Monday, January 30, 2012


Abie and Sadie had a Jewish religious store on Delancey Street on
the Lower East Side of NYC. 
The neighborhood was changing. Sales were
down on all Jewish related items. "Abie, we have to close the store,"
said Sadie.

"We can't", said Abie. "This neighborhood is our life. We've been
here for 50 years. Maybe we can start stocking Catholic articles too."

Sadie says,"What? Catholic articles? Bistu a gantzen Meshuggeh?
We're Jewish, No Catholic articles!!!"

Well, a month passed and they sold nothing but two tallaisim, three
mezzuzahs and one set of tfillin. Now was the time to decide. Sadie
agreed that they had to stock Catholic articles, so she said to
Abie,"OK, call that Catholic supply house on Park Avenue ."

Abie agreed to call: "Hello, Catholic supply house on Park Avenue ?
This is Abie and Sadie's on Delancey Street . I want 100 autographed
pictures of the Pope, 200 of those beads - what do you call them,
rosaries? 500 crucifixes. Oh yeh, I need those things here tomorrow."

"OK, Sir. I got your order. Let me read it back. 100 autographed
pictures of the Pope, 200 sets of rosaries and 500 crucifixes. But
tomorrow we don't deliver, "it's Shabbos."

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Martin luther King and israel

January 16, 2012

MLK on Peace, Israeli Security and Anti-Zionism

In light of the tendency by some propaganda films and anti-Israel speakers to posthumously enlist Martin Luther King, Jr., for their attacks on the Jewish state, it's worth noting what the civil rights hero actually felt about Israel and its situation.
Those who knew King well have recalled his strong support for Israel, his understanding of the links between Israeli security and peace, and his opposition to anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.
Rep. John Lewis, in his own right a leader in the civil rights movement, wrote an Op-Ed in 2002 describing King's "special bond with Israel":
During his lifetime King witnessed the birth of Israel and the continuing struggle to build a nation. He consistently reiterated his stand on the Israeli-Arab conflict, stating "Israel's right to exist as a state in security is uncontestable." It was no accident that King emphasized "security" in his statements on the Middle East.
On March 25, 1968, less than two weeks before his tragic death, he spoke out with clarity and  directness stating, "peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality."
During the recent U.N. Conference on Racism held in Durban, South Africa, we were all shocked by the attacks on Jews, Israel and Zionism. The United States of America stood up against these vicious attacks.
Once again, the words of King ran through my memory, "I solemnly pledge to do my utmost to  uphold the fair name of the Jews -- because bigotry in any form is an affront to us all."
The Op-Ed also pointed out that King was clearly against against attacks on Zionists. Lewis wrote that "During an appearance at Harvard University shortly before his death, a student stood up and asked King to address himself to the issue of Zionism. The question was clearly hostile. King responded, ‘When people criticize Zionists they mean Jews, you are talking anti-Semitism.'" (This is not to be confused with a widely circulated hoax letter said to be written by King.)
Clarence B. Jones, a friend and advisor to King, likewise recalled King's opposition to anti-Zionism. "I can say with absolute certainty that Martin abhorred anti-Semitism in all its forms, including anti-Zionism," he explained in a 2008 Op-Ed. Jones elaborated on that point in What Would Martin Say?, a book he co-authored with Joel Engel. Mainstream reporters, he argues, have given a pass to anti-Semitism by black leaders like Al Sharpton because they buy the rationale that Israel's existence is a provocation to Arabs. "Martin, for one, could see this coming after the Six-Day War in 1967, which is why he warned repeatedly that anti-Semitism would soon be disguised as anti-Zionism."

While King would surely support better circumstances for both Israelis and Palestinians, it seems clear that he was unambiguously opposed to the Israel-bashing that counts as pro-Palestinian advocacy today. His strong statement about Israel's right to exist suggests he recognized the centrality of this issue to the conflict. And judging by his views on anti-Zionism, he would be outraged by the idea that an avowed anti-Zionist like Omar Barghouti, who openly calls for replacing Israel with a state in which Jews will be a minority, pretends King would back boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Palewstine was

This  certificate is  from a  Palestine company 1944 that changed its  name to israel 1948. It was a jewish compamny. My dad's name is on the certificate

iran's danger

  • Reality Check: Shorter and Shorter Timeframe if Iran Decides to Make Nuclear Weapons
     - David Albright, Paul Brannan, Andrea Stricker and Andrew Ortendahl
    Some have sought to downplay Iran's nuclear progress by emphasizing that Iran has not yet "made the decision to build a nuclear weapon." But this does not accurately portray the real concern about Iran's nuclear program and progress since Iran has already made a series of important decisions that would give it the ability to quickly make nuclear weapons.
        Iran's strategy of "nuclear hedging," or developing the capability to rapidly build nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, is laid out in the evidence of work on nuclear weaponization, particularly efforts to make specific nuclear components, contained in the November 2011 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards report on Iran. If Iran's ability to quickly build nuclear weapons increases during the next few years, this will only shorten the period of time between taking a decision to build a bomb and constructing one. (Institute for Science and International Security)
  • The Mortal Threat from Iran - Mark Helprin
    Without doubt, Iran has long wanted nuclear weapons - to deter American intervention in its and neighboring territories; to threaten Europe; to respond to the former Iraqi nuclear effort; to counter the contiguous nuclear presences in Pakistan, Russia and the U.S. in the Gulf; to neutralize Israel's nuclear deterrent; to lead the Islamic world; to correct the security imbalance with Saudi Arabia; and to threaten the U.S. directly. In the absence of measures beyond pinpoint sanctions and unenforceable resolutions, Iran will get nuclear weapons, which in its eyes are an existential necessity.
        Accommodationists argue that a rational Iran can be contained. Not the Iran with a revered tradition of deception; that during its war with Iraq pushed 100,000 young children to their deaths clearing minefields; that counts 15% of its population as "Volunteer Martyrs."The writer is a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute. (Wall Street 
  • Wednesday, January 18, 2012

