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*** THE ALIYAH REVOLUTION ALBUM ***

Friday, August 15, 2008

Why American Aliyah? It's the Economy, Stupid.


Abraham Waxman, a prominent Jewish-American sociologist who has written much about American Aliyah, recently wrote an article in the Jerusalem Post, arguing that, contrary to conventional wisdom, it may make economic sense for American Jews to make Aliyah:
THE HIGH cost of Jewish living has had an impact on patterns of American aliya. Those for whom living a Jewish lifestyle is more important are those who are most likely to make aliya because their lifestyle costs are much lower in Israel. Ironically, although American Jews have traditionally associated making aliya with economic sacrifice, aliya can make economic sense...
Waxman ends with these words regarding the potential consequences of America's economic downturn for US Jewry:
Although America's Jews have enjoyed unprecedented degrees of equality and a sense of being at-home that they have not experienced in any society in which they were not sovereign, there are no guarantees that this will not slow down, if not reverse direction. While such a forecast is not on the radar screen, anyone with a sense of history cannot be too certain that it cannot develop.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Secret to Making it in Israel...


...is knowing how to eat Hummus.

The video below will guide you through the learning process.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Boycotted Israeli Car Commerical


This Israeli commercial for Nissan's new Tiida (or Versa, in the US) automobile, which is supposed to save its owners lots of money on gas, was pulled off the air as a result of Arab pressure.

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Identity of the Land


Tzafrir Ronen at the Jerusalem Conference speaking on the true identity of the land disputed between Jews and Arabs.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Israel: Home of the Hawaiian Shirt?



Below is an actual posting to one of the Israel community lists, of which I am a member:
Shalom List!

My wife had wanted to buy me more wool suits before we left Cleveland, but after to hearing from a few trusted sources we learned that most men don't wear suits.

I suggested Hawaiian Shirts as a more climate appropriate alternative. We heard from two trusted sources - one who mentioned in his blog that he wears shorts and Hawaiian Shirts when he shops on Erev Shabbat, and the other who stated "Well, Hawaiian shirts ... I don't know... Israel is extremely informal, but that just ain't right!"

I would like to get a few more guys to weigh in on this topic. Are Hawaiian Shirts appropriate attire in Israel? If they are what would be the borders of acceptance?
Should I stock up on Hawaiian Shirts or are they available locally? What are the Israeli climate appropriate alternatives to Hawaiian Shirts?

Todah v'Shavua Tov!

Michael...

In short, you could probably get a way with it Michael. Just stay out of Me'ah Shearim. Personally, I like to wear mine on Purim.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

"The Luckiest Jews in the World"



The following is a beautiful and revealing new essay written by Caroline Glick. In it she talks about her own Aliyah, the magic of Hebrew and the difficultly of leaving America. I urge you to read it to the end.

The Luckiest Jews In The World
I just published a collection of my essays in English. Each time I am asked if I am also releasing the volume in Hebrew I feel a pain deep inside me when I answer that no, right now, my publisher is only interested in an English edition. Indeed it is a shame because I wrote most of the essays in Hebrew as well.

Writing in Hebrew is a qualitatively different experience than writing in English. Hebrew is a more compact language than English. It has fewer words and the words it has are denser and more flexible than English words. A 1,200-word essay in Hebrew will be 1,800 words in English.

This is a mechanical difference. But there are deeper distinctions as well. One level beyond the mechanics is the multiple meanings of Hebrew words. The density of meaning in Hebrew is a writer’s dream. Nearly anyone can imbue a seemingly simple sentence with multiple, generally complementary meanings simply by choosing a specific verb, verb form, noun or adjective. These double, triple and even quadruple meanings of one word are a source of unbounded joy for a writer. To take just one example, the Hebrew word “shevet” means returning and it also means sitting. And it is also a homonym for club – as in billy club – and for tribe...

In 2005, the IDF named the operation expelling the Israeli residents of Gaza and Northern Samaria “Shevet Achim,” or returning or sitting with brothers. But it also sounded like it was making a distinction between tribesmen and brothers. And it also sounded like “clubbing brothers.”

As this one example demonstrates, one joyful consequence of the unique density of the Hebrew language is that satirical irony comes easily to even the most dour and unpoetic writers.

For a Jew, knowing, speaking and writing Hebrew is an intimate experience. This is particularly so for those of us whose mother tongue is not Hebrew – because as the secrets of the language slowly reveal themselves to us we feel we are discovering ourselves.

Hebrew encapsulates the entirety of the Jewish story. Modern Hebrew in particular is an eclectic amalgamation of classical Hebrew, Yiddishisms, and expressions from the Sephardic Diaspora experience. Greek, Roman, Aramaic, Turkish, Arabic and English expressions meld seamlessly into the stream of words. It is not simply that it is the language of the Bible. Hebrew is also an expression of the unique culture of a small, proud, often besieged, often conquered and permeable people.

Its power to explain that cultural experience and that historical baggage is something that often leaves a newly initiated member of the Hebrew-speaking world gasping in a mixture of disbelief and relief. It is unbelievable that a language can be so immediately and unselfconsciously expressive of feelings that have traversed millennia. Understanding its power as a tool of expressing the Jewish condition is one of the most gratifying discoveries a Jew can make.

But the experience of speaking in Hebrew and of living in Hebrew is incomplete when it is not experienced in Israel. It is one thing to pray in a synagogue in Hebrew or even to speak regular Hebrew outside of Israel. The former is a spiritual duty and a communal experience. The latter is a social or educational experience. But speaking Hebrew in Israel is a complete experience. Hebrew localizes the Jewishness, Judaism and Jews. It anchors us to the Land of Israel. Taken together, the Hebrew language and the Land of Israel stabilize a tradition and make the Jewish people whole.

I write all of this as a means of explaining why a Jew in the Diaspora, particularly the United States, would want to live in Israel. Leaving America is difficult on several levels. In my own experience, it involved physically separating from my entire family. It also involved cutting myself off from my language – English – and immersing myself completely in a tongue I had yet to master. Beyond that, it meant leaving a country that had done only good for me and for the generations of my family who fled to America from the pogroms in Eastern Europe at the turn of the twentieth century.

As someone who loves me told me 17 years ago as I packed my bags for an unknowable future, “People don’t emigrate away from America. They beg to come to its shores.”

But would it be right to characterize leaving America as an act of ingratitude? Do Jews have to reject America in order to go to Israel? No, we don’t.

Coming to Israel is not rejecting America. It is embracing a choice to become whole in a way that life outside of Israel cannot provide. That doesn’t mean life cannot be fulfilling for a Jew outside of Israel. Millions of Jews can attest to the fact. It certainly doesn’t mean that life in Israel is easier or safer or more lucrative than life is elsewhere.

Israel is a troublesome, hard, often irritating place. It is a young country that belongs to an ancient, eternal people who are all imperfect. Some Israelis, particularly those who today occupy the seats of power, are weak and irresponsible and often corrupt and self-serving.

Israelis have quick fuses. Among other things, this distinctively Israeli rush to anger makes being stuck in rush hour traffic a bit like dancing a waltz in the middle of a shooting range. Then too, service is not a concept that most Israelis – particularly in service professions – are even vaguely familiar with.

Beyond the general fallibility of Israelis, there are the wars and the hatred and the terror that make up so much of life in Israel. Being surrounded by enemies and living in the midst of jihad-crazed Arab states is like sitting on the edge of a volcano. And rather than acknowledge the danger and contend with it, Israelis – frustratingly and dangerously – more often than not blame one another for the heat while ignoring its source.

Yet once a Jew catches the Zionist bug, none of that is important. Once a Jew allows himself or herself to feel the pull of our heritage, of our language and our land, the frustration, danger and hardship of living in Israel seems like second nature – as natural as breathing in and out.

I recently moved to a home on the edge of a valley filled with forests and carpeted by wildflowers. Every day I hike for an hour or two along the trails below. A few days ago, as I walked late at night, I considered the dark and silent hills surrounding me and felt safe. They were liberated in 1948.

As I stood for a moment, I thought to myself, “These hills have already been conquered for you, by people better than yourself. Now it is your job to keep them safe for the next generation. And it will be the next generation’s responsibility to keep them safe for the following one.”

The thought filled me with a sense of privilege and peace.

People ask me all the time why I insist on living in Israel. Usually I just shrug my shoulders and smile. I, a woman who makes my living from words, find myself speechless when challenged with this simple question.

