Monday, 14 December 2009

Israel Matzav: Overnight music video

Overnight music video

The Beit Meir Boys Choir come alive to celebrate the miracles of Chanuka with a mind blowing spectacle preforming "Light Up the Nights" in a once in a lifetime music video!

Directed and Produced by SK Films

Brooklyn Bakery is probably my favorite hangout in Jerusalem - I'm there every Friday. The last place they buy doughnuts is Uri's pizza shop - I bought there this Friday as well. And the book store is one I have been to many times, but there's another one where I hang out more. To which my kids say, "Abba, you're such a yeshiva bochur...."

You'll enjoy this.

Let's go to the videotape (Hat Tip: NR - Daughter number 2, child number 4).

Israel Matzav: Overnight music video

Israel Matzav: Steinitz hints freeze may end early

Steinitz hints freeze may end early

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Sunday that the Israeli government may rethink the 'settlement freeze' in the event that there are no talks with the 'Palestinians.'

"If we keep getting the cold shoulder from them the cabinet will rethink the settlement freeze. We will not turn the other cheek and we won't accept a situation where we offer gestures and get incitement in return," he said.

Curiously, I have not seen that one denied yet.

Israel Matzav: Steinitz hints freeze may end early

Israel Matzav: Defense Minister trying to expel yeshiva from hesder program

Defense Minister trying to expel yeshiva from hesder program

Defense Minister Ehud Barak is trying to throw the Har Bracha yeshiva out of the hesder program after the Rosh Yeshiva (head of the yeshiva), Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, refused to condemn the refusal to obey orders to expel Jews from their homes.

Barak ordered the IDF Manpower Division to begin taking steps to remove the yeshiva from those that are part of the arrangement, under which religious students can study in yeshiva and serve a shorter military stint.

The decision will not go into effect immediately in order to give the students at the yeshiva time to make arrangements and integrate into a different yeshiva that is part of the hesder program.

Barak's office said he made the decision per the recommendation of the IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and following a meeting the defense minister held last week with hesder yeshiva heads.

"Barak views any act of insubordination severely and is not prepared to accept any deviation from what he set as a red line that cannot be crossed," the statement read. "Rabbi Melamed's statements and actions undermine Israel's democratic foundations and encouraged and incited some of his students to refuse orders."

It remains to be seen to what extent other heads of hesder yeshivas back Rabbi Melamed.

The Union of Hesder Yeshivas announced on Sunday night that heads of the schools would hold an emergency hearing in the next few days to discuss Sunday's decision by Defense Minister Ehud Barak to oust the Har Bracha Yeshiva from the program, which combines military service and Jewish studies. In a statement which followed the decision, the union noted that it expressed its opposition to such a move when it met with Barak last week.

According to the statement, "The decision constitutes a serious precedent of harming a yeshiva which is entitled to enjoy academic and Torah freedom."

The IDF has been targeting hesder for more than four years since many of those who refused to participate in the Gaza expulsion came from hesder. While many military people might argue that it's open and shut and that an army cannot tolerate soldiers refusing orders, it's not that simple. Hesder soldiers make up a large percentage of the officer corps.

Israel Matzav: Defense Minister trying to expel yeshiva from hesder program

Israel Matzav: 'Israeli Arab' MK wants Yesha Council made a designated terror group

'Israeli Arab' MK wants Yesha Council made a designated terror group

'Israeli Arab' MK Taleb el-Sana, who was just indicted for violating Israeli law by visiting Syria two years ago, wants the United States to declare the Yesha Council - the governing body of the Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria - a designated terror organization.

MK Talab El-Sana (United Arab List-Ta'al) wants the Yesha Council added to the US administration's global list of terror organizations following the torching of a West Bank mosque Friday.

"In contrast to the organizations that appear on the list of terror organizations, which fight for the right for self definition, the settlers use terror to thwart the rights of the Palestinians for self definition," El-Sana said. "The torching of the mosque is an act of terror."

Two questions:

1. How many people were killed? (Answer, none).

2. What proof is there that the Yesha Council had anything to do with this? (Answer, none).

El-Sana's demand is out of place.

Israel Matzav: 'Israeli Arab' MK wants Yesha Council made a designated terror group

Israel Matzav: Iranian army warns against repressing Green movement

Iranian army warns against repressing Green movement

Afshin Ellian reports on a letter released on Thursday by officers of Iran's regular army warning the Revolutionary Guards and the political echelon against a Chinese-style repression of the Green movement.

In summary, they wrote: Together we fought in the war with our brothers in the Revolutionary Guards in order to defend the country, the people, and the honor of the nation. They also emphasize that “the value of the land means the value of the Iranian nation.” This is very interesting. 

Value of the nation.

Not abstract concepts such as Iran or Islam, but the value of the nation determines the value of the land. Therefore, the weapons of the army and RG are to be used to protect the nation: “When we fought together, we could never suspect that parts of the RG would ever use its weapons against the people.”

The last section of this brief but powerful statement will surely immortalize these brave officers: “The army is a haven for the nation and will never want to suppress the people at the request of politicians. We shall remain true to our promise not to intervene in politics. But we cannot remain silent when our fellow citizens are oppressed by tyranny.”

They go on: “Therefore, we warn the Guards who have betrayed the martyrs (from the war between Iran and Iraq) and who decided to attack the lives, the property and the honor of the citizens. We seriously warn them that if they do not leave their chosen path, they will be confronted with our tough response. The military is a haven for the nation. And we will defend the peace-loving Iranian nation against any aggression.”

Very clear language. This declaration was distributed by several human rights sites such as Iran Press News and Amir Kabir and Gooya.

I have spoken with several sources inside and outside of Iran. The statement is real. If Khamenei orders the arrest of the officers, resistance will spread like wildfire in all barracks of the regular army.


