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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Passover Seder is Jewish Life, Charoset with Marror and All Four Sons

So much has been and will be written about the Passover Seder. It's an amazing home-based (when it isn't in a hotel or some public hall) required religious ritual in Judaism.

It's a ceremony involving contrasts, opposites. We starve (during the sometimes seeming unending recitations and discussions) and we also feast, not only on the festive meal but a number of ritual foods.

Contrasts start with the "four questions" traditionally recited/sung by the youngest capable attendee at the seder:
1. On all other nights we eat bread or matza, while on this night we eat only matza.2. On all other nights we eat all kinds of vegetables and herbs, but on this night we have to eat bitter herbs.3. On all other nights we don't dip our vegetables in salt water, but on this night we dip them twice.4. On all other nights we eat while sitting upright, but on this night we eat reclining. (about.com)
I understand that this is to get the child involved, but the answers aren't very clear and relevant to a child's understanding. I'm a former remedial teacher, and I can't see how "because we were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt..." would make much sense as an answer to why we dip our vegetables in salt water.

Of course the children may and should insist on better answers if dissatisfied with the Seder's text. The next big contrast are the supposed questions of four different types of children. The compilers of the Passover Hagadah recognize that we're all different and so are our children. Also it's important to welcome all Jews to the seder no matter what their level of observance. That is important and very different form many other Jewish rituals which quickly become rejected and forgotten by those who aren't Torah observant. The Passover Seder is one ritual that many people make an effort to observe, even partially, no matter how far they are from Torah living.

Dry Bones
"The four sons," or daughters if you wish, all ask the same basic question but each from his/her perspective.
Four Blessings, Four Children
Blessed is the omnipresent one, blessed be He!Blessed is He who gave the Torah to His people Israel,blessed be He!The Torah speaks of four children: one wise, one wicked, one simple, and one who does not know how to ask. (Chabad)
What does the wise one say?“What are the testimonies, the statutes, and the laws that G‑d, our G‑d, has commanded to you?” (deut. 6:20)What does the wicked one say?“What is this service of yours?!”12 The Simple One—what does he say?“What is this celebration about?”As for The One Who Knows Not How To Ask—you must open up [the conversation] for him. 

Judaism is an open religion in many ways.  We communicate directly with G-d, and we were given Free Will. G-d did not create us to be robots or angels, who can be described as G-d's robots. Human beings were gifted with the abilities to make mistakes, yes, even bad ones, and to repent, do teshuva. Many families contain all versions of these four children.

The ritual meal at the seder opens with a food combination that symbolizes our families, the Jewish People, when we combine the sweet charoset* with the sharp, burning bitter herbs**. First they are eaten together, just the two contrasting foods. And then we (most Jews, at least those who do not have the minhag, custom forbidding matzah to to touch any other food) make a sandwich of it between two pieces of matzah.

When we eat this combination we should remember that G-d loves us all, as a Father. That isn't a green-light to disobey His Laws; it should remind us that G-d wants us to improve ourselves and live according to His Laws.

Chag Kasher v'Sameach to All

*our charoset recipe
chop up apples, walnuts, almonds
mix together and add cinnamon and sweet red wine

**bitter herbs
romaine lettuce and/or horseradish root, which we grate and add a bit of vinegar to keep it potent

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Antisemitism, Jonathan Pollard Still Waiting for Redemption, for his Freedom

Way back when, a gazillion years ago, possibly in the first grade when I went to a young kids Sunday School in Oakland Jewish Center, or if not just two years later in Hebrew School, I learned a rousing song I've sung at almost ever Passover Seder ever since.

Avodim HayinuAtoh binei chorinWe were slaves and now we're free!

Just days before Passover, Pollard was dangled before the State of Israel to bribe our government to endanger the country more and kowtow to terrorist demands.
Indyk tells sides that if deal reached to extend talks, US will consider releasing Israeli agent.
"This is part of the Israeli suggestion which is now being considered by the Palestinian side, while at the same time the US mediator sent a message to Israel - the release of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard from a US prison is still a possibility the US administration will consider, if the sides reach a deal that includes Israel freeing terrorists," the sources said. (Jerusalem Post)
I have a sick feeling that within a short period of time, the Binyamin Netanyahu Government will agree to release the convicted Arab terrorists in exchange for more dangerous policies, just to "talk a deal" with the Americans and the Arabs. No, I didn't make a mistake here. I did mean to write that Israel would get nothing for this concession, just more dangers. What can I say other than the conditions for participating in these American sponsored  pressured "negotiations" are worse than the usual unilateral "deals" we've come up with, such as Disengagement when Israel gave the Gazan terrorists Gush Katif, which required the destruction of Jewish communities, homes, businesses and worse, resulting in making Israel's south a very easy target for Arab terror attacks.

What's behind these inexplicable policies?

On the Israeli side, it must be some insane, psychotic need to please enemies and try to get approval at all cost. And on the American side, the pressure on Israel to agree to policies no American government nor politician would ever allow the USA to be subject to is clearly rooted in antisemitism.
But other college campuses in recent years have been theaters of anti-Israel discussions that occasionally veer toward, or bleed into, condemnations of Jews. And while we don’t have the anti-Semitism in our politics that some European countries do, there’s still bigotry under the surface. There are still caricatures that won’t die. (Frank Bruni)
Antisemitism is getting much stronger in the United States, now cloaked in all sorts of pseudo-moralities and ideologies.

