Saturday, April 30, 2011

Carolyn Glick- Netanyahu's folly

Netanyahu's time to choose

By Caroline B. Glick

There are many reasons that Netanyahu is incapable of stating the truth and ending the 18-year policy nightmare in which Israel is an active partner in its own demise

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's response to the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority's peace deal with Hamas would be funny if it weren't tragic. Immediately after the news broke of the deal Netanyahu announced, "The PA must choose either peace with Israel or peace with Hamas. There is no possibility for peace with both."

Netanyahu's statement is funny because it is completely absurd. The PA has chosen.

The PA made the choice in 2000 when it rejected Israel's offer of peace and Palestinian statehood and joined forces with Hamas to wage a terror war against Israel.

The PA made the choice in 2005 again when it responded to Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza with a tenfold increase in the number of rockets and missiles it fired on Israeli civilian targets in the Negev.

The Palestinians made the choice in 2006, when they elected Hamas to rule over them. They made the choice in March 2007 when Fatah and Hamas signed their first unity deal. The PA made the choice in 2008 when Abbas rejected then prime minister Ehud Olmert's offer of statehood and peace.

The PA made the choice in 2010 when it refused to reinstate peace negotiations with Netanyahu; began peace negotiations with Hamas and escalated its plan to establish an independent state without peace with Israel.

Now the PA has again made the choice by signing the newest peace deal with Hamas. In a real sense, Netanyahu's call for the PA to choose is the political equivalent a man telling his wife she must choose between him and her lover, after she has left home, shacked up and had 5 children with her new man.
It is a pathetic joke.

But worse than a pathetic joke, it is a national tragedy. It is a tragedy that after more than a decade of the PA choosing war with Israel and peace with Hamas, Israel's leaders are still incapable of accepting reality and walking away. It is a tragedy that Israel's leader cannot find the courage to say the joke of the peace process is really a deadly serious war process whose end is Israel's destruction, and that Israel is done with playing along.

There are many reasons that Netanyahu is incapable of stating the truth and ending the 18-year policy nightmare in which Israel is an active partner in its own demise. One of the main reasons is that like his predecessors, Netanyahu has come to believe the myth that Israel's international standing is totally dependent on its being perceived as trying to make peace with the Palestinians.

According to this myth — which has been the central pillar of Israel's foreign policy and domestic politics since Yitzhak Rabin first accepted the PLO as a legitimate actor in 1993 -- it doesn't matter how obvious it is that the Palestinians are uninterested in peaceful coexistence with Israel. It doesn't matter how openly they wage their war to destroy Israel. Irrespective of the nakedness of Palestinian bad faith, seven successive governments have adopted the view that the only thing that stands between Israel and international pariah status is its leaders' ability to persuade the so-called international community that Israel is serious about appeasing the Palestinians.

For the past several months, this profoundly neurotic perception of Israel's options has fed our leaders' hysterical response to the Palestinians' plan to unilaterally declare independence.
The Palestinian plan itself discredits the idea that they are interested in anything other than destroying Israel. The plan is to get the UN to recognize a Palestinian state in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and Gaza outside the framework of a peace treaty with Israel.

The PA will first attempt to get the Security Council to endorse an independent "Palestine." If the Obama administration vetoes the move, then the PA will ask the General Assembly to take action. Given the makeup of the General Assembly, it is all but certain that the Palestinians will get their resolution.

The question is, does this matter?

Everyone from Defense Minister Ehud Barak to hard-left, post-Zionist retreads like Shulamit Aloni and Avrum Burg says it does. They tell us that if this passes, Israel will face international opprobrium if its citizens or military personnel so much as breathe in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem without Palestinian permission.

These prophets of doom warn that Israel has but one hope for saving itself from diplomatic death: Netanyahu must stand before the world and pledge to give Israel's heartland and capital to the Palestinians.

And according to helpful Obama administration officials, everything revolves around Netanyahu's ability to convince the EU-3 — British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel that he is serious about appeasing the Palestinians. If he doesn't offer up Israel's crown jewels in his speech before the US Congress next month, administration officials warn that the EU powers will go with the Palestinians. And if they go with the Palestinians, well, things could get ugly for Israel.

Happily, these warnings are completely ridiculous. UN General Assembly resolutions have no legal weight. Even if every General Assembly member except Israel votes in favor of a resolution recognizing "Palestine," all the Palestinians will have achieved is another non-binding resolution, with no force of law, asserting the same thing that thousands of UN resolutions already assert. Namely, it will claim falsely that Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and Gaza are Palestinian territory to which Israel has no right. Israel will be free to ignore this resolution, just as it has been free to ignore its predecessors.

The threat of international isolation is also wildly exaggerated. Today Israel is more diplomatically isolated than it has been at any time in its 63 year history. With the Obama administration treating the construction of homes for Jews in Jerusalem as a greater affront to the cause of world peace than the wholesale massacre of hundreds of Iranian and Syrian protesters by regime goons, Israel has never faced a more hostile international climate. And yet, despite its frosty reception from the White House to Whitehall, life in Israel has never been better.

According to the latest economic data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics, Israel's economy grew 7.8 percent in the last quarter of 2010. International trade is rising steeply. In the first quarter of 2011, exports rose 27.3%. They grew 19.9% in the final quarter of last year. Imports rose 34.7% between January and March, and 38.9% in the last quarter of 2010.

The Israel-bashing EU remains Israel's largest trading partner. And even as Turkey embraced Hamas and Iran as allies, its trade with Israel reached an all time high last year. These trade data expose a truth that the doom and gloomers are unwilling to notice: For the vast majority of Israelis the threat of international isolation is empty.

The same people telling us to commit suicide now lest we face the firing squad in September would also have us believe that the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is the single greatest threat to the economy. But that lie was put paid this month with the demise of the Australian town of Marrickville's BDS-inspired boycott. Last December the anti-Israel coalition running the town council voted to institute a trade, sports and academic boycott against Israel. Two weeks ago the council was forced to cancel its decision after it learned that it would cost $3.4 million to institute it. Cheaper Israeli products and services would have to be replaced with more expensive non-Israeli ones.

Both Israel's booming foreign trade and the swift demise of the Marrickville boycott movement demonstrate that the specter of international isolation in the event that Israel extricates itself from the Palestinian peace process charade is nothing more than a bluff. The notion that Israel will be worse off it Netanyahu admits that Abbas has again chosen war against the Jews over peace with us has no credibility.

So what is preventing Netanyahu and his colleagues in the government from acknowledging this happy truth?

Two factors are at play here. The first is our inability to understand power politics. Our leaders believe that the likes of Sarkozy, Cameron, and Merkel are serious when tell us that Israel needs to prove it is serious about peace in order to enable them to vote against a Palestinian statehood resolution at the UN. But they are not serious. Nothing that Israel does will have any impact on their votes.

When the Europeans forge their policies towards Israel they are moved by one thing only: the US.

Since 1967, the Europeans have consistently been more pro-Palestinian than the US. Now, with the Obama administration demonstrating unprecedented hostility towards Israel, there is no way that the Europeans will suddenly shift to Israel's side. So when European leaders tell Israelis that we need to convince them we are serious about peace, they aren't being serious. They are looking for an excuse to be even more hostile. If Israel offers the store to Abbas, then the likes of Cameron, Merkel and Sarkozy will not only recognize "Palestine" at the UN, (because after all, they cannot be expected to be more pro-Israel than the Israeli government that just surrendered), they will recognize Hamas.
Because that's the next step.

It would seem that Israel's leaders should have gotten wise to this game years ago. And the fact that they haven't can be blamed on the second factor keeping their sanity in check: the Israeli Left. The only group of Israelis directly impacted by the BDS movement is the Israeli Left. Its members — from university lecturers to anti-Zionist has-been politicians, artists, actors and hack writers — are the only members of Israeli society that have a personal stake in a decision by their leftist counterparts in the US or Europe or Australia or any other pretty vacation/sabbatical spots to boycott Israelis.
And because the movement threatens them, they have taken it upon themselves to scare the rest of us into taking this ridiculous charade seriously. So it was that last week a group of washed up radicals gathered in Tel Aviv outside the hall where David Ben Gurion proclaimed Israeli independence and declared the independence of "Palestine." They knew their followers in the media would make a big deal of their agitprop and use it as another means of demoralizing the public into believing we can do nothing but embrace our enemies' cause against our country.

The time has come for the vast majority of Israelis who aren't interested in the Nobel Prize for Literature or a sabbatical at Berkeley or University of Trondheim to call a spade a spade. The BDS haters have no leverage. A degree from Bar Ilan is more valuable than a degree from Oxford. And no matter how much these people hate Israel, they will continue to buy our technologies and contract our researchers because Cambridge is no longer capable of producing the same quality of scholarship as the Technion.

And it is well past time for our leaders to stop playing this fool's game. We don't need anyone's favors. Abbas has made his choice. Now it is time for Netanyahu to choose.

Caroline B. Glick

Thursday, April 28, 2011

newest idea in Hebrew schools

Radical’ Hebrew School Model Taking Shape

Rabbi Joy Levitt is spearheading the Jewish Journey Project. michael datikash
New community-based project pulling in top players, but logistical challenges loom.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Julie Wiener Associate Editor
Rabbi Joy Levitt doesn’t mince words when it comes to the part-time and mostly synagogue-based programs where the majority of American Jewish kids receive their sole formal religious training.
In a recent paper distributed to Jewish educators nationally, Rabbi Levitt, the executive director of the JCC in Manhattan, described Hebrew school as a “failure” and “an essentially bad model.”
But that hasn’t stopped her from developing an ambitious plan to reinvent supplemental Jewish education for children ages 9-13. Or from recruiting a veritable who’s who of synagogues, leading Jewish professionals and funders — all of whom convened for a kick-off meeting earlier this month — to help bring the plan to fruition.
In a paper outlining her vision, Levitt, a former pulpit rabbi, honed in on a central reason for Hebrew school’s weak track record of engaging children and their families: synagogues “have been tackling the challenge of Hebrew school” as “stand-alone institutions,” ones that frequently see other Jewish organizations as competitors rather than partners.

