Friday, 30 October 2009

Sefer Chabibi Deepest Torah: LECH LECHA; GOING, GOING, GONE


by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

" bread and wine are brought forth to sanctify this moment of mankind's first recorded act of altruism, so too we use bread and wine to sanctify the Sabbath, which crowned Creation, G*d's enduring act of altruism for all time."

"We are bidden to circumcize even our hearts to serve G*d. This means, in the deepest sense, ironically, that only through having a broken heart can one have a whole or perfect heart to serve G*d. The pride of arrogance blocks the heart from the Divine light and Divine love. A circumcized heart allows the Divine light to reenter."

The Jewish People have often been termed "the wandering Jews." It is such a popular expression that a plant was even named in its honor. Abraham the Patriarch, Father of the Jewish People, was the first "wandering Jew," and we've been wandering ever since. What is it about the idea of separating - the essence of the meaning of being holy, of separating from the mundane and material, that makes it so central to the character and mission of the Jewish people? But the reuniting is then all the sweeter, embodied symbolically in the Challah and Kiddush that we bless on the Sabbath.

A common theme reverberating throughout Lech Lecha is that of leaving. Beginning first with G*d directing Avram to leave .... his land,.... his home, .... his birthplace, then proceeding to narrate the journey of Avram and company moving to Egypt to escape the effects of severe famine. Foreshadowing the travails of their descendants in Egypt in future generations, they fulfill the concept of ma'aseh avot siman lebanim- "the deeds of the antecedents are clues for the descendants."

What the patriarchs and matriarchs experienced in a familial setting was reenacted later on in a proto-national setting. To wit, the commonality of famine, descent into Egypt, handsomeness of features shared by both Sarai ("yefat mareh at"- Gen 12:11) as well as Yosef ("yefei toar veefei mareh"- Gen 39:6), attempted but failed seduction, captivity, plague and hasty expulsion accompanied by a profusion of gifts and wealth. Such numerous comparisons!

"Take and go" (kach ve'lech) are two verbs which are shared in both narratives- kach velech in Gen: 12:19, and k'chu ve'lechu in Ex: 12:32. Interestingly, the experience of captivity in Egypt is embodied in the personage of Sarai, the representative of the future collective assemblage of all Israel. Hence the plural form alluding to the patriarchs takes on a feminine ending- avOT rather than avIM. Therefore AVOT this case is not gender specific, but rather is gender neutral, encompassing both the matriarchs as well as the patriarchs.

Their entourage now laden with wealth and riches, Avram and Lot now find themselves miserable in their crowded quarters. Why should there be constant strife between them when they could easily part company and go their separate ways? Indeed, perhaps Avram felt he was now passing along G*d's sage advice for *him,* now onto his nephew, Lot, as a ritualistic rite of passage to be perhaps incumbent now on all his descendents, whether adopted or biological."

Maybe you should go away," he says to Lot. "We won't be fighting anymore. It's a big world out there. Plenty of land (Gen 13: 8,9)." Indeed, he found new wealth opportunities and expanded possibilities in the lush and luxuriant land near Sodom.

Next to go was Hagar's appreciation of Sarai, and her respect for her former mistress. Now pregnant with Avram's supposed heir, she lorded it over Sarai, and revealed her barely disguised contempt for her, even though it was at Sarai's insistence that she become pregnant through Avram. Sarai, in an effort to win back and reassert her primacy in the marriage, as well as her sense of well-being and pyschic repose, insists that Hagar now take leave. Hesitant at first, in the end Avram "listened to her voice," a phrase later repeated (vayishma lekol sarai/shma bekola) by G*d as a directive to heed Sarah's intuitive wisdom and judgment. Hagar subsequently returns, the marital union restored, though somewhat a bit fractured because of the dissonance between the clarity of Sarai's judgment and Avram's hesitancy and reluctance.

Note that Sarai insisted on Hagar's departure even before G*d later promises Avraham that she will give birth and bear the heir (Gen17:15,16). In her mind, apparently, without shalom bayit, or peace in the home, to provide a solid and stable environment, any child reared in that home, she intuited, would carry the scar of familial discord and pass it down through eternity. The sacred task of rebuilding mankind's connection with the Divine needed a solid foundation from which to be planted, to be nurtured and nourished, and then to grow and spread out and eventually redeem all humanity.

Indeed, in this quest for perfection, temimut (Gen 17:1), G*d commands Avraham to circumcize his flesh and that of his male descendants for all time as a symbol of that perfection. Ironically, the separation of the foreskin is a symbol of the newfound covenantal union between man and G*d. To become whole, therefore, one must become first a little separated. This is underscored with the Pact Between Halves (Gen15), where it is the splitting, or the separating of the animals, symbolic of the separating of man from his animal instinct, which leads to the promise of blessing and the continuity of his seed.

It is the separation of flesh from that very organ of regeneration and continuity of seed which therefore comes to symbolize that very covenant and the perfection of mankind, in that he is now worthy to walk before G*d. "Walk before Me and be perfect. I will make a covenant between Me and thee, and I will increase your numbers very much (Gen17:1,2)." In fact, later on, we are bidden to circumcize even our hearts to serve G*d. This means, in the deepest sense, ironically, that only through having a broken heart can one have a whole or perfect heart to serve G*d. The pride of arrogance blocks the heart from the Divine light and Divine love. A circumcized heart allows the Divine light to reenter.

But in the final analysis, it is not the initial leaving which brings blessing, but the subsequent return. When Hagar returns she is blessed with the birth of Ishmael who will have many descendants. Moreover, when Avram rescues Lot and returns all the captives and the lost booty to the king of Sodom he is blessed by Malchi-Tzedek, King of Salem, priest to G*d, the Most High. He "brings forth" bread and wine. And as bread and wine are brought forth to sanctify this moment of mankind's first recorded act of altruism, so too we use bread and wine to sanctify the Sabbath, which crowned Creation, G*d's enduring act of altruism for all time.

As Malchi-Tzedek acknowledges Avraham's crowning achievement for mankind's spiritual evolution, so too do we acknowledge that the Sabbath is similarly the greatest tool for humanity's continual evolution. Bread and wine are both the end products of a lengthy cooperative human process, the fruits of labor many rungs above the primitive hunter/gatherer phase of man's development.

Avraham's act of conscious altruism is the pinnacle of a new age of moral evolution. And just as Avraham's act was not purely altruistic in that subsequently humanity was to benefit from the future Redeemer who would be born from his loins via Ruth the Moabitess who was a direct descendant of Lot and King David, so too, in celebrating the Sabbath, we not only give praise and bear testimony to G*d's creating the world, but we ourselves reap the specific benefits and blessings which inhere in its observance.

As much as Avraham gives to G*d through Malchi-Tzedek, Priest to G*d Most High, a "ma'ASER mikall", a TENTH of all which he captured (Gen14:20), G*d is giving back to Avraham "me'OSHER mikall," from the WEALTH of everything. The subject of the sentence is purposely left ambiguous so as to indicate that the impact of the blessings flow in both directions.

To be become sePARATED, lehiPARED, can bring loneliness and make one feel afraid (PRD), but we learn from our parsha that a loving hand is guiding Avraham's great journey. The Talmud in Masechet Shabbat tells us that each day of the week has a partner- Sunday is paired with Monday, Tuesday with Wednesday, and Thursday with Friday. The Sabbath then asks, "what about me?" I don't want to be lonely! G*d tells the Sabbath that "the Jewish People will be your partner."

