Monday, 9 November 2009

Shir Ha-Ma'alot #31

Shir Ha-Ma'alot #31


On the Sheva Berachot –
"Creator of the man"

What is the difference between this blessing and the next blessing "Who created the man" etc...? Rashi explains that this blessing, "Creator of the man," relates to the first creation of the first man and "Who created the man" refers to the second creation (Ketubot 8a). The original man was created in two stages. Before anything he was created alone, but since "It is not good for the man to be alone, I will make for him a helpmate," the second blessing of the creation of the man appears where he receives a partner, "an everlasting building." One can ask: Why two creations? Why create man alone which is not good for him and afterwards a partner? After all, Hashem could have shortened the process and created him with his partner right away.
Hashem is certainly Omnipotent, but he wanted the man to be alone and only afterwards marry. As in every matter, man has free choice, and it is in his power to decide if he wants to better his actions. Marriage is therefore also the product of free choice. It is one of the most fateful choices of life, and it is certainly incumbent upon him to weigh with clear understanding and the understanding of Torah with whom he should marry, and all the success of marriage also depends on the reciprocal efforts of the spouse. "It is forbidden for a man to betroth a woman until he sees her, lest he will see something unpleasant in her and she will be unbecoming to him and the Torah says: ‘Love your fellow as yourself’" (Kiddushin 41a). When people marry, they must be sure that they love each other, but that is not enough. There is a need for continuous serious work in order to understand the other, to feel the other, to learn to surrender to the other and to request from the other.
The original man who was created alone, was - according to our Sages, both male and female, the man and his wife joined together in one body. Afterwards the Master of the Universe separated him into two: one side man and one side woman. It seems as if marriage is the ideal, natural connection. However, one must arrive at this supreme level, this serious, chosen, intellectual, ethical connection. This is the pleasant and wonderful work of the marriage (see Olat Re’eiyah vol. 1, pp. 392-393).
It once happened that a couple brought an expensive, new car. During the first drive, the wife, driving alone, caused an accident and it resulted in major damage to the vehicle. An immense feeling of anxiety gripped her: My husband is going to kill me! She got the car registration to give the other driver the required information. During this a small note fell out of the insurance card, written in the handwriting of her husband: "My sweet, remember, I love you more than the vehicle."
Originally posted by Torat HaRav Aviner

Is This the Same Country?

Is This the Same Country?

[From "Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah" – Parashat Bereshit 5770 – translated by R. Blumberg]

Question: Since the Gush Katif expulsion, I’ve got a terrible wound over my heart that to this day has not healed. Quite the contrary, I’ve changed my relationship to the State of Israel. For me, it’s no longer the “first flowering of our redemption.” When I see a film in which our soldiers forcibly evict mothers, fathers and children, from their homes, in which synagogues are destroyed and graves are moved, I say, “It’s not the same country. It’s not the same army.”
Answer: Why not mention Sabbath desecration, breaches in Kashrut, sexual immodesty, the warped legal system, poor education, graft, and corruption? Indeed much of the Jewish population living in Zion has lost their faith in the government’s struggle against public corruption, and they believe that the public sector is very corrupt. Indeed, the situation is problematic.
Yet even when we arrived in the Land after the redemption from Egypt we had troubles immeasurably worse than those today, and it was the same in Ezra and Nechemiah’s time. And before that, just when Yaakov’s family began to grow strong, Yosef was sold by his brothers.
And when you get down to it, after Adam was created, Adam sinned and Kayin killed Hevel. Don’t you know that life is complicated? Life only looks simple to the drunkard (Yoma 75). “When one casts his glance on the cup, all looks smooth” (Mishlei 23:31). Life looks simple to him, but he only sees the surface. Haven’t you read Chapter 1 of Mesilat Yesharim? Haven’t you learned that man faces a two-front battle? Haven’t you learned that man has a good impulse and an evil impulse? Haven’t you heard of Noach’s flood and the Generation of the Dispersion? Of the destruction of the First and Second Temples?
One way the evil impulse tempts us is towards hatred, and we’re not allowed to feed that temptation. Jewish law states that one is forbidden to read a book that provokes the evil impulse (Orach Chaim 307:16), let alone to see movies that increase our desire to hate. Neither may we feed our evil impulse to despair. The evil impulse works alone. It needs no help. By contrast, the good impulse needs much strengthening. See Mesilat Yesharim, which states that one has to look for the ways and means to build it up, and that one has to take precautionary measures against those deleterious elements that would erode our good traits. True, there have been many crises since the start of the return to Zion. They didn’t start with the expulsion from Gush Katif, and there will be many more crises to come. The definition of a crisis is something that goes against our will. But open your eyes and see all the kindnesses that G-d performs for us. This Land was empty and now it houses millions. It was in the hands of the Turks and the British, and now it is in our hands. It was spiritually desolate and now it is full of Torah. The Jewish People were under the control of the world’s evildoers, and now we have an army that defends us.
Apparently G-d did you a kindness by letting you be born in the right time and place, so you don’t know how lucky you are. As for myself, I was born in the wrong time and place, and as an infant I had to be hidden lest I end up in the concentration camps. Thank G-d that infant was never sent there, but six million others were. Those sent to the camps would have paid a million dollars to be protected by that army you say is “not the same army.”
Originally posted by Torat HaRav Aviner

Belief Trumps Facts

Belief Trumps Facts

Andrew Sullivan has a link to the transcript of an NPR (radio) program the day Major Hasan murdered 13 soldiers at Fort Hood. There are two radio types who's job is to talk all the time, and they've just brought a colleague online, one Daniel Zwerdling, who's got some background information about the murderer:

... But second of all - and this is, perhaps, you know, more relevant. The psychiatrist says that he was very proud and upfront about being Muslim. And psychiatrist hastened to say, and nobody minded that. But he seemed almost belligerent about being Muslim, and he gave a lecture one day that really freaked a lot of doctors out.

They have grand rounds, right? They, you know, dozens of medical staff come into an auditorium, and somebody stands at the podium at the front and gives a lecture about some academic issue, you know, what drugs to prescribe for what condition. But instead of that, he - Hasan apparently gave a long lecture on the Koran and talked about how if you don't believe, you are condemned to hell. Your head is cut off. You're set on fire. Burning oil is burned down your throat.

And I said to the psychiatrist, but this cold be a very interesting informational session, right? Where he's educating everybody about the Koran. He said but what disturbed everybody was that Hasan seemed to believe these things. And actually, a Muslim in the audience, a psychiatrist, raised his hand and said, excuse me. But I'm a Muslim and I do not believe these things in the Koran, and then I don't believe what you say the Koran says. And then Hasan didn't say, well, I'm just giving you one point of view. He basically just stared the guy down.

Sound's rather straightforward to me. The man has just murdered 13 American troops, and here's evidence he's strongly influenced by the ideology that's at war with America (and the rest of the free world), and perhaps this connection might be worthy of our attention.

Nope. Here's how the two hosts of the program relate to this information:

INSKEEP: So we have a picture of a man, then, who, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, was disliked by his colleagues. Or maybe disliked is not the word. Disturbed some of his colleagues is perhaps a better way to put it.

