Friday, 5 February 2010

Israel Matzav: Sabbath music video

Sabbath music video

Here's Rabbi Hagay Batzri singing Tzur MiShelo Achalnu (God from whose property we ate), which is sung before the Grace After Meals on Friday night.

Let's go to the videotape.

Shabbat Shalom everyone.

Israel Matzav: Sabbath music video

Love of the Land: New Israel Fund Appearance Cancelled - Consequences

New Israel Fund Appearance Cancelled - Consequences

04 February '10
Posted before Shabbat

Whatever the conclusion, at least the NIF is a controversial issue now, and they and their friends are not helping with the tactics they've used in their counterattack: Australian groups cancel Chazan appearances

Former Israeli lawmaker Naomi Chazan's visit to Australia was canceled following allegations that the organization she heads helped provide information for the Goldstone report.

Chazan, president of the New Israel Fund, was invited by the Union for Progressive Judaism -- the Australian equivalent of the Reform movement -- to address fund-raisers next week for the United Israel Appeal in Melbourne and Sydney .

(Continue full post)

More consequences? Today's Haaretz Headline: Amid row over contentious ad, Jerusalem Post fires Naomi Chazan of New Israel Fund

Love of the Land: New Israel Fund Appearance Cancelled - Consequences

RubinReports: That "Cost-Benefit" Thing: How U.S. Intelligence Assessments Misunderstand Iran and Lots More in the Middle East

That "Cost-Benefit" Thing: How U.S. Intelligence Assessments Misunderstand Iran and Lots More in the Middle East

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By Barry Rubin

"We continue to judge that Iran's nuclear decision-making is guided by a cost-benefit approach, which offers the international community opportunities to influence Iran." Dennis Blair, chief of U.S. intelligence in his annual threat assessment report for 2010.

Forget about Nazi analogies or even Stalinist ones. Let's just use some Middle East parallels, formulated fictionally as if they'd come from the Dennis Blair school of thought:

We continue to judge that the Arab world's pursuit of its conflict with Israel is guided by a cost-benefit approach, which offers the international community opportunities to bring it to an end in the near future." Annual threat assessment report for 1950.

We continue to judge that Egypt's foreign policy-making is guided by a cost-benefit approach, which offers the United States a chane to turn it into an ally." Annual threat assessment report for 1952.

We continue to judge that Syrian and Iraqi decision-making is guided by a cost-benefit approach, which means these countries will see that friendship with the West has more to offer them than alliance with the USSR, especially given the fact that Communism is in conflict with their religion and way of life." Annual threat assessment report for 1960.

We continue to judge that Egyptian and Syrian decision-making is guided by a cost-benefit approach, which means they will not create a crisis leading to war with Israel." Annual threat assessment report for 1967.

We continue to judge that Egyptian and Syrian decision-making is guided by a cost-benefit approach, which means they will not create a crisis leading to war with Israel." Annual threat assessment report for 1973.

We continue to judge that Arab states' decision-making is guided by a cost-benefit approach, which means they will quickly join in to the Camp David process and support the Egypt-Israel peace agreement." Annual threat assessment report for 1979.

We continue to judge that Iranian decision-making is guided by a cost-benefit approach, which means they will not create a crisis leading to a long-term conflict with the United States. Annual threat assessment report for 1979.

We continue to judge that Iraqi decision-making is guided by a cost-benefit approach, which means they will not go to war with Iran, a country that has a much larger population, and suffer huge damage as a result. Annual threat assessment report for 1980.

We continue to judge that Iraqi decision-making is guided by a cost-benefit approach, which offers the international community opportunities to influence Iraq into not escalating the conflict by offering it concessions over Kuwait. Annual threat assessment for 1990.

"We continue to judge that Iraq's decision-making is guided by a cost-benefit approach, which suggests that Saddam Hussein will cooperate fully with the international order to get the sanctions removed from his country. Annual threat assessment report for 1995.

We continue to judge that Palestinian decision-making is guided by a cost-benefit approach, which offers the international community opportunities to influence the PLO into making coprehensive peace with Israel. Annual threat assessment report for 1999."

We continue to judge that the decision-making of Iraq's elite and people is guided by a cost-benefit approach, which offers the international community opportunities to turn Iraq into a stable democracy once Saddam Hussein is overthrown. Annual threat assessment report for 2003.

We continue to judge that the decision-making of Iran's regime is guided by a cost-benefit approach, which ensures that Iran will become more moderate and not take on the risks and high expenditure of resources required by a drive to get nuclear weapons. Annual threat assessment report for 2006.

Ok, enough examples. Some--actually many--of these kinds of statements were made at the time by mainstream experts including many of those in government. Today, we have lots of equivalents, not only concerning Iran's nuclear program but also including: Syria in maintaining its close alliance with Iran; radical Islamist groups remaining moderate; the Palestinians seeking the quickest deal possible to get a state.

The mistake here is not in thinking that Middle Eastern decisionmakers are rational--that is, use a cost-benefit approach--but in not understanding how they define costs and benefits. Example. Hamas attacks Israel and loses miserably. Did they make a mistake about costs and benefits? No, because they are still in power and--with considerable help from the West--have turned a military disaster into a political success by persuading the world that Israel is the bad guy. Moreover, for them the greatest benefit is to be able to continue the struggle for decades more. From a U.S. standpoint their calculation was irrational and wrong, with the cost seeming to outweigh any conceivable benefit. From their own standpoint the benefits did exceed the cost.

Regarding Iran, Western leaders simply fail to understand that Iran's sole reason for seeking nuclear weapons is to fire them at Israel and that if the United States prevents them from doing so that will be a great American victory. On the contrary, the Iranian regime's assessment of costs and benefits is totally different. Once Iran has nuclear weapons, the rulers know they will:

--Increase domestic support through demagogic appeals to Iran's greatness and Islam's triumph.

--Intimidate Arab states and Europe into giving them lots of things they want, including reducing cooperation with the United States, running away even faster from peace with Israel, accepting Tehran's desires on oil prices, and lots more.

--Shifting the strategic power balance greatly against the United States and its allies, also by exposing them as weak and in retreat.

--Mobilize massive support among Muslims elsewhere both for Iran as leader of the Muslims and for radical Islamism as an ideology that is winning.

So let's consider what Iran's annual threat assessment report for 2010 should look like:

"We continue to judge that the U.S. decision-making is guided by a cost-benefit approach in which confrontation is feared, the process of decadence continues, and almost anything is preferable to taking leadership and working hard to block our getting nuclear weapons. This offers us tremendous opportunities to seize leadership of the Muslims and of the Middle East. Since the world will do nothing that will materially hurt us the prospects are good for our obtaining Weapons of Mass Destruction and thus influencing everyone to retreat as we advance."

RubinReports: That "Cost-Benefit" Thing: How U.S. Intelligence Assessments Misunderstand Iran and Lots More in the Middle East

Reserve Generals Sign Petition Supporting Struggle Against NIF - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

Reserve Generals Sign Petition Supporting Struggle Against NIF - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

Toronto: Jewish Students Attacked - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

Toronto: Jewish Students Attacked - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

Israel Reportedly Training Kurdish Forces - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Israel Reportedly Training Kurdish Forces - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Imprisoned Terrorists Studying at Hebrew University - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Imprisoned Terrorists Studying at Hebrew University - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Law School Dean: Rules of War Must be Changed - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Law School Dean: Rules of War Must be Changed - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Fayyad's PA: Funding Terrorist Families - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Fayyad's PA: Funding Terrorist Families - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Israel Space Program Chief: Iran is Blinking - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Israel Space Program Chief: Iran is Blinking - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Israel Matzav: Someone wants to sell me land on the 'West Bank'

Someone wants to sell me land on the 'West Bank'

I got some interesting spam mail today (at least I assume it's spam) that I thought I would share with you. I do not suggest clicking on any of the links.