Avraham, the father of the Jewish people, is teaching us that the antidote to loneliness, separation and social anomie, is in helping others. Through giving of yourself to others, your own pain disappears. When Avraham ran to greet and feed the visiting angels his own pain from his recent circumcision disappeared! When he freed his nephew Lot from captivity he showed the world the redeeming power of altruism. When we bless our wine and our bread this Sabbath eve, after singing Shalom Aleichem at the table next to our Kiddush wine and Challah loaves, let us remember these gifts of Malchi-Tzedek, and how the initial travail of separation, through altruism, leads ultimately to the sweet reunion- of Avraham and Lot, of the Jewish People and the Land of Israel, and of our souls and G*d.

And as we bid adieu to the departing angels who guided our steps home from the synagogue and blessed our home with Sabbath peace, so too we bless them back. Tzetchem leShalom. Lech Lecha. Not, "maybe you should leave," but rather, "Go in Peace, my beautiful friends, my sweet angels."

Shabbat Shalom. Good Shabbos.

© 2000 - 2009 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

Sefer Chabibi Deepest Torah: LECH LECHA; GOING, GOING, GONE - Lech Lecha- A Personal Mission

Lech Lecha- A Personal Mission

pic2In this week’s parsha, Parshat Lech Lecha we read about how Avraham was commanded by Hashem to leave his birthplace and to go where Hashem commanded him. As we know where Avraham would be going was not revealed to him at first which made this commandment even more difficult. As always I like to connect events in the Torah to our lives, because I think in this way we can continue to bring the Torah back to life and it becomes more meaningful to us. So how does Avraham’s commandment have relevance for us today and what can we learn from his experience?

Hashem’s commandment to Avraham was, Lech Lecha which means go for yourself. I think that by following Hashem’s commandment Avraham was fulfilling his personal destiny that only he could accomplish. He understood Hashem’s message to him and he didn’t delay and push it aside. Instead he not only went himself but he brought many other people with him. Also in addition to this test that Hashem tested Avraham we are told that in total he was tested 10 times. Though he passed all the tests, we can imagine that despite his perseverance and success he still felt some fear.

I think that like Avraham, we each have our own personal missions in life that we need to accomplish. We are also given our share of challenges that are uniquely designed for us to help us become stronger and be able to carry out our life’s mission properly and effectively. Though at times it is unclear what we need to accomplish and what is expected from us, we like Avraham need to hear Hashem’s calling to us and take the strength from Avraham to approach life’s challenges and opportunities in a whole new way.

Lech Lecha- A Personal Mission

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Israel Matzav: Overnight music video

Overnight music video

With apologies to those who don't read or understand Hebrew; you're going to miss a lot on this one.

This is another song about our Matriarch Rachel based on the story in Genesis 29 and Jeremiah 2.

/Sigh. The Hebrew impaired will at least enjoy the tune - it's pretty popular here.

Let's go to the videotape.

Israel Matzav: Overnight music video

Israel Matzav: More smart Israeli technologies

More smart Israeli technologies

Israel's foreign ministry has released a write-up of seven solar technologies that will reduce world dependency on fossil fuels. They come from an article from the Israel 21c web site. If any of you are into this kind of stuff, representing high tech companies and their investors is part of my day job (you know, the one I do when I'm not blogging).

I'd also like to point out an amazing new technology for fighting malignant brain tumors (Hat Tip: Instapundit).

The particularly lethal brain cancer known as glioblastoma multiforme is fast-growing, difficult to treat, and nearly always fatal; even with aggressive therapy, patients have a median survival time of less than two years. But scientists are pursuing new ways to attack this type of brain tumor, and one company may just be succeeding. NovoCure, a small startup founded in Israel in 2000, has developed a device that uses an electric field to disrupt the growth of cancer cells, and early results are promising. Out of ten patients who started using the device in combination with chemotherapy shortly after their initial diagnosis, seven are still alive more than four years later, and five of them show no signs of cancer progression.

NovoCure's device consists of insulated electrode pairs placed on a patient's body near the tumors, attached by leads to a three-kilogram battery that the patient carries everywhere. The electrodes emit low-intensity electric fields that rapidly alternate to create a current that has no effect on any tissue in the body except dividing cells. Just before a dividing cell splits in two, it briefly forms an hourglass shape before the two daughter cells pinch off, and this shape is particularly vulnerable to electricity. The current gets concentrated at the cell's narrow waist, and at the very moment of division, the cell membrane is destroyed, and the cells disintegrate.

That's the tumor Ted Kennedy had. And yes, I can help you invest in that kind of company too if you're interested.

The graphic at the top came from Novocure's web site. I don't know whether the device is really that big.

If you're boycotting Israel, you can't use any of these technologies.

Israel Matzav: More smart Israeli technologies

Israel Matzav: Peres puppeteering J Street?

Israel Matzav: Peres puppeteering J Street?

Israel Matzav: 'Settlers' get their water from within the green line

Israel Matzav: 'Settlers' get their water from within the green line

Israel Matzav: Iran clenches its fist

Iran clenches its fist

Iran responded to the P - 5+1 countries on Thursday by clenching its fist. According to Iranian media, it demanded to send its low enriched uranium abroad gradually rather than all at once, and it demanded the right to import higher enriched uranium simultaneously with the lower enriched uranium's departure. Those conditions have been labeled 'non-starters' for the West by the media.

Western powers were likely to rebuff Tehran's proposed amendments because their priority is to reduce the stockpile of Iranian LEU to ward off the danger that Iran might turn it into the highly-enriched uranium needed for an atom bomb.

Sending most of the LEU abroad would buy about a year for talks on halting enrichment in Iran in return for incentives to forge a long-term solution to the nuclear dispute.

The powers will see Iran's counter-offer involving nuclear fuel imports as problematic because U.N. sanctions ban trade in nuclear materials, including enriched uranium, with Tehran.

Iran views such sanctions as illegal and unjust.

Israel labeled Iran's offer 'insufficient.'

Defence Minister Ehud Barak said the downside of the agreement was that it granted international recognition to uranium enrichment by Iran.

He urged the international community to go further and demand a complete stop to enrichment on Iranian soil.

'If this agreement is implemented, it will take them back a year, but there is a fly in the ointment. It means that they (the US, Russia and France) recognize that Iran is enriching uranium and that helps them (Iran) with their argument that they are enriching uranium for peaceful purposes,' Barak said.

'It is important to insist on an end to enrichment in Iran,' he told Israel Radio.

President Obama's chance to play hardball looks like it's coming real soon. Let's see if he even steps up to the plate.

Israel Matzav: Iran clenches its fist

Israel Matzav: Livni's letter to J Street

Livni's letter to J Street

Last Friday, I reported that opposition leader Tzipi Livni had sent a letter to J Street congratulating them on their first convention. Steve Clemons (presumably the same Steve Clemons who interviewed Khaled Meshaal this week) posted a pdf of the letter to Huffington Post, where he called it "a remarkable letter of affirmation to J Street, recognizing potential differences but affirming a shared strategic vision for the best interests of Israel."

Shmuel Rosner says that Clemons missed the point of Livni's letter.

1. Livni did not want to participate in the conference, and did not want to appear via video connection. The letter is a way of saying: I'm not boycotting the group, but I'm also quite far from supporting it.

