Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Israel Matzav: The widening partisan gap on Israel

The widening partisan gap on Israel

Shmuel Rosner has some interesting observations on that Gallup poll on support for Israel that came out last week.



3.

Well - not all Americans. While the upward trend is likely to encourage Israelis, there are also more worrisome signs in this poll. Republicans become more supportive of Israel, but with Democrats the picture is less rosy. In fact, as far as I can recall another record was set in this poll: the gap between Republican and Democratic support is higher than ever (37%!). Two years ago, I wrote about another poll in which the difference was "significant": it was a mare 20%.
Rosner goes on to observe that the partisan gap regarding Israel is wider than the partisan gap on any other country in the survey. And one of Rosner's readers point out that Israel is the only country in the survey for whom support increases with age. For every other country, support decreases with age. And Israel is the only country that has more support from Republicans than from Democrats.

What to make of all this? My sense is that more and more American support for Israel is not coming from Jews (most of whom vote Democrat) but from Evangelical Christians (most of whom vote Republican). I believe that explains the survey results, as well as many other polls we have seen that show that younger Jews are less concerned about Israel than the older generation. While it's a shame that so many Jews are unsupportive (and have replaced Judaism with Liberalism as their religion), in the long run, the support of Evangelical Christians makes it likely that Israel's support will remain high in the United States, even as a greater percentage of Jews are lost to assimilation and intermarriage. Isn't it ironic that the Jewish state is becoming dependent on Evangelical Christians for its support in the United States? God works in strange ways, doesn't He? And I have long since given up trying to explain them.

Israel Matzav: The widening partisan gap on Israel

Israel Matzav: When an incremental approach won't work

When an incremental approach won't work

Imposing sanctions on Iran should be done in toto and not incrementally, even at the cost of consensus in the United Nations. Otherwise, argues Michael Singh, Iran will have enough lead time to take actions to ameliorate the sanctions' effect.

To avoid the trap of incrementalism and advance efforts to halt Iran’s nuclear weapons progress, the U.S. and Europe must think backwards. That is, consider what circumstances must be brought about to induce a change of course by the Iranian regime, along with the time available to bring about such circumstances. A cursory analysis of past Iranian shifts suggests that the threshold at which the regime will recalculate remains far off -- Ayatollah Khomeini’s 1988 decision to accede to a ceasefire in the Iran-Iraq war, for example, came only after several Iranian naval ships were destroyed in battle with the U.S. Navy.

Thinking backwards leads to the conclusion that the regime’s resilience, and the urgency underscored by the IAEA report, should lead the West to eschew any gradual buildup of pressure for bolder, less predictable, and faster-acting measures. By implication, our international persuasion efforts should be focused less on means -- such as sanctions -- and more on ends. If an ally agrees that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons, that its success in this regard would be devastating for global security, and that sufficient pressure must be brought to bear on the Iranian regime to force its recalculation, then reasoning backward will lead naturally support for far-reaching sanctions or similar measures. If on the other hand there is no such concurrence on objectives, then agreement on “crippling” sanctions is unlikely ever to materialize.

Much as I agree with Singh's approach, I'm afraid he's ahead of the game. Russia and China are not going to agree to any meaningful sanctions, and that will prevent the UN resolution that would induce the Europeans to impose sanctions. The only way to effectively impose energy sanctions on Iran would be for the US and other sympathetic countries (other than Israel - if there are any) to station ships at the mouth of the Gulf of Arabia and prevent the Iranians from receiving refined oil products.

Since that's unlikely to happen, there's only one other alternative left to stop Iran from going nuclear: Make Ahmadinejad an offer he can't refuse.


Israel Matzav: When an incremental approach won't work

Israel Matzav: How long will Obama pursue Assad?

How long will Obama pursue Assad?

After Syrian President Bashar al-Assad delivered a hard slap in the face to American President Barack al-Hussein Obama on Thursday night, one has to wonder how long the exercise called 'engagement' with Syria is going to continue. Michael Kirchik explains that it may last for quite a while.

But it seems that no amount of Syrian spit in our eyes will dissuade the engagers. Rather than admit they were wrong in the first place, defenders of the accommodationist approach have spun Iran’s rejection of American overtures into a diplomatic victory. At least the United States tried to talk the Iranians out of their madness, they say. Now, with a series of good-faith efforts rejected, America can more credibly present the case of isolating Iran to the world.

This rosy narrative - which will no doubt inform the logic of Syria-engagers over the course of the next year or more - obfuscates the fact that Washington, including the allegedly "unilateralist" Bush administration, has tried for years to persuade Iran and Syria to adopt the most basic characteristics of good international citizens, all to no avail. And concomitant attempts to "split" Damascus from Tehran are as fruitless as they are frequent.

At some point, we must realize that the behavior of these regimes is due to deep ideological impulses and an instinct for self-preservation. All that the failed attempts at wooing Iran have done was waste an entire year that could have been devoted to sanctioning and weakening the regime from within. Today, we’re 12 months closer to the point where Iran has nuclear weapons. And now we are repeating the same mistakes with Syria.

It does seem that way. And my guess is that we're in for at least another eight months of it. If the Democrats suffer enough losses at the polls in November, I would look at some of the younger Democratic leadership (not Pelosi and Reid will be gone) to call Obama on the carpet and try to push his agenda toward the center. That would mean abandoning 'engagement' with Syria among other things. Will they succeed in moderating Obama's positions? Maybe. Obama may be willing to be a one-term President, but if he can't get his legislation through Congress, he won't be able to accomplish much in that one term. And that's definitely not a scenario that will please the White House.

Israel Matzav: How long will Obama pursue Assad?

Israel Matzav: The Hezbullah card

The Hezbullah card

Things are heating up on Israel's northern border.

Lebanon's quisling government has asked the United States to restrain Israel from bombing their country back to the 8th century. For once, the Obama administration did the right thing.

US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton sent a message to Beirut that Washington cannot prevent an Israeli strike in Lebanon as long as arms smuggling to Hezbollah continues.

London-based al-Hayat newspaper reported on Monday that the message was conveyed via US Ambassador to Lebanon Michele Sison to Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.

Meanwhile, Hezbullah's patron, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has been heating up his rhetoric against Israel (Hat Tip: Jihad Watch).

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday that existence of the Zionist regime is an insult to the entire humanity.

Addressing International Conference on 'National and Islamic Solidarity for Future of Palestine', he said that it is well-known for all that the Zionist regime's mission is threat, violence and beating drums of war.

Supporters of the Zionist regime who are shouting slogans of human rights and anti-terrorism, support systematic crimes of the occupying regime, the president said.

He said that everybody knows that the regime is seeking hegemony over the world.

He said that the Zionist regime is the origin of all the wars, genocide, terrors and crimes against humanity and that they are the racist group not respecting the human principles....

One way Ahmadinejad is likely to try to distract attention from his nuclear weapons pursuit is to heat up Israel's northern border. That's likely what last Thursday's meeting in Damascus was about. The tool to heat up the border will be Hassan Nasrallah and his Hezbullah organization. How free is Ahmadinejad to use that tool? Jonathan Spyer explains that it's a card that Ahmadinejad is only likely to get one chance to play.

Some analysis has suggested that the heightened rhetoric may presage an attempt by Iran to heat up the northern front in response to the hardening international stance to Iran’s nuclear program.

While nothing should be ruled out, a number of factors should be borne in mind in this regard. Hizbullah and its backers are well aware of the broad contours of Israel’s likely response in the event of further aggression by the movement on the northern border. The message has been adequately transferred that a future conflict would not remain within the parameters of a localized Hizbullah clash in southern Lebanon.

Rather, with the organization present in the Lebanese government, and with its decisions regarding war not subject to supervision or appeal by any other element in Lebanon, a future fight is likely to take on the characteristics of a state-to-state conflict.

The results of such a conflict would not doubt be damaging to northern Israel, but to Lebanon and to Hizbullah, they are likely to be devastating. This means that from the Iranian point of view, the Hizbullah card is one of the most valuable that Teheran holds – but it can probably be played only once.

So there is reason to suppose that the Iranians have good reason to hold back on pushing Hizbullah into a fight until a possible later stage – most likely, in response to a future western or Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.

Spyer goes on to explain why Hezbullah may initiate an attack on Israel - due to its true belief in jihad and its overconfidence in its ability to be victorious. In that case, the Hezbullah card may not be Iran's to play at all. Read the whole thing.

