Saturday, 6 February 2010

Israel Matzav: Who thinks Hezbullah is the IRA?

Who thinks Hezbullah is the IRA?

On the JPost blog page, Tony Badran does a masterful job of dismantling a Foreign Affairs article that claims that Hezbullah can be convinced to disarm just as the Irish Republican Army was. After Badran destroys the argument, he comes up with this:

Why is Simon and Stevenson's article riddled with so many errors and misconceptions? Because they assume an affirmative response to a key question that they never bother tackling: Does Hizbullah want to disarm? Without addressing this question convincingly, further misconceptions are inevitable, like the authors' proposition, unsupported by any evidence, that Hizbullah is trying to distance itself from Iran, whose Ruling Jurist (Wali al-Faqih), as Hizbullah itself declares, has final say over all important decisions. The proper answer of course is that Hizbullah does not want to disarm since it makes no sense for it to do so, neither from a pragmatic perspective nor an ideological one.

The issue here is not sloppiness, but a chronic ailment afflicting Western writing on the Middle East, as what appears to be analysis is often something else entirely. Simon (who was recently in Lebanon at the invitation of the New Opinion Group) and Stevenson are not writing about Hizbullah or Lebanon, but Washington.

In 2003 the two co-wrote an essay arguing that the example of Northern Ireland was "a strong argument" against adopting a "lenient" policy with Hamas, so why do they now argue that such treatment will work with Hizbullah? Perhaps it is because there are figures in the Obama administration who are sympathetic to a policy of engagement with Hizbullah, like the NSC staff's counterterrorism czar, John Brennan, who has publicly implied an acceptance of the "political vs. military wing" dichotomy in Hizbullah, claiming that the "political wing" allegedly denounces the violence of the "military wing."

Thankfully, when it comes to Hizbullah, as evident from the State Department's quick rejection of Brennan's views, there is more sobriety in Washington than in the poor Foreign Affairs article, or in the British Foreign Office for that matter.

Well, with respect to that last paragraph, I can only say "maybe." You see, the State Department currently has someone shuttling back and forth to this region who may be convinced that Hamas wants to disarm - and that Fatah already has. Those delusions are equally as harmful to the prospects for peace as the article about Hezbullah that Badran describes.

Israel Matzav: Who thinks Hezbullah is the IRA?

Love of the Land: Hey, NIF! Criticism is a democratic right

Hey, NIF! Criticism is a democratic right

It’s strange that groups claiming to be well-versed in human rights seem so unfamiliar with the concept of free speech.

Anne Herzberg
Op-Ed Contributor/JPost
03 February '10

Those who make a full-time pursuit of criticizing others probably should grow thicker skin. Yet the New Israel Fund (NIF) and its NGO grantees have launched a thin-skinned offensive against an Israeli student group that criticized them. And they have dragged NGO Monitor into the fray.

As soon as Im Tirtzu released its report detailing how Israeli human rights organizations contributed to the Goldstone Report, NIF backers unleashed ad hominem attacks against the student group and against NGO Monitor (though we were not involved in the report). NIF has threatened to sue Im Tirtzu and any newspaper that repeats its findings. It also sent a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu calling NGO Monitor “the rotten fruit of Israeli democracy.”

The record needs to be set straight regarding many troubling aspects of NIF’s combative reaction. To avert criticism of their activities, many of the non-governmental organizations highlighted in Im Tirtzu’s report – such as B’Tselem, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel – are promoting the canard that if only Israel had cooperated with Richard Goldstone and his UN fact-finding mission on the Gaza war, his report would not have been as outrageously one-sided as it turned out to be.

In truth, there is no evidence that Israeli participation in the Goldstone mission would have changed the outcome of the widely panned report.

Goldstone’s mission was the product of a political war conducted against Israel in the UN Human Rights Council. Led by some of the world’s most abusive regimes – including China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia – this corrupt body has ignored mass atrocities such as the genocide in Darfur, the slaughter of more than 25,000 Sri Lankans and the forced starvation and enslavement of North Koreans. Indeed, the Goldstone mission was created by the Organization of the Islamic Conference to deflect attention from the horrific abuses of its member states and their supporters. In fact, according to the International Criminal Court prosecutor, Goldstone’s mission was financed by the Arab League.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Hey, NIF! Criticism is a democratic right

Israel Matzav: Netanyahu's son wins Jerusalem bible contest

Netanyahu's son wins Jerusalem bible contest

Maybe he can teach his father a thing or two....

15-year old Avner Netanyahu won the Jerusalem regional final of the International Bible Contest. He will be the city's sole representative at the national finals. The winners of the national finals appear in the International Bible Contest on Independence Day.

Avner Netanyahu, 15, overcame the other candidates Tuesday, scoring 98 out of a possible 100 points. He advances to the Israeli national competition, the final stage before the International Bible quiz for Youth.

The international competition is held in Jerusalem and is one of the highlights of Israel's annual Independence Day celebrations. It includes a question asked by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, so this year he may end up quizzing his own son.

Go for it Avner!

Israel Matzav: Netanyahu's son wins Jerusalem bible contest

Israel Matzav: A lethal obsession

A lethal obsession

Jeffrey Herf reviews Robert Wistrich's A Lethal Obsession, a massive, 1200-page tome about anti-Semitism, mostly the last seven decades' worth. Here are some highlights of the review and then I'll have some comments below.