ZWERDLING: No, and disliked is also a relevant word.

INSKEEP: OK. And then�

ZWERDLING: Then he - the psychiatrist this morning said people generally considered him a blank bag. You, you know, can guess what they say.

INSKEEP: And then he is sent to Fort Hood, Texas, and he knows at the point that this shooting allegedly begins, that the shooting begins of which he is accused, that he's about to be deployed by Afghanistan. Now, Tom, you've been looking into some of the stresses of military personnel of being sent overseas.

GJELTEN: That's right, Steve. You know, you referred to the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. There's - almost seems to be a phenomenon that you could maybe call a pre-traumatic stress disorder. There have been a lot suicides in the Army, many more as a result of these wars than in previous years. Interestingly enough, as many soldiers have killed themselves before they were due to be deployed as after. Thirty-five percent of the suicides are pre-deployment, 35 percent are post-deployment. So there seems to be an issue here of expectation of what you are getting into. And the fact that Major Hasan would've known better than others, even, about how traumatic combat experience would be, you know, raises the question of, you know, was he an example of these soldiers who are literally freaked out by what they are likely to face when they are deployed?

INSKEEP: And it's hard to miss the location of this shooting: a processing center for people being sent overseas.

To his credit, Zwerdling does then make an effort to bring the attention back to where it should be, but he's talking to the wall. The conditioning of the other two fellows simply doesn't let them hear him. He's not saying what he's saying.


Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

The Short 20th Century

The Short 20th Century

For a moment in the 1990s, people began to talk about The Short 20th Century, the one that began in 1914 and ended in 1989 (or 1991). The idea was that the 19th century, not including its first 15 years, was a rather peaceful place, all the way up until August 1914. And the 21st century was sure to be a peaceful place, too, all the way back from the end of the Cold War. In between these peaceful eras, there was that ghastly (but thankfully short) 20th century, with all its wars and stuff.

Of course, the century being discussed was European. Much of the rest of the world was on a somewhat different schedule. At the heart of Europe was Germany. At the heart of Germany in the 20th century was the 9th of November:

November 9th 1918: Germany capitulates and The Great War ends.
November 9th 1923: German chauvinists, mostly Nazis, commemorated the black anniversary with an attempt to overthrow the reviled Weimar Republic. This event is known as the Beer-hall Putsch.
November 9th from 1933 onwards: in commemoration of the putsch, which happened on the day of the capitulation, the 9th of November was one of the main days of celebration on the Nazi calender.
November 9th 1938: the celebrating Old Fighters convened in the Beer Hall in Munich in the presence of Hitler hear a speech by Goebbels which launches the Reich-wide pogrom later known as Kristalnacht.
November 9th 1989, the Berlin Wall is breached, and the symbol of the Cold War is no more.

Funny how history can sometimes seem so pat and sensible. But then events keep on happening, and the tidiness sort of dissipates. Seen from this side of 2001, it seems a bit eager to think that 1989 was the end of history and the beginning of a peaceful multilateral world.

Though the part about Germany was correct. November 9th 1989 probably was the last time Germany was at the eye of world history.
Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

Obama and Netanyahu: Not Palls

Obama and Netanyahu: Not Palls

Aluf Benn, a serious journalist at Haaretz, has some cool words to say about Netanyahu's rising sense of confidence about facing down Obama:

Netanyahu may be an experienced diplomat and politician, and Obama may be a novice, but Obama is the president of a superpower, and Netanyahu represents a small country that depends greatly on the United States. It sometimes appears that Netanyahu forgets this, and pretends he is the head of a superpower, for example when he identifies himself with Winston Churchill, or in declaring that the Israeli mind will free the world of oil dependency in a decade.

This is of course true, and needs to be kept firmly in mind at all times. The fact that the Obama administration clearly does not yet understand the real world out here (I'm not talking about the internal American scene, where the jury's still out), doesn't change the fact that for the next three or seven years, the Obama administration will be the single most important and powerful actor on the international scene, and also extraordinarily important for Israel. Maybe they'll learn. Even if they don't, Obama will be re-elected or not because of domestic issues, not his relationship with us.

There is however also the flip side of the coin. In seven years at the latest Obama will be packing. As will his successor in 15 years at the most. And that one's successor, in 23 years. At which time, Israel will still be in this highly volatile neighborhood.

Most political leaders most of the time cannot ever make decisions which will reverberate much beyond the term of their successor. Can anyone think of anything Helmut Schmidt did that makes any difference today? Does anyone even remember who Helmut Schmidt was? John Major? Romano Prodi? Bill Clinton? (Oops. Sorry).

The prime minister of Israel has in his (or her) power to make decisions which will directly impact on the Jewish existence in the 24th century; the status of Jerusalem being merely the most obvious of them. We've been around for a very long time, and are in for the long haul. No Israeli leader should ever make historical decisions for an immediate political reason alone. It must fit in to the long term, too.
Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

Erdogan: Israeli Crimes are the Worst

Erdogan: Israeli Crimes are the Worst

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Israeli crimes are far worse than anything a Muslim regime could do, and certainly worse than the Sudanese crimes:

The Turkish prime minister said Ankara respects human rights and would not hesitate to challenge Bashir if it believed he had committed atrocities. But Erdogan said he does not believe that Sudanese paramilitary forces committed acts of genocide against African residents of Darfur.

"It is not possible for those who belong to the Muslim faith to carry out genocide," Erdogan told ruling party members.

Says the Turkish prime minister. Turkey, for crying out loud.

I'm not telling you all this so as to argue with him. On the contrary. I'm posting it because when trying to understand human action, it's always important to keep firmly in mind that what people believe, and what can be empirically shown worthy of belief, are two vastly different things. Rationality is one possible mode of human operation, but it has never been the only one, and often it isn't the preferred one, either.
Originally posted byYaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

RubinReports: The Sad Fate of Arab Moderates and The Arab World’s Tragic Success in Not Needing Them Any More

The Sad Fate of Arab Moderates and The Arab World’s Tragic Success in Not Needing Them Any More
[Please subscribe]

By Barry Rubin

You have to feel sorry for those courageous enough to be Arab moderates. Most of your countrymen hate you, the government wants to crush you, the Islamists want to kill you, and the West doesn’t want to help you. I told this story in my book, The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East. (more information; order)

Despite all the endless talk of finding moderates in the Arab world, the real ones—few and far between—generally get ignored while preening, posturing extremists are treated as romantic figures.

So given all this pressure, the limited space permitted for free thought, the moderates have to talk like radicals to survive. In political terms, faced with the battle between the two giant movements of Islamism and Arab nationalism, they have to choose sides. Most liberals back their governments even though these are repressive dictatorships as a lesser of two evils to living under an Iran-, Gaza-, or Taliban-type state.

Except for some in Egypt, almost all the liberals pick the nationalists over the Islamists. I always think of the case of the Syrian dissident who'd spent some nasty time in prison and in an interview referred to the Syrian government as “fascist” but then, a few minutes later, explained that he supported that same government.

Hala Mustafa is a brave person. But when you see the stance she has to take—and I can give other examples of precisely the same exchanges by liberal intellectuals in other countries—the hopelessness of real reform or rethinking hits home very hard.