There's another possibility that Spyer doesn't discuss that merits consideration and that's the possibility that Israel may pre-emptively strike at Lebanon. This could happen under one of two scenarios: either that Israel decides to take care of Hezbullah before it feels it has to strike Iran's nuclear capability, or that Israel decides that Hezbullah's rocket supply is getting too big to ignore. I don't believe the second scenario is likely because if that were the case, I believe it would have happened already. But it's entirely conceivable that Israel would pre-emptively strike Hezbullah to remove that threat before it has to go after Iran. In that case, Israel would be looking for at least a month of lead time before Iran's nuclear capability is scheduled to go on line. The delayed international effort to stop Iran is bringing the day that Israel may have to take matters into its own hands much closer. When it comes to its own survival, Israel will not defer to the international community. The nearly wall-to-wall support for Operation Cast Lead a year ago (91% of the Jewish population) proves that.

Ahmadinejad may never have a chance to play the Hezbullah card.


Israel Matzav: The Hezbullah card

Israel Matzav: Thank you for being our friend#links#links#links

Thank you for being our friend

Remember this song? Let's go to the videotape...



I don't think many Israelis are going to be thanking Jordan's King Abdullah - with whom we have a peace treaty - for being our friend any time soon.

King Abdullah of Jordan said that the international community must take immediate measures to protect the holy sites in east Jerusalem from unilateral moves on Israel's part, according to Jordan's official news agency.

According to him, Israel's moves seek to alter Jerusalem's identity and constitute a dangerous provocation that threatens all effort invested in achieving regional peace.

I wonder what immediate measures our 'friend' has in mind.


Israel Matzav: Thank you for being our friend

Israel Matzav: Feeding them anti-Semitism with their mothers' milk... in Spain?

Feeding them anti-Semitism with their mothers' milk... in Spain?

Through a strange combination of circumstances, just about this time nine years ago, Mrs. Carl and I spent a week in Spain with our then youngest child (son # 3, child # 6) tagging along. In fact, to this day, we often refer to him by the name the Spaniards called him because they found his Hebrew name unpronounceable. We spent time in Madrid, Toledo, Cordoba and Granada - the picture at the top of this post is from Granada's Alhambra Castle.

At the time, I didn't have the sense that Spain was hostile to Jews. Of course, there was very little Jewish life there, given that Jews had just started to return to Spain after the 1492 expulsion some 20 years or so earlier. The rabbi with whom we spent the Sabbath home schooled his children until they were 12 or 13, and then sent them to school in Paris, which is about 16 hours away by car. But I didn't have the sense that the lack of Jewish education in Spain was because of anti-Semitic hostility. Similarly, the local synagogue in Madrid was protected by a closed circuit camera, but that's not really any different than any place else in Europe. (I've written in the past about visiting London and Vienna - I've also been to Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Rome and Florence, so I guess I've been around Europe a bit).

Something changed in Spain. In March 2004, Atocha, the main train station in Madrid (which we had wandered around but had not used - because of the baby and the lack of Kosher food, we had brought too much luggage and rented a car), was the target of a major terror attack. 191 people were killed and 1800 were wounded. The attack occurred three days before a major national election, and unfortunately, the Spaniards reacted like dhimmis. The incumbent Jose Maria Aznar, who held a narrow lead to that point, was tossed out of office, and Leftist Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero took his place. Zapatero pulled Spanish troops out of Iraq, and has generally been hostile to the West. Zapatero was re-elected in 2008.

All of that background perhaps explains the rise of anti-Semitism in Spain.

Israel's ambassador to Spain, Rafael Shotz, has been receiving hate mail from Spanish schoolchildren. Dozens of letters sent from pupils include statements such as “Mr. Ambassador, how many Palestinians did you murder today?” but Israeli officials suspect a hate campaign is behind the letters.

Another letter writer asks if Israel will “leave Palestine,” adding, “The Palestinians will celebrate if the Israelis decide to go somewhere else.” Another writers, supposedly a child, told the ambassador to “think about not murdering Palestinian children and old people.”

Foreign Ministry officials expressed doubt that the letters contained the children's own original thoughts. “Ten-year-old children don't write things like this. It's horrifying that they're being taught to do this,” one official told IDF radio.

The letters are coming from pupils at a school in Valencia, raising suspicions that staff at that school are inciting the children to hate, the official explained.

Read the whole thing. While this sounds like an isolated incident, it's not, and given the background I have given you, it's likely that anti-Semitism is widespread in Spain, as it is in many other countries in Europe.

I wonder how the Spaniards will treat the new American ambassador, who also happens to be Jewish. If he's treated similarly, will anyone outside Israel admit that Spain has an anti-Semitism problem?


Israel Matzav: Feeding them anti-Semitism with their mothers' milk... in Spain?

Israel Matzav: Third time's the charm

Third time's the charm

It seems that Hamas terrorist and arms dealer Mahmoud al-Mabhouh had survived two previous attempts on his life before someone succeeded in liquidating him in January in Dubai.

Top Hamas terrorist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was saved twice from elimination, according to Hamas sources. A report on Channel Two Sunday night quoted the sources as saying that Mabhouh was almost killed in Beirut several years ago, where an assassination team lie in wait for him, but was unable to carry out the job. The second time was in Dubai, where he was shot, but arrived at the hospital partially conscious, with doctors able to rescue him.

I guess the third time is the charm.

Heh.

Israel Matzav: Third time's the charm

Israel Matzav: Good news: Sanctions on Iran only 'months' away

Good news: Sanctions on Iran only 'months' away

Hillary Clinton advanced the probability of an Israeli military strike on Iran's nuclear weapons facilities on Monday night.

Clinton told reporters traveling with her in South America that a new sanctions resolution is likely to come before the United Nations Security Council sometime in the next several months.

That's far later than the United States once hoped for, in part because of reluctance among some other members of the Security Council.

Clinton is recruiting support for the Iran penalties. She said she would make sure that the president of Brazil, which has close ties to Iran, knows the extent of world alarm over Iran's activities.

Earlier Monday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who for the last two weeks has loudly been calling for sanctions on Iran’s energy sector, received strong backing when visiting US Sen. John Kerry supported the move.

Kerry, the powerful head of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, said he “absolutely” supported sanctions against Iran’s energy industry.

“I believe that the most biting and important sanctions would be those on the energy side,” Kerry told a press conference, after meeting Netanyahu.

Curiously, Kerry told a press conference that the US and Israel are on the 'same page' and that he did not expect Israel to 'jump the gun' by striking Iran.

How long does Kerry think Netanyahu will wait?


Israel Matzav: Good news: Sanctions on Iran only 'months' away

Israel Matzav: Greece and Golan wine

Greece and Golan wine

Sorry posting was light yesterday. Hopefully, today will be a bit better.

David Solway is frustrated with Greece's one-sided view of Israel's dispute with Syria over the Golan. Solway writes that Greece, which was at one time supportive of Israel and resentful of its own 400-year occupation by Ottoman Turkey has since 9/11 capitulated to Islamic terrorism by adopting a hostile view to Israel. He tells the story of why he has fallen out of love with Greece and in the process sets out Israel's claim to the Golan Heights as clearly as I have ever seen it set out.

The moment of epiphany for me came when I learned of a rather unsavory episode involving leftist PASOK deputy and current Vice President Theodoros Pangalos that occurred at the end of 2008. Pangalos had received a Christmas gift of three bottles of Golan wine from the Israeli embassy in Athens. He quickly returned the offending vintage, accompanied by a letter stating: “I have been taught since I was very young not to steal and not to accept products of theft. So I cannot possibly accept this gift and must return it back to you. As you know, your country occupies illegally the Golan Heights who belong to Syria, according to the international law and numerous decisions of the international community.”

The VP, however, was as historically and politically illiterate as he was socially uncouth. In his representative act of refusing a gift, he made no mention of the rich cultural contribution of the indigenous Jewish communities to Greek life, dating back to the second century BCE. As for the Golan, he also ignored the years of indiscriminate shelling endured by Israelis from Syrian gun emplacements on the commanding heights; nor did he note the Syrian-Israeli hostilities of 1967 and 1973, which concluded in the Israeli annexation of the territory. The Golan is Israeli in virtue of the doctrine of the right of conquest, i.e., in wars where the victorious party is not the aggressor. (I don’t see Alsace-Lorraine or Gdansk — Danzig — being returned to Germany anytime soon, or Italy restoring the South Tyrol to Austria.)

