France is standing with the United States in condemning Israeli settlement activity in east Jerusalem.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy (sar-koh-ZEE') says his own commitment to Israel's security is well known but adds that the settlement activity in an area claimed by the Palestinians "contributes nothing."
Speaking at a news conference with President Barack Obama after their White House meeting Tuesday, Sarkozy praised Obama for trying to engage the two sides in peace talks. Sarkozy said that the "absence of peace" in the region "is a problem for all of us" - and that it feeds terrorism around the world.
I wonder if Sarkozy is even aware that the 'Palestinians' claim the entire land of Israel 'from the River to the Sea.' Perhaps he is, and he believes that Jews living in that area 'contribute nothing.' So where is his 'commitment to Israel's security'?
Roger Cohen wrote a column in Tuesday's New York Times in which he compared Barack Obama's humiliation of Binyamin Netanyahu to John Kennedy's meeting with Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna in 1961. Cohen wrote:
"The former Soviet leader [Khrushchev] thought he could browbeat Kennedy only to discover, in Vienna, that the Kennedy charm was not unalloyed to steel ('It will be a long, cold winter'). Netanyahu was the first foreign leader to think he could steamroll Obama. He earned a frosty comeuppance."
Cohen, who believes that Netanyahu can do no right other than to surrender, and that Obama and Iran can do no wrong, went on to praise Obama for using Netanyahu to establish his bona fides, as Kennedy had used Khrushchev to establish his.
The comparison grated on me, but having been quite young in 1961, I really did not remember the event well enough to answer him. Victor Davis Hanson is a few years older than I am, and came up with five reasons why Cohen's comparison fails. Among them are these:
b) Khrushchev was our enemy trying to destroy freedom from Asia to Eastern Europe; Netanyahu is the head of an allied democracy, one that is a beacon of constitutionalism in a sea of autocracy.
c) The Soviet Union was a massive superpower with thousands of nuclear bombs and missiles and an entire bloc of communist client states; Israel is a tiny country of 7 million and mostly alone; how heroic is it to bully an allied small democracy versus a huge communist dictatorship?
d) Kennedy said later of that summit in Vienna that Khrushchev "beat the hell out of me" — an accurate assessment, since Khrushchev came away determined to press his luck during the Cuban Missile Crisis to come. So we don't know the reaction of the Israelis or Palestinians to all this — only that anytime the U.S. gratuitously seeks to humiliate Israel, we can expect its enemies to see a green light and escalate, whether on the ground in the Middle East, at Arab Summits, or in the UN.
Maybe Obama and Cohen don't believe that Israel is an ally. Read it all.
'Palestinian' journalists to be punished for meeting with Israelis
Five 'Palestinian' journalists - three from Gaza and two from Judea and Samaria - face expulsion from the 'Palestinian Authority'- sponsored 'Palestinian' Journalists Syndicate for traveling to Tel Aviv to meet with Israeli journalists and the head of the IDF Spokesman's office's Arabic language branch.
The syndicate decided to establish a committee to question the journalists who went to Tel Aviv about their motives and the identity of the party behind the invitation.
The syndicate is also planning to hold an emergency meeting next week to discuss punitive measures against Palestinian journalists who defy a ban on normalization of relations with Israel.
Hamas has also condemned the Palestinian journalists as “collaborators.” Hamas officials claimed that some of the journalists were known as supporters of Mohammed Dahlan, a former Fatah security commander in the Gaza Strip.
Several Hamas-affiliated groups said that the journalists who visited Israel would be put on a “black list” – a sign that they would be boycotted by their colleagues and the government institutions.
One of the groups, the Democratic Press Association, called on the journalists to “repent” and express publicly apologize for visiting the “Zionist entity and meeting with Zionist reporters.”
It described the journalists’ visit to Tel Aviv as a “despicable and harmful” act, saying it came at a time when the “Zionist occupation army was killing Palestinians. This visit does not represent the positions and morals of Palestinian journalists.”
Wisam Afifeh, editor-in-chief of Hamas’s Al-Resalah newspaper, said that condemnations were not enough. He called on all Palestinian journalists to “disown” and “distance” themselves from the journalists who were invited to Tel Aviv.
The story was reported by Khaled Abu Toameh, a 'Palestinian' journalist who reports for the Jerusalem Post in order to be able to write freely. Perhaps that says it all.
And I suppose that this is as good a time as any to tell you that I have over 75,000 hits and 110,000 page views this month, which is the fourth straight month those numbers have gone up, and which brings those numbers to the levels they were at before Chuckles banned me from Little Green Fruitcakes.
Thanks to all of you for stopping by and please come back again.
Back in December, I reported that an Iranian nuclear physicist named Shahram Amiri defected to the United States during a pilgrimage to Mecca. Now, the CIA has confirmed that report.
An award-winning Iranian nuclear scientist, who disappeared last year under mysterious circumstances, has defected to the CIA and been resettled in the United States, according to people briefed on the operation by intelligence officials.
The officials were said to have termed the defection of the scientist, Shahram Amiri, "an intelligence coup" in the continuing CIA operation to spy on and undermine Iran's nuclear program.
A spokesperson for the CIA declined to comment. In its declassified annual report to Congress [discussed in an earlier post. CiJ], the CIA said, "Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons though we do not know whether Tehran eventually will decide to produce nuclear weapons."
Amiri, a nuclear physicist in his early 30s, went missing last June three days after arriving in Saudi Arabia on a pilgrimage, according to the Iranian government. He worked at Tehran's Malek Ashtar University, which is closely connected to Iran's Revolutionary Guard, according to the Associated Press.
Amiri is said to have worked at the Qom nuclear facility that was announced by the United States in September.
Here's an ABC report on Amiri. Let's go to the videotape.
Anyone still think the US can't stop Iran if it wants to?
Haaretz reports on yet another surrender idea from the Obama administration:
One of the U.S. administration's requests to Israel regarding the peace process with the Palestinians is a four-month construction freeze in all parts of East Jerusalem. In exchange, the United States would pressure Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to hold direct talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instead of the indirect talks to which the Palestinians have agreed.
An official in Jerusalem said the U.S. administration is demanding that Israel freeze construction in East Jerusalem, including Jewish neighborhoods such as Neveh Yaakov, French Hill and of course Ramat Shlomo, which sparked the recent tensions between Israel and the United States.
The freeze would last four months, the time frame the Arab League has authorized for indirect talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.
The Americans say that if Netanyahu agrees to freeze construction for four months, direct talks will be possible between the two sides in that period.
This is what is known in Hebrew as shitat ha'salami (the salami method). You keep slicing off pieces as you head toward your goal of finishing the salami before the other side notices. So let's look at this proposal: During the next four months, which coincide with the less than four months remaining in the now-revoked Arab League approval for the 'Palestinians' to use George Mitchell as a gofer between us and him, Israel will freeze all(?) construction in 'east' Jerusalem (does that include Ramat Eshkol, Ramot and Sanhedria Murchevet?). In return, the US will try to get the 'Palestinians' to agree to direct talks with Israel as was the case until the Obama administration took power. And then? What if the 'Palestinians' haven't agreed to direct talks yet when the four months end? What if they have agreed but they haven't started yet? What if they've agreed and they've started talking but (as will almost certainly be the case) nothing has been resolved yet? Obama will undoubtedly 'ask' Israel to extend the four month suspension, as he already has with the ten month freeze in Judea and Samaria that isn't even up until the end of August. And then?
And while we're at it, why shouldn't the freeze go all the way and freeze Arab construction in 'east' Jerusalem as well? Why are our 'facts on the ground' problematic while theirs aren't?