Mustafa, it may be recalled, is the editor of Egypt’s state-controlled democracy journal who got in trouble because she actually spoke a few minutes with Israel’s ambassador in her office.

The television interviewer asks her if that brief chat constituted “normalization” of relations with Israel. This is a real no-no, despite the fact that Egypt and Israel have been at peace for 30 years (happy anniversary!). The Palestinian Authority, by the way, followed the same view even during the height of the 1990s’ peace process. There was and is something pathetic and funny at watching well-intentioned Jewish peace activists running after Palestinians for dialogues in which the latter have no interest or are too fearful to do.

But the only line Mustafa can take—whether she believes it or not is another matter—is that the main reason Egypt must reform itself is to defeat Israel more effectively. She begins by saying:

“As long as we are part of the international community, and as long as we strive to belong to the developed countries, we need to speak their language.…Perhaps the reason that Israel was able to gain ground overseas, and that there is more recognition of Israel, its path, and its culture than of Arab culture, is that Israel speaks of the language of the international community….

“Interviewer: They are better integrated in the international system?”

“Dr. Hala Mustafa: Absolutely. They speak the same language, and know how to talk to them and convince them.”

“Interviewer: They are more skillful in obtaining their material, political, or moral support.”

“Dr. Hala Mustafa: Definitely. Their greatest success is in portraying the other side – the Arabs – as extremists, who carry weapons, shout, and make hysterical decisions. This image has become a stereotype, just like after 9/11, when the Muslims’ image became stereotypical and negative.”

Now I am definitely not attacking Mustafa here but merely pointing out the almost incredibly small maneuvering room such people have.

The usual response by mainstream Arab thinkers has been: You want us to talk or act like people in the West? That is a betrayal! We will not surrender an inch…. Etc., Etc. Read a speech, for example, by Syrian President Bashar al-Asad or by a lot of Arab nationalist intellectuals, as well as of course by Islamists, to hear this kind of thing.

And yet both they and Mustafa are missing a rather obvious and important point.

The Arabs have learned to speak the language of the modern international community and they are doing better at it than Israel.

Old style [which most Islamists still use, though even them not all the time]: The Jews are inferior. We will kill them all. We will never accept peace. We will wipe out Israel.

New style: The Israelis say that we are inferior. They want to kill us all. They don’t want peace. They violate our human rights. We are the victims. They want to wipe us out.

And by this brilliant inversion everything has changed. Leftist movements, humanitarian-oriented groups, huge sections of academia, large parts of the media, and various European governments bash Israel and extol the poor victims of the war criminal, racist, war-mongering, intransigent Israelis.

Of course, in fact, the positions of the Arab states and the Palestinian movement haven’t changed even in the tiniest iota. For example, in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, the “one-state” solution argument was something that isolated the Arabs and increased Western support for Israel. Then it was presented as: Throw Israel into the sea. Jewish-Zionist nationalism cannot be allowed to live. Palestine is Arab, Arab, Arab alone!

Today, exactly the same “one-state” concept is spun with the colored lights and tinkling bells of multiculturalism and political correctness into seeming like a utopia where nationalism is passé and everyone will just be nice to each other and get along just fine.

In short, Arab governments and societies don’t need Mustafa and the other liberals to bring a compromise triumph through real moderation. The extremists “know how to talk to them [the West and the world] and convince them.” And, to use the interviewer's words: “They [the radicals, not the moderates] are more skillful in obtaining [the West’s] material, political, or moral support.”

Israel just gets slandered but is a free and democratic country whose people are able to move forward in developing its culture, raising living standards, and enjoying freedom. The Arabs are the ones who have to live with the consequences of their own disastrous “success” in gaining international sympathy by changing nothing.

What a remarkable but horrible irony. The “progressive” and “humanitarian” forces of the West have helped make real democratic and social reform unnecessary for the Arabic-speaking world and delivered it into decades more of violence, dictatorship, repression, stagnation, and failure.

RubinReports: The Sad Fate of Arab Moderates and The Arab World’s Tragic Success in Not Needing Them Any More

US Media Beginning to Bury %u2018Peace Process%u2019 - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

US Media Beginning to Bury %u2018Peace Process%u2019 - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

Erdogan: Israel Worse than Sudan, 'Muslims Don't Cause Genocide' - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Erdogan: Israel Worse than Sudan, 'Muslims Don't Cause Genocide' - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

32 Arab Children Killed Working in Smuggling Tunnels - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

32 Arab Children Killed Working in Smuggling Tunnels - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

World Media Ignores Weapons Shipment to Hizbullah - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

World Media Ignores Weapons Shipment to Hizbullah - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Kassam Explodes near Sderot - Death's Doorstep - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Kassam Explodes near Sderot - %u2018Death%u2019s Doorstep%u2019 - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Assaf Hill, Near Beit El, Threatened Yet Again - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

Assaf Hill, Near Beit El, Threatened Yet Again - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

Mofaz Offers His Own 'Peace Plan' - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Mofaz Offers His Own 'Peace Plan' - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

The Enemy Attack at Fort Hood - Actions Required

The Enemy Attack at Fort Hood - Actions Required

The U.S. Military Cannot be Trusted - unless it changes it's Policy on Diversity!

Bill Maniaci

First, there is no doubt that this cowardly attack was an act of Jihad by an Infiltrator. Although it would be unprecedented, action should be taken to award all the victims at Ft. Hood the Purple Heart (or Civilian Equivalent) for wounds received in combat, inflicted by an enemy of the United States.

In view of the Muslim Terrorist Attack at Ft. Hood, our Government must rethink its Political Correctness regarding “Racial Profiling” of members of the peaceful Islamic religion.

Major Hasan should be considered an “Enemy Combatant” and treated as a “Spy”. He should face a firing squad.

All other Muslim members of the Armed Forces should face rigid background checks, be subject to regular polygraph examinations, and not be assigned to any Combat Unit or other Mission Critical unit unless their loyalty has been proven beyond any doubt.

These actions are necessary for our national security in view of this enemy terrorist act and past attacks either planned or actually executed by Jihadis against our Military Personnel and our Bases within the United States.
Originally posted by B'NAI ELIM (Sons of the Mighty)

Israel Matzav: Hopefully NOT coming to your neighborhood anytime soon

Hopefully NOT coming to your neighborhood anytime soon

Let's hope images like this one from Sderot don't come to your Israeli neighborhood anytime soon, but at least if they do, they will likely come only to your neighborhood, and not to your entire city.

Col. Dr. Chilik Soffer, head of the Population Department at the Home Front Command, said Thursday that advanced rocket sensors would soon have the ability to calculate the projectile's exact trajectory.

"The rocket sensor will create a virtual ellipse [of the predicted impact zone], and all phones in that area will receive a warning," he added.

"We will use communications technology to send the signals, and we are now working with the Communications Ministry to make the alert available," Soffer said.

The alert will take four forms: A cellphone vibration, audio alert, light flash, or text message.

Currently, air raid sirens are programmed to identify and alert cities that are at risk of rocket attacks following a hostile launch.

"The more specific the alert, the more ready people will be," Soffer added.