Pangalos is equally ignorant of diplomatic history, although in this respect he differs little from many observers, politicians, and commentators in the West.


Israel Matzav: Greece and Golan wine

Elder of Ziyon: Report: PalArab kids "forced" to visit Holocaust monument in the Netherlands

Elder of Ziyon: Report: PalArab kids "forced" to visit Holocaust monument in the Netherlands

Love of the Land: Americans Love Israel Even More Than You Think

Americans Love Israel Even More Than You Think


Barry Rubin
The Rubin Report
02 March '10

International relations isn’t a popularity contest. But public opinion polls can be useful in countering myths and examining the impact of policymaker, elite, and media campaigns on the masses.

Which brings us to Gallup’s latest poll measuring how Americans feel about different countries. The more one examines the results, the more amazing they are. Americans two favorites are, not surprisingly, fellow English-speakers Canada and the United Kingdom. Then come—Americans are very forgiving—two former enemies, Germany and Japan.

And next on the list is Israel. Even the basic numbers—67 favorable, 25 percent unfavorable—are impressive. But that’s only the beginning. Around 10 percent of Americans don’t like anybody, and only one-fourth of those 25 percent nay-sayers on Israel, that is 6 percent, are really hostile.

In other words, the percentage of Americans who hate Israel is only 6 percent and the number who single out Israel for partly unfavorable views among other popular countries adds about 10 percent more.

And since 10 percent of Americans say they like Iran (85 percent don’t), having only a bit more than that number really disliking Israel isn’t very impressive.

After 20 years or so of intensive media criticism, hostility on campuses, double standards, and controversy that’s nothing short of remarkable.

(Read full post)

Related: Joyce Kaufman. The 7 Reasons to Support Israel


Love of the Land: Americans Love Israel Even More Than You Think

Love of the Land: Der Spiegel: “An Israeli Affront Against Germany”

Der Spiegel: “An Israeli Affront Against Germany”


Noah Pollak
Contentions/Commentary
02 March '10

The headline is breathless, and the article is stupid. The German paper claims that both the failure of the Shalit talks and the Dubai assassination were grave Israeli insults to Germany.

This marks the second time that the Germans have been snubbed. [The first time, Der Spiegel says, was when the Mossad did not tell the German mediator in the Shalit talks that the Dubai assassination was about to take place. No, that doesn't make sense to me either -- NP] In late December, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected at the last moment a detailed agreement that his negotiator Hagai Hadas had hammered out with Hamas via the German intelligence agency. …

Zahar said it had been difficult to convince Khalid Mashaal, the exiled political leader of Hamas in Damascus, Syria, to approve the deal. Netanyahu’s subsequent rejection seriously damaged his reputation within Hamas, says Zahar. “I have suffered a lot internally,” he adds. “I am not ready to negotiate anymore.”


So Israel rejected a prisoner swap and hung Mahmoud Zahar out to dry? This is pure Hamas spin — and therefore very attractive to Western journalists. The reality of the negotiations is that Israel has been waiting on a Hamas answer on the prisoner swap since December, an answer that has not been forthcoming because of a rift between Hamas’s Gaza and Damascus leadership. The Gazans want to do the swap; the Syrian leadership does not:

(Read full post)


Love of the Land: Der Spiegel: “An Israeli Affront Against Germany”

Love of the Land: “Israeli Apartheid Week”: Festival of bigotry kicks off across the globe but it’s not going according to plan

“Israeli Apartheid Week”: Festival of bigotry kicks off across the globe but it’s not going according to plan


Robin Shepherd
Robin Shepherd Online
02 March '10

This week saw the start of the annual festival of bigotry known as “Israeli Apartheid Week” (IAW). In the UK, universities from the London School of Economics, University College London (alma mater of the would be Detroit panty bomber) to Oxford join forces with places of “learning” in more than 40 cities across the world. The aim is to deligitimise Israel with a view to the Jewish state’s eventual destruction.

But it is not all going according to plan. In Canada, there are signs that the organisers may already have run into some embarrassing problems. As the National Post reports in a scathing editorial which rightly describes the event as “an odious and bigoted annual ritual” a motion denouncing Israeli Apartheid Week has been unanimously passed (even leftist members of parliament supported it) in the Ontario provincial parliament. This is a serious blow since Canada has been one of the worst offenders in the Western world in terms of anti-Israeli bigotry and has traditionally been at the forefront of IAW campaigning.

While it is still early days, what is going on in Canada should serve as an inspiration to those opposed to anti-Israeli extremism worldwide. Careful and consistent campaigning in favour of reason and decency over Israel can pay off, leaving the opposing camp looking isolated and obsessive.

(Read full post)


Love of the Land: “Israeli Apartheid Week”: Festival of bigotry kicks off across the globe but it’s not going according to plan

Love of the Land: The Real Security Lapse in Dubai

The Real Security Lapse in Dubai

Letting terrorists conduct business.


Daniel Halper
The Weekly Standard
01 March '10

The Times of London reports that police in Dubai are in a tizzy, six weeks after the killing of Hamas's Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a hotel in downtown Dubai. A major security breach, an extrajudicial murder--it's being called all sorts of unsavory things. And police say they're certain that Mabhouh was killed by the Israeli Mossad, but don't provide hard evidence. Who exactly killed Mabhouh (aside from how they killed him, which the videos do a pretty good job showing) might not ever be known.

Dubai police are quick to blame everyone but themselves for security lapses.

(Read full post)


Love of the Land: The Real Security Lapse in Dubai

Love of the Land: Palestinian Authority: Direct the Heat Toward Israel

Palestinian Authority: Direct the Heat Toward Israel


Khaled Abu Toameh
Hudson New York
02 March '10

The Palestinian Authority is once again trying to divert attention from its problems at home, and the best way to do this is being escalating tensions with Israel - the Palestinian Authority’s policy since its inception after signing the Oslo Peace Accords in 1993.

To distract attention from charges of financial corruption and embarrassing sexual scandals, the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank has stepped up its anti-Israel rhetoric. Allegations of “ethnic cleansing,” “destruction and desecration of Islamic religious sites,” “apartheid,” “racism,” “land theft” and “conducting medical experiments on Palestinian prisoners” are directed every day toward Israel by Abbas and his top officials and spokesmen.

These charges are often backed up by threats to launch a “third intifada” or to resume suicide bombings against Israel.

Given Abbas’s growing predicament, the likelihood of a new wave of violence in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip seems to be more realistic than ever.

Yasser Arafat was the first to employ this policy to divert attention from the fact that his regime was stealing hundreds of millions of dollars of international aid to the Palestinians. Almost each time that the issue of financial corruption and bad government was raised, Arafat and his aides would step their rhetorical attacks on Israel under various pretexts. The incitement, which in the beginning led to periodic outbursts of violence against Israelis, finally saw the eruption of the second intifada. Now Mahmoud Abbas and his administration in the West Bank are employing the same policy.

In recent months, Abbas has been facing growing criticism from many Palestinians who, on the one hand accuse him of turning a blind eye to corruption in the Palestinian Authority and, on the other hand, denounce him as a “puppet” in the hands of Israel and the US.

(Read full article)


Love of the Land: Palestinian Authority: Direct the Heat Toward Israel

Love of the Land: Goldstone: Human Rights Gone Wrong

Goldstone: Human Rights Gone Wrong


Ben Cohen
Z-Word Blog
01 March '10

Here’s the latest video from AJC Reality Check, focusing on how the prejudices of one of Richard Goldstone’s lieutenants, Desmond Travers, played a key role in the distortions which followed in the Goldstone report.



Related: Goldstoned also New Revelations About the UN Goldstone Report that Seriously Undermine its Credibility

Love of the Land: Goldstone: Human Rights Gone Wrong

Love of the Land: State of denial

State of denial


NOW Lebanon
01 March '10

Three men, three visits. Lebanese President Michel Sleiman goes to Russia and is met by the deputy foreign minister – (this is apparently not a slight; he is merely the most senior Arabist). He negotiates the sale of a few aging attack helicopters and returns to announce a controversial national dialogue line-up. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Saad Hariri jets off to Doha to discuss the usual “bilateral relations and regional events.”