    mortal threat from Iran

    WSJ: The mortal threat from Iran

    Hide Details
    Tuesday, January 17, 2012 7:37 PM

    Message body

    The difference between the NYT and the WSJ. Over the weekend, the Times ran two columns in their editorial section. One told Netanyahu not to strike Iran; the other said the situation with Iran can be resolved by having a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East (meaning Israel is stripped of its nuclear shield while its adversaries continue their programs in secret-much easier to do that in dictatorships and closed-societies).

    The Mortal Threat From Iran

    Iran can sea-launch from off our coasts. Germany planned this in World War II. If cocaine can be smuggled into the U.S. without interdiction, we cannot dismiss the possibility of an Iranian nuke ending up in Manhattan.


    To assume that Iran will not close the Strait of Hormuz is to assume that primitive religious fanatics will perform cost-benefit analyses the way they are done at Wharton. They won't, especially if the oil that is their life's blood is threatened. If Iran does close the strait, we will fight an air and naval war derivative of and yet peripheral to the Iranian nuclear program, a mortal threat the president of the United States has inadequately addressed.
    A mortal threat when Iran is not yet in possession of a nuclear arsenal? Yes, because immediately upon possession all remedies are severely restricted. Without doubt, Iran has long wanted nuclear weapons—to deter American intervention in its and neighboring territories; to threaten Europe and thereby cleave it from American interests in the Middle East; to respond to the former Iraqi nuclear effort; to counter the contiguous nuclear presences in Pakistan, Russia and the U.S. in the Gulf; to neutralize Israel's nuclear deterrent so as to limit it to the attrition of conventional battle, or to destroy it with one lucky shot; to lead the Islamic world; to correct the security imbalance with Saudi Arabia, which aided by geography and American arms now outclasses it; and to threaten the U.S. directly.
    In the absence of measures beyond pinpoint sanctions and unenforceable resolutions, Iran will get nuclear weapons, which in its eyes are an existential necessity. We have long known and done nothing about this, preferring to dance with the absurd Iranian claim that it is seeking electricity. With rampant inflation and unemployment, a housing crisis, and gasoline rationing, why spend $1,000-$2,000 per kilowatt to build nuclear plants instead of $400-$800 for gas, when you possess the second largest gas reserves in the world? In 2005, Iran consumed 3.6 trillion cubic feet of its 974 trillion cubic feet of proven reserves, which are enough to last 270 years. We know that in 2006—generation exceeding consumption by 10%—Iran exported electricity and planned a high-tension line to Russia to export more.
    Accommodationists argue that a rational Iran can be contained. Not the Iran with a revered tradition of deception; that during its war with Iraq pushed 100,000 young children to their deaths clearing minefields; that counts 15% of its population as "Volunteer Martyrs"; that chants "Death to America" at each session of parliament; and whose president states that no art "is more beautiful . . . than the art of the martyr's death." Not the Iran in thrall to medieval norms and suffering continual tension and crises.
    Its conceptions of nuclear strategy are very likely to be looser, and its thresholds lower, than those of Russia and China, which are in turn famously looser and lower than our own. And yet Eisenhower and Churchill weighed a nuclear option in Korea, Kennedy a first strike upon the U.S.S.R., and Westmoreland upon North Vietnam. How then can we be certain that Iran is rational and containable?
    Inexpert experts will state that Iran cannot strike with nuclear weapons. But let us count the ways. It has the aerial tankerage to sustain one or two planes that might slip past air defenses between it and Israel, Europe, or the U.S., combining radar signatures with those of cleared commercial flights. As Iran increases its ballistic missile ranges and we strangle our missile defenses, America will face a potential launch from Iranian territory.
    Iran can sea-launch from off our coasts. Germany planned this in World War II. Subsequently, the U.S. completed 67 water-supported launches, ending as recently as 1980; the U.S.S.R. had two similar programs; and Iran itself has sea-launched from a barge in the Caspian. And if in 2007, for example, 1,100 metric tons of cocaine were smuggled from South America without interdiction, we cannot dismiss the possibility of Iranian nuclear charges of 500 pounds or less ending up in Manhattan or on Pennsylvania Avenue.
    The probabilities of the above are subject to the grave multiplication of nuclear weapons. Of all things in respect to the Iranian nuclear question, this is the most overlooked. A 1-in-20 chance of breaking a leg is substantially different from a 1-in-20 chance of dying, itself different from a 1-in-20 chance of half a million people dying. Cost drastically changes the nature of risk, although we persist in ignoring this. Assuming that we are a people worthy of defending ourselves, what can be done?
    Much easier before Iran recently began to burrow into bedrock, it is still possible for the U.S., and even Israel at greater peril, to halt the Iranian nuclear program for years to come. Massive ordnance penetrators; lesser but precision-guided penetrators "drilling" one after another; fuel-air detonations with almost the force of nuclear weapons; high-power microwave attack; the destruction of laboratories, unhardened targets, and the Iranian electrical grid; and other means, can be combined to great effect.
    Unlike North Korea, Iran does not yet possess nuclear weapons, does not have the potential of overwhelming an American ally, and is not of sufficient concern to Russia and China, its lukewarm patrons, for them to war on its behalf. It is incapable of withholding its oil without damaging itself irreparably, and even were it to cease production entirely, the Saudis—in whose interest the elimination of Iranian nuclear potential is paramount—could easily make up the shortfall. Though Iran might attack Saudi oil facilities, it could not damage them fatally. The Gulf would be closed until Iranian air, naval, and missile forces there were scrubbed out of existence by the U.S., probably France and Britain, and the Saudis themselves, in a few weeks.
    It is true that Iranian proxies would attempt to exact a price in terror world-wide, but this is not new, we would brace for the reprisals, and although they would peak, they would then subside. The cost would be far less than that of permitting the power of nuclear destruction to a vengeful, martyrdom-obsessed state in the midst of a never-subsiding fury against the West.
    Any president of the United States fit for the office should someday, soon, say to the American people that in his judgment Iran—because of its longstanding and implacable push for nuclear weapons, its express hostility to the U.S., Israel and the West, and its record of barbarity and terror—must be deprived of the capacity to wound this country and its allies such as they have never been wounded before.
    Relying solely upon his oath, holding in abeyance any consideration of politics or transient opinion, and eager to defend his decision in exquisite detail, he should order the armed forces of the United States to attack and destroy the Iranian nuclear weapons complex. When they have complied, and our pilots are in the air on their way home, they will have protected our children in their beds—and our children's children, many years from now, in theirs. May this country always have clear enough sight and strong enough will to stand for itself in the face of mortal threat, and in time.
    Mr. Helprin, a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, is the author of, among other works, the novels "Winter's Tale" (Harcourt) and "A Soldier of the Great War" (Harcourt).