February 4, 2010

Dear Counselor,

It is my understanding that you maybe interested in purchasing Land in the West Bank. Here's the details available for land for sale by my client the owner. These are the procedure provided to you below.


The area of this amazing land is located will be (Free zone area) and recommended for USA and Europe since they will invest Seven Million Dollars in this area to develop peace progress between the nations there. A great business opportunity for the right owner to be part of history. The land is located in West Bank of Palestine but its controlled by Israel, in Google map you will read the name of the land as (baptize land) because its near to the area was Jesus Baptized also it has a name (damya bridge land) because its near for (damya village in Jordan.) and also named as ("Prince Muhamad Bridge") in the colored map and Prince Muhamad is brother of the late King Hussein father of King Abdullah today.

This Beautiful very big at 36000 Square Meters in addition, I also advice of building a small Motel/Restaurant and Patrol Station along with Gas Station for serving cars (As the American way) subject of my proposal. This land is near the main road and near the traffic road for cars traveling coming from Israel and West Bank going to Jordan or the opposite side where cars are coming from Jordan to West Bank and Israel. What a great superhighway and rest stop for travelors and commuters from all countries.


1) Owner requests a copy of PASSPORT by Citizenship by Jordan and Palestine. (VERIFICATION PURPOSES)

2) Buyer will make financial arrangements with Owners Attorney's in Stockholm, Sweden

3) All legal documents in Arabic, English and Hebew are available upon request to Buyer by Seller.



Should you have any questions pertaining to this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me at your earliest convenience.

Thank you for your anticipated courtesy and cooperation.


The email (I got it twice, once as 'Counselor' and once as 'Sir/Madam') is actually signed with someone's name, address and phone number in California.

If any of you feel the urge to check it out, please drop me an email and I will respond to you after the Sabbath.

Israel Matzav: Someone wants to sell me land on the 'West Bank'

Israel Matzav: The epic failure of Obama's diplomacy on Iran

The epic failure of Obama's diplomacy on Iran

With China completely refusing to go along with sanctions against Iran, and Russia once again insisting that it will supply the Iranian regime with long-range S-300 air defense missiles, Jonathan Tobin sums up the epic failure of President Obama's Iran policies.

Taken together, these two developments illustrate the fact that Obama has wasted a full year pursuing a diplomatic-engagement scheme that never had a chance of success. The idea that you could win Moscow’s heart by betraying the Czech Republic and Poland (over missile defense) or woo China by demonstrating weakness on human rights and trade issues only convinced those countries that Obama’s main characteristic as a leader was neither charisma nor eloquence but rather weakness. The notion that Obama, whose stock is falling not only in the United States but also abroad, can rally either the United Nations (where China and Russia can veto sanctions) or Europe to take serious action on Iran is a White House fantasy.

There is a cottage industry of apologists both for Iran and for the Obama administration’s engagement policy with Tehran, whose main line of argument is that Iranian nukes are no big deal and that both the West and Israel will have to learn to live with them. That fits in nicely with a White House mindset that prefers to obsess over the administration’s faltering domestic agenda rather than deal with a perilous threat to international peace. But the longer Obama waits before attempting to do something about Iran, the more serious the consequences will be. The clock is ticking toward the day when a triumphant Iran will be able to announce that its nuclear dreams have become a reality. As much as this administration’s fate seems to be riding on the economy and failed projects like its hopes for a government takeover of health care, Iran, the issue they prefer would go away, may turn out to be the greatest danger to Obama’s legacy.

It's actually worse: Iran is not even the number one item on Obama's foreign policy agenda. That distinction goes to trying to wring 'concessions' out of Israel for the 'peaceful Palestinians.'

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: The epic failure of Obama's diplomacy on Iran

Israel Matzav: Too good to check: How much land will $4 million buy in the World's biggest sinkhole?

Too good to check: How much land will $4 million buy in the World's biggest sinkhole?

This is yet another story of your tax dollars at work.

You - and I - pay millions of dollars in taxes every month that are turned over to the 'Palestinian Authority' to finance its Jew hatred and its leaders' Swiss bank accounts. The 'World' considers this to be okay, because the 'Palestinian Authority' is run by the good terrorists from Fatah and not by the bad terrorists from Hamas.

Two and a half years ago, Hamas kicked Fatah out of the Gaza Strip. After Fatah left, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh found some buried treasure: $4 million in cash. And now he's putting it to good use. Come on, you don't think he's using it for some of those poor, impoverished Gazans the mainstream media keeps telling you about, do you? Of course not. He's buying a plot of land on which to build a home palace. For himself. He thought he could hide it from you by doing it in his son's name. Well, so much for that.

How much land does $4 million buy in the World's biggest sinkhole? (Yes, I wanted to use a different word, but this is a family-safe blog). Enough for a palace.

One small grain of salt: The source of the report is 'Palestinian Authority' media. But this is too good to check.

The report, in the independent Kafiyeh network, claims that Hamas Gaza kingpin Ismail Haniyeh has bought property worth $4 million in Gaza and apparently intends to build there. The purchase is reportedly registered in the name of one of his sons.

Haniyeh has reportedly purchased real estate for his family members as well, including an apartment for his wife.

The source for the report is an unnamed person who is close to Haniyeh. The source said he was astonished to learn of the sums Haniyeh is paying for the property, in view of the fact that when he was Sheikh Ahmed Yasin's bureau manager, he made do with a meager salary that barely sufficed for his family's survival.

One speculation cited in the news item is that the money fell into Hamas's hands when it took over Gaza from the forces of rival terror group Fatah.

Well, you didn't expect him to live on a 'meager salary' forever, did you? After all, how credible would he be without a finely tailored suit and cheap Egyptian shoes?

Israel Matzav: Too good to check: How much land will $4 million buy in the World's biggest sinkhole?

Israel Matzav: Video: Do you want to contribute to the next Goldstone Report?

Video: Do you want to contribute to the next Goldstone Report?

Unfortunately, as of now, this video is only in Hebrew. But let me try to summarize for you what it says.

You will note that one of the guys is wearing a horn on his head. The word for horn and the word for fund are one and the same in Hebrew: Keren. That's why you saw all those ads with Naomi Chazan with a horn on her head all week.

They're discussing contributing to the New Israel Fund, which I've discussed in several posts this week. In the end, each of them decides that they cannot bring themselves to do it, because they don't want to contribute to the next Goldstone Report, which will try to shame the soldiers of the IDF.

The family has many characteristics that signal to Israelis that they are Leftists. Even so, they cannot bring themselves to contribute to the New Israel Fund.

There's more, but that's a fair summary. Oh yes, it was put out by Im Tuirtzu, the same organization that did the study that found that 92% of the derogatory statements about Israel in the Goldstone Report came from organizations supported by the New Israel Fund.

Let's go to the videotape (Hat Tip: Shy Guy).

Yes, I'm trying to get it with English subtitles. Let's make this one go viral.

Israel Matzav: Video: Do you want to contribute to the next Goldstone Report?

Israel Matzav: Israel to assume chair of EUREKA

Israel to assume chair of EUREKA

EUREKA was established by a Conference of Ministers of 17 countries and Members of the Commission of the European Communities, meeting in Paris on 17 July 1985.

Since its inception in 1985, substantial public and private funding has been mobilised to support the research and development carried out within the EUREKA framework.

The EUREKA Chair rotates yearly among EUREKA’s member countries, with a mandate running from July to June the following year. It implements a three-year rolling programme in cooperation with the previous and future Chairs (the 'Troika'). Its role is to sustain the momentum of the work of EUREKA, organise in the chair country the MC or IPC, as well as High-Level Group (HLG), Executive Group (EG) and National Project Coordinator (NPC) meetings, which it also chairs. The Chair represents EUREKA externally and agrees with the ESE on the level of support it should provide, which is then incorporated into the ESE’s business plan.

