Friday, 24 April 2009

DoubleTapper: What Obama has in store for Israel

TEL AVIV — A classified assessment relayed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Obama and his senior advisers would incrementally diminish U.S. strategic cooperation with Israel developed over the last 20 years.
"Obama wants to make friends with our worst enemies and until now the worst enemies of the United States," an Israeli source familiar with the intelligence assessment said.
"Under this policy, we are more than irrelevant. We have become an obstacle."
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DoubleTapper: What Obama has in store for Israel

Israel Matzav: Video: Simon sez 'open sesame'

Video: Simon sez 'open sesame'

The Israelis have developed an explosive M-16-fired "dart" that can bust doors down from 30 yards away, this device will be a hit with SWAT teams the world around.
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Israel Matzav: Video: Simon sez 'open sesame'

Israel Matzav: 'Nasrallah is a despicable sheikh, a lowlife sheikh' say... Egyptian government editors

Israel Matzav: 'Nasrallah is a despicable sheikh, a lowlife sheikh' say... Egyptian government editors

Israel Matzav: Dutch parliament passes measure blocking all dialogue with Hamas

Dutch parliament passes measure blocking all dialogue with Hamas

On Tuesday, the Dutch parliament passed a measure blocking all dialogue between government officials and the Hamas terror organization. The measure was proposed by Raymond de Roon, who is number 3 on Geert Wilders' party's list.

In the motion, de Roon requested the government "ensure the terrorist organization Hamas is excluded from any international debate or governance forum," a party spokesperson told Haaretz.

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Israel Matzav: Dutch parliament passes measure blocking all dialogue with Hamas

Israel Matzav: Yad Vashem fires guide who compared Holocaust to 'naqba'

Israel Matzav: Yad Vashem fires guide who compared Holocaust to 'naqba'

Israel Matzav: US bill for Durban II: $814,000

US bill for Durban II: $814,000

The United States paid $814,000 for its share of the hatefest known as "Durban II," according to a report in Thursday's Jerusalem Post.

The gathering, dubbed "Durban II," has cost $5.3 million, including preparatory conferences, spokesman Ramu Damodaran told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

About $1.6m. of that has come from direct donations from individual countries, but the lion's share - $3.7m. - was funded from the regular budget of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Damodaran said.
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Israel Matzav: US bill for Durban II: $814,000

Israel Matzav: Iran and the 'Palestinians': Separate or connected

Iran and the 'Palestinians': Separate or connected?

On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that Israel has decided to tie progress on the 'Palestinian' issue to progress on stopping Iran's nuclear program.

The new Israeli government will not move ahead on the core issues of peace talks with the Palestinians until it sees progress in U.S. efforts to stop Iran's suspected pursuit of a nuclear weapon and limit Tehran's rising influence in the region, according to top government officials familiar with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's developing policy on the issue.

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Israel Matzav: Iran and the 'Palestinians': Separate or connected?

Israel Matzav: Good advice for Obama on Iran

Good advice for Obama on Iran

One can only hope and pray that President Obama will listen to advice like this, even if its source is an Israeli think tank.

The Iranians have already made a significant gain, when the US more than hinted that there would be no prior linkage between negotiations and the suspension of enrichment activities. The Iranians are famous for their tactics in playing for time. The US must not fall into that trap. Therefore, President Obama must set himself a time limit even if he does not disclose it to anyone. One can understand why a public disclosure could be seen as presenting Iran with an ultimatum and, given the Iranian sense of pride, greatly diminish the possibility of reaching an agreement. In setting the time limit, the President must remember that any time gained by the Iranians during the negotiation process would be used to further advance their project. In addition, one must bear in mind that nothing would induce the Iranians to "rollback", and demolish any achievement, in materials or facilities, as a part of any agreement. This could only come about by a profound change in the Iranian regime, and even then this is not certain.

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Israel Matzav: Good advice for Obama on Iran

Israel Matzav: Hamas members ordered to stay in uniform, but hiding in hospitals okay

Hamas members ordered to stay in uniform, but hiding in hospitals okay

Hamas is trying to regroup after the pasting it took in Operation Cast Lead. The group was disappointed that it did not achieve any of its objectives for that conflict: Kidnap an Israeli soldier, shoot down an Israeli helicopter or jet, or destroy an Israeli tank. To that end, it has been smuggling new missiles into the Gaza Strip through some 160 tunnels from Sinai into the narrow Strip. The tunnels aren't exactly what you're thinking either.