    Friday, January 13, 2012

    Lessons learned from death

    I officiate at funerals and always learn valuable life lessons. Lessons learned recently

    1. Woman under 50 dies from complications of lifelong debilitating disease.  Our normal reaction would be to be daunted to say the least at the prospect of living with this. It did not stop her. She had no regrets. She lived life to the fullest. Did not let her disease stop her. Average lifetime expectancy when she was born was 13 and today is mid twenties. She saw her extra years as a blessing.

    2. 90+ year old man dies. No gossip, never said bad word about anyone, treated all with respect, had wit humor,

    3. 88 year old woman dies. I asked what special Jewish traditions she observed. No joke, they said every holiday she insisted on serving pork.

    4. man in 70s dies. Went to every ball game his sons ever played. No jewish practices. Turns out one son now lives down the block of my first congregation in Brooklyn, belongs there and sends their kids to the Jewish day school there where his wife is on the Board. Son told me his deceased father would find it amusing that now his attendance at grand children's events would now also include leading services and reading torah

    5. Eye of the beholder, A family was hoping to have a 94 year old rabbi who had married the deceased to his surviving widow years ago and told the family this. They did not tell the grandchildren he was unavailable and I , 55 years old, was officiating. The granddaughter walked in anmd remarked to her father that i looked pretty good for 94.

    Thursday, January 12, 2012

    Monday, January 9, 2012

    Thursday, January 5, 2012

    Tenth Tevet Fast

    Today is fast day daylight hours mourning Jerusalem wall breach 2500 years ago by ancient Iraqis (Babylonia). This time the breach is happening through BDS Boycott Divest and Sanction and terrorism threats

    Tenth of Tevet - Fast Day Marks Siege of Jerusalem
    This Thursday, 10 Tevet, Jews fast in commemoration of the start of the siege of Jerusalem by Babylonian emperor Nebuchadnezzar.
    By Hana Levi Julian
    First Publish: 1/5/2012, 9:56 AM

    Walls of Jerusalem at night
    Walls of Jerusalem at night
    Israel news photo: courtesy of

    The supermarkets may still be full of shoppers preparing for the advent of the coming Sabbath on Friday, but Thursday is not going to be a day in which observant Jews will be filling the kosher restaurants -- at least, until after sundown.

    On the Jewish calendar, this Thursday is the tenth day in the Hebrew month of Tevet -- the anniversary of the date on which the Babylonian emperor Nebuchadnezzar began his deadly siege of Jerusalem in the year 425 BCE. We mark the day by fasting from just before sunrise, until nightfall, and add the Selichot and other special supplements including a special Torah reading to the daily set of prayers. It is one of four fast days commemmorating the stages of the destruction of the First and Second Holy Temples.

    Two other sad events were recorded by the Talmudic sages as having occurred on the tenth of Tevet, one the death of Ezra the Scribe who led the revival of Jewish adherence to the Torah when the Jews returned from Babylon to build the Second Temple. The other event is the translation of the Torah into Greek, known as the Septuagint, considered an event to mourn as well.

    Israel's Chief Rabbinate connected current Jewish mourning to the date and designated the Tenth of Tevet to serve as a "general Kaddish day" for victims of the Holocaust, many of whom were murdered on dates lost in time, and whose day of martyrdom is thus unknown.