But it seems that some members of Netanyahu's seven-member inner cabinet are being taken in by this proposal (or are starting to believe the drivel being promoted by Israel's Leftist media):
In discussions of the forum of seven senior cabinet ministers, the general view is that it will be impossible to publicly announce a freeze of construction in East Jerusalem. However, one possibility is that it will be possible to reach a tacit agreement with the U.S. administration on construction in East Jerusalem.
According to this idea, Israel would make it clear to the United States that during the coming four months no massive construction in East Jerusalem neighborhoods would be planned or carried out, enabling Israel to be seen as meeting the American and Palestinian demands.
Fortunately, most of the cabinet seems to be opposed to the idea.
During the forum of seven's discussions, Avigdor Lieberman, Moshe Ya'alon, Benny Begin and Eli Yishai took a more hawkish view of the situation, while Ehud Barak and Dan Meridor recommended that a "creative solution" be found. This solution would offer the administration a "yes, but..." answer, through which Israel would express a number of reservations, with an emphasis on a construction freeze in East Jerusalem.
In an interview with Haaretz in December, Abbas hinted that he could be persuaded to accept a "silent freeze" of construction in East Jerusalem. Abbas said he had proposed in a conversation with Defense Minister Barak that Israel freeze construction in East Jerusalem for six months without announcing it.
Haaretz says that the cabinet won't be meeting on this again until after Pesach (which ends next Monday night) and that Obama has other demands for us about Jerusalem as well.
'Shun Hussein Obama' if US abstains in the UN says...
A Likud MK called on his government to 'shun Hussein Obama' if the United States votes against or abstains in a Security Council vote condemning Israel. So what, you say? Well, here's the key: The MK who made the call is Ayoub Kara, and he's not Jewish - he's Druze.
Speaking Tuesday, Deputy Negev and Galilee Regional Development Minister Ayoub Kara said that if the United States votes against or abstains in a vote in the UN Security Council against Israel, as Washington has supposedly threatened, “Israel must break off all relations with Hussein Obama, and call on the American people to raise their voices against the aggressive American policy.”
Kara called on Likud members and Israelis in general to support Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in his efforts to remain firm on continuing construction in Jerusalem.
Remember when pointing out that Obama's middle name is Hussein was taboo?
And who was it that said that only Jews and Evangelical Christians backed Netanyahu?
Video: CIA tells Congress Iran on its way to a nuclear weapon
Here's a Fox News report with former Reagan era Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense KT McFarland in which she discusses a CIA report that warns that Iran is well on its way to developing a nuclear weapon.
She also discusses at length Israel's possible reactions.
I have often quipped on this blog that the reason that so many Jews vote Democrat despite that party's widespread antipathy for the State of Israel is that for many non-Orthodox Jews, Judaism has been replaced by Liberalism.
Dennis Prager makes the same essential argument that I've been making, except he refers to Liberalism as Leftism (I suppose to make it sound more radical than I've termed it) and he extends the sickness to include Christians as well.
Leftism, though secular, must be understood as a religion (which is why I have begun capitalizing it). The Leftist value system’s hold on its adherents is as strong as the hold Christianity, Judaism, and Islam have on theirs. Nancy Pelosi’s belief in expanding the government’s role in American life, which inspired her passion for the health-care bill, is as strong as a pro-life Christian’s belief in the sanctity of the life of the unborn.
Given the religious nature and the emotional power of Leftist values, Jews and Christians on the Left often derive their values from the Left more than from their religion.
Now, most Leftist Jews and Christians will counter that Leftist values cannot trump their religion’s values because Leftist values are identical to their religion’s. But this argument only reinforces my argument that Leftism has conquered the Christianity and the Judaism of Leftist Christians and Jews. If there is no difference between Leftist moral values and those of Judaism or Christianity, then Christianity is little more than Leftism with “Jesus” rhetoric and Judaism is Leftism with Jewish terms — such as “Tikkun Olam” (“repairing the world”) and “Prophetic values.”
But if Christianity is, morally speaking, really Leftism, why didn’t Catholics and Protestants assert these values before 19th century European Leftism came along? And, if Judaism is essentially a set of Left-wing values, does that mean that the Torah and the Talmud are Leftist documents? Or are the two pillars of Judaism generally wrong?
As I was reading this article, I started to wonder why Muslims don't seem to be affected by Leftism. Maybe it's because Muslims who abandon their faith in favor of more liberal values (I wouldn't term people like Nonie Darwish, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Mosab Hassan Yousef or Salman Rushdie Leftists) find themselves under death threats from which the Left is unwilling to protect them, whereas Jews and Christians are more inclined to just ignore those who abandon our religious tenets.
Hmmm. (No, I'm not suggesting we start threatening people who abandon our religions with death).
By the way, the picture at the top is the J Street logo with one of their favorite groups' names on it. Hamas is a darling of the Left. One can only wonder why.
America's abandoned allies going their separate ways
Israel and Great Britain have a lot in common these days. The two countries, who used to be principal allies of the United States, have both been abandoned by their American friends - or more specifically by the Obama administration.
One would have thought that misery loves company and that the two would be drawing closer together. Such is not the case. Instead, Britain expelled an Israeli diplomat last week over the alleged use of British passports by Israel's Mossad in the liquidation of a terrorist murderer. As if Britain's MI-6 has never forged passports.
But the Brits are taking lessons from Barack Obama. With Obama, just when you think he's extracted his pound of flesh, he comes back and takes more. And such is apparently the case with the Brits as well.
A cross-party group of MPs will call today for a review of the way arms sales are approved after the government admitted British equipment was "almost certainly" used in the assault on Gaza last year.
"It is regrettable that arms exports to Israel were almost certainly used in Operation Cast Lead [the attack on Gaza]," the Commons committee on strategic export controls says in a report published. "This is in direct contravention to the UK government's policy that UK arms exports to Israel should not be used in the occupied territories."
The MPs say they welcome the government's subsequent decision to revoke five export licences for equipment destined for the Israeli navy but "broader lessons" must be learned from a review to ensure British arms exports to Israel are not used in the occupied territories in future.
The article goes on to make a lot of guesses what equipment Israel used during Operation Cast Lead, and what British parts might have been included in that equipment.
Whatever it is, it's not very much. Total British arms exports to Israel in 2008 are said to be 27.5 million pounds. But the point here isn't the quantity but the principle. Operation Cast Lead was a war of self-defense and the British know it. Israel doesn't occupy Gaza and the British know it. If terrorists were firing rockets into England from Scotland or Wales, how long would the British tolerate it? Here's a bet: Nowhere near as long as Israel tolerated rocket fire from Gaza.
Fellow blogger and righteous gentile Robert Stacy McCain attended his first Pesach seder on Monday night. He promptly pronounced himself a ger toshav. Not quite....
While Maimonides referred to a ger toshav as a righteous gentile, it does not follow that a righteous gentile is a ger toshav. A ger toshav is a gentile who lives in Israel (we're still waiting for you to visit Stacy) under certain conditions.
This video will explain what a ger toshav is. You'll see that it's much more than what we commonly refer to as a righteous gentile.
Let's go to the videotape.
As noted toward the end of the video, Maimonides rules that we do not accept the status of ger toshav today. So even if you fulfilled all of the requirements, since most Jews today do not live in Israel, you can't be a ger toshav. (It should be noted that we're actually getting close to the point where most Jews live in Israel, and in a few years, many Jewish law questions may arise from that fact).
There is another kind of ger, which is the more commonly known type of ger today. That ger is known as a ger tzedek - a full convert to Judaism.