Her alternative model has synagogues teaming up with JCCs, summer camps, museums and innovative Jewish groups like Storahtelling, Hazon and the American Jewish World Service, to offer kids and their families more choices and more customized learning plans —all for one membership/tuition price.
“The notion is it takes a village to create a Jewish adult,” she told The Jewish Week.
But in the enormous, diverse and often fractured “village” of Jewish New York can such a project actually work?
Called The Jewish Journey Project, the initiative, still in the planning stages, is being run by Rabbi Sid Schwarz, the founder of the PANIM Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values and author of several books, including “Finding a Spiritual Home: How a New Generation of Jews Can Transform the Synagogue.” The effort has enlisted the 14th Street Y, the JCC in Manhattan and seven local synagogues, including some of the most prominent from the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist branches: Manhattan’s Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, Park Avenue Synagogue, Temple Emanu-El, Congregation Habonim, East End Temple, the Society for the Advancement of Judaism and Nassau County’s Reconstructionist Synagogue of the North Shore.
The plan is to spend a year working out the myriad logistical, curricular and financial details and then begin piloting the project in the fall of 2012. Eventually Rabbis Levitt and Schwarz — the two are friends from their days as classmates at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College — hope the project can be replicated on a national level. A consortium of funders, led by the Gottesman Fund and including the Jim Joseph Foundation, the Littauer Foundation and others, is paying for the $175,000 planning process.
Exactly how the project will look when it launches in 2012 — and how much it will cost — remain to be seen. However, Rabbi Levitt’s “concept paper,” which she authored while on a recent sabbatical, suggests that a “typical process for a fourth grade student would begin with a family meeting with an advisor, where the student would choose the four (or so) ‘badges’ to work on throughout the year. The student will accomplish this at their synagogue, at the JCC, in family settings, in private tutorials, and in other institutional settings in the community where programs, classes and workshops are offered. … His ‘program’ is family-centered, synagogue-based and community enriched. His parents pay one tuition bill.”
The program, as Rabbi Levitt envisions it, would also include a weekly “clubhouse,” where kids would come together to socialize and celebrate Shabbat and holidays, and would feature communal community-service “mitzvah” projects, rather than the individual ones that have become standard in many bar/bat mitzvah preparations.
The Jewish Journey Project is hardly the first effort to improve and re-imagine Hebrew school. Since the mid-1990s, programs like the Experiment in Congregational Education have worked with individual congregations to re-think their approaches, usually de-emphasizing classroom time and ramping up participatory activities that involve the entire family.
UJA-Federation of New York’s Commission on Jewish Identity and Renewal, whose managing director is serving on the Jewish Journey Project’s professional advisory board, has invested heavily in such initiatives, helping scores of local congregations participate in Project Re-imagine and a related effort, operated out of the Jewish Education Project (formerly the Board of Jewish Education of New York), called LOMED (Learner Outcomes and Measurement for Effective Educational Design). Since 2005 the Leadership Institute for Congregational School Educators, run jointly by the Reform movement’s Hebrew Union College and The Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary and funded by UJA-Federation, has offered two years of intensive professional development and mentoring to select Hebrew school directors.
Meanwhile, pilot projects like Yerusha, a family-run program in Princeton, N.J., in which kids earn badges as they learn; Storahtelling’s Raising The Bar, which helps families prepare creative bar/bat mitzvah ceremonies; and Hebrew Learning Circles, a home-based Jewish education program, have sprung up in recent years.
Rabbis Levitt and Schwarz emphasize that they are not dismissing or competing with such efforts.
Indeed, the two have been in contact with most of these players, and The Jewish Journey Project’s professional advisory group includes leaders of many of these initiatives, as well as top professionals from JTS, HUC, the Foundation for Jewish Camp, the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA) and the Covenant Foundation.
“We feel we’re standing on the shoulders of the work they’ve done,” Rabbi Schwarz said of Re-imagine and LOMED. “Five of the seven synagogues in our model have been through one, if not more of those programs ... We think the work [Re-imagine and LOMED] have done has made these congregations ripe for something even bigger.”
Cyd Weissman, who has run Re-imagine, LOMED and other Jewish Education Project efforts in congregational education and is on the Jewish Journey Project’s advisory group, told The Jewish Week she is “delighted that congregations are innovating and are recognizing that the classroom-only model doesn’t create the impact that’s needed.
“The more interesting models there are, the more we’re able to offer families and the more we’re going to speak to the diversity of our community,” she added.
Saul Kaiserman, director of lifelong learning at Temple Emanu-El, whose religious school has just over 300 students, said that the Leadership Institute and LOMED, both of which he has participated in, are “much more about how to make change in your own institution.”
“This is about building something together that will transcend institutional boundaries,” he said, adding, “That’s incredibly exciting.”
Which is not to say that Kaiserman, along with those from other participating congregations, doesn’t have some apprehensions about the project.
“Are parents going to be able to organize drop-offs and so forth if the kids are six weeks in one place and six weeks in another?” he asked. “We’ll have to figure out how to make those sorts of things work.”
Rabbi Felicia Sol of B’nai Jeshurun, which has approximately 200 children in its religious school, said she is very excited about the project, particularly its “collaborative model.”
“The concerns, I think, are about making sure it’s a high-achieving, quality program and that it’s not so focused on the individual kid that they miss out on the community,” she said, adding that “we don’t want to become like private trainers for families.”
Like Kaiserman, Rabbi Sol also worries about the logistics. “We’ll have to make sure it’s not such a nightmare to run that it becomes too intensive or impossible to sustain.”
Leadership Institute graduate Gidon Isaacs of the Society for the Advancement of Judaism (where Rabbi Levitt’s husband Rabbi Michael Strassfeld is the spiritual leader) echoed his participating colleagues’ mix of excitement and apprehension about the project.
“What we’re hoping to get out of this is finding a new model, finding something that helps get parents out of this mindset of outsourcing Jewish education to the school,” he said, adding that he especially likes the way the project aims to give kids “choice and agency in their education.”
However, “nuts and bolts” could be a stumbling block, he acknowledges, as well as “larger questions about maintaining unity and congregational identity.”
“There’s a lot of social elements to Hebrew school as it is now,” Isaacs said. “Kids see the same kids and go through the same experiences. [The Jewish Journey Project] creates a new set of challenges around maintaining that cohesion.”
With the project still in early, exploratory stages, none of the synagogues has yet committed to piloting the project.
“Each has the option a year down the road whether to opt in or out,” Rabbi Schwarz said. “It’s possible that only five will decide in 2012 to be part of it, and from our perspective that won’t be a failure. This is a radical thing, and people are coming in not knowing what it will look like.”
Managing so many different groups — and figuring out the financing — also promises to be complicated.
“One of the great challenges of this is how to build and manage the relationships among the different institutions,” said Bill Robinson, chief strategy officer of the Jewish Education Project, who is chairing a committee charged with developing a “financial model” for the Jewish Journey Project.
Before determining “how will money flow through the system to ensure all providers are fairly compensated,” Robinson said his committee will need to learn more about the current financial practices of synagogues and their religious schools, including how much they bring in from tuition, how much their current programs cost and the extent to which the schools are subsidized by membership dues and fundraising.
Breaking down the finances can be difficult because it means determining “how much of the rabbi’s time is devoted to education” and “if space weren’t used for classrooms, would it be used for something else?”
Rabbi Levitt acknowledged the challenges — along with the high price tag that implementing a high-quality program will likely require — but said she is optimistic that the details can be worked out.
“I absolutely believe that families want excellent opportunities for their children to have a positive Jewish identity, to feel excited and passionate about Jewish values and to participate fully in the Jewish community,” she said. “If they are given the opportunity to provide that for their children, they’re going to be willing to pay for it, the same way they pay for other excellent opportunities for their children.”
Philanthropy will be needed to supplement parental investments, she said, but “when presented with new ideas that are not same-old, same-old, philanthropists are going to be willing to invest.”

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

why is chicken "meat?"

The Short Answer:
Neither chicken nor fish meet the Torah 's criteria for meat (in this context). Chicken1, however, is rabbinically considered meat and forbidden with dairy.

The Askmoses Answer:

The Torah says2 "do not cook a kid in its mother's milk".

The oral tradition3 tells us that (in the Torah's classic way of conveying many messages through limited words) the Torah is teaching us many laws through this enigmatic verse. For example: "kid in its mother's milk" is not limited to a young animal in its biological mother's milk, rather the Torah is describing the general definition of meat for this law. One of the criteria for "meat" in this context is that its mother gives milk.

since people consider chicken to be a form of meat, it is now in the category of meat and may not be eaten with dairy.
This then does not include poultry or fish4. Thus technically speaking, there is no Biblical prohibition against eating chicken or fish with dairy.
However, this poses a problem: many people did, and continue to, consider chicken a form of meat. It was sold together in the market, and is sold together in butcher shops and at the deli counter of your local supermarket etc. It was/is thus easy to make the mistake that if chicken (which in the mind of the masses is meat) was being eaten with milk, that meant other meats, as long as they aren't the actual kid in its biological mother's milk, are also permitted with milk.

Obviously this is incorrect; you may not eat any "beef" (or lamb etc.) in any (animal's) milk.

This is a troublesome thought. People could innocently make the mistake and break a Torah law. The sages, who were commanded by the Torah to protect its laws, issued a decree that since people consider chicken to be a form of meat, it is in the category of meat and may not be eaten with dairy.

This confusion never applied to fish and fish is still not classified as meat. (There are other issues with fish, both regarding fish and milk and fish and meat. See each link respectively).

1. We are just using chicken as a common example. However, the same applies to all poultry.
2. Exodus 23:19, 34:26 and Deuteronomy 14:21
3. See Talmud tractate Chullin 113a (and subsequent pages). Also see Rashi on above verses.
4. The difference is that chicken is considered a form of meat - but it is excluded because its mother doesn't give milk; whereas fish is not even considered a form of meat in the Torah.

parasha videos

My video on the parasha

What does God want from us? On Love thy neighbor from this parasha\

weight loss campaign

Down 30 lbs even after Pesah from Feb. 15!!! Working out an hour a day. Goal 100 lbs. I'm giving myself a year. Keep you posted.

New video and this is NOT how I'm losing weight
fasting in Judaism Jewu Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg

Israel-do not trust Europe or the US

Many analysts claim that the Palestinians are not acting in good faith when it comes to the 'peace process.' But are the Europeans and Americans acting in good faith, or have they decided on a pre-ordained outcome that they plan to force on Israel?

Barry Rubin reminds us of very recent history to show how the Europeans and Americans have repeatedly reneged on their promises.

Will the Europeans give unilateral recognition to a Palestinian state without any commitments at all to Israel? There are conflicting voices in Britain, France, and elsewhere about what these states intend. The fact that such recognition conflicts with every commitment they have made to Israel for twenty years doesn’t seem to figure in their debates.

Next, the Americans. It seems likely there will be a U.S. plan for resolving the conflict based on the 1967 borders.

What is the problem with that?

Ah, yes, the second to last president of the United States agreed that Israel would get to negotiate its own borders with the Palestinians. Later, that same president proposed minor border changes involving about three percent of the West Bank but allowing Israel to protect its security and keep a large portion of settlers where they were without taking property belonging to individual Palestinian Arabs. In exchange for these promises, Israel made concessions and took risks.

The last president before this one promised–in exchange for more Israeli risks and concessions–that the United States would support the incorporation of “settlement blocs” along the lines mentioned above–into Israel.