Israel Matzav: Iranian army warns against repressing Green movement

Israel Matzav: Israel's proposed referendum law isn't quite what it's cracked up to be

Israel's proposed referendum law isn't quite what it's cracked up to be

Aaron Lerner discovers a major problem with Israel's proposed referendum law.

Media coverage of the proposed law requiring a national referendum in the instance that less than 80 MKs support transferring sovereign Israeli territory has for the most part ignored the potentially critical Subparagraph 3A.

Here is a rough translation:

"Despite what is written in Paragraph 3(A), if the Knesset approved the Government decision as per Paragraph 2, and within 180 days from the day that the Knesset approved [AL: with less than 80 MKs] there are Knesset elections, a national referendum will not be held; The said Government decision will be considered as if it was approved by a national referendum on the thirtieth day after the formation of the Government that was formed after the election, or at an earlier date that the Government decided on it, unless it decided to cancel said Government decision as per Paragraph 2."

The explanatory commentary accompanying the proposed law takes the position that the Knesset elections would in effect be a national referendum since it would no doubt be a major issue of the election campaign.

But - and this could be a very big but - nothing would stop a ruling coalition that came to power by promising voters that "a vote for party X is a vote against deal Y" from defying its mandate and declining to cancel the previous Government's decision within the 30 days.

In fact, since the prime minister has absolute control over the agenda of cabinet meetings, he can simply refuse to bring up cancellation of the previous Government's decision to a vote for 30 days.

And this when, no doubt, the prime minister would be facing tremendous world pressure not to cancel the decision.

Far fetched?

Hardly. And the media would no doubt praise the prime minister for "acting responsibly".

Read the whole thing.

He's right. Someone is playing games here. We've seen this before. This is a country where it is illegal to raise swine "on the land of Israel" - so those who wish to do so raise them on platforms (I kid you not).

What could go wrong? Plenty.

Israel Matzav: Israel's proposed referendum law isn't quite what it's cracked up to be

Israel Matzav: Gaza smuggling to finally be stopped?

Gaza smuggling to finally be stopped?

Maan reports on a steel wall to be installed along the dividing line in Rafah between Gaza and Egypt, which Haaretz disclosed last week.
The steel wall and sensors were being installed along 10-11 kilometers of the 13-kilometer border; two to three were excluded because the soil is so soft along this stretch that it naturally prevents the maintenance of stable tunnels. The exclusion zones are referred to by officials in Rafah as International Marker No. 1 and No. 3, both of which are near the beach.

All these plates and sensors were manufactured in the United States. Six months ago, freighters delivered the plates to a port on Egypt's Mediterranean coast, where they were loaded onto military trucks and transported to Rafah under a shroud of secrecy.

The panels, which sources say were transferred through Sheikh Zweid city, measure 18 meters by 50 centimeters and are about five centimeters thick. They were designed to snap into place parallel to one another, arranged side by side to increase the underground border wall's horizontal length and effectiveness against the smugglers, who occasionally use explosives when digging.

Egyptian authorities have installed a network of these plates on two sites along the border; one is located about four kilometers north of the port, and another about 500 meters south of the Rafah terminal. Security forces have lowered them into the ground under the guise of performing routine maintenance work. They have also employed ordinary equipment, such as machinery for digging water wells, as not to arouse suspicions. As of press time, however, portions of the steel panels remained exposed above ground.

Egypt has officially denied any involvement, but Ma'an learned that the state confiscated or purchased private land along the border to implement the plan. Most of this land was owned by farmers, who separately accepted above-market compensation from buyers actually representing Cairo. Hundreds of trees have been uprooted over the past few months as authorities construct the underground system.
This sounds wonderful, but it should have been done two years ago. At this point, it's like slamming the barn door after all the cows have escaped.

By the way, there is no way that Egypt is not involved in this (elsewhere in the article, the claim is made that Egypt is being forced into doing it by the US and Israel). There is no way that someone is putting up border fortifications along Egypt's border and Egypt has nothing to do with it.

Israel Matzav: Gaza smuggling to finally be stopped?

Israel Matzav: Western-looking 'Prime Minister' says no compromises

Western-looking 'Prime Minister' says no compromises

Western-looking 'Palestinian Prime Minister' Salam Fayyad announced on Saturday that there will be no compromises with Israel, including in 'east' Jerusalem. Fayyad was speaking to he National Conference for the Strengthening of Palestinian Popular Activity against the Separation Wall and Settlements in Ramallah, which is seeking to encourage violent demonstrations against Israel's 'security fence' in the Ramallah area.

Fayyad added that "the establishment of a Palestinian state on all territories occupied in 1967, chief among them East Jerusalem" remains the sole viable option for guaranteeing peace and stability in the region.

"We strenuously reject all the solutions being proposed by Israel's leaders, such as solutions involving interim arrangements,"

"We have no intention of continuing with the formula of interim arrangements and of accepting a state of strips of territory that have no territorial contiguity."

The prime minister added that "We learned the lessons of the first Intifada and its results. We will act to reach a comprehensive agreement on the basis of resolutions by the international community and we will reject every attempt to once again enter this whirlwind of negotiations without results and long-term arrangements."

Israel's Robert Aumann won a Nobel Prize for his work in game theory. In The Israel Test, George Gilder quotes Aumann as saying that Israel and the 'Palestinians' are like two people bargaining over who will get $1000, who must reach an agreement before they can leave the room. The 'Palestinians' keep saying they want $900 and the Israelis keep saying that we want $500. Until we are willing to stand up to the 'Palestinians' and say that we want $900 or $1000 (and really mean it), we are going to lose that game every time. Paradoxically, the more we urgently need peace, the more we are going to get responses like Salam Fayyad's.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Western-looking 'Prime Minister' says no compromises

Israel Matzav: Hamas disinters Christians in Gaza

Hamas disinters Christians in Gaza

Hamas has been digging up bodies of Christians in the Gaza Strip, claiming that they pollute the earth according to human rights NGO's that are visiting Israel this week.