The term generally used today for a righteous gentile is chassid umoth ha'olam, which literally translates as... a pious gentile. Stacy, you definitely are one. And when you come to Israel, I'd love to show you around.
(Hoping he'll finally follow me on Twitter and put me on his blogroll - it's harder to get this guy's attention than Alyssa Milano's).
Bret Stephens reminds us that even if Israel and the 'Palestinians' made 'peace' tomorrow, it would not solve most of the grievances that militant Islam has against the United States (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
Now consider Lady Gaga—or, if you prefer, Madonna, Farrah Fawcett, Marilyn Monroe, Josephine Baker or any other American woman who has, at one time or another, personified what the Egyptian Islamist writer Sayyid Qutb once called "the American Temptress."
Qutb, for those unfamiliar with the name, is widely considered the intellectual godfather of al Qaeda; his 30-volume exegesis "In the Shade of the Quran" is canonical in jihadist circles. But Qutb, who spent time as a student in Colorado in the late 1940s, also decisively shaped jihadist views about the U.S.
In his 1951 essay "The America I Have Seen," Qutb gave his account of the U.S. "in the scale of human values." "I fear," he wrote, "that a balance may not exist between America's material greatness and the quality of her people." Qutb was particularly exercised by what he saw as the "primitiveness" of American values, not least in matters of sex.
"The American girl," he noted, "knows seductiveness lies in the round breasts, the full buttocks, and in the shapely thighs, sleek legs and she shows all this and does not hide it." Nor did he approve of Jazz—"this music the savage bushmen created to satisfy their primitive desires"—or of American films, or clothes, or haircuts, or food. It was all, in his eyes, equally wretched.
Qutb's disdain for America's supposedly libertine culture would not matter much were it not wedded to a kind of theological Leninism that emphasized the necessity of violently overthrowing any political arrangement not based on Shariah law. No less violent was Qutb's attitude toward Jews: "The war the Jews began to wage against Islam and Muslims in those early days [of Islamic history]," he wrote in the 1950s, "has raged to the present. The form and appearance may have changed, but the nature and the means remain the same."
Needless to say, that passage was written long before Israel had "occupied" a single inch of Arab territory, unless one takes the view—held to this day by Hezbollah, Hamas, al Qaeda, Jemaah Islamiyah and every other jihadist group that owes an intellectual debt to Qutb, including significant elements of the "moderate" Palestinian Fatah—that Tel Aviv itself is occupied territory.
Bear in mind, too, that the America Qutb found so offensive had yet to discover Elvis, Playboy, the pill, women's lib, acid tabs, gay rights, Studio 54, Jersey Shore and, of course, Lady Gaga. In other words, even in some dystopic hypothetical world in which hyper-conservatives were to seize power in the U.S. and turn the cultural clock back to 1948, America would still remain a swamp of degeneracy in the eyes of Qutb's latter-day disciples.
Of course, the diplomatic Arab countries will not tell you that they agree with Qutb (do you really expect the King of Saudi Arabia to tell Barack Obama that what the Saudis really want is to make the United States an Islamic country?), but they do. Look at how they treat their own populations.
So instead, they complain to the World about 'Little Satan,' which is Israel. Israel is the appetizer. Western civilization is the main course.
Obama determined to avoid war with Iran at all costs
There's lots of evidence out there that the Obama administration is determined to avoid a military confrontation with Iran at all costs, including a nuclear Iran.
“It’s one of our highest priorities to make sure that Iran doesn’t possess a nuclear weapon,” he said on March 17, in an interview with Bret Baier of Fox News. The problem is that if keeping Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is one of the highest priorities, the very highest priority seems to be avoiding military conflict at all cost.
“The last thing the Middle East needs now is another war,” Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told the New York Times back in the spring of 2008. Gates noted that he had worked on a policy paper on Iran with Zbigniew Brzezinski at the Council on Foreign Relations in 2004. Gates added: “Based on what I heard from every expert, then and now, I think there’s a risk that an attack would strengthen Ahmadinejad and solidify the Iranian people’s support for their regime.” (Brzezinski is one of those arguing strenuously for containment today.)
In a recent interview with al Arabiya, Hillary Clinton was twice asked directly whether “a military strike is off the table.” Clinton did not offer the standard everything-is-on-the-table caveat—a pointed omission—and went to great lengths to emphasize that military action is “not what the United States was planning to do.”
Gates and Clinton are the administration’s hawks.
The manufactured dispute with Israel may well be additional evidence of the president’s determination to avoid a military confrontation. The Obama administration took what was a minor misunderstanding about Jerusalem housing and made it a serious test of a longstanding alliance. This was no accident.
In private, the Obama administration has repeatedly warned Israel against a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Isolating Israel in this way sends the same message publicly; it says, in effect, “You think we overreacted to a housing spat in Jerusalem? Try bombing Iran.”
Obama officials are loath to talk about Israel, Iran, and the bomb in public. They offer platitudes, and they focus obsessively on diplomacy that virtually no one thinks will prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.
If Iran does end up with nuclear weapons, Obama may find his legacy to be that of Neville Chamberlain.
McCain then graduated to an even harsher comparison. He said he had been rereading William Manchester’s biography of Winston Churchill and was struck by the similarities between the naïveté of Neville Chamberlain and the willingness of the Obama administration to accommodate the mullahs. “They’re just flailing. A few days ago the president said he wanted to talk some more,” McCain said, incredulous, referring to Obama’s message on Nowruz, the Iranian new year, which renewed the administration’s offer for negotiations. The overture, following Iran’s dismissal of several previous “final” deadlines for new talks, is “consistent with the thread of appeasement throughout history. It’s that same idea that if we’re nice to our enemies, they’ll do what we want.”
Chamberlain also was more interested in being a social reformer than he was in international affairs.
Obama's Pesach message: No God, No Jerusalem, No Israel
President Obama delivered a Pesach (Passover) message that somehow managed to avoid mentioning God, Jerusalem or Israel.
Obama's letter read: "This evening, Jewish individuals, families, and their friends in America, Israel, and around the world will gather around the Seder table to celebrate the sacred festival of Passover.
"With rich symbols, rituals, and traditions, they will tell the story of the Exodus – the journey of the children of Israel from slavery to freedom, from grief to joy, from darkness to light, and from suffering to redemption."
In the spirit of the season and on the backdrop of the US's diplomatic efforts to launch proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinians, Obama expressed in his letter hope that lessons from the Exodus from Egypt may be learned.
"The enduring story of the Exodus teaches us that, wherever we live, there is oppression to be fought and freedom to be won. In retelling this story from generation to generation, we are reminded of our ongoing responsibility to fight against all forms of suffering and discrimination, and we reaffirm the ties that bind us all," he wrote.
The US president ended his letter saying, "My family and I send our warmest wishes for a joyous and meaningful Passover."
Obama's concept of the 'lessons from the Exodus from Egypt' is so obtuse, it must be answered lest silence be interpreted as acquiescence.
The lesson of the Exodus from Egypt is that God came and redeemed His people from bondage because, as the Rabbis tell us, "they did not change their names [to Egyptian names] and they did not change their language [to Egyptian]." Instead, the Jews maintained their unique identity throughout the 210 years of bondage in Egypt, and as a reward God gave them two mitzvoth (commandments) to perform (circumcision and the sacrifice of the Paschal lamb). Our reward for performing those mitzvoth was that God redeemed the Jews from Egypt.