    It took Nebuchadnezzar 30 months to breach Jerusalem's thick stone walls, but he finally managed it on the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Tammuz, in the year 586 B.C.E (some claim it was in 420 B.C.E).

    Only one month later, on Tisha B'Av -- the ninth of Av -- the Holy Temple was destroyed for the first time, and the Jewish People were sent out into exile to Babylonia for the next 70 years. The prophet Jeremiah wrote Lamentations to memorialize the tragedy.

    The Second Temple was built when the Jews were allowed to return by Cyrus the Great and destroyed in 70 C.E. by the Romans, also on the 9th of Av. Remnants of the Holy Temples still remain -- one outside retaining wall of the Second Temple is today referred to as the Western Wall, or the Kotel, or Wailing Wall -- the place where Jews weep for its destruction.

    The Temple Mount, over which such controversy with the Waqf Islamic Authority has raged for so many years due to its unwillingness to allow Jews to even murmur a prayer on the grounds, is the site of the Temple and its "holy of holies," an area which only the High Priest could enter on Yom Kippur. There is ongoing controversy over where exactly on the Mount this was located, so that prominent rabbis, among them the late Chief Rabbi Avraham Cahane Shapira of Merkaz Harav Yeshiva, forbade ascending the Mount. Others, who feel the location is known, stress that it is important to show Jewish presence on the Mount.

    The Islamic clerics who now inhabit the area, and deliver sermons in the Al Aqsa mosque built on the site, periodically express their intense fear of the day that a Third Holy Temple will rise from the site, and make enormous efforts to prevent at all costs the possibility that the Jews will help bring this about.

    Words of inspiration and arousal to repentance are delivered on fast days by prominent rabbis in Jewish communities around the world. They urge their followers to reflect on the tragic events of our history and to be motivated, encouraged and inspired to improve their ways in order to shape events to bring a better future and the rebuilding of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

    Wednesday, January 4, 2012

    Glenn Beck, 400 rabbis and Soros

    onathan Ginsburg
    Just because 400 rabbis say, does not make it so. I have watched much of Glenn Beck's shows, listened to him in person, and am clear he is one of Jews and Israel's best friends in the world today

    Will 400 Rabbis Condemn Soros for Comparing Fox News to the Nazis?
    Alana Goodman | @alanagoodman 02.21.2011 - 2:44 AM

    Recently, a George Soros-funded group called Jewish Funds for Justice issued a public letter from 400 Rabbis denouncing Fox News and Glenn Beck for using Nazi imagery to characterize ideological adversaries during broadcasts.

    Will the same group now speak out against Soros’s new allegations that Fox News is using Nazi tactics?

    Here’s an excerpt from Soros’s tirade against Fox News on CNN Sunday morning:

    “Well, look, Fox News makes a habit — it has imported the methods of George Orwell, you know, newspeak, where you can tell the people falsehoods and deceive them,” Soros said. “And you wouldn’t believe that an open society and a democracy, these methods can succeed. But, actually, they did succeed. They succeeded in — in Germany, where the Weimar Republic collapsed and you had a Nazi regime follow it. So this is a very, very dangerous way of deceiving people.”

    In the Jewish Funds for Justice letter repudiating Glenn Beck – which was published in the Forward and the Wall Street Journal – the group unequivocally criticized the use of Nazi and Holocaust comparisons to smear political opponents.

    “In the charged political climate in the current civic debate, much is tolerated, and much is ignored or dismissed,” the organization wrote. “But you diminish the memory and meaning of the Holocaust when you use it to discredit any individual or organization you disagree with. That is what Fox News has done in recent weeks, and it is not only ‘left-wing rabbis’ who think so.”

    In the aftermath of the anti-Beck letter, several Jewish leaders suggested that the Jewish Funds for Justice campaign was politically motivated because it only targeted conservatives. A Jewish Funds for Justice communications official told me she was aware of Soros’s remarks, but was unable to provide comment on them as of the time of this posting.

    Most important issue of the age-Iran and the election

    On the single most important issue of the age, Santorum is by far the best, Obama bad, Paul a nightmare-Iran and a nuclear weapon
    Santorum On His Plan To Attack Iran: ‘We’re Trying To Prevent A War’

    By Ben Armbruster on Jan 4, 2012 at 10:41 am

    The GOP presidential nomination’s newest “not-Romney” alternative Rick Santorum said last Sunday that a military strike is part of his plan in how he’d deal with Iran and its nuclear program should he become president. “You would order air strikes if it became clear that they were going to [get nuclear weapons]?” NBC’s David Gregory asked. “Yes, that’s the plan,” Santorum said.

    Glenn Beck yesterday on his radio show asked Santorum about that comment, seeming a little concerned. “There’s a strong part of me that says enough of the wars,” Beck said, saying he was “playing devil’s advocate.” But the former Pennsylvania senator said an attack on Iran would serve to prevent a war:

    BECK: There’s a strong part of me that says enough of the wars. Enough of the wars. What are fighting, five wars right now?

    SANTORUM: We’re trying to prevent a war. We’re trying to prevent the most nefarious regime in the entire world, you know this is the equivalent of al Qaeda, it’s maybe even worse than al Qaeda being in control of a country with enormous resources and capability.

    BECK: This is Hitler.

    SANTORUM: We’re trying to prevent them from having the fail safe so they can go out and rein terror around the world.