2. The letter was crafted "carefully". And it does not say that Livni wishes the group "much success", it says (as Clemons, first to post the letter, could have seen) "I wish the the organizers and the participants much success in the upcoming conference". You might think that Livni's people are parsing hair with this fine-tuned message, but when the letter was crafted they deliberately chose to wish success for the "conference" not the "work" as Clemons claims.


7. All this doesn't mean that Livni's letter has no significance. It does. If Livni was Foreign Minister today, she would have asked Ambassador Michael Oren to attend the conference. She doesn't think Israel should boycott J Street, because she doesn't believe Israel should take sides in a debate that is a political Jewish American debate.

8. She also have hopes that by way of "engaging", she can have some impact on this group. There are signs that J Street - at least on the leadership level - had entered a period of some moderation (Jim Besser wrote: "There were also ripples of discontent at an unofficial Monday lunch for left-wing bloggers, who expressed both hope that J Street will become a potent force for peace and justice in the Middle East - and fear that it is already doing too much to moderate its positions to win favor with the pro-Israel establishment"). Livni seems to believe that communicating with the group creates the kind of relationships that will make it harder for J Street to disregard Israeli mainstream positions.

Rosner also makes several comments about Livni's relationship with AIPAC.

Livni is in a weak position because Prime Minister Netanyahu has totally silenced the opposition. She would love to be able to stake out a position with J Street, because it would show her to be a clear alternative to Netanyahu and the Likud. There are three problems with her doing that. First, she doesn't have the support within her own party to stake out positions that far to the left. Second, Labor, which is to her left (in theory), is in the government, and she's not willing or able to take positions to their left on significant issues - again because her own party will not allow it. Third and most important, the country has shifted so far to the right that J Street's position is far - really far - out of the mainstream. Livni cannot afford to put herself that far out of the mainstream.

I look at her letter as saying, "I support your right to your opinion, and I'd really love to support your opinion, but I can't right now."

Read the whole thing.

Israel Matzav: Livni's letter to J Street

Israel Matzav: Al-Qaeda-linked group takes responsibility for Katyusha attack; Suleiman blames Israel

Al-Qaeda-linked group takes responsibility for Katyusha attack; Suleiman blames Israel

An al-Qaeda linked group calling itself the Battalions of Ziad Jarrah has taken responsibility for Tuesday night's Katyusha rocket attack near Kiryat Shmona hours after a Lebanese newspaper published an interview with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman who blamed Israel for attacking itself. This is from Haaretz (the first link):

The claim from a group calling itself the Battalions of Ziad Jarrah came two days after a rocket was fired from Lebanon into northern Israel, causing no casualties. Lebanese troops subsequently found and dismantled four additional rockets in the village of Houla near the border with Israel.

The claim of responsibility, made on a Web site often used by Islamic militants, could not be independently verified.

The group is named after a Lebanese militant who was among the 19 suicide attackers that carried out the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States. It has claimed responsibility for previous rocket-firings across the border into Israel.

The group said its fighters set up five rockets in Houla on Tuesday night but one launched prematurely, leading the militants to flee the area leaving four rockets behind. It was the fifth such attack against Israel from Lebanon this year. Israel responded with artillery fire, but there were no reports of casualties.

Earlier Thursday, the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar had published an interview with Suleiman in which Suleiman claimed that an 'Israeli agent' had launched the rocket and that one may not rule out the possibility that Israel was behind the attack.

And this from a country with whom we have no real disputes (the territorial disputes between Israel and Lebanon have been manufactured by Hezbullah to justify their own existence - the UN certified that Israel's withdrawal in 2000 complied with UN Security Council Resolution 425, only to revoke that certification three years ago because Hezbullah insisted that Mount Dov was 'occupied Lebanese territory' and not 'occupied Syrian territory').

Anyone still wonder why there is no peace in this region?

Israel Matzav: Al-Qaeda-linked group takes responsibility for Katyusha attack; Suleiman blames Israel

Israel Matzav: 'Our friends the Egyptians' thwart democracy

'Our friends the Egyptians' thwart democracy

The United States has spent $69 billion on foreign aid to Egypt since 1948. Since 2004, it has spent $180 million promoting democracy in Egypt. But Egypt is no more democratic than it ever was, and now a US government audit explains why: Egypt doesn't want a democracy.

More than $180 million in U.S. foreign aid to promote democracy in Egypt over the past four years has produced few measurable results, in part because the Egyptian government has stymied the effort, a newly released government audit says.

The "impact of (American-funded) democracy and governance programs was unnoticeable" in Egypt, said the report by the U.S. Agency for International Development's inspector general. USAID auditors based their conclusions on international indexes of press freedom, corruption, civil liberties and political rights.


In 2004, the George W. Bush administration nearly doubled annual funding for democracy promotion in Egypt, the audit shows, from $24 million to $45 million. The report says, however, that "a major contributing factor to the limited achievements for some of these programs (was) a lack of support from the Government of Egypt." For example, the audit says, the government canceled, without explanation, a training program on anti-corruption and political reform.

And after USAID spent $618,000 to train 2,100 poll watchers in 2007 local elections, most were denied access to the polling places.

The audit also cites missteps by USAID grant recipients fueled by poor agency management. One grantee, it says, got $1.2 million to provide civic training to 600 teachers and 30,000 students, but actually trained only 330 teachers and about 2,000 students, less than 8% of the target.

Another grantee received $950,000 to publish a children's book on civic education but could not verify that any schoolchildren actually received the book, the audit says.

But it's okay now. In the Age of Obama, democracy is no better than any other form of government, and therefore we won't act pompously by promoting it anymore.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: 'Our friends the Egyptians' thwart democracy

Israel Matzav: Can Obama play hardball?

Can Obama play hardball?

Writing in the Washington Post, Robert Kagan expresses the fear that many of us have regarding President Obama and Iran: President Obama doesn't know how to play hardball.

So now the test results are in: Iran's intentions, it seems, are not good. Tehran apparently will not accept the deal but will propose an alternate plan, agreeing to ship smaller amounts of low-enriched uranium to Russia gradually over a year. Even if Iran carried out this plan as promised -- every month would be an adventure to see how much, if anything, Iran shipped -- the slow movement of small amounts of low-enriched uranium does not accomplish the original purpose, since Iran can quickly replace these amounts with new low-enriched uranium produced by its centrifuges. Iran's nuclear clock, which the Obama administration hoped to stop or at least slow, would continue ticking at close to its regular speed.

Tehran is obviously probing to see whether President Obama can play hardball or whether he can be played. If Obama has any hope of getting anywhere with the mullahs, he needs to show them he means business, now, and immediately begin imposing new sanctions.

And what about Russia, that other great object of the "new era of engagement"? Administration officials claim to have won Moscow's agreement to join in sanctions should Iran refuse to make a deal, and Obama paid in advance for cooperation by acquiescing to Moscow's demand to cancel planned missile-defense deployments in Poland and the Czech Republic.

On cue, the Post reports elsewhere that Russia has pocketed the advance payment and will not go along with sanctions.

The Kremlin said Wednesday that sanctions against Iran are highly unlikely in the near future, the latest signal that Russia is not yet ready to raise the heat on Tehran to allay Western fears over its nuclear program.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has warned Western powers that they will gain nothing by trying to intimidate Tehran, and Russian officials have refused to publicly back the United States in threatening tougher sanctions against Iran.

"Sanctions in relation to Iran are hardly possible in the near future," the Interfax news agency quoted the Kremlin's top foreign policy aide, Sergei Prikhodko, as telling Russian reporters in Moscow.