The MC (Ministerial Committee) is the political body of EUREKA where the ministers lay down political guidelines, decide on further developments, approval/dismissal of members and officially announce the new EUREKA projects endorsed during the Chairmanship year. It gathers biennially the ministers from each EUREKA member country and a Commissioner from the European Commission (EC).

The Inter-Parliamentary Conference (IPC) takes place alternate years with the MC. The IPC raises the public awareness of EUREKA’s role and possibilities and makes recommendations on strategic issues to be presented to ministers.

The High-Level Group (HLG) is the key decision-making body of EUREKA. The ministry responsible for EUREKA in each member country names its High-Level Representative (HLR) which in turn endorses new EUREKA projects, takes decisions on the management of EUREKA and prepares new EUREKA policy discussions for the MC.

The Executive Group (EG) is a small group comprising members from the Troika countries meeting at least eight times a year. It reports and implements the decisions taken by the HLG. It represents a balance of EUREKA members, whose role is to act as an executive body on behalf of the HLG. An EC member is also invited to attend EG meetings. The EG is also responsible for debating key policy issues, deciding on topics delegated by the HLG and advising successive Chairs.

Guess who is about to become the chairman? Yes, Israel (Hat Tip: Ophir T).

The reasons behind Israeli technological excellence, reflected in its significant participation in R&D projects and its decision to assume the Chairmanship of EUREKA in the network’s 25th year of existence.

How has Israel given birth to more cutting-edge technology companies listed on the NASDAQ than Europe and Asia together? How does such a small, young state attract 30 times more inward investment per capita than Europe? And how has it produced the most high-technology start-ups in the world?

In the recently-published book Start-up Nation, authors Dan Senor and Saul Singer claim Israel’s business success is based on a cultural emphasis on multi-disciplinary skills, rather than a specified focus. With examples from Israel’s main inventors and investors, the book describes how the country’s flattened hierarchies and government policies create a culture and society that so uniquely combines both innovative and entrepreneurial intensity.

PillCam, the ingestible camera, replacing highly invasive and painful diagnostic surgery and Compugen, the software for revolutionizing the process of genetic sequencing, are just two examples of Israeli high-tech excellence.

As Start-up Nation shows, there are lessons in Israel's example that apply not only to other nations, but also to individuals seeking to build a thriving organisation. With Israel’s can-do spirit it is now the time to look at a remarkable and resilient nation for some impressive, surprising clues.

With its takeover of the EUREKA Chairmanship in July, Israel will be able to showcase its impressive record of innovations and innovators.

Let's go to the videotape.

Impressive, no? How come no Arab countries get that kind of recognition? Hmmm....

P.S. Note what Senor says about Israel and the US moving in opposite directions....

Israel Matzav: Israel to assume chair of EUREKA

Israel Matzav: J Street: The demon sheep of 'pro-Israel' groups

J Street: The demon sheep of 'pro-Israel' groups

StandWithUs International Director Roz Rothstein attended Thursday's J Street meeting at the University of Pennsylvania Hillel. She wrote the email below, which was forwarded to me by Jennifer K (StandWithUs also produced the cartoon below).

There were approximately 200 people at the U of Penn tonight when J Street launched their opening event. The presentations were all well articulated, spoke of everyone's dream of peace, and how there needs to be room for for "wrestling with Israel even as we hug Israel." A great analogy indeed. I think that everyone agrees that there is room for vibrant debate about Israel.

The presentations conveyed J Street positions, which include ending the Gaza "blockade," pressuring President Obama to exhibit leadership and press for a two state solution, with peace and justice for everyone.

But for me, there were several unanswered questions, including the following:

First, how does J Street justify pressuring the democratically elected government of another country (Israel) to change its policies, through lobbying elected officials in the United States?

Second, how can people living in the safety of the United States make policy decisions for another country, possibly endangering their citizens?

Finally, what is J Street asking of the Palestinians? We know that J Street has an agenda that asks Israel for a full variety of concessions. But what about the Palestinians?

I tried to find out what Ben Ami thought. I asked him the three questions that were on my mind, but did not get answers. The one thing he said, was that the situation in the current state is not working. On that we agree, each of us having different interpretations as to why the conflict continues, and the question of how to bring about peace still remains the challenge. It seems that J Street wants to "force" peace, even though Israel has no partner.

Also clearly missing from the presentation tonight was any reference to terrorism, incitement, or the Hamas charter. I am confused as to why J Street would ignore the present "elephant in the room" dangers. I suppose if they focus on the threats, they could not move forward with their dreamy, though dangerous agenda.

Indeed. I would add to J Street's 'pro-Israel' agenda in the cartoon their opposition to sanctions against Iran. J Street is the demon sheep when it comes to Israel (FINALLY an excuse to link that ad for those of you who haven't seen it yet!).

Israel Matzav: J Street: The demon sheep of 'pro-Israel' groups

Israel Matzav: Israel's first NBA player is a star

Israel's first NBA player is a star

It's been a big deal here in Israel that Omri Caspi was drafted in the first round by the NBA's Sacramento Kings, has been starting for the Kings, and has been playing quite well. Caspi is the first Israeli player to make it to the NBA (in the past, we've had a few players at some of the better college programs, but they have always come back to Israel afterward).

While in my perfect (and probably unrealistic) world, Caspi would not be playing or traveling on the Sabbath, one cannot help but be impressed with the fact that he apparently considers himself an Israeli emissary to Jewish communities in the US. And while Sacramento's Jewish community is small, Caspi has been a hit with the Jewish communities just about everywhere he plays on the road. The picture at the top was taken at a shul (synagogue) in Denver. Here's part of the story behind it.

Israeli NBA rookie Omri Caspi scored 14 points for the Sacramento Kings in their game against the Denver Nuggets this week, and although his team lost in the end, 109-112, Caspi was the clear winner as far as the local Jewish community was concerned.

Haggai Shoham, the Bnei Akiva emissary to Denver, Colorado, reported in an enthusiastic e-mail message that the game was very close, and Caspi gave it his all. Television viewers got to see the Bnei Akiva and Israeli flags waving proudly in the bleachers, he wrote, and all of the local channels carried the game.


Caspi made a surprise appearance at a dinner in one of Denver's synagogues wearing a kippah (skullcap) and gave autographs to all of the youngsters present.

Give him credit - he's a kid in a big man's body, but he has a very mature sense of responsibility to those around him.

Now, if only he could end up with the Celtics....

Israel Matzav: Israel's first NBA player is a star

Israel Matzav: Target was selling globes without Israel for 'weeks'

Target was selling globes without Israel for 'weeks'

On Sunday, I reported that Target had agreed to withdraw globes from its stores that replaced Israel with 'Palestine.' On Wednesday, the story was covered in the New York Post and has been picked up by several blogs and 'activists' (I cannot begin to tell you how many suggestions for posts I get from activists in a given day. Once you have a blog, everyone puts you on their mailing list).

There is apparently more to the story than I would have thought from what I posted on Sunday, so I am posting the New York Post's article about it. It turns out that the globes were not just in Target stores in the New York area, but all over the United States (every state other than Vermont where there are no Target stores). It also turns out that they were sold in Target stores for 'several weeks' and Target apparently ignored complaints from irate consumers. And as usual when this sort of thing happens, there is no one taking responsibility for the decision to purchase these globes, and therefore no one who will make sure that it doesn't happen again.

Bob Kunst learned of the globe's omission when a friend's 12-year-old daughter in Florida asked innocently, "Where's Israel?"

"The very people who deny Israel's existence also deny the Holocaust," he said.