    Why the US Needs Israel

    Commentary Dec 2011
    How Israel's Defense Industry Can Help Save America
    Arthur Herman — December 2011


    Kibbutz Sasa sits one mile from Israel’s Lebanese border. Founded in 1949, it is the site of the tomb of the second-century rabbi Levi ben Sisi. It hosts groves of fruit trees and a dairy farm and has 210 members. Kibbutz Sasa is also the home of the main factory of Plasan, a company that started out making hard plastic containers like garbage cans in 1985. For four years now, American soldiers have driven more safely in Iraq and Afghanistan, thanks to Kibbutz Sasa and Plasan’s CEO, Dani Ziv.

    It was Ziv who, in the 1980s, urged the company to take up the manufacture of protective ballistic vests for soldiers and police. In 1989, Plasan won its first contract to make body armor for the Israel Defense Forces, and then for IDF vehicles. When war came to Afghanistan and then Iraq, orders went through the roof, especially from the United States. Plasan’s profits soared some 1,500 percent, from $23 million in 2003 to $330 million in 2007. Today they stand at over $500 million, with 90 percent of the company’s orders coming from Europe and the United States.

    Plasan specializes in a very dense plastic composite product that affords ballistic protection without significantly adding to the weight of the vehicle. “Their work is exceptional,” says a senior Israeli defense industry executive about Plasan. “To convince the U.S. military that you are a reliable outfit is no mean feat. They did it all alone, without any help from a former ambassador or defense ministry director general.”

    Plasan-armored mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles (MRAPs) have been serving in Afghanistan since August 2009, and contractor Oshkosh Company has another 8,800 on order. In 2009 Plasan even opened a factory in Bennington, Vermont, to do the work for its American contract. But while the 350 or so workers there are American, the technology is decidedly Israeli.

    That applies to an even smaller company in Netanya, Israel, called Camero. Its engineers have come up with a way to use ultra-wideband wireless transmissions to see through walls—literally—and detect armed men and explosives on the other side. The Xaver 400 is barely the size of a laptop computer, but it’s dramatically shifting the odds in urban fighting in favor of the technology user, whether he’s an IDF soldier or a United States Marine​. Indeed, in December 2010, one of Camero’s top clients became the Department of Defense.

    What’s happening at Plasan and Camero is part of a silent revolution sweeping the defense establishments of the United States and Israel. After decades of being the Pentagon’s dependent in terms of military technology, Israel’s defense industry is now gaining a competitive advantage over its overregulated, bloated and lethargic American rival. Indeed, the United States is becoming one of its best customers. Goliath is finding shelter under the shield of David.

    This situation is fraught with irony. It’s not only that America is now fighting the kind of wars Israel has been fighting for decades—small-scale, low-intensity, against an elusive terrorist enemy—and needs the skills and equipment Israel has to offer, including remote-detection devices such as unmanned drones, an area in which Israel has been on average 10 years ahead of the curve. Nor is it simply the fact that as U.S.-Israeli relations have cooled during the Obama years, Israelis are realizing that a strong and independent high-tech defense sector may be more crucial to Israel’s future than relying on U.S. help.

    The Israeli way of doing defense business is changing the shape of the military-industrial complex. Smaller, nimbler, and entrepreneurial, Israel’s defense industry offers a salutary contrast to the Pentagon’s way of doing things. With the spending and budget crisis in the United States already putting immense pressure on the Pentagon, with all-but-certain declines in the percentage of the U.S. economy that will be devoted to defense in the coming decade, a second “revolution in military affairs” is going to be necessary. We are going to have to get more for less—much less. Israel points the way.

    A good example coming from the more expensive end of the military-technology spectrum involving high-tech missiles is Rafael Advanced Systems. They’re the Israeli makers of the Iron Dome missile defense system, built to protect Israeli towns from mortars, rockets, and 155-millimeter artillery shells. Each Iron Dome unit fires four to eight missiles and is equipped with a Battle Management computer system designed by another Israeli company, MPrest Systems. It’s an all-weather mobile system with a range of 70 kilometers (about 43.5 miles).

    For the Pentagon, developing and deploying a major new system like this can take more than a decade. By contrast, the Israel Defense Ministry gave Rafael the contract for Iron Dome in 2007, and by March 2009 the system was fully ready for testing. The first true shoot-down test had to wait until July that year. More tests followed in 2010, and by March 2011 Iron Dome was declared operational and has been deployed in towns near the Gaza strip to protect against Hamas’s attacks.

    To intercept bigger ballistic missile, Israeli Aerospace Industry (IAI) developed the Arrow antimissile system in cooperation with the United States as part of Ronald Reagan​’s Strategic Defense Initiative. The agreement to build Arrow came in 1989. The first missile, the Arrow 1, got its first test launch in August 1990. Less than four years later came its first test interception.

    Although Arrow began as an American-Israeli joint initiative, the irony is that Israel’s interest in developing Arrow sprang from the failure of American-made Patriot antimissile batteries to intercept Scud missile attacks during the First Gulf War​. Arrow relies on a coterie of Israeli companies to provide the interception system’s components. Elta, a division of Israel’s biggest private arms firm, Elbit Systems​, provides the Green Pine early-warning radar. Tadiran (another Elbit division) makes the Communication, Control, and Command center. IAI devised the Hazelnut launch controls. Altogether, they have constructed one of the world’s most sophisticated defense systems. In 1995 the Arrow 1 was replaced with an even faster, more lethal version, Arrow 2, which, according to its developer, Dov Raviv, has a 90 percent probability of knocking out a ballistic missile—and can tell a warhead from a decoy.