I spend several months a year away from Israel working. But every time I go away on a long trip, inevitably after three weeks or so, I begin to feel incomplete. I start to long for the smells of Israel. My ears ache to hear Hebrew all around me. I want to go back so I can walk down the streets on Friday afternoons and smile at perfect strangers as we bid each other Shabbat Shalom.

Why do I live in Israel? Because Israel lives in me, as it lives in all Jews. It is who we are. And those of us lucky enough to recognize this truth and embrace it in all its fullness and depth are the luckiest Jews in the world.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Only Israeli Judaism is Authentic!


So said Israeli author A.B. Yehoshua in May 2006, at the American Jewish Committee's (AJC) Centennial Symposium.

He reiterated similar sentiments in the clip below.



Unsurprisingly, many both in Israel and the world Jewish community disagreed.

In response, the AJC complied a booklet of responses, both for and against what A.B. Yehoshua said, entitled: The A. B.Yehoshua Controversy: An Israel-Diaspora Dialogue on Jewishness, Israeliness, and Identity

It makes for a good read.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

There's no place like home...



German Jewish leader: No need for aliyah agency like Nativ here
German Jewish leaders told visiting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday they were not interested in Israel's offers to expand the Nativ agency's operations to Germany.

Nativ, a semi-covert agency founded within the Prime Minister's Office in the 1950s, deals mainly with helping Jews from the former Soviet Union immigrate to Israel...

German Jews were satisfied with the help being given to them by the Jewish Agency and other sources, and saw no reason to employ other such agencies in Germany.
In fact, not only are Germany's Jews in no rush to leave, but Germany is the fastest growing Jewish community in the world today.
"Berlin is the place to be," Rabbi Walter Homolka, the principal of the Rabbinical Seminary in the German capital, said.
And it seems that many in Israel are expressing agreement with their feet.

It seems as if many of our Jewish brothers and sisters still prefer the free fish they ate under Egyptian bondage over Jewish freedom which only is possible in the Land of the Living - the Land of Israel.

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The Comfort of Exile...



Jewish tourist booted from Belgian cafe for wearing Kippa
An American tourist was kicked out of a cafe in Belgium for being Jewish.

Marcel Kalmann, a 64-year-old professor, told the Antwerp Jewish magazine Joods Actueel that he was ejected from the renowned restaurant Le Panier d'Or in Bruges after a waiter saw his yarmulke under his cap.

"We are not serving Jews, out of here," the magazine reported.

Kalmann also told Joods Actueel that he was mistreated at the police station where he went to file a report and was told the incident would not be considered anti-Semitic. He said he will file reports against both the restaurant and the police.

Kalmann was born in the Auschwitz concentration camp three days before its liberation.

The mayor of Bruges has ordered a police inquiry into the incident and apologized to Kalmann, the European Jewish Press reported.
Speaks for itself.

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The Art of Haggling...


One of the things that all Americans learn upon making Aliyah, is that often times, the price given for a particular item is not final, but merely a starting point for negotiations.

Some of us relish the opportunity to bargain in the shuk, while others find the idea to be totally inconsistent with their upbringing - the equivalent of driving on Shabbat (l'havdil).

So, in order to help those of us who haven't yet mastered the fine art of the haggle, perhaps these two instructional videos can help.



For the second video, click here.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Tour of the Temple Mount - Video


Have you ever thought about visiting the Temple Mount, but, for whatever reason, have yet to do so?

Well, here's your chance to take a virtual tour (until you're ready for the real thing, of course).

Below is a video preview (8+ minutes) of a tour of the Temple Mount led by Rabbi Chaim Richman of the Temple Institute. The tour was led in August, 2005.



For the complete 90 minute tour, visit here.

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

What's your Jew I.Q.?



"A nation which does not know what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do."

--- Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Israel @ 60: A Jewish 7 Democratic State? - Part I



In anticipation of Israel's 60th anniversary, taking place this spring, I was approached by a Israel education organization and asked to take part in a 3-way written debate on the theme of Israel being a Jewish & democratic state.

The basis for the debate would be a section of Israel's Declaration of Independence (see below), and each of the three contributors would have 300 words to write they're thoughts on the topic, and then another 200 words to respond to one of the other positions.

Over a series of posts I will be sharing the various contributions with you, beginning with my own.
THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
Having suffered in Exile like no other nation, the Jewish people are sensitive to the suffering of others and expect the Jewish State of Israel to serve as a model in how a nation-state can treat its minorities fairly.

It is for this reason that the founding fathers of the State of Israel took pains, in the very paragraph within Israel’s Declaration of Independence stating that the State of Israel will be open to every Jew in the world, to balance that with the assurance that despite being a Jewish state, “complete equality” will be assured to all.

However, does this accurately reflect the vision of the prophets of Israel?

In this paragraph, two distinct values are expressed. First, that Israel should be a Jewish State, and second, that there should be “complete equality” for everyone living in the State of Israel.

Did the Jewish people, for millennia, yearn for a return to Zion merely to create “the only democracy in the Middle East”? Did they dream of granting “complete equality” to strangers, enabling them to turn the Jewish State into a state of its citizens, or decide on issues such as “Who is a Jew?” or “Land for Peace?”

No.

Throughout the long Exile, the Jewish people were sustained by the “vision of the prophets” – of the eventual ingathering of the Exiles. Upon returning to their ancient Homeland the Jewish people would live as proud, strong and sovereign Jews," creating an “exemplary society” and serving as a "light unto the nations," thus sanctifying G-d’s name throughout the world.

Any non-Jew accepting Israel as a Jewish State without seeking to undermine that premise would be granted full individual rights. Issues concerning the national character and policy of the Jewish State would be decided upon exclusively by the Jewish people residing in Israel.

Treat the stranger kindly? Certainly, but the Bible didn’t intend this to be taken to the extreme of giving the stranger the keys to our national home.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

And she shall be called in Israel...



With much thanks to Hashem, I am happy to share with you that at 10:10am Shabbat Morning, the 7th day of the month of Kislev, 5768 (November 17, 2007), Annie gave birth to a baby girl. Both Annie and our new daughter are doing well - and Hodaya is excited to be a sister.

Being Shabbat, we had the opportunity, a few hours later, during Mincha (afternoon service) to name our daughter.

And she shall be called in Israel... Eliana Racheil.

Eliana means: (My) G-d has answered - a combination of the two Hebrew words, Eli: (My) G-d, and Ana: has answered.

On the most elementary level, It is the hope and prayer of every couple to be blessed with children, and that, in the aftermath of childbirth, that both baby and mother should be well. It is all too easy to forget or take for granted that not every couple has yet to be blessed with children, and not every pregnancy ends well, either for the mother or baby (or both).

So, on this most basic and human level, Eliana - G-d has answered our prayers - and we have been blessed once again with a beautiful baby girl, and that both she and her mother are healthy and happy, if not a bit tired, understandably so.

Racheil comes from our Biblical matriarch Rachel, who happened to be one of the central figures from this past Shabbat's weekly Torah portion - Parshat VaYeitzei.

The Talmud (Niddah 20b) teaches us that when a baby is in the womb, "he / she is taught the entire Torah...". It is not surprising then, having already become familiar with this past Shabbat's Torah portion that Eliana Racheil chose to enter this world specifically on Shabbat Parshat VaYeitzei.

The Hebrew word VaYeitzei means: to go out - and that is precisely what Eliana Racheil did this past Shabbat - she went out of her mother's womb and entered into the world.

Additionally, one of the central themes of Parshat VaYeitzei is that of childbirth. Over the course of the Torah portion, 11 of the 12 sons of Jacob - the Tribes of Israel - are both born and named (another motivation for naming Eliana Racheil over this particular Shabbat), and in addition to the 11 boys born to Jacob, a daughter is also born to him - bringing the total to 12 children born to Jacob over the span of a single Torah portion.

However, in order to fully appreciate and understand the name, one must look at both names together.

There is a Midrash found at the beginning of the Book of Lamentations (Eichah) which recounts the following (copied from www.Chabad.org):
As the Temple lay in ruins and the Jews were being led into exile as slaves, Abraham came before G-d and said: "Master of the universe, when I was 100 years old, you gave me a son, and when he was 37 years old you told me, 'Raise him as a sacrifice before Me.' I overcame my natural mercy and bound him myself. Will You not remember my devotion and have mercy on my children?"

Next, Isaac approached. "When my father said, 'G-d will show us the sheep for a sacrifice, my son,' I did not hesitate but accepted my fate and extended my neck to be slaughtered. Will You not remember my strength and have mercy on my children?"

Then Jacob beseeched: "I worked for twenty years in the house of Laban and when I left, Esau came to harm me. I suffered all my life raising my children. Now they are being led like sheep to the slaughter in the hands of their enemies. Won't you remember all my pain and suffering and redeem my children?"