The problem is that Obama has no plan B. His only policy is 'engagement.'

Many of us worry that, for Obama, engagement is an end in itself, not a means to an end. We worry that every time Iran rejects one proposal, the president will simply resume negotiations on another proposal and that this will continue right up until the day Iran finally tests its first nuclear weapon, at which point the president will simply begin negotiations again to try to persuade Iran to put its nuclear genie back in the bottle.

Yes, that's exactly what we worry about. The problem is that while Obama has no plan B for dealing with Iran, the rest of the world won't acknowledge what the plan B is when Obama doesn't deal with Iran. Here's Kagan on sanctions:

That is the best card in Obama's hand right now. It's time for him to play it -- or admit that poker is not his game.

Fortunately, there is a plan B for Obama's failure to deal with Iran. Here it is:

Of course, you can't see it, but that plane has a blue Star of David on its tail.


Israel Matzav: Can Obama play hardball?

Israel Matzav: Obama sending video to Rabin memorial rally, Netanyahu not invited

Obama sending video to Rabin memorial rally, Netanyahu not invited

In a bid to influence Israeli public opinion, President Obama will send a videotaped message to be played at the annual Yitzchak Rabin memorial rally in Tel Aviv on Saturday night. Israel's sitting Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has not been invited to attend. This is from Haaretz (the first link above).

The message will relate to the murdered prime minister's legacy and the need to advance the peace process. It was prepared in response to a request from Rabin's daughter, Dalia Rabin.

This is another step in Obama's attempt to speak directly to the Israeli public in light of the very low level of support he has among the Israeli public. Several polls over the past few months show the American president has won the support of only 6 percent to 10 percent of the Israeli public, with people saying Obama does not support Israel.

Obama's advisers are worried about his lack of popularity and the expressed feeling that he is hostile to Israel. They believe this seriously harms his ability to advance the peace process with the Palestinians. Obama's advisers see this as the reason why Israelis view his diplomatic initiatives on both Iran and the Palestinians so negatively.


The main memorial ceremony will be the Rabin Square one Saturday night, on the site of the murder. Peres, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and opposition leader Tzipi Livni are expected to participate, as well as Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and numerous other politicians. A large number of artists will perform at the event, including Aviv Gefen, Ahinoam Nini, Miri Aloni, Rona Keinan and Miri Mesika.

But not Binyamin Netanyahu, who is still blamed by many on the Left for the assassination, because he spoke at a rally at which pictures of Rabin in an SS uniform were handed out. It came out much later that the pictures were prepared by an operative for Israel's General Security Service (Shabak), which was under Rabin's direct command. But the Left, likes to forget that.

Someone ought to let President Obama know that the Rabin memorial rally is the most divisive event on this country's calendar and that his video will be preaching to the choir. Rabin's legacy is such that for the most part, only the Left bothers to show up.

Israel Matzav: Obama sending video to Rabin memorial rally, Netanyahu not invited

Israel Matzav: Rabin's legacy

Rabin's legacy

Today, the 11th day of the Jewish month of Cheshvan is observed annually as the anniversary of the death of Yitzchak Rabin (even though he actually died on the 12th).

One of the features of the observance is the teaching of something called Moreshet Rabin (Rabin's legacy) in the schools. During most of the years after Rabin's death, the Education Ministry was under the Left's control, and Rabin's legacy was re-done into the 'peace process.' Unfortunately, with the Right in power, things haven't changed much.

The foreign ministry has a special briefing page on its web site for Rabin's death each year and somehow this speech - which was his last major policy address to the Knesset before he died - keeps getting left out (Hat Tip: IMRA). Here are some highlights with a few comments interspersed.

Members of Knesset,

The agreement before you is the continuation of the implementation of the agreements which were signed between the Government of Israel and the Palestinians. The first agreement which was brought to you was the Declaration of Principles, which was signed in Washington on 13 September 1993.

The second agreement which was presented to you is called the Cairo Agreement, which was signed in Cairo on 4 May 1994. Both of these agreements were ratified by the Knesset.

Mr. Chairman,

Both of the previous agreements, and the third which was submitted today, separately and together, give expression to the policy of the current Government, and to its path of promoting peace in the Middle East. As is known, when we formed the Government, over three years ago, we said that we would aspire to reach a permanent solution to the Palestinian Arab-Israeli conflict. And today, this Government brings, in addition to the signing of the peace treaty with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan -- which would not have been achieved without the agreement with the Palestinians -- a significant breakthrough in resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and an attempt to put an end to decades of terrorism and blood.

Members of Knesset,

We are striving for a permanent solution to the unending bloody conflict between us and the Palestinians and the Arab states.

In the framework of the permanent solution, we aspire to reach, first and foremost, the State of Israel as a Jewish state, at least 80% of whose citizens will be, and are, Jews.

At the same time, we also promise that the non-Jewish citizens of Israel -- Muslim, Christian, Druze and others -- will enjoy full personal, religious and civil rights, like those of any Israeli citizen. Judaism and racism are diametrically opposed.

We view the permanent solution in the framework of State of Israel which will include most of the area of the Land of Israel as it was under the rule of the British Mandate, and alongside it a Palestinian entity which will be a home to most of the Palestinian residents living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

We would like this to be an entity which is less than a state, and which will independently run the lives of the Palestinians under its authority. [Note that Rabin did not envision a 'Palestinian state.' What he envisioned was something more along the lines of the autonomy plan that was approved by Menachem Begin as part of the Camp David accords with Egypt. CiJ] The borders of the State of Israel, during the permanent solution, will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six Day War. We will not return to the 4 June 1967 lines.

And these are the main changes, not all of them, which we envision and want in the permanent solution:

A. First and foremost, united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma'ale Adumim and Givat Ze'ev -- as the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty, [Maaleh Adumim and Givat Zev both remain outside the city limits of Jerusalem. CiJ] while preserving the rights of the members of the other faiths, Christianity and Islam, to freedom of access and freedom of worship in their holy places, according to the customs of their faiths.

B. The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term. [The Jordan Valley is to the east, and the edge of the Jordan Valley is the Jordan River, which is the Jordanian border. Obviously, Rabin had no intention of letting the 'Palestinians' govern that either. CiJ]

C. Changes which will include the addition of Gush Etzion, Efrat, Beitar and other communities, most of which are in the area east of what was the "Green Line," prior to the Six Day War.

D. The establishment of blocs of settlements in Judea and Samaria, like the one in Gush Katif.

Note that the 'settlement blocs' are in addition to what we refer to as the 'settlement blocs' today - Gush Etzion, Maaleh Adumim, the Modiin area (which actually straddles the 'green line') and Ariel. It is clear that what Rabin envisioned was, for example, a 'settlement bloc' that would include places like Beit El, Ofra and Shilo, which are fairly close together and are now outside the 'security fence.'

The PLO, those in it subject to the authority of its chairman, Arafat, has stopped the terror against us, as they committed themselves in the Declaration of Principles. And yet, other terrorist organizations, continue to attack us, because it is their political aim to murder Israelis, because they are Israelis, through acts of terror, in order to cause the cessation of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Because this is their aim, we have no intention of shirking from the efforts toward peace, even if the acts of terrorism continue to harm us. We, on our side, will make every effort against the terrorists.

Well, he was dead wrong about the PLO (and rumor had it that he suspected it, and that had he lived, he would have ended the entire 'peace process' because of the PLO's terror).

