Friday, 8 May 2009

10 attorneys general defend Israel | JTA - Jewish & Israel News

10 attorneys general defend Israel JTA - Jewish & Israel News

Israel Matzav: Your tax dollars at work and more: The UN 'Human Rights Council'

Your tax dollars at work and more: The UN 'Human Rights Council'

This coming Tuesday, new members of the United Nations 'Human Rights Council' will be elected. As you may recall, one of the sops that the Obama administration threw at the Council when it withdrew from the Durban II conference in Geneva was that it would stand for election to the Council. I've gone through all the reasons why that's a bad idea many times, and besides, Claudia Rosett does it again in this article.

Instead, I want to focus on something else Rosett discusses, of which I was not aware, and of which I am sure many of you were not aware either: the price - yes, the price - that the United States is paying to become a member of the Council:
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Israel Matzav: Your tax dollars at work and more: The UN 'Human Rights Council'

Israel Matzav: US letting an Israeli into the control room

Israel Matzav: US letting an Israeli into the control room

Israel Matzav: EXCLUSIVE: Pope to speak in school instead of next to 'security fence'; Israel to be blamed

Israel Matzav: EXCLUSIVE: Pope to speak in school instead of next to 'security fence'; Israel to be blamed

Israel Matzav: Arabs to Obama: 'We like the Saudi plan just fine as it is'

Arabs to Obama: 'We like the Saudi plan just fine as it is'

On Wednesday, I blogged a report from al-Quds al-Arabi that claimed that Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia would be making some changes to the 'Saudi plan' to vitiate the existence of the Jewish state to make it more palatable to the potential victims. This was to be done in response to an entreaty from the Obama administration.

But the two entities that the Americans would like to have sign treaties with Israel - Syria and the 'Palestinian Authority' - said later on Wednesday and Thursday that they are just peachy keen on the 'Saudi plan' as it is, and that they are not willing to see any changes to it. Here is the Syrian reaction.
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Israel Matzav: Arabs to Obama: 'We like the Saudi plan just fine as it is'

Israel Matzav: Bolton: How Iran beats the sanctions

Bolton: How Iran beats the sanctions

Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday that the Iranian nuclear threat is a 'deadly serious' threat to the United States.

Sources told FOX News that the Morgenthau probe into Iranian money laundering schemes is broad and ongoing. So far, the Manhattan DA has struck a plea deal with a British bank and, separately, indicted a Chinese citizen and his company on charges related to Iran's violations of international sanctions designed to block its acquisition of nuclear weaponry.

In the British case, Lloyds Bank admitted it had engaged in a "stripping" scheme designed to hide the Iranian origin of more than $300 million in wire transfers. Bank coding information indicating an Iran address for the money was "stripped" from wire transfers.
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Israel Matzav: Bolton: How Iran beats the sanctions

Israel Matzav: Billboards, Sheehan, Amnesty and J-Street

Israel Matzav: Billboards, Sheehan, Amnesty and J-Street

Israel Matzav: Krauthammer on Obama's approach to the Israeli-'Palestinian' conflict

Israel Matzav: Krauthammer on Obama's approach to the Israeli-'Palestinian' conflict

Israel Matzav: Kerry and State throw the Israeli and Iranian people under the bus

Kerry and State throw the Israeli and Iranian people under the bus

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is due to release a report on Thursday regarding Iran and its nuclear program. Without having seen the report, its contents are a foregone conclusion: It will swear off 'regime change' and the use of force, and beg Iran to behave itself.
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Israel Matzav: Kerry and State throw the Israeli and Iranian people under the bus

Parshat Emor: Bread and Peace

Parshat Emor: Bread and Peace

Posted using ShareThis


No. 571 May-June 2009

Hizbullah’s Struggle to Change the Lebanese Regime

by: Shimon Shapira and Yair Minzili
• The publication of Hizbullah’s subversive plan against Egypt and the exposure of a Shiite group headed by a Hizbullah activist that planned to act against Egyptian targets divertedattention from the challenge that Hizbullah has made against the very foundations ofLebanese authority.

• On April 3, 2009, Hizbullah published its political platform in advance of elections to theLebanese parliament scheduled for June 7, 2009. The document calls for the abolition ofsectarian politics and for the enactment of a new election law that would alter theequation of sectarian forces in Lebanon.

• In this manner, Hizbullah seeks to destroy the foundations of the sectarian regime inLebanon agreed upon in the National Pact of 1943 that has been preserved by theLebanese state ever since. The abolition of the existing political system will advanceHizbullah toward its fundamental goal: the establishment of an Islamic state and acomplete Iranian takeover of Lebanon.