Moses rose up and said: "Was I not a loyal shepherd of Israel for forty years? I ran before them in the desert like a horse. When the time came to enter Israel, You decreed that I would die in the desert. Now they go into exile. Won't You listen to my crying over them?"

Before all these virtuous defenders, G-d remained silent.

Then Rachel lifted her voice, "Master of the Universe, You know that Jacob loved me intensely and worked for seven years in order to marry me. When the time of my marriage came, my father substituted my sister for me. I did not begrudge my sister and I didn't let her be shamed; I even revealed to her the secret signs that Jacob and I had arranged.

"If I, a mere mortal, was not prepared to humiliate my sister and was willing to take a rival into my home, how could You, the eternal, compassionate G-d, be jealous of idols, which have no true existence, that were brought into Your home? Will You cause my children to be exiled on this account?"

Immediately, G-d's mercy was aroused and He responded, "For you, Rachel, I will bring Israel back to their place."

This Midrash is based on the verses found in the Book of Jeremiah (31: 15 - 17):
So has the Lord said: In Ramah there is a sound of crying, weeping and bitter sorrow; Rachel weeping for her children; she will not be comforted for their loss. The Lord has said this: Keep your voice from sorrow and your eyes from weeping: for your work will be rewarded, says the Lord; and they will come back from the land of their hater. And there is hope for the future, says the Lord; and your children will come back to the land which is theirs.

Returning to the name, Eliana Racheil...

Eliana Racheil is our 2nd child, and our 2nd child to be born in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish People. Annie and I have been blessed to make our home and start our family here, in the Land of Israel, and have our children born in Jerusalem, something which, today, is also something, B"H, that is easy to take for granted.

In response to our matriarch Rachel's tears on seeing the Jewish People led into exile, G-d promised her that "your children (the Jewish People) will return to their borders (the Land of Israel)".

Annie and I, along with Hodaya Leah and Eliana Racheil (and the many other Jews who have returned to the Land of Israel - who have returned home) are the living fulfillment of G-d's promise to Rachel - Eliana Rachel - G-d has answered Rachel's prayer - the Jewish People are coming home.

It is our hope and prayer, in giving our new daughter this name, Eliana Racheil, that she follow in the footsteps of her namesake, Racheil Imeinu, who serves as the embodiment of dedication and self-sacrifice on behalf of the Jewish people, and that our Eliana Racheil devote herself to bringing about the redemption of the Jewish People - may we merit to see it speedily in our - and Eliana Racheil's - lifetime.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Germany: Home, Sweet Home



Recently, there were a number of articles discussing the dramatic increase in the number of Israelis applying for German citizenship.

Sharp rise in Israelis seeking German citizenship
- Yediot Achronot

'Sweet revenge,' say new Germans - Ha'aretz - (One of the most depressing articles I have read in quite some time.)

Below are some selected quotes from the articles:

* "The grandparents did not want to be German for obvious reasons. They taught their children that being German was a bad thing. But this is the first generation which thinks differently," said Katy Elmaliah, whose law firm in Tel Aviv helps young Israelis get German passports.

---

* "For my mother and my father the memories of the past are too hard. They would never want to be German but for me it is important that I can have a European passport," he said. "I have no problem being German."

---

* Holding her brand-new German passport, Avital Direktor, 29, of Azor, just had to laugh. "What a crazy world," she thought to herself. "Germany's soil is drenched with my family's blood, and in spite of it all, I got German citizenship. I see it as taking revenge on Hitler. Sweet revenge..."

"Now, I will be able to pass it on to my children," she added.

Avital said she is not surprised by the sharp rise in demand for German citizenship among Israelis. "Look at what's going on here. Ours is a land that devours its inhabitants. The obtuseness to the needy, the corruption. People are dying to get out of here..."

Avital hopes to study to be a sound technician in Germany. "Here, it's expensive like you wouldn't believe, but there, I'll get it practically free of charge. I had intended to study it in Israel, but I just can't afford it financially," she explained.

According to Avital, most of her friends supported her decision to apply for German citizenship. "They said they wished they could get a German passport, too, and asked me what I was still doing here in Israel."

All of the above makes the following story almost seem logical:

Berlin Jewish Center builds replica of Western Wall

”This is a symbolic part of making Berlin a central hub of Jewish life again,” the center’s executive director, Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal told the Associated Press on Wednesday.
In light of the above, consider these verses from the book of Judges (2:10-11):
And in time, death overtook all that generation; and another generation came after them, having no knowledge of the Lord or of the things which he had done for Israel. And the children of Israel did evil in the eyes of the Lord...
Some things never change.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Non-Kosher Way to Think...



This past week, Israeli (Russian) billionaire businessman, Arkadi Gaydamak, bought the Tiv Ta'am supermarket chain, which, until now, was one of the largest suppliers of pork products in Israel.

Gadamak has declared his intent to make the Tiv Ta'am supermarket chain kosher, dramatically reducing the number of places selling pork product in Israel.

So far so good.

Things get a bit complicated, however, when Gaydamak explains his reasoning for turning Tiv Ta'am kosher.
"I believe that in a Jewish state, in which there is a large Muslim minority, selling pork is a provocation."
If Israel is a Jewish State, then why does it matter how large or small the Muslim population is?

Simply put, what Gaydamak should have said was:

"I believe that in a Jewish State, selling pork is a provocation."


A provocation towards Jews!

If any animal serves as the symbol of all that is non-kosher and anti-Judaism, it is the pig.

However, there is an additional reason why we should be troubled by Gaydamak's remarks. Namely, his remarks serve as an indictment against the Jewish People.

Gaydamak knows that Muslims won't accept pork being sold in their community - and he is not interested in offending their sensibilities, as is made clear by his statement.

Gaydamak doesn't seem to be overly concerned of offending the majority of Jews living in the Jewish State of Israel, and that reflects shamefully both upon Gaydamak and all Jews who call the Jewish State home.

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

What Israel Can Learn From the Arabs...



Through the early 90's, Israel was considered to be the worlds foremost expert on fighting terror.

Today, not so much.

Perhaps Israel can learn a thing or two from her Arab neighbors, as to how a state combats terror - particularly during those instances when the terrorists place themselves within civilian population centers - and once again restore her "no one messes with the Israelis"* (Passenger 57 - 1992) image in the eyes of the world.

*(OK, OK, you got me. In the movie, Wesley Snipes uses a word other than messes...)

Lebanese helicopter strafes militants
A Lebanese army helicopter on Saturday fired missiles and strafed suspected positions of Islamic militants on the edge of a Palestinian refugee camp with machine gun fire in the first air force involvement in nearly two weeks of fighting...

The air force's first involvement came on the second day of an offensive the army launched to defeat the militants and force their surrender from the Nahr el-Bared refugee camp where they have been holed up.
Keep in mind that we are talking about a densely populated refugee camp, with civilians all around. Also, consider how Lebanon is dealing with all the human rights activists who are itching to get inside the area to "help":
The deaths raised to 37 the number of soldiers killed since fighting between the army and militants began on May 20. At least 20 civilians and about 60 militants had also been killed in the fighting before Friday's offensive. Civilian casualties could not be determined in the latest fighting since relief organizations were not allowed inside the camp.
And what of the media?

The situation on the ground was unclear as journalists were pushed far away from the military zone, and media reports were conflicting on the military's achievements the previous day.
There you have it folks, the Arab 2 pronged approach to combating terror:

1) Strike the enemy wherever they are - and strike hard.

2) Keep relief organizations and the media out of the picture until the mission is completed.

Were Israel to adopt this approach, it could be the second greatest contribution of the Arab world to the Jewish People, ranking a distant second to hummus.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Picture is Not Always Worth 1,000 Words...



Take a moment to answer the following question:

When you picture Jerusalem, what is the first thing that comes to mind?

(Waiting...)

My guess is that whatever image popped into your mind, it wasn't the Tower of David.

All around Jerusalem, one finds the logo shown in the picture above (courtesy of Jonny Stein), commemorating 40 years since the reunification of Jerusalem, during the Six Day War in 1967.

Now, If someone asked me to suggest possible themes for a logo to commemorate 40 years since the liberation of Jerusalem, the Tower of David wouldn't appear anywhere on my list.

The Tower of David was a fortress built be Herod, and later used by the Romans, Crusaders, Muslims... and the list goes on and on - but as far as symbolizing the reunification of Jerusalem under Jewish sovereignty after 2,000 years of Exile?

Not quite.