Back to the lyrics of that cute Passover song. The first line is an abridged version of the actual story behind the holiday.
עֲבָדִים הָיִינוּ לְפַרְעֹה בְּמִצְרָיִם
וַיּוֹצִיאֵנוּ ה' אֱלֹהֵינוּ מִשָּׁם בְּיָד חֲזָקָה וּבִזְרוֹעַ נְטוּיָה
Avodim hayinu l'paroh bimitzrayimViyotzi'ainu Hashem misham biyad chazakah uvizroa nituyaWe were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt
G-d took us out with a strong hand and outstretched arm.
The song makes it sound easy, like a piece of cake. We sing as if we did it all ourselves, taking full credit. But the actual story is very different. We exited Egypt because G-d used His Power to defeat our enemies. And that's the lesson we must remember.

Peace, when it comes, will come from G-d, not from man. When we remove the modern Pharaoh from our lives, we will have peace and only then will we know how to free Jonathan Pollard. There's a big question here.  Will Jay Jonathan Pollard live long enough to enjoy life as a free man in the Land of Israel?

Baruch Mizrahi HaY''D, The Latest Jewish Terror Victim

Arab terrorists shot up a Jewish family on their way to the Passover seder in Kiryat Arba.  The father/husband,  Baruch Mizrahi HaY''D, was murdered and his pregnant wife seriously injured.

How are we supposed to trust Arabs and agree to a "peace deal" with them?  Those Arabs have not stopped terrorism against Jews!

Emergency vehicles near the Idna Junction, where a fatal terrorist attack took place right before Pesach.
Emergency vehicles near the Idna Junction, where a fatal terrorist attack took place right before Pesach.
Photo Credit: Tazpit News Agency
The IDF is still searching for the terrorists, and believe this may have been the action of a group of terrorists and not a lone shooter.
PM Netanyahu has blamed the Palestinian Authority for the attack, saying it is a result of their incitement.
Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) said that every terrorist release emboldens the terrorists, and demands the government cancels all future releases, and makes the cancelling of any PA steps at the UN a precondition to continuing any peace talks. (Jewish Press)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Anti-Jewish, Antisemitic Terror Attack in the USA

I woke up with thoughts of the Passover Holiday in my mind. Passover, Pesach, is the Jewish holiday in which we celebrate our escape from slavery to Pharaoh in Egypt. It's all recorded in the Jewish Bible. Yes, our history, the Jewish History is very clear and well-documented.

The Jewish People started here in the HolyLand with Abraham and Sarah. Their grandson, great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren left for Egypt during a famine, only to return after many difficulties, a number of generations later. It took G-d's miracles to help them escape. Now, thousands of years later, we still remember and still celebrate that escape.

Davka, such ironic timing for a terror attack against Jews in Kansas City, Missouri.
During the shooting, he asked people if they were Jewish before shooting at them, witness Rabbi Herbert Mandl told CNN. A total of five people were shot at, but only three were hit. (Jerusalem Post)

Suspect in shooting at two Kansas Jewish centers which left three dead, April 13, 2014.
Jewish Press

The Passover seder, during which we recount that escape, ends with the singing of "L'Shana HaBa b'Yirushalayim," "Next year in Jerusalem."

Nowadays the only thing holding Jews out of the HolyLand are themselves, their priorities.

Israel is a wonderful modern country. I feel safe here. The more Jews who join us, the better it will be. So please stop with your empty words and give those words real meaning. Come to Israel and make it your home.

Chag Pesach Kasher v'Sameach
Have a Happy and Kosher Passover

Sunday, April 13, 2014

'In Every Generation...' A Voice From My Past

As I've mentioned quite a few times, I'm an NCSY success story. Although I came from a Jewish home, in which my parents were always synagogue members, we weren't Torah observant.  Actually, I wasn't even aware during a good portion of my childhood that something was missing. But even later on when I became more aware of the mitzvot,  the positive and negative commandments, I didn't really think that I needed to observe them.

It was only during the 1965 NCSY National Convention Havdalah, the ceremony that separates Shabbat (the Sabbath) from the regular days of the week that somehow Rabbi Pinchas Stolper found the right formula, the right words to break down whatever barrier was holding back my neshama, Jewish Soul. And ever since that night, my life just hasn't been the same.

Here's a recent recording of Rabbi Stolper.