He noted that the technology available to the Home Front Command has come a long way since the 1991 Gulf War, when Iraqi Scud missile attacks set off air-raid sirens across the whole country.

"There are 1,260 communities in Israel. There is no longer a need to set off a nationwide alert," he said.

More Israeli technology born of necessity. Be happy if you don't need it. We do.

Israel Matzav: Hopefully NOT coming to your neighborhood anytime soon

Israel Matzav: Overnight music video

Overnight music video

He who answered Abraham our Father at Mount Moriah should answer you and hear your cries today.... God's answer to Abraham at Mount Moriah took place in the Torah portion we read this past Sabbath in synagogue.

Let's go to the videotape with Mordechai Ben David.

Israel Matzav: Overnight music video

Israel Matzav: What do Muslims think of Nidal Malik Hassan?

Israel Matzav: What do Muslims think of Nidal Malik Hassan?

Israel Matzav: Obamacare to tax Americans who live abroad?

Obamacare to tax Americans who live abroad?

This little gem actually comes from the Senate side and not from the House side of the Obamacare bill (which passed the House on Saturday night 220-215).

ACA is requesting all members and supporters to email, fax and/or write their Senators in support of a change in legislative language to the bill "Americas Healthy Future Act of 2009" authored by Senator Max Baucus.

In the 16 September 2009 version of this bill there is wording which would cause great hardship on American citizens living outside the US. The wording would leave Americans overseas exposed to paying an excise tax regardless of whether they carry health insurance via overseas health providers. The purpose of the proposed excise tax is to encourage all Americans who benefit from the US health program to participate in its financing. Americans residing overseas cannot benefit from the US health system so for them the excise tax is just that -- a tax with no counter-part service. Currently the planned maximum excise tax per family for non-participation would be $1,900.

Please help ACA to insure that Americans overseas are not unfairly taxed. Help ACA to bring this matter to the attention of the decision makers in Washington DC by writing to your representative today. Attached is a sample letter that you can use to write to your Senator. We strongly suggest that you fax your letter as this has the most immediate effect however, you may also email or hard copy mail. Visit the following website for address information on your Senator.

To see a sample letter, read the whole thing.

Israel Matzav: Obamacare to tax Americans who live abroad?

Israel Matzav: America the ostrich

America the ostrich

The day I arrived here in the United States was the day that Major Nidal Malik Hassan - guess what religion - murdered thirteen American soldiers and wounded 30 others in what is probably the worst terror attack at a US military base. Reading the coverage in the local papers here in Boston and watching it on TV (Dad spends most of his time reading the Globe and watching TV), one is struck by the fact that no one mentions that Hassan isn't a Jew, a Christian or a Buddhist, but ... guess what ... he's an adherent of the 'religion of peace,' and that had everything to do with what he did.

That same political correctness explains why what was behind Hassan being transferred from Walter Reed Hospital in Washington to Fort Hood, Texas has been hidden from the American public. All I heard in the media here was that he was transferred because he got a negative evaluation at Walter Reed. Britain's Daily Telegraph discovers the truth. Well, sort of - they don't make the connection between the incidents they describe and his transfer. And he should not have been transferred. He should have been dishonorably discharged a long time ago.

Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the gunman who killed 13 at America's Fort Hood military base, once gave a lecture to other doctors in which he said non-believers should be beheaded and have boiling oil poured down their throats.

He also told colleagues at America's top military hospital that non-Muslims were infidels condemned to hell who should be set on fire. The outburst came during an hour-long talk Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, gave on the Koran in front of dozens of other doctors at Walter Reed Army Medical Centre in Washington DC, where he worked for six years before arriving at Fort Hood in July.

Colleagues had expected a discussion on a medical issue but were instead given an extremist interpretation of the Koran, which Hasan appeared to believe.


Fellow doctors have recounted how they were repeatedly harangued by Hasan about religion and that he openly claimed to be a "Muslim first and American second."

One Army doctor who knew him said a fear of appearing discriminatory against a Muslim soldier had stopped fellow officers from filing formal complaints.

I trust that most of you have already seen an earlier report that said that Hassan worshiped in the same mosque as many of the 9/11 suspects.

Europe may be beyond hope, but what is it going to take to wake America up to the danger of Islam?

Read the whole thing.

Israel Matzav: America the ostrich

Love of the Land: Goldstone Gaza Report: Col. Richard Kemp Testifies at U.N. Emergency Session

Goldstone Gaza Report: Col. Richard Kemp Testifies at U.N. Emergency Session

UN Watch Statement, delivered by Col. Richard Kemp, October 16, 2009, UN Human Rights Council Special Session on Goldstone Report

(As Amb. Dore Gold chose to conclude the debate at Brandeis with Col. Richard Kemps words in place of his own, it's appropriate to perhaps remind ourselves of what was said.)

Thank you, Mr. President.

I am the former commander of the British forces in Afghanistan. I served with NATO and the United Nations; commanded troops in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Macedonia; and participated in the Gulf War. I spent considerable time in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, and worked on international terrorism for the UK Governments Joint Intelligence Committee.

Mr. President, based on my knowledge and experience, I can say this: During Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Defence Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.

Israel did so while facing an enemy that deliberately positioned its military capability behind the human shield of the civilian population.

Hamas, like Hizballah, are expert at driving the media agenda. Both will always have people ready to give interviews condemning Israeli forces for war crimes. They are adept at staging and distorting incidents.

The IDF faces a challenge that we British do not have to face to the same extent. It is the automatic, Pavlovian presumption by many in the international media, and international human rights groups, that the IDF are in the wrong, that they are abusing human rights.

The truth is that the IDF took extraordinary measures to give Gaza civilians notice of targeted areas, dropping over 2 million leaflets, and making over 100,000 phone calls. Many missions that could have taken out Hamas military capability were aborted to prevent civilian casualties. During the conflict, the IDF allowed huge amounts of humanitarian aid into Gaza. To deliver aid virtually into your enemy's hands is, to the military tactician, normally quite unthinkable. But the IDF took on those risks.

Despite all of this, of course innocent civilians were killed. War is chaos and full of mistakes. There have been mistakes by the British, American and other forces in Afghanistan and in Iraq, many of which can be put down to human error. But mistakes are not war crimes.

More than anything, the civilian casualties were a consequence of Hamas way of fighting. Hamas deliberately tried to sacrifice their own civilians.

Mr. President, Israel had no choice apart from defending its people, to stop Hamas from attacking them with rockets.

And I say this again: the IDF did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Love of the Land: Goldstone Gaza Report: Col. Richard Kemp Testifies at U.N. Emergency Session

Love of the Land: At Brandeis, Israel's guilt and innocence on display

At Brandeis, Israel's guilt and innocence on display

Jeff Jacoby
Boston Globe
07 November 09

TO BRANDEIS University last night, South African jurist Richard Goldstone brought his international reputation as a legal scholar, a human rights advocate, and the former chief prosecutor of the United Nations tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Dore Gold, Israel’s former ambassador to the UN, brought facts and figures, maps and photographs, and audio and video in English, Arabic, and Hebrew.