    Meanwhile, the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency​ considers itself fortunate when it gets any successful missile shoot-downs from its land-based system. The first successful test interception from the American version of Star Wars came in August 2005—more than 10 years after the Israelis had done the same thing. Now Israel is looking to sell Iron Dome in the United States. And Rafael’s American marketing partner? Raytheon, the same company that developed the Patriot.

    For decades Israel has been seen as the United States’ junior partner in all matters military and strategic. American defense companies were the unquestioned leaders in developing sophisticated modern weaponry, while Israelis focused on more standard items such as small arms (the classic Uzi) or weapons built to suit their unique battle conditions (the Merkava tank). The Patriot missile deployment in the First Gulf War only reinforced the perception that Israelis needed American military technology, and American military aid, in order to survive. Now it may be Israeli technology, in the shape of Iron Dome and Arrow, that ends up defending American cities instead.

    The changing situation has also affected the American attitude to technology transfers between the two allies. General Uzi Eilam, former head of the Israeli weapons research-and-development agency MAFAT, remembers that when F-15s and F-16s from the United States arrived in Israel, “they came with systems in locked boxes, which we were not allowed to open.” The rule was, the closer the Israelis were to attaining the same technical breakthrough, the more willing the United States would be to share the technology. Today the Pentagon is speeding up the cooperation process, if only to prevent Israeli advances from heading them off at the pass.

    It is striking how the Israeli defense sector keeps steadily leapfrogging from one challenge to the next. This is especially true for the acid test of any strong defense industry: foreign sales. Ten years ago Israel ranked 15th. In 2007 it surpassed the United Kingdom to rank fourth, behind the United States, Russia, and France. The day when it takes France’s place is not far off.

    This is a remarkable achievement for a country of some six million people that is treated as a virtual pariah by much of the world. But virtual is the mot juste—for even though Turkey virtually froze relations with Israel two years ago, it’s still among Elbit’s best customers.

    Of course, it will be a long time before America’s defense establishment, with its huge government-supported research-and-development resources and armies of engineers, will be outmatched by Israel’s. It is also true that Israel’s military doesn’t use big-ticket items like aircraft carriers, stealth aircraft, and nuclear submarines that are the major money pits of Pentagon procurement; nor does it maintain the kind of global presence that requires them. Israel also spends much more of its GNP on defense (roughly 6.7 percent), and having a conscript army avoids the high personnel cost problems that are the fastest growing expense of our all-volunteer force. Nor can it be denied that much of Israel’s high-tech weapons success has come with America paying a large portion of the research-and-development bill, as with both Iron Dome and Arrow. Still, that money is looking less and less like a way to prop up a beleaguered ally, and more and more like a capital investment in future systems for ourselves.

    How the Israeli defense industry, with a fraction of our capitalization and far fewer workers and engineers, has managed to move ahead at a time when our biggest defense contractors seem stalled offers some important lessons for a Pentagon beset by cost overruns and shrinking budgets. Indeed, learning from the Israeli way of doing things just might make the difference between a leaner, meaner U.S. military and hollowed-out collapse.


    Israeli defense companies owe their success to a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic factors. Having to fight for survival has always tended to focus Israeli energies and concentrate efforts. Terrorist-launched missiles raining down on civilian neighborhoods remain merely a conjectural possibility in the United States, but not in Israel. There is little margin for error in making major decisions about what kinds of weapons to develop and invest in, and even less for needlessly dragging out the timeline for the development of weapons systems that may be vital to national existence.

    Another advantage is that virtually everyone working for an Israeli defense firm has served in uniform. As Dan Senor and Saul Singer note in their book Start-Up Nation, thanks to military conscription, the Israeli Defense Forces—-“particularly elite units in the air force, infantry, intelligence, and information technology arenas”—have been the spawning ground for a myriad of Israeli technological companies. And the IDF experience has also led some of Israel’s best minds toward designing and developing military technologies.

    Indeed, it’s difficult to find a defense engineer or executive who doesn’t have some battlefield experience to draw upon. “We know what it means to sit in a military vehicle,” a Plasan employee told a reporter in 2008, “what it’s like to hit an explosive device or take a burst of gunfire.” It’s not unusual for a defense company engineer called up for reserve service to find himself at the controls of a weapons system he himself designed.*

    Other habits from the IDF experience rub off as well. One is its bias against hierarchy. In sharp contrast to the Pentagon, junior officers enjoy more responsibility and feel free to challenge their superiors. As Senor and Singer note, that makes for a chain of command flexible enough to adapt to unexpected changes and opportunities, whether it’s on the battlefield or in the boardroom.

    Another is a bias toward improvisation. Virtually every piece of equipment purchased from the United States, from F-16 fighter planes to Blackhawk helicopters, goes through immediate changes by its personnel and crews to fit Israeli battle conditions. When this happens in the American military (as when American soldiers in Iraq began self-armoring their thin-skinned Humvees), the result is confusion and panic. But accepting the reality of on-field modification means Israeli designers don’t have to worry about a weapon system that anticipates every contingency. They know the users will take care of minor problems along the way, which speeds up both development and deployment time—and gives important feedback for future improvements. It also reduces learning curves and provides unexpected opportunities for making lemonade from lemons.