Hitlerism, understood as hatred of the Jews and of liberal modernity, persisted beyond the destruction of Hitler, in Wistrich’s account, and acquired new political, cultural, religious, ideological, and geographical coordinates. The terminology of the new post-1945 Jew-hatred was no longer predominantly Christian, fascist, or racist. Instead it draws on neo-Marxist, Islamic, or anti-globalist ideologies. Unreconstructed neo-Nazi groups persisted, to be sure, but largely on the margins of European politics, and they ceased to be the most important source of radical anti-Semitism. Instead, the anti-Semitism after Hitler consisted of a mixture of the “old anti-Semitism” with “the new anti-Zionism.” It was expressed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, by the radical left since the 1960s, and above all in the mix of secular and Islamist politics of the Middle East and Iran.While the rallying cry of the old anti-Semitism was the attack on “world Jewry,” the core of anti-Semitism has been the attack on “international Zionism” and on the state of Israel.

Wistrich is certainly aware that not all criticism of Israeli policy is inspired by hatred of the Jews and Judaism, but the “logic” and the structure of influential arguments attacking Israel have been ominously identical to the imputations of vast power and enormous evil attributed to “world Jewry” by European anti-Semites of old. The “lethal obsession” of the recent past, according to Wistrich, has been a melange of the old conspiracy theories of that infamous forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion,with Marxism-Leninism, secular third worldism, and Islamism. In this period, the center of gravity of anti-Semitism has shifted from Europe to the Middle East and Iran. Although the cultural sources of the anti-Semitism of recent decades differ from those in Europe, the publicly articulated policies of the government of Iran and its proxies Hamas and Hezbollah, are no less “lethal.” Far from clearly recognizing the danger, too much of the political mainstream in Europe has failed to acknowledge the anti-Semitic resurgence. And in certain precincts of the Muslim diaspora in Europe, radical anti-Semitism has been re-exported back to Europe and on occasion enters the mainstream of political, journalistic, and intellectual life.


The concluding chapters of this important book examine the Nazi-Arab collaboration during World War II; the persistence of anti-Semitism and the “culture of hatred” in the Palestine Liberation Organization during the era of Arafat and after; Hamas and Hezbollah; the articulation of anti-Semitism by Muslim ideologues in the Arab world generally; the anti-Semitism of the Ayatollah Khomeini; and finally the threats to wipe out Israel coming from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with the full support of the Ayatollah Khamenei. This material will be familiar to readers who are following these trends in the press and in recent scholarship. Yet Wistrich’s synthesis of these many studies is the most concentrated and comprehensive one-volume work we have.

In addition to presenting the well-documented anti-Semitism of Haj Amin el-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem who was an ally of Hitler, Wistrich offers a devastating portrait of Yasser Arafat and the PLO. He stresses the continued importance of distinctly Islamist themes in its comparatively secular outlook, the hate speech in its media and its schools, and its still unmodified National Covenant that calls for the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state. His discussion of Hamas and its covenant explores the ideological lineages that stem from the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al-Banna, and Sayyid Qutb, so as to explain why it sees itself as “at war with the Jews and world Zionism, not just with Israel.” As for Hezbollah, its leaders in Lebanon teach that either Islam will destroy Israel or Israel will destroy Islam. With the relevant quotes from Hezbollah leaders and references to odious programs broadcast on its television station, Wistrich documents his argument that these organizations blend “traditional Islamic anti-Judaism with Western conspiracy myths, Third Worldist anti-Zionism” and in Hezbollah with “Iranian Shiite contempt for Jews as ‘ritually impure’ and corrupt infidels.” After citing speeches by Hassan Nasrallah that describe the Jews as evil conspirators against God and mankind, and possessed of characteristics that have been “unchanged since the time of Muhammed,” Wistrich sensibly concludes: “If this is not pure unadulterated anti-Semitism, then the term has no meaning at all.”

This brings us to Iran. Wistrich nicely defines Khomeini’s distinctive accomplishment as “mixing fragments of Third Worldist Marxism with Shiite messianism and hatred of Israel turned into an instrument” of Iran’s own “missionizing global ambitions.” Khomeini’s successors continued to view Jews as “impure.” They refer to Israel as a “rotten and dangerous tumor,” a “cancer,” a “festering sore.” Wistrich reminds us that it was Hashemi Rafsanjani, often described as a moderate, who said in 2001 that “one atomic bomb would wipe out Israel without a trace” while the Islamic world would only be damaged rather than destroyed by Israeli nuclear retaliation. With abundant references that illustrate the breadth of the sentiment, Wistrich concludes that “[f]or all of the [Iranian] ruling echelon, eradicating Israel has become a declared foreign policy aim, and acquiring nuclear weapons is central to its implementation.” A “suicidal outlook” intensified by “the Shia martyrdom syndrome differentiates the Iranian nuclear weapons program from that of all other countries and makes it uniquely threatening.”

The chapter on Ahmadinejad documents the religious eschatology that underscores his threats to destroy Israel. Wistrich argues that “the elimination of Israel is clearly a consensual goal for the regime, uniting radicals and moderates, ideologues and pragmatists, Persian imperial nationalists and Shia fanatics bent on domination of the Gulf and the Middle East as a whole.” Ahmadinejad’s assertions that an era of destruction, and a war between Muslims and the West, will trigger the long awaited return of the Mahdi “are not merely the ravings of an isolated, ‘saber-rattling lunatic,’ a political clown, or histrionic actor. They embody the core beliefs of fundamentalist Shiite theology translated into a modern revolutionary project.” The reality is that Iran has become “the first example of a modern state since Hitler’s Germany that has officially adopted an active policy of anti-Semitism as a means to promote its national interests.” And yet, Wistrich insists, “Iranian anti-Semitism...barely raises an eyebrow in the Western media.” He concludes his massive compilation with a warning and a plea. “The Jew-hatred of yesteryear has not only mutated but is actively fuelling [sic] the Middle East conflict and re-exporting its poisonous fruits to Europe and beyond. Unless it is checked in time, the lethal triad of anti-Semitism, terror and jihad is capable of unleashing [a] potentially universal conflagration. A deadly strain of genocidal anti-Semitism brings the nightmare of a nuclear Armageddon one step closer and with the need for more resolute preventive action.”