• The scholarly analyses that define Hizbullah as a Lebanese national movement arebaseless. What Lebanese national interests are served by subversive activity in Egypt?What Lebanese interests seek the transfer of Iranian arms from Sudan and Sinai to Gaza?What national Lebanese ideology seeks to subvert the delicate sectarian structure uponwhich the modern Lebanese state is predicated?

A Pattern of Hizbullah Subversion

The publication of Hizbullah’s subversive plan against Egypt and the exposure of a Shiite group headed by a Hizbullah activist, that planned to act against Egyptian targets under the cover of “logistical assistance” to the Palestinians, diverted attention from the challenge that Hizbullah has made against the very foundations of Lebanese authority.

One can safely assume that Hizbullah activity in Egypt was performed with the full knowledge of Iran. The weapons shipment that departed Iran for Gaza was dispatched with Tehran’s blessing. Iran was undoubtedly aware that the Egyptian security authorities could uncover Hizbullah’s subversive activity, but believed that the Egyptians would prefer to turn a blind eye and allow the passage of the weapons inventory to Gaza. Even if this was not the case, the Iranians posited military assistance to Hamas as a supreme interest of the Islamic Revolution and were prepared to pay the price of a deterioration in relations between the countries. The attacks by Hassan Nasrallah against Egypt, including a summons to the Egyptian army to overthrow the Mubarak regime during Israel’s Gaza operation, would not have been made had Nasrallah not understood that in this fashion he was serving the wishes of his masters in Tehran.

Ever since the disclosures, the mass media in the Arab world and in the West has beenpreoccupied with the dispute that has erupted between Hizbullah and Egypt, and have almost totally ignored the struggle that Hizbullah has initiated to change the face of the Lebanese regime.

While Britain adopted the questionable decision to open a dialogue with the “political wing” of Hizbullah and in practice recognized Hizbullah as a legitimate movement, it would appear that the artificial distinction drawn by the UK between the political and the military wings of Hizbullah has totally collapsed with the discovery of Hizbullah’s subversion in Egypt, which merely compounds what was previously discovered in Morocco. In that Sunni Arab kingdom, the king severed ties with Iran in March 2009, accusing it of supporting Shiite Islamic missionary activity.

Hizbullah’s Election Platform:
Setting the Stage for an Iranian Takeover of Lebanon

On April 3, 2009, Hizbullah published its political platform in advance of elections to theLebanese parliament scheduled for June 7, 2009. The document calls for the abolition ofsectarian politics and for the enactment of a new election law that would alter the equation of sectarian forces in Lebanon. (The English text of the 2009 Hizbullah platform appears at the end of this essay.)

The 2009 election platform joins a series of basic documents of the Hizbullah movement: These include the Open Letter (Risala Maftuha) from 1985, the first Hizbullah election platform for parliament from 1992, the Hizbullah political document ratified at the movement’s Third Congress in 1993, Hizbullah’s election platform for the 2000 parliamentary elections, and its platform for the municipal elections of 2004.
These two components – the unequivocal call to abolish sectarian politics and the enactment of a new election law – were placed at the very beginning of the platform in order to emphasize Hizbullah’s priorities. In the electoral platform of 2000, Hizbullah had called for establishing a national body for the abolishment of political sectarianism, but only in the fourth section of the platform. It is assumed that in this manner Hizbullah seeks to advance its aspiration to destroy the foundations of the sectarian regime in Lebanon agreed upon in the National Pact of 1943 that has been preserved by the Lebanese state ever since, amidst repeated crises. The abolition of the existing political system will advance Hizbullah toward its fundamental goal: the establishment of an Islamic state that provides political expression to the Shiite majority and a complete Iranian takeover of Lebanon.
What is missing in the new Hizbullah platform? There is no reference to its militia and weapons, as well as to the call from inside Lebanon to dismantle Hizbullah’s military capability and to integrate it into the Lebanese Armed Forces. Hizbullah ignores this aspect and insists on keeping its independent military wing as a “resistance” force against Israel.

However, it is clear that the preservation of Hizbullah’s military strength is intended primarily to allow the movement to translate its military power and demographic weight into a fundamental change of the Lebanese political system. In addition to this purpose, and no less important, Hizbullah’s military power serves as the cutting edge of Iran on Israel’s northern border, enabling the Islamic Republic to employ the military power that it erected in Lebanon to serve its strategic interests.

