Sunday, March 29, 2009

question name of god

name of God?

Anyhow, my question is this: I've noticed there are certain evangelical Christians who almost constantly write the name of G-d as "YWHW". What is your opinion on this as a Jew? Is this correct practice? If you have time, I would like to know what is proper regarding this habit of some Christians.

Many thanks,




Thanks. One of the names of God in the Bible is called the tetragammaton consisting of 4 Hebrew letters Yud heh vov heh. We oncem knew how to prnounce it-the high Priest did so every yom Kippur but we have no idea how for the last 2000 years. Looks like that ios there effort to sound out or spell out that name of God. Has no meaning for us and we won't attempt to pronounce it.
for more see my video
God's Names, Bible, Talmud, Prayers JewU 141

Dvar Video on parashat Tzav

Monday, March 23, 2009

Daily alert

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DAILY ALERT Monday,
March 23, 2009


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In-Depth Issues:


UN: Israel Leads the World in Use of Recycled Water - Zafrir Rinat (Ha'aretz)
A UN report presented at the 5th World Water Forum in Istanbul on Sunday commended Israel for leading the world in the use of recycled water and desalinated water.
Israel recycles nearly 70% of its sewage.



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Man Arrested in Bomb Threat Against Chicago Jewish School - Robert Mitchum (Chicago Tribune)
Mohammed Alkaramla, 24, a Jordanian national, was arrested Friday on a charge he mailed a bomb threat to Chicago's Ida Crown Jewish Academy in late December, after forensic investigators found his fingerprint on the letter's envelope.
Agents also found the text of the threat letter on his laptop computer.
Alkaramla was under investigation in the vandalism of several Chicago-area synagogues and Jewish schools in January.



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Report: India Buys Israeli Spy Satellite (AFP)
India has bought a spy satellite from Israel with day-and-night viewing capability to boost surveillance capabilities in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, the NDTV news channel in New Delhi reported Friday.
The satellite will be launched by India in the next few weeks.
While India's existing satellites get blinded at night and in the monsoon season, the new satellite can see through clouds and carry out day-and-night all-weather imaging.



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UK Taxes "Funding Terror" - Marcus Dysch (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
British taxpayers are funding anti-Israel and extremist teaching in the Palestinian territories.
The TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA) said millions of pounds had been spent on PA-funded TV broadcasts, school textbooks and newspaper articles discouraging a two-state solution.
The report, Palestinian Hate Education since Annapolis, concludes that money from the Department for International Development, which totaled almost £100 million in the 2007/08 financial year, is being used directly to promote hatred of Israel and the West.
Matthew Sinclair, TPA research director, said: "British taxpayers' money must not support propaganda that incites violence in the Middle East. The government needs to accept that donations create responsibilities."
Read the report: Palestinian Hate Education since Annapolis (TaxPayers' Alliance-UK)



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New Status in Africa Empowers an Ever-Eccentric Qaddafi - Michael Slackman (New York Times)
Forty years after he seized power in Libya, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi has achieved the international status he always craved when he was selected last month as chairman of the African Union.
But Qaddafi remains the same eccentric revolutionary as always, blaming Israel for the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan and defending Somali pirates for fighting "greedy Western nations."




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Iran Rejects Obama's Hand of Friendship - Tim Shipman and Colin Freeman
Speaking a day after U.S. President Barack Obama broadcast a message inviting the Iranian people to a "new beginning," the country's supreme spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, dismissed it as a "slogan." The cleric delivered his response during a speech in the city of Masshad, as tens of thousands of his followers chanted "death to America." Obama had invited Iran to "take its rightful place in the community of nations." (Telegraph-UK)
See also Iran's Response Shows Thinking of Its Leadership - Brian Murphy
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's response to President Obama was more than just a dismissive slap at the outreach. It was a broad lesson in the mind-set of Iran's all-powerful theocracy. Khamenei set the bar impossibly high - demanding an overhaul of U.S. foreign policy, including giving up "unconditional support" for Israel and halting claims that Iran is seeking nuclear arms. "Have you released Iranian assets? Have you lifted oppressive sanctions? Have you given up mudslinging and making accusations against the great Iranian nation and its officials?" Khamenei said. "He (Obama) insulted the Islamic Republic of Iran from the first day." (AP/Washington Post)
Hamas Leader Welcomes Obama's "New Language"
U.S. President Barack Obama is using a "new language" in relations with the Middle East, the Islamist group's leader Khaled Meshaal told the Italian daily La Repubblica in an interview published on Sunday. "A new language towards the region is coming from President Obama. The challenge for everybody is for this to be the prelude for a genuine change in U.S. and European policies. Regarding an official opening towards Hamas, it's a matter of time," Meshaal said. (Reuters)
Mayor's Vision of a Unified Jerusalem - Ethan Bronner
Nir Barkat, elected three months ago as mayor of Jerusalem, is a self-made high-tech millionaire who refuses a salary from the city. Barkat will explain his ideas for Jerusalem during an eight-day tour of half a dozen U.S. cities, starting in Florida on Monday. For him, Jerusalem is Israel's eternal and indivisible capital. All religions must be free to worship in it, but it must never be divided. When asked his view of dividing the city so that it can serve as the capital of both Israel and a future state of Palestine, he says, "Like in business, sometimes there is one clear, simple solution to a big problem that seems obvious to everyone and is absolutely wrong." (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:


Police Dismantle Terrorist Bomb at Haifa Shopping Mall - Hagai Einav
A vehicle wired with explosives and parked outside the Lev HaMifratz shopping mall in Haifa was neutralized by security forces on Saturday evening, preventing a deadly attack. The bombs were found after a partial explosion occurred. Officers estimated the explosives at nearly 100 pounds. Police Chief Lt.-Cmdr. Roni Atiya noted: "This is an outdoor parking lot and not one of the mall's underground or multi-story parking lots, so this is a car that didn't go through a security check." (Ynet News)
Israel Allows Jailed Hamas Leaders to Meet on Prisoner Swap
Israeli prison officials allowed Hamas leaders jailed at separate prisons to meet and discuss a potential prisoner swap for captured soldier Gilad Shalit on Sunday. (Ma'an News-PA)
UK Backtracks on Preventing War Crimes Charges Against Visiting IDF Officers - Anshel Pfeffer
London will not push through changes in legislation that permits the arrest on war crimes charges of Israel Defense Forces officers visiting Britain, as previously promised, Jerusalem has learned. In an unofficial message to Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Britain said that as a result of the decline in Israel's public image following the Gaza operation, the government believes it will be unable to pass the legislation. British law permits private citizens to press charges against foreigners on war crimes charges. "The British did make such a promise and we continue to expect that they will find a way to fulfill it," Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said on Saturday. (Ha'aretz)
See also Video: The Abuse of Universal Jurisdiction - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Doron Almog (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Palestinian Poisoning Attack Mastermind Sent to Jail - Efrat Weiss
Eihab Abu Rial, 22, of Nablus in the West Bank, who planned to carry out a poisoning attack at the Grill Express restaurant in Ramat Gan where he worked as a cook, was sentenced Friday by the Samaria Military Court to six years in prison. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


Durban II: New Strategy Needed - Gerald Steinberg
Faced with a growing number of countries declaring they would not participate in another anti-Semitic conference, the organizers of the UN's controversial Durban Review Conference scheduled for April 21 in Geneva suddenly changed the text. The hate language, attacks on Israel, and attempts to restrict free speech and give Islam a preferred status were removed. Should governments now agree to participate on the basis of the revised document? Or is this a diplomatic sleight of hand - a temporary change in language used to bring an end to the revolt of the democratic delegations?
When the conference begins, Libya and Iran, with the support of Egypt, Syria, Cuba, and the rest, are expected to use their majority to restore terms like "apartheid" and Israeli "genocide." Western leaders who are inclined to declare victory and participate in the conference must first insure that, at the first sign of restoring the hate-filled language, they will all walk out together, including every member of the European Union. The writer is the executive director of NGO Monitor and chairs the political science department at Bar-Ilan University. (Jerusalem Post)
Iran Has Started a Mideast Arms Race - Amir Taheri
The Middle East may be on the verge of a nuclear arms race triggered by the inability of the West to stop Iran's quest for a bomb. Since Tehran's nuclear ambitions hit the headlines five years ago, 25 countries - 10 of them in the greater Middle East - have announced plans to build nuclear power plants for the first time. Tehran is playing an active part in proliferation. Syria and Sudan have shown interest in its nuclear technology, setting up joint scientific committees with Iran. Tehran is also setting up joint programs with anti-U.S. regimes in Latin America, notably Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador, bringing proliferation to America's backyard.
In 2006 and 2007 the Islamic Republic initialed agreements with China to build 20 nuclear-power stations in Iran. The first of these stations is already under construction at Dar-Khuwayn. (Wall Street Journal)
See also Iran's Axis of Nuclear Evil - John Bolton
It is impossible to ignore Iran's active efforts to expand, improve and conceal its nuclear weapons program in Syria. (Wall Street Journal)
Saudi-Iranian Relations Since the Fall of Saddam
Containment of Iran by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states is unrealistic, given the tradition of bilateral dialogue between individual Gulf states and Iran. Moreover, Saudi Arabia has shown a tendency to accommodate and engage Iran when it perceives ambiguity and confusion in U.S. policy. The Saudi overture to Iran in the wake of the 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate, which was viewed in Riyadh as a downgrading of the Iranian threat, is a good example of this dynamic at work. A U.S. paradigm that views Saudi Arabia as a confrontational proxy against Iran does not reflect regional reality. (RAND Corporation)
Observations:

Message to the Iranian People from the President of Israel (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Last week Israeli President Shimon Peres broadcast a special message to the Iranian people marking the holiday of Nowruz, the Iranian New Year:

The people of Israel have historical memories from the period in which Iran contributed to the world Cyrus' ancient Bill of Rights, and to the Jewish people, our right to return to our land from the Babylonian exile in order to establish the Temple in Jerusalem. Iran and its people therefore have a special place in our heritage.
Our relations with the Iranian people have also known good times in the modern period. We shared our experience in agriculture, industry, and scientific and medical development, and we cultivated the best possible relations.
To our great sadness, relations between our countries are at their lowest point. This derives from the leaders of your country, who threaten us with their intention to destroy us. I ask myself how a noble people like you can be caught up in a blind hatred like this, how you chose a leader who scorns the people who were murdered by the Nazis, and who wants to destroy and kill another country.
I am sure that the day is not far when we will return to good neighborly relations, and effective cooperation will blossom once again, in every arena, for the benefit of our people and our shared futures. We remember Cyrus the Great, who is noted in the Bible as the liberating king, and we remember that our people lived in Iran for many generations, sharing in the building of the land and contributing to its welfare and culture.
On the occasion of the new year, I turn to the noble Iranian people in the name of the ancient Jewish people, and I wish that they will return to reclaim their rightful place among the enlightened nations of the world.