"Hamas digs up the bodies of Christians from Christian burial sites in the Gaza Strip claiming that they pollute the earth," said Reverend Majed El Shafie, President of One Free World International (OFWI), who will head a delegation of human rights activists, members of parliament from Canada and religious personalities.

During their visit to Israel the delegation will hold a conference on human rights and persecuted minorities at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem. The conference will provide new statistics on the persecution of minorities in Muslim countries.

El Shafie said that between 200-300 million Christians are being persecuted in the world, 80 percent of whom lived in Muslim countries and the rest in communist and other countries.

El Shafie has quite a story to tell himself. Read the whole thing.


Welcome Jawa Report readers.


Welcome Atlas readers.

Israel Matzav: Hamas disinters Christians in Gaza

Israel Matzav: Miss 'Palestine'?

Miss 'Palestine'?

The 'Palestinian Authority' is holding a beauty contest. Yes, really. And the winner gets a new car (make and model not specified), a week-long trip to Turkey (why not Gaza?) and NIS 10,000 - a little more than $2500 at today's exchange rate. And guess who's not happy about it....

Salwa Yusef, director of Moda Trip, the organization that is holding the Miss Palestine contest, said that the event would take place despite the pressure and threats by Hamas.

"We will hold the contest unless the Palestinian Authority decides otherwise," she said. "We call on all those who are attacking us to give us a chance because we are seeking to send a message of civilization to the world."

The names of the candidates have not been made public to avoid exposing them to threats.

The women participating in the historic event are from the West Bank and Israeli-Arab communities. The 58 contestants, aged 18-22, were chosen from 200 women who presented their candidacy.

Apart from Hamas, several other radical groups have strongly condemned the planned beauty contest as a violation of Islamic belief, urging the PA to cancel it.


Israel Matzav: Miss 'Palestine'?

Israel Matzav: How to pour the perfect beer

Israel Matzav: How to pour the perfect beer

Israel Matzav: Now that Hezbullah's in charge, Lebanon wants US aid

Now that Hezbullah's in charge, Lebanon wants US aid

With Hezbullah wielding veto power over his cabinet, and controlling his army and his foreign ministry, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman heads to Washington this week to ask for US aid and sophisticated weaponry.

The United States has long provided military assistance to Lebanon - including $410 million to the military and the police. But America has not handed over any sophisticated arms for fear they could end up in the hands of Hezbollah, which the U.S. lists as a terrorist group.

According to the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, the military assistance over the past years includes aircraft, tanks, artillery, small boats, infantry weapons, ammunition, Humvees and cargo trucks. It adds that the U.S. will provide the Lebanese Armed Forces with 12 Raven unmanned reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft in the coming months.

There have also been reports that American training and equipment aided Lebanon uncover a large Israeli spy ring in the country this year.


Hisham Jaber, who heads the Middle East Center for Studies and Public Relations in Beirut, said Suleiman's appeal is part of his work to develop a national defense strategy that would eventually integrate Hezbollah weapons into the army.

"You cannot speak about a defense strategy and disarming the resistance without the presence of a strong army," Jaber told The Associated Press.

The trip to Washington was announced earlier this month, before the Lebanese parliament approved a national unity government that will allow Hezbollah to keep its weapons despite strong criticism from pro-Western lawmakers.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Now that Hezbullah's in charge, Lebanon wants US aid

Israel Matzav: How's that outreach going Mr. President?

How's that outreach going Mr. President?

One of the leaders President Obumbler has been trying to 'engage' is Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Over the weekend, Obama got his answer: Assad has entered into a mutual defense pact with Iran.

Iran and Syria signed a defense agreement on Friday, according to an Iranian Press TV report, just as Iran is coming under strong international pressure to clarify aspects of its nuclear program.

The document, signed by Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi and his Syrian counterpart Ali Mohammad Habib Mahmoud, aimed to face "common enemies and challenges," the report said.

Vahidi praised Syria's great potential in defense and military fields and said that "it is natural for a country like Syria - which has an inhumane and menace predator like Israel in its neighborhood - to be always prepared [against possible foreign aggression]."

His visit to Syria comes a week after Saeed Jalili, Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, also visited Damascus.

As you may recall, Vahidi was the mastermind of the suicide bombing of the Jewish Cultural Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: How's that outreach going Mr. President?

Israel Matzav: The first Polish language Chanuka guide

The first Polish language Chanuka guide

The Shavei Yisrael Organization, which was founded by JPost columnist Michael Freund, has distributed the first Polish language guides to Chanuka, many of which will go to people who only recently discovered that they are Jews.

"In recent years, an increasing number of Poles have rediscovered their Jewish ancestry, seeking to reclaim the precious heritage that was so brutally taken from them and their forebears," he said.

"It is our hope that this book will, in some small way, enable a new generation of Polish Jews to celebrate Chanukah with joy, as well as gain a better understanding of our eternal faith, its principles and beliefs," Freund added.

Although there are only 4,000 Jews officially registered in Poland, the organization estimates that there are tens of thousands of others who have concealed their true identity, or are simply unaware of it.

Kol HaKavod (more power to you!).

Israel Matzav: The first Polish language Chanuka guide

Israel Matzav: Obama misses the point of Chanuka

Obama misses the point of Chanuka

President Obama's universalist Chanuka message shows how little he understands of what Chanuka means.

"The Hanukkah story of the Maccabees and the miracles they witnessed reminds us that faith and perseverance are powerful forces that can sustain us in difficult times and help us overcome even the greatest odds," he said, seeking to remind Jews that even thousands of years later there was strength to be drawn from their religious texts.

"Hanukkah is not only a time to celebrate the faith and customs of the Jewish people, but for people of all faiths to celebrate the common aspirations we share," he said.