After receiving complaints, Target, which sold the globes for several weeks, finally responded. On Sunday, it began yanking the globes from its 1,744 stores in 49 states (Vermont is Target-free), and destroying them. We hope.

"We didn't want to offend any of our guests," said Amy Reilly of Target customer relations, who initially said the omission of Israel was due to lack of space on the item. (Isn't "Palestine" a longer word?)

Devrian Global Industries of New Jersey, which imported "tens of thousands" of globes from China, apologized. "Obviously, it was a mistake. We obviously offended some people. Now we're pulling them off the shelves," said chief merchandising officer Larry Fine. No estimate on how many were sold.


The globes were made in China by the Ningbo Beilun Beixin Plastic and Hardware Co., and were inspected and approved by the American firm Bureau Veritas. Its officers wouldn't comment, citing "client confidentiality."

None of this explains why so many people missed the flaw. Or did someone willfully look the other way?

Devrian, meanwhile, wants to talk to the Chinese manufacturer, to make certain such a thing doesn't happen again. The company is having trouble doing so. With Chinese New Year approaching, officers said, no one is available to translate.

Israel will have to wait.

For several years now, Target has been a major stop on every trip I take to the US, typically running several hundred dollars each time. It won't be any more unless I'm really sure that something like this won't happen again. Was this deliberate, as Post reporter Andrea Peyser suggests? Target's reaction will tell.

If anyone sees the globes on the shelves, send me an email with all the details and I'll post it.

Israel Matzav: Target was selling globes without Israel for 'weeks'

Israel Matzav: Lieberman warns Bashar al-Assad

Lieberman warns Bashar al-Assad

On Thursday, the chattering classes in Israel were preoccupied with what a terrible diplomat Avigdor Lieberman is and how he must be fired because he dared to send a sharp warning to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Speaking at an event at Bar-Ilan University, Lieberman warned Assad that in an event of war with Israel, “not only will you lose the war, you and your family will no longer be in power.”

A lot of Israelis felt that Lieberman was advocating regime change in Syria, but there's never been a regime in Syria that was not hostile to Israel and it's unlikely there would be one even if Assad were to be replaced (see "Iraq"). I believe that Lieberman's intent was more along the lines of what Noah Pollak suggests.

Lieberman tipped his hand to the fact that the Israelis have made a strategic decision that another 2006-style conflagration will not leave Damascus, or the Assad regime, untouched. Making this fact known to the Syrians — despite the appearance of belligerence — will actually make another round of war less likely.

The problem is how to make known to Assad that we won't let the Obama administration restrain us either, because otherwise the deterrent is of questionable value. The only way to do that would be to start defying Obama. Let's hope it happens.

Israel Matzav: Lieberman warns Bashar al-Assad

Israel Matzav: Kerry provides letter supporting 'Gaza Freedom March' on Senate stationery

Kerry provides letter supporting 'Gaza Freedom March' on Senate stationery

Senator John F. Kerry, (D - People's Republic of Massachusetts), the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, provided a letter of support on Senate stationery to Code Pink 'activists' who participated in the 'Gaza Freedom March.'

In the letter, Kerry wrote that his staff met with the Massachusetts delegation before they left, and his staff would be briefed about the trip upon their return.

Code Pink co-founders Jodie Evans and Medea Benjamin used Kerry’s letter at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt to pressure the Egyptian government to allow 1300 leftists passage into Gaza from Egypt. The leftists gathered in Cairo from around the world to mark the one-year anniversary of Israel’s defense against Hamas’ rocket and mortar attacks.

Images of the letters from Kerry and [Representative Andre] Carson [(D-Indiana) were posted by the publisher of The Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah, on his blog at [Abunimah is a close friend and early supporter of Barak Hussein Obama. CiJ].

Abunimah wrote that he, Benjamin and Kit Kettridge met for over an hour with “three officials, including Gina Cabrera, head of US citizen services, and Gregory D. LoGerfo, First Secretary in the Office of Economic and Political Affairs. The third official, whose name I did not note, identified himself as a ‘regional security’ official.”

Benjamin and Kettridge also met with “the embassy’s Deputy Director Matthew Tuellar, in command while Ambassador Scobey was on leave,” according to Abunimah.

(Margaret Scobey is a career Foreign Service officer who was appointed ambassador to Egypt by President George W. Bush in 2008.)

The Christian Science Monitor mentioned Kerry’s letter in a report from Cairo, but failed to question why the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was supporting the anti-Israel, pro-Hamas Gaza Freedom March.

The letter was written on letterhead from Kerry’s Boston office. The name and phone number of staffer Christopher Wyman was included as a point of contact.
Not only do the Democrats not treat terrorists as combatants - they support them (what else do you think Code Pink was doing by going to Gaza?).

Read the whole thing. And take a shower afterward. You'll need it. This guy was almost President of the United States. What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Kerry provides letter supporting 'Gaza Freedom March' on Senate stationery

Israel Matzav: Dubai to indict Netanyahu?

Dubai to indict Netanyahu?

A senior source in Dubai's police department told al-Jazeera that they will indict Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu if they conclude that the Mossad killed Hamas terrorist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh (pictured) in Dubai two weeks ago.

A senior source with the Dubai police told Al-Jazeera that if Mossad is found responsible for the assassination of senior Hamas figure Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be a wanted by the United Arab Emirates authorities. "Due to the fact that he approved the execution of the crime in the Emirates," said the source.

Good luck with that.

Israel Matzav: Dubai to indict Netanyahu?

Love of the Land: What is a Miss?

What is a Miss?

Paula R. Stern
A Soldier's Mother
04 February '10

Palestinians shot a rocket at Israel yesterday. For all intents and purposes, they again missed their target...whatever that might have been this time. Palestinians also launched explosive barrels against Israel's shore lines. For all intents and purposes, they again missed their target...whatever that might have been. The devices - three so far and counting, were all found and neutralized. A miss. Again.

Because this new water warfare is a bit unique, it garners a bit of international attention but for all intents and purposes, the explosives were oh-so-boringly disarmed. No spectacular explosions; no blood; no deaths and so, sadly, no real news as far as much of the world is concerned.

The world is blasé about the rockets that keep raining down on us. Yesterday, another rocket - the 20th rocket in a period of 34 days. The rocket crashed down near a city of 25,000 people. Certainly, Hamas cannot control the rockets - proof in the fact that they keep missing. But...because they cannot be controlled, because they are launched indiscriminately, they bring with them terror.

There is no miss when it comes to terror - and that is the point that must be made.
A miss doesn't make the news but that doesn't mean anything on the scale of what is really important. Twenty times in the last month, close to one million people have been terrorized by rockets.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: What is a Miss?

Love of the Land: PM Netanyahu's Herzliya Conference Speech: Back From The Security-Centric Precipice?

PM Netanyahu's Herzliya Conference Speech: Back From The Security-Centric Precipice?

Dr. Aaron Lerner
Weekly Commentary
04 February '10

I know that one of my predecessors, Ariel Sharon, spoke from this podium about disengagement. Today I would like to speak not of disengagement, but rather of engagement: engagement with our heritage, with Zionism, with our past and with our future here in the land of our forefathers, which is also the land of our children and our grandchildren.

. our existence depends. on our ability to explain the justness of our path and demonstrate our affinity for our land - first to ourselves and then to others.

. Our purpose today is to reignite the flame, to introduce a new spirit into the blaze of our lives and reconnect with this land - our land - the unique and singular Land of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Speech at the Herzliya Conference 3 February 2010

Less than a year ago, Prime Minister Netanyahu's Bar Ilan policy speech featured a security-centric approach which saw Israel's requirements for a Palestinian state essentially limited to it being demilitarized.

Last week Netanyahu used Tu Bishvat tree planting photo ops to proclaim that various locations in Judea and Samaria will remain under Israeli control if a deal is indeed cut with the Palestinians.

