opinion & Analysis

* What the pundits say

Chicago, Midwest, and US news
Citing an increase in threats and attacks, a U.S. Jewish security network warned its members to be alert to a "new set of circumstances." The alert lists seven threats and attacks since Feb. 14, and notes that the Department of Homeland Security has instructed its officials to inspect Jewish sites across the country.
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Switzerland has signed a natural gas deal with Iran worth 20 billion Euros, prompting a letter of protest from Midge Perlman Shafton, chairman, and Steven Dishler, director of International Affairs, of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish United Fund. Writing to Giamnattista Mondada, consul general of Switzerland in Chicago, they wrote: "We urge your government to reconsider its decision and support international efforts to stop Iran from continuing on its dangerous path."
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A $1.5 million distinguished professorship in Jewish studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will be named in honor of alumnus Stuart E. Eizenstat, lead negotiator for Holocaust reparation agreements and deputy secretary of the treasury during the Clinton administration.
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The Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Six years after a suicide bomber he dispatched blew up in the middle of Pessah seder at the Park Hotel in Netanya, the IDF on Tuesday night arrested Hamas's top commander in Tulkarm, Omar Jaber.
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About 15 Qassam rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip against the western Negev yesterday, injuring two Israeli citizens in Sderot. Another Israeli was lightly wounded when he was shot by a sniper as he worked the fields of Kibbutz Ein HaShlosha, near the border with the Gaza Strip.

Prior to the attack, Israeli defense officials had suggested Monday that Hamas is interested at this stage in maintaining the lull in fighting against the IDF along the Gaza Strip border. Likewise, Egypt is keeping up heavy pressure on Hamas leaders in Gaza not to deviate from the understandings reached with it regarding the suspension of fighting.
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Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has pledged to continue with peace talks with the Palestinians until an agreement is achieved, while ruling out negotiations with Hamas. Meanwhile Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said on Wednesday that "activities against Hamas do not harm the political negotiations, rather they assist them."
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction on Wednesday ruled out talks with Hamas unless the Islamist group first cedes control of Gaza, casting doubt on a Yemen-sponsored reconciliation push. Fatah and Hamas, which seized control of the coastal enclave last June, had agreed in Yemen this week to revive direct talks after months of hostilities to "return the Palestinian situation to what it was before the Gaza incidents."
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Declaring that an independent Palestinian state was "long overdue," Vice President Dick Cheney said on Sunday that the success of the U.S.-sponsored peace negotiations depends on the Palestinian ability to rein in groups that favor terrorism over negotiations.

"Terror and rockets do not merely kill civilians, they also kill the legitimate hopes and aspirations of the Palestinian people," Cheney said.
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Scores of Palestinians, representing civil society organizations in Gaza, staged a demonstration on Wednesday urging the rival Hamas and Fatah parties to unite. The rally comes after both Fatah and Hamas agreed early this week in the Yemeni capital of Sana'a to a Yemeni-sponsored reconciliation initiative that honors dialogue between the two sides.
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Following the recent escalation in the Hamas-Israel conflict, Arab officials and columnists have been criticizing Hamas in the Arab and Palestinian press, blaming it for the escalation of violence and for the Gaza residents' suffering.
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After a year on the air RAM-FM, an English-language music station with studios in Jerusalem and the West Bank, has attracted a diverse audience, from Israeli soldiers and Palestinian students to West Bank villagers, English speaking immigrants and foreign diplomats.

Owner Issy Kirsh, a South Africa-based Jewish businessman, modeled the station after a South African station that provided a venue for reconciliation after apartheid. He said RAM-FM wants to create a safe place for Israelis and Palestinians to talk � and make money in the process.
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Israel is to start supplying cattle to Gaza in an exception to its blockade of the Hamas-run territory amid fears that unvaccinated livestock might otherwise be smuggled in from neighbouring Egypt.
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Israel and World News
The prestigious 2008 Israel Prize for "lifetime achievement and special contribution to society and the State of Israel" will be awarded to the Jewish Agency for Israel, one of the main overseas beneficiary agencies of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.