Chag Pesach Kasher v'Sameach
May you have a happy and kosher Passover

Modern King David Fighting the USA Campus Goliath

On Shabbat I read a disturbing open letter in the Jerusalem Post and decided to blog about it. Unfortunately, it's not one of the op-ed on their site. After a mercifully quick google search, I found it someplace else.
FM Avigdor Lieberman.Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
An open letter to the FM
Dear Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and the entire Netanyahu government, I asked you, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, a question this Sunday at the Jerusalem Post’s Annual
Conference in New York. My question, I thought, was simple; “What is the Foreign Ministry of Israel doing to stand with college students, like myself, to fight BDS [Boycott, Divest, Sanction] on campus?”
Your response was nothing but loaded rhetoric downplaying the existential BDS threat and downplaying the attacks against me on my campus for being a Zionist. Perhaps worst of all, you downplayed the anti-Semitic attacks on students across the United States, Europe and soon the world. These attacks exist because we are proud Zionists.
You should have responded with a big fat “nothing,” because the Foreign Ministry of Israel has decided to focus its attention elsewhere. Though it may be more practical to allocate time and resources elsewhere, in doing so, Israel is taking a risk it cannot afford to take. By focusing all of its energy on its adversaries, many of whom will never recognize Israel either on a map or as a Jewish state with a right to exist, Israel is putting the passion of North American Zionists, many of whom are Jews and many of whom are not, on the back burner. This, I believe, is of a greater existential threat than a nuclear-ambitions Iran.
I was not born in Israel. I was not born in an Israeli home in American. I am a Jewish American. But before I am anything, at the most fundamental level of my existence; like Foreign Minister Liberman, like Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, like every soldier my age in the IDF, I am a Zionist. And you, Mr. Foreign Minister, overlooked the fact that, unlike Israelis, I and the thousands of students made the active decision to fight for Israel, a country which has redefined and challenged our perception of what “home” really means.
Though five thousand miles away from Israel, we awake to Israel each morning as we flinch our eyes to see the Israeli flag hanging in its infinite blue beauty above our beds. We do so with pride. Israel is with us as we wake to see the news from the past day in Israel as we slumbered in our secure beds in upstate New York. Though not wearing a Magen David every day, we carry our Zionism on our backs each day, and people try to slander us for it as if “Zionism” is a dirty word.
We are the lost unit of the IDF Spokesman’s Office, we are the story of SUNY (State University of New York) students who stayed up until 5 a.m. to watch the victorious fight against BDS resolutions at UC Berkeley, we are the students who laughed off the libelous labels of being called “imperial genocidal maniacs” by a paid employee of our university. And we carry out these increasingly routine acts of educated-backed passion, not because we are in contract with Israel to do so or because we want accolades; we do it because we are Zionists. Contrary to those closed-minded individuals who say Zionists must live in Israel, the movement of young college students in the States fighting for Israel represents the very core of Zionism. That is, young people doing incredible things for the State of Israel.
You have given us MASA, you have contributed to the founding of Birthright-Taglit and this was your gift to us. We, now, have a gift for you, Mr. Foreign Minister and Mr. Prime Minister. Its called hasbara (public diplomacy). It’s free, it’s our duty, it’s our calling, it’s our obligation and it’s our gift to you and the Jewish state and the flag we awake to every morning.
What do you think?

Personally I must say that I'm glad that there are loyal Zionist Jews on campus who are trying hard to defend the State of Israel against our massive, dangerous enemies who mask themselves in pseudo-academics, euphemisms, pseudo-history and perverse morality. I bless Justin Hayet with the power and determinism and charisma, which he'll need to not only succeed but to survive unscathed. I invite him to Shiloh to breathe in the holy air and inspiration that keeps me going. Further searching shows that he wrote a previous article which can be found in the Jerusalem Post's site, My university won’t stand up for Israel.

Fighters like Justin Hayet are no less important than soldiers in the IDF and all those so-called professional hasbara workers. I see Hayet as a modern King David who is willing to fight Goliath. His approaching Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is very much like when King David tried on the armor offered by the quivering and fearful King Saul. King David rejected the armor. The Biblical King David knew that he would only succeed if G-d made him a miracle. He needed a low-tech, low budget weapon, and that's why he took his five stones. And the young King David succeeded in executing Goliath.

I've been a blogger for years and also very involved with the international Jewish blog carnival, Havel Havelim. Maybe the key today is something similar using social media. Trying to get the Foreign Ministry to chip in may be as unproductive as King David found the armor King Saul had offered him.

All I can say to Justin Hayet is not to give up!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Jewish Ethnic Customs, Sefard vs Ashkenaz, Maybe Cancel Them All

Unfortunately Passover, Pesach is a very divisive holiday. There are just too many customs celebrated/observed so differently that sometimes even members of the same family won't eat at the same table.  Thank G-d it lasts only a week, because the second most divisive issue, Shmitta, Sabbatical year, can cause problems for years. I find that one so traumatic, I can hardly even get myself to blog about it.

There are two large problematic issues during Pesach, the biggest being kitniyot, aka legumes, but not exactly in the botanical sense. There are non-kitniyot eaters who do eat the derivatives, such as soy oil, though not the beans. The basic divide is between Ashkenaz (European) and Eidot Mizrach (North African) Jews, or those whose paternal lines, ancestors lived in those exiles when the customs took hold.

Ashkenaz Jews are forbidden fresh as well as dried versions of the vegetables such as peas, rice, lentils etc, but the Eidot Mizrach have a wide variety of customs depending on which rabbinic sources they follow. Our Tunisian family members eat all sorts of fresh and dried legumes and rice after multiple checking, while Moroccan neighbors are forbidden rice and some of the legumes.

In recent years there are more and more Asheknazi families who have decided whether from convenience or conviction to adopt Sephardi custom on Pesach. Rabbi David Bar-Hayim of Machon Shilo (no connection to the Shiloh where I live) has been pushing for this unifying move for quite a few years.

The basic premise of Rabbi Bar-Hayim is that when investigating the history of the minhag, custom he discovered that the most prominent rabbis of the time the custom began opposed it. They considered it a mistake. Therefore he considers it permissible and preferable to stop this incorrect practice. The big problem is that he is in a very small minority. It would take the agreement of a number of highly respected poskim, rabbinic deciders to take his very interesting points reality.

photo credit
My feeling is that cancelling divisive ethnic customs should be an all or nothing decision, especially since there are many Jewish families like my own with more than one ethnic tradition-custom. It's very common nowadays, especially in Israel for families to be multi-ethnic, Ashkenaz and a few Eidot Mizrach all mixed up. When my daughter and her Tunisian family come on Passover, they bring rice. It's permitted for them, neither chametz nor treif (non-kosher) so I don't mind it on the table. And when we visit them on Passover, the food is cooked according to Ashkenaz custom so we may eat it all.

G-d willing, all of these divisive customs will soon be history with the Coming of the Moshiach bimhairah biyamanu, speedily in our days...