In recent years, and in the course of the severe political crises that have struck Lebanon since the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri in March 2005, Hizbullah has not concealed its intentions to realize the mission entrusted to it by the Iranian Revolutionary regime. The movement is to seize power in Lebanon and thus create another stable and trustworthy link in the Shiite axis of evil under Iranian leadership. In the Lebanese political realm, Hizbullah has labored to reinforce “the (Shiite) Opposition Camp” by aligning with powerful factions beyond the Shiite community against the Sunni-Shiite coalition headed by Saad al-Hariri. In practice, Hizbullah scored a major success by attracting to its side the Christian Free Patriotic Movement headed by Gen. Michel Aoun, and has strengthened its alliance with extremist Salafist Sunni groups. In a show of force, Hizbullah undertook an unprecedented brutal action when it effectively took over Beirut on May 7, 2008, in response to a government attempt to bring about the dismantling of Hizbullah’s independent communications infrastructure within Lebanon.

Hizbullah’s call for ending political sectarianism, coupled with the enactment of a new election law, came after this demonstration of power and self-confidence, and constitutes the apogee of its indefatigable efforts to attain power in Lebanon. The formulation of an electoral program in a manner that awards Hizbullah the deceptive image of an authentic Lebanese party operating on the basis of Lebanese interests was calculated to attract maximal representation and perhaps even a majority in parliament. However, its political rivals at home will seek to exploit Hizbullah’s recent entanglements in subversion against Egypt in order to expose Hizbullah as a disruptive force operating in the service of Iran and Syria.

Once again, it has been demonstrated that all the scholarly analyses that define Hizbullah as a Lebanese national movement are baseless. What Lebanese national interests are served bysubversive activity in Egypt? What Lebanese interests seek the transfer of Iranian arms fromSudan and Sinai to Gaza? What national Lebanese ideology seeks to subvert the delicatesectarian structure upon which the modern Lebanese state is predicated? The responses to these questions may be found in the framework of relations between Revolutionary Iran and its protégé in Lebanon, and between Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his loyal and obedient representative Hassan Nasrallah. The essence of the tie between them is not simply religious, but has far-reaching political implications influencing the range of Hizbullah behavior in the Lebanese arena and beyond, and symbolizes the growing influence of Iran in the Arab world.

The Hizbullah Platform for the June 2009 Parliamentary Elections


Mohammed Ra’ad, the head of Hizbullah’s parliamentary bloc, presented Hizbullah’s electionplatform on April 3, 2009:

With the approach of the parliamentary elections on June 7, we are seeking toreformulate the political process and deal with the collapse of authority that hasresulted in crises that have adversely influenced national life and have plunged thiscountry into a cycle of instability.

UN Resolution 1559 of 2004 [which calls for the disbanding and disarmament of allmilitias in Lebanon] constituted in some respects a portal for an internal civil war andopened the gates to regional and international intervention that occasioned bitterdivisions. These divisions were exploited by international forces headed by theUnited States in order to transfer the Lebanese arena to their tutelage.

When Hizbullah joined the national dialogue, we expected that this would serve as anopportunity to reformulate a national consensus, and step away from the division intocamps, for we believe that we cannot safeguard the homeland and its unity unless aspirit of mutual understanding and dialogue triumphs. We were always those whosought Islamic unity and national unity. Subsequently, mutual understanding wasachieved between Hizbullah and the Christian Free Patriotic Movement [led by Gen.Michel Aoun] as a pioneering step on this track.

The Zionist war of aggression in July 2006 touched off an unprecedentedinternational attack upon Lebanon. It strove to liquidate the Lebanese desire tomaintain the resistance and subordinate Lebanon. However, the major achievementsand acts of bravery of the holy warriors (mujaheddin) of the Islamic resistance turnedthe criminal aggression supported by international and regional forces into adisgraceful debacle which found expression in the downfall of the political andmilitary team of the Zionist entity, and the evaporation of illusions of an Americantakeover of the region. Lebanon’s victory in this war was recognized throughout theentire world.
The resistance is determined to complete the liberation of the remaining occupiedlands, and particularly the Shebaa Farms and the hills of Kfar Shuba. We believe thatany strategy of defense must integrate the current capabilities of the resistance andthe capabilities of the Lebanese army, enabling it to stand up to Israeli aspirationsregarding our lands and our water sources.
We affirm our enmity to Israel, our support and assistance to our Palestinian brothersto liberate their land and the holy places, and our assiduous efforts to establishexcellent ties of fraternity with the Syrian Arab Republic.

In the Field of Political Reform P1

A. Cancelling Political Sectarianism

Forming the National Committee for Cancelling Political Sectarianism in accordance with theLebanese national consensus document, so that it will start its work and take the practicalmeasures to implement the recommendations that it will reach.

B. Electoral Law

The sound way to effect reform lies in enacting a modern electoral law based on proportionality. At the same time, the constitutional amendment concerning lowering the voting age to 18 years must be finalized, in addition to finalizing another amendment related to the separation of the parliamentary membership from the cabinet membership.