"As families, friends and neighbors gather together to kindle the lights, may Hanukkah's lessons inspire us all to give thanks for the blessings we enjoy, to find light in times of darkness, and to work together for a brighter, more hopeful tomorrow," concluded the US president, just one day after receiving the Noble Prize for Peace in the Norwegian capital.

It's clear that someone forgot to tell Obama that the Maccabees fought a war, and that someone forgot to tell him that the lesson of Chanuka is not for "people of all faiths to celebrate the common aspirations we share," but for the Jewish people to remain strong in our faith and not to let it be influenced by others.

More here.

Israel Matzav: Obama misses the point of Chanuka

Israel Matzav: The Left targets Lieberman... Hadassah Lieberman

The Left targets Lieberman... Hadassah Lieberman

William Jacobson reports at Legal Insurrection that the moonbats at Fire Dog Lake and Salon have targeted Hadassah Lieberman, wife of Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn), for Joe's failure to support President Obumbler's socialized medicine program. Hadassah is being targeted because she is a spokesperson for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

Politicizing breast cancer is what we've come to in the fight by supporters of nationalized care to impose on the American public a system the majority of Americans do not want. And the fact that Hamsher is a breast cancer survivor is no excuse.

Add to it another nail in the feminist coffin. Since when is a woman to be deprived of her livelihood and her own professional accomplishments because of her husband?

So it's a twofer.

Indeed, but this isn't the first time that breast cancer has been politicized. And the last time, it was by the Komen Foundation itself. Back in October, I reported that the Susan G. Komen Foundation had 'uninvited' a group of Israeli doctors from a conference taking place in Egypt because their presence upset the Egyptian hosts. Subsequently, I reported, based on reports from the Komen Foundation itself that the invitations had been restored. But my fellow blogger RivkA, who is fighting breast cancer herself, reported a couple of weeks later that the Susan G. Komen Foundation lied, and that Israeli doctors were barred from the conference in Egypt (she posted this the night before I left to the US, and I never got around to linking it).

Will the Susan G. Komen Foundation keep Hadassah Lieberman? Or will politics once again take precedence over the lives of breast cancer patients? As someone with a survivor in the family, I say let's take the politics out of breast cancer.

More on this story here.

Israel Matzav: The Left targets Lieberman... Hadassah Lieberman

Israel Matzav: The Island whose Jews all survived the Holocaust

The Island whose Jews all survived the Holocaust

Mrs. Carl pointed me to this remarkable story of a small island in Greece whose Jews all survived the Holocaust.

On September 9 1943, the governor of the German occupation named Berenz had asked the mayor, Loukas Karrer, for a list of all Jews on the island.

Rejecting the demand after consulting with Bishop Chrysostomos, they decided to go together to the governor's office the next day. When Berenz insisted once again for the list, the bishop explained that these Jews weren't Christians but had lived here in peace and quiet for hundreds of years.

They had never bothered anyone, he said. They were Greeks just like all other Greeks, and it would offend all the residents of Zakynthos if they were to leave.

But the governor persisted that they give him the names.

The bishop then handed him a piece of paper containing only two names: Bishop Chrysostomos and Mayor Karrer.

In addition, the bishop wrote a letter to Hitler himself, declaring that the Jews in Zakynthos were under his authority.

Read the whole thing. It will make your day (and perhaps give you a new destination for your next vacation).

Israel Matzav: The Island whose Jews all survived the Holocaust

Israel Matzav: An important reminder about Chanuka

An important reminder about Chanuka

A lot of people have no idea what Chanuka is really about. It's not a Jewish Christmas and it's not a universal holiday at all. Jonathan Tobin gives a reminder of what Chanuka's about.

Though the tension between the parochial aspects of the faith and its more universalist tendencies is as old as Judaism itself, Chanukah is not an empty metaphor into which other narratives or unrelated themes — whether praiseworthy or not — can be poured at will. Far from being a Jewish version of “goodwill toward men” or some trendy contemporary cause, the original story of Chanukah is about something very different: the refusal of a people to bow down to the idols of the popular culture of their day — their resolve to remain separate and faithful to their own traditions. Even more to the point, Chanukah is the story of a particularly bloody Jewish civil war whose outcome has stood ever since as a warning against the perils of discarding faith and freedom to fit it with more popular ideological movements. This is a lesson that applied to the Maccabees, who sought to resist the pull of Hellenism more than 2,000 years ago, as well as to those fighting back against the siren song of totalitarian ideas in the last century.

Indeed. Chanuka is a time when we are meant to increase Torah study, especially the study of the oral law. So let's get to it!

Israel Matzav: An important reminder about Chanuka

Israel Matzav: Why an Auschwitz survivor avoided doctors for 65 years

Why an Auschwitz survivor avoided doctors for 65 years

His family brought him to the hospital in his home town of Petach Tikva near Tel Aviv. He had hardly been admitted when he lost consciousness. Heart attack, the doctor said. The blood clots were cleared with the help of tiny balloons, and the doctors put five stents in him. "We thought he wouldn't survive the operation," said Eli Lev, the doctor. "Especially since he had just one kidney."

When Yitzhak Ganon came to, he told the doctors where he lost the other kidney -- and why he had avoided doctors for 65 years. A reporter from the Israeli paper Maariv heard about the story. And now, weeks after the operation, Ganon is ready to tell his story to a German reporter for the first time.

He stretches his back and looks at a photo on the living room wall. It shows the Acropolis in Athens. "I come from Arta, a small city in northern Greece. It happened on Saturday, March 25, 1944. We had just lit the candles to celebrate the Sabbath when an SS officer and a Greek policeman burst into the house. They told us we should get ourselves ready for a big trip."

The 85-year-old slides the sleeve of his shirt up and uncovers his left forearm. The number 182558 is tattooed there in dark-blue ink.

Israel Matzav: Why an Auschwitz survivor avoided doctors for 65 years

Israel Matzav: Revenant population to increase by 10,000 in 2010?