When Hitler made his famous threat to exterminate Europe’s Jews in 1939, many Western political observers did not believe he meant what he said. It was too incredible and without precedent. No political leader before had so bluntly and publicly announced his intention to engage in mass murder. And so the disgust that greeted Hitler was mixed with disbelief. But the leaders of our own time do not have the excuse of incredulity. As much as any historian can, Robert Wistrich has documented the fact that radical anti-Semitism is in earnest, that its geographic and cultural center of gravity has shifted, and that it has again become a factor in world politics. The advocates of this disgusting doctrine have the power from which to make good on their threats.

Read the whole thing and read the book.

This is what all the do-gooders just can't understand. The dispute isn't about a 'Palestinian state.' The dispute is because the 'Palestinians' are the ideological (and genealogical) heirs of Hitlerism. They want to do the same thing that Hitler wanted to do. A 'Palestinian state' (God forbid) will not resolve our dispute with them. It will just whet their appetite to continue to push for more.

Israel Matzav: A lethal obsession

Israel Matzav: The New Israel Fund and the next war

The New Israel Fund and the next war

Some of you may have noticed after the Sabbath that one of my New Israel Fund posts drew a comment from New Israel Fund itself (which apparently felt the need to damage control by responding - I doubt I'm the only one who drew a comment from them). In her weekend JPost column, Caroline Glick took aim at the traitors from New Israel Fund.

THE HARSH truth is that the main cause of Israel’s poor performance in Cast Lead and the Second Lebanon War was the Olmert government’s ideological dependence on the far left and its central contention that it is Israel’s presence in contested areas rather than our enemies’ commitment to Israel’s destruction that causes wars. Owing to their allegiance to this falsehood, Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni were unable to prosecute the wars to victory militarily, justify the limited steps they did take to defend Israel diplomatically, or discredit the rising chorus of Israeli NGOs arguing that Israel had no right to defend itself politically.

Since Cast Lead, however, two important things have happened. First Kadima was replaced by the Likud. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu rightly recognized the Goldstone Report as a strategic attack against Israel. If Israel has no right to defend itself; if its moves to do constitute war crimes, then Israel cannot fight, cannot win and will be destroyed. Rather than give credence to the report, Netanyahu has made discrediting it one his primary aims in office. And to counteract its force, among other things, for the first time since the start of the Oslo peace process with the PLO, Israel’s government is asserting the Jewish people’s right to Judea and Samaria.

Beyond that, Kadima itself has changed its tune. Now in the opposition, Kadima no longer needs to defend its rejected plan to unilaterally withdraw from Judea and Samaria. Mahmoud Abbas’s refusal of Olmert’s offers to withdraw Israelis civilians and military personnel from nearly all of Judea and Samaria and to cede sovereignty in Jerusalem discredited the notion that it is possible to make peace with the Palestinians. Most importantly, the fact that Goldstone castigates Livni and Olmert as war criminals requires Kadima to fight all forces – including the far left it previously supported – that give credibility to Goldstone.

These developments clear the way for the Netanyahu government to take steps to neutralize the potency of these groups. The government should move swiftly to order the police and the IDF to enforce the law against these groups and their allies. It must also provide the political support to police and military commanders in the field to empower them fulfill their orders without fear that they will be persecuted for doing their jobs.

If the government seizes the opportunity to weaken these subversive groups, not only will it be making it clear that the political open season on Israel is over. It will be clearing the way for any future war to end not only in military victory, but in political victory for Israel as well.


Read the whole thing. She also lists some of the groups that are supported by the New Israel Fund and their seditious activities against the State of Israel.

The picture at the top is New Israel Fund President and former JPost columnist Naomi Chazan. I guess the Post doesn't want any more traitors in the house either.

Israel Matzav: The New Israel Fund and the next war

Israel Matzav: JPost fires New Israel Fund President

JPost fires New Israel Fund President

Haaretz reports that the Jerusalem Post has fired Naomi Chazan, the President of the controversial New Israel Fund.

Chazan was employed as a columnist at the Post, the country's largest circulation English-language daily. On Thursday, Chazan received an e-mail from Jerusalem Post editor-in-chief David Horovitz, informing her the newspaper would cease publishing her column.

Chazan had provided the daily with one of its few leftist voices in recent years. Horovitz declined to respond to questions from Haaretz on Thursday night.

One of the 'few' other than Larry Derfner, Anshel Pfeffer and Ray Hanania, among others. How many Right wing columnists does Haaretz have? One: Moshe Arens.

David Horovitz's weekend column doesn't mention Chazan. He has too much class for that.

Israel Matzav: JPost fires New Israel Fund President

Israel Matzav: Obama giving UNRWA $40 million

Obama giving UNRWA $40 million

Now that Canada has decided to stop supporting UNRWA, the Obama administration is stepping into the gap by giving $40 million to the terror-dominated organization.

The United States announced on Thursday that it will donate $40 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Arabs in the Palestinian Authority-assigned areas, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria who fled when Israel was established in 1948. About a quarter of the package is supposed to be designated for food and the creation of jobs. The rest is for maintaining basic services provided by the agency.

The American funding comes despite a report commissioned by the European parliament, which showed that Hamas terrorists have been chosen by the agency's labor union to oversee its Gaza facilities, which was part of a Canadian decision last month to stop its UNRWA funding.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Obama giving UNRWA $40 million

Israel Matzav: Ban (not?) satisfied with Israeli response to Goldstone?

Ban (not?) satisfied with Israeli response to Goldstone?

Two conflicting reports in Israeli media claim that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon either is or is not satisfied with Israel's response to the Goldstone Report.