In the autumn of 2009, the Obama Administration promised Israel, in exchange for the settlement freeze and other steps, to accept the settlement bloc idea.

Now the Obama Administration proposes to abrogate all of these promises, raising the question of why should Israel believe any of its future promises.

Another aspect of the Obama plan is likely to be security guarantees for Israel. But, as Barry Rubin points out, there is a problem with these as well.

Who is going to be making these guarantees? The United States and Europe? The United Nations? Yet the first have repeatedly broken promises to Israel and the second is going to remain passionately and unfairly anti-Israel no matter what concessions Israel makes and after a Palestinian state is created.

Read the whole article here:

send this to your Christian neighbors

Send this to your Christian neighbors

Mideast without Christians
Op-ed: Christians must realize Israel’s fate intertwined with fate of non-Muslims in region
Giulio Meotti
Published: 04.18.11, 21:14 / Israel Opinion

This is the saddest Easter in the long epic of Arab Christianity: The cross is near extinction in the lands of it origin. The much-vaunted diversity of the Middle East is going to be reduced to the flat monotony of a single religion, Islam, and to a handful of languages.

In 1919, the Egyptian revolution adopted a green flag with the crescent and the cross. Both Muslims and Christians participated in the nationalist revolution against British colonialism. Now, according to the Egyptian Federation for Human Rights, more than 70 Christians a week are asking to leave the country due to Islamist threats.

The numbers are telling. Today there is only one Middle Eastern country where the number of Christians has grown: Israel. As documented in the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, the Christian community that numbered 34,000 people in 1949 is now 163,000-strong, and will reach 187,000 in 2020.

In the rest of the Middle East, the drive for Islamic purity is going to banish all traces of pre-Islamic pasts. This has affected not only Christians, but other non-Islamic communities too, such as the Zoroastrians and Baha’is in Iran (the late also found refuge in Israel, in Haifa.)

The silence of the global forums, the flawed conscience of human rights groups, the self-denial of the media and the Vatican’s appeasement is helping facilitate this Islamist campaign. According to a report on religious freedom compiled by the US Department of State, the number of Christians in Turkey declined from two million to 85,000; in Lebanon they have gone from 55% to 35% of the population; in Syria, from half the population they have been reduced to 4%; in Jordan, from 18% to 2%. In Iraq, they will be exterminated.

Should the exodus of Christians from Bethlehem continue in the next two or three decades, there may be no clergy left to conduct religious services in Jesus’ birthplace. In Iran, Christians have become virtually non-existent since 1979, when Khomeini ordered the immediate closure of all Christian schools. In Gaza, the 3,000 who remain are subjected to persecution. In Sudan, Christians in the South are forced into slavery.

Israel’s flag a symbol of hope
In Lebanon, the Maronites, the only Christians to have held political power in the modern Arab world, have been reduced to a minority because of Muslim violence and Hezbollah’s rise. In Saudi Arabia, Christians have been beaten or tortured by religious police. Benjamin Sleiman, archbishop of Baghdad, is talking about “the extinction of Christianity in the Middle East.”

The Christian Egypt was symbolically represented by former United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, a Christian married to a Jewish woman whose sister was the wife of Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban. In 1977, Boutros-Ghali, who was then Egypt’s foreign minister, accompanied President Anwar Sadat to Jerusalem.

Sadat, who as a child had attended a Christian school, was killed because the treaty his signed with the “Zionists,” among other reasons, and his cold peace is now under attack from the new rulers in Cairo.

In 1948, the Middle East was cleansed of its ancient Jews. Today is the Christians’ turn. Just as Islamist totalitarians have ruthlessly persecuted Christians in the Middle East, they have been waging war for the past 63 years to destroy the Jewish state in their midst. That’s why the fate of Israel is intertwined with the fate of the non-Muslim minorities.

Should the Islamists prevail, the Middle East will be completely green, the colour of Islam. Under atomic and Islamist existential threats, the remnant of the Jewish people risks being liquidated before Israel’s centennial in 2048. It’s time for Christians to recognize that Israel’s survival is also critical and vital for them. During the Holocaust, when most Christians were bystanders or collaborators, the Yellow Star was a symbol of death for the Jews. Today, the white flag with the beautiful six pointed star is a symbol of survival and hope for both Jews and Christians.

Giulio Meotti, a journalist with Il Foglio, is the author of the book A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel's Victims of Terrorism

News about Israel

1, Duh...
U.S.: Assad No Longer Potential Peace Partner for Israel - Hilary Leila Krieger
After two years of pushing Israel to reach a peace agreement with Syria, a top U.S. State Department official indicated Tuesday the Obama administration is no longer looking at the current regime as a partner for such a deal. "It's hard for us to stand by and see [President Bashar] Assad and his government engage in the kind of things they're doing against their own people and to then think easily about how to pursue other diplomatic missions," said Jacob Sullivan, director of policy planning at the State Department. (Jerusalem Post

2. Abbas admits it was Obama all along
Palestinian Leader Defies Israel and Vents about Obama - Dan Ephron
"It was Obama who suggested a full settlement freeze," Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, told me. "I said OK, I accept. We both went up the tree. After that, he came down with a ladder and he removed the ladder and said to me, jump. Three times he did it."

3. Israelis are happier than we are

Israel Ranks 7th in "Happiness Index" - Yitzhak Benhorin (Ynet News)
According to Gallup's global wellbeing survey, published over the weekend, Israel ranked 7th out of 124 countries.
63% of Israelis said they were happy with their lives, compared to 59% in the U.S.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Israel now more than ever

TEL AVIV, Israel—Israel's ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, asserts rightly that in view of the current political upheaval, America has no better or more trustworthy friend in the Middle East than Israel. Looking at the region's strategic map, one sees mostly instability and uncertainty. Who is going to rule Egypt, Syria, and Saudi Arabia five years ahead? What will happen in Iraq if and when U.S. forces leave? And will Iran prevail as the new regional superpower under its current leadership, or will it go through regime change and return to the pro-Western camp?

The Ultimate Ally
By Michael Oren

Whiff of Desperation
By Stephen M. Walt

Friends Forever?
By Jeffrey Goldberg

The Long View
By Robert Satloff
While no American analyst or policymaker can answer these questions with any degree of confidence, they can be certain that Israel will be around with its democracy, developed economy, strong military -- and deeply rooted pro-Americanism. No doubt, backing Israel's policies in the international arena and supplying it with generous military aid and top-notch weaponry might lose you some points in the Arab street and in Western Europe. Still, it remains a stubborn fact that the only serious force standing up to Iran and its proxies in the Middle East is the IDF, the Israel Defense Forces. The West, with all its big talk about promoting its values and going after the bad guys, simply doesn't have either the strength or the will to fight, as NATO's poor performance in Libya has shown. Against this backdrop, Israel is still "the largest American aircraft carrier in the world that cannot be sunk," in the words of former U.S. Secretary of State Alexander Haig, as quoted by Oren.

Since the 1950s, Israel has shared the West's concern about pan-Arabism and pan-Islamism, while encouraging particular Arab states' nationalism (wataniya) through wars and diplomacy. Israel fought Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser, the pan-Arab prophet, alongside France and Britain in 1956 and with American backing from 1967 to 1970, but made peace with his successors Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, who favored Egyptian interests over wider Arab or Muslim causes. Today, Israel and the United States are fighting a life-or-death cold war with the Islamic Republic of Iran, the bastion of pan-Islamism, which replaced their former ally the shah.





Even in its rocky relationship with the Palestinians, Israel aims at limiting Palestinian aspirations to the West Bank and Gaza, while ignoring the wider Palestinian diaspora and its theme of refugee return to pre-1948 Palestine. Again, this policy is shared by the West through its declared support for a two-state partition of the land, rather than acceptance of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's latter-day Nasserite vision of doing away with the Jewish state and bringing back the millions of 1948 refugees and their descendants to their nonexistent towns and villages.

A realist approach, then, would subscribe to Oren's analysis of Israel's strategic importance to America -- and to Israel's self-description as a Western outpost in a hostile Muslim neighborhood. But Oren does not contain himself to the mutual strategic worldview shared in Washington and Jerusalem. He argues that Israel reflects America's fundamental values and the Zionist beliefs of its Founding Fathers. In his narrative, John Adams and Abraham Lincoln preceded Theodor Herzl, the recognized father of political Zionism, with their dreams of a resurrected Judea. These romantic visions have been underlying America's support of Israel through thick and thin.

According to Oren, then, Israel is a mini-America in the Middle East, with identical values and policies. He acknowledges some disagreements between the two allies, but minimizes their importance or influence. In his view, Israel's settlement enterprise in the territories it occupied in 1967 is only a minor nuisance, which does not impede peace, nor fuels the conflict.

Alas, Oren ignores the deeper disagreement over values caused by Israel's occupation of the Palestinians, which runs against America's anti-colonialist tradition. Like the former British and French rulers of India and Africa, Israel preserves its democracy at home, but not among its subjects across the Green Line -- where Jewish settlers enjoy superior rights over their Arab neighbors. This visible injustice, more than any misunderstanding over practical policy or succumbing to pro-Arab propaganda, explains U.S. President Barack Obama's evident aversion to Israel's settlements and to Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing government and its policies.

Oren does allude to the dispute. "[E]ven the warmest friendships are never disagreement-free," he writes. "This was certainly the case with the Anglo-American relationship during World War II, modern history's most celebrated alliance, but one that was riven by disputes over military planning and postwar arrangements." Indeed, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill could barely stand one another, disagreed over war priorities, and represented mismatching powers -- a rising global leader and economic powerhouse lending its hand to a declining, bankrupt empire that barely escaped defeat. But apart from their personal and practical disagreements, Roosevelt and Churchill were deeply divided over their values. The American leader hated Britain's colonialism, a policy his British counterpart stood staunchly behind throughout his career. Roosevelt's price for joining the war after the Pearl Harbor attack was eventual independence for India.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Palestinian police kills Jews at Joseph's tomb

SUNDAY, APRIL 24, 2011

Palestinian Police kill Breslev Hasid and wound 3 more
Posted by JoeSettler at 4/24/2011 07:57:00 AM
Ever since Israel foolishly gave away Joseph's tomb to the Palestinians (which led to the abandonment of an Israeli soldier (Madhat Yusef) at the site who bled to death, and the destruction of this Holy site by the Palestinians), Breslev Hassidim and others have a made a point of regularly returning to the Jewish holy site to ensure that the Kever isn't abandoned completely.

Sometimes the IDF coordinates visits in the middle of the night and brings in busloads of people (unless they think it is too dangerous), but more often Breslev Hassidim sneak in and out in the middle of the night.

Early this morning (5:40AM), after finishing their prayers a carload of Breslev Hassidim were attacked by Palestinian policemen.

Originally 3 carloads of Jews arrived at the tomb to pray, but PA policemen waiting there shot in the air and 2 of the cars immediately left. The third carload of Breslevers stayed to pray.