My suggestions:

* The Temple (Beit HaMikdash) - Nothing says Jerusalem quite like the Temple.

* The Kotel - If the Beit HaMikdash is too controversial, this could work (although, nothing says Exile quite like the Kotel - but that's for another post.)

* The Hurva Synagouge - particularly, the single remaining arch - Symbolizing the return of the Jewish People to their ancient holy sites...

My sense is that the Tower of David was selected precisely because, unlike any of the above suggestions, it's not overly Jewish - serving as a symbol that the Jews, Muslims and Christians of Jerusalem can all, equally, dislike.

What a wasted opportunity.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Why should anyone care about Sderot?



With no end in sight to the 6 year long rocket assault on Sderot, Ari Shavit of Ha'aretz elaborates upon why those in Israel should give a damn:
It should not have been like this. Sderot is not Gush Katif. There is no debate. On the contrary: Sderot is a "Green Line" city. Sderot is a post-withdrawal city. Sderot is the righteous Israeli city after the occupation. Sderot is the future
Which leads us to Shavit's main point. Why should Israelis care about Sderot?
The attack on Sderot is a strategic attack on peace. It is an attack on the two-state solution. If the attack succeeds, there will be no chance of any future withdrawal. If the attack succeeds, the occupation will be perpetuated.
In Shavit's world,, one should care about Sderot, not because of the responsibility one Jew has for another - or even that of one human being for another, nor is he driven by the pursuit of justice. The sole reason one should care about Sderot is because if Sderot falls, so does the "peace process".

While Shavit makes the distinction between Sderot and Gush Katif clear, he fails to grasp a major distinction existing between Israel and the Arab world, which serves as the root cause for the tragedy that is Sderot.

If one looks at the "Palestinian Authority" map above, there is no green line. No distinction is made between Gush Katif and Sderot. No distinctions are needed for the simple reason that the entire Land of Israel (Palestine) belongs to them - to Islam.

If one looks at the nobility of Israeli society, what does one find? As Shavit puts it:
Sderot should have been the apple of the eye of all those preaching withdrawal in the past, and of everyone who still believes in withdrawal. Sderot should have been the city of peace writers and peace singers and peace industrialists. A "peace now" city. A city of Israeli solidarity. A city of mutual responsibility. A city where strong Israelis stand together with Israelis who are less strong in the face of Islamic zealotry.
Yet, what one finds amongst the vast majority of Israels elite is a group who questions the very right of the Jewish People to a Jewish State in the Land of Israel. After all, can it be said that Gush Katif is really anymore "occupied territory" than Sderot? Certainly there's no difference in the eyes of the Arabs. Which is why, if, as Shavit puts it, Sderot is Israel's future, then it's clear that Israel's nobility has already abandoned ship.

When Ariel Sharon said that the fate of Netzarim is that of Tel Aviv (April, 2002), he was not mistaken. Until the Jewish People recognize their absolute right to the Land of Israel and show that they are willing and able to enforce that right, there will be no peace. Not in Gush Katif. Not in Sderot. Not in Jerusalem and not in Tel Aviv.

The time has come for us - those who still believe in this fundamental and historic truth - to assume the leadership and responsibility of this country and to do so before Sderot falls.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

A Case of Bad Gas



The Jerusalem Post reports that Israel is considering signing a 15-20 year contract to purchase gas from a British energy company that would earn the "Palestinians" $1 billion. The gas would be supplied from the Gaza marine field, off Gaza's coast, which the "Palestinian Authority" has control over (as a e result of the "peace process"), thus earning them one quarter of the estimated $ billion deal.
Last month the cabinet approved continued negotiations with BG over purchase of the gas, a decision that necessitated a previous ban on buying natural gas from the PA. The change of heart, government officials said, was simply the product of economics, since buying the gas from Egypt, another option, would cost twice as much.
Now, there are many problematic aspects to this potential deal, but here are two of them:

1) Would anyone care to guess what the Hamas led PA will buy with $1 billion? In short, this would not be the first time that the State of Israel would be funding our enemies efforts to destroy the Jewish State (See: The Oslo Accords / "Peace Process".)

The fact that there isn't a law forbidding such actions speaks volumes.

2) Equally troubling is why the State of Israel, which possesses very few natural resources, would give away a gas field off it's coast worth billions of dollars?

Once again, this is not the first time Israel has made such a mistake.

Post Six Day War, after Israel had liberated the Sinai peninsula, it was discovered that there were was enough oil reserves in the Sinai to cover 100% of Israel's energy needs for a long time to come. As part of the "peace process" with Egypt, Israel gave away the Sinai and all her oil fields, leaving Israel with no peace and no oil.

Those on the left often speak of how much the "settlements" have cost Israel. Well, I think the time has come to begin asking how much "peace" has cost Israel, both in dollars, and in lives.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Look Mom, I'm on Google!!!



Every now and again I like to Google myself. (Yes, I just used Google as a verb - as well as a noun, in this sentence.)

I know. It sounds terribly egotistical. But, frankly, I have an inquiring mind, and I want to know where I stand in cyberspace.

Depending on how I spell my name (Zev, Zeev, Ze'ev...) I come across thousands of entries.

Here are two of the more entertaining ones.

1) From a comment on Matthew Yglesias's The Atlantic Online blog:
The Michael Rubin policy wonk neocons know full well that they're lucky to have escaped the noose for what they've done to America's place in the world vis a vis the Iraqi debacle and are afraid to go on the record again. Their real agendas can be found in the ravings of louche neocons Michael Freund, Caroline Glick, and Zev Orenstein. In short- they want to drop thermonuclear bombs on Iran, Syria, and Mecca. This is their hot and sticky dream scenario.
To be totally honest, I haven't a clue as to what the guy is talking about. But, I am flattered to be put in the same company as Michael Freund and Caroline Glick. My only guess is that he might be referring to this article of mine.

And, as far as what might constitute my hot and sticky dream scenario... since this is a family oriented blog, something things are better left unsaid.

2) Recently, I was asked to write a d'var Torah for one of the many weekly Parsha sheets that are distributed in shuls throughout Israel.

Lo and behold... While I wasn't paid for doing so, it seems that I was given the title of Rabbi...
Kashrut
Rabbi Ze'ev Orenstein

Written by the rabbi...

Click here for more Shiurim by Rabbi Ze'ev Orenstein
I wonder if this makes me the first louche, neocon Rabbi?

-----

According to Dictionary.com, louche means:
  • Dubious; shady; disreputable.
  • Of questionable taste or morality; decadent.
And, neocon means:
"Neoconservatism is the first variant of American conservatism in the past century that is in the 'American grain.' It is hopeful, not lugubrious; forward-looking, not nostalgic; and its general tone is cheerful, not grim or dyspeptic. Its 20th-century heroes tend to be TR, FDR, and Ronald Reagan. Such Republican and conservative worthies as Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, and Barry Goldwater are politely overlooked." [Irving Kristol, "The Neoconservative Persuasion," in "The Weekly Standard," Aug. 25, 2003]

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Jerusalem Day 5767: Historic Footage of the Liberation of the Temple Mount



Despite forces within Israel on both the right and to the left, who do everything in their power to distance the Jewish People from connecting to the Temple Mount and yearning for Temple Consciousness - the Jewish People will not be denied.

On that note, as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the liberation of the Temple Mount, take a moment to watch the historic video footage that captured the dramatic moment:


After you've watched the video, head on over to Israel National News, where a special site commemorating the 40 years since the liberation of much of the Land of Israel took place. You'll find photos, videos, audio clips, essays and many other exciting and inspiring tidbits all relating to the Six Day War.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Neo-Zionist Challenge: Shmittah & The Living Torah




Next year is going to a be a Shmittah year - the one year in every seven, where the Land of Israel must be left to lie fallow.

Since the destruction of the 1st Holy Temple in Jerusalem, until present times - over 2,500 years later - Shmittah has been only Rabbinically mandated. However, within the next 25 years, when the majority of the Jewish People will be living in the Land of Israel, Shmittah (along with all of the other Mitzvot HaTeluyot Ba'aretz - Land of Israel dependent commandments) will return to Biblically mandated status.

Below are two article presenting differing perspectives as to how modern Israeli society should be relating to Shmittah - each with their own set of pros and cons:

1) Chief Rabbinate to Reduce Use of Special 7th-Year Dispensation

2) The ground beneath our feet

Equally important as the solution that will ultimately be agreed upon and implemented is the discussion in itself.


For 2,000+ years, this discussion did not take place - could not take place - in a manner that had any practical relevance. With the re-establishment of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel the Torah of Israel has returned to life.