It won't matter. At the end of the day, the General Assembly will condemn Israel and refer the report to the Security Council, asking that Israel be brought up on charges before the International Criminal Court. Many Western countries will vote against, but the automatic majority for anything against Israel in the General Assembly will carry the day.

And Hamas will get off scot free.

Trust me on this.

Israel Matzav: Ban (not?) satisfied with Israeli response to Goldstone?

Israel Matzav: 'Peace Now' shows its true colors

'Peace Now' shows its true colors

Shavua tov, a good week to everyone.

I'll bet you thought J Street was the only 'pro-Israel' organization that was 'pro-peace' enough to demand that terrorists be allowed free passage between Gaza and Israel. Well, you're wrong. Here's another organization that is indifferent enough to Israelis' lives to make the same demand.

The leftist Peace Now organization in the United States sent a letter to President Barack Obama Thursday in which it demanded that he ask Israel for explanations about the siege around Gaza.

The letter called the humanitarian situation in the Hamas-controlled area "sad as a result of the unbearable closure which represents a threat on the security interests of the United States." The letter continued, "We therefore plead that your administration take advantage of its relations with Israel to remove the blockade from around the city [sic] of Gaza."

If these organizations are so desperate to help the 'Palestinians,' why don't they pressure Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh to use that $4 million to buy food for his 'people'? Just sayin'....

Israel Matzav: 'Peace Now' shows its true colors

The Gathering

The Gathering

Over the weekend I read Anne Enright's 2007 Booker Prize-winning The Gathering.

If you like very well written novels in which deeply troubled narrators slowly uncover the decision made 80 years ago which led to an ugly act 35 years ago which will negatively impact a dysfunctional family well into the second half of the 21st century, you'll enjoy this book greatly. It is very well written, and does do a fine job of unraveling the mystery while creating complex figures in a compelling story.

Me, I suppose I'm too philistine to be swept away by this sort of thing. This is either cause or effect of my not reading enough contemporary literature.

On the other hand, a few days ago I completed Tony Judt's magnificent Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945. Judt is a strident enemy of Israel, but he has written a truly top-notch history of Europe, and I need to find the time to write my impressions; I even ought to do so soon, while they're still fresh. Alas (or not at all alas) I'm very pressed for time these days. Anyway, if anyone offers you to choose between these two books, now you know my recommendation.
Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

Love of the Land: Some more preachin'

Some more preachin'

Marc Prowisor
Yesha Views
05 February '10

Some more preaching to the Choir…

I attended a “talk” at UCLA, the last of a series regarding Israel. This talk was given by a resident of one of the larger communities in the Shomron, , no stranger to the effort and cause of resettling our homeland, and regarded with esteem in many circles, both in Israel and among the “Choir” outside. The audience was not large, but made varied in religion, religious observance and political views.

My heart was warmed by her talk regarding our world in Yehuda and Shomron, as I know and live in the same world as she does. The talk ended and it was time for questions - the honeymoon was over. Obviously there were the questions from the “choir” which were answered with love and caring, but then came the questions by those whose views had already been hijacked by the “haters” among us. This is where ignorance and arrogance reigned - on both sides.

Many of our “representatives” who speak outside of the country are simply residents, “machers”, activists - they speak with the zeal and love of a land and people that continues to be the flames in our hearts. They represent strength and dedication and they are responsible for having set in motion the wonderful path we are on today in our country.

What many of them do not know is the other side. How do the Arabs think? How does the Left think and why? And the problem which I immediately saw – what do the young non-observant or non-affiliated Jews of the US think?

Simple questions were raised regarding “Palestinian” rights to land, treatment at roadblocks, polarization in Israeli society (raised by an Israeli), and of course the “A” word- apartheid.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Some more preachin'

Love of the Land: Nessie and why Obama can’t

Nessie and why Obama can’t

Sarah Honig
Another Tack/JPost
05 February '10

Two extraordinary recent events seem entirely unrelated, but they are in actual fact no less than peas in the same proverbial pod. US President Barack Obama of “yes we can” fame confessed that he can’t (impose instant peace on us). A concurrent shock was delivered by reports of the possible (premature?) demise of lovable Nessie – the maybe monster that has made Loch Ness one of the UK’s top tourist attractions. Though ostensibly far-fetched, the connection between the two news bombshells is inexorable.

Obama owned up that his diktat (which he calls “peace” and which he superciliously supposed he could inflict upon us overnight) has so far failed to reinvent the Mideast. Obama, of course, blames Israelis and Arabs equally (for the sake of hallowed postmodernist evenhandedness).

It matters diddly that the most unlikely government in Israel offered concessions that likelier governments had earlier refused to contemplate. It equally matters diddly that the Palestinians under Mahmoud Abbas’s fictional leadership regressed to more intractable positions than they had ever held in all previous negotiation rounds with previous Israeli governments.

Staggeringly, the White House resident has handed out identical demerits regardless of Israel’s compromise of vital interests and Palestinian intransigence on what was beforehand never insisted upon. No differentiation between compliance and obstructionism.

But while Obama spent the past year discovering that “this is just really hard” (we told him so), he evinces remarkable never-say-die spirit. Ever-valiant Obama vows to press ahead with the apparently ever-viable (contrary to all empirical evidence) two-state solution. Despite all clinical indications, Obama maintains that his phantom peace yet lives.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Nessie and why Obama can’t

Love of the Land: BDS State of the Union

BDS State of the Union

Divest This!
03 February '10
Posted before Shabbat

An interesting comprehensive write up of what the BDSers themselves think about the state of their movement was published recently by Australians for Palestine. I’ll likely have more to say about their self analysis in the weeks that follow, although allow a few initial observations:

* Interestingly, outside of the US the BDSers seem to have no problem linking their project with the anti-Israel boycotts that began before the creation of the Jewish state (although they only go back as far as 1936, when Arab boycotts of Jewish businesses can be traced back to the 1920s). Since complying with the Arab boycott is illegal in the US, American boycott/divestment activists have never tried to make this connection, and while (for reasons outlined here) no one in the US has perused a legal strategy against BDS, it’s interesting to see that significant parts of the “movement” consider themselves the heirs of the dubious Arab-boycott legacy.