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Rabbi Riskin and Ohr Torah Stone Host Missionary Joel Rosenberg at Lincoln Square Synagogue with Shocking Consequences

Posted by Jewishisrael.com

Chief Rabbi of Efrat, Shlomo Riskin, recently shared the podium at New York’s West Side Lincoln Square Synagogue with Christian missionary Joel Rosenberg in an interfaith theological exchange sponsored by Ohr Torah Stone’s Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC).
The event was a coup for Rosenberg who openly and enthusiastically supports the proselytizing of Jews.
Even more disturbing is the enormous promotional boost Rabbi Riskin has given to major missionary organizations such as Chosen People Ministries (CPM), which closely rivals Jews for Jesus in the race to convert Jewish souls
Rabbi Riskin’s interfaith discussion clearly demonstrates is that there is a direct and disturbing link between dialoguing with evangelical leaders and empowering the missionary agenda directed at Jews....more

Shiloh HaKeduma, Tel Shiloh, Events, Passover and Rosh Chodesh

Shiloh, where the ancient משכן Mishkan, Tabernacle had stood for almost four hundred years and was the pilgrimage site for the Jewish People, is again alive with Jewish visitors and Jewish Prayers. In recent years there has been a big festival at Shilo Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh, every Passover and Succot Chol Hamoed with lots of activities, crafts, street theater, tours etc. for all ages. And every Rosh Chodesh, the beginning of the Jewish Month, women gather to pray together.

Since people have been asking me what's planned for this Passover, which is soon, only next week, here's the official poster:

If you can't understand the Hebrew, it'll be Wednesday and Thursday 16-17/4 from 9am to 6pm. The photos will give you a good idea of the sorts of activities offered. There's usually a way to go by chartered bus from all over the country, so call the number on the poster for more information.

And since by the time Pesach is over, it's almost the end of the month of Nissan, I'd like to remind women that they are invited to join our Rosh Chodesh Prayer Group.

Next month is Iyar, and we have special plans for a brunch after the prayers at the Tel Shiloh, You'll have to reserve for the brunch (email shilohmuse at gmail dot com subject Rosh Chodesh Iyar) so we know for how many to prepare, but the prayers don't need reservations.

Women's Prayers at Tel ShilohRosh Chodesh Iyar
Thursday, May 1, 2014
1st of Iyar 5774, 8:30am
Tour of Tel Shiloh & Dvar Torah, Short Torah Lesson
Please come and invite family, friends and neighbors

תפילת נשיםראש חודש אייר בתל שילה
יום ה' 1-5 א' אייר תשע"ד 8:30
יהיה דבר תורה קצר וסיור בתל
 כדאי לבוא ולהזמין חברות, משפחה ושכנות
Mark your calendar, and join us.

You're welcome to join our facebook page. Tel Shiloh is open to visitors daily. Tours can be arranged through the Shiloh HaKeduma, Ancient Shiloh office. Email visit@telshilo.org.il  or phone 02-994-4019.

This isn't a "women's minyan," although we do sing the Hallel prayer out-loud together.

Shiloh is a popular tourist site and recognized by all authorities as the actual location of the Biblical Shiloh. It was at Shiloh where the Biblical Hannah successfully prayed for a son. He was the Prophet Samuel, who was instrumental in transitioning the Jewish People, first a tribal nation, into a kingdom and anointed the first two Jewish Kings, Saul and David.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Community Alert: Israeli Grassroots Organizations and Leaders Collaborating with Missionaries Targeting Jews

 Posted by JewishIsrael.com

 Focus: Larry Huch and Daystar TV

In recent months, JewishIsrael has met with a number of Jewish community leaders in Israel in an attempt to prevent these leaders’ further collaboration with active missionaries who are operating in the Jewish state. To their credit, a number of these leaders have cut ties with such problematic missionary entities. Yet others have chosen to disregard JewishIsrael’s concerns.

As an example, Larry Huch Ministries has had recent and substantial dealings with a number of Israeli institutions, including prominent grassroots Zionist organizations and business entrepreneurs.

Huch’s programs are a part of Daystar TV's messianic line-up which broadcasts in Israel. Daystar owns a studio in Israel and has made it clear that its intention is to get their message about jesus christ "into every home in the land of Israel 24-hours-a-day, 7 days a week." 

And yet Jewish community and political leaders in both Israel and Diaspora continue to use Daystar as a conduit to get their message out...more

(see related video)

Very Rarely Happy Endings When Jewish Women (Girls) Marry Arabs

Yad L'Achim publicizes its success stories for their public relations and fundraising, like the recent one about the halachikly Jewish boy's Bar Mitzvah.
 Yad L'Achim site
Boy Rescued from Arab Village Celebrates Bar Mitzvah at Kosel

The Bar Mitzvah boy who stepped up to the Torah at the Kosel last week in a moving ceremony was living as a Muslim until just a few months ago.The boy's mother moved to an Arab village two decades ago, after converting to Islam. Her abusive husband forbade her from contacting any of the other women in the village, or even from stepping foot outside her home. A short while ago, she found the courage to contact Yad L'Achim and begged to be rescued.
They need to do this, and they need to do their work, but the rescued families don't always live "happily ever after," and they don't always end up to live as Jews.  I certainly have nothing against Yad L'Achim and their amazing, daring and important work, but it's never enough to just rescue and then try to deprogram and help the Jewish women and their children. They are not always able to adjust to Jewish lives. That sad, tragic fact must be recognized.

My sources have told me that the percentage of women and their children who actually remain Jewish after their dramatic rescues is terribly small. You won't find that on any of the sites of organizations that help these women and their children. A less well-known organization is Daughters of Israel, which claims an 85% success rate, but I've heard that in general the statistics are the opposite.