    A good example is the Lavi in the 1980s. Israel’s Air Force was determined to get its own attack fighter after years of modifying American or French planes. Jointly funded by the U.S. and Israeli governments, produced by defense giant IAI and nicknamed the Lavi, the plane took four years and billions of dollars to develop—until the program was cancelled in 1987, in large part because the Pentagon became worried that it was funding a plane to rival its own top export fighter, the F-16.

    The cancellation sent shockwaves through the Israeli Defense Ministry​: Some still say the decision was a mistake. But “the project drove the whole industry towards the cutting edge of technology,” notes defense analyst Yiftah Shapir, no fan of the Lavi. “We still sell the sub-systems that were developed [specifically] for the Lavi,” especially in computer avionics (some of them are in the unmanned airborne vehicles, or UAVs, Israel makes for customers such as India, China, and Turkey). In addition, the 1,500 engineers working on the sophisticated Lavi systems soon found jobs in other Israeli defense companies, taking their experience and expertise with them.

    In short, what would have seemed a failure and giant waste of money to a risk-averse Pentagon and its congressional overseers became the springboard for still bigger advances, including, in 1988, the launching of Israel’s first communications satellite in space.

    The Lavi project and the space shot set the stage for the next major step for the Israeli defense industry, its radical reorganization in the 1990s. A combination of downsizing, deregulation, and privatizing forced the country’s major defense contractors to start thinking about new ways to make money, as well as weapons, and to see the high-tech frontier as an opportunity to get the jump on big international competitors, including the United States.


    As the 1980s ended, the Israeli defense industry found itself bloated, overregulated, and too costly, like the rest of Israel’s economy. The end of the Cold War​ forced change. Foreign buyers had liked Israeli defense products because they had been battle-tested against the Soviet-built systems of Israel’s Arab antagonists. With the end of the Soviet threat, that marginal advantage vanished. Israeli companies saw American defense firms, flush from the success of Desert Storm​, grabbing those contracts instead.

    From 1985 to 1995 Israel’s defense spending fell by 37 percent. Declining global demand was matched by falling domestic demand, while a dysfunctional corporate culture made it hard for Israel’s major government-owned firms to adjust. If Israel’s ability to develop and produce its own weapons was to survive, a drastic change in how companies operated and what they made had to take place.

    Major firms had to downsize their workforce and excess capacity; many smaller companies disappeared in a wave of consolidations. Elbit Systems emerged as a major contractor after absorbing smaller high-tech rivals like Elisra and Tadiran and old-line companies like Soltam Systems (founded in 1950), which made advanced artillery and mortars.

    As part of a larger shift of Israel’s economy to a more deregulated model, there was also a wave of privatization of government-owned enterprises. Rafael Advanced Systems, which had been a research lab working at the behest of the Israeli Defense Ministry, spun off as a private company. Other government-owned companies like IAI were encouraged to spin off separate commercial projects from their defense units, even when the research and development had begun in those divisions. After some false starts, most of those spin-offs have done well; and as defense exports rose, the commercial exports of spin-offs rose even faster.

    This was the other leg of the 1990s reorganization. It became clear that while Israel defense companies would continue to make Israel-specific weapons systems, there was a real future for the Israeli defense industry in the global marketplace, especially in the high-tech area that included retrofitting and upgrading older platforms built by the Cold War giants, Russia and the United States. Having a diversity of customers, beyond the IDF, would not only lower production costs and enhance economies of scale, it would also stimulate more technical innovation and more opportunities to sell Israeli products.

    The result was a steady climb in Israeli exports, starting in 2000 and then breaking through in 2007, when Israeli arms sales abroad passed the $4 billion mark. Elbit, the maker of the Arrow, saw a 38 percent growth in revenue in that year alone. In 2009, Israel’s defense exports reached $6.9 billion; in 2010, $7.2 billion. With defense budgets declining worldwide in 2011, those numbers may be hard to surpass. But the Israeli way of doing defense business is here to stay.

    Reorganization did not come cheap. In the end, Israeli taxpayers had to put up some $3 billion, the equivalent of one-third of the 2001 defense budget, to pay for the overhaul. The investment paid off. As Giora Eiland, one of Ariel Sharon​’s national-security advisers, puts it, Israel found the right balance between, on the one hand, government support and oversight and, on the other, private creativity and incentive, including encouraging independent research and development. When the country needs big conventional platforms like planes and helicopters and submarines, it buys overseas and then modifies the purchases to fit IDF systems and battlefield profiles. When the IDF needs high-tech weaponry, Israelis develop it themselves with an eye toward commercializing it abroad.

    That has caused some friction with Israel’s big brother. The United States views the advance of the Israeli David with some trepidation, especially when sales might mean transfers of sensitive technology. When Israel tried to sell four $250 million Phalcon early-warning systems to China, the Pentagon and Congress blocked the sale. When Israel agreed to upgrade the Harpy UAVs it had sold Beijing back in the 1990s, the United States retaliated by downgrading Israeli participation in the F-35 program.

    On the other hand, American defense companies are increasingly seeing cooperation with Israel as the key to their own future. In addition to Iron Dome, Raytheon has signed on with Rafael Advanced System for development of another antimissile missile, the so-called Magic Wand or David’s Sling. A two-stage interceptor, the Magic Wand is designed to take out the long-range rocket and cruise missiles possessed by Hezbollah. To Raytheon, the Israeli technology is helpful for its own future systems; for Rafael, the deal with Raytheon is largely a way to get U.S. funding. The technology they have; it’s the money and customers they need.