I want to emphasize a number of subjects:

As a Jewish nation, we must, first and foremost, pay attention to the holy places, to our religion, tradition, and culture. We were strict about this in the Interim Agreement.

Here are several examples:

A. In the Cave of the Patriarchs, the current arrangement for security and the Jewish and Muslim prayers will continue as is. We agreed that we would examine the overall arrangements in Hebron after three months. We do not intend to change anything at the Tomb of the Patriarchs. [I don't recall what the 'current arrangement' was in 1995, but I can tell you that today, the largest hall - the Yitzchak Hall - is closed to Jewish worshippers most days of the year. CiJ]

B. At Rachel's Tomb, the principle was determined that worshippers and visitors would not encounter Palestinian police, neither on their approach to the Tomb nor during their prayers. The main road to Rachel's Tomb from the Gilo area up to the tomb itself [which is about 500 meters long. Gilo is in Jerusalem. CiJ], will be the responsibility of the IDF. Guarding Rachel's Tomb compound will be the responsibility of the IDF (or the Border Police), including three guard-posts outside the compound, which overlook the parking lot. Moreover, security for the area will be provided by joint Israeli- Palestinian patrols activities, in order to preserve the peace and security of those coming to Rachel's Tomb. [I don't know how many of you noticed the structure in the video Thursday morning, but until about 2000 or 2001, all those long hallways you saw did not exist, and the entrance to the tomb from the street was where you saw people going under a sign in Hebrew that said "Kever Rachel" (which means "Rachel's tomb). All the other structures were put up when the 'Palestinians' starting firing on the tomb in 2000. CiJ]

C. We have found a solution to the matter of Joseph's Tomb in Nablus. As is known, the students of the yeshiva and their teachers at Joseph's Tomb are there only during the day, and do not remain there at night. The current agreement will enable students to travel daily to the Tomb. The inside of the Tomb will be guarded by armed Israelis. The area will be guarded by the Palestinian Police according to the currently existing format and according to the procedures for movement and prayer at the "Shalom al-Yisrael" synagogue in Jericho. These arrangements have been in place in Jericho for a year and five months. There was one incident. A single Jew was prevented from praying. [The 'Palestinians' destroyed both of those sites in 2000. An IDF soldier bled to death in Joseph's Tomb because the government refused to allow the IDF to retake the tomb to save the soldier's life. Today, there is very limited access to those sites in coordination with the IDF, and neither site is as it once was. CiJ]

As for the other Jewish holy places -- most of them are located in Area B, which is under the overall security control of the IDF.

And as for the archaeological sites, we found a solution by mutual agreement, that no changes whatsoever will be made at any archaeological site, without the agreement of both sides.


I must emphasize that we have not committed ourselves, and I repeat, we have not committed ourselves to the scope of the redeployment at each stage. Most importantly, it was defined in the agreement that the restrictions on the completion of the redeployment are issues that will be discussed during the negotiations on the permanent settlement, as is stated in the Agreement itself, and I qoute: "During the further redeployment phases to be completed within 18 months from the date of the inauguration of the Council, powers and responsibilities relating to territory will be transferred to Palestinian jurisdiction that will cover West Bank and Gaza Strip territory, except for issues that will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations." [In other words, Israel made NO commitments regarding permanent borders. CiJ]


[Quoting from the agreement] 2. "Nothing in this Agreement shall prejudice or preempt the outcome of the negotiations on the permanent status to be conducted pursuant to the DOP. Neither Party shall be deemed, by virtue of having entered into this Agreement, to have renounced or waived any of its existing rights, claims. or positions."

"Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent solution negotiations."

I want to remind you: we committed ourselves, that is, we came to an agreement, and committed ourselves before the Knesset, not to uproot a single settlement in the framework of the interim agreement, and not to hinder building for natural growth.

Of course, we have never gone beyond the interim agreement. This was the last agreement signed with the 'Palestinians.'

Members of Knesset,

We are aware of the fact that the Palestinian Authority has not -- up until now -- honored its commitment to change the Palestinian Covenant, and that all of the promises on this matter have not been kept. I would like to bring it to the attention of the members of the house that I view these changes as a supreme test of the Palestinian Authority's willingness and ability, and the changes required will be an important and serious touchstone vis-a-vis the continued implementation of the agreement as a whole.

The relevant article speaks about this:

"The PLO undertakes that, within two months of the date of the inauguration of the Council, the Palestinian National Council will convene and formally approve the necessary changes in regard to the Palestinian Covenant, as undertaken in the letters signed by the Chairman of the PLO and addressed to the Prime Minister of Israel, dated September 9, 1993 and May 4, 1994."

The PLO was supposed to amend its covenant to recognize Israel's 'right to exist.' Of course, it still has not done that fourteen years later.

Read the whole thing.

After Rabin's speech, the interim agreement passed the Knesset 61-59, with the two deciding votes being provided by two defectors from the right wing Tzomet party(Alex Goldfarb and Gonen Segev), who were paid off with government ministries.

The Left teaches that Rabin's legacy is the 'peace process.' But this speech shows that Rabin's conception of the 'peace process' was nothing like the Left's conception. What Rabin envisioned was far less than what Ehud Barak offered at Camp David in 2000 and at Taba in 2001, and far, far less than what Ehud Olmert offered to Abu Mazen in September 2008. Would Rabin have 'come around' to what the 'Palestinians' have demanded? Let's say that's highly questionable.

The Left doesn't mourn Yitzchak Rabin. They use his death as an excuse to mourn the 'peace process' and the 'Palestinian state' to which they thought it would lead that would allow us - in their conception - to live like all the other nations. They put words into Rabin's mouth to give the illusion that he thought as they think. But the Left's entire concept is a delusion. And so too, unfortunately, is peace.

Israel Matzav: Rabin's legacy

Israel Matzav: The Goldstone wordle

The Goldstone wordle

I'm sure you've all seen those tags on websites that show how often words have been used. The words that are used the most are the largest and the words that are used the least are the smallest. They're called Wordle.

Justice Richard Richard Goldstone insists that his 'balanced' report condemned both Israel and Hamas equally for 'war crimes' committed during Operation Cast Lead. Elder of Ziyon decided to check out that claim. So he plugged Goldstone's conclusions and recommendations into Wordle, and produced a graphic of the 250 words that occur most frequently in that section of the Goldstone Report.

I won't spoil it for you by reproducing the graphic - you can find it here. But here's your challenge:

Find the word "Hamas."

The report's real 'even-handed' isn't it?

Israel Matzav: The Goldstone wordle

Israel Matzav: A trip to al-Kibar

A trip to al-Kibar

This is the kind of reader many bloggers dream about.

One of the readers of Arms Control Wonk took time out from a trip to Syria to go close enough to photograph the site of the al-Kibar nuclear reactor that was destroyed by Israel in September 2007. I'm going to post one of the photographs (partly because it will tick the Syrians off to see it on an Israeli blog) and then suggest that you read the whole thing (Hat Tip: Barry Rubin).

And if any of you want to send me pictures of your summer vacation that you think I might be interested in posting, please feel free to send them to


Israel Matzav: A trip to al-Kibar

Israel Matzav: Guess who initiated the Goldstone Commission

Guess who initiated the Goldstone Commission

I'm sure you'll all be shocked, just shocked, to hear who initiated the Goldstone Commission. In an interview with Al-Jazeera (English), Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) spills the beans.