Revenant population to increase by 10,000 in 2010?

Likud Minister Benny Begin claims that the population of Judea and Samaria will increase by 10,000 in 2010 despite the 'settlement freeze.'

Begin told a conference on Thursday night that the moratorium would be painful but was not a full construction "freeze" in the accepted sense of the word.

He noted that 3,000 homes already started would be completed regardless of the freeze, and said about 10,000 more settlers would move in, according to reports by Israel Israeli media.

"This is neither a freeze nor a suspension," the paper quoted Begin as saying. "Construction in Judea and Samaria will continue in the next 10 months," he said, using the Biblical term for the West Bank.

"We are now clarifying the conditions on the ground and saying that we don't intend to restrict or suspend new building permits."

Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev said that the freeze stood and otherwise said "no comment." Maybe Begin was referring to how many children will be born to Jewish families in Judea and Samaria this year.

Of course, they haven't managed to stop revenants from having children - yet. But I'd bet they'd like to.

I can tell you about one new revenant: Mrs. Carl's niece is making a brit (circumcision) for her first-born on Sunday God willing. God willing, they will have many more children. The 'settlement freeze' won't stop them.

Israel Matzav: Revenant population to increase by 10,000 in 2010?

Israel Matzav: President Obama's 'holiday reception'

President Obama's 'holiday reception'

Even when he's trying to do something right, he can't get it right. This is from a New York Times article on the White House Chanuka party.

President George W. Bush, who began the tradition of White House Hanukkah parties, invited 600 people to his last party, administration officials say. But rumors spread wildly, first in the Israeli press and then locally, that President Bush had invited 800 people and that the Obamas were planning to invite only 400. (Administration officials say they have invited 550 people.)

The invitations have also caused some consternation because they make no mention of Hanukkah, inviting guests to “a holiday reception” on Dec. 16.

I wonder if they're officially letting the media in this time. Heh.

Israel Matzav: President Obama's 'holiday reception'

Love of the Land: Against All Odds

Against All Odds

Chanuka is a time for miracles, both in those days and ours. To see more Torah Live Chanuka videos, visit

Love of the Land: Against All Odds

Love of the Land: Chanukah and the One Light Above

Chanukah and the One Light Above

Daniel Greenfield
Sultan Knish
12 December 09

For the eight days of Chanukah, it is common to see a candelabra with eight lights and one light above it, shining here and there, in the windows of stores and hallways, in people’s homes and even on intersections. Some are filled with oil, while others are topped with candles. Some tower high overhead and some are child sized. But all have eight lights and one above it, and all commemorate the same occasion.

Many nations have religious holidays and days of national liberation and independence, however rarely do the two come together quite in the way that Chanukah does. That is because Chanukah is both a commemoration of national liberation from the rule of the pagan Syrian-Greek empire ruled by Antiochus IV and a commemoration of the hand of divine influence in both inspiring and accomplishing that liberation.

The Jews throughout history have had a way of getting in the way of great empires. The Egyptians, the Philistines, the Assyrians, Babylonians and Persians had all tried to enslave and destroy the Jewish people. A few thousand years ago after an Egyptian Pharaoh had first gotten the bright idea to clap chains on the Jewish refugees who had been serving as his faithful shepherds and send them off to build the pyramids, and some 2000 plus years before the present day, Antiochus IV, like so many kings before whose sense of power had overwhelmed both their sense of reason and morals, decided that ruling over his empire would be simpler and easier without the Jews in it.

Where Pharaoh had embarked on that process by throwing male Jewish babies into the Nile, to please one of his many gods while carrying out a genocide that was meant to destroy the Jewish people and integrate what was left into Egypt-- Antiochus IV focused not on physical extermination, but cultural annihilation. The fundamental books of Jewish life, the scriptures that gave the Jewish people meaning and identity were destroyed.and banned. Hellenic ways and mores became law. Jewish ones became an offense punishable by death.

Some accepted the decree out of fear or even with enthusiasm. Others however rose up and resisted. And war came between the handfuls of Jewish Maccabee partisans and the armies of Antiochus IV’s Selecuid empire. A war that had its echoes in the past and would have it again in the future as lightly armed and untrained armies of Jewish soldiers would go on to fight in that same land and those same hills and valleys against the Romans and eventually the armies of six Arab nations. The Syrian Greek armies were among the best of their day. The Maccabees were the sons of the priesthood living in the backwaters of Israel, members of a nation that had not been independently ruled since the Babylonian hordes had flooded across the land, destroying everything in their path. Since then a shifting mass of nations and rulers had sat on their thrones while the Jews had bowed their heads.

(Full article)

Love of the Land: Chanukah and the One Light Above

Love of the Land: Europe Says Jerusalem Should Be a Two-State Capital

Europe Says Jerusalem Should Be a Two-State Capital

Soeren Kern
13 December 09

The European Union on December 8 adopted a resolutionthat for the first time explicitly calls for Jerusalem to become the future capital of both a Palestinian state and Israel. Backing away at the last minute from a more controversial Swedish proposal to officially call for the division of Jerusalem, the EU endorsed a watered-down declaration that states: “If there is to be a genuine peace, a way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states.”

The original proposal drafted by Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, a well-known pro-Palestinian activist whose country currently holds the six-month rotating presidency of the EU, had called for the creation of a “State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital.” Israeli officials, angry over EU efforts to prejudge the outcome of issues reserved for permanent status negotiations, persuaded French diplomats to remove the offending text, as well as other references to a Palestinian state that would comprise “the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza.”

Israel has always maintained that Jerusalem will remain its undivided capital, regardless of any future peace settlement with the Palestinians. This has been the declared policy of all Israeli governments, left or right.

The EU statement, which comes just days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a 10-month freeze on construction in West Bank settlements, will be viewed by many as a European attempt to preempt any possible resumption of Middle East peace talks by helping the Palestinians improve their negotiating position vis-à-vis Israel.