C. Equitable Development
The principle of equitable development constitutes one of the pillars of political reform. For this purpose it was enunciated in the contractual preamble of the constitution. In order to realize this, we demand the restoration of the Planning Ministry, drawing up five-or 10-year plans that monitor the needs of all areas in various sectors.

D. Administrative Decentralization

In its preamble, the constitution stipulates a revision of the administrative divisions, taking into consideration national unity and the preservation of coexistence. The administrativedecentralization means granting expanded administrative powers to smaller units –municipalities, districts, and governorates. The aim is to strengthen development opportunities and facilitate the quick handling of paperwork and administrative duties.

E. The Judiciary

Since the Lebanese constitution has stipulated that the judiciary is an independent authority, side by side with the legislative and executive branches of power, and since the fair and impartial judiciary is a guarantee for the establishment of the state of law and preserving the rights of both the individual and the society – and hence there can be no political reform without it – we are of the opinion that work is necessary to enact and implement laws that help organize the judiciary under a higher independent judicial committee.

Administrative Reform

Administrative reform constitutes a major challenge in all societies. Trim and efficientadministration is the characteristic of modern states where administrative reform aims to reduce the burdens on the citizens, mobilize resources and capabilities, and carry out duties with speed and efficiency. In this regard, work should proceed in accordance with the following principles:

A. Drawing up a comprehensive blueprint for the administration and its needs, making aninventory of the shortages and vacant positions and filling them.
B. Stressing scientific qualifications and practical skills.
C. Introducing modernization, automation, and information networking, and fightingbureaucracy.
D. Activating monitoring and accountability and strengthening and bolstering monitoringestablishments – Civil Service Commission, Central Inspection, and the PublicDisciplinary Council, in addition to the Auditing Commission.
E. Developing laws and regulations in the field of administration and the budget, ensuringspeed in the performance of work, stopping waste, and ending bribery.
F. Adopting a scientific and methodological plan in the appointment of employees,especially the senior officials (grades one and two) within efforts to enhance efficiencyand good performance in the official administration.
G. Enhancing efforts to implement the creation of the two governorates of Baalbek-Hermeland Akkar, and completing the issuance of the applicable decisions in this regard.

Economic and Financial Reform

Since independence, Lebanon has been suffering from the absence of carefully studied economic and developmental visions that are based on the available resources, national requirements, and regional harmony. For these reasons the process of improving and developing economic performance has been proceeding in a haphazard manner. This led to the deterioration of some productive sectors, the termination of others, and the growth of others in an illogical manner. The Lebanese economy has been steered to promote services and realize profit. This resulted in harming economies that were considered productive and providing employment for skilled people, such as agriculture and industry.

In order to begin a genuine economic reform, we must first draw up a natural role of the state and move from an indifferent state with limited social and economic contributions to a state that is responsible for realizing growth and justice. Therefore, it is necessary to work along the following tracks:

1. The development track, through an equitable development of the various sectors andareas, a partnership in development between the public and private sectors, and fairdistribution of profits.
2. The economic track, by realizing a sustainable and firm growth in domestic production,raising production competitiveness in the economic sectors, and merging with theregional surroundings (the Arab and Islamic markets).
3. The social track, by lowering the unemployment level, fighting poverty, and developingthe means of redistribution of income and providing basic services.
4. The financial track, by ending the vicious circle of public debt, reducing the servicing ofdebts, reducing the budget deficit, fighting dissipation, and carrying out fair taxationreforms.
5. In this connection, emphasis must be laid on the need to develop and sustain the policy ofactivating the productive sectors such as agriculture, industry, and tourism by ensuringloans on easy terms, providing taxation incentives, encouraging small businesses tomerge, strengthening cooperative work, providing guidance, extending support throughneeded equipment, increasing irrigated areas, studying the needs of the domestic andexternal markets by aiming at agricultural industrialization, developing the animalproduction sector, and backing various types of exports.

The ultimate aim is to fight poverty and social marginalization, and this requires jointefforts by the public and private sectors in concentrating on economic activities thatprovide job opportunities and which are directed at the countryside and remote areas.

Education and Learning Sector

The Lebanese University is the most important higher education institution in Lebanon in terms of its size, its specialties, and the number of its students, especially those who come from limited income families. It is supposed to contribute to building the future of the homeland’s generations. This requires backing and developing by implementing the law that pertains to it, which protects its financial and administrative independence, ensures its development, and strengthens its scientific research resources. Unresolved issues must be resolved such as the problem of full time teachers and their protection, supporting the Contracting Fund, and reviving the Lebanese University’s Students National Union.