After the prayers, when the Hassidim were driving out, the Palestinian policemen (trained and funded by the US) drove their PA police jeep up to the car with the Hassidim in it and opened fire.

One Israeli, Ben-Yosef Livnat (age 30) was killed and 3 more injured. Livnat is the nephew of Minister Limor Livnat.

why Israel's "most moral army" hurts Israel

Richard Baehr wrote:
David Horovitz conducts an interview with one of the men who developed the ethical guidelines on how the IDF should fight- and be "the most moral army in the world".
But one critic thinks the rules of engagement help explain why Israel is no longer winning wars.

3. Let us assume that the IDF is the most moral army in the world. The Goldstone Report suggests it does not matter- Israel will be hammered by NGOs, the U.N., and the international left, regardless of its behavior. Syria can fire on unarmed civilians in an attempt to kill some and terrorize the rest, and it will never come before any international tribunal or receive any U.N condemnation.
Avi Bell argues that there never was a real Goldstone investigation:
Richard Landes provides all you want to know about what is wrong with the Goldstone Report and its criticism of of Israeli behavior in the Gaza war. :
Part one:
Part two:

Orthodox vandalize non-Orhodox synagogues in Netanya

In Israel, Wave of Vandalism Hits Non-Orthodox Synagogues
By David Sheen (Haaretz)
Published April 22, 2011.
A Netanya Conservative and Reform house of worship has become the target of stone-throwing attacks, allegedly by ultra-Orthodox youths waging a battle to scare the congregants into leaving.
The Beit Yisrael synagogue in Netanya has been pelted with rocks on three different Friday nights in the last month. The youths reportedly hurled epithets at the synagogue parishioners, called them Gentiles and demanded that they leave the area. The rocks caused no damage, and no one has been hurt in the attacks.
The stone-throwings, which began on March 25, have occurred consistently during Sabbath evening prayers, says Morrie Kaporovsky, president of the Conservative congregation. Kaporovsky says that the first time it occurred, when he rushed down into the entrance hall to discover the cause of the banging noises he heard, he found a group of young men wearing white shirts, black pants, skullcaps and fringes.

Read more:

Monday, April 18, 2011

why were the hasidim at the nunnery?

Four novice nuns were about to take their vows. Dressed in their white gowns, they came into the chapel with the Mother Superior and were about to undergo the ceremony to marry them to Jesus, making them Brides of Christ.

Just as the ceremony was about to begin, four Hasidic Jews with yarmulkes, long sideburns and long beards came in and sat in the front row.

The Mother Superior said to them, “I am honored that you would want to share this experience with us, but do you mind if I ask you why you came?”

One of the Hasidic Jews replied, “We're from the groom's family.”

Sunday, April 17, 2011

a new dayenu for Israel

Dayenu, the famous and beloved song, recited around the world at Passover Seders, is one of the oldest passages in the Haggadah. The song details the miracles experienced by the Jewish People from the time of the Exodus to the building of the Temple. Is there a better time than Passover to remind ourselves of the many “modern miracles” of Israelis and Jews around the world in modern times? From establishing the State to our efforts to build a democratic, tolerant and open society, our story continues to one of striving toward a better society.\

In this spirit and in recognition of the achievements of Zionism, let’s add “A New Dayenu” to our seder tables.

If we had returned to Israel after two thousand years and had not established the State of Israel – Dayenu.

If we had established the State of Israel and had not founded cities and made the desert bloom – Dayenu.

If we had founded cities and made the desert bloom and had not absorbed millions of olim – Dayenu.

If we had absorbed millions of olim and had not revived the Hebrew language – Dayenu.

If we had revived the Hebrew language and had not developed a unique Israeli culture – Dayenu.

If we had developed a unique Israeli culture and had not established a myriad of social action organizations to improve society – Dayenu.

If we had established a myriad of social action organizations to improve society but had not developed innovative technologies which benefit the entire world – Dayenu.

If we had done all of this and even more, but had not returned to Israel -
Could we still say “Dayenu?”

courtesy American Zionist Movement; clicking on the above image brings you to the AZM website where you can also download a PDF version of A New Dayenu

a new dayenu for Israel

Dayenu, the famous and beloved song, recited around the world at Passover Seders, is one of the oldest passages in the Haggadah. The song details the miracles experienced by the Jewish People from the time of the Exodus to the building of the Temple. Is there a better time than Passover to remind ourselves of the many “modern miracles” of Israelis and Jews around the world in modern times? From establishing the State to our efforts to build a democratic, tolerant and open society, our story continues to one of striving toward a better society.\

In this spirit and in recognition of the achievements of Zionism, let’s add “A New Dayenu” to our seder tables.

If we had returned to Israel after two thousand years and had not established the State of Israel – Dayenu.

If we had established the State of Israel and had not founded cities and made the desert bloom – Dayenu.

If we had founded cities and made the desert bloom and had not absorbed millions of olim – Dayenu.

If we had absorbed millions of olim and had not revived the Hebrew language – Dayenu.

If we had revived the Hebrew language and had not developed a unique Israeli culture – Dayenu.

If we had developed a unique Israeli culture and had not established a myriad of social action organizations to improve society – Dayenu.

If we had established a myriad of social action organizations to improve society but had not developed innovative technologies which benefit the entire world – Dayenu.

If we had done all of this and even more, but had not returned to Israel -
Could we still say “Dayenu?”

courtesy American Zionist Movement; clicking on the above image brings you to the AZM website where you can also download a PDF version of A New Dayenu

Thursday, April 14, 2011

My Pesah videos

Seder Plate Basics for Passover JewU 23 Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg

Passover Haggadah explained briefly JewU 6 Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg

Kosher for passover 1 how to jewu 400 Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg
KOSHER FOR PASSOVER 2 JEWU 401 Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg

Passover Quick bad Pesah humor jewu 407 Rabbi Jonathan Ginsb

Passover joke: Why is this night JewU 5

Passover song Chad gadya the little goat explained JewU 4 Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg

Is the Exodus from slavery true Shmot 13/54 jewu 314 Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg

Pesah Passover seder songs and prayers 1Jewu 379 Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg

Pesah Passover seder songs 2 Jewu 380 Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg

The 4 Passover questions in Yiddish -Yiddish 1

Child friendly pesah seder tips Jewu 397 Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg

Parashat Bo 15/54 Exodus 10 Jewu 340 Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg

Kitniyote Legumes on Pesah? Jewu 541 Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg
Pesah transformed rituals Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg jewu 483

Pesah's 5 names and meanings Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg jewu 482

Haftarah ezekiel's dry bones and isaiah's messianic prophecy jewu 409 Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg

love poetry in the Bible Shir hashirm pesah Jewu 408
Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg
1st day haftarah
Pesah haftarah 1-are you with us or against us Jewu 405 Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg
2nd day haftarah

King Josiah, renewing bris, extirpating idolatry , Jewu 406

Omer-the 49 day period between Passover and Shavuot Jewu 36 Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg

bar mitzvah invite


It is with great stress, emotional and physical fatigue and incredible financial sacrifice beyond comprehension, that we invite you to join us as our wonderful son

Jacob Adam

is called to
the Torah as a Bar Mitzvah
on Saturday, May 12th - (Yes, we realize it is Mother's Day Weekend) at

Temple Israel
14 Coleytown Road
Westport, Connecticut 06880

at the ungodly hour of 9:00 am
even though you don't really need to be there until 10:20 am to catch the
real action.

If you make it through the three hour service, please skip the kiddush
(it's just cookies and cake) and join us instead for an overly ostentatious Kosher (my husband's idea) evening meal, which starts at 7:00
PM, (not 8:00 PM or you will miss out on the 2000 canapes) at

Birchwood Country Club
25 Kings Hwy South
Westport, CT 06880
(which we had to join just for this event and
you would not believe the initiation fees).

You will be in the presence of lots of boisterous and expensive entertainment and 60 to 70 unruly pre-teens wearing expensive dresses, funny
hats,fake bling and brand new white ankle socks as well as 80-100 middle-aged+ adults, some balding, some with bad toupees, most professionally coiffed, designer attired galore with lots of REAL bling and most "tootsed"
to the nines. At least one third will be hormonally challenged and some will act stupid while under the influence. Some will not even know where or
who they are. Some will complain about the food. Blah Blah Blah.

Please have the courtesy of showing up if you have RSVP'd that you are attending or you will be billed $210.00/plate if you are a no-show.
Please RSVP as soon as you get this invitation and not a day before the cut-off date. I can't take the stress.

The gift of choice is either green, or contains a routing and account number. "Off the top of your head" gifts and Gift Cards are a waste of your
time and ours.

Hope you can make it!
Lisa and David Miller

Dress: Black Tie Optional
Theme: 007 James Bond

BYO yarmulke.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

what's wrong with Conservative Judaism

By Mitchell Landsberg, Los Angeles Times

April 12, 2011
Reporting from Las Vegas=97

Three hundred rabbis walk into a Las Vegas martini lounge. Bartenders
scramble to handle the crowd =97 the rabbis are thirsty. Suddenly, an Elvis
impersonator takes the stage.

We are faced with two possibilities.

One, this is the beginning of a joke.

Two, they don't make rabbis the way they used to.

The Rabbinical Assembly, the clerical arm of Conservative Judaism, would
have you believe the second message, or something like it. That's why it
launched its 2011 convention with a martini reception at a Las Vegas
synagogue. The gathering was billed as an attempt to "rebrand" the
Conservative movement, which has seen alarming declines in membership in
recent years.

"We are in deep trouble," Rabbi Edward Feinstein of congregation Valley Bet=
Shalom in Encino told the convention the next day. "There isn't a single
demographic that is encouraging for the future of Conservative Judaism. Not

Those words could apply equally to a number of U.S. religious denominations=
especially liberal Protestant and Jewish faiths. Membership is falling;
churches and synagogues are struggling financially; and surveys show robust
growth among the ranks of those who declare no religious affiliation.

The situation may be especially alarming to the Conservative movement
because it was, for many years, the largest denomination in American
Judaism. It was the solid center, more traditional than Reform, more open t=
change than Orthodoxy.

A decade ago, roughly one of every three American Jews identified as
Conservative. Since then, Conservative synagogue membership has declined by
14% =97 and by 30% in the Northeast, the traditional stronghold of American

By 2010, only about one in five Jews in the U.S. identified as Conservative=
according to the American Jewish Congress.

The Reform and Orthodox movements also saw declines, although not nearly as
steep. Reform Judaism for a time claimed the most adherents, but today that
distinction goes to people who identify themselves as "just Jewish," meanin=
they don't associate with any of the traditional denominations. Many are
entirely secular.

"We're all in trouble," said Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice presiden=
of the Rabbinical Assembly and one of those trying to save the Conservative
movement. Correcting herself, she said, "We're not in trouble, but we're in
urgent need of rethinking the institutions of Jewish life."