In making the announcement, the Committee noted the Jewish Agency's "tireless efforts" as a pioneering force in the establishment of the State of Israel and its continuing contributions in strengthening Israeli society, partnering the people of Israel with Jewish communities around the world, and deepening the connection of the Jewish next generation throughout the world.
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Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport has been judged "best airport in the Middle East" and the "world's second best airport" that handles 5-15 million passengers a year. The survey was conducted by the Geneva-based Airports Council International (ACI) whose Airport Service Quality Survey is based on the results from nearly 200,000 questionnaires completed by passengers in 2007. The survey captures the passenger's immediate appraisal of 34 airport service factors, from check-in through to departure at the gate.
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Founded with the express purpose of "ingathering of the exiles" -- but with no more large groups of Jews to rescue -- Israel is facing the end of the era of mass aliyah.
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A small, but interesting cross-section of Israelis is making the move to Israel's most embattled city at a time when far more residents already have left or are considering leaving. What motivates them to come?
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Iran Watch
Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki says his government plans to take legal action and seek compensation for what he says are illegal UN sanctions. His comments come in a 20-page letter to UN officials obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press. Meanwhile Iran's ambassador to the United Nations has assured Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that Iran will cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the nation's nuclear program.
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With U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney in Israel this week talking about Iran, the big question was whether President Bush would be willing to use military force in the waning days of his presidency to stop Iran's nuclear weapons program.
The answer from most Israeli intelligence analysts: not likely.
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It is already clear that the conservatives will maintain their comfortable majority. But given the rifts within their ranks, the number of pro-reform and independent candidates, and the growing displeasure with his politics and posture, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will probably face even greater criticism during the coming year leading up to the 2009 presidential elections. So writes David Menashri, professor at the Department of Middle Eastern and African History and incumbent of the Nazarian Chair for Modern Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University.
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Iran will hold run-off votes on April 25 for parliamentary seats not decided in the first election round earlier this month, Iranian media said on Wednesday.
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Writing in Asia Times, career diplomat M.K. Bhadrakumar predicts that the coming few weeks are going to be critical in the standoff between the United States and Iran as the upheaval in the Middle East reaches a turning point. "A phase of subtle, reciprocal, conceptual diplomatic actions may be beginning," he writes.
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Events and Programs

The Jewish United Fund offers many opportunities for high school students to become involved in meaningful ways. Applications are now open for the hands-on youth philanthropy programs Voices and Kolot; Camp TOV 2008, a week long, fun and interactive service oriented day program on wheels; TOV MTV - Monthly Teen Volunteering; and Write On for Israel, a selective, two-year advocacy training fellowship.

Teens are also welcome and urged to sign up now to volunteer for ISRAEL SOLIDARITY DAY, Sunday, May 4, 2008.

Get more information about all these opportunities.
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Learn first-hand about education, employment, real estate and other issues to consider when thinking about moving to Israel. The Israel Homecoming Fair will be held 7 p.m-10 p.m. Thursday, April 3 at the Holiday Inn-Chicago North Shore, 5300 W. Touhy Ave., Skokie. To RSVP or for more information call (847) 674-8861.
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One of this year's five candidates for the "Best Foreign Language Film" Oscar and the first Israeli finalist since 1985, 'Beaufort' opens Friday (3/28) at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago and the Wilmette Theatre in Wilmette. Read JUF News critic Jan Lisa Huttner's review of Beaufort in the current issue of Jewish Film World.
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See the award-winning Israeli film Empathy and meet writer/director Adi Refaeli in person. Reservations for this program are now closed but some walk-ins can be accommodated. The walk-in rate is $25 per person, or for a discount download the flyer and bring it with you to the program of your choice (Landmark Century in Chicago on Sat. 3/29 or Landmark Renaissance in Highland Park on Sun. 3/30.
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From the Shalom TV news desk, Gary Gazarkh has another "Israel Update," highlighting recent events affecting the State of Israel.

Visit the wonders of Israel with your host, Rabbi Shalom Gold, on his series of "Israel Mini Tours". This week, travel to the Roman ruins of Caesarea on the Mediterranean Coast, and see the city that Herod built in honor of Caesar Augustus more than 2000 years ago. Get program times.

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Love Israel? Show your solidarity at Israel Solidarity Day featuring the Walk With Israel, Sunday, May 4, at McCormick Place-Lakeside Center. Bring the whole family! Registering is easy, and there are many opportunities for volunteers and sponsors.
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Editorial, Opinion & Analysis
Israel at 60: Its Historical and Legal Rights Still Challenged? Address by Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni
The Islamists really are true believers by Michael Young
Raised in Gaza, i know cruel conditions are self-inflicted by Nonie Darwish
Will the latest Jerusalem bloodshed be followed by talks or intifada? by Nat Hentoff
End the AIPAC case Jewish Week editorial
Columbia, Ahmadinejad, and Nazi Germany: Round Two by Rafael Medoff
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On the parasha

Parashat Sh'mini
Shabbat Parah
Leviticus 9:1-11:47
March 29, 2008 / 22 Adar II 5768
This week’s commentary was written by Rabbi Marc Wolf, senior director of Community Development, JTS.

In an email newsletter distributed by the Martin Marty Center Institute for the Advanced Study of Religion at the University of Chicago, Martin E. Marty, a prominent voice of religion in America, recently commented on a new book about the role of preachers in politics. He noted,

Preachers seldom have had it so good, or so bad, as they have it during the current campaign, as treated not so much by campaigners as by media commentators. So good? The commentators propagate the idea that preachers have enormous and spellbinding power. This implies that if a preacher says something, everyone will hear and, unless restrained, act upon what they heard, for good or evil. (Sightings, March 24, 2008)

While it is true that the pulpit can provide a forum for religious leaders to put forward religiously charged views, Marty’s comment speaks to the heart of an issue that runs much deeper than the political climate in the United States.

It is nearly three weeks since the attack on Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem. Eight students —mostly teenage boys—were gunned down as they studied Torah within what they thought were the protective walls of their yeshiva. In the wake of this terror, though, prominent religious leaders posted signs around Israel calling for retribution, using language that smacks of religious obligation: “Each and everyone is required to imagine what the enemy is plotting to do to us, and to match it measure for measure” (HaaretzDa’as Torah—a religious doctrine in the Orthodox world giving rabbis authority in matters well beyond the realm of what we would understand the Torah to address. Plastered on walls and posted without filter, their words incite a response that I cannot accept to be consistent with Judaism.