Militants currently have 160 tunnels beneath the Sinai border that they are using to smuggle longer range rockets, anti-tank missiles and perhaps even anti-aircraft missiles, security sources say. Some of the tunnels are large and sturdy enough to let small all-terrain vehicles pass.
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Israel Matzav: Hamas members ordered to stay in uniform, but hiding in hospitals okay

Israel Matzav: Loving that British nuance

Loving that British nuance

Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal was due to address British MP's via a video hookup arranged by 'independent' MP Clare Short and Liberal Democratic peer Lord Alderdice (Hat Tip: NY Nana) on Wednesday. Israel's ambassador to England Ron Prosor accuses Short of delivering a 'slap in the face' to 'moderate' 'Palestinians' who 'seek peace.'

Ambassador Ron Prosor said: "Hamas's charter states categorically that: 'There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad'.
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Israel Matzav: Loving that British nuance

Israel Matzav: Chavez's next summit

Chavez's next summit

Fresh off his warm handshake with US President Barack Hussein Obama in Trinidad last week, Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez will be meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Caracas on May 10.

Ahmadinejad wil visit with Chavez in Caracas on May 10, in an effort to improve “bilateral cooperation.”
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Israel Matzav: Chavez's next summit


Our leaders must clearly tell US that two-state solution not in our best interest.

Yoel Meltzer
29 Nissan 5796/April 23, 2009

With the American leadership intensifying its demand that Israel accept the “two-state solution,” the slogan “just say no” used by former first lady Nancy Reagan as part of the 1980s campaign against adolescent drug abuse keeps popping into my head. Although perhaps overly simplistic, many argue that her words went a long way in raising awareness to the problem. At this time, our present leadership would do well to adopt the same slogan.

Esser Agaroth - Just Say No


Amos Harel, who's a serious journalist who knows his stuff, listened carefully to the IDF officers reporting yesterday, and came away only partially convinced:

The five detailed Israel Defense Forces investigations into Operation Cast Lead reflect a meticulous focus on the trees, and a stubborn refusal to discuss the forest. The probes lasted three months, and were thorough and extensive, but they failed to give convincing answers to some substantive issues regarding the Gaza offensive.

For more than two hours, a group of senior officers presented the findings to the media. The IDF has many good responses for the accusations, some of which came from Hamas and the UN and were proven wrong. In other instances, mistakes caused civilian deaths, but even in the case of 21 family members killed due to faulty intelligence, it is commonly accepted that these kinds of mistakes occur during fighting in difficult environments...

True, measures were taken: millions of leaflets were dropped, and some 165,000 calls were made to Gaza homes, but this does not ensure that the civilians will run, or that they will be protected when they enter open terrain. The army stressed that it fired phosphorus munitions only in "open areas," but did not define this term. Conversations with artillery and infantry troops who participated in the operation suggest that the definitions were fairly loose, and that the required distance from civilian homes became shorter as fighting continued.

I can see his line of reasoning. Making 165,000 (!) phone calls may not be enough, if the recipients move to open areas which will later be bombed because they're open. Harel isn't some pacifist fool spouting nonsense, nor an antisemite out to castigate Israel no matter what. He's part of the internal Israeli discussion about means methods morality and results, and he's saying that the ultimate balance chosen wasn't good enough. Since there will be more wars, we need to get that balance right, as I never tire of saying.

But it's an internal Israeli discussion. Back at the time I wrote about the computer systems that enabled the IDF to make those 165,000 phone calls. Outsiders from countries that aren't threatened by armed enemies and haven't had such discussions ought not butt in on this one; even the folks from countries at war might ask themselves if their countries wold go to such lengths, before damning us for not fully succeeding.

In which context you might want to read Ari Shavit's column from this morning. Shavit is a left-of-center columnist with a propensity for pompousness, but sometimes he's worth reading.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not about the occupation. If it were about the occupation, it would have erupted in 1967 and not in 1920. If it were a conflict over the occupation, it would have ended in 2000 and not continued to this day. If it were about the occupation, it would be easy to terminate it by means of a full Israeli withdrawal and full Palestinian recognition of Israel after the withdrawal. However, withdrawal is not being implemented and recognition is not being given because the conflict is not about the occupation...