However, the most meaningful “state” visit in recent days was made by a man who holds no public office, but who is arguably the most powerful individual in Lebanon. Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah may have been set up as the fall guy in the latest chapter in Hezbollah’s glorious struggle against the Zionist entity (as usual, no one else is prepared to take on Israel), but the fact remains that Hezbollah is the de facto power on the ground, and it was in Damascus that Lebanon’s real future was mapped out.

A formidable regional alliance is taking shape, and the Americans are not getting a look-in. US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton says she wants to drive a wedge between Syria and Iran but wakes up the next day to find out that arguably the three most powerful men in the region meet for lunch, declare undying love and vow that Israel will be defeated in Lebanon.

All Lebanese who value their security and sovereignty should be very worried, but then again Lebanon is a country in denial. The air has been filled with martial rhetoric in recent weeks with the drumbeat of conflict getting louder. Israeli jets fly over our airspace with impunity, while the recent banquet in Damascus is a painful reminder to the Lebanese that they can hold all the elections they want, wave as many flags as they want, but when President Assad wants to hold its own brand of bilateral talks, a call is placed to Dahiyeh, not Baabda or the Serail.

(Read full article)
Love of the Land: State of denial

Love of the Land: Israel’s Latest Sin—Honoring Its Heritage

Israel’s Latest Sin—Honoring Its Heritage


P. David Hornik
Frontpagemag.com
01 March '10

When the Israeli cabinet announced the other day that the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, would be included in a list of Israeli “heritage” sites, it touched off a wave of Palestinian violence and threats—along with diplomatic protests that were all too concordant with the Palestinian bullying.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has launched the “heritage” program as a way of strengthening Israelis’ connection with their Jewish and Zionist roots, initially left the two West Bank sites (though other West Bank sites were included) off the list, apparently fearing various kinds of fallout. Netanyahu was only persuaded to include them at the last minute by Shas, a religious party that is part of his coalition.

Sure enough, the West Bank heated up with an increase in rocks and Molotov cocktails thrown at Israeli vehicles, and, particularly, daily disturbances in Hebron, where crowds of Palestinians burned tires and threw rocks and bottles at Israeli soldiers. By Sunday the disturbances had spread to Jerusalem.

On the verbal plane a spokesman for the Gaza-based Islamic Jihad terror organization declared that “If the Israelis continue to damage our mosques and holy places, we will respond [i.e., mount terror attacks] within the Zionist territory”—alluding to the fact that the Cave of the Patriarchs is a compound with a mosque as well as a synagogue, while Rachel’s Tomb has recently been claimed to be a mosque as well.
Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas prime minister in Gaza, piped up with “Jerusalem is ours, the land is ours, and God is with us. We will not accept these decisions….” And Mahmoud Abbas, president of the official, West Bank-based Palestinian Authority and considered secular and a moderate, was hardly more moderate in his reaction, calling the decision to add the two sites to the heritage list “a serious provocation which may lead to a religious war.”

(Read full article)


Love of the Land: Israel’s Latest Sin—Honoring Its Heritage

Love of the Land: David Ben Gurion: Hebron is Jerusalem's Sister

David Ben Gurion: Hebron is Jerusalem's Sister


Hebron, City of the Patriarchs
The Jewish Community of Hebron


Hebron is Jerusalem's Sister

Three cities hold a great and unique place in the ancient history of our people: Shechem, Hebron and Jerusalem. In the Book of Genesis (Bereshit) we are told that Terach took his son Abram, his nephew Lot and his daughter-in-law Sarai, Abram's wife and left Ur Kasdim bound for Canan. On route they reached Haran and dwelt there. Terach died in Haran.

Then the Almighty said to Abram: "Go forth from your land, from your birth place and from your father's house to the land that I shall show you...and Abram went forth as he had been told by the Eternal...and he took with him Sarai his wife, Lot his nephew, all their possessions and the souls that they had acquired in Haran...and they came to the Land of Canan. And Abram passed through the land until the place Shechem...and the Eternal appeared to Abram and said, "Unto your children shall I give this land." There Abram built there an altar unto the Eternal who had appeared to him-and Abram continued his journey shouthward ... and Abram made his camp and came and settled in the Plains of Mamre that are in Hebron and he built an alter to the Almighty." (Genesis 12-B).

Hebrew history begins in Hebron. In Hebron...there arose the first Hebrew armed force, which battled with four great kings:...because they had captured Abram's nephew Lot and his property. When Abram heard this in Hebron, he immediately mobilized 318 of his followers and pursued the four kings up to Dan in the north, where he attacked at night and destroyed them, and rescued all the property and his nephew Lot, the women and the rest of the captives. This was the first war in Jewish history, which ended not merely with victory, but also with a demonstration of Abram's breadth of spirit...

When Sarah died in Hebron at the age of one hundred and twenty-seven, Abraham turned to the Hittites to grant him a burial plot. After prolonged and devious negotiations by the Hittites, Abraham paid four hundred silver shekels to Ephron for his field and all the trees surrounding its boundaries-and it became his. And when Abraham died 38 years later, he was buried by his sons Isaac and Ishmael in the cave which Abraham had bought from the Hittites.

Before Jacob died in Egypt, after going down there to see his son Joseph, he made his sons promise to bury him with his fathers "in Hebron in the cave, in Ephron the Hittite's field, where were buried Abraham and his wife Sarah, Isaac and his wife Rebecca and where I buried Leah" (Genesis 49:29, 31). And that is what Joseph and his brothers did. It is thus clear that only the three Patriarchs and the three Matriarchs of the Jewish People were buried in the Cave of Machpela.

However, the importance of Hebron is not merely its role in the lives of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs of our nation. After Saul, the first King of Israel fell upon his sword in the war with the Philistines, so that he might not be taken captive, and David replaced him as King, David inquired of the Eternal: "Shall I go up to one of the cities of Judah?" And the Eternal answered: Go up!" And David said: "Unto where shall I go up?" And G-d answered" "To Hebron." And David went up there...and the men of Judah came and anointed David there as King of Judah" (Samuel II,2.4). Finally, after the death of Abner, commander of Saul's army, "and all the tribes of Israel came to David in Hebron and proclaimed: "Behold we are of the bone and flesh; and so it was yesterday and the day before, while Saul was King over us, it was you who were the leader of Israel; and the Almighty has said "You shall shepherd my people Israel and you shall be prince of Israel." And all the elders of Israel came to the king in Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them in Hebron over Israel" (Samuel II, 5:1-3). Thus arose in Hebron the greatest royal dynasty that Israel ever had.

The city of Jerusalem-which became in the course of time, from the crowning of David until our own days, not merely the most precious and Holy City in the Land of Israel, but one of the most revered cities in the world is not mentioned at all in the Five Books of the Torah. Further, after the reign of David who captured the city Jerusalem from the Jebusites and made it the eternal capital of Israel and his son, King Solomon, built the Beit HaMikdash (Temple) within her. After Solomon died the people of Israel came to crown his son Rechavam, not in Jerusalem, but in Shechem. And of the forty years of David's reign, seven and a half he ruled in Hebron, while Jerusalem, though not mentioned at all in the Torah, was made by Israel's greatest king into the city of holiness.

However, don't forget: the beginnings of Israel's greatest king were in Hebron, the city to which came the first Hebrew about eight hundred years before King David, and we will make a great and awful mistake if we fail to settle Hebron, neighbor and predecessor of Jerusalem, with a large Jewish settlement, constantly growing and expanding, very soon. This will also be a blessing to the Arab neighbors. Hebron is worthy to be Jerusalem's sister.

David Ben Gurion
Sdeh Boker
18 Shvat 5730
25 Jan. 1970
Love of the Land: David Ben Gurion: Hebron is Jerusalem's Sister

Love of the Land: Ontario Defies Israel Apartheid Week

Ontario Defies Israel Apartheid Week


Evelyn Gordon
Contentions/Commentary
01 March '10

This week is Israel Apartheid Week on college campuses worldwide — an annual hatefest devoted to demonizing Israel and mobilizing support for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS), made even more grotesque by the numerous Israelis serving as featured speakers. But this year, pushback came from a surprising direction: the provincial legislature of Ontario, Canada, voted unanimously to condemn this extravaganza, because it “serves to incite hatred against Israel, a democratic state that respects the rule of law and human rights, and … diminishes the suffering of those who were victims of a true apartheid regime in South Africa.”