Conservative Judaism has many strengths. It includes some of the most
vibrant congregations in American religious life and some of the most
prominent rabbis, among them David Wolpe of Los Angeles' Sinai Temple,
Bradley Shavit Artson, dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, also
in L.A., and Harold Kushner of Natick, Mass., author of "When Bad Things
Happen to Good People."

But as the rabbis gathered at a Las Vegas resort =97 a relatively sedate sp=
far from the Strip =97 much of the talk was about the urgent need for chang=

The movement's problems, many agree, begin with its name, which has nothing
to do with political conservatism and doesn't accurately describe a
denomination that accepts openly gay and lesbian rabbis and believes the
Bible is open to interpretation. But that's just for starters.

Deep dissatisfaction with the organizations that lead Conservative Judaism
prompted a number of influential rabbis in 2009 to demand urgent change,
warning, "Time is not on our side." The group won promises of substantial
change from the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents
Conservative congregations, and helped prompt reforms in the institutions
that train and represent rabbis.

A similar revolt by prominent Reform rabbis preceded that denomination's
continuing effort to reinvent itself, a project launched at L.A.'s Hebrew
Union College last November.

So what does it mean for a religious movement to reinvent or rebrand itself=

"It's one thing for a corporation to say 'We're going to reinvent
ourselves,'" said David Roozen, director of the Hartford Institute for
Religion Research.

"Sometimes they get into another business," he said. "A religion =85 can
evolve, it can be reinterpreted, you can express it in a slightly different
style, but you can't just be doing Judaism one day and say 'I'm going to
sell cars' the next."

The Conservative rabbis won't become car salesmen, but they batted around
some fairly radical ideas and predictably stirred up some opposition.

There was talk of eliminating membership dues for synagogues or switching t=
a la carte "fee-for-service" plans =97 so that a parent who wants only to s=
his or her child to religious school won't also be paying to support the
congregation's other programs. But some said dues give congregants a vital
sense of ownership.

Wolpe, the Sinai Temple rabbi, said the movement needs a slogan, one that's
short enough to fit on a bumper sticker. He suggested "A Judaism of

"We don't have a coherent ideology," he told his fellow rabbis. "If you ask
everybody in this room 'What does Conservative Judaism stand for?' my guess
is that you'd get 100 different answers.... That may be religiously a
beautiful thing, but if you want a movement, that's not such a hot result."

His suggestion drew a withering reaction from Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky of
Congregation Ansche Chesed in New York. "I'm not selling shoes," Kalmanofsk=
said. "I'm selling a spiritual path."

Younger rabbis, among them Josh Heller of Sandy Springs, Ga., said it was
important to reach young people where they live, which is often online. But
some of their older counterparts seemed uncomfortable, or unfamiliar, with
social media.

And then there was the name. Some prefer Conservative, which was adopted
when the movement began in the 19th century. It denotes the founders'
determination to conserve the best of Jewish tradition while being open to
prudent change. But others said it is one reason the movement is seen by
young people as being hopelessly uncool.

One suggestion: Change it to Masorti, a Hebrew word meaning "traditional"
that is used by Conservative Jews in Israel and Europe.

"If we really want to appeal to the new generation, if you want to create a
real worldwide movement =85 we need a common name, and I think it needs to =
a Hebrew name," said Rabbi Felipe Goodman of Temple Beth Sholom in Las

As the meeting ended, there were pledges to work toward meaningful change.
One example of what that might look like is an effort to employ a new
definition of kosher food that would require ethical treatment of the
workers who produce it =97something that is being called *magen tzedek,* or
"seal of justice."

"This is an answer for Conservative Judaism because it's about the
marketplace, it's about the public square," said Rabbi Morris Allen of
Mendota Heights, Minn., who is leading the effort. *Magen tzedek*"shifts th=
entire message of who we are as a religious community. Suddenly, it's about
more than just what is said at the prayer service on Saturday morning."


Monday, April 11, 2011

Notes from Aipac on the parasha Achrei mot

Parashat Achrei Mot & Passover

Critical Context

After the death of the two sons of Aaron (Leviticus 16:1) אחרי מות שני בני אהרן (ויקרא טז:א)

Why does the Torah mention the deaths of Nadab and Abihu, which were already recorded in the bible (see Leviticus 10:1-2), when describing the Yom Kippur service in the Tabernacle? Rashi (on 16:1) explains that their fate is recalled to remind Moses about their improper behavior during the priestly service: “Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah would tell a parable of a sick man who visited a doctor that told him, ‘Don’t eat cold food, nor sleep in a damp place.’ Another doctor came and said to him, ‘Don’t eat anything cold nor sleep in a cold space, lest you die as so-and-so did.’ The latter urged him more than the former.” As such, recalling the deaths of Nadab and Abihu was intended to serve as a more powerful warning to follow the proper protocol of the Yom Kippur service.

While the mentioning of Aaron’s sons in our parashah may seem odd, when we understand the context we can appreciate the Torah’s true intention. Nowadays, understanding contexts remains as important as ever. As the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) moves to take action against Israel based on the findings of the Goldstone Report, the author’s recent retraction, as well as a separate report from a Palestinian rights group, puts Israel’s actions in Gaza in their proper context.

In a Washington Post op-ed, Justice Richard Goldstone acknowledged serious errors and factual inaccuracies in the U.N. commissioned report bearing his name. Goldstone went further to say that “the allegations of intentionality [of killing civilians] by Israel were based on no evidence.” Conversely, he stated plainly that Hamas “rockets were purposefully and indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets.” In his original report, Goldstone overlooked the basic fact that Israel faces an adversary that intentionally places civilians in harm’s way to gain a military and political advantage. This fact has now come into greater focus with the recent condemnation of Hamas by a Palestinian human rights group. The New York Times reported that the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza “took the unusual step...of condemning the building and storage of anti-Israel rockets in densely populated areas, a practice that has led to injuries and deaths of civilians. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights said that locally produced projectiles had fallen on homes in Gaza or exploded in factories where they were made or stored.” Israel has long provided visual evidence of Hamas’ use of human shields and storage of weapons in civilian areas. For more on Justice Goldstone’s retraction of the Goldstone Report, click here. For more on Hamas, click here.

Like the Torah’s mention of Aaron’s sons, when we consider the Goldstone Report’s findings—and Hamas’ terrorist tactics—in their proper context, the intention becomes clear. Now, the United States should press the United Nations to nullify the Goldstone Report and take no further action as a result of its inaccurate findings. 

Tradition for All

Let all those in need come and make Pesach (Passover Haggadah) כל דצריך ייתי ויפסח (הגדה של פסח)

Helping those in need celebrate Passover has long been an integral part of Jewish tradition. Indeed, it is customary to donate each year to special ma’ot chitin, funds for the poor to help offset the additional expenses of the holiday. We explicitly express this generosity as we sit down to the seder. In the opening paragraph of ha lachma anya, we recall the “bread of poverty” that the Jewish nation ate throughout the ordeal of slavery in Egypt, and invite the poor to join us by saying: “Whoever is hungry, let him come and eat; whoever is in need, let him come and celebrate the Passover festival.” In remembrance of our hunger in Egypt, we offer to share our wealth with those in need.

Caring and giving to others are core values that underlie the celebration of Passover. In this spirit, a unique Israel Defense Forces delegation is helping bring relief to the Jews in Japan who have seen their homes, and any hope for carrying out their Passover traditions this year, decimated.

Tzvi Yehuda Mansbach, a lieutenant in the Israel Defense Forces rabbinical corps, is just the man to bring that hope back to life. Mansbach recently arrived in Minamisanriku, Japan with 60 members of an IDF aid delegation, and has been tending to the spiritual needs of the delegation members as well as the local community. According to Yediot Achronot,Mansbach also brought “seder kits” for each soldier, and extra kits for “Tokyo’s Jewish community, who will most likely find it hard to provide themselves with matzos, wine and Passover Haggadahs for the holiday.” As these soldiers help the local Jewish community celebrate Passover, they are also following in the Jewish tradition of supporting the less fortunate. In fact, the aid delegation “includes 50 doctors and brought with it 62 tons of medical equipment and 18 tons of humanitarian aid, including some 10,000 coats, 6,000 blankets, 8,000 gloves and 150 portable toilets.”

Each year as we begin our seder, we symbolically invite the disadvantaged, promising to provide them with their Passover needs. This year, the IDF took that promise to heart, taking incredible steps to ensure that the Jews of Japan would be able to maintain tradition, and supporting the needy victims of the recent natural disasters. 

Modern Persecution

In every generation (Passover Haggadah) שבכל דוד ודור (הגדה של פסח)

During the seder, before the actual retelling of the story of the Exodus, we remind ourselves that “In every generation they rise up against us to destroy us.” In his commentary to the Haggadah, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik connects the relevance of this phrase to our modern lives, stating that the night of the seder represents not just a ceremony of remembrance, but a ceremony of experience: “We inform the listener that our method is one…of translating the past into the present, of identifying memory with reality. The parashah tells us that we are a lonely people, that we are all a band of wandering Arameans facing hostility” (The Seder Night: An Exalted Evening p. 58).

On the night of the seder, as we stress the connection between past hostility towards the Jewish people with present threats, we must look at our world and take note of the continuing movement to undermine Israel’s legitimacy.

In a recent address, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer decried the ongoing efforts to delegitimize Israel and spread anti-Semitism throughout much of the Arab world, The Jerusalem Post reported. “If this is a new era of openness in the Middle East, then the work of defending Israel from ideological attacks becomes even more pressing,” Hoyer said. “That’s because, if this is a new era of openness, it matters more than ever that the Arab people have a view of Israel unclouded by bigotry.” This would not be easy work, due to “the lingering effect of generations of anti-Semitic propaganda and incitement of hatred.” Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Middle East subcommittee, echoed Hoyer’s sentiments, emphasizing the continued efforts to undermine Israel in the halls of the United Nations: “When it comes to the delegitimization of Israel, one need look no further than New York, [to] the United Nations,” he said. “The discredited UN Human Rights Council is at the heart of [the] anti-Israel movement.”

The authors of the Haggadah remind us that the Passover story never really ended, and that the tragic saga of anti-Semitism merely began in Egypt. Sadly, one need only read the news to see just how right they were. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Kosher for pesah?