The best illustration of the Palestinian refusal was provided last year. In the summer of 2008, Israel's prime minister, Ehud Olmert, made Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) an unprecedented peace proposal: Israel would retain only 6.5 percent of the West Bank (the settlement blocs) and in return the Palestinians would receive full territorial compensation in the Mount Hebron area, in the Beit She'an Valley and in the Judean Hills. Jerusalem would be divided on a demographic basis, with the holy basin to be entrusted to a special international regime. However, Abu Mazen did not accept Olmert's end-of-occupation offer. He rejected out of hand the principle of dividing the country into two nation-states.
taken from:Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations (


The New York Times nails the matter: It depends. If the torture of a few terrorists saves the lives of thousands of innocents (and you know they're terrorists when they divulge valuable information about terrorist activity), the case is stronger than if no actionable information is acquired. Scott Shane doesn't know if this is what happened, one way or the other, in spite of trying to find out; the public evidence is inconclusive.

The distinction is important, since it indicates that statements such as "torture is the end of democracy", being bandied about these days, are not necessarily true.

Israel calls this scenario "the ticking bomb", when you know you've got a terrorist who knows the whereabouts of a ticking bomb in a civilian area, or the identity of a suicide bomber who's already on his way. It doesn't refer to a band of terrorists with murder in their eyes but no bomb yet constructed, the assumption being that if you've got one of them, intelligent interrogation methods will extract his knowledge in time to thwart his colleagues' plans even without torture; with the ticking bomb, however, you may need to beat him up now in order to acquire the crucial information now. Which of course then begs the question when a gang of Islamists intent on destroying more tall buildings in the US become ticking bombs: when they're on their way to the airport? Earlier in the plan? When?

Since Israel has been facing these questions without respite for generations, it has had the time for the discussion now being had in the US; over time its answers have changed; there has been a steady distancing from the use of torture in favor of tricky tactics that are even more efficient. But then, if you follow that NYT article all the way to the final sentence, you'll see the advantage - if advantage it is - that Israel has over the US:

Mr. Obama paid his first visit to the agency this week, and his reference to the interrogation issue made for an awkward moment in which he sounded like a teacher gently correcting his pupils.

“Don’t be discouraged that we have to acknowledge potentially we’ve made some mistakes,” he said. “That’s how we learn.”

The process of learning is the hallmark of democracy, far more than the measures taken during the process are the demise of it.
taken from:Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations (


The Economist in its science section tells about new research into the connection between autism and genius. One possible connection posited is that people with autism, as they don't know how to manage human relations, have more time and patience for what would appear to be routine actions such as watching a spinning coin or dripping water. Since apparently all it takes to achieve very unusual levels of performance are a mere 10,000 hours of learning, that's four and a half years of doing little else with ones' time, some people with autism may practice "their thing" enough to become geniuses at it.

Perhaps. And, to be fair, the article says more than that.

A few pages on, whether by design of coincidence, there's a review of a book about a painter of genius who certainly sounds as if he was autistic: Ian Fairweather.

Patrick White, an Australian writer who once visited him, drew on him for the painter in his novel “The Vivisector”, but in his dogged modesty and solitariness Fairweather more closely resembled White’s desert explorer in “Voss”. Whenever he saw anyone approach, he rushed into the bush and hid. “Hell for Fairweather was other people,” writes Mr Bail.

A perfectionist who painted at night by the light of a hurricane lamp, Fairweather destroyed much of his art. The 500 or so paintings and drawings that remain are intensely felt, unsettling and resonate with “a searching necessity”. The act of painting was the thing: “It gives me the same kind of satisfaction that religion, I imagine, gives to some people.” He didn’t much care what happened to his work afterwards, to the extent of sometimes disowning it, or even not recognising it.
taken from:Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations (

DoubleTapper: IDF Women

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By Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum

TAZRIA, Leviticus 12:1-13:59

In last week's parshah, SHEMINI, the Torah set forth TORAS HA-BEHEMAH VE-HA'OF, the laws relating to various kinds of purity and impurity in animals and birds. They came first in the order of creation. This week's parshah, TAZRIA, begins a series of parshahs that relate to TORAS HA-ADAM, the laws relating to purity and impurity in man, the very crown of creation. Our parshah takes its name from the greatest of all natural, everyday wonders: a woman's ability to conceive a living child.


The Midrash states: "We have learned: "What is the form of the embryo when first created? It is similar to a locust: its two eyes are like the two eyes of a fly; its nostrils are like two drops on a fly. Its two ears are like two drops on a fly, and its two arms like two scarlet threads. Its mouth is like a barley seed, its body the size of a lentil. And all its other limbs are contracted inside it like unformed substance (GOLEM). And of this it says, "Your eyes did see my unformed substance (GOLMI)" Psalms, 139:16; Midrash Rabbah Tazria, 14:8).