As for the public education sector, duty calls for drawing up a comprehensive educational plan, stressing a higher level of educational qualifications, providing the necessary needs for schools, ensuring heating fuel during winter, backing the School Fund Program, revising the map of the distribution of schools in conformity with the requirements of equitable development, in addition to developing educational institutions, stressing the powers of educational inspection, implementing the system of compulsory and free education, enhancing academic, vocational, and technical education, and treating the chronic needs of the teachers and instructors in various stages in a responsible and positive way.

Civil Society Organizations

Within the framework of enhancing the national sense of responsibility, efforts must be exerted to develop party and trade union activities and open the way for civic society organizations to be active and to become a vital supporter and an effective monitor of the performance of the ruling authority’s departments. This will lead to enhancing the awareness of society to the need to shoulder its duties in managing public life. In this regard, we emphasize the following:

1. The media

Freedom of expression must be preserved and protected, as stipulated in the preamble of the constitution, considering it an unchanging right that cannot be infringed upon within theframework of the law. Thus, emphasis will be laid on freedom of the media and the revision of certain laws, especially the Publications Law, thus lifting the threats against the media.

2. Women

Efforts should be exerted to strengthen the role of women and develop their participation in the political, cultural, educational, media and social fields, and to exploit this role in establishing a balance in society in terms of psychology and values.

3. Youth

Taking care of the rising generations and the young, developing their resources and talents,guiding them towards sublime national and humanitarian objectives, and protecting them from corrupt thought and the tools and means of deviation and immorality.

4. Fighting the deviations and the harmful ailments in our society, whether through the media or by other means, emphasizing educational and media guidance, warning against the spread of corruption and dissolute values, and augment the monitoring of scenes and pictures that infringe on public morality and harm the humanitarian image of women.

5. Protecting the privacy of citizens by preventing indiscriminate wiretapping of their telephone conversations, and respecting the laws that pertain to these issues and bringing the violators of these laws, whoever they may be, to account for what they do.

Improving and Developing Social Services

In light of our conviction that the state cannot shirk its caring role nor behave in an indifferent manner or be apathetic towards the needs of the citizens, it is the duty of the state to improve services in the fields of health, education, housing, and social care. Of these duties, we mention the following:
A. Activating the public health sector, generalizing the principle of healthcare andpreventive medicine, putting an end to monopolization in the drug market, and unifyingthe hospitalization funds.
B. Backing efforts to develop and reform the National Fund for Social Security andexpanding the circle of its beneficiaries.
C. Drawing up a housing strategy that takes into consideration the comprehensivedevelopment of all areas, in addition to enhancing the state’s support for housing loans.
D. Continuing the process of land planning and specification, enhancing the work pertainingto the annexation and demarcation of land, and treating property problems and issuespertaining to joint possession of property, and dealing with violations of the law byowners of buildings.

Energy and the Protection of Resources

Squandering water and natural resources is one of the chronic problems in Lebanon. Despitehuge precipitation and multiple sources of water, the hardship continues to be great, especially during the dry season. Therefore, work should be done on the following:
A. Protecting water resources, especially the ones that are being threatened by the Israelienemy.
B. Completing Canal 800 of the Litani River project.
C. Exerting serious efforts to complete the dams and lakes projects in accordance with aspecific timeframe.
D. Expanding and rehabilitating the irrigation networks, especially in agricultural areas.
E. Completing the establishment and the rehabilitation of the domestic water networks.

As for the electricity sector, what is required is work to complete the electric power lines,modernize the production plants, treat the technical waste, fight transgressions on energysources, and expand to create new and environment-friendly means of production.

As for the communications sector, we are required to preserve this national resource bydeveloping this sector and improving its services, offering the consumers further services and observing the rule of providing the best service at the least cost.

Environmental Protection

The environment in Lebanon has been exposed to a large-scale process of destruction andviolations, such as forest fires, indiscriminate felling of trees, lawlessness in opening quarriesand gravel facilities, polluting the rivers with sewage water, and indiscriminate burial of soldwaste. All of this makes us sound the alarm and declare a state of national emergency to do the following:

A. Adopting a guiding scientific environmental plan on sites for quarries and gravelproduction.
B. Enhancing the completion of building sewage systems in all areas.
C. Drawing up a modern study for the best means of getting rid of solid waste andtransforming it into energy instead of burying it under the ground.
D. Providing effective means of firefighting, imposing strict measures to prevent tamperingwith the environment, and combating transgressions on the seacoast and rivers.
E. Launching a national campaign to enhance the green picture of Lebanon by cooperationwith all organizations, both local and foreign, that care for the environment

* * *


1. This translation of the Hizbullah platform appeared on the “Now Lebanon” website, based on the speech by Mohammad Raad broadcast on Hizbullah-affiliated Al-Manar TV on April 6,2009,

* * *

Brig. Gen. (res.) Dr. Shimon Shapira is the author of Hizballah: Between Iran and Lebanon, 4th ed. (Tel Aviv: Dayan Center, Tel Aviv University, 2006). He is a senior research associate at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Yair Minzili is a senior researcher in the fields of economics, political policy, and Islam in theMiddle East.