He planted trees in some major settlement blocs where the argument for keeping the territory is more focused on population figures than on any particularly special historical connection to the locations.

But the speech at the Herzliya Conference relates to a completely different criteria: national history and heritage.

Does our national history and heritage stop at the Green Line?

The opposite is the case.

Does this mean that the Jewish State must have each and every landmark of previous Jewish kingdoms under its control?

I don't know. But, in the least, it turns relinquishing that control into a painful concession rather than a give away to the Arabs that deserves no compensation or consideration.

And while some places might be conceded, this could ultimately be the sign that places like Maarat Hamachpela in Hebron, that have national significance second only to Jerusalem, are off the chopping block.

Love of the Land: PM Netanyahu's Herzliya Conference Speech: Back From The Security-Centric Precipice?

Love of the Land: The Blame Israel Firsters

The Blame Israel Firsters

Rick Richman
04 February '10

Jeremy Ben Ami of J Street, James Zogby of the Arab American Institute, and five other “peace” organizations sent a joint letter to President Obama today – to “echo” the McDermott-Ellison letter sent last week by 54 Democrats to the president, blaming Israel for holding Gaza “hostage”:

We are aware that the [sic] Israel links its closure to a cease-fire and release of Gilad Shalit, which Egypt has been pursuing with Hamas. Nevertheless, we urge that, while supporting these efforts, the U.S. should oppose holding Gazans’ right to food, shelter, healthcare, education, and travel hostage to these issues.

Hamas currently rules over Gaza as a result of a military coup; it prefers to hold Gilad Shalit and continue its war against Israel rather than see the closure of Gaza lifted;...

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: The Blame Israel Firsters

Love of the Land: Arabs to block Canberra's UN push

Arabs to block Canberra's UN push

Greg Sheriden
The Australian
02 February '10

(Ever wonder about how one gets a seat in the UN Security Council? It comes with a price that until now Australia has refused to pay.)

KEVIN Rudd's bid for a UN Security Council seat has been dealt a severe blow after a warning from the Arab League that it is less likely to succeed because of Australia's support for Israel.

Hashem Yousseff, chief of cabinet for Arab League secretary-general Amr Moussa, told The Australian Canberra kept "bad company" at the UN, where it often opposes anti-Israel resolutions in alliance with the US, Canada and small Pacific island states. Australia's support for Israel, he said, was "one of the elements that will be taken into consideration" by the 22-member Arab League in deciding whether to support Australia's bid for a seat on the UN Security Council for the 2013-14 term.

Mr Yousseff said the Arab nations would consider how different candidates affected their interests. "For us, the Arab-Israeli issue is an important part of the consideration."

Canberra has invested huge political, diplomatic and financial resources in its bid for one of 10 non-permanent Security Council seats. But Mr Yousseff's comments indicate it will be difficult for Australia to out-poll the European nations, which are regularly more critical of Israel. Australia has not held a seat on the Security Council for more than 20 years.

Mr Rudd has cast his foreign policy as consisting of three pillars - the US alliance, engagement with Asia and leadership in multilateral organisations. A Security Council seat would be the crowning achievement of the multilateral pillar.

The Security Council seat will be voted on by all 192 UN members. Although the Arab League represents only 22 of them, it often votes at the UN in alliances with the African Union and with the Non-Aligned Movement. Determined opposition from any of these blocs makes an Australian bid unlikely to succeed. It was to avoid blackmail on policy issues such as this that the Howard government abandoned its attempt to win a seat in 1996.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Arabs to block Canberra's UN push

Love of the Land: Snake Pit, the Sequel: Harvard Identifies Christian "Spoilers"

Snake Pit, the Sequel: Harvard Identifies Christian "Spoilers"

04 February '10

In its apparent never-ending cavalcade of visiting, hard- left Israeli scholars, Harvard's Kennedy School of Government rolled out its latest indictment of Israel in a lecture entitled: Until the Messiah Do Us Part: Israel, American Christian Zionism and the Israeli Palestinian Peace Process.

With the global body count exceeding two million at the hands of Sunni and Shia states and terrorist groups, The Kennedy School chooses to focus on the real source of global injustice: The Jewish State. Following Daniel Filc's attack on Israel via its health system, Michal Ben Josef Hirsch expanded Harvard's anti-Israel curriculum last week by a remarkable study pinning the blame for the "Peace Process's" failure on American Christian support for Israel. Let's see...the so-called "Peace Process" has been going on for nearly seventeen years with virtually nothing positive to show other than a tenuous treaty with Jordan.

On the negative side, it can be argued, that the bitter fruit of the "Process" has produced thousands of dead, a genocidal Hamas regime in Gaza and an ever more powerful Iran soon to possess nuclear weapons. All of these gifts were courtesy of the Israeli Left and its precipitous drive to revive a moribund PLO in the person of Yasir Arafat. That's why Bibi Netanyahu is now PM.

(Read full article)

Related article: Harvard's Carr Center: Snake Pit on the Charles

Love of the Land: Snake Pit, the Sequel: Harvard Identifies Christian "Spoilers"

Miep Gies, RIP

Miep Gies, RIP

The Economist has a moving obituary for the woman who tired to save the family of Anne Frank.
Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

NIF, Democracy, Decency and Other Problems

NIF, Democracy, Decency and Other Problems

Earlier this week I wrote about the New Israel Fund (NIF) affair that just blew up (here and here). As it was easy to foretell, the usual suspects immediately swung into action to portray the attack on the NIF as a bold attack on Israel's democracy. That was a no-brainer. Haaretz takes it one step further, and is digging deep into the matter of who funds Im Tirzu, the organization which launched the attack. If memory serves, it was only a few months ago that questions were raised about the sources of funding that benefit left-wing organizations, at which time they branded such questions as.... A threat to democracy.

All of which seems to me a fine demonstration of democracy in action. We don't like you, you don't like us, we think you're stinkers, you think we're funded by Bad Guys, we're convinced your backers are Evil... that's what freedom of speech is all about. That the tones in Israel are harsh and strident is because Israelis have a culture of discourse which is not at all like what they teach in Oxford. The rancor of American political discourse these past 15 years (or is it 50?) can't hold a candle to the vitality (nice name) or vehemence (realistic name) of standard Israeli fare. Just as the Israeli ability to come together at times of crises is quite unimaginable in America or Europe. (Well, the Americans didn't do badly on 9/12). This is the Jewish way: the Talmud has many examples of scholars bad-mouthing one another while simultaneously engaging each other in complex discussions, and uniting in the face of external enemies.

The Arabic word which has been adopted (colonized) by modern Hebrew is dugri: when you tell your interlocutor what you really think about them. Israelis are extremely dugri; this also means they know where they stand with one another, and can get on with living together.

Which is not to say there's no substance to the present spat. There is.

The decision by Im Tirzu to attack Naomi Hazan personally is bad taste and enables the NIF to change the subject; it may or may not be a good tactic, however, since it's certainly generating a lot of attention, and attention is what Im Tirzu wanted. So if it was a good tactic or not, the PR people will have to say.

The decision of the NIF to respond as they're responding, however, is telling. They've got two official responses up, one in English, on the American NIF website, and the other in Hebrew on the Israeli NIF website. The English one is signed by an American, the Israeli one by an Israeli, and if you compare the two it's pretty clear they were both written by the same person.

How does the NIF defend itself? Poorly. First, they're the victims. Second, democracy in Israel has been their doing (you might even think: almost only their doing). Third, the attack on them is part of a purposeful undermining of democracy in Israel. Fourth... well, I'd like to tell you that fourth is some sort of response to the allegations against them, but alas, it isn't. Naomi Hazan (in the Haaretz link above) says there's nothing to respond to (she's a professor, so she knows); the rest of her colleagues don't even go that far.