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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Friday, March 20, 2009

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Friday,
March 20, 2009
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In-Depth Issues:

President Peres Gives Prime Minister-Designate Netanyahu Two More Weeks to Form Coalition - Ronen Medzini (Ynet News)
President Shimon Peres on Friday granted prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu a 14-day extension to form his government.
Likud leader Netanyahu has asked the Labor party to join his coalition and Labor chairman Ehud Barak plans to bring the matter to the party's central committee on Tuesday.

Iran: America's New Space Rivals - Uzi Rubin (Washington Times)
Iran's recent breakthrough in placing its own satellite in orbit by a homemade multistage rocket earned it the distinction of being the first radical regime that reaches space.
The tepid reaction in the U.S. and the West to this watershed event served as a powerful inducement for Iran, North Korea and other potential nuclear wannabees to camouflage their offensive missile programs in the guise of peaceful space activities.
Any rocket that can propel a satellite into Earth orbit can be easily modified and upscaled to drop a significant bomb anywhere on Earth.
See also Iranian Satellite Completes Mission (Reuters)

Iranian Blogger Dies in Prison - Robert Mackey (New York Times)
Iranian blogger Omidreza Mirsayafi, who had been sentenced to two years in prison for insulting the country's leaders, died in Tehran's Evin Prison on Wednesday.

Palestinian Rights Group Criticizes Hamas and Fatah (Reuters)
The Independent Commission for Human Rights said Thursday that five Palestinians died in 2008 in questionable circumstances in prisons in the West Bank, where Fatah holds sway, and two in jails in Hamas-run Gaza.
The Palestinian rights group said it had documented torture in Palestinian prisons in both territories that included beatings and the removal of fingernails.
The ICHR said it received 2,312 complaints of arrests and prisoner mistreatment in 2008 compared with 2,007 in the previous year.

Saudis Fear Iran Behind Local Shiite Disturbances - Mai Yamani (Taipei Times-Taiwan)
On Feb. 24, 2,000 Shiite pilgrims gathered near the mosque that houses Muhammad's tomb in Medina for the commemoration of the prophet's death, an act of worship that the ruling Saudi Wahhabi sect considers heretical and idolatrous.
The religious police of the Committee for the Preservation of Virtue and the Prohibition of Vice, armed with sticks and backed by police, tried to disperse the pilgrims. Three pilgrims died and hundreds were injured in the ensuing stampede.
Shiites constitute 75% of the population in the Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia's main oil-producing region, and identify far more strongly with Shiites across the border in Iraq than with the Saudi state.
The empowerment of Iraq's long-suppressed Shiites has raised expectations among Saudi Arabia's Shiites that they, too, can gain first-class status.
From the regime's point of view, Shiite Iran is now the most serious security threat. The Saudi authorities perceived the Shiite demonstrations as an assertion of Iranian policy.
The writer is a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut.

The Gaza War and the New Outburst of Anti-Semitism - Manfred Gerstenfeld and Tamas Berzi (Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)
Anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli manifestations reached new highs during Israel's recent Gaza campaign.
Attacks included strong condemnations of Israeli actions by several governments as well as violent demonstrations in a number of countries.
There were physical attacks on Jewish individuals and institutions as well as much hate speech, including increased public expressions equating Israel with Nazi Germany.

Israel Guidebook 2nd Most Popular in Japan - Danny Sadeh (Ynet News)
A tourism guide of Israel, written in Japanese, won second place in sales among 100 guides on international tourism belonging to the Globetrotter series in Japan.
"East Asian nations constitute a growing market in international tourism," said Shaul Zemach, director-general of the Tourism Ministry.
Some 135,000 East Asian tourists visited Israel last year, up 20% from 2007.

For Researchers: Search the Daily Alert Archive
All back issues of Daily Alert since May 2002 are available online and are searchable.
This invaluable Internet resource documents the recent history of Israel and the Middle East.
See also israelresearch.org
Insider information on Israel's national security issues - filtered, sifted, and stored for easy retrieval - from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

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* Obama Extends Iran an Olive Branch on Videotape
President Obama issued a videotaped appeal to Iran on Friday offering a "new beginning" of diplomatic engagement. "My administration is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties," Obama said in a message timed for the Nowruz spring holiday celebration in Iran. He said the U.S. wanted Iran to take its "rightful place in the community of nations." "You have that right - but it comes with real responsibilities, and that place cannot be reached through terror or arms, but rather through peaceful actions that demonstrate the true greatness of the Iranian people and civilization." (Reuters/New York Times)
View the Video (White House)
* Iranian Defector Reportedly Tipped Off U.S. on Syria Nuke Plant
A retired general in Iran's Revolutionary Guards, former deputy defense minister Ali Reza Asghari, who defected to the U.S. in February 2007, revealed that Iran was financing North Korean moves to make Syria into a nuclear weapons power, leading to the Israeli air strike on Sept. 6, 2007, that destroyed Syria's nearly completed Al Kabir reactor, the Swiss daily Neue Zuercher Zeitung reported Thursday. The article was written by Hans Ruehle, former chief of the planning staff of the German Defense Ministry. "No one in the American intelligence scene had heard anything of it. And the Israelis who were immediately informed also were completely unaware," he said.
Israel sent a 12-man commando unit in two helicopters to the site in August 2007 to take photographs and soil samples. "The analysis was conclusive that it was a North Korean-type reactor," a gas graphite model, Ruehle said. Other sources have suggested that the reactor might have been large enough to make about one nuclear weapon's worth of plutonium a year. Israel estimates that Iran paid North Korea between $1 billion and $2 billion for the project, Ruehle said. (AP/Fox News)
* Palestinian Reconciliation Talks Break Down - Salah Nasrawi
Egyptian-mediated talks between Hamas and Fatah broke down Thursday without a deal on a national unity government. Negotiators for Fatah, which rules the West Bank, said the new government must commit to the program of the PLO, which recognized Israel in 1993. Hamas official Fawzi Barhoum reiterated Thursday that his group will not agree to "commit" to the accords or recognize Israel. (AP)

News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

* IDF Orders Probe into Allegations over Gaza War - Amos Harel
In the wake of an Ha'aretz expose, the Israel Defense Forces on Thursday ordered an investigation into soldiers' accounts of alleged misconduct and serious violations of the army's rules of engagement. Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. Avichai Mendelblit instructed the Military Police Investigation unit to launch the probe after the report of a discussion by soldiers at a military cadet academy. The IDF Spokesman's Office said: "The IDF has no supporting or prior information about these events. The IDF will check their veracity and investigate as required." (Ha'aretz)
See also Israel TV Defense Correspondent: The Credibility of the Soldiers' Stories Is Very Doubtful - Roni Daniel
The soldier who described the shooting of a woman and her two children was called into his commanding officer and stated, "I didn't see it myself. There were stories like this. I wasn't in that house and all that I said was based on rumors. The conference (where I related the story) was a social conversation, and that's how I related to it." The soldier who described the shooting of an elderly woman admits he doesn't know the full story. "The credibility of the two stories is very doubtful," the correspondent concluded. (Israel Television Channel 2-Hebrew)
* IDF Soldiers Refute Claims of Immoral Conduct in Gaza - Daniel Edelson
IDF soldiers who took part in January's offensive in Gaza refuted on Thursday claims of immoral conduct on the military's part. Assaf Danziger, 21, a Givati Brigade soldier, said soldiers were given specific orders to open fire only at armed terrorists or people who posed a threat. "There were no incidents of vandalism at any of the buildings we occupied. We did only what was justified and acted out of necessity. No one shot at civilians. People walked by us freely," he recounted. A Paratroopers Brigade soldier who participated in the war called the claims "nonsense." "There are always a few idiots who act inappropriately, but most of the soldiers represented Israel honorably and with a high degree of morality."
Major (res.) Idan Zuaretz, a Givati company commander, questioned the integrity of the soldiers who made the controversial claims, saying, "if this was such a burning issue for them, why have they remained silent until now? On an ethical and moral level, they were obligated to stop what they claimed had occurred and not wait two months to be heard at some esoteric debate." (Ynet News)
* The Crucial Morality of the IDF's Cause - Herb Keinon
At what appears to have been a group therapy session at the Yitzhak Rabin pre-military preparatory course at Oranim Academic College in Kiryat Tivon in February, three soldiers told of cases in which civilians were killed by sniper fire, and of the wanton destruction of property. The IDF military advocate general instructed the Criminal Investigation Division of the Military Police on Thursday to investigate the claims. The country fights not because it wants to, but because it has to. And since it has to, it is crucial that Israelis believe in the morality of their cause. The idea of a moral army is not important because of how we are perceived abroad, but rather for how we perceive ourselves.
Obviously, everyone abroad who wants to accuse Israel of war crimes in Gaza will jump at these stories; every anti-Israel NGO will disseminate them as further proof of our evil. What is lacking is context. It is important to note that none of the testimony was about what the soldiers did themselves, but rather of what they heard or saw other soldiers do. The second piece of context is Dani Zamir, the head of the course, who had the soldiers' words transcribed and published. Zamir appears in a 2004 book titled Refusnik, Israel's Soldiers of Conscience, described as "an officer in the reserves from Kibbutz Ayelet Hashahar who was sentenced to 28 days for refusal to serve in Nablus." The testimonies of the soldiers that he brought to the public's attention seem to corroborate - what a coincidence - his views. (Jerusalem Post)

Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

* Syria's Very Special Court - Editorial
A report from Human Rights Watch on Syria's use of a kangaroo court to criminalize even the mildest forms of dissent and free speech sheds light on the Syrian regime's disdain for legality - the trademark of a police state. The testimonies about Syria's Supreme State Security Court depict a travesty of justice. Defendants are thrown in jail for insulting Assad or for being found with subversive writing, CDs, or videos. They are held for months without being charged, and frequently tortured. When they finally appear before a security court judge, their defense lawyers have no role to play. President Obama must approach the Assad regime without illusions. (Boston Globe)
* Buying Time with Iran: The F-22 Fighter - Lt. Col. Thomas Crimmins
Russia is considering the sale of the advanced S-300 air defense system to Iran - a "game changing" move that could affect Israel's calculus about whether, and when, to launch a preventive strike against Iran's nuclear infrastructure. Known in the West as the SA-20, the S-300PMU-2 is capable of intercepting low-altitude cruise missiles, ballistic missiles, and high-altitude bombers from a range of inside of 3 miles out to 95 miles. As a result, the former commander of the U.S. Air Force Air Combat Command, Gen. (ret.) Richard Hawley, noted last August: "For non-stealth aircraft, the SA-20 represents a virtual no-fly zone."
Israel currently believes that its F-15I and F-16I aircraft maintain a viable strike option against Iranian nuclear targets. However, Iran's acquisition of the S-300 would render Israel's current strike options dramatically more difficult, and could force Israel to considerably move forward any strike timetable. The F-22 fighter might represent a trump card that could dissuade Russia from transferring the new air defense systems or that could preserve Israeli options should Russia go through with the sale. As Air Force Association President Lt. Gen. (ret.) Mike Dunn stated last December, "Only the F-22 can survive in airspace defended by increasingly capable surface-to-air missiles" such as the S-300. The writer is a visiting National Defense Fellow at The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
* The Role of Radical Islamic Groups in Israel: Implications for Israeli-Arab Coexistence - Lt.-Col. (res.) Dr. Mordechai Kedar
The core question is to whom does this land belong? According to the Arab narrative, this has been an Arab Islamic region since the days of Omar, the caliph who conquered the land in the seventh century. According to the Islamic approach, since Islam began in 622 CE, all of history before that time has no meaning or significance.
From the Jewish perspective, this land was populated by Jews and two Jewish kingdoms were here until 1900 years ago when the Jews were expelled with no justification. It even appears in the Koran that this land had been given to the Jews. To call Israel a "colonialist" state, as the Committee of Arab Local Authorities in Israel did in 2006, means a total denial of Jewish history. The writer, who served in IDF Military Intelligence for 25 years, is a research associate at the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
* "Alice in Wonderland" Justice on Gaza - Alan Dershowitz
On March 16, 2009, a group of 16 self-described experts on "international justice and reconciliation of conflict" called for the establishment of "a UN Commission" to conduct an "independent and impartial investigation" of war crime allegations stemming from the Gaza conflict. Only a group as skewed against Israel as this one is would regard the UN as capable of conducting an "independent and impartial investigation" of anything involving Israel. No commission could credibly investigate Israel's actions unless it first set out with clarity what it believes Israel should have done and could have done under international law to prevent Hamas rockets from continuing to target a million Israeli civilians.
Let the international community, led by the so-called experts who signed this letter, first decide what the appropriate response is for democracies faced with attacks on its civilians by terrorists who hide behind their own civilians. Only after it is first decided, in a neutral manner, what rules of self-defense should apply to all democracies faced with terrorism by those who hide behind civilians, could an independent body then credibly apply these standards to the actions of a particular country. (Jerusalem Post)
* An Islamist Split on Al-Qaeda? - Clifford May
Sayyid Imam al-Sharif - also known as Dr. Fadl - may be the most influential Islamist you've never heard of. The Telegraph (UK) notes he was "part of the tight circle which founded al-Qaeda in 1988 in the closing stages of the war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan." He went on to lead an insurgency against Egypt that landed him in a Cairo prison, where he has since spent his days writing. In a new book, Exposing the Exoneration, Dr. Fadl writes: "Have the Islamic peoples become guinea pigs upon whom bin Laden and al-Zawahri try out their pastime and sport of killing en masse?" On the 9/11 attacks he observes: "To cross the ocean to go to your enemy in its own home and destroy one of its buildings, and [in retaliation] it destroys the Taliban state - and then you claim to be a mujahid (jihad fighter) - only an idiot would do such a thing."
He criticizes Muslims who settle in the West and then take up arms against their hosts. "If they gave you the opportunity to work or study, or they granted you political asylum," it is "not honorable" to "betray them, through killing and destruction." Al-Qaeda's interpretation of Shariah law is not just incorrect, according to Dr. Fadl - it is a "criminal school of belief." He argues that Islamic jurisprudence does not provide unrestricted permission to use human shields or to indulge in indiscriminate killing of noncombatants. The writer is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Washington Times)
* Intellectual Boycott of Israel Hits U.S. - Erin Sheley
In January, a group of American university professors launched the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. The boycott follows on the heels of several similar attempts made by British professors. Despite the comparatively low number of signatories, the campaign puts an official face on what many students already experience as a monolithic anti-Israel narrative across American campuses that obscures the harm inflicted upon the Palestinians by their own leaders, as well as gross human-rights violations by the leaders of the rest of the Arab world.
As Ruth Wisse, Professor of Yiddish and comparative literature at Harvard, says, "being against the Jewish nation was a great feature of leftism since Karl Marx" and this impulse to "be against something," coupled with the natural instinct of activist students to seek a single scapegoat for the plight of an undeniably oppressed people, results in a dramatically simplified story, in which Israelis become the "only group that you can safely aggress against with no price to be paid." All this despite the role of Arab nations themselves in keeping Palestinians victimized. (Weekly Standard)

Weekend Features

* Polish Spy in Auschwitz Told West about Gas Chambers - Kamil Tchorek
Newly released documents from the Polish archives reveal how Polish officer Witold Pilecki, using the false name Tomasz Serafinski, set up an underground resistance group in the Auschwitz concentration camp after voluntarily being imprisoned there for 2 1/2 years. His reports, smuggled out to the Resistance, have now come to light. He wrote: "The gigantic machinery of the camp spewing out dead bodies has claimed many of my friends."
By 1942 Pilecki's organization realized the existence of the gas chambers and he worked on several plans to liberate Auschwitz, including one in which the RAF would bomb the walls, or Free Polish paratroopers would fly in from Britain. However, in 1943, realizing that the Allies had no plans to liberate the camp, he escaped. Pilecki ensured that a full report on the camp reached London, and the resistance group he started in Auschwitz continued to feed information to Britain and the U.S., confirming that the Nazis were bent on the extermination of the Jews. The archive material will again raise questions as to why the Allies never did anything to stop the atrocities there.
In July 1945 Pilecki returned to Poland to gather intelligence on the Soviet takeover of the country. He was caught and executed by the Polish Communist regime in 1947. (Times-UK)
* 4,000-Year-Old "Abraham's Gate" Restored - Ofri Ilani and Eli Ashkenazi
The Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority Tuesday opened "Abraham's Gate" at Tel Dan in the north, for visits by the public. The ancient structure from the Canaanite period of the Bronze Age is thought to have been built around 1750 BCE, the period of Abraham, the first patriarch of the Jewish people. The gate, first uncovered in 1979, is composed of three arches and constructed of sun-dried mud brick on a foundation of large basalt stones. Tel Aviv University archaeologist Raphael Greenberg noted that it is the oldest arch in the country. (Ha'aretz)
* The Orange Tree Is Texting - Again - Stephanie I. Freid
A sensor developed by Israeli scientists sends text messages to farmers when crops need water, or to homeowners when the Ficus is thirsty. Israel Agricultural Ministry plant physiologist Dr. Eran Raveh and his earth-scientist partner Dr. Arie Nadler spent seven years perfecting the hammer-shaped sensor that gauges moisture levels in plants and trees and sends real-time alerts to mobile phones or computers when water levels are low. The sensor helps cut water usage and avoid unnecessary and damaging over-irrigation by providing accurate water-level feedback. "The idea behind creating the sensor was to cut irrigation costs by up to 50%," Raveh said. (Fox News)

Observations:

Israel and the Free World Are Fighting the Same Enemy - Rupert Murdoch (Jerusalem Post)

* We see a growing assault on both the legitimacy and security of the State of Israel from people who make clear they have no intention of ever living side-by-side in peace with a Jewish state - no matter how many concessions Israel might make. For months now, Hamas has been raining down rockets on Israeli civilians. No sovereign nation can sit by while its civilian population is attacked.
* If you are committed to Israel's destruction, and if you believe that dead Palestinians help you score a propaganda victory, you do things like launch rockets from a Palestinian schoolyard. This ensures that when the Israelis do respond, it will likely lead to the death of an innocent Palestinian - no matter how many precautions Israeli soldiers take.
* In the global media war, for Hamas, the images of Palestinian suffering - of people losing their homes, of parents mourning their dead children, of tanks rolling through the streets - create sympathy for its cause. In a battle marked by street-to-street fighting, the death of innocents is all but inevitable.
* But I am curious: Why do we never hear calls for Hamas leaders to be charged with war crimes? Why do we hear no calls for human rights investigations into Hamas gunmen using Palestinian children as human shields? Why so few stories on the reports of Hamas assassins going to hospitals to hunt down their fellow Palestinians? And where are the international human rights groups demanding that Hamas stop blurring the most fundamental line in warfare: the distinction between civilian and combatant?
* In the West, we are used to thinking that Israel cannot survive without the help of Europe and the United States. Maybe we should start wondering whether we in Europe and the United States can survive if we allow the terrorists to succeed in Israel. The Free World makes a terrible mistake if we deceive ourselves into thinking this is not our fight.