Rabbi Yotav Eliach puts it best:
The Torah sets up a constitutional blueprint for the running of a Jewish society which is anchored in a Jewish state. Parashat Mishpatim, most of Vayikra and Bemidbar, and all of Sefer Devarim, make this point very clear. Judaism is not merely interested in the ritualistic aspects of our lives. It is rather a framework for running a Jewish republic, one complete with a court system, government, army, welfare and tax system. Finally, this constitutional blueprint is not meant for implementation in any piece of territory in which the Jewish nation may happen to be the majority, but primarily in the one country whose boundaries are clearly outlined geographically in the Torah: The Land of Israel.

One of the striking ways to reinforce these points is by showing that there are four basic areas of mitzvot in the Torah that are dependent upon the Land of Israel in one way or another:

a) All mitzvot connected to the Beit Hamikdash in any shape or form;
b) All mitzvot connected to having a Sanhedrin court system functioning;
c) All mitzvot connected to the soil of Israel;
d) All mitzvot connected to the running of the government, army, and taxes.

Taken together, these four areas make up approximately 50% of the 613 mitzvot. Another graphic way to make the point of Israel's centrality to Jewish life is by looking at the Shas. Two of the six sedarim of Shas, Kodashim and Taharot, are totally dependent upon the Land of Israel, as is Seder Zera'im (with the exception of Masekhet Berakhot).

The fourth, Seder Mo'ed, is also very dependent upon the Land of Israel. All the special sacrifices associated with each holiday are dependent upon the Beit Hamikdash in Israel, as is aliyah la'regel, bikkurim, and the bringing of the omer. The fifth, Seder Nezikin, is also connected, to a large extent, to the concept of a functioning Jewish legal system existing in the land of Israel, headed by the Sanhedrin. Only the sixth seder - Nashim - can be kept almost in its entirety (the exception being Sotah) outside the boundaries of Israel.
Thank G-d for the challenges that go along with living in the Land of Israel!

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Kumah NINE Time JIBs Finalist - Vote Now!




UPDATE 5/15:

We have marked the votes that are extremely close. Like 1 vote close! So please vote for those first if that's all you have time for. Thanks!


It's official. Thanks to our loyal Kumah readership Kumah has gone to the finals in every single category that she was nominated in. What's more? Every single Kumah blogger that was nominated through another blog has also made it to the finals in every category they were nominated for. Looking around at the competition in the finals is humbling because it really is unbelievable company to be in. That said we are clearly the underdog that has already gone further than anyone thought we would. It sends a great message that people are excited about the Aliyah Revolution!

And now even more eyes are on us! So let's send an even greater message!

1.To vote click on a link below. (Repeat this for all links.)
A new window should open. (Or right click and "open in new window.")

2.Vote!

3.Close the window and right click on the next link...

Kumah's "Shabbat Candle Ladies" post is in the finals for

Best Jewish Religious Post

And Kumah is in the finals for:

Best Group Blog - VERY CLOSE!

Best Slice of Life in Israel Blog

Best Pro-Israel Advocacy Blog

Best Designed - VERY CLOSE!

Best Contribution / Blog that Made a Difference - VERY CLOSE!

Best Jewish Humor Post for Becoming a Real Israeli

Kumah also made it to the finals twice (even with "splitting the vote") in:

Best Live Event Coverage Post - "HOMESH" one is VERY CLOSE!
(Vote for either one.)

Kumah Bloggers In the Finals


Malkah's Eyshet Chayil - Best Kosher Food/Recipe Post (listed as "Chayil.")- VERY CLOSE!

Ze'ev's Israel Perspectives - Best Right-Wing Political Blog

Also, my personal blog Point of Pinchas is in the finals for

Best Personal Blog

Best Photo/Graphics Blog - VERY CLOSE!

Best Picture or Video in a Post
This is for photos I took at a Nefesh B'Nefesh (NBN) flight arrival.

And,

Best Series
This is for my "Only in Israel" Series.

As always, there are links to all of these posts on the respective voting pages if you have time to check them out. Polls close on May 16, 10pm US-EDT.

Thanks again for your support!

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

From Temple Consciousness to Temple Consensus?



Ever since the liberation of the Temple Mount 40 years ago, those who have been pushing for the Jewish People to assume a greater connection with the Mount, as well as promoting Temple consciousness have been in the minority.

Until now, that is...

Increasing number of rabbis are allowing Jews to enter Temple Mount

An increasing number of religious Zionist rabbis are allowing their followers to enter the Temple Mount, contrary to the religious consensus on the matter.

This weekend, the rabbis Haim Druckman and Avraham Zukerman, of the Bnei Akiva youth movement, and Tzafania Drori, chief rabbi of Kiryat Shmona, are set to join this growing group with an ad in the Orthodox media. The rabbis, who are major figures in the religious Zionist movement, will call on Jews wishing to enter the Temple Mount "in purity, to ascend at this time to the to the places permitted for Jews to enter."

The three rabbis are known for their principle support for letting Jews on to the Temple Mount. But they had not yet expressed their stand formally, because of the religious sensitivity of the issue. Now, in honor of the 40th anniversary of Jerusalem's unification, with many right-wing movements placing the Temple Mount on their agenda, the rabbis have decided to call publicly on Jews to go to the Mount.

In publishing the ad, they will be joining dozens of other rabbis of the religious Zionist stream, among them rabbis in West Bank settlements, who in recent years have allowed Jews to go to the Temple Mount within the bounds of Jewish law.
It's taken forty years, but perhaps the relationship of the Jewish People to the Temple Mount is beginning to change for the better.

Additionally, let's not overlook the moral to this story.

For many years, there have been a handful of dedicated individuals and organizations who have devoted themselves to promoting Temple Consciousness. At first they were viewed as radicals or a fringe element, but over time, as can be seen from the above story, their efforts have begun to produce results, and their messages and ideology are slowly but surely working there way into the consensus.

Temple consciousness... Neo-Zionism... The Aliyah Revolution...

It's all just a matter of time.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Every Jew is responsible for one another? (Kol Yisrael areivim zeh la'zeh?)


Drivers ignore dying man on road



(Click here if video doesn't download.)

Shocking.

Disturbing.

Appalling.

These are just a few of the words that come to mind.

Can it be that Israeli society has become so cold, unforgiving and apathetic (as Avi Dichter, Israel's Internal Security minister, asserts)?

Before casting blame and making sweeping judgements, it's important to place this tragic event in the proper context.

On the morning of March 13th, 1964, 29 year old Kitty Genovese was brutally murdered just outside her New York apartment.

For over 30 minutes, 40 of Ms. Genovese's neighbors watched the brutal attack, doing absolutely nothing. Only 35 minutes after the attack had begun did someone finally call the police.

In order to determine if New Yorkers were in fact cold and heartless, or, if perhaps there was another explanation as to why no one responded to Ms. Genovese's cries for help, a series of experiments were conducted.
The researchers consistently found that as the number of bystanders increased, the likelihood that any one of them would help decreased.
This phenomenon is known as the "bystander effect".
If we are by ourselves when an emergency occurs, we perceive ourselves to be 100% responsible for taking action. However, when there are 10 bystanders, we each perceive ourselves to have only a tenth of the responsibility. The higher the number of bystanders, the less obligated each individual is likely to feel to intervene.
Another explanation given is...
If we are unsure of our own perceptions and interpretations, or if the situation is ambiguous, we look to others for help in defining what is going on. If others appear calm, we may decide that whatever is happening doesn't require our assistance.
When these findings are applied to Israel society, I believe that we can better understand why this tragic event occurred, and how similar occurrences can be prevented in the future..

Frankly, over the last two decades, as corruption and deceit infected many of the seats of power within Israeli society - particularly the government - average Israelis came to feel that they were no longer able to make a difference. Israeli society was now ruled by the law of the jungle - everyone for themselves and the survival of the fittest - and whoever didn't play by those rules would come to be viewed as friers / (suckers) - the absolute worst thing you can call an Israeli.

It is not a matter of Israeli society being populated by cold and heartless individuals, quite to the contrary. However, the foreign values that have consciously been imported from abroad (courtesy of Israel's ruling elites), such as individualism and materialism have come to replace the authentic Jewish values of self-sacrifice and of caring for the needs of the community.

We are taught in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of our Fathers, 5:22):
Whoever possesses these three qualities belongs to the disciples of Abraham our father: a generous eye, a humble spirit, and a meek soul.

But he who possesses the three opposite qualities--an evil eye, a proud spirit, and a haughty soul--is of the disciples of Bilam the wicked.
So, what is the solution?