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: BDS State of the Union

Love of the Land: More Proof That "Pro-Palestinians" Aren't Really Pro-Palestinian

More Proof That "Pro-Palestinians" Aren't Really Pro-Palestinian

Proud Zionist
04 February '10
Posted before Shabbat

How does supporting Hamas help the Palestinians? Why does it appear to be only Zionists who try to expose Hamas' corruption, thereby benefitting the moderate Palestinians who don't want to be drawn into Hamas' war games?

In an op-ed in November, Khaled Abu Toameh wrote:

"If anyone is entitled to be called 'pro-Palestinian,' it is those who are publicly campaigning against financial corruption and abuse of human rights by Fatah and Hamas. Those who are trying to change the system from within belong to the real 'pro-Palestinian' camp.
These are the brave people who are standing up to both Fatah and Hamas and calling on them to stop killing each other and start doing something that would improve the living conditions of their constituents...
...The 'pro-Palestinian' activists in the West clearly do not care about reforms and good government in the Palestinian territories. As far as these activists are concerned, delegitimizing Israel and inciting against 'Zionists' are much more important that pushing for an end to financial corruption and violence in Palestinian society."

An incident that recently occurred at Toronto's York University is exactly the problem Toameh is citing.

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: More Proof That "Pro-Palestinians" Aren't Really Pro-Palestinian

Love of the Land: Enderlin hits bottom, keeps digging

Enderlin hits bottom, keeps digging

Richard Landes
Augean Stables
02 February '10
Posted before Shabbat

Enderlin has responded to an article by Reuven Pedatzur which attacked his coverage of the Al Durah story. It’s not online, but here’s a PDF of the “deadwood” version (HT/Barry Nimat) and below a transcript (HT/CAMERA)

Regarding “Mohammed is not dead,” January 24, by Reuven Pedatzur

The claim that there was not a drop of blood at the scene [where Mohammed al-Dura allegedly was killed in 2000] is erroneous. Blood is clearly visible in the videos, and is mentioned in the reports prepared by the hospital that treated Jamal al-Dura, Mohammed’s father.

This is most interesting phrasing. Blood is clearly not visible in the videos. There’s a vague red spot where the boy was allegedly shot in the stomach, but that could (and probably is) a red rag that was previously on his thigh where he was allegedly first hit, and which “blood” in the later scene has miraculously vanished. For a gaping stomach wound from which the boy allegedly bled to death, the absence of blood at the scene is quite striking… even necessitating the adding of blood the next day. (All this evidence is discussed here.)

(Read full response)

Love of the Land: Enderlin hits bottom, keeps digging

Love of the Land: Let's play 'what if'

Let's play 'what if'

Karni Eldad
05 February '10
Posted before Shabbat

Assume for a moment that you are a Palestinian parent. Assume (really, let your imagination run free) that you are a Palestinian parent who wants peace. You would presumably want to educate your children in the same spirit. So how difficult is it, if it is even possible, for parents who live in the Palestinian Authority today to educate toward nonviolence, tolerance, recognition of the State of Israel and peace?

Sports are generally considered a good thing - a challenging, healthy activity. And that is certainly true of sports tournaments for children. A PA soccer tournament could be both fun and educational - if it were not named for the terrorist Dalal Mughrabi. She is the one who perpetrated the bloody attack on Israel's coastal highway in 1978, which killed 37 Jews.

According to Palestinian Media Watch, a celebration was held on Palestinian television to mark this terrorist's 50th birthday, sponsored by PA President Mahmoud Abbas himself. The event included a party at which a youth orchestra played in Mughrabi's honor. For the last two years, the PA has also run a summer camp named after this "martyr" (no, not Hamas, the PA - the good guys). Abbas funded a computer center named after her, and recently, a square in Ramallah was named for her as well, with Abbas' full backing. How heartwarming.

The PA and its leader, Abbas, are for some reason considered partners in the dream of peace between us and them. But peace, if it is to be true and lasting, must be based on the desire and trust of both sides.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Let's play 'what if

RubinReports: Turning History Into a Politically Correct Cartoon

Turning History Into a Politically Correct Cartoon

By Barry Rubin

Historians have long known that treating the past as if it were the present—thinking people acted, spoke, and thought the same way; that conditions were parallel; that problems were identical—is the surest way to misunderstand the past. Historical times must be dealt with on their own terms though, of course, understood in the context of larger trends.

One of the main intellectual mistakes of our current era is to teach students that all times are basically the same and that all can best be judged by the dominant contemporary ideologies of Political Correctness, multiculturalism, and "progressive" leftism masquarading as liberalism.

Instead of being the result and beneficiary of historical struggles who owe a debt to the past, people today are told they can be ingrates, benefitting from their ancestors struggles for freedom and democracy while deriding them for being imperfect, laking the great moral superiority, total knowledge, and absolute truth of contemporary smugness.

In addition, they are taught to demand that contemporary standards be applied to the past, thus branding their ancestors as racist, sexist, et cetera.

This kind of narrow teaching—prevalent in Western education especially after the murder of Western Civilization courses—is not only a form of arrogance but also of systematic indoctrination. If you don’t understand how silly ideas were developed and rejected in the past or how the process of reform worked or the cost of self-righteous ideologies like the ones prevalent today, then you don’t comprehend much about how society and the world works.

These reflections are further prompted by reading about a new book which, according to the description offered by the publishers, “provides a critical analysis of forms of Islamophobia throughout history and in the present, from anti-Islam movements in the Middle Ages and the ‘Turkish threat’….”