The Jerusalem Letter and Jerusalem Viewpoints are published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 13 Tel-Hai St., Jerusalem, Israel; Tel. 972-2-5619281, Fax. 972-2-5619112, Internet: In U.S.A.: Center for Jewish Community Studies, 5800 Park Heights Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21215 USA, Tel. (410) 664-5222; Fax. (410) 664-1228. © Copyright. All rights reserved. ISSN: 0792-7304.

The opinions expressed by the authors of Jerusalem Viewpoints do not necessarily reflect those of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.


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DoubleTapper: IDF Women

AIPAC: "American Israel Palestinian Affairs Committee"

ESSER AGAROTH -AIPAC: "American Israel Palestinian Affairs Committee"

Life in Israel: Rabbi tells soldiers not to act Jewish

Life in Israel: Rabbi tells soldiers not to act Jewish

Chesler Chronicles » Israel’s Fate: Central to the Survival of the West

Israel’s Fate: Central to the Survival of the West

And so, my esteemed colleagues, Melanie Phillips and Caroline B. Glick, have both concluded that organized American Jewry, including AIPAC, do not have the spine to back Israel as President Obama tries to “throw Israel under the bus.” (Phillips has just informed me that, in a subsequent article, she acknowledges that AIPAC’S presentation was more “nuanced” than she’d originally been led to believe).

Glick reminds us–we, (that’s the royal “we”), need no reminding that AIPAC behaved shamefully in the matter of the persecution of Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman. May I congratulate Dr. Daniel Pipes for having hired Steven J. Rosen long before he and Keith Weissman were both exonerated . Their exoneration should lead to the exoneration and release of Larry Franklin as well.

I wonder what will lead to Jonathan Pollard’s pardon and release? The Coming of the Messiah? Not even then?
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Chesler Chronicles » Israel’s Fate: Central to the Survival of the West



By Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum

Torah Reading: Parshas EMOR, Leviticus 21:1-24:23


As discussed in Universal Torah #20 TETZAVEH, the Torah conception of the priests and their relationship with the people is radically different from the conception of the priesthood in other traditions. The Cohen of the Torah does not absolve the Israelite of his obligation to forge his own personal relationship with G-d. The Cohen is not an intermediary who performs mysterious rituals that magically guarantee that all will be well for the ignorant worshipper who stands by watching.

In many religions, the priests held or hold a monopoly on religious knowledge, often actually discouraging the pursuit of such knowledge by the masses, whose very ignorance is necessary in order for the priest to maintain his position.

By contrast, the Holy Torah was given as a fountain of truth and wisdom to Israel and to all others who want to drink its waters. The entire people of Israel is intended to be a Kingdom of Priests and a Holy Nation: the goal is for each Israelite to develop, build and cultivate his or her own bond with G-d in every detail of life. How can we do this? We need to learn how to do it. For this reason, pride of place in the Torah tradition goes to the sage and teacher, because he is the one who can tell us how to do this. Even a MAMZER TALMID CHACHAM (an outstanding sage who is of illegitimate birth) takes precedence over the High Priest!

In our present parshah of EMOR, which is largely taken up with laws specifically relating to the priests, we see that Moses was commanded to instruct not only the priests themselves in these laws but also the Children of Israel. The Children of Israel are not to be excluded from all knowledge and understanding of the priesthood. On the contrary, they too are to study the laws relating to the priests. This is because the Israelites, as a kingdom of priests, have to have a model to learn from. The Cohanim are a kingdom within a kingdom. The Cohanim are to be to the Israelite what the Israelites are to be to the world.

The Temple is G-d's palace on earth: a center-point for all the world to see, in order to contemplate the profundity of the message it contains and thereby to draw closer to the King. Everything about the Temple is about coming closer to G-d, particularly the KORBAN ("sacrifice", from the Hebrew world KAROV, "close"). The entire Temple services center upon the sacrificial rites: the daily animal, grain, wine and incense offerings, the lighting of the Candelabrum, and so on. Like life in a royal court, life in the Temple was a spectacle. This was particularly so for the Israelite who brought a personal KORBAN, be it a SHLAMIM ("Peace") offering, or an OLAH and particularly a CHATAS - sin-offering.