There was no 'oppression to fought' or 'freedom to be won.' As the Hagaddah relates the story, God himself (not through an angel or a spirit or a messenger, but God himself) came to Egypt and redeemed our forefathers from Egyptian bondage. This had nothing to do with 'suffering and discrimination' in the sense that Westerners think of those words. The story of the Exodus from Egypt is a Jewish story and not a universal one. That's one reason why any Pesach message that omits God is false. It was God who took us out of Egypt. We did not take ourselves out.
But there's more. After three years of making a 'seder' Obama has somehow managed to avoid learning the meaning of the song 'Dayenu,' which is one of the high points of the seder, and is almost universally sung (and not just said). Let's look at its verses and see why the main points of the seder are God, Israel and Jerusalem.
The word Dayenu means "it would have been enough for us [to celebrate]."
There are fifteen stanzas in Dayenu. The first five deal with God's destroying the false gods of Egypt. The next five deal with the miracles that God performed for us after he took us out of Egypt. The final five stanzas discuss why God took us out of Egypt. God took us out of Egypt because we are obligated to do five things for Him:
To observe the Sabbath, which testifies that God created the Heavens and the earth.
To accept His Torah, which He gave to us at the Revelation at Mount Sinai (celebrated seven weeks from now).
To keep and study His Torah.
To live in His land, the Land of Israel.
To build His Temple (in Jerusalem) and to perform the sacrifices there.
When God punished the Jews by destroying the Temple, the last two items were partially taken away from us. While we are still commanded to live in Israel (which is a Rabbinic commandment today rather than a Torah commandment according to most sources) and we are commanded to pray three times a day in lieu of the sacrifices, we no longer have these commandments in their original form. The other commandments remain, because the Sabbath and the Torah are our connection to God and God remains with us even in exile.
I would not expect Obama to known about the Sabbath (although he did once act as a Shabbes goy for an office mate) or the Torah, but one who bothers to learn the words Chag Sameyach in Hebrew ought to be able to figure out that without God, Israel and Jerusalem (the Temple), there is no purpose to Passover and there is nothing to celebrate. Without God, Israel and Jerusalem, Pesach becomes like a White House seder - a meaningless ritual in which one goes through the motions without any idea of what they mean.
Klein goes on to argue that while the Palestinians have fulfilled all the conditions necessary to achieve peace, the Israelis alone have not, since they continue to colonize. And those who have a different analysis — he specifically cites Abrams and Jennifer Rubin — they are condemned as perpetrators of the “Big Lie” and in Rubin’s case, of being “a pro-Likud fanatic.” Now Rubin — as any readers of her wonderful posts knows — can well take care of herself. But what Klein has done is to respond not to her argument that Obama is presiding over “the most anti-Israeli administration in history,” which many of us feel has been established as fact, but to deal with this claim by engaging in an outpouring of ad hominem remarks one does not expect to find on the site of a distinguished magazine.
Indeed, he then writes that Abrams, Rubin and AIPAC — the notorious “Jewish lobby” — are guilty of undermining American policy in such a manner that their views “teeter on the brink of treachery.” (my emphasis) They are, to put it another way, potential traitors to our country! This is as good an example of liberal McCarthyism as one can find. Klein, I think, is the first to make such an accusation since the right-wing crazy Taki argued a few years ago in the pages of the American Conservative that American Jews are a “fifth column,” and elsewhere that the Jewish neo-cons (he actually lists thirteen of them by name) are “as shameless and contemptible as most traitors are.”
And why should they and Israel “stand down”? The answer Klein gives is that “the U.S. is trying to build a regional, and international, coalition to contain and deter Iran — to prevent it from building nuclear weapons, if possible — that will work to Israel’s benefit, if it is successful.” Is Joe Klein serious? Has he not read the newspapers the past few days, in which the administration has made it clear it is backing off tough sanctions?
If anyone is trying to get the U.S. to in fact do precisely what Klein says it is already doing, it is those very people he is criticizing in his article, including Rubin, Abrams, the neo-cons Klein detests, and a dwindling group of liberal hawks who see clearly the Obama administration’s continuing backsliding.
Klein closes with the same old charge. AIPAC, the neo-cons, all of those whom Klein sees as wrong-headed are “extremists” who “stand well outside mainstream thinking on this issue.” If this is true, it is mainstream thinking that is wrong. But as Doug Pike has learned down in Philadelphia, is it the Joe Kleins and the J Street crowd that are the ones suffering from delusions. Klein, like J Street, ends by trying to paint himself as the real friend of Israel, while those who criticize our current administration’s policy are, he writes, encouraging “ right-wing American extremists who deny the legitimacy of our President.”
With a comment like that, Joe Klein reveals himself to be part of a conspiracy mongering group of liberal journalists who evidently see any criticism — no matter how ably it is developed and put forth — as extremist in content. In Klein’s world, this can only end by stopping our criticism. What happened to both free speech and the right to oppose a foreign policy when we think it is wrong?
In other words, Klein who - you guessed it - is Jewish himself, accuses all Jews who oppose President Obama's policies on Israel of dual loyalty.
Obama's legacy: The dissolution of boundaries in the Middle East
Here's an early indication of what President Obama's legacy in the Middle East might look like.
Barack Obama’s legacy is beginning to emerge. An Al Jazeera editorial writer made this telling statement in a background article on the Arab summit on Friday: “Arab leaders often meet in order to follow U.S. dictates.” We in the U.S. don’t think that’s true, naturally, but the overstatement does get at the underlying truth that U.S. policy has for several decades set boundaries on what the Middle East’s various actors consider possible. In countering the Soviet Union, affirming Israel’s right to exist, containing Iran, and keeping the seaways open, American policy has set the conditions in which the nations of the region operated.
The irresolution of this weekend’s summit is an indication that the Arab League’s members aren’t sure yet what boundaries are implied by Obama’s policy. But after 14 months of it, Turkey’s overtly Islamist posture is hardening and its commitment to secularism is being dismantled. The Arab League is talking seriously about launching a negotiating forum with Iran, precisely because of the impotence of U.S. policy. And the League is pessimistic about the future of the peace process, unified on this point if on no other: that under current conditions, the Palestinians should not agree to rejoin sponsored talks of any kind.
(4) Multiculturalism: In contrast to the ethnocentrism of modern Zionism, the Hebrews in Egypt under the Pharaoh’s regime were multicultural. When they left Egypt, they took their “mixed multitude” (Heb. Erev rav) friends with them.
(5) The Al Gore of 1500 BCE: Rivers filled with frogs. Plagues of locusts. Cattle dying. No wonder Pharaoh didn’t let the Hebrews go. His heart wasn’t “hardened,” as the Jewish version goes. He just thought these were the natural consequences of global climate change.
Devastating critique of Obama's Middle East policies
Mario Loyola, the former foreign policy counsel to the U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee, provides a devastating critique of the Obama administration's Middle East policy. Loyola blames the current policy on the multitude of former Clinton hands that are now in charge of foreign policy who, unlike Israelis, have not learned the lessons of the Oslo Accords' failure.
The only place I disagree with Loyola is his characterization of Israeli 'settlements' in Judea and Samaria as a 'disaster for Israel.' Were there no Israeli 'settlements' in Judea and Samaria, we would have long since withdrawn the IDF (as we did in Lebanon in 2000), and 'Palestinian' rockets would be on the outskirts of our major cities.
In every negotiation, then and now, Israel has aimed to settle the grievances that were born in 1967, which amount to little more than a complex border dispute. But the Arabs remain focused on the grievances of the 1948 War of Independence, which relate not to Israel’s extent, but to its existence as a Jewish state. Arafat could not agree to the U.S.-Israeli peace offer at Camp David because he could not give up on the “right of return” for the descendants of the refugees of 1948. Naturally, the right of return for millions of Palestinians living in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, and the occupied territories would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state no matter what its borders. The Arabs’ “recognition” of Israel as a Jewish state is meaningless if they don’t give up on the right of return — and no current Palestinian leadership can do that, even if it wants to.