L'havdil, to differentiate, just think of the return to chu"l abroad rate of olim, immigrants to Israel and the need for many immigrants to live and socialize near people of their own sort of background. For the rescued women and their children, living as Jews, Jewish Israelis after, years, a lifetime as a Muslim Arab may be pretty much impossible.

Who are we to judge, when a child, or young adult who is born and raised as a Muslim Arab in a strong society can't transform him/herself into an Israeli Jew? Think of the Jewish children during the Holocaust who were given for safekeeping to non-Jews and then found it impossible to accept that they are really Jewish afterwards. It's a terrible tragedy for the Jewish People!  Understanding these difficulties doesn't mean that I accept their giving up on their Judaism.

Which types of women are most vulnerable?  I have some thoughts about that, too, but they will have to wait for another post.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Are The American Pressured "Peace" sic Talks Really Kaput?

Our security here in the Land of Israel declines with every "peace" sic agreement. Soon after the 1967 Six Days War, Israeli  (and all) Jews could visit, wander, shop freely and safely in Arab towns, villages and cities all over.  But since there's a very strange perverse meaning of "peace" going on here, the aim of international "mediators" and Israeli Leftists has been to establish an apartheid system that severely restricts Jewish access and involvement in any locale that has Arabs.

Sorry, Charley, but that isn't true peace.

We had peace when the Arabs in the summer of 1967 admitted defeat, but instead of Israel making that surrender unconditional and permanent, successive governments have worked outrageously hard to invent a new Arab leadership and identity to be our "peace partner."

All this has done for us Jewish Israelis has been to encourage Arab terrorism against Jews and destabilize the area.

The world, which is for whatever reason innately antisemitic has been pushing this "peace process" for over forty years, and Israeli leaders, starving for love and allies, keep on cooperating.  Of course the Arabs just claim to cooperate. They hold out for more and more concessions which keep on weakening and endangering Israel.

The Israeli "red line" keeps on moving Left and has almost moved totally off the chart. Just now, there is talk in Israel of ceasing these negotiations, most recently mediated/orchestrated by United States Secretary of State John Kerry. I wish I could be confident that the talks for a "deal" will really end. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu doesn't really have the guts to do it.
"The crisis continues. During the whole meeting, the Israelis threatened the Palestinians and no solution to the crisis was found," AFP quoted a Palestinian official as saying. The remarks came after US envoy Martin Indyk met with Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and Israel’s negotiator, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, in hopes of finding a way to break the impasse. (Jerusalem Post)
I don't know what it will take, besides an out and out war. And even if that happens, which will be very brutal and deadly, I don't know if Israeli leadership will be willing to admit that it was caused by the weakness they have been displaying for decades in their quest for peace at any price.

Peace can't be bought, nor can it be negotiated! There can only be peace, true peace, when the aggressors have a total change of aims and want peace.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, made the following remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting:
"In recent months the State of Israel has conducted negotiations with the Palestinians in order to reach a peace agreement. Israelis expect peace, a genuine peace, in which our vital national interests are assured, with security first and foremost. During these talks we carried out difficult steps and showed a willingness to continue implementing moves that were not easy, in the coming months as well, in order to create a framework that would allow for putting an end to the conflict between us. Just as we were about to enter into that framework for the continuation of the negotiations, Abu Mazen hastened to declare that he is not prepared even to discuss recognizing Israel as the national state of the Jewish People, which we have made clear to both the President of the United States and to other world leaders as well.
To my regret as we reached the moment before agreeing on the continuation of the talks, the Palestinian leadership hastened to unilaterally request to accede to 14 international treaties. Thus the Palestinians substantially violated the understandings that were reached with American involvement. The Palestinians' threats to appeal to the UN will not affect us. The Palestinians have much to lose by this unilateral move. They will achieve a state only by direct negotiations, not by empty statements and not by unilateral moves. These will only push a peace agreement farther away and unilateral steps on their part will be met with unilateral steps on our part. We are ready to continue the talks but not at any price."

Did Bibi get it right or is he just posturing as part of his negotiations stance?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Jonathan Pollard, the Dying Pawn

Unfortunately, Jay Jonathan Pollard has been forced to suffer almost three full decades of imprisonment already for a crime that the American justice system normally considers relatively minor. Officially, technically, he passed secret material to an ally, Israel. There isn't all that much of those sorts of crimes in American history. Generally, "spies" pass secrets to enemies.  And most get much, much, much lighter and shorter sentences than Pollard got.
Table I: American Allies
  • Jonathan Pollard is the only person in the history of the United States to receive a life sentence for spying for an American ally.
  • On November 21, 2013, Pollard entered the 29th year of his life sentence, with no end in sight.
  • The maximum sentence today for such an offence is 10 years.
  • The median sentence for this offence is 2 to 4 years.
So it is very obvious that there's some other element involved in his punishment. It's pretty clear that his being Jewish and his giving the information to Israel added badly to his punishment/sentence. Also, American Jews who work in similar positions are subject to much more rigorous security checks and promotion difficulties than any other religious or ethnic group. I've received reports that they are treated as possible enemies, and it's blamed on Pollard.

More and more prominent Americans are admitting that there's a miscarriage of justice here and that Pollard should be released and not held hostage by the Americans and not used as a bribe to force Israel to agree to dangerous concessions. The Pollard case shouldn't be connected to any other issue. He served more than his time and should be free.