The transparency of the propaganda exercise can be easily seen by the absence of anyone writing or teaching about the history of Islamic “Christianophobia.”

Well, history actually happened and it didn’t just involve people standing around and being bigoted. The “phobia” in Islamophobia means “fear,” and these were not merely imaginary fears and conflicts.

The Crusades were the result of a civilizational war in which Islam was advancing and taking over formerly Christian-ruled territories. There were a long series of wars in Spain and Portugal between Christians and Muslims. Of course, even in Spain there were alliances among specific Christian and Muslim nobles against other Christian and Muslim nobles. History is complex and that’s why it must be understood in its own right and not distorted by preexisting ideological premises.

The Turkish, more accurately Ottoman, threat was real. To put the words “Turkish threat” in quotes as if it were some mythical propaganda scheme thought up to fool the masses is absurd. As far west as Slovakia, towns were under Ottoman attack from the Middle Ages to the seventeenth century. Vienna was twice besieged. Muslim forces engaged in Jihad also seized Russia for a time and arrived as far west as Poland.

It is vital as well to understand that “Christian” and “Muslim” did not then represent just religious beliefs but were principal markers of political identity and loyalty as well.

This does not mean Christians were always right or behaved well (a criticism not only permissible nowadays but practically mandatory) but neither did the Muslims (which is speech that is discouraged and even slandered or made criminal). But this is history we're talking about, not a morality play nor a parable for proving that Political Correctness and multiculturalism are right.

Such an orientation can be reduced to a comedy skit in which two Christian peasants, riddled with arrows, are running away from Ottoman warriors engaged in Jihad swinging their scimitars and in hot pursuit. One peasant is saying to the other: "The trouble with you is that you're Islamophobic."

RubinReports: Turning History Into a Politically Correct Cartoon

Sefer Chabibi Deepest Torah: Yitro; Why the Dove is the Symbol of Peace

Yitro; Why the Dove is the Symbol of Peace

by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

Everybody knows that the dove with the olive branch is the symbol of peace. It's even the logo for the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival. But why is that exactly? The dove's return to Noah's ark with an olive branch symbolized a new era of peace. Granted, after the flood narrative's depiction of the violent end of life excepting the ark's inhabitants, any harbinger of the receding waters deserved an elevated status, for humanity will now be entering a pristine dawn of a new covenantal moral awakening. It is a cultural assumption that such a linkage exists. But this is only derived from an implicit contextual understanding. Can there be yet an even deeper connection?

Only in Parshas Yisro is there an explicit, yet concealed, connection between the dove and the idea of peace (shalom) per se, where we see hints in the text which reveal a hidden link between Noah and Yisro. The key factor lies in understanding that the first time a word appears in the Torah is the foundational prism by which to understand all subsequent usages of that word throughout the Torah (espoused by Rabbi Tzadok Hakohen, an early Hassidic Kabbalistic master).

The word SHaLaCH (sent) is the explicit link. The dove was sent out to bring proof of the receding waters so that Noah and his family could free themselves of the confinement of the ark and begin life anew. Israel, quite dovelike, was thrust out of the confining Egyptian ark (Mitzrayim-MeTZeR/confinement) to seek freedom and to bring a new awareness for humanity that freedom is the birthright of all peoples and that tyranny and despotism are evils that must fail/fall. Here is the SHaLaCH, or "sending" comparison. This is the foundational basis of the link between these two narratives.

In Parshas B'SHaLaCH we see Yisrael as the Yonah (dove) for Humanity. The rising and falling waters of the Yam Suf drown the violence prone Egyptians, echoing the drowning of the generation of the flood who were corrupt- and violent (Hamas).But the linkage goes even deeper in Parshas Yisro. Jethro (Yitro), Moses' Father-in-law, meets up with B'nei Yisrael once they leave Egypt. He brings with him Moshe's wife, Tzipporah (literally BIRD) who had been SENT home earlier (achar SHiLuCHeha- EX 18:2).

So here is the dove parallelism:

In the flood narrative the dove returns to the ark with an ALeH Zayit, an Olive branch. ALeH is spelled ayin lamed hey. In this week's parsha (EX 18:12) Yisro takes an OLaH uZevachim (burnt offerings and other sacrifices for G*d) as an expression of praise to G*d for Israel's deliverance. OLaH and ALeh are both spelled with the same letters - ayin-lamed-hey. They are only vowelized differently. And this is the first time OLaH appears after we see the same word in the context of an ALeH (literally leaf). And the letter zayin is shared by both the words Zayit (olive branch) and Zevachim (burnt offerings). Israel, having emerged from the world wide deluge of the Holocaust as a burnt offering, wants peace more than any other nation on earth. But the peace of life as opposed to the peace of the grave. And thus the olive branch analogy.

Finally, Jethro gives his sage advice to Moses to appoint capable G*d fearing leaders (anshei chayil) to administer justice to thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Moses would only see the hardest cases. He concludes, saying (EX 18:23): "if you agree to this and G*d concurs, you will be able to survive. This entire nation will then also be able to attain its goal of PEACE/SHALOM." And so finally- the peace connection.

Freedom and survival are thus not ends in themselves. Ultimately, the goal is to live covenantally in PEACE. So finally we see the explicit linkage between the dove and peace. This linkage traverses time and terrain, and involves the utilization of esoteric hints, and yet is clearly there for those who have the eyes and the inclination to see it.

The Torah employs holy gentiles each time as the heralds of a new covenantal relationship between humanity and G*d. Noah brings humanity to a new "Rainbow Covenant" expressing ethical monotheism, while Jethro (pre-conversion) appears in the narrative immediately before the Theophany of the Ten Commandments, where his kehuna status (priesthood- literally intermediary servant) is echoed by the Covenant of Sinai, whereby Israel becomes a Nation of Priests and a Holy People in order to convey a modeling of ethical monotheistic teachings to all humankind.