The writer is chairman and CEO of News Corporation.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Daily alert

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Thursday,
March 19, 2009
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In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Minister: "Two-Thirds of Freed Hamas Prisoners Returned to Terror and Murdered Israelis" (Voice of Israel Radio-Hebrew)
Israeli Minister Haim Ramon, a member of the Ministerial Committee on Security Prisoners, told Israel Radio Thursday that Hamas did not negotiate over the release of prisoners but rather presented an ultimatum for Israeli capitulation.
Ramon emphasized that two-thirds of Hamas prisoners released in the past had returned to terror and murdered many Israelis.

110 Yemenite Jews to Be Brought to U.S. - Haviv Rettig Gur (Jerusalem Post)
Fearing a spate of killings following threats to the Yemenite Jewish community, United Jewish Communities, the umbrella body of North American Jewish federations, will evacuate 110 of the remaining 280 Yemenite Jews to the U.S. over the next two weeks.
Yemen has refused to approve passports for Jews wishing to leave for Israel. The UJC will help those who wish to go to Israel from the U.S. to do so.

Israeli Drones Said Operating over Iraq and Afghanistan - Yossi Melman (Ha'aretz)
Israeli unmanned aerial vehicles have been operating in Iraq and Afghanistan in the service of the U.S.-led coalition for the last three years.
In Iraq, the U.S. Army has been operating Hunter model UAVs manufactured by Stark Aerospace, an Israel Aerospace Industries' subsidiary in Mississippi.
The Canadian air force has also operated Israeli-made Heron UAVs over Afghanistan.

UN Official Attacks Western Policies on Iran and Sudan - Neil MacFarquhar (New York Times)
Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, president of the UN General Assembly, lashed out at the West in general and the U.S. in particular on Tuesday, saying that Iran's president had been unfairly "demonized" and that the indictment of Sudan's president was racist.
D'Escoto denied ever having heard that Ahmadinejad had called for Israel to be erased.

Al-Qaeda's Terrorist Web in Africa - Anna Mulrine (U.S. News)
Al-Qaeda has increased its influence dramatically across northern and eastern Africa over the past three years, Gen. William Ward, the head of U.S. Africa Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Ward cited extremist groups on the rise, including East Africa Al Qaeda, al Shabaab, and Al Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
He said that Somalia and Sudan, in particular, provide sanctuary for violent insurgents.

Businessman Convicted in Arms Plot - Benjamin Weiser (New York Times)
Palestinian-born businessman Tareq Mousa al-Ghazi, 62, was convicted in New York Tuesday on charges that he conspired with Syrian arms dealer Monzer al-Kassar to sell weapons, including 15 surface-to-air missiles, to Colombian FARC terrorists in order to kill American military officers.

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* Israel Rejects Revised Durban II Statement
Israel rejected a revised draft of the closing statement for the Durban II anti-racism conference. (JTA)
See also New Durban II Statement Still Singles Out Israel - Barak Ravid
While direct references to Israel have been removed - in an attempt to keep the EU from boycotting - the revised draft still implicitly singles out Israel. "The first clause in the new document reaffirms the declaration of 'Durban I,' which calls Israel a racist state, and the change is cosmetic only," a senior Israel Foreign Ministry source said. "This is a diplomatic ruse intended to blur matters and introduce criticism of Israel by the back door." The Foreign Ministry instructed its envoys to continue asking their host countries to boycott the conference. (Ha'aretz)
* U.S. Warns of Iran-Hizbullah Influence in Latin America - Al Pessin
The commander of U.S. forces in Latin America, Admiral James Stavridis, told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday that Hizbullah is involved in drug trafficking in Colombia, and that he is worried about increased Iranian and Hizbullah activities throughout the region. In January, Defense Secretary Robert Gates accused Iran of engaging in "subversive" activity in several places in Latin America.
Stavridis noted "an increase in a wide level of activity by the Iranian government," including the opening of six new embassies in Latin America during the last five years, and "proselytizing and working with Islamic activities throughout the region." "That is of concern principally because of the connections between the government of Iran, which is a state sponsor of terrorism, and Hizbullah," he said. "We see a great deal of Hizbullah activity throughout South America, in particular. [The] tri-border of Brazil is a particular concern, as in Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, as well as [other] parts of Brazil and in the Caribbean Basin." (VOA News)
* Netanyahu Aide Says U.S. Mistakenly Bars Him - Aron Heller
Uzi Arad, prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu's choice for national security adviser, said Wednesday that he has been denied an entry visa to the U.S. for the past two years because U.S. authorities erroneously tied him to Lawrence A. Franklin, a former Defense Department official who pleaded guilty to providing classified defense information to two pro-Israel lobbyists. Arad confirmed that he had discussed Iran with Franklin in 2004, but insisted the meeting was "superficial" and had nothing to do with the charges against Franklin. "We had coffee and we talked about the agenda of the day - nothing classified, nothing secret, nothing related to espionage," Arad said Wednesday. "If I was not a Mossad employee in the past, they would not have noticed me."
Arad served in the Mossad for 25 years, becoming Director of Intelligence. He then became the founding head of the Institute for Policy and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, where he established the annual Herzliya Conference on Israeli national security. (AP/Washington Post)

News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

* IDF Arrests Hamas Leaders in West Bank
IDF troops arrested 10 Hamas officials in the West Bank overnight Wednesday including four members of the Legislative Council. "These men have been the leaders of the ongoing effort to restore the administrative branch of the Hamas terror organization in the region, while attempting to strengthen the power and influence of Hamas," the army said. (Jerusalem Post)
* PA Officials Welcome Failure of Hamas-Israel Prisoner Exchange Talks - Khaled Abu Toameh
Some Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah have welcomed the failure of the prisoner exchange negotiations between Israel and Hamas as good news. The release of hundreds of Palestinian security prisoners would have been seen as a major victory for Hamas. Over the past two years, the PA has worked hard to isolate Hamas both in the local and international arenas.
The PA was also worried the release of hundreds of Hamas operatives to the West Bank would have created a big headache for its security forces. Abbas' aides were concerned about the high probability the released men would rebuild their movement's military infrastructure in the West Bank and resume terror activities not only against Israel, but also against the PA. In the past year, the PA security forces, with the help of Israel and the U.S., have waged a massive campaign aimed at eliminating Hamas' political and military presence in the West Bank. The return of senior Hamas activists would certainly increase the chances of a coup against the PA in the West Bank. (Jerusalem Post)

Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

* What Israel Means When It Talks about Iran Nukes - Yossi Melman
The head of IDF Military Intelligence, Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, told a cabinet meeting two weeks ago that Iran "has crossed the technological threshold." The term "technological threshold" means that Iran already has the knowledge, the technology, the equipment and the materials with which to produce its first nuclear bomb, if it so desires. Israel believes Iran is no more than a few months, perhaps a little over a year, away from putting together its first nuclear device.
According to U.S. estimates, on the other hand, even if Iran takes the political decision to manufacture a bomb it would not be ready until 2013 or perhaps even 2015. In any case, the differences between the Israeli and the U.S. assessments are smaller than one might think and are based largely on geographical proximity. Israel, which feels itself threatened by Iran, has more reasons for concern than the U.S. (Ha'aretz)
* U.S.-Syria Relations Mired in Mistrust - Natalia Antelava
In his Beirut office, pro-Syrian Lebanese politician Weam Wahab explained why it would be hard for the U.S. and Syria to find a common language. The main problem, he said, is that Damascus is never in a hurry, while Washington always is. This fundamental difference in approach is the reason why Wahab is skeptical about President Obama's new attempt to engage with the Middle East. The U.S. wants Damascus to stop its support for the two anti-Israeli militant groups - Hamas and Hizbullah, play a more constructive role in Lebanon, and distance itself from Iran. Martin Indyk, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel, believes that the plan is realistic. But Wahab laughs at this assumption. "Iran is the only country that stood with Syria through the hard times. It's an illusion to think that you can distance Syria from Iran," he says.
Some say the U.S. could win over Syria with the prospect of Israel returning the Golan Heights. However, Karim Makdisi, professor of international relations at the American University of Beirut, says it is not in Syria's interest to give up Hizbullah or Iran for the sake of the Golan Heights. (BBC News)
* Palestinian Decision to Cut Treatment in Israeli Hospitals Endangers Patients - Aron Heller and Dalia Nammari
The Palestinian government, angered by Israel's offensive against Gaza militants, decided in January to stop paying Israeli hospitals to treat Palestinian patients, a decision that has cut hundreds of people off from proper medical care. For years, Palestinians and patients from the wider Arab world have regularly been referred to hospitals in Israel for diseases their own hospitals could not treat. Israel promotes its treatment of Palestinians and employment of Arab doctors as a small beacon of coexistence.
Fathi Abu Moughli, the Palestinian minister of health, acknowledged that the edict aimed to deny Israel a "propaganda" campaign that improves its world image. But Palestinian patients and their Israeli doctors say the measure puts hundreds at risk. "There are kids who simply disappeared in the middle of chemotherapy," said Dr. Amos Toren, head of Sheba Medical Center's Pediatric Hemato-Oncology Department. "As far as they are concerned, it's a death sentence." (AP)