Al Jazeera: The UN's Goldstone report has been in the headlines in the past few weeks - not without controversy - and has brought to light the conduct of the Israelis and Hamas during the war on Gaza earlier in the year. Does the OIC see this as a step forward in recognising what transpired during that war and in bringing the plight of the Palestinians to the fore on an international scale?

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu:
Let me first start by completing the story of the history of the Goldstone report. What I would like to put on record is that the OIC was the initiator of this process.

On January 3, during the attacks on Gaza, we convened the executive committee of the OIC on a ministerial level. It was decided that the OIC group in Geneva should ask the Human Rights Council to convene and consider the possibility of sending a fact-finding mission to Gaza.

The OIC was instrumental in getting through this resolution and thanks to the good offices of Ms Pilay, the UN high commissioner, that she formed this fact-finding mission headed by Judge Goldstone.

On October 8, I visited Geneva and had a meeting with OIC ambassadors and the high commissioner. We revived the process again and the Goldstone report has been approved by the rights council.

Now as for the prospects of the Goldstone report, I think the first thing to mention here is that the acceptance and approval of the report by the UN's human rights council is itself testimony of the world's public opinion about what happened in Gaza.

This report has certain operative paragraphs which aim to determine who is responsible for the massacres and destruction - illegally and in flagrant violation of humanitarian law and the Geneva Conventions on the conduct of war.

I think now the OIC and the international community should work hand-in-hand to implement the proposals made in the Goldstone report.

This certainly explains the one-sided and biased mandate of the Goldstone Commission, which Goldstone himself is now trying to disavow.

But the key figure in this article has nothing to do with Israel: The OIC is the second largest intergovernmental body after the UN. So long as internationalists (like Barack Obama) try to govern the world on the basis of 'one country, one vote,' there will always be an automatic majority against Israel and Jews everywhere.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Guess who initiated the Goldstone Commission

Israel Matzav: The secret to Israel's success

The secret to Israel's success

Dan Senor and Saul Singer have written a new book: Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle. Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review Online interviewed Senor about the book. Here are some highlights.

KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: What’s so special about Israel?

DAN SENOR: Israel represents the highest concentration of innovation and entrepreneurship in the world today: the most start-ups per capita; the highest percentage of GDP invested in civilian R&D; more companies on NASDAQ than all of Europe, Korea, Japan, India, and China combined; and the biggest destination for global venture capital per capita. Israel raises 2.5 times as much global venture capital as the U.S., 30 times more than Europe, 80 times more than India, and 350 times more than China — and these numbers are from 2008, when the world was in the midst of an economic meltdown. Israel all but escaped the crisis that ripped through economies everywhere else.


LOPEZ: What’s the secret of its success?

DAN SENOR: Our book dives into many interacting factors, but one of the most important is the training and battlefield experience that most Israelis receive in the military. The military is where many Israelis learn to lead and manage people, improvise, become mission-oriented, work in teams, and contribute to their country. They tend to come out of their years of service (three for men, two for women) more mature and directed than their peers in other countries. They learn “the value of five minutes,” as one general told us. They even learn something more uniquely Israeli: to speak up — regardless of ranks and hierarchy — if they think things can be done better.

LOPEZ: Where has Israel fallen behind?

DAN SENOR: The non-tech portion of the economy is overconcentrated, overregulated, and overtaxed, and has consequently performed at a mediocre level. If the conditions that have allowed the high-tech sector to flourish were applied to the rest of the economy, Israel could grow even faster. If Israel also were to address the low labor-force-participation rates in certain demographics, we agree with Prime Minister Netanyahu that Israel could become one of the top ten largest economies in the world.

LOPEZ: Has this been an ethical success story?

DAN SENOR: We believe that the free-market system is progressively eliminating the extreme poverty that was the lot of the world throughout history. This process is largely driven by improvements in productivity, which are in part a result of advancements in technology, especially by small, scrappy start-ups. Also, Israel has specialized in life-enhancing and life-saving technologies like medical devices, water conservation, desalination, and irrigation, not to mention the information technology that is making the world smaller. The great thing about innovation is that, unlike physical resources, ideas can be shared and duplicated by all without taking from anyone else.

Read the whole thing.

I'm probably not the best one to discuss this story, because I never served in the army (I was 34 years old when we immigrated to Israel and the major Russian immigration started a year or two before we came, so they didn't want me) and I never got the army culture down pat as a result. In a lot of ways, I still prefer the American way of doing business. With Israelis, everything is face-to-face meetings and despite what he says about speaking up, in my experience, most Israelis are conformists. Tell me where they grew up and how they dress and I can tell you an awful lot about them.

But it's difficult to argue with the success. Maybe I need a review copy of the book.

Israel Matzav: The secret to Israel's success

Israel Matzav: An armory in every village

An armory in every village

Following up on Tuesday night's firing of a Katyusha rocket into Israel, a UNIFIL spokesman told the Jerusalem Post that UNIFIL has not encountered any efforts by Hezbullah to re-arm. But the IDF says that's because UNIFIL does not go into the Lebanese villages, and that Hezbullah in fact maintains an armory in every village.

Speaking by phone from southern Lebanon, UNIFIL's Deputy Spokesman, Andreas Tenenti, told the Post that the peacekeepers have not encountered any attempts by Hizbullah to rearm itself in violation of Resolution 1701.

"From what we've seen during our patrols, we have not witnessed any rearmament," Tenenti said. "We have a large presence in the south of the country, [but] we are not in every place at every time," he added.

Lebanese army forces discovered on Wednesday morning four rockets mounted on launch pads in the Lebanese village of Houlo - from where a Katyusha rocket was fired at the Upper Galilee region of northern Israel on Tuesday evening.

The rockets, which were reportedly ready for launch, were neutralized by Lebanese troops.


The calm is, however, deceptive, Israel believes. Recent explosions of weapons caches in Lebanese villages offered more than enough proof of Hizbullah's rearmament efforts, the army source said.

"There are facts on the ground which speak for themselves," he added. Earlier this month, the IDF released surveillance video taken from a drone of a building in the town of Tirplesi following an enormous explosion of what the army says was an illegal Hizbullah arms cache.

Various long objects covered by a fabric can be seen being removed from the building, loaded onto a truck, and driven away. The objects were medium-range rockets that can strike deep into northern Israel, security sources said.

"What can be more clear than that?" the source asked.

The problem is that UNIFIL's mandate under UN Security Council Resolution 1701 does not allow them to enter Lebanese villages unless the Lebanese Armed Forces ask them to enter. The Lebanese Armed Forces are dominated by Hezbullah sympathizers and of course, never ask UNIFIL to enter the villages.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: An armory in every village

Israel Matzav: Hamas bans elections in Gaza

Hamas bans elections in Gaza

With the 'Palestinian Authority' planning elections for January 24, Hamas has announced that it will not allow the 'Palestinian Authority' to plan the election in Gaza, effectively banning it.

Hamas's decision to ban the vote in the Gaza Strip raises doubts regarding PA President Mahmoud Abbas's ability to hold the elections on time.

Hamas and other Palestinian factions have also declared their intention to boycott the vote, leaving Abbas's Fatah faction alone in the race.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that the elections committee, which was entrusted earlier this week by Abbas to start preparing for the elections, was an "illegal body" that was established on the basis of an "unconstitutional" decision.