I believe that each and every one of us needs to take upon themselves a sense of personal responsibility for making the Jewish State of Israel the best it can possibly be.

True, there are many challenges within Israeli society, and we can't possibly overcome all of them with our limited abilities and resources, but, returning once again to Pirkei Avot, 2:21:
It is not incumbent upon you to finish the task. Yet, you are not free to desist from it.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Kumah Nominated For 8 JIBs + 6 more JIBs!!!




The 2007 JIB awards are here and Kumah is very honored to be nominated EIGHT times. Round one voting starts Sunday night (Israel time) so check back here for details on how to vote.

Kumah was nominated for the following awards:

  • Best Group Blog
  • Best Pro-Israel Advocacy Blog
  • Best Slice of Life in Israel Blog
  • Best Jewish Religious Post
  • Best Humor Post
  • Best Live Event Coverage Post
  • Best Designed
  • Best Contribution / Blog that Made a Difference

Aside from those, Kumah bloggers (blogging elsewhere) were nominated for another 6 awards.

Malkah's Eyshet Chayil was nominated for Best Kosher Food/Recipe Post

Ze'ev's Israel Perspectives was nominated for Best Right-Wing Political Blog

And your's truly's Point of Pinchas was nominated for Best Personal Blog, Best Photo/Graphics Blog, Best Series, and Best Picture or Video in a Post

Congratulations to the whole team on these well deserved nominations and good luck to everyone!

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Hogan Knows Best... About the Exile and Keeping Kosher



It seems like everyone has their own reality TV show these days.

Even... Hulk Hogan.

Believe it or not, but VH1 has started a reality series about everyone's favorite professional wrestler, Hulk Hogan, entitled, Hogan Knows Best, featuring the exploits of Hulk Hogan and his family. The show has even devoted a number of episodes to Hulk Hogan (and family) learning about what it means to keep Kosher.

While the episodes are quite funny, I really don't know which is sadder - Hogan's attempts at keeping Kosher - or the many observant Jews who seem to be so at home in the Exile known as Miami Beach, enjoying their chance to be Hulkamaniacs (kind of like the Jews who had such a great time at Achashveirosh's party - of Purim fame - celebrating the end of Am Yisra'el, content to live merely as Persians of the Mosaic persuasion.)

Check it out for yourself here.

Each episode is about two minutes in length. If you can't watch them all, I recommend episodes 3 - 6, and 8.

WARNING: There are some immodestly dressed women in these episodes (namely, Hogan's wife and daughter.)

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Jewish Sell-Outs and Israel's Arab Problem: The Glass Half - Full Approach



Over the last year, it seems that the most popular cause being championed by the Jewish Establishment organizations, both in Israel and abroad, is the cause of equality for Israel's Arabs (and here.)

While I have no doubt as to the harmfulness of these actions to both the Jewish People and State, I do believe that many of the Jews donating money to this cause (knowingly or not), are convinced that through providing financial assistance to Israel's Arab community they are strengthening the Jewish State of Israel. Well, perhaps, with a little creativity, we can help them do just that.

The Jewish Establishment has already displayed its willingness to turn to Jewish communities throughout the world and raise millions upon millions of dollars for Israel's Arabs. However, instead of this money being used to strengthen Israel's Arab communities, the money can be used to help Israel's Arabs relocate, under favorable financial terms, to a place where they can feel more at home.

In this way, the money being raised by the Jewish Establishment will not only be helping Israel's Arabs live a better life, but at the same time will be strengthening Israel as a Jewish State.

Of course, not all of Israel's Arabs will be interested in such an initiative, but I suspect that there will be many that will jump at the opportunity. Those Arabs that are hell-bent on remaining as a bone in the throat of the Jewish State need not look for handouts from the Jewish People - and for which other solutions will need to be developed.

As I see it, this is a win-win situation for everyone involved.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Media Round-Up: Israeli Arab Edition



Consider the following recent headlines about Israel's Arab citizens:

MK Sarsour calls Muslims to free J'lem
MK Ibrahim Sarsour (UAL-TA'AL), Speaking at the "Jerusalem First" conference in Ramallah, the lawmaker emphasized the importance of Jerusalem to Islam, and called on participants to "act together to become a torrent on the road to liberation."

"Just as the Muslims once liberated Jerusalem from the Crusaders, so must we today believe that we can liberate Jerusalem. It is not an impossible dream," he said.
Poll: Over 25% of Israeli Arabs say Holocaust never happened
In its most dramatic finding, the poll showed that 28 percent of Israeli Arabs did not believe the Holocaust happened, and that among high school and college graduates the figure was even higher - 33 percent...

While 89 percent said they view Israel's bombing of Lebanon as a war crime, only 44 percent said they see Hezbollah's attacks on Israel as such. Hezbollah pelted northern Israel with nearly 4,000 rockets.

Half of Israeli Arab respondents said Hezbollah's capture of Israel Defense Forces reserves soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev in a cross-border raid was justified.
Majadele refuses to sing national anthem
Israel's first Arab minister said in newspaper interview he would not sing anthem, because song was written 'only for Jews'...

In the interview, Majadele said, "Of course I would not sing the anthem in its current form. But before we talk about symbols, I want to talk about equal education for my children. It's more important that my son would be able to buy a house, live with dignity… the Arabs are not in a mood to sing right now."
The articles speak for themselves... (and no, the solution is not to promote co-existence programming!)

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

So much for being a hardcore settler...



Back in November 2006, Peace Now came out with a report which claimed, among other things, that Ma'aleh Adumim, the largest Jewish community in Judea and Samaria - just east of Jerusalem, with a population of 30,000+ (and growing), and where I happen to live, was in fact built (86%) on private "Palestinian" land.

In all honesty, I was elated.

Why, you might ask?

Simply put, even though Ma'aleh Adumim is techinically over the "Green Line", as far as "settlements" go, it's kind of lame, as Ma'aleh Adumim is unquestionably a part of the Israeli consensus regarding the future borders of the State of Israel.

However, that all changed once the Peace Now report came out, and overnight Ma'aleh Adumim went from being this nice, quiet city just outside of Jerusalem, in the hillside of the Judean desert, to being a bastion of ultra-nationalist, hardcore settlers, building their homes on the stolen land of peace-loving, innocent "Palestinians".

Finally!

Once and for all, I was able to walk with my head held high amongst my peers, many of whom are living in "outposts", caravans, and "settlements" far more "provocative" than Ma'aleh Adumim.

Until today, that is.

Unsurprisingly, the aforementioned Peace Now report has been debunked.

IDF data show flaws in Peace Now report

In November, Peace Now claimed that 86 percent of Ma'aleh Adumim was built on private Palestinian land. After successfully petitioning the court to see the database, the group reported Wednesday that data show that only 0.5% of the settlement is built on private land.

"The first report they released had major mistakes,
" said Capt. Zidki Maman, spokesman for the Civil Administration in the West Bank.

Well, it was fun while it lasted, but it seems like I must return to being the mild-mannered, "just outside of Jerusalem," consensus Ze'ev.

Eizeh basa!

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Reasons Why Not to Make Aliyah








Galut - Lovers Anonymous



There are many people in this world who are caught within the tangled web of harmful addictions.

Some are addicted to drugs, others to alcohol, and yet others, it seems, are addicted to living in Galut - The Exile.

The lucky ones recognize their addiction early on and begin taking the necessary steps to fight and overcome it, while others live their lives ignorantly unaware of their addiction, bringing untold suffering upon themselves and their loved ones.

It seems as if some French Jews fall into the latter category.

French Jews flock to area: South Florida is experiencing an influx of Jews who fear persecution in France

Rod Kukurudz decided to uproot his family from a comfortable life in France to Surfside when his then 16-year-old daughter, Audrey, came home one night in 2005 -- upset and fearful.

''Dad,'' she told him, ''now even if it's hot I have to wear a scarf to hide my Star of David,'' while riding the Paris Metro...

In their hearts, many of the French Jews arriving in South Florida feel they are refugees, and there's a movement to press the U.S. government for such status. A group has posted a petition on the Internet -- www.petitiononline.com/ID22206/petition.html -- urging the U.S. Congress to approve a refugee program for French Jews.

Both Cohen and Kukurudz miss life in France, but they have no regrets about leaving. They did it for their children.

''So they can have a future,'' Cohen said.
Sad...

For them, their children, and for us here in Israel.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

On Being an Extremist: Revisited



About a year-and-a-half ago, in response to feedback I had received to a number of articles I had written, I decided to layout many of my core beliefs as they related to Israel and the Jewish People, under the heading: On Being an Extremist, leaving it up to my readers to decide, if my beliefs, were, in fact, extreme.