There is an incongruity here. Their response seems to fly in the face of what we are taught about living ethically and being guided by tradition. We exist to follow God’s will and teach others the meaning of righteousness and compassion, but with this rash reaction we negate our very essence—everything we stand for, everything we preach, everything our ancestors have done.

There is a lesson to be learned in this week’s parashah. After the consecration of the tabernacle and its first days of operation, two of Aaron’s sons, Nadav and Avihu, bring an offering of “strange fire” before God and are killed in a gruesome, unexplainable firestorm. The commentators are very vocal on the potential sin that these two newly ordained priests committed, but the Torah itself is silent and offers no indictment. Baruch Levine, in the JPS Commentary, recognizes that when the text states that they “died before the Lord,” it is not providing a rationale, but a locale: the physical place of their deaths (Lev. 10:2; 59).

Moses, in seeking to offer some words of consolation, approaches Aaron in his grief and states, “This is what the Lord meant when He said: ‘Through those near to Me I show Myself holy, and gain glory before all the people’” (Lev. 10:3). Without even breaking verse, the Torah records that Aaron is silent. There is nothing to say to adequately respond to this senseless violence; terror breeds shock, and when faced with such horror, we are rightfully dumbstruck. But that is not the last we hear from Aaron in the parashah.

Toward the end of our parashah, Moses inquires about the priestly duties. He questions Aaron about the goat of the sin offering, and learns that the priests did not follow their instructions:

Then Moses inquired about the goat of sin offering, and it had already been burned! He was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s remaining sons, and said, “Why did you not eat the sin offering in the sacred area? For it is most holy, and He has given it to you to remove the guilt of the community and to make expiation for them before the Lord. (Lev. 10:16-17)

We learn earlier in Leviticus that the priestly class had the right to consume portions of the sacrifices brought before God; however, here we understand that it is not only a right, but an obligation. The remaining sons of Aaron seemingly fail in their duty to the people and to God, and Moses responds with chastisement. What we do not expect is what follows: Aaron’s response to Moses. Incredulous, Aaron questions the effectiveness of his role as a religious leader. If Aaron engaged with the community and partook of the sacrifice as ordered, “would the Lord have approved?” (Lev. 10:19).

At this moment of anguish, how could Aaron and his sons possibly stand in the breach between the people and God? How could they occupy their position of authority? The priests, while continuing to fulfill their role, briefly distance themselves from the people, allowing grief to occupy their souls. Aaron recognizes that he and the other priests are not in the position to pastor to the people. They need their moment of grief. Without it, their response would be filled with anger and not motivated by their responsibility to their people.

Aaron and his sons come to teach us that religious leaders cannot allow anger to drive response. While a position of religious authority has both right and responsibility, one of its greatest responsibilities is to recognize the limits of that authority. Terror demands response. Response demands responsibility.
The publication and distribution of the JTS Commentary are made possible by a generous grant from Rita Dee and Harold (z”l) Hassenfeld.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter and Judaism

Friday, March 21, 2008

Purim celebration 3 Little children in costume

Purim celebration 2 Rabbi and Megillah kidnapped

Purim celebration 1 King of the Forest and Vashti

Daily Alert

Date: Thu, 20 Mar 2008 14:51:09 +0200
Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 20, 2008

To contact the Presidents Conference:
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In-Depth Issues:

Iran Indoctrinating Children in Islamic Supremacism - Eli Lake (New York Sun)
A new Freedom House report, "Discrimination and Intolerance in Iran's Textbooks," finds that the Islamic Republic is teaching its children to embrace Islamic supremacism, preparing them to enter a political system that discriminates against women and non-Muslims.
"The discourse of the textbooks has not been written with the concept of equality of all human beings, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," the study concludes.
"In the textbooks' reasoning, human beings cannot be equal with one another on this earth....Some individuals are born first-class citizens, due to their identity, gender, and way of thinking, while others become second- and third-class citizens."
"In the Farsi textbooks of Grades 1 through 11, 31 lessons discuss martyrdom and death for the sake of religious or political beliefs," the study notes.


Hamas Funds Gaza Regime with Taxes, Help from "Islamic Friends" - Daniel Williams (Bloomberg)
Gaza's Hamas government is funding its bureaucracy and rocket-launchers through fees on license plates, birth certificates and the like; taxes on smuggled cigarettes and other items; and aid from Islamic and Arab allies.
Cigarettes smuggled through tunnels are taxed at $3 a pack, increasing the price to $5.
Hamas also charges a levy of $3,000 from each of 150 underground- tunnel operators.
Hamas has also taken over sales of one thing that dune-abundant Gaza has plenty of - sand. Construction companies, which use sand for cement, used to harvest it free. Now, Hamas sells it.