The Torah is truly universal- a blueprint for the transformation of human consciousness, both Jew and gentile. It is a narrative of successive covenants. Noah's rainbow covenant symbolized humanity's embrace of ethical monotheism. Israel's Sinai covenant symbolized G*d's embrace of a nation molded by the imprint of slavery and genetically programmed to aspire to peace and freedom for both themselves and the world at large. The dream of peace, love and musical harmony of the Woodstock Nation is mirrored by that of the Hebrew Nation's Shabbos Kodesh Sabbath Day. And while the earth is once more filled with Hamas, may both Israel and all humanity finally come to soon see a real and lasting SHALOM/PEACE in our day and for all time. And may all the doves yet fly again soon. Amen.

Shabbat Shalom.© 2000 - 2010 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

Sefer Chabibi Deepest Torah: Yitro; Why the Dove is the Symbol of Peace

Sefer Chabibi Deepest Torah: Beshallach; Leaving Josephied

Beshallach; Leaving Josephied

by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

The Torah says..

vaChamushim alu vnei Yisrael me-eretz Mitzrayim (Ex 13:18).

Various translations of CHAMUSHIM abound, from "carrying weapons" to "well provisioned" to "in groups of five" to "one out of five." This also alludes to Yosef HaTzadik, in view of the following verse which specifically mentions that the Bnei Yisrael took his bones with them upon leaving Mitzrayim. "Atzmoth" means both "bones" as well as "essence." They took his consciousness/essence with them as well as his bones.

What is the relationship between Yosef Hatzadik and FIVE (CHaMuSH/CHaMeSH)? In Parshat Vayigash (Ex 47:26) we learn

"...Yosef set down a decree that one fifth of whatever grows on the land of Egypt belongs to Pharaoh (leParo leChoMeSH)."

And in Parshat Miketz (Ex 41:34) we read how Yosef advised a rationing system (CHiMeSH) during the seven years of plenty.

Hence in the weekday daily Tehillim for the FIFTH day we recite Psalm81 where Yosef's name is written with an extra letter- Hay- meaning 5, in numerology (gematria), spelled as YHoSeF. So we learn how Yosef is associated with rationing one's resources and with giving a fifth of one's earnings to Pharaoh. Giving a fifth means showing tangible appreciation for the Ruler while things are good (Vayigash), while rationing means planning for the day when things will be more difficult (Miketz).

Also, one fifth reflects the essence of the 80-20 rule, known in business circles as the Paredo Principle. This rule posits that in business, 80% of all business comes from the top 20% of all customers, and 80% of all sales derive from the efforts of the top 20% of the sales force. This rule actually holds true across the board- for all categories, for all time. This is really properly called then, the Joseph Principle.

When B'nei Yisrael left Egypt they took Yosef's essence and consciousness with them. The Jewish People's savvy business acumen essentially derives from this intelligence. Moreover, success is achieved as well by APPRECIATING what one has and by PLANNING ahead for more difficult times. And this principle also holds true demographically. One fifth of Jewry earns in the top tier economically, while one fifth lives at or below the poverty line. The rest are in between.

May we learn from Yosef's example to show APPRECIATION for what we have, and to GIVE generously of our resources to the Compassionate One and thus take care of His children with generosity. This is a crucial concept in Judaism. We are not to equate wealth with wickedness. Rather, in Judaism, wealth is equated with opportunity- to thank Hashem and to utilize our resources in HisService. Understand this. Be like Yosef. Use your blessings for Good.

Shabbat Shalom

Copyright 2000-2010 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman.

Sefer Chabibi Deepest Torah: Beshallach; Leaving Josephied

Sefer Chabibi Deepest Torah: Bo; the Heavy Heart

Bo; the Heavy Heart

by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

The Talmud teaches us Rachmana Liba Baee, meaning "G*d wants our hearts." G*d wants us to have a heart connection with Him. And if we are to have a heart connection with G*d, how much more so are we to try to achieve such a connection with G*d's creatures, our fellow creatures! It's hard enough to love a stranger, but does that extend to our enemy as well?

In Leviticus 19:18 the Torah says that we should "love our neighbor as (we love) ourselves." The Hebrew reads ve'ahavta le're'acha kamocha. Reah, meaning "neighbor," has also the same spelling as ra'ah, meaning "bad" or "evil." So it could also be understood as teaching that we should try to love our bad or evil neighbor as ourself. This makes sense, because through the act of trying we could ignite a change and turn him around. We may fail in the end, but we need to try just the same. To give up trying is to abandon hope for a better world.

Many people react instinctively and mimic our actions or emotional states. Some people may respond to a loving gesture with love. The answer to darkness is light. The answer to hate is love. But hard core evil is oblivious to such gestures. Such evil is beyond the pale. But only through showing love can we learn to tell the difference between redeemable evil and unredeemable hard core evil, that we must then vainquish or be vainquished in turn.

In the story of the Exodus from Egypt, the usual translation tells us that Pharaoh's heart was "hardened." But those who know Hebrew know that root for the word "hard" is "KaSHeH," with the letters koof, shin and hey. But the Torah uses the root word KaVeD, with a koof, a vet and a dalid. This means heavy, not hard.

Parshat Bo Ex 10:1"...Bo el Paro ki ani hichbadti et libo...""...come to Pharaoh because I made his heart heavy..."

In a sense, G*d wants Moshe to come to Pharaoh to cheer him up, to bring him out of his melancholy and sadness. The Torah thus is teaching us that there is a special value in comforting the sad, even those who intend us harm. Perhaps the act of kindness will awaken them to do teshuvah and repent of their ways.