It is crucial to grasp that even if the Palestinian negotiators were to give up on the right of return and accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state on Arab land, they would not be able to bind rejectionist extremists, who would then quickly embrace terrorism, forcing Israel to implement the hated security measures and military operations to finally bring peace and security not through compromise but through devastating military power. This is the cycle that must be broken, and only the Palestinians can break it. But their society suffers from a profound political infirmity. It is not quite a democracy because everyone’s sense of “justice” trumps the rule of law, the will of the majority, and minority rights. It is not quite a dictatorship — or a state of any kind — because there is no monopoly of violence. Indeed, Hamas has always specifically said that there can be no monopoly of violence so long as the resistance to the “occupation” continues — and remember that when Hamas says “occupation,” it is not talking about territories occupied in 1967, but rather about the existence of a Jewish state on any land claimed by Arabs.
The “peace process” rests upon a false premise, namely that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have equal standing within their own societies and are equally able to keep the promises they make. This ignores the fatal weakness of Palestinian institutions. The Bush-era Dayton mission seeks to build up the security forces of the PLO (now more often called the “Palestinian Authority”) in the West Bank in order to establish the monopoly of violence necessary for basic social order. Tony Blair’s principal mission is the strengthening of Palestinian institutions. The outlook for both projects is hardly rosy, and in any case, they cannot be expected to produce results in the near term. So in the meantime, the political infirmity of Palestinian society, which fatally weakens its representatives in any negotiations, is swept under the rug, in the hopes that it will fix itself. This basic error is part of the tragic pattern of U.S. policy since the early 1990s, and it is perhaps the most fatal flaw of the peace process.
The spat between Obama and Netanyahu would have been unimaginable with a Labor government in Israel. For Obama officials, Dick Cheney might as well be prime minister of Israel as Bibi Netanyahu. But Labor isn’t available to lead Israel now. This is because the failure of Camp David in 2000 broke the party as a coalition leader and it was finally annihilated in the elections of 2009, another casualty of the Clinton-era peace process on which it had staked everything. Because Labor was willing to follow the U.S. in ignoring the weaknesses of Palestinian institutions, and in granting diplomatic dignity to a group of unreformed terrorists as if that alone could transform them into legitimate political leaders, Labor may never rule in Israel again. Israeli politics will now oscillate between two parties — Kadima and Likud — created by Ariel Sharon to secure peace through military strength.
The entire Israeli electorate has shifted to the right. That — and a lot of dead bodies — is what the “peace process” has wrought. The old Clinton hands are miserable having to deal with Likud now, but they are reaping what they sowed. In this sense, blaming a right-wing government in Israel is partly an act of blame-shifting, albeit a sadly unwitting one.
The Obama administration appears to be operating under a profound misappraisal of what it is that makes the U.S. an indispensable mediator in the crisis. Anyone could perform the role of arbiter. But only the U.S. can perform the role of underwriter. Only by underwriting the transaction risk for Israel can the U.S. deliver Israeli concessions. The whole idea of “land for peace” is that Israel will have to make painful territorial concessions, forcibly uprooting perhaps 200,000 settlers, and giving up secure borders, in exchange for vague Arab promises that can easily be broken. Only the U.S. can provide Israel the reassurance it needs to accept what would otherwise be a prohibitive risk. The U.S. performed this role very well in the 1970s (thanks to Henry Kissinger), which is what led to the Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel. It performed the role poorly in the 1990s, which is what led to the last decade of conflict and to the demise of the Israeli Left. Unfortunately, it is the latter that now serves as the model for U.S. policy. The perception of American bias in favor of specific Palestinian demands can only lead them to harden their positions, which is part of the reason that Clinton failed to conclude a deal at Camp David.
We need to step back and realize that it is simply inconceivable, after what has happened in the last ten years, that any Israeli government will allow a truly sovereign state to arise in the West Bank. As Netanyahu admitted Monday, given the consequences of Israel’s withdrawal from south Lebanon and from the Gaza strip, Israel simply cannot and will not risk the rise of a terrorist state in the West Bank, just a few miles from all of its major urban centers, and walking distance from the heart of Jerusalem. The Gaza disengagement definitively proved that Israel cannot risk disengagement from the West Bank. Until the Palestinians fix the political problems of their own society, there is nothing the U.S. can do to underwrite the risk of a two-state solution.
Hence, as Netanyahu made quite clear, a Palestinian state in the West Bank would for the foreseeable future have to live with an Israeli military presence along all of its borders — including its border with Jordan. In other words, any Palestinian state in the West Bank — any “two-state solution” — would look a lot like what Gaza is today: a state under siege, a humiliating prison for its population, and an endless source of grievance from one end of the Muslim world to the other. Indeed, an Israeli security presence on the Gaza-Egypt border was part of the original idea of the Gaza disengagement, but that proved internationally untenable, and the result was the rise of a Hamas terror-state in Gaza. Under current circumstances, the plan for a Palestinian state in the West Bank is a recipe for war. Gen. David Petraeus recently testified that U.S. backing for Israel puts U.S. lives and strategic interests at risk. But that risk will not pass with the implementation of a two-state solution. It may indeed grow far worse.
For the moment, the Palestinians appear, if anything, even less interested in a Palestinian state than the government of Israel. Their posture of preconditions to talks amounts to a reprise of the “three no’s of Khartoum.” More important, they have yet to demonstrate that they can govern their institutions at all, and international charity lets them off the hook of having to provide for the well-being of their people.
The Israelis are playing along with a “peace process” they no longer truly believe in, partly in order to placate the Americans, but mostly in order to give the Palestinians enough rope to hang themselves by proving yet again that they cannot be trusted with their end of the “land for peace” bargain. Israelis have internalized the lessons of Oslo’s failure.
The most remarkable thing about the Gaza war of a year ago is how little opposition it engendered within Israeli society. I arrived in Tel Aviv on the day that the cease-fire was declared. In the following two weeks, try as I might, I was unable to uncover a single Israeli who was willing to criticize the government’s action. I was reminded of what a Sharon adviser said in the course of the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza several years before: A final peace agreement would now have to wait “until the Palestinians turn into Finns.”
However long that may take, Israelis have for the moment lost all patience with the Palestinians and their apparently endless grievances. Israel’s youth no longer believe — as they did 20 years ago — that the conflict is Israel’s fault. The “peace process” has created a new generation of fighters.
Joel Pollak, Republican candidate for Congress in Illinois' 9th district
Thanks to a Tweet by Martin Solomon to this post, I discovered the web site of Joel Pollak, who is the Republican nominee for Congress in the 9th district of Illinois, which I believe includes Mrs. Carl's former home (she grew up in Skokie).
I would like to remind Rep. Schakowsky of the words of a famous leader, who said:
“[T]here are those would lay all of the problems of the Middle East at the doorstep of Israel and its supporters, as if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the root of all trouble in the region. These voices blame the Middle East’s only democracy for the region’s extremism. They offer the false promise that abandoning a stalwart ally is somehow the path to strength. It is not, it never has been, and it never will be.”
That leader was Barack Obama, speaking during the 2008 presidential campaign. He has broken his promise to defend Israel’s security, and so has Rep. Schakowsky. Peace for Israelis and Palestinians is only possible if the U.S.-Israel alliance remains strong. And peace cannot be won in the shadow of an Iranian nuclear threat, which will only encourage Iranian-backed terror groups on Israel’s borders to step up their attacks.