Saudi Clerics Back Death for Liberal Writers (Reuters)
Sheikh Abdul-Rahman al-Barrak, the leading independent authority of Saudi Arabia's hardline version of Sunni Islam, often termed Wahhabism, said in a fatwa last week that two columnists should be tried for apostasy for "heretical articles" and put to death if they do not repent.
The two had questioned the view that adherents of other faiths should be considered unbelievers.


Trial of Jihadist Recruiters Opens in Paris (Reuters)
Six French men and one Algerian went on trial in Paris on Wednesday accused of involvement in a network smuggling Islamist fighters to Iraq.
Prosecutors accuse the main suspect, preacher Farid Benyettou, 26, of recruiting "jihadists" from worshippers at a mosque in northern Paris and organizing their transfer to Iraq via radical establishments in Syria and Egypt.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

unprecedented support for the shooting of rockets on Israeli

RAMALLAH, West Bank — A new poll shows that an overwhelming majority of Palestinians support the attack this month on a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem that killed eight young men, most of them teenagers, an indication of the alarming level of Israeli-Palestinian tension in recent weeks.

The survey also shows unprecedented support for the shooting of rockets on Israeli towns from the Gaza Strip and for the end of the peace negotiations between Palestinian and Israeli leaders.

The pollster, Khalil Shikaki, said he was shocked because the survey, taken last week, showed greater support for violence than any other he had conducted over the past 15 years in the Palestinian areas. Never before, he said, had a majority favored an end to negotiations or the shooting of rockets at Israel.

“There is real reason to be concerned,” Mr. Shikaki said in an interview at his West Bank office. His Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, which conducts a survey every three months, is widely viewed as among the few independent and reliable gauges of Palestinian public opinion.

His explanation for the shift, one widely reflected in the Palestinian media, is that recent actions by Israel, especially attacks on Gaza that killed nearly 130 people, an undercover operation in Bethlehem that killed four militants and the announced expansion of several West Bank settlements, have led to despair and rage among average Palestinians who thirst for revenge.

Mr. Shikaki’s poll also showed that the militant Islamist group Hamas, which Israel and the United States have been trying to isolate, is gaining popularity in the West Bank while its American-backed rival, the more secular Fatah, is losing ground. Asked for whom they would vote for president, 46 percent chose Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, the current president, while 47 percent chose Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas.

Three months ago, Mr. Abbas was ahead 56 percent to 37 percent. After Hamas forces pushed Fatah forces out of Gaza last summer, Mr. Shikaki’s polls showed the Palestinian public to be disillusioned with Hamas, and in the subsequent months many argued that Mr. Abbas, with the support of Washington and Israel, had an opportunity to win public support by easing living conditions and advancing in negotiations. That has not happened.

According to the poll, of 1,270 Palestinians in face-to-face interviews, 84 percent supported the March 6 attack on the Mercaz Harav yeshiva, one of Israel’s most prominent centers of religious Zionism and ideological wellspring of the settler movement in the West Bank. Mr. Shikaki said that result was the single highest support for an act of violence in his 15 years of polling here. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Germany pledges to stand by Israel

Germany pledges to stand by Israel
Merkel tells Knesset of Holocaust 'shame'
By Richard Boudreaux | Tribune newspapers
March 19, 2008

JERUSALEM — In an emotional tribute to victims and survivors of the Holocaust, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday that the Nazi genocide "fills us Germans with shame" and pledged to stand by Israel's side against any threat, particularly from Iran.

"This historic responsibility is part of my country's fundamental policy," Merkel said in a speech delivered in German to a special session of the Israeli parliament. "It means that for me, as a German chancellor, Israel's security is non-negotiable."

The address capped a three-day state visit in which the German leader, a staunch ally, marked the 60th anniversary of Israel's founding by formally upgrading the warm relationship between the countries.

Merkel's visit, as did previous ones by German leaders, stirred traumatic memories. An estimated 6 million Jews were slaughtered by the Nazis during World War II.

Seven of the 120 members of the Knesset boycotted the session, saying they could not bear to join in an event with a German official or hear the German language. But the protest was overshadowed by a standing ovation for Merkel by lawmakers and about 1,000 guests, including Holocaust survivors and Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders.

"The mass murder of 6 million Jews, carried out in the name of Germany, has brought indescribable suffering to the Jewish people, Europe and the entire world," Merkel said.

"The Shoah fills us Germans with shame," she added, using the Hebrew word for Holocaust. "I bow before the victims. I bow before the survivors and before all those who helped them survive."

Israeli leaders were attentive to Merkel's remarks on Iran, whose president has called for Israel's destruction.

"It is not up to the world to prove that Iran is pursuing a nuclear bomb, but rather up to Iran to prove that it is not," she said. "If Iran does not accept this, Germany will push for further sanctions."