The two men were at Brandeis to discuss Goldstone’s highly controversial UN report on Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli attack in Gaza last winter. The report, written after a fact-finding mission with which Israel refused to cooperate, accuses the Jewish state of committing war crimes by using “disproportionate force’’ to inflict widespread destruction on Palestinian civilians - a policy that amounted to “collective punishment on the people of the Gaza Strip.’’ Last night’s encounter marked the first time since the report was issued that Goldstone publicly debated the report’s merits with a leading Israeli figure. It would not surprise me to learn that he is in no hurry for a second.

That is not to say that Goldstone didn’t speak well, even eloquently, in defending his own integrity and his chagrin at Israel’s refusal to have anything to do with his commission’s inquiry. Nor was there any mistaking his sincere outrage when he itemized the physical devastation he viewed in Gaza - 5,000 homes destroyed, 200 factories disabled, water systems wrecked, poultry farms demolished - or when he denounced the bombing of a mosque during prayers. “If that isn’t collective punishment, what is?’’ Goldstone asked. Such attacks, he said, “scream out’’ for investigation by Israel.

But Goldstone spent much of the time talking about himself - he recounted his dealings with the chairman of the UN Human Rights Council, his nightmares about being kidnapped by Hamas, his pleased discovery that ordinary Palestinians were “just like’’ ordinary Israelis - while his interlocutor focused relentlessly on facts and evidence. Gold played video of Israelis under Hamas rocket attack, and noted that such attacks had increased 500 percent after Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. He displayed aerial photographs of Hamas military installations located amid schools and mosques. He described Israel’s extraordinary efforts to avoid civilian casualties, and showed Palestinian TV broadcasts confirming those efforts. He presented images of weapons caches inside Palestinian mosques and homes.

It was a powerful presentation - so powerful, in fact, that Goldstone regretted not having seen it earlier. “The sort of information shown to us by Ambassador Gold,’’ he said, “should have been shown to us during the [UN] investigation.’’

Yet to my mind, what was most striking of all was Goldstone’s inability to give a clear answer to an essential question: What should a law-abiding country do to defend itself against relentless terrorist attacks?

In one form or another, that question came up repeatedly. In his welcoming remarks, Brandeis president Jehuda Reinharz observed that we live in a “new age of warfare,’’ in which civilized nations confront terrorists able to “mix and melt’’ into the civilian population. Asked Gold, after describing the thousands of rockets launched by Hamas at Israeli communities: “What would you do if your population was facing repeated attacks for eight years?’’ During the question-and-answer period, a student asked Goldstone - who had condemned Israel’s “disproportionate’’ attacks - what he would have considered a “proportionate’’ response.

But the judge, astonishingly, had no answer. He responded that that was a decision for the Israelis to make. He said it was a question that had given him “many sleepless nights.’’ He mused that perhaps undercover “commando attacks’’ would have been more appropriate. (“Gee, why didn’t the Israelis think of that?’’ murmured a voice in the audience.) He even suggested that it might make a good subject for a Brandeis research paper.

Judge Goldstone uses his international platform to pronounce Israel guilty, in other words, but will not say how Israel could have avoided such a verdict.

For the truth is, no other verdict was possible. Where the UN is involved, the guilt of the Jewish state is always taken for granted. The eminence of its chairman notwithstanding, the Goldstone Commission was a sham, and its bottom line was foreordained. The mystery isn’t why the Goldstone Report has been so widely denounced, but why Goldstone agreed to write it in the first place.

Love of the Land: At Brandeis, Israel's guilt and innocence on display

Love of the Land: Hezbollah and the Tent

Hezbollah and the Tent

Tariq Alhomayed
Asharq Al-Awsat
08 November 09

(Nice allegory)

Hezbollah issued a statement condemning the decision to suspend the broadcast of Iranian Al-Alam [news] channel on satellite operators Arabsat and Nilesat. In this statement, the [Lebanese] party said "Hezbollah declares its solidarity with the Al-Alam channel and considers this [the channel's suspension] to be a violation of the freedom of speech and opinion, and calls for this issue to be treated immediately in order to ensure the preservation of public freedoms."

Hezbollah talking about freedom reminded me of a funny story that I received once in an e-mail.

A philosopher and an illiterate decided to travel to the desert and spend a day there. They erected their tent, and after a long day decided to go to sleep in the tent. After they both fell asleep, the illiterate woke up, he then woke up his philosopher friend and asked him "Look up and tell me what you see."

The philosopher looked up and said "I see stars, an innumerable number of them."

The illiterate asked him "And what does that mean?"

The philosopher said "This is evidence of the Creator's ability which can be seen here in the magnificence of this star-studded sky, and in fact if you like I can tell you what time it is now, and even what the weather will be like tomorrow."

The philosopher then turned to his illiterate friend and asked "Very well, tell me what you see."

The illiterate answered "I see that our tent has been stolen, idiot!"

This story is applicable to what Hezbollah is saying about the violation of the freedom of speech and opinion, and the necessity of preserving public freedoms. This is because Hezbollah is lecturing us about freedom that it itself is exploiting to serve the goals of establishing sectarian division and in order to threaten the preservation of Arab society. Hezbollah is arguing for freedom today, however the first thing that Hezbollah did following the 7 May Beirut coup – during which Hezbollah took control of Sunni areas in Beirut – was to use weaponry to attack the media organizations that opposed Hezbollah, not to mention intimidate Lebanese journalists.

It is strange that Hezbollah announced its support and defense of the Iranian Al-Alam [news] channel on behalf of the freedoms of speech and opinion however we did not hear one word from the group about the newspapers that are being closed down every day in Iran. This is something that has been happening for years, and more than 200 newspapers have been shut down in Iran, not to mention the persecution and imprisonment of journalists in Tehran who – reflecting the demands of half of Iranian society – called for reform. This is contrary to the demands of a small group [of Iranian society] or groups who are affiliated to foreign countries, such as Hezbollah. The Al-Alam [news] channel wants to convince us that it is concerned with the Arab world, whilst all that it is doing is supporting the separatists [in our region] and their armed movement against our security and stability.

The Iranian Al-Alam [news] channel incites sectarianism, and is not a television station which follows the principles of professional media. The same applies to the Al-Manar television channel that belongs to Hezbollah. Both of these television stations serve as examples of media organizations that mobilize sectarianism, and this is something contrary to the concept of freedom of speech and opinion. The first condition of this – freedom – is responsibility, and this principle is based on the understanding that your freedom ends when it begins to usurp the freedom of others.

Therefore Hezbollah shedding crocodile tears about the suspension of the broadcast of Al-Alam television is similar to the talk of the philosopher under the tent. Those sympathetic to Iran's agents [in our region] are making the same mistake, and are not paying attention to the fact that the tent of stability in our region is at risk because of Iran and its agents.

Tariq Alhomayed is the Editor-in-Chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, the youngest person to be appointed that position. Mr. Alhomayed has an acclaimed and distinguished career as a Journalist and has held many key positions in the field.