Two things make this decision remarkable. One is that Ontario has long been a hotbed of anti-Israel activity. For instance, its largest labor union, the Ontario chapter of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, enthusiastically promotes BDS; in 2006, the chapter voted to boycott Israel until it accepts a Palestinian “right of return,” otherwise known as committing demographic suicide. Thus Ontario legislators defied a powerhouse vote machine over an issue with little political traction, just because they thought it was right.

The second is that not long ago, Canada’s foreign policy was hostile to Israel. In October 2000, for instance, days after the intifada erupted, Canada voted for a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel for the violence, without a word of blame for the Palestinians. And that vote was typical, not exceptional. Thus the Ontario decision represents a sharp turnabout in a fairly short period of time.

(Read full post)


Love of the Land: Ontario Defies Israel Apartheid Week

Love of the Land: Let the soldiers speak

Let the soldiers speak


Michael Dickson
Op-Ed/JPost
01 March '10

Those who have recently served see that the picture the media presents is skewed from the reality they know.

Conspicuously missing in the narrative of Israel’s recent battles against terrorists is the story of those who actually fought in them; the everyday soldier, with no political agenda, just a conviction in the morality of his army and the personal experience to back that up. But that is no longer the case. Groups of Israeli soldiers, young combat reservists are currently touring North America as part of the “Israeli Soldiers Speak Out” campaign.

There was no shortage of volunteers for this tour. Those who have recently served see that the picture the media presents is skewed from the reality they know. They feel a deep sense of injustice when this happens, given that they have risked their own lives and lost friends while doing their utmost to protect Palestinian civilians. These young soldiers recognize that their service is vital to a country like Israel, which is constantly endangered by terrorists and hostile neighbors.

I have been privileged to know the young soldiers participating in this project. Their personal battlefield experience challenges members of the audience to put themselves in their shoes and to question what they would do in similar scenarios.

Audiences will meet Inon, an officer who was fighting Hizbullah during the Second Lebanon War in 2006 when his unit came across an elderly Lebanese woman in an area where the IDF had warned citizens to leave while they carried out their operation. Seeing the lady was crying out, apparently in pain, they approached her with an army medic. As they got closer, they realized she was wired with explosives – Hizbullah had set a trap, turning a pensioner into a human bomb.

(Read full story)


Love of the Land: Let the soldiers speak

Love of the Land: How Bashar Assad made a fool of the US

How Bashar Assad made a fool of the US


Fresnozionism.org
28 February '10

News item:

The U.S. administration has asked Syrian President Bashar Assad to immediately stop transferring arms to Hezbollah. American officials made the request during a meeting Friday with the Syrian ambassador to Washington…

The move was described as an opportunity to discuss the next steps following the visit to Damascus by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns on February 17. The administration also said the meeting was part of its efforts to achieve a direct dialogue with Syria on issues of interest to both sides.

Haaretz has learned that Burns’ visit to Damascus ended unsatisfactorily for the U.S. administration. During Burns’ meeting with Assad, the Syrian leader denied all American claims that his regime was providing military aid to terrorists in Iraq, or to Hezbollah and Palestinian terror groups.

Assad essentially told Burns that he had no idea what the American was talking about.Ha’aretz


The US recently presented a gift to Bashar Assad, by nominating Robert Ford as the first US ambassador to Syria since the recall of our ambassador following the Syrian-perpetrated murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005.

(Read full post)


Love of the Land: How Bashar Assad made a fool of the US

Love of the Land: Let’s Be Honest with the Palestinians

Let’s Be Honest with the Palestinians


Jennifer Rubin
Contentions/Commentary
01 March '10

Obama’s now ill-fated Middle East policy has proved to be disastrous. The Israelis distrust him. Ths Syrians snub him. The Palestinians are contemplating another intifada, the pretext this time being Israel’s decision to include the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb within its heritage-protection program. Obama began his foray into the Middle East by declaring that it was essential to speak “honestly” with the parties and to say the same thing in public and private. Fair enough. But alas, he seems to have reserved all that honesty for the Israelis, for whom heritage programs, apartment buildings, and the blockade of Gaza are all taken as offenses against Palestinian sensibilities. Don’t aggravate them! Don’t inflame things! Israel is expected to forgo its legitimate interests, whether for security or cultural preservation, because the Palestinians apparently are incapable of accepting it is a normal state with normal concerns.

Not only does the perpetual stream of American complaints strike the Israelis (and others) as intensely one-sided and irrelevant to the core issue that prevents peace from breaking out of “process” and into reality, but it infantilizes the Palestinians, treating them as psychotic children and playing to their worst tendencies. The upcoming Naqba Day — the epitome of victimology — is explained poignantly here:

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: Let’s Be Honest with the Palestinians

Elder of Ziyon: New UNHRC session will talk about "right to nationality"

Elder of Ziyon: New UNHRC session will talk about "right to nationality"

Elder of Ziyon: Iranian director set to make Mohammed film

Elder of Ziyon: Iranian director set to make Mohammed film

Elder of Ziyon: PA media continues its support for terror

Elder of Ziyon: PA media continues its support for terror

Elder of Ziyon: Is Google predictive search bigoted?

Elder of Ziyon: Is Google predictive search bigoted?

Elder of Ziyon: Latest Mabhouh rumor - Assassins jammed hallway cameras

Elder of Ziyon: Latest Mabhouh rumor - Assassins jammed hallway cameras

Elder of Ziyon: Gaza infighting update

Elder of Ziyon: Gaza infighting update

Elder of Ziyon: English-language media still silent on Dubai anti-semitism

Elder of Ziyon: English-language media still silent on Dubai anti-semitism

Torat HaRav Aviner: A Match in Heaven

A Match in Heaven


01
מרץ
2010

Q: I heard that Hashem decides who one will marry. Why then should I worry? I will marry the first woman who agrees to marry me. After all, it is impossible that this would go against Hashem's will.
A: It is correct that Hashem decided before you were born who you will marry, and she is the right woman for you and you are the right woman for her. This is a wonderful Divine gift, but it is possible to lose the gift, just as Adam and Chava lost the Garden of Eden on account of their sin. A person receives an amazing body but he can destroy it with improper behavior. The Book of Mishlei (19:14) says: "But an understanding wife is from Hashem," but the Zohar (Vayechi 229, 1) says that a man's behavior can cause him to lose it. For example, a man can lose a woman with sterling character traits on account of his stupidity in searching for a beautiful woman. He forgets: "Grace is deceptive, and beauty is vain" (Mishlei 31:30). She certainly needs to be pleasant in his eyes, but the essence is not to forget: Never judge a book by its cover…



Torat HaRav Aviner: A Match in Heaven

The Torah Revolution: NO to the goyshe approach to war, YES to a Jewish Army!

The Torah Revolution: NO to the goyshe approach to war, YES to a Jewish Army!

The Torah Revolution: A Fascist point of view

The Torah Revolution: A Fascist point of view

The thrill is gone....

The thrill is gone....

Buyer's Remorse: Or, the thrill is gone
By Arlene Peck

There was a time when I considered myself politically savvy. I took pride in the fact that I have never missed an election since I've been old enough to vote. Aw, but that has all changed, I no longer look forward to doing my civic duty and check out the people that are running for office. I know now, at this point in time, for whom I'm voting months before an election.

I don't consider myself a republican or a democrat at this point; I am an independent. I think both major parties are corrupt and when the next election comes around, no matter who is on the ballot, I'm voting for the other one.

For those of you who are in the self imposed trance of “Oh, I don't keep up with politics.” Or worse, "Obama is the man and going to bring change attitude,” I want to talk to you about buyer's remorse.

Everyone knows about Sarah Palin and her "Going Rogue," and I am a believer in breaking ranks. I have taken pride in breaking ranks with those who surround me. The American Jews are the ones that put the Muslim (Obama) into power and I live in the land of the most liberal enclave in the nation of liberalism. Nowhere is more so than Los Angeles .

We are in a war of individual freedom. Yet, we have allowed ourselves to fall into global socialism, in which we are now drowning. Where are those who ought to know better? Where are those who have cut us to the core in our fight for these freedoms? Why do Jews continue to vote for the Demo c rats?

In decades past, Jewish communities were poor. They were newcomers to the wealth and civil rights and liberty afforded to them. The Democratic Party represented a party that they could identify with and relate to. However, over the years, times and conditions began to change. Jews reached an level of success and the needs of the previously downtrodden c hanged. They were no longer on the socio-economic plateau of the poor and deprived.