Los Angeles Times

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Relive great moments in Chicago history: Photos, video, stories and more

Copyright © 2008, Chicago Tribune

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Favorite email of the week

My favorite email of the week

Are you serious with the bathroom prayer?????
I think that Jews in USA are really crazy. If you say something like that in Europe everybody will laugh, Jews and non Jews. I am a Jew and is the first time I hear something like I think that Jews in USA are really crazy. If you say something like that in Europe everybody will laugh, Jews and non Jews. I am a Jew and is the first time I hear something like that.
Obama will not spend a single dollar for Israel so try to make a place for the Zionists somewhere in Montana or Wyoming or Texas. We the real Jews we do not have problem to live anywhere in the world, to work and be honest and be a good Jew in the eyes of God.
I follow your lesson of Judaism but we discuss with family and relatives what is good and what is evil in your videos. Some of them are unnaceptable and you can be in prision in Europe for hater.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

From Richard Baehr

1. Jonathan Schanzer discusses the Palestinians who cheer the mass murder of Jews. And not for the first time.

2. Michael Goodwin and David Hornik on the same subject:

3. Remember, Fatah and the Palestinians are the moderates who want peace with Israel. We are sending taxpayer money to them.

5. Barack Obama , recipient of a warm love bath at the AIPAC event last night, wants to hold a Muslim summit. This is really not needed, since every day the UN is in session is a Muslim nations summit that we attend. .. But the second Durban conference would be a highly visible way for the Israel hating nations of the world and the cowardly nations who enable them, to pile on. How could Obama pull the US from such a conference if he were President, when he wants to break bread with Assad, and Ahmadinejad? Iranians are advertising big monetary rewards for killing certain Israeli leaders. Hey, let's sit down and talk about this with them. Obama has some serious ties with Syria. Another story you have not heard much about yet.

6. Steve Emerson asks who fight the killers?

7. Caroline Glick explores Israeli Arabs. . Some are loyal to the state, and some want to destroy it.

8. Ken Levin expounds on the weak vision of Condoleeza Rice

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tfillin, Hebrew, Pesah

From Conservative Movements Men's Club Organization:
Buy Tfillin at
Learn Prayer book Hebrew
Besides my videos below, good resources to help Seder leaders

Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

Israel Reduces Activity in Gaza in Response to Drop in Palestinian Rocket Fire - Laurie Copans (AP)
Israeli Prime Minister Olmert has instructed the army to halt air strikes and raids into Gaza in response to a serious drop in rocket fire, officials in his office said Monday.
Israeli defense officials and the Hamas rulers of Gaza said there was no formal truce in place, but officials in Olmert's office said the prime minister had ordered the army to scale back its operations to allow Egypt to proceed in mediation talks.
The army said Palestinians fired two rockets at Israel from Gaza on Sunday, down from a daily average of more than a dozen the previous week.


Who Makes the Decisions Inside Hamas? - Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
IDF sources say that the person who really makes the decisions in Hamas has for some time not been Ismail Haniyeh, nor even Khaled Meshal, the group's politburo chief in Damascus.
They say that Ahmed Jabari, the head of the military wing of the group, rules.
Jabari is the one who led the breach of the border wall at the Philadelphi route in Rafah late in January, in spite of reservations from Meshal.


Arab Leaders, Angry at Syrian President, Threaten Boycott of Summit Meeting - Robert F. Worth (New York Times)
Several Arab leaders say they may boycott the annual Arab summit meeting scheduled for this month in Damascus because of anger at Syria over its role in Lebanon and its continuing links to Iran.
"There's a new initiative to completely isolate Syria and weaken its destructive influence in Lebanon," said an adviser to the Saudi government.
"We're not going to pull them away from Iran by talking to them. We're going to take them away from Iran by making them feel the pressure and making them understand that this time it's as real as it can get."
Officials of Saudi Arabia and Egypt - with Jordan on board - complain that Syria was deliberately prolonging the political vacuum in Lebanon, which has been without a president since November.


The Merchant of Death - Mitchell Prothero (Observer-UK)
Last week, Viktor Bout, the world's biggest arms dealer, was arrested by Thai authorities on suspicion of attempting to ship arms to Farc rebels in Colombia.
The 2006 war between Israel and Hizbullah was three days old when American intelligence spotted Bout, a bear-sized man with a moustache, meeting high-ranking Hizbullah officials in a safe house just outside Beirut.
Those officials, it is now widely believed, were, in all probability, meeting the man who apparently supplied them with their hi-tech weapons.