Observations:

An Arab-Made Misery - Nonie Darwish (Wall Street Journal Europe)

* The media tend to attribute Gaza's decline solely to Israeli military and economic actions against Hamas. But such a myopic analysis ignores the problem's root cause: 60 years of Arab policy aimed at cementing the Palestinian people's status as stateless refugees in order to use their suffering as a weapon against Israel.
* I lived in Gaza as a child in the 1950s when Egypt, which then controlled the territory, conducted guerrilla-style operations against Israel from Gaza. My father commanded these operations.
* In those years the Arab League started its Palestinian refugee policy. Arab countries implemented special laws designed to make it impossible to integrate the Palestinian refugees from the 1948 Arab war against Israel, forcing a Palestinian identity on these people for eternity and condemning them to a miserable life in a refugee camp.
* The Palestinians continue to endure hardships because Gaza continues to serve as the launching pad for terror attacks against Israeli citizens. Hamas missiles indiscriminately target Israeli kindergartens, homes and businesses. Hamas, an Iran proxy, has become a danger not only to Israel, but also to Palestinians as well.
* If the Arabs really loved their Palestinian brethren, they'd pressure Hamas to stop firing missiles at Israel. In the longer term, it's time for the 22 Arab countries to open their borders and absorb the Palestinians of Gaza who wish to start a new life.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Conservative trouble

Threatening Rebellion, Synagogues Demand Conservative Movement Reforms
By Anthony Weiss
Published March 17, 2009.

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A group of presidents of Conservative synagogues is threatening rebellion and even possibly secession if the Conservative movement’s congregational arm does not make prompt and dramatic structural changes, the Forward has learned.

In a letter addressed to the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism’s president, professional head and board, the synagogue presidents accuse the organization of being “opaque,” disorganized and even vengeful, and demand serious changes within 90 days.

“We believe that the organization has become insular, unresponsive, and of diminishing value to its member congregations,” the congregational presidents write in the letter, which was obtained by the Forward but has not yet been sent.

In the letter, the signatories hint that if their demands are not met promptly, their synagogues may ultimately withdraw support for USCJ.

Those behind the letter say that a dozen congregation presidents have committed to signing so far and that they ultimately hope to attract anywhere between 25 and 50 synagogues. They said they expect the letter to be sent around March 23.
Related Articles

* Conservatives Get New Leader Amid Calls for Overhaul

The letter surfaces a little more than a week after a separate coalition of rabbis, cantors and synagogue presidents from 25 of the largest Conservative congregations in the country, calling itself HaYom, also sent a challenging letter to USCJ’s leadership. That letter, though less specific in its demands, expressed similar dissatisfaction with USCJ and requested a meeting with the organization’s leadership. Such a meeting has been scheduled for March 19.

Word of the latest letter also comes just after USCJ announced that it had selected Rabbi Steven Wernick, a pulpit rabbi at a prominent Philadelphia-area synagogue, to be its new executive vice president, pending contract negotiations and board approval. Both HaYom and the presidents’ letter criticized the USCJ search committee that worked to fill the position as being too secretive.

Robert L. Rubin, the primary drafter of the presidents’ letter and treasurer of Adas Israel Congregation, a large and influential Washington, D.C., synagogue, said he began work on the letter after calling around to other congregations beginning this past summer and finding that none of them — large, medium or small — were pleased with the services they received from USCJ. Adas Israel’s president, Edward Kopf, has signed the letter.

The letter levels a series of charges against USCJ, including that its actions are “controlled by a relative few,” that “there appears to be a culture of entitlement and intolerance on the part of the professional and lay leadership,” that complaints are met with “a fervent attempt to quash dissent” and that “the official governing bodies are so large and/or so insular that they are unresponsive or unworkable.”

It also requests a number of changes in USCJ’s policies. The letter demands, among other things, that USCJ publish its recent budgets and the contract of its current executive vice president, hold a series of open discussions for congregations to voice their concerns, and shrink and reorganize its governing boards. The letter sets deadlines for action on these items ranging from 30 to 90 days.

In response to a description of the letter, USCJ’s international president, Raymond Goldstein, said that he agreed with a number of the concerns raised, including the need for greater transparency and the description of the organization’s governance structure as unwieldy. He said that he and others at USCJ had worked to try to address these issues. He also said that a number of the demands, such as posting the budget online and holding town hall meetings, seemed reasonable. But Goldstein strongly disagreed with the assertion that USCJ tries to quash dissent.

Although some in the Conservative movement have expressed hope that the selection of Wernick could set a new direction for USCJ, it seems unlikely that it will satisfy this letter’s signatories. The letter says that the professional head of USCJ should be a “Chief Operating Officer with proven successful organizational skills,” and Rubin said that the ideal would be someone with significant experience running a large, multi-branch organization.

Wernick, 41, has been a pulpit rabbi since he was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1996. He is currently the spiritual leader of Adath Israel in Merion Station, Pa.

Goldstein called the letter’s position on the role of the top professional “terribly parochial” and said that the search committee had taken management skills into account in choosing Wernick.

Rubin said that this letter was written separately from the HaYom letter, and that he sees the two efforts as distinct but complementary. He said that HaYom’s concerns about the movement are broader and more philosophical, while those expressed in the presidents’ letter are more concrete and short-term.

Even as the presidents’ letter expresses a desire to work amicably with current USCJ leadership, it also lays out potentially drastic consequences if substantial progress is not made. The signatories write that they have “chosen to continue our support, both financial and otherwise, for the next 90 days.”

“Barring acceptable results within the next 90 days, a next step would be to energize the larger USCJ constituency to demand change on or before the convention in the fall,” the letter continues, referring to USCJ’s biennial convention in December. “Finally, assessing our continued commitment to the existing organization, while an option, is our choice of last resort.”

While breaking off ties with USCJ would be a dramatic step, it would not be without recent precedent. In April of 2008, three large Conservative congregations in Toronto withdrew from USCJ, complaining that they were not receiving adequate services.

Goldstein said he was open to working with the letter writers but didn’t like their confrontational tone.

“I would look forward to partnering with these people rather than have them feel it necessary to threaten,” he said.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

JTA Daily briefing

JTA DAILY BRIEFING
Tuesday March 17, 2009

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

TODAY'S STORIES
===============

Summaries after Breaking News

* To revitalize Jerusalem, new mayor looks to Diaspora
* Wave of staff cuts hits federations
* Roger Cohen spars with Iranian Jewish expats
* Op-Ed: American corporate complicity created undeniable Nazi nexus


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

BREAKING NEWS
=============


Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu asked President Shimon Peres to help him form a unity government.
Read more: http://jta.org/news/article/2009/03/17/1003766/netanyahu-asks-peres-for-coalition-help

Russia's Jewish billionaires lost more than two-thirds of their wealth in 2008, according to figures released by Forbes magazine.
Read more: http://jta.org/news/article/2009/03/16/1003759/financial-crisis-hits-russias-billionaires-hard

A second group of Conservative Jewish leaders has issued a series of demands of the movement's synagogue association.
Read more: http://jta.org/news/article/2009/03/17/1003775/more-woes-for-conservative-leadership

It is not appropriate for the pope to wear a cross at the Western Wall, the rabbi in charge of the holy site said.
Read more: http://jta.org/news/article/2009/03/17/1003767/rabbi-no-crosses-at-western-wall

The Conference of European Rabbis welcomed moves by a European Parliament committee to protect the right to kosher slaughter.
Read more: http://jta.org/news/article/2009/03/16/1003757/european-rabbis-praise-moves-to-protect-kosher-slaughter

A Russian woman related to Israel's first president was beaten in her home in an attack with anti-Semitic overtones.
Read more: http://jta.org/news/article/2009/03/17/1003765/relative-of-israels-first-president-beaten

Germany appears to be preparing to ditch the Durban II anti-racism conference for being an attack on Israel.
Read more: http://jta.org/news/article/2009/03/16/1003756/germany-preparing-to-drop-durban-ii

Australia said it will boycott the Durban II anti-racism conference unless the heavily anti-Israel conference draft document is changed.
Read more: http://jta.org/news/article/2009/03/17/1003772/australia-ready-to-boycott-durban-ii

The fatal shooting of two Israeli policemen in the Jordan Valley is not connected to the removal of a checkpoint, an Israeli police commander said.
Read more: http://jta.org/news/article/2009/03/17/1003769/police-checkpoint-removal-not-connected-to-attack

An American demonstrator seriously injured during a protest against the West Bank security fence is breathing on his own.
Read more: http://jta.org/news/article/2009/03/17/1003777/injured-american-fence-protestor-improves

Lebanon opened its first embassy in Syria.
Read more: http://jta.org/news/article/2009/03/17/1003770/lebanon-opens-embassy-in-syria

Israel's senior negotiator briefed the father of Gilad Shalit amid rumors that the talks to free the kidnapped soldier had broken down.
Read more: http://jta.org/news/article/2009/03/17/1003763/israel-hamas-reneges-on-shalit-deal

One of Canada's largest universities says it will probe recent campus clashes relating to the Middle East.
Read more: http://jta.org/news/article/2009/03/16/1003758/york-university-will-probe-clashes-over-mideast

The Jewish Funders Network will provide $750,000 in matching grants to first-time gifts for environmental projects in Israel.
Read more: http://jta.org/news/article/2009/03/16/1003735/jfn-annonces-750000-pool-for-matching-grants-for-israeli-environmental-projects

Monday, March 16, 2009

Parashat Pikudei

Parashat Vayakhel video

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Israel basher resigns from Obama

Israel
basher and Chinese and Saudi lover Chas Freeman was withdrawn for
consideration for the lofty intelligence post for which he was
nominated?