The quota system was always used against the Jewish community to suppress them. I remember when I was growing up in Atlanta , Georgia , and we had the quota system. Meaning, although we were less than three percent of the student body, at the local universities the Jewish applicant, even if he were an A student, would be passed over in favor of a wasp" student, even if he had a C average, if the school already had three percent of the class filled with Jewish students. I remember that was the system at Emory, which was predominantly a medical and dental school, which had a large waiting list of Jewish students who were not accepted because the "quota system" always worked against the Jews.

After the astounding Six Day War, a new outbreak of anti-Semitism began. What was always directed toward the Jewish people was now redirected to resentment of the Jewish State. The thinking of Jews was that adopting the new platform of liberalism would somehow make them accepted as "good Jews." We are no longer oppressed and living in an unjust country. Why not be realistic?

We enjoy freedom and liberties unheard of in past decades Our social, political and moral system is not the same that it once was and the liberals of today refuse to recognize that and remain blind to the real world.

Obama ran on a platform to change the face of the United State and he is accomplishing his goals. He has been a "false Messiah to many of my neighbors, who I know supported him and my privileged neighbors in LaLa Land are now living through "Buyer's Remorse," even though it’s not politically correct to admit it. So many of the media here in California are Jewish themselves and there is a cultural trickle down attitude, which the entertainment industry here has absorbed into their DNA without their apparent knowledge.

I am wondering what this guy is really going to do, not only for them but for this country. If the country is injured, they will be injured. That may be sinking in. I truly believe that the Big Daddy czar with the good old wholesome name of Barak Hussein Obama has created a government sub- culture of czars who are not overseen or responsible to anyone. But, they want to "share the wealth." Have you noticed, however, that those serving in the Senate and House, who want all this change, sure don’t plan on giving up any of their wonderful health care coverage ?

Obama is a master con-artist who came out of nowhere and ran on the perfect wave of resentment created by Bush. The country was so dissatisfied that, at that time, with the same old, same old, we would have elected Jack the Ripper. And, that folks is exactly who we have put in power. Obama, at the United Nations, spoke at length about the need for Israel to fulfill Palestinian claims and rights; and, used his favorite word, "refugees," and the hope of "returning" millions of Arabs to the Jewish State.

I thought that was pretty bad when he awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to two of the most virulent anti-Israel and anti-Semitic people today, Mary Robinson of Ireland and Desmond Tutu of South Africa . But the folks in Norway outdid even that fiasco with the Nobel Peace Prize. This is going to set off a new wave of Obama idolatry and that is dangerous. There was a time when I took pride in the accomplishments of the Jews and the vast numbers who had joined the exclusive company of Nobel Prize winners. But, then came the likes of Arafat and Jimmy Carter, who I believe are evil to the core. Arafat's legacy is being known as the Father of Terrorism, and the damage he managed to accomplish will be felt for decades to come. Carter? Never a man of peace, but an anti-Semite, who when he was governor of my state of Georgia was the most incompetent in memory. And, now with Obama’s inclusion in this group completes my loss of faith in the value of this award. Elie Wiesel has reason to be pretty pissed.

In closing, I'd just like to mention that Obama and Company have quietly and with little fan-fare decided to hand over to Hamas three hundred million of our tax payer dollars, supposedly to be used to "re-build" Gaza and provide for its perpetual refugees caused by what he considers to be a war of aggression by Israel. While Obama is getting ready to pressure Israel into opening the jails and letting the tigers (aka, terrorists) back into the population so they can butcher more Jews, why doesn’t someone pressure the White House to tie that tainted money to the release of captured Gilad Shalit and ensure his freedom?

Arlene Peck is an internationally syndicated columnist and television talk show hostess. She travels extensively worldwide, reporting to her audience about political events, social happenings (Cannes Film Festival, London event for the Variety Club, etc.) and "must see" spots. If there is a place to see and be seen, she'll write about it for her international audience. Arlene's syndicated column is read weekly by millions and her television show ("Wow! It's Arlene Peck!") can be seen throughout Southern California every Monday night. Please browse through all our pages to see Arlene's upcoming show schedules, photos of various events, and what's happening around town.

0riginally posted by B'NAI ELIM (Sons of the Mighty)


Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations: Wee Scottish Laddie

Wee Scottish Laddie

For reasons which are irrelevant to this blog I was just looking at a web-page of the University of Edinburgh. The page instructs wee Scottish students how to use an American software which students sometimes use, stage by weary stage. Instruction line number 9 states, and I quote in unabridged form:

On the wee window labelled PubMed (NLM) which pops up, select Yes to save changes.


Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations: Wee Scottish Laddie

Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations: Oddessa South

Oddessa South

Clifford J. Levy - sounds like a Jewish name to me - is the NYT head of bureau in Moscow. Feeling something was somehow missing in Russia, he found it... in Ashdod.

As a resident of Russia, I found something poignant in the world of these immigrants. In their tumultuous history in the Soviet Union and in the Russian empire before it, Jews were subjected to brutal prejudice yet often flourished. And so their exodus has left a gap in these societies. Of course, Jews have remained, and communities are reviving. But in Israel, you can catch a refracted glimpse of what once was.

It's a fun article, and mostly accurate.

Although Levy, a one-day visitor, does miss another part of the story, which is that the richest folks in Ashdod, the ones who own the luxury apartments in the spanking new extravagant towers on the shore front, are mostly French. Or rather, North African Jews who left in the 1950s when Jewish life in the Muslim world ceased to be viable, made lots of money in France, and have been moving to Israel in droves these past few years as Jewish life in France becomes less viable.

Meanwhile, off in Beit Shemesh (and Raanana, and Efrat) another group of immigrants is moving in - the Americans. Jewish Life in the US remains viable, very, but for some folks it's getting very expensive (if you want your children to have a Jewish education), or less appealing (if your job is in danger): the Israeli economy is stronger these days, a development no Israeli planner ever expected.

Of course, all these groups also converge in Jerusalem, but that's a story for another day.


Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations: Oddessa South

Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations: Wot, no War Crimes?

Wot, no War Crimes?

Just Journalism takes a look at how the British media reports on the killings of Afghan civilians, and looks back at the same media reporting on killings of Palestinian civilians. Nothing surprising,but worthy of documentation. Of course, it's not only the media, its also the endless observers whom the media quotes: politicians, self-anointed human rights talkers and so on.


Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations: Wot, no War Crimes?

RubinReports: Americans Love Israel Even More Than You Think

Americans Love Israel Even More Than You Think

By Barry Rubin

International relations isn’t a popularity contest. But public opinion polls can be useful in countering myths and examining the impact of policymaker, elite, and media campaigns on the masses.

Which brings us to Gallup’s latest poll measuring how Americans feel about different countries. The more one examines the results, the more amazing they are. Americans two favorites are, not surprisingly, fellow English-speakers Canada and the United Kingdom. Then come—Americans are very forgiving—two former enemies, Germany and Japan.

And next on the list is Israel. Even the basic numbers—67 favorable, 25 percent unfavorable—are impressive. But that’s only the beginning. Around 10 percent of Americans don’t like anybody, and only one-fourth of those 25 percent nay-sayers on Israel, that is 6 percent, are really hostile.

In other words, the percentage of Americans who hate Israel is only 6 percent and the number who single out Israel for partly unfavorable views among other popular countries adds about 10 percent more.

And since 10 percent of Americans say they like Iran (85 percent don’t), having only a bit more than that number really disliking Israel isn’t very impressive.

After 20 years or so of intensive media criticism, hostility on campuses, double standards, and controversy that’s nothing short of remarkable.

This conclusion is intensified further by considering the equivalent results for the Palestinian Authority (PA). Remember that one can like both Israel and the PA. Moreover, the PA receives constant good publicity in the media, campuses, and among policymakers as moderate and friendly to the United States. Yet only 20 percent are favorable to the PA and a whopping 70 percent are negative.

Even that understates the results. How popular is the PA? Well, it’s at the same level as Yemen, and that’s after a suicide bomber trained and indoctrinated there was captured trying to blow up a U.S. airliner near Detroit.