Love of the Land: Hezbollah and the Tent

Love of the Land: Another Tack: In awe and esteem

Another Tack: In awe and esteem

Sarah Honig
05 November 09

Extreme acts are sometimes exonerated by history. When we view the world through our insular prism, we can easily lose perspective. Things may be swiftly magnified to grotesque proportions, like our trepidation of world censure, for instance. Frantically exaggerated anxieties then send us into a panic of self-reproach. Most often our self-inflicted alarm is unwarranted. Occasionally exploits sure to get Israel into hot water internationally may be the right thing to do. Losing our collective head isn't only unnecessary, it's downright harmful.

This was true even before our state was born, before we could be painted as an ogre imperialist Goliath, when we were history's most helpless underdogs. The world hardly empathized with us then either.

Exactly on this date 65 years ago - November 6, 1944 - two young Lehi fighters, 19-year-old Eliahu Hakim of Haifa and 22-year-old Tel Avivian Eliahu Beit-Zuri, assassinated Walter Edward Guinness, first Baron Moyne, in Cairo. He was the British minister resident in the Middle East. While the Holocaust was still ongoing, world opinion managed to expend more outrage on the two Eliahus, as they came to be known, than it did on their victim's appalling record.

The Labor-led Zionist establishment in pre-state Israel lost no time or vehemence in denouncing the assassination and launching what came to be dubbed the saison (the "hunting season" in which Lehi and Irgun members were pursued and turned over to the British). On November 20, 1944 David Ben-Gurion addressed the Histadrut convention and ordered the expulsion of "all Revisionists from all workplaces - be they in an office, factory or grove... the same goes for students in higher or secondary education, or any other school."

YET, INCREDIBLE as it sounds - given the strident anti-Israel incitement of Cairo's current state-run media under Hosni Mubarak's aegis - the Eliahus evoked widespread sympathy among Egyptians. Students demonstrated for them in the streets and rallied against sentencing them to death. Prominent Egyptian lawyers volunteered to represent them, adhered to the political defense decreed by the Eliahus and avidly espoused their nationalist Jewish sentiments.

Hakim set the tone: "We are the accusers at this trial. We accuse Lord Moyne and the government he represented of murdering hundreds of thousands of our brethren and usurping our homeland... Where is the law that would hold them answerable for their crimes? Though absent from the books, it is engraved in our hearts. Hence we had no alternative but to take justice into our own hands."
(Continue to full article)

Love of the Land: Another Tack: In awe and esteem

Love of the Land: Getting it started

Getting it started

Clifford D. May
Washington Times
07 November 09

People forget how small Israel is. Its entire population is a little over 7 million - smaller than Lima, Peru. Its land area is about 8,000 square miles, smaller than New Jersey. By comparison, Jordan, its neighbor to the east, occupies 35,000 square miles; Egypt, to the west, covers 386,000 square miles.

There are more than 20 Arab states with a combined population of 325 million and more than 50 majority-Muslim states with a combined population of well over a billion. By contrast, Israel is the world's only Jewish-majority state - and 20 percent of its population is Arab, most of them Muslim.

So why is so much attention - and firepower - focused on this tiny nation? Israel's critics say it is because the Jewish state has deprived Palestinians of a homeland. But Jordan, situated on the three-quarters of historic Palestine lying east of the River Jordan, from which the country took its name when it was created in the 1920s, is populated, not surprisingly, mostly by Palestinians.

Palestinians also inhabit Gaza, from which Israel withdrew every settler four years ago. And, under various peace proposals, Israel has offered to remove its citizens from more than 90 percent of the West Bank, a territory occupied in 1967 at the end of a war with Egypt, from which it took Gaza, Jordan, from which it took the West Bank, and other Arab neighbors whose stated goal was Israel's eradication.

Defenders of Israel argue that it is despised for different reasons, not least because it is an outpost of Western values in a region, the broader Middle East, engaged in a long-term project of religious and ethnic cleansing. One country after another has become inhospitable toward its minorities. As a result, Jews, Christians, Baha'i's and Zoroastrians are among the minority groups that have been eliminated, decimated or compelled to flee to more tolerant corners of the world.

There also is the fact that, economically, Israel punches way above its weight. As Dan Senor and Saul Singer describe and document in "Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle," the "greatest concentration of innovation and entrepreneurship in the world today" is found in the Jewish state: a higher percentage of GDP devoted to research and development than anywhere else in the world; more high-tech start-ups per capita than any other country; 80 times as much venture capital investment per capita as in China; more companies on NASDAQ than all of Europe combined.

What's more, Mr. Senor and Mr. Singer believe the conventional and sometimes stereotypical explanations for this success - e.g., Jews work hard, Jews are smart - are either wrong or insufficient.

A key factor, they theorize, is that virtually all Israelis serve in the military where a specific set of skills and values are pounded into them. They learn, for example, "that you must complete your mission, but that the only way to do that is as a team. The battle cry is 'After me': there is no leadership without personal example and without inspiring your team to charge together and with you." The Israeli military encourages a kind of entrepreneurship: the assumption of both responsibility and risk at a young age, coupled with on-the-job experience making life-and-death decisions.

In recent years, American military men and women have been facing and overcoming daunting challenges. Mr. Senor and Mr. Singer suggest that upon return to civilian life they should not "deemphasize their military experience when applying for jobs" and that employers should recognize the skills and habits that young Americans are now acquiring while fighting for their country.

That is not an argument in favor of war. But war has been both declared against us and thrust upon us. Those who believe otherwise indulge a dangerous delusion. What's more, the inconvenient truth is that war, not peace, has been the norm throughout history. And reports of history's death have been exaggerated.

Israel may be a "start-up nation," but it also is an upstart nation. It defies the "international community" by daring to defend itself, and it prospers even while under attack. For much of the world, such behavior is unforgivable.

Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on terrorism.

Love of the Land: Getting it started

Love of the Land: “Saving Abu Mazen”

“Saving Abu Mazen”

Evelyn Gordon
08 November 09

After announcing last Thursday that he would not run in January’s Palestinian election, which he himself called, Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) upped the ante this weekend by threatening to dissolve the entire PA. Both are moves in a well-known game that the Israeli media call “saving Abu Mazen.”

PA officials are open about its purpose: to extort additional concessions from Israel and, especially, the U.S. This time, they want America to publicly pledge East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state and support Abbas’s demand that negotiations be conditioned on a complete halt to settlement construction.

This game, which Abbas has successfully played many times before, rests on a simple premise: he is the most moderate Palestinian leader conceivable and therefore the best hope for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Hence, if he is weakening, he must be bolstered by new concessions.

The problem is that this premise is utterly false. He may indeed be the most moderate Palestinian leader conceivable, but that just shows how unready Palestinians are for peace — because Abbas has proved decisively over the past four years that he is no “peace partner.”

First, his negotiating positions preclude any deal. This is true on several counts but is particularly obvious in his demand for a “right of return” for 4.7 million descendants of Palestinian refugees. Combined with Israel’s 1.5 million Arab citizens, they would easily outnumber its 5.6 million Jews and could thus vote the Jewish state out of existence. Conditioning any deal on Israel’s self-destruction is hardly proof of peaceful intent.