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Hamas Leader Admits Hundreds of Fighters Have Traveled to Tehran - Marie Colvin
Israel has long insisted that Iran is behind the training of Hamas forces in Gaza. Last week Yuval Diskin, the head of the Israeli internal security service Shin Bet, said as much when he claimed that Hamas had "started to dispatch people to Iran, tens and a promise of hundreds." A senior Hamas commander confirmed for the first time that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has been training its men in Tehran for more than two years and is currently honing the skills of 150 fighters. The details he gave suggested that, if anything, Shin Bet has underestimated the extent of Iran's influence on Hamas' increasingly sophisticated tactics and weaponry.
The commander said Hamas had been sending fighters to Iran for training in both field tactics and weapons technology since Israeli troops pulled out of Gaza in 2005. Others go to Syria for more basic training. "We have sent seven 'courses' of our fighters to Iran," he said. They first traveled to Egypt, flew to Syria, and then to Tehran. According to the commander, a further 650 Hamas fighters have trained in Syria under instructors who learned their techniques in Iran. Sixty-two are in Syria now. He said the Hamas military, which numbers about 15,000 fighters, was modeling itself on Hizbullah. (Sunday Times-UK)
Showdown on Palestinian Funding? - Joel Mowbray
A showdown could be looming between Congress and the Bush administration over a $150 million emergency aid package for the Palestinian Authority government. At issue is whether or not Mahmoud Abbas has either the capacity or desire to bring Palestinians closer to a peace deal with Israel, and it was his own words that triggered congressional wrath. In an interview with the Jordanian newspaper Al-Dastur last week, Abbas spoke with pride of violence he had waged in his past, suggested that terrorism could start anew in the future, and essentially backed away from repeated statements that he "recognizes" Israel's right to exist. A top congressional appropriator, Foreign Operations Chairwoman Nita Lowey, said flatly, "Abbas' recent statements cast doubt on his willingness to take the steps necessary for peace with Israel." (Washington Times)
See also Official PA Daily: Killer of Eight Young Men Is Holy Martyr - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook
Mahmoud Abbas' official PA daily newspaper has honored the killer of the eight students gunned down this week with the status of Shahid - Holy Islamic Martyr. Al Hayat Al Jadida prominently placed a picture of the killer on the front page, with the caption, "The Shahid Alaa Abu D'heim." In a page one story, his act is defined as a "Shahada-achieving" action. This honoring of terror and terrorists by the PA has significant financial ramifications. In response to earlier PMW reports on the widespread Palestinian honoring of terror, Congress made it illegal for the U.S. to give money to entities that "advocate" terror. (Palestinian Media Watch)
Admiral Criticizes Iran's Role in Iraq - Borzou Daragahi
At a news conference in Baghdad on Sunday, Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, a spokesman for American forces in Iraq, described new details of allegations that Iran is meddling in Iraq, accusing the Islamic Republic of training Iraqi operatives to direct militants in their homeland. He said U.S. troops recently discovered a cache of weapons south of Baghdad with markings indicating the arms had been made recently in Iran. He also alleged that Iran had been recruiting Iraqis for training in Iran, citing statements by Iraqi detainees. "Groups and elements," including Iranians and militants attached to Lebanon's Hizbullah militia, were training Iraqis in Iran to act as recruiters and trainers in Iraq, Smith said. (Los Angeles Times)
See also Ahmadinejad's Iraq Debacle - Amir Taheri
Ahmadinejad's two-day state visit to Iraq last week showed the limits of Iranian influence in that country. Iranian emissaries and pro-Iran elements in Iraq were supposed to ensure massive crowds thronging the streets of Baghdad and throwing flowers on the path of the visiting Iranian leader. Instead, crowds gathered to protest Ahmadinejad's visit. A good part of the Iraqi political elite, including cabinet ministers and members of the parliament, boycotted functions held in his honor. Ahmadinejad had come to Iraq to show it was an Iranian playground. He ended up by showing that Iran's influence in Iraq is widely exaggerated. Few Iraqis wish to see their country dominated by the Khomeinist regime in Tehran. (New York Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

Israel to U.S.: Conditions Not Ripe for Forming Palestinian State - Barak Ravid
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Sunday told visiting U.S. envoy James Jones that, "The creation of a Palestinian state is not the required answer to Israel's security needs." She said a future Palestinian state must comprise officials "who want not only to live in peace with Israel, but are also able to fight terror." The foreign minister will visit the U.S. this week for talks. (Ha'aretz)
Fatah Group Hails "Heroic" Jerusalem Attack - Khaled Abu Toameh
Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, on Sunday welcomed the killing of the eight yeshiva students in Jerusalem and lashed out at Mahmoud Abbas for condemning the shooting attack. In a statement issued in Ramallah, the group, which was reportedly dismantled several months ago, also called on Abbas not to resume peace talks with Israel and to halt security coordination with Israel. The Aksa Martyrs Brigades described the attack as an "heroic" operation and called for carrying out more attacks against Israel. The group urged Abbas to release all Aksa Martyrs Brigades gunmen being held in PA security installations in the West Bank and hand them back their weapons so they could resume their attacks on Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
Soldier Hurt in Gaza Explosion Dies
Sergeant Liran Banai, 20, who was critically wounded in an explosion near central Gaza last Thursday, died of his wounds in Beersheba's Soroka Medical Center Sunday. Palestinians detonated an explosive device near an IDF jeep driven by Banai that was patrolling near the Kissufim crossing. An IDF Bedouin tracker was killed in the same incident. (Ynet News)
See also IDF to Patrol Gaza Border Using Unmanned Jeeps
The Israel Defense Forces plans to deploy unmanned jeeps this summer along the security fence with Gaza, replacing many manned vehicles. While pilotless drones are already common in the Israel Air Force, this is the first time a driverless jeep, developed jointly by Elbit Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries, will be used by the army's ground forces. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