I believe it is both wrong and dangerous to treat Israel as the stumbling block to peace in the Middle East. I will oppose the administration's attempts to put pressure on Israel before Palestinian groups have given up terror and recognized Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. I will also introduce legislation to withdraw U.S. support from United Nations bodies that do nothing except demonize Israel.
Stand Up to Iran
I will push the administration to adopt a tougher and more principled approach to Iran. The military option, though a last resort, must not be taken off the table. Iran has violated UN Security Council resolutions, and we must apply sanctions immediately. We should also stand up for Iranian dissidents, and make fuel sales to Iran conditional on measurable progress in human rights and democratic reform.
New Diplomatic Ideas
While fighting terrorism, we must remain committed to the goal of peace. I will propose the creation of new bilateral institutions that can form the basis for future cooperation between Israel and her neighbors. I will also take up the cause of Christians and other threatened minority groups throughout the Middle East, as well as for ordinary Muslims—particularly women—whose rights are being trampled.
You knew I would play this video sometime during Pesach (Passover). This is Yaakov Shwekey's v'Hi She'amda from the Haggadah - in this version it's with a full orchestra. The words mean: "In every generation, the non-Jews come to persecute us and God saves us from them."
The kids (we had seven out of the eight plus my daughter in law and my inlaws) sang this tune at the seder.
Note that in the middle he switches from amad (past tense - stood over us) to omed (present tense - stands over us).
Let's go to the videotape.
For those wondering, I will continue putting up music videos during the Sefira (the 49 days between Passover and Shavuoth). As far as I am aware, there is no halachic (Jewish law) issue so long as you are alone and not listening to live music. Later in the summer, during the three weeks between Shiva Asar b'Tamuz and Tisha b'Av, I will not run music videos.
Why is this President different from all the other Presidents?
Israel has had disagreements with other Presidents going all the way back to the Eisenhower administration. So why is Barack Obama different? Jonathan Tobin explains.
This year, along with the conventional four questions of the Passover Seder, some Americans are starting ask themselves: “Why is this president different from all other presidents?” The answer is that Barack Obama has now established opposition to Israel’s hold on its capital as a cornerstone of American Middle East policy in a way that is completely new as well as dangerous. Those wondering whether this development ought to cause them to re-evaluate their political loyalties might want to remember the closing refrain of Passover Seders down through the centuries: “Next Year in Jerusalem!”
What are the security implications (pdf link) of a divided Jerusalem for those of us who live along what would become the city's dividing lines? At the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Nadav Shragai has a look.
The Palestinians currently possess light weaponry – the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad all have Kalashnikov, M-16, and Galil rifles. The Palestinians also have machineguns (mostly of Russian manufacture) with a range of up to 1.5 km. Military circles estimate that Palestinians in the West Bank currently possess 15,000- 20,000 firearms, mostly rifles and a few machineguns.
In the event of division of the city and the transfer to PA control of the West Bank up to the new municipal line, there would be no difficulty in bringing such weapons from deep inside the West Bank to the Jerusalem Envelope areas, and from there to eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods and villages. The territory is only partially built up and would have no obstacles or roadblocks up to the municipal boundary.
The distances between many Jewish neighborhoods in the city and Arab neighborhoods slated for “separation” are within light-weapon range, from tens to hundreds of meters, and certainly within machinegun range. The existing reality in Jerusalem is one of dense, unbroken urban continuity, with Jewish and Arab areas mixed together.
The possible extensive use of light weapons against Jewish neighborhoods must be taken into account in any separation plan, especially in light of the precedent of the Gilo neighborhood coming under intense and continuing fire from Beit Jalla, which, though very close by, is outside Jerusalem’s jurisdiction. Shots from Beit Jalla came from both light weapons and PPK-model machineguns. On more than one occasion longer-range machinegun fire reached Gilo from Bethlehem.
One way to reduce the possibility of rifle fire on Jewish neighborhoods is to erect a bullet-proof wall that would entirely separate the two populations. Even the majority of supporters of division are not in favor of such a measure. And even if such a wall were to be built, in many cases it would be ineffective since the Palestinian houses are built on higher ground topographically. Naturally, such a wall would be useless against any high-trajectory weapon, such as mortar shells or Kassam rockets, which the Palestinians have been trying to manufacture in the West Bank. They have so far been unsuccessful because of the constant presence of the Israel Security Agency (ISA) and the IDF in the area. The IDF’s departure from the Jerusalem Envelope and eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods would, of course, change that scenario.
In the past, terrorist organizations and the Palestinian Authority have interpreted Israeli withdrawals, whether in the framework of an agreement or unilaterally, as a strategic victory for their terror tactics. Hence, they concluded that it was worth their while to continue that strategy and add to their success. In the 15 years that preceded the Oslo Accords (September 13, 1993), 254 Israelis were killed by Palestinian terrorists. The number of victims in the seven years from the Oslo Accords to September 2000 (the start of the Second Intifada) was 256 [mostly concentrated in the period of 1994-1996], and in the period from September 2000 to September 2005 – 1,097.
The motivation to cause damage to Jewish neighborhoods after a separation arrangement, or even a voluntary separation, could likely arise among both Islamic extremists and opponents of such an arrangement, and among nationalist elements, who will likely use light weaponry to pressure Israel into further concessions on other issues, such as refugees, “Arab-owned western Jerusalem property,” and holy sites.
The token has finally dropped at Haaretz. Ari Shavit has figured out what allowing the core issues to be raised at 'proximity talks' means.
U.S. President Barack Obama's demands during his meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last Tuesday point to an intention to impose a permanent settlement on Israel and the Palestinians in less than two years, political sources in Jerusalem say.
Israeli officials view the demands that Obama made at the White House as the tip of the iceberg under which lies a dramatic change in U.S. policy toward Israel.
Of 10 demands posed by Obama, four deal with Jerusalem: opening a Palestinian commercial interests office in East Jerusalem, an end to the razing of structures in Palestinian neighborhoods in the capital, stopping construction in Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, and not building the neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo.
But another key demand - to discuss the dispute's core issues during the indirect talks that are planned - is perceived in Jerusalem as problematic because it implies that direct negotiations would be bypassed. This would set up a framework through which the Americans would be able to impose a final settlement.
It gets worse too. Obama is trying to isolate Israel completely, urging other allies to put pressure on us.
America's word - as expressed by Bush and Clinton - is worthless. The United States is just like any other banana republic in which a new government taking power means all previous commitments are thrown off. We will never trust the United States again.
THE CLASH began in 1960, when the outgoing Eisenhower administration sought an explanation for the mysterious construction near Dimona. It was told that this top-secret activity in the middle of the desert was a harmless textile plant, and no, it could not come and visit. Classified spy photos were then published on the front page of The New York Times (yes, the CIA spied on the Jewish state, with or without forged passports).
When president Kennedy took office in 1961, the disagreement became a full-blown crisis. Like Obama, Kennedy was not inherently hostile (unlike Jimmy Carter), but he did not have a special sympathy for the Jewish people. His advisers urged continuous pressure, assuming that Israel would have no choice but to accept US demands. Every high-level meeting or communication repeated the demand for inspection of Dimona. One form of pressure was to deny Ben-Gurion an invitation to the White House – his May 1961 meeting with Kennedy was a low-key affair at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, and was dominated by this issue.
In some ways, Israel was far weaker than is the case today. Before 1967, the IDF was not seen as a formidable power, and the economy depended on massive aid from Diaspora Jewry. If the US government were to impose tax restrictions, the costs would have been very high. Ben-Gurion avoided saying no by dancing around them for two years.