The animal is substituted for the person to undergo the slaughter, flaying, cutting and burning the sinner really deserves. (Those who worry about the alleged cruelty to the animal should first go and complain about the millions of animals daily slaughtered all over the world, often with great cruelty, as "sacrifices" for the gratification of men's selfish lusts. To understand the meaning of the KORBONOS, we must be willing to think of the Temple as it actually was and will be, not try to adapt it to man-made moral "standards".)

The SEFER HACHINUCH (explaining the meaning of the 613 commandments) discusses the sacrificial rituals at length in Mitzvah #95: Building the Temple. The ceremony consisted of various stages: SEMICHAH (the penitent's laying on of hands on the animal's head), SHECHITAH, the slaughter of the animal, KABALAH, collecting of its blood and sprinkling it on the altar, the flaying and cutting of the carcass, salting of the meat, the burning of the altar portions and eating by the priests of their share. The SEFER HACHINUCH explains in detail how the different stages of this unsettling and even shocking ceremony all communicated an unforgettable lesson to the penitent about how man must bring his animal side under control. We are to learn how to "slaughter" and elevate our animality by devoting our energies to G-d's service and thereby burning our fat on His altar. (See also Nachmanides' commentary on Leviticus 1:8).

The priests in the Temple, who conducted these ceremonies, were actors in a drama that was calculated to awaken people and induce them think and repent rather than to hypnotize them with hocus-pocus. The role of the priest was as a facilitator, enabling people to understand the lesson for themselves.

Carrying the obligation to serve as ministers in the House and Court of G-d, the priests are a nation set apart, and are subject to an even more stringent code than the Israelites, as laid out in our parshah of EMOR. They are not allowed to defile themselves for the dead except in the case of their closest relatives. They are strictly forbidden to blemish their own bodies. They are not allowed to marry a divorcee or a woman who has been involved in a relationship tainted by immorality, etc. The Cohanim are to be a completely pure breed, fit to serve as G-d's ministers on earth. The true Cohen is to be an exemplar in his very life of the elevated purity to which every Israelite should aspire, each according to his or her level.

The ultimate exemplar is to be the COHEN GADOL ("high priest"). Although the COHEN GADOL appears in costumes that are most gorgeous by the standares of this world, he must remain completely separated from this world. This is because his task is to keep our eyes focussed upon G-d's world. Thus the COHEN GADOL is not allowed to defile himself with the dead even in the case of his closest relatives. For in G-d's world, there is no death but only life.

Everything about the Temple is designed to lift us up above the often tawdry world around us and to teach us how to draw closer to the underlying reality of G-d. For this reason, the Temple must be a place of the imposing splendor and beauty. Everything must be in the best repair. Not a flagstone must be loose nor an altar stone chipped. The vessels must be the finest gold and silver. And so too, the ministers themselves must be people of pleasing looks. Our parshah details the physical blemishes that disqualify a priest from participating in the Temple service itself (though not from eating sacrificial portions). The parshah also details the blemishes that disqualify an animal from being offered as a KORBAN. Everything offered to G-d has to be the very finest and most beautiful. So too, we must seek to beautify our offerings of prayers, our mitzvot and acts of kindness, and take care that they should not be blemished.

* * *


The calling of the COHANIM was very exalted. The separation and purity demanded of them is not required of the Israelites, who on the contrary are required to be involved in the world -- farming, manufacturing, selling and buying, raising families, etc. As discussed in the commentary on the previous parshah, KEDOSHIM, it is precisely through bringing every area of our actual lives under the wing of the Torah that we attain holiness.

Only the Cohen Gadol is to remain within the Temple precincts or in his nearby home in Jerusalem all the time. The people are to be throughout the country, going about their lives. For the Israelite, the relationship of G-d is one of "running and returning": "running" in the sense of regularly rising above the mundane to make a deeper connection with the underlying reality of G-d, but then "returning", in the sense of going back to grappling with everyday reality.

The Torah appointed a rhythm of weekly, monthly and seasonal MO'ADIM, "appointed times", whereby the Israelites rise above the mundane and restore and strengthen their connection with the divine. Our parshah is one of several in the Torah (Ex. ch. 23; Numbers ch. 23; Deut. ch. 16) that set forth the cycle of festivals and their associated practices, each with its own particular focuses.

In our parshah (Leviticus ch. 23) one of the main themes that runs through the account of the various festivals and their associated Temple practices is that of drawing ecological balance and agricultural blessing into the world. During the ALIYAH LE-REGEL -- the foot-pilgrimage to the Temple on Pesach, Shavuos and Succos -- the Israelites would leave the work of making a living and tilling the ground in order to participate in ceremonies whose purpose was to bless that work with G-dliness. Pesach, and Shavuos are particularly bound up with grain, which is man's staple food. The Matzahs eaten on Pesach may be made from one of the five kinds of grain. On the second day of Pesach, at the beginning of the grain harvesting season, an Omer measure is to be brought from the newly-ripened barley crop. During the coming weeks, while the wheat-harvesting is going on, the Sefirah count directs our minds forward to Shavuos, when a "new grain offering", the first wheat offering from the new crop -- two loaves of leavened bread -- was brought.