Hat tip Arutz 7

Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of both the CIA and the NSA, is against a plan to release convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in return for Israeli concessions with the Palestinians.
"On so many levels, this just doesn’t feel right. This is just weird. It looks like it smacks of desperation on the part of the United States and our secretary of state to do anything in order to keep this peace process alive. You know, that's a really unsettling fact," he told Newsmax TV's John Bachman and J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" Tuesday.
Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/Hayden-Pollard-prisoner-desperation/2014/04/01/id/563058#ixzz2y4qCHINe 

Ht tip IMRA

Shay Charko, Makor Rishon - April 4, 2014
In the meantime, Pollard's health is deteriorating, and there is less and less of a chance he will leave American jail alive.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Lapid and Livni Still Think Abbas May Want Peace

This is very dangerous. It's so very clear to everyone with open, eyes and ears that the P.A.'s  is not at all interested in anything resembling true peace with the State of Israel, and we should just cease all cooperation with the Americans in negotiating.

Yair Lapid and Tsippi Livni are senior members of the Netanyahu coalition. They aren't in some minor Leftist opposition party. Lapid is Finance Minister and Livni is "Minister for Peace Negotiations," a specially tailored ministry for her to push for "peace" sic.
Livni called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to "prove that he is a partner" for peace.
"We are in a crisis," she said. "What happened in the last week will need to be repaired." (Jerusalem Post)
So I guess she'd be without a job if she admitted the truth.

Livni reminds me of Cinderella's ugly stepsister trying to fit her big fat foot into the glass slipper.

Too bad this isn't a joke!

No matter how hard Livni and the Americans try, they can never really turn Mahmoud Abbas into a real peace partner.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Bibi's Biggest Blunder

I hate to say this, but the State of Israel is now snared in a trap of its own making.

Getting out of it will not be easy, but it will be better than continuing in this undoubtedly dangerous situation. The Obama-Kerry "mediated" sic "peace talks," as they're referred to by Israelis, aren't really peace talks. They are a planning committee for the establishment of a new Arab state in the Biblical, historic heartland of Israel. That is the ultimate aim of both the Americans and the Arabs led by Mahmoud Abbas.

That's why Abbas has found it fitting to thumb his nose at the Americans and just behave as a "state leader," making all sorts of international agreements and signing all sorts of papers. He knows perfectly well that there's hardly a country or international body who cares whether or not the Americans have formally crowned him as President of Palestine. Being President of the Palestinian Authority is good enough for them.

De facto, the minute Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu agreed to these negotiations which pitted himself against Abbas, as equals, with the Americans shuttling between them, Abbas got what he wanted. He's considered Bibi's equal. That means that he and his cronies are a state/national government.

Even worse, and something that shouldn't be ignored, is that for many countries, the recognition of the "state of Palestine" is close to thirty years old.
The international recognition of the State of Palestine has been the objective of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence proclaimed the establishment of the State of Palestine on 15 November 1988 in Algiers at an extraordinary session in exile of the Palestine National Council......As of 27 September 2013, 134 (69.4%) of the 193 member states of the United Nations have recognized the State of Palestine. Many of the countries that do not recognize the State of Palestine nevertheless recognize the PLO as the "representative of the Palestinian people". On 29 November 2012, the UN General Assembly passed a motion changing Palestine's "entity" status to "non-member observer state" by a vote of 138 to 9, with 41 abstentions.[3][4][5][6] (Wikipedia)
Countries that have recognized the State of Palestine.
We never would have gotten into this mess if Israeli politicians, especially Binyamin Netanyahu hadn't endorsed the "two state solution," which requires/includes recognition of Palestinian statehood sic.

For many years, davka, Netanyahu, a historian from the cradle, insisted that there was no such thing as a Palestinian people. But then he decided to move to the political Center of the Israeli spectrum and announced that he recognized that dangerous principle fantasy, the "two state solution."
"In my vision of peace," he said, "in this small land of ours, two peoples live freely, side-by-side, in amity and mutual respect, each with its own flag and national anthem."
At Israel's Bar–Ilan University, which is known as a hot house for Israel's right wing political class, Netanyahu outlined his conditions for the eventual creation of a Palestinian state.
"The territory controlled by the Palestinians will be demilitarized, namely without an army, without control of its airspace and with effective security measures to prevent weapons smuggling," he said. (ABC)
ABC News Photo Illustration

From then on, everything has gone downhill for Israel. Bibi's crackpot idea that he could limit the form of statehood for the Arabs is a unrealistic as trying to sweep floodwaters into a corner and expect the water to stay still.

We must get out that this diplomatic and security mess. I have no illusions. It won't be easy. It will take, determination, guts and the confidence that Israel can survive on its own. That's how we began our state in 1948. The truth is that we had no real allies. The countries that voted at the infant newly established United Nations for a Jewish State didn't actually help us on the ground. Our only real ally was G-d Almighty plus various Jews and the odd non-Jew who could see the miracles happening and wanted to join G-d's team.

One can compare divesting of this policy to a cancer-ridden patient trying chemotherapy, which causes him/her to ingest poisons which kill both the cancer cells and healthy ones. For a time the patient seems to be getting worse, but then after the cancer cells die, the healthy ones take over and he/she lives.

  • Prime Minister Netanyahu must declare the "two state solution" a terrible mistake and disengage from all negotiations.
  • Full Israeli sovereignty must be declared and activated over all of the Lands and territories Israel liberated in the 1967 Six Days War which we still control. (Obviously there's nothing we can do about the Sinai which was given to Egypt by Menachem Begin.)
If the Gazan terrorists attack from Gush Katif, then we must defend ourselves and attack back until they surrender. And then we take over!