Finally, Kennedy had enough, and in a personal letter dated May 18, 1963, the president warned that unless American inspectors were allowed into Dimona (meaning the end of any military activities), Israel would find itself totally isolated. Rather than answering, Ben-Gurion abruptly resigned. Kennedy’s repeated emphasis on America’s “deep commitment to the security of Israel” was all well and good, but, as seen after Egypt’s sudden expulsion of UN peacekeepers in 1967, Israel could not depend on anyone – even the US.
I don’t recall seeing in Ben-Ami’s bio any reference to his ordination as a rabbi. Maybe it was from some Deconstructionist divinity school, but it certainly wasn’t from the ancient schools of Moses, the sages Rabbi Gamliel or Rabbi Akiva, or from modern day rabbinical seminaries.
Oh, yes, I remember: Six months ago, the religious authority Ben-Ami presented to the New York Times his different and unique vision of how Judaism and Israel can survive and how to observe Passover:
“The average age of the dozen or so [J Street] staff members is about 30,” the Times profile reported. “Ben-Ami speaks for, and to, this post-Holocaust generation. ‘They’re all intermarried,’ he says. ‘They’re all doing Buddhist seders.’ They are, he adds, baffled by the notion of ‘Israel as the place you can always count on when they come to get you.’ Living in a world of blogs, they’re similarly skeptical of the premise that ‘we’re still on too-shaky ground’ to permit public disagreement.”
Ben-Ami sent out and posted on J Street’s website his “Four Questions for the Seder” handout. His distortions of Judaism and his attacks on the pro-Israel community and the Israeli coalition government cross the line – whatever line you chose, it’s crossed.
As I’ve written elsewhere, Ben-Ami is the shaliach tzibbur (prayer leader) for "Newest Testament" Jews: Jews who have embraced the new American Jewish religion of tikkun olam [fix the world] liberalism. Tikkun olam is the new overarching mitzva that guides them, even though it was never one of the 613 precepts of the Torah. The founding of Israel and the creation of Palestinian refugees may not have been the Original Sin in their theology as it is to others on the Left, but the settling of the West Bank following Israel's victory in 1967 is definitely viewed by them as Israel's Golden Calf.
The universalism of tikkun olam is a direct challenge to the exclusive “chosenness” of the core traditional Shma prayer. Shma Yisrael – Hear O’ Israel (why only Israel?), Hashem Elokeinu --the Lord is God (isn’t God dead or maybe She’s retired?), Hashem Echad –the Lord is One (doesn’t declaring the Oneness of God exclude the believers in Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Wiccan gods, or Elvis?)
I’m sure Ben-Ami’s intermarried Buddhists are wonderful people, but in 25 years they and their children will not be filling the synagogues, temples, and day schools in the United States, nor will be they sitting in the classrooms of Hebrew University or Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavne, nor guarding the borders or flying the aircraft over the State of Israel. To them, Passover Seder will be a quaint custom observed by their grandparents.
Jonathan Tobin nails it on Obama's 'Passover seder.'
The vast majority of American Jews are not only liberals; they are, as they say in Texas, “yellow dog Democrats,” meaning they would vote for a yellow dog if it were on the Democratic ticket. But surely a sycophantic article like the Times feature must grate on even their sensibilities. Can any Jew with a smidgeon of self-respect or affection for Israel think that having a president say “Next year in Jerusalem!” while sitting at a table with matzo and macaroons makes up for policies that treat the 200,000 Jews living in the post-1967 Jewish neighborhoods of their own ancient capital as illegal settlers on stolen land?
Perhaps Obama and his coterie of Jewish advisers think they are entitled to expropriate the symbols of Judaism to lend legitimacy to their anti-Israel policies. Of course, if Obama had any real sympathy for the people of Israel or the Jewish people, he might instead spend Monday night reevaluating a policy that appears to concede nuclear weapons to the rabid Jew-haters of Islamist Iran and reinforces the intransigence of the supposedly moderate Palestinian Authority and its allies across the Muslim world.
This week, Alan Dershowitz, who still counts himself among Obama’s supporters, warned the president that if he failed on Iran, his legacy would be indistinguishable from that of Neville Chamberlain, who appeased Hitler. He’s right, but it looks as though Chamberlain is becoming Obama’s model because, in addition to employing appeasement strategies, the president’s diktat on Jerusalem and the West Bank is faintly reminiscent of the British White Paper of 1939, which forbade the entrance of more Jewish immigrants into Palestine as the Holocaust loomed and sought to restrict the Jewish presence in most of the country.
But like the elder George Bush, at least Neville Chamberlain had the good manners not to try to portray himself as a friend of the Jews by having a Passover Seder at Number Ten Downing Street while simultaneously pursuing such policies.
And you thought it was only Muslims who expropriated other religions' holy sites and rituals as their own. Hmmm.
By the way, last night at the Seder (we only have one here in Israel), I made very clear to the family that when we said "Next Year in Jerusalem," it means next year bringing the Passover sacrifice in a rebuilt Jewish Temple.
A reminder that I am allowed to be online because we only have one night of holiday in Israel rather than two. We are now in the intermediate days.
Eight years ago last night was the Seder Night Massacre (pictured). Here's the story from Naomi Ragen:
Sitting in the lobby of the Park Hotel with my young daughter in-law and aging mother in -law, I watched as the lobby slowly filled with hundreds of people. I kept my eyes on the security guard. To my shock and dismay, I saw him leave his place by the door and walk back into the hotel dining room, leaving the door completely unmanned. I considered walking up to him, complaining loudly, but just then my husband, sons, and father-in-law came out of synagogue. We kissed, exchanged holiday greetings, and I tried to quell my fears.
After all, what were the chances that a suicide bomber would find his way davka to this hotel, of all the hotels in Israel? I tried to think back to the years when a hotel lobby filled with excited voices was a pleasant and cheering experience, something boding conviviality and holiday cheer. I tried not to see the gathering crowd with the eyes of an enemy bent on an opportunity for maximum human slaughter, which is what we Israelis have been doing naturally for the last eighteen months every time we leave our homes.
My husband and I sat together with our loved ones, enjoying each other’s company. It was seven p.m. The dining room was scheduled to begin seating people at seven-thirty.
For no reason, I was suddenly filled with a sudden sense of horror. I envisioned my kitchen, and imagined the smoke rising, blackening the walls, billowing through the house.
“What’s wrong?” my husband asked, watching my face change.
“I think I might have left the fire burning under the kitchen kettle, ” I told him.
“Are you sure?”
“No. I don’t know.”
He looked concerned for a moment, then looked over my shoulder. “People are going into the dining room already.” I stood up. “Let’s go,” I said. It was seven fifteen.
My father in law waved an envelope in front of us. “I know how Alex hates cantors, so I arranged a private seder for us upstairs.” He and my mother-in-law were going to stop in the bathroom first, and they’d join us in a few minutes.
The dining room upstairs was a far cry from the joyful, packed, and noisy crowd in the lobby we’d just left. Only two or three tables were set, and less than a handful of people were seated. We found a table set for seven and sat down. It was seven twenty.
I looked around at the table to see if it had all the things we needed to begin the ceremony when my in-laws arrived.
And then I heard it: A sound, like a roar, rolling through the room, making the floor rumble. I looked up from the table, thinking: “What…?” Then suddenly, there was a deafening crash of sound like no other I had ever heard in my life, a sound that was like an emphatic statement in a language all its own, whose meaning was impossible to mistake for any other, impossible to misunderstand. The wall of windows facing us suddenly blew inwards, crashing, sending slivers of glass flying past our cheeks and legs, littering the floor. I heard my daughter in-law screaming. Screams rose from downstairs. It gave me the idea that I too should scream. And I did, the way I had once screamed in the labor room, giving birth.