The observances of Succos are particularly bound up with the water-cycle. The four species of Esrog (citron), Lulav (palm branch), Hadass (myrtle) and Arovos (willow branches) all require ample water. Succos comes after the hot, dry summer of Eretz Israel, prior to what should be the rainy season. We take these four species in our hands and pour out our hearts like water in thanks and praise, hinting to our heavenly Father how totally depend we are on His blessings and mercy.

The chapter in our present parshah of EMOR relating to the festival cycle leads us in the direction of next week's parshah, BEHAR, which sets forth the commandments relating to the cycles of Sabbatical and Jubilee years, which are also bound up with agriculture, ecological balance and reverence for the earth.

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Besides the cycles of festivals and Sabbaticals that give time its rhythm, the world is also governed by cycles that are often not apparent, because one generation does not know what happened in previous generations and therefore cannot understand how what happens today is cyclically rooted in what happened earlier.

To understand the incident of the MEGADEF ("blasphemer") in the closing section of our parshah (Leviticus 24:10ff), it is necessary to understand that "the son of the Israelite woman who was the son of an Egyptian man" was in fact the issue of an illicit relationship. Our rabbis teach that Shulamis Bas Divri was the wife of the Israelite whom Moses saw being beaten by an Egyptian the first time he went out to visit his brothers. The Egyptian would daily drive the Israelite out of his home and send him to his labors, thereafter going in to his wife. (See Rashi on Lev. 24:10 and on Exodus 2:11).

There is a deep counterpoint in the positioning of this episode in parshas EMOR, which centers on the special purity demanded of the priests. Shulamis Bas Divri is the exemplar of the opposite: immorality. While the holiness of the priesthood requires separation and the making of distinctions between pure and impure, fine and blemished, she sought to erase distinctions, greeting everyone with a naive "Peace be upon you, peace be upon you". As if friendly chatter is enough to turn evil into good. It was Shulamis Bas Divri's endeavor to erase distinctions that laid her open to the immoral relationship which led to the birth of the blasphemer. The latter, however, discovered that, whether you like it or not, this IS a world of distinctions. While the blasphemer was an Israelite through his mother, he had no tribal affiliation, since this comes only through the father. Accordingly the blasphemer had no place in the Israelite camp.

Contemporary political correctness will cry out in the voice of Shulamis Bas Divri that he should have been given a place -- isn't it unfair that he should be excluded because of a quirk of birth? Endless similar questions can be asked about other commandments in our parshah. Why should a blemished priest not be allowed to serve in the Temple? Why should a divorcee not be allowed to marry a priest? etc. etc.

Rashi brings a midrash that the blasphemer "went out" (Lev. 24:10) in the sense that he departed from the Torah: he mocked the idea that the Sanctuary Show-Bread (subject of the preceding section), which was eaten by the priests when it was nine days old, was a fitting institution in the Sanctuary of the King (Rashi ad loc.). The blasphemer could not accept G-d's Torah the way it is. He wanted to adapt the Torah fit his own personal views.

There was a way that even the blasphemer could have found his place. As quoted at the outset, even a MAMZER TALMID CHOCHOM has precedence over the High Priest. If the blasphemer had been willing to submit himself to G-d and accept the position G-d put him in, he could have been saved. But he was not willing to submit and instead he opened his mouth and poured out a torrent of abuse.

Over sixty years previous to this, when Moses saw this man's father striking Shulamis Bas Divri's husband, Moses knew that there was no potential. "And he looked here and there and he saw that there was no man [that no man would come forth from him to convert, Rashi] and he struck the Egyptian" (Ex. 2:12). The rabbis taught that Moses "struck" him by invoking the Name of HaShem. It was precisely this name that the son of the Egyptian's illicit relationship blasphemed. Prior to the Giving of the Torah, Moses inflicted instant justice on the father.

However, after the Giving of the Torah, Moses was subject to the Torah like everyone else and he had to wait to hear from G-d how to deal with the blaspheming son.

The account of the punishment of the blasphemer includes related laws of punishments for killing and the damages that must be paid for inflicting injury to humans and animals. The cycles of crime and its penalties and payments revolve from generation to generation, but this is not apparent to the onlooker who sees only the here and now and does not understand what was before and what will come afterwards.

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Shabbat Shalom!!!

Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum

PO Box 50037 Jerusalem 91500 Israel

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