This is the only way we will have true peace!!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Time has Come to Admit That There's No Peace in The Horizon

I am so sick and tired of these useless and dangerous "peace sic talks" that the United States Obama and Kerry have been pushing down our throats. Arlene Kushner describes it well:
The Insanity DeepensThe genesis of the current tangled situation was a major disagreement between Israel and the PA with regard to the release of that last group of 26 pre-Oslo prisoners.
Israel had information that it was the intention of the PA to celebrate the release of this last group and then walk out on negotiations and head to the UN and international tribunals:
“Erekat himself stated last month that Abbas was staying in talks solely for the sake of the terrorist releases.”
If we can see the dangers and absurdities, then why can't Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his government? Well, actually one government minister, the Minister of Defense Moshe Bogie Ya'alon did criticize the American brokered pressured faux peace sic talks and has been condemned by the Americans and chastised by some Israelis. Sarah Honig explains Obama's response to Bogie very well.
Despite his resplendent liberal credentials, Obama’s concept of liberty is a tad constricted. Everyone – everywhere on the face of this planet and beyond – is perfectly free to go into raptures over him but it’s a whole different opera when not-so-flattering opinions are sounded.
Obama, his appointed sidekicks and salaried mouthpieces resent criticism. Plain and simple.
Quite clearly, the US president and secretary of state don’t subscribe to George Orwell’s ever-relevant observation that “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
Remember that truly intelligent and honest people are always willing to listen and learn. That sure eliminates most politicians.

Simply put, if the P.A.'s  Abbas really wanted peace, then he'd easily find ways to compromise and there would be the beginnings of peace between the Arabs here and Israel. But the truth is that he and his fellow Arabs are just looking for more and more ways to weaken the State of Israel so that they can destroy us. And you don't have to be a Jewish Israeli to see that.  Read Arabs No Longer Take Obama Administration Seriously in Israel Resource Review by Khaled Abu Toameh.
Image source: U.S. Sate Department
A top Arab diplomat was quoted as saying that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry contacted Arab leaders on the eve of their 25th summit in Kuwait to "warn" them against rejecting Israel as a Jewish state.
Kerry, according to the diplomat, asked the Arab leaders completely to ignore the issue of Israel's Jewishness and not to make any positive or negative reference to it in their final statement.
Kerry did not want the Arab heads of state to repeat the same "mistake" that the Arab League foreign ministers made on March 9, when they too issued a statement declaring their refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
The Arab leaders, however, decided to ignore Kerry's warning and went on to endorse Palestinian Authority [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas's refusal.
If Obama really wants world peace, he should start in the United States of America. Fort Hood was again the site of murderous shooting spree.
(Reuters) - A U.S. soldier shot dead three people and injured at least 16 on Wednesday before taking his own life at an Army base in Fort Hood, Texas, the site of another deadly rampage in 2009, U.S. officials said.
This sort of attack is most dangerous, because it's so hard to predict.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Menachem Begin's Palestinian "Genie;" It All Started With "Autonomy"

Way back when, almost thirty-eight years ago, when Israel's great electoral "Mahapach," electoral upheaval of 1977 happened and Menachem Begin's Likud was elected to power the very first time after twenty-nine years of Labor rule, absolutely nobody expected davka him to make revolutionary policy decisions that would facilitate the establishment of a Palestinian State in the very heart of the Historic Biblical Jewish Land of Israel.  Sorry for that very long opening sentence...

Yes, the supposedly Right, pro-Jewish rights in the Land of Israel Menachem Begin's revolutionary "give the Arabs autonomy" policy opened the door to the security and diplomatic Hell that the State of Israel now suffers.
Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat (L) helps Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as he signs international conventions during a meeting with Palestinian leadership in the West Bank City of Ramallah April 1, 2014. CREDIT: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN
Until Begin began his policy of withdrawing from Land liberated in the 1967 Six Days War, today's scenario was totally unthinkable.

While Menachem Begin had been in the Opposition, the Leftist Labor leadership never dared proposing withdrawing from any of the Land and certainly not destroying Jewish communities. But just over a decade after Israel's totally miraculous victory in the 1967 Six Days War, Begin not only handed Egypt's Sadat the Sinai on a silver platter, he turned thousands of Israelis into refugees, giving away their homes, communities, businesses and farms.

I'll never forget the bombastic statements he made afterwards claiming that this decision will preserve Israeli rights to the rest of the Land of Israel and his promises that the new communities established in places like Gush Katif were guaranteed as permanent and Israeli.  But we all know what happened since then. Begin's successors in the Likud, Arik Sharon and Ehud Olmert came up with Disengagement and destroyed those very "replacement" communities in Gush Katif.

Even worse, the pressure on Israel to withdraw from Judea, Samaria and neighborhoods in Jerusalem have only gotten stronger.

Evil Genie
Another part of Begin's revolutionary policy, giving the Arabs "autonomy" has already turned them into a de facto and in many cases now a de jure country called Palestine.
(Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed more than a dozen international conventions on Tuesday, citing anger at Israel's delay of a prisoner release in a decision that jeopardized U.S. efforts to salvage fragile peace talks.
That Palestine "genie" has grown and can't be controlled. It will take a very brave and strong Israel to destroy it. Unfortunately, I don't see any Israeli politicians with the guts to do it.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Is Jay Jonathan Pollard Willing to be a Pawn?

I've had my doubts about Jonathan Pollard's agreeing with conditions of silence for his release from American jail. Of course, he may have mellowed, or he may be so sickly he does't have the strength to speak out. But I just can't imagine that the Americans and the Israelis will want the world to know what Jay Jonathan Pollard thinks.

Remember that when he and his wife Anne had realized that they were in trouble, they went to the Israeli Embassy for shelter, refuge and they were refused. They were handed over to the Americans. Anne Henderson Pollard has been in Israel on and off over the years trying to make a new life for herself.

How angry is Jonathan Pollard?

The latest report is that he does not want to be exchanged for hundreds of Arab terrorists. He doesn't like that equivalency. And I don't blame him.