The historical reality has been that NIF-funded organizations indeed have made valuable contributions to the Israeli political and social sphere. They have and hopefully will continue to play an important role. A democracy really does need as many voices as possible, and theirs is sometimes a valuable one. Sometimes, it isn't. That's the crux of the matter. Some of the same NGOs which participate positively in Israel's democracy, also take positions which are legal but morally and of course factually indefensible. Pretending this is not so is delusional. Claiming that they are above reproach is anti-democratic.

Finally, there's the comic aspect of how thin their skin is. Remember, the NGOs in question dish out criticism, harsh criticism and sometimes rancid animosity; they often intentionally supply Israel's enemies with rhetorical ammunition against it at time of war. They've got a serious case to answer, and preening that requiring them to do so is antidemocratic, is silly.

How very silly? This silly: one of their main demands is that Israel set up an independent investigation of the IDF actions in Gaza (I agree with them). One of the horrific things in the present attack on them (to be found only in their Hebrew-language complaint) is

וכעת התבשרנו כי הצעת חוק פרטית, המליצה על הקמת וועדת בדיקה פרלמנטארית (!), כדי לבדוק את פעולתם של הקרן החדשה לישראל וקבוצה של ארגוני זכויות אדם בכל הקשור לדוח גולדסטון.

Someone has suggested there be a parliamentary investigation into the actions of these NGOs in relation to the Goldstone Inquiry!
Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

Old Vs. New Testament

Old Vs. New Testament

In the previous post I mentioned a column Geoffrey Alderman published at CiF Watch. Here's his column, in which he rebuts a television program by one Peter Oborne about the pernicious influence of the Israel Lobby in the UK. An English version of Walt-Mearsheimer, if you will. Yet professors Walt and Mearsheimer were respected scholars, if not broadly well-known, when they decided to trade stolid academia for notoriety by turning to the worn canard about how the Jews control the levers of power.

Not so Oborne.

Peter Oborne is not one of the Guardian stable of Lefty antisemites. He's a Righty antisemite, which goes to show that hatred of Jews is an equal opportunity affliction. Moreover, his antisemitism, while it uses anti-Israel terminology, doesn't try very hard to pretend that Israel is the problem.

Alderman's column rang a bell, and I went rummaging. Sure enough, and soon enough, I had found evidence for the prosecution. It was written a week after 9/11. In September 2001, for those who have forgotten, the Palestinians were ratcheting up their suicide attacks against Israeli civilians. The year earlier Israel had made a series of proposals for resolution of the conflict, and when they weren't deemed good enough they made further offers. The Palestinians had responded with violence, and by September 2001 they were convinced they were winning. The UN carnival of antisemitism at Durban, South Africa, reinforced their feeling that the world was supporting them. (It was only the following Spring that Israel finally disabused them of these mistakes, eventually leading to the relative calm we've had on the West Bank these past five years or so).

That's the context. Now, Oborne's take on it at the time:

Anyone who thinks that Arab terrorism can be defeated until the Palestine situation is resolved is dreaming. The thought of the West taking reprisals against bin Laden without demanding major concessions from Israel makes the blood run cold...
This war, if it is a war, is a conflict between Old and New Testament. It is between those who value human life and those who do not. If the West goes down the way of revenge, as Bush especially seems ready to do, than it will lose. Both the President and the Prime Minister affect to be Christians. They might care to contemplate, before they order troops into action, how Christ would have reacted.

Well, that's pretty clear, isn't it?
Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

Elder of Ziyon: Horrible teenage honor murder in Turkey for "befriending boys"

Elder of Ziyon: Horrible teenage honor murder in Turkey for "befriending boys"

Elder of Ziyon: 30 Gaza high school students visit the US; Islamists fume

Elder of Ziyon: 30 Gaza high school students visit the US; Islamists fume

Elder of Ziyon: Gaza fuel update

Elder of Ziyon: Gaza fuel update

Elder of Ziyon: Goldstone and TAWTHEQ

Elder of Ziyon: Goldstone and TAWTHEQ

Sefer Chabibi Deepest Torah: Shemot; Love and Surrender

Shemot; Love and Surrender

by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

There are two kinds of surrendering. There is the surrendering out of love and there is the surrendering out of fear. This mirrors the two ways to serve G*d - out of love or out of fear/awe. There is the surrender to totalitarianism (political or religious) which stems from fear and compulsion. Then there is the surrender to our children which is born of a compulsion not out of fear, but out of love. The surrender to totalitarianism is the ultimate of oppression- serving the finite. But the surrendering to love is a taste of the infinite. The latter is giving it up. The former is "just" giving up.

The Torah chronicles man's struggle with freedom of the individual versus the crushing grip of totalitarian dictatorships. It is a proponent of mankind's freedom and liberty against the tyranny of systems of oppression.

Again and again we see the urges of governments to dominate (using the standard MIStranslation):

"Come, let us deal wisely with it (am yisrael)..." (EX 1:10) "HAVA nitchachma lo..." (Egypt)"

... Come, let us make bricks and burn them in fire..." (GEN 11:3) "...HAVA nilb'nah l'vainim ve'nisrefa le'sereifa..." (Babel)"

...Come, let us build us a city..." (Gen 1:4) "...HAVA nivneh lanu ir..." (Babel)

A basic familiarity with Hebrew roots will dispel any notion that HAVA means "come." The word HAVA in Hebrew unfortunately is not spelled Hey Vet Alef, whereit could be properly translated as "come." Instead, it is spelled Hey Vet Hey, which is derived from HAV, meaning "to give."

This is the basis for the word "aHAVah," meaning "love." Mature love means a "giving" kind of love, as opposed to a "taking" kind of love.

HAV is also related to LaHAV, or flame, in the sense that HAVU means render (on the altar) as in (Psalm29):

"HAVU LaShem b'nei eilim, HAVU LaShem kavod va'oz. HAVU LaShem kevod shemo, ..."

A flame is the active agent of the korban, the sacrificial offering. Meaning to draw near (KaRoV), like a flame it reaches up to its source. It's meaning could be understood as either RENDER (as in "give", or "burn up"), or as SURRENDER (as in "give it up"). So in Genesis and in Exodus we "have" the idea of HAVA preceding a notion of a reordering of the social order. This is accomplished through the people giving up their individual rights in the name of some totalitarian ideal.

With this new understanding, we see the Pharaoh now saying: " Hava - Surrender to my will. Let us deal wisely with it (Israel)." Or the leader of Babel now saying: " Hava -Surrender to my will. Let us build a city..."

In the Genesis Babel narrative this urge is to unify the people of the world, to mitigate against the natural tendency of nature and people towards a state of entropy. It is to prevent their spreading out. Their greatest fear was thus realized as a self-fulfilling prophecy. It can be read as a narrative explaining the diffuse state of human habitation against a background of a once greater concentration. Or it can be understood as an examination of the wrestling within man of the warring urges doing battle within as to whether to forego personal responsibility and take refuge in the psychology of the masses (totalitarian temptation) or to accept personal responsibility and the accompanying fear (freedom impulse). Or both.

In the Exodus narrative of our parsha Shemot, it is to unify the Egyptian nation/state and to consolidate Pharaoh's power in the event of a rebellious fifth column. Their greatest fear came to pass as well. The problem with each of those societies was that "the people" were being asked to give up their rights for ignoble ends. Whether for the self-glorification of man or for the self-preservation of Pharaoh, the god/king, in both cases their respective projects were doomed to failure because G*d was not the centerpiece of their devotions and drives.

Shifra and Puah, the two midwives who defied Pharaoh's decree (EX 1:17), earned G*d's favor by standing up to injustice. G*d is served through the struggle for justice. Their act of civil disobedience set into motion the cascade of events leading to the birth of baby Moses and the redemption of Israel, marking the Jewish mission essentially as one of a vision of social justice.