I found it wonderfully ironic that his nomination was thwarted on Purim
Day!

daily alert

Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at www.dailyalert.org
Subscribe RSS-XML
DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
March 11, 2009


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Daily Alert Needs Your Support
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In-Depth Issues:


Obama Administration Rebukes UN Official for Attacks on U.S. and Israel - Colum Lynch (Washington Post)
The Obama administration scolded the president of the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, saying that his frequent public attacks against the U.S. and Israel are undercutting the standing of the world body.
The rebuke comes one day after Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann lashed out at the U.S. during a visit to Tehran, where he defended Iran's nuclear program as peaceful.
Alejandro Wolff, the second-ranking U.S. diplomat at the UN, said d'Escoto, the former Nicaraguan Sandinista foreign minister, "has repeatedly abused his position to pursue his personal agenda, and in doing so he diminishes the office and harms the General Assembly."
Mark Kornblau, a U.S. spokesman, said d'Escoto "seems like he is lost in some kind of time warp."
D'Escoto has said Israel should be targeted with a boycott because of its military offensive in Gaza.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Another Key Politician to Run Against Ahmadinejad - Thomas Erdbrink (Washington Post)
Former Iranian Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi announced his presidential candidacy Tuesday to challenge President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in elections set for June 12.
Mousavi is a proponent of Iran's nuclear program and a strong backer of Iran's system of government in which Shiite Muslim clerics oversee policies of elected officials.
Mousavi was prime minister from 1981 to 1989, and the post of prime minister was abolished after his term ended.
Former president Mohammad Khatami and former head of parliament Mehdi Karrubi have also announced their candidacies.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Iran Seen as Target of Saudi Overtures to Syria - Alistair Lyon (Reuters)
Saudi Arabia is mending ties with Syria to nudge Damascus toward cooling its alliance with Tehran. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will visit Riyadh on Wednesday, along with Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak, the state Saudi Press Agency reported.
While open to Arab detente, Assad has shown no readiness to sever a bond with non-Arab Iran that has lasted 29 years.
"Saudi Arabia's top priority is to confront Iran and its agenda in the Arab world. The Saudis want to weaken Tehran's cards in the Arab world, thus the new approach toward Syria," said an Arab official with close ties to the Saudis.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Egyptian Cleric: Starbucks Logo Is Jewish Queen Esther (MEMRI)
Egyptian cleric Safwat Higazi said on Al-Nas TV on Jan. 25, 2009:
In the Starbucks logo, "have any of you ever wondered who this woman with a crown on her head is? Why do we boycott Starbucks?"
"The girl you see is Esther, the queen of the Jews in Persia."
"We want Starbucks to be shut down throughout the Arab and Islamic world."




--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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Fair Use
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

U.S., Israel Disagree on Iran Arms Threat - Peter Finn
U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told Congress Tuesday: "The overall situation - and the intelligence community agrees on this - [is] that Iran has not decided to press forward...to have a nuclear weapon on top of a ballistic missile....Our current estimate is that the minimum time at which Iran could technically produce the amount of highly enriched uranium for a single weapon is 2010 to 2015."
On Sunday, Israel's chief of military intelligence, Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, said: "Iran continues to stockpile hundreds of kilograms of low-level enriched uranium and hopes to use the dialogue with the West to buy the time it requires in order to move towards an ability to manufacture a nuclear bomb." Blair said Israel was working from the same facts but had drawn a different interpretation of their meaning. "The Israelis are far more concerned about it, and they take more of a worst-case approach to these things." (Washington Post)
U.S. Intelligence Pick Pulls Out after Objections - Randall Mikkelsen
Former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Charles Freeman, named to head the National Intelligence Council which produces formal U.S. intelligence assessments of security issues, withdrew on Tuesday amid congressional objections over his past criticism of Israel and ties to China and Saudi Arabia. Freeman was president of the Middle East Policy Council, a Washington think tank that received funding from Saudi Arabia. (Reuters)
See also What Was Behind the Freeman Fight? - Eric Fingerhut
Lawmakers who led the successful campaign against the selection of Charles Freeman said their concerns always had less to do with his criticisms of Israel than his financial ties to Saudi Arabia and a Chinese oil company with business dealings in Iran. Freeman had lashed out at his critics Tuesday, releasing a statement blaming "the Israel Lobby." Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) focused on Freeman's ties to the China National Offshore Oil Company and China's purchase of oil from Sudan throughout the Darfur genocide, as well as his use of the term "race riot" to describe a protest in Tibet. Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), a member of the Select Intelligence Oversight Panel of the House Appropriations Committee, said Freeman is "entitled to be a strident critic of Israel and be a strident defender of China. He is not entitled to hold those opinions and make judgments on intelligence matters." (JTA)
UN Committee Accuses Iran of Violating Arms Embargo - Louis Charbonneau
Japan's UN Ambassador Yukio Takasu, chairman of the Iran sanctions committee, told the UN Security Council on Tuesday that the Cyprus-flagged MV Monchegorsk, chartered by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line, was carrying banned items when it was seized by authorities in Cyprus, including bullet shells, high-explosive gun charges, items related to 125 mm armor-piercing guns and high explosive anti-tank propellant. Takasu said the shipment of weaponry constituted a "violation" of Security Council Resolution 1737, passed in 2006 to put pressure on Iran to suspend its nuclear enrichment program.
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said, "In light of Iran's continued failure to comply with its obligations, the Iran sanctions committee should redouble its efforts to ensure full and robust implementation of Security Council resolutions." Rice reiterated that President Obama was prepared for "principled engagement" with Iran but Tehran had to live up to its responsibilities. (Reuters)
Israeli Kids Near Gaza Get Rocket-Proof Indoor Playground - Aron Heller
A converted warehouse in Sderot, near Gaza, has brightly painted walls surrounding a mini-soccer field, a climbing wall and play areas. It also has a new thick concrete roof, a half dozen shelters and an alert system to give a 15-second warning of incoming rockets. Eight Sderot residents have been killed, hundreds wounded and nearly everyone in the town of 24,000 has been traumatized by the frequent explosions of the thousands of rockets that have hit over the past eight years. Now parents in this battered town have a secure place to take their children, thanks to funding by the Jewish National Fund. Devora Biton, who brought her daughter, said: "I'm glad the kids will have a place to go, but it means the kids will have to live under a reinforced roof, rather than play outside as they should." (AP)
See also For Israel, Sderot Symbolizes Conflict's Toll - Howard Schneider (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:


Netanyahu: Weaken Iran to Help Mideast Peace
Israeli prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu believes that weakening Iran is key to ending the Middle East conflict as it would in turn weaken Hamas, a senior aide said on Tuesday. "Iran's growing power and intransigence give great advantage to the radical elements among Palestinians and in Lebanon," he said. "Any progress in the Middle East peace talks will require Hamas' weakening which can be achieved only if Iran is seen as weakened." Israel accuses Iran of supplying weapons to both the Islamist rulers of Gaza and Lebanon's Hizbullah. "It will be very difficult to stabilize the situation in Lebanon or to hold negotiations with the Palestinians as long as Iran's power is on the rise," the aide quoted Netanyahu as saying. (AFP)
Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues, Israel Responds - Efrat Weiss
Palestinians in Gaza fired four rockets at Israel on Tuesday. The Israel Air Force struck a rocket cell in northern Gaza, wounding two Palestinian gunmen, and later struck two arms-smuggling tunnels. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