Although the 27-member EU has limited clout as a diplomatic player in the Arab-Israel conflict, the EU is the biggest donor of financial assistance to Palestinian Authority, which has been accused of diverting the money to promote terror against Israel. The EU statement, which is predictably one-sided, could end up disincentivizing a new round of negotiations. Indeed, Palestinians may well be emboldened by the EU’s tacit acceptance of their key positions and be led to believe that if they hold out longer, the EU will support them on other core issues as well.

The EU resolution is overwhelmingly supportive of Palestinian statehood. For example, paragraph 3 of the EU text states:

The EU stands ready to further develop its bilateral relations with the Palestinian Authority reflecting shared interests, including in the framework of the European Neighborhood Policy. Recalling the Berlin declaration, the Council also reiterates its support for negotiations leading to Palestinian statehood, all efforts and steps to that end and its readiness, when appropriate, to recognize a Palestinian state. It will continue to assist Palestinian statebuilding, including through its CSDP [EU Common Security and Defense Policy] missions and within the Quartet. The EU fully supports the implementation of the Palestinian Authority’s Government Plan “Palestine, Ending the Occupation, Establishing the State” as an important contribution to this end and will work for enhanced international support for this plan.

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Soeren Kern is Senior Analyst for Transatlantic Relations at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group.

Love of the Land: Europe Says Jerusalem Should Be a Two-State Capital

Love of the Land: Fatah fighters buying guns instead of food for kids

Fatah fighters buying guns instead of food for kids

Itamar Marcus/Barbara Crook
Palestinian Media Watch
09 December 09

Members of Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades are arming themselves for war against Israel by buying guns instead of food for their kids and by selling their wives' jewelry, according to the official Fatah website.

The website says that the Brigades, the so-called "military wing" of Fatah, are preparing a "harsh and painful" response to any Israeli attacks on Gaza. According to one of the heads of the Brigades, the fighters have to buy their own weapons to replace weapons confiscated by Hamas.

Following is the transcript of the item from the Fatah web site:

"With the renewal of the threats emanating from the Zionist military establishment to carry out a new attack on the Gaza Strip... the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades... warned of a harsh and painful response that the occupation state is not expecting. This response was conveyed by one of the heads of the Brigades in the Gaza Strip, Abu Ahed...
"Abu Ahed also declared that the Brigades' activity in Gaza should be viewed as a personal endeavor, since many of the Brigades' Jihad (Islamic War) fighters purchase weapons rather than food for their children, and many of them have even sold their wives' gold [jewelry] in order to obtain weapons, since the Hamas forces have confiscated the Brigades' members' weapons."
[Official Fatah web site,, Dec. 9, 2009

Love of the Land: Fatah fighters buying guns instead of food for kids

Love of the Land: Why is the West So Easily Fooled by Middle East Dictators? Case in Point: Syria's "Independent" Media is Owned by the Regime

Why is the West So Easily Fooled by Middle East Dictators? Case in Point: Syria's "Independent" Media is Owned by the Regime

Barry Rubin
The Rubin Report
13 December 09

It's remarkable how easy it is for Middle Eastern dictatorships to fool the West. Iran has been stringing along Europe and the United States for seven years on the pretense that it is ready to make a deal on its nuclear weapons' drive. The Palestinians persuade the West that they really do want to make peace but just need a better offer. And so on.

Sometimes the foolishness is due to ideology or bias, but ignorance is often a major factor. The assumption that Middle East dictatorships or Islamist revolutionaries really want to be moderate, that they're just victims and everything is the West's fault, or that a solution of conflicts is just a concession away overwhelms anything like a sense of history, research, or comprehension of what's going on.

Here’s an example, only one among hundreds. What makes it so symbollic is because it would have been so easy to get this story right. Since Bashar al-Asad inherited the family dictatorship eight years ago, there have been an endless stream of stories on how he is a really nice guy and just wants to be friends. Stories about the regime's sponsorship of terrorism and extremism--visible in every speech Bashar and his colleagues make in Arabic and all that appears in the Syrian state-controlled media--don't get much coverage. Neither does the fate of democratic dissidents.

Syria, of course, is a brutally repressive dictatorship where non-violent dissenters are consistently arrested, imprisoned, and tortured. It also sponsors terrorism in all directions, against Americans and Iraqis in Iraq; against Lebanon where it murdered about a dozen people in recent years including former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri; against Israel by sponsoring Hamas and Hizballah; and periodically against Jordan.

(Continue article)

Related: Guardian Hearts Mukhabarat Media

Love of the Land: Why is the West So Easily Fooled by Middle East Dictators? Case in Point: Syria's "Independent" Media is Owned by the Regime

Love of the Land: Andrew Roberts: On Iran, Israel Must Emulate Nelson and Churchill

Andrew Roberts: On Iran, Israel Must Emulate Nelson and Churchill

Jonathan Tobin
11 December 09

Over at Melanie Phillips’s Spectator blog, she reprints in its entirety the speech delivered by the great British historian and COMMENTARY contributor Andrew Roberts to the Anglo-Israel Association earlier this week.

Roberts’s brilliant speech makes for important reading and not just for students of the often difficult relationship between Britain and Israel, which he reviews in some detail, from the hopeful beginning of the Balfour Declaration to the infamy of Britain’s 1939 White Paper, which locked the gates of Palestine just as Hitler’s death machine was warming up in Europe. Add to this Britain’s futile effort to prevent the Jewish state from being born after World War II and the consistent record of bias against Israel on the part of London’s Foreign Office since 1948. While Roberts notes that Margaret Thatcher was the most philo-Semitic prime minister since Winston Churchill, he acknowledges that even the Iron Lady was stymied by the Foreign Office in her efforts to promote a better relationship with Israel.