Says the Talmud (Niddah 30b): Rabbi Samlai taught: To what can the embryo in his mother's womb be compared? To a folded up writing-tablet placed with his hands on his two temples, his two elbows on his two knees, and his two heels on his two buttocks. His head rests between his knees and his mouth is closed and his belly open. He eats what his mother eats and drinks what his mother drinks. He does not excrete waste lest he kill his mother. And when he goes out into the air of the world, what was closed becomes open, and what had been open is closed. For if not so, he could not live for even an hour. And while in the womb, a light is kindled over his head. With it he gazes and sees from one end of the world to the other, as it says: "When his lamp shone above me" (Job 29:3).

The miraculous entry of the mature embryo into this world in the form of a living baby, embarking on a whole destiny of its own, is accompanied with much physical pain and blood for the mother. By G-d's decree, the baby, if a boy, must be circumcised with pain and blood on the eighth day, initiating him into the Covenant of Abraham. Peeling off the unclean material ORLAH foreskin (bound up with nature, which was created in seven days), gives him access to the eight level, BINAH, Understanding. This is the level that is beyond nature, as discussed in last week's parshah, SHEMINI.

A girl has access to that level in virtue of being female and especially through motherhood, with its pains and joys. Together with the boy's circumcision, motherhood is the first focus of our present parshah, TAZRIA. Immediately after the birth, the mother must adjust to a new level in life with her baby, boy or girl, in hand. She needs time to recuperate from the birth itself. The biblical laws at the beginning of TAZRIA relate to the ritual purification in Temple times for mothers after giving birth. Often questioned is the bird sin-offering which the new mother brings among her other purification offerings. One Midrash says this comes to atone for a sinful thought she may have had at the height of pain in childhood. Another Midrash says that it comes to atone for, "In the heat of sin my mother conceived me" (Psalms 51:7, alluding to Eve's lust).
The Midrash also states that those women who carefully observe the laws of NIDDAH, purifying themselves as prescribed by the law, will be worthy of giving birth to children who will enter the Covenant of Abraham.

* * *


The Covenant of Abraham must be inscribed not only on the flesh of the male organ, but in the hearts and on the lips of all of us, male and female. Parallel to the creative organs, which bring the physical person into the world, the lips have the most tremendous power to create realities in the spiritual, psychological and social realms.

If a person refuses to make a covenant with his lips, he may be visited with TZORA'AS, the "illness" in which his arrogance and malicious deceit in wrongful speech cause "leprous" marks on his "skin". The "skin" is the person's exterior, what can actually be seen, with all its flaws, as opposed to what he may want to present with arrogant deceit to the outside world.

The rabbinic sages unquestionably saw the complex typology of "leprous" marks as actual physical manifestations, discussing detailed grades of skin discoloration and minute differences in size, etc. At the same time, they emphasized that these came about not naturally, by random chance, but as a supernatural spiritual message from G-d contained in the physical symptom.
The entire portion of the Torah dealing with the various kinds of "leprous" marks on different parts of the body and the the "quarantine" period of impurity is full of allusions to physical illnesses, psychological, social and even national and international illnesses. The rabbis saw allusions in the names of the "leprous" marks to numerous sins, and to the nations that oppressed Israel.

In the entire process of "diagnosis" of leprous marks, no physician is involved. Indeed, it is not allowed to have a doctor cut out or treat the leprous mark. The diagnosis is in the hands of the COHEN, representing CHESSED, G-d's kindness, in shining the light of spiritual insight and truth into the sinner. The only remedy is for the sinner to isolate himself, separating himself from ordinary routine in order to enter a state of contrition and mourning over his sins. He must sit alone, recognizing his uncleanness, warning others, examining his deeds and truly cleansing his heart. Only in this way can he be healed. It is necessary for the Cohen-Priest, the Man of KINDNESS, to look with his loving eyes at the wound and shine his light into the sinner's soul.
The route to healing and redemption is by looking with the eyes of the priest -- with kindness -- overcoming the morbid illness by revealing the vital goodness concealed underneath.