Time to Drop Misguided Prosecution of Former AIPAC Officials - Editorial
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. should put an end to a criminal case that should never have been brought. Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, two former officials for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, were indicted in 2005 during the Bush administration and charged with conspiracy to disclose national security secrets to unauthorized individuals under the archaic Espionage Act. The government has the right to demand strict confidentiality from government officials who swear to protect its secrets. The Justice Department errs egregiously and risks profound damage to the First Amendment, however, when it insists that private citizens - academics, journalists, think tank analysts, and lobbyists - also are legally bound to keep the nation's secrets. The prosecution in effect criminalizes the exchange of information. (Washington Post)
Is Dealing with Hamas in the Cards? - Ron Kampeas
"The U.S. Congress will find it impossible to work constructively with any Palestinian national unity government that fails unequivocally to recognize Israel, to reject terrorism and all forms of violence, and to accept all previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements," said Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee. "Diluting the existing preconditions for engagement with Hamas would elevate Hamas' stature and pollute any negotiations with a hateful ideology which sabotages the search for regional peace and security," said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the committee's top GOP member. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), who chairs the House's Middle East subcommittee, noted, "Hamas is the odd man out....I don't know how you make peace with half of a want-to-be country. I don't know how you sign an agreement with an entity whose legal, political and administrative bona fides are all in question." (JTA)
See also How to Bypass Hamas in Getting Aid to Gaza - Ron Kampeas (JTA)
History's Oldest Hatred - Jeff Jacoby
Anti-Semitism is an ancient derangement, the oldest of hatreds. The misnomer "anti-Semitism" was coined in 1879 by the German agitator Wilhelm Marr, who wanted a euphemism for Judenhass, or Jew-hatred - though hostility to Jews has never had anything to do with being Semitic. In their classic study of anti-Semitism, Why the Jews?, Joseph Telushkin and Dennis Prager write: "Fascists have accused them of being Communists, and Communists have branded them capitalists. Jews who live in non-Jewish societies have been accused of having dual loyalties, while Jews who live in the Jewish state have been condemned as 'racists.' Poor Jews are bullied, and rich Jews are resented. Jews have been branded as both rootless cosmopolitans and ethnic chauvinists. Jews who assimilate have been called a 'fifth column,' while those who stay together spark hatred for remaining separate."
Many Jews are no saints, but the paranoid frenzy that is anti-Semitism is not explained by what Jews do, but by what they are. They are the object of anti-Semitism, not its cause. (Boston Globe)
Observations:

U.S. Cannot Ignore Secret Syrian Nuclear Facility - Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Joshua D. Goodman (Jewish Policy Center)


Israel's Sep. 6, 2007, attack on Syria's al-Kibar nuclear facility was reminiscent of its 1981 attack on Iraq's Osirak reactor.
While few were aware of the extent of Syria's nuclear program, a 2004 report by the U.S. Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analysis stated that A.Q. Khan - the Pakistani nuclear scientist who ran a clandestine black market network - offered "nuclear technology and hardware to Syria" and expressed concern "that expertise or technology could have been transferred."
Syria's response in the wake of Israel's bombing was curious. The regime did not ask the UN Security Council to condemn the incident. Rather, satellite photos show Syria's efforts to scrub the site of any traces of the nuclear reactor that Syria denied having. Former UN weapons inspector David Albright told the New York Times, "It looks like Syria is trying to hide something and destroy the evidence of some activity. But it won't work. Syria has got to answer questions about what it was doing."
If Washington does attempt to engage Syria, it cannot simply ignore al-Kibar. Syria's apparent nuclear development and subsequent deception reinforce pre-existing concerns about the country's interest in regional peace and stability. Pretending that the al-Kibar incident did not occur would send the wrong signal to Syria and other potentially dangerous proliferators in the Middle East.
Daveed Gartenstein-Ross is director and Joshua D. Goodman is deputy director of the Center for Terrorism Research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.



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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

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March 10, 2009
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In-Depth Issues:

PA Poll: Only 39% Believe Abbas Is Legitimate President - Khalil Shikaki (Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research/IMRA)
According to a recent Palestinian poll, public perception of the end of Abbas' term in office is leading 27% to believe that the legitimate president of the PA today is the Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council and 24% believe that there is no legitimate president, while only 39% believe that the legitimate president is Abbas.
Despite an increase in the popularity of Hamas, 71% say that given the outcome of the Gaza war, conditions of the Palestinians today are worse than they were before the war.

Lebanese Army Hunts Rockets Set for Launch at Israel (Strategy Page)
The Lebanese army has moved another infantry brigade to the Israeli border, along with a company of commandos, to search for rockets.
In the last few weeks, Lebanese troops have found and destroyed several dozen rockets set up for remote launch.
More rockets have been found in hidden bunkers or inside homes.
Some of the rocket stockpiles uncovered were apparently Hizbullah property. It's difficult for anyone but Hizbullah to move rockets into the border area.

Iran Tests New Air-to-Surface Missile - Borzou Daragahi (Los Angeles Times)
Iran has test-fired a precision air-to-surface missile with a 70-mile range, a capability that could threaten ships in the Persian Gulf, Iran's semiofficial Fars New Agency reported Sunday.
The missile was said to include an "automatic guidance capability" and a "special warhead" for destroying large ships.
The U.S. Navy keeps dozens of warships off the Iranian coast in the Persian Gulf to escort oil tankers and serve as a check against Iran's ambitions.

Israeli Scientists Learn to "Declaw" Nuclear Fuel (UPI)
Engineers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel say they have developed a way to "declaw" nuclear fuel, ensuring only peaceful plutonium use.
The engineers said their technique "denatures" plutonium created in large nuclear reactors, making it unsuitable for use in nuclear arms.
By adding Americium, a form of the basic synthetic element found in commercial smoke detectors and industrial gauges, plutonium can only be used for peaceful purposes.

Canada Urged to Review Middle East Refugee Cases - John Ivison (National Post-Canada)
The Canadian government is being urged to re-examine all refugee cases heard by Khaled Mouammar, the current president of the Canadian Arab Federation.
Mouammar, an outspoken supporter of Hamas and Hizbullah, recorded an acceptance rate of 100% when it came to refugees from North Africa and the Middle East during his time with the Immigration and Refugee Board between 1995 and 2005.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

* Assad: No Full Peace with Syria without Resolution of Palestinian Conflict - Anna Fifield
Bashar al-Assad, Syria's president, has warned that a peace settlement with Israel without a resolution to the Palestinian conflict would be largely symbolic. Assad told the United Arab Emirates newspaper al-Khaleej that a comprehensive peace deal will require significant concessions on the Israeli side. "We give [the Israelis] the choice between comprehensive peace and a peace agreement which does not have any real value on the ground," he said. "There is a difference between a peace agreement and peace itself. A peace agreement is a piece of paper you sign. This does not mean trade and normal relations."
The Syrian president is now suggesting that the Golan Heights would have to be returned as a precursor to a comprehensive treaty, which could not be forged without a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "Our people will not accept that, especially since there are half a million Palestinians in our country whose position remains unresolved. It is impossible under these terms to have peace in the natural sense," Assad said.
"Assad is very clearly saying here that they have to return the Golan to get a cold peace, but that there will not be anything more than a cold peace unless they deal with the Palestinian issue," said Andrew Tabler, a Syria expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Some policymakers in the U.S. consider negotiating with Syria an easier problem to resolve than the Palestinian conflict. However, "the Syrian track is actually very complicated because it does not involve just the Golan but it involves distancing itself from Iran, and that is going to be very hard," Tabler said. (Financial Times-UK)
* Palestinian Unity Talks Face Low Expectations - Nidal al-Mughrabi
Divided over policy toward Israel and control of Gaza reconstruction aid, rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah began unity talks in Cairo on Tuesday. Palestinian political analysts said Hamas agreed to the talks to try to overcome its isolation by the West over the group's refusal to recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept existing interim peace deals. Hamas official Ayman Taha said: "Gaza reconstruction is important but we are not required in return to cede our principles or recognize Israel, because that will never happen." (Reuters)
* Senators Question Intelligence Pick's Ties - Walter Pincus
All seven Republican members of the Senate intelligence committee Monday criticized the choice of a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia for a senior intelligence position, concerned about his views on Israel and his past relationships with Saudi and Chinese interests. Charles W. Freeman Jr. was picked by Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair to lead the National Intelligence Council. In that position, he will oversee production of national intelligence estimates. Since 1997, Freeman has presided over the Middle East Policy Council, a Washington-based organization that is funded in part by Saudi money. In that role, Freeman has criticized the Israeli government's positions and U.S. support for those policies. (Washington Post)
See also Intelligence Appointment Questioned - Bret Stephens (Wall Street Journal)

News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

* Iran: Hostile Drones Disrupted Satellite Launch - Yoav Stern
Hostile unmanned aerial vehicles overflew Iran last month and disrupted the communications systems at the launch site of a missile carrying Iran's first satellite to space, according to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He said that the disruptions caused a delay of the launch for several hours as the drones flew at very high altitude and used sophisticated electronic equipment to jam ground-based systems. Meir Javedanfar, an expert on Iran, said Monday, "The intelligence war against Iran is intensifying and becoming more public. It seems that the aim is not only to foil Iran's military development but also to embarrass the leadership." (Ha'aretz)
* Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues - Shmulik Hadad
Palestinians in Gaza fired two Kassam rockets at Israel on Monday. One rocket landed near a kibbutz south of Ashkelon. (Ynet News)
* How to Contain the Iranian Threat - Brenda Gazzar
On Sunday, Israeli military intelligence head Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin warned that Iran had "crossed the threshold" in expertise and materials required to produce nuclear weapons. Menashe Amir, an Iranian affairs expert and chief editor of the Israeli Foreign Ministry's Persian website, argues that the U.S. should drop the idea of negotiations with Iran and instead pursue a policy of serious international sanctions. Alternatively, if the U.S. decides to pursue negotiations, they should begin immediately in order to keep from giving Iran more time to achieve its nuclear aims. Amir said the Iranians were very experienced in drawing out negotiations in order to waste time and that the Americans had to move fast. "The Iranians are going on with their program without any disturbance and that's a very dangerous situation," Amir said.
Meir Javedanfar, another Iranian affairs expert, feels that Obama should try to negotiate with the Iranians and show the international community that Iran is not that interested in stopping its nuclear program. Javedanfar and Amir both agree a "military option" should only be used as a last resort since Israel would be vulnerable to any type of Iranian response. (Jerusalem Post)

Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

* International Aid for Gaza: Repeating the Failure of 2005? - Yossi Alpher
The effort to galvanize financial aid to Gaza without compromising Washington's refusal to deal with Hamas has little chance of succeeding. Plenty of new aid money was pledged to Gaza reconstruction at the Sharm al-Sheikh conference, but it will be forthcoming only if Hamas can be induced to enter a new unity government based on its acceptance of the three Quartet conditions concerning recognition of Israel's right to exist, renunciation of violence, and acceptance of past agreements.
The $4.4 billion pledged at Sharm al-Sheikh is reminiscent of the $3 billion that Quartet envoy James Wolfensohn recruited for Gaza in the summer of 2005, when Israel withdrew both its settlements and its army from Gaza. That money had far fewer strings attached to it: all the PA had to do was administer Gaza in a reasonable manner. But it failed. That means it is extremely problematic to base American hopes and intentions on repeat exercises like donors' conferences and unity governments that proved abortive in the past. (bitterlemons.org)
* Espionage Act Overreach in AIPAC Case - Editorial
There was good news for the First Amendment last month when a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that two former lobbyists for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee can use evidence from classified documents in their defense at their trial on espionage charges. The ruling provides a golden opportunity for President Obama's Justice Department to drop this misbegotten case. The prosecution should never have been brought in the first place, for reasons of law and damage to free speech. Attorney General Eric Holder can do the country a favor by dropping it. (Wall Street Journal)
* Obama Facing Human Rights Challenge in Syria - David Schenker
Syria's leading dissident is on his deathbed. Riad Seif, 62 and suffering from cancer, has spent the last year in Adra prison as punishment for attending a meeting of pro-democracy groups in Damascus. Seif is the most respected member of Syria's dwindling secular, democratic opposition to the iron-fisted rule of Assad and his Alawite clan. A former member of parliament, Seif devoted much of the last two decades to criticizing the Assad regime. As the Obama administration prepares to resume diplomatic engagement with Damascus, his plight is a poignant reminder of the abysmal state of human rights in Syria. The writer is director of the program on Arab politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Los Angeles Times)

Observations:

A Middle East Reality Check Revisited - Uriel Heilman (Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

* There's no denying Hizbullah and Hamas are "entrenched political and social movements," as New York Times columnist Roger Cohen writes. So is al-Qaeda in parts of southeast Asia and northern Africa and, in past eras, the apartheid regime in South Africa and the Ku Klux Klan in the U.S. Does this mean the civilized peoples of the world - that is, those of us who don't make a goal of killing innocent civilians, women and children - ought to engage and compromise with them?
* On Hamas, Cohen gets some of the facts wrong. For starters, Hamas has not offered Israel a decades-long truce. More importantly, why must we assume the best of Hamas and the worst of Israel? Cohen suggests that we should not take Hamas at its word when it comes to pledges to destroy Israel, but we should also not take Israel at its word when it says it wants a Palestinian state.
* The "sporadic Hamas rockets" to which Cohen refers fall daily in southern Israel in an ever-expanding radius that already has reached Ashdod and Beersheva and soon will threaten metropolitan Tel Aviv.
* As for the Gaza blockade - Gaza is enemy territory controlled by a radical Islamist group that represses its own population and is bent on Israel's destruction. Why should Israel open its borders to Gaza or encourage Egypt, Gaza's other neighbor, to do so?
* Cohen may be right that the Western approach over the last few years toward Hamas and Hizbullah have not worked well. Both groups have gained strength, and held their respective populations hostage in one form or another. But ignoring the reality of what those groups stand for and undertake will only get us further into the muck in the Middle East, not lift us out of it.

See also Middle East Reality Check - Roger Cohen (New York Times)

Monday, March 9, 2009

US Public School Teach Islamic Agenda?

Subject: US Public Schools Teaching Children Pro-Islamic Propaganda



To all of you who have children and grandchildren in the U.S. Public School
system, GET INVOLVED!!! Don't let this happen in YOUR children's school!!!
If no one protests, and no one stops this, these lies will become the
truth!!!...R



March 09, 2009

US Public Schools Teaching Children Pro-Islamic Propaganda

By Marc Sheppard

Christianity was started by a young Palestinian named Jesus and the 9/11
murderers were not Islamic Fundamentalists but simply a generic "teams of
terrorists." That's the caliber of politically corrected crap many of our
children are being taught in American public schools -- and it's past time
all parents took serious notice.

A five year study by Gary Tobin and Dennis Ybarra of the Institute for
Jewish and Community Research cites hundreds of such errors and distortions
found in "28 of the most widely used social studies and history textbooks in
the United States." Their book, The Trouble with Textbooks: Distorting
History and Religion, examines the pro-Islamic disinformation they
uncovered, including the assertion that Jesus was a Palestinian, not a Jew.

Ybarra claims that the textbooks also treat Islam with special privilege and
tend not to criticize or challenge it, as they do Judaism and Christianity.
He offers this example from the glossary of World History: Continuity and
Change:

It calls the Ten Commandments "moral laws Moses claimed to have received
from the Hebrew God," while the entry for the Koran contains no such
qualifier in saying it is the "Holy Book of Islam containing revelations
received by Muhammad from God."

Education expert Gilbert T. Sewall, the director of the American Textbook
Council, has also found a decidedly "whitewashed" version of Islam in school
history books. Sewall told Fox News that pusillanimous "publishers have
been pressured by Islamic activists to portray the religion in the most
favorable light, while Islamic terrorism is downplayed or glossed over." He
singles out the textbook World History: The Modern World for intentionally
omitting the religion of the 9/11 hijackers: [my emphasis]

"On the morning of September 11, 2001, teams of terrorists hijacked four
airplanes on the East Coast. Passengers challenged the hijackers on one
flight, which they crashed on the way to its target. But one plane plunged
in to the Pentagon in Virginia, and two others slammed into the twin towers
of the World Trade Center in New York. More than 2,500 people were killed in
the attacks."

No mention of Islamic Fundamentalists. No mention of jihad. No attempt to
explain the identities or murderous motivations of the madmen who
perpetrated the most horrific attack on our country ever.

And speaking of jihad, here's how Sewall described what the book History
Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond teaches students about the subject:

"Jihad is defined as a struggle within each individual to overcome
difficulties and strive to please god. Sometimes it may be a physical
struggle for protection against enemies," the book reads, noting that Islam
teaches "that Muslims should fulfill jihad with the heart, tongue and hand.
Muslims use the heart in their struggle to resist evil."

Sounds almost like a Dr. Philism, doesn't it?

Of course, there's no suggestion of what those hands might do should the
heart and tongue fail to resolve the "struggle." Nor that some of those
hands have held long gleamless knives to slowly and agonizingly behead
"infidels" or pressed the trigger to detonate shrapnel-filled suicide belts
to burn, eviscerate, and terrorize even greater numbers of innocents.

According to Textbook League president William J. Bennetta, the book does,
however, fabricate a pro-Muslim, anti-Judeo-Christian version of history and
teaches children that only religious views held by Muslims are important.
Bennetta accuses both the authors and publishers, the Teachers Curriculum
Institute, of "subjecting students to Islamic indoctrination" by
"relentlessly presenting Muslim religious tales and religious beliefs as
matters of historical fact." He further accuses TCI - which provides
schools a wide range of K-12 curricular programs -- of having "a close
relationship with the Islamic Networks Group (ING), a Muslim propaganda
agency based in San Jose, California."

And as far I can tell, both of the aforementioned books remain in active
academic duty throughout our nation's public school systems. And,
unfortunately, they share the shelves with many like-minded tomes.

Obviously, Islamic advocacy groups the likes of the Council on
American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) claim legitimate (and some perhaps not so)
motivation to advance positive perceptions of Muslims to our populace, and
easily dupe PC academics to do so blindly. But there's little reasonable
doubt that such liberal naivety also paves the way for those with intent of
a more pernicious nature. Be they simply advocating creeping Sharia law in
America or perhaps proselytizing or actually laying down cover for the most
vile of terrorist activity, such interests would be greatly served by a
generation of minds filtered of Islam's darker side.

And then there are the more immediately focused concerns. Is it any
coincidence that our kids are now being taught that Jesus was a Palestinian
and Muslims had nothing to do with 9/11 and jihad is but a harmless struggle
of the heart? With the media already working their blatant bias on the
parents, mightn't such skewed instruction of our progeny spark cunningly
orchestrated dinner conversation regarding America's foreign policy stance
on a particular Mideast powder keg?

Now, I'd venture to guess that those still with me these past 800 words or
so aren't likely mind-clay for PC opinion-sculptors. But unless the
protection of your children extends beyond the physical, you leave their
emergent psyches susceptible to all manner of PC indoctrination -- including
the latest multicultural claptrap. And while current events have moved the
threat of a worldwide Sharia-based caliphate to the rear of the world stage,
its persistent proponents continue to exploit the inane liberal tenet of
"celebrating diversity."

Of course, public schools are hotbeds of such liberal idealism. And they're
practically a second home to our kids. And, short our diligent oversight,
teachers will invariably leave indelible leftie scars on a child's personal
development. So now, more than ever, it's imperative we monitor school
books, and stand up and scream at teachers, administrators, and
superintendents should we discover any ideology beyond the sprinkling of
liberal bias we reluctantly accept as inevitable.

Just as with curricular green globaloney, your best defense against
scholastic Dhimmitude begins at home.

Discuss what they're being taught, and be prepared to teach them the truth.
Teach them about Jesus, or Israel, or both. Once they're old enough to
understand, teach them about 9/11. Teach them about Sharia and jihad and
oppressed women and terrorism and honor killings and barbaric execution
methods. Teach them that only just and nurturing cultures deserve to be
celebrated, not diversity itself.

But above all, teach them how to recognize propaganda and to think for
themselves.

Marc Sheppard is a frequent contributor to American Thinker and welcomes
your comments.

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