What is his explanation for this record? He puts it down, in part, to:

The FO assumption that Britain’s relations with Israel ought constantly to be subordinated to her relations with other Middle Eastern states, especially the oil-rich ones, however badly those states behave in terms of human rights abuses, the persecution of Christians, the oppression of women, medieval practices of punishment, and so on. It seems to me that there is an implicit racism going on here. Jews are expected to behave better, goes the FO thinking, because they are like us. Arabs must not be chastised because they are not. So in warfare, we constantly expect Israel to behave far better than her neighbours, and chastise her quite hypocritically when occasionally under the exigencies of national struggle, she cannot. The problem crosses political parties today, just as it always has. [Conservative Party foreign policy spokesman] William Hague called for Israel to adopt a proportionate response in its struggle with Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2007, as though proportionate responses ever won any victories against fascists. In the Second World War, the Luftwaffe killed 50,000 Britons in the Blitz, and the Allied response was to kill 600,000 Germans—twelve times the number and hardly a proportionate response, but one that contributed mightily to victory. Who are we therefore to lecture the Israelis on how proportionate their responses should be?

Roberts also notes...

(Continue article)

Love of the Land: Andrew Roberts: On Iran, Israel Must Emulate Nelson and Churchill

Love of the Land: A Pennsylvania potato farmer and his Jerusalem ambulance

A Pennsylvania potato farmer and his Jerusalem ambulance

Tali Minsberg
13 December 09

After one of the family farms fell victim to eminent domain in January 2006, Naaman King made a pledge.

"You don't haggle with G-d, but I promised if anything good ever happens, I'd do something for Israel," King recalls. Then lo and behold, King came home to a letter saying the government was willing to hold negotiations over the property.

"The next letter I opened was from Magen David Adom," King said. "My wife looked at me and said, 'Well, you know what you promised.' So the next week I went to New York to check out the organization, and then I bought an ambulance."

It was as simple as that, explained Sharon Schmidt, the Greater Philadelphia Area director of American Friends of Magen David Adom.

"We were not only surprised and delighted by the enormity of Naaman King's generosity, but elated to learn of his love for our beloved Israel."

Related story: Mennonite Farmer’s Love for Israel is No Small Potatoes (Excellent)

"Mr. King is delightful to work with," she continued. "He's completely humble and a true gentleman… At the ambulance dedication, which was a Mennonite covered-dish dinner attended by over 100 people from his Pennsylvania community, I thanked Mr. King for his generosity. His response was, 'Don't thank me, it was all G-d's doing.'"

Before King knew it, he and his family were flying to Israel in November 2006 to greet an ambulance with his name on it.

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Love of the Land: A Pennsylvania potato farmer and his Jerusalem ambulance

Love of the Land: Tractors?


Michael Zebulon
American Thinker
13 December 09

In unmistakably peace-loving Tehran, Western observers have beheld street processions of missiles - conspicuously emblazoned with clearly stenciled words evoking all the charm and grace of a greeting card: "To Jerusalem."

Late in the 1960s, shortly after Israel's spectacular military victory in the Six-Day War, its then-newly elected Prime Minister: the Russian-born, Milwaukee-raised and Denver-educated, former U.S. citizen, Golda Meir -- was asked if she were not afraid that, because of Israel's need for defense, the country might become "militaristic." "I can only answer," replied the lady, "that I don't want a fine, liberal, anticolonial, antimilitaristic, dead Jewish People."

Those words were spoken some 41 years back. Here's my "report," as it were, in the matter-- four decades hence:

I was in the city of Jerusalem a couple of years ago for "Yom Yerushalayim," that's Jerusalem Day, May 22 this year, which, on the Jewish (lunar) calendar, annually commemorates Israel's responsive and successful unification of the City when the aforesaid Six-Day War was forced upon her in June of 1967. On second thought, let me tinker just ever-so-slightly with the first part of that statement: I wasn't actually in the city "for" Jerusalem Day -- but I was, as fate would have it, in the city on Jerusalem Day. Yes, that's better.

As a matter of fact, I had spent quite a bit of the merry month of May in Israel that year. It was the occasion of my niece's wedding - and then, having completed a rigorous four-year course of study there, she graduated from medical school in Israel, as well, the following week. But this particular narrative isn't about family stuff. Not as such.

Love of the Land: Tractors?

Love of the Land: When The People Will Hike

When The People Will Hike

Paula R. Stern
A Soldier's Mother
09 December 09

One of the interesting things about Israelis and Israel is that we love to hike. We climb mountains, descend into riverbeds. We seek water, the highs and lows of the land. We explore the caves, the hills, the valleys. Everything, everywhere...whenever we can. It's a national obsession - perhaps born out of too many years in which we could not freely hike our land.

On extended days off from the army, rather than avoid his army friends, Elie will arrange to get together and hike with them. Our family has gone on many hikes - few really challenging ones, as I am a bit nervous having children walk near the edges of cliffs and things. It is probably another one of the seldom recognized miracles that happen daily here that so few people actually get injured.

Some of Israel's recognized tourist sites are carefully marked. Follow the green or blue arrows. Stick on the path and climb and descend...that's what I do. I am a path-follower. Boring it is, but what can you do. As soon as I leave the path, I am sure scorpions and snakes and lions and tigers will attack. No, it's the path for me (at least as far as my kids know, so let's leave it at that. Kids, stay ON the path).

What do most Israelis do...especially the young ones? (Read here my three sons and most army-age people.) Well, if there are arrows, it is too much evidence that man has been here before. Why walk the path, my sons often feel, if they can scale the sides. Elie is often the first to break off to the side...his brothers follow as I slowly wind my way safely and slowly along the path. They sprawl on the ground, relaxed and amused, as I catch up to them.

As I said, it is a national obsession that we can't do often enough because despite living in this beautiful country, we live in the real world. We work...hard...and if you keep the Sabbath, you really have no day in which you can simply escape to the far reaches of our land.