Indeed, Abbas’s total lack of interest in a deal was evidenced by his handling of Ehud Olmert’s (overly) generous September 2008 offer, which included 94 percent of the territories, 1:1 territorial swaps to compensate for the remainder, international Muslim control over the Temple Mount, and absorption into Israel of several thousand refugees. Last week, Abbas said that he and Olmert “almost closed” a deal, implying that the current impasse stems from Olmert’s replacement by Benjamin Netanyahu. But in reality, Abbas never even bothered responding to Olmert’s offer until nine months later, long after Olmert had left office — and even then, he did so via a media interview rather than directly. And, most important, he rejected the offer, saying “the gaps were wide.”

Even Abbas’s vaunted opposition to terror has proved false. In 2005, his one year in sole control over the PA before Hamas’s electoral victory, Palestinians killed 54 Israelis and wounded 484, while 1,059 rockets and mortars were fired at Israel from Gaza. Yet not only did Abbas never order his forces to combat this terror; he explicitly and repeatedlyrefused to do so. He first cracked down on Hamas only in 2007, after its violent takeover of Gaza convinced him that Hamas threatened him, not just Israel. And he recently agreed to end this clampdown under a reconciliation agreement with Hamas.

In short, there is no point in “saving” Abbas. Instead, the world should finally admit the truth — and let him go.

Love of the Land: “Saving Abu Mazen”

Love of the Land: [Israeli University age requirement level playing field] About 5,000 Israeli Arabs studying at Jordanian universities

[Israeli University age requirement level playing field] About 5,000 Israeli Arabs studying at Jordanian universities

Dr. Aaron Lerner
07 November 09

[Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA: Israeli universities apply an entrance age requirement so that those who don't serve in the army or do national service aren't rewarded with being able to attend university while others are in national service. It still doesn't level the playing field since they can spend this time studying and retaking the Israeli matriculation and "psychometric" (an equivalent of the American SAT) tests to improve their scores [entrance to almost all programs at Israeli universities are based purely on these scores] while those serving the country find themselves taking or re-taking these critical tests after not having been in a classroom for years. This while the testing schedule for the matriculation exams [which in some cases is only once a year with the results available too late for application for the academic year] can mean losing another year after completion of national service .]

Increasing numbers of Israeli Arabs studying at Jordanian universities
By Ofri Ilani Haaretz Last update - 04:40 01/11/2009

Increasing numbers of Israeli Arab high school graduates are leaving the country to study at Jordanian universities, according to a recent survey. A decade ago fewer than 100 Arab Israelis were studying at Jordanian institutions of higher learning, but last year this swelled to about 5,000.

According to the study, sponsored by Dirsat: The Arab Center for Law and Policy, a major reason for the phenomenon is age requirements in many departments at Israeli universities, as well as the language barrier.

When Maria Shalash of the largely Arab city of Nazareth graduated from high school two years ago, she wanted to study occupational therapy and communication disorders. "The field interested me, and people also told me that there were jobs [in the field]," she said.

Shalash tried to gain a place at the University of Haifa and was invited for an interview. But the university later discovered she was under 20, which disqualified her. She is now studying law, where there is no minimum-age requirement.

Love of the Land: [Israeli University age requirement level playing field] About 5,000 Israeli Arabs studying at Jordanian universities

Love of the Land: Neither a bi-national state nor a two state solution

Neither a bi-national state nor a two state solution

Ted Belman
07 November 09

Jeffrey Goldberg interviewed Hussein Ibish the author of “What’s Wrong With the One-State Agenda?” on The Fantasy World of One-Staters. Ibish was one of the speakers at the J Street Convention.

Ibish thought that the J Street tent was too big to find a consensus and it would have to create some cohesion and a central message before it could be effective.

    (Ibish) I mean people ranging from the sort of centrist-center left, all the way to post-Zionists, anti-Zionists, who were there, too. It’s not ultimately a group that’s going to form, I think, a functional coalition. Right now, they’re finding their feet. This is normal, it’s inevitable — but at a certain point, I think they have to clarify what they are, who their constituency is, what they stand for, who they are, who they’re not. They’ve been more successful in creating a space for themselves as a new voice that is compelling, but at other moments it’s looked like where they were simply positioning themselves as the alternative to AIPAC. And my sense of things is that, initially, that they would look too much to their rivals. But sooner rather than later, they’re going to have to just move on and start to define themselves in a much more coherent and pro-active way, not just in contrast to the traditional Jewish organizations but also to distinguish themselves from people in the Jewish community whose criticism of Israel makes them anathema to the mainstream of the community. They can’t go there and I think they’ve tried not to go there.

I think he is entirely wrong in this because he assumes that the goal of J Street is to attract a substantial number of Jews and thus speak for a major segment of the Jewish community. But what they really want to do is undermine the Jewish state. They are not pro-Israel they are anti-Israel. They will never compromise their ideology to get more support.

But I was more interested in what he had to say about the fantasy of the one state solution that some are touting now. He thought it was a fantasy because hardly any Israelis would agree to it.

He totally rejected the belief “that through the application of what they (the one staters) call BDS - Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions - globally that they can crush the will of the Israelis and break the Zionist movement.”

    Anyone who thinks that is plausible in the foreseeable future doesn’t understand the nature of the American relationship with Israel. The commitment of the U.S., not just the government but American society, is to the survival and security of the Israeli state. And then there’s another aspect, which is the extent to which Israeli institutions, organizations and corporations are interwoven at a very fundamental level with many of those in the U.S.

    I’m talking about corporate, governmental, intelligence, military, industrial, scientific ties. The point is that you can only take talk of boycott and sanctions seriously if you really don’t understand any of this. And if you don’t understand any of this, then you’re living in a fantasy world.

Furthermore, he says, the world has moved on.

    These people are trapped in the language of the Fifties and Sixties. You’re talking about a worldview is anachronistic in the most fundamental sense. It doesn’t recognize any of the changes that have taken place since then. For example, the strategic situation that’s emerged in the Middle East, where the Arab states and the Arabs generally have a lot of other things to worry about other than Israel. This is a world in which a lot of Gulf states are extremely concerned about Iraq, and where there are Arab states — Jordan and Egypt — that have treaties with Israel, where Syria has a motive to be civil with Israel that is unpleasant but completely stable, and where it’s a very different environment than simply the Arabs and Israelis are enemies.

    The other thing that they’ve missed completely, and this is sort of the amazing thing, is the total transformation in American official policy toward the Palestinians over the past 20 years. Twenty-one years ago, there was no contact ever between the U.S. and the PLO. No contact, zero, and no Palestinian statehood is the consensus American foreign policy and it is a national security priority under Obama. People in the House, key positions like the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Howard Berman, chair of the Subcommittee on the Middle East, Gary Ackerman, Nita Lowey on Appropriations - all of them Jewish American members of Congress, stalwart supporters of Israel, and all of them committed to peace based on two states. And all of them, by the way, who were on the host committee of the American Task Force on Palestine gala last week.

It is easy to understand why these supporters of Israel and a two state solution would consider the expansion of settlements an obstacle to the two state solution. That’s why they supported Obama’s demand for a freeze, in part, if not in whole. But what about Israel. Israelis are in favour of building in Jerusalem but less supportive of building in the rest of Judea and Samaria. Those who support continued construction do not support a two state solution save for those who firmly believe that only through such construction can the Arabs be forced to make a deal. Time would not be on the side of the Arabs. If construction were to stop entirely, the Arabs could wait another hundred years to destroy Israel. Our American friends should understand this.