What about the idea that young people are steadily becoming more hostile to Israel? There is a difference but not a huge one. While 70 percent of those over 55 are favorable to Israel, that number only sinks to 63 percent for those between 18 and 34. Given the fact that Americans become more moderate and less eager to rebel against prevailing norms as they get older that gap seems even smaller.

The equivalent generational difference for those favoring the PA is 28 to 15, but again a favorable view of the PA does not mean an unfavorable view of Israel. For example, those who see the two as the only conceivable peace partners or consider the PA to be far preferable to Hamas would be favorable toward both.

By the way, support for the PA sank to only 11 percent when it appeared Hamas was going to seize control also showing how small hardcore support is for the Palestinians. Presumably that same 11 percent—many of them also among the pro-Iran crowd--is the hardcore hostile group to Israel.

The other astounding result is the size of the Republican-Democrat gap on Israel. While 80 percent of Republicans are favorable, only 53 percent of Democrats are. Democrats are twice as likely to like the PA. In comparison, 64 percent of Democrats like Egypt, a repressive dictatorship despite its moderate foreign policy, and 56 percent like Russia.

This might be somewhat misleading since we aren’t told whether the other 47 percent of Democrats who weren’t favorable to Israel had no opinion or were only mildly critical. Only 25 percent of Democrats were favorable to the PA so even there (again, remembering it quite possible to be favorable toward both) a wide gap exists in Israel’s favor.

Another indicator is that Israel is the only country that Republicans—who presumably include more elements whose patriotism, xenophobia, nationalism, or isolationism make them generally less enthusiastic about other countries generally--like more than Democrats, suggesting that it is high support by the former rather than low backing by the latter which could account for the gap.

Two fascinating questions arise from this analysis: What does all this matter, since public opinion doesn’t make foreign policy, and why is there such a gap between the most vocal elites and masses on Israel?

The answer to the first question is that it matters to members of Congress who are running for election in November and know that voters don’t want to see them bash Israel or support a president in doing so. Indeed, as President Barack Obama’s popularity has fallen and even the media has become more critical, Congress is reclaiming an independent role on foreign policymaking.

And of course the White House, too, is watching the polls. This is one of the most heavily politicized presidencies in history—and the standard there is very high—and clearly attacking Israel either isn’t seen as beneficial for its ambitions. This isn’t the only factor affecting its behavior but it is one of them.

As to the second issue, there are many factors but let me try to list them briefly. Those who are unhappy with the status quo—that is, the U.S.-Israel special relationship, are going to be noisier. Another is the concept of “Realism” which is, unfortunately, extraordinarily unrealistic, the idea that all governments think alike, defining interest the same way regardless of all other factors. To assume that type of government, political culture, distinctive history, and ideology plays no rule in Arab politics ensures you don’t understand them. And so much of the Western elite assumes Israel is the only problem preventing Arab rulers and Islamist revolutionaries from loving the West.

Another issue is narrative, with much of the elite believing that the conflict is one of Palestinians and Syria desperately wanting peace but Israel saying no. In the American elite, there is also more of a yearning to be like Europe.

But American public opinion has more common sense to see through these myths. It understands that there are huge differences between democracies and dictatorship. It knows demagoguery and extremist ideology on sight and doesn’t like them. Thus, matters are precisely the opposite of what much of the elite thinks: public opinion, not elite institutions, accurately predicts where policy on these issues will go in future.


http://www.gallup.com/poll/126116/Canada-Places-First-Image-Contest-Iran-Last.aspx


RubinReports: Americans Love Israel Even More Than You Think

Video: At PM's Request, J'lem Mayor Postpones King's Garden Plan - Inside Israel - Israel News - Israel National News#replies

Video: At PM's Request, J'lem Mayor Postpones King's Garden Plan - Inside Israel - Israel News - Israel National News#replies

Anti-Semitism Rising in France, Canada - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

Anti-Semitism Rising in France, Canada - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

Hizbullah Censured for Threats - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Hizbullah Censured for Threats - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Intelligence Veteran: Al-Mabhouh Hit Team was Aware of Cameras - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Intelligence Veteran: Al-Mabhouh Hit Team was Aware of Cameras - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Benny Begin: Zero Expenses - Inside Israel - Israel News - Israel National News

Benny Begin: Zero Expenses - Inside Israel - Israel News - Israel National News

Barak: 'If Attacked, We Won't Chase Individual Terrorists' - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Barak: 'If Attacked, We Won't Chase Individual Terrorists' - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Alan Hoffmann is Director General of the Jewish Agency - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

Alan Hoffmann is Director General of the Jewish Agency - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

UNIVERSAL TORAH: TETZAVEH

UNIVERSAL TORAH: TETZAVEH


By Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum

Torah Reading: TETZAVEH Exodus 27:20-30:10
Haftara: Ezekiel 43:10-27.

LIFE IN THE HOUSE

In last week's parshah of TERUMAH, the Torah taught us the form and shape of the House of G-d with all its vessels. In this week's parshah of TETZAVEH, we receive instructions about the daily activities that are to take place in that House. The central core of the parshah is taken up with detailed instructions about the making of the garments of those who are to be the ministering attendants in the House -- Aaron and his sons, the priests -- and about the sacrifices that were to be offered during their seven-day initiation.

It may help us to grasp the overall structure of TETZAVEH by again using the "sandwich" idea. In this case, the top and bottom of the "sandwich" would be the opening and closing sections of the parshah, which give instructions about the "daily life" in the House. TETZAVEH starts by introducing in its two opening verses (Ex. 27;20-21) the daily lighting of the Menorah candelabrum in the House using the choicest oil -- this opening section would be one side of the "sandwich". Then at the end of TETZAVEH (Ex. 29:38-45; 30:1-10) we come to the other side of the "sandwich". This consists of the sections dealing with the daily animal sacrifices, meal, oil and wine offerings on the outside Altar, the pleasing fragrance (the incense burned in the House on the golden Incense Altar) and finally (returning to the parshah's opening theme), the daily lighting of the Menorah.

In the middle of this "sandwich" are two considerably lengthier sections. The first gives instructions in fine detail for the making of the garments of those who are to minister in the House -- Aaron and his sons, the priests. The second gives the detailed instructions for what was to be a one-time event in the Wilderness: the 7-day initiation of Aaron and his sons into the priesthood that was to lead up to the permanent induction of the Sanctuary on 1st Nissan. (Because of the central importance of this day in the Torah, we will be returning several times in later parshahs to the description of its events - in PEKUDEY at the end of Exodus as well as in several parshahs in Leviticus and Numbers.)

* * *

THE ATTENDANTS -- AARON AND HIS SONS

A basic assumption underlies all sections of our present parshah of TETZAVEH, from beginning to end. The assumption is that the attendants conducting the daily life of the House, about whose daily activities, garments and induction-day we read in such detail, are to be none other than Aaron and his sons.

Throughout our parshah, the entire focus is upon Aaron and his sons, their activities, garments and induction. Indeed it is a fact that the actual name of Moses does not appear anywhere in our parshah from beginning to end, though he is addressed directly in its opening words, VE-ATAH TETZAVEH, "And YOU shall command..." and moreover, he was to be the central actor in the priests' induction. [It is said that one reason why Moses' actual name was left out of this week's parshah is because Moses was later to pray -- in next week's parshah Ex. 32:33 -- "blot me out from Your book.". However, that prayer had already been answered before it was said, since G-d "blotted out" Moses name by not writing it anywhere in this week's parshah!]

Addressing now the central assumption -- that it is to be Aaron and his sons who will play the role of ministers in the House of the dwelling of the Holy Presence:

It must be understood that EIN MUKDAM O ME-UCHAR BATORAH: "There is no 'before' and 'after' in the Torah". The reason for the appointment of Aaron and his sons and none other to be the priests ministering in the House does not become apparent in the Torah narrative until next week's parshah of KI TISA, with the account of the sin of the Golden Calf. Yet even before the reason became manifest, their appointment was already conceived in the mind and will of G-d prior to that event, as we see from this week's parshah of TETZAVEH.

The first-born of the Children of Israel were originally offered an opportunity to become the ones who would serve as the priests. Indeed at the Giving of the Torah, it was the first-born -- the "lads" (Ex. 24:5) -- of the Children of Israel who officiated at the sacrifices, as we read in MISHPATIM. However, with the sin of the Golden Calf (told next week in KI TISA), the first-born of the Children of Israel failed the crucial test. From that time on, the Priesthood was given to Aaron and his descendants as an hereditary gift for all time.