There are reports that he refused to attend the prerequisite required parole hearing.
Jonathan Pollard may have ditched the deal in the making by which the Obama administration would free him from his life sentence in a U.S. federal prison cell if Israel agrees to release terrorists “with blood on their hands” along with several other security prisoners
Patricia Smoot, a member of the U.S. Parole Commission, said on Tuesday that Pollard has waived a planned parole hearing for the same day, the Associated Press reported. (Jewish Press)
Will Pollard stay in jail?

If Pollard is released will he join the many voices condemning the deal the Americans are trying to push Israel to take?
3) Israel will release the fourth batch of 26 Palestinians convicted of terror acts before the 1993 Oslo Accords. Some Israeli-Arabs will be included in the release, although it is not yet certain how many.
4) Israel will release an additional 400 Palestinian prisoners during the continuing negotiation period. These prisoners will be picked by Israel, will include many minors and women, and will not include those with "blood on their hands."
5) Israel will "exercise restraint" in releasing government tenders for new homes in the West Bank, meaning that it will issue no new government tenders for housing in Judea and Samaria. This policy will not include Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem beyond the Green Line. This policy will also exclude public building projects such as roads. Israel has rejected a total settlement freeze. (Jerusalem Post)
Why doesn't Bibi have the guts to just tell the USA to "%%^&*^%^$%^&**#$!!?"

Olmert Convicted, Teflon Finally Off

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has finally been convicted of corruption. Olmert, a brilliant politician and master at manipulation and charm had seemed too clever to catch for a very long time.
With a thundering ruling that will shake the country, Judge David Rozen also convicted former Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski, former Bank Hapoalim Chairman Dan Dankner, Olmert's former chief-of-staff Shula Zaken and, in total, 10 out of 13 individual defendants (3 defendants are corporations.)
...In the Holyland trial,  Olmert was accused of accepting over NIS 1.5 million in bribes (out of around NIS 9 million given to public officials in total), either directly or through Zaken or his brother Yossi to smooth over various legal and zoning obstacles. The allegations relate to the 1993-mid 2000s period while Olmert was mayor of Jerusalem and Minister of Infrastructure, Trade and Industry. (Jerusalem Post)
The Pied Piper of Israeli politics took along a lot of people with him.

Ehud Olmert's conviction was a surprise, and that's not because the Israeli public didn't suspect that the charges were true. It was a surprise, because he earned the loyalty and support of his staff by his hard work, friendliness and those "small touches," which could be found in American "how to succeed" books. I know this from people who have worked with him over the years. When he was Mayor of Jerusalem, he made a point of speaking to the municipal employees and giving them the impressionism that he cared about them and their jobs. He worked late hours, not just delegating and showing up for photo-ops.

When the law changed, and he couldn't simultaneously serve as MK and Mayor, he had his staff write thank-you notes to all Knesset employees from librarians to toilet cleaners. He was always available to the various staff people, even when Prime Minister and then forced to resign due to the corruption charges, to pose for pictures with them. Even during this long trying trial, he was amazingly friendly and interested in the lives of those assigned to his detail. As former Prime Minister, the government still provided him with a staff.

For those who couldn't understand why it took his long-time secretary, Shula Zakin, so long to agree to testify against Olmert, you have to understand how this behavior to others created strong loyalty.  It wasn't until Zakin finally realized that Olmert was not returning this loyalty that she made her deal with the prosecution. No doubt that if she had done it in the earlier stages of the investigation, she would have gotten a much lighter sentence.

In the political world à la Olmert, people took for granted that his way was the way it was done, and that's how so many are involved and convicted. No doubt there should be more.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Two Week Countdown to Passover, Chodesh Nissan Tov!

Tomorrow is Rosh Chodesh Nissan, the first of the Jewish Month of Nissan, which also commemorates the very first Mitzvah, Commandment G-d gave to the People of Israel as a nation.
Nissan is the first month on the Jewish calendar. Before the Jews left Egypt, on the first day of the month of Nissan, G‑d told Moses and Aaron: “This chodesh(new moon, or month) shall be to you the head of months.”4 Thus the peculiarity of the Jewish calendar: the year begins on Rosh Hashanah, the first day of the month of Tishrei (the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve), but Tishrei is not the first month. Rosh Hashanah is actually referred to in the Torah as “the first day of the seventh month.”5
G-d willing, I'll be joining with a number of women from all over the country to pray together at Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh.

I've been doing this for many years already. Shiloh is a very traditional place for prayer in Jewish History and tradition, especially for women. There is a very well-known story in the Bible about Chana (Hannah) who prayed there for a son. This son was not to be for her personal maternal needs. She prayed for a son who would be apprenticed to the Priests in the Mishkan, Tabernacle at Shiloh and then lead the Jewish People to the next stage, when he would anoint a king.

Chana's son Shmuel, Samuel, was born after she had prayed in Shiloh. He was trained by Eli the High Priest and then ended up anointing not only the first king, Saul, but King David, too. King David's dynasty is the most important in Jewish History. The Moshiach, Messiah will come from his descendants.

Women's Rosh Chodesh Prayers are every Rosh Chodesh, 8:30am at Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh. We don't do a "women's minyan," but we do sing the Hallel Prayer together. We also tour the archaeological site and hear Divrei Torah, Torah lessons. More information can be found on this blog, Shiloh Musings.

Shiloh Hakeduma is the actual site of the Biblical Shiloh. You're welcome to join our facebook page. Tel Shiloh is open to visitors daily. Tours can be arranged through the Shiloh HaKeduma, Ancient Shiloh office. Email visit@telshilo.org.il  or phone 02-994-4019.