Killings Cannot Dim Israel's Respect for Life - Ron Prosor
Eight Israeli Torah students were gunned down in Jerusalem last Thursday. The world cannot make allowances for such an act. It was cold-blooded murder and must be condemned, unconditionally and with no excuses. The international community must not be manipulated into arming murderers with credibility.
Israel, as a democracy under fire, is facing a daily terrorist threat from extremists who celebrate death, despise democracy and seek Israel's destruction. These extremists target Israeli civilians as a strategy, the product of a mindset that values death at all costs. It is the mindset that leads a man to unload an AK-47 at point blank range into children studying in a library. It is a disturbed mindset that allows a Hamas spokesman to describe that massacre as "the heroic operation in Jerusalem." The writer is Israel's ambassador to the UK. (Telegraph-UK)
See also Edinburgh U. Cancels Prosor's Talk After Pro-Palestinian Protest - Jonny Paul (Jerusalem Post)
Palestinian Celebration of Murder Dooms Hope for Peace - Michael Goodwin
After an Arab gunman went on a rampage at a Jewish religious school in Jerusalem, we saw pictures of Palestinians celebrating the massacre. They shouted jubilantly from cars and danced in the streets of Gaza. Men fired bursts of automatic weapons skyward. Every society has its madmen, its gangsters and killers. But in functioning societies, they are shunned and punished as an example of how not to behave. Not so in Palestinian society or in too much of the Muslim world. Celebrations of death, as they did Thursday, soon become odes to martyrs. In less than a day, pictures of the lone gunman in the massacre appeared on posters glorifying his death. Behind his clean-shaven, ordinary face were a mosque and messages of heroic defiance. (New York Daily News)

Islamists Leave Israel No Choice - Greg Sheridan (The Australian)

After the attack in Jerusalem on a Jewish religious school in which eight civilians died, Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack. On the other hand, Hamas, the Palestinian leadership in Gaza, praised the attack and Gazan civilians danced in the streets with joy. Hamas' strategy is difficult for the Western mind to grasp because of two elements: its genuinely religious foundation, and its willingness to inflict any suffering not only on its enemies but on its own people.
It is inconceivable that any nation would allow endless rocket attacks on its civilians without trying to stop them. Rockets fired simultaneously from Gaza, southern Lebanon, and the West Bank would completely paralyze Israel. Therefore, Israel ultimately cannot allow the rocket attacks to go on, especially as they increase in lethality and range.
The ABC's "Lateline" program ran a report on the suffering of civilians in Gaza, interviewing a Gazan civilian who complained bitterly about Israel's actions. But the ABC reporter didn't ask the absolutely obvious question: Do you wish your leaders would stop firing missiles into Israel, which make inevitable both the economic blockade and the Israeli military response?
Israel is always told to retreat to the 1967 borders. The two places where it has done this - southern Lebanon and Gaza - have been disasters for Israel and have not produced peace. The 1967 borders only work for Israel if its neighbors don't make war on Israel any more. There is no indication at all that either Hamas or Hizbullah, or indeed Iran, which soon enough will possess nuclear weapons, is on a trajectory towards accepting Israel's right to exist.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Thursday, March 6, 2008

A gunman infiltrated a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem

By ARON HELLER, Associated Press Writer 15 minutes ago

JERUSALEM - A gunman infiltrated a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem and opened fire in a library Thursday night, killing at least seven people, officials said.

Rescue workers said at least 10 people were wounded. Government spokesman Daniel Seaman and police said there was only one gunman though initial reports said there were two.

In Gaza, the Islamic militant Hamas praised the attack but stopped short of claiming responsibility. Thousands poured into the streets to celebrate, firing rifles in the air.

"We bless the (Jerusalem) operation. It will not be the last," Hamas said in a text message sent to reporters.

In Lebanon, Hezbollah's Al-Manar television said a previously unknown group called the Martyrs of Imad Mughniyeh and Gaza claimed responsibility for the attack.

Mughniyeh, a top Hezbollah commander, was killed Feb. 12 by a car bomb in Syria. Hezbollah blamed his assassination on Israel, which denied any role.

The attack in Jerusalem came a day after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice persuaded moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to return to peace talks with Israel and on the same day Egyptian officials were trying to mediate a truce between Gaza militants and Israel.

Abbas suspended the talks after Israel launched a military offensive against Gaza militants barraging southern Israel with rockets. Palestinian officials say more than 120 were killed in Gaza during the weeklong operation. Four Israelis were also killed.

Yitzhak Dadon, a seminary student, said he was armed with a rifle and waited on the roof of a nearby building during the attack.

"He came out of the library spraying automatic fire. ... The terrorist came to the entrance and I shot him twice in the head," he said.

Medic Yaron Tzuker said he arrived as the gunfire was still going on.

"They were still shooting when we got here," he told Channel 10 TV. "We took cover and the ambulance was hit. It's horrible inside — dead bodies and wounded — it's horrific."

Another witness told Israel TV that he heard both single shots and automatic gunfire from inside the building, and it lasted for about 10 minutes.

Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben Ruby said one of the gunmen who attacked the seminary was wearing what at first appeared to be an explosives vest but turned out to be a belt holding extra ammunition.

"One or two terrorists infiltrated the Mercaz Harav seminary and opened fire in all directions," the police spokesman said. "One terrorist was killed in an exchange of fire, and apparently he had an explosives belt."

Hundreds of police surrounded the area and searched the campus as ambulances raced to the scene. Scores of seminary students spilled out onto the sidewalk and street outside after they were evacuated.