Well, Bradley Burston of Ha'aretz, whose lone claim to fame is his now defunct "Talkback Policy" of forbidding the use of the phrase: "There are no Palestinians," has decided to pen a list of his own, which he entitles: Far-right and wrong, or how to ruin Judaism.

Burston lists 13 principles, to my 10, of which, 5 +/- made Burston's list. I am ashamed to note that #'s 12 & 13 on Burston's list, which relate to the Jewish People's yearning for the Temple Mount and the rebuilding of the Holy Temple, do not appear on my list, as I have only begun to fully appreciate the notion of "Temple Consciousness" over the last year+, and which I would include on my list today, in one variation or another.

Lastly, before re-revealing my list of beliefs, I found it rather ironic that when it comes to opposing Jews ascending to the Temple Mount (#12), Burston becomes an ardent follower of Rav Kook - who, in regards to many of the other points listed, would likely be viewed as an extremist by Burston and his ilk.

Without further ado...

The Top 10 Reasons... as to why people believe I am an extremist: (Nov. 30, 2005)
1) I believe that the borders of the Jewish State of Israel should encompass the entire area west of the Jordan River (I am not relinquishing the right of the Jewish People to other parts of its Homeland, namely: Jordan, Syria, Lebanon & the Sinai - I just do not believe that we should press our claim to them right now - so long as our neighbors behave).

2) I am against the creation of a "Palestinian State" anywhere west of the Jordan River, as I do not believe that anyone aside from the Jewish People has any right to sovereignty in the Land of Israel.

3) I am opposed to the "Peace Process" (as it is understood today - although I am very much in favor of peace), as I recognize that peace will not come through releasing terrorists from prison, arming these very terrorists, and making other "goodwill gestures" that all lead to the murder of innocent Jews.

4) I believe that Israel must come to the (painful) recognition that she is at war with the Arab world, and she must be committed to taking the required steps necessary to win that war (and not to suffice with defensive half-measures like the security fence and shelling open fields).

5) I believe that all Jews should live in the Land of Israel , as this is the only place that the Jew, both on an individual and national level, can live a complete Jewish life and it is the only place where the destiny and mission of the Jewish People can be actualized.

6) I believe that the State of Israel should be a Jewish State and not a State of the Jews (simply having a Jewish majority). I believe that the State of Israel should not strive to "fit-in" with the nations of the world and be a nation like all others, but should act to create a society that will be strongly rooted in Jewish tradition, history, identity and culture.

7) I believe that every Jewish child in Israel (and in the world) should receive a intensive Jewish education that will instill within them a sense of pride in their knowing what it means to be a Jew, where they have come from and where they are going, the reason for having a Jewish State in the Land of Israel, and a commitment to taking an active role in helping to fulfill the collective destiny of the Jewish People.

8) I believe that the ultimate values in the Jewish State of Israel should not be liberalism, pluralism and democracy (although each may have it's place within the Jewish State, under certain situations / conditions), rather values that are consistent with authentic Jewish tradition and beliefs should be given primacy above all others.

9) I believe that the Jewish State of Israel can create an exemplary society, one that is moral and just in all areas of private and public life, all while staying true to Jewish teachings and tradition, and not selling our birthright for a bowl of western, secular values.

10) I believe that if the Jewish State of Israel does all of the above, then Israel and her neighbors will be blessed with true and lasting peace, and the Jewish People and the Jewish State of Israel will earn the respect and admiration of the nations of the world, by serving as a true "Light unto the Nations" and on that day the world will recognize the Oneness of the G-d of Israel and His dominion over all.
So, you tell me... Does all that make me an extremist?

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Media Round-Up - The Jewish Suicidal Urge (Take 2)


"Then the Devil Said"

- Natan Alterman, Jewish / Israeli Poet (1910 - 1970)


"Satan then said:
How do I overcome
This besieged one?
He has courage
And talent,
And implements of war
And resourcefulness.
Only this I shall do,
I'll dull his mind
And cause him to forget
The justice of his cause.
"

Simply put, we have lost our way; lost sight of what it is that we are doing here, in the Land of Israel, and if we are not able to restore our belief in the justice of our cause, the Jewish people will not have a future here, in the State of Israel.

Consider the following recent news stories from the Israeli press:

Israeli Arabs to get greater school funding, settlements less
"The new budget formula will change the political-education map from A to Z," a senior ministry officials said, "and transfer money to the most disadvantaged communities, most of which are Arab... At the end of the process, a lot of money will be directed toward schools... mainly in the Arab sector."
In short, Israel's Supreme Court, then headed by Aharon Barak, ruled a year ago, that the current criteria used by the Ministry of Education used to determine the allocation of resources was racist and discriminatory, as it gave preference (higher allocations) to Jewish communities (some in Judea and Samaria) over their Arab counterparts.

Abolish Law of Return - Yaron London - Yediot Achronot
In my opinion the State should first and foremost act for the benefit of Israeli society and this involves accepting immigrants who wish to and are able to successfully become integrated. Their Jewishness – be what it may – is only one of the variables assuring their integration, and it is not necessarily the most important one.
Sadly, this is the natural conclusion that one must come to once they no longer believe in the right of the Jewish People to a Jewish State in the Land of Israel. Without that fundamental belief, simply put, the Law of Return is an anachronism, and seemingly racist.

Left-Wing Activists, Arabs Plan to Build Unauthorized Outposts
Israeli left-wing activists, together with foreign PLO supporters, plan to build outpost settlements and plant trees on behalf of Arab residents in Judea and Samaria... One of the latest projects of several left-wing organizations, led by Rabbis for Human Rights, is to rebuild demolished illegal homes for Arabs on state-owned lands in the southern Hevron Hills... As part of their ongoing campaign, left-wing activists have encouraged local Arabs to bring claims against Jewish or state ownership to selected lands before Israeli courts.
One of the principles that Jews have always cherished is social justice. It is natural, once a Jew no longer believes in the right of the Jewish People to a Jewish State in the Land of Israel, to fight for the rights of those who the land does belong to...

Arab students will no longer be tested on Zionism
As for the Zionism section, the official said: "The concepts that were selected aren't suited for the needs of Arab students. Not only did the Arab students not learn about their own heritage, but the section on Zionism generated a great deal of criticism. It was therefore decided to reinforce the shared basis - that is, the section on democracy - and cut down on what separates the sectors."
Why teach Arabs students in Israel about Zionism, which is all about the struggle of the Jewish People to re-establish a Jewish State in their ancestral homeland - something that will naturally lead to a sense of inequality amongst the Arabs - particularly when one no longer believes that the State of Israel should exist as a Jewish State?

It is my hope and belief that it is not too late; that this post can have a happy ending; that we can once again restore a sense of the justice of our cause to our brothers and sisters, through Israel, and the world, but we have our work cut out for us.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Are you ready for some... Shmittah? (AUDIO)


One of the most special things that comes along with living in the Land of Israel is the privilege of being able to keep many Mitzvot that are simply not relevant to the Jew of the Exile.

Many of these Mitzvot are known as Mitzvot HaTluyot Ba'Aretz - Torah commandments that are incumbent upon a Jew living in the Land of Israel.

This coming year, 5768, will be a Shmittah year - the one year, out of every seven, when the Jew in Israel must allow the Land of Israel to lay fallow, (it's actually much more complex that that, but we'll get to that a little later on) and more importantly, being that I made Aliyah only four years ago, this will represent my very first opportunity to fulfill the Mitzva of Shmittah.

Shmittah has additional significance, as being one of the Mitzvot that only becomes Biblically mandated once the majority of the Jewish People are living in the Land of Israel - something that has not happened since the destruction of the first Temple 2,500+ years ago, and which is scheduled to happen at some point in the next 25 years.

In preparation for the upcoming Shmittah year, I helped to organize a weekly, English language, Shmittah shiur in my community. The shiur is scheduled to run from now until the start of the Shmittah year, and I will be posting each installment of the shiur, along with the accompanying source sheets.

The shiur is being given by Rabbi Gedalia Meyer of Ma'aleh Adumim, and he welcomes any questions that listeners might have (gsmeyer@netvision.net.il) .

The first, weekly English Shmittah Shiur can be listened to by clicking here. (MP3 format)

Tizku l'mitzvot!

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sorry, no one is here to take your call right now...




When Peekvid went down recently, I began searching for other websites where I could watch the latest episodes of Prison Break and 24.