Each of these totalitarian enterprises were based on the vain hopes of construction projects which would bear mute testimony to the false greatness of their respective societies. Each entailed vast construction projects based on mortar and bricks (chomer and levainim). Chomer represents materialism, the vain strivings of an empty heart.

Leveinim, bricks, are a cognate composite of lev (heart) and banim (children). A true and lasting legacy is a spiritual legacy, where the values and feelings of one's heart are passed down to one's children for all eternity. This is a true tower. Not a tower of bricks and mortar, but a tower of transmitting a spiritual moral legacy through the values which one passes on to one's children.

Ironically, chomer, or crass materialism, is a stumbling block for the transmission of lasting spiritual values. The tower of Babel was doomed for its crass materialism and warped sense of values. It is taught in the midrash that when workers fell to their deaths there were no tears. Only shattered fallen bricks warranted tears. To what extent are our values those of Babel?What we need are new spiritual towers of chesed (kindness) in place of the corrupt physical towers of Egypt and Babel. Israel's towers are spiritual towers. The towers of the Torah's teachings are the values of kindness, love and compassion.

This tower has no place for surrendering freedoms as an act of obeisance to a new Pharaoh, "who knew not Joseph."Rather, it is built on an absence of coercion and a simple love of one's neighbor. Whether we become unified as Israel or dispersed as in Babel depends on making kindness and justice, Shifra and Puah's eternal legacy, the underpinnings of our new social order.

True freedom is attained through surrendering our egos and our drives in order to serve G*d, to making G*d, our Creator, the true centerpiece of our hopes and dreams. Not to serve G*d through conquering and dominating others, as taught by deeply misguided religious fanatics, but by conquering one's self, one's own drives and desires. This surrendering to G*d means experiencing the deepest liberation, whereas surrendering to religio-political authoritarian rule means to conversely experience the deepest oppression.

As man is created in G*d's image, so too will our tower of chesed (kindness) be reflected in the supernal realm and cause a true salvation to give succor and uplift to humanity. And on that day will David's words be realized by his messianic descendant, (SHmuel Bet 22:51) Migdol yeshuot malko ve'oseh chesed l'meshicho, leDavid ulizaro ad olam..." A tower of salvation is He to His king; and showing mercy to His annointed, to David and to his seed, forevermore."

Shabbat Shalom

© 2000 - 2010 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

Sefer Chabibi Deepest Torah: Shemot; Love and Surrender

Sefer Chabibi Deepest Torah: Vayechi; the Last of the Patriarchs

Vayechi; the Last of the Patriarchs

by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

Our parsha, Vayechi, deals with the life and end-times of Jacob. His passing evokes thought on what it means to put one's affairs in order, to have one's body returned to the Land of Israel for burial, the nature of dying itself, and the connection between this world and the world to come. As Jacob initially embarks on his first exile, crossing the borders of the Holy Land to find sanctuary among his uncle Laban, he has a dream in a place which he calls Beit El, the House of G*d, formerly known as Luz.

Jacob, upon his passing, becomes the first Hebrew to seek repatriation of his body to the Holy Land for burial. When, in the End of Days, according to tradition, the body rebuilds itself and tunnels underthe earth to Eretz Yisrael where it becomes newly resouled, the foundation bone (of the neck) which serves as the latticework for this rebuilding is also called the "luz." What is the connection?

At Beit El, Jacob encounters the dimension of the infinite realm, a revelation of a heavenly ladder (sulam), a kind of latticework upon which angels ascend and descend. This ladder represents all the spiritual levels. As he about to start a family he need be cognizant of how much his children's spiritual growth would depend on his own instruction. We see that crossing the Jordan becomes a metaphor for death itself, a transformative passageway between the foundation experience (Luz/Canaan) of his life growing up, and the full blossoming of his manhood as a mature adult (Beit El, G*d's Holy Abode, Olam HaBa).

The seeds of deception which he planted in his earlier life (his name Yaakov/Jacob means "trickster," or "heel") came to fruition to teach him his life's lessons and meaning in his later life. By the end of his third stage, his life in Egypt of this week's parsha, he finally witnessed the rectification of his earlier mistakes in the peace and harmony of his children and grandchildren. Now in Egypt, his second exile, he blesses his children for the last time, and takes stock of their spiritual growth and progress. He knows that he himself, as the Last of the Patriarchs, must be buried in Machpela Cave, in Hebron. His body, the last to be placed in the holy tomb, is the final missing piece necessary to complete its spiritual function. Only then, with his body, the missing piece now in place, can this spiritual rejuvenation process finally be triggered.

Why was it so urgent for Jacob to be buried whole in the cave, rather than to just have his future remains brought out of Egypt at the time of the Exodus, as would be the case with Joseph? Ironically, the holy couples that were buried there were buried whole, and yet their function spiritually was to serve symbolically as a collective bare luz bone, upon whose foundation all Israel in the future would attach themselves.

As the Last Patriarch, Jacob was blessed with a keen vision to glimpse what will be in the End of Days (Acharit HaYamim- Gen 49:1). This vision was an echo of the Vision of the Ladder. His last act before his final blessing was to instate his grandchildren, Ephraim and Menashe as co-equal in status to his own children to merit becoming tribal heads. What made them worthy of their co-equal status was their fraternal harmony. Jacob could cross his arms and bless the one instead of the other and none would bat an eyelash.Contrast the bitter enmity and struggle between Jacob and Esau. Now, at last, it seemed that the children of Israel had learned the secret of their future success.

We must be so very conscious at every moment to teach our children the value of loving each other. And not just biological brothers, but all Jews should see themselves as brothers, and ultimately all humanity as well. We are all brothers with one heavenly father.

The whole painful saga of Jacob and his brother, and of Joseph and his brothers was to learn the value of empathy and brotherly love. Only with that painful lesson learned could Israel emerge from its pupa-like "family" stage and become a mature nation with a vision of brotherhood and peace to share with the world.

Jacob confesses to Pharaoh that his years were bitter ones, and few, compared to his father and grandfather. But that bitterness was really the toxic bile of fraternal strife and enmity being released. All the years, nay, generations of brotherly conflict, going back to Cain and Abel of the first generation, had been so very toxic that humanity could not grow and move forward without Jacob's release of the negativity of the bitter bile of multi-generational toxic sludge.

Just as the ladder, the sulam, in Jacob's dream was a vertical lattice work of the angelic realm, the bodies arranged horizontally in the Cave of Machpela would serve as the lattice work foundation of the human/earthly realm. The dream took place in Luz. The cave would come to be the workshop where the dreams of Jacob/Israel would become reality. The foundation couples of the Jewish nation, like the foundation bone (the luz), would come to serve as the attachment point for the rebuilding of not necessarily a physical body per se, but rather of a vision for a rebuilt Israel living in harmony as a role model for world harmony and peace. This is Israel's mission. Indeed, this is Israel's dream.

Shabbat Shalom.

© 2000 - 2010 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

Sefer Chabibi Deepest Torah: Vayechi; the Last of the Patriarchs

Sefer Chabibi Deepest Torah: From VayiGosh to Goshen

From VayiGosh to Goshen

by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

Do we have the courage to break free from our limiting paradigms?

To what extent does our anger limit us from growth and conciliation?

Finally, what reward awaits us for finding this key to change?

Jacob was forever trapped in a cycle of deception and trickery. Either on the giving end (Esau and Isaac) or on the receiving end (Laban and his own sons). He was stuck in an endlessly repeating loop from which he could not break out. He wore a mask, the pungent garments of his brother Esau, in order to attain blessings of mastery. He could only attain power through the veil of deceit, hence the endless cycle of bitterness and pain. His son, Joseph, however, was able to break this cycle. He attained power in Egypt by sheer mark of character, force of personality and faith in G*d. He needn't assume a false identity to achieve success. This is borne out when (his brother) Judah says to him in the opening line of our parsha,

(Gen 44:18)"...kee chamocha ke'Pharoah." "You are like yourself as Pharoah...(is like himself)." (my translation).