"There are at least seven killed and 10 people wounded," said Eli Dein, director of Israel's rescue service.

An hour after the attack, medics began removing the dead from the building, taking them away in ambulances.

The seminar is the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in the Kiryat Moshe quarter at the entrance of Jerusalem, a well-known center of Jewish studies identified with the leadership of the Jewish settlement movement in the West Bank.

There were no attacks by Palestinian militants in Jerusalem during 2007, though police and the military claimed to have foiled many attempts. Between 2001 and 2004, at the height of Palestinian-Israeli fighting, Jerusalem was a frequent target of Palestinian attacks, including suicide bombings on buses.

"It's very sad tonight in Jerusalem. Many people were killed in the heart of Jerusalem," Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski.

Earlier Thursday, Palestinian militants in Gaza set off a bomb on the Gaza border, blowing up an Israeli army jeep and killing a soldier.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

New Video parashat Pikudei ends Exodus

New Video Ask the Rabbi volume 12

New Video on Tabernacle, First and second temple

No Saint, but yes tzaddik.

Trials of the Saints
Published: March 3, 2008
LAST month, while Americans celebrated the feast days of two secular saints, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, the Vatican issued a surprising new directive calling for greater rigor in its own saint-making process. Published by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the 45-page document called for “strict adherence” to existing rules, in response to some concerns that the canonization procedures had been watered down over the last two decades.

Jews don't have Saints. No one bestows titles on us as being superman, other than some Hasidim who claim their rebbes have superpowers and are Messianic, which make them borderline Jews in my opinion. But we do have terms of spiritual hierarchy that can be earned
Mentch, tzaddik-righteous person, hacham in sephardic tradition (wise man) gaon-great genius rabbi. Let's work on those. Even prophet some sources say can be acquired.

Of course Iran is trying to build nukes!!!

Meeting on Arms Data Reignites Iran Debate

Published: March 3, 2008
Last Monday, the chief United Nations nuclear inspector gathered ambassadors and experts from dozens of nations in a boardroom high above the Danube in Vienna and laid out a trove of evidence that he said raised new questions about whether Iran had tried to design an atom bomb.

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Times Topics: Iran's Nuclear Program
Graphic For more than two hours, representatives to the International Atomic Energy Agency were riveted by documents, sketches and even a video that appeared to have come from Iran’s own military laboratories. The inspector said they showed work “not consistent with any application other than the development of a nuclear weapon,” according to notes taken by diplomats.

The presentation caught no one’s attention more than the Iranian representatives in the room, who deny Iran is developing atomic weapons. As they whipped out cellphone cameras to photograph the screen, Iran’s ambassador, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, nearly shouting, called the evidence baseless fabrications, the diplomats said, and warned that the agency was going down “a very dangerous road.”

Suddenly, the confrontation with Iran had reignited.

The display of new and newly declassified information is part of the latest effort to pressure Iran to disclose information about its past atomic activities and offer proof that its current program is benign. France’s ambassador, Fran├žois-Xavier Deniau, said questions raised by the Vienna meeting had opened a “new chapter” in the West’s effort to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear arms, according to participants.

This confrontation is different from the long-running American-led

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Jewish bathroom prayer

Excerpt from NYT yestyerday regarding Obama Israel anti- semitism

On Israel, some Jews have found fault with Mr. Obama’s commitment, if not his policies. They worry about his call for direct talks with Iran over its nuclear program. Many also point to a now oft-repeated remark of his, made last year in Des Moines, that “no one has suffered more than the Palestinians.”

His supporters say his stance toward Iran does not mean capitulation. Further, Mr. Obama has repeatedly said that his remarks about the Palestinians were incomplete, and that he went on in his remarks to blame their leaders for the Palestinians’ plight.

His campaign Web site says the American commitment to Israel’s security is “incontrovertible.” As a senator, he backed Israel during its invasion of Lebanon in 2006 and supports military aid to Israel. Weeks after he was sworn in in 2005, he visited Israel.

E-mail messages circulating about Mr. Obama’s untrustworthiness assert that the former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and diplomat Robert Malley, figures loathed by many Jews, are top advisers to his campaign. Mr. Brzezinski has met with Mr. Obama, but he is not a top adviser. Mr. Malley has communicated with the campaign by e-mail but has never spoken to Mr. Obama, a campaign spokesman said.

The candidate’s Israel advisers are three former staff members to President Bill Clinton: Dennis Ross, a top Mideast adviser; Anthony Lake, national security adviser and Susan Rice, assistant secretary of state. Other advisers on Israeli and Mideast matters are Mr. Wexler; Dan Shapiro, formerly of the Clinton national security council, and Eric Lynn, a former Congressional aide. (All but Ms. Rice are Jewish.)

Many Jews have expressed concern about Mr. Obama’s minister, Mr. Wright of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. In an article in The Jerusalem Post that is being circulated on the Internet, Marc Zell, co-chairman of Republicans Abroad in Israel, described Mr. Wright as “well known for his virulent anti-Israel remarks.”

The Anti-Defamation League, however, has said that it has found no evidence of anti-Semitism on Mr. Wright’s part.