Everything you ever wanted to know about keeping kosher for Pesah

The Torah prohibits the ownership of חמץ (leaven) during the festival of Pesah. Because of this restriction, Pesah is the Jewish
festival that requires the most preparation. This Rabbinical Assembly Pesah Guide provides a brief outline of the policies and
procedures relevant to preparing a home for Pesah.
With significant changes in the nature and manufacture of kitchen products and foodstuffs, new policies are required to
maintain a kosher-for-Pesah kitchen. As well, there are many significant differences of opinion among rabbis regarding the laws
of Pesah. This guide is intended to help families maintain a Pesahdik home in accor home in accordance with the principles of Conservative dance with the principles of Conservative
Judaism and its understanding of Jewish Law.
It is customary (and easiest) to remove the utensils and dishes that are used during the year, replacing them with either new
utensils or utensils reserved for exclusive use on Pesah. This is clearly not feasible for major kitchen appliances and may not
even be possible for dishes and utensils. There is a process for kashering a variety of utensils and appliances.
The general principle used in kashering is that the way the utensil absorbs food is the way it can be purged of that food
(פולטו כך כבולעו - ke-volo kach pol-to). This principle operates on the basis of the quality or intensity of how the particular item
absorbs food. Kitchen items used for cold food can be kashered by rinsing, since no substance has been absorbed by the dish
or glass. Items used on a stove absorb the food and thus need a stronger level of action, namely expelling the food into boiling
water through a process called הגעלה (hag'alah). The most intense form of kashering applies to items used directly on a fire or
in an oven and these utensils require a process of kashering called ליבון (libbun), which burns away absorbed food

Specific items are covered below.
a. To kasher metal pots, silverware, and utensils, thoroughly clean the item with soap and water. Then, following a strict
24-hour waiting period during which the item is not used, immerse the item in water that has been heated to a rolling
boil (הגעלה - hag'alah). For pots and pans, clean handles thoroughly. If the handle can be removed, one must remove
it for a more thorough cleaning. To effect הגעלה (hag'alah), the item must be completely exposed to the boiling water.
Pots and pans are either immersed in a larger pot of boiling water (for large items, this may be done one section at a
time), or filled with water brought to a rolling boil, after which a heated stone is dropped into the pot, causing the
water to overflow to cover the sides of the pot. In the case of silverware, every part of each piece must be exposed to
the boiling water. Following this הגעלה (hag'alah) process, each utensil is rinsed in cold water.
b. Heavy-duty plastic items, including dishes, cutlery or serving pieces, provided they can withstand very hot water and
do not permanently stain, may be kashered by הגעלה (hag'alah). If there is some doubt as to whether a particular item
can be kashered, consult your rabbi or religious authority.
c. Purely metal utensils used in fire must first be thoroughly scrubbed and cleaned and then must be subjected to direct
fire ליבון (libbun). To accomplish this, place the item in a self-cleaning oven and run it through the self-cleaning cycle,
or use a blowtorch. The use of a blowtorch is a complicated and potentially dangerous procedure and may result in
discoloration or warping of the metal item being purged. Exercise caution when performing ליבון (libbun). Metal
baking pans and sheets cannot be kashered because they require direct fire, which will cause warping.
d. Earthenware (china, pottery, etc.) cannot be kashered. However, fine chinaware that was stored and not used for ove
a year may be used after thorough washing. This china is considered pareve and may be designated for meat or dair and may be designated for meat or dairy y
e. Ovens and ranges: Every part that comes in contact with food must be thoroughly cleaned. This includes the walls
and the top and bottom of the oven. The oven or range should then be heated at its highest possible temperature. The
oven should be heated at maximum heat for an hour; the range top should be heated until the elements turn red and
glow. Parts of the range top around the elements that can be covered should be covered (usually with aluminum foil),
and carefully heated. After a general and careful cleaning, a self-cleaning oven is put through the full cleaning cycle
while empty. Following this process, the oven should be cleaned again to remove any ash. If the oven was very dirty
to begin with, two cycles may be needed to assure a thorough cleaning.
f. Smooth glass-top electric ranges require kashering by ליבון (libbun) and עירוי (iruy) (pouring boiling water o ) (pouring boiling water over the ver the
surface of the range top). First, clean the top of the range thoroughly; then turn the coils on maximum heat until they
are red-hot. Then carefully pour boiling water on the surface area, over and around the burners. The range top may
now be used for cooking.
g. Microwave ovens that have

Microwave ovens that have no convection option should be thoroughly cleaned. Then place an eight-ounce cup of
water inside the oven and microwave until the water almost disappears. (At least 6 of the 8 ounces need to evaporate.)
Do not heat until the water is completely evaporated, as this may damage the oven. A microwave oven that has a
browning element cannot be kashered.
h. Convection ovens are kashered like regular ovens. When cleaning, be sure to thoroughly clean around the fan.
i. Glass dishes used for eating and serving hot food are to be treated like any dish used for eating and serving hot food.
These dishes may be kashered by cleaning and then immersing in boiling water הגעלה (hag'alah). Glass cookware is
kashered in the same method used for a metal pot (see paragraph "a" above). The issues regarding glass bakeware are
complex. Some authorities allow glass bakeware to be kashered, while others do not. Drinking glasses or glass dishes
used only for cold foods may be kashered by a simple rinsing. Some follow the custom of soaking them in water for
three days.
j. A dishwasher needs to be cleaned as thoroughly as possible, including the inside area around the drainage and
filters. Then run a full cycle with detergent (with racks inserted), while empty. After 24 hours of not being used, the
dishwasher is again run empty (with racks inserted), and set on the highest heat for the purpose of kashering. If the
sides of the dishwasher are made of enamel or porcelain, the dishwasher cannot be kashered for Pesah.
k. Other electrical appliances can be kashered if the parts that come in contact with חמץ (hametz) are metal and are
removable, in which case they may be kashered like all other metal cooking utensils. If the parts are not removable,
the appliances cannot be kashered. We recommend the purchase of small appliances designated for strictly Pesah use,
thus avoiding the difficulty of kashering these appliances.
l. Tables, cabinets, and counters should be thoroughly cleaned and covered for Pesah. Suitable coverings include: contact
paper, regular paper, foil, or cloth that does not contain חמץ (hametz) (e.g. treated with star ) (e.g. treated with starch made of ch made of חמץ - hametz).
Note that the covering material should be made of material that is not easily torn.
m. Many countertop surfaces can be kashered simply by a thorough cleaning, a 24-hour wait, and עירוי (iruy) (pouring
boiling water over surfaces). For עירוי (iruy) to be effective for kashering, the sur ) to be effective for kashering, the surface must have no hairline cracks, face must have no hairline cracks,
nicks or scratches that can be seen with the naked eye. Plastic laminates, limestone, soapstone, granite, marble, glass,
Corian, Staron, Ceasarstone, Swanstone, Surell, and Avonite surfaces can be kashered by עירוי (iruy). A wood sur ). A wood surface face
that does not contain scratches may be kashered by עירוי (iruy). Ceramic, cement, or por ). Ceramic, cement, or porcelain countertops cannot be celain countertops cannot be
kashered by עירוי (iruy). The potential effectiv ). The potential effectiveness of eness of עירוי (iruy) depends on the material of which the counter was
made. A full list of counter materials that can be kashered (according to their decisors) may be found on the website
of the Chicago Rabbinical Council (CRC).
n. A metal kitchen sink can be kashered by thoroughly cleaning and scrubbing the sink (especially the garbage catch),
letting it sit for 24 hours, and then carefully pouring boiling water over all the surfaces of the sink, including the lip.
A porcelain sink cannot be kashered, but should be thoroughly cleaned and used with Pesah dish basins and dish
drains, one each for dairy and for meat.
o. Non-Passover dishes, pots, utensils, and חמץ (hametz) foods that have been sold (see belo ) foods that have been sold (see below) should be separated, w) should be separated,
covered, or locked away to prevent accidental use
The Torah prohibits the ownership of חמץ (hametz) (flour, food or drink made from the pr ) (flour, food or drink made from the prohibited species of leavened grain: ohibited species of leavened grain:
wheat, oats, barley, rye or spelt) during Pesah. Ideally, we burn or remove all חמץ (hametz) from our premises. I ) from our premises. In some cases, n some cases,
however, this would cause prohibitive financial loss. In such cases, we arrange for the sale and subsequent repurchase after
Pesah of the חמץ (hametz) to a non-Jew ) to a non-Jew. The transfer, . The transfer, חמץ מכירת (mekhirat hametz), is accomplished b ), is accomplished by appointing an agent, y appointing an agent,
usually one's rabbi, to handle the sale. This must be considered a valid and legal transfer of ownership and thus the items
sold must be separated and stored away from all other foods and supplies. At the end of the holiday, the agent arranges to
repurchase the items on behalf of the owner, since the חמץ (hametz) at that time is again permitted. (O ) at that time is again permitted. (One must wait until ne must wait until
certain the repurchase has been transacted.) If ownership of the חמץ (hametz) was not transferred befor ) was not transferred before the holiday, the use of e the holiday, the use of
any such חמץ (hametz) remains pr ) remains prohibited after the holiday ( ohibited
after the holiday (הפסח עליו שעבר חמץ - hametz she-avar alav ha-Pesah) and any such
products should be given away to a non-Jewish food pantry.
Since the Torah prohibits the eating of חמץ (hametz) during P ) during Pesah, and since many common foods contain some esah, and since many common foods contain some חמץ (hametz),
guidance is necessary when shopping and preparing for Pesah.
An item that is kosher all year round, that is made with no חמץ (hametz), and is pr ), and is processed on machines used only for that ocessed on machines used only for that
item and nothing else (such as ground coffee) may be used with no special Pesah supervision. As we learn more about the
processing of foods and the ingredients they contain, relying on the kashrut of a product for Pesah that does not hold a Pesah
הכשר (hekhsher hekhsher - stamp of approval) may be problematic. Wher - stamp of approval) may be problematic. Wherever possible, processed foods ought to have a " ever possible, processed foods ought to have a "לפסח כשר"
("kosher l'Pesah") הכשר (hekhsher (hekhsher) from a reliable source. Since that is not always possible, ho ) from a reliable source. Since that is not always possible, however, our guidelines reflect some wever, our guidelines reflect some
acceptable alternatives.
Any food that requires a "לפסח כשר" ("kosher l'Pesah") הכשר (hekhsher) must hav ) must have a label that is integral to the package and e a label that is integral to the package and
should display the name of a recognizable, living supervising rabbi or creditable kosher supervision agency, if possible. If the
label is not integral to the package or if there are questions regarding the label, the item should not be used without consulting
a rabbi or religious authority.