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HEREDITARY PRIESTHOOD

In an era when public office in virtually all "advanced" countries is theoretically open to all citizens, the role of an hereditary priesthood, which is at the very center of the Torah's system of penitence -- the Sanctuary and Temple rituals -- calls for some explanation.

Much of Genesis is taken up with disputes about who is to serve in the role of the "priest". Cain struggled with Abel. Ishmael fought against Isaac. Esau fought against Jacob. Reuven was the first-born, but Levi took the initiative, Judah, fourth in line, became the leader, while it was the righteous Joseph (against whom all the brothers struggled) who received a firstborn's double portion of two-tribes. And then Ephraim took priority over firstborn Menashe.

In Exodus: Levy's second son, Kehat, took priority over Levy's firstborn, Gershon. Amram was indeed Kehat's firstborn, yet while the priesthood went to Amram's older son, Aaron, the latter was secondary in prophecy to his younger brother, Moses. The firstborn of the Children of Israel had a brief taste of the priesthood at the time of the Giving of the Torah, 50 days after having been saved from the plague that killed all the Egyptian firstborn. However the Israelite firstborn were displaced from their "birth-right" -- hereditary priesthood forever -- owing to the sin of the Golden Calf.

This raises the question of the nature of the priesthood in Judaism, which is relevant to our parshah of TETZAVEH, all of which is devoted to the daily duties of the priests, their garments and their induction service.

It is true that the tribe of Levi (who did not participate in the sin of the Golden Calf), and the Kohanim are in many respects separate hereditary castes. Nevertheless, it remains the case that the ideal social structure of the Israelites as envisaged in the Torah is remarkably free of the social hierarchies and inequalities that characterize even the most "democratic" societies.

In particular, Israelite society is envisaged as one that should be free of any kind of extensive hierarchical network of full-time religious functionaries who act as intermediaries between the people and G-d, and whose service before their passive congregants takes the place of the individual's personal relationship with G-d.

This is true, notwithstanding the fact that only the Kohanim (male descendants of Aaron), and members of the tribe of Levy could actually serve in the Temple, and only the Kohanim could perform certain vital ritual functions (such as purification from leprosy). Nevertheless, the Temple itself had a relatively small number of permanent priestly officials who were responsible for the maintenance of the House. The actual sacrificial services in the House were conducted by different priests every day. Each of the 24 contingents of priests into which the Kohanim were divided served for two weeks out of the year and on festivals, spending the rest of their time teaching Torah among the people in the localities where they lived. The only outstanding exception to this rule, besides the small core of permanent Temple staff, was the High Priest, who spent all his time in Jerusalem, most of it in the Temple itself.

It is certainly correct that the Kohanim were an hereditary priestly caste, who received TERUMAH, the first gift from everyone's crops, as well as portions of meat, wool and various other gifts. This is what they lived off. The purpose of providing the members of this caste with their material needs was to enable them to devote themselves to a higher-than-average level of devotion (as expressed in eating of Terumah and sacrificial portions in ritual purity) and to the study of the Torah. It was the Kohanim who were expected to be able to play the role of the Torah judges (see Deuteronomy 19:17) in cases of disputes. They were also to play the central role in the "diagnosis" and "purification" of leprosy and other maladies (Leviticus Ch. 13ff.)

Nevertheless, it remains true that despite their exclusive role in the Temple sacrificial services and in the purification from leprosy, the Kohanim were not religious intermediaries who in some sense REPLACED the personal connection of the individual with G-d.

The Children of Israel were envisaged as a nation of free, independent small land-owners, each farming his own and sitting under his vine and fig-tree. Only in dire circumstances would one be sold as a slave to another (as instituted in MISHPATIM). Even one who fell into slavery would eventually go free at the end of seven years or in the Jubilee year. In the seventh year, all debts were to be cancelled. Those who had sold their land would get it back in the Jubilee year. The vision was not of a country where most of the wealth is permanently concentrated in the hands of a small elite.

Just as all of the Children of Israel heard the First Commandment, so they were all commanded to serve the One G-d, each through his own prayers and acts of service. The Torah commands that all of the Children of Israel must be holy (Leviticus 19:2). Everyone must strive to go in G-d's ways. Becoming a Nazirite is considered an excess -- the Nazirite must bring a sin-offering! There are no monks in Judaism.

Outside of the Temple itself, Israelite life was intended to be free of an elite of religious functionaries. Although the Kohen and Levy are honored by being called first and second to the public Torah reading, the actual synagogue and its services are run by its members, the majority of them Israelites. The service can only take place if a quorum of 10 Israelites is present. There is no need for an official rabbi as long as somebody present -- any Israelite -- knows how to lead the service and read from the Torah. The "functionaries" in Israelite society are the "captains of tens", "captains of fifties", "captains of hundreds" and "captains of thousands". These must be "men of valor, G-d-fearing, men of truth, hating gain" (Ex. 18:21) -- but they do not have to be Kohanim. In the Torah vision of the Israelite state, membership of the Sanhedrin, the Supreme Court of the state, is not to depend on heredity or wealth but only on Torah wisdom and personal sanctity.

What then is the role of the hereditary Kohanim, whose Temple service, garments and induction are the subject of our parshah of TETZAVEH?

The key concept necessary to understand the role of the Kohen, particularly that of the Kohen Gadol (High Priest), is the concept of KAPARAH -- atonement. This and related concepts recur several times in our parshah. The purpose of the precious stones that were attached to the High Priest's shoulders and bore the names of the tribes of Israel was that they should be "remembered" by G-d with favor. The wearing of the TZITZ, the head-plate inscribed "Holy to HaShem", was to secure atonement for impurity. The closing verse of our parshah speaks of how the High Priest must annually sprinkle the golden Incense Altar with the blood of the Day of Atonement sin-offering in order to bring about KAPARAH -- atonement.

The institution of the priesthood was not intended to replace individual attachment to G-d on the part of each person through his own devotions. While the Kohanim are charged with maintaining the Holy Temple as the central focus of Israelite and indeed world religious life (for "My House is the House of Prayer for all the Nations), their role in the devotional life of the individual is of significance primarily when the individual, independent "citizen" TURNS ASIDE from the path and falls into sin. He is then unable to help himself. If he is liable to bring a sacrifice, he needs a Kohen to offer it for him. If he has what he thinks is a leprous patch on his skin (a sign of a personal deficiency), he needs a Kohen to make the determination and a Kohen to purify him.

The Kohen can play his role as functionary in the Temple services and bringer of ATONEMENT only through standing aside from the rest of the people and demanding more of himself. The Kohanim were distinguished by their unique genetic inheritance as direct male descendants of Aaron, and they protected this inheritance by adhering to higher levels of personal sanctity (such as that a Kohen may not marry a divorcee, etc.).

The rich, colorful ritual garments of the High Priest embody this concept of separateness, sanctity and atonement. So too, the induction of the priests during their Seven Days of Initiation was characterized by separation, sanctity and the atonement accomplished through the offering of the ox sin offering (atoning for the sin of the Golden Calf) and the eating of peace offerings.

Atonement depends upon the priestly garments and the priests' consumption of sacrificial portions. The original sin of Adam -- of which the sin of the Golden Calf was a "repetition" -- came about through eating. After Adam and Eve sinned, G-d gave them CLOTHES in order to cover over their nakedness and begin the process of atonement. The priests continue this process of atonement through wearing their unique garments while eating their portion of the sinner's sacrifice.

The hereditary inheritance of the priesthood -- Temple SERVICE -- by the sons of Aaron is justified by the fact that Aaron joined himself to the Torah inheritance through his choice of a wife to mother his sons. For "Aaron took Elisheva the daughter of Aminadav, sister of Nachshon as his wife, and she bore him Nadav and Avihu, Elazar and Itamar" (Ex. 6:23). Elisheva's father, Aminadav, was the Prince of Judah, the tribe to whom Jacob entrusted with guardianship of the Torah, while her brother Nachshon was the first to jump into the Red Sea. Torah knowledge is indispensable for the proper functioning of the priesthood. Without Torah, the priest is helpless -- an ignoramus priest needs a Torah scholar to teach him how to make the correct determination in cases of leprosy.

Through the merit of our Torah study, may we see the Holy Temple rebuilt quickly in our times!!!

Shabbat Shalom!!! Happy Purim!!!

Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum


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