Abu Zuhri said that the committee was established in violation of "understandings" reached between Hamas and Fatah through Egyptian mediators in recent weeks.

He added that according to the ostensible understandings, the committee was supposed to be established in agreement between the two parties.

The spokesman stressed that Hamas would not allow the committee to operate in the Gaza Strip. He said that the Hamas government would take the necessary measures to enforce the ban.

The Hamas-controlled Ministry of Interior threatened to punish any Palestinian who participated in the elections or helped Abbas's elections committee in the Gaza Strip. The ministry said that Hamas was opposed to holding any elections before a "reconciliation" agreement was reached with Fatah. It pointed out that Abbas did not have the authority to issue a "presidential decree" calling for new elections.

The article goes on to add that Marwan Barghouti also opposes the 'elections' and that Abu Mazen will again be a candidate.

But just give them a 'state' and all these problems will be magically resolved.


Israel Matzav: Hamas bans elections in Gaza

Israel Matzav: Video: Inside Rachel's tomb

Video: Inside Rachel's tomb

This video was done inside Rachel's tomb one year ago on the date of the anniversary of our matriarch Rachel's death by Akiva M.

Let's go to the videotape (Hat Tip: NY Nana).

Yes, that song is pretty popular, isn't it?

Israel Matzav: Video: Inside Rachel's tomb

Israel Matzav: French 'comedian' fined 10,000 euro for anti-Semitic stunt

French 'comedian' fined 10,000 euro for anti-Semitic stunt

A French 'comedian' has been fined 10,000 euro for an on-air anti-Semitic stunt (Hat Tip: NY Nana).

This time, Paris judges fined Dieudonné €10,000 for "public anti-Semitic insults" and awarded €10,000 in legal costs to the eight organisations that sued him, including SOS Racisme, Union of Jewish Students in France and the J'Accuse association.


SOS Racisme said: "We are quite satisfied with this decision. This shows yet again that Dieudonné M'Bala M'Bala is not a comedian but uses that label to express his hatred."

But lawyer Stephan Lilti, who represented the UEJF and J'Accuse said he was disappointed with the verdict. He told Paris Match: "Dieudonné has been convicted three times for the same reason in 2007 and 2008, and he has never paid his fines."

The groups' complaints stemmed from a stunt during a stand-up show where Dieudonné invited convicted Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson to receive an award from an actor dressed as a concentration camp victim.

He was previously fined €5, 000 in November 2007 for comparing Jews to “slave-traders”. Two months previously, he called Holocaust Memorial Day “memorial pornography”.

He said: “For them, if a child at school is called a ‘dirty Jew,’ they are up in arms. To me, Zionism is the AIDS of Judaism. The Zionists have claimed a monopoly on suffering.”

Dieudonné has also used the murder of Ilan Halimi as material for comedy in his one man show.

After Mr Halimi was murdered, Julien Dray, the (Jewish) spokesperson of the Socialist Party said: “There is an antisemitism embedded in French society, and there are certain people who are symbolic of this.

“I will say it clearly. There is a Dieudonné effect.”

The issue isn't the level of the fines (a joke for someone in the entertainment business) or whether he pays them. The issue is that this guy should not be on the airwaves. Consider what happened to Don Imus in the US after he made racist, sexist comments about a women's basketball team.

I know, I know. Dieudonné only insulted Jews. And in France to boot.
Israel Matzav: French 'comedian' fined 10,000 euro for anti-Semitic stunt

Israel Matzav: Abu Mazen's betrayal

Abu Mazen's betrayal

Personally, I find it delicious that Abu Mazen finds himself in the predicament described in this article. But if you look at it from the 'Palestinian' perspective (and even from the American one), you can only conclude that President Obumbler fouled up royally to put Abu Mazen there.

Abbas will come to the meetings with the Americans when Palestinian elections will be approaching, and the last thing he needs is the renewal of negotiations with Israel without a complete freeze of construction in the settlements. Nonetheless, Clinton will ask Abbas to restart the negotiations without getting what he has been seeking for so long - a halt to Jewish construction in the West Bank and especially in East Jerusalem.

The American secretary of state may have the United States to blame for the current situation. The Obama White House and State Department pushed Abbas not to seek a hearing at the United Nations on the Goldstone Commission report on Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. This greatly damaged Abbas' standing in Palestinian public opinion.

The Americans had engendered a feeling in Abbas' office that this time the administration was serious in its determination to apply pressure on Israel to stop all construction over the Green Line. President Obama, his secretary of state and Middle East envoy were the ones who, over and over, said they were demanding this as part of the first stage of the road map peace plan. The moment they came to an agreement with Israel on a partial construction freeze, they left Abu Mazen high and dry. He was up a tree they had helped him climb.

The embarrassing situation in which Abbas finds himself may leave him feeling more than a little betrayed. This helps explain his implied threat in the course of a weekend conversation with Obama that he would not submit his candidacy for the presidency in the upcoming Palestinian elections - in other words, he would resign. A high-ranking figure in Fatah explained the situation well when asked about it by Haaretz: "You can remain calm. On our side, no senior official resigns."

The truth is that this article is just plain wrong, because it makes it sound like what got Abu Mazen into this mess was his inaction on the Goldstone Report. But the Goldstone Report was the icing on the cake.

What got Abu Mazen into this mess was his seizing on Obama's demand for a 'settlement freeze' - something the 'Palestinians' had never demanded before as a condition to negotiations. And that's Obama's fault because he never should have made demands on the 'Palestinians' behalf.

Elsewhere, the article talks about how Abu Mazen felt a warm connection to Olmert but doesn't feel that way about Netanyahu. That's part of the same equation. Abu Mazen never demanded a 'settlement freeze' from Olmert. When you make unreasonable demands on someone, they won't be your friend.

That's a lesson in life as well.

Israel Matzav: Abu Mazen's betrayal

DoubleTapper: IDF Women

DoubleTapper: IDF Women

Love of the Land: British police to tackle UK-funded torturers on the West Bank

British police to tackle UK-funded torturers on the West Bank

Tom Gross
NRO Blog
28 October 09

The Mail on Sunday (which is the Sunday sister paper of Britain’s Daily Mail) reports that:

The British government is sending police and intelligence officers to the West Bank to try to stop a wave of brutal torture by Palestinian security forces funded by UK taxpayers. Their mission is to set up and train a new “internal affairs” department with sweeping powers to investigate abuse and bring torturers to justice.

On Saturday a senior official from the Palestinian Authority, which runs the West Bank and its security agencies, admitted that torture, beatings and extra-judicial killings have been rife for the past two years, with hundreds of torture allegations and at least four murders in custody, the most recent in August. British detectives will also train the Palestinian police and Preventive Security forces in how to question suspects without torturing them.Britain spends £20 million a year funding the forces responsible for the abuse.

In the West Bank city of Nablus, Nasser al-Shaer, a former academic from Manchester University who was deputy prime minister in the short-lived Hamas Palestinian Authority government elected in 2006, said many of those released from detention in recent months were telling the same story – of torture, including beatings, being suspended from the ceiling, and electric shocks.

Now none of this is new. In spite of what the paper says, it has been continuing not just for the past two years, but since Yasser Arafat was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and took over most of the West Bank in 1993. What is new is that a major newspaper (The Mail On Sunday is one of Britain’s highest circulation respected newspapers) is reporting on it.

Of course, the abuse of human rights and use of torture is even worse in other “moderate” Arab countries like Egypt and Jordan, and far worse in non-moderate countries like Syria (which yesterday the European Union eagerly signed an Association Agreement with).