So, when can we hike? The answer is the holidays - as many of them as possible. We go in the summer, on Passover, on Sukkot...and on Hanukah, which starts at the end of this week.

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Love of the Land: When The People Will Hike

Love of the Land: Special-majority referendum on territorial concessions advancing democracy & peace

Special-majority referendum on territorial concessions advancing democracy & peace

Yoram Ettinger
The Ettinger Report
11 December 09

A special-majority referendum constitutes an acceptable procedure in Western democracies, when faced with exceptional – and sometimes irreversible – decisions, such as territorial concessions in the Golan Heights and in Judea and Samaria.

Contrary to opponents of a special-majority referendum - as a prerequisite for territorial concessions – such a procedure protects individual rights, national security and democracy, which are threatened by hasty decisions made under the influence of domestic and international pressure, impacted by exceptionally emotional developments and supported by a slim, tenuous majority, which could be transformed summarily into a minority. Special-majority referendums check an imperial executive branch of government, which wishes to dominate the legislature and to ignore public opinion.

For example, the "Evian Accords" which led to France's withdrawal from Algeria, were approved by two referendums in April and June 1962. President de Gaulle, who initiated the withdrawal, insisted that such an exceptional decision required a special majority, in order to prevent an internal rupture. De Gaulle insisted that a regular-majority could represent a minority of eligible voters, forge a sizeable disgruntled opposition and cause a collapse of democracy.

Charles de Gaulle understood the threat to democracy – under exceptional circumstances – if the special-majority referendum was dismissed. In 1946, the 53% majority which approved the constitution of the Fourth French Republic amounted to a mere 36% minority of eligible voters. Under such results, France deteriorated to the verge of a civil war in 1958.

(Continue article)

Related: The 3A Booby Trap Must Be removed From Referendum Law, Background: Referendum law would apply to "border adjustments" - but referendum avoidable via elections

Love of the Land: Special-majority referendum on territorial concessions advancing democracy & peace

Love of the Land: More European imperialism

More European imperialism
11 December 09

The European Union (EU) has ’softened’ the Swedish proposal which declared that East Jerusalem should be the capital of a Palestinian state. Now they are saying that Jerusalem should be the capital of both Israel and Palestine.

However, they have not changed the most outrageous part of it, something that I haven’t seen anyone else call attention to. That is this:

The EU will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties.

The literal interpretation of this is that as long as there is no comprehensive agreement the EU considers Judea and Samaria and East Jerusalem still to be under Jordanian control, and Gaza Egyptian.

Of course we know they don’t mean that. What they seem to mean is that unless Israel and the Palestinians agree otherwise, Judea and Samaria and East Jerusalem are ‘Palestinian’.

Israel’s position is that Judea and Samaria are disputed and all of Jerusalem belongs to Israel. The present (not so) ‘right wing’ government of PM Netanyahu has made clear that there could be changes in borders in the context of a peace agreement. But the EU is saying that the these areas are ‘Palestinian land’ by default.

According to Israel’s point of view, there should be no difference between Israeli and Palestinian building activity in Judea and Samaria. But by agreeing to the settlement freeze — even though it is supposedly ‘in the interest of bringing the Palestinian Authority to the negotiating table’ — Israel has weakened its position. This is unfortunate, especially since the Palestinians won’t come to the table anyway, and there has already been conflict between Jewish residents and Israeli “building inspectors” and police as a result.

If the Palestinians carry out their on-and-off threat to unilaterally declare a state according to pre-1967 borders, the EU will recognize it regardless of what Israel does.

The EU has no legitimate authority to determine boundaries in the Middle East and they should stop trying to do it. Let them concentrate on legislating about minarets in their own countries.

Love of the Land: More European imperialism

Love of the Land: Why Can't H. Clinton Bring Israel-Palestinian Peace? Look at What B. Clinton Offered which the Palestinians Rejected

Why Can't H. Clinton Bring Israel-Palestinian Peace? Look at What B. Clinton Offered which the Palestinians Rejected

Barry Rubin
The Rubin Report
12 December 09

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave an interview to al-Jazira television, December 10, which reminds us of something exceptionally important for any discussion of the Israel-Palestinian conflict: what her husband offered the Palestinians—the last time a comprehensive deal was proffered—and was turned down almost exactly nine years ago.

Even al-Jazira’s interviewer noted that, “The issue of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process– everything seems to have stalled since January just before President Obama came into office.” This signals not only that the failure is obvious to everyone but also that enough time has passed that the Obama Administration must be judged on its own merits rather than blaming the current situation on its predecessor, which can be a legitimate excuse during the earlier days.

Obviously, for an al-Jazira audience, Clinton is eager to show how supportive she is of a Palestinian state, though one that must come from bilateral negotiations with Israel:

“I have been committed to a two-state solution, a Palestinian state for more than 10 years. I was the first person associated with any American administration who said that the Palestinians deserved and should be given their own state. So I am very committed to both the Palestinian state to fulfill the aspirations of the Palestinian people, and security for the Israelis so that they would be given the guarantee of their own future.”

The word “deserved” here is worth noting. It implies that the Palestinians have earned a state of their own. While one can justify this on the basis of consciousness and conditions, it is ironic to think of such an idea in light of Palestinian political performance in the last sixty years which has consisted all too largely of saying “no” and a rather large element of terrorism.

I’m making this point not to try to score points or cast aspersions but rather to highlight the reason as to why this “deserved” gift has not been bestowed, which might have happened at many points in history beginning with 1948 when the Palestinians themselves turned down the UN plan to give them a state through 2000 when the same thing happened in their rejection of what was called, ironically the Clinton Plan. That was Bill Clinton.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Why Can't H. Clinton Bring Israel-Palestinian Peace? Look at What B. Clinton Offered which the Palestinians Rejected
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