* * *

METZORA, Leviticus 14:1-15:33


It is appropriate that our parshah, METZORA, with its deep lessons about the purity of speech, is always read shortly before or after the festival of Pesach, whose name signifies, "The mouth speaks". Sefer Yetzirah teaches that the human faculty associated with the month of Nissan is speech. The Seder night, climax of so many arduous preparations, is an exercise in speech: HAGGADAH, "telling". The story we tell -- the story of our people and of our own inner self -- is at the furthest remove from self-aggrandizement. The story starts with shame, tracing our descent into the depths of degradation, pain and anguish before our miraculous delivery from Egypt. For this, we glory not in ourselves but only in the Holy One, turning our night of "telling" into one of song and praise to G-d.

During most of the recital of the Haggadah, the MATZAH -- the "Bread of Humility" -- lies exposed before our eyes. This is to impress upon us that we must take a humble view of ourselves and our place in G-d's great scheme, for this the key to using our faculty of speech, man's defining faculty -- in holiness and purity. "Not for our sake, O G-d, not for our sake but for Your Name's sake give glory.!"

Speech is truly a double-edged weapon, a "tree of good and evil" the "taste" of which is literally in our mouths. Words can do so much good -- to shine the truth, to encourage, build and strengthen those with whom we live and work... But words can also be used for so much evil -- to deceive, to confuse, to hurt, denigrate and destroy. It is when we are puffed up with CHAMETZ, the "leaven" of our own self-importance and rectitude that we are liable to use words aggressively, angrily, without sensitivity. But when we remove the CHAMETZ of self-importance from our hearts in the knowledge that we are G-d's creation -- no more and no less than everyone else -- we can learn to use our amazing faculty of speech with wisdom and love. Then we can join G-d as partners in the work of creation and the revelation of His truth. Words literally rule over our lives. Can we rule over the words that leave our mouths? Will we rule with arrogance or with humility?

The METZORA, literally the "leper", is symbolic of one who abuses his power of speech, being MOTZI-RA: "bringing out evil". The previous parshah, TAZRIA, presented an elaborate pathology of the diseases of the soul, such as the "leprous" mark of SE-EIS, inflated pride, or BAHERES, the shining white light in which some people constantly seek to present themselves. The first step in the cure for such illnesses of the soul is to receive an objective "diagnosis" from the Kohen-Priest, a clear statement that the mark is TA-ME, impure. Until we name our negative traits correctly, we cannot begin to heal them. Only when we acknowledge the impure for what it is can we take the first step towards purification. As we saw in last week's parshah, healing of the wounds of the soul requires heart-searching and contrition, which is why the METZORA was sent for a period of into isolation "outside the camp".

This week's parshah of METZORA begins with the highly picturesque ceremony with which the healed leper begins his process of purification so as to be able to return to normal life "in the camp" with other people. The ceremony required two sparrows together with a block of cedar wood, red-dyed wool thread and hyssop. One of the birds was slaughtered into an earthenware flask of living water. Then the other bird was taken with the cedar, the red wool and hyssop, and together they were dipped into the blood and water in the flask, which were sprinkled seven times on the leper, after which the living bird was sent free (Lev. 14:4-7.).

Can you imagine how hard it was to catch the sparrows in the first place in order to carry out the ceremony? As cats and anyone else who has ever tried to catch a sparrow all know, it is terribly easy for sparrows to fly away. This is why the Hebrew name of the sparrow is DROR, "freedom". The very difficulty of catching these birds, which are notorious chatterers, comes to impress upon the METZORA the great importance of catching our speech and chatter BEFORE they fly off. We must learn to take control over what we say, in order to use words intentionally, productively, lovingly, to good effect. Rashi in his commentary on our parshah explains that the wood of the lofty cedar tree was brought "because leprous plagues come on account of arrogance. What is the remedy? The person must lower himself down from his pride like a worm [from whose blood the red dye of the wool thread was derived] and a hyssop" (Rashi on Lev. 14:4).

The use of the two birds in the ceremony is bound up with the double-edged nature of speech, which can be used for either good or evil. The METZORA had to watch as one of the chattering birds was slaughtered in front of his very eyes, teaching him that he must simply kill his evil talk for all time. However, this does not mean that he may not speak at all in future. On the contrary, once he has learned the lesson of humility contained in the cedar, the hyssop and the scarlet thread, the second bird goes free! When we release ourselves from the bonds of pride and arrogance that enslave us, we are freer than ever to explore the great power of pure speech -- "over the face of the field".

Shabbat Shalom!!! Chodesh Tov UMevorach -- A Good & Blessed Month!!!

Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum


PO Box 50037 Jerusalem 91500 Israel


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