    One of those customers is the United States. Elbit makes 80 percent of the IDF’s UAVs and trails behind only the United States in the global marketplace for the craft we now all know as drones. Israel is not a player in the U.S. market—yet. “I don’t know why they don’t simply import UAVs,” says Elbit CEO Joseph Ackerman, including, of course, his own.

    It seems a good question. And since the United States has emerged as Israel’s single biggest arms customer in the last decade, with systems like Iron Dome and David’s Sling on the way, surely drones won’t be far behind.


    So does the future of American security have “Made in Israel” stamped on it? In one sense, it already does. At the Plasan plant in Kibbutz Sasa, the hallways are covered with poster-size copies of thank-you notes from American GIs. One of them is signed by Brian, an Army sergeant serving in Afghanistan who wrote that the Plasan armor saved him from a bullet that would have blown off his head if it had gone through the door.

    “American soldiers come up to us at exhibitions, and tell me that they won’t get into any vehicle that’s not been armor-protected by Plasan,” a Plasan employee says. To date, there’s not been a single soldier killed by fire while in a vehicle that we armor-protected.”

    The idea of Americans protected by Israel, however, may have broader applications than vehicle armor or antimissile defense, or even weapons systems in general. It could extend to the entire way Israeli military contractors give far more bang for the buck—and all with a Defense Ministry supervisory force of fewer than 300 people. Our Pentagon, by contrast, relies on some 30,000 bureaucrats to do the same oversight—the equivalent of two full Army divisions.

    Of course, Israeli companies take advantage of their niche selection and their concentration on the high-tech sector, with its relatively expensive development curve but low production costs, and ability to skip the big-ticket platforms. But can anyone doubt that if Dani Ziv or another Israeli defense contractor were asked to build the next-generation aircraft carrier, it would cost far less than the $1.3 billion currently slated—and be delivered much more quickly? With the final cost of our coming fleet of F-35 fighters approaching $1 trillion, it seems a highly relevant question.

    While the number of Pentagon bureaucrats continues to grow, the number of American students graduating with engineering degrees is steadily falling to less than 5 percent of the world’s total (China graduates more than half). Right now America’s leading defense contractors spend twice as much on lawyers than they do on research. There is a very real danger that in the next decade, if they are asked to arm America for the next major strategic challenge, as they did in the 1980s and again after 9/11, U.S. defense contractors will be unable to meet it. It’s time for the Pentagon and the American defense industry to develop a new way of doing business. They must look to Israel.

    * Streamlining that process is the Israeli Defense Ministry’s Talpiot unit, which targets very talented youths, some when they are in high school, for training in both high technology and military science, and on the necessary connections between them, before putting them into service with the IDF. Talpiot creates “a group unmatched anywhere in the world,” George Gilder​ writes in The Israel Test—with “its students designing [weapons] systems for 10 years before entering college” and with its former alumni serving as an unprecedented talent pool for Israel’s own defense companies.
    About the Author

    Arthur Herman​, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of Freedom’s Forge: How American Business Built the Arsenal of Democracy that Won World War II, which will be published by Random House in April.

    Monday, January 2, 2012

    New fantastic find

    Amidst the endless crises of the Middle East, the most significant events for the Jewish people are sometimes overlooked, their full importance only realized months or years later.

    This was the case with the initial unearthing of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and may well prove to be the case with a recent archeological discovery in Afghanistan: an ancient genizah of reportedly immense significance.

    A genizah is a repository for documents which, according to Jewish law, cannot be disposed of except by burial, usually because they contain the name of God, which is considered too sacred to be burned. They are of enormous importance to the study of Jewish history, since they often preserve documents of great importance.

    In addition, because a community often used the same site as a genizah over a long period of time, the documents contained therein will be from many different time periods, providing insight into different historical periods in a single find, which is often unusual in archeology.

    According to the Jerusalem Post, the find has already aroused a firestorm of interest in the academic world.

    “We know today about a couple of findings,” Haggai Ben-Shammai, Professor Emeritus of Arabic Language and Literature at Hebrew University was quoted as saying. “In all, in my opinion, there are about 150 fragments. It may be the tip of the iceberg.”

    The scrolls... date from around 1,000 years ago and are in Arabic, Judeo-Arabic and ancient Persian.

    Texts said to be found include an unknown history of the ancient kingdom of Judea, passages from the book of Isaiah and some of the works of Rabbi Saadia Gaon, a medieval sage.

    The first of these finds has the potential to be a truly epochal discovery. Outside of the Bible, we have no extensive histories of the Judean kingdom, and for the Hellenistic era we have only one: that of Josephus, which has long been regarded as problematic by scholars.

    The other reported finds are hardly of less importance. Fragments of Isaiah from a thousand years ago could shed new light on the history of the Tanach and its transmission, and many of the works of Saadia Gaon - the founder of Jewish philosophy - have been lost. Should these newly found works contain be previously unknown, they could completely revolutionize the study of Jewish history and theology.

    This proved to be the case after the discovery of the Cairo Geniza, which contained documents that permanently changed our understanding of Jewish history. Most famously, Maimonides' "Epistle to Yemen," which gave new insight into the great theologian's views on messianism and into the previously obscure history of the Jews of Yemen.