This is the highest compliment one can give to another human being. Judah is comparing Joseph to the King in greatness, and yet he is saying that he is still an individual, still his own man. "Chamocha" means "you are unique, there is no one like you."

On a deeper level, this means that Joseph, being his "own man," has now broken free of his father's patterning and addiction. Yes, he maintained a mask to test his brothers' sincerity and remorse, but more importantly he achieved the blessing of power in Egypt without any resort to the slightest hint of deception. He could become powerful like "Esau" without becoming like Esau in his impetuosity and compulsiveness. This connection between Joseph and his father is further underlined by the rare usage of the word"vayiGaSH," the very name of our parsha!

To love one's father means taking the best of his character and leaving the rest behind. Blind absorption of his negative human qualities is a form of slavish idolatry. Some people out of a misplaced sense of guilt feel obligated to honor their deceased parents' memories by adopting their negative pathologies.

When Jacob is in the act of tricking his father, Isaac suspects fraud and therefore says, (Gen 27:21) "GeSHa na elai ve'amushcha b'nee..." "Come closer to me and let me touch you my son..."

And the next verse uses the same verb,"vayiGaSH Yaaqov el Yitzchaq aveev..." "Jacob came closer to his father Isaac..."

And here in the very first verse of our parsha it says,"Judah drew right up next to him (Joseph) and said...." VayiGaSH eilav Yehudah...The exact same verbs are used in these two narratives, precisely to draw a connection between father and son! Actually between both sons. The Torah wants to show how Joseph broke free from his father's style vis a vis the attainment of power as much as it wants to show how Judah demonstrated true personal leadership, putting himself at risk rather than risking his own children (a la Reuben).

This is also a break from his father Jacob,who had sent his entire camp/family ahead of himself to meet up with Esau, while he stayed behind and was the last to cross over the River Jabok! The true moral of our parsha is that we should have the strength of character to break free from the pathologies and addictions of our forebears- either in terms of ideology or personality.

Whether the addiction is rage or antisemitism, or alcohol or deception, every new generation has the chance to start fresh and begin new paradigms of relating. In fact, he himself realized his inadequacies and wanted to be left all alone to contemplate his weakness and work on himself. The angel was sent by G*d as a validation of his determinationto work on his character.

The weak personality doesn't easily stand up and take responsibility. When leaving Canaan before going to his Uncle Laban in Padan Aram he tells G*d that if He will watch over him and take care of him he will remain loyal to G*d. All the onus is on G*d to guarantee his security.While Esau acquired the aggressive tendencies Jacob acquired the opposite passive tendencies.

It was against his nature to take initiative and strike boldly. Indeed he chastised his sons for their proactive action against Shechem. Their actions were as extreme as he was passive and retiring.

The early Zionist pioneers looked with contempt and revulsion upon their diaspora yeshiva brethren who seemed effeminate and passive in the face of rising antisemitism. Being outside the land of Israel enabled Jacob's descendants to allow their passive side to re-emerge. Upon returning to the Land of Israel, the "new" Jacob cum Israel identity reasserted itself, allowing the latent aggressive and assertive Jewish personality to reemerge .

When the angel bestowed upon Jacob the new name of Israel, it was indicative of a deep change and insight on Jacob's part to what he saw as being the pattern of his life. Whereas Abram's name change to Abraham was a permanent and immutable one, Jacob's was not. His two names could be interchanged, reflecting the anguish of the vicissitudes of the emotional terra firma of the addictive personality; each day is a victory or a crushing defeat. But Jacob himself bestowed upon his own children the blessing to break free of the chains of Jacob, and to carry on as sons of Israel, sons of his better, higher self.

Rather than swing from one extreme to the other, is it possible to integrate the two natures of his personality and remain whole? A hint of the possibility of reconciliation of SELF is found in our parsha as Joseph reveals his identity.

In GEN 45:4 he says to his brothers: GeSHu na Elai VayiGaSHu."Come close to me now and they came close to him..."

And then in the next verse he says "al teyatzvu v'al yichar b'eyneychem...don't be sad or angry (because you sold me)."

In other words, Joseph is hinting that the brotherly conciliation can only occur when sadness and anger are no longer operative. They can only draw close to each other when the toxic addiction of anger is let go (along with its sister emotion of sadness). Anger is a form of idolatry and divisiveness as much as G*d is emblematic of unity and reconciliation as manifested in the Shema prayer.

Jacob's integration is achieved finally through the achievements of his children. Three full generations must pass before the children of Israel (and Jacob and Isaac and Abraham) learn to achieve reconciliation. Indeed that is why we are all called the Children of Israel. Only the children of Israel were able to finally learn to get along with one another!

The "reward" for this fraternal reconciliation is Joseph granting them the Land o' Goshen as their new dwelling place while in Egypt. Commentators have suggested that the name "Goshen"is related to the idea of "gashmiut," or materialism. I would offer that the apportioned land which is named Goshen is really in recognition of the fact that the estranged brothers could finally achieve a drawing close together - vayiGaSH (gashniut- my neologism) after rivers of tears and paroxysms of pain, anger, guilt and ainguish.

We must learn from this episode that we can model conciliation in our own lives by letting go of our anger which blinds us from seeing the blossoming of the seed of fraternity. Anger prevents growth and stunts our emotional development. Adolescents only develop their full potential to achieve maturity to the extent that they can go through and finally let go of their anger and hostility. Whether our anger is directed internally or externally it still must be expunged. This week we welcomed the month of Tevet, the month for the kabbalistic fixing of anger.

Like the children of Israel, may we, too, come to draw close to one another in harmony and fellowship and dwell in prosperity and friendship in our proverbial Lands of Goshen until our messianic deliverance summons us back home. Letting go of our anger and transcending the pettiness of our self-limiting perceptions is the key to unlocking the dungeon doors to let in the Divine light.

Shabbat Shalom!

© 2000 - 2010 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

Sefer Chabibi Deepest Torah: From VayiGosh to Goshen

The Torah Revolution: The day will come

The Torah Revolution: The day will come

Love of the Land: Kalashnikov children groom young killers

Kalashnikov children groom young killers

Jonathan Kalmus
Jewish Chronicle
04 February '10

Children are being encouraged by Jihadi terror supporters to say that they will kill Jews, while handling guns, according to Greater Manchester Police.

The revelation came this week as the North West’s Counter Terrorism Unit released a video of children playing with a Kalashnikov. The video was seized from an undisclosed address in Manchester during a raid on terror suspects. Police say the footage and other downloaded material are being used to “groom” children in the North West with terrorist propaganda from an early age

Parts of the video show a child aged around three pointing a semi-automatic handgun, while a girl aged five or six walks into view holding a Kalashnikov. The cameraman is heard repeatedly telling the children “you will kill the Jews” while he also translates the girl’s Arabic exclamation: “I want to kill the infidels.

(Read full article)

The "Reaction"!:

Assistant Chief Constable Dave Thompson: “shocking,” but took pains to stress the “very, very, small proportion” of the Muslim community who espouse these beliefs.

The CST’s Mark Gardner said: “We are keenly aware of how extensive the problem of Jihadi terrorism is in the Greater Manchester area. However, I don’t think the community should overreact by accusing an entire community alongside whom we live, of being some sort of mass terrorist threat. There are problems but we shouldn’t blow them out of proportion.”

Cheetham Hill Councillor Afzal Khan, co-chair of the Manchester Muslim-Jewish Forum. “The vast majority of the Muslim community are horrified at seeing such footage.” he said.

Love of the Land: Kalashnikov children groom young killers
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