Many Palestinians I know yearn for the days when Israel ruled the West Bank before Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah took over most of the Palestinian-populated territories.

Meanwhile, as Palestinian detainees are being tortured to death in Palestinian Authority jails, Palestinian prisoners (including convicted terrorists) in custody in Israel are studying for Israeli university degrees (at Israeli taxpayers’ expense) and also given cable TV, IPods and dental treatment – but international human rights groups instead criticize the treatment of prisoners in Israel, whose deputy foreign minister and former ambassador to Washington Danny Ayalon narrowly escaped being arrested in Britain for “war crimes” yesterday.

And the world community that routinely and harshly condemns Israel even when Israel hasn’t done anything wrong, has failed to condemn the Katyusha rocket fired from Lebanon which narrowly missed an Israeli town last night.

It is a strange world.

Love of the Land: British police to tackle UK-funded torturers on the West Bank

Love of the Land: The United Nations Is Outraged Again, Or: Department of Mideast Static

The United Nations Is Outraged Again, Or: Department of Mideast Static

Paul Greenberg
Jewish World Review
27 October 09

It won't do, at least not in polite society, to propose wiping a country off the map. That mantra has been left to Iran's raving leader.

Instead, this year's tactic at the always-busy United Nations is to deny Israel the right to defend itself. Which would lead to its destruction soon enough. And that would be the practical effect of bringing its generals and ministers to trial for their "war crimes" in Gaza. That's where the Israelis, after absorbing years of rocket attacks across their southern border, went in and attacked the source of the attacks. Their border with Hamas-controlled Gaza has been quieter since.

Naturally the United Nations, which is a lot better at condoning aggression than enforcing the peace, is outraged — and doing its best to stir things up again. Its "Human Rights" Council, which has little if anything to do with protecting human rights, especially in Islamic dictatorships, has demanded that Israel be brought before the International Court of Justice for daring to defend itself.

With fine impartiality between aggressors and defenders, an investigation sponsored by the UN produced a report that blamed both Hamas and Israel for their conduct during the late unpleasantness in Gaza, ignoring expert testimony and the conclusions of the Israelis' own extensive investigations.

The UN's Human Rights Council then turned its dubious report into another of its customary anti-Israeli resolutions. The prejudice here was so blatant that even the author of the report said he was saddened by the partisan use to which it was put.

The U.S. delegation and a few scattered European ones objected to this kind of lynch law, but both China and Russia, those great exemplars of human rights, joined the mob. So did the Arab bloc, another bastion of human rights.

The result: A biased jury brought in a biased verdict. What a surprise. Let it be said that at least this arm of the UN has been consistent: According to one count, 80 percent of the condemnations it's ever issued have been aimed at the Jewish state.

In the irony-free precincts of the United Nations, the chairman of the UN's Arab bloc this month is the delegate from Sudan, whose government presided over the genocide in Darfur, which is rapidly being forgotten.

These days even the United States, under our new administration, is adopting a softer, gentler tone toward the genocidal regime in Khartoum. For that matter, Washington is moving to "engage" Teheran and Moscow, too. And the military dictatorship in Burma to boot. Any regime that really violates human rights can hope to get a sympathetic hearing from this new crew at the State Department.

Nothing is likely to come of this latest diplomatic provocation at the United Nations except another delay in the always-stalled peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians. But any chance of those negotiations succeeding has always been only an abstraction. Even if the Israelis negotiated under this threat from the UN, with which Palestinian rump state/militia/gang/Iranian front group would they negotiate with? The one in Gaza or Damascus or Beirut on the West Bank?

The essential aim of the Arab side in this "peace process" that produces regular incidents and sporadic wars has never been to create a Palestinian state next to the Jewish one. Or that objective could have been achieved at almost any time during the past century by accepting one of the many proposals for partition of that overly promised land — going back as far as the Peel Commission of 1937. Or as recently as the Oslo Accords of the 1990s. Or the summit that Yasser Arafat walked out of in the waning days of the Clinton administration in 2000.

Failure has followed failure because this diplomatic charade has never really been about creating still another Arab state in the Middle East but about destroying the Jewish one.

Love of the Land: The United Nations Is Outraged Again, Or: Department of Mideast Static

Love of the Land: CNN Waters Down the Israeli Response

CNN Waters Down the Israeli Response

CNN fails to provide any Israeli reaction to a flawed Amnesty report.

Honest Reporting/Backspin
29 October 09

Utilizing the "halo effect," whereby because of their humanitarian focus, non-governmental organizations are insulated from scrutiny and are regarded as above reproach by the media, Amnesty International has published a report accusing Israel of denying Palestinians access to water supplies.

Media outlets, including AP, AFP, Reuters, BBC, The Independent, Sky News, The Age and the Irish Times, were happy to promote Amnesty's allegations. The Times of London even ran with the provocative headline: Palestinians suffer under Israeli water torture.

While the above media did, at least, include some limited responses from Israeli officials, the CNN report below from Paula Hancocks did not even bother to supply any Israeli reaction whatsoever.

Send your considered comments to CNN on its feedback form, asking why Paula Hancocks has failed to carry out the most basic of journalistic norms.

Regarding Amnesty's report itself, Officials at the Israeli Water Authority told theJerusalem Post they were never given an opportunity to present information to Amnesty researchers, nor respond to the Palestinian allegations. They also say the report's figures are deeply flawed.

Moreover, NGO Monitor claims Amnesty's report was timed to boost a campaign to boycott Israel. Indeed, a US speaking tour kicks off next week with Omar Barghouti addressing the Loyola Law School in LA on the topic "Palestine: Thirsting for Justice. Israel’s Control of Water as a Tool of Apartheid and a Means of Ethnic Cleansing."

A Jerusalem Post editorial addresses the issues:

It [Amnesty' report] set out to examine the assumed victimization of the Palestinians. Thereafter, everything proceeded true to pattern. The inevitable bottom line is that the Palestinians are aggrieved. No blame is apportioned to them. The causes of the situation aren't considered. . . .

Additionally, the Israel Water Authority notes that, when all water uses are combined, it emerges that 149 cubic meters are available per capita per annum for Israelis, and 105 cu.m. for Palestinians. The difference, though not negligible, is far from Amnesty's claim of a super-acute shortage, well below the World Health Organization recommended minimum allotment. Water availability to Israelis has fallen sharply in recent decades. In 1967 it stood at 500 cu.m. - so today's figure represents a 70% drop. Until the Six Day War, Palestinians could count on a mere 86 cu.m. yearly. Their situation has improved by 22%.

Had it been given the opportunity, the Water Authority would also have highlighted that Israel supplies water to the PA well in excess of its 1995 Oslo Accords undertakings. Systematically overlooked by Amnesty, meanwhile, are Palestinian breaches of these accords - including pirate drilling, water theft and routine damage to pipelines, failures to purify waste water (despite massive contributions by donor nations), irrigating crops with fresh rather than reclaimed water, dumping untreated sewage into streams, severely contaminating Israel's Coastal Aquifer and forcing Israel to deal with PA sewage.

It is very hard to resist the conclusion that Amnesty's report was commissioned to serve a specific agenda.

See also The Issue of of Water Between and the Palestinians (pdf format), a document published in March by the Israeli Water Authority.

Love of the Land: CNN Waters Down the Israeli Response
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