Prohibited foods (חמץ (hametz hametz)) include the following: leavened br )) include the following: leavened bread, cakes, biscuits, crackers, or coffees containing cereal ead, cakes, biscuits, crackers, or coffees containing cereal
derivatives (i.e. anything made with wheat, barley, oats, spelt, or rye). Any food containing these grains or derivatives of these
grains (the five prohibited species for Pesah) is forbidden. Flavorings in foodstuffs are often derived from alcohol produced
from one of these grains, rendering that food חמץ (hametz). Such products requir ). Such products require Pesah supervision. e Pesah supervision.
Ashkenazic rabbinical authorities have added the following foods קטניות (kitniyot) to the above list of pr ) to the above list of prohibited foods: rice, ohibited foods: rice,
corn, soy, millet, beans, and peas. These and other plant foods (e.g. mustard, buckwheat, fennel, fenugreek, and sesame
seeds) are not permitted on Pesah. Although many rabbinic authorities have prohibited the use of peanuts and peanut oil,
the Conservative movement's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards has permitted their use and consumption on Pesah,
provided that these items have proper kosher certification and do not contain any חמץ (hametz) ingredients. M ) ingredients. Most Sephardic ost Sephardic
authorities permit the use of all the קטניות (kitniyot kitniyot) foods other than those that might hav ) foods other than those that might have come in contact with the prohibited e come in contact with the prohibited
grains. Most Ashkenazic rabbinical authorities also forbid processed products derived from קטניות (kitniyot), whether liquid
or solid. These might include, but are not limited to: corn sweetener, corn oil, soy oil, and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Israeli
products are often marked "contains קטניות (kitniyot)" and thus Ashkenazic J )" and thus Ashkenazic Jews who do not use ews who do not use קטניות (kitniyot) need to be
vigilant when purchasing Israeli products for Pesah.

a. The following foods require no "לפסח כשר" ("kosher l'Pesah") label when purchased before or during Pesah: fresh fruits and
vegetables; eggs; fresh fish (whole or gutted); fresh or frozen kosher meat other than chopped meat; whole (unground)
spices and nuts, including whole or half pecans (not pieces); pure black, green, or white tea leaves or teabags; Nestea
regular and decaffeinated unflavored tea; coffee (unflavored regular); baking soda and bicarbonate of soda.
b. The following items may be purchased before Pesah without a Pesah הכשר (hekhsher) but if bought during P ) but if bought during Pesah require a esah require a
הכשר (hekhsher hekhsher): white milk, Tropicana 100% orange juice, filleted fish, fr ): white milk, Tropicana 100% orange juice, filleted fish, frozen fruit (with no additives), pure white sugar ozen fruit (with no additives), pure white sugar

(with no additives), olive oil (extra virgin only), non-iodized salt, quinoa (with no additional ingredients).
c. The following products require reliable "לפסח כשר" ("kosher l'Pesah") certification (regular kosher supervision is not
sufficient), whether purchased before or during Pesah: all baked goods (matzah, Pesah cakes, matzah flour, farfel,
matzah meal, and any other products containing matzah), 100% fruit juices, herbal teas, canned tuna, wine, vinegar,
liquor, decaffeinated coffee and tea, dried fruits, oils, frozen uncooked vegetables and all frozen processed foods, candy,
chocolate-flavored milk, ice cream, yogurt, cheeses, butter, and soda. (For Sephardic Jews, the presence of קטניות-kitniyot
in some of these products does not present a problem, as long as there is no חמץ-hametz.) In some cases an onsite inspection of a local dairy performed by the דאתרא מרא-mara d'atra (religious authority) may suffice to r (religious authority) may suffice to resolve esolve
potential questions. Any processed food bought during Pesah must have a "לפסח כשר" ("kosher l'Pesah") certification.
d. Any detergents, cleaners, etc. which are not a foodstuff and which are not eaten, may be used for Pesah and do not
require a הכשר (hekhsher hekhsher). These items include: isopropyl alcohol, aluminum pr ). These items include: isopropyl alcohol, aluminum products, ammonia, coffee filters, baby oil, oducts, ammonia, coffee filters, baby oil,
powder and ointment, bleach, charcoal, candles, contact paper, plastic cutlery, laundry and dish detergent, fabric softener,
oven cleaner, paper bags, plates, wax paper, plastic wrap, polish, sanitizers, scouring pads, stain remover, and bottled water
with no additives.
e. Medicines: Prescription medicines are permitted. Non-prescription pills and capsules are permitted; for liquids, check
with your rabbi or religious authority

On Metzora, slander and Goldstone

Rabbi Johanan said in the name of Rabbi Joseph ben Zimra that anyone who bears evil tales (lashon hara) will be visited by skin disease (tzaraat), as it is said in oever slanders his neighbor in secret, him will I destroy (azmit)." The Gemara read azmit to allude to tzaraat, and cited how Leviticus25: says "in perpetuity" (la-zemitut). And Resh Lakish interpreted the words of "This shall be the law of the person with skin disease (metzora, מְּצֹרָע)," to mean, "This shall be the law for him who brings up an evil name (motzi shem ra)." (Babylonian Talmud Arachin 15b.)
Similarly, Rabbi Haninah taught that skin disease came only from slander. The Rabbis found a proof for this from the case of Miriam, arguing that because she uttered slander against Moses, plagues attacked her. And the Rabbis read it to support this when it says in connection with skin disease, "remember what the Lord your God did to Miriam." (Deuteronomy Rabbah 6:8.) read Number 12 for the full story here.
Rabbi Samuel bar Nahmani said in the name of Rabbi Johanan that skin disease results from seven things: slander, the shedding of blood, vain oath, incest, arrogance, robbery, and envy. The Gemara cited scriptural bases for each of the associations: For slander, for bloodshed, 2 Samuel for a vain oath, for incest,Genesis for arrogance, 2 Chronicles for robbery, (as a Tanna taught that those who collect money that does not belong to them will see a priest come and scatter their money around the street); and for envy,(Babylonian Talmud Arakhin 16a.)
Similarly, a midrash taught that skin disease resulted from 10 sins: (1) idol-worship, (2) unchastity, (3) bloodshed, (4) the profanation of the Divine Name, (5) blasphemy of the Divine Name, (6) robbing the public, (7) usurping a dignity to which one has no right, (8) overweening pride, (9) evil speech, and (10) an evil eye.

Do we really think skin disease comes from these? Well, we know our insides can affect our health but they were obviously very concerned about slander and gossip and used this portion to warn against it.

a memo from Aipac said
Parashat Metzora, with its emphasis on lashon hara, brings to mind a famous parable told about a Jew who slandered a town's rabbi. After a time, the man felt pangs of remorse for his actions and begged the rabbi for forgiveness.

"Of course I'll forgive you," the rabbi told him. "But before I do you must do one thing for me."
"Anything," the man promised.
"Go to the center of town with a pillow, and rip open the pillow and spread the feathers into the wind. When you're done, come back to me."
The man, puzzled, did what the rabbi asked and split open a feather pillow in the center of town. When he finished, he returned to the rabbi for his forgiveness.
"One more thing," said the rabbi. "Now go and collect all the feathers."
"That's impossible!" said the man. "I can't possibly collect all the feathers."
Asked the rabbi, "And what about my reputation? How will you return that to me?"

This parable speaks to us this week as we consider how Justice Richard Goldstone has retracted the central claims of his controversial report that falsely accused Israel of targeting civilians during its Cast Lead military campaign. While the slander from the Goldstone Report-like the scattering of the feathers-cannot be undone, the United Nations can and should renounce the report and take no further action as a result of its inaccurate findings.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Goldstone changes his mind!


Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and war crimes

By Richard Goldstone, Friday, April , 8:42 PM

We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council that produced what has come to be known as the Goldstone Report. If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.
The final report by the U.N. committee of independent experts — chaired by former New York judge Mary McGowan Davis — that followed up on the recommendations of the Goldstone Report has found that “Israel has dedicated significant resources to investigate over 400 allegations of operational misconduct in Gaza” while “the de facto authorities (i.e., Hamas) have not conducted any investigations into the launching of rocket and mortar attacks against Israel.”
Our report found evidence of potential war crimes and “possibly crimes against humanity” by both Israel and Hamas. That the crimes allegedly committed by Hamas were intentional goes without saying — its rockets were purposefully and indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets.
The allegations of intentionality by Israel were based on the deaths of and injuries to civilians in situations where our fact-finding mission had no evidence on which to draw any other reasonable conclusion. While the investigations published by the Israeli military and recognized in the U.N. committee’s report have established the validity of some incidents that we investigated in cases involving individual soldiers, they also indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.
For example, the most serious attack the Goldstone Report focused on was the killing of some 29 members of the al-Simouni family in their home. The shelling of the home was apparently the consequence of an Israeli commander’s erroneous interpretation of a drone image, and an Israeli officer is under investigation for having ordered the attack. While the length of this investigation is frustrating, it appears that an appropriate process is underway, and I am confident that if the officer is found to have been negligent, Israel will respond accordingly. The purpose of these investigations, as I have always said, is to ensure accountability for improper actions, not to second-guess, with the benefit of hindsight, commanders making difficult battlefield decisions.
While I welcome Israel’s investigations into allegations, I share the concerns reflected in the McGowan Davis report that few of Israel’s inquiries have been concluded and believe that the proceedings should have been held in a public forum. Although the Israeli evidence that has emerged since publication of our report doesn’t negate the tragic loss of civilian life, I regret that our fact-finding mission did not have such evidence explaining the circumstances in which we said civilians in Gaza were targeted, because it probably would have influenced our findings about intentionality and war crimes.
Israel’s lack of cooperation with our investigation meant that we were not able to corroborate how many Gazans killed were civilians and how many were combatants. The Israeli military’s numbers have turned out to be similar to those recently furnished by Hamas (although Hamas may have reason to inflate the number of its combatants).
As I indicated from the very beginning, I would have welcomed Israel’s cooperation. The purpose of the Goldstone Report was never to prove a foregone conclusion against Israel. I insisted on changing the original mandate adopted by the Human Rights Council, which was skewed against Israel. I have always been clear that Israel, like any other sovereign nation, has the right and obligation to defend itself and its citizens against attacks from abroad and within. Something that has not been recognized often enough is the fact that our report marked the first time illegal acts of terrorism from Hamas were being investigated and condemned by the United Nations. I had hoped that our inquiry into all aspects of the Gaza conflict would begin a new era of evenhandedness at the U.N. Human Rights Council, whose history of bias against Israel cannot be doubted.
Some have charged that the process we followed did not live up to judicial standards. To be clear: Our mission was in no way a judicial or even quasi-judicial proceeding. We did not investigate criminal conduct on the part of any individual in Israel, Gaza or the West Bank. We made our recommendations based on the record before us, which unfortunately did not include any evidence provided by the Israeli government. Indeed, our main recommendation was for each party to investigate, transparently and in good faith, the incidents referred to in our report. McGowan Davis has found that Israel has done this to a significant degree; Hamas has done nothing.
Some have suggested that it was absurd to expect Hamas, an organization that has a policy to destroy the state of Israel, to investigate what we said were serious war crimes. It was my hope, even if unrealistic, that Hamas would do so, especially if Israel conducted its own investigations. At minimum I hoped that in the face of a clear finding that its members were committing serious war crimes, Hamas would curtail its attacks. Sadly, that has not been the case. Hundreds more rockets and mortar rounds have been directed at civilian targets in southern Israel. That comparatively few Israelis have been killed by the unlawful rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza in no way minimizes the criminality. The U.N. Human Rights Council should condemn these heinous acts in the strongest terms.
In the end, asking Hamas to investigate may have been a mistaken enterprise. So, too, the Human Rights Council should condemn the inexcusable and cold-blooded recent slaughter of a young Israeli couple and three of their small children in their beds.
I continue to believe in the cause of establishing and applying international law to protracted and deadly conflicts. Our report has led to numerous “lessons learned” and policy changes, including the adoption of new Israel Defense Forces procedures for protecting civilians in cases of urban warfare and limiting the use of white phosphorus in civilian areas. The Palestinian Authority established an independent inquiry into our allegations of human rights abuses — assassinations, torture and illegal detentions — perpetrated by Fatah in the West Bank, especially against members of Hamas. Most of those allegations were confirmed by this inquiry. Regrettably, there has been no effort by Hamas in Gaza to investigate the allegations of its war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.
Simply put, the laws of armed conflict apply no less to non-state actors such as Hamas than they do to national armies. Ensuring that non-state actors respect these principles, and are investigated when they fail to do so, is one of the most significant challenges facing the law of armed conflict. Only if all parties to armed conflicts are held to these standards will we be able to protect civilians who, through no choice of their own, are caught up in war.
The writer, a retired justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa and former chief prosecutor of the U.N. International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, chaired the U.N. fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Jewish dollars supporting anti-Israel efforts