“I can’t believe this is happening to me!” my daughter in-law repeated hysterically, held close in my son’s arms.” “Get down!” my husband shouted. As we did, I saw Akiva picking glass from his hand, and I wondered if he’d scratched himself. Someone from another table shouted: “I hear firing!”
We froze. This had been a terrorist modus operandi in previous attacks. First the bombing, and then machine gun fire to finish off anyone who survived. For one moment, my heart, which had previously been filled with the knowledge that I, my family, had survived, felt its first moment of real fear.
“Wait here,” my husband told us. “I’m going to find my parents.”
It was only then I thought of them, downstairs. I knew that they must both be dead. And I thought: I have to get out of here with my children, alive. We took an impromptu vote, those in favor of waiting for my husband to return versus those who wanted to flee. The women, flee-ers all, won.
I went towards the staircase we’d come up from, looking down. Acrid, black smoke and twisted metal filled the space for as far as I could see. I hurried back to my family gathered at the other end of the room. The two young boys who had been seated near us shouted that there was another staircase, and pointed out to the adjoining patio. Just then, two waitresses suddenly walked in from the staircase we’d originally used. One was drenched in red blood, her long dark hair and pretty face staring at her upraised bloody hands.
“Let’s go!” I told my children, heading down the emergency exit. It emerged into the hotel’s outdoor pool area. A high fence kept us from leaving. We, and others, milled around desperate for a way out. Suddenly, we caught a glimpse of the blown out glass doors of the main dining room. For a moment, I just stared.
Read the whole thing. It's chilling. And if the 'Palestinians' could do it again, they would do it in a minute. Peace? You must be joking.
As the Obama administration goes out of its way to court Syria, the Syrians go out of their way to torpedo any 'peace process' with Israel.
Syria and Libya teamed up Sunday to pressure Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to quit peace talks with Israel and return to violence, delegates to an Arab leadership summit said.
In the wake of that call, Arab leaders gathered at their summit Sirte, Libya on Sunday failed to reach a consensus on whether the Palestinians should resume stalled talks with Israel.
An adviser to the U.S.-backed Palestinian leader quickly rejected the suggestion, calling for the 22 nations represented at the gathering to be realistic. Despite the opposition from two of Israel's longtime foes, the summit had been expected Sunday to renew backing for Palestinian peace talks with Israel.
The Arab League has now scheduled an extraordinary summit for later this year to tackle issues it had been unable to resolve during its two days of meeting.
A committee of foreign ministers from some member states produced a resolution at the meeting saying that a halt to all settlement activity was necessary for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to go ahead.
But that decision was not adopted by the full summit and, in a sign of the lack of consensus, Syria's foreign minister said his country would not recognize the document as representing the view of the Arab League.
When does the American ambassador get to Damascus? What other rewards do you have for the Syrians? Moron.
Scandal: Egged buses carry ad praying for rebuilt Temple
What a scandal! How politically incorrect! What will Obama say?
A private group has placed ads on 200 Egged buses running in Jerusalem that pray for the Holy Temple to be rebuilt. The ads - needless to say - show the Temple taking up the entire Temple Mount.
The posters, which contain the phrase, “May the Bais Hamikdosh [Holy Temple. CiJ] be rebuilt speedily and within our days,” were sponsored by the Our Land of Israel group, which is led by Rabbi Shalom Dov Volpo and activist BaruchMarzel, leave out the site’s current structures – namely the the Aksa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.
The campaign’s organizers chose to plaster the posters on buses whose routes take them through predominately Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem.
With regards to the campaign, Volpo said Israel is waiting breathlessly for the coming of the messiah and the rebuilding of the temple.
“The Arabs and President Obama know that the Temple will be built on the Temple Mount,” he said. “Instead of the temporary buildings that are there today.”
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, Marzel said it was no mistake that the Islamic shrines were left out of the picture.
“We’re representing the truth, in front of everyone, and saying out loud what every Jew believes,” Marzel said. “That the Third Temple needs to be built immediately on the Temple Mount and that the mosque should not be there.”
“When we reach the end of the Pessah Seder tomorrow night, he continued, “we’ll say, ‘Next year in a rebuilt Jerusalem.’ What does ‘rebuilt’ mean? It means with the Third temple intact.”
Marzel brushed off the furor the ads might elicit from the capital’s Muslims, saying, “It upsets them that we’re alive, and that we’re living here.
“If such a basic point is going to piss them off, then we mine as well say what we truly believe and what we pray for three times a day. That is to rebuild the holy temple on top of the Temple Mount, and tomorrow – not to wait any longer.”
And to think that it's too close to the Holiday to call the Supreme Court into session.... Heh.
By the way, for the record, the Holy Temple is supposed to come down from the sky fully built when the Messiah comes. Somehow, I don't think there's anything the 'Palestinians' will be able to do to stop it anyway.
And yes, when you pray at the end of the Seder (and at the end of Yom Kippur) "next year in Jerusalem" (or in a rebuilt Jerusalem), it means Jerusalem with a rebuilt Temple and not Jerusalem with what's currently on the Temple Mount.
What would happen if Netanyahu conceded on Jerusalem
What would the 'Palestinian' and Arab reaction be if Prime Minister Netanyahu were to give in to President Obama on Jerusalem? Here's a likely scenario:
“President Obama! President Obama,” said the aide in a cheery voice as he entered the Oval Office, “we just heard that Prime Minister Netanyahu is going to stop all construction in Jerusalem and give in to all your demands!”
“That is wonderful news,” chortled the chief executive. ‘’And as you know I never waste a moment. Quick! Get me my friend Mahmoud Abbas on the phone.”
With the magical swiftness of the White House communications equipment, within moments the leader of the Palestinian Authority was on the line. Quickly, Obama explained to him what had happened, adding, “and now we can move quickly to a comprehensive peace.”
“Not so fast,” answered Abbas. “Since you got the Israelis to back down on that issue—and a great job you did, Mr. President-- surely you can now get them to agree to a return to the 1967 borders, accept all the Palestinian refugees who want to go live in Israel, and drop all the demands they have on us to do anything. Oh, and they have to agree that if we sign a peace treaty that doesn’t mean the conflict is over so we can then launch another round to get everything.”
“But you said that’s all you needed to make a peace treaty!”
“Oh, yes, Mr. President, it’s all I need. But then there are all those Fatah leaders who have the real power and they have their heart set on a Palestinian state from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean. Then there are those Hamas leaders, and you know how unreasonable they can be! Why if I settled for anything less they’d have my head! Oh, yes, that reminds me, unless Hamas agrees do keep in mind that anything I accept doesn’t apply to the Gaza Strip and Hamas. They can just go on fighting. Hope you don’t mind.”
After a bit more discussion, Abbas said, “Sorry, Mr. president but I must go now as my favorite show, `Do You Want to Marry a Suicide Bomber,` is coming on Palestinian television right now.”
I am an Orthodox Jew - some would even call me 'ultra-Orthodox.' Born in Boston, I was a corporate and securities attorney in New York City for seven years before making aliya to Israel in 1991 (I don't look it but I really am that old :-). I have been happily married to the same woman for thirty-three years, and we have eight children (bli ayin hara) ranging in age from 11 to 31 years and seven grandchildren. Three of our children are married! Before I started blogging I was a heavy contributor on a number of email lists and ran an email list called the Matzav from 2000-2004. You can contact me at: IsraelMatzav at gmail dot com