Can you imagine how unbelievably sad Pharaoh was to have been oppressing Israel? When you oppress others and cause them pain you are really projecting your own sense of unworthiness onto the other. That is the reason why Pharaoh's heart was heavy. It wasn't "hardened," as is often mistranslated. His heart was heavy. The pain you inflict on others ALWAYS come back to you, adding layer upon layer, weighing you down with unbearable heaviness. The more pain he inflicted on Israel, the more his own burden increased. This is a life lesson of universal truth for each of us to ponder.

The word BO reflects the intimacy of casual relations. Moshe could enter Pharaoh's presence at will. Why? Because Pharaoh drew deep pleasure from Moshe's presence. Anyone so connected to Hashem ultimately brings pleasure to the soul of even the wicked, so as to assuage the sense of utter abandonment from the Source of Life. No guards were necessary. Moshe could enter at will. Pharaoh saw to that!

So in a sense, the deepest sense, actually, Pharaoh enjoyed Moshe's presence in the same pathological sense that a naughty child enjoys negative attention. Negative attention is better than no attention at all! Moshe's pointed admonitions were actually gratifying to one who had always seen himself as the ultimate ruler, who now realizes that his evil is coming back to haunt him and that his evil may have placed him beyond the pale, placing him beyond Hashem's mercy. Even Hashem's harsh judgment on some level is better than being ignored!!!

So here the Torah is actually speaking on the deepest level about human relations. The soul craves a Divine connection. Preferably a connection of mercy. But lacking that, even harsh judgment will suffice. This is a parable for all of us, and for each of us. The eschatological end times of ultimate Messianic redemption will dawn among us either from a quality of delicious sweetness, or CV"S ("G*d forbid"), a quality of harsh judgment.

Maaseh Avot Siman LeBanim. The deeds our forefathers are signposts for their children (us). Those who oppress and show cruelty to others have, in a sense, chosen Pharaoh as their father. It is said that we choose our parents before birth. We are Rachmanin b'nai Rachmanim, merciful ones descended from merciful ones. May our actions reflect our parentage and bring down mercy from heaven in their holy merit.

Shabbat Shalom

© 2000 - 2010 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

Sefer Chabibi Deepest Torah: Bo; the Heavy Heart

Sefer Chabibi Deepest Torah: Va'eira; the stench of the frog heap

Va'eira; the stench of the frog heap

by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

The popularly known refrain to the Negro spiritual was "let my people go." But while it is an accurate Biblical quote, it is also an incomplete one:

The full text reads (Ex 8:16 among others," ...ko amar Hashem shalach ami veya'avduni-...thus saith the L*rd, let my people go (so that/and) they shall serve me."

In other words, the proper question we might ask ourselves is "wherefore freedom?"

What is the point, to what end, do we seek to live in a "free"society? The notion of freedom is explicit, and so is its purpose. The text seems to indicate that freedom without properly understood Divine ends necessarily devolves into a dark nihilistic morass. Society and its malcontents (sic) desperately need to imbibe this imperative to place spirituality, the quest for Divine service, front and center of any social enterprise.

Some wore buttons in the seventies proclaiming "shalach et ami/ let my people go/Free Soviet Jews." While earlier waves of refuseniks sought emigration out of a yearning for Jewish identification and religious fulfillment, latter day waves were clearly less so motivated, often placing material yearnings paramount over the spiritual. Tel Aviv is warmer than Moskow, but being in the Land should mean so much more.

Likewise, many synagogues today find themselves in trouble when they place monetary or materialistic values over spiritual ones. When education and learning take a lower priority, apathy and malaise are the bitter fruit. Their long term assurance is not guaranteed.

A remarkable textual allusion offers a rich homiletic support to this idea. As the plague of frogs is halted, their rotting frog corpses were gathered in "gigantic heaps, fouling the air with their vile stench."

(Ex 8:10) "vayitzberu otam chamarim chamarim vativash ha'aretz."

Notice that the word for heaps, "chamarim," in the Hebrew is spelled minus the letter yud, the usual plural indicator. The duplication of the word chamarim serves to call our attention to a deeper understanding of the word, in the sense of "CHoMeR," or materialism. Most tellingly is the verb "vayitzberu." Its root is TZiBuR, meaning a congregation, i.e., a "gathering." In a sense, then, the Torah is warning synagogues about misplaced priorities. And the doubling of the missing yuds, so striking in their absence, spells a name often referring to G*d.

How often G*d Himself is missing from synagogues. There is no room left for Him for He is crowded out by the massive ego heaps and materialism run amok. So what this is really teaching us, is that when the spiritual is missing, from out of a heightened and disproportionate focus on the material, a foul temper then rules the day.

The purpose of the synagogue is similar to the purpose of the Land of Israel: to be a vessel for the spiritual development of its inhabitants. Ego is to people what materialism is to values. Both have their place, but neither should predominate. Physicality, the physical structure, is but to serve spiritual ends. The body is the vessel for the soul's manifestation and expression.

Indeed, even America, in its mandate to espouse the freedom and safety of its people, was envisioned by its early Puritan founders to be a New Israel, seeking freedom of worship to escape the spiritual bondage of the Church of England. America was their Promised Land, England was their Egypt, while the oceanic voyage was their Exodus, their crossing of the Great Sea. Freedom was but to serve spiritual ends.

It behooves us today to take this lesson to heart. Let us ponder its meaning, drawing from the message of our timeless Torah. As long as we make G*d the center of our lives, seeking to understand the proper path of our life's true work, we shall be spiritually free. When we see each other as fellow reflections of the Divine, as true brothers and sisters to one another, we will always be able to count on each other for support. For without that common bond, we are all merely but frogs on a heap.

Shabbat Shalom

© 2000 - 2010 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

Sefer Chabibi Deepest Torah: Va'eira; the stench of the frog heap
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