Jewish World Review April 1, 2011 / 26 Adar II, 5771
Jewry's Jewish problem
By Caroline B. Glick

Across the US, Jewish communities are failing to prevent anti-Zionist Jews from hijacking communal funds and facilities to finance anti-Israel activities | Over the past year or so, American Jewish opponents of Israel like writer and activist Peter Beinart have sought to intimidate and demoralize Israelis by telling us that American Jews either no longer support us or will stop supporting us if we don't give in to all the Arabs' demands.
But statistical evidence exposes these threats as utter lies. According to mountainous survey evidence, the American Jewish community writ large remains deeply supportive of Israel. Two surveys released last year by the American Jewish Committee and Brandeis University's Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies showed that three quarters of American Jews care deeply about Israel and that Israel is an important part of their Jewish identity. The Brandeis survey notably showed that young American Jews are no less likely to support Israel than they were in the past.
In fact, American Jews under 30 are more hawkish about the Palestinian conflict with Israel than Jews between the ages of 31-40 are. According to the Brandeis survey, 51 percent of American Jews oppose a future division of Jerusalem while a mere 29 percent would support it. Younger Jews are more opposed to the capital's partition than older Jews are.
It is notable that the Brandeis survey found that political views do not impact American Jews' support for Israel. This is striking because among Americans at large, polls show Republicans are significantly stronger supporters of Israel than Democrats. But not among Jews. "Liberals felt no less connected than conservatives and were no less likely to regard Israel as important to their Jewish identities. These observations hold true for both younger and older respondents," the Brandeis survey report explained.

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Across the board, American Jews blame the Palestinians for the absence of peace and believe there is little chance that there will be peace between Israel and the Palestinians in the foreseeable future. 75 percent agreed with the statement, "The goal of the Arabs is not the return of occupied territories but rather the destruction of Israel."
94 percent said the Palestinians should be required to accept the Jewish state's right to exist.
In light of these overwhelming levels of support, it is disconcerting to see that across the US, Jewish communities are failing to prevent anti-Zionist Jews from hijacking communal funds and facilities to finance anti-Israel activities.
Consider a few recent examples.
• In Orange County, California, intra-communal rancor is growing over the local Jewish Federation's financial and organizational support for University of California at Irvine's Olive Tree Initiative.
The Federation subsidizes Olive Tree Initiative-organized tours of Israel for Jewish students. As Tammi Benjamin from UC Santa Cruz explained in a letter last December to local Federation CEO Shalom Elcott and local Hillel director Jordan Fruchtman, while OTI claims to be interested in fostering good relations between Jewish and Arab students, it actually just propagandizes against Israel. The speakers who addressed students participating in the two-week trip were overwhelmingly anti-Israel. Almost all the Palestinian speakers expressed hatred for Israel. Many of the Israeli speakers represented groups that call for economic warfare against Israel and defame Israel as a racist state. Half of the supposedly neutral representatives of international organizations who spoke to the group are notorious for their opposition to Israel.
Rather than end the practice of using Jewish communal funds to propagandize Jewish students to hate the Jewish state that most American Jews support and see as important to their Jewish identity, the Federation and Hillel have dug in their heels This week the Los Angeles Jewish Journal reported that over the past two months, allegedly acting on instructions from the Federation, two local synagogues cancelled an event sponsored by the local branch of the Zionist Organization of America at which's Rabbi Dov Fischer was to present information about OTI's anti-Israel activities.
Speaking to the paper Fischer, of Irvine, California, said, "The amazing thing is how there has been a clamp-down by The Federation to prevent any speech or dissent in the community against The Federation's program. The idea that two different temples in the community, who have all kinds of speakers, canceled this program is profoundly shocking."
• Meanwhile on the East Coast, both the Washington and New York Jewish communities are embroiled in a feud over Federation funding for anti-Israel Jewish groups. In Washington, a group of pro-Israel activist operating as the Committee Opposed to Propaganda Masquerading as Art has begun a campaign to end Federation funding for anti-Israel activities.
In a letter to Federation President Susie Gelman and Federation board members from March 6, COPMA's Chairman Robert Samet argued, "It is critical that the Federation establish guidelines for withholding funding from partner agencies that engage in political propaganda and activism denigrating Israel and undermining its legitimacy as a strong, secure and independent Jewish state."
COPMA's specific concern is Federation Funding for the District of Columbia's Jewish Community Center's professional theater group Theater J. As the letter explained, "Theater J, a partner agency of the Federation and a recipient of its funding and support, has turned an arts program at the DCJCC…into a platform for political activism that expresses hostility and antipathy towards the State of Israel and little regard for its security."
In 2009 Theater J staged the virulently anti-Semitic post-modern passion play "Seven Jewish Children" by Caryl Churchill. The play accuses the entire Jewish population of Israel of mass murders that were never committed.
Unfortunately, as COPMA notes, this is par for the course. In the past Theater J's Artistic Director Ari Roth organized buses to bring community members to Shepherdstown, West Virginia to watch a production of the virulently anti-Israel propaganda play "My Name is Rachel Corrie."
This year, under Roth's leadership, Theater J presented "Return to Haifa," a play that COPMA argues, "distorts the history and origins of Israel and makes the historically accurate death of a Jewish child in the Holocaust…comparable to the fabricated and utterly fantastical story of an Arab child allegedly abandoned by his fleeing parents in Haifa in 1948, ostensibly as a result of their terror over advancing Israelis."
In response to COPMA's letter, Roth told the Forward that it "is not a prerogative of the donor," to intervene in artistic content and claimed that attempts to limit the theater's activities amount to censorship or blacklisting.
Carol Greenwald, COPMA's treasurer rejects Roth's arguments. In her words, "The issue is not artistic freedom to create whatever the artist chooses; the issue is the appropriateness of a Jewish communal institution using Jewish communal funding to showcase defamation of the Jewish people."
The Forward quoted Andrew Apostolou, a local Jewish Community Relations Council member as quite sensibly saying, "There are things a Jewish community shouldn't be doing, like serving a bacon cheeseburger on Yom Kippur. Putting on an anti-Semitic play is one of these things."
• COPMA is not alone in its concerns. In New York, a group of activists formed a new organization called JCC Watch to force the New York Jewish Federation to end financial support to the Manhattan JCC due to its partnership with organizations that support economic warfare against Israel through calls for economic boycotts, divestment and sanctions. Like COPMA, JCC Watch asks that the local Federation adopt guidelines to prevent Federation funds from being transferred to groups and programming that showcase calls for economic and political warfare against Israel.
So far, Washington's Federation has not responded to COPMA's letter. Interviewed by the Forward, the Washington Federation's CEO defended giving supporters of anti-Israel sanctions the stage as part of Federation-sponsored panels on the grounds of "welcoming multiple voices." And in an op-ed in New York Jewish Week last month, New York Federation's CEO defended the JCC's partnership with groups that engage in economic and political warfare against Israel.
What is going on here? According to the AJC and Brandeis surveys, less than ten percent of American Jews tend to accept the Arab line against Israel. Given the wall to wall support for Israel among American Jews, why do American Jewish organizational leaders refuse to do what their members want them to do? Why are they taking Jewish communal funds to finance activities and causes that are offensive to the Jewish community? Why are they pretending that the call to end communal funding for anti-Israel activities is a call for an abrogation of free speech?
To get a sense of how unprecedented this is, it is useful to consider the American Jewish community's response to Jews for Jesus. While Reform and Orthodox rabbis agree on almost nothing relating to Jewish laws and practices, since the emergence of Jews for Jesus in the 1970s, Reform, Conservative and Orthodox rabbis have been unified in their rejection of the Christian missionary group's protestations of being Jewish.
Everyone understands that while Jews have a perfect right to change their religion, they have no right to force the Jewish community to accept Christians as Jews. That is they have no right to change the definition of Judaism to include people who worship Jesus. So-called Messianic Jews falsely call themselves Jews to undermine the community from within. But no Federation feels compelled to invite a representative of so-called Messianic Jews to proselytize on stage as part of a panel discussion in order to "welcome multiple voices." Hillel organizations have rightly refused space and funding to Messianic Jewish groups.
But today, American Jews find themselves helpless when a marginal group of anti-Zionist Jews demands —like the Messianic Jews of their day—communal funding and space for their anti-Israel activities.
The anti-Zionist groups make the same arguments as the Messianic Jews. They call themselves pro-Israel even as they engage in activities aimed at harming, defaming, weakening and delegitimizing the Jewish state. They claim that refusing them communal funds constitutes a violation of their free speech rights.
Yet while communal leaders did not hesitate to call the so-called Messianic Jews' bluff, they cannot find the way to expunge anti-Israel groups from their umbrella organizations. The explanation for this behavior apparently is apparently social. Federation leaders don't mind disappointing evangelical Christians. But most of their friends are leftist. Consequently, the perceived social cost of taking action against groups like Theater J, J Street, B'Tselem, Breaking the Silence and Jewish Voices for Peace is too high for many American Jewish leaders to bear.
Happily, a handful of committed community members throughout the country are standing up and demanding that their communal leaders act in the interests of the communities they serve. It can only be hoped that the overwhelming majority of American Jews who clearly wish to support Israel will join these activists' call and demand that all Jewish Federations stop allowing anti-Israel groups to feed from the communal trough. If they do they will find that much to their surprise, the social costs of actions will be far smaller than they expected. After all, Israel's supporters are the majority.