Israel should too. Israel can’t have it both ways. She can’t favour a two state solution and at the same time expand the settlement endeavour. Perhaps the Netanyahu government has come to this conclusion and therefor has frozen all new construction in favour of renewed negotiations. But the opposition to such a freeze is very strong. The opposition to withdrawing from Judea and Samaria is even stronger.

Netanyahu’s current policy is not aimed at the same end result as envisioned by Israel’s friends in the US, namely two states living in peace. He doesn’t believe it is possible. Netanyahu is aiming for limited sovereignty, only, for the Arabs, otherwise known as autonomy.

I would argue that the two staters are also pursuing a fantasy. To believe that such a solution is possible is to ignore that neither party wants to make the necessary compromises. It also ignores how intractable the problems are.

What is missing from the predominant view is a third possibility, namely, one where the one state is not a bi-national state but a Jewish state with a Jewish majority.

If Israel were to annex Judea and Samaria, the Jewish residents in the expanded Israel, would outnumber the Arab residents, 2:1 for the foreseeable future. (See AIDRG and One Jewish State .) Jewish citizens would exceed Arab citizens by even a greater majority. The Arabs would be granted citizenship over time according to western norms e.g. they must speak the language, swear loyalty, do national service and so on.

Basic Laws would be passed to ensure that Israel remain a Jewish state. This would not be unusual as many states affilliate with Christianity or Islam in their constitutions. The Arab citizens would simply have to accept that.

It is either that or autonomy only, over Area “A” only. This is about 40% of Judea and Samaria.

Pursuing such alternate solutions would have the best chance of success if the US committed to it.

Love of the Land: Neither a bi-national state nor a two state solution

DoubleTapper: Pimped IDF M4 Rifle

Pimped IDF M4 Rifle

Commandos in the IDF are encouraged to optimize their tactical gear.

This pimped IDF M4 rifle has been outfitted with an off duty carry clip that keeps the 30 round 5.56mm (.223) Magazine at the ready but in a completely safe position. In addition there is a Trigicon scope, and a tactical pistol grip added to the standard M4 foregrip.

The rifle has been custom painted to match the unit's cammo colored beret and is carried in the standard IDF off duty position on the right with a custom rifle sling.

DoubleTapper: Pimped IDF M4 Rifle

The Israel Model

The Israel Model

There's this new book out which is being talked about a lot: Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle, by Dan Senor and Saul Singer. Apparently, they've figured out how to make a pile of money from Israel's start-up culture, without themselves being hi-tech entrepreneurs: write a good about about it.

The Economist, which has been intrigued by Israel's unique role in the world of technology entrepreneurs for years already, has a review of the book not in the review section, but rather in the business section:

The country that has led the world in promoting entrepreneurship has also done the most to plug itself into global markets. The Israeli government’s venture-capital fund, which was founded in 1992 with $100m of public money, was designed to attract foreign venture capital and, just as importantly, expertise. The government let foreigners decide what to invest in, and then stumped up a hefty share of the money required. Foreign venture capital poured into the country, high-tech companies boomed, domestic venture capitalists learned from their foreign counterparts and the government felt able to sell off the fund after just five years.

Last year Israel, a country of just over 7m people, attracted as much venture capital as France and Germany combined. Israel has more start-ups per head than any other country (a total of 3,850, or one for every 1,844 Israelis), and more companies listed on the NASDAQ exchange, a hub for fledgling technology firms, than China and India combined. It may not have the same comforting ring as “the Swedish model” or “the polder model”, but when it comes to promoting entrepreneurship, “the Israeli model” is the one to emulate.

Here's a story about what it's like to live in the middle of this whirlwind.

About six months ago I needed to find somebody with a very specific type of software capability. The details are unimportant, but it had to be a company from a certain minor branch of the software world, and within that segment of the industry it had to be someone with a specific type of interface capability. So I went googling, and identified something like 20 companies worldwide that looked as if they might have what I needed. Of the 20, five (5!) were in Israel, all located within 30 miles of each other north of Tel Aviv (none in Jerusalem, alas). Eventually we winnowed it down to two who basically had what we needed, though in two very different formats. Their offices were a three minute walk from one another, both in Netanya.

What are the odds of that happening anywhere else in the world, outside Silicon Valley itself? (If there).

So the other day Jeffrey Goldberg interviewed Dan Senor. It's a bit understated, but otherwise a really fun read.

It's a very young country, very difficult environment, there are no natural resources, no access to regional capital or regional markets. If you were to paint a picture of the circumstances under which you're not going to have a successful economic developing country, it would be Israel...
JG: Go to one final thing, something that struck me when I was reading this book. You have a boycott movement in Europe, but in the U.S., too, you have forces that want to delegitimize Israel. I realized in reading this that it would be quite something to go tell Intel or Google or IBM to divest from Israel.

DS: They'll never do it. I mean, it's impossible. What various companies told us is that if they had to shut down operations in India tomorrow, they could survive because it's basically a lot of outsourcing and a lot of call centers. They said if we had to shut down our operations in Ireland, we could survive. But what one person after another told us is that the one place in the world that would devastating for them to have shut down would be Israel, because they put so much of their mission-critical work and R&D in Israel. The Intel story we tell is amazing, this key chip that was central to Intel taking off was designed and then manufactured in Israel, so it would be devastating to these companies to lose Israel. And one more thing -- the most interesting data point on all of this is that European venture capitalists invest more in Israel than they do in any single European economy.

JG: Is that true?

DS: Yes and, to me, that says it all. For all the ranting from Europe about boycotts and attempts at boycotts, that's not what European capital is doing. In terms of the U.S., this is even more true. I don't want to oversimplify, but who do think is more important to Barack Obama: The head of J Street or Eric Schmidt at Google? And if Eric Schmidt said that his company would be devastated if Israel came off-line -- and we interviewed Schmidt and he talked about the importance of Israel -- then I think I know the answer.

Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

Moshe Halbertal on Goldstone

Moshe Halbertal on Goldstone

Moshe Halbertal, a thoughtful, left-leaning professor of philosophy at the Hebrew University, has written a fine essay about the Goldstone Report. Being who he is, his line of reasoning is novel: he had hoped the Report might have something to contribute to the thorny philosophical issues of asymmetrical war.

In 2000, I was asked by the Israel Defense Forces to join a group of philosophers, lawyers, and generals for the purpose of drafting the army’s ethics code. Since then, I have been deeply involved in the analysis of the moral issues that Israel faces in its war on terrorism. I have spent many hours in discussions with soldiers and officers in order to better grasp the dilemmas that they tackle in the field, and in an attempt to help facilitate the internalization of the code of ethics in war. It was no wonder that, when the Goldstone Report on the Gaza war was published, I was keen to read it, with some hope of getting a perspective on Israeli successes or failures in this effort to comprehend war, and to fight it, morally. Unlike many who responded to the report, in praise or in blame, I gave this immensely long document a careful reading.

Alas, the Report didn't do what he'd hoped it would, Rather than being serious, it's foolish. Read his essay to see why.
Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations
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