I came across one site that looked promising, and I began reading some of the "About Us" and "Disclaimer" information. I then noticed, at the very bottom of the page, the following:

Contact

This site is not run by anybody. You should therfore not try to get in touch with someone.
Kind of like the Government of Israel...

Fellow Neo-Zionists, we have our work cut out for us here, so let's get cracking... just let me finish watching 24 first.

(P.S. Peekvid is now back on-line.)

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Adam Sandler does the Temple Mount...



One finds the motivation behind Adam Sandler's classic hit, The Hanukkah Song, (aside from $$$), in the opening lyrics of the song:
When you feel like the only kid in town without a x-mas tree, here's a list of people who are Jewish, just like you and me...
Well, after reading this article in the Jerusalem Post, one might get the feeling that there exists unanimous opposition amongst Rabbinic sages towards Jews ascending to the Temple Mount.

So, following in the footsteps of Adam Sandler...
When you feel like the only Jew in town who believes it's o.k. to ascend the (Temple) Mount, here's a list of Torah sages who agree with you, none of whom should anyone discount...

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Raising the Banner of "Temple Consciousness"



One of the things that is unique about Neo-Zionism, in general, and the Kumah - Mega Blog, in particular, is the emphasis placed on promoting "Temple Consciousness," which, in a nut shell, refers to raising awareness of the role that the Beit HaMikdash (Holy Temple) plays in the ultimate mission and destiny of the Jewish People, and what we can be doing today to prepare the Jewish People and State for its rebuilding.

Unfortunately, there are many forces (both Jewish and non-Jewish), who spare no effort in their efforts to crush any notion of "Temple Consciousness" from taking root, whether in a physical or spiritual sense.

In the post below, I provide some of the historical context for the struggle over the Temple Mount (from an article I wrote in Sept. 2005), and in future posts, I will focus on the present-day battle over the Temple Mount, as well as how to raise "Temple Consciousness" amongst the Jewish People and within the Jewish State.

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

On June 7th, 1967 / the 28th of the month of Iyar, 5727, Motta Gur uttered 3 words that shook the very foundations of the world and served as the culmination of 2,000 years of Jewish hopes, dreams and prayers: Har HaBayit BeYadeinu!!! (The Temple Mount is in our hands).

Sadly, just under 40 years later, that is no longer the case.

Today, I had the distinct privilege of ascending to Har HaBayit (the Temple Mount), and visiting the holiest site of the Jewish People. (Before any Jew visits Har HaBayit he should consult with a Halachic authority well versed in the laws concerning such a visit). Har HaBayit is the site where the 1st two Batei HaMikdash (Holy Temples) stood, and upon which the 3rd will be built - speedily, in our time. It is on this very place where the presence of G-d rests, and many central events in Jewish history occurred on this very spot (such as Akeidat Yitzchak - the binding of Isaac).

While I am thankful for the opportunity to visit the holiest of sites of the Jewish People (an act, which throughout our long Exile, so few Jews merited - and I dare not proclaim to be of greater spiritual worth, and as such more derserving), and in reality, the holiest site in the entire world, there is a sense of shame that accompanies me. When a Jew visits Har HaBayit today - specifically religious Jews - he does so as a visitor, as a guest, and not as sovereign.

After the Six-Day War, when Jerusalem was liberated from Jordanian occupation, the Jewish People had once again returned to Har HaBayit, the focal point of all of our prayers. Sadly, Moshe Dayan, then Minister of Defense, ordered the Israeli Flag lowered from the Mount, and gave the Muslim Waqf day to day control over Har HaBayit, and this remains the status quo until this very day.

As such, today, when a Jew visits Har HaBayit, he must play according to rules set by the Muslim Waqf. He is only allowed to visit during limited hours. Religious Jews are given "special" treatment, where they are instructed that if they do any act of prayer while visiting Har HaBayit, they will be forcibly removed and charges will be brought against him (this speech is given by a Jewish, Israeli police officer). These restrictions include uttering prayers, bowing, tearing clothing, singing, dancing... The powers that be ensure compliance on this matter by ensuring that all religious Jews visiting Har HaBayit are escorted by Israeli police, as well as Muslim Waqf officials. (This treatment is only given for religious Jews, tourists are able to move freely on Har Habayit without escort).

To make matters worse, Har HaBayit today is not given the respect and reverence that is befitting a place of such holiness. Arab children can be seen riding bikes and playing ball. Garbage is strewn all over the Mount. Illegal excavations continue round the clock in order to erase any physical evidence of a Jewish connection to the site. When the Arabs come to pray at the mosques found on the Temple Mount, they hear sermons filled with hatred and vitriol against the Jewish People and State, comparing Jews to monkeys and pigs, alongside calls forthe destruction of Israel.

To see pictures of Har HaBayit today, click here.

The poet, Uri Tzvi Greenberg Z"L, understood the centrality of the Temple Mount to the conflict that the Jewish People are faced with in the Land of Israel:
He who rules the Mount rules the Land.
Today, it is clear from the actions (or inaction) or successive Jewish governments since 1967, that the Jewish People do not rule the Mount, and as such, our hold on Eretz Yisrael today is tenuous.

Consider this: If the State of Israel is unwilling to stand up and enforce the right of the Jewish People to Har HaBayit, out holiest site, then for what are we willing to stand and fight for? For Gush Katif? For Hebron? For eastern Jerusalem?

The Arabs are not a stupid people. They see that we are unwilling to stand up for what is ours - in this case, our holiest site - and they understand that if that is the case, we will not truly stand up to them anywhere else in the Land of Israel either.

The time has come for the Jewish People to reconnect with our holiest site. To raise an outcry over the injustices taking place on Har HaBayit. To demand, at the very least, that Jews should have equal rights with the Muslims, and be able to pray on Har HaBayit, in accordance with Halacha. How can it be that in the Jewish State of Israel (which also claims to be a democracy) that freedom of religious worship is not extended to Jews at their holiest of sites?

Here's a better question:

How can it be that this desecration of G-d's name and sanctuary bothers so few Jews, both in Israel and the world?

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

How 'Bout a Little Jewish Pride?


A recent survey, which sought to determine how "patriotic" Israelis felt towards their country, indicated a very frightening trend that calls the very future of the Jewish State of Israel into question.

Of the many survey questions, the responses to two of the questions in particular highlight the existential threat facing Jewish State.
Jews: To what extent do you consider yourself an Israeli patriot?

Very much: 36% Great: 31% To an extent: 26% Not at all: 7%
Pretty good. Among the Jewish citizens of the State of Israel, 93% consider themselves to be patriotic to the State of Israel to some extent.

However, when the responses to the above question were broken down by age, we find far fewer reasons for optimism:

60+ years old: 84%
50 - 59: 73%
40 - 49: 64%
30 - 39: 65%
18 - 29: 51%

These figures indicate that there exists a dramatic decline in patriotic feelings towards the State of Israel the younger one is. In other words, the present generation of Jewish Israeli young adults is the least patriotic towards the State of Israel.
Jews: Would you be willing to move and live in another country?

Certain no: 58% Think no: 19% Think yes: 17% Certain yes: 6%
Nearly 80% of the Jewish population in the Jewish State has no intention of ever leaving. Great news.

However, if we take a closer look at the 25% of Jewish population in the Jewish State who expressed a willingness to consider leaving Israel, broken down by age, we find a very troubling picture:

60+ years old: 13%
50 - 59: 17%
40 - 49: 23%
30 - 39: 27%
18 - 29: 33%

Consistent with the first question, where the older one was, the more patriotic they felt towards the State of Israel, here, the older one is, the less inclined they are to ever consider leaving Israel. At the other end of the spectrum, we find the very opposite. The younger one is, the less likely they are to have patriotic feelings towards the State of Israel, while they are the most likely to consider permanently leaving Israel.

At the recent Herzliya Conference, Nobel Prize Laureate, Prof. Israel Aumann warned that the Jewish State of Israel is presently facing an existential threat. He was not referring to the specter of a nuclear Iran, but of the sword hanging over the throat of the Jewish State, known as post-Zionism.
Without motivation, we will not endure. What are we doing here? Why are we here? What are we aspiring to here? We are here because we are Jewish, we are Zionist, because of our ancient bond to this land; we aspire to realize our 2,000-year-old hope of becoming a free nation in our land, the Land of Zion and Jerusalem. Without this profound understanding, we will not endure. We will simply no longer be here; post-Zionism will finish us off.
The gauntlet has been thrown down.

Do we have the motivation to take up this challenge and fight to restore the sense of national pride and purpose to the Jewish People